Both right wings of the US one-party state are pushing things toward rupturing relations with China, risking direct confrontation.

The so-called Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA) is the latest shoe to drop.

Unanimously approved by the Senate on Thursday, it’s virtually certain to be adopted by House members and become US law.

China’s new national security law, that’s all about protecting its sovereign territory (including Hong Kong) from hostile and/or intrusive actions by foreign powers, is the contrived pretext for the measure.

It’s the latest US action in waging longstanding war on China by other means that could turn hot if pushed too far.

China grants a degree of local autonomy to Hong Kong and Macau that’s similar to what US states are afforded by constitutional law.

China’s new national security law aims to counter hostile US interference in its internal affairs, what’s gone on for decades.

Things notably escalated in recent years, including efforts to undermine China’s economic, industrial, and technological development, along with months of made-in-the-USA disruptive Hong Kong protests that featured violence and vandalism — aiming to weaken the country by attacking its soft underbelly.

Introduced by US neocon Senators Chris Van Hollen and Pat Toomey, the unacceptable HKAA “would impose mandatory sanctions on entities that violate China’s obligations to Hong Kong.”

It “would also impose mandatory secondary sanctions on banks that do business” with sanctioned entities.

A statement by Van Hollen defied reality, saying:

“Today (June 25), the Senate took meaningful action to hold China and its proxies to account for their ongoing efforts to extinguish liberty and democracy in Hong Kong (sic),” adding:

“This legislation sends a strong, bipartisan message that the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong (sic).”

Toomey made similar remarks, defying reality the same way.

Fact: The US is hostile to what democracy is supposed to be all about.

Fact: Prohibited domestically, only its illusion exists.

Fact: Both right wings of the US one-party state go all out to extinguish it wherever it exists.

Model social democracy Venezuela is Exhibit A — under attack by the US from inception, greatly escalated by Trump regime hardliners.

Fact: Longstanding US policy is hostile to ordinary people everywhere — at home and abroad worldwide, wanting them exploited, not served.

The HKAA also requires the US Treasury secretary to be involved in designating individuals to be sanctioned under the measure.

A similar House bill was introduced by Reps. Brad Sherman and Ted Yho.

A reconciled version of the measure may be included in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that’s automatically passed overwhelmingly and signed into law annually.

Last November, Congress adopted the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 by voice vote.

At the time, China’s official People’s Daily broadsheet slammed the unacceptable measure, saying it’s all about legislating support for (CIA recruited) hooligans involved in months of violence, vandalism and chaos in Hong Kong.

China’s Global Times called the measure the “Support KH Violence Act,” siding with rioters against the rule of law and rights of all city residents, opposing efforts by Hong Kong authorities to restore order.

The HKAA mandates imposition of sanctions on China by the White House — with latitude to waive them under undefined circumstances.

Trump so far imposed no sanctions on China based on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

It’s unclear if he’ll use the HKAA for this purpose. Eager to save the bilateral trade agreement, already jeopardized by unacceptable US actions, he may hold off pushing the envelope further against China.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Trump regime objects to the HKAA’s call for mandatory sanctions on China because “it could hobble (its) ability to conduct diplomacy with (its ruling authorities) and give Congress too much power over foreign relations,” citing unnamed White House and business officials, adding:

“Still, they say, the bill’s fine print provides the White House with some flexibility in how those sanctions are levied, assuaging some (of its) concerns.”

At the same time, a provision in the measure empowers Congress to override the White House by a joint resolution of disapproval against waiving or ending sanctions on China.

It also calls for letting Hong Kong residents emigrate to the US.

In response to the measure, spokeswoman for China’s Washington embassy Fang Hong said “Hong Kong affairs are China’s domestic affairs that allow no external interference,” adding:

“We urge the US side to come to terms with the reality, and immediately stop meddling with Hong Kong affairs and China’s domestic affairs as a whole before it is too late.”

She warned of unspecified “necessary countermeasures” in response to hostile US actions that continue with no end of them in prospect.

A Final Comment

On Thursday, Pompeo called for a US/EU partnership to “challenge…the threat (posed by) China (sic),” adding:

“(T)he (PLA) continue(s) aggression in the South China Sea (sic).”

He falsely blamed Beijing for “deadly border confrontations in India,” called its nuclear program “opaque,” and defied reality by accusing its ruling authorities of “threats against peaceful neighbors (sic).”

He piled on numerous other false accusations, ignoring US wars by hot and other means against virtually all independent nations unwilling to sacrifice their sovereign rights to US interests, along with major human and civil rights abuses domestically.

Washington’s aim to dominate other nations by whatever it takes to achieve its aims is an unparalleled threat to everyone everywhere.

Its war on humanity risks eventual use of thermonukes that if detonated in enough numbers could destroy planet earth and all its life forms.

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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.

“COVID-19 will be a catastrophe for Bangladeshi garment workers.” 

I am speaking with Kalpona Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF). It is March 19. Governments around the world have ordered the temporary closure of retail outlets and other businesses, putting millions of people out of work. The shutdown in the West put immediate pressure on global supply chains, in particular for sectors like clothing.

“The international brands that source from garment factories in Bangladesh have already started cancelling their orders for clothes. Consequently, Bangladeshi workers are in very bad shape presently. They are not only afraid of getting infected by COVID-19, but also fear that thousands of them will be laid off and so have no money to put food on the table for their families,” says Akter.

“These are workers who were poor and vulnerable to begin with before the spread of the virus as they were being denied a living wage that would allow them to buy basic necessities.”

While several countries including Canada have announced aid packages for wage earners who lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Bangladesh government had, by mid-April, taken no such step. According to Akter, “it is unlikely that it will do so in the future.”

Bangladesh is the second biggest exporter of garments in the world after China, and with 4.1 million workers in the sector it is the country’s leading export earner. Over 75% of these workers are women. According to Akter, the garment sector pays poverty wages and is notorious for the suppression of labour rights and the presence of high levels of gender-based violence. In the past, Bangladeshi garment manufacturers have also been notorious for dangerously unsafe factories.

On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory in the capital city of Dhaka collapsed, killing 1,134 workers and injuring 2,500. It was one of the deadliest industrial accidents the world had ever witnessed. International and domestic public outrage and pressure on international brands from Bangladeshi and other unions, including in Canada, resulted in major improvements in factory safety, but the other significant problems remain unaddressed.

Since 2013, the Canadian labour movement has been working with the Bangladesh Centre for Workers’ Solidarity (BCWS), which is closely linked to the Akter’s federation, to press governments, employers and international brands to work together to improve working conditions for Bangladeshi garment sector workers. The Canadian unions involved include the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), United Steelworkers (USW), Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

These unions give the BCWS funding for core operations and for providing training and support for women leaders in factories. Doug Olthuis, executive director of the USW Humanity Fund, explains that through their financial help, support in Bangladesh and support in Canada, “We’ve raised our political voice with the governments of both Bangladesh and Canada to make sure appropriate measures are taken to uphold labour rights, especially the ability to freely join unions.

“That has had some impact on the Canadian government, which knows that there is a constituency in Canada that is watching what Ottawa does,” he continues. “This has been helpful for sure. It is important for Canadian unions to make some noise to motivate the government to act on behalf of Bangladeshi garment workers because otherwise it won’t.”

Transnational solidarity has also amplified concerns raised by workers in Bangladesh with their country’s Ministry of Labour.

“The fact that Canadian unions meet with the ministry means that the Bangladesh government knows that they are being watched and that unions and consumers from around the world are paying attention to what it does,” says Olthuis, who joined representatives from CUPE, PSAC, OSSTF and CLC on a delegation to Dhaka in May 2019.

Canadian unions are planning to launch a campaign for a living wage for Bangladeshi garment workers. This is a major concern for Akter, who explains that the poverty wages garment workers currently get do not even cover their monthly costs. Workers often have to work 16-hour days to try to make ends meet, which means they have no family life at all. The workers have no savings either, which makes it impossible for them to deal with a crisis such as COVID-19.

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Louise Casselman, the PSAC’s Social Justice Fund Officer, also travelled to Dhaka with the union solidarity delegation in May last year. She points out that the cost of clothing has been dropping while other consumer products tend to get more expensive from year to year.

International brands have all adopted a strategy of “fast fashion,” in which clothing trends change every two months, rather than seasonally, as a means of boosting sales. To convince consumers back to the rack more frequently, prices must be kept low, explains Casselman, which has meant keeping the wages of garment workers low as well.

“This explains why workers in the apparel industry are facing such substandard wages and working conditions and why their attempts to organize to improve their living and working conditions face such resistance,” she tells me.

Unionization and labour rights are not just under threat in Bangladesh, according to Akter, but effectively criminalized.

“When workers try to organize, they are fired. This is very common,” she remarks. “There is no freedom of association in Bangladesh.”

In 2016, when workers raised their voices for a higher minimum wage, they were handed criminal charges. Many workers, including one of Akter’s organizers, were thrown in prison for months.

“During the last two years, over 10,000 workers have been fired for making wage increase demands and three dozen criminal charges have been laid against 7,000 workers. But our workers are brave, and in spite of this repression, they never stop raising their voices and never stop fighting.” However, the state crackdowns in 2016 and 2018 have “pushed back our labour movement at least by a few years” Akter says.

If it is especially hard to change the insidious combination of lack of job security and official repression in Bangladesh, Akter explains it is because, “in many cases, our government is our factory owner.” Some legislators in Bangladesh own garment factories. “In a country like that, where the power dynamic is so critical, it is difficult to fight for your rights.”

Olthuis concurs with Akter that “a lot of the lawmakers in the Bangladeshi parliament are actually garment factory owners,” which he says compromises the Bangladesh government on this issue. “We talk about state capture, and in my opinion the government has been quite captured by the garment sector. It’s room to maneuver is limited.”

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There is also enormous gender-based violence and sexual harassment in Bangladeshi factories, says Akter.

“Because of the culture it happens, it begins at the top. It is time for us to break that silence and get these manufacturers to have anti-harassment committees in the factories and also to pressure our government to pass a law against such violence and harassment.”

Akter is in agreement with the Canadian unions’ planned international campaign for providing a living wage to Bangladeshi garment workers. “It is very crucial to have Canadian unions pressure Canadian brands to pay garment workers a living wage. This is not just for the Bangladeshi workers, it’s for the whole supply chain, no matter which country they are sourcing from.

“We really need these jobs,” Akter continues. “But we want jobs with dignity. And at this moment the jobs we have are not dignified. Canadian consumers should know that the workers don’t have a living wage and should support their demands for better wages and raise their voices with the Canadian brands in this regard.”

But the chaos created by the COVID-19 virus has also thrown international solidarity into uncharted waters. Casselman observes that this moment “sheds new light on the vulnerability of a supply chain that offers no safeguards or protection for a workforce contracted out to local manufacturers whose own profit margin depends on the super-exploitation of labour.”

Garment workers, like many other manufacturing workers, face plant shutdowns “due to the lack of inputs from China and the contraction of demand,” explains Casselman, noting that isolation measures to contain the virus are shuttering demand across Europe and North America. Solidarity work will have to adjust.

“We already know we will need to increase the role of workers, women, Indigenous peoples and [people of African descent] and their access to social, economic and political rights. COVID-19 could wipe out many of the gains made by the social movements over the last generation, unless we are prepared to fight for a model of development based on a new equitable, green economy, based on fundamental human rights.

“It will not be given to us, so we will have to fight for it, and be prepared to accompany those on the frontlines of social change.”

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This article was originally published on Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Asad Ismi covers international affairs for the Monitor.

Featured image: A Bangladeshi worker (photo from ILO Asia-Pacific, Flickr Creative Commons)

Selected Articles: NATO at the Helm of Italian Foreign Policy

June 26th, 2020 by Global Research News

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NATO at the Helm of Italian Foreign Policy

By Manlio Dinucci, June 26, 2020

NATO Defense Ministers (Lorenzo Guerini, Pd representing Italy) gathered by videoconference on June17/18, and made a series of “decisions to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence.” However, nobody in Italy talks about it, neither the media (including social media) nor the political world, where an absolute multipartisan silence reigns over all this. Yet these decisions, basically dictated by Washington and signed by Minister Guerini for Italy, not only trace the guidelines of our military policy, but also our foreign policy.

Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx: ‘Death to Slavery’

By John Wight, June 26, 2020

Lincoln here is referring to the decision of Manchester textile workers — arrived at after a tempestuous meeting at the city’s Free Trade Hall in late 1862 — to continue to support the North’s blockade of the Atlantic ports of the Confederacy and to refuse to touch one bale of cotton picked by slaves in the the South should Lord Palmerston, Britain’s prime minister at the time, accede to the demands of British mill owners and shipping companies that he order the Royal Navy to smash the blockade by force in order to restore the fortunes of a British textile industry that was on its knees due to the lack of the cotton it relied on from these very slave states.

Journalist Julian Assange Charged with New American Indictment

By Dr. Leon Tressell, June 26, 2020

The new indictment incorporates the 18 charges from the first indictment and seeks to ‘broaden the scope of the conspiracy’ and asserts that Assange and Wikileaks tried to recruit hackers for the purpose of stealing secret documents from the US government.

Thirteen of the 49 page indictment are devoted to Assange’s efforts to recruit ‘Anonymous’ hackers. At one conference Assange is alleged to have encouraged hackers to join the CIA and then use their position to steal top secret documents.

Get Ready for ‘Shock and Awe’ Brexit Propaganda Campaign

By True Publica, June 26, 2020

The term ‘shock and awe‘, more often used to describe a military strategy of overwhelming force and closely associated with the disaster that was the Iraq war, is contained in a document setting out the government’s communications plan.

The information campaign is huge and is set to warn the public about the “consequences of not taking action,” before moving to a new phase focusing on avoiding losses as a result of the post-Brexit disruption.

War Crimes: US Destruction of North Korea Must Not be Forgotten

By Brett Wilkins, June 26, 2020

survey of Koreans in the summer of 1946 found that 77% preferred socialism or communism while only 14% favored capitalism. However, in the South, the US backed the right-wing dictatorship ofSyngman Rhee, a conservative Christian and staunch anti-communist who ruled with an iron fist. In the North, the USSR installed former anti-Japanese guerrilla leader and Red Army officer Kim Il Sung.

In 1948, the division of Korea was looking increasingly permanent. And politics was turning murderous.

War is Good for Business and Organized Crime: Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Opium Trade. Rising Heroin Addiction in the US

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, June 25, 2020

Today a rough estimate based on US retail prices suggests that the global heroin market is above the 500 billion dollars mark. This multibillion dollar hike is the result of a significant increase in the volume of heroin transacted Worldwide coupled with a moderate increase in retail prices.

Based on the most recent (UNODC) data (2017) opium production in Afghanistan is of the order of 9000 metric tons, which after processing and transformation is equivalent to approximately 900,000 kg. of pure heroin.

MSM “Fake News” Against Syria. Describe Al Qaeda as “Rebels”, Elected President as “Dictator”

By Steven Sahiounie, June 26, 2020

They call the Assad government of Syria the “Middle East’s most brutal dictatorship”.  President Assad is an elected president, having won the majority in an open election in 2014 of three candidates, which was observed by an independent international team.  The term brutal may have alluded to accusations of the use of chemical weapons; however, according to James Mattis, while serving as Defense Secretary under President Trump, the US has no evidence that Assad used chemicals.  President Obama drew a red line at chemical use, and when the famous attack occurred in East Ghouta in 2013 the world held their breath waiting for a US military attack, but after Obama was informed by the UK Defense Lab at Portadown that the chemical sample from East Ghouta was not from Syrian government supplies, Obama terminated the attack, refusing to be duped by the terrorists into attacking Syria based on a lie.  The US invasion and destruction of Iraq was based on a lie, which made Obama wary to repeat what George W. Bush had done.

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NATO at the Helm of Italian Foreign Policy

June 26th, 2020 by Manlio Dinucci

NATO Defense Ministers (Lorenzo Guerini, Pd representing Italy) gathered by videoconference on June17/18, and made a series of “decisions to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence.” However, nobody in Italy talks about it, neither the media (including social media) nor the political world, where an absolute multipartisan silence reigns over all this. Yet these decisions, basically dictated by Washington and signed by Minister Guerini for Italy, not only trace the guidelines of our military policy, but also our foreign policy.

First of all – announces Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg – “NATO is preparing for a possible second wave of Covid-19,” against which NATO has already mobilized over half a million soldiers in Europe. Stoltenberg does not clarify how NATO can predict a possible second virus pandemic with a new lockdown.

On one point, however, he is clear: this “does not mean that other challenges disappeared.” The major problem – Defense Ministers underlined – comes from Russia’s “destabilizing and dangerous behavior,” in particular from its “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, aimed at intimidating and threatening NATO allies.”

In this way they overturn reality, erasing the fact that it was NATO that extended its nuclear forces and bases close to Russia, especially the United States after the end of the Cold War. A strategy aimed at creating growing tensions with Russia in Europe has been methodically implemented with Washington’s direction.

Defense Ministers met in the Nuclear Planning Group, chaired by the United States, to decide on new military measures against Russia.

It is unknown what decisions on nuclear matters Minister Guerini signed on behalf of Italy. However, it is clear that by participating in the Group and hosting US nuclear weapons (which can also be used by our Air Force), Italy violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty and rejects the UN Treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Stoltenberg merely said, “Today we have decided on further steps to keep NATO nuclear deterrent in Europe safe and efficient.” Among these steps there is certainly the next arrival of the new US B61-12 nuclear bombs also in Italy.

Defense Ministers spoke of another growing “challenge” which is that of China for the first time “at the top of NATO’s agenda.” China is a trading partner of many allies, but at the same time “heavily invests in new missile systems that can reach all NATO countries,” said Stoltenberg. Thus, NATO begins to present China as a military threat.

At the same time, they present Chinese investments in the countries of the Alliance as dangerous. Based on this premise, Defense Ministers updated the guidelines for “national resilience,” aimed at preventing energy, transport and telecommunications, 5G in particular, from ending up under “foreign ownership and control” (read “Chinese Ownership and Control”).

These are the decisions signed by Italy at the Defense Ministers NATO meeting. They bind our country to a strategy of growing hostility, especially towards Russia and China, exposing us to increasingly serious risks and making our arrangements on which the same economic agreements rest unstable.

It is a long-term strategy, as evidenced by the (Born) NATO 2030″ project launch made by Secretary General Stoltenberg on June 8 to “strengthen the Alliance militarily and politically” by including countries like Australia (already invited to the Defense Ministers meeting), New Zealand, Japan and other Asians, in clear anti-Chinese function.

A group of 10 advisors was formed for the Great Global (Born) NATO 2030 project, including Prof. Marta Dassù, former foreign policy adviser in the D’Alema government before and during NATO’s war on Yugoslavia, in which Italy participated in 1999 with its bases and bombers, under US command.

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This article was originally published in Italian on Il Manifesto.

Manlio Dinucci is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from http://nousnatobases.org

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On page 405 of the folio edition of the writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln there is a letter dated January 19 1863. It is titled “To the Workingmen of Manchester, England” and begins: “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the address and resolutions which you have sent me on the eve of the new year.”

Lincoln here is referring to the decision of Manchester textile workers — arrived at after a tempestuous meeting at the city’s Free Trade Hall in late 1862 — to continue to support the North’s blockade of the Atlantic ports of the Confederacy and to refuse to touch one bale of cotton picked by slaves in the the South should Lord Palmerston, Britain’s prime minister at the time, accede to the demands of British mill owners and shipping companies that he order the Royal Navy to smash the blockade by force in order to restore the fortunes of a British textile industry that was on its knees due to the lack of the cotton it relied on from these very slave states.

Britain’s textile industry, centred in Lancashire, was the biggest in the world and prior to the US civil war imported three-quarters of all the cotton produced in the southern states.

A year of blockade, however, and 60 per cent of the industry’s machinery — its spindles and looms — were idle, forcing many of the workers into the arms of destitution and privation.

Yet despite this the workers of Manchester stood firm in solidarity with the Union States’ campaign to smash the Confederacy.

“I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the workingmen at Manchester and in all Europe are called to endure in this crisis,” Lincoln writes.

He goes on to proclaim:

“Under these circumstances, I cannot but regard your decisive utterance upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which had not been surpassed in any age or in any country.”

For perhaps obvious reasons, this astonishing moment in history is not widely taught in British schools. Neither is the fact that Palmerston and his government gave serious consideration to recognising the independence and sovereignty of the US Confederacy when, for much of 1862, the Union was on the back foot.

It had lost a series of battles — among them the Battle of First Bull Run, Manassas and Fredericksburg — and many within the British ruling Establishment urged such recognition as a way of weakening a potential economic and naval rival on the other side of the Atlantic.

It would also have allowed Britain to supply arms to the South and intervene decisively in the civil war.

The solidarity of Manchester textile workers with the Union in the anti-slavery cause was indeed the act of sublime heroism Lincoln hailed. It heralded a special relationship that was worthy of support.

Certainly, Lincoln thought so:

“I hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that, whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.”

But Lincoln went further than praising the stance of the Manchester workers in his open letter, a remarkable historical document by any standard. Soon thereafter he ordered relief ships, packed with provisions, to be sent to Liverpool to aid them in their time of hardship.

Two men who were in no doubt of the world-historical importance of the anti-slavery struggle raging across the Atlantic were Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

In an 1860 letter to Engels, Marx states that

“In my opinion, the biggest things that are happening in the world today are on the one hand the movement of the slaves in America, started by the death of John Brown and on the other the movement of the serfs in Russia.”

Five years on, in his capacity as head of the International Workingmen’s Association, the First International, Marx addressed a letter to Lincoln in response to his re-election as president.

“Sir, we congratulate the American people upon your reelection by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your reelection is Death to Slavery.”

Death to Slavery is one message the workers of Manchester would have endorsed.

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With only a few days left until 1 July, the date included in the Israeli government coalition agreement to further advance the annexation of occupied Palestinian territory, it has become clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump’s team that their next colonial mission will be more challenging to execute.

Worldwide campaigns, a firm position by the Arab world, the prospects of an ICC investigation and unprecedented Congress efforts, as well as the significant grassroots efforts in the US, are all elements that were not taken into consideration when the Trump team drafted Israel’s annexation plan.

Even for some of the current US administration’s closest allies, such as the pro-Israeli evangelical camp, Israel’s annexation is not a priority. Evangelical voices against annexation in the US are growing louder.

Likewise, many leading US Jewish voices have strongly opposed annexation, which if it took place could jeopardise their sacred bi-partisan support for the Israel lobby in Washington. A few days ago, over a hundred Democratic members of Congress signed a letter against annexation, while Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has expressed his own opposition to it.

All regional actors, as well as all Arab countries with strong connections in Washington, have warned against Israel’s plans. They have been clear that annexation undermines their national interests.

The secretary general of the Arab League has played an important role in the diplomatic efforts. The European Union has made it clear that annexation will negatively affect its relations with Israel. So, why would the US and Israel keep moving ahead with it?

‘Now or never’

Trump and his team have dismissed international law and UN resolutions as tools for peacemaking and have instead endorsed some of Israel’s most hardcore views. For the advocates of annexation, this is their historic moment and their short-term goals are clear.

November’s US election is pushing this camp to say: “It’s now or never.” The messianic cohort represented by US Ambassador David Friedman deeply feels that this moment will mark their legacy.

In their calculations, it is also possible that Israel’s leading trading partner, the European Union, is not going to be able to impose sanctions. They count on governments such as Germany’s, which while firmly declaring that annexation is a violation of international law, also called upon the ICC not to conduct an investigation into Israeli crimes.

As Israel continues to reiterate its intentions to annex, no country has yet taken concrete measures such as recalling its ambassador to Israel or summoning Israeli ambassadors to their countries. On top of that, only last Friday, no EU country voted in favour of a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council calling for basic principles of accountability for Israeli violations in Palestine.

Several steps

Our position remains that stopping annexation is doable. Ending Israel’s illegal colonial-settlement occupation is also achievable. We have taken several steps with this in mind, including ending all interim bilateral agreements after years of systematic Israeli violations.

A few days ago, thousands of Palestinians were joined by dozens of diplomats in Jericho to say no to annexation and yes to freedom for Palestine: a powerful image that showed the unanimous rejection of annexation outside the Trump-Netanyahu bubble.

UN resolution 3414 of 1975 requested “all States to desist from supplying Israel with any military or economic aid as long as it continues to occupy Arab territories and deny the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people.” In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion on the annexation wall also included a set of responsibilities for the international community.

If this was implemented, Israel would not be talking today about annexation. The calls for annexation are a reminder for the need for accountability, including sanctions.

Our vision of peace was detailed to the UN Security Council and is based on international law and relevant UN resolutions.

This requires bold steps to reaffirm the international support for this formula, including the recognition of the State of Palestine and to stop treating Israel as a state above the law. An international peace conference has been one of our requests.

Neither Trump nor Netanyahu expected major condemnations or challenges to their annexation plans. But this is an understanding that their actions are not only an attack against the rights of the Palestinian people but about the international community as a whole.

As the world has spoken loudly against annexation, we shall continue working in coordination with international parties, from governments and parliaments to civil society, to stop with concrete measures Israel’s attempts at perpetuating apartheid in Palestine.

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Dr. Saeb Erekat is the Secretary General of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Palestine’s Chief Negotiator.

Featured image is from IMEMC

Again, What Were the Benefits of Locking Down?

June 26th, 2020 by Edward Peter Stringham

The school closures, stay home orders, shuttering of businesses, banning of elective surgeries, closure of physical entertainment events, blocked flights, and sudden imposition of a central plan – it all happened suddenly from mid-March in the course of only a few days, and to enormous shock on the part of people who had previously taken their freedom and rights for granted. 

Despite enormous pressure from Washington, eight states did not lock down or used a very light touch: South Dakota, North Dakota, South Carolina, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.

After 100 days, we are in a position for some preliminary analysis of the performance of locked down states versus those that did not lock down. AIER has already published the evidence that lockdown states had higher rates of unemployment.

The Sentinel, a nonprofit news source of the Kansas Policy Institute, confirms our research by reporting the following data: locked down states have overall a 13.2% unemployment rate, while open states have a 7.8% unemployment rate.

But perhaps this better economic performance came at the expense of health?

In terms of health, locked down states have nearly four times the death rate from COVID-19.

The results do not prove that staying open necessarily caused the good outcomes, but should certainly lead us to question the notion that “lockdowns are necessary or else we all are going to die.”

To be sure, many mitigating factors may exist. Open states may have had fewer long-term health facilities housing people with low life expectacies; in every state, these account for roughly half of all deaths from COVID-19. In fact, “deaths among a narrow 1.7% group of the population are greater than deaths from the other 98.3%.”

Population density between the states also varies and that could have been an explanatory variable. The open states also lacked governors who mandated that nursing homes accept active COVID-patients. Earlier this month, we published some more detailed research “Unemployment Far Worse in Lockdown States, Data Show” by economist Abigail Devereux who found similar results.

A routine trope in the media is that people who oppose lockdowns are pushing freedom and wealth over safety and health. But as we can see from this clean examination of the results, the open states experienced less economic pain and less pain from the disease itself.

We are seeing desperate attempts by politicians, public health officials, and media commentators somehow to make sense of why the United States pursued the course it did with the closures, stay-home orders, travel bans, and near-universal quarantine, in violation of every principle that America has celebrated in its civic culture.

With the evidence coming in that the lockdowns were neither economically nor medically effective, it is going to be increasingly difficult for lockdown partisans to marshal the evidence to convince the public that isolating people, destroying businesses, and destroying social institutions was worth it.

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Edward Peter Stringham is President of the American Institute for Economic Research, Davis Professor of Economic Organizations and Innovation at Trinity College, and Editor of the Journal of Private Enterprise.

Featured image is from AIER

The governments’ overuse of militaristic, Churchillian and war-time cliches over Brexit and the pandemic is wearing thin and getting tiresome. But as Brexit day approaches, this is the mentality of a government obsessed with public relations. A mass propaganda invasion is to be aimed at every adult to overcome the Remainer enemy.

The tactics to be used will be based on behavioural science to get businesses and the public on side and to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.

The term ‘shock and awe‘, more often used to describe a military strategy of overwhelming force and closely associated with the disaster that was the Iraq war, is contained in a document setting out the government’s communications plan.

The information campaign is huge and is set to warn the public about the “consequences of not taking action,” before moving to a new phase focusing on avoiding losses as a result of the post-Brexit disruption.

If ever there was more evidence needed that the government themselves are pushing the country to a no-deal Brexit – this just adds more weight to it.

The plan forms part of a £multi-million advertising deal the government has struck with media agency MullenLowe London, reports politico.eu. This is the same outfit which has also been working on communications around the coronavirus pandemic. One might observe from the sidelines that communications throughout the pandemic has been a catastrophic failure on just about every level. The contract was found on the Tussell government procurement database.

Britain is set to leave the transition period on December 31, even if it fails to strike a trade deal with Brussels. Either way, there is expected to be new administration and checks on cross-border trade next year, as well as action needed by EU nationals in Britain, British nationals on the Continent and other groups in order to avoid disruption.

The Transition Campaign is the most important government campaign this year,” says a tender document. It says the ‘advertising blitz’ will begin in July and could stretch as far as May 2022.

Be ready to be ‘nudged’ or ‘shoved’ because this is in the plan, which split the publicity campaign across four “bursts.” Between July and August, there will be a drive to “nudge” or “shove” people to take action by warning of the “consequences” of Brexit, before moving to a “shock and awe” approach between September and November.

When we get to December when the realisation of Brexit is a reality, the propaganda campaign moves into the “loss avoidance” stage and in January, the indoctrination programme then moves to the final stage called “new opportunities.” By the end of the first quarter of 2021, most people will then know most of Brexit contained more ‘losses’ than ‘opportunities’ and will probably look to shifting blame onto Boris Johnson and Co as the economy does exactly what the governments’ own economic forecast said – ‘decline for a decade.’

It won’t be of much a surprise to learn that this cunning plan was drawn up with the help of so-called behavioural experts after the “Get Ready for Brexit” campaign, which sought to prepare people and businesses for Brexit throughout last year. That plan was heavily criticized by the National Audit Office so, no doubt we can expect more of the same.

Internal government data from October last year showed 61 per cent of businesses had not even looked for information on how to prepare for a no-deal scenario. The government said the numbers showed “there must still be a large degree of complacency amongst businesses.”

By May this year, business leaders were panic-struck over how to deal with the pandemic and then Brexit when in survival mode. The most recent survey of the general public found that the majority (55%) believe Brexit should be delayed to allow businesses time to adapt given issues caused by the pandemic.

Government research showed businesses are reluctant to take action without certainty, which is understandable given the circumstances. Those businesses working in cross-border trade were also more likely to prepare because of their concerns about the impact of Brexit. The government noted that because of their worries they “will not respond well to overly positive messaging.”

Meanwhile, it should be noted that the report also stated that Brexit voters are “less likely to prepare as they don’t believe in any potential negative consequences of leaving.”

Polling in January this year showed 74 per cent of U.K. adults had done nothing to prepare for leaving the EU and did not plan to. Eight per cent had taken action and 9 per cent intended to do so. This means the campaign needed to convince people that Brexit is going to have a big impact on the country will need to be both large and sustained.

The behavioral science team will use some nongovernment channels to convey messages because “people have a higher level of trust in third parties and peers than they do in government.” In other words, most people do not believe what the government says – trust has fallen to all-time lows after the chaos and confusion caused by government miscommunications and poor handling of the pandemic.

The document stated:

With nine months to go, now is the time to ensure that clarity and certainty is communicated wherever possible about what will happen at the end of the year. Therefore we need to frontload preparation wherever possible, and ensure that any early misunderstanding is ironed out and appropriate actions are taken.

The communications drive to prepare businesses and citizens is one of five “strategic goals” of the overall government plan for quitting the EU institutions at the end of this year.

Another goal is to convince the EU that the U.K. is ready to leave the transition period without a deal, while others include minimizing short term disruption and implementing necessary changes.

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced Wednesday that Tehran will negotiate with Washington only within the framework of the nuclear agreement and under the condition that the U.S. side pays compensation to the Middle East country for the damage caused.

“We are ready to negotiate as long as the U.S. complies with the international law, and the provisions of the United Nations’ resolution,” Rouhani said in a televised presentation.

Rouhani also urged the U.S. to fulfill its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), a nuclear agreement signed by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

“Our position is simple: the U.S. must apologize and compensate for the damage they caused to Iran,” added.

The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, USA, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany.

In 2018 the U.S. government announced that it was withdrawing from the agreement, claiming that Tehran had violated its obligations under the document.

 

In May, the US introduced sanctions against two leaders of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Tensions between the two countries increased following the assassination of Islamic’s Republic high commander Qasem Soleimani.

Iran’s strategic objective is to expel the U.S. from the region, at least from Iraq, and this may be closer to reality than it was before Soleimani’s death.

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The Editorial Board of The Washington Post published an opinion on June 24, “Syria’s brutal dictatorship suffers a severe setback”. It is an opinion; however, they must be held responsible for factually incorrect statements.  

They call the Assad government of Syria the “Middle East’s most brutal dictatorship”.  President Assad is an elected president, having won the majority in an open election in 2014 of three candidates, which was observed by an independent international team.  The term brutal may have alluded to accusations of the use of chemical weapons; however, according to James Mattis, while serving as Defense Secretary under President Trump, the US has no evidence that Assad used chemicals.  President Obama drew a red line at chemical use, and when the famous attack occurred in East Ghouta in 2013 the world held their breath waiting for a US military attack, but after Obama was informed by the UK Defense Lab at Portadown that the chemical sample from East Ghouta was not from Syrian government supplies, Obama terminated the attack, refusing to be duped by the terrorists into attacking Syria based on a lie.  The US invasion and destruction of Iraq was based on a lie, which made Obama wary to repeat what George W. Bush had done.

The editorial refers to Idlib as “the last major rebel stronghold”.  Idlib is under the occupation of Al Qaeda terrorists.  Al Qaeda is not “rebels”,  Al Qaeda is an internationally outlawed terrorist group according to the UN, EU, US, and many other countries.  The UN Charter, which the US signed, states all members must fight Al Qaeda wherever they are found.  The war on terror is a global fight. The Al Qaeda branch in Syria was called Jibhat al-Nusra, which changed its name to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Regardless of their name-changing attempt at disguise, they have never been “rebels”, but are fighting to establish an Islamic government in Syria, with Islamic law as the constitution. The establishment of an Islamic State in Syria is against all American values, both politically and culturally.

The editorial continues praising the new sanctions recently enacted “sanctioning of any foreign actors who provide support to the Assad regime, its air force, its oil industry or reconstruction projects”.  This is misleading, as it implies those sanctioned would have been dealing with the Syrian government.  The truth of the sanctions, which the editorial board skillfully left out, is that anyone in Syria who would like to rebuild their home, farm, factory, store, office, private school, private hospital, or any personal or private property is prevented from using any foreign products to do so.  These sanctions are not only against foreign companies selling reconstruction supplies to the Syrian government but are the threat of sanctions against any company outside of Syria who would dare to sell anything to any private person, or private company in Syria.

Dr. Yazji, who owned a private hospital in Syria for decades, which was attacked, occupied, looted, and destroyed by terrorists following Radical Islam in the early years of the conflict, is prevented from buying the medical equipment he needs to restock the hospital.  Specialty machines and supplies from medical firms in the UK, France, and Italy are prevented from entering Syria, even though the Syrian government has no role or benefit from the imported items.  Dr. Yazji, who had dreamed of refurbishing his hospital, re-hiring staff, and serving his community, will remain unemployed because of the US sanctions which the Editorial Board “credits” the US Congress with.

The US media has written countless articles about the dire conditions of the medical sector in Syria after 9 years of war.  However, the US sanctions prevent repairing any hospital, whether it is a Syrian Public Hospital under the Ministry of Health or one of the hundreds of private hospitals. The US Congress and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are well aware that the sanctions they have enacted against the people of Syria will prevent their health care from improving.

Another glaring untruth stated by the Editorial Board is “The initial round of Caesar Act sanctions announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was relatively modest, targeting the Assad clique and Iranian militia leaders”.  The sanctions are not targeting a small group at the top of the Syrian government.  The sanctions are targeting every person who lives in Syria today and includes Syrians living abroad who had been waiting for peace to be restored so that they could go home and rebuild their lives.  Now, those dreams are dashed, as they realize they can never rebuild their home and business and start generating a sustainable income once more.  The US sanctions are designed to keep the Syrian refugees outside because if the refugees start coming home again that means the conflict is over and Syria is recovering.  That is a political message that the US Congress never wants to tell.  The US foreign policy on Syria is clear and easily understood: keep the citizens in a constant state of suffering and deprivation, and keep blaming the Syrian government for their suffering.

A healthy, prosperous Syrian economy must be prevented.  Syrian refugees must be kept far-away from home, and they should be encouraged to not return home.  By keeping the economy in ruins, the US Congress keeps the Syrian war going, even though Trump cut off the CIA funding of terrorists in 2017.

The Editorial Board admits the sanctions are a “squeeze on the average Syrian”, as the sanctions “helped crash the Syrian currency, which has lost two-thirds of its value since the beginning of the year.”  The Syrian Lira (SL) held at 50 SL to $1.00 from 1992 to 2011.  From the effects of the newest US sanctions, the currency rose to 3,800 SL to $1.00 recently.  Imagine a dinner for two which you were used to paying $50.00 for in a US city, and then you go back to the same place and order the same meal and the bill is suddenly $4,000.00.  Imagine the hardship of Syrians trying to feed their families in this economic crisis, and remember that not one loaf of bread from the US has ever arrived in Damascus to feed the poor.  The billions of US AID goes to Idlib and the foreign countries which host Syrian refugee camps.  The law-abiding Syrian citizens who never left home or supported Al Qaeda or ISIS are deprived of aide.

While the media often portrays Syria as a ghost town, with the majority of the population having left during the years of greatest conflict, the truth of the matter is the vast majority of the Syrian population never left.  The experts consistently state that approximately one-third of the population left Syria, but that leaves about two-thirds inside Syria today, and suffering from the US sanctions, which began in 1979 but are now hitting a crescendo.  The US Congress should be concentrating on how to help the UN process for peace, which is outlined in resolution 2254, instead of concentrating on how to make the Syrian people suffer.  But, after all, that is just my opinion.

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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.

1838年,中国清朝道光皇帝下令销毁广州港(广州)的鸦片库存,大英帝国以阻碍商品贸易 “自由流通 “为由对中国宣战。

“贩卖 “一词适用于英国。维多利亚女王在位期间(1837-1901年),一直纵容和支持这种行为。1838年,每年有1 400吨鸦片从印度出口到中国。第一次鸦片战争后,这些货物的数量(一直延续到1915年)急剧增加。

所谓第一次鸦片战争(1838-1842),代表了对中国的侵略行为,随后,1842年签订了《南京条约》,不仅保护了英国对中国的鸦片进口,还赋予英国和其他殖民国家域外权利,导致 “条约港 “的形成。

鸦片贸易的巨额收入就被英国用来资助其殖民征服。今天,这将被称为 “洗毒资”。 鸦片收入的输送也被用来资助北京国际公司在1865年第一次鸦片战争后成立的香港上海银行。

 

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Several experts suggest that the post-pandemic world will be very different from the world we know. It is speculated that a new order, based on the prevention of the spread of diseases, will be put in place and that, for this purpose, governments and intelligence organizations in all countries will use advanced control and surveillance systems, in order to track infected people and keep them in quarantine, preventing the circulation of infections. Despite possible benefits, such as preventing a new pandemic, this model of organization also has some problems, as it sacrifices several civil liberties in the name of disease prevention, annihilating the right to privacy and the right to come and go.

In several countries, the tests for a post-coronavirus order has already begun. Israel is one of the most advanced nations in this regard, already having complex control and surveillance systems and exporting its technology to other countries, such as India. Now, another country that is gaining notoriety on this issue is Spain, which is advancing more and more in surveillance and hypercontrol projects.

Recently, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation proposed a pilot project to test a control model on the Spanish island of La Gomera, where a cell phone application will be used to control private health data. The goal is to create a large infection and control simulation to test the model before implanting it in the rest of the country. The Council of Ministers has already approved the project, which will start soon. Although several countries are already testing similar systems, Spain is the first nation to simulate contagions for better data capture. The company responsible for the technology is the Spanish multinational Indra, which Works in military industry, mainly in the field of telecommunications and strategic technology. The contract signed between the company and the Spanish government is valued at more than 330,000 euros.

The application operates via Bluetooth and emits signals to other cell phones with the same technology installed, watching them constantly. When two users physically approach each other, a contagion alert is issued in the event of an approach of less than 2 meters for more than 15 minutes. If one of the users is tested positive for COVID-19, he will receive an alert informing him of the risks and those who approached him will receive tips on how to avoid contagion. While this whole process takes place, user data is constantly captured and analyzed by remote monitoring centers – and here lies the danger of misuse of this technology.

Formally, the application follows rules of respect for privacy to the individual rights of users, who will not be obliged to use it or accept to receive notifications, however there are several unclear points about the project, as informed by the Spanish Data Protection Agency, who complains about the lack of transparency on the part of the Indra company and the government. The Agency published an official note severely criticizing the lack of details in the elaboration of the project, which prevents a more rigorous evaluation by the Agency. In its note, the criticisms were particularly directed to the Spanish Secretariat of State, which said that the Agency participated in the entire process of evaluating and reviewing the project, which the Agency vehemently denies, saying it needs more information and that it prioritizes the protection of data above all issues.

In fact, it is clear that even within the Spanish government there is a disagreement regarding the nature of the project, which reveals the controversy surrounding the issue. Indeed, what the ministers who approved the system and the company that developed it are planning is to move forward on a very dangerous global agenda, which prioritizes the violation of all personal rights in order to prevent a contagion. It is necessary to take into account a series of issues and rigorously evaluate the benefits and costs of the project, taking into account that this type of technology can be used for absolutely any purpose, including espionage and hypervigilance.

The coronavirus seems to have opened a new Overton Window, in which the control of personal information data and total monitoring have entered the sphere of public debate. The so-called “western democracies”, based on liberal values ​​such as the individual freedom, increasingly admit totalitarian speeches in the name of “public health”. It remains to be seen, however, whether it is really only in the name of collective health that Western governments want to violate the rights of their citizens. It is very likely that there are much deeper and more obscure interests behind the disease prevention discourse, and all of this should be taken into account when discussing projects as bold as this one.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Featured image is from InfoBrics

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On 24 June a US Federal Grad Jury issued a second superseding indictment against Journalist Julian Assange.

The new indictment incorporates the 18 charges from the first indictment and seeks to ‘broaden the scope of the conspiracy’ and asserts that Assange and Wikileaks tried to recruit hackers for the purpose of stealing secret documents from the US government.

Thirteen of the 49 page indictment are devoted to Assange’s efforts to recruit ‘Anonymous’ hackers. At one conference Assange is alleged to have encouraged hackers to join the CIA and then use their position to steal top secret documents.

It also alleges that Assange cajoled, encouraged and assisted Chelsea Manning in ‘stealing’ hundreds of thousands of secret government documents relating to the Iraq and Afghan wars as well as diplomatic cables and Guantanamo Bay detainee assessments.

The icing on the cake of this new indictment are the claims that Assange wilfully revealed the ‘name of Human Sources and Created a Grave and Imminent Risk to Human Life’ through publishing ‘stolen’ secret documents. The tally of secret documents that Wikileaks published includes 75,000 Afghan war reports, 400,000 Iraq war reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessments and 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

The new indictment alleges that Wikileaks published documents that revealed the names of various collaborators working with US military and intelligence agencies deliberately putting their lives in danger.

The new indictment also tries to make the help that Wikileaks gave NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden a criminal offence. Never mind the fact that the FBI relied upon paid informants such as ‘convicted conman, and sex criminal Sigurdur Thordarson’ to make up bogus claims against Assange. According to WikiLeaks Thordarson is one of the star witnesses for new indictment from the US Department of Justice.

The timing of this new indictment is suspicious. Trump is trailing in numerous polls due to his disastrous handling of the Covid-19 pandemic that has left over 120,000 Americans dead and caused trillions of dollars worth of economic damage. Is the new indictment a pathetic attempt to try and steer the news away from the storm of negative press encircling the White House?

The Freedom of the Press Foundation has commented:

“The Trump DOJ’s new Assange indictment has all the same problems as the old one. Source communication and publishing are not crimes. They didn’t add any new charges. They didn’t really change any old ones. And the using the Espionage Act is beyond the pale.’’

Julian Assange’s extradition trial does not resume until 7 September. Further outbreaks of the virus could put a spoke in that judicial frame up by the British government. Yet it appears the entire British political class including the so called opposition Labour Party will do nothing to try and prevent Assange’s extradition. Its new leader Keir Starmer, a former human rights barrister, supports the extradition process.

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose reports revealed the global surveillance operations of the US and UK, has noted the connivance of British and American politicians and media of all political colours with Trump’s war on whistle blowers:

“The Trump DOJ’s attempt to imprison Julian Assange for working with his source to publish classified documents that exposed US war crimes is the most severe US threat to press freedom since 2016. It’s sickening to watch so many journalists ignore it, & so many liberals cheer it: ‘’

Kevin Gosztlioa of the Shadow Proof news outlet has written a detailed expose of the new indictment. He conclusion declares:

“While the conspiracy charge includes sensational claims of collaboration with hackers, it is no less of a political charge than the seventeen Espionage Act offences Assange faces for publishing information.

The additional sections in the indictment represent an attempt to give the illegitimate prosecution a greater veneer of criminality. Unfortunately, it does not take much to scrape it off and expose the contempt for press freedom that still lies behind this vindictive prosecution.’’

Ordinary people around the world must step up their efforts to secure the release of journalist Julian Assange. If extradited to the US he would face a show trial that would resemble the worst excesses of Stalin and Hitler’s courtrooms in the 1930s.

The extradition of Julian Assange by the crisis ridden American empire sends a clear warning to anyone who has thoughts about investigating or revealing US war crimes. It represents a threat to investigative journalists and anti war activists who challenge the bloody rule of American capital which will not go down without a fight.

The persecution of Julian Assange reveals a certain desperation on the part of the American ruling class. However, it won’t solve any of the social, economic and political problems facing American capitalism which is in a state of deep crisis.

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After two days of fighting with militants from the rival militant coalition Fa Ithbatu, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has launched a large-scale attack in order to put an end to the resistance to its dominance in Greater Idlib.

According to pro-militant sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham members supported by battle tanks stormed the town of Arab Said west of Idlib city. This town was recently captured by Fa Ithbatu forces and turned into a foothold for operations against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. At the same time, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham besieged and stormed the HQ of Horas al-Din, a member group of Fa Ithbatu, in the town of Sarmada.

In their turn, Horas al-Din attacked several Hayat Tahrir al-Sham checkpoints near the western entrance to Idlib city, allegedly seizing them.

Fa Ithbatu accuses Hayat Tahrir al-Sham of conspiring with foreign forces, mainly Turkey, against the so-called Syrian revolution. Earlier in June, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham arrested Ansar al-Din commander, Abu Salah al-Uzbeki, and Liwa al-Muqatlin al-Ansar commander, Abu Malek al-Tali. Both these groups are a part of the recently formed Fa Ithbatu coalition.

Meanwhile, pro-militant sources are spreading rumors about an increase in operations of the Russian special forces in southern Idlib. According to them, a unit of the Russian special forces raided a position of Turkish-backed Suqur al-Sham near the village of Benin killing 4 and injuring 3 members of the group.

This became the first militant claim about the Russian Special Forces in Idlib since the signing of the March 5 de-escalation agreement between Ankara and Moscow. If such an attack really happened, it was likely a response to the recent drone attack by Idlib militants on Russia’s Hmeimim Air Base in Lattakia.

Late on June 24, an unidentified drone struck a militant vehicle moving on the road near the town of Binnish in Greater Idlib. The strike completely destroyed the vehicle and the several persons inside. While the eliminated militants are yet to be identified, local sources claim that the vehicle likely belonged to Ansar al-Tawhid or Horas al-Din. Recently, combat drones of the US-led coalition conducted several strikes on ISIS- and al-Qaeda-linked terrorists that hide in the Turkish-occupied part of Syria.

The Turkish Army and Turkish-backed militants shelled positions of the Syrian Army and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) near the town of Tell Rifat in northern Aleppo. Pro-Turkish sources claim that several army and YPG fighters were killed. Strikes likely came in response to the recent series of attacks by YPG-affiliated cells on positions of pro-Turkish groups in the region of Afrin.

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CHOP-CHAZ Folds, Throws Support Behind Joe Biden

June 26th, 2020 by Kurt Nimmo

The kids squatting on the CHOP or CHAZ declared “autonomous zone” in Seattle have announced they are folding tents and going home. They also threw support behind Joe Biden, demonstrating they have the political understanding of a fence post.

Joe Biden is an establishment stalwart. He will be whatever the DNC and its wealthy controllers want him to be.

When the elite told Bill Clinton to kill Serbians, Joe was onboard. He argued in favor of the Iraq invasion that has thus far killed around 1.5 million people. The LGBT crowd should understand that Joe was an ardent supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act. As for BLM, they should look into Biden’s opposition to desegregation busing. He spoke to a crowd in Delaware opposed to integration. He pushed hard for the passage of the 1994 crime bill. It resulted in mass incarceration and longer prison sentences for Black Americans. It further warped the judicial system.

Paul Street writes:

Biden helped author and worked to pass the racist federal mass incarceration Three Strikes crime bill of 1994. He has boasted of his ability to work with segregationists as a U.S. senator in the 1970s, when he opposed federal desegregation busing orders and worried about sending his children to desegregated schools.

“Much of the modern controversy around the bill surrounds the view that it has led to mass incarceration, especially among people of color,” writes Joseph Lyttleton. “The bill has also led more defendants to take plea deals and accept prison time without a trial to avoid a much more severe punishment if found guilty, even when innocent.”

None of this matters, of course. It’s like this every election — a choice between the “lesser of two evils” — and come November Democrats will overlook Joe’s racial sins because they are focused on getting rid of Trump.

The hypocrisy here is simply astounding. The CHAZ kids and their BLM comrades will vote for Biden and thus the military-industrial complex wars, financial ripoffs by the elite, all-encompassing surveillance, censorship of political opponents, and the neoliberal creed destroying much of the world.

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This article was originally published on Medium.

Kurt Nimmo has a blog site, Another Day in the Empire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

When it comes to the touchy, violent matter of Kosovar affairs, history keeps company with the devils of nationalism and vengeance. Serbia remains scornful of the aspirations of the territory, whose legitimacy it does not recognise; Kosovo remains spiteful of Serbia’s continued interest, and attempts, at any given turn, to frustrate their neighbour’s effort at European integration.  Blood tinged memories between the two sides reign with relentless fury.

On the issue of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the dreaded term of genocide, the lion’s share of the blame was initially attributed to Serbian forces.  Slobodan Milošević was seen as flag waving butcher and regional bug bear, a Balkan génocidaire who eventually faced the stiff legal tunes of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  He died before judgment could be delivered.

With Serbia cast in the role of permanent villainy, and its enemies validated and sanitised as good patriots, it seemed unlikely that the Kosovo Liberation Army, not disinclined towards perpetrating atrocities, would face the scrutiny of bench and gavel.  They were given good cause to think so; the bombing campaign by NATO forces in 1999 was initiated on the side of Kosovar Albanians ostensibly to halt the genocidal rampages of Serb forces.  It prompted the war studies academic Lawrence Freedman to warn that, “War in the name of morality provides as many reasons for historical shudders as war in the name of self-interest, for at least the latter may be easier to call off when self-interest calls for compromise.”  Sides had been picked, and the KLA was emboldened. 

As late as last year, a key figure in this rocket-charged humanitarian evangelism, former US President Bill Clinton, became a spectacle, paraded around on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the bombings on a visit to Pristina.  He was on nationalist show for Kosovo’s grateful President Hashim Thaçi, who had awarded him the Order of Freedom

“We thank you for the just decision to stop the Serbian genocide during 1999.  We are very grateful for the support of the US in Kosovo.  The story of Kosovo is a story of joint success.  You are our hero.”

Behind such triumphalism, scrutiny about the conduct of KLA officers has been levelled, notably within European Union circles.  In December 2010, Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty brought the issue to light in a report alleging a range of human rights abuses, crimes and atrocities committed by a good number of Kosovo’s current luminaries.  A prominent figure in the report was Thaçi himself, a member of the “Drenica Group” who had “played vital roles as co-conspirators in various categories of criminal activity”. Those in the group “have been investigated repeatedly in the last decade as suspects in war crimes or organised criminal enterprise, including in major cases led by prosecutors under UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo], the ICTY  and EULEX [European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo].”

First-hand accounts suggested that Thaçi, along with Xhavit Haliti, Kadri Veseli, Azem Syla and Fatmir Limaj, had “ordered – and in some cases personally overseen – assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations in various parts of Kosovo and, of particular interest to our work, in the context of KLA-led operations in the territory of Albania, between 1998 and 2000.”

A few observations in the dark report stand out like raging sores: members of the Drenica Group and their associates “would have been convicted of serious crimes and would now be serving lengthy prison sentences” but for two critical reasons: the successful elimination, intimidation into silence, of “potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets” and “faltering will on the part of the international community to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA.”

The report stirred pressure within European circles, leading to the creation of the Special Investigative Task Force (SITF) which presented its findings in 2014.  This propelled the creation of the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Chambers, a hybrid judicial body established under a 2015 law adopted by the Kosovo Assembly, a product of pressure on the part of Pristina’s allies rather than persuasion, charged with trying alleged crimes committed by KLA members during between 1998 and 2000.  The court’s mandate is set to conclude only when Kosovo is notified by the Council of the European Union that investigations and proceedings have been finalised.

The Specialist Chambers have taken their time.  For over four-and-a-half years, there were no indictments. Processes and protocols were being established, regulations formulated. 

“It was challenging setting up the entire administration of the court, drafting and adopting the rules of procedure and evidence, adopting internal rules and regulations,” explained Specialist Chambers spokesperson Angela Griep.

As this was happening, vain efforts were made to revoke or alter the law establishing the Specialist Chambers, citing discrimination against Kosovo Albanian guerrillas.  Thaçi has certainly been busy behind the scenes, doing his bit of beavering to disrupt any investigation.  Understandably wishing to mine the veritable quarry of US President Donald Trump’s suspicions of international legal bodies, he pressed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in November 2019 to change the mandate of court, and its location in The Netherlands.  His letter expressed an open concern about the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, suggesting that such bodies continued operating in direct conflict with the judicial structures of the territory. 

In his reply of November 29, 2019, Pompeo warned of grave consequences should Thaçi prove uncooperative. 

“The abolishment or undermining the work, structure or locations of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in any way,” the secretary’s warning letter went, “would seriously infringe Kosovo’s credibility in the world.”

Such behaviour would tarnish Kosovo permanently, questioning its commitment to the rule of law, denying justice to victims and muddy its future. 

On June 24, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office revealed in a press release that it had filed a ten-count indictment with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers on April 24. 

“The indictment alleges that Hashim Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, and the other charged suspects are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.  The crimes alleged in the Indictment involve hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents.” 

The indictment had been kept under wraps, but it was felt that “repeated efforts” by Thaçi and Veseli to obstruct and undermine the office via “a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Court” necessitated its disclosure.

Given the alleged exploits of those of the Drenica Circle, the fear now lies in witness protection prior to any proceedings that will take place in the court’s pretrial chamber, which will have to confirm the indictment.  The detractors within Kosovo will not be happy to oblige, and obstacles will be deployed.  Edi Rama, Albania’s Prime Minister, gazing at the whole affair with nationalist tinted glasses, already has his assessment:

“It is a statement that does not only throw mud against Thaçi or Veseli or the Kosovo Liberation Army but [attacks] Kosovo and Albanianism.”

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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]

For all intents and purposes, India seems to have unofficially decided to “decouple” itself from its “fellow” BRICS and SCO “partner” China, but this US-backed development is dangerous since the South Asian state might not be able to survive the domestic socio-economic and regionally destabilizing consequences of such a dramatic move.

The Decoupling That Everyone Should Have Seen Coming

Exactly as the author predicted several years back in his analytical piece about the “21st-Century Geopolitics Of The Multipolar World Order“, India has finally decided to more openly embrace its long-suspected role of being the US’ main continental proxy for “containing” China in the aftermath of the Galwan Incident earlier this month. Bilateral relations with China have since deteriorated to such a point that “Russia Can’t Broker Sino-Indo Peace: The Best It Can Do Is Balance Its Response To This Crisis“. “Modi’s Major Himalayan Mistake Crushed The Indian Military’s Morale“, and since “Modi Can’t Put The Genie Of Indian Jingoism Back In The Bottle“, he’s forced to surrender to the hyper-nationalist grassroots forces that the ruling BJP unleashed over the past six years by escalating tensions with China even further through the de-facto “decoupling” of these two neighboring nations.

Boycott Blowback

The specific form that it’s taking in its first manifestation is its population’s unofficial “boycott” of Chinese goods, which the Indian leadership believes will facilitate the clinching of a forthcoming free trade deal with the US after signaling to its new patron just how serious its people are about “economically distancing” themselves from the People’s Republic. This is an extremely risky strategy that will likely result in tremendous self-inflicted damage to India’s stability if it’s not properly managed because of the disastrous socio-economic consequences of such a dramatic move. China is India’s largest trading partner if one doesn’t account for the US’ recent surge of energy exports to the South Asian country over the past year, and it’s also among its top foreign investors as well. India simply cannot afford to cut the economic umbilical cord connecting these two countries, which is why it’s opting for a “phased” approach in implementing its unstated “decoupling” policy.

The Resurgence Of India’s Class-Based Struggle

The plan, as Indian leaders conceive it to be at least, is to serve as the primary destination for foreign firms that decide to “re-offshore” from China in response to the US’ “trade war” pressure. To make itself more appealing, Hindustan Times reported in early May that “Some states put freeze on labour laws to get business going“, which prompted Al Jazeera to opine shortly thereafter that “India’s workers face ‘race to the bottom’ of labour standards“. This is a dream come true for India’s government-affiliated conglomerates and their foreign partners (both present and prospective), but a disaster in the making for its internal stability since it’ll likely provoke more class-based unrest that could unify the country’s ethno-religiously disparate masses behind a common anti-government cause. The increasingly authoritarian government, however, assumes that it can keep everything under control with its stereotypically muscular response to anti-government demonstrations.

The Self-Sustaining Cycle Of Destabilization

That’s a strategic mistake if there ever was one since the state’s history of violently overreacting to law-abiding protests actually worsens the domestic drivers of unrest by giving the angry masses more grievances to protest about, thus catalyzing a self-sustaining cycle of destabilization. In addition, the expected economic dividends of a hoped-for trade deal with the US might not materialize, or at least not as immediately as decision makers hope. America might take advantage of the fact that India doesn’t have any credible alternatives after proverbially burning its bridges with China in order to demand even more radical labor “reforms” that end up worsening the domestic situation in order for its companies to reap even greater profits in the meantime. India is therefore at risk of slipping into a strategic trap entirely of its own making, one that will also likely result in destabilizing regional consequences as well.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Of “Encirclement”

The first of these is that China will inevitably respond to India’s intended “decoupling” by more actively “wooing” the latter’s South Asian neighbors along the lines of the model that it just unveiled with Bangladesh whereby the People’s Republic just exempted 97% of the former’s exports from tariffs. Expanding this policy throughout the region after perfecting its implementation in Bangladesh will weaken India’s trade ties with its neighbors and consequently contribute to its self-fulfilling prophecy that China is “encircling” it even though Beijing’s “economic diplomacy” in this respect is being practiced defensively in response to India’s US-backed Hybrid War aggression against it. Paired with the jingoistic sentiment that’s uncontrollably spreading throughout India, its leadership might feel compelled to engage in risky military adventures to “save face” at home.

Removing Chanakya’s Yoga Mask

A doubling down on India’s strategy of regional aggression would remove the friendly yoga mask that it’s worn for years in an attempt to deceive the international community into thinking that it’s “peaceful” and thus expose its true Machiavellian intentions. Many outside observers might not be aware of it, but the much more popular Machiavelli was just a later European version of the lesser known Indian Chanakya of almost two millennia prior who embodied the exact same “pragmatic” principles but took them to even more shocking extremes. Growing awareness outside of South Asia about the true basis for Indian grand strategy could irreparably harm the country’s “positive” image that it’s invested so much time, money, and effort into carefully cultivating over the decades. It would no longer just be so-called “Chinese and/or Pakistani propaganda” to consider India as the “rogue state” that it really is, but an empirical fact that would by then be impossible to ignore.

Concluding Thoughts

As can be seen from this analysis, India’s intended “decoupling” from China carries with it enormous risks to its domestic and regional stability. The US is encouraging its new proxy to undertake this dramatic move since it stands to gain regardless of what happens. American companies can reap massive profits from India’s trend of removing labor regulations, the American government can blame China for “stoking unrest” inside the country if a large-scale class-based anti-government movement arises in response to excessive labor abuses, and the American military can sell more weapons to its Indian counterpart in pursuit of their shared objective of “containing” China in the region. India’s being set up by the US to fail, but it’s all by design, not incompetence, since America is masterful at employing “constructive chaos” to advance its grand strategic ambitions everywhere in the world.

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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.

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For a brief moment in the summer of 1945 there was joy in Korea.

Koreans, who had suffered 35 years of of brutal Japanese colonial occupation prior to Tokyo’s defeat in World War II, celebrated what they believed was their liberation by victorious US and Soviet forces. Full of hope for a future free of foreign rule, they proudly declared their independence.

That hope was soon dashed. It was announced that the victorious allied powers, the US and the USSR, would be occupying the entire Korean Peninsula. The USSR would take the north, the US the south.

Like so many other imperial endeavors, the division of Korea along the 38th Parallel was an exercise in arbitrariness and utter disregard for the wishes of the people it affected. The people of Korea very quickly realized that they were merely trading one occupying empire for another.

survey of Koreans in the summer of 1946 found that 77% preferred socialism or communism while only 14% favored capitalism. However, in the South, the US backed the right-wing dictatorship of Syngman Rhee, a conservative Christian and staunch anti-communist who ruled with an iron fist. In the North, the USSR installed former anti-Japanese guerrilla leader and Red Army officer Kim Il Sung.

In 1948, the division of Korea was looking increasingly permanent. And politics was turning murderous.

The killing begins

By early 1950 there were more than 100,000 political prisoners in the South. Summary executions of leftists, both real and imagined, claimed tens of thousands of lives as the South’s police-state reign of terror rivaled the outrages of the communist North.

As efforts to negotiate a unified Korean state failed, nascent anti-government insurgencies grew in the South, notably on Jeju Island. They were brutally repressed.

Brief but bloody border skirmishes escalated. Both Rhee and Kim sought unification through invasion.

Seventy years ago today – on June 25, 1950 – Kim went for broke. Northern forces launched an all-out invasion of the South.

Seoul, the South’s capital, fell three days later. America’s supreme commander in the Far East, Tokyo-based General Douglas MacArthur, was soon convinced that American boots on the ground were the key to repulsing Northern aggression. President Harry S Truman agreed, calling the intervention a “police action.”

The US military, strutting with atomic swagger and still puffed up with the pride of World War II victory, expected a short war. Green, flabby GIs, more fit for the pomp and parades of Japanese occupation duty than for the horrors of close combat that awaited them in Korea, imagined they would soon be back to the bars and bordellos of Tokyo.

Reality proved harsh. In the summer of 1950, Northern forces routed both the South’s army and the first American units to land. US and Southern forces retreated southward toward the southeastern port of Pusan (today, Busan) along with hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees.

After a titanic struggle around the “Pusan Perimeter” and a masterly amphibious landing at Inchon, North Korean forces were routed by mid-September 1950. In October, US-led forces counter-invaded North Korea. That prompted a Chinese intervention in the winter months. The carnage escalated.

Hell from above

While US ground troops had a mixed performance, one area in which US forces enjoyed near total supremacy was in the air. Overcoming initial reluctance from MacArthur, General George Stratemeyer ordered US bombers to “destroy every means of communications and every installation, factory, city, and village” in North Korea.

More bombs were dropped on Korea than during the entire World War II Pacific campaign. US carpet bombing of North Korea included napalm, incendiary and fragmentation bombs that killed and maimed by the thousands and left cities, towns, villages and countryside in scorched and shattered ruins.

In the North’s capital Pyongyang, only around 50,000 people out of a prewar population of 500,000 remained in 1953, the year the war fizzled out.

When all the cities, towns and industrial sites were destroyed, US warplanes bombed dams, reservoirs and rice fields, flooding the countryside and destroying the nation’s food supply. Only emergency aid from China, the Soviet Union and other socialist nations averted famine.

Fearing Northern troops could infiltrate Southern lines disguised as civilians, fighter pilots bombed and strafed refugees as they fled south. In one of the the most infamous atrocities of the war,  between 163 and 400 men, women and children were gunned down at No Gun Ri in South Korea over three days in July 1950.

Retreating South Korean and US troops also blew up bridges teeming with refugees, and during their retreat from they North, they burned villages and towns in a “scorched earth” policy to deny the advancing enemy quarters and supplies.

Meanwhile, Rhee’s agents were “clearing” rear areas. Perhaps 100,000 South Korean civilians were murdered by their own armed forces, who targeted leftists. US troops were present at horrific mass slaughters throughout the war.

Most Americans were fed a sanitized version of the conflict, although some of its horrors were celebrated – witness John Ford’s propaganda piece This Is Korea! in which footage of a flamethrower attack is accompanied by actor John Wayne’s voiceover: “Fry ’em out! Burn ’em out! Cook ’em!”

General Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay – who commanded firebombing raids on Japanese cities that killed more civilians than the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – served as strategic air commander during the Korean War.

He would later acknowledge that “over a period of three years or so, we killed off 20% of the population” of North Korea. That’s nearly 1.9 million men, women and children. In comparison, the Nazis had murdered 17% of Poland’s pre-World War II population just a few years earlier.

The unfinished war

By the time that North Korean, Chinese and American forces signed a ceasefire agreement on July 27, 1953 – Rhee, furious that the war had ended with the peninsula divided, refused to join – North Korea was utterly ruined. “Everything is destroyed,” said US bomber commander General Emmett O’Donnell. “There is nothing standing worthy of the name.”

US President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea over its nuclear-missile program before improbably “falling in love” with the country’s leader Kim Jong Un (the grandson of Kim Il Sung).

US presidential threats, coming as they do from the nation that has killed more foreign civilians than any other over the past 75 years, are not to be taken lightly.

For North Koreans of a certain age, total destruction by the United States isn’t an abstract threat. It is a hellish reality that ranks among the most egregious acts of a century that witnessed some of the most appalling barbarity in human history.

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Brett Wilkins is a San Francisco-based journalist and author who contributes regularly to Common Dreams and Counterpunch. He is also a member of Collective 20, a new anti-war collective with Noam Chomsky, Medea Benjamin and others.

As a young farmer, Bill Westrate would walk outside most nights with a white sheet and black light to lure swarms of insects to the side of his barn in Cass County. “It would scare most people,” he said. But he didn’t much mind the bugs that would land in his hair and crawl down his shirt.

“It was just an absolute cloud of life.”

Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Westrate would fill specimen cases with insects on his land, where he farmed corn, soy and Christmas trees. Sometimes, he would try other methods — putting ladders up to collect insects from porch lights,  or using malaise traps, tents made of fine mesh that collect a variety of arthropods.

Then, a couple of years ago — while watching a local television show where someone was using a similar trap — it occurred to him: The insects that once blanketed his land were mostly gone. And he wondered what happened to them.

He began to survey his southwest Michigan farm with a closer eye. He noticed that common insects like leafcutter bees, mud dauber wasps and orb weaver spiders were vanishing. And his holly bushes and wisteria vines no longer bore fruit, suggesting a lack of pollinators.

Of course, Westrate is just one farmer. But he’s also the former president of the Michigan Entomological Society; a “citizen-scientist extraordinaire,” in the words of Jennifer Tank, a biologist at the University of Notre Dame.

And what he saw as he walked his land was in line with insect declines observed across much of the United States and Europe.

A sphinx moth from Bill Westrate’s collection. (Bridge photo by Brian Allnutt)

In one oft-cited study in Germany, for instance, total biomass of flying insects studied in preserves fell as much as 82 percent over 27 years. It wasn’t just a loss in the diversity of insect populations, but in total numbers, imperiling organisms at the base of the food web.

It’s unclear exactly what’s causing the declines. Scientists say they’re likely a result of a host of variables including habitat loss, climate change, pests, disease and new classes of pesticides such as glyphosate (the primary ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup) and neonicotinoids.

Together, these factors could help dramatically reorder the landscape in Michigan, affecting insects and in turn “every aspect of ecosystem function,” according to ecologist Nick Haddad of Michigan State University’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station.

Audrey Sebold, a horticulture specialist at the Michigan Farm Bureau, notes that “most of Michigan’s fruits and many of our vegetables” require pollination from insects. Honeybees and native pollinators like bumblebees are important to fruit crops that thrive in Michigan, including tart cherries and blueberries, and vegetables such as tomatoes and squash.

Beyond the impact on agriculture and wildlife, continued declines in insect populations could lead — eventually — to “a tipping point,” said Haddad, “where we go from a habitable earth to basically uninhabitable.”

That may sound extreme, but scientists such as Francisco Sánchez-Bayo from the University of Sydney point out that with studies showing a rate of insect decline of 2.5 percent per year, “in 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”

Hence, the appearance of cheerful hashtags like #insectarmageddon.

Alas, not all scientists view the future as so bleak, citing both the resilience of a million-plus species of insects and a shortage of comprehensive research around the globe.

“Not going to happen,” Elsa Youngsteadt of North Carolina State University told The Atlantic of insects’ demise. “They’re the most diverse group of organisms on the planet. Some of them will make it.”

Insects are certainly diverse and adaptable, lending credence to the they-will-survive chorus. However, as a study in the journal Science showed, wildflowers have been declining in correlation with their pollinators, raising “the possibility of community-level cascades of decline and extinction.” In other words, it’s more than just bugs we have to worry about losing.

“But that’s in the future,” Haddad said. “We’re not at the extreme yet and we’ve got to head things off now…”

Preventing a worst-case scenario means getting a better picture of what’s driving the decline of insect populations.

A much-noted 2018 report in the New York Times titled, “The Insect Apocalypse Is Here,” was based on studies in Europe, which were geographically limited.

Clearly, more research is needed and likely much of it will come from “citizen scientists” like Bill Westrate, volunteers who can record insect data where they live to paint a detailed picture of what’s happening to insects in Michigan.

Butterflies and bumblebees

Haddad, the MSU ecologist, studies butterflies.

He says they provide an historically important record for documenting insect declines. “If we go back 150 years, the way people knew about the natural world is what they knew about butterflies,” he said.

Butterfly collecting has helped create a wider record of insect numbers and diversity, especially in Europe where several of the most significant studies on insect declines have taken place.

Michigan’s butterfly numbers seem only to go reliably back about seven years. But to our south, Ohio has extensive data across the state, showing losses of two percent a year, and 33 percent over 20 years, results comparable to those from the United Kingdom and northern Europe.

“Butterflies are just indicators for the rest of insects that we don’t have the ability to monitor,” Haddad said. The factors driving down butterfly numbers also could be reducing those of other invertebrates like tiger beetles and stoneflies, and probably don’t stop at the Ohio-Michigan border.

Bumblebees — the large and fuzzy cousins of honeybees — offer a better barometer of insect numbers in Michigan, but here too the news is not good. The decline of domesticated honey bees has received plenty of attention, but bumblebees are important and efficientpollinators for many crops and wild plants.

A study of bumblebees based on specimens from all Michigan counties going back to 1887 found about half of 12 species once common in Michigan were in decline by 50 percent or more. One, the rusty-patched bumblebee, is effectively extinct in the state, while American bumblebees declined 98 percent.

Tearing out fencerows, eliminating weeds 

Westrate, who is now mostly retired, said he’s noticed that farms are getting bigger and growers are tearing out fencerows and woodlots that once served as wildlife corridors to make more room for crops.

He also noted increased reliance on various sprays, genetically modified crops and seed treatments that have become ubiquitous in farming communities.

In the early 1990s, farmers began using glyphosate, an ingredient in  Roundup, to dry out crops so they could be harvested sooner. This allows farmers to clear their fields before the onset of bad weather. The practice started in Scotland but increased dramatically in the U.S. Midwest as GMO “Roundup-ready” crops came online.

These wasps are part of a collection that fills much of Bill Westrate’s dining room. (Bridge photo by Brian Allnutt)

Such crops could withstand being sprayed with Roundup, but surrounding weeds — which provided insects with food and habitat — were eradicated. The chemical has been implicated in the huge loss of monarch butterflies as milkweed plants — where monarchs lay eggs, then feed on them as caterpillars — nearly vanished from fields.

Another class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” have flooded Michigan farms as a seed treatment since 2000, typically for corn and soybeans. As the name implies, neonicotinoids are chemically similar to nicotine and can work systematically through a plant, even showing up in pollen and nectar.

Neonics have been shown to impact pollinators including bees, songbirds, bats and, though originally thought safe for mammals, deer. By 2011, roughly 80 percent of corn seeds and a third of soybeans were planted with neonic-treated seed.

Farms relying heavily on neonicotinoids and glyphosate cut a wide band across southern Michigan and into the state’s thumb region.

“It’s uncanny the decline [of insects] that happens concurrent with the arrival of those two pesticides,” Haddad said. He adds, however: “I don’t think there is one smoking gun, so it’s not fair to say that, but…there’s good reason for concern.”

Some Michigan growers — including blueberry producers — may suffer pollinator declines while spraying neonicotinoids. Rufus Isaacs, an MSU entomologist specializing in pollinators, said roughly 80 percent of blueberries are pollinated by honeybees, which often are trucked in from out of state. Despite dramatic die-offs, beekeepers can usually regenerate colonies. So far, pollinator declines don’t seem to have affected blueberry production as much as unpredictable weather during flowering.

Sebolt, of the Farm Bureau, said fruit growers have good incentive to spray responsibly, so as not to hurt honeybees or other pollinators. Growers who rent honeybee hives “try as best they can, and they do a pretty good job of not spraying when the honeybees are out,” she said.

Kevin Robson, executive director at the Michigan Blueberry Commission, has been involved in efforts to protect pollinators in the state. He defends the use of neonicotinoids, citing the Environmental Protection Agency’s continued approval of most neonics as evidence of their safety and said they’re an important part of integrated pest management, which requires a range of strategies.

In Europe, some growers have argued that banning neonics could make farmers resort to even more dangerous chemicals.  And, as Robson noted, neonics are “normally cheaper,” for blueberry growers, who are also dealing with labor shortages and a competitive global market for their crop.

“If they’re not able to sell their blueberries for a profit, they’re not going to be in business, anyway,” Robson said.

European bans on neonicotinoids (and glyphosate in Germany and Austria) may help Michigan farmers get a better view of what might happen if these chemicals “are removed from the landscape,” Haddad said.

A way forward

Studies in Germany and the Netherlands also show how citizen scientists can play a crucial role in monitoring insect populations. The data at the core of the New York Times story was collected by a network of volunteer entomologists in the German city of Krefeld, whose entomological society keeps records dating from the 1860s.

Technology can help as well. Isaacs, of MSU, recommends a smartphone app calledBumble Bee Watch, which allows anyone to gather photos or data and submit them to taxonomic experts for a database that tracks bumblebee numbers across the country.

The Michigan Butterfly Network organizes volunteers to conduct field counts of butterflies, similar to the Audubon Society’s “Christmas Bird Count,” one of the oldest and most successful examples of volunteer-led research.

“The best data coming out about why monarchs are declining come from these citizen science efforts,” Haddad said. It’s also a productive way for people who might be concerned about climate change to manage anxiety.

Land conservation programs might be an easier sell in farm country.

In Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources’ Large Grasslands project was created to preserve and restore prairie ecosystems. The project mostly focuses on creating habitat for birds like the Henslow’s sparrow and ring-necked pheasant. But Isaacs said such efforts are also likely to benefit insect species.

Nationally, the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program is set to see modest increasesin funding that would pay farmers to set aside environmentally sensitive land for wildlife and create corridors for the migration and dispersal of species, while helping farmers with pollination and erosion control.

This aligns with another Haddad project: creating wildlife corridors, which can be connected parkland or land along waterways to help preserve insect habitats and increase breeding populations threatened by urbanization or large farms.

Westrate, meanwhile, said he’s on board with efforts to find more folks like him — amateur entomologists happy to gather data to study insect declines, losses he still can’t seem to wrap his mind around.

He said he recalls back in the 1980s when he first noticed five-lined skinks (slinky lizards) and leopard frogs disappearing from his farm, another dramatic change that’s never been fully explained.

“But who could have imagined the insects?” Westrate said. “Who could have imagined that?”

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Featured image: Bill Westrate’s home near Cassopolis is surrounded by large farms. (Bridge photo by Brian Allnutt)

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The Eastern Partnership is a joint policy initiative created in 2009 which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union (EU), its Member States and its six eastern neighbors: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova  and Ukraine. Although many of the EU’s eastern neighbors have aspirations to become EU Member States, for Brussels the Partnership is an opportunity to maintain some cohabitation relations with states directly on or near Russia’s borders by giving them the illusive promise of so-called European integration. This promise of European integration is of course to also limit their economic and infrastructural integration with Russia.

Most curious though is the participation of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the Caucasus. With the current state of affairs in Ukraine and Turkey, it is unlikely that the EU will be engaging in any further expansions into the former Soviet bloc, especially ones in the Caucasus that border Turkey, and will focus primarily on the Balkans. With the coronavirus pandemic devastating the economies of Europe, the EU is not prepared to subsidize the economies of these particular post-Soviet states, especially as many are rampant with corruption and Brussels is unwilling to give the likes of autocrats, like Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev, the right to vote and veto.

The last wave of EU expansion into former Warsaw Pact countries in 2004 and 2007, specifically into Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as others, led to a serious political and economic crisis in the EU as Brussels found it difficult to integrate the new members culturally and economically. Therefore, the issue of new members joining the EU has been sidelined, with the exception of Albania and North Macedonia in the Balkans.

However, the current impossibility for the post-Soviet states to join the EU at the moment, especially at a time when Russia wants greater influence in the region, means the Eastern Partnership was created to give a false illusion and a perpetual limbo for these countries. The EU has already said that the Eastern Partnership should not be considered a step towards Membership. However, the sublimation of European integration is in fact a surrogate of Membership, thus giving Eastern Partnership members contradictory messages. The Eastern Partnership is a process which allows these countries to be institutionally attached to the EU through free market philosophy guided by European advice, especially since they are allocated European-funded money for various programs to be further integrated into a European economic and social model.

After more than a decade of integration, some of these post-Soviet countries are increasingly proposing to legalize the relationship into the EU. Last week, Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Chicu during the sixth summit of the Eastern Partnership that was teleconferenced due to the coronavirus pandemic, said “Even before the pandemic, the Eastern Partnership got closer to a ‘moment of truth.’ Now, after 10 years of cooperation, [the Eastern Partnership] either reinvents itself and we get ‘a new breath’ or it slowly but surely loses its political relevance. The pandemic accelerated this process.” He then called for the boosting of high-level strategic political dialogue and for more joint projects.

Source: InfoBrics

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenski backed Chicu and said that the Eastern Partnership should “not limit the ambitions of the partners,” adding that “for some a political dialogue is enough.”

European Commission, Ursula von der Lainen, is not committing to elevating the Eastern Partnership into a Membership path and rather spoke only about investments, as well as about setting so-called common goals. Effectively, the EU will continue to have some influence over these countries even though they have essentially blocked their paths towards full membership.

Not all post-Soviet states adhere to the demands of Europe, particularly Belarus and Azerbaijan. But some remain completely hopeful, such as Ukraine that is desperate to join any project or organization that can be perceived as anti-Russian or against Russian interests.

However, despite this, the majority of Eastern Partnership member countries accept the limitations and continue to participate in the project in its current form. Some to maintain a European face in the hope of joining the EU one day, and other just to simply maintain good relations with Brussels. Therefore, both the EU and Moscow will continue vying for influence in this region. This actually puts these particular countries in an advantageous position to leverage both Brussels and Moscow to their own advantages if they can maintain a balance, something we can argue only Belarus is doing to great effect.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

Newspaper executive Peter Wright has slammed big tech for secretively developing and changing algorithms for news distribution without giving the industry any indication whatsoever of what they are doing.

Wright of DMG Media, which is the parent company of The Daily Mail, was testifying before the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee Tuesday.

He accused companies like Google and Facebook of ‘monopoly behaviour’ as they seek to seize ‘all the power’ in online news and advertising.

Wright claims that the Mail’s online daily traffic from Google searches has been diminished by 50 per cent in just one year after the company changed the algorithm for news content in 2019.

“Google and Facebook in our view are market dominant companies and they behave in the way that market dominant companies do,” Wright stated, noting that it is significantly impacting journalism.

“Google and Facebook both distribute our content via algorithm. Those algorithms are what is known in the digital world as a ‘black box’ – they are secret, you have no idea how they work. But we can see and measure the results,” Wright said.

Wright also implied that the Mail’s pro Brexit stance led to it being targeted by big tech for diminished online distribution.

He noted that last June

“over the space of three days, our search visibility, which is the measure of how often your content is appearing against a basket of search terms, dropped by 50 per cent, and it was particularly marked against some particular terms. One of them for instance was ‘Brexit’.”

Wright noted that after his group protested, normality eventually returned.

“But this is monopoly behaviour. You can’t do this if you’re in a business relationship with someone where there’s any semblance of equality of power,” he urged.

Wright noted that Google and Facebook are not regulated and so they are getting away with a secretive takeover of content.

“As far as the commercial relationship between news publishers and the platforms is concerned, it’s a business relationship between two partners in which one partner has all the power,” Wright declared.

He described Google as “completely dominant” in search and digital marketing, the two main avenues for distributing news content, and Facebook (which also owns instagram) as “dominant in social media”, pointing out that they make “more money out of advertising than our newspapers do.”

Despite the vast power that these companies have in such areas, Wright noted that their terms of service are completely “opaque”.

“Even the contracts that we sign to use their services are often presented to us on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. So what we’re asking for here is for regulation, and the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) are about to report on a massive piece of work they’ve been doing, to address the complete imbalance in the business relationship,” Wright asserted.

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The US administration under Barack Obama drafted “Caesar’s Law” in 2016 to subdue Syria but kept it in the drawer. President Donald Trump and his administration dusted it off and are now implementing “Caesar’s Law”. In fact, Trump’s policy is manna to Iran: the US administration is playing straight into the hands of Tehran. Iran is reaping huge benefits, including more robust allies and resistant strongholds as a result of the US’s flawed Middle Eastern policies. Motivated by the threat of the implementation of “Caesar’ Law”, Iran has prepared a series of steps to sell its oil and finance its allies, bypassing depletion of its foreign currency reserves.

Iranian companies found in Syria a paradise for strategic investment and offered the needed alternative to a Syrian economy crippled by sanctions and nine years of war. Iran considers Syria a fertile ground to expand its commerce and business like never before. It has also found a way to support the Syrian currency and to avoid digging into its reserves of foreign currencies, skirting US sanctions in both Syria and Iran, while aiding the rest of its allies.

Iran supplied Syria with precision missiles and other anti-air missiles notwithstanding the hundreds of Israeli air attacks which managed to destroy large quantities of these Iranian advanced missiles but without removing the threat to Israel.

Moreover, following the announcement of the implementation of “Caesar’s Law”, Iran sent a large business delegation to Syria to schedule the supply of first necessities and goods in a time of sanctions. Iran has great expertise in this business and, after living for 40 years under sanctions, is in an excellent position to advise President Assad.

Russia also announced – via its vice Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov – that his country rejects the illegal sanctions on Syria, and that Russia will provide President Assad with whatever his country needs.

Idem in Syria: Iran proved its capability to break the fuel siege on Syria by sending several oil tankers to its ally in the Levant. Iran is ready to be paid in Syrian Lira rather than US currency for its oil. By doing this, Iran can pay its tens of thousands of allied persons spread across Syria with local currency, marginalising the US dollar.

The US and Israel, who worked throughout the years of war in Syria to remove Iran, were in fact the impetus for Iran’s presence (and that of Russia) in the Levant in the first place. The US is now imposing “Caesar’s Law”, which will help Iran cement its presence in the Levant and Mesopotamia. It is planning to build a railway between Tehran and Damascus (and possibly Beirut): this axis will be able to transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil and tons of merchandise. The only way for the US to reduce the collateral damage is to finally accept that all of its “maximum pressure” and harshest sanctions on Iran and its allies have little chance of working. In the meantime, it is Iran that is moving ahead with a robust ring of allies, and the US and Israel which are left with Middle Eastern allies who are both inefficient and insignificant.

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Recently we alerted our supporters to an amendment to the UK’s Agriculture Bill, proposed by Julian Sturdy MP chair of the APPG for Science & Technology in Agriculture. If adopted the amendment would effectively deregulate GMOs.

We have been very gratified by your responses. Many of you joined us in writing to George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, expressing concern not just for the proposed amendment itself but also for the lack of democratic process in the way it was being introduced. This was the thrust of our letter to the Secretary of State and the emails we received showed many of you expressed the same concerns to the Minister.

There is no doubt that these views have given the government pause because the amendment, was not mooted in the June 10th debate in the House of Lords as expected.

However we are not out of the woods yet. We still expect the amendment to surface in some form – either from government or as an individual initiative. Last week’s debate was used as an opportunity for many in the Lords to prime the pump by showing their support for genome editing.

Toeing the Tory line

The full text of the debate is here. Reading it clearly shows that, on the day, support for genome editing came exclusively from the Conservative peers, many of whom have interests in agribusinesses.

In his introduction to the debate, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who is tasked with seeing the Agriculture Bill through to its adoption, spoke of the “need for innovation and technology” to help “ensure sustainability”.

In his closing summary he noted:

“On gene editing, again the Government agree that the EU approach is unscientific. We are committed to adopting a more scientific approach to regulation in the future”. He added that “the Government will not adopt a new approach without proper consultation”.

He did not expand on what constituted “proper consultation” in the government’s view.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach spoke of gene editing as a “game changer” which is an “acceleration of plant breeding” that could lead to “enhanced yields and reducing our use of fertilisers and pesticides and benefit small and medium enterprises”. By small and medium enterprises he means biotech firms not farmers. He affirmed that the “All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture strongly endorsed these techniques”.

Baroness Browning applauded Lord Taylor adding that

“As an Agriculture Minister, I introduced the first GM product in this country, way back in the 1990s. It all fell apart, as we know, for all sorts of reasons. But with the right controls I believe that there is much to be gained from looking at this science, particularly in respect of plants. We must make sure that we are not left behind because of people’s fear of the word “gene”.

Viscount Ridley said that

“To be sustainable, agriculture needs innovation in precision farming, robotics, drones and other technologies so as to use fewer chemicals more precisely targeted. It needs innovation in genome editing particularly – a precise new breeding technology that enables plant breeders to achieve exactly what they have achieved in the past but much more quickly and precisely”.

Lord Krebs, spoke of “harnessing all the power of science and technology to produce more with less: more food with less impact on the environment, the climate and animal welfare” and asked “What is the Government’s plan for enhancing the necessary science base, including gene editing, and ensuring that this new knowledge will be taken up by farmers?”.

Lord Cameron of Dillington asked for “a clear message in this Bill that we will move forward to allow gene editing in our research programmes. This is a way of speeding up the natural methods of farm breeding to ensure that we can improve the environmental and nutritional outcomes of feeding our ever-expanding human population, both at home and – more particularly, as far as I am concerned – in the developing world”.

The Earl of Lindsay said:

“I believe this Bill is an opportunity for the Government to adopt an amendment that would enable future access to precision-breeding tools such as new gene-editing technologies”.

Baroness Redfern expressed her hope that the Bill will “make improvements and create more robust and resilient domestic agricultural and horticultural sectors, giving scientists, farmers, plant breeders and animal breeders the same access to new gene editing technologies as the rest of the world”.

Challengers speak out

Those who expressed concern about the ‘liberation’ of genome editing technologies in farming and food included Baroness Parminter – a Liberal Democrat – who said:

 “I will oppose any attempt to use the Bill to overturn existing legislation on gene editing, which would be a serious step backwards for animal welfare and public trust in our food. We need to retain the European model of regulation that we are currently signed up to, where no gene editing is allowed outside the lab and mandatory labelling is required, and we should not enable trade deals with countries such as America, where products from genetically modified animals can be marketed”.

Baronesse Ludford – also a Liberal Democrat – acknowledged the deep links between this Agriculture Bill and the Trade Bill and noted:

“The US produces food to standards that many of us regard as very bad practice and which EU law prevents. Even if the response was, ‘We won’t ban them but will require them to be labelled’, that is not an adequate substitute in all cases – and anyway, we know from the experience over GMOs that the US will fight that tooth and nail”.

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle – AKA Natalie Bennett, former leader of the Green Party – noted that

“Some are arguing that we should downplay nature and sustainability and dial up food production, but that is a false dichotomy that risks doubling down on a food system that is contributing to a perfect storm of a spillover of diseases from wildlife to people, and, like the proponents of genetically modified organisms and crops, it chases after a failed industrialised monoculture”.

What happens next?

The second reading debate in the Lords  was an opportunity for general discussion and for members to raise issues in a broad-brush way. Some used the opportunity to give notice of their intended amendments. The next meeting of the Lords will be more forensic, allowing a detailed consideration of Bill and amendments put forward in the time between the two meetings.

Proposed amendments to the Bill will be put forward until this next meeting likely on July 7. A running update of these is posted on the parliamentary website here.

As we write, some of the proposed amendments appear to change in language to the Bill in a way that makes it more amenable to a more substantive amendment around genome editing.

For instance, Lord Lucas (Conservative) wants to make sure the amendment “allows for the support of possible new livestock species” and “new crop species”. And supports “the advancement of agricultural technology, including robotics and genetics”.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Labour), who is the  Chair of the Enterprise Board at Rothamsted Research, is seeking language that enables “the application of the latest scientific research to food technology” and gives “consideration to various means of achieving different food-related goals”.

The list of amendments will likely grow in the coming weeks and we are watching it closely.

PR before policy

That we have not seen the text of the Sturdy amendment, does not mean it has been abandoned.

Indeed, there is a concerted PR effort behind it. Long before the Lords met, the APPG for Science & Technology in Agriculture began a PR blitz by issuing a press release signalling its intent to propose an amendment. This was quickly picked up by the farming press. The National Farmers Union (NFU) signalled its support by issuing a press release too. The day of the Lords debate Viscount Ridley published a piece in the Times newspaper entitled Genome-edited Crops Help Farmers and the Environment.

Over the weekend, following the Lords debate, the APPG for Science & Technology in Agriculture posted a tweet that featured a news brief and ‘fact file’ which featured a UK sugar beet farmer as a poster boy for the benefits of genome editing.

There were also two articles in the Observer newspaper; one an opinion piece by plant scientist and pro-GM advocate Sir David Baulcombe, the other a news item on the Lords debate quoting both Baulcombe and Lord Gardiner on the benefits of gene editing and acknowledging clear evidence that the government would be sympathetic to deregulating the products of genome editing in the name of sustainability.

One of our supporters who wrote to the Observer letters page with concerns of the lack of balance that the two pieces represented, received the following response:

The first article is an opinion piece by a plant scientist. It’s not intended to be, and neither does it pretend to be, a news report on the subject. It’s one person giving his own view on the issue. I’m sure that many will disagree with that particular view, but these types or articles are commissioned precisely for writers to be able to express their own views and add to the overall debate.

The second article is of course a news story, but is a report of the progress of legislation through the Lords. As I understand it from speaking to the writer, no-one spoke out against it at the second reading, which is what being reported on.

I do understand that there are a variety of views around the whole subject, and I’m not seeking to dismiss them; only to suggest that this was not the right place to air them.”

The Observer clearly made no attempt to understand the dynamics of the issue – or even fact check the pieces it published. Natalie Bennett did, however, publish a thoughtful piece on the Ecologist website on the same day noting that “The public is very clear in its view on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We don’t want them in our food system.”

While the response from the newspaper is polite, it’s also problematic (and symptomatic). First of all, as detailed above, several Lords did speak out against the proposed amendment during the debate and, secondly, if a national newspaper is not the place to air a diversity of opinion on a subject of national import, where is?

  • While we await more developments, if others wish to write to the Secretary of State to encourage him not to table this amendment you can do so at: [email protected]. You might also consider sending a copy to Lord Gardiner of Kimble [email protected] (mark it FAO Lord Gardiner of Kimble in the subject line)
  • If you’d like to write to the Observer you can do so at [email protected].
  • We’d be happy to receive copies of any letters and/or replies.
  • You can check the progress of the Agriculture Bill here.

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Beyond COVID-19 Aid, Ethiopia Hoists Africa’s Flag

June 25th, 2020 by Kester Kenn Klomegah

Ethiopia, by all standards, is a reputable country in East Africa. It gains popularly from different angles. In terms of politics, Ethiopia has been touted as a country with an excellent model of democracy in Africa. For his efforts in ending the 20-year-long war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, President Abiy Ahmed was awarded with the Nobel prize for peace in 2019.

More crucially, research studies and several reports have documented additional worth of Ethiopia. It bears the flag of Africa, as its capital Addis Ababa represents the center for most of the regional and foreign organizations down the years.

The African Union [AU] is headquartered in Addis Ababa. The primary task of this super continental organization is mobilizing and coordinating available natural and human resources for solving existing and emerging multifaceted problems inside Africa. Some experts argue that the AU has within its mandate and further within the slogan “African problems, African solutions” to showcase the continent’s practical ultimate independence.

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed social and economic conditions in many African countries, and disparity between the West, Europe and Asia, all on one side and on the other Africa. In fact, the time also present challenges and opportunities. For many Africa countries and for the African Union, it is an opportunity for harnessing external assistance, not exhausting the opportunities at home. Definitely, it is a bitter joke, but it reflects the reality.

More than half a century since it was declared politically independent from “colonialism” or whatever, Africa has been presented as a region engulfed with abject poverty, even in the past has benefited grossly from development aid and received substantial assistance from various external sources.

Ethiopia, and many African countries, has to rethink carefully about “humanitarian aid” in its bilateral relations [its contemporary diplomacy] with foreign countries. Instead, it should focus more on how diplomacy could support sustainable development efforts, such areas as health, agriculture, industry and other employment generation sectors.

“The world is in a new and dangerous phase,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing recently from the World Health Organization [WHO] headquarters in Geneva. “The virus is still spreading fast, it is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible.”

Tedros Ghebreyesus, who comes from Ethiopia in East Africa, has urged countries to maintain extreme vigilance, mobilize and direct resources toward the fight against the global pandemic.

In mid-June, Ethiopian Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Alemayehu Tegenu Aargau said in his interview with a local Russian news agency that Moscow had promised to assist Addis Ababa in its fight against the pandemic, and Ethiopia expects promptly deliveries from Russia.

Tegenu Aargau further said that

Ethiopia “still requires some support from friendly countries. The leaders of the two countries [Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed] had a telephone conversation and one of the issues [was] cooperation to combat the pandemic. The Russian side promised to assist Ethiopia in its fight against the pandemic. I believe that we expect material equipment from Russia. We are waiting for it.”

The Ethiopian ambassador further compared Russia to other foreign countries, when he said Ethiopia had received deliveries from China and other friendly powers that enabled it to, significantly boost its testing volumes of the large population.

“Test indicators, ventilators, and other support are welcome,” the diplomat noted.

By his statement, it implies exerting pressure for a promised gift. After all, the Soviets helped Africa in attaining political independence, that was during the cold war days. The Soviet Union, and now Russia has consistently helped many African countries thereafter. Thus, pressurizing for food assistance and COVID packages seemed “undiplomatic and odd” and worse, reminding through the media. Significantly, Ethiopia, among a number of African countries, has had a lot from Russia. It still looks for enormous harvest of external humanitarian aid.

It was a fact that, in separate early April discussions with South African and Ethiopian leaders, President Vladimir Putin pledged Russia’s support in collaborating with Africa fight coronavirus that is currently spreading among the population across the continent. The phone discussions was not limited to “give and take” humanitarian aid, but rather outlining comprehensive innovative efforts at sustaining the hard-won development and economic gains. Beyond that, looking at possible collective plans to prevent such large scale of the pandemic in future.

Data released by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Africa CDC] on June 20, showed the top-five highest recorded coronavirus cases, generally, on the continent. In total, Africa has reported 286,141 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as at June 20. Still far below the figures obtained in the United States, Brazil and Russia, and many countries in Europe.

According to the Africa CDC figures, South Africa, in the first position, has recorded 83,890 cases, followed by Egypt and Nigeria with 50,437 and 18,480 cases respectively. Ghana with 12,929 cases, took the fourth position. Ethiopia, so far, has 3,954 infections among a population of about 115 million.

After all, Russia has already pledged to increase its corporate investment portfolio, and to strengthen existing economic cooperation that includes military technical agreements under a renewed strategic plan in Ethiopia. Russia has also written-off debts owed by Ethiopia. This debt relief allows Ethiopia, [among other African countries] to recover from the economic shock of the pandemic.

On June 11, during the media briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, revealed that Russia had received official requests from 29 African states and the African Union [AU] to assist in countering the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

She further explained that, this year, Russia has made an additional annual contribution of $10 million to the UN World Food Program [to be distributed equally between Burundi, Djibouti, Somalia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic]. Russia has allocated $10 million to the Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] fund for fighting a massive locust onslaught in East Africa [to be distributed between Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia – $3 million each and South Sudan – $1 million].

According to analytical reports and reviews, the pandemic could trigger a lot more socio-economic problems, fuel violence and domestic conflict, while the economies of many African states may sustain heavy damage. It certainly poses new challenges, on one hand.

On the other hand, African leaders and official representatives have to leave behind their “begging bowls” at home, talk and negotiate more on investment cooperation. Humanitarian aid is only a short-term solution, even that said, Africa could look at its domestic resource mobilization as exemplified by many foreign countries in the West and in Europe.

It is worth recognizing the fact that Ethiopia holds the flag of Africa. It is time to deal with long-term solutions rather than look for shortcuts for coronavirus pandemic. After all, Ethiopia has only a small fraction of infected numbers among its population, as compared to Russia that is dealing with more than half a million of coronavirus cases during the months of May and June.

Indeed, Russia declares it fight by mobilizing its own resources. It has a structured plan, and that includes President Vladimir Putin weekly meetings with regional governors and related ministry officials. Under these time-testing conditions, Russia takes the initiative with little external assistance, put in place a long-term roadmap for future.

Ethiopia should rather lead the African diplomatic community in Moscow into evolving elaborate discussions on cooperating on Russia’s vaccine, its health initiatives and learning lessons from how Russia is currently handling its pandemic. The priority now, most probably, has to be directed on Russia-African cooperation in health sector in this era of COVID-19. Russia is at the forefront of producing a vaccine for the virus, this scientific success must, at least and necessarily, awaken heads of Ethiopia and Africa.

Arguably, in a widely circulated letter, various co-signatories in April, including 100 leading academics and writers, have called on African leaders to govern with compassion and see the current global health crisis as a chance for a radical change of direction in the continent. For it is in the most trying moments that new/innovative orientations must be explored and lasting solutions adopted.

Nevertheless, Africa has to make a complete departure from endless request for humanitarian aid. More than ever, it is important for leaders to ponder the necessity to adopt a concerted approach to the economic sectors related to public health system, strengthen fundamental research in all health disciplines and close the pitfalls in its public policy.

The time has come to make progressive changes. Despite the boast of abundant natural resources, Africa remains the world’s poorest and least-developed continent, the result of a variety of causes that may include corrupt governments and policies fraught with dubious methods. Africa is the world’s second largest and second-most populous continent after Asia. With an estimated 1.3 billion people as of 2019, accounts for about 16% of the world’s population.

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Kester Kenn Klomegah is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Prologue

One of the graver risks for big-time criminals is that investigators will be able to identify them and their deeds by ‘following the money’. The criminals have to hide the proceeds of their crimes. This is done by depositing their monies into legitimate finance houses and businesses. It often requires some fancy book-keeping tricks and intricate transactions. This is called layering by the afficionados of this dark art. Once it is done, the criminals can draw on the accounts created and mix the ill-gotten gains with legally garnered capital. The term for this is ‘integration’ and it makes the investigators’ tasks much harder. The rotten fruit of crime will have been laundered.

In 2012, HSBC, a global bank, whose origins are connected to Hong Kong and Shanghai and whose headquarters are now in London, admitted that it had participated in funneling what it acknowledged to have been suspect money, including some used to breach sanctions imposed on US enemies. It had helped launder $881-million for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, including the notorious Sinaloa cartel headed by Chapo Guzman. The US Department of Justice, which obtained HSBC’s admission, reported that the cartel’s operatives deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars daily and that it was made very convenient for them: HSBC branches designed teller windows with the precise dimensions to fit the cartels’ boxes when they were delivered by their employees. Caught with its fists in drug money boxes, a settlement was agreed-to by HSBC. The bank agreed to pay what was then the largest fine ever, $1.9-billion (which was the equivalent of 5 weeks of the bank’s global income), and entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement that promised that they would not do any of this again. The bank is currently the 7th largest bank in the world.

Extradition

For some time now, Hong Kong has seen massive street protests as many people want more of a say for themselves in governance and less of a say for Beijing. In the midst of the chaos, Hong Kong’s legislators proposed to ink an extradition agreement to which China would be the other signatory.

Extradition treaties are arrangements whereby a nation state agrees to return to its partner-nation to the treaty people alleged to have committed criminal acts against that other nation’s laws. It is meant to prevent alleged criminals from avoiding the consequences for their misconduct by escaping to another jurisdiction. When a request for extradition by a signatory to a treaty is received, a court there is to determine whether the application should succeed. It is not its task to question whether the person actually committed a crime. It merely has to determine whether it is the kind of crime which could lead to prosecution if the conduct had occurred in its jurisdiction. This gives the process its legitimacy because it gives effect to legal values shared by both parties to the extradition treaty. The court considering the request has no interest in whether the conduct actually amounted to a crime, either in the applicant nation or in its own. It assumes the facts as alleged by the applicant nation and then determines whether that conduct would amount to a violation of its own laws if it occurred in its jurisdiction.

It is, then, a judicial exercise which is purely formal. It does not make any findings about the issues between the applicant for extradition and the person resisting extradition.

Although this was the essential nature of the Hong Kong Bill, it met with fierce resistance: huge marches, physical fights in the legislature. The protests added fuel to the already widely burning fires of dissent and the Hong Kong government withdrew the Bill. In addition to the upheaval and violence in the streets, the government was likely somewhat influenced by the great show of support for the anti-Extradition Bill movement in countries such as the UK, the US and Canada. This anti-extradition stance by these nations seemed to sit uneasily alongside the fact that they had signed on to many similar extradition treaties themselves. But, they bought into the argument made by the Hong Kong dissidents. This was that, even though an extradition request made by China would be vetted by Hong Kong courts steeped in the principles and values of English common law, the proposed treaty would allow China to use extradition requests for crass political purposes, to help it chase down political opponents and agitators. It would lead to attacks on precious freedoms. Even though the proposed treaty ‘looked’ much like any other, it was likely to be used for unacceptable purposes. This sort of thing would never occur in the UK the US or Canada because, unlike China, they respected and lived by the Rule of Law.

The Lore and Lure of the Rule of Law

Canada’s legal system presents itself as embodying society’s shared values and norms. They are embodied in principles and the instrumental rules devised to give these fundamental principles life. This presupposes that the basic principles can be found and defined and that the rules will be appropriately fashioned and applied. The conventional view is that the judiciary is an independent institution and can be trusted to go about the finding of principles and the interpretation and application of rules in a non-partisan, in a non-political, manner.

Courts will treat all private individuals, whatever their social or economic circumstances, as legal equals whose disputes must be settled by the application of known, rational criteria. Rationality, of the legal kind, is to replace political and economic power, that is, irrational power.

The courts abide by generalizing principles and specific rules. The rules have to be spelled out clearly; citizens are to know of the existence of those rules; new rules should not apply retroactively. The principles and rules are to be applied even-handedly, regardless of status and class. The access to this justice system should be equally available to one and all. These are some of the ingredients of what is so often termed the Rule of Law. It is an attractive system because it suggests that everyone is subject to the same laws and requirements, that political or economic power is not allowed to deny anyone their entitlements or rights established in law. The UK, US and Canadian view is that it, or any equivalent, regime does not exist in China. But, while the idea of it certainly exists in our rather self-satisfied Anglo-American settings, its implementation may leave something to be desired.

While our courts are punctilious about following the procedural safeguards which make up the Rule of Law, they have an enormous amount of leeway when determining how substantive principles and rules are to be interpreted and applied. They are in a position to launder otherwise politically troubling, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, policies and decisions. What happens is a mixing of the adherence to procedural formalities which abjure bias and prejudice with the manipulation of substantive laws which incorporate bias and prejudice. The integrated outcome is analogous to the consequence of the criminals’ mixing suspect monies with legally acquired assets. It makes it hard to see whether there was a political wrong in the first place. It is a form of laundering, legalized laundering.1

The recent proceedings in Canada dealing with the US demand that the Chief Financial officer of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, be extradited to the US brings some of this into the open. The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that Meng’s argument that there was no legal basis for extradition was rejected. Canada’s talking heads and chattering class sighed with relief. The self-proclaimed liberal Toronto Star’s editors welcomed and characterized the virtue of the decision: “Beijing must understand: out courts don’t serve the government… It’s called ‘rule of law,’ a concept foreign to China’s Communist Party and its mouthpieces.” Apart from their evident cold war genre chauvinism, the editors undoubtedly were glad to have any doubts about the Trudeau government’s and Canada’s allegiance to the Rule of Law stilled.

The recent embarrassment caused by the tawdry behaviour of almost every cog in the ruling class’s legal engine room during the SNC-Lavalin scandal which involved the government forcing its own Minister of Justice to resign because she wanted to act independently and deny a flagrantly wrongdoing corporation any kind of soft landing, now could be pushed aside as an uncharacteristic violation of Canada’s basic principles. To them, the Meng ruling signified that, once again, Canada was entitled to be smug, to assert that it was to be envied because of its stout adherence to an unalloyed good, the Rule of Law.

The Ruling in the Meng Case

It all began with a warrant issued by a New York court for Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in August 2018. She was not there. On December 1, 2018, after an extradition request from the US, Meng was arrested by Canadian authorities when she landed in Vancouver. On 28 January 2019, formal charges were laid by the US Department of Justice, accusing Meng’s employer, Huawei, of misrepresentations about its corporate organization which had enabled it to circumvent laws that imposed economic sanctions on Iran. Huawei was also charged with stealing technology and trade secrets from T-Mobile USA. Meng, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, was charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Huawei pled not guilty to the charges of violating the Iran sanction provisions in a New York court and not guilty to the stealing charges in a Seattle court. After a number of preliminary legal skirmishes, the extradition hearings against Meng began in 2020. Associate Justice Holmes issued her ruling on 27 May, 2020. Law takes its time.

Meng had told HSBC officials who met with her in the back of a Hong Kong restaurant in 2013 that, despite the allegations in a newspaper article, Huawei had not made improper use of a closely associated firm, named Skycom Tech, to supply US materiel to Iran. The reason she had made this statement to HSBC, it was alleged, was that Huawei used HSBC as a banker when transacting business. If Huawei, as alleged, was implicated in violations of the Iran sanction laws, HSBC might well be held to be complicit in such crimes. The US alleged that Meng’s representations to HSBC constituted fraud under its law.

Meng Wanzhou argued that, for a case of fraud to be made out, in both the US and Canada, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the fraud materially contributed to a tangible loss. This could not be made out here. For Meng’s deception of HSBC to cause it a tangible loss in the US, it was necessary for US prosecutors to invoke the impact of another law, the Iranian sanction law. Without it there would not be any harm and, therefore, no fraud in the US. As Canada did not have any such sanction provisions in place, Meng’s deception would not have led to any tangible loss in Canada and there would have been no fraud committed in Canada. This argument that the basic requirement for extradition – mirroring laws – had not been met, was rejected by Associate Chief Justice Holmes.

She deployed standard legal reasoning that is, she looked for previous holdings and used the imprecisions she found in them and in the wording of the legislation she was interpreting. Holmes found that previous decisions had held that, in order to determine whether the conduct in the applicant jurisdiction created an offence, it was necessary to assess the essential nature of that conduct. That meant evaluating the foreign conduct in its context, in its legal environment. Meng argued that looking at the legal environment required taking a foreign law, one distinct from the laws being compared, into account, something which should not be done under the Extradition Law.

The presiding judge responded that only some aspects of the legal environment, constituted by that other law, had to be taken into account, not all of it. It was her job to say which aspects could be so used. Holmes admitted that she was going out on a limb because the distinction between looking at some aspects of a foreign law and taking the actual law into consideration is fraught, both as a matter of logic and of established law. She wrote that “the issue is at what level of abstraction… the essence … of the conduct is to be described… there is little authority or precisely what may be included in ‘imported legal environment’.”

Undeterred by the lack of any known criteria (remember the Rule of Law!), she used what she likely calls her common sense and what Meng’s supporters probably think was her unconscious bias. Associate Justice Holmes decided that, in this case, it was appropriate, when looking for the essential nature of the foreign conduct, to look at the effects of that US law, the Iran sanction law. As its effects made Meng’s deceiving conduct fraudulent in the US, and as deception is the core of fraud in Canada, the essential/contextualized nature of Meng’s conduct satisfied the essence of fraud as defined under Canada’s Criminal Code. Lawyers call this sort of finessing good lawyering; in the wider community it is seen as legal chicanery. Holmes ruled that Canada was free to extradite Meng.

Laundered

All that effort to put Wanzhou Meng’s fraud into legal context and not a scintilla of regard for the political, social and economic context of the case!

Everyone, literally everyone, knew what had led the US to charge Huawei and its CFO. It was to obtain bargaining chips in its fight with China. It was to persuade its citizens that it was right for the government to deny them access to cheaper goods and a better 5G system because China would abuse its growing economic influence and enhance its spying potential. It was to make China more pliable when the US demanded better trade terms and more protection for its intellectual property, etc. There was no attempt to hide any of this.

Did the Canadian government understand this? Of course. Did it feel it had to allow the US to use Canada’s supposedly neutral legal machinery to further its political project? Of course. Could the Canadian government have said “no” and simply turned a blind eye when Wanzhou Meng landed in Vancouver? Of course.

Was Associate Justice Holmes, at the very least, in a position to guess all of this? Of course.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia had the timelines of the saga before it. All the events that led to the fraud charges occurred years before the tug-of-war between the US and China turned into a full blown version of a new cold war. Meng’s alleged misrepresentations to HSBC occurred in August 2013, several months after Reuters had published its report on the links between Huawei and Skycom Tech. that supposedly led to Iran being supplied with US materiel.

It took five years for the US to charge Huawei and Meng. It took five years for its righteous indignation about Huawei’s and Meng’s violations to reach fever pitch. It took five years for the US to decide that a deception of one set of private entrepreneurs by other private entrepreneurs ( a garden variety event in an aggressive competitive milieu), a deception which took place in a far away jurisdiction, presented a danger to the integrity of the US justice system. That integrity had not been seen as severely threatened when the masters of the universe deceived millions of people during the subprime mortgage scandals, at least not sufficiently to charge any of the more senior perpetrators. None of this was of any concern to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The court was only concerned with the narrowest of decontextualized legal issues before it. Its certainty that its only responsibility was to the Rule of Law signified to it that it should not be troubled by the possibility that it might be used as a pawn, by either the US or the Canadian government or both.

Nor was this lack of concern shaken by President Trump’s highly publicized statement to Reuters (the outfit which had written the report which started the ball rolling), made just after Wanzhou Meng was released on bail. Trump said that he would certainly intervene in her case “if I thought it necessary” to help forge a trade deal with China. Undoubtedly some people (especially lawyers) might think it right and proper for a court to ignore a blatant admission by a craven politician that the supposedly independent system of law of both the US and Canada was being used for partisan political purposes. After all, the statement had been made extrajudicially and had not been put before the court. While the judge might have known about the Trump intervention, much as she knew that the US and China were having a political tug-of-war and that Canada had been drawn into it, the wilful blindness demanded by the Rule of Law demanded that she make no reference to any off this knowledge.

This reasoning makes no sense to anyone not held in rapture by the Rule of Law fantasy. Immediately after Trump made his provocative statement, Trudeau realized that the public might draw the inference that Canada was just bowing to its Big Brother ally and permitting it to abuse the Canadian justice system. It evoked the notion that the US and Canada were just one country with two systems. He was forced to respond.

Trudeau issued the following statement: “Regardless of what goes on in other countries, Canada is and will always remain a country of the rule of law.” The message was clear: we, the elected government and its executive have nothing to do with any of this; we rule an independent country; we have an independent legal system and it makes these kinds of decisions. We respect this and abide by the results. When it comes to the extradition of Meng, we, the politicians, like Pontius Pilate, wash our hands off the whole mess. It has nothing to do with us. It is not a political matter.

This is why the editors of the Toronto Star and all other opinion moulders greeted the ruling in the Meng case with such acclaim. By ignoring all the real facts underlying the dispute, the court had given support to the Canadian government’s pretence that the Meng case had not raised questions about its participation in a complex set of political, economic and ideological controversies. Their role had been laundered. If the outcome suited the US in its struggle with China, this was incidental; Canada’s government had not pushed for such an outcome because it believed in the Rule of Law. These cheerleaders pointed out that, if Canada had interfered with the judiciary’s operations, it would certainly have pushed for a different result.

As it was, the judicial ruling could only strain relations between Canada and China, a most undesirable state of affairs as Canada hoped to have China release two Canadians accused of committing serious offences in China; more Canada had no interest in imperilling important trade relations with China, as the judicial ruling might well do. That is, the result may be a political win for Trump, but a loss for Trudeau, two Canadian citizens and, likely, some farmers and manufacturers if China uses its economic clout to punish Canada.

So viewed, the judicial outcome gives the impression that the government had not played any part in the decision-making. It should, therefore, not be held politically responsible for the consequences. The government had acted righteously, it had been true to the Rule of Law. Its conduct had been sanitized, laundered.

Of course this argument is not as strong if the judicial outcome is not seen as inimical to the government. What did Canada actually want? We can only guess. But it is to be remembered that the government did detain Wanzhou Meng; if it had not done so, the worst that would have happened is that the US might have been annoyed. Assuming, as it makes sense to do, that Canadian officials understood full well what the US was up to, the detention suggests, although it does not prove, that the government was not opposed to the obvious political and economic goals of the US. More strongly, it indicated that it was willing to support those goals. After all, it knew the risks it was taking. The headline in the Ottawa Citizen on 15 December, 2018, read: “Abelev: In the Huawei case, Trump has enlisted in a game Canada can’t win.”

Another glimpse of the Canadian government’s thinking is provided by Prime Minister’s request that John McCallum resign from his post as Ambassador to China after he had made public statements which indicated that he thought the case against Meng was trumped up and, therefore, should lead the government to reject the extradition request. This would help Canada in its negotiations with China which, in apparent retaliation, had jailed two Canadian citizens.

Implicit in McCallum’s intervention was a reference to a legal power that Canada has reserved for itself over extradition processes. The Minister for Justice can, at any moment after a request for extradition is received, abort the process. In Trudeau’s angry reaction to McCallum, he made no reference to this, pretending political interference with the judicial system was to be eschewed.2 While to some people, then, Trudeau’s publicized disapproval of McCallum’s views (and of similar ones by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien a little later), did dovetail with the claim that the government should not take a position on matters to be determined by a judge, it also suggested that the government would not object too much if the ruling went against Meng, regardless of what it might mean for Huawei, Meng and the prisoners. After all, the justification for the hands-off the justice system proffered by Trudeau should not have been given too much credence.

At that time a full-blown scandal was raging over the SNC-Lavalin affair. Trudeau was brazenly trying to get rid of an independent Minister of Justice precisely because she was thwarting his enactment of a law which was to apply retroactively (remember the Rule of Law!) to save a serial wrongdoing corporation. A curious symmetry weirdly surfaces. The Trudeau government was trying to give its rogue actor, SNC-Lavalin, the kind of gentle treatment the US had given HSBC by giving it access to a deferred prosecution agreement of the kind that the US had given that deviant bank.

There were many polluting particles in the ambient air as the Meng case was processed in the supposedly politically unpolluted atmosphere of law. Undoubtedly, Associate Justice Holmes did her best to blow all these toxic particles out of her mind, as all judges claim to do. But this does not mean that they did not influence her mind-set. We will never know. That is how laundering works: if the dirt which soiled the cloth is rinsed out, all that one is left with is clean cloth. Just what the government needed.

Epilogue

The legal processes have not ended. Meng may appeal the ruling on double criminality handed down by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, arguing the Holmes’ reading of how the essential nature of conduct in a foreign state was to be found was erroneous. Her lawyers do have some plausible arguments to proffer on this issue. Before that will take place, a hearing will be held into Meng’s allegation that, when she was detained in Vancouver, prior to being turned over to the RCMP, the border official obtained Meng’s telephone numbers and passwords and then passed these on to the RCMP. She was detained and questioned for three hours before she was told of her arrest. She claims her constitutional rights were violated and that the RCMP and Canada’s Border Services Agency acted, improperly, as US agents.

This is a claim that procedural safeguards essential to the proper operation of the Rule of Law had been breached. If successful it would make the arrest wrongful and mean that the committal process which led to Holmes’ ruling should be voided. The result of the adjudication on this action by Meng can also be the basis for an appeal. If all of it, the denial of proper process and the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s ruling on double criminality, are settled in favour of Canada, the extradition process can continue, although, as seen, the Minister for Justice can always set the whole thing aside.

There are many other hurdles to clear. The Trump Administration may be replaced, the Trudeau government (in a minority position) may fall before all this is over. It is also difficult to know what steps China will take and how this will influence political minds in Washington and Ottawa. These unknowns highlight how artificial it is to pretend that a request for extradition is a legal, non-political, struggle based on rational aseptic criteria.

To underscore this point, note that, on 4 June, 2020, the US State Department issued a threat. It will reassess its sharing of intelligence with Canada (a member of the so-called Five Eye intelligence network) if Canada chooses to let Huawei market its 5G technology in Canada. This makes it clear that the extradition case was never about a fraudulent misrepresentation to a ‘vulnerable’ foreign bank, but about furthering US efforts to ward-off the danger of an economic and political threat posed by China.

Law and its Rule of Law are convenient tools, no more no less. They should not be granted too much respect. Certainly they should not permit our governments to present themselves as unsullied, as if they have come out of the washing machine, smelling fragrantly.

And, oh yes, after its agreement with the US Department of Justice, HSBC had made much of its new approach and had spent money on better systems to inhibit wrongdoing. On 8 April, 2020, it was reported that HSBC had admitted it had engaged in money laundering in Australia. Maybe it does not require Huawei or Meng to engage in fraud to get HSBC to participate in criminality.

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Harry Glasbeek is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. His latest books are Class Privilege: How law shelters shareholders and coddles capitalism (2017) and the follow-up, Capitalism: a crime story (2018) both published by Between the Lines, Toronto.

Notes

  1. ‘The legalization of politics’ is the name given by Harry Glasbeek and Michael Mandel, “The Legalization of Politics in Advanced Capitalism: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” (1984), Socialist Studies, 2:84, and by Michael Mandel, The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics in Canada, rev. ed., Toronto; Thompson Educational, 1994, to a process which removes class and history from political discourse and consciousness.
  2. As well, there is a rarely used law on the books, the Foreign Extra Territorial Measures Act, that the Attorney-General can deploy to repulse measures of a foreign state that are likely to significantly affect Canadian interests. This is the legislation used to allow Canada not to comply with the US sanctions on Cuba. Arguably, but not certainly, it could be used to block the extradition of Meng.

Featured image is from The Bullet

UN chief Antonio Guterres has called on ‘Israel’ to cancel plans to annex parts of the West Bank, saying such a decision would be “the most serious violation of international law.”

Guterres said the Israeli annexation plans would be destructive. He expressed his wish for fresh negotiations and a final two-state solution.

Guterres also added that

“this would be a catastrophe for Palestinians, Israelis and the region and the plan threatened efforts to advance regional peace.”

The UN chief’s comments came one day after thousands of Palestinians protested in Jericho against the Israeli annexation, in a march that was attended by dozens of foreign diplomats.

Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, warned that the annexation will send one message that bilateral negotiations cannot achieve a just peace, and “we cannot allow this to happen so diplomacy must be given a chance.”

He added that the annexation “could dramatically alter local dynamics, triggering instability among the occupied Palestinian territories. This conflict has been marked by periods of extreme violence but never before has the risk of escalation been accompanied by a political horizon so distant, an economic situation so fragile and a region so volatile.”

Last week, the PA leadership proposed a plan that seeks to create a “sovereign Palestinian state”, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Palestinian proposal came as a reply to US President Donald Trump’s controversial plan that gave a green light for the occupation state to annex large swaths of the occupied West Bank, including settlements considered illegal under international law, and the Jordan Valley.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with ‘Israel’ if the latter goes ahead with the annexation, which would further undermine the two-state solution.

The European Union does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it has occupied since 1967.

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One of the fascinating phenomena in the JFK assassination is the fear of some Americans to consider the possibility that the assassination was actually a regime-change operation carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment rather than simply a murder carried out by a supposed lone-nut assassin.The mountain of evidence that has surfaced, especially since the 1990s, when the JFK Records Act mandated the release of top-secret assassination-related records within the national-security establishment, has been in the nature of circumstantial evidence, as compared to direct evidence.

Thus, I can understand that someone who places little faith in the power of circumstantial evidence might study and review that evidence and decide to embrace the “lone-nut theory” of the case.

But many of the people who have embraced the lone-nut theory have never spent any time studying the evidence in the case and yet have embraced the lone-nut theory. Why? My hunch is that the reason is that they have a deep fear of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist,” which is the term the CIA many years ago advised its assets in the mainstream press to employ to discredit those who were questioning the official narrative in the case.

Like many others, I have studied the evidence in the case. After doing that, I concluded that the circumstantial evidence pointing toward a regime-change operation has reached critical mass. 

Based on that evidence, for me the Kennedy assassination is not a conspiracy theory but rather the fact of a national-security state regime-change operation, no different in principle than other regime-change operations, including through assassination, carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment, especially through the CIA. 

Interestingly, there are those who have shown no reluctance to study the facts and circumstances surrounding foreign regime-change operations carried out by the CIA and the Pentagon. But when it comes to the Kennedy assassination, they run for the hills, exclaiming that they don’t want to be pulled down the “rabbit hole,” meaning that they don’t want to take any chances of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist.”

For those who have never delved into the Kennedy assassination but have interest in the matter, let me set forth just a few of the reasons that the circumstantial evidence points to a U.S. national-security state regime-change operation. Then, at the end of this article, I’ll point out some books and videos for those who wish to explore the matter more deeply.

I start out with a basic thesis: Lee Harvey Oswaldwas an intelligence agent for the U.S. deep state. Now, that thesis undoubtedly shocks people who have always believed in the lone-nut theory of the assassination. They just cannot imagine that Oswald could have really been working for the U.S. government at the time of the assassination.

Yet, when one examines the evidence in the case objectively, the lone-nut theory doesn’t make any sense. The only thesis that is consistent with the evidence and, well, common sense, is that Oswald was a U.S. intelligence agent.

Ask yourself: How many communist Marines have you ever encountered or even heard of? My hunch is none. Not one single communist Marine. Why would a communist join the Marines? Communists hate the U.S. Marine Corps. In fact, the U.S. Marine Corps hates communists. It kills communists. It tortures them. It invades communist countries. It bombs them. It destroys them.

What are the chances that the Marine Corps would permit an openly avowed communist to serve in its ranks? None! There is no such chance. And yet, here was Oswald, whose Marine friends were calling “Oswaldovitch,” being assigned to the Atsugi naval base in Japan, where the U.S. Air Force was basing its top-secret U-2 spy plane, one that it was using to secretly fly over the Soviet Union. Why would the Navy and the Air Force permit a self-avowed communist even near the U-2? Does that make any sense?

While Oswald was serving in the Marine Corps, he became fluent in the Russian language. How is that possible? How many people have you known who have become fluent in a foreign language all on their own, especially when they have a full-time job? Even if they are able to study a foreign language from books, they have to practice conversing with people in that language to become proficient in speaking it. How did Oswald do that? There is but one reasonable possibility: Language lessons provided by U.S. military-suppled tutors.

After leaving the Marine Corps, Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union, walked into the U.S. embassy, renounced his citizenship, and stated that he intended to give any secrets he learned while serving in the military to the Soviet Union. Later, when he stated his desire to return to the United States, with a wife with family connections to Soviet intelligence, Oswald was given the red-carpet treatment on his return. No grand jury summons. No grand-jury indictment. No FBI interrogation. No congressional summons to testify.

Remember: This was at the height of the Cold War, when the U.S. national-security establishment was telling Americans that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy based in Moscow that was hell-bent on taking over the United States and the rest of the world. The U.S. had gone to war in Korea because of the supposed communist threat. They would do the same in Vietnam. They would target Cuba and Fidel Castro with invasion and assassination. They would pull off regime-change operations on both sides of the Kennedy assassination: Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1960s), Congo (1963), and Chile (1973).

During the 1950s, they were targeting any American who had had any connections to communism. They were subpoenaing people to testify before Congress as to whether they had ever been members of the Communist Party. They were destroying people’s reputations and costing them their jobs. Remember the case of Dalton Trumbo and other Hollywood writers who were criminally prosecuted and incarcerated. Recall the Hollywood blacklist. Recall the Rosenbergs, whom they executed for giving national-security state secrets to the Soviets. Think about Jane Fonda.

Indeed, if you want a modern-day version of how the U.S. national-security state treats suspected traitors and betrayers of its secrets, reflect on Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning. That’s how we expect national-security state officials to behave toward those they consider traitors and betrayers of U.S. secrets.

Not so with Oswald. With him, we have what amounts to two separate parallel universes. One universe involves all the Cold War hoopla against communists. Another one is the one in which Oswald is sauntering across the world stage as one of America’s biggest self-proclaimed communists — a U.S. Marine communist — who isn’t touched by some congressional investigative committee, some federal grand jury, or some FBI agent. How is that possible?

Later, when Oswald ended up in Dallas, his friends were right-wingers, not left-wingers. He even got job at a photographic facility that developed top-secret photographs for the U.S. government. How is that possible? Later, when he ended up in New Orleans, he got hired by a private company that was owned by a fierce anti-communist right-winger. Why would he hire a supposed communist who supposedly had betrayed America by supposedly joining up with America’s avowed communist enemy, the Soviet Union, and to whom he had supposedly given U.S. national-security state secrets, just like Julian and Ethel Rosenberg had?

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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. Send him email.

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Israeli settlements breach international law, an indisputable fact.

The UN Charter bans use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, as well as forcible acquisition of territory not its own.

A joint statement by nearly 50 human rights experts said the following:

“The annexation of occupied territory is a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions, and contrary to the fundamental rule affirmed many times by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly that the acquisition of territory by war or force is inadmissible,” adding:

“The international community has prohibited annexation precisely because it incites wars, economic devastation, political instability, systematic human rights abuses and widespread human suffering.”

“What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world.”

“Israel has recently promised that it will maintain permanent security control between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.”

“Thus, the morning after annexation would be the crystallization of an already unjust reality: two peoples living in the same space, ruled by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights.”

“This is a vision of a 21st century apartheid.”

“The world community has a duty not to recognize, aid or assist another state in any form of illegal activity, such as annexation or the creation of civilian settlements in occupied territory.”

“The lessons from the past are clear: Criticism without consequences will neither forestall annexation nor end the occupation.”

Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 states:

“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Security Council Resolution 2334 (December 2016) said the following:

Settlements have “no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation under international law.”

The resolution demands “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

It recognizes no territorial changes “to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.”

It “(c)alls upon all States, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”

It “(c)alls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard…”

On Wednesday, 14 of the Security Council’s 15 members rejected the Netanyahu regime’s annexation scheme, the US the sole outlier.

During a virtual online session, opposition to the scheme was voiced by SC members, the Trump and Netanyahu regimes alone supporting what has no legal standing.

According to Pompeo, the question of annexation is for Israel alone to decide, ignoring the illegality of settlements and occupation of historic Palestinian land.

Regional peace, equity and the rule of law matter most.

Breaching them defies the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, other international law, and for US ruling regimes and Congress — America’s Constitution.

On Wednesday, White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said he’ll soon make a “big announcement” on the Netanyahu regime’s plan to annex (historic Palestinian) West Bank land, adding:

“There are conversations being had. Obviously the president will have an announcement.”

“He’s talked about this in the past and I’ll leave it to him to” him to explain his regime’s position on the issue.

His no-peace/dead before arrival/Deal of the Century OK’d illegal annexation.

Clearly he’s highly unlikely to walk away from what his regime took many months to prepare, at most perhaps intending to advise Netanyahu to advance his annexation scheme incrementally — his apparent plan, according to Israeli media reports.

On Monday according to Reuters, an unnamed senior Trump regime official said the following:

As Israeli annexation “approaches, the main thing going through our heads is: ‘Does this in fact help advance the cause of peace (sic)?’ ”

For the US, NATO, and Israel, the  notion of peace is anathema.

Endless US-led preemptive wars on nonbelligerent states threatening no one speak volumes about its aversion to world peace and stability.

The same goes for Israel, at war on historic Palestine for decades, along with waging undeclared aggression against Syria.

The Trump regime more one-sidedly supports Israel at the expense of fundamental Palestinian rights than any of its predecessors.

There’s virtually no chance of softening its position other than perhaps rhetorically.

Addressing the Security Council Wednesday, Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia read a statement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the Netanyahu regime’s annexation scheme, saying the following:

“We are…a few days away from a decision that could undermine efforts to achieve a just and sustainable Middle East settlement.”

“Russia has always stood and stands against unilateral actions or plans that, as history has shown, are not capable of bringing peace to the Middle East and prejudge final settlement.”

“(W)e see no alternative to the two-state solution. We see no alternative to the two states – Palestine and Israel – coexisting in peace and security.”

Lavrov’s diplomatic language ignored reality. What may have been possible long ago, no longer is now.

Only two viable options exist under international law, no others.

Israel and Washington reject both: Palestinian statehood within June 1967 borders free from occupation, or one state of Israel/Palestine for all its people.

The alternative is an apartheid Jewish state, its Arab population treated like 5th column threats, Occupied Palestinians abused as enemies of the state.

Lavrov also stressed other major issues that need addressing, including “Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, (other resources), settlements,” adding:

“(A)nnexation may permanently block the path to their solution and to direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.”

It “will entail negative and even dangerous consequences for the entire Middle East region.”

“It will directly affect the neighbors of Israel and Palestine — Syria, Lebanon, Jordan. It will affect the destiny of Palestinian refugees around the world.”

Lavrov “reiterate(d) the need to abandon the annexation steps and launch the Palestinian-Israeli negotiation process as soon as possible in order to achieve a just and sustainable Middle East settlement and peace in the region.”

He left unsaid what he clearly understands. The Israeli/Palestinian peace process is a colossal hoax.

Stillborn from inception, journalist Henry Siegman years ago called it “the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history.”

Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir once said he wanted to drag out peace talks for a decade while vastly expanding settlements.

Netanyahu earlier called the peace process “a waste of time.”

When surfacing, it’s always dead on arrival because the US and Israel demand Palestinian surrender to their interests, not equitable conflict resolution.

The US and Israel use the peace process ruse to advance their regional agenda.

It’s all about dominating this oil-rich part of the world — peace and stability defeating, not furthering, their diabolical aims.

Israel’s longstanding objective is maximum land with minimum Arabs.

Supported by the US, Palestinians were long ago abandoned.

Like virtually always over most of the past century, they’re ill-governed, ill-served, ill-treated, dying to live free, and on their own to pursue fundamental rights denied them.

A Final Comment

International criticism of Israel surfaces time and again, Wednesday in the Security Council the latest example.

Criticism without punitive actions with teeth accomplish nothing, the way it’s been throughout Jewish state history.

How it’s treated by the international community reflects the old adage, saying: Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.”

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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 U.S. Naval Command in the southern region announced on Wednesday, that a warship belonging to it sailed near the Venezuelan coast, hours after an Iranian tanker was docked in the port of Caracas.

According to the Southern Command’s official website, the U.S.S. Nitze sailed in an area outside Venezuelan territorial waters, which extends for approximately 12 nautical miles from its coast.

“Today, while peacefully operating in the Caribbean Sea, the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) conducted a freedom of navigation operation, contesting an excessive maritime claim by Venezuela,” they said.

The Southern Naval Command indicated that

“U.S. Navy ship conducted the operation in international waters outside Venezuela’s 12 nautical-mile territorial jurisdiction.

“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, preserving the rights, freedoms and lawful use of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations,” said Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command. “These freedoms are the bedrock of ongoing security efforts, and essential to regional peace and stability.”

The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to send and increase the military presence in the Caribbean, for military and security purposes related to U.S. national security.

On Tuesday, an Iranian oil tanker entered Venezuelan waters to deliver its contents to the South American nation.

In addition to the oil delivery, the Iranian tanker was also carrying equipment to fix the Venezuelan facilities that are in desperate need of repair.

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The United States government expanded their indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to criminalize the assistance WikiLeaks provided to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when staff helped him leave Hong Kong.

Sarah Harrison, who was a section editor for WikiLeaks, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former spokesperson, and Jacob Appelbaum, a digital activist who represented WikiLeaks at conferences, are targeted as “co-conspirators” in the indictment [PDF], though neither have been charged with offenses.

No charges were added, however, it significantly expands the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge and accuses Assange of conspiring with “hackers” affiliated with “Anonymous,” “LulzSec,” “AntiSec,” and “Gnosis.”

The computer crime charge is not limited to March 2010 anymore. It covers conduct that allegedly occurred between 2009 and 2015.

Prosecutors rely heavily on statements and chat logs from Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson and Hector Xavier Monsegur (“Sabu”), who were both FBI informants, in order to expand the scope of the prosecution.

In March, Judge Anthony Trenga dismissed the grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, that was investigating WikiLeaks. U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who refused to testify before the grand jury, was released from jail after spending about a year in confinement for “civil contempt.” She was still ordered to pay $256,000 in fines.

Activist Jeremy Hammond, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in the hack against the intelligence consulting firm Stratfor, refused to testify as well. Trenga ordered his release, and he was transferred back into the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.

Prosecutors accuse Assange and other WikiLeaks staffers of engaging in “efforts to recruit system administrators” to leak information to their media organization.

WikiLeaks Openly Displayed ‘Attempts To Assist Snowden In Evading Arrest’

“To encourage leakers and hackers to provide stolen materials to WikiLeaks in the future, Assange and others at WikiLeaks openly displayed their attempts to assist Snowden in evading arrest,” the indictment declares.

It notes Harrison (“WLA-4”) traveled with Snowden to Moscow from Hong Kong, leaving out the part where the State Department revoked his passport and trapped him in Russia.

During an interview for “Democracy Now!” in September 2016, Sarah Harrison said WikiLeaks understood Snowden was in a “very complex legal and political situation” and needed “some people to assist with technical and operational security expertise.

“I went over there, as the person on the ground in Hong Kong, to help him, not only for him, himself, because he had clearly done something so brave and deserved the protection, I felt, but also for the larger objective to try and show that despite [President Barack] Obama’s war on whistleblowers, that actually there was another option.”

Harrison added.

“At the time, the Obama administration was intent upon putting alleged source Chelsea Manning into prison for decades—as she is now in prison for 35 years—and we really wanted to try and show the world that there are people that will stand up, there are people that will help. And The Guardian, for example, did not give any additional help to Edward Snowden as a source, as a person there, and we wanted to show there are publishers that will help in these scenarios.”

Prosecutors note WikiLeaks booked Snowden on “flights to India through Beijing” and Iceland as examples of how Assange engaged in an alleged conspiracy.

At the annual Chaos Computer Club conference in Germany on December 31, 2013, Assange, Appelbaum, and Harrison participated in a panel discussion called, “Sysadmins of the World, Unite! A Call to Resistance.” (Assange appeared via video.)

The indictment criminalizes Assange’s speech in support of Snowden and any future whistleblowers and twists his words into a prime example of WikiLeak “encouraging” the “theft of information” from the U.S. government.

Prosecutors even omit particular words to make the message Assange shared seem more nefarious than an endorsement of radical transparency.

From the indictment:

…Assange told the audience that “the famous leaks that WikiLeaks has done or the recent Edward Snowden revelations” showed that “it was possible now for even a single system administrator to…not merely wreck[] or disabl[e] [organizations]…but rather shift[] information from an information apartheid system…into the knowledge commons…

But here is the full quote:

…And we can see that in the cases of the famous leaks that WikiLeaks has done or the recent Edward Snowden revelations, that it’s possible now for even a single system administrator to have a very significant change to the—or rather, apply a very significant constraint, a constructive constraint, to the behavior of these organizations, not merely wrecking or disabling them, not merely going out on strikes to change policy, but rather shifting information from an information apartheid system, which we’re developing, from those with extraordinary power and extraordinary information, into the knowledge commons, where it can be used to—not only as a disciplining force, but it can be used to construct and understand the new world that we’re entering into.

Assange’s video message to Chaos Computer Club conference attendees in 2013. (Screen shot from “Democracy Now!” broadcast.)

Assange encouraged young people to “join the CIA. Go in there. Go into the ballpark and get the ball and bring it out—with the understanding, with the paranoia, that all those organizations will be infiltrated by this generation, by an ideology that is spread across the Internet. And every young person is educated on the Internet.”

“There will be no person that has not been exposed to this ideology of transparency and understanding of wanting to keep the Internet, which we were born into, free. This is the last free generation,” Assange added.

The government presents this message as evidence that WikiLeaks solicits government employees to steal classified information. However, what Assange did was appeal to young people to help the public address a crisis of corruption in government by forcing transparency at a time when the government abuses the classified information system to conceal waste, fraud, abuse, and other illegal actions.

Appelbaum is singled out for saying Harrison “took actions” to protect Snowden, and “if we can succeed in saving Edward Snowden’s life and to keep him free, then the next Edward Snowden will have that to look forward to. And if we look also to what has happened to Chelsea Manning, we see additionally that Snowden has clearly learned.”

This is a fairly innocuous observation numerous people in the news media, including this author, have shared. It means if whistleblowers do not believe they will be punished with decades of prison or forced to flee their home country then we will have more whistleblowers because they will not believe it so dangerous to come forward.

At no point does the Justice Department attempt to connect the alleged “recruitment” of “hackers” or “leakers” to an actual individual, who heard these words and acted upon them.

Of course, the Justice Department refuses to accept the public benefit that came from Snowden’s disclosures. He still faces an indictment for allegedly violating the Espionage Act, which is why he remains in Russia, where he obtained asylum in 2013.

On May 6, 2014, the indictment alleges Harrison “sought to recruit those who had or could obtain authorized access to classified information and hackers to search for and send the classified or otherwise stolen information to WikiLeaks by explaining, ‘from the beginning our mission has been to public classified, or in any other way, censored information that is of political, historical importance.’”

It is one of the clearest indications that the “conspiracy” charge is a not-so-subtle effort to criminalize the journalism of an adversarial media organization that the United States has spent the last decade working to destroy. At no point in this statement does Harrison ask any specific persons to steal information.

If what Harrison did—and by association, Assange supported—is a crime, then there are countless news media organizations which pride themselves on publishing documents they obtain from sensitive sources that must worry they are opening themselves up to prosecution if they boast about their work in a public setting.

Conspiracy Charge Depends On Statements From Paid FBI Informants

The section of the indictment on Assange’s alleged role in “conspiring” with “hackers” mentions a “Teenager, who Assange met in Iceland. This individual is Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson.

As Wired Magazine reported,

“When a staff revolt in September 2010 left the organization short-handed, Assange put Thordarson in charge of the WikiLeaks chat room, making Thordarson the first point of contact for new volunteers, journalists, potential sources, and outside groups clamoring to get in with WikiLeaks at the peak of its notoriety.”

Thordarson was fired from WikiLeaks in November 2011 after the media organizations discovered he embezzled about $50,000.

After the FBI asked to talk with him in person following his termination, Thordarson “begged the FBI for money. Agents initially ignored his requests, but eventually they paid him $5,000 for “the work he missed while meeting with agents” in Alexandria, Virginia, where the grand jury investigation was empaneled.

In 2013, WikiLeaks stated,

“Because of requests from people close to him and his young age [Thordarson] was offered the opportunity to repay the stolen funds, which amounted to about $50,000. When it became clear he would not honor the agreement the matter was reported to the Icelandic Police.”

Thordarson apparently embezzled funds from several other organizations in Iceland that were not related to WikiLeaks. The Icelandic authorities process charges of embezzlement.

“It has materialized that the individual has engaged in gross misrepresentations of different types to obtain benefit from a range of parties,” WikiLeaks added. “We will not identify him by name in light of information that he has recently received institutional medical treatment.”

“In light of the relentless ongoing persecution of U.S. authorities against WikiLeaks, it is not surprising that the FBI would try to abuse this troubled young man and involve him in some manner in the attempt to prosecute WikiLeaks staff. It is an indication of the great length these entities are willing to go that they will disrespect the sovereignty of other nations in their endeavor. There is strong indication that the FBI used a combination of coercion and payments to pressure the young man to cooperate,” WikiLeaks contended.

Hammond was the target of an FBI operation. As Dell Cameron previously reported for the Daily Dot, chat logs, surveillance photos, and government documents showed it was Monsegur who introduced Hammond to a hacker named Hyrriya, who “supplied download links to the full credit card database as well as the initial vulnerability access point to Stratfor’s systems.”

According to Hammond, he had not heard of Stratfor until Monsegur brought the firm to his attention. Monsegur transferred the details for at least two stolen credit cards.

In December 2011, Monsegur gave “AntiSec” or the group of hackers targeting Stratfor access to the private intelligence firm’s systems. He pushed Hammond and others to “unknowingly transfer ‘multiple gigabytes of confidential data’ to one of the FBI’s servers. That included roughly 60,000 credit card number and records for Stratfor customers that Hammond was ultimately charged with stealing,” according to Daily Dot.

Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman wrote in her book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, that AntiSec went to the WikiLeaks internet relay chat server. Monsegur was largely unaware. A deal was made to provide files from Stratfor to WikiLeaks.

”When talking to WikiLeaks,” Hammond recounted to me, “they first asked to authenticate the leak by pasting them some samples, which I did, [but] they didn’t ask who I was or even really how I got access to it, but I told them voluntarily that I was working with AntiSec and had hacked Stratfor.” Soon after, he arranged the handoff. When Sabu found out, he insisted on dealing with Assange, personally. After all, he told Hammond, he was already in contact with Assange’s trusted assistant “Q.”

Thordarson was “Q.”

According to Hammond, Monsegur attempted to entrap WikiLeaks by suggesting the organization pay him “cash for the leaks.” But WikiLeaks already had the documents they planned to publish.

The U.S. government had a deadline in June 2019 for submitting an extradition request. It seems improper to add these substantial details to the request, especially since a one-week hearing was already held.

While the conspiracy charge includes sensational claims of collaboration with hackers, it is no less of a political charge than the seventeen Espionage Act offenses Assange faces for publishing information.

The additional sections in the indictment represent an attempt to give the illegitimate prosecution a greater veneer of criminality. Unfortunately, it does not take much to scrape it off and expose the contempt for press freedom that still lies behind this vindictive prosecution.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, “Unauthorized Disclosure.”

Featured image is from InfoBrics

It appears that despite achieving so-called independence from the Soviet Union and joining the EU and NATO in 2004, Lithuania does not have full sovereignty. In yesterday’s negotiations with US President Donald Trump, the interests of Vilnius were not represented by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, but by Polish President Andrzej Duda. Lithuania has effectively announced that it is a satellite of not only the US in Eastern Europe, but also of Poland, delegating Warsaw the right to vote and lobby in international affairs on its behalf.

“The President spoke with the President of Poland, Duda, before leaving, and we received such assurance that President Duda would represent our interests as well,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told reporters on Tuesday before the meeting.

“We have stressed numerous times that the Baltic states and Poland are one territory, if we speak about the defence logic and NATO defence planning,” Linkevičius said, adding that “therefore, we find what is happening in Poland of direct importance to us in the national [security] sense.”

This raises significant questions like whether this is in violation of the Lithuanian constitution; will Poland begin to dominate domestic issues; and, are we seeing a re-emergence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth?

Nausėda’s agreement for Duda to represent Lithuania in Washington comes at a time when not only anti-Russian rhetoric is growing stronger in Poland, but also anti-Lithuanian, with many politicians, organizations and movements shouting out that the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius “is ours” as it was once a prosperous city under Polish rule.

Source: InfoBrics

Trump and Duda discussed the supply of LNG to the European continent and energy independence from Russia, as well as the deployment of an additional contingent of US troops in Poland, and by extension, potentially even in Lithuania when we consider Linkevičius words  that “the Baltic states and Poland are one territory.” He has risked a major scandal with not only neighbouring Latvia and Estonia, but also with Russia via its Baltic Kaliningrad region. Although the strategic security interests of Latvia and Estonia may overlap with Lithuania, by speaking on their behalf, Linkevičius undermined their own presidents and foreign ministries. Therefore, Linkevičius decided that Latvia and Estonia were part of an ephemeral version of a new Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but this time under NATO patronage.

NATO is strengthening pressure at Russia’s borders, particularly in the Baltics, justifying its actions as a possible “Russian threat.” Moscow has repeatedly emphasized that it is not going to attack any country, and NATO are fully aware of this despite their constant rhetoric of a supposed Russian threat. In addition, the Baltic States, especially Lithuania, are actively concluding large-scale defense agreements with the US and deploying NATO military contingents on their territories. Washington is trying to maintain a high level of military presence and tension in the Baltics.

Most significantly, Duda was the first foreign leader to visit Trump since the coronavirus pandemic. During his visit to the White House, Trump was full of praise for Poland, highlighting that it was only one of eight NATO countries that committed to 2% of GDP spending on the military. Trump proudly boasted of the “close personal relationship” he had with Duda, saying “I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to Poland than right now.” Duda in response said it was a “privilege and an honour” to be at White House and he hoped to discuss building an even “stronger alliance.”

With Duda being the first foreign leader to meet Trump in Washington, it demonstrates how important the US president finds Poland in escalations against Russia. It is for this reason that Trump said Warsaw “will be paying for the sending of additional troops, and we will probably be moving them from Germany to Poland,” adding that the US is decreasing its military presence in Germany “very substantially.”

Trump did not hide that the likely relocation of American soldiers from Germany to Poland is aimed against Russia, saying

“It sends a very strong signal to Russia, but I think a stronger signal sent to Russia is the fact that Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars to purchase energy from Russia through the pipeline.”

With this, we can see a tier system where Poland is becoming a tool aimed against Russia and willing agent of Washington to dominate affairs in the Baltics on behalf of the US. It remains to be seen how Estonia and Latvia will react to being under Polish influence and dominance, but Lithuania appears to be willing and confident for Poland to control the external affairs of the Baltics on behalf of Washington’s interests.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

Department responsible tells MEE it has no documents about botched import of medical gear, raising concerns of cover-up ahead of inquiry into government’s response to Covid-19

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The British government’s health ministry says it has no record whatsoever of its shambolic attempt to import life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers from Turkey at the height of the coronavirus crisis.

Officials say they do not have a single report or memo about the affair, nor a single email, either generated within the ministry or sent to it.

The claim raises concerns that Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) files are going missing in advance of a public inquiry into the UK government’s handling of the pandemic.

More than 200 healthcare and care home workers have died in the UK due to Covid-19, following months of complaints about shortages of PPE items such as face masks, visors and gloves.

Among members of the public, the country has one of the highest death rates in the world.

Asked repeatedly whether it was destroying files – an act that would be unlawful in the UK – the DHSC refused to comment.

“We have nothing further to add,” a department spokesperson told MEE.

The UK’s Cabinet Office, which co-ordinates the work of the prime minister’s office and government departments, also denied that it had any records about the matter. It too declined to say whether any records had been destroyed.

The two departments made the claims after receiving requests made by Middle East Eye under the UK’s Freedom of Information Act. Appeals are now under way at the request of MEE.

The UK’s defence ministry and foreign office said that it did hold relevant material and are now considering requests that the material be released.

Calls for inquiry

Prominent scientists, doctors’ and nurses’ leaders and bereaved families are demanding a public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the pandemic, and ministers have conceded that there will be “lessons to be learned” once it has passed.

At the height of the Covid-19 crisis in the UK in mid-April, when rates of infections and deaths were starting to soar and when healthcare workers were wearing bin liners because PPE was in such short supply, a government minister had claimed that the following day the UK would be importing 84 tonnes of PPE from Turkey.

A few hours earlier, the Financial Times had published a highly critical report on the British government’s attempts to encourage companies to design new ventilators, and ministers were aware that the Sunday Times was about to publish a lengthy investigation into their failure to respond quickly to the crisis, and secure more supplies of PPE.

Insiders within Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office say that his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has “an obsession with announcements”, using them to deflect attention from the government’s problems, but showing little interest in delivering the substance of ministers’ pledges once those announcements have been made.

When the 84 tonnes of PPE failed to arrive in the UK the following day, a British Royal Air Force (RAF) cargo plane was dispatched to Istanbul, with the British defence ministry briefing journalists that this was intended to “put pressure on Ankara” to release the consignment.

The Turkish government told MEE that it was doing all it could to assist its fellow Nato ally, but said that there was a major problem: the private company that was selling the PPE had only ever had the capacity to supply 2,500 items.

Officials in Ankara appeared bemused that the British government should be suggesting that it had got to grips with its PPE crisis by entering into a contract with such a tiny firm.

Referring to the current requirement that Turkish firms must apply for permission to export PPE from the country, one official said:

“God, the company doesn’t even have the capacity to apply online for the export exemption.”

The Turkish government says it appealed to garment manufacturers across the country, which had been repurposed to manufacture PPE, asking them to assist the UK amid its deepening crisis.

Cargo plane returned nearly empty 

The RAF cargo aircraft eventually returned to the UK three days later than promised, but with less than a quarter of the PPE supplies pledged in the ministerial announcement.

There were subsequently claims that some of the material was substandard, although the Turkish company responsible for the shipment said the British government knew that it had provided – free of charge – some PPE that was intended not for use in intensive care units, but which was instead designed to be donned by visitors to hospitals and care homes.

The episode led to a well-publicised row between the DHSC and Number 10, with Boris Johnson’s aides suggesting to journalists that the health secretary, Matt Hancock, would be blamed for the affair. Healthcare unions warned that all confidence in Hancock was “draining away.”

For his part, Hancock telephoned his Turkish counterpart, Fahrettin Koca, to thank him for the support that Turkey had offered British healthworkers.

Yet according to the DHSC’s response to MEE’s freedom of information request, all this happened without any documents or memoranda being retained within the department, and with not a single email about the episode, written or received by anyone working there, being preserved.

Meanwhile, a health service procurement agency known as NHS Supply Chain told MEE that it held no records on the affair as they would be held by the DHSC.

Following publication of this report, the DHSC maintained that it did not have any records relating to the matter – not even keeping a note of Hancock’s telephone conversation – because the importation had been the work of a local NHS organisation in London.

IIt is unclear whether the health ministry and Cabinet Office have destroyed records relating to the affair, have simply handled the freedom of information request in an incompetent fashion, or have decided to flout their obligations under the law.

However, critics of Cummings say that his contempt for the UK’s Freedom of Information Act is well-known: in 2011, when he was an adviser at the UK’s Department for Education, the Financial Times caught him using a personal email address in an attempt to evade the requirements of the act.

In one email to colleagues, Cummings wrote:

“I will not answer any further e-mails to my official DfE account  … i will only answer things that come from gmail accounts from people who i know who they are. [sic] i suggest that you do the same in general but thats obv up to you guys – i can explain in person the reason for this .”

The Information Commissioner, the official responsible for enforcing the UK’s Freedom of Information Act, was reported to have been shocked by that email.

Subsequently, the Financial Times reported that Cummings and other senior advisers to then-education secretary Michael Gove had systematically destroyed official government correspondence. Gove is now the minister responsible for the Cabinet Office.

Destruction of government documents that are of historical significance – such as those that would assist any public inquiry – is unlawful under the UK’s Public Records Acts, while destruction or alteration of any document that has been requested under the Freedom of Information Act is a criminal offence.

Polls suggest that the British public’s trust in Johnson’s government has plummeted since May, when Cummings and his wife, Mary Wakefield, a journalist, were discovered to have ignored the lockdown rules that he had helped develop for the British public.

After Wakefield felt ill, the couple drove more than 400 kilometres to Cummings’ parents’ home with their young son.

A magazine article that Wakefield had written in which she falsely implied that the couple had remained at their London home has been referred to the UK’s press regulator.

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Embattled congressman Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has bragged that he sits down with the rightwing pro-Israel organization AIPAC on “every piece of legislation coming out of the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

In a 2018 speech to an AIPAC gathering in his NY district, Engel noted that he and Rep. Nita Lowey had both been in the House 30 years and were soon to assume chair positions that they could use to help Israel.

We are at the cusp of being in a position as chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Appropriations Committee to make sure that Israel continue to receive support, and the United States and Israel stand as one. There’s a bunch of legislation coming out of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I want to tell you that I sit down with AIPAC on every piece of legislation that comes out. I think it’s very, very important. In the past 30 years I have attended 31 consecutive AIPAC conferences in March, I haven’t missed one. [Applause].

Engel personifies a tradition in the Democratic Party of being “PEP” — or progressive except Palestine.

In his campaign to hold his seat representing the Bronx and Westchester in next week’s Democratic primary, Engel has repeatedly hailed the demonstrations over racial injustice and bragged of marching with Black Lives Matter, “to protest the systemic forces of racism, police brutality, and abuse of power.” He has endorsed much of the progressive program of his challenger Jamaal Bowman. He says he is for a Green New Deal, immigrants’ rights, a higher minimum wage, and universal health care as a “human right.”

Engel and Bowman differ most sharply on Israel. Bowman is for conditioning aid to Israel over its unending settlement project. While Engel has said that is out of the question, and has refused to criticize settlements.

Engel gave a speech to AIPAC in a White Plains temple two years ago, when the first crop of insurgent Democrats in Bowman’s camp, Justice Democrats, were about to be elected to Congress. Engel said that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and two other soon-to-be-congresswomen who offered sharp criticism of Israel “need to be educated” about Israel, so that the Congress would maintain its “overwhelming… bipartisan” support for Israel.

Engel took a one-sided view of the conflict, saying that Israel wanted peace and Palestinians had repeatedly rejected offers.

We’re going to continue to strive for peace. But when it comes to peace it takes two to tango. The Israelis have shown time and time again over the years, that they are willing to compromise, they’re willing to come to a decision to have peace with the Palestinians, and each time the Palestinians have rejected it. Once with Ehud Olmert, once with Ehud Barak, the Israelis said yes to a peace deal and the Palestinians said No.

And he said Arabs have wanted to push Jews into the sea since 1947.

I also like to remind people that in 1947 the United Nations met, the Security Council, and they decided to partition what was then historic Palestine… We all know the history. The Jews said yes, once again, the first time, and the Arabs said no… they tried to push the Jews into the sea. It didn’t work. Each time that is what happened, the Israelis said yes, and the Palestinians said no.

He concluded his remarks, “Am Yisrael Chai, the people of Israel live.”

Engel said that the House Foreign Affairs Committee was a model of bipartisanship and as chair he would maintain “overwhelming support for Israel across the aisle.”

That bipartisanship has filled Engel’s campaign coffers as he battles down to the wire. He has received over $600,000 from a pro-Israel group with close ties to AIPAC and to Republican sources of money. Many pro-Israel groups have rallied to his cause.

P.S. How odd that of all Engel’s issue links on his website, the Israel tab takes you to a 404 error. I wonder if this isn’t a reflection of the fact that the Democratic base is actually critical of Israel and willing to support sanctions.

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Featured image: Eliot Engel with Benjamin Netanyahu, and Theodor Herzl in Background, 2011. From Engel’s Flickr Feed

Late on June 23, the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes on alleged Iranian-linked targets near al-Sukhna and Kabajab in central Syria and near Tel Al-Sahn in the countryside of as-Suwayda in southern Syria. A second wave of Israeli strikes early on June 24 targeted Salamyieh and al-Sabboura in the province of Hama. Syrian state media denied that the strikes hit Iranian targets saying that 2 soldiers were killed, 4 others injured and some material damage was caused by the attack. As was expected the airstrikes took place just a few days after Hezbollah-affiliated media had released a video with threats to strike targets inside Israel in the event of an escalation.

Since June 23 intense fighting has been ongoing in the countryside of Idlib and the southern part of the province between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and the recently formed coalition of al-Qaeda-linked groups, Fa Ithbatu.

The Idlib central prison area, the village of Arab Said, and the towns of Barisha, Sarmada and Ariha were the main focal points of the confrontation. According to pro-militant sources, the fighting broke out as a result of recent tensions caused by the arrests of some members of Fa Ithbatu by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham security forces. From demands to release its members, Fa Ithbatu forces moved to a direct confrontation with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. However, as of the morning of June 24th, they had not yet achieved any major successes in these efforts.

Simultaneously, tensions grew between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and another al-Qaeda-linked group, the Turkistan Islamic Party, in the town of Jisr al-Shughur. Turkistan Islamic Party members reportedly surrounded a local HQ of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Fa Ithbatu and the Turkistan Islamic Party are apparently very unhappy with the recent actions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which had indirectly supported the implementation of the Turkish-Russian de-escalation agreement on southern Idlib and pressured other al-Qaeda-linked groups in the area to gain more support from Turkey.

While the close cooperation with Turkey allows Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to increase its military and financial capabilities, the implementation of the de-escalation deal poses a direct threat to interests of smaller radical groups such the ones from Fa Ithbatu. Thus, there is a clear conflict of interest that may yet turn into a full-scale military confrontation.

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In December 2019, the Washington Post released a reviews of The Afghanistan Papers. A series of interviews and documents “compiled in secret” and then the subject of a “legal challenge” from the US government. The WaPo baldly called it“A secret history of the war”. But there’s nothing here that’s really secret, and very little actual history. What do they tell us? Absolutely nothing, except what we’re supposed to believe.” ( Kit Knightly, December 20, 2019)

What is the unspoken “secret truth” which has not been featured in the Afghanistan Papers? The 2001 US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan sustains the surge in heroin and opioid addiction in the United States.

The following article (first published in December 2018) is brought to the attention of Global Research readers as a contribution to the June 26 2020 United Nations “global observance to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society”. 

Michel Chossudovsky, June 25, 2020

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Afghanistan’s opium economy is a multibillion dollar operation which has a direct impact on the surge of  heroin addiction in the US. 

Despite president Trump’s announced US troop withdrawal, the Afghan opium trade continues to flourish. It is protected by US-NATO occupation forces on behalf of a nexus of powerful financial and criminal  interests. 

Today a rough estimate based on US retail prices suggests that the global heroin market is above the 500 billion dollars mark. This multibillion dollar hike is the result of a significant increase in the volume of heroin transacted Worldwide coupled with a moderate increase in retail prices.

Based on the most recent (UNODC) data (2017) opium production in Afghanistan is of the order of 9000 metric tons, which after processing and transformation is equivalent to approximately 900,000 kg. of pure heroin.

With the surge in heroin addiction since 2001, the retail price of heroin has increased. According to DEA intelligence, one gram of pure heroin was selling in December 2016 in the domestic US market for $902 per gram.

The Heroin trade is colossal: one gram of pure heroin selling at $902 is equivalent to almost a million US dollars a kilo ($902,000) (see table below)

Flash back to to 2000-2001.

In 2000, the Taliban government with the support of the United Nations implemented a successful drug eradication program, which was presented to the UN General Assembly on October 12, 2001, barely a week after on the onset of US-NATO invasion. Opium production had collapsed by 94 percent.

In 2001 opium production had collapsed to 185 tons down from 3300 tons in 2000. (see Remarks on behalf of UNODC Executive Director at the UN General Assembly, Oct 2001, excerpt below)



The US-NATO led War against Afghanistan served to Restore the Illicit Heroin trade

The Afghan government’s drug eradication program was repealed.  The 2001 war on Afghanistan served to restore as well as boost the multibillion dollar drug trade. It has also contributed to the surge in heroin addiction in the US.

Opium production had declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001 as a result of the Taliban government’s drug eradication program.

Immediately following the invasion (October 7, 2001) and the occupation of Afghanistan by US-NATO troops, the production of opium regained its historical levels.

In fact the surge in opium cultivation production coincided with the onslaught of the US-led military operation and the downfall of the Taliban regime. From October through December 2001, farmers started to replant poppy on an extensive basis.” (see Michel Chossudovsky, op cit.)  

Since 2001, according to UNODC, the production of opium has increased 50 times, (compared to 185 ton in 2001) reaching 9000 metric tons in 2017. It has almost tripled in relation to its historical levels. (See Figure 1 below)

Heroin Addiction in the US

Since 2001, the use of heroin in the US has increased more than 20 times. Media reports rarely report how the dramatic increase in the global “supply of heroin” has contributed to “demand” at the retail level.

There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2012-13, there were 3.8 million heroin users in the US according to a study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Extrapolating the 2012-2013 figures (see graph below), one can reasonably confirm that the number of heroin users today (including addicts and casual users) is well in excess of four million.

In 2001, 1,779 Americans were killed as a result of heroin overdose. By 2016, the number of Americans killed as a result of heroin addiction shot up to 15,446. (see graph below)

“My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic” says Donald Trump.

Those lives would have been saved had the US and its NATO allies NOT invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 2001. 

The first thing they did was to undermine the drug eradication program, restore the opium economy and the drug trade.

Source: National Institute of Drug Abuse

Opium production has increased 50 times in relation to 2001 (following the Afghan government’s drug eradication program). In 2001, the areas of opium cultivation had fallen to 8000 hectares (185 metric tons of opium).

According to the UNODC, Afghanistan produces (2007) 93% of the illegal “non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates” namely  heroin.

MARJAH, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Corporal Mark Hickok, a 23-year-old combat engineer from North Olmstead, Ohio, patrols through a field during a clearing mission April 9. Marines with Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, learned basic route clearance techniques from engineers like Hickok, who are deployed with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John M. McCall)

The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey (released in May 2018) by UNODC confirms that the farm areas allocated to opium are of the order of 328,000 hectares with opium production in excess of 9,000 tons.  

War is good for business. It contributed to spearheading heroin use. The Afghan opium economy feeds into a lucrative trade in narcotics and money laundering.

It is worth noting that in 2010 UNODC modified the concepts and figures on opium sales and heroin production, as outlined by the  European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

UNODC estimates that a large proportion of the Afghan opium harvest is not processed into heroin or morphine” (UNODC, 2010a). …EU drug markets report: a strategic analysis, EMCDDA, Lisbon, January 2013 emphasis added.

What this new methodology has done is to obfuscate the size and criminal nature of the Afghan drug trade, intimating –without evidence– that up to 20% of Afghan opium is no longer channeled towards the illegal heroin market.

More than Half a Trillion Dollars

The profits are largely reaped at the level of the international wholesale and retail markets of heroin as well as in the process of money laundering in Western banking institutions, an issue which is not addressed by the Vienna based UNODC.

The global monetary value of the heroin market (which is protected by powerful groups) is colossal.

Estimation

The retail price of heroin (sold by the gram) can vary dramatically from one country to another, it also depends on the percentage of pure heroin. This does not facilitate the process of estimating the monetary value of the global trade in heroin.

Recorded retail street prices for heroin with a low level of purity must be converted to a dollar value which corresponds to pure heroin.

What is sold at the street level usually has a low percentage of pure heroin. The process of estimation requires transforming the street level prices into what the DEA calls heroin price per gram pure (PPG)

From one ton of opium you can produce 100 kilos of pure heroin. The US retail prices for heroin (with a low level of purity) was, according to UNODC (2012) of the order of $172 a gram (namely $17,200 per kilo)

The estimated price per gram of pure heroin, however, is substantially higher.

In December 2016, the heroin price per gram pure (PPG) was of the order of $902 in the US, according to DEA intelligence  ie. $902,000 a kilo.

Heroin Prices in the UK

In the UK which is the entry point of Afghan heroin into the EU market, the recorded retail price (according to a 2015 estimate quoted by the Guardian) is consistent with that estimated for the US market by the DEA:

“An imported kilo [of heroin] cut at 25% street purity provides enough raw material for 16,000 individual deals at £10 a hit – pushing the takings to £160,000 [a kilo] (The Guardian, December 20, 2015)

GBP160,000 (25% purity) converts into GBP 640,000 per kilo for pure heroin, ie. approximately  US$960,000 per kilo (December 2015 GBP USD exchange rate).

Rough Estimate of the  Monetary Value of  Afghanistan’s Global Heroin Market

According to the UNODC, 7600-7900 tons of opium were available for heroin production and export (out of a total of 9000-9300 metric tons). According to the UNODC, approximately half of the opium is processed into heroin within Afghanistan.

The global monetary value for heroin can be roughly estimated using the US price equivalent PPG measurement for pure heroin of US 902,000 a kg. (December 2016, DEA) and the (lower) production figure of 790,000 kg of pure heroin (estimated by the UNODC).

Using the US retail price equivalent of pure heroin (DEA), the global monetary value generated by the Afghan heroin trade (2017) is of the order of  $712,580,000,000 (712.58 billion dollars), an amount equivalent to the US defense budget.

This is a conservative estimate based on adopting the “lower figure” of 7900 metric tons (2017)  (recommended by the UNODC methodology which is arbitrary and questionable, see above).

If we had based the calculation on the total production of opium which is in excess of 9ooo metric tons (2017), the global monetary value of the heroin market would have been in excess of $800 billion. It should also be mentioned that this estimate relies solely on the the US price for pure heroin (DEA).

Back in August 2018, President  Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act “which authorizes a top-line [defense] budget of $717 billion”, just a few million dollars in excess of the estimated global monetary value of the Afghan heroin market.

The global monetary value of the heroin market is of the same order of magnitude as the defense budget of the USA.

Needless to say, the Pentagon not to mention the CIA which launched the opium economy in Afghanistan in the late 1970s  are intent upon protecting this multibillion dollar industry. The proceeds of the Afghan drug trade were initially used to finance the recruitment of Al Qaeda Mujahideen mercenaries to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war.

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“The protests, riots, violent and non-violent actions sweeping across the United States since May 25, including an assault on the gates of the White House, begin to make sense when we understand the CIA’s Color Revolution playbook,” writes economic researcher, historian, and freelance journalist F. William Engdahl. 

Engdahl then breaks down the connections between Black Lives Matter, socialist organizations, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation (as previously noted, a CIA front organization), the Foundation to Promote Open Society, Borealis Philanthropy, the Kellogg Foundation, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, and the Heinz Foundation (John Kerry). 

Following the murder of George Floyd, “major corporations such as Apple, Disney, Nike and hundreds others may be pouring untold and unaccounted millions into ActBlue under the name of Black Lives Matter, funds that in fact can go to fund the election of a Democrat President Biden.”

BLM is part of the Movement for Black Lives Coalition (M4BL), a cutout created by the Ford Foundation, in other words, the CIA. It has called for “defunding police departments, race-based reparations, voting rights for illegal immigrants, fossil-fuel divestment, an end to private education and charter schools, a universal basic income, and free college for blacks,” according to its website. 

As Engdahl points out, B4BL and BLM are Democrat-dominated operations. They receive money from ActBlue Charities, a “progressive” organization in support of the Joe Biden campaign. “ActBlue is a pass-through organization and service for donations to left-of-center nonprofits and PACs,” notes InfluenceWatch.

B4BL takes money from Google (also linked to the CIA)  and a host of labor unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education.

An article posted back in 2009 by Human Events states that despite “its stripped-down appearance, ActBlue is frothing with the elitist pretension characteristic of the modern Left. The hip tenets of ‘grassroots’ campaigning, highbrow blathering and self-possessed pseudo-coolness seep through the slogans, descriptions and thematics of the [ActBlue] website.”

As Engdahl points out, the “role of tax-exempt foundations tied to the fortunes of the greatest industrial and financial companies such as Rockefeller, Ford, Kellogg, Hewlett and Soros says that there is a far deeper and far more sinister agenda to current disturbances than spontaneous outrage would suggest.”

The founders of BLM admit to being Marxist revolutionaries determined to destroy capitalism (no longer recognizable as such).

“The policy platform proposed by BLM in August [2016]… calls for collective ownership of resources, banks, and businesses, a highly progressive income tax, a guaranteed minimum income, and government jobs are lifted straight from the pages of Karl Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto,’” writes Thurston Powers. “BLM has simply substituted Marx’s class conflict between the proletariat and bourgeoisie for class conflict between blackness and whiteness.”

The black vs. white dichotomy creates a permanent enemy class, to which defection is always incomplete. And unlike the proletariat class consciousness, race consciousness already exists, making mobilization easier. This can be seen in the comments of a Milwaukee protester from August: “We do not want justice or peace anymore. We done with that shit. We want blood. We want blood. We want the same shit ya’ll want. Eye for an eye. No more peace. F–k all that. Ain’t no more peace. Ain’t no more peace. We done. We cannot cohabitate with white people, one of us have to go, black or white. All ya’ll have to go!”

It is nonsensical to believe the transnational corporations and banks now funding BLM buy into the Marxist rhetoric and objectives of BLM—that is to say, they are not supporting their very own destruction as evil capitalist enterprises. 

BLM and its Marxist leaders will be jettisoned after Biden wins the election. Either BLM will conform to the democrat masquerade—a kinder and gentler face plastered on the neoliberal project—or it will become irrelevant to national one-party politics pushed on the American people by a corporate propaganda media. 

After a Biden victory, BLM will be expected to head for the bleachers where they will be required to cheerlead “diversity,” which is basically yet another ruling elite control mechanism. 

Instead, they will go to the streets. 

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Kurt Nimmo writes on his blog, Another Day in the Empire, where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Bolton Weaves a Tall Tale in His Venezuela Chapter

June 25th, 2020 by Leonardo Flores

From the first paragraph of “Venezuela Libre”, the ninth chapter of John Bolton’s upcoming book, The Room Where It Happened, it is obvious that the tale Bolton spins is full of fabrications, half-truths, propaganda and the occasional kernel of truth. The chapter is a 35-page screed in which the infamous warmonger places blame for the Trump administration’s disastrous Venezuela policy on everyone from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, to State Department bureaucrats and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and, of course, President Trump. The criticism also extends to opposition figure Juan Guaidó and Colombian President Ivan Duque. Exempt from criticism are the policy’s two architects: Mauricio Claver-Carone (handpicked by Bolton as the National Security Council’s Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere) and Bolton himself.

Per Bolton, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro remains in power only because the Trump administration lacked the determination to keep the pressure on. He argues that sanctions were neither strict nor swiftly applied. Yet during Bolton’s tenure, the Trump administration blocked Venezuela’s ability to trade gold, froze the assets of state oil company PDVSA (including U.S. based subsidiary Citgo Petroleum), sanctioned Venezuela’s Central Bank, and imposed an economic embargo. All of this occurred between November 2018 and August 2019, during Bolton’s tenure as Trump’s National Security Advisor.

Four major sanctions over 10 months that crippled the Venezuelan economy are hardly indicative of an administration that “vacillated and wobbled”, in Bolton’s words. There was nothing slow about the implementation of these sanctions; they were applied in reaction to events on the ground and designed to cause as much economic damage as possible. The gold industry sanction came as Venezuela was exporting it to Turkey. The PDVSA sanctions were intended as a death knell for Venezuela’s oil industry, preventing Citgo from refining its oil and sending diluents to process Venezuela’s heavy crude (it was also meant to hand over Citgo and its assets to Juan Guaidó). The Central Bank sanction froze Venezuelan assets abroad, essentially freezing it out of the international financial system and impeding the country’s ability to import goods, including food and medicine. The August 2019 economic embargo prevented any U.S. business from working in Venezuela, was compared to sanctions “faced by North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba” and was announced just as the Venezuelan government and opposition were to engage in talks in Bermuda.

The most useful piece of information to come out of “Venezuela Libre” is Bolton’s assertion that in January 2019, then-UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was “delighted to cooperate on steps [the UK] could take, for example freezing Venezuelan gold deposits in the Bank of England.” Days later, the Bank of England (BoE) froze over $1.2 billion in gold belonging to Venezuela, despite the fact that it is supposed to be an independent institution “free from day-to-day political influence.” This revelation by Bolton will likely be used in the Venezuelan government’s lawsuit against the BoE. The lawsuit seeks to free Venezuela’s gold in order to transfer it to the United Nations Development Programme, which will purchase food and medical supplies for the country to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Bolton even lays out an added benefit of his grim pursuit of sanctions: “central banks and private bankers weren’t looking for reasons to be on the Fed’s bad side”, meaning that they would cease to do business with Venezuela or freeze its assets. Known among sanctions experts as “overcompliance”, Bolton exposes this as a feature, not a bug, of his sanctions regime.

The State Department even boasted of how tough these sanctions were in a since deleted fact sheet, yet if they had been applied all at once – like Bolton presumably wanted, there is no reason to believe regime change would have followed. The Maduro government demonstrated its capacity to adapt to the sanctions, staving off the worst of COVID-19 and, despite the economic devastation, showing economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2019.

In addition to being cruel, the sanctions were counterproductive in terms of their desired goal to have the population rise up against the government. One survey found that 82% of Venezuela reject the sanctions, and even the country’s most prominent opposition pollster admitted that the majority of Venezuelans “strongly reject the general, economic, oil and financial sanctions that affect the population.” At the risk of praising Bolton, he at least remains honest about the sanctions. While the State and Treasury Departments routinely insist the sanctions only affect Venezuelan government insiders, Bolton admits “the harm [they] would cause the Venezuelan people.”

It wasn’t just the sanctions that were counterproductive from the perspective of the White House. The military threats, attempted coups and provocations also helped unite Maduro’s base. While Bolton laments Trump’s fixation on military threats and his calls for the Pentagon to draw up plans for an invasion, it wasn’t because the notorious hawk suddenly developed dove-ish sensibilities, rather it was because of the “inevitable congressional opposition” and his belief that regime change would not require U.S. troops.

Bolton dedicates a substantial portion of the chapter to detailing the events of Guaidó’s April 30 coup attempt, still believing that they were so very close to achieving their goals that day. Bolton and the White House thought they had convinced Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López to defect, along with other key figures, including the head of Venezuela’s Supreme Court. They did not defect. Instead, the coup fizzled within hours and all Guaidó managed to do was look foolish as he and around a dozen soldiers briefly took over a highway overpass. In the media, Bolton insisted that Padrino López betrayed the coup plotters at the last minute, but everything indicates that Bolton “got played”, as President Trump put it in June 2019, when he was reported – not for the first time – to have lost interest in Venezuela.

He certainly got played by Fabiana Rosales, Guaidó’s spouse, who appealed to Bolton’s vanity by claiming that the Venezuelan government is “most afraid when John Bolton starts tweeting.” Bolton brags about his tweets and stunts (like when he flashed a notepad with “5,000 troops to Colombia” scribbled on it during a press conference), but these were used as propaganda to solidify the Maduro government’s base. To wit, in January 2019, Venezuela’s civilian militia had under two million members; today, that same militia has over four million enlisted. Bolton, with his constant tweeting about Venezuela and to Venezuelan officials, as well as his history of warmongering, did much more to make Venezuelans believe the U.S. might invade than Trump’s own threats.

President Nicolás Maduro addressed hundreds of thousands of supporters on May 1, 2019, a day after Guaidó’s attempted coup. 

Bolton’s hubris has long been known, but what’s rather stunning about the Venezuela chapter is his poor analysis of the situation and (willful?) ignorance of facts. Delving into all of Bolton’s lies and misstatements would take another thousand words, but here are three of the many examples. He writes that President Maduro was “held under the tightest security for several days… [and] remained invisible, not coming out in public” after the April 30 coup. Yet the photo above shows Maduro addressing tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of supporters on May 1. He claims that government supporters burned humanitarian aid trucks on February 23, despite the many reports that came out proving the opposition itself that burned the aid. He cites the Daily Mail in claiming that National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello sent his children to China on February 23, yet they appeared live in Caracas on Venezuelan television four days later.

The White House is caught in an echo chamber, believing the very propaganda it seeds in the mainstream media. Ironically, propagandist-in-chief Trump, as quoted by Bolton, appears to be closest to breaking out of the information bubble. Here are a few of Trump’s quotes in Bolton’s chapter “Venezuela Libre”:

  • Maduro is “too smart and too tough” to fall.

  • “I don’t like where we are… The entire army is behind him… I’ve always said Maduro was tough. This kid [Guaidó] – nobody’s ever heard of him.”

  • On Guaidó: “He doesn’t have what it takes… Stay away from it a little; don’t get too much involved.”

Of course, Trump isn’t immune to propaganda, claiming that Venezuela “is really part of the United States” – a damning statement of Bolton’s beloved Monroe Doctrine.

May Day 2019 rally in support of the Venezuelan government – the largest chavista demonstration since President Chávez’s death in 2013. Photo courtesy of @OrlenysOV

In another turn of irony, the best analysis of the situation in Venezuela in The Room Where It Happened comes from Russian President Vladimir Putin, which Bolton dismisses as a “brilliant display of Soviet-style propaganda.” Putin concludes that the White House’s policy has strengthened President Maduro, offering the massive May Day rallies in support of the Maduro government as evidence. Apparently, the Russian President was the only person offering Trump an alternative perspective on Venezuela.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Bolton’s “Venezuela Libre” chapter is that he and others in the administration dissuaded Trump from engaging in dialogue with the Venezuelan government. Unfortunately, even with Bolton gone from the White House, other actors continue to influence Trump in the same way. On June 19, in an Axios interview, Trump expressed a willingness to meet with President Maduro and once again expressed skepticism of Guaidó. He retracted his remarks the day after they were published, following pressure from the media, Florida politicians and presidential candidate Joe Biden, who predictably tried to outflank Trump from the right. As Bolton put it, “support on both sides of the aisle for [the] hard line in Venezuela was almost uniform.” Regardless of who wins in November, there appears to be little hope for lifting the cruel sanctions, if even suggesting dialogue is akin to a third rail in American politics.

Yet in Venezuela there is a sense of hope that cooler heads will prevail, as moderates are breaking off from the hardline opposition, negotiating with the government and preparing for upcoming legislative elections. Bolton’s book, and his time in office, proves that the United States – try as it might – is no longer capable of imposing its will. Hopefully, both that chapter of history and Bolton’s career have finally come to an end.

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Leonardo Flores is Latin American policy expert and campaigner with CODEPINK.

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Bolton’s Memoir Bolts from the Stable

June 25th, 2020 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton would have been confident.  His indulgent The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir pitted him against the administration in a not infrequent battle over material that is published by former officials recounting their giddy days in high office.  On June 17, the US government filed a civil suit seeking a preliminary injunction ahead of the planned release of the memoir on June 23, and a “constructive trust” arising from all profits issuing from the publication of the work. 

Bolton had, as Jack Goldsmith and Marty Lederman point out, signed two separate, fundamentally similar non-disclosure agreements, “corresponding to two different sets of Specialized Compartmented Information programs to which he was afforded access.”

Publishing sensitive national security information in the US context is governed by that driest of documents known as Standard Form 312.  Bolton undertook that he would “never divulge classified information to anyone unless: (a) [he has] officially verified  that the recipient has been properly authorized by the United States Government to receive it; or (b) [he has] been given prior written notice of authorization from the United States Government … that such disclosure is permitted.”  The second feature of the agreement is that Bolton agreed that, should he be “uncertain about the classification status” of any information in question, he would “confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before [he] may disclose it.”

This was not all.  To further supress information that would otherwise make it into the public domain is Standard Form 4414, which covers “Special Access Programs”, referred to in the field as sensitive compartmented information (SCI).  The policing authority in this case is the National Security Council, which required Bolton to submit to review “any writing … that contains or purports to contain any SCI or descriptive of activities that produce or relate to SCI or that I have reason to believe derived from SCI, that I contemplate disclosing to any person not authorized to have access to SCI or that I have prepared for public disclosure.”

The Room Where It Happened

Judge Royce Lamberth of the US District Court for the District of Columbia was not convinced by arguments made by the administration for a preliminary injunction halting the memoir’s publication.  But this did not necessarily make Bolton an endearing defendant.  The judge admitted that “Bolton’s unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns” but found that “the horse is out of the barn”.    

Ultimately, Bolton’s decision to go forth with the publication without final clearance from the intelligence censors was incautious but irreversible.  The judge even conceded that “Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm.”  The point was rapid, vast distribution and spread, assisted by the nature of technology.  In “the Internet age, even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality.” All was required was for a determined individual, armed with the contents of such a publication, to “publish [it] far and wide from his local coffee shop.” Resigned, the judge conceded that “the damage is done.  There is no restoring the status quo.” 

To that end, any injunction “would be so toothless”.  The other obvious point – that over 200,000 copies of the book had already been shipped domestically, with thousands of copies being exported to booksellers in Europe, India and the Middle East – rendered the need for such a restraint moot.  “By the looks of it,” mused the judge, “the horse is not just out of the barn – it is out of the country.”

The Bolton episode underscores the very legitimacy of the prepublication review process.  Former CIA operative John Kiriakou makes the unimpeachable point that such documents, however sympathetic their authors, need to get into open circulation.  The republic needs the oxygen of revelation.  The process of review, he attests, is “deeply flawed and frequently political.”  As Kiriakou reminds us, such a system of suppression drew breath from the case of Victor Marchetti, who worked as an analyst at the CIA between 1955 and 1969.  Serialised versions of his book reflecting on the grand old days were slated to run in Esquire.  The CIA took issue, filed a temporary injunction against publication of the book citing the presence of classified information and the naming of undercover operatives.  The case made its way to the US Supreme Court, which held that the initial judgment in favour of an injunction was sound.  The non-disclosure regime was appropriate.  “We find the contract constitutional and otherwise reasonable and lawful.”  What followed was an arduous process of review, cutting and redaction, with Marchetti seeking clearance, and the CIA being miserly in concession.

Not all was lost for former members of the intelligence community and publishers.  Texts might still make it into circulation, provided they were cleared, and done so within 60 days by the relevant prepublication board.  Those not cleared might see profits confiscated.  But this did not address the issue of zealous overclassification, unnecessary redaction and violations of the 60 day rule.

The battle against the very constitutionality of the prepublication review system has begun in earnest.  On January 27, 2020, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information request seeking records related to the review of the manuscripts of 25 former federal officials, among them Bolton’s memoir.  In April 2, 2019, the Knight First Amendment Institute filed a lawsuit challenging the very constitutionality of prepublication review.  Along with the ACLU, the action was undertaken on behalf of five former public servants arguing that the prepublication system spanning the CIA, the Defence Department, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, violated the First Amendment right “to convey and of the public to hear, in a timely manner, the opinions of former government employees on issues of public importance.”  

The action further argued that the prepublication process violated the First Amendment in not providing former employees “with fair notice of they can and cannot publish without prior review”, one that also invited “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement by censors.” 

On April 16, 2020, the District Court in Maryland found in favour of the government, holding the prepublication review system to be constitutional.  Judge George Hazel found that the ACLU and Knight First Amendment Institute had standing to challenge the review process, but felt governed by the forty-year old Supreme Court case of Snepp v. United States.  The defects of the prepublication system, be it in terms of vagueness on classification, the certainty of review standards, and the absence of procedural safeguards, had little bearing on the question of constitutionality.

The plaintiffs have duly appealed. Among their arguments is the fact that Snepp focused on remedies rather than First Amendment principles, sidestepping the very merits of the CIA review system.  The limits of government authority in imposing prepublication review obligations also remained untested.  The reasoning of Snepp has also aged, both in terms of the law of pre-restraint on employee obligations and the factual environment.  As the Knight First Amendment Institute urges, “We need to hear these voices [of former employees of the intelligence services], but if we want to hear them, we have to fix the obstacle course that prepublication review has become.”

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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]

Featured image is by Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock

The Struggle against Racism in the United States

June 25th, 2020 by Abayomi Azikiwe

“We beseech independent African states to help us bring our problem before the United Nations, on the grounds that the United States Government is morally incapable of protecting the lives and the property of 22 million African-Americans. And on the grounds that our deteriorating plight is definitely becoming a threat to world peace…. In the interests of world peace and security, we beseech the heads of the independent African states to recommend an immediate investigation into our problem by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.” (Quote from the memorandum presented by Malcolm X on behalf of the Organization of Afro-American Unity to the Organization of African Unity second summit in Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 1964)

Nearly 56 years ago Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik Shabazz) visited the city of Cairo, Egypt for the second time within three months.

His mission was to take the plight of the African American people to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor today’s African Union (AU), in order to solicit the assistance of the-then 33 independent nations on the continent in bringing the gross human rights violations committed by the U.S. government to the United Nations.

In 2020, the dramatic shift in mass activity and political debate surrounding the role of policing within the context of institutional racism and national oppression has come to the fore once again in the U.S. These developments prompted by demonstrations involving millions across the U.S. and internationally, along with the attacks on private property and symbols of slavery and colonialism, have drawn the attention of the modern day UN Human Rights agency which held a hearing on these issues during the third week of June. A series of extra-judicial killings of African Americans Ahmaud Abery, Breonna Taylor and later George Floyd sparked outrage which is still being manifested.

Image on the right: Burkina Faso Ambassador to UN Human Rights Council in Geneva during session on racism in the U.S.

On June 12, 54 member-states within the continental AU demanded a debate in Geneva over the events which have transpired in the U.S. surrounding the police and vigilante attacks against African Americans. A memorandum was sent to the UNHRC President Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger of Austria, signed by the government of the West African state of Burkina Faso requesting the convening of a session to discuss this pertinent issue.

In light of the unrest which spread throughout the U.S. and the world in the immediate wake of the brutal police execution of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police on May 25, Washington under the administration of President Donald Trump has failed miserably in adequately addressing the present situation. Trump in response to unrest in Washington, D.C. and other cities, evoked the Insurrection Act of 1807, threatening to deploy federal troops to areas where demonstrations are occurring to purportedly restore order.

The situation created such an embarrassing conundrum for the White House that existing and former Pentagon officials were compelled to make statements in an attempt to distance themselves from the president. Nonetheless, there have been more than 20 people killed by law-enforcement agents and National Guard over the previous month, while thousands have been beaten, gassed and detained by police.

Even the Voice of America (VOA), the broadcasting organ of the State Department, which has come under criticism by the Trump administration, reported on the international diplomatic maneuvering surrounding the racial turmoil in the U.S. saying:

“In a letter written on behalf of the 54 countries of the African Group, of which he is coordinator for human rights questions, the ambassador of Burkina Faso to the United Nations in Geneva, Dieudonné Désiré Sougouri, asked the body to the U.N. to organize an ‘urgent debate on the current racially-inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality against people of African descent and violence against peaceful demonstrations. The tragic events of May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, USA, which resulted in the death of George Floyd, sparked worldwide protests over the injustice and brutality faced by people of African descent daily in many regions of the world,’ wrote the ambassador. ‘The death of George Floyd is unfortunately not an isolated incident,’ he wrote, adding that he was speaking on behalf of the representatives and ambassadors of the African Group.”

The Outcome of the UN Human Rights Debate

As a result of the UN Human Rights Council discussions on June 17-18 in Geneva, the body decided to conduct further investigations on the question of racism and brutality in the U.S. Such a decision portends much for the effectiveness of international solidarity related to the African American struggle.

Amid a burgeoning economic crisis directly stemming from job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted the U.S. more than any other country, African Americans are being disproportionately affected. This same situation prevails in regard to the infection rate for the virus itself. In cities such as New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and in rural and less densely populated areas of the South and Southwest, the pandemic has taken a devastating toll particularly among oppressed peoples.

A rising antiracist and class consciousness is bound to escalate during this period of uncertainty and dislocation. Consequently, the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state will continue its efforts to suppress the demonstrations, rebellions and political demands which call for the defunding and dismantling of police.

The UN News Service said of the session in Geneva that:

“Michelle Bachelet, is to spearhead efforts to address systemic racism against people of African descent by law enforcement agencies, the Human Rights Council decided on Friday (June 19). The resolution – decided unanimously without a vote – follows a rare Urgent Debate in the Council earlier in the week, requested by the African group of nations, following the death of George Floyd in the US state of Minnesota…. The text also calls on Ms. Bachelet – assisted by UN appointed independent rights experts and committees ‘to examine government responses to anti-racism peaceful protests, including the alleged use of excessive force against protesters, bystanders and journalists.’ Overseeing the resolution, Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger (Austria), President of the Human Rights Council (14th cycle) announced that the text was ready for their consideration and asked whether a vote could be dispensed with, in light of the general consensus.”

Ambassador Sougouri of Burkina Faso described the debate in Geneva as historic. Senegalese Human Rights Ambassador Coly Seck echoed the protests in the U.S. saying “Black Lives Matter” and that racism runs contrary to the Charter of the UN.

The Future of the Struggle Against Racism in the U.S.

As recognized in the opening quote from Malcolm X’s intervention at the July 1964 OAU Summit in Cairo, the importance of internationalizing the movement to end institutional racism and national oppression in the U.S. is an important aspect of the overall effort to secure victory. Although Washington and Wall Street oversees the largest economy on the globe, the fragility and contradictory character of the U.S. capitalist system has been exposed in recent months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent financial downturn and the eruption of social unrest.

The testimony of the younger brother of George Floyd, Philonise, on June 17 before the UN Human Rights Council, spoke volumes in relationship to the nature of racism and policing in the U.S. The younger Floyd said to the Director:

“My brother, George Floyd, is one of the many Black men and women that have been murdered by police in recent years. The sad truth is that the case is not unique. The way you saw my brother tortured and murdered on camera is the way Black people are treated by police in America. You watched my brother die. That could have been me.” (See this)

This process of internationalizing the African American struggle against racism is protracted. One scholar who wrote on the intersection between the liberation movements of Africans on the continent and the Diaspora emphasizes the importance of creating and maintaining these working relationships.

Image below: Malcolm X at OAU Summit in Cairo during July 1964

Prof. Azaria Mbughuni raises an important point in his assessment of Malcolm X’s OAAU visit in 1964 illustrating that:

“One of the highlights of his last trip to Africa was the passing of a resolution addressing the plight of African Americans in the U.S. This resolution was passed with the assistance of the President of Tanzania, Julius K. Nyerere (1922-1999). The contact between Malcolm and East African leaders contributed to the strengthening of linkages between the struggles of African people in Africa and African Americans and to Malcolm X’s own growth as a revolutionary…. Writers studying Malcolm (Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik Shabazz) often focus exclusively on his pilgrimage to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia and to his tours in West Africa. Furthermore, most writers dismiss the resolution on the African American struggle passed by the Second Summit of Organization of African Unity as insignificant…. The passage of a resolution on the struggle of African Americans and racism in the U.S. by the Cairo OAU Summit in July 21, 1964 was an important step in connecting the struggles of African Americans and that of African people in Africa.” (See this)

Therefore, moving forward the importance of independent organizing to build a sustainable antiracist and African American liberation movement becomes paramount. Events in recent weeks have forced the international community to take notice of the ongoing social strife emanating from the racist-capitalist system.

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

Featured image: George Floyd’s brother addresses the UN Human Rights Council on June 18, 2020/All images in this article are from the author unless otherwise stated

On June 17, the Trudeau government suffered a humiliating defeat by losing its bid for a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seat to Ireland and Norway. It was a strong rebuttal of Trudeau’s policy of “colonialism at home, imperialism abroad.” It should be obvious by now that serious questions need to be asked about Trudeau’s foreign policy, especially with regard to Venezuela and the Lima Group.

Over the last several months, and in the lead up to the UNSC vote, an open democratic and critical discussion of Canada’s colonial heritage and its treatment of Indigenous peoples—along with Ottawa’s Trump-aligned foreign policy—has been largely absent from the mainstream media.

During the last federal election, Trudeau had to deal with challenges from the grassroots. In a mocking and insulting manner, he fended off interruptions from Indigenous complainants suffering from mercury poisoning. He also skated around peace activists questioning him and then Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland about their double standards with respect to sanctioning Russia for its annexation of Crimea, but ignoring Israel’s ongoing and illegal settlement building in the West Bank.

Canada quickly recognized the fraudulent election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil (after the judiciary imprisoned front-runner Lula da Silva on spurious charges), while at the same time refusing to recognize constitutionally elected Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Trudeau and his cabinet also faced protests by activists opposing Canada’s weapons sales to notorious human rights violator Saudi Arabia and Ottawa’s unconditional support for Israel at the expense of Palestinian self-determination. While corporate media outlets had no choice but to show these disruptions, it soon went back to business as usual by obediently keeping all these critical issues away from public scrutiny.

For those of us in Canada involved in the #NoUNSC4Canada campaign, including Canadian Dimension, it is clear we managed to break through the virtual corporate media blackout. This censorship was mainly directed at putting a lid on the much-needed debate on both Canada’s foreign policy and its notorious colonial practices at home against Indigenous peoples.

President Maduro among other Latin American leaders participating in a 2017 ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) gathering. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The #NoUSNC4Canada campaign takes shape

On May 19, this media posturing was forced to shift. That day, an open letter signed by hundreds of international, Canadian, Québécois and Indigenous figures was published in the Toronto Star, criticizing the Canadian government’s foreign policy and its continued encroachment onto unceded Indigenous territory to push through new oil and gas pipelines. The letter argued that Canada does not deserve a UNSC seat due to its US-oriented foreign policy on Venezuela, Haiti, Bolivia and other countries in Latin America, along with its neocolonial ambitions in Africa, its open contempt for Palestinian rights, and so much more.

Following the publication of the letter in the Star, Trudeau was asked during his daily COVID-19 presser about the divided public opinion surrounding his UNSC bid. Instead of discussing the issue, Trudeau arrogantly dismissed it, saying there was no division whatsoever, and then took a snipe at Maduro to distract attention from the question.

Seemingly from that point forward, additional criticism of the Trudeau government’s UNSC bid continued to mount.

On June 11, the Canadian organization Just Peace Advocates, published an open letter on Palestine which was then sent to all 193 UN ambassadors and signed by 100 organizations and dozens of prominent individuals. It immediately impacted the Canadian political scene, forcing Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard, to write a reply to all UN ambassadors, defending Canada’s one-sided Israel policy. This obviously desperate move did not go unnoticed, even by mainstream media outlets, fuelling further doubts about the credibility of Canada’s UNSC bid.

Canadian Dimension columnist and author Yves Engler appealed to the CARICOM nations to vote against Canada. This was followed up by a similar appeal I made that was sent to each of the UN ambassadors of CARICOM nations. The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute published my YouTube appeal in English, Spanish and French. It consisted of a widely-disseminated call to many UN ambassadors to vote against Canada because of its violation of international law based on its pro-US regime change policy for Venezuela, a clear violation of UN principles.

There are many other examples. Did our campaign within Canada and internationally contribute to Trudeau’s UNSC defeat? We may never know for sure. However, we do know that Trudeau had been calling and meeting with international leaders on every continent since 2017 on the issue of Venezuela. He had been exhorting them to side with Trump and his hand-picked “interim president” Juan Guaidó. Trudeau went out of his way to give Guaidó an official reception in Ottawa in February. In fact, an embarrassing selfie shared between the two at that meeting (since taken down from the Canadian government website but made immortal by activists) is emblematic of Canada’s servile foreign policy.

Ties to Trump cost Trudeau dearly

Since the June 17 vote, it is generally accepted within progressive circles, and even grudgingly now by some corporate media, that Trudeau lost as a result of being too closely and openly tied to Trump. Perhaps the #NoUNSC4Canada campaign provided added impetus to the anti-Trudeau sentiment already brewing as part of growing worldwide resistance to Western liberal hypocrisy, spurred on by such issues as Trudeau’s support for Israel and disdain for Palestinian rights.

It has also been noted, and justifiably so, that Trudeau’s support for Israel was a key factor in his defeat. However, one should not underestimate Venezuela. Trudeau fell prey to his own mythical belief that the “world is against Maduro.” In fact, one only has to point to the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement, which does recognize Maduro. The influence and esteem that Venezuela and its leaders enjoy all over the Third World should not be underestimated. Former president Hugo Chávez is respected in many corners to a degree Trudeau cannot even begin to imagine.

In many ways, Maduro is following in the footsteps of his predecessor. In May, Maduro struck a deal with Iran to have the Middle Eastern nation send fuel vessels to Venezuela to mitigate a refinery operations collapse caused by the tightening of punitive US sanctions. Defying the Americans, five Iranian tankers brought 1.5 million barrels of fuel to Venezuelan ports. On June 22, Iran’s ambassador to Venezuela, Hojjatollah Soltani, confirmed the arrival of the ship “Golsan” in Venezuelan waters with a load of foodstuffs destined for the Islamic Republic’s first supermarket in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s international diplomatic efforts are also impressive. It skilfully combines revolutionary defense of its sovereignty based on a civic-military alliance backed by a dizzying, globetrotting corps of young diplomats. They have developed a tradition of battling on every stage that the international community affords, and they are holding their own against all odds.

Some additional truths were highlighted in a June 17 tweet by Carlos Ron, Venezuela’s Vice-Minister for North America. The message was retweeted by Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza:

To achieve a positive result from Trudeau’s UNSC election defeat, Canadians must demand a public debate on foreign policy. The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, which initiated the #NoUNSC4Canada petition, is continuing this discussion by publishing pieces in the mainstream media and hosting webinars during the pandemic.

Although progressives may be happy with the result of the vote on June 17, it is necessary that this rejection of Trudeau’s foreign policy translates into Canada exiting from the Lima group, rescinding its sanctions against Venezuela and pressuring Trump to do the same.

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This article was originally published on Canadian Dimension.

Arnold August is a Montreal-based journalist and author of three books on Cuba–Latin America–U.S. whose articles appear in English, Spanish and French in North America, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, including occasional contributions to Canadian Dimension. He is also a speaker currently concentrating on Trudeau’s foreign policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean.

Capitalism and the Throttling of Democracy in India

June 25th, 2020 by Colin Todhunter

The deregulation of international capital flows (financial liberalisation) has effectively turned the planet into a free-for-all bonanza for the world’s richest capitalists. Under the post-World-War Two Bretton Woods monetary regime, nations put restrictions on the flow of capital. Domestic firms and banks could not freely borrow from banks elsewhere or from international capital markets, without seeking permission, and they could not simply take their money in and out of other countries.

Domestic financial markets were segmented from international ones elsewhere. Governments could to a large extent run their own macroeconomic policy without being restrained by monetary or fiscal policies devised by others. They could also have their own tax and industrial policies without having to seek market confidence or worry about capital flight.

However, the dismantling of Bretton Woods and the deregulation of global capital movement has led to the greater incidence of financial crises (including sovereign debt) and has deepened the level of dependency of nation states on capital markets.

If we turn to India, we can see the implications very clearly. The increasing deregulation of financial capital flows means that global finance is in a position to dictate domestic policy. Successive administrations have made the country dependent on volatile flows of foreign capital and India’s foreign exchange reserves have been built up by borrowing and foreign investments. For policy makers, the fear of capital flight is ever present. Policies are often governed by the drive to attract and retain foreign capital inflows.

The author(s) of a recent article by the Research Unit for Political Economy (RUPE) notes that instead of imposing controls on flows of foreign capital and pursuing a path of democratic development, the Indian government has chosen to submit to the regime of foreign finance, awaiting signals on how much it can spend, giving up any pretence of economic sovereignty.

Anxious to shore up foreign exchange holdings, the Modi-led government is trying to attract even more risky foreign investments. Moreover, in a time of economic and social crisis, resulting from the draconian coronavirus-related lockdown, public spending to ameliorate the desperate situations of those affected has been abysmally low. This falls into line with the imperatives of global capital, which requires nation states to curb spending so that private investors can occupy the arena left open.

RUPE notes that the Indian government is also appealing to the US for help in addressing India’s foreign exchange conundrum (its foreign exchange reserves are largely based on borrowing which could exit). This will require some kind of ‘payback’.

Such payback could come in the form of a future trade deal. India is currently involved in ongoing trade talks with the US. If this deal goes through and India capitulates to US demands, it could devastate the dairy, poultry, soybean, maize and other sectors and severely deepen the crisis in the countryside.

Ranil Salgado, mission chief for India at the IMF, says that when the economic shock (resulting from the coronavirus lockdown) passes, it’s important that India returns to its path of undertaking long-term reforms. This would mean global conglomerates being able to further hollow out the remnants of nation state sovereignty.

Foreign capital is in the process of displacing the prevailing agrifood model before bringing India’s food and agriculture sector under its control. Millions of small-scale and marginal farmers are already suffering economic distress and leaving farming as the sector is deliberately made financially non-viable for them. The Modi administration is fully on board with the World Bank’s pro-corporate ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ and other such policies aimed at further incorporating nation states into the neoliberal fold and which equate neoliberal fundamentalism with ‘development’.

Recent developments will merely serve to accelerate this process as we see with regard to the Karnataka Land Reform Act, which will make it easier for business to purchase agricultural land (resulting in increased landlessness and urban migration) and the undermining of the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (mandis), part of an ongoing process to dismantle India’s public distribution system and price support mechanisms for farmers. These ‘reforms’ are ultimately about ‘liberalising’ agriculture to further ease the entrance of foreign agribusiness interests like Cargill – even as ordinary Indians suffer.

And have no doubt, they are suffering. A recent news analysis report claims India let 65 million tonnes of grain go to waste in four months, even as the poor went hungry as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. The authors claim that this resulted from the government being wedded to neoliberal ideology and the dogma of ‘fiscal prudence’. They also ask why the Food Corporation of India has been holding such a large surplus of grain and conclude that it is because the government has been unwilling to expand the public distribution scheme.

In effect, US agribusiness wants India to tighten ‘fiscal prudence’, reduce subsidies and public sector spending on agriculture. The aim is to further displace peasant farmers thereby driving even more people to cities and ensure corporate consolidation and commercialisation of the sector based on industrial-scale monocrop farms incorporated into global supply chains dominated by transnational agribusiness and retail giants.

This runs counter to what is actually required. The various lockdowns around the globe have already exposed the fragility of the global food system, dominated by long-line supply chains and global conglomerates – which effectively suck food and wealth from the Global South to the richer nations.

What we have seen underscores the need for a radical transformation of the prevailing globalised food regime founded on one which reduces dependency on global conglomerates, external proprietary inputs, distant volatile commodity markets and patented technologies.

Practical solutions to the (global) agrarian crisis must be based on sustainable agriculture which places the small farmer at the centre of policies: far-sighted and sustained policy initiatives centred on self-sufficiency, localisation, food sovereignty, regenerative agriculture and agroecology.

On a macro level, economist Prabhat Patnaik argues that India must delink from neoliberal globalisation via capital controls; manage foreign trade and expand the domestic market through the protection and encouragement of petty production, including peasant agriculture; increase welfare expenditure by the state; and commit to a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and income.

Rather than have transnational agribusiness corporations determining global and regional policies and private capital throttling democracy, we require a system of healthy food and sustainable agriculture that is run for human need.

In fact, what may actually be required is an alternative to ‘development’ because, as post-development theorist Arturo Escobar explains, global inequality remains severe, both between and within nations, and environmental devastation and human dislocation, driven by political as well as ecological factors, continue to worsen. These are the symptoms of the failure of ‘development’, a concept based on capitalism’s overproduction-overconsumption ‘growth’ logic with all that follows in terms of environmental degradation and the economic plunder of nations and peoples.

Looking at the situation in Latin America, Escobar says development strategies have centred on large-scale interventions, such as the expansion of oil palm plantations, mining and large port development. And it is similar in India: commodity monocropping; immiseration in the countryside; the appropriation of biodiversity (the means of subsistence for millions of rural dwellers); unnecessary and inappropriate environment-destroying, people-displacing infrastructure projects; and state-backed violence against the poorest and most marginalised sections of society.

Perhaps we should be taking our cue from the world’s indigenous peoples whose societies display a deep connection with and respect for nature. Their economics and cultures often represent the antithesis of capitalism and industrialisation: the promotion of long-term sustainability through restraint in what is taken from nature, rather than hierarchy and competition.

This was echoed by Noam Chomsky during a 2014 interview:

“There are sectors of the global population trying to impede the global catastrophe. There are other sectors trying to accelerate it. Take a look at whom they are. Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward, indigenous populations – the First Nations in Canada, the aboriginals in Australia, the tribal people in India. Who is accelerating it? The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.”

With this in mind, soil, water, seeds, land, forests and other natural resources must be democratically controlled and recognised as common wealth and the scaling up of agroecological approaches should be a lynchpin of genuine rural development, which in turn must be modelled on the notion of food sovereignty.

Renowned agronomist MS Swaminathan says:

“Independent foreign policy is only possible with food security. Therefore, food has more than just eating implications. It protects national sovereignty, national rights and national prestige.”

Genuine food security in principle derives from food sovereignty, which, in a very broad sense, is based on the right of peoples and sovereign states to democratically determine their own agricultural and food policies.

The struggle to assert genuine self-determination and democratic development in India involves challenging the dominance of private (international) capital. It also entails disputing the authority of a central state and its machinery that, at independence, was designed to consolidate power at the centre, quell dissent, divide the masses and, with the undemocratic and unaccountable influence of foreign interests like the Ford Foundation and more recently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ultimately serve the interests of both old and new colonial masters.

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Colin Todhunter is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research.

Featured image is a VCG Photo

Colonial Drug Trafficking and the British Empire

June 25th, 2020 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

By resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the UN General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

Raise awareness?

Rarely acknowledged, (“legal”) drug trafficking was initiated by the British Empire. There is continuity. The colonial label has been scrapped. Today the (“illicit”) drug trade is a multibillion dollar operation.

The two main hubs of production today are:

  • Afghanistan which produces approximately 90% of the World supply of opium (transformed into heroin and opioid related products). There was a successful drug eradication programme in 2000-2001 which was initiated (with UN support). prior to the US-NATO led invasion in October 2001. Since the invasion and military occupation, according to UNODC, the production of opium has increased 50 fold, reaching 9000 metric tons in 2017.
  • The Andean region of  South America (Colombia, Peru, Bolivia) which produces cocaine. Colombia is a US supported narco-state. Cocaine from Colombia supplies the U.S. market, a large share of which transits through Mexico. The Mexican Drug Cartels play a key role in this trade.

The Drug Economy is an integral part of Empire Building. Drug trafficking is protected by the US military and intelligence apparatus.

The Role of the British Empire

Historically, drug trafficking was an integral part of British colonialism. It was “legal”.

Opium produced in Bengal by the British East India Company (BEIC) was shipped to China’s Southern port of Canton.

The state-sponsored export of opium from British India to China was arguably the largest and most enduring drug operation in history. At its peak in the mid-19th century it accounted for roughly 15% of total colonial revenue in India and 31% of India’s exports. To supply this trade the East India Company (EIC) – and later the British Government – developed a highly regulated cultivation system in which over one million farmers a year were under contract to grow opium poppies.  …

The agency system ensured that farmers did not share in the large profits of the opium trade. Given their monopsony power, the opium agencies were able to “keep the price of crude opium just on the economic edge” (Jonathan Lehne, 2011)

While the share of agricultural land allocated to opium was comparatively small, opium production under colonial rule was nonetheless conducive to impoverishing the Indian population, destabilizing the agriculture system as well as triggering numerous famines.

According to an incisive  BBC report:

“The cash crop [opium] occupied between a quarter and half of a peasant’s holding. By the end of the 19th Century poppy farming had an impact on the lives of some 10 million people in what is now the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The trade was run by the East India Company, the powerful multinational corporation established for trading with a royal charter that granted it a monopoly over business with Asia. This state-run trade was achieved largely through two wars, which forced China to open its doors to British Indian opium. …

Stiff production targets fixed by the Opium Agency also meant farmers – the typical poppy cultivator was a small peasant – could not decide whether or not to produce opium. They were forced to submit part of their land and labour to the colonial government’s export strategy”.

BEIC Opium Factory and Stacking Warehouse, Patna, 1850s

China and the Opium Wars

When China’s Qing Emperor Daoguang ordered the destruction of opium stocks in the port of Canton (Guangzhou) in 1838, the British Empire declared war on China on the grounds that it was obstructing the “free flow” of commodity trade.

The term “trafficking” applies to Britain. It was condoned and supported throughout the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). In 1838, 1,400 tons of  opium per annum were exported from India to China. In the wake of the First Opium war, the volume of these shipments (which extended until 1915) increased dramatically.

The so-called first opium war (1838-1842), which represented an act of aggression against China was followed by the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing, which not only protected British imports of opium into China, it also granted extraterritorial rights to Britain and other colonial powers leading to the formation of the “Treaty Ports”.

The massive revenues of the opium trade were then used by Britain to finance its colonial conquests. Today it would be called the “laundering of drug money”.  The channeling of opium revenues was also used to finance the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank (HKSB) established by the BEIC in 1865 in the wake of the first opium war.

In 1855, Sir John Bowring on behalf of the British Foreign Office negotiated a treaty with King Mongkut (Rama IV) of Siam, entitled The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of Friendship and Commerce (April 1855) which allowed for the free and unrestricted import of opium into the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand).

While Britain’s trade in opium with China was abolished in 1915, Britain’s drug trafficking monopoly continued until India’s Independence in 1947. Affiliate companies of the BEIC such as Jardine Matheson played an important role in the drug trade.

Racism, Narcotics and Colonialism

Historians have focussed on the Atlantic Triangular Slave Trade: slaves from Africa exported by colonial powers to the Americas, followed by commodities produced in plantations using slave labour exported back to Europe.

Britain’s colonial drug trade had a similar triangular structure. Opium produced in colonial plantations by impoverished farmers in Bengal was exported to China, the revenues of which (paid in silver coins) were used largely to finance Britain’s imperial expansion including mining in Australia and South Africa.

No compensation was paid to the victims of  the British Empire’s drug trade: The impoverished farmers of Bengal, the people of India and China.

Together with the Atlantic slave trade, colonial drug trafficking constitutes a crime against humanity.

Both the Slave Trade and Drug Trafficking were sustained by racism. In 1877, Cecil Rhodes put forth a “secret project” which consisted in integrating the British and US empires into a single “White Supremacist” Anglo-Saxon Empire:

“I contend that we are the finest race in the world …  Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings… Why should we not form a secret society… for making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire…  

Africa is still lying ready for us it is our duty to take it. … It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race, more of the best the most human, most honourable race the world possesses. (emphasis added)

There is continuity from the colonial style legitimate “drug war” led by the British Empire, to the present drug trafficking structures: Afghanistan under US military occupation, the Narco-State in Latin America.

Today, drug trafficking is a multi-trillion dollar business. The UN office  on drugs and crime estimates the laundering of drug money and other criminal activity to be of the order of 2-5 percent of Global GDP, $800 billion to $3 trillion. Drug money is laundered through the global banking system.

Remember the Crack Cocaine scandal revealed in 1996 by journalist Gary Webb. Crack was sold to the African-American communities in Los Angeles.

Since 2001, the retail sale of heroin and opioids has become increasingly “weaponized” directed against sustaining racism, poverty and social inequality.

While today’s drug trade is the source of wealth and enrichment, drug addiction including the use of heroin, opioids and synthetic opioids has skyrocketed  In 2001, 1,779 Americans were killed as a result of heroin overdose. By 2016, heroin addiction resulted in 15,446 deaths.

Those lives would have been saved had the US and its NATO allies NOT invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 2001.

See our forthcoming articles on  drug abuse and “Illicit Trafficking”.

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2015年5月北京首次推出的 “中国制造2025 “中国制造2025,基本内容包括支持高科技领域,同时也提升中国制造业的工业基础。中国制造2025议程还 “突出了绿色制造、节能与新能源汽车、高端装备制造,包括新信息技术和机器人……” (2015年5月20日《环球时报》)

中国制造。美国的零售贸易

想象一下,如果特朗普总统从某一天开始决定大幅削减美国的 “中国制造 “进口,会发生什么?这绝对是毁灭性的,会扰乱消费经济,是一场经济和金融的混乱。

在美国的商场,包括各大品牌的商品陈列中,有很大一部分是 “中国制造”。

“中国制造 “还主导了各种工业投入品、机械、建材、汽车、零部件等的生产,更不用说中国企业代表美国企业集团进行的大量分包了。

特朗普政府没有理解的是,美国贸易逆差最终如何使美国经济受益。它有助于维持美国的零售经济,它也维持了美国GDP的增长。

 

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你可以点击下面的链接阅读整篇文章的英文版,也可以用手机翻译

The Corona Pandemic and Trump’s Trade War against China: America’s Dependence on “Made in China”. Potential Disruption of the US Economy

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, June 14, 2020

 

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Did you know the normal human virome contains a multitude of different viruses, including many strains of coronavirus? And did you know that some of these viruses sound scary – the type people normally associate with disease – even though the person carrying them may be completely healthy and/or asymptomatic? As discussed in previous articles, the word virome (similar to the word microbiome for bacteria) refers to the community of viruses that naturally and usually live within us. Far from causing harm, they form a vital part of our bodies and immune system, existing in symbiosis with us and playing an important role in our healing response. The COVID coronavirus event has exploited people’s ignorance over the nature of the virus and the nature of disease. This is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves, to come out of fear, to understand the base assumptions and deceptions behind the COVID propaganda, and to be prepared when the New World Order (NWO) controllers try to pull their next trick in Operation Coronavirus, the 2nd wave.

Introducing … Your Wonderful Virome

It’s high time for us to examine the whole narrative of the killer virus. This narrative itself is founded on germ theory, the idea that there are dangerous, infectious pathogens ‘out there’ which can spread quickly and invade our bodies no matter seemingly what we do. It makes for a good Hollywood movie (Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman) or Netflix series (the Explained series episode titled The Next Pandemic with our good friend and NWO frontman Bill Gates), but is it a good theory to actually describe and predict disease? I would say no, especially when we consider the alternative model of host theory or terrain theory. Host/terrain theory emphasizes the importance of the inner terrain or bio terrain – your gut, bloodstream and the environment inside of you. Host/terrain theory teaches that your state of health or disease is dependent upon how well or poorly you develop and maintain your inner terrain. It speaks of the microbiome (the community of bacteria inside of you). Many people have heard of the microbiome, but how many have heard of the virome? The virome is to viruses just as the microbiome is to bacteria. Both are fundamental to who we are and our state of health. These small companions are present in our body in massive numbers: the number of bacteria in our body outnumber the ‘human’ cells in our body at a 10:1 ratio, while the virome is estimated to contain 380 trillion viruses.

2017 Scientific Study: Normal Human Virome Full of Many Viruses in 42% of Test Subjects

With this in mind, take a close look at this 2017 study entitled The blood DNA virome in 8,000 humans. It found that a staggering 42% of people had all sorts of viruses in them despite being in fine health! Some of these were even viruses we have been taught to fear, such as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), hepatitis, influenza and herpes. Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

“The characterization of the blood virome is important for the safety of blood-derived transfusion products, and for the identification of emerging pathogens. We explored non-human sequence data from whole-genome sequencing of blood from 8,240 individuals, none of whom were ascertained for any infectious disease. Viral sequences were extracted from the pool of sequence reads that did not map to the human reference genome. Analyses sifted through close to 1 Petabyte of sequence data and performed 0.5 trillion similarity searches. With a lower bound for identification of 2 viral genomes/100,000 cells, we mapped sequences to 94 different viruses, including sequences from 19 human DNA viruses, proviruses and RNA viruses (herpesviruses, anelloviruses, papillomaviruses, three polyomaviruses, adenovirus, HIV, HTLV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, parvovirus B19, and influenza virus) in 42% of the study participants. Of possible relevance to transfusion medicine, we identified Merkel cell polyomavirus in 49 individuals, papillomavirus in blood of 13 individuals, parvovirus B19 in 6 individuals, and the presence of herpesvirus 8 in 3 individuals. The presence of DNAsequences from two RNA viruses was unexpected: Hepatitis C virus is revealing of an integration event, while the influenza virus sequence resulted from immunization with a DNA vaccine. Age, sex and ancestry contributed significantly to the prevalence of infection. The remaining 75 viruses mostly reflect extensive contamination of commercial reagents and from the environment. These technical problems represent a major challenge for the identification of novel human pathogens. Increasing availability of human whole-genome sequences will contribute substantial amounts of data on the composition of the normal and pathogenic human blood virome.”

Other Recent Studies on Viruses

Here are some quotes and conclusions of other studies on the virome. This 2019 study entitled The gut virome: the ‘missing link’ between gut bacteria and host immunity? analyzed the importance of the virome on human immunity:

“Despite its predominance, the virome remains one of the least understood components of the gut microbiota, with appropriate analysis toolkits still in development. Based on its interconnectivity with all living cells, it is clear that the virome cannot be studied in isolation.

The human intestinal microbiome represents one of the most complex ecosystems on Earth and has taken millions of years to coevolve.

DNA and RNA viruses that collectively make up the intestinal virome outnumber bacterial cells by as much as 10:1, and include eukaryotic viruses which infect eukaryotic cells, endogenous retroviruses, bacterial viruses (i.e. bacteriophages) and archaeal viruses that infect archaea.

Diet is an important and constant environmental and lifestyle factor that can influence the gut microbiome, including its viral component.

Transkingdom interactions between virome components and bacteria highlights that there are additional layers of complexity to consider in terms of host–microbial homeostasis.”

This 2019 study Human Virome and Disease: High-Throughput Sequencing for Virus Discovery, Identification of Phage-Bacteria Dysbiosis and Development of Therapeutic Approaches with Emphasis on the Human Gut suggested we intake prebiotics and probiotics to affect our virome:

“Although virome-directed therapeutic research is still in the relatively early stages of development, it has been suggested that directly or indirectly altering the virome may improve health outcomes in disease phenotypes associated with virome perturbations. The use of prebiotics (e.g., inulin and fructooligosaccharides) and probiotics, for instance, may indirectly target the virome since these may potentially affect bacterial membership and function.”

Finally, this 2018 study The Intestinal Virome and Immunity concluded that viruses can play a beneficial role in human health:

“While we continue to perform essential research into the pathogenic role of viruses and develop antivirals and vaccines, we can no longer ignore the possibility that they function as components of the microbiome. Like bacteria, the effects that viruses have are critically dependent on their tissue location, microenvironment and host. These factors will directly influence whether the virus acts beneficially, detrimentally or remains neutral for the host … This research will certainly lead to the discovery of novel ways in which viruses interact with the host that we can potentially harness for disease prevention and therapies. It may even be possible to engineer enteric viruses with desirable traits, much like current attempts at administering oncolytic viruses as adjuvants for cancer therapy.”

Final Thoughts

A study of human history shows that it is frequently those who think creatively and originally – outside of the established groupthink – who become the pioneers of new models and technologies which better serve humanity. In one of my previous articles linked to above (here), I discussed the brilliant German virologist Dr. Stefan Lanka, who won a landmark case in the German Supreme Court proving that measles was not a virus. Dr. Andrew Kaufman has made a name for himself during this time of COVID by speaking out strongly against the idea of a killer virus and instead pointing to the evidence that the body makes exosomes (tiny particles) which in turn become bacteria and viruses. Kaufman reiterates the research of others, namely that viruses have never been proven to be the cause of COVID or any disease at all! In its essence, the virus is information; RNA encapsulated in a protective lipid or fat layer. As a community of viruses, the virome is, therefore, a sort of library or central database of information, one in which we are very much in our infancy of understanding. My hope is that people can use Operation Coronavirus to wake up, including doing such things as learning about the virome and radically transforming the way they look at viruses and disease. This must be done quickly, before the next wave of fear, hype, propaganda, lockdown, tyranny and array of forced medical interventions by the State. We know it’s coming and we have to act now – while we still can.

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Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com. Makia is on Steemit and FB.

Featured image is from TFA

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Selected Articles: Behind the Veil of the Protest Movement

June 24th, 2020 by Global Research News

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COVID-19 and the Dire Living Conditions of India’s Bottom Half Billion

By Joseph D’Souza, June 24, 2020

Go less than eight miles north along the coastline and you will reach Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. Measuring .81 sq mi, the slum is home to over 1 million Indians, making it one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. Entire families cram into one-room houses inside Dharavi’s labyrinthine neighborhoods, where diseases run rampant because of the confined and unsanitary conditions people live in.

NATO 2030: How to Make a Bad Idea Worse. Expanding the “Atlantic Alliance” into the Pacific…

By Matthew Ehret-Kump, June 24, 2020

After helping blow up the Middle East and North Africa, dividing the Balkans into zones of war and tension, turning Ukraine upside down using armadas of neo Nazis, and encircling Russia with a ballistic missile shield, the leaders of this Cold War relic have decided that the best way to deal with instability of the world is… more NATO.

Video: The Social Impacts and Economic Dimensions of the Drug Trade

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky and Mehrnews, June 24, 2020

The issue of drugs is a global scourge and there is the need for wide-scale cooperation at the international level so as to tackle this problem. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran has adopted an interactive approach with the global community concerning the issue of drugs and has virtually indicated that it spares no efforts in enhancing cooperation with other countries and international organizations in the campaign against illicit drugs.

Behind the Veil of the Protest Movement, the War on the American People Is Gaining Pace

By Mike Whitney, June 24, 2020

$100 million is alot of money. How has that funding helped BLM expand its presence in politics and social media? How many activists and paid employees operate within the network disseminating information, building new chapters, hosting community outreach programs, and fine-tuning an emergency notification system that allows them to put tens of thousands of activists on the streets in cities across the country at a moment’s notice? Isn’t that what we’ve seen for the last three weeks, throngs of angry protestors swarming in more than 400 cities across America all at the beck-and-call of a shadowy group whose political intentions are still not clear?

Bayer Pays $10 Billion to Settle Thousands of Monsanto Glyphosate Lawsuits

By Zero Hedge, June 24, 2020

After decades of widespread use as company scientists played down research showing a definitive link between the product and growing rates of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Monsanto parent company Bayer has agreed to pay up to $10 billion to settle claims that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, causes cancer.

China vs India: Who Benefits? US Meddling

By Tony Cartalucci, June 24, 2020

A recent border dispute between China and India have resulted in multiple casualties including deaths. It is the first time in decades that this scale of violence has been seen between the two nations. Western headlines have immediately tried to play up the notion of conflict between China and India, but to what end?

Meet BlackRock, the New Great Vampire Squid, “Global Financial Giant”

By Ellen Brown, June 23, 2020

BlackRock is a global financial giant with customers in 100 countries and its tentacles in major asset classes all over the world; and it now manages the spigots to trillions of bailout dollars from the Federal Reserve. The fate of a large portion of the country’s corporations has been put in the hands of a megalithic private entity with the private capitalist mandate to make as much money as possible for its owners and investors; and that is what it has proceeded to do.

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“Violence creates many more social problems than it solves…. If they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

Marches, protests, boycotts, sit-ins: these are nonviolent tactics that work.

Looting, vandalism, the destruction of public property, intimidation tactics aimed at eliminating anything that might cause offense to the establishment: these tactics of mobs and bullies may work in the short term, but they will only give rise to greater injustices in the long term.

George Floyd’s death sparked the flame of outrage over racial injustice and police brutality, but political correctness is creating a raging inferno that threatens to engulf the nation.

In Boston, racial justice activists beheaded a statue of Christopher Columbus. Protesters in Richmond, Va., used ropes to topple that city’s Columbus statue, spray-painted it, set it on fire and tossed it into a lake. Columbus’ crimes against indigenous peoples throughout the Americas are well known.

In San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, protesters tore down a statue of Francis Scott Key, who penned “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Key was also a slaveholding lawyer who tried to prosecute abolitionists vocally opposing slavery.

Activists who object to Yale University being named after its founder Elihu Yale, a slave trader, are lobbying to re-name the school.

Students at Harvard University want to re-name Mather House, one of the dorms named after Increase Mather, the college president from 1685 to 1692 and a slave owner.

Administrators at Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, N.J.—named after the nation’s 28th president, who guided the nation through World War I while upholding segregation policies—are now looking for a new name.

In an apparent bid to be more culturally sensitive, Land O’ Lakes has removed from its packaging the image of a Native American princess that had been featured on its products for a hundred years.

The distributors of Aunt Jemima Pancake Syrup, Uncle Ben’s Rice and Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup have also announced plans to re-brand and re-name their products in an effort to avoid perpetuating racist stereotypes. Cream of Wheat is considering what to do about the smiling black chef that graces its breakfast porridge (his visage has been criticized for being stereotypically subservient).

Not to be outdone, Dreyer’s Ice Cream plans to retire the 99-year-old name for its Eskimo Pie frozen confections on a stick because “Eskimo” has been denounced as a racist nomenclature used by “colonizers to Arctic regions to refer to Inuit and Yupik people.”

Hattie McDaniel and Clark Gable Gone With The Wind

Gone with the Wind, the Civil War epic that won 10 Academy Awards and has long been considered one of the greatest films of all times, was temporarily pulled from HBOMax’s streaming service in response to concerns that it depicts “ethnic and racial prejudices” that “were wrong then and are wrong today.”

The University of Georgia’s marching band has removed “Tara’s Theme,” the opening orchestral theme from Gone with the Wind, from its musical repertoire.

What is the end sum of all these actions?

What started as a movement to denounce police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of killer cops has become a free-for-all campaign to rid the country of any monument, literal or figurative, to anyone who may have at any time in history expressed a racist thought, exhibited racist behavior, or existed within a racist society.

The police state has got us exactly where it wants us: distracted, distraught and divided.

While protesters topple statues of men with racist pasts who are long dead, unarmed Americans continue to be killed by militarized police trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

While activists use their collective might to pressure corporations to rebrand products in a more racially sensitive fashion, the American police state—aided and abetted by the Corporate State—continues to disproportionately target blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.

And while politically correct censorship is attempting to sanitize the public sphere of words and images that denigrate minorities, it is not doing anything to rid hearts and minds of racism.

Muzzling speech, censoring discourse, erasing history: that’s the worst possible antidote.

As Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone, concluded in the “Deaths-Head Revisited” episode:

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes, all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard. Into it, they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.”

In other words, what we need is more speech, more discourse, and a greater understanding of history and the evils perpetrated in the name of conquest, profit and racial supremacy. Because if we bury the mistakes of the past under a sanitized present, if we fail to at least provide context to the past, we risk allowing the government to repeat those past mistakes—rewritten for a new age—and no one will be the wiser.

It has happened already: we have allowed the government strip people of their humanity; to segregate them into polarized classes; to treat them as chattel; to deny them basic human rights; and to reduce them to figures on a ledger sheet.

Censoring speech—toppling monuments—kowtowing to political correctness—is not the answer to what ails this nation.

As long as we focus on words and ignore the systemic injustices that undergird the words, the disease will spread.

As long as we continue to allow the most controversial issues of our day—gay rights, abortion, race, religion, sexuality, political correctness, police brutality, et al.—to serve as battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom of speech but only when it favors the views and positions they support, we will all eventually lose.

Silencing unpopular viewpoints with which the majority might disagree—whether it’s by shouting them down, censoring them, muzzling them, or criminalizing them—only empowers the controllers of the Deep State.

Consider some of the kinds of speech being targeted for censorship or outright elimination.

Offensive, politically incorrect and “unsafe” speech: Disguised as tolerance, civility and love, political correctness has resulted in the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite. Consequently, college campuses have become hotbeds of student-led censorship, trigger warnings, microaggressions, and “red light” speech policies targeting anything that might cause someone to feel uncomfortable, unsafe or offended.

Bullying, intimidating speech: Warning that “school bullies become tomorrow’s hate crimes defendants,” the Justice Department has led the way in urging schools to curtail bullying, going so far as to classify “teasing” as a form of “bullying,” and “rude” or “hurtful” “text messages” as “cyberbullying.”

Hateful speech: Hate speech—speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation—is the primary candidate for online censorship. Corporate internet giants Google, Twitter and Facebook are in the process of determining what kinds of speech will be permitted online and what will be deleted.

Dangerous, anti-government speech: As part of its ongoing war on “extremism,” the government partnered with the tech industry to establish a task force to counter online “propaganda” by terrorists hoping to recruit support or plan attacks (the program started under President Obama). In this way, anyone who criticizes the government online can be considered an extremist and will have their content reported to government agencies for further investigation or deleted. They might even find themselves pulled from their homes, arrested by the police and thrown into a mental hospital for expressing their opposition to government policies, as happened to Marine Brandon Raub.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own censorship.

It’s a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other, they’re incapable of presenting a united front against the threats posed by the government and its cabal of Constitution-destroying agencies and corporate partners.

The antidote to intolerance is more tolerance.

What this requires is opening the door to more speech not less, even if that speech is offensive to some.

Understanding that freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society, James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, fought for a First Amendment that protected the “minority” against the majority, ensuring that even in the face of overwhelming pressure, a minority of one—even one who espouses distasteful viewpoints—would still have the right to speak freely, pray freely, assemble freely, challenge the government freely, and broadcast his views in the media freely.

The First Amendment is a steam valve. It allows people to speak their minds, air their grievances and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world.

When there is no steam valve—when there is no one to hear what the people have to say—frustration builds, anger grows and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation. By bottling up dissent, we have created a pressure cooker of stifled misery and discontent that is now bubbling over and fomenting even more hate, distrust and paranoia among portions of the populace.

By becoming so fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful or closed-minded that we’ve eliminated words, phrases and symbols from public discourse, we have entered into an egotistical, insulated, narcissistic era in which free speech has become regulated speech: to be celebrated when it reflects the values of the majority and tolerated otherwise, unless it moves so far beyond our political, religious and socio-economic comfort zones as to be rendered dangerous and unacceptable.

Protest laws, free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors (and championed by those who want to suppress speech with which they might disagree) have conspired to corrode our core freedoms, purportedly for our own good.

On paper—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—we are technically free to speak.

In reality, however, we are only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—may allow.

The end result: free speech is no longer free, and injustice persists.

So what we can do to end racial inequality, police brutality, and systemic injustice that does not involve sacrificing free speech on the altar of political correctness or adopting violent tactics?

Stop tiptoeing around, easily offended or afraid to cause offense. Stop allowing the government and its architects to micromanage your life and curtail your freedoms. Stop being a pawn in someone else’s game.

Find your own voice. Give voice to your own outrage. Speak truth to power nonviolently. And throughout it all, love your enemies and put that love into action.

That last point, to love your enemies, is the hardest of all, yet it was the principle that Jesus Christ spoke of most often: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.”

This principle was also at the core of Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts to combat racism and injustice. In fact, King delivered an entire sermon on what it means to love one’s enemies even when they continue to wrong you.

King was not speaking in abstracts. This was a man who, despite having faced down water cannons, police dogs and police brutality, intimidation and prejudice and assassination attempts, still insisted that “mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love” was his best weapon.

The first step in loving one’s enemies, says King, is to discover the element of good in them. “Within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it… There is an element of goodness that he can never slough off. Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude.”

Second, says King, focus on defeating evil systems, rather than vanquishing individuals caught up in an evil system. “Love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape [the love of God working in the lives of men] in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, ‘Love your enemy.’ This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.”

Third, says Kings, cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe with love. “If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends… And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe… Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody.”

Fourth, says King, hate ends up in tragic, neurotic responses. “Hate at any point is a cancer that gnaws away at the very vital center of your life and your existence. It is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life. So Jesus says love, because hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.” Instead, use love to redeem and transform those who would do you harm.

Lastly, don’t resort to violence.

King’s conclusion to his sermon is a timeless message, sent through time, to our present age. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are still fighting the triple evils of racism, poverty and militarism. We are still struggling to find our way in the world dominated by corporate greed and political ambition. We are still being manipulated into focusing our anger on flawed individuals rather than working to defeat evil establishments.

Sixty-three years later, King’s words are still relevant:

“Our world is in transition now. Our whole world is facing a revolution. Our nation is facing a revolution. History unfortunately leaves some people oppressed and some people oppressors. And there are … ways that individuals who are oppressed can deal with their oppression. One of them is to rise up against their oppressors with physical violence and corroding hatred. But there is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love… This is the only way. And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals… [T]o a power-drunk generation … love is the only way… to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence…love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe…. [T]hrough the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed… because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.”

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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].

Featured image is by BruceEmmerling / Pixabay

The demand for raw materials used to manufacture rechargeable batteries will grow rapidly as the importance of oil as a source of energy recedes, as highlighted recently by the collapse of prices due to oversupply and weak demand resulting from COVID-19, according to a new UNCTAD report.

The report, Commodities at a glance: Special issue on strategic battery raw materials, documents the growing importance of electric mobility and the main materials used to make rechargeable car batteries.

Ongoing efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions are expected to spur further investment in green energy production, which has been steady over the years, standing at around $600 billion per year on average.

“Alternative sources of energy such as electric batteries will become even more important as investors grow more wary of the future of the oil industry,” UNCTAD’s director of international trade, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, said while launching the report.

Electric car sales have boomed in recent years, rising 65% in 2018 from the previous year to 5.1 million vehicles, and are expected to reach 23 million in 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.

Rechargeable batteries will play a significant role in the global transition to a low-carbon energy system and help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions if the raw materials used in their manufacture are sourced and produced in a sustainable manner, the report says.

The worldwide market for cathode for lithium ion battery, the most common rechargeable car battery, was estimated at $7 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $58.8 billion by 2024, according to the report.

“The rise in demand for the strategic raw materials used to manufacture electric car batteries will open more trade opportunities for the countries that supply these materials. It’s important for these countries to develop their capacity to move up the value chain,” Ms. Coke-Hamilton said.

Raw materials in a few countries, value addition limited

Reserves of the raw materials for car batteries are highly concentrated in a few countries. Nearly 50% of world cobalt reserves are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 58% of lithium reserves are in Chile, 80% of natural graphite reserves are in China, Brazil and Turkey, while 75% of manganese reserves are in Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Ukraine.

The highly concentrated production, susceptible to disruption by political instability and adverse environmental impacts, raises concerns about the security of the supply of the raw materials to battery manufacturers.

The report warns that supply disruptions may lead to tighter markets, higher prices and increased costs of car batteries, affecting the global transition to low-carbon electric mobility.

According to the report, investing more in green technologies that depend less on critical battery raw materials could help reduce consumers’ vulnerability to supply shortfalls in the current mix of materials such as lithium and cobalt, but this would cut the revenues of the countries producing them.

The report indicates that the bulk of value added to raw materials used in making rechargeable batteries is generated outside the countries that produce the materials.

For instance, value added to cobalt ores by the DRC is limited to intermediate products or concentrates. Further processing and refining are mostly done in refineries in Belgium, China, Finland, Norway and Zambia to obtain the end products used in rechargeable batteries as well as for other applications.

The DRC, which accounts for over two-thirds of global cobalt production, has not maximized the economic benefits of the mineral due to limited infrastructure, technology, logistical capacity, financing and lack of appropriate policies to encourage local value addition.

The manufacture of positive electrodes for car batteries is dominated by countries in Asia. In 2015, China accounted for approximately 39% of the global market, Japan 19% and Republic of Korea 7%.

Social and environmental impacts stain production

The report shines a light on the social and environmental impacts of the extraction of raw materials for car batteries and underlines the urgent need to address them.

For instance, about 20% of cobalt supplied from the DRC comes from artisanal mines where child labour and human rights abuses have been reported. Up to 40,000 children work in extremely dangerous conditions in the mines for meagre income, according to UNICEF.

And in Chile, lithium mining uses nearly 65% of the water in the country’s Salar de Atamaca region, one of the driest desert areas in the world, to pump out brines from drilled wells.

This has caused groundwater depletion and pollution, forcing local quinoa farmers and llama herders to migrate and abandon ancestral settlements. It has also contributed to environment degradation, landscape damage and soil contamination.

The adverse environmental impacts could be reduced by increasing investment in technologies used to recycle spent rechargeable batteries, according to the report.

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Four years ago, New Internationalist travelled to West Africa to hear the stories of communities in recovery from the deadly Ebola epidemic. Hazel Healy gets back in touch.

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In early April, Sierra Leone confirmed its first case of coronavirus, one of the last nations in the world to do so. A low-income country, it has limited intensive care capacity, a total of 18 ventilators and a population of six million, the vast majority of whom lack the financial means to ‘stay at home’ or observe social distance.

In this context, a full-blown outbreak would be devastating. To date, the country’s strategy has hinged on meticulous testing, contact tracing and isolating, which is aimed at keeping Covid-19 out of its under-equipped general hospitals. Borders are closed, the airport shuttered and there are short, periodic countrywide lockdowns.

Sierra Leone is still in the early stages of the pandemic. Authorities are quarantining all who test positive for coronavirus. The asymptomatic go to community care centres – a relic from the fight against Ebola – as close-quarters living rules out self-isolation for most, while those who get sick are sent first to isolation wards and then on to dedicated Covid-19 treatment centres.

This decisive action has so far kept the number of cases and fatalities low. But infections are rising steadily. As the first community transmissions – which are unconnected to known clusters of cases – start to emerge, we speak to a market trader, a junior doctor, a community activist and an aid worker about Sierra Leone’s fight against Covid-19 – and the immense challenge of combating a virus without the drugs to treat it.

Flip-flop seller

Theresa Jusu is a 31-year-old market trader from Koindu, on the border with Guinea and Liberia, one of the early epicentres of Ebola.

Since coronavirus, the government closed the cross-border markets. Those of us who live on the border make our living through trade and Sunday was our market day. People travelled far to come to the Koindu market. It was chock-a-block; people made the town look lively.

The Guineans used to sell pepper and onions, cows’ milk and textiles. You could buy greens, potato leaves, cassava leaves; I sold dry goods, clothes and flip-flops. I might sell 10 in a day.

Now people are only looking to buy food. So, I sell rice and oil instead, at the local market. I get it on credit from shopkeepers, sell it on and keep any profit. But I can go a whole morning without selling a single thing.

With what I make, I support my four children plus my younger sister and her child, who are living with me. Before, we would eat two meals a day – breakfast and dinner – now it’s down to one.

People are scared of the coronavirus in Koindu, because of the way Ebola came in and destroyed our people. But we are getting to understand that people are surviving – they are going into 14-day quarantine and then they are coming home. With Ebola, they never came back.

At least, because of Ebola, we know how to protect ourselves. At the market, there are handwashing stations, some people have sanitizer. And they were giving out African-made masks for free. I got one, but there wasn’t enough for everyone.

There have just been short lockdowns so far. If people are hungry, they start breaking into houses looking for food. And if you go out, the police will beat you. Sierra Leone doesn’t have the economy to pay people, but at least the government should give them something to eat.

Infectious diseases specialist

Marta Lado is a Spanish clinician who has worked in Sierra Leone for the past six years. Chief Medical Officer at the NGO Partners In Health, she trains hospital staff and is treating coronavirus patients at 34 Military Hospital in Freetown.

The response to Covid-19 was fast, and it was easy to do because of our experience with Ebola. We knew how to manage a crisis – what structures to put in place. But just because we went through Ebola doesn’t mean we can deal with any pandemic that comes. The problem is that in a poor country without resources you can never really be ‘ready’.

In Europe, hospitals were overwhelmed by numbers, which are hard to predict. But they had a system in place. Our health system is weak. In 34 Military Hospital we have 10 ventilators. But to intubate someone you need to sedate them first. We don’t have sedation drugs, we don’t have an intensive care specialist or specialized nurses and we don’t have enough nurses to maintain a patient with a mechanical ventilator. But before that, the thing that will kill the patient is likely to be the lack of insulin, antibiotics or steroids – or even intravenous cannulas. So – what do you want me to do with a ventilator?

The basics are not in place. Most of the hospitals here don’t have oxygen. They might not even have running water, or electricity to be open for 24 hours. Patients need to pay for their own medication to treat common conditions. Now, if you put Covid into that system…

We are dealing with it, but because individuals have had to fight to get things: doctors buy drugs for their patients, friends with private pharmacies donate drugs, the Lebanese community gives us cylinders for oxygen, the Indian community pays for some medication. You end up begging for favours because we don’t have the money, nationally, to buy these things.

I’m not blaming anyone. But we need to recognize that Sierra Leone doesn’t have the financial capacity. Later, when this is over, we have to reflect on how to improve the basics so next time this happens we don’t find ourselves trapped with no resources.

Community advocate

Mohamed Camara is an activist and On Our Radar reporter from Magazine Wharf slum community in Freetown.

In my community, houses are close together. Social distancing would be a very difficult. It’s crowded – you might have seven or eight people living together in a small, single room. We’re a close-knit community, we see each other as family and we share what we have.

So far, we’ve had no cases in Magazine – either confirmed or suspected. But if there is a Covid-19 case in our community it will spread like a fire in the Amazon. We experienced one of the worst outbreaks during Ebola here, and were the last to be declared ‘Ebola-free’.

This environment is not safe, it’s not hygienic – that’s how I contracted polio as a child. Freetown’s drains empty out into Magazine Wharf; it’s muddy, people rear pigs in the rubbish. During the rainy season, the community is flooded, and this can cause cholera.

The three-day lockdown was a bit crazy here because people rely on the income that they earn each day. The government just imposes things without trying to minimize the impact. If there’s a total lockdown, there will be chaos if people have no way to survive.

We also had 14 days of restricted movement. Most people make a living from petty trade, fishing or cutting firewood so it’s very difficult for them if you stop them moving across the district. And food prices are rocketing up – people are taking advantage. How can we adapt to the new rules, if the government doesn’t pay attention to this?

People are suspicious – that’s another problem. They aren’t really wearing masks and social distancing because they don’t trust the government. People are saying each president brings a virus: first Kabbah: HIV, Koroma: Ebola, now Julius Bio has come with coronavirus. They think the government wants to get rich, not to protect them. When the election comes, they say, we will vote these guys out.

Juris doctor

Mamadu Baldeh heads up the Infectious Diseases Unit at Connaught Hospital, the main tertiary referral facility in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown.

We have 10 beds in the Infectious Diseases Unit, which serves as our isolation ward. So, we work on having a rapid turnover of patients: get suspected cases tested, send people to treatment centres, the general ward or discharge them.

As of now, we’re not overwhelmed with Covid-19. But work is hectic. In one day, I might see 10 new patients, dispatch 10 more patients and write their referrals. Everything has to move fast and it’s exhausting – at the beginning I was even sleeping at the hospital.

Now there are two more doctors with me, and we work on rotation. My facility is full right now, which is why I have time to do the interview – but if more patients come in, we may have to start looking for another isolation facility. Ours is already the biggest isolation ward in Sierra Leone. We have supplies of Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) but sometimes we do run out of things – boots or gloves.

Until now, we have lost 11 people to Covid-19 in my unit. At first, people were dying because they couldn’t afford to pay for their medication. Since then a Sierra Leonean journalist called Vickie Remoe has raised funds through a public campaignand – thank God – Covid medicines are free to patients.

But donations can’t fix everything. Right now, you see ambulances everywhere. Now we have oxygen. The challenge is that they don’t disappear, without a crisis like Covid.

We need a national effort, to remodel all aspects of the health sector: resources, budget, personnel. Many Sierra Leonean doctors who train here leave in frustration. But I trained in Venezuela and I saw the dedication of the Cuban doctors who do so much with limited resources. And then I came back to serve.

Additional reporting by Moses James, from the On Our Radar reporter network.

Staff at Connaught Hospital and 34 military hospitals are supported by Kings Health Partnership Sierra Leone and Partners in Health.

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Hazel Healy is a co-editor at New Internationalist.

Featured image: Dr Asamte Fidel, one of the local Sierra Leonean doctors working at Connaught Hospital, which was on the frontline of the Ebola epidemic when it hit in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Credit: Simon Davis/DFiD

If you have ever walked by Mumbai’s southern seacoast, you may have noticed a strange-looking tower rising above the apartment complexes. Measuring 27-stories high and featuring three helipads, an 80-seat theater and an 168-car garage, among other amenities, the skyrise is the residence of India’s wealthiest man, Mukesh Ambani. It’s estimated to be worth at least $1 billion, making it the most expensive private home in the world.

Go less than eight miles north along the coastline and you will reach Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. Measuring .81 sq mi, the slum is home to over 1 million Indians, making it one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. Entire families cram into one-room houses inside Dharavi’s labyrinthine neighborhoods, where diseases run rampant because of the confined and unsanitary conditions people live in.

This is not the first time the opulence of Ambani’s home has been compared to Dharavi, which was famously depicted in the film “Slumdog Millionaire.” Since it was erected in 2010, Ambani’s home has served as the quintessential metaphor that captures the absurd scope of India’s economic inequality, which is among the worst in the world.

But the economic fallout of Covid-19 is exacerbating India’s inequality to a point beyond what metaphors can capture. Economic forecasts estimate that India’s GDP will contract by 4-5% in the coming year, severely impacting major industries and India’s emerging middle class. But it is India’s informal economy, where nearly 81% of Indians work, that will be hit hardest. This bottom half of India, as Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee calls it, is not simply facing an economic crisis but an existential one as they struggle to put food on their tables. These are the people who earn daily wages, work on a contract basis and have no safety net or personal insurance of any kind. They may not succumb to Covid-19, but they will succumb to lack of access to food and health care.

The plight of India’s migrant workers offers a glimpse of the grim reality millions will face because of the Covid-19 economic fallout. When India entered a state of lockdown on March 24 — the largest lockdown in the world — more than 100 million men and women who had migrated from their rural towns and villages to look for work in big cities and slums such as Dharavi were suddenly left jobless. The vast majority live hand to mouth, depending on their daily earnings to meet their needs, and many of them don’t own homes but sleep at their place of employment.

In the days following the lockdown, images from across India started to emerge of a mass exodus of people walking 310, 621 or even 932 miles (500, 1,000, 1,500 km, respectively) under the scorching sun to reach their hometowns, most of them in the north. Lack of public transportation — which was either unaffordable for many or closed due to the pandemic — forced these men and women to carry their children or tow them behind on carts and even luggage cases. Stories soon began to circulate of children dying due to exhaustion and starvation, fatigued migrants falling asleep on railway tracks and being run over by trains and others dying in road accidents and because of extreme exhaustion. Cases of police violently trying to enforce curfews and lockdowns on migrants were also reported.

Beyond the financial catastrophe that will impact millions of poor Indians, there is a very real possibility the arrival of Covid-19-positive migrants in rural towns may trigger a health crisis in areas that are ill-prepared to handle the virus. India now has surpassed Italy and become the fourth country with the most Covid-19 cases — and it’s quickly climbing up the ladder. Allowing migrants to return home first before implementing the lockdown could have slowed the spread, according to a joint task force of India’s top public health organizations.

The sad truth is that it’s only in this time of crisis that India’s upper and middle classes have slowly begun to recognize the crucial role migrant workers and daily laborers play in keeping the country’s economy running and maintaining their comfortable lifestyle. They are the invisible class — the construction workers, plumbers, cleaners, maids, factory workers in middle sized and larger companies — that keeps India’s economic engine running.

While some of them may come back when the economic conditions improve and the pandemic is under control, many may not want to return. Why should they when India did not consider their plight in the midst of a lockdown? Though the Supreme Court of India has finally stepped in and ordered states to help migrants get home, initially the court dismissed a petition to address the issue.

The prospect of returning to cramped living conditions in places such as Dharavi, where physical distancing is nonexistent, and to usurious contracts that flout any sense of decent labor regulations also may prevent many migrants from returning.

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, India now faces the imposing challenge of finding a way to restart its economy. Stimulus packages can help keep businesses, corporations and those employed in the formal economy afloat, but special consideration must be taken for daily laborers who cannot access economic relief provided to the private sector. The central government, as well as individual states, should consider setting up an emergency task force dedicated to addressing the needs of this half of our population.

In the short term, disbursing 7,500 INR (approximately $100 USD) for the next six to 12 months has been proposed by economists to help these families survive, as well as providing food grains from the surplus of the government’s granaries. Welcoming NGOs and the U.N.’s World Food Program will also go a long way in providing food to those in need. But in the long run, India’s archaic labor laws and health care infrastructure need to be reformed so migrant laborers get paid fair wages and have access to health care, which includes proper accommodation.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had advocated for India to become fully self-reliant in every respect, economically and in its food production. This vision can only be achieved if we acknowledge the worth and value the laborers in the organized sector bring to our nation.

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Most Rev. Joseph D’Souza is a Christian theologian, author and human and civil rights activist. He is the founder of Dignity Freedom Network, an organization that advocates for and delivers humanitarian aid to the marginalized and outcastes of South Asia. He is archbishop of the Anglican Good Shepherd Church of India and serves as the president of the All India Christian Council.

“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man”– T.S. Eliot

One of the earliest casualties of the COVID-19 lockdown was the public library.  It seemed evident, even in the weeks leading up to its demise, that this unusually vibrant and very necessary hub of community life was destined for closure – especially given its unique feature as a “hands on” sort of venue where people are frequently handling the same physical materials day in, day out. 

After all, the library is a place where people are continuously leafing through pages that have been pinched, pressed, folded and gently tugged at by hundreds (if not thousands) of other patrons.  Not to mention the casual touching and fondling of the many covers and spines themselves, as is the nature of some casual strollers to simply pull a book out from the shelf, examine its exterior and simply slide it back in among the other volumes before trailing their finger along the rest of the row, as though they were reading Braille.

To be sure, the public library is a hub of physical touch just as much as it is one of community and social gathering.  People come to such a place for that very reason; to feel and to experience.   For this reason, perhaps it is one of those rare and special exemptions in our current climate of germ phobia that we actually don’t mind fondling something that has been in intimate proximity with a complete stranger (indeed many, many complete strangers), before finding itself in our hands, in our laps, or in our children’s laps for that matter.  We don’t seem to care that the very book we are holding in our hands has been in somebody else’s home for several weeks.  Likewise, it seldom crosses our minds that another person may have been blowing their nose while reading it or perhaps even kept it in their bathroom for those opportune moments of reading pleasure whenever nature happened to call.

For that matter, how many of us ever questioned whether these thousands upon thousands of books were ever wiped down, let alone sanitized by the library staff once they were returned?  Personally, I’ve always assumed they were returned directly to the shelves in precisely the same condition as they were when they were hastily dropped off by their previous borrowers.  A little more worn, maybe, with perhaps a lingering scent of the private home from whence they briefly took residence.  And while sometimes noticeable to you and I – the fresh and prospective borrower – did we even care?

The truth is that we don’t come to a library with nearly the same expectation as when we go to a bookstore.  Bookstores, for the most part, are for shopping.  Though I would argue that they, too, are fundamentally necessary in our society, they are there to serve a role in the marketplace and thereby aim to provide a product.  The bookstore promises ownership; a small piece of collective literary content that we can call our own and with which we either build a private collection or else gift to someone else.  It is a sweet and marvelous aspect of human culture, though clearly not a library.

I would argue that a library (as opposed to a bookstore) exists purely for the transmission of ideas.  Like a proverbial union station of sorts, the library is responsible for the transfer of specific content from writer to reader, and thereby facilitates an education of sorts that is quite unique from other community venues.  The reader is there simply to access the information provided by the book itself, and is quite happy – once the information has been ingested – to leave the book for others to enjoy and to glean from. Additionally, the fact that the books are considered completely communal in nature, coupled with the understanding that libraries are funded predominantly by the readers themselves through their tax dollars, renders the whole concept of a library as a highly-regarded social agreement of sorts.  In other words, the contract is made possible because the community agrees to pay the cost of the operation while expecting, in turn, to be able to benefit from it. Furthermore, every taxpaying citizen expects that the service will be made available in equal proportions to every other citizen as well.

To a greater or lesser degree, patrons of library services recognize that the written word carries a considerable type of value in a community of persons; a society’s own cultural currency that is virtually priceless. Indeed, some would even consider books to be more essential than money itself, serving to promote humanity’s sense of integrity and responsibility as “mirrors of the soul,” as Virginia Woolf once put it.

Without a doubt, the library is that rarest of places where a person is invited to spend as much time as possible to simply loiter the content (though arguably not the property exclusively) and to peruse the creative inventory without any pressure or market agenda as to which item is worthy of consuming and which is not.  Plainly put, the very fact that a book exists on a shelf warrants it as being worthy of reflection and consideration.  Likewise, upon ingestion, it is worthy of being argued against and either philosophically or morally debated.  Finally, the fact that such an eclectic array of words is made freely available to virtually every person on a daily basis is what places the public library near the very top of what I would call “essential services.”

While it is fair to point out the merits of online and digital services that are now being provided by public libraries, I would warn that this feature is purely complementary or supplemental at best.  After viewing the landing pages of several public library websites across the planet during our current COVID climate, it is clear that these institutions are trying to preserve whatever literary relevance they can by offering things like online  book discussions, virtual story time, and (perhaps most obviously) the promotion of e-book collections.  These are helpful and certainly worth taking advantage of, though I would insist that these measures are but a mere stipend of what a library is able to offer us simply through its nature as an entrenched part of a community; a visible, physical space in which the user is free to actually roam rather than merely “search.”

To be sure, the library is a space.  We must never mistake the beauty and sanctity of this space as being equal to a digital one.  Indeed, the library offers us a very physical and distinct set of chambers, corners, hallways and nooks which – by their very oddity in comparison with the gloss and the concrete of our modern world – have a way of inviting us into a different realm of concentration; a different realm of consciousness even.  My concern, therefore, is that the sanctity and fundamental importance of this space is not being considered as importantly as it should right now.

Almost daily, I check the local library’s website to see whether any administrative agent, in their sudden wisdom, has seen fit to open the doors to one of our community’s most precious intellectual commodities. Instead, I get the chilling and utterly sterile advisory that “All Library Branches and Book Drops Closed Until Further Notice to Minimize the Risk of COVID-19.”  How ironic is it that what is intended as a public health precaution comes across as a thinly-veiled agenda to keep people away from books; away from ideas themselves, and away from a space where one will have the natural opportunity to peruse an idea without having to run a search for it on Google.  How ironic that such a move has only helped the regressive surge of humanity as it retreats to the comforting enclaves of screens and digital devices or, as Aldous Huxley aptly put it in “Brave New World,” to the ‘soma holidays’where difficult emotions never have to be experienced.

In the first couple of months of library lockdown, my children pleaded for the chance to be able to go to their local book hub.  Pleas eventually turned to questions about the reasons for it, and questions eventually morphed into anger for the knee-jerk reactions of provincial and city officials, and regional controllers.  Now, sadly, my children seem to ask about the library less and less.  It’s almost as though the removal of this fundamental part of their lives has gradually become accepted.  And while I try to teach my children about the myth of powerlessness in our everyday life, every so often I am struck with the reality that we live in a world where so many people accept powerlessness as being synonymous with being “socially responsible.”  In such a world, teaching the virtues of accountability and leadership can sometimes be more challenging – mostly because we are teaching things that go against the grain of entrenched submission, blind acquiescence to directives, and the pervasive addiction of entertainment.

For this reason, I remind my children that they are privileged to live during the time of COVID, as it will help them to better recognize human passivity in a collective form and – more importantly – to understand the importance of expressing one’s truth when it is difficult to do so.

In my view, the public library is extremely essential in that it permits the individual as well as the family unit to healthfully loiter a space where diversity naturally exists in the written form and entrenched ideas are historically challenged.  It is one place where the concept of healthy deviance is traditionally entertained, and where materials on this subject are freely available.

And I, for the record, am willing to take full responsibility for my own health by entering into its premises and leafing through its pages – despite the so-called risk of COVID-19.

I am told that the public libraries will be gradually phasing in access measures until we eventually reach a point of (hopefully) restored in-house service.  Apparently such a time is coming.  In the meantime, I simply wish to convey my deep disapproval over the library’s poor decision-making in the face of our government’s COVID curriculum over society. The decision to close and to keep closed our libraries has been nothing less than a key element in the progressive disemboweling of our culture.  It is a neutering of our human spirit, and a stain on our sense of reason.

And though I don’t consider myself an alarmist, I would simply warn that the brief closure of such an institution this time around will only serve to lubricate additional (and potentially longer) closures in the future. You see, the library is merely the symbol of a much larger thing.  It is an icon of human exchange and the free trade of ideas.

Surely, we take such a thing seriously in society.  Do we not?

 “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”– Albert Einstein

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Brett Jordan, BSW, MSW, RSW, is a Registered Social Worker who works in a hospital ER in Metro Vancouver.  He writes predominantly on issues of spiritual, emotional and social phenomena.

Featured image is from Canada Immigration

Just when you thought the leaders of NATO could not push the limits of insanity any further, something like NATO 2030 is announced.

After helping blow up the Middle East and North Africa, dividing the Balkans into zones of war and tension, turning Ukraine upside down using armadas of neo Nazis, and encircling Russia with a ballistic missile shield, the leaders of this Cold War relic have decided that the best way to deal with instability of the world is… more NATO.

In a June 8th online event co-sponsored by the Atlantic Council, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the launch of a planning project to reform NATO called NATO 2030. Stoltenberg told his audience that in order to deal with Russia and China’s strategic partnership which is transforming the global balance of power, “we must resist the temptation of national solutions and we must live up to our values: freedom, democracy and the rule of law. To do this, we must stay strong militarily, be more united politically and take a broader approach globally.”

In the mind of Stoltenberg, this means expanding NATO’s membership into the Pacific with a high priority on the absorption of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea into NATO’s dysfunctional family. It also means extending NATO’s jurisdiction beyond a military alliance to include a wider political and environmental dimension (the war on climate change is apparently just as serious as the war on terrorism and should thus be incorporated into NATO’s operating system).

Analyzing China’s intentions through the most Hobbesian dark age lens on the market, Stoltenberg stated “they are investing heavily in modern military capabilities, including missiles that can reach all NATO allied countries. They are coming closer to us in cyberspace. We see them in the Arctic, in Africa… and they are working more and more together with Russia.”

In spite of NATO’s Cold War thinking, Russia and China have continuously presented olive branches to the west over the years- offering to cooperate on such matters as counter-terrorism, space exploration, asteroid defense, and global infrastructure projects in the Arctic and broader Belt and Road Initiative. In all instances, these offers have been met with a nearly unanimous cold shoulder by the western military industrial complex ruling NATO and the Atlantic alliance.

The Engine of War Heats Up

As Stoltenberg spoke these words, the 49th Baltic Operations running from June 1-16th were underway as the largest NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea featuring “30 ships and submarines, and 30 aircraft, conducting air defence, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction and mine countermeasure operations.” In response Moscow reinforced its armored forces facing Europe.

Meanwhile in China’s backyard, three aircraft carriers all arrived in the Pacific (the USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz) with a senate Armed Services Committee approval of $6 billion in funds for the Pacific Defense Initiative which Defense News stated will “send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is deeply committed to defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific”. The committee also approved a U.S. Airforce operating location in the Indo-Pacific for F-35A jets in order to “prioritize the protection of the air bases that might be under attack from current or emerging cruise missiles and advanced hypersonic missiles, specifically from China.”

Another inflammatory precursor for confrontation came from a House Republican Study Committee report co-authored by Secretary of State Pompeo calling for sanctioning China’s leadership, listing Russia as a state sponsor of terror and authorizing the use of military force against anyone on a Foreign Terrorist Organization list. When one holds in mind that large sections of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard happen to be on this list, it is not hard to see how quickly nations doing business with Iran can be considered “state sponsors of terror”, justifying a use of military force from America.

With this level of explicit antagonism and duplicity, it is no wonder that China’s foreign ministry announced on June 10th that it would not participate in joint three-way arms talks between the USA and Russia. If America demonstrated a coherent intention to shift its foreign policy doctrine towards a genuine pro-cooperation perspective, then it is undoubtably the case that China would enthusiastically embrace such proposals. But until then, China is obviously unwilling to loose any part of its already small nuclear deterrent of 300 warheads (compared to Russia and the USA, who each own 6000).

The Resistance to the Warhawks

I have said it many times before, but there is currently not one but two opposing American military doctrines at war with each other and no assessment of American foreign policy is complete without a sensitivity to that fact.

On the one hand, there is the sociopathic doctrine which I outlined summarily above, but on the other hand, there exists a genuine intention to stop the “forever wars”, pull out of the Middle East, disengage with NATO and realign with a multipolar system of sovereign nation states.

This more positive America expressed itself in Trump’s June 7th counter-attack on former Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis who had fueled the American Maidan now unfolding by stating his belife that solutions can happen without the President. Trump had fired Mattis earlier over the Cold Warrior’s commitment to endless military enmeshment in Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq. In this Oval Office interview, the President called out the Military industrial complex which Mattis represents saying “The military-industrial complex is unbelievably powerful… You have no idea. Some legit, and some non-legit.”

Another aspect of Trump’s resistance to the neo-cons running the Pentagon and CIA is reflected in the June 11 joint U.S.-Iraq statement after the Strategic Dialogues summit of American and Iraqi delegates which committed to a continued reduction of troops in Iraq stating:

“Over the coming months, the U.S. would continue reducing forces from Iraq and discuss with the government of Iraq the status of remaining forces as both countries turn their focus towards developing a bilateral security relationship based on strong mutual interests”.

This statement coincides with Trump’s May 2020 call to accelerate U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan which has seen a fall from 12000 troops in February to under 9000 as of this writing.

Most enraging to the NATO-philes of London, Brussels and Washington was Trump’s surprising call to pull 9500 American troops out of Germany hours before Stoltenberg gave his loony NATO 2030 speech with Johann Wadephul (Deputy head of the CDU) saying “these plans demonstrate once again that the Trump administration neglects a central element of leadership: the involvement of alliance partners in the decision-making process”. In his next breath, Wadephul made his anti-Eurasian delusion transparent saying “Europe gains from the Alliance being unified. Only Russia and China gain from strife.”

Just a few months earlier, the President showed his disdain for the NATO bureaucracy by unilaterally pulling 3000 American military personnel out of the Trident Juncture exercise held annually every March.

In Defense of President Trump

In spite of all of his problems, Trump’s resistance to the dark age/neocon faction which has been running a virtually independent military-industrial-intelligence complex since FDR’s death in 1945 demonstrates a high degree of courage unseen in American presidents for many decades.

Most importantly, this flawed President represents a type of America which is genuinely compatible with the pro-nation state paradigm now being led by Russia and China.

Trump’s recent attempt to reform the G7 into a G11 (incorporating Russia, India, South Korea and Australia) is a nice step in that direction but his exclusion of China has made it an unworkable idea.

To solve this problem, American University in Moscow President Edward Lozansky stated in his recent Washington Times column that adding China to the list making it a G12 would be a saving grace to the idea and one of the best flanking maneuvers possible during this moment of crisis. Lozansky’s concept is so important that I wish to end with a larger citation from his article:

“Both Russia and China got the message a long time ago that they need to stay together to withstand the efforts to destroy them in sequence… The G-7 indeed is an obsolete group and it definitely needs a fresh blood. Therefore, a G-12 meeting in New York in late September during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly would be a perfect place and timing since Mr. Trump had already announced that he is willing to hold a G-5 summit with the leaders of Russia, China, Britain and France — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — to discuss nuclear security issues. China so far is reluctant to join these talks, arguing that its smaller nuclear force is defensive and poses no threat. However, for the discussion in the G-12 format Mr. Putin might be able to convince his pal Xi to accept Mr. Trump’s invitation. This would be a huge achievement for the world’s peace and at the same time allow Mr. Trump to score lots of political points not only from his electoral base but from undecided and even from his opponents who want to save their families from nuclear holocaust.”

Unless world citizens who genuinely wish to avoid the danger of a nuclear holocaust learn how to embrace the idea of a G-12, and let the NATO/Cold War paradigm rot in the obsolete trash bin of history where it rightfully belongs, then I think it is safe to say that the future will not be something to look forward to.

For the next installment, we will take a look at the British Imperial origins of NATO and the American deep state in order to help shed greater light on the nature of the “two Americas” which I noted above, have been at war with each other since 1776.

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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]

Trump’s unlawful Deal of the Century scheme green-lighted Israeli annexation of illegally established settlements on stolen Palestinian land and the Jordan Valley.

Netanyahu earlier vowed to press ahead with annexation. 

Reportedly on or around July 1, he’ll initially announce the annexation of what the Times of Israel called “three West Bank (settlement) blocs,” not the Jordan Valley for now, adding:

“Well-placed sources told The Times of Israel last week that the joint mapping committee tasked with delineating the contours of the annexation move still had weeks if not months of work, and the IDF has not been told precisely what Netanyahu has in mind.”

For starters, Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion, three large settlements, will be annexed in the coming days, ruling coalition partner Benny Gantz reportedly going along with what’s clearly a flagrant breach of international law.

According to the broadsheet, there’s “relative consensus, domestically and in Washington,” to making the move.

Or is there? The Times of Israel added the following:

“The US initially said it would recognize annexation immediately, but subsequently appears to have at the very least tempered its enthusiasm for the controversial move before the joint mapping committee can complete its work.”

“The (Trump regime) is highly unlikely to approve an Israeli move to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank by the July 1 date envisioned by Netanyahu,” according to an unnamed “well-placed source.”

Annexation of historic Palestinian land in whole or in part will formally end the two-state illusion — what long ago was possible, clearly not now.

Trump regime hardliners are on board with the most extremist of Netanyahu regime policies — time and again blaming victims of US/NATO/Israeli high crimes for what’s committed against them.

At most, Trump and Pompeo et al may only press Netanyahu to slow, not abandon, illegal annexation of Palestinian land.

It’s highly unlikely that Biden will soften US policy toward long-suffering Palestinians if he succeeds Trump in January.

Throughout his time as US senator and vice president, he one-sidedly supported Israel, including three preemptive wars on Gaza based on Big Lies.

On June 16 at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and four Palestinian human rights groups discussed the illegality of Israel’s annexation scheme.

They warned that it’ll “normalize Israel’s colonial project and amounts to apartheid via the continued expansion and construction of illegal settlements, displacement and dispossession of Palestinians, and demographic manipulation,” adding:

“The Israeli plan would further entrench racial, ethnic, and religious segregation as a legal norm, and Israel will formally establish itself as the sole sovereign regime over the Palestinian people in historic Palestine.”

On the same day, 47 UN special rapporteurs denounced the annexation scheme as “a vision of 21st century apartheid.”

A presentation by Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies’ international advocacy officer Nada Awad to the UNHRC on behalf of Adalah and the four Palestinian human rights groups said the following:

“Last month, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Israel swore in a new government seemingly committed to formally annexing parts of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) in the West Bank in July, in a blatant violation of international law.”

“This annexation, part of the so-called Trump-Netanyahu ‘Deal of the Century’ and the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition agreement, normalizes Israel’s colonial project and amounts to apartheid via the continued expansion and construction of illegal settlements, displacement and dispossession of Palestinians, and demographic manipulation.”

“The principles of this plan are enshrined in Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Basic Law enacted in July 2018.”

“This law established a constitutional order based on systematic ethnic supremacy, domination, and segregation in the so-called ‘Land of Israel’ and the denial of the realization of national self-determination for the Palestinian people.”

“Article 7 of this law provides that Jewish settlement is a national value to be encouraged and strengthened, giving the state authorities further constitutional legal tools to justify the illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories.”

“This law intends to justify as constitutional segregation in land and housing that targets all Palestinians in historic Palestine, including Palestinians citizens of Israel, who have suffered decades of systematic oppression.”

“Annexation would further entrench racial, ethnic, and religious segregation as a legal norm.”

“In this context, Israel will formally establish itself as the sole sovereign regime over the Palestinian people in historic Palestine.”

“We call on the UN and the international community to call for the dismantling of all settlements, to vehemently oppose any annexation, and to guarantee the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right of return to their homes and property.”

Separately, Adalah called Netanyahu’s annexation scheme a flagrant breach of the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and other international law, including binding Security Council resolutions.

Israeli occupation, settlements, land confiscations, resource theft, and related abusive practices are “profound” high crimes against peace and the fundamental rights of all Palestinians.

If annexation proceeds as planned, the West Bank will resemble Gaza, a second open-air prison for a bludgeoned into submission people.

It’ll resemble Dante’s hell, its gate bearing the inscription: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

A Final Comment

On Monday, thousands of Palestinians rallied in Jericho against Netanyahu’s annexation scheme.

Dozens of foreign diplomats joined them, including Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for Middle East peace — a position accomplishing nothing because of the US/Israeli regional imperial project.

As long as Washington supports Israeli aims, views of other nations never made a difference because a price to pay by the world community on its ruling authorities for the worst of their high crimes was never imposed.

The so-called peace process was and remains a colossal hoax, a notion the US, NATO and Israel reject.

Yet the illusion of what never was and isn’t now persists, establishment media, Western officials, and UN secretary general fostering it.

Palestinians were abandoned over a century ago by the infamous Balfour Declaration, the beginning of the end of historic Palestine.

Generations of political, military and cultural repression of its people followed, including dispossession from their land, other property, their fundamental rights, and in countless thousands of cases their lives.

Establishment of a nation for Jews on stolen Palestinian land was and remains a scheme to advance Western interests in the oil-rich region.

It led to over 100 years of endless conflict, occupation, dispossession, and repression, along with social and cultural fragmentation,

Historic Palestine and rights of its people were and continue to be abandoned in deference to Western/Israel regional control.

Palestinians are largely on their own, resistance their only option, staying the course no matter the long odds against them.

The world community never offered more than lip service help — the plight of ordinary people everywhere, exploited to benefit privileged interests.

It’s much the same in the West as in the Middle East and Occupied Palestine.

Ordinary people are largely on their own to press for positive change they’ll never get any other way.

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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 Another Day in the Empire

A longstanding line of control dispute along the border separating China and India flared up weeks earlier.

Both countries claim sovereignty over the disputed territory. Until April, forces of both countries hadn’t used live fire for decades.

According to Indian media, the Modi government gave commanders along the line of control freedom to handle things on their own tactically.

Live fire used by forces of both countries killed and wounded unclear numbers of soldiers.

Tensions remain high, risking escalation. It’s in the interests of both countries to resolve differences diplomatically.

Both sides deployed more forces along the disputed line of control.

The Trump regime supports India, a US intelligence report claiming Chinese General Zhao Zongqi authorized an attack on Indian forces in the Galwan River valley last week — no evidence cited backing the claim.

Supporting India is part of Washington’s aim to press Modi against working with Chinese tech giant Huawei to develop its 5G infrastructure.

Beijing and Delhi are trying to resolve differences. Conflict serves the interests of neither country.

Last week, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused Indian forces of “cross(ing) the Line of Actual Control,” calling it a “deliberate provocation,” causing casualties, adding:

“The adventurous acts of the Indian army have seriously undermined the stability of the border areas, threatened the lives of Chinese personnel, violated the agreements reached between the two countries on the border issue, and breached the basic norms governing international relations.”

“China has lodged solemn representations and strong protests to the Indian side.”

He stressed that Beijing urged Delhi to maintain bilateral communications and pursue efforts for mutual accommodation.

In response to last week’s clash, Pompeo tweeted:

“We extend our deepest condolences to the people of India for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation with China.”

He’s been very vocal in expressing Trump regime hostility toward China.

A similar 1962 border dispute escalated to war between both countries, what neither Beijing or Delhi want now.

If skirmishes continue, they’re likely be limited. Both countries best serve each other’s interests as allies, not adversaries.

For the US, it’s the other way around, its hardliners wanting China marginalized and weakened, a prescription for rupturing relations.

On Monday, China’s Global Times reported that Beijing “doesn’t want to escalate conflict with India, but (it has) sufficient capacity to smash any provocations from the Indian troops,” adding:

“It’s hoped that Indian troops can remain sober and Indian elites keep rational.”

“It’s in the India’s interests to work with China to put the border disputes under control.”

In 1996 and 2005, both countries signed agreements, stressing that neither side will use military force against the other.

Did Modi change India’s position? After last week’s clash, he sounded conciliatory, saying “(n)obody has intruded into our border, neither is anybody there now, nor have our posts been captured.”

India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishanka was more hardline, accusing Beijing of responsibility for “violence and casualties,” adding:

“The Chinese side (must) reassess its actions and take corrective steps.”

In response, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi demanded that Delhi “severely punish those responsible” for last week’s violence,” adding:

Indian “frontline troops (must) immediately cease all provocative actions. (Delhi) must not underestimate China’s firm will to safeguard its territorial sovereignty.”

Modi is playing a dangerous game, allying with the US in provoking China, a reliable ally — polar opposite how Washington operates, exploiting other countries to serve its interests.

US strategy aims to co-opt other countries, Months earlier, Sergey Lavrov warned India about its intentions, saying:

Washington’s “us(e) (of) term the Indo-Pacific instead of Asia-Pacific” is all about “contain(ing) China,” what Modi and other Indian officials surely understand.

There’s nothing “benign” about US strategy. It’s “divisive,” not “inclusive.”

US interest in India is co-opting its government, using it as a “counterweight” to China, aiming to undermine its economic and technological development.

Beijing is working more closely with Pakistan strategically and economically, including by construction of pipeline, rail and road links to its Gwadar Arabian Sea port.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor includes Beijing’s Aksai Chin region — near where clashes with Indian forces occurred.

Pretending to want differences between China and India resolved diplomatically, conflict between both countries serves US interests at their expense.

Beijing is much stronger militarily, why India’s show of force is limited.

If things escalate ahead, China will force Modi to back off.

According to Beijing-based military expert Wei Dongxu, his tough talk aims to please his base — with no intention of wanting an escalated clash with a militarily superior neighbor he’ll lose.

Asian Studies expert Lin Minwang said while it’s “normal to see heated nationalism in India, (it won’t) hijack (its) policymaking…to further provoke China.”

Tough talk may be heard, little more. India’s plate overflows with domestic problems.

Modi won’t invent a major new one by challenging China militarily, what he’ll lose, gaining nothing but lots of casualties and egg on his face.

Beijing’s military superiority “is why India hasn’t dared to launch a full attack against the PLA in decades but keeps creating low-level tensions occasionally,” Lin explained.

A Final Comment

On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said both sides “agreed to take necessary measures to promote a cooling of the situation,” adding:

“Both sides want to deal with their disagreement, manage the situation and de-escalate the situation through dialogue and consultations.”

A statement by India’s military said talks between both sides were “positive.”

“There was mutual consensus to disengage. Modalities for disengagement from all friction areas in Eastern Ladakh were discussed and will be taken forward by both sides.”

Clearly China wants confrontation ended. It’s up to both sides to back their statements with commitment, notably the belligerent Modi regime.

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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.

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Video: The Social Impacts and Economic Dimensions of the Drug Trade

June 24th, 2020 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Being a neighbor to one of the biggest producers of drugs in the world has caused the Islamic Republic of Iran to shoulder a heavy burden as one of the main routes for drug transport.

Iran is at the forefront of the fight against drug trafficking and thousands of Iranian forces have been so far martyred to protect the world from the danger of drugs. Despite high economic and human costs, the Islamic Republic has been actively fighting drug trafficking over the past decades.

Iran has spent more than $700 million on sealing its borders and preventing the transit of narcotics destined for European, Arab, and Central Asian countries.

The war on drug trade originating from some regional countries has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers over the past four decades.

According to reports, in 2018 alone, Iranian forces carried out 1,557 operations against drug traffickers, seizing approximately 807 tons of different types of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Tehran has always asked for international help in such operations, noting that the other countries, especially European states, should take responsibility and play a positive role in this fight or face its threats themselves.

The issue of drugs is a global scourge and there is the need for wide-scale cooperation at the international level so as to tackle this problem. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran has adopted an interactive approach with the global community concerning the issue of drugs and has virtually indicated that it spares no efforts in enhancing cooperation with other countries and international organizations in the campaign against illicit drugs.

On this basis, Iran has always voiced its resolve for countering illicit drugs and reducing its harms at the global level. Iran’s performance in countering drug trafficking has been effective in maintaining the security of different regions of the globe.

On the eve of ‘International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking’ observed annually on 26 June, the geopolitical and economic dimensions of the drug trafficking were discussed with Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa.

Addressing the geopolitical and economic dimensions of the drug trafficking Chossudovsky said,

“Despite President Trump’s announced US troop withdrawal, the Afghan opium trade continues to flourish. This multibillion-dollar operation is protected by US-NATO occupation forces on behalf of a nexus of powerful financial and criminal interests.”

“In 2004, the proceeds of the Afghan heroin trade yielded an estimated global revenue of the order of 90 billion dollars. Today a rough estimate based on US retail prices suggests that the global heroin market is above the 500 billion dollar mark. This multibillion-dollar hike is the result of a significant increase in the volume of heroin transacted Worldwide coupled with a moderate increase in retail prices.”

“Based on the most recent (UNODC) data (2017) opium production in Afghanistan is of the order of 9000 metric tons, which after processing and transformation is equivalent to approximately 900,000 kg. of pure heroin.”

Referring to the role of the US waged war on Afghanistan which resulted in an increase in opium production in the country, he noted,

“The 2001 war on Afghanistan served to restore as well as boost the multibillion-dollar drug trade. It has also contributed to the surge in heroin addiction in the US. Opium production had declined by more than 90 percent in 2001 as a result of the country’s drug eradication program. Immediately following the invasion and the occupation of Afghanistan by US-NATO troops, the production of opium regained its historical levels.”

He went on to say,

”The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey released in May 2018 by UNODC confirms that the farm areas allocated to opium are of the order of 328,000 hectares with opium production in excess of 9,000 tons.”

Answering a question about the reasons behind an increase in production of the opium in Afghanistan after being occupied by the US, Chossudovsky said that big money coming from the drug trade and political dimensions of the issue are the two main reasons behind the increase.

Referring to the political dimension of the issue he said for example George Bush, former US President’s family including his son and brother had good personal relations with heads and members of drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia.

Commenting on the significance of Iran’s role in the fight against drug trafficking, he said that as Iran shares a long border with Afghanistan so it plays a significant role in fighting drug trafficking on behalf of the international community and in protecting its national interest.

He added that people of Afghanistan that share historical relations with the Iranian people are victims of the international drug cartels.

On the seriousness of the European countries which are target market of the narcotic drugs in the fight against drug trafficking and fulfilling their international commitments in supporting Iran in the fight against drug trafficking, Chossudovsky believes  European countries and generally the western countries not only have done nothing to fight drug trafficking but also they have been complicit in allowing drug trade.

He also added that the CIA which is behind allowing the entrance of the narcotic drugs to the US is using drugs as a tool to marginalize the black people community of the country.

Chossudovsky further said that due to increasing of synthetic drugs all over the world, pharmaceutical factories also have significant responsibility and role in combating drugs.

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Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal, Editor of Global Research.


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

Special Price: $15.00

Click here to order.

“This is not a momentary civil disturbance. This is a serious, and highly organized political movement…It is deep and profound and has vast political ambitions. It is insidious, it will grow. It’s goal is to end liberal democracy and challenge western civilization itself. This is an ideological movement… Even now, many of us pretend this is about police brutality. …We think we can fix it by regulating chokeholds or spending more on de-escalation training. We’re too literal and good-hearted to understand what’s happening. …But we have no idea what we are up against. ..These are not protests. This is a totalitarian political movement and someone needs to save the country from it.” Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson is right, the protests and riots are not a momentary civil disturbance. They are an attack the Constitutional Republic itself, the heart and soul of American democracy. The Black Lives Matter protests are just the tip of the spear, they are an expression of public outrage that is guaranteed under the first amendment. But don’t be deceived, there’s more here than meets the eye. BLM is funded by foundations that seek to overthrow our present form of government and install an authoritarian regime guided by technocrats, oligarchs and corporatists all of who believe that Chinese-type despotism is far-more compatible with capitalism than “inefficient” democracy. The chaos in the streets is merely the beginning of an excruciating transition from one system to another. This is an excerpt from an article by F. William Engdahl at Global Research:

“By 2016,… Black Lives Matter had established itself as a well-organized network….. That year the Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy announced the formation of the Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), “a six-year pooled donor campaign aimed at raising $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives coalition” in which BLM was a central part. By then Soros foundations had already given some $33 million in grants to the Black Lives Matter movement….

The BLMF identified itself as being created by top foundations including in addition to the Ford Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation and the Soros Open Society Foundations.” (America’s Own Color Revolution“, Global Research)

$100 million is alot of money. How has that funding helped BLM expand its presence in politics and social media? How many activists and paid employees operate within the network disseminating information, building new chapters, hosting community outreach programs, and fine-tuning an emergency notification system that allows them to put tens of thousands of activists on the streets in cities across the country at a moment’s notice? Isn’t that what we’ve seen for the last three weeks, throngs of angry protestors swarming in more than 400 cities across America all at the beck-and-call of a shadowy group whose political intentions are still not clear?

And what about the rioting, looting and arson that broke out in numerous cities following the protests? Was that part of the script too? Why haven’t BLM leaders condemned the destruction of private property or offered a public apology for the downtown areas that have been turned into wastelands? In my own hometown of Seattle, the downtown corridor– which once featured Nordstrom, Pottery Barn and other upscale retail shops– is now a checkerboard of broken glass, plywood covers and empty streets all covered in a thick layer of garish spray-paint. The protest leaders said they wanted to draw attention to racial injustice and police brutality. Okay, but how does looting Nordstrom help to achieve that goal?

And what role have the Democrats played in protest movement?

They’ve been overwhelmingly supportive, that’s for sure. In fact, I can’t think of even one Democrat who’s mentioned the violence, the looting or the toppling of statues. Why is that?

It’s because the Democrats think that kowtowing to BLM will give them the winning edge in the November balloting. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why they draped themselves in Kente cloth and knelt for the cameras. They think their black constituents are too stupid to see through their groveling fakery. They think that blacks will forget that Joe Biden pushed through legislation “which eliminated parole for federal prisoners and limited the amount of time sentences could be reduced for good behavior.”

According to the Black Agenda Report: “Biden and (South Carolina’s Strom) Thurmond joined hands to push 1986 and 1988 drug enforcement legislation that created the nefarious sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine as well as other draconian measures that implicate him as one of the initiators of what became mass incarceration.” Biden also spearheaded “the attacks on Anita Hill when she came forward to testify against the supreme court nominee Clarence Thomas”. All told, Biden’s record on race is much worse than Trump’s despite the media’s pathetic attempts to portray Trump as Adolph Hitler. It’s just more bunkum from the dissembling media.

Bottom line: The Democrats think they can ride racial division and social unrest all the way to the White House. That’s what they are betting on.

So, yes, the Dems are exploiting the protests for political advantage, but it goes much deeper than that. After all, we know from evidence that was uncovered during the Russiagate investigation, that DNC leaders are intimately linked to the Intel agencies, law enforcement (FBI), and the elite media. So it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that these deep state agents and assets work together to shape the narrative that they think gives them the best chance of regaining power. Because, that’s what this is really all about, power. Just as Russiagate was about power (removing the president using disinformation, spies, surveillance and other skulduggery.), and just as the Covid-19 fiasco was essentially about power (collapsing the economy while imposing medical martial law on the population.), so too, the BLM protest movement is also about power, the power to inflict massive damage on the country’s main urban centers with the intention of destabilizing the government, restructuring the economy and paving the way for a Democratic victory in November. It’s all about power, real, unalloyed political muscle.

Surprisingly, one of the best critiques of what is currently transpiring was written by Niles Niemuth at the World Socialist Web Site. Here’s what he said about the widespread toppling of statues:

“The attacks on the monuments…were pioneered by the increasingly frenzied attempt by the Democratic Party and the New York Times to racialize American history, to create a narrative in which the history of mankind is reduced to the history of racial struggle. This campaign has produced a pollution of democratic consciousness, which meshes entirely with the reactionary political interests driving it.

It is worth noting that the one institution seemingly immune from this purge is the Democratic Party, which served as the political wing of the Confederacy and, subsequently, the KKK.

This filthy historical legacy is matched only by the Democratic Party’s contemporary record in supporting wars that, as a matter of fact, primarily targeted nonwhites. Democrats supported the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and under Obama destroyed Libya and Syria. The New York Times was a leading champion and propagandist for all of these war.” (“Hands off the monuments to Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Grant!, WSWS)

What the author is referring to is The 1619 Project, which is a racialized version of American history that was published by the Times on August 19, 2019. The deliberately-distorted version of history was cobbled together in anticipation of increasing social unrest and racial antagonism. The rioting, looting and vast destruction of America’s urban core can all be traced back to a document that postulates that the country was founded on racial hatred and exploitation. In other words, The 1619 Project provides the perfect ideological justification for the chaos and violence that has torn the country apart for the last three weeks. This is an excerpt from an article at the World Socialist Web Site:

“The essays featured in the magazine are organized around the central premise that all of American history is rooted in race hatred—specifically, the uncontrollable hatred of “black people” by “white people.” Hannah-Jones writes in the series’ introduction: “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”

This is a false and dangerous conception. DNA is a chemical molecule that contains the genetic code of living organisms and determines their physical characteristics and development….Hannah-Jones’s reference to DNA is part of a growing tendency to derive racial antagonisms from innate biological processes….where does this racism come from? It is embedded, claims Hannah-Jones, in the historical DNA of American “white people.” Thus, it must persist independently of any change in political or economic conditions….

…. No doubt, the authors of The Project 1619 essays would deny that they are predicting race war, let alone justifying fascism. But ideas have a logic; and authors bear responsibility for the political conclusions and consequences of their false and misguided arguments.” (“The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history”, World Socialist Web Site)

Keep in mind, this essay in the WSWS was written a full year before BLM protests broke out across the country. Was Hannah-Jones enlisted to create a document that would provide the dry tinder for the massive and coordinated demonstrations that have left the country stunned and divided?

Probably, after all, (as noted above) the author’s theory is that one race is genetically programed to exploit the other. (“Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”) Well, if we assume that whites are genetically and irreversibly “racist”, then we must also assume that the country that these whites founded is racist and evil. Thus, the only logical remedy for this situation, is to crush the white segment of the population, destroy their symbols, icons, and history, and replace the system of government with one that better reflects the values of the emerging non-Caucasian majority. Simply put, The Project 1619 creates the rationale for sustained civil unrest, deepening political polarization and violent revolution.

The 1619 Project is a calculated provocation meant to exacerbate racial animosities and pave the way to open conflagration. And it has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. The nation is split into warring camps while Washington has devolved into fratricidal warfare. Was that the objective, to destabilize the country in preparation for the dissolution of the current system followed by a fundamental restructuring of the government consistent with the identity politics lauded by the Democrats?

The Democrats, the Intel agencies and the media are all in bed together fomenting unrest with the intention of decimating the economy, crushing the emerging opposition and imposing their despotic one-party system on all of us. Here’s a clip from a piece by Paul Craig Roberts that sums up the role of the New York Times in inciting race-based violence:

“The New York Times editorial board covers up the known indisputable truth with their anti-white “1619 project,” an indoctrination program to inculcate hatred of white people in blacks and guilt in white people.

Why does the New York Times lie, brainwash blacks into hatred of whites, and attempt to brainwash whites into guilt for the creation of a New World labor force four centuries ago? Why do Americans tolerate the New York Times fomenting of racial hatred in a multicultural society?

The New York Times is a vile organization. The New York Times attempts to discredit the President of the United States and did all it could to frame him on false charges. The New York Times painted General Flynn, who honorably served the US, as a Russian agent and enabled General Flynn’s frame-up on false and now dropped charges. The New York Times spews hatred of white people. And now the New York Times accuses the American military of celebrating white supremacism.

Does America have a worse enemy than the New York Times? The New York Times is clearly and intentionally making a multicultural America impossible. By threatening white people with the prospect of hate-driven racial violence, the New York Times editorial board is fomenting the rise of white supremacy.” (“The New York Times Editorial Board Is a Threat to Multicultural America“, The Unz Review)

The editors of the Times don’t hate whites, they are merely attacking the growing number of disillusioned white working people who have left the Democratic party in frustration due to their globalist policies regarding trade, immigration, offshoring, outsourcing and the relentless hollowing out of the nation’s industrial core. The Dems have abandoned these people altogether and –now that they realize they will never be able to lure them back into their camp– they’ve decided to wage a full-blown, scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners war on them. They’ve decided to crush them mercilessly and fill their ranks with multi-ethnic, bi-racial groups that will work for pennies on the dollar. (which will keep the Dems corporate supporters happy.) So, no, the Times does not hate white people. What they hate is the growing populist movement that derailed Hillary Clinton and put anti-globalist Trump in the White House. That’s the real target of this operation, the disillusioned throng of working people who have washed their hands of the Democrats for good. Here’s more background from Paul Craig Roberts:

“On August 12 Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, met with the Times’ employees to refocus the Times’ attack on Trump…. The Times, Baquet said, is shifting from Trump-Russia to Trump’s racism. The Times will spend the run-up to the 2020 presidential election building the Trump-is-a-racist narrative. Of course, if Trump is a racist it means that the people who elected him are also racists. Indeed, in Baquet’s view, Americans have always been racist. To establish this narrative, the New York Times has launched the “1619 Project,” the purpose of which is “to reframe the country’s history.”

According to the Washington Examiner, “The basic thrust of the 1619 Project is that everything in American history is explained by slavery and race. The message is woven throughout the first publication of the project, an entire edition of the Times magazine. It begins with an overview of race in America — ‘Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.’

The premise that America originated as a racist slave state is to be woven into all sections of the Times — news, business, sports, travel, the entire newspaper. The project intends to take the “reframing” of the United States into the schools where white Americans are to be taught that they are racist descendants of slave holders. A participant in this brainwashing of whites, which will make whites guilty and defenseless, says “this project takes wing when young people are able to read this and understand the way that slavery has shaped their country’s history.” In other words, the New York Times intends to make slavery the ONLY explanation of America.

At the meeting of the executive editor of the New York Times with the Times’ employees to refocus the Times’ attack on President Trump, Baquet said: “Race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story.” (“Is White Genocide Possible?“, The Unz Review)

Repeat: “Race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story.” Either Baquet has a crystal ball or he had a pretty good idea of the way in which the 1619 Project was going to be used. I suspect it was the latter.

For the last 3 and a half years, Democrats and the media have ridiculed anyone who opposes their globalist policies as racist, fascist, misogynist, homophobic, Bible-thumping, gun-toting, flag-waving, Nascar boosting, white nationalist “deplorables”. Now they have decided to intensify the assault on mainly white working people by preemptively destroying the economy, destabilizing the country, and spreading terror far and wide. It’s another vicious psy-ops campaign designed to thoroughly demoralize and humiliate the enemy who just happen to be the American people. Here’s more form the WSWS:

It is no coincidence that the promotion of this racial narrative of American history by the Times, the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party and the privileged upper-middle-class layers it represents, comes amid the growth of class struggle in the US and around the world.

The 1619 Project is one component of a deliberate effort to inject racial politics into the heart of the 2020 elections and foment divisions among the working class. The Democrats think it will be beneficial to shift their focus for the time being from the reactionary, militarist anti-Russia campaign to equally reactionary racial politics.” (“The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history” WSWS)

Can you see how the protests are being used to promote the political objectives of elites operating behind the mask of “impartial” reporting? The scheming NY Times has replaced the enlightenment principles articulated in our founding documents with a sordid tale of racial hatred and oppression. The editors seek to eliminate everything we believe as Americans so they can brainwash us into believing that we are evil people deserving of humiliation, repudiation and punishment. Here’s more from the same article:

“In the months preceding these events, the New York Times, speaking for dominant sections of the Democratic political establishment, launched an effort to discredit both the American Revolution and the Civil War. In the New York Times’ 1619 Project, the American Revolution was presented as a war to defend slavery, and Abraham Lincoln was cast as a garden variety racist…

The attacks on the monuments to these men were pioneered by the increasingly frenzied attempt by the Democratic Party and the New York Times to racialize American history, to create a narrative in which the history of mankind is reduced to the history of racial struggle. This campaign has produced a pollution of democratic consciousness, which meshes entirely with the reactionary political interests driving it.” (“The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history”, WSWS)

Ideas have consequences, and the incendiary version of events disseminated by the Times has added fuel to a fire that’s spread from one coast to the other. Given the damage that has been done to cities across the country, it would be nice to know how Dean Baquet knew that “race was going to play a huge part” in upcoming events? It’s all very suspicious. Here’s more:

Given the 1619 Project’s black nationalist narrative, it may appear surprising that nowhere in the issue do the names Malcolm X or Black Panthers appear. Unlike the black nationalists of the 1960s, Hannah-Jones does not condemn American imperialism. She boasts that “we [i.e. African-Americans] are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the United States military,” and celebrates the fact that “we” have fought “in every war this nation has waged.” Hannah-Jones does not note this fact in a manner that is at all critical. She does not condemn the creation of a “volunteer” army whose recruiters prey on poverty-stricken minority youth. There is no indication that Hannah-Jones opposes the “War on Terror” and the brutal interventions in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria—all supported by the Times—that have killed and made homeless upwards of 20 million people. On this issue, Hannah-Jones is remarkably “color-blind.” She is unaware of, or simply indifferent to, the millions of “people of color” butchered and made refugees by the American war machine in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.” (“The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world histor y”, WSWS)

So, black nationalists like Malcolm X and the Black Panthers are excluded from the The 1619 Project’s narrative, but the author boasts that blacks “are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the US military”?? How does that happen unless Hannah-Jones was coached by Democrat leaders about who should and shouldn’t be included in the text? None of this passes the smell test. It all suggests that the storyline was shaped by people who had a specific goal in mind. That isn’t history, it’s fiction written by people who have an ax to grind. The Times even admitted as much in response to the blistering criticism by five of “the most widely read and respected authorities on US history.” The New York Times Magazine editor in chief Jake Silverstein rejected the historians’ objections saying:

“The project was intended to address the marginalization of African-American history in the telling of our national story and examine the legacy of slavery in contemporary American life. We are not ourselves historians, it is true. We are journalists, trained to look at current events and situations and ask the question: Why is this the way it is?”

WTF! “We are not ourselves historians”? That’s the excuse?? Give me a break!

The truth is that there was never any attempt to provide an accurate account of events. From the very onset, the goal was to create a storyline that fit the politics, the politics of provocation, incitement, racial hatred, social unrest and violence. That’s what the Times and their allies wanted, and that’s what they got.

The Deep State Axis: CIA, DNC, NYT

The three-way alliance between the CIA, the Elite Media, and the Democratic leadership has clearly strengthened and grown since the failed Russiagate fiasco. All three parties were likely involved in the maniacal hyping of the faux-Covid pandemic which paved the way for Depression era unemployment, tens of thousands of bankrupt businesses and a sizable portion of the US population thrust into destitution. Now, these deep state loyalists are promoting a “falsified” race-based version of history that pits one group against the other while diverting attention from the deliberate destruction of the economy and the further consolidation of wealth in the hands of the 1 percent.

Behind the veil of the protest movement, the war on the American people is gaining pace.

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This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

Mike Whitney is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from TUR

Late on June 22, Russian air defense units repelled a massive drone attack on Russia’s Hmeimim air base in Syria. According to local sources, Russian Pantsir and Tor systems launched almost two dozen missiles at unmanned aerial vehicles launched by militants from the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone. Syria’s state-run news agency SANA reported that Syrian air defenses were also activated in the Jableh area of Latakia province, where the Russian airbase is located.

Firefights between the Syrian Army and Turkish-led forces broke out near the village of Abu Rasin in the province of al-Hasakah. According to pro-government sources, the fighting erupted when Turkish-backed militants tried to set on fire crops being grown in nearby fields.

Earlier, the Damascus government accused pro-Turkish forces of intentionally burning crops in the area of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring and nearby areas in order to pressure farmers that do not want to pay bribes to pro-Turkish militants.

The Turkish Army and the Russian Military Police regularly conduct joint patrols along the contact line between Turkish-backed forces and the Syrian Army in northeastern Syria. This allows to prevent the sides from initiating large-scale offensive operations against each other. However, the situation on the ground remains tense.

On June 22, pro-government locals blocked a US military convoy near the village of Fares Kabir in the Syrian province of al-Hasakah. The protesters burned a US flag and forced the convoy to retreat from the area. Positions of the Syrian Army near Kafr Mus, Kawkabah and as-Safah in southern Idlib came under fire from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies early on June 23. Pro-militant sources claim that several army troops were either injured or killed.

On June 21, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement released a new video threatening Israel with a retaliation strike on its strategic facilities in the event of a new escalation.

“Today, we can not only hit the city of Tel Aviv but also, if God wills it and with His help, we can hit very precise targets within Tel Aviv and anywhere in occupied Palestine,” Nasrallah can be heard as saying during the video.

Israel is pretty sensitive towards such threats and uses them to justify the continuing military campaign against Iranian-backed forces.

In its own turn, Hezbollah often intensifies its propaganda efforts against Israel as the situation in the region is once again heading to a military confrontation or its leadership expects possible Israeli hostile actions that would impact its interests.

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It is totally unbelievable to imagine that Trump purportedly solicited China’s support for his re-election campaign via international economic means and even endorsed the country’s anti-terrorist policies in Xinjiang. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton‘s book contains many passages that are receiving a lot of attention from the mainstream media, but one stands out among the rest. The disgraced official, who was fired by Trump last September, claims that the President sought China’s help for his re-election campaign. According to Bolton, Trump asked President Xi to buy more agricultural products so that the American leader can win the next election. He also allegedly supported China’s anti-terrorist policies in Xinjiang.

Both claims are patently false and are disproved by factual evidence of Trump’s own policies towards China. The entire world is witness to the US’ strategy of aggression against the People’s Republic, which relevantly includes actively working to restructure global supply chains away from China and promulgating the “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act”. The first-mentioned is an act of extreme economic hostility while the second threatens sanctions against officials that are connected to China’s anti-terrorist policies in its western region.

It is therefore totally unbelievable to imagine that Trump purportedly solicited China’s support for his re-election campaign via international economic means and even endorsed the country’s anti-terrorist policies in Xinjiang. Nothing could be further from the truth. The President has even gone on record accusing Democrat presidential candidate Biden of being the man who he said without any evidence at all is the one who China wants to win the presidency. Plus, the US has consistently condemned China’s anti-terrorist policies.

Bolton’s unsubstantiated allegations can therefore be interpreted as yet another incredulous conspiracy theory by Trump’s institutional opponents in the country’s permanent bureaucracy (particularly its military, intelligence, and diplomatic ones that have collectively been referred to by some as the “deep state”) to manipulate voters’ minds ahead of the upcoming elections. Both the Russiagate and Ukrainegate scandals were proven to have never happened, just as the Chinagate one will surely be disproved as well.

The pattern at play is that Trump’s “deep state” opponents are desperately trying to portray him as “treasonous” considering the documented consistency of their weaponized narrative claiming that he has a history of “colluding” with foreign countries. Be it for supposedly nefarious intentions or simply because of the false perception that he’s so inept for the presidency that he doesn’t understand what he isn’t legally allowed to do, the common thread connecting these conspiracies is that Trump’s actions are a betrayal of America.

The very fact that this fake news narrative has mutated to the point where it now involves China of all countries speaks to just how desperate those behind this campaign have become since nobody with any sense whatsoever would pay any credence to these latest claims. What’s especially curious about all of this is how actively the Democrat-aligned mainstream media is promoting Bolton’s allegations considering that he was universally reviled by them for years up until he was fired by Trump last September.

This observation shows that the “unholy alliance” between two supposedly antagonistic “deep state” factions, the Democrats and neoconservatives like Bolton, continues to this day. They used to be intense rivals during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama years, but began joining forces in the run-up to the 2016 elections when Democrat-aligned mainstream media began hosting and promoting the views of disgruntled neoconservatives referred to as the “Never Trumpers”.

What’s presently on display is but the latest manifestation of this “unholy alliance” wherein the Democrats and their surrogates actively support the most ludicrous accusations against Trump that are being spread by a prominent neoconservative. Trump did not ask President Xi for help in winning the 2020 elections, nor did he endorse China’s anti-terrorist policies in Xinjiang. He’s overseen the most intense period ever of American hostility against China and would never have even countenanced asking it to meddle in his country’s elections.

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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

在电晕危机的原因和后果方面,世界正在被误导。

COVID-19危机的特点是卫生组织主持的公共卫生 “紧急状况”,它被用来作为引发全世界经济、社会和政治结构调整进程的借口和理由。

正在实施社会工程。各国政府迫于压力,不顾其毁灭性的经济和社会后果,延长了封锁期。

正在发生的事情在世界历史上是前所未有的。

著名的科学家们眼都不眨地支持封锁,认为这是解决全球卫生紧急情况的 “办法”。

有充分的证据表明,对COVID-19疾病包括死亡率的估计被严重操纵。

反过来,人们也在服从他们的政府。为什么呢?因为他们害怕?

原因与解决方案?

在世界范围内应用的国家经济的关闭将不可避免地导致贫困、大规模失业和死亡率的增加。这是一种经济战争的行为。

第一阶段:对华贸易战

2020年1月30日,世界卫生组织总干事确定冠状病毒疫情构成国际关注的公共卫生紧急事件(PHEIC)。作出这一决定的依据是:中国境外确诊病例150例,人与人传播的首例病例:美国6例,加拿大3例,英国2例。

世卫组织总干事得到了比尔和梅林达-盖茨基金会、大药厂和世界经济论坛(WEF)的支持。世卫组织宣布全球紧急状态的决定是在瑞士达沃斯世界经济论坛(WEF)期间作出的(1月21日至24日)。

在WHO全球紧急状态启动一天后(1月31日),特朗普政府宣布将拒绝 “过去14天内在中国旅行过的外国公民 “入境。这立即引发了航空运输、中美贸易以及旅游业的危机。意大利也紧随其后,取消了1月31日所有飞往中国的航班。

第一阶段伴随着对华贸易关系的中断以及出口制造业的部分关闭。

一场针对中国以及华裔的运动立即展开。经济学人》报道说

“冠状病毒传播对华裔的种族主义和华裔中的种族主义”

 

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你可以点击下面的链接阅读整篇文章的英文版,也可以用手机翻译

Global Capitalism, “World Government” and the Corona Crisis

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, June 18, 2020

 

  • Posted in 中文
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After decades of widespread use as company scientists played down research showing a definitive link between the product and growing rates of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Monsanto parent company Bayer has agreed to pay up to $10 billion to settle claims that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, causes cancer.

Citing people familiar with the matter, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that the company has agreed to settle tens of thousands of glyphosate-related lawsuits in the US for between $8 billion to $10 billion.

Of that number, $2 billion is considered a “reserve” which can be used to settle future claims.

The rest will be used to settle all of the lawsuits pending in the United States from users of the controversial weed killer, the number of active lawsuits against the Roundup purveyor recently numbered more than 50k.

Talks for an out of court settlement have been ongoing since last summer.

Last year, scientists evaluated a batch of existing studies and determined that Monsanto’s ubiquitous weed-killer Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate increased cancer risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) by 41%, according to a research published in February 2019. Back in 2018, a San Francisco Jury awarded $289 million in damages to a former school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, who said Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller gave him terminal cancer. That award consisted of $40 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.

Bayer inherited the glyphosate problems during its $60 billion acquisition of Monsanto. After losing three lawsuits and getting stuck with high damages judgments pertaining to risks with the weed killer, Bayer changed its strategy and abandoned its aggressive defense in favor of trying to negotiate a sweeping settlement of the tens of thousands of US lawsuits pending. Analysts had feared the settlement could cost as much as €20 billion, which is roughly double the final amount, which should be a positive for the company’s shares.

So far, science has not been able to conclusively clarify whether glyphosate is carcinogenic or not. Bayer holds numerous studies against the classification of the IARC and other researchers. The US environmental agency EPA supports the group and, despite the heated debate about glyphosate, has so far maintained that the controversial pesticide poses no health risk to people if used properly.

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China vs India: Who Benefits? US Meddling

June 24th, 2020 by Tony Cartalucci

A recent border dispute between China and India have resulted in multiple casualties including deaths. It is the first time in decades that this scale of violence has been seen between the two nations. Western headlines have immediately tried to play up the notion of conflict between China and India, but to what end?

China and India respectively have the two largest populations. Both find themselves within the top 5 largest economies on Earth. Both have tremendous historical, cultural, and political influence regionally as well as growing influence globally.

Recent headlines have focused on a simmering conflict along China and India’s borders, but at other times in recent years, Chinese and Indian cooperation have been on the rise – a fact conveniently underreported in many articles.

Of course, neither China nor India as nations benefit from armed conflict between one another. Both nations possess large conventional armed forces and both nations possess nuclear weapons. Both nations have suffered from the impact of COVID-19 economically. A large-scale conflict would be costly and catastrophic for China and India.

China has maintained that it was merely responding to Indian aggression along the border and claims it seeks to quickly deescalate tensions.

China’s CGTN in an article titled, “China’s military urges India to stop provocative actions along border areas,” would claim:

China’s military voiced strong dissatisfaction and opposition Tuesday to India’s provocative actions on Monday evening in the Galwan Valley region, which caused severe clashes and casualties. It urged India to go back to the right track in properly managing disputes.

Conversely, India’s media tells a different tale. The violence has been immediately leaped upon by hawks to bolster entirely unrelated issues involving China’s “challenge” to the international “status quo.” It is a narrative that sounds torn straight from a Washington-based think tank’s white papers.

The Indian Express in an article titled, “Explained: What the clash in Ladakh underlines, and what India must do in face of the Chinese challenge,” cites Indian politicians, explaining that the incident serves as impetus to create a wider confrontation with China in a bid to roll back not only its regional influence – but its growing global reach.

It claims (emphasis added):

According to Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress leader in Lok Sabha, this escalation “underlines the scale of the problem and the challenge ahead” for New Delhi in its dealings with Beijing. Chowdhury argues in The Indian Express that “China has clearly twisted the crisis into a strategic opportunity by taking advantage of the geo-political distraction”.

That China is becoming more belligerent across strategic theatres, challenging the status quo, is supported by multiple examples from the South China Sea. For the Government of India, this is a moment to guard against complacency, fostered by decades of nimble diplomacy that led to equilibrium, however precarious, on the border issue with China.

The issue regarding the South China Sea is one entirely manufactured out of Washington, with many of the actors involved – including the Philippines – having long since distanced themselves from the potential conflict in favor of building better ties with Beijing.

For certain Indian politicians to cite Washington’s game in the South China Sea, and to then lump it in with this most recent border dispute – rather than simply seeking to deescalate tensions is highly suspicious.

British state media – the BBC – in its article, “India-China clash: An extraordinary escalation ‘with rocks and clubs’,” would claim:

Mr [Shivshankar] Menon, who served as India’s ambassador to China, believes that China is resorting to strident nationalism, due to “domestic and economic stresses” at home. “You can see it in their behaviour in Yellow Sea, towards Taiwan, passing laws without consulting Hong Kong, more assertive on India’s border, a tariff war with Australia.”

The BBC fails to point out that China’s policies toward Taiwan, Hong Kong, and recent trade disputes with Australia are all – without exception – owed to US meddling in China’s internal affairs. The US which officially recognizes Taiwan as China’s territory has all but worked to carve it off from China and establish it as a US foothold on China’s doorstep.

The same can be said of Hong Kong with recent violence there openly sponsored by the US.

Australia – who counts China as its largest trading partner – and whose government is increasingly friendly with Beijing, has recently caved to US pressure and joined in political campaigns accusing China of unleashing COVID-19 – thus kicking off renewed tensions between the two nations.

If Indian politicians and diplomats see the recent border incident as “related” to US-driven conflicts aimed at encircling and containing China – does that mean this most recent border incident and the decidedly more aggressive reaction by some of India’s politicians falls into the same category?

Cui Bono? 

China and India have had border issues in the past. Total war has been avoided and the conflicts have done little to change any significant aspects of either nation’s regional or global influence. In other words, even if India felt it was losing out to China’s rise – using a border incident to start a wider conflict would harldy help India change this fact.

For India – seizing on this conflict regardless of who really initially provoked it – does nothing to serve India’s interests in the short, intermediate, or long-term. They do – however – perfectly serve the interests of the United States who would prefer neither China nor India rise as regional powers – and would find it as ideal for both nations to destroy one another partially or entirely while the US reasserts itself across the region.

Provocations and those attempting to exploit them may represent Washington’s best interests, but they do not represent India’s or China’s. Those involved are hawkish and decidedly pro-Washington serving US interests at India’s expense.

Meanwhile, other Indian leaders and their Chinese counterparts have worked since the conflict arose to deescalate and resolve border issues – or at least resolve them to where military exchanges are no longer an option.

Even the BBC, at the very end of its article, admitted that despite the illusion of imminent war – China and India have enjoyed growing ties, stating (emphasis added):

“For 10 years, Sino-Indian rivalry has steadily intensified, but remained largely stable,” he [Shashank Joshi] said. India and China have also been more engaged. Bilateral trade increased 67 times between 1998 and 2012, and China is India’s largest trading partner in goods. Indian students have flocked to Chinese universities. Both sides have held joint military exercises.

It is unlikely that the vast majority in both China and India benefiting from constructive ties between the two nations will give in to a tiny minority who ultimately serve the interests of neither nation and instead the interests of Washington far abroad and away from the consequences of unchecked conflict.

For these reasons it’s safe to say that while this conflict is dangerous and both sides need to treat it with maximum caution and care, the fact that neither side benefits from the conflict unraveling out of control means it is very unlikely to do so.

While the recent violence has been unseen in decades, it can be hoped that it is one of the last disputes between China and India that involves violence, and the last gasp of malign interests seeking to sabotage and set back both nations.

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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.

Featured image is from NEO