Video: COVID-19. Contagion Fear, Corruption of Medical Actors

October 12th, 2020 by Dr. Kevin Corbett

Retired nurse and health scientist Dr Kevin Corbett joins me to discuss Covid-19 / SARS-CoV-2 and the similarities to the 1980s panic over HIV-Aids. These similarities span the scientific investigation, clinical testing, elements of the care, and the governmental approaches employed.

Kevin explains how contagion fears have affected the medical profession, major elements of the scientific community and our political leadership alike.

He explains the rationale behind his view that the current crisis represents the corruption of medical actors and a Nazification of the NHS. He concludes that this is part of a wider move to expand centralised command and control measures across society.

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A New Wall for a New Cold War?

October 12th, 2020 by Andrew Korybko

The head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference warned late last month against efforts to “build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West” in light of the Navalny incident and the many other disagreements between both sides, and while it’s unrealistic to expect another Berlin Wall-like physical division of Europe, there’s no denying that their different governing models have created a sharp split across the continent.

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Welcome To The New Cold War

Last month will probably go down in history as the moment when the New Cold War became impossible to deny. The US has been attempting to rekindle its fading unipolarity since the onset of its coordinated Hybrid War “containment” campaigns against Russia and China in 2014, which only intensified in the aftermath of Trump’s election. The leaders of all three countries addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by video in a series of speeches that laid bare these two sides’ contradictory assessments of contemporary global affairs and related visions of the future. Their keynote speeches were preceded by UN Secretary General Guterres warning the world that “We must do everything to avoid a New Cold War.” Trump obviously didn’t listen to him, which is why the head of the prestigious Munich Security Conference (MSC) followed up that global representative’s warning with his own at the end of that historic week cautioning that “It will result in nothing if we now try to build a new ‘wall’ between Russia and the West because of Navalny and other sad and terrible events.” It’s his dramatic words that form the basis of the present article.

The US’ Hybrid War On Russia

There are many angles through which the ongoing global competition can be analyzed, but the prospect of a new wall of some sort or another accompanying the New Cold War in Europe is among the most intriguing. The MSC head presumably isn’t implying the creation of a 21st-century Berlin Wall, but seems to be speaking more generally about his fear that the growing divisions between Russia and the West will soon become irreversible and potentially even formalized as the new status quo. The author wrote last month that “The US’ Hybrid War On Russian Energy Targets Germany, Belarus, And Bulgaria”, pointing out how even the partial success of this latest “containment” campaign will greatly advance the scenario of an externally provoked “decoupling” between Russia and the West. That would in turn help secure American grand strategic interests in the continent. This “decoupling” would reverse the progress that was made in bilateral relations since the end of the Old Cold War up until the Ukrainian Crisis. Taken to its maximum extent, the spiritual return of the Berlin Wall seems almost inevitable at this point.

Governing Differences

It’s true that the border between the NATO countries and Russia’s CSTO (which importantly includes Hybrid War-targeted Belarus) represents the modern-day military equivalent of the “Iron Curtain”, but the situation isn’t as simple as that. While military divisions remain (albeit pushed much further eastward over the past three decades), ideological and economic ones are less apparent. Russia no long ascribes to communism but follows its own national variant of democracy within a mostly capitalist system, thus reducing the structural differences between itself and its Western counterparts. Unaware observers might wonder why there’s even a New Cold War to begin with when considering how much both sides have in common with one another, but that overlooks their contradictory worldviews which lie at the heart of their mutual suspicions. Russia strongly believes in safeguarding its geopolitical and domestic socio-political sovereignty so it accordingly follows a more conservative path whereas Western countries mostly submit to the US’ authority and generally regard their liberal position on many social issues as universalist.

The End Of The “Great Convergence”

The reason why the thaw in Russian-Western relations failed to achieve the “Great Convergence” that Gorbachev originally hoped for was because the US wanted to impose its will onto Russia by treating it as just another vassal state that would be forced to follow its lead abroad and accept extreme liberal social mandates at home instead of respecting it as an equal partner. Nevertheless, this policy was actually surprisingly successful all throughout the 1990s under Yeltsin, but its fatal flaw was that it went much too far too quickly by attempting to dissolve the Russian Federation through American support for Chechen separatist-terrorist groups. That inadvertently provoked a very patriotic reaction from the responsible members of Russia’s military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) who worked together to ensure their motherland’s survival in the face of this existential crisis. The end result was that Putin succeeded Yeltsin and subsequently set about to systematically save Russia. This took the form of stabilizing the security situation at home in parallel with reasserting Russia on the world stage.

The “Russian Model”

Putin, though, was always a liberal in the traditional (not post-modern) sense. He never lost his appreciation for Western civilization and sincerely wanted to complete Gorbachev’s hoped-for “Great Convergence”, though only on equal terms and not as a US vassal. Regrettably, the Russian leader’s many olive branches were slapped away by an angry America which feared the influence that a powerful “moderately liberal” state could have on its hyper-liberal subjects. All of Putin’s efforts to take the “Great Convergence” to its next logical step of a “Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok” failed for this reason, after which an intense information warfare campaign was waged to portray Russia was a “radical right-wing state” even though it was never anything of the sort. This modus operandi was intended to prevent Europe’s indoctrinated masses from ever countenancing whether a “moderate” alternative exists whereby they’d preserve their domestic and international sovereignty despite remaining committed to traditional liberal values, just like the “Russian model” that Putin pioneered. Understandably, this would pose a serious threat to American strategic interests, hence the campaign against it.

The Rise Of America’s Russian Rival

As time went on, the “Russian model” was partially replicated in some of the countries of Central Europe such as Poland and even within the US itself through Trump’s election, though this wasn’t due to any so-called “Russian meddling” but was a natural result of the ideological interplay between radical and “moderate” liberals. It just so happened that Russia was the first country to implement this model not because of anything uniquely “Russian” within its society, but simply as the most pragmatic survival plan considering the extremely difficult circumstances of the 1990s and attendant limits on the country’s strategic maneuverability during that time. It was considered by the patriotic members of Russia’s “deep state” to be much too risky to reverse the direction of post-Soviet reforms, hence why the decision seems to have been made to continue with them, though doing all in the country’s power to regain control over these processes from Russia’s Western overlords in order to protect national geopolitical and domestic socio-political interests. This struggle led to Russia becoming an alternative pole of influence (in the governance sense) within the “Greater West”, rivaling the US.

Hillary & Trump: Same Anti-Russian Strategy, Different Infowar Tactics

With this insight in mind, the New Cold War was inevitable in hindsight. Had Hillary been elected, then the infowar narrative would have focused more on Russia’s different “values”, seeking to present its target as a “threat to the (hyper-liberal) Western way of life”. Since Trump’s America interestingly enough shares many of the same values as contemporary Russia does, however, the focus is on geopolitical differences instead. From the prism of International Relations theory, Hillary’s angle of attack against Russia would have been more liberal whereas Trump’s is more realist. Either way, both American leaders (theoretical in the first sense and actual in the second) have every reason to fear Russia since it challenges the US’ unipolar dominance in Europe. Hillary would have wanted to portray Russia as being outside of the “Western family of nations”, though Trump can’t convincingly do that given his much more high-profile provocations against obviously non-Western China, hence why he’s basically competing with Russia for leadership of the “moderate” liberal model of Western civilization, ergo accepting their structural similarities but instead over-hyping their geopolitical differences.

Post-Soviet Russia’s Irreversible Impact On Western Civilization

Taking all of the aforementioned into account, it’s understandable why the US wants to build a “new wall” in Europe by “decoupling” its NATO-captive subjects from Russia through a series of Hybrid Wars, though the genie is out of the bottle since some Central European countries like Poland the even the US itself under Trump already implement elements of the “Russian model”. This means that while the physical separation of Russia and Europe along military, geopolitical, and soon perhaps even economic-energy lines is practically a fait accompli at this point, the ideological-structural influence emanating from Moscow is impossible to “contain”. No “wall” will reverse the impact that the “Russian model” has had on the course of Western civilization, though it should be remembered that the aforesaid model wasn’t part of some “cunning 5D chess plan” but an impromptu survival tactic that was triggered in response to American unipolar-universalist soft power aggression on post-Soviet Russia. It’s not distinctly “Russian”, which is why the hyper-liberal Western elite fear it so much since they know very well that it could take root in their countries too, just like in Poland and the US.

Concluding Thoughts

The typical Western mind is conditioned to think in terms of models, especially historical ones, which is why they imagine that the New Cold War will closely resemble the Old Cold War simply because of the effect that neuro-linguistic programming has on their thought process. This explains why the MSC head warned against the creation of a “new wall” between Russia and the West even though no such scenario is realistic. No physical barrier like the Berlin Wall will ever be erected again, and even though the geopolitical, military, and perhaps even soon economic-energy fault lines between them might become formalized through the impending success of the US’ “decoupling” strategy, this will not address the root cause of the New Cold War which lies with Russia’s “moderately liberal” model of state sovereignty in contrast to the US’ (former?) hyper-liberal universalist one of state vasselhood. It’s this difference that’s primarily responsible for every other dimension of their competition since it placed Russia on the trajectory of supporting a Multipolar World Order instead of the US’ hoped-for Unipolar World Order.

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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

It must be occurring to millions of individuals, upon observing the depressing spectacle of top down politics in action, that in the great majority of cases what are termed ‘governments’ are no longer in any way fit to govern. 

It must be dawning on many millions, possibly billions, that those who have been elected to represent the needs and interests of the people, are spectacularly failing in this role.

It must fast be becoming a reality for the great majority of people still able to think, that our world is in the hands of those who display none of the attributes that would pass for ‘leadership’, but an abundance of almost precisely the opposite attributes.

In fact, thinkers must surely observe that the majority of those holding the reins of power adhere only to their own private narcissistic agendas and have no interest in the health and welfare of the people they are elected to support. What’s more, they will observe that the politician of today is, by and large, a compliant puppet to the deep state whose agenda is totalitarian global dominance and mass depopulation.

The chimera called Covid-19 has been, and remains, extremely effective at highlighting the criminal duplicity of the planet’s leaders in almost all spheres of state and corporate administration. We have witnessed – and continue to witness – individuals in responsible management roles passing on the instructions sent to them by their puppet masters, without ever pausing to reflect on the value of these instructions. Each recipient simply acting as a thoughtless slave within an increasingly robotic technocracy – passing the buck on to whoever might be the unfortunate receiver at the bottom of the pile.

We can no longer hide from the realisation that a high percentage of ‘democratic societies’ are now  under the dominant control of an overtly fascistic regime.

Recognising this triggers a kind of emotional shock-wave. What we realise is not just the extremity of the change taking place, but that we ourselves have allowed such a take-over to happen –  right in front of our noses – and yet (mostly) barely registering a peep of conscious resistance.

Far too many have allowed the moral, ethical and spiritual values that underpin the existence of a healthy society – to be undermined by intellectual laziness, material comforts and the prioritising of the virtual gadgets of ‘convenience’. That is what has opened the door for rule by dictatorship.

To realise one is complicit in some form of treasonous satanic take-over of one’s country is a pretty nasty shock. But, at this eleventh hour, a vitally important one, I think you will agree.

What would be the rational next step to take after arriving at such a realisation? What is the natural emotional response to the threat of living as a slave under a totalitarian dictatorship – a techno- fascist regime with ambitions to reduce humanity to a race of genetically engineered cyborgs?

Is it fear – or is it fight-back?

To succumb to fear is to write one’s own death warrant. We know that the spreading of fear is the key weapon of our opponents. The dark medicine of the satanic anti-life cabal. We must therefore completely reject fear, for it fuels the greater ‘pain body’ that the satanic forces draw upon to maintain their powers. Without this fuel they cannot survive. So let us cut them off here and now – at the very root!

That highly propitious step immediately positions us for the great fight-back. Here we are, finally faced by dire necessity to draw upon those strengths coming to us directly from our intimate connection with the greater source of all life. The Divine source. And what an unprecedented privilege it is, at this critical junction of human history, to be right at the epicentre of a push-back that has the potential to forever change the world for the better!

What a hugely auspicious moment – to be brought face-to-face with the imperative to take action on behalf of Life Itself; to fully engage in fighting for the redemption of the creative adventure we call ‘freedom’ – the absolute birthright of every citizen of the world.

We are not going to be turned-back now. We are primed to go into action for the liberation of our planet and the liberation of all the deeply repressed and mistreated species that reside on it.

The very real responsibility for the future of life on Earth, in as much as already destabilised planetary conditions allow, is now firmly in our court.

Even at this darkest hour, humanity is poised at the edge of an extraordinary break-through; but there is a proviso: we must know that making this break-through come to be depends upon firmly taking hold of the reins we previously rejected – that fateful lack of action which allowed the cult of fascism to stake its hold over the greater part of this planet.

‘The order is rapidly fadin’ penned Bob Dylan back in 1964, but building the new one cannot be left to fate. If it is to be the road of truth and justice for which we long, it can only be built by each one of us individually making a bold commitment to stand strong for the great resistance, and equally – to press forward in helping to put in place the building blocks of a society based on truth, justice and love.

Let us all be aware: there is no future unless we make that future happen, individually and collectively.

This is the clarion call of the moment and we simply cannot shun it. So, swing yourself into the saddle, slot your feet into the stirrups, seize the reins and press the flank of your charger into a powerful gallop – having no other focus than a glorious victory for true humanity!

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Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, writer, international activist, entrepreneur and teacher. His latest book ‘Overcoming the Robotic Mind – Why Humanity Must Come Through’ is particularly prescient reading for this time: see www.julianrose.info

Featured image is from Public domain/Wiki’s COVID-Protest page.

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Being that today is Canadian Thanksgiving, I thought I’d rack my brain to come up with seven things to be grateful for that have arisen out of the oppressive COVID-19 scandal:

1. Outdoor Classrooms: “If weather permits, consideration could be given to having classes outside,” SickKids Hospital had advised in a July report. As you can see from the above photo, some schools have taken heed.

2. More Homeschooling: With lockdowns, masking and a forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine, more and more parents are homeschooling their children. As Robert Kiyosaki says, the education system has become “obsolete and out of touch with reality” (from the back cover of John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction).

3. Less Commuting: Rates.ca polled Canadians and found 28% more employees are now working from home compared to last year. This gives people more time for their families, exercise and sleep, while reducing car expenses and traffic fatalities.

4. The Emperor Has Absolutely No Clothes Left: The pure denial of science and common sense regarding lockdowns, masking, social distancing and testing has exposed what is either mass corruption, complete incompetence or gun-to-their-head servitude on the part of politicians, media and the medical system. The Pew Research Center reports that 25% of American adults believe that COVID-19 is an orchestrated conspiracy.

5. Spurred to Courage: Many people who have been aware of mounting deception and malicious intentions on the part of government, media and corporations are no longer staying passively quiet. People are facing their fear of authority and fighting back against tyranny. “Protests over responses to the COVID-19 pandemic” now has it’s own Wikipedia entry, listing rallies in 34 countries.

6. Awakened Discrimination: A year ago people didn’t even know what a coronavirus was or how to spell totalitarianism. Now, lay people are delving into scientific studies, studying history and developing analytic abilities; as they try to separate truth from fiction in this information war. They are heeding evidence instead of experts.

7. More Outdoor Patio Space: As you can see from the photo below, social distancing has led to cities allocating more outdoor patio space for restaurants. Our city built these wooden boardwalks around the front of restaurants in our downtown core….

So while the nutty new normal has had negative intentions, out of even the darkest plots much good must come. If nothing else, I am grateful that the scamdemic has triggered change on a massive scale. The world certainly had enough problems that needed changing. Let’s just make sure the change is positive.

In Richard Wagamese’s novel, Indian Horse, an Ojibway medicine man speaks about the “new normal” that the Zhaunagush (the white men) were bringing upon their land:

“A great change will come. It will come with the speed of lightning and it will scorch all our lives… But we must learn to ride each one of these horses of change. It is what the future asks of us and our survival depends on it.”

One day, may we look back on this nutty new normal with gratitude that it pivoted mankind away from a world ruled by generations of oligarchies into one guided by the unchanging qualities of love, wisdom and courage.

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

All images in this article are from the author

We bring to the attention of our readers this important study by the Institute for Policy Studies.

Click here to access full report

Introduction

Billionaires dominate our politics, culture, and economy. Their wealth, as this report shows, has concentrated mightily over the last four decades — even as the number of U.S. households with zero or negative net worth is increasing and most of us are living paycheck to paycheck.

The current pandemic is exposing our central economic and social reality: Extreme wealth inequality has become America’s “pre-existing condition.”

In this report, we show how billionaire wealth has grown astoundingly over the last few decades — and, for some “pandemic profiteers,” even more dramatically since the COVID-19 crisis — even as billionaire tax obligations have plummeted.

If this inequality isn’t treated with both short and long-term tax reforms and oversight, America’s “pre-existing condition” of extreme inequality could overwhelm not only our economy, but our democracy itself.

  • Between January 1, 2020 and April 10, 2020, 34 of the nation’s wealthiest 170 billionaires saw their wealth increase by tens of millions of dollars. Eight have seen their net worth surge by over $1 billion.
  • As of April 15, Jeff Bezos’s fortune had increased by an estimated $25 billion since January 1, 2020. This unprecedented wealth surge is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Honduras, $23.9 billion in 2018.
  • Between March 18 and April 10, 2020, over 22 million people lost their jobs as the unemployment rate surged toward 15 percent. Over the same three weeks, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion, an almost 10 percent gain.
  • Billionaire wealth rebounded quickly after the 2008 financial crisis. Between 2010 and 2020, U.S. billionaire wealth increased 80.6 percent, more than five times the median wealth increase for U.S. households.
  • Between 1990 and 2020, U.S. billionaire wealth soared 1,130 percent — an increase more than 200 times greater than the 5.37 percent growth of U.S. median wealth.
  • Measured as a percentage of their wealth, the tax obligations of America’s billionaires decreased 79 percent between 1980 and 2018.

The Billionaires and the Rest of Us

Three U.S. billionaires — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett — continue to own as much wealth as the bottom half of all U.S. households combined. The 400 richest Americans on the Forbes 400 list own as much wealth as America’s bottom 64 percent, nearly two-thirds of the nation’s households, combined.

The wealth of America’s billionaires increased 10.6 percent between the Forbes global billionaires lists released in 2017, when Trump was inaugurated, and 2020. That number may be rising even more sharply now.

On April 10, 2020, Forbes’ daily tally showed both an increase in the number of billionaires and a surge in billionaire net worth. Billionaire wealth increased by 9.5 percent in just 23 days during the COVID-19 crisis.

Meanwhile, an estimated 78 percent of households are living paycheck to paycheck, while 20 percent have zero or negative net worth. With unemployment surging under the pandemic, this lack of reserves has once again returned to center stage.

Billionaire Taxes Are Down 79 Percent

Between 1980 and 2018, the taxes paid by America’s billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased 79 percent.

By allowing their tax burden to plummet, policymakers have let the nation’s wealth concentrate obscenely at America’s economic summit. Between 2006 and 2018, nearly 7 percent of America’s real increase in wealth went to just 400 billionaires.

As we emerge from the pandemic with trillions in additional national debt, substantial tax increases will be inevitable. Our super-rich must bear their fair share of these increases.

Billionaire Wealth and the Pandemic

Roiling global markets have had a volatile effect on billionaire wealth. From 2019 to 2020, U.S. billionaire ranks increased from 607 to 614 people, but their total wealth declined from $3.111 trillion in 2019 to $2.947 trillion in 2020, according to Forbes.

But that may already be turning around. This year’s Forbes report examines billionaire wealth as of March 18, 2020. By April 10, their wealth had surged to $3.229 trillion, surpassing the 2019 level.

No one has benefited as much as Jeff Bezos, whose wealth surge is unprecedented in the history of modern markets. As of the publication of this report, Bezos’ wealth has increased over $25 billion since January 1, 2020 and $12 billion since February 21st, 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Billionaire wealth, as these numbers show, tends to rebound from market meltdowns. Within 30 months of the September 2008 crash, most billionaire fortunes had recovered. And between 2010 and 2020, the combined wealth of the U.S. billionaire class surged by a staggering 80.6 percent.

Billionaire Pandemic Profiteers

Since January 1, 34 of the wealthiest 170 U.S. billionaires have seen their total net worth increase by tens of millions of dollars, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index. These include eight billionaires who, as of April 10, have seen wealth gains of over $1 billion.

  1. Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO: up $10 billion ($25 billion as of April 15, 2020)
  2. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder and CEO: up $5 billion
  3. MacKenzie Bezos, novelist and philanthropist: up $3.5 billion (and up $8.6 billion as of April 15, 2020)
  4. Eric Yuan, Zoom founder and CEO: up $2.58 billion
  5. Steve Ballmer, Los Angeles Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO: up $2.2 billion
  6. John Albert Sobrato, Silicon Valley real estate mogul: up $2.07 billion
  7. Joshua Harris, Apollo Global Management cofounder and owner of multiple professional sports teams: up $1.72 billion
  8. Rocco Commisso, Mediacom Communications founder and CEO and owner of two professional soccer teams: up $1.09 billion

Recommendations

  • Establish a Pandemic Profiteering Oversight Committee that goes beyond oversight of stimulus funds.
  • Discourage wealth hiding through passage of the Corporate Transparency Act.
  • Levy an emergency 10 percent Millionaire Income Surtax.
  • Unleash a Charity Stimulus to mandate payouts of donor-advised funds and emergency 10 percent payout for private foundations for three years.
  • Make the federal estate tax more progressive and institute a wealth tax.
  • Shut down the global hidden wealth system.

Download the IPS full report here.

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All images in this article are from IPS

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VIDEO: Africa’s Highest Peak, Kilimanjaro Is on Fire

October 12th, 2020 by Florah Temba

Mount Kilimanjaro which Africa’s highest peak is on fire, the cause of the fire which is believed to be at hundreds of metres above sea level is yet to be established.

Eye witnesses said efforts by local communities around the affected to extinguish the wild fires were underway but this was hampered by the altitude at which the fire is.

The flames could easily be seen from as far as Moshi town which is some tens of kilometers away from the mountain.

According to Kilimanjaro National Park (Kinapa) the fire broke out late afternoon on Sunday October 11, the same information was later confirmed by the Tanzania National Parks Communications manager Pascal Shelutete saying they would issue a detailed statement later.

Mountain climbers on the Marangu route who were at Kibo Hut were quoted to have seen the fire in the shrubs that are close to Mandara saying given the nature of the vegetation it could spread further if not contained.

Mount Kilimanjaro has three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world: 5,895 metres above sea level and about 4,900 metres above its plateau base.

Kilimanjaro is the 4th most topographically prominent peak on Earth. The first people known to have reached the summit were Hans Meyer  and Ludwig Purtscheller, in 1889.

It is part of Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. Because of its shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields, it has been the subject of many scientific studies.

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Featured image: Fire on Mountain Kilimanjaro as seen from Moshi Town (Source: The Citizen)

Bringing Poverty to Heel

October 12th, 2020 by Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir

October 17 marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The commemoration of this day suggests that the way to end poverty is not a matter shrouded in mystery. In fact, its celebration denotes that, at a minimum, the manner to end poverty is most likely established knowledge. While it could withstand further evaluation, its people-centered methodology is tested as plain as day, and it is as well understood as the brutality of en masse denial of the potential of our humanity.

The process of planning actions that eradicate poverty conditions is synonymous with the experience of designing sustainable development or enterprises in societies that experience long life. In a nutshell, we – the public of all walks – must plan together in consideration of the great range of factors that impact and are impacted by social change.

The intentional and unintentional forces that are leveled by societies, and that manifest due to the natural world, that cause growth or demise of an intervention in promoting our general welfare, are relevant in the different areas where we seek improvement. For example, what are the economic and environmental implications of an agricultural enterprise? What are the political repercussions of ending women’s illiteracy? What are the cultural dimensions that hinder or set free the innovation of youth? What are the technical and financial assessments of rural cooperatives’ product-processing activity? What has history taught us about the future when we establish clean drinking water projects that rid ourselves of water-borne diseases and the loss of infant life?

We must view development from all these lenses and dimensions if we are to establish projects that can, over time, strike the deepest blows into poverty. Most critically, how do we enact this kind of multifaceted dimensional planning, considering that no one person or agency can bring to bear all of these angles to identifying an effective social action? It requires the participation of the people, whose poverty is intended to be eradicated, and who are targeted to be the beneficiaries of change, to engage in their own assessment of what will be best for them, involving the inclusive dialogue among women and men, members of all ages, and sectors. Individually, they combine into the many points of view necessary in achieving the balanced design of poverty-ending projects by and for the people.

I project that the people who experience harsh poverty situations, carried down from the past and transmitted further into the future, will one day rejoice when international and domestic developmental assistance will be applied to accomplish the priorities that they determine through their own analysis, discussion, and consensus-building procedures. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty will never know its last heralding without a number of key realities, one of them being that the matter of allocation of development finance is a community matter, and not for the strings pulled by external others. Further, the world’s Sustainable Development Goals will finally be a juggernaut on the high-road to their fulfillment, when their composition is the aggregate of all the self-defined needs of local communities and neighborhoods on the planet.

Since most poverty on earth afflicts rural people, we should acknowledge that food growers’ associations must also be processors of their bounty. Growers’ capacities must be invested in, to enable the physical infrastructure of water efficiency, to improve upon cultivation and their abilities, and to forge their cooperatives in partnerships that help attain market reach and sustainability. Many nations see the majority of rural girls not going on to secondary school, yet they can and should be breadbaskets for themselves and the blocs of nations of which they are part. A travesty of rural poverty is that it takes place in the very space where there is the vastest potential for most prosperous shared growth.

An astute truth of this International Day is that it is inextricably bound to human rights. How can we manifest the change in our hearts when we have never been asked what may be our own personal vision for our future? How can we courageously put forward our own interests when they have been denied and unacknowledged for the most part of our lives?

It is so immensely difficult and perhaps unfair to expect that we speak to power – which dominates in hamlets as it does in world affairs – when those groups who wield it have done so for ages. The eradication of poverty must start with dismantling those inhibitions and doubts that prevent the assertion of our self-belief, and instead lead to the questioning and redefinition of those relationships that oppress and control. It is then, when we enter into development planning, that we become most robust in our discovery and achievement of opportunities that will once and for all bring poverty to heel, and give rise to our best days on earth.

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Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir is President of the High Atlas Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to sustainable development in Morocco.

Featured image: Agricultural cooperative members planning their local projects in Morocco’s Oujda Region (High Atlas Foundation, 2020).

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Em Ghedi, Prepara-se a Nova Base para os F-35 Nucleares

October 12th, 2020 by Manlio Dinucci

No aeroporto militar de Ghedi (Brescia), estão a inciar-se os trabalhos de construção da base operacional mais importante para os caças F-35A da Força Aérea Italiana, armados com bombas nucleares. A empresa Matarrese spa, de Bari, que se adjudicou ao contrato com uma oferta de 91 milhões de euros, vai construir um grande hangar para a manutenção dos caças (mais de 6000 m2) e um edifício que irá albergar o comando e os simuladores de voo, equipado com um isolamento térmico e acústico perfeito, “a fim de evitar fugas de conversas”.

Serão construídas duas linhas de vôo, cada uma com 15 hangares dentro dos quais estarão caças prontos para levantar voo. Isto confirma o que publicámos há três anos (il manifesto, 28 de Novembro de 2017), ou seja, que o projecto (lançado pelo então Ministro da Defesa Pinotti) previa a fixação de, pelo menos, 30 caças F-35A.

Um F-35 em «exibição» na base  aérea de Ghedi, numa foto de Fevereiro deste ano. 

A área ultra secreta onde os F-35 estarão instalados, cercados e vigiados, estará separada do resto do aeroporto. O motivo é claro: ao lado dos novos caças, estarão localizadas as novas bombas nucleares USB61-12, em Ghedi, num depósito secreto que não consta do contrato.

Como as actuais bombas nucleares B-61 com as quais estão armados os Tornado PA-200 do 6º Esquadrão, as B61-12 serão controladas pela unidade especial americana (704th Munitions Support Squadron della U.S. Air Force), «responsável pela recepção, armazenamento e manutenção de armas da reserva de guerra USA, destinadas ao 6º Esquadrão da NATO da Força Aérea Italiana». A mesma unidade da Força Aérea dos Estados Unidos tem a função de “apoiar directamente a missão de ataque” do 6º Esquadrão.

Os pilotos italianos já chegam treinados, nas bases aéreas de Luke, no Arizona, e Eglin, na Flórida, para usar o F-35A também em missões de ataque nuclear, sob comando USA.

Os caças do mesmo tipo, armados ou, de qualquer maneira, que podem vir a ser preparados com as bombas nucleares B61-12, estão albergados na base da Amendola (Foggia), onde já ultrapassaram as 5.000 horas de voo. Além destes, estarão os F-35 da U.S. Air Force, instalados em Aviano com as bombas nuleares B61-12.

O novo caça F-35A e a nova bomba nuclear B61-12 constituem um sistema integrado de armas: o uso do avião implica o uso da bomba. O Ministro da Defesa, Guerini (PD), confirmou que a Itália mantém o compromisso de comprar 90 caças F-35, 60 dos quais são caças modelo A com capacidade nuclear.

A participação no programa F-35, como parceiro de segundo nível, reforça a ancoragem da Itália aos Estados Unidos. A indústria de guerra italiana, chefiada pela empresa Leonardo que administra a fábrica dos F-35 em Cameri (Novara), está ainda mais integrada no gigantesco complexo militar-industrial dos Estados Unidos, liderado pela Lockheed Martin, a maior indústria de guerra do mundo, construtora dos F-35.

Ao mesmo tempo, a Itália – Estado não nuclear aderente ao Tratado de Não Proliferação que lhe proíbe ter armas nucleares no seu território – desempenha a função cada vez mais perigosa, de base avançada da estratégia nuclear USA/NATO contra a Rússia e contra outros países.

Dado que cada avião pode transportar 2 bombas nucleares B61-12 no porão interno, só os 30 caças F-35 de Ghedi, terão uma capacidade de, pelo menos 60 bombas nucleares. Segundo a Federação de Cientistas Americanos, a nova bomba “táctica” B61-12 para os F-35, que os EUA vão instalar em Itália e noutros países europeus a partir de 2022, sendo mais precisa e estando mais próxima dos seus alvos, “terá a mesma capacidade militar das bombas estratégicas distribuídas nos Estados Unidos ».

Por fim, fica a questão, ainda indefinida, dos custos. O Serviço de Pesquisas do Congresso dos Estados Unidos, em Maio de 2020, estima o preço médio de um F-35 em 108 milhões de dólares, precisando porém, que é “o preço de um avião sem motor”, que custa cerca de 22 milhões. Depois de comprar um F-35, ainda que por um preço mais baixo como a Lockheed Martin promete para o futuro, começa a despesa para a sua modernização contínua, para o treino das tripulações e para o seu uso. Uma hora de vôo de um F-35A – documenta a Força Aérea dos Estados Unidos – custa mais de 42.000 dólares. Quer isto dizer que as 5000 horas de voo efectuadas só pelos F-35 de Amendola, custaram aos nossos cofres públicos 180 milhões de euros.

Manlio Dinucci

Artigo original em italiano :

A Ghedi si prepara la nuova base per gli F-35 nucleari

Tradutora: Maria Luísa de Vasconcellos 

  • Posted in Português
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By handing out a €6.5 billion fine against Gazprom, Warsaw has obviously and massively miscalculated because it did not only antagonize the Russian energy company as was intended, but also European partners of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which the Polish government obviously had not considered. Even leaders within the European Union were shocked at the huge fine that Poland is attempting to impose against Nord Stream 2.

It may very well be that the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has lost itself when deciding on the price of the fine against Gazprom. But regardless of that, UOKiK has apparently also exceeded its jurisdiction. As the Düsseldorf-based energy supplier Uniper reports, the existing agreements on Nord Stream 2 have nothing to do with a joint venture, which is why the Polish laws on merger controls do not apply to them. The initial plans were to finance the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the establishment of a joint venture. For this, however, the companies involved should have received a permit in all the countries in which they operate, as well as from Poland, the only EU state that blocked this decision. The decision for it not to be a joint venture was made without further ado so as not to waste time or money in a dispute with Polish authorities.

The pipeline partners designed an alternative financing model for Nord Stream 2 and instead of joining Nord Stream 2 AG (Company) as a co-partner, the European energy companies are participating in the project as lenders so that Polish antitrust laws do not apply to them. However, Gazprom, the majority shareholder of Nord Stream 2 AG, has given its European partners shares in the company as a mortgage for the financing provided. If the loans from the Russian side are not paid, the European corporations automatically become the owners of Nord Stream 2 AG. Referring to this fact, the Polish antitrust authorities have declared the European partner companies to be quasi-shareholders in the pipeline project.

With this UOKiK also justifies the exorbitant fine against Gazprom and the fines of around €55 million against Uniper (German), Wintershall (German), Engie (French), OMV (Austrian) and Shell (English-Dutch). Neither Gazprom nor Nord Stream 2 are financially at risk at the moment and the Russian group has already announced that it will take the fine to court.

Poland is of course now aware that their attempts to fine the Nord Stream 2 project will amount to nothing. The aim of the Polish government is not so much to force a large sum of money from Gazprom in the long term, but rather to bury the pipeline project entirely. And this is the part where Warsaw has grossly miscalculated, not only European reactions, but Russian determination.

The goal to cancel Nord Stream 2 also explains why Polish authorities published their decision last week. Relations between the EU and Russia are extra strained because of the Navalny case and the situation in Belarus. France and Germany are working on new sanctions against Russia for the Navalny case and continue to apply pressure against Belarus.

Another question is how effective these measures will be. Sanctions have long degenerated into ambiguity as it is the usual way the West deals with Moscow. Russia has learnt how to adjust their economy accordingly, meaning that sanctions have turned into a farce. The West is regularly expanding its blacklists of sanctioned companies and private individuals, but there has been no significant effect. Political forces with a keen interest in the failure of Nord Stream 2 are plentiful in the West and they are currently advancing the Navalny case in the hope that it will cut the EU from Russia more strongly or permanently. This will not occur as Europe desperately needs Russian energy, which is why Nord Stream 2 is such a critical project for all involved.

Poland plays the main role in trying to cancel Nord Stream 2 and the decision by UOKiK is just another push to finally get Europe to abandon the pipeline project. According to a joint declaration by France and Germany, measures are currently being prepared for those alleged to be responsible in the Navalny case and their participation in the so-called Novichok program.

Despite these measures, Western Europe is bringing its energy project which is important for its own future out of the danger zone, while Poland is attracting even more displeasure from EU giants through its own operation. A penalty against Gazprom may be a Russian problem, but fines against leading corporations from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Austria are guaranteed to leave many of Europe’s biggest capitalist angered. The effort Warsaw is making to thwart Nord Stream 2 is visibly turning opposite to what they expected as there is little doubt the Nord Stream 2 project will come to fruition and completion.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

Featured image is from InfoBrics

The Russia Brokered Armenia-Azerbaijan Ceasefire

October 12th, 2020 by Andrew Korybko

It was a diplomatic coup for Russia to broker a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan since it restored Moscow’s relevance to the conflict, but for as positive of a development as this was, it’s uncertain whether it’ll last and will thus serve as a litmus test of exactly how much influence the Eurasian Great Power still holds over its “sphere of influence” in the South Caucasus.

Russia’s Diplomatic Coup In The South Caucasus

The world is celebrating the Russian-brokered Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire which went into effect at noon on Saturday following over 10 hours of negotiations between Foreign Minister Lavrov and his two counterparts. Not only is it supposed to serve immediate humanitarian purposes, but it’s also a diplomatic coup for Russia which restored Moscow’s relevance to the conflict. Turkey had hitherto been considered by many to be the most important external party shaping the course of events, yet Russia proved that it’s capable of leveraging its excellent relations with both warring sides in order to bring about at least a temporary halt to the fighting. For as positive of a development as this was, however, it’s uncertain whether it’ll last and will thus serve as a litmus test of exactly how much influence the Eurasian Great Power still holds over its “sphere of influence” in the South Caucasus. What follows is a list of observations about the ceasefire and a brief explanation of each one. It aims to provoke critical thinking among all interested readers, many of whom are still struggling to understand the dynamics of this complex conflict. Without further ado, here are the most important points to pay attention to:

Russia’s “Balancing” Act Brought Both Parties To The Table

Contrary to what many in the Alt-Media Community have been misled into believing about Russia supposedly favoring Armenia over Azerbaijan, Moscow actually has equally strategic relations with both countries as a result of its “balancing” act of the past few years, in particular what the author previously described as its “Ummah Pivot” towards Muslim-majority states. Had the Alt-Media Community’s infowar narrative been accurate, then Azerbaijan wouldn’t have had any reason to trust in Russia’s diplomatic neutrality as a mediator and thus the talks might never have taken place at all. Going forward, observers must recognize that emotional arguments about Russia’s historical and religious connections with Armenia are generally brought up for the purpose of misleading their targeted audience into overestimating the influence that those two factors have on the formulation of Russian foreign policy. The intent is to make others think that Moscow believes Yerevan’s dangerous claim that the war is a “clash of civilizations” between Christianity and Islam, which isn’t true.

The Political Will Existed On Both Sides To Temporarily Halt The Violence

The cliched phrase that “it takes two to tango” is relevant in light of the latest ceasefire since it wouldn’t have been agreed to had both warring sides not had the political will to temporarily halt the violence. Their motivations in this respect differ since Yerevan needs time to recover from the devastating onslaught of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces while Baku understands the soft power importance of pushing a political solution to this long-running conflict instead of imposing a military one (no matter its legal right to do so). The coming winter also likely played a role as well. It’s already difficult enough as it is to fight in mountainous terrain, and this becomes practically impossible once it starts heavily snowing. Azerbaijan already liberated several lowland villages so it has something of tangible significance to show off to its people while Armenia still holds the highland core of the occupied territories which similarly allows it “save face” as well. That said, there are several of reasons why the war might soon resume, but those points will be discussed later in the article.

Militant Reports & Iran’s Peace Efforts Accelerated Russia’s Diplomatic Intervention

Russia was already seeking to diplomatically intervene in the conflict, not only because of its excellent relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan but also because it regards the South Caucasus as its “sphere of influence”, though reports about foreign militant activity in the conflict zone and Iran’s peace efforts probably accelerated this development by giving it a renewed sense of urgency from Moscow’s perspective. The author discussed the first factor more in detail in his recent piece “Explaining The Incongruence Between The Iranian & Syrian Stances Towards Nagorno-Karabakh” while the second one was touched upon in his article about how “Iran’s Official Support Of Azerbaijan Proves That Mutual Suspicions Can Be Overcome”. Taken together, Russia was seriously concerned that its security and diplomatic interests would be irreparably harmed if it hadn’t acted when it did. Not only could militancy rekindle the conflict in the North Caucasus if it isn’t contained, but Russia’s post-Soviet role in the region might be replaced by the joint Turko-Persian one which historically precedes it.

The OSCE Retained Its Leading Role Over The Peace Process

The Moscow communique reaffirmed that the OSCE Minsk Group remained the only format for politically resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which importantly reinforced Russian influence after Iranian attempts to replace it as explained in the previous observation and Turkish ones to promote a military solution instead. It’s unclear at this time whether Armenia will abide by the Madrid Principles, but that slate of proposals which was last refined in 2009 represents the most pragmatic way to end the conflict. Azerbaijan’s annoyance at the OSCE Minsk Group’s nearly three-decade-long failure to guarantee Armenia’s military withdrawal from the occupied regions in line with the four UNSC Resolutions on the matter (822, 853, 874, 884) was attributed by many as the reason why it launched its counteroffensive to change the status quo late last month in response to provocations along the Line of Contact (LOC). Without any measurable progress on this front such as agreeing on a timeline for Armenia’s withdrawal, it’s unlikely that the current ceasefire will last all that long.

Armenia’s Second Reported Attack On Azerbaijan’s Ganja Risks Embarrassing Russia

Azerbaijan accused Armenia of shelling its second-largest city of Ganja approximately 12 hours after the ceasefire was supposed to have gone into effect, which Yerevan denied but if proven true would represent the second major attack against this civilian target located outside the conflict zone. That would risk embarrassing Russia after all that the Eurasian Great Power did to get Azerbaijan to halt its counteroffensive. Armenia would therefore have proven itself to be a real “rogue state” in every sense of the word since it would be signaling to Russia that the latter doesn’t have any real influence over it, at least as it relates to the Nagorno-Karabakh Continuation War. Armenia claims that Azerbaijani violated the ceasefire first and that all its forces are doing is responding to its enemy’s provocation, though shelling a civilian location outside the conflict zone is a disproportionate response by any metrics even in the unlikely event that it’s telling the truth about not having started this latest tit-for-tat.

Pashinyan Is Under Immense Pressure From All Sides

Armenia’s erratic behavior can be explained by the fact that Prime Minister Pashinyan is under immense pressure from all sides. Not only did Russia presumably pressure him to order the Armenian separatists to stand down, but radical nationalists are exerting grassroots pressure upon him to continue the war until a “decisive victory” is achieved (which includes reconquering recently lost land). This Color Revolutionary-turned-leader has first-hand experience in weaponizing his society’s hyper-jingoist sentiment for regime change purposes so he understands very well just how risky his political future would be if he abided by the four UNSC Resolutions demanding his country’s military withdrawal from the universally recognized Azerbaijani territory that it illegally occupies. He was also never in Russia’s good graces either so Armenia’s patron has little interest in engaging in any “regime reinforcement” efforts in his support. Pashinyan is also keenly aware that he’d probably go down in Armenian history as its most hated leader ever if he “surrenders” for the “greater good”.

A Winter War Isn’t Preferred, But Is Still Possible

If the ceasefire violations continue and Russia is unable to exert its peacemaking influence over the increasingly “rogue state” of Armenia, then a winter war is indeed possible even such a scenario isn’t preferred. It was already explained how mountainous fighting in these conditions is almost impossible, but both sides could resort to shelling, drone strikes, airstrikes, and missile strikes during this period instead. That might unfortunately worsen the humanitarian hardships placed upon the civilians caught in the crossfire between the warring states, thus compelling another peace push by all relevant regional stakeholders, though it’s unclear whether it would succeed. It’s certainly not in Russia’s interests to have its ceasefire shredded so shortly after its herculean diplomatic efforts to broker it, nor does Moscow want to see Tehran or Ankara’s preferred solutions to the conflict replace its own, yet that might end up being exactly what happens if Pashinyan can’t resist the intense grassroots pressure upon him to continue the war and keeps defying the UNSC Resolutions.

A Russian-Iranian-Turkish Compromise Might Be The Only Way Out Of The War

Russia’s model of maintaining the traditional OSCE Minsk Group diplomatic means for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict won out for the time being in its unexpected competition with Iran’s efforts to establish an alternative diplomatic platform and Turkey’s desire to do away with diplomacy entirely by focusing solely on supporting a military solution. If the Russian-brokered ceasefire doesn’t hold, then this competition between the three partnered Great Powers will re-erupt with uncertain consequences. It’ll be very difficult for Moscow to argue that the OSCE Minsk Group has any remaining relevance while Tehran and Ankara’s cases would be strengthened by default. In that scenario, a compromise between them might be the only way out of the war. A new diplomatic platform might be created by Iran which includes both Russian and Turkish participation without any role being given to the OSCE Minsk Group’s American and French co-chairs. Its main goal would be to craft a timetable for Armenia’s military withdrawal from Azerbaijan in accordance with UNSC Resolutions.

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The Russian-brokered ceasefire was a diplomatic coup for Moscow which showed that the Eurasian Great Power is still a force to be reckoned with in the South Caucasus even if Turkish influence there has recently grown. The competition between those two countries is manageable for the moment, but their contradictory views on the best way to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are irreconcilable and could lead to a new round of rivalry if the ceasefire fails. Everyone is holding their breath to see whether or not that’ll happen, which unfortunately can’t be discounted after Armenia showed the world just how much of a “rogue state” it’s become after reportedly attacking Azerbaijan’s Ganja for the second time in violation of this weekend’s Moscow communique. If events spiral out of Russia’s control, then it might have little choice but to support the Iranian push to establish an alternative diplomatic platform for resolving this conflict, one which might closely resemble the Astana peace process that those two and Turkey trilaterally lead in Syria. It’ll remain to be seen whether that’s necessary, but the coming week will provide a clearer idea of just how likely that scenario is.

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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

Today’s newsletter of Lockdown Sceptics features an exclusive interview with a nurse who worked in an NHS hospital throughout the pandemic and says she has never had so little to do. Now she feels compelled to speak out against the “most wilful of lies” she has witnessed, in the hope that “such a grave miscarriage of justice for health can never be allowed to happen again”.

The interview was conducted by Gavin Phillips. The nurse has to remain anonymous because if she’s named she’s likely to lose her job, given the NHS’s draconian policy about not talking to the media. But Lockdown Sceptics has confirmed she is indeed a registered nurse – we’ve seen her NHS id and spoken to her.

She is 100% genuine.

-Will Jones, Lockdown Sceptics, October 10, 2020

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Interview with a Registered Nurse

This is an interview with a nurse with over 20 years’ experience. Jessica (pseudonym) has worked in a large NHS hospital for the majority of the time from February through September.

I have met with Jessica and have verified that she is a registered nurse. She wishes to remain anonymous at this time.

Q. Do you work in the same hospital most of the time?
Answer: Yes

Q. What size is the hospital, how many beds are there?
Answer: Over 800

Q. Different nurses often have different areas where they work in a hospital. In which departments do you usually work?
Answer: All departments. Care of the Elderly, Medicine, Surgical and Emergency area. As well as specialities like Stroke, Gynae, etc.

Q. Please walk us through a typical shift for you. The types of patients you would help and what you would be doing.
Answer: After handover from the night staff lasting about half an hour, I would then begin my morning medication round. This would probably finish between 9am and 9.30am, by which time doctors would be on ward. I would prioritise and attend to my most unwell patients first, making sure they had the fluids or other products they need, like blood transfusions or antibiotic infusions.

If on a surgical ward I would prepare my patients for theatre, liaising with anaesthetists and surgeons to make sure they were prepared safely and all checks completed. After this I would help care assistants with washing other patients and making sure they were comfortable. A round of observations would also need to be done in the morning of blood pressures, temperatures, etc.

My lunchtime drug round would then begin and after lunch it would generally be very much about completing processes for patients’ discharges, care rounds and initiating changes doctors may have made to patients’ care. If on surgical wards, I would then go and collect my patients from theatre and monitor them closely during recovery back on the ward. An evening drug round and copious amounts of paperwork would then complete my day.

Q. I know that different hospitals offer different treatments and surgeries. What types of surgeries does your hospital offer?
Answer:

  • All types of orthopaedic surgery. Plastic surgery, usually from a traumatic wound or a cancerous skin lesion
  • General surgery such as appendicectomy and cholecystectomy
  • Mastectomies and surgery for breast cancer
  • Gynae surgery
  • Vascular surgery
  • General day surgery where invasive diagnostic procedures may be done like endoscopies and biopsies. Also stenting, usually for urology purposes
  • Chemotherapy department
  • Dialysis department

Q. Generally, how busy was your hospital?
Answer: Very busy.

Q. What was your hospital’s busiest time of year?
Answer: I absolutely find the type of patients and the workload the same all year round.

Q. Do you recall any particular winter that was very busy and with what?
Answer: Norovirus is generally more common in winter. So, this would impact on the general hospital workload as, similar to Covid, the wards would be shut to all visitors, no other patients could be admitted to prevent contamination and therefore many beds on norovirus wards would be empty.

Q. When did you first start hearing about COVID-19?
Answer: End of February

Q. What did your superiors say about it early on?
Answer: There wasn’t a great deal of information, other than what was on the news and other media. I think staff’s biggest concern was for their own safety, the main issue being PPE. Certainly, there was some unnecessary hysteria, but generally I think the wards took things day by day. I did not see any superiors.

It seemed to be that whoever was in charge of a shift (this could be a staff nurse, not necessarily a ward sister or manager) would attend a brief Covid daily meeting, but little information would be relayed on their return, maybe just how many Covid patients were in hospital or PPE advice.

Q. Was Covid expected to overwhelm your hospital?
Answer: Staff were generally overwhelmed with fear of what to expect. The world had been warned of this new killer virus and I think many must have felt like lambs fed to the lions.

Conflicting information on PPE, different countries around the world seeming to have more adequate protection and the dilemma of whether staff should separate from their own families to protect them from this transmissible threat to life that was Covid.

Nurses had fewer patients now as there were fewer patients overall and many redeployed staff, so I don’t think staff could have felt overwhelmed from a workload point of view. But working with the pressure that life was no longer as we knew it took its toll on everybody

Q. At what date (approximately) did you start seeing Covid patients?
Answer: Beginning of March.

Q. What were their symptoms?
Answer: Low oxygen levels, sometimes a higher temperature but often no symptoms that would distinguish differently from their other underlying conditions. I did not come across any patient reporting more unusual symptoms like loss of smell or taste. Neither did I see any patients that developed any associated clotting problems.

Any deteriorating patient would develop worsening function in all body organs and systems but these cannot be called symptoms of Covid. It’s just more the fact that a patient was dying in the same way every other failing bodied patient has died.

Q. Were their symptoms any different to other serious respiratory viruses that you had seen and treated in the past?

Answer: The Covid patients presented no differently to any other respiratory illness, which most Covid patients already had a history of anyway. Previous to Covid we would see patients with the same symptoms in conditions like exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, community acquired pneumonia, hospital acquired pneumonia, some types of heart failure, sepsis and general frailty.

Any infection, as we all know, could present with a high temperature and quite understandably if a patient was admitted with a chest infection, we could also see deteriorated respiratory function which would be low oxygen levels. A simple chest infection in the main could look identical to Covid.

Q. Did you see any Covid patients under 20 years old?
Answer: No

Q. Did you see any Covid patients under 50 years old?
Answer: No

Q. What was the general age range of the Covid patients?
Answer: Over 70

Q. Were the elderly moved to Care Homes?
Answer: Not immediately. Most were detained in hospital for a long time, absolutely unable to see any of their family. These patients would not be for resuscitation so essentially their treatment would be palliative. I do not think that hospitals are the best places to find comfort, dignity and symptom control so it was distressing that many patients could not be discharged sooner.

Q. As you mentioned, this virus mainly attacks the elderly. With the lockdown rules and the elderly unable to see their family for months, what effect has this had on their mental health?
Answer: It has affected their mental health enormously. Bewilderment, loneliness and isolation. I know many elderly people who have had to choose between obeying the fear and seeing their own grandchildren, with many hearts creakingly choosing the first.

They should never have been put in this impossible situation, compounded all the more by the fact these could be the final months or years of their lives.

Q. Approximately what percentage of the Covid patients had other serious pre-existing conditions?
Answer: 100%

Q. Please give us some examples of those pre-existing conditions?
Answer: Heart failure, Parkinson’s, strokes, leg cellulitis and leg ulcers, diabetes, kidney disease and general anopia are some examples.

Q. Is it true that other viruses like flu and pneumonia mostly kill the elderly who have at least one pre-existing condition?
Answer: Yes

Q. In your over 20 years of experience, did you see a specific difference between Covid patients and other patients you have treated that had a severe viral infection?
Answer: No

Q. What were the treatments you gave to Covid patients?
Answer: Oxygen therapy and IV fluids. Often antibiotic therapy also.

Q. During the height of this alleged pandemic in April, how many Covid patients were in your hospital?
Answer: I am not sure, maybe 100 to 125.

Q. Was there a point at which you thought that this was not a pandemic?
Answer: I did not think this was a pandemic from the start. I think people were being intentionally frightened and this is what captured my attention. So, I decided to sit back and observe for differences between Covid and normal health problems. But no differences whatsoever were revealed to me.

Q. Were there any other patients in your hospital from April through August?
Answer: A very minimal amount.

Q. How empty was the hospital during those months?
Answer: Extremely empty. Bays that were normally full were completely empty. On several occasions I have had no patients at all for an entire 12-hour shift.

The hospital has speciality wards for medical emergencies such as strokes, which were always full (before Covid). An emergency episode like a stroke can be easily diagnosed and treated with thrombolytic therapy, a hugely vital service preventing death and worsening brain injuries. The stroke ward was virtually empty.

I know there is some belief that hospitals were empty because our usual patients were too afraid to come to hospital because of the pandemic. However, the majority of patients never brought themselves into hospital anyway, being so ill that somebody would need to call an ambulance for them as they had suffered a stroke or an epileptic fit or a fall.

In the main it would be a carer, district nurse or kindly neighbour that phoned for an ambulance on their behalf, but it seems that these calls just weren’t being made. It makes me shudder to think that these people, mainly the elderly again, collapsed and likely died at home as coming into hospital for treatment no longer seemed an option for them.

It is a simple observation and I would welcome any government official to compare hospital records from this year to every other year and examine why this category of patients were suddenly missing.

Q. Were all other serious surgeries postponed during this time?
Answer: I believe all other surgeries were cancelled apart from some orthopaedic trauma and general trauma. I am not sure about chemotherapy but I think all services were very limited if not ceased completely.

I nursed a 50-year-old lady last week who was diagnosed in January with aggressive breast cancer. Her mastectomy was planned for early March but was then cancelled. She had no contact with the Oncology Team and only just had her mastectomy three weeks ago. When I met her, she was waiting on the results of her recent MRI to see if her cancer had spread anywhere else. She has really experienced a lot of fear this year.

Q. What were you and the other nurses doing on your shifts in a hospital that was virtually empty?
Answer: Nothing. Although I did busy myself on one occasion doing an incident form as the stock supply of basic equipment was unacceptable.

Q. Were any other nurses or doctors questioning this?
Answer: No

Q. Could your hospital have coped with the Covid cases and carried on offering regular health care as they have done in previous epidemics?
Answer: Yes

Q. For clarification. Your hospital was nearly empty for five-plus months. People who desperately needed surgeries and other treatments were postponed for many months. Was this necessary in your professional opinion?
Answer: No

Q. Have you spoken to other nurses in different hospitals? What have their experiences been?
Answer: They all agree that hospitals have been empty, but most believe this was necessary to protect the public. But many never question it at all.

Q. While the country was clapping for the NHS, you were sitting in a nearly empty hospital. How did this make you feel?
Answer: I felt a terrible fraud when the whole country was clapping the NHS. Once, when I was on duty at the allocated clapping time, the staff that had had a rather quiet day, then insisted that everybody stand up and clap themselves as well.

I have to say this rather turned my stomach, and I had to make my excuses and lock myself in the toilet. I felt rather desperate to find colleagues that might be questioning it all, like myself, but it was clear to see that everybody was believing the media narrative.

I also felt despairing for my patients. Many were very alone and afraid, unable to see their loved ones. I think my saddest experience in all my nursing career was back in March when I had to lend my mobile phone to a dying man so he could say goodbye to his daughter. It felt utterly unfathomable that myself, this man and his remotely present daughter could find ourselves in this situation, and we all cried.

Q. Has your hospital started to help people in September?
Answer: Yes, services have been reintroduced gradually.

Q. Were you ever told by your superiors not to speak to anybody in the media about the fact your hospital has been virtually empty for five months?
Answer: No, not directly, but that has been my understanding.

Q. In recent weeks the government has been mentioning increasing cases of Covid. Cases of a disease are more serious than someone who only tests positive, but has little or no symptoms at all. But the government has not made it clear to the public the difference between the two, or whether they count all people who test positive as a new ‘case’. Have you seen an increase in Covid patients being admitted to your hospital in the past six weeks?
Answer: No

Q. The Government has been saying that Covid is an unprecedented threat to public health and is a national crisis. It has implemented the most draconian restrictions on people’s liberty this country has ever seen. But your experience tells a totally different story. Was it strange seeing the stories in the mainstream media of a supposed Spanish Flu (1917-1918) type killer virus, but you are seeing nothing like this in your hospital?

Answer: Yes, it felt completely surreal. A wave of disbelief that I found really quite crippling at first. Many people in my family were asking my opinion on the coronavirus in the week or two before lockdown. I confidently reassured them that everything was okay and although much news was being made of it, this was really nothing that new. As always, we should be a little more mindful of the elderly and vulnerable, but compassion and common sense would eventually prevail. How wrong I was.

My partner was furloughed, the schools and high street closed immediately. Any forms of normal recreational escapism disappeared overnight, compounding the fear suddenly unleashed on our lives. I knew far greater health threats were occurring as a side-effect to all the unforgivably irrational management measures of Covid.

I really cannot call them safety measures. Rather than protecting health I in fact saw greater neglect as fearful staff were told to limit their time with patients and the care that these people deserved in the last days and weeks of their lives simply wasn’t there.

Many patients I see now will have stories of how they could not access any services, follow-up appointments or GP appointments. This is not what I became a nurse for and if healthcare has failed them in any way, all I can give them now is my sincerest apology.

Q. What are your reasons for taking part in this interview?
Answer: As a nurse, acting in the best interests of patients and the wider general public has always been the most integral part of nursing for me. Sometimes my views may be opposed by other health care professionals, but I will always advocate for my patients to ensure they have the fairest and best treatment.

When the pandemic began, I certainly did not see action taken in the patients’ best interests. Keeping relatives away from their dying loved ones in hospital must surely be an infringement on basic human rights.

Scared staff were told to limit the amount of care given to patients, all very elderly, thereby compromising their personal hygiene, care and dignity. Doctors paid much less attention to all other health conditions as patients were not for resuscitation and considered “end of life”.

This hospital formula in response to the alleged Covid pandemic I believe is a direct link to increased deaths. If Covid produced different symptoms to other viruses, it would be an undeniable new and frightening virus, but life in hospitals looked exactly the same. If the stories of “this unprecedented new virus” were not constantly flooding all news and media, we would never even have known of its existence.

We must also not forget the patients who have been denied healthcare for many months. The many, many patients that have been unable to access services, outpatient clinics were no longer open, a crucial service of reassurance and possible detection of changes to their health conditions.

This would have caused enormous anxiety to those denied. I have met patients that have had surgery cancelled. A lady that broke her arm in February has had it hanging limply by her side since, losing muscle tone, good circulation, affecting her life and ability to work. She has attended A&E twice begging for surgery, even saying she would sign a disclaimer if she contracted an infection. But of course, she was refused and her despair and desperation ignored.

So, depression sets in. Depression, anxiety and general loss of confidence in our public bodies will all lead to serious mental health problems and therefore increased suicides. Loneliness and isolation experienced in lockdown can affect us all, healthy or otherwise, this too will undoubtedly have devastating consequences on the mental health of individuals.

The speed at which I could see my colleagues buckling against the fear and brainwashing was also hugely unsettling. Orders were simply followed without question, which in turn fills me with fear, as a healthy world can only be achieved where ideas and instructions are studied, challenged and debated.

I can only say the most wilful of lies were being told during the height of the pandemic and continue today. Chief nurse Ruth May has said that nurses were at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and have worked so hard. She has said she is proud of how nurses have stepped up to the challenge. I do not consider this to be truthful at all. Some wards were full, but with no more patients than any other times and lots of redeployed staff. The workload was definitely less. Other wards were rather empty. Where’s the challenge? Where’s the crisis? Where’s this Covid?

I know there are figures upon figures, statistics upon statistics, that the Government is picking and choosing to endorse the fear and create scare tactics, but for me, the numbers do not account for much. They’ve ‘cooked the books’ and the masses have been manipulated.

For me, it’s over 20 years of experience, professional and human instinct and being on the front lines for over six months. I have seen confusion, avoidable suffering and death with my own eyes, so I have no need for the numbers.

I consider this interview to be the greatest practice of patient advocacy I can ever demonstrate. I will do whatever I can, I must raise awareness to the real truth so that questions can be asked and enquiries may begin. My real hope is that such a grave miscarriage of justice for health can never be allowed to happen again.

Q. Thank you for taking part in this interview, I appreciate it and I’m sure many others will appreciate it as well.
Answer: Thank you for giving me an opportunity to inform people about what I have seen over the last six months.

Closing thoughts

As “Jessica” has stated, she has been sitting in a nearly empty hospital throughout this alleged pandemic. Other seriously sick patients have been deprived of medical attention for six months. The entire country has been scared witless by a massive fear campaign orchestrated by this government and spread by the mainstream media.

The suffering that the people of our country have endured is incalculable and unprecedented. This Government needs to be held accountable for its actions. If any police, lawyers, nurses or doctors want to tell their story during this Covid period, or want to help in any way, please contact me at [email protected], Twitter: @photopro28 . The truth must be brought to light.

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This article was originally published in May 2020.

On Friday, Donald Trump announced his appointment of Moncef Slaoui, a former executive with vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, to lead “Operation Warp Speed”, Trump’s plan to fast track the development of vaccines for COVID-19. Slaoui will serve in a volunteer position, assisted by Army Gen. Gustave Perna, the commander of United States Army Materiel Command.

According to the Trump administration, Operation Warp Speed program is focusing on four vaccines, with the hopes of testing and producing 100 million doses by October 2020, 200 million by December, and 300 million doses by January. At Friday’s press conference, Slaoui said he believes the goal of vaccines by January 2021 is a “credible goal”. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was more adamant, stating that, “winning matters and we will deliver, by the end of this year, a vaccine”.

Operation Warp Speed and the calls for public-private partnerships mimic the National Institutes of Health’s recent call for bringing together pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The NIH plan, Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership, emphasizes “a collaborative framework for prioritizing vaccine and drug candidates, streamlining clinical trials, coordinating regulatory processes and/or leveraging assets among all partners to rapidly respond to the COVID-19 and future pandemics.”

The appointment of Slaoui follows previous statements regarding Trump’s desire to have vaccines available to Americans by the fall. “I think we’re going to have a vaccine by the end of the year, and I think distribution will take place almost simultaneously because we’ve geared up the military,” Trump said Thursday afternoon. Trump also told the Fox Business Network that because of the “massive job to give this vaccine” the military is now being mobilized. “We’re going to be able to give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly,” Trump concluded.

At Friday’s press conference Trump said his team has been working 24 hours a day to develop treatments for COVID-19. Despite the heavy focus on vaccines, Trump did state that his administration is working on other treatments, including “therapeutics”. “It’s not solely vaccine based, other things have never had a vaccine and they go away. I don’t people to think this is all dependent on a vaccine, but it would be tremendous,” Trump stated.

However, the appointment of Dr. Slaoui is an indication that the Trump administration approves of the former executive’s efforts to develop vaccines and his partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Moncef Slaoui and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

An examination of the career and connections of Dr. Moncef Slaoui reveals that Donald Trump’s appointment of a Big Pharma executive is not a cause for celebration.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui’s official biography states:

“Dr. Slaoui was a Professor of Immunology at the University of Mons, Belgium. He has authored more than 100 scientific papers and presentations. Dr. Slaoui earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Immunology from the University Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium and completed postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston.”

Following his education, Slaoui joined the pharmaceutical industry, serving on the board of Directors of GlaxoSmithKline between 2006 through 2015. Slaoui served in several senior research & development (R&D) roles with GlaxoSmithKline during his time with the company, including Chairman of Global Vaccines. GSK has a history of working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on projects such as the development of a malaria vaccine and anti-HIV compounds used as microbicides. In fact, Dr. Slaoui worked for 27 years on the malaria vaccine, ultimately partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a $600 million malaria vaccine. When Slaoui took over at GSK, his predecessor, Tachi Yamada, joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

More recently, Slaoui sits on the boards of pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology organizations. He is also partner at MediciX investment firm, chairman of the board at Galvani Bioelectronics, chairman of the board at SutroVax and sits on the boards of Artisan Biosciences, Human Vaccines Project and Moderna Therapeutics. Each of these companies is involved in vaccine development and the emerging field of bioelectronics.

Galvani Bioelectronics was formed out of an agreement with Verily Life Sciences LLC (formerly Google Life Sciences), an Alphabet company, and GSK. The goal is to “enable the research, development and commercialisation of bioelectronic medicines.”

Bioelectronic medicine is a relatively new research field focused on tackling chronic diseases by using “miniaturised, implantable devices that can modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body, including irregular or altered impulses that occur in many illnesses”. GSK has been active in this field since 2012 and has stated that chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma could potentially be treated using these devices. GSK called the partnership an important step in their research of bioelectronics. GSK stated that if they are successful at using “advances in biology and technology” to “correct the irregular patterns found in disease states, using miniaturised devices attached to individual nerves”, this method would be a “new therapeutic modality alongside traditional medicines and vaccines.”

Galvani’s plan to use miniature implantable devices within the body was described by MIT Technology Review as “hacking the nervous system.” In 2016, Slaoui said, “We hope to have approval and be in the marketplace in the next seven to 10 years. It’s not science fiction. And it’s progressing quite well.”

In 2016, Slaoui was appointed to the Board of Directors of Moderna Therapeutics, a biotech company that is leading the way for messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines. TLAV writer Whitney Webb recently reported on Moderna Therapeutics joining the fight against COVID-19:

“The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced that it would fund three separate programs in order to promote the development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus responsible for the current outbreak.

CEPI — which describes itself as “a partnership of public, private, philanthropic and civil organizations that will finance and co-ordinate the development of vaccines against high priority public health threats” — was founded in 2017 by the governments of Norway and India along with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its massive funding and close connections to public, private and non-profit organizations have positioned it to be able to finance the rapid creation of vaccines and widely distribute them.

CEPI’s recent announcement revealed that it would fund two pharmaceutical companies — Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Moderna Inc. — as well as Australia’s University of Queensland, which became a partner of CEPI early last year. Notably, the two pharmaceutical companies chosen have close ties to and/or strategic partnerships with DARPA and are developing vaccines that controversially involve genetic material and/or gene editing. The University of Queensland also has ties to DARPA, but those ties are not related to the university’s biotechnology research, but instead engineering and missile development.”

Webb goes on to detail how Moderna is working with the U.S. NIH to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus and how the project will be entirely funded by CEPI, which in turn was founded and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Moderna’s vaccine is a controversial messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine which was developed with a $25 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).

“Moderna’s past and ongoing research efforts have included developing mRNA vaccines tailored to an individual’s unique DNA as well as an unsuccessful effort to create a mRNA vaccine for the Zika Virus, which was funded by the U.S. government,” Webb reported.

To recap: Donald Trump has appointed Dr. Moncef Slaoui to head Operation Warp Speed, his effort to fast track the development of COVID-19 vaccines and other therapeutics. Slaoui has worked in the pharmaceutical industry on vaccine development for decades. Several companies he has worked with or sits on the Board of Directors are funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of these companies, Moderna, is conducting research on RNA vaccines in partnership with the U.S. government’s creepiest organization, DARPA.

Once again, this should be an indication that Donald Trump is continuing to push the agenda of Big Pharma.

Will the vaccine be mandatory?

Despite the launch of Operation Warp Speed, the appointment of a Big Pharma Executive, and the calls for military involvement in distribution of vaccines, some Trump supporters still maintain that Donald J. Trump is not a part of the Rockefeller-Gates agenda to vaccinate the entire world. However, Trump’s action tell another story.

Although Trump questioned the safety of vaccinations as far back as 2014, since becoming President he has towed the party line. In April 2019, while questioned about alleged outbreaks of measles and whether or not he supports Americans’ right to opt out of the MMR vaccine, Trump stated that Americans “have to get the shots. The vaccinations are so important.” Trump concluded with the support of mandatory vaccinations: “This is really going around now. They have to get their shots.”

We do acknowledge that Donald Trump has made several statements – including during Friday’s press conference – indicating that he is not currently planning to call for mandatory vaccinations of all Americans. However, rather than hanging on the words of the president as if they are gospel, we should judge the man by his actions. When looking at Trump’s actual actions – not his tweets – it’s clear that he has not drained the swamp, but has instead, filled it with familiar Deep State bureaucrats pushing an agenda of their own. The individuals involved in this agenda do not have the best interests of Americans in mind.

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Featured image: Moncef Slaoui, the scientific head of Operation Warp Speed, spent 29 years making vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline. (STUART ISETT CC 2.0)

Israel is facing declining public support in the United States and sees the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign as a key threat to its legitimacy. That’s why Israel is enlisting the US government, American university administrators, and even tech companies like Zoom and Facebook to try to destroy the BDS movement.

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A day before a scheduled San Francisco State University lecture on “gender, justice and resistance” with Black, Palestinian, Jewish, and South African activists, the online meeting company Zoom announced it would not permit the event to take place on its platform. A spokesperson for Zoom cited concerns that hosting the event could violate “applicable U.S. export control, sanctions and anti-terrorism laws,” and the company ultimately threatened to cancel the Zoom account for the entire California State University system if the event went through.

Zoom’s decision to de-platform the event followed a staunch pressure campaign from right-wing Zionist organizations, who took credit online for its cancellation. Tech giants Facebook and YouTube followed suit, cutting the event stream and removing promotional materials from their platforms.

The incident sets a dangerous precedent for private tech companies to censor academic freedoms, university-sanctioned events, and social justice organizing. Dima Khalidi, director of Palestine Legal, explains that the incident is an attack on discussion of Palestinian freedom, “in response to a systemic repression campaign driven by the Israeli government and its allies.” The campaign to censor and de-platform the event exemplifies the growing, coordinated efforts to destroy Palestinian liberation struggles, which have been made even more complicated by the virtual organizing strategies that the COVID-19 pandemic requires.

In recent weeks, the US State Department has committed to “target,” “fight,” and “kill” the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, a non-violent political campaign exercising free speech on American soil. The comments, made in a recent interview by a spokesperson for the State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, referred to the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to squash the BDS movement, expanding what is already a multimillion-dollar campaign encompassing government and private actors, and deploying counterinsurgency tactics, lawfare, and surveillance operations against activists campaigning for equal rights for Palestinians.

The BDS movement, conceived by Palestinian civil society groups in 2005, seeks to exert pressure on Israel to finally end its more than fifty-year occupation of Palestinian lands, to recognize the right of return for displaced Palestinian refugees, and to grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. The State Department’s commitment to “kill” this liberation struggle, a movement modeled on the international boycotts against apartheid South Africa, is part of a nationwide right-wing push to suppress criticism of Israel.

US State Department Special Envoy’s Elan Carr has claimed that attempts to “economically strangle the state of Israel” are unequivocally anti-Semitic and said that the department’s efforts to clamp down on BDS would include targeting even those campaigns which call for boycotting goods produced by companies profiting from the expansion of illegal settlements in Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Despite citing economics as a justification for their anti-BDS campaigns, the US State Department and its partners in the Israel lobby admit that boycotts do not pose a viable threat to Israel’s economic security. The US government and the Israel lobby instead fear the political motivations of the movement and the growing successes of its capacity to shift public opinion toward Israel’s apartheid regime.

Israel is facing a critical challenge in maintaining stable, long-term public support in the United States. While the alliance of Republicans, the mainstream Democratic Party, and the evangelical Christian movement continue to staunchly support the Israeli State — to the tune of $3.8 billion in annual military aid — this support is notably diminishing among progressives, Black Americans, and young people, particularly young Jews.

Within this context, the US Israel lobby has mobilized to neutralize this threat for many years. Israel lobby groups have invested millions toward derailing BDS organizing, particularly on college campuses, and defaming supporters of the movement. Taking stock of campaigns against the BDS movement offers insight into expanding repression against social-justice movements across the United States. The State Department’s commitment to this agenda isn’t just a threat to pro-Palestinian activism, but to Black Lives Matter solidarity campaigns, free speech, and political dissent more widely.

Lawfare

Among the primary tactics the Israel lobby uses to derail Palestine solidarity movements are legal and legislative processes to turn legitimate criticisms of Israel into expressions of anti-Semitism. At a moment when right-wing anti-Semitic violence is on the rise, this is particularly dangerous. The Israel lobby’s lawfare campaigns are intended to criminalize and sanction anti-apartheid activists for participating in “discriminatory conduct” and even “hate speech.”

In January 2020, the Trump administration bolstered these efforts by implementing the “Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism,” cementing federal use of the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which includes criticism of Israel.

The order also expanded the scope of federal Title VI policies to categorize criticism of Israel as a form of academic discrimination against Jews. The order gives Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education power to launch investigations against and ultimately withhold funding for universities that allow BDS organizing on their campuses, on the grounds that the government would be funding “anti-Semitism.”

These legal and legislative projects incentivize academic and institutional censorship of pro-Palestinian voices and strengthen what is sometimes called “the Palestinian exception to free speech.” The consequences of these tactics are not hypothetical.

In 2016, the dean of students at Fordham University, Keith Eldredge, used his veto power — the first time he did so in his tenure — to overturn a student government vote to approve the establishment of a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter on campus.

He explained in an email to students that SJP’s commitment to BDS was a primary reason for his decision to veto the group’s establishment. BDS, he claimed, “presents a barrier to open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding” promoting “polarization rather than dialogue.”

After a four-year legal battle with the university, courts ruled that the university must recognize the student group affirming the right of activists to campaign in solidarity with Palestinians. While the judge ultimately ruled in favor of the students’ free speech, the legal battle consumed years of energy and organizing potential.

This is often the real goal of lawfare operations: entangling organizers in legal and legislative battles is a tried and tested method which eats up activists’ time, energy, and money.

The redefinition of anti-Semitism to include criticism of the Israeli occupation has paved the way for a coordinated national campaign to punish businesses and individuals for divesting themselves from apartheid and settlement abuses. According to Palestine Legal, more than a hundred anti-boycott laws and executive orders have been introduced into state and local legislatures over the past six years alone.These measures, many of which restrict state funding and contracts to proponents of the boycott movement, have already been adopted in thirty states. Seventy-eight percent of people living in the United States now live under such anti-boycott provisions.

The proliferation of anti-BDS laws across the United States has had a chilling effect on political speech, not to mention some bizarre effects. In 2017, for example, hurricane victims in Dickerson, Texas were required to sign a pledgecommitting not to boycott the state of Israel in order to receive access to the city’s relief grants.

Texas ACLU legal director Andre Segura explained the measure was a violation of the First Amendment, noting the incident is “reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist Party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activity.”

US State Department representatives noted that pushing international allies to replicate similar measures, to condemn the BDS movement, and to adopt comparable redefinitions of anti-Semitism, was a priority strategy.

Surveillance and Smear Campaigns

The Israel lobby is also investing enormously in intelligence-gathering and smear campaign operations targeting critics of Israel, especially students and academics. The evidence is in their budgets.In 2019, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs (MSA), an intelligence agency established to map out and combat growing support for BDS around the world, was provided over $35 million in government funding over three years, a budget set to be matched by private donations. Intelligence gathering operations against US university students are being conducted in Israel but are also operated and financed in the United States.

The Lobby USA,” Al Jazeera’s 2016 undercover investigation into America’s Israel lobby, revealed the partnerships between Israel’s MSA and US-based lobby groups. Executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) Jacob Baime admitted in undercover footage that his organization coordinates and communicates with the MSA, boasting about his organization’s rapidly expanding budget and growing intelligence gathering capabilities.

As Baime explains, the ICC’s surveillance strategy is “modelled on General Stanley McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq.” The organization surveils the activities of student Palestine activists and releases online smear campaigns: “if one of these terrorists on campus wants to disrupt a pro-Israel lecture and unfurl a banner or whatever else, we’re going to investigate them and look into bad stuff they’ve done…. The only thing is that we do it securely and anonymously, and that’s the key.”

Baime outlines that what the ICC has found most effective is conducting opposition research and releasing the information online through anonymous websites, alongside targeted Facebook ads. “Every few hours” he explains, “you drip out a new piece of the opposition research. It’s psychological warfare. It drives them crazy.”

A 2018 investigation by Forward revealed the ICC has also used their surveillance technologies to monitor the activities of progressive Jewish students, including those taking part in the Open Hillel conference at Swarthmore College.

Canary Mission is an infamous pro-Israel website which publishes profiles maligning Palestine solidarity organizers as “anti-Semites” in an attempt to intimidate people away from such activities, and, as the formerly anonymous organizers of the blacklist make clear, ruin potential future job prospects of those it profiles.

The website, which disproportionately targets Arab and Muslim students and academics, has been used to interrogate, detain, and even bar Americans and Palestinians traveling to Palestine through Israeli territory. “The Lobby USA” alleged, through covertly recorded conversations with an employee at The Israel Project (TIP), that billionaire real estate mogul Adam Milstein was the primary funder and creator of the website. Milstein has denied this allegation.

As with lawfare strategies, surveillance and smear campaigns serve not only as a threat and deterrent to advocating for Palestine, but also consume the time and energy of activists who are defamed for their role in the social justice movement. Jacob Baime explained how targeted activists “either shut down or they spend time responding to it and investigating it, which is time they can’t spend attacking Israel. That’s incredibly effective.”

Severing Solidarities

Initiatives to disrupt Palestine liberation struggles and the BDS movement include the targeting of Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements which see their freedom struggles as integrally intertwined with Palestinians’. In 2014, Ferguson, Missouri rose up against racist police brutality after the murder of Michael Brown. At the same time, Israel launched its siege of the Gaza Strip, resulting in thousands of casualties.Protesters in Ferguson and Palestine exchanged messages of solidarity on social media, including tips on how to relieve the effects of tear gas. Two years later, the Movement for Black Lives included in its platform a condemnation of Israeli apartheid, a rejection of US military aid to Israel, and a pledge to support the BDS movement.

Speaking at the 2016 Israel American Council conference, Israeli consul-general of Atlanta Judith Varnai-Shorer highlighted the Black Lives Matter movement as a threat to public support for Israel. “The major problem with Israel is with the young generation of the Black community. Black Lives Matter starts there” she says.

Andy David, Israel consul general of San Francisco stated on the same panel, “Martin Luther King would turn in his grave if he saw the anti-Israel tendencies or policies that are starting to emerge within Black Lives Matter.”

Viewed as a threat to Israel’s unchallenged political support in the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement is also subjected to the lawfare, surveillance, and smear campaigns leveraged against proponents of the BDS movement.

A former employee of TIP in Washington, DC revealed that the Israel lobby had worked to disrupt Black Lives Matter events. He admitted TIP called upon its donors to push a New York City nightclub to cancel a Black Lives Matter benefit because of the movement’s stance on Israel.

Effects of State Repression

The State Department, operating in tandem with Israeli intelligence and US-based pro-Israel lobbying groups, have committed to ramp up efforts to disorganize and target BDS and Palestine solidarity organizing. Their tactics are not dissimilar from the strategies of COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) or other historical counterinsurgency projects targeting social justice movements and political dissenters.The consequences of these projects aren’t hypothetical. They have consumed the academic and political careers of numerous Palestine solidarity activists across the country. The continued expansion of this state repression is already producing a chilling effect on organizing for Palestinian liberation.

As we move into another academic year of social justice activism at universities, made even more complicated by virtual organizing and the COVID-19 pandemic, activists will need to think critically about the forces working to stop them.

We can take solace, however, in the fact that the State Department’s project to “kill” BDS is nevertheless an indication of the movement’s political influence. This expansion of state repression is evidence of the movement’s ability to threaten the material support for colonialism, apartheid, and occupation that is at the heart of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

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Caren Holmes is a scholar of postcolonial studies and a prison abolitionist organizer based in New York City.

Featured image: Protester holds up a sign supporting the BDS movement. (John Englart / Flickr)

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As the dying Trump administration, literally on a sickbed, contemplates losing power, its hawks are lashing out at Iran in an attempt to ensure that the 2015 international nuclear deal is dead and buried, and that the US and Iran remain on a war footing. Trump’s two main allies in the Middle East, Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel and Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, want at the least a rollback of Iranian influence in the region and at best regime change. They are small countries and have no hope of accomplishing the latter. Only a US war on Iran, repeating the 2003 invasion of Iraq could reliably change the regime and end the country’s civilian nuclear energy program.

The US Treasury Department has blocked financial transactions of 18 Iranian banks, and threatened anyone who does business with them with third party sanctions. This means that if a small French firm wanted to sell toasters to Iran, it can’t use these banks to do so. There really aren’t any banks left in Iran that aren’t sanctioned by the Trump administration. So the message is to Europe, don’t trade with Iran.

This policy is unilateral and is ordered by one man, Trump. Congress has passed no such law. The United Nations Security Council is against these sanctions.

Although the announcement is accompanied by the usual demonization of Iran, these sanctions will make no difference to Syria or Iraq in their trade with Iran and will have no effect on the Iranian role in the Middle East. Nor will they force Iran to cease its civilian nuclear energy program, with which the UN Security Council has made its peace.

What the sanctions will do is make it impossible to send humanitarian aid to Iran during a crippling pandemic. They will make it impossible for Iranians to import needed medicines. During a pandemic.

The smarmy Sec State Mike Pompeo alleges that the US is not sanctioning medical supplies, but this is a half-truth that functions as a Big Lie. Sanctioning all the banks means that the medical supplies can’t be imported because Iran has no way to pay for them.

Veteran Iran observer Barbara Slavin called the new measures “sadism masquerading as sanctions.”

The relentless Trump attempt to bend Iran to his will has failed for 3 and a half years, and is unlikely to succeed during the three months he has left in office.

The purpose of this new financial blockade on Iran is to hammer the last nail in the coffin of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal approved by France, the UK, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. Trump breached the treaty in May, 2018, and is attempting to strongarm the other signatories into reneging on it, too.

Iran mothballed 80% of its civilian nuclear enrichment program in 2015 in order to get total relief from all sanctions. That never happened, because the Republican Congress refused to remove US sanctions, and the US measures threaten third parties. The French automobile firm Renault had had a factory in Iran and planned to restore it, but was dissuaded by US threats of massive fines. The French energy firm Total S.A. had planned to develop Iranian natural gas, but pulled out under US threats.

So Iran gave up most of its latent nuclear deterrence and not only got nothing in return, it got the most crippling sanctions ever applied to one country by another in peacetime.

Iran refuses to go quietly. It has responded to Trump’s economic war on it in several ways:

1. Tehran has made clear that it won’t be strangled while hostile neighbors like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia prosper. It has launched covert operations that are hard to trace directly back to the Ayatollahs against UAE tankers and the Saudi Aqaiq facilities. The more pain the US inflicts on Iran, the more likely it is that there will be a spiral of violence.

2. Iran has cozied up to China in an unprecedented way. With the world’s second-largest economy and a much faster recovery from the pandemic than the US, Beijing appears to believe it can stand up to the US and avoid sanctions. Some of the trade conducted by the two countries is nevertheless in the form of undeclared oil purchases. The US can’t sanction what it can’t prove. In addition, China can spin off companies that have no dollar assets and do no business with the United States. They can use the piles of soft currency China has accumulated from Asia and Africa in selling its goods to developing countries. For Iran to accept payment in e.g. Angolan Kwanzas is a perhaps 30% loss, since Iran will have to convert them to Euros or another non-dollar hard currency at a discount. But that is still substantially better than doing no business at all. The US Treasury Department can’t sanction firms doing business in currencies other than the dollar and which do no trade with and have no assets in the US.

3. Iran has found other countries to do business with that have already been cut off and sanctioned by the US, such as Venezuela. This development demonstrates why broad sanctions are a blunt tool with ever-decreasing returns. Iran has offloaded three tankers worth of natural gas concentrates at Venezuelan ports in the past month. The concentrates are used in refining raw crude into gasoline, and Venezuela has little natural gas of its own. It used to get the concentrates from the US, but has been cut off. So, US sanctions on one country helped undermine US sanctions on another. The US has attempted to stop this trade by engaging in piracy on the high seas and confiscating Iranian tankers, but they have gotten wise and have turned off their satellite communications, making it difficult to track them.

4. Iran has stood its ground. It seems to be forcing the US out of Iraq successfully. Trump just announced all US troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of the year. Tehran will celebrate that it is no longer surrounded by the US military. Iran shows no sign of abandoning its diplomatic and military position in Iraq, Syria or Lebanon. (The Saudis would add Yemen but I don’t think Iran gives any significant amount of money to the Houthi rebels there).

Still, the Iranian currency has collapsed against the dollar, and oil income has fallen from over $100 bn a year to more like $7 bn (non-oil exports are now much larger, over $30 bn a year). The people are under severe economic pressure. The regime is cushioning itself with smuggling to China and Venezuela.

The Trump strangling of Iran could well produce a war. The new sanctions are intended to destroy completely the 2015 nuclear deal, making it impossible for the Europeans to salvage it.

Without that safety valve, a war could be the only response left.

Is Trump attempting to bequeath an Iran conflict to Biden, as a poison pill?

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Juan Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History at the University of Michigan He is author of, among many other books, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace amid the Clash of Empires and The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Follow him on Twitter at @jricole or the Informed Comment Facebook Page

Featured image is from InfoBrics


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.

The World Health Organization has finally confirmed what we (and many experts and studies) have been saying for months – the coronavirus is no more deadly or dangerous than seasonal flu.

The WHO’s top brass made this announcement during a special session of the WHO’s 34-member executive board on Monday October 5th, it’s just nobody seemed to really understand it.

In fact, they didn’t seem to completely understand it themselves.

At the session, Dr Michael Ryan, the WHO’s Head of Emergencies revealed that they believe roughly 10% of the world has been infected with Sars-Cov-2. This is their “best estimate”, and a huge increase over the number of officially recognised cases (around 35 million).

Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, later confirmed the figure, stating it was based on the average results of all the broad seroprevalence studies done around the world.

As much as the WHO were attempting to spin this as a bad thing – Dr Ryan even said it means “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.” – it’s actually good news. And confirms, once more, that the virus is nothing like as deadly as everyone predicted.

The global population is roughly 7.8 billion people, if 10% have been infected that is 780 million cases. The global death toll currently attributed to Sars-Cov-2 infections is 1,061,539.

That’s an infection fatality rate of roughly or 0.14%. Right in line with seasonal flu and the predictions of many experts from all around the world.

0.14% is over 24 times LOWER than the WHO’s “provisional figure” of3.4% back in March. This figure was used in the models which were used to justify lockdowns and other draconian policies.

In fact, given the over-reporting of alleged Covid deaths, the IFR is likely even lower than 0.14%, and could show Covid to be much less dangerous than flu.

None of the mainstream press picked up on this. Though many outlets reported Dr Ryan’s words, they all attempted to make it a scary headline and spread more panic.

Apparently neither they, nor the WHO, were capable of doing the simple maths that shows us this is good news. And that the Covid sceptics have been right all along.

UPDATE 9/10/20: In the interest of thoroughness, a desire to rely on primary sources, and not depending purely on mainstream sources (which may remove or amend articles), I decided to find the actual video of Dr Ryan’s remarks.

For some reason, although this was an important WHO meeting during an allegedly hyper-serious pandemic, the video is hard to find. The only place you are able to see it is the WHO’s own website, and even then you have to scrub through almost 6 hours of footage. Well, I did that, and you are welcome.

You can’t embed the WHO’s stream, but I can tell you to go to this page, click “Session 1” and skip to 1:01:33 to hear the exact quote:

Our current best estimates tell us that about ten percent of the global population may have been infected by this virus. This varies depending on country, it varies from urban to rural, it varies between different groups.”

I will work on getting an audio clip, for ease of sharing and to make sure it does not get memory holed.

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Back on the Stairway to Heaven: Led Zeppelin Wins Over Spirit

October 12th, 2020 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

In March, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeal upheld an original jury finding that Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven did not infringe copyright in Spirit’s 1968 song Taurus.  Michael Skidmore, who had filed the suit in 2014 as trustee of the estate of the late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, was hoping that the US Supreme Court would take time to hear, and hopefully reverse the decision.  The highest court in the US refused to bite.

Wolfe, known professionally as Randy California, wrote Taurus somewhere between 1966 and 1967.  On composing the song, Wolfe’s publisher armoured Taurus with copyright protection as an unpublished work, though such protection was superficial chainmail rather than full breast plating. Stairway to Heaven, the durable, seemingly ageless fruit of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, was released in 1974 on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album.  That particular song has caused spasms of delight and swooning, along with much reverential acknowledgment in guitar land over the years.  But it has also given much carrion to the legal eagles.  It was a sign that music, as with much else intellectual and even spiritually motivated, could be the subject of a battle to match other lengthy human conflicts. 

The jury in the original district court trial found in special interrogatories that the trust owned Taurus, and that Led Zeppelin had access to it. This did not lead them to conclude that the songs were substantially similar.  Led Zeppelin had argued that any similarities between the songs were for those elements not protected by copyright law; the plaintiffs argued that the “selection and arrangement” of those elements was.   

The outcome at first instance did not deter Skidmore, who took the case to a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit.  Initially, success.  The decision was vacated in September 2018 and a new trial ordered.  Both parties then petitioned for a review of the decision by all the judges of the Ninth Circuit.  This highly unusual request was granted, with an en banc rehearing taking place on September 23, 2019.

Image on the right: Led Zeppelin

Led Zep to release Immigrant Song single in 2021 | Louder

The decision to revisit the case was not universally condemned, though reversing jury verdicts tends to cause more than raised eyebrows.  For one, it resembled, in reverse, the outcome of the Blurred Lines case, where the jury’s flawed conclusion was not deemed worthy of adjustment by the Ninth Circuit.  Copyright lawyer Rick Sanders, writing for Techdirt, noted the “unhelpful legal framework for determining copyright infringement” that had marked the original ruling on Taurus

That framework included an awkward creature of law known as the “inverse ratio rule,” which holds that the greater the similarity between two works, the less proof of access is needed.  Embraced by the Ninth Circuit in 1977, the rule can also be put this way: “the stronger the evidence of access, the less compelling the similarities between the two works need be in order to give rise to an inference of copying.” 

How it is applied is critical.  The “bad framework,” as Sanders suggests, involves proving that the defendant has access to the copyrighted work and “substantial similarity” between those works.  The preferable framework is one where the plaintiff must prove “copying” and “unlawful appropriation”.  To prove the former, access and “probative similarity” must be shown.  Unlawful appropriation amounts to substantial similarity, but probative similarity comes closer to an accurate yardstick than that of “substantial similarity”.

The original district court decision could also be said to be defective on the issue of the jury instructions.  This was less a case of misdirection than no direction at all, rendering it incomplete and sloppy.  What was the jury to make, for instance, of how to approach “works made up of unprotectable elements”?  The issue was never put by the judge.

The en banc ruling restored the original district court’s decision favouring Led Zeppelin.  Significant was the less than ceremonious burying of the inverse ratio rule.  It thrilled lawyers of copyright law, as well as it might have.  Brian Murphy was delighted that attorneys specialising in the field were finally provided with “greater clarity … about the standards for providing copyright infringement.”

The full complement of judges, in training their daggers upon the inverse ratio rule, noted the “confusion about when to apply the rule and the amount of access and similarity needed to invoke it.”  They noted how dealing with the rule had been a struggle, mocked and rejected in the Second Circuit as early as 1961 for being a “superficially attractive apophthegm which upon examination confuses more than it clarifies”.  It was illogical, even nonsensical.  It did not follow that more access “increases the likelihood of copying.”

The judges also noted that the very concept of access had been “increasingly diluted in our digitally interconnected world.  Access is often proved by the wide dissemination of the copyrighted work.”  The very “ubiquity of the ways to access media online, from YouTube to subscription services like Netflix and Spotify, access may be established by a trivial showing that the world is available on demand.”  The inverse ratio rule unfairly advantaged “those whose work is most accessible by lowering the standard of proof for similarity.”

The slaying of the rule did not mean that “access cannot serve as circumstantial evidence of actual copying in all cases.” Evidence of access and probative similarity were still elements to prove in instances of actual copying.

The en banc court also held that the scope of copyright protection for an unpublished work lies in the deposit copy filed with the Copyright Office that forms the copyright application.  The dry wording of Section 11 of the Copyright Act of 1909 states that copyright for an unpublished work is obtained “by the deposit, with claim of copyright, of one complete copy of such work if it be a … musical composition”.  “The purpose of the deposit,” and the fact of the work’s completeness, served to give, the judges claimed, “notice to third parties, and prevent confusion about the scope of the copyright.” 

Central to this was a specific idiosyncrasy adopted by the Copyright Office.  Sheet music, not sound recordings, were accepted as deposit copies.  Somewhat barer, thinner things, such sheets often constitute skeletal matter yet to receive flesh.  When Tauruswas registered, the Copyright Office had in place a practice for applications registering unpublished musical compositions by “writ[ing] to the applicant pointing out that protection extends only to the material actually deposited, and suggesting that in his own interest he develop his manuscript to supply the missing element.”

The consequence of this was significant and, from Skidmore’s perspective, gloomily decisive.  The eight-measure passage commencing the deposit copy of Taurus allegedly infringed by Led Zeppelin is a less fed, extravagant creature than the sound recording released by Spirit.  The deposit copy, not the recording, defined the “four corners of the Taurus copyright”.  The judges accepted that the district court had not erred in declining “Skidmore’s request to play the sound recordings of the Taurusperformance that contain further embellishments or to admit the recordings on the issue of substantial similarity.”

On receiving the deflating news from the Supreme Court, Skidmore’s legal team was more than bruised. “The ‘Court of Appeals for the Hollywood Circuit’ has finally given Hollywood exactly what it has always wanted: a copyright test which it cannot lose.”  Portraying himself as hero fighting major industry defendants and their predatory instincts, Skidmore is adamant about the consequences.  “The proverbial canary in the coal mine has died; it remains to be seen if the miners have noticed.”

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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]

Global Research brings you a selection of three books that help give some context to the current state of the world and the power dynamics that got us here. Unfortunately, these books remain rather relevant, if not more so than at their time of publication…

 

 

The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order

By Michel Chossudovsky

Year: 2003

376 pages

ISBN: 9780973714708

List Price: $27.95 / Special Price: $19.00

In this expanded edition of Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skillful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this new enlarged edition – which includes ten new chapters and a new introduction — the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalisation.

Click here to order in Print format

Special Offer: Globalization of War + Globalization of Poverty (Buy 2 books for 1 price!) 

Click here to order in PDF format


The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

By Michel Chossudovsky

Year: 2015

240 pages

ISBN: 9780973714760

List Price: $24.95 / Special Price: $15.00

America’s hegemonic project in the post 9/11 era is the “Globalization of War” whereby the U.S.-NATO military machine —coupled with covert intelligence operations, economic sanctions and the thrust of “regime change”— is deployed in all major regions of the world. The threat of pre-emptive nuclear war is also used to black-mail countries into submission.

This “Long War against Humanity” is carried out at the height of the most serious economic crisis in modern history.

It is intimately related to a process of global financial restructuring, which has resulted in the collapse of national economies and the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

The ultimate objective is World conquest under the cloak of “human rights” and “Western democracy”.

Click here to order in Print format

Special Offer: Globalization of War + Globalization of Poverty (Buy 2 books for 1 price!) 

Click here to order in PDF format


Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

By F. William Engdahl

Year: 2007

341 pages

ISBN: 978093714722

List Price: $25.95 / Special Price: $18.00

This skilfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO. Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Engdahl’s carefully argued critique goes far beyond the familiar controversies surrounding the practice of genetic modification as a scientific technique. The book is an eye-opener, a must-read for all those committed to the causes of social justice and world peace.

Click here to order in Print format

Click here to order in PDF format


Visit our online store to browse the rest of our great book titles:

Click here to see a list of our special offers on combined 2-book purchases

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The Trump administration tightened the noose further around Iran’s beleaguered economy on Thursday, October 8, announcing a fresh round of sanctions that will effectively shut the country out of the global financial system.

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on eighteen major Iranian banks in one of the most extensive such moves by Washington against Tehran in months. The order will also penalize non-Iranian institutions trading with them, effectively cutting the banks off from the international financial system.

Significantly, the sanctions also target foreign companies that do business with the banks, giving them 45 days to cease such activities or face “third-party sanctions.”

“The United States expects all U.N, member states to fully comply with their obligations to implement these measures,” Mike Pompeo announced in September. “If UN member states fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity.”

It’s noteworthy that the Iran sanctions that were lifted in 2015 after the signing of JCPOA were “third-party sanctions,” implying that any state or business organization doing business with Iran wouldn’t be able to engage in commercial activities with the US government and commercial enterprises based in the US.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has kept his statements deliberately ambiguous in order to fill the gaps in his Iran policy. On the one hand, he made an electoral promise to consider restoring the Iran nuclear deal if elected, but on the other, he tweeted in June last year: “Make no mistake: Iran continues to be a bad actor that abuses human rights and supports terrorist activities throughout the region.

“What we need is presidential leadership that will take strategic action to counter the Iranian threat, restore America’s standing in the world, recognize the value of principled diplomacy, and strengthen our nation and our security by working strategically with our allies.”

Nevertheless, even if we assume Biden is sincere in restoring the nuclear pact, considering the influence of Zionist lobbies in Washington, that forced Trump to abandon the deal in May 2018, Biden would find it impossible to follow through on his bombastic electoral rhetoric with tangible policy decisions.

Donald Trump has repeatedly said in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential elections and during the four years of his presidency that the Iran nuclear deal, signed by the Obama administration in 2015, was an “unfair deal” that gave concessions to Iran without giving anything in return to the US.

Unfortunately, there is a grain of truth in Trump’s statements because the Obama administration signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran in July 2015 under pressure, as Washington had bungled in its Middle East policy and it wanted Iran’s cooperation in Syria and Iraq to get a face-saving.

In order to understand how the Obama administration bungled in Syria and Iraq, we should bear the background of Washington’s Middle East policy during the recent years in mind. The nine-year conflict in Syria that gave birth to myriads of militant groups, including the Islamic State, and after the conflict spilled across the border into neighboring Iraq in early 2014 was directly responsible for the spate of Islamic State-inspired terror attacks in Europe from 2015 to 2017.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in August 2011 to June 2014, when the Islamic State overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq, an informal pact existed between the Western powers, their regional allies and jihadists of the Middle East against the Iranian resistance axis. In accordance with the pact, militants were trained and armed in the training camps located in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan to battle the Syrian government.

This arrangement of an informal pact between the Western powers and the jihadists of the Middle East against the Iran-allied forces worked well up to August 2014, when the Obama Administration made a volte-face on its previous regime change policy in Syria and began conducting air strikes against one group of militants battling the Syrian government, the Islamic State, after the latter overstepped its mandate in Syria and overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq from where the US had withdrawn its troops only a couple of years ago in December 2011.

After this reversal of policy in Syria by the Western powers and the subsequent Russian military intervention on the side of the Syrian government in September 2015, the momentum of jihadists’ expansion in Syria and Iraq stalled, and they felt that their Western patrons had committed a treachery against the jihadists’ cause, hence they were infuriated and rose up in arms to exact revenge for this betrayal.

If we look at the chain of events, the timing of the spate of terror attacks against the West was critical: the Islamic State overran Mosul in June 2014, the Obama Administration began conducting air strikes against the Islamic State’s targets in Iraq and Syria in August 2014, and after a lull of almost a decade since the horrific Madrid and London bombings in 2004 and 2005, respectively, the first such incident of terrorism occurred on the Western soil at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.

Then the Islamic State carried out the audacious November 2015 Paris attacks, the March 2016 Brussels bombings, the June 2016 truck-ramming incident in Nice, and three horrific terror attacks took place in the United Kingdom within a span of less than three months in 2017, and after that the Islamic State carried out the Barcelona attack in August 2017, and then another truck-ramming atrocity occurred in Lower Manhattan in October 2017 that was also claimed by the Islamic State.

Keeping this background of the quagmire created by the Obama administration in Syria and Iraq in mind, it becomes amply clear that the Obama administration desperately needed Iran’s cooperation in Syria and Iraq to salvage its botched policy of training and arming jihadists to topple the government Bashar al-Assad in Syria that backfired and gave birth to the Islamic State that carried out some of the most audacious terror attacks in Europe from 2015 to 2017.

Thus, Washington signed JCPOA in July 2015 that gave some concessions to Iran, and in return, former hardliner Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki was forced out of power in September 2014 with Iran’s tacit approval and moderate former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was appointed in his stead who gave permission to the US Air Force and ground troops to assist the Iraqi Armed Forces and allied militias to beat back the Islamic State from Mosul and Anbar.

The Iran nuclear deal, however, was neither an international treaty under the American laws nor even an executive agreement. It was simply categorized as a “political commitment.” Due to the influence of Zionist lobbies in Washington, the opposition to the JCPOA in the American political discourse was so vehement that forget about having it passed through the US Congress, the task the Obama administration faced was to muster enough votes of dissident Democrats to defeat a resolution of disapproval so that it couldn’t override a presidential veto.

The Trump administration, however, was not hampered by the legacy of Obama administration and since the objective of defeating the Islamic State had already been achieved in October 2017, therefore Washington felt safe to unilaterally annul the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s behest, and the crippling “third-party sanctions” have once again been put in place on Iran’s oil and financial sectors.

Another impediment to restoring the Iran nuclear deal is its ballistic missile technology. If Biden is to restore the Iran nuclear deal after being elected president, he would have to renegotiate the pact to also include Iran’s ballistic missile program alongside its nuclear program, which Tehran regards as a “strategic deterrence” against its regional foes and hence off the table.

Washington’s principal objective in Syria’s proxy war was ensuring Israel’s regional security. The United States Defense Intelligence Agency’s declassified report [1] of 2012 clearly spelled out the imminent rise of a Salafist principality in northeastern Syria – in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor which were occupied by the Islamic State until October 2017 – in the event of an outbreak of a civil war in Syria.

Under pressure from the Zionist lobbies in Washington, however, the Obama administration deliberately suppressed the report and also overlooked the view in general that a proxy war in Syria would give birth to radical Islamic jihadists.

The hawks in Washington were fully aware of the consequences of their actions in Syria, but they kept pursuing the ill-fated policy of nurturing militants in the training camps located in Syria’s border regions with Turkey and Jordan in order to weaken the anti-Zionist Bashar al-Assad government.

The single biggest threat to Israel’s regional security was posed by the Iranian resistance axis, which is comprised of Iran, Syria and their Lebanon-based surrogate, Hezbollah. During the course of 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah fired hundreds of rockets into northern Israel and Israel’s defense community realized for the first time the nature of threat that Hezbollah posed to Israel’s regional security.

Those were only unguided rockets but it was a wakeup call for Israel’s military strategists that what would happen if Iran passed the guided missile technology to Hezbollah whose area of operations lies very close to the northern borders of Israel.

Therefore, the Zionist lobbies in Washington persuaded the Obama administration, of which Biden was the vice president, to orchestrate a proxy war against Damascus and its Lebanon-based surrogate Hezbollah in order to dismantle the Iranian resistance axis against Israel.

Over the years, Israel has not only provided medical aid and material support to the militant groups battling Damascus – particularly to various factions of the Free Syria Army (FSA) and al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front in Daraa and Quneitra bordering the Israel-occupied Golan Heights – but Israel’s air force has virtually played the role of the air force of Syrian militants and conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Syria during the nine-year conflict.

In an interview to New York Times [2] in January last year, Israel’s outgoing Chief of Staff Lt. General Gadi Eisenkot confessed that the Netanyahu government approved his recommendations in January 2017 to step up airstrikes in Syria. Consequently, more than 200 Israeli airstrikes were launched against the Syrian targets in 2017 and 2018, as revealed [3] by the Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz in September 2018.

In 2018 alone, Israel’s air force dropped 2,000 bombs in Syria. The purpose of Israeli airstrikes in Syria has been to degrade Iran’s guided missile technology provided to Damascus and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, which poses an existential threat to Israel’s regional security.

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] The United States Defense Intelligence Agency’s declassified report of 2012:

http://levantreport.com/2015/05/19/2012-defense-intelligence-agency-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-regime/

[2] An interview with Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Israel’s chief of staff:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/opinion/gadi-eisenkot-israel-iran-syria.html

[3] Israel Katz: Israel conducted 200 airstrikes in Syria in 2017 and 2018:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/benjamin-netanyahu-admits-israel-to-blame-for-damascus-strikes-1.812590

Featured image is from American Herald Tribune


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.

The Great Barrington Declaration

October 12th, 2020 by Dr Martin Kulldorff

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. 

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

On October 4, 2020, this declaration was authored and signed in Great Barrington, United States, by:

Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist with expertise in detecting and monitoring of infectious disease outbreaks and vaccine safety evaluations.

Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, vaccine development, and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician, epidemiologist, health economist, and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations.

Co-Signers 

Medical and Public Health Scientists and Medical Practitioners

Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, physician, epidemiologist and public policy expert at the Veterans Administration, USA

Dr. Stephen Bremner,professor of medical statistics, University of Sussex, England

Dr. Anthony J Brookes, professor of genetics, University of Leicester, England

Dr. Helen Colhoun, ,professor of medical informatics and epidemiology, and public health physician, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Dr. Angus Dalgleish, oncologist, infectious disease expert and professor, St. George’s Hospital Medical School, University of London, England

Dr. Sylvia Fogel, autism expert and psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School, USA

Dr. Eitan Friedman, professor of medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Dr. Uri Gavish, biomedical consultant, Israel

Dr. Motti Gerlic, professor of clinical microbiology and immunology, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Dr. Gabriela Gomes, mathematician studying infectious disease epidemiology, professor, University of Strathclyde, Scotland

Dr. Mike Hulme, professor of human geography, University of Cambridge, England

Dr. Michael Jackson, research fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Dr. Annie Janvier, professor of pediatrics and clinical ethics, Université de Montréal and Sainte-Justine University Medical Centre, Canada

Dr. David Katz, physician and president, True Health Initiative, and founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, USA

Dr. Andrius Kavaliunas, epidemiologist and assistant professor at Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Dr. Laura Lazzeroni, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of biomedical data science, Stanford University Medical School, USA

Dr. Michael Levitt, biophysicist and professor of structural biology, Stanford University, USA.
Recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Dr. David Livermore, microbiologist, infectious disease epidemiologist and professor, University of East Anglia, England

Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson, pediatrician, epidemiologist and professor at Karolinska Institute and senior physician at Örebro University Hospital, Sweden

Dr. Paul McKeigue, physician, disease modeler and professor of epidemiology and public health, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Dr. Cody Meissner, professor of pediatrics, expert on vaccine development, efficacy, and safety. Tufts University School of Medicine, USA

Dr. Ariel Munitz, professor of clinical microbiology and immunology, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Dr. Yaz Gulnur Muradoglu, professor of finance, director of the Behavioural Finance Working Group, Queen Mary University of London, England

Dr. Partha P. Majumder, professor and founder of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani, India

Dr. Udi Qimron, professor of clinical microbiology and immunology, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Dr. Matthew Ratcliffe, professor of philosophy, specializing in philosophy of mental health, University of York, England

Dr. Mario Recker, malaria researcher and associate professor, University of Exeter, England

Dr. Eyal Shahar, physician, epidemiologist and professor (emeritus) of public health, University of Arizona, USA

Dr. Karol Sikora MA, physician, oncologist, and professor of medicine at the University of Buckingham, England

Dr. Matthew Strauss, critical care physician and assistant professor of medicine, Queen’s University, Canada

Dr. Rodney Sturdivant, infectious disease scientist and associate professor of biostatistics, Baylor University, USA

Dr. Simon Thornley, epidemiologist and biostatistician, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Dr. Ellen Townsend, professor of psychology, head of the Self-Harm Research Group, University of Nottingham, England

Dr. Lisa White, professor of modelling and epidemiology, Oxford University, England

Dr. Simon Wood, biostatistician and professor, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today announced it will deny protections for the rare and elusive wolverine under the Endangered Species Act, prompting a coalition of conservation groups to announce an intent to sue.

“Recent scientific information makes clear that wolverines face threats from destruction of their snowy habitat due to climate change,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso. “We intend to take action to make sure that the Trump administration’s disregard of the real impacts of climate change does not doom the wolverine to extinction in the lower-48 states.”

With fewer than 300 wolverines left in the contiguous United States, there is no justification for the FWS’ decision to deny protection. Listing wolverines as threatened or endangered would trigger new, badly needed conservation efforts.

Earthjustice will represent a coalition of conservation groups — the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Clearwater, Idaho Conservation League, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and Rocky Mountain Wild.

“It’s outrageous that the Fish and Wildlife Service has again shrugged off the science showing that wolverines are in trouble and desperately need federal protection,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s sad that after years of inaction, we need to go to court again to ensure wolverines get the protections they need before it’s too late.”

“The wolverines in the Clearwater Basin are in particular trouble, in part, because the Forest Service allows snowmobile use in prime wolverine habitat,” said Gary Macfarlane, with Friends of the Clearwater. “With climate change and preliminary indications that the Forest Service could open up even more wolverine habitat to winter motorized use could spell doom for wolverines in north-central Idaho.”

“Wolverine are rare, wide-ranging carnivores of the high wild country facing growing threats from climate change and winter recreation,” said Dave Werntz, Science and Conservation Director at Conservation Northwest. “Wolverine deserve federal protection and the associated resources and recovery actions to ensure a future for wolverine in the Pacific Northwest.”

“Once again, the federal government has failed the wolverine,” said Brad Smith, North Idaho Director, Idaho Conservation League. Without critically needed conservation efforts that a threatened or endangered listing would trigger, we fear that future generations of Idahoans will never be lucky enough to see the rare and sensitive wolverine.”

“Climate change and habitat fragmentation have not magically disappeared, but in fact continue to push wolverines in the Lower 48 to the brink,” said Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains program director at Defenders of Wildlife. “With this decision, the Fish and Wildlife Service has abandoned its moral and legal obligation to protect these animals, but we will not abandon our ongoing effort to see them legally protected.”

“Now more than ever, we need to speak the truth about the health of our ecosystem and wildlife,” said Skye Schell, Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. “It is past time for our government to formally recognize the severe threats that wolverines face, and then to take action to protect this rare and significant species. Wolverines embody the spirit of the wild that is in danger from ever-increasing human impacts, and this may be our last chance to maintain a healthy wolverine population for future generations.”

Background

Wolverines, the largest land-dwelling members of the weasel family, once roamed across the northern tier of the United States and as far south as New Mexico in the Rockies and Southern California in the Sierra Nevada range. After more than a century of trapping and habitat loss, wolverines in the Lower 48 today exist only as small, fragmented populations in Idaho, Montana, Washington, Wyoming, and northeast Oregon.

In the wolverine’s last strongholds, the species is at direct risk from climate change. Wolverines depend on areas with deep snow through late spring. Pregnant females dig their dens into this snowpack to birth and raise their young. Snowpack is already in decline in the western mountains, a trend that is predicted to worsen with a warming climate.

Wolverine populations are also at risk from traps, human disturbance, habitat fragmentation, and extremely low population numbers resulting in low genetic diversity. Without new conservation efforts the dangers faced by wolverines threaten remaining populations with localized extinctions and inbreeding.

Recognizing these threats and the need for new protection measures, conservation groups petitioned to list the wolverine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2000. For two decades, the Fish and Wildlife Service has time and again delayed and obstructed the proposed wolverine listing. These tactics have required public advocates for the wolverine to repeatedly turn to the courts for enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. Earthjustice and the groups it represents have won every case they have filed on behalf of the wolverine, either through judicial rulings in their favor or through favorable settlement agreements.

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Featured image is by Barney Moss/Flickr

Malaysia: A Clear Direction for the Present

October 12th, 2020 by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

Malaysians at this moment are concerned about two different types of numbers. The overwhelming majority are worried about the recent spike in Covid 19 infections and the increase in the number of related deaths. There is a much smaller segment of the population that is focussed upon the number of members of Parliament that the leader of the Opposition Anwar Ibrahim can mobilise in his bid to oust current Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and seize the post for himself.

If Covid deaths in Malaysia are small compared to many other countries, the impact of the coronavirus upon lives and livelihoods has been devastating. It has increased the destitution of the poor and vulnerable in our midst. In contrast, Anwar’s pursuit of numbers is linked to one man’s obsessive ambition to become Prime Minister. It is an obsession that has expressed itself on other occasions in the last 22 years. In 1998 he sought to undermine then UMNO president and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad through certain unscrupulous party functionaries when the nation was facing a massive financial and economic crisis.  In 2008, he attempted to topple the elected government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi through an unsuccessful bid to engineer cross-overs in parliament though Abdullah’s  Barisan coalition was just 8 seats short of a two-thirds majority. Today, he is trying again encouraged by the fact that Muhyiddin has only a razor thin majority in Parliament. However, he forgets that Muhyiddin is widely perceived as a leader who has managed Malaysia’s  twin health and economic crises with a sincere heart and a steady hand.

For Anwar and his supporters, Muhyuddin still lacks legitimacy because he had set aside his partners in the Pakatan Harapan government and instead teamed up with their foe, namely UMNO. While all these manoeuvres were not illegal, they continue to raise ethical issues. But how can these ethical issues be resolved if Anwar is now willing to collude with tarnished characters in UMNO in order to get rid of Muhyiddin and become Prime Minister ? It is not through morally questionable moves that one will be able to restore integrity to the political process.

Perhaps it is only through a general election that one can re-set the moral barometer. But after what has happened in Sabah, one has every reason to be apprehensive about a general election and how it could lead to an explosion of Covid  cases.  If it is judicious to avoid a general election, then what other avenues are available to ensure that there is a degree of stability in the political system?

One, the Conference of Rulers an entity which commands constitutional authority should at a time like this play a much more active role. As a collective institution it should not only advise and guide the legislature and the Cabinet but also ensure that political actors do not deviate from their entrusted responsibilities. In fact the King and individual Sultans have on a few occasions asked political leaders to concentrate upon the Covid and economic crises and not get embroiled in the constant pursuit of political power.

Two, in concrete terms, the Conference of Rulers could persuade the government and the opposition at both federal and state levels to establish a mechanism that would enable them to cooperate closely in finding solutions to the Covid and economic challenges. Genuine, sincere cooperation between the two could even result in more effective measures especially in the economy which would bring significant benefits to the people.

Three, such cooperation should lead to a situation where the leader of the government, the Prime Minister, and the leader of the Opposition are concerned solely with fulfilling their duties, undertaking their amanah, rather than undermining each other. The well-being of the people — not their own self-serving interests — would be their overriding passion.

Four, their commitment to the people would translate into policies and laws in the next few months which seek to curb certain unsavoury practices which have been detrimental to the national interest. For instance a law to curb ‘party hopping’ which some legislators are working on should be expedited. Similarly, the proposal to create an ‘ Ombudsman, first mooted in the early seventies,  which will endow  the office with autonomous powers to investigate and act against wrongdoings  that have not received due attention from the government department or agency concerned, should be prioritised without delay.

Five, the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara should also as soon as possible adopt resolutions that will re-affirm the clarion call of the Conference of Rulers to adhere to the 5 Aspirations and the 5 Principles of the Rukunegara as the “ moral compass” of the nation made on the 10th of October 2017. Given the prevailing atmosphere, the Aspirations and Principles serve as laudable guidelines.

If the five proposals made here and other similar ideas are implemented within the next 6 to 9 months, it is quite conceivable that the nation will be able to concentrate upon tackling the Covid challenge and the current economic woes. We would also be able to devote our time, energy and efforts towards implementing the 2021 Budget and adopting the 12th Malaysia Plan early next year. The nation will not be distracted by unproductive politics.

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Dr Chandra Muzaffar has been writing about Malaysian politics since the early seventies. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

First published by Global Research on September 24, 2020

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

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

In an interview last week Dr. Yeadon was asked:

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

Dr. Yeadon answered with a simple “yes.”

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

Yeadon said in the interview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the scientific paper, Yeadon et al write:

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

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

The scientists write:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The authors say:

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

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

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

The False Positive Second Wave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Made in China

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

Second Waves of Coronaviruses Not Normal

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

In the case of the MERS:

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

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

Saudi and Korea Waves of MERS Coronavirus

Saudi and Korea Waves of MERS Coronavirus

Lockdowns Don’t Work

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

They say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweden During International "Lockdowns"

Sweden During International “Lockdowns”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woodstock 1969

Woodstock 1969

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Ironically, while three US presidents have been accused of impeaching the Constitution for relatively minor offenses, including Bill Clinton for perjury and Donald Trump for using political influence to discredit opponents, no US president has ever been charged, let alone convicted, of waging devastating wars of aggression.

Unless impeachment proceedings are initiated against war criminals, including George Bush and Dick Cheney for invading Afghanistan and Iraq and Barack Obama and Joe Biden for waging proxy wars in Libya and Syria, the impeachment provisions in the US Constitution would serve as nothing more than a convenient tool for settling political scores.

The fact is not only the domestic law enforcement and judicial systems of the Western powers but also international institutions, such as International Criminal Court, have been used as tools of perception management for solely prosecuting alleged “war criminals” of former Yugoslavia and impoverished African nations and real war criminals have never been prosecuted for the crimes of destroying entire nations with their militarism and interventionism.

Before being elected as Obama’s vice president in 2008, as a longtime senator from Delaware and subsequently as the member and then the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, alongside inveterate hawk Senator Joe Lieberman, was one of the principal architects of the Bosnia War in the Clinton administration in the nineties.

Reflecting on first black American president Barack Obama’s memorable 2008 presidential campaign, with little-known senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, as his running-mate, Glenn Kessler wrote for the Washington Post [1] in October 2008:

“The moment when Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. looked Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the eye and called him a ‘damned war criminal’ has become the stuff of campaign legend.

“The Democratic vice presidential nominee brings up the 1993 confrontation on the campaign trial to whoops of delight from supporters. Senator Barack Obama mentioned it when he announced he had chosen Biden as his running mate.

“During vice presidential debate with his counterpart on the Republican ticket, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Biden twice gave himself credit for shifting US policy on Bosnia. The senator from Delaware declared that he ‘was the catalyst to change the circumstance in Bosnia led by President Clinton.’ At another point he noted: ‘My recommendations on Bosnia — I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives.’”

Instead of “saving tens of thousands of lives,” the devastating Yugoslav Wars in the nineties in the aftermath of the break-up of the former Soviet Union and then the former Yugoslavia claimed over 130,000 fatalities, created a humanitarian crisis and unleashed a flood of millions of refugees for which nobody is to blame but the Clinton administration’s militarist policy of subjugating and forcibly integrating East European states into the Western capitalist bloc.

Regarding Washington’s modus operandi of waging proxy wars in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, since the times of the Soviet-Afghan jihad during the eighties, it has been the fail-safe game plan of master strategists at NATO to raise money [2] from the oil-rich emirates of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait; then buy billions of dollars’ worth of weapons from the arms markets [3] in the Eastern Europe; and then provide those weapons and guerilla warfare training to the disaffected population of the victim country by using the intelligence agencies of the latter’s regional adversaries. Whether it’s Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Libya or Syria, the same playbook was executed to the letter.

Raising funds for proxy wars from the Gulf Arab States allows the Western executives the freedom to evade congressional scrutiny; the benefit of buying weapons from unregulated arms markets of the Eastern Europe is that such weapons cannot be traced back to the Western capitals; and using jihadist proxies to achieve strategic objectives has the advantage of taking the plea of “plausible deniability” if the strategy backfires, which it often does. Remember that al-Qaeda and Taliban were the by-products of the Soviet-Afghan jihad, and the Islamic State and its global network of terrorists were the blowback of the proxy war in Syria.

Nevertheless, smugly oblivious to the death and destruction caused by Washington’s global domination agenda, national security shill Glenn Kessler further noted in the aforementioned Washington Post article:

“Biden focused on deficiencies in US policy toward Bosnia, he called for NATO expansion before it became fashionable and most recently prodded the Bush administration to back a $1 billion package to rebuild Georgia after the Russian invasion.

“As the incident with Milosevic shows, Biden is hardly shy about emphasizing his own role in world affairs. Biden’s book portrays him frequently confronting Clinton and bucking him up on Bosnia when the president had doubts about his own policy. But the hard legislative work was left to others. Biden did take an early stab at prodding action, writing an amendment in 1992 — opposed by George H.W. Bush’s administration — that authorized spending $50 million to arm the Bosnian Muslims.

“In April 1993, Biden spent a week traveling in the Balkans, meeting with key officials, including a three-hour session with Milosevic. The trip was detailed in 15 pages of the senator’s autobiography.

“By all accounts, the meeting was tense. Milosevic spent a lot of time poring over maps and expressing concerns with peace proposals crafted by a group of international mediators. Milosevic denied he had much influence over the Bosnian Serbs, but then immediately summoned Radovan Karadzic, their leader, with a curt phone call.

“According to Biden’s book, Milosevic asked the senator what he thought of him. ‘I think you’re a damn war criminal and you should be tried as one,’ Biden said he shot back. Milosevic, he said, did not react.

“Upon his return to the United States, Biden issued a 36-page report on the trip, laying out eight policy proposals, including airstrikes on Serb artillery and lifting the arms embargo on Bosnian Muslims.

“Biden continued to make fiery statements on Bosnia, demanding action. Richard C. Holbrooke recalled that when he was nominated as assistant secretary of state for Europe in late 1994, Biden ‘in no uncertain terms made it clear to me that the policy on Bosnia had to change and he would make sure it did. He believed in action, and history proved him right.’

“’When you look back, Senator Biden got Bosnia right earlier than anyone. He understood that a combination of force and diplomacy would revive American leadership and avoid a disaster in Europe,’ said James P. Rubin, a Biden aide at the time who later became spokesman for Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.”

It’s pertinent to mention that though touted as a “collective defense pact,” the trans-Atlantic military alliance NATO and its corollary economic alliance European Union were conceived during the Cold War to offset political and economic influence of the former Soviet Union which was geographically adjacent to Europe.

Historically, the NATO military alliance at least ostensibly was conceived as a defensive alliance in 1949 during the Cold War in order to offset conventional warfare superiority of the former Soviet Union. The US forged collective defense pact with the Western European nations after the Soviet Union reached the threshold to build its first atomic bomb in 1949 and achieved nuclear parity with the US.

But the trans-Atlantic military alliance has outlived its purpose following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and is now being used as an aggressive and expansionist military alliance meant to browbeat and coerce the Central and Eastern European states to join NATO and its corollary economic alliance, the European Union, or risk international isolation.

It was not a coincidence that the Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991 and the Maastricht Treaty that consolidated the European Community and laid the groundwork for the European Union was signed in February 1992.

The basic purpose of the EU has been nothing more than to entice the former communist states of the Eastern and Central Europe into the folds of the Western capitalist bloc by offering financial incentives and inducements, particularly in the form of foreign direct investment and grants and loans to the tune of billions of dollars, and by abolishing internal border checks in the common European market, allowing free movement of workers from Eastern European nations seeking employment in prosperous Western European economies.

Naively giving credit to former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden for his supposed “humanitarian interventionism” and for creating a catastrophe in the Balkans in the nineties, Paul Richter and Noam N. Levey, writing for the LA Times [4] in August 2008, observed:

“Biden has frequently favored humanitarian interventions abroad and was an early and influential advocate for the US military action in the Balkans in the 1990s.

“Biden considers his most important foreign policy accomplishment to be his leadership on the Balkans in the mid-1990s. He pushed a reluctant Clinton administration first to arm Serbian Muslims and then to use U.S. air power to suppress conflict in Serbia and Kosovo.

“In his book, ‘Promises to Keep,’ Biden calls this one of his two ‘proudest moments in public life,’ along with the Violence Against Women Act that he championed.

“In 1998, he worked with McCain on a resolution to push the Clinton administration to use all available force to confront Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, a move designed to force the president to use ground troops if necessary against Serb forces in the former Yugoslavia, which was beset by fighting and ethnic cleansing.

“In addition, Biden, who claims close relationships with many foreign leaders, has demonstrated a readiness to cooperate with Senate Republicans in search of compromise — a trait that meshes with Obama’s pledge to reduce the level of partisan conflict and stalemate in Washington.

“He has called his new adversary, presumed Republican presidential nominee in the 2008 elections, Senator John McCain of Arizona, a ‘personal and close friend.’”

Birds of a feather flock together. Not only did Joe Biden collaborate with Joe Lieberman in the Clinton administration to create a humanitarian crisis in the Balkans in the nineties but he also shared the hawkish ideology of late Senator John McCain.

Though a decorated Vietnam War veteran who died battling cancer in 2018, McCain was a highly polarizing figure as a senator and was regarded by many Leftists as an inveterate neocon hawk, who vociferously exhorted Western military interventions not only in the Balkans in the nineties but also in Libya and Syria in 2011.

McCain was a vocal supporter of the 2011 military intervention in Libya. In April 2011, he visited the anti-Gaddafi forces and National Transitional Council in eastern Libyan city Benghazi, the highest-ranking American to do so, and said that the rebel forces were “my heroes.”

Regarding Syria’s proxy war that began in 2011, McCain repeatedly argued for the US intervening militarily in the conflict on the side of the anti-government forces. He staged a visit to rebel forces inside Syria in May 2013, the first senator to do so, and called for arming the Free Syrian Army with heavy weapons and for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria.

Following reports that two of the terrorists he posed for pictures with had been responsible for the kidnapping of eleven Lebanese Shia pilgrims the year before, McCain disputed one of the identifications and said he had not met directly with the other.

In the aftermath of a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Ghouta in 2013, McCain vehemently argued for strong American military action against the government of Bashar al-Assad, and in September 2013, cast a Foreign Relations Committee vote in favor of then-President Obama’s request to Congress that it authorize a military response, though the crisis was amicably resolved after seasoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov staged a diplomatic coup by persuading Damascus to ship its alleged chemical weapons stockpiles out of Syria under Russian supervision.

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] Biden Played Second Fiddle to Joe Lieberman in Bosnia Legislation:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/06/AR2008100602681.html

[2] U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/world/middleeast/us-relies-heavily-on-saudi-money-to-support-syrian-rebels.html

[3] Billions of dollars weapons flowing from Eastern Europe to Middle East.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/27/weapons-flowing-eastern-europe-middle-east-revealed-arms-trade-syria

[4] On foreign policy, he’s willing to go his own way:

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2008-aug-24-na-foreignpol24-story.html

The War on Truth, Dissent and Free Speech

October 11th, 2020 by Professor Piers Robinson

On Saturday 13 June 2020 the Times newspaper published its third attack on academics associated with researching British government propaganda and the war in Syria. This time the attack focused on smearing myself and Professor David Miller with the objective of discrediting an academic organization we established, the Organisation for Propaganda Studies (OPS), designed to foster research and writing on propaganda.

The article contained multiple falsehoods and distortions and was similar in style to previous attacks aimed at character assassination mainly through employment of the ‘conspiracy theorist’ smear. Most prominently the hatchet pieces misleadingly conflated work by members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM), of which myself and Miller are also members, with the OPS. Formal complaints from the OPS are in process and the Times has already been forced to issue a number of corrections.

Of course, character assassination as a propaganda tactic is widespread and there is even a Routledge academic handbook on the subject, the Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management’, which was published in 2019 and contains 30 odd chapters. The attacks by the Times have been amplified by similar pieces written by Chris York for the Huffington Post.

In total, approximately 20 articles have been produced attacking those of us who are working on the war in Syria and questioning important aspects of UK propaganda operations. The bulk of these articles have been written by just two journalists, Dominic Kennedy for the Times newspaper and Chris York for the Huffington Post. This represents an extraordinarily intensive and sustained campaign against us.

Why on earth have we gotten into so much trouble?

A history of the attacks is instructive. Attention first started to be paid by former Guardian journalist Brian Whitaker in February 2018 when he penned a series of crude hatchet pieces on his blog smearing academics associated with the then newly established WGSPM. At that point Huffington Post journalist Chris York had already been attempting for several months to make contact with me, Professor Tim Hayward and journalist Vanessa Beeley.

But it was several weeks after Whitaker’s smears that the attacks started in earnest. Following the now controversial alleged chemical weapon attack in Douma, Syria, on 7th April 2018, the US UK and France bombed Syrian government targets claiming Syria was responsible for the attack. At the same moment these air attacks were underway, the Times of London published four articles which included one on the Front page, photographs of some of us from WGSPM and an editorial.

These articles smeared the academics as ‘conspiracy theorists’ for questioning official narratives regarding chemical weapon attacks in Syria, as ‘Assadists’ and also implied the existence of nefarious links with Russia. Chris York of the Huffington Post then followed the Times attack with multiple articles attacking us. The articles followed a similar pattern to the Times’ hatchet pieces involving allegations of ‘conspiracism’, ‘war crimes denial’, being pro Assad and pro Putin etc. More than two years later, attack pieces are still being published.

The vast bulk of the output of WGSPM has concerned the issues of alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria and, in particular, the Douma event. The working group’s briefing notes documented serious anomalies and issues regarding these attacks and, in particular, critically analysed both the OPCW investigations of these alleged attacks and also identified the involvement of UK-linked actors, including the late James Le Mesurier (founder of the White Helmets) and Hamish de Bretton-Gordon.

The evidence, as the working group briefing notes set out, is that the OPCW Douma investigation was manipulated in order to ensure the finger was pointed at Syrian government responsibility for the alleged chemical weapon attack. In reality, the evidence did not demonstrate an attack had occurred and, in fact, pointed toward the attack having been staged.

Our findings have been presented at an event at the UK House of Commons and at the Harvard-Sussex Program on Chemical and Biological Weapons.

The WGSPM has not been alone in raising questions and a wide body of material now corroborates its work. For example, even at the time of the Douma attack credible individuals voiced doubt about the likelihood of the Syrian government launching a chemical weapon attack in Douma just as its forces were on the brink of retaking the enclave.

For example, both retired Major General Jonathan Shaw and Admiral Lord West questioned the tactical logic of any such an attack and the latter raised the possibility the event was carried out by opposition groups.

Following the publication of the final OPCW report on Douma in March 2019, an engineering report was leaked to WGSPM and which concluded that the chlorine gas cylinders had likely been manually placed at the alleged attack scenes rather than having been dropped from a Syrian air force helicopter. This engineering report, it subsequently transpired, had been rejected by OPCW management on spurious grounds.

During the Autumn of 2019 the Courage Foundation hosted a panel at which a former OPCW official briefed a panel of trusted and authoritative individuals, including José Bustani the first Director General of the OPCW, about significant procedural and scientific flaws regarding chemistry, ballistics, toxicology and witness statements.

An open letter addressed to OPCW states parties from the Courage Foundation followed and was signed by eminent voices such as Professor Noam Chomsky, Hans von Sponeck (former UN Assistant Secretary-General), GCHQ whistleblower Katharine Gun, former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter, film director and producer Oliver Stone and John Pilger.

Since then, multiple documents have been published by Wikileaks evidencing irregularities with respect to the Douma FFM investigation whilst journalists such as Peter Hitchens (Mail on Sunday), Stefania Maurizi (formerly of La Repubblica) and Robert Fisk (The Independent) have reported on the issue.

Peter Hitchens has been a particularly vociferous voice defending the reputations of two OPCW staff who have been subjected to a malicious internal investigation aimed at smearing their reputations. In 2020, further leaks have been published by The Grayzone in the United States including statements from further OPCW persons and, most recently, Aaron Maté published an article in the leading US current affairs magazine The Nation.

Finally, and by no means least, former OPCW inspector Ian Henderson addressed an Arria Formula meeting of the UN Security Council at which he detailed the irregularities and misconduct he had experienced with respect to the FFM Douma investigation. In September 2020, a second Arria Formula meeting was held at which OPCW Syia FFMs and the Douma investigation were again debated and which included, again, the former OPCW Inspector Ian Henderson. And, this week at a UN Security Council meeting, a statement from OPCW First Director-General José Bustani was read out in which yet again raised concerns about the conduct of the OPCW Douma investigation.

To any casual observer it should be abundantly clear that the activities and output of the WGSPM is entirely legitimate. Our work has been at the forefront of an issue that has been discussed by mainstream media journalist and has been corroborated by information from people within the OPCW itself.

Why then has the Times of London and the Huffington Post published approximately 20 articles (including three Times leaders) in 2 years targeting us?

In general, the behaviour of both the Times and the Huffington Post is disturbing and suggestive of a deliberate campaign aimed at suppressing public debate regarding both the war in Syria and the involvement of the UK government in supporting activities aimed at the overthrow of the Syrian government.

UK involvement in the Syrian war has included direct support for opposition groups as well as potentially criminal activity relating to the OPCW and connection with the staging of alleged chemical weapon attacks.

In the last few weeks, a large volume of FCO documents have been leaked which document a vast ‘strategic communication’ operation aimed at supporting the war against Syria. According to Ben Norton from the Grayzone:

[V]irtually every major Western corporate media outlet was influenced by the UK government-funded disinformation campaign exposed in the trove of leaked documents, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, CNN to The Guardian, the BBC to Buzzfeed.

In fact, there are some indications that the media attacks might be the direct result of deliberate media alignment with the UK government position on Syria and its well-established policy seeking to overthrow the existing Syrian government. Specifically, two of the authors of the original Times attack on the academics, Dominic Kennedy and Deborah Haynes, are identified in leaked documents as being associated with the UK government-funded propaganda operation known as the Integrity Initiative.

The Integrity Initiative leaks provided powerful insights on how propaganda operations were being built around “clusters” of journalists. Haynes has subsequently denied involvement with the article whilst Kennedy has repeatedly refused to answer questionsregarding the relationship between his articles and the Integrity Initiative.

Most notably, Times columnist Oliver Kamm has stated in public that the late James Le Mesurier ‘had reached out to this newspaper to urge us to keep on their [the academics] case’.

Regarding Huffington Post, Chris York’s line manager, Jess Brammar, is a member of the Defence and Security Media Advisory Committeewhich works with the UK government on influencing and controlling media reporting of defence and security related issues. Further information regarding the organizational details and scale of media-related activities aimed at suppressing criticism of UK Syria policy is still being investigated and information will be published in due course by WGSPM.

However, even if it is, as of yet, unclear whether the attacks are at the behest of those involved in UK government/FCO strategic communication operations related to Syria, it is certainly the case that they have a deleterious impact on open public debate and academic research. People might reasonably expect mainstream media to uphold, defend and encourage research and debate, as opposed to smear honest academics who are simply doing their jobs.

Even more seriously, the available evidence indicates that the alleged attack in Douma involved the murder of captive civilians. That means the event surrounding Douma likely involve an extremely serious, and indeed horrific, war crime. Those seeking to hinder those in pursuit of the truth run the risk of complicity, whether knowing or unknowingly, in a war crime and run legal jeopardy as a result.

A final note. The late Julian Perry Robinson, one of the world’s leading experts on chemical and biological weapons, was in communication with the Working Group. In an earlier era, Robinson played a key role challenging the false claim made by the US government that Soviet-backed forces in Laos and Cambodia were deploying toxins.

At the time of his death, he was completing a chronology regarding chemical weapons and the war in Syria. Writing about the events surrounding alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria and the vicious attacks against WGSPM, he noted that:

It is not immediately clear from their pronouncements that the critics of the WGSPM just quoted have in fact adequately studied the Group’s publications. They certainly seem not to have done their reading with the care that might have been expected ahead of such vicious denigrations.

So is the Group simply becoming a victim of the fake news and other acts of information warfare it has itself been seeking to counter? Is the WGSPM being maliciously targeted by enemies that its principled research and outreach seem to have created?

Part 8: The Chemical Warfare Reported From Syria: a documented chronology detailing reports of events in Syria since 1982 said to have involved use of chemical weapons, by Julian Perry Robinson

It was Julian Perry Robinson who subsequently invited WGSPM member Professor Paul McKeigue to present at the Harvard-Sussex Program on Chemical and Biological Weapons roundtable meeting in March 2020.

If a figure of such standing and brilliance wished for his colleagues to hear our analysis, where does this leave the Times and the Huffington Post who have so relentlessly sought to silence us through character assassination and smears?

Not, I would suggest, in a very good place.

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Dr Piers Robinson is a director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies and convenor of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media. He writes here in a personal capacity.

Climate Change – A Scam of Global Dimensions?

October 11th, 2020 by Peter Koenig

In the context of the global controversies about the Western narrative on the so-called “Climate Change” – and the ever more visible merging of this narrative with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) declared post-covid “Great Reset”, NTV, Moscow, aske me for an interview on the subject. Founder and President of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, co-authored recently a book “Covid-19 – The Great Reset” (July 2020) that illustrates in scary details how the Grand Elite of the WEF plans to “transform” the current unfettered capitalism, as we know it, black (for hydrocarbon) and unjust, into a new form of extreme neoliberal capitalism, still black – but painted Green. They call it the New Green Deal. The IMF calls the same “The Great Transformation”.

NTV: You wrote that the noise due to climate change is a terrible fraud. Why do you think so?

Peter Koenig: Interestingly, this absurd but well-established narrative pervades everything in the western climate agenda, and media. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or what is called the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, is composed of renown scientists who are well-paid to continue convincing humanity that climate change is our fault. Actually, the very industry and other culprits, accused of causing global warming, are those who pay for perpetuating the lie, for the propaganda campaign. They have no serious interest in changing the world’s main source of energy, hydrocarbons – into renewable forms of energy. None. “Profit über alles” would be endangered.

There is huge funding behind financing this myth, for example the Soros Open Society Foundation – who finances Greta Thunberg and her travels and organization; and most likely makes sure that her talking points are in line with their interests.

But there are other financiers of this climate myth, like the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and so on. They are all working towards a radical societal or even civilizational change – a One or New World Order.

In other words, there is a totally different agenda behind the Climate Agenda. But in a world of lies and deceit, the people are not supposed to know the truth.

The WEF’s declaration, especially Klaus Schwab’s book, “Covid-19 – The Great Reset” – lays it all bare. It’s the idea of a new world with a single government – and a few transnational corporations that control the world and humanity.

NTV: It is interesting that, as many scientists who observe CO2 now record, its concentration has not decreased at all due to the pandemic. Despite the fact that many businesses were forced to stop working, the number of flights significantly decreased, people began to travel less on gasoline transport, that is, the world actually fulfilled the Greta Thunberg program. It turns out that the dream of young climate advocates and their curators – severe measures to limit the carbon footprint – is complete nonsense?

PK: Yes, it is quite astounding that despite all the hype about man-made climate change, the CO2 level in the atmosphere has not changed at all in the last nine covid-stricken months. It is still around 410 ppm, the same as at the end of 2019.

Yet, the 3-months or more of total lockdown, the very limited economic and energy consuming activities up to this day – one would imagine – may have reduced the CO2 levels in the air. Nope. They didn’t.

That already is an indication that the conventional Climate Change narrative is a fraud – and it is knowingly false. The scientists, who are propagating this flawed-to-the-bone theory, know what they are doing and why.

Scientists who speak the truth – and there are ever more whose conscience tells them to inform the public about the truth – such scientists may lose their jobs, their reputation – their income, their livelihood.

Well, it’s a big scam – that is directed by billions and billions of dollars – to bring about a world where yet more capital, more assets are shifted from where they were created, namely by and from the public – to the top few. Algorithms – Artificial Intelligence – help in selecting and gambling with the countless covid-bankrupted small and medium size enterprises, including airlines, most of which are broke and dependent on Government subsidies. They are systematically bought up for pennies on the dollar by the world’s oligarchs.

This is how the rich get richer and the poor poorer.

But it’s all done under the umbrella of protecting Mother Earth and our climate.

NTV: What factors affect climate change? How important is the role of CO2 in this, and are those who claim that an unprecedented climate crisis will occur in 30 years due to an increase in its concentration correct?

PK: CO2 may also influence the climate, but not man-made CO2. Man-made CO2 contributes probably less than 1 % of all CO2 in the air (0.5% – according to an Australian scientist, who once categorized the man-made proportion as about 0.5%). Most carbon-dioxide is released by the seas, and that again varies considerably by water temperatures – which in turn depend largely on sun activities.

The seas both absorb and release CO2 – they are providing an equilibrium which is essential to conserve biodiversity, the very biodiversity that man’s extreme consumerism is destroying.

Because of this balancing act of Mother Earth, we know the cycle of El Niño in the South Pacific. It used to be between 9 and 12 years. In the last few decades, the cycle has become shorter, about 4 to 7 years.

There is a similar cycle in the Atlantic, called the El Niño’s Little Brother, or the Atlantic El Niño (North Atlantic Oscillation Phenomena). Together, the Pacific and the Atlantic “El Niño” are responsible for well over 50% of climate variability on Earth.

This is not because of man-made CO2, but mostly due to the combination of sun activities and unecological farming that seems to increase rather than diminish.

It’s a complex system that few people understand. And because it is so complex and not easily understood by the public at large, it is possible for the environmental fraudsters to sell us man-made climate change – and to force upon humanity what the World Economic Forum, the WEF, calls the Great Rest, a reformation of capitalism from a depredating “black” – like hydrocarbon – neoliberal capitalism, to a new neoliberal capitalism, still based on “black” energy, just painted Green.

Corporate economic interests have so far prevented research into true and efficient alternative and sustainable sources of energy.

NTV: Today you can see two opposite points of view: some say that the rapid increase in temperature due to anthropogenic factors, while others say that warming occurs according to the Milankovich concept, that is based on a constantly changing earth position vis-à-vis the sun.

PK: Both, I believe, influence climate, and it is difficult to say which one more.

On the anthropogenic side – over the past 60 / 70 years, industrialized agriculture, especially in the US, but also to some extent in Europe, has increased drastically; it is mono-culture based agriculture, over-fertilization, abuse of pesticides — the soil can no longer breathe, overuse of carbon in the soil, not leaving the earth enough time to regenerate.

Carbon is one of the keys to life.

A steady variety of plants not only absorbs carbon-dioxide (CO2), but also releases oxygen in the air. We need both in an equilibrium – and our “modern” agriculture destroys that equilibrium; destroys the very soil which then can no longer sufficiently absorb the sun’s UHV rays, and the sun heat which then reflects back into the atmosphere.

But definitely the traditional established and imposed “Climate Change” narrative is false, is a fraud. – And those who perpetuate it, know it’s a fraud.

The other reason – the Milankovitch hypothesis, is also very valid. The earth is changing constantly her position vis-à-vis the sun. Although it is a rotation, it is a slow elliptical rotation – and in men’s short lifespan, we believe every little change is important in our short lives, and unique, and, like in the case of climate, can be made to believe its caused by man.

Another related factor is the sun’s activities. Actually, they are key in influencing weather and climate on earth, as they also influence the two “El Niños”, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Already some 20 or 30 years ago, scientists predicted, increased sun activities in the coming decades – sun explosions, radiations – they impact hurricanes and other extreme weather events.

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

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image: People hold signs during the March for Science in Melbourne, Australia on April 22, 2017. (Photo: Takver/flickr/ccc)

Last night The Guardian sent the following email to Professor Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, one of the three initial signatories of the ‘Great Barrington Declaration’ calling for a different approach to the Covid-19 pandemic.

.

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The article is yet to be published, but it looks very much like a move to delegitimise the ideas of these eminent scientists by smearing them by association. As Professor Kulldorff told The Guardian, he had never heard of the ‘Richie Allen show’ before he was invited on, and as a public health expert, he thinks it’s his duty to talk to all audiences in any case, whatever their beliefs.

I hadn’t heard of the show either (the website looks like lots of conspiracy theories), but is the fact that Kulldorff appeared on it really the big story? Surely the right thing for a newspaper to do is to engage in good faith with the arguments being presented, rather than to impugn integrity using Facebook shares as some sort of hard evidence.

This sort of thing is happening more and more often. Professor John Ioannidis at Stanford was subject to an extraordinary smear campaign after his ‘Santa Clara County’ study into seroprevalence. Buzzfeed even went so far as to imply financial wrongdoing on the basis of a $5,000 contribution by someone in the airline industry. The idea that a world-renowned academic would throw away his career for a $5,000 donation is absurd, and Stanford’s own investigation concluded that there was no conflict of interest whatsoever. But the rumour remains — the mud has been thrown and his reputation has been successfully tarnished.

I don’t buy into any of the conspiracy theories around the pandemic. Not 5G, not Bill Gates, not ‘Plandemic’ — I think we got into this mess with lots of frightened people trying to do the right thing with bad information, and lots of weak political leaders without clear values trying to protect their reputations. It’s more banal but, to me, just as alarming as any conspiracy.

Surely it would be better for powerful organisations like The Guardian to accept that these scientists are sincere and accomplished and are simply taking a different view as to how best to defend the greater good. The smear approach is a weak way to attempt to win any argument.

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Covid Experts: There Is Another Way

Three eminent epidemiologists met in Massachusetts to plan a better response to the pandemic

by Dr Sunetra Gupta, Dr Jay Bhattacharya, Dr Martin Kulldorff

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical, and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. 

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. 

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza. 

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity. 

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. 

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals. 

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 4th October 2020

To sign the declaration, follow this link:
www.GBdeclaration.org

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First published by Global Research on March 27, 2020

The following is from a medical forum. The writer, who is a widely respected professional scientist in the US, prefers to stay anonymous, because presenting any narrative different than the official one can cause you a lot of stress in the toxic environment caused by the scam which surrounds COVID-19 these days. – Julian Rose

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I work in the healthcare field. Here’s the problem, we are testing people for any strain of a Coronavirus. Not specifically for COVID-19. There are no reliable tests for a specific COVID-19 virus. There are no reliable agencies or media outlets for reporting numbers of actual COVID-19 virus cases. This needs to be addressed first and foremost. Every action and reaction to COVID-19 is based on totally flawed data and we simply can not make accurate assessments.

This is why you’re hearing that most people with COVID-19 are showing nothing more than cold/flu like symptoms. That’s because most Coronavirus strains are nothing more than cold/flu like symptoms. The few actual novel Coronavirus cases do have some worse respiratory responses, but still have a very promising recovery rate, especially for those without prior issues.

The ‘gold standard’ in testing for COVID-19 is laboratory isolated/purified coronavirus particles free from any contaminants and particles that look like viruses but are not, that have been proven to be the cause of the syndrome known as COVID-19 and obtained by using proper viral isolation methods and controls (not the PCR that is currently being used or Serology /antibody tests which do not detect virus as such). PCR basically takes a sample of your cells and amplifies any DNA to look for ‘viral sequences’, i.e. bits of non-human DNA that seem to match parts of a known viral genome.

The problem is the test is known not to work.

It uses ‘amplification’ which means taking a very very tiny amount of DNA and growing it exponentially until it can be analyzed. Obviously any minute contaminations in the sample will also be amplified leading to potentially gross errors of discovery.

Additionally, it’s only looking for partial viral sequences, not whole genomes, so identifying a single pathogen is next to impossible even if you ignore the other issues.

The Mickey Mouse test kits being sent out to hospitals, at best, tell analysts you have some viral DNA in your cells. Which most of us do, most of the time. It may tell you the viral sequence is related to a specific type of virus – say the huge family of coronavirus. But that’s all. The idea these kits can isolate a specific virus like COVID-19 is nonsense.

And that’s not even getting into the other issue – viral load.

If you remember the PCR works by amplifying minute amounts of DNA. It therefore is useless at telling you how much virus you may have. And that’s the only question that really matters when it comes to diagnosing illness. Everyone will have a few virus kicking round in their system at any time, and most will not cause illness because their quantities are too small. For a virus to sicken you you need a lot of it, a massive amount of it. But PCR does not test viral load and therefore can’t determine if it is present in sufficient quantities to sicken you.

If you feel sick and get a PCR test any random virus DNA might be identified even if they aren’t at all involved in your sickness which leads to false diagnosis.

And coronavirus are incredibly common. A large percentage of the world human population will have covi DNA in them in small quantities even if they are perfectly well or sick with some other pathogen.

Do you see where this is going yet? If you want to create a totally false panic about a totally false pandemic – pick a coronavirus.

They are incredibly common and there’s tons of them. A very high percentage of people who have become sick by other means (flu, bacterial pneumonia, anything) will have a positive

PCR test for covi even if you’re doing them properly and ruling out contamination, simply because covis are so common.

There are hundreds of thousands of flu and pneumonia victims in hospitals throughout the world at any one time.

All you need to do is select the sickest of these in a single location – say Wuhan – administer PCR tests to them and claim anyone showing viral sequences similar to a coronavirus (which will inevitably be quite a few) is suffering from a ‘new’ disease.

Since you already selected the sickest flu cases a fairly high proportion of your sample will go on to die.

You can then say this ‘new’ virus has a CFR higher than the flu and use this to infuse more concern and do more tests which will of course produce more ‘cases’, which expands the testing, which produces yet more ‘cases’ and so on and so on.

Before long you have your ‘pandemic’, and all you have done is use a simple test kit trick to convert the worst flu and pneumonia cases into something new that doesn’t actually exist.

Now just run the same scam in other countries. Making sure to keep the fear message running high so that people will feel panicky and less able to think critically.

Your only problem is going to be that – due to the fact there is no actual new deadly pathogen but just regular sick people, you are mislabeling your case numbers, and especially your deaths, are going to be way too low for a real new deadly virus pandemic.

But you can stop people pointing this out in several ways.

1. You can claim this is just the beginning and more deaths are imminent. Use this as an excuse to quarantine everyone and then claim the quarantine prevented the expected millions of dead.

2. You can tell people that ‘minimizing’ the dangers is irresponsible and bully them into not talking about numbers.

3. You can talk crap about made up numbers hoping to blind people with pseudoscience.

4. You can start testing well people (who, of course, will also likely have shreds of coronavirus DNA in them) and thus inflate your ‘case figures’ with ‘asymptomatic carriers’ (you will of course have to spin that to sound deadly even though any virologist knows the more symptom-less cases you have the less deadly is your pathogen.

Take these 4 simple steps and you can have your own entirely manufactured pandemic up and running in weeks.

They can not “confirm” something for which there is no accurate test.

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Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News [1] in a phone interview Sunday, “We hope he will win the election and wind up US military presence in Afghanistan.” The militant group also expressed concern about President Trump’s bout with the coronavirus. “When we heard about Trump being COVID-19 positive, we got worried for his health, but it seems he is getting better,” another Taliban senior leader confided to reporter Sami Yousafzai.

Although full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan was originally scheduled for April next year, according to terms of peace deal reached with the Taliban on February 29, President Trump hastened the withdrawal process by making an electoral pledge this week that all troops should be “home by Christmas.” “We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas,” he tweeted.

The Taliban also noted it thinks highly of President Trump’s “MAGA” creed.

“It is the slogan of Trump from the start that they are not cops for the world and don’t want a single flag and anthem for the globe, but their priority is America first,” Taliban spokesman Mujahid said.

Another senior member of the Taliban praised the president’s honesty. “Honestly, Trump was much more honest with us than we thought, we were stunned by his offer to meet Taliban at Camp David.” Last year, President Trump disclosed that he had invited the Taliban for peace talks at Camp David, but later he canceled the plans after the Taliban killed a US soldier.

Similarly, Swiss-born Noor bin Ladin, the niece of notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden, expressed support for President Donald Trump in an interview with The New York Post [1] on September 5.

The 33-year-old daughter of Osama bin Laden’s half-brother Yeslam bin Ladin and Swiss author Carmen Dufour, speaking in her first-ever media interview, claimed that Trump would prevent another 9/11 terror attack if elected to a second term.

“ISIS proliferated under the Obama/Biden administration, leading to them coming to Europe. Trump has shown he protects America and us by extension from foreign threats by obliterating terrorists at the root and before they get a chance to strike,” she told the conservative news outlet.

“I have been a supporter of President Trump since he announced he was running in the early days in 2015. I have watched from afar and I admire this man’s resolve,” she said. “He must be reelected … It’s vital for the future of not only America, but western civilization as a whole.”

“You look at all the terrorist attacks that have happened in Europe over the past 19 years. They have completely shaken us to the core … extremist ideology has completely infiltrated our society,” Noor bin Ladin added.

As Noor bin Ladin perceptively noted, although ostensibly fighting a “war on terror” for the last couple of decades, Washington has clandestinely nurtured Islamic jihadists and used them as proxies in myriad conflict zones of the Middle East to achieve “strategic objectives.”

Newly released US government documents allege [3] the Islamic State’s new leader Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla identified dozens of fellow militants as well as the structure of al-Qaeda in Iraq, after he was arrested in 2008 and detained at Camp Bucca.

Three Tactical Interrogation Reports (TIR) released by the Combating Terrorism Centre (CTC) allege that al-Mawla, who at the time was an al-Qaeda judge, gave the US occupation forces in Iraq the names of 68 al-Qaeda fighters that led to the deaths of several al-Qaeda members after the US military conducted raids to hunt them down.

One of the persons named by al-Mawla was Abu Jasim Abu Qaswarah, thought to be the second-in-command of al-Qaeda in Iraq at the time. He was killed by US forces eight months after Mawla identified him as a member of the group.

According to the documents, al-Mawla was arrested in 2008 by the US forces and interrogated at Camp Bucca, a facility in Umm Qasr, southern Iraq, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also incarcerated. Several officials have since referred to it as a “Jihadi university” because of the training provided there.

The CTC said that al-Mawla was released in 2009 and only came to prominence earlier this year when he became the leader of the Islamic State following the death of al-Baghdadi in October.

The US put a $5m bounty last year on the head al-Mawla, also known as Abdullah Qardash or Hajj Abdullah, and he is thought to be in hiding in Syria. Though the mainstream media reports claim he is hiding in eastern Syria, he might as well be hiding in northwest Idlib province like his predecessor.

It’s important to note in the news coverage of the killing of al-Baghdadi that although the mainstream media had been trumpeting for the last several years that the Islamic State’s fugitive chief had been hiding somewhere on the Iraq-Syria border in the east, he was found hiding in northwest Idlib province, under the control of Turkey’s militant proxies and al-Nusra Front, and was killed while trying to flee to Turkey in Barisha village five kilometers from the border.

The reason why the mainstream media scrupulously avoided mentioning Idlib as al-Baghdadi’s most likely hideout in Syria was to cover up the collusion between the militant proxies of Turkey and the jihadists of al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State.

In fact, the corporate media takes the issue of Islamic jihadists “commingling” with Turkey-backed “moderate rebels” in Idlib so seriously – which could give the Syrian government the pretext to mount an offensive in northwest Syria – that the New York Times cooked up an exclusive report [4] on October 30, a couple of days after the Special Ops night raid, that the Islamic State paid money to al-Nusra Front for hosting al-Baghdadi in Idlib.

The morning after the night raid, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported [5] on October 27 that a squadron of eight helicopters accompanied by warplanes belonging to the international coalition had attacked positions of Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, in Idlib province where the Islamic State chief was believed to be hiding.

Despite detailing the operational minutiae of the Special Ops raid, the mainstream news coverage of the raid deliberately elided over the crucial piece of information that the compound in Barisha village five kilometers from Turkish border where al-Baghdadi was killed belonged to Hurras al-Din, an elusive terrorist outfit which had previously been targeted several times in the US airstrikes.

Although Hurras al-Din is generally assumed to be an al-Qaeda affiliate, it is in fact the regrouping of the Islamic State jihadists under a different name in northwestern Idlib governorate after the latter terrorist organization was routed from Mosul and Anbar in Iraq and Raqqa and Deir al-Zor in Syria in 2017 and was hard pressed by the US-led coalition’s airstrikes in eastern Syria.

Notwithstanding, according to “official version” [6] of Washington’s story regarding the killing of al-Baghdadi, the choppers took off from an American airbase in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, flew hundreds of miles over the enemy territory in the airspace controlled by the Syrian and Russian air forces, killed the self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State in a Hollywood-style special-ops raid, and took the same route back to Erbil along with the dead body of the terrorist and his belongings.

Although Washington has conducted several airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib in the past, those were carried out by fixed-wing aircraft that fly at high altitudes, and the aircraft took off from American airbases in Turkey, which is just across the border from Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. Why would Washington risk flying troops at low altitudes in helicopters over hostile territory controlled by myriads of Syria’s heavily armed militant outfits?

In fact, several Turkish journalists, including Rajip Soylu, the Turkey correspondent for the Middle East Eye, tweeted [7] on the night of the special-ops raid that the choppers took off from the American airbase in Turkey’s Incirlik.

As for al-Baghdadi, who was “hiding” with the blessing of Turkey, it is now obvious that he was the bargaining chip in the negotiations between Trump and Erdogan, and the quid for the US president agreeing to pull American troops out of northeast Syria was the pro quo that Erdogan would hand al-Baghdadi to him on a platter.

Erdogan has been acting with impunity lately in regional conflicts because he has forged a personal bonhomie with Donald Trump, as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Erdogan’s son-in-law and incumbent finance minister of Turkey Berat Albayrak were business partners. So much so that the Trump administration had to comply with Erdogan’s longstanding demand to evacuate American forces from the Kurdish-held areas in northeast Syria in October last year.

Immediately following the announcement of withdrawal of US forces from northeast Syria by the Trump administration on October 6 last year following a telephonic conversation between Trump and Erdogan, Turkey mounted Operation Peace Spring on October 9 in which the Turkish armed forces and their Syrian proxies invaded and occupied 120 kilometers wide and 32 kilometers deep stretch of Syrian territory between the northeastern towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn.

In return, Trump got the most coveted feather in his cap as Turkey let US Special Forces kill fugitive leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on October 26, weeks after the Turkish Operation Peace Spring in northeast Syria on October 9 last year.

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Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Notes

[1] The Taliban on Trump: “We hope he will win the election”:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/taliban-on-trump-we-hope-he-will-win-the-election-withdraw-us-troops/

[2] Osama bin Laden’s niece says only Trump can prevent another 9/11:

https://nypost.com/2020/09/05/osama-bin-ladens-niece-says-only-trump-can-prevent-another-9-11/

[3] Islamic State’s ‘canary caliph’ gave intelligence to US in 2008:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/islamic-state-leader-intelligence-us-government

[4] ISIS Leader Paid Rival for Protection but Was Betrayed by His Own:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/world/middleeast/isis-leader-al-baghdadi.html

[5] Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed in US raid:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-targeted-us-raid-officials

 
[6] Official story of the night raid killing al-Baghdadi:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/us/politics/baghdadi-isis-leader-trump.html

[7] Trump Confirms ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Killed In US Raid:

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/trump-make-statement-after-isis-chief-al-baghdadi-killed-turkish-border-while-fleeing

Featured image is from OneWorld

Palestine under siege for 72 years. A UK-prompted UN decision in 1947 allowed David Ben-Gurion, then the head of the Jewish Agency, to proclaim on May 14, 1948, the establishment of the State of Israel.

The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, a UN proposal, recommended a partition of “Mandatory Palestine” at the end of the British Mandate. “Mandatory Palestine” was a geopolitical entity established between 1920–1948 in the region of Palestine, under the terms of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the Plan as Resolution 181 (II).

Mandatory Palestine in 1946

Mandatory Palestine in 1946 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

This fastidious date and controversial decision in 1948 brought about misery for generations of people – Palestinians – on their own land, inflicted by a tiny country implanted on Palestine – but supported by a super-power to the point that this tiny country, called Israel, has itslef become a super-power – on the verge of expanding herself not only over Palestinian terrirtory, but over the entire Middle-East.

It shall not happen.

This tiny country, ruled by a minority of power-greedy Zionists, linked to a worldwide Zionist-dominated network over the western financial system, and hellbent to rule the world – as the Chosen People, has violated countless UN Resolutions calling for a halt of her deadly aggressions on the Palestinian people. And not only on Palestine, but to stop her interference all over the Middle-East, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran – to mention just a few. To no avail.

The tragic and murderous photo series on the left, depicts the 20th anniversary of just one indescribable crime. But it is also symbolic for Israeli-perpetrated atrocities that have been slaughtering Palestinians for the last 72 years – indiscriminately, children, women, men – and no end is in sight, because the west looks on and tolerates. It tolerates one outrageous brutality after another.

Tolerance with financial gain. Weapons sales to Irael flurish – and trade with Israel is unaffected – as the Jewish people, victims of the Holocaust – that, indeed, shall never be forgotten! – are being used by their Zionist masters to continue instilling guilt on Europe, the world. It’s a strategy that works wonders. The victims cum guilt have become an alabi for today’s Israel getting literally away not just with murder, but with an ongoing genocide.

As things stand today, Irael is about to take over and absorb the Palestinian West Bank without serious opposition from its wester NATO allies, the very hypocrytical west that is officially propagating peace talsk after peace talks – no end. Indeed, no end. Because Peace is not wanted. Thed United States of America wants full domination of the Middle-East. Its one of the planet’s most energy rich areas, but also one of the most strategic gateways between Eurasia and Africa. So, the symbiotic relationship of the tail wagging the dog, between Israel and the US of A will go on.

Should that take-over by Israel of the Westbank happen, then the entire once “Mandatory Palestine” would become Israel. This may be the “geopolitical” strategy, but are the people at large – all over the globe – aware of this diabolical plan?

When the legendary “Crack” – “There is a Crack in Everything, that’s how the Light Gets In” (“Anthem”, Leonard Cohen, London 2008) – will open our minds to the reality of what we humans are doing to ourselves, to humanity – to our fellow sentient beings – we may finally act and choose Justice over Greed, Love over Hate and Peace over War.

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This article was originally published on New Eastern Outlook.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

How Can Americans Support Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh?

October 11th, 2020 by Nicolas J. S. Davies

Americans are dealing with an upcoming general election, a pandemic that has killed over 200,000 of us, and corporate news media whose business model has degenerated to selling different versions of “The Trump Show” to their advertisers. So who has time to pay attention to a new war half way round the world? But with so much of the world afflicted by 20 years of U.S.-led wars and the resulting political, humanitarian and refugee crises, we can’t afford not to pay attention to the dangerous new outbreak of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody war over Nagorno-Karabakh from 1988 to 1994, by the end of which at least 30,000 people had been killed and a million or more had fled or been driven out of their homes. By 1994, Armenian forces had occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts, all internationally recognized as parts of Azerbaijan. But now the war has flared up again, hundreds of people have been killed, and both sides are shelling civilian targets and terrorizing each other’s civilian populations.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been an ethnically Armenian region for centuries. After the Persian Empire ceded this part of the Caucasus to Russia in the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813, the first census ten years later identified Nagorno-Karabakh’s population as 91% Armenian. The USSR’s decision to assign Nagorno-Karabakh to the Azerbaijan SSR in 1923, like its decision to assign Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, was an administrative decision whose dangerous consequences only became clear when the U.S.S.R. began to disintegrate in the late 1980s.

In 1988, responding to mass protests, the local parliament in Nagorno-Karabakh voted by 110-17 to request its transfer from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenian SSR, but the Soviet government rejected the request and inter-ethnic violence escalated. In 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh and the neighboring Armenian-majority Shahumian region, held an independence referendum and declared independence from Azerbaijan as the Republic of Artsakh, its historic Armenian name. When the war ended in 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh and most of the territory around it were in Armenian hands, and hundreds of thousands of refugees had fled in both directions.

There have been clashes since 1994, but the present conflict is the most dangerous and deadly. Since 1992, diplomatic negotiations to resolve the conflict have been led by the “Minsk Group,” formed by the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) and led by the United States, Russia and France. In 2007, the Minsk Group met with Armenian and Azerbaijani officials in Madrid and proposed a framework for a political solution, known as the Madrid Principles.

The Madrid Principles would return five of the twelve districts of Shahumyan province to Azerbaijan, while the five districts of Naborno-Karabakh and two districts between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia would vote in a referendum to decide their future, which both parties would commit to accept the results of. All refugees would have the right to return to their old homes.

Ironically, one of the most vocal opponents of the Madrid Principles is the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), a lobby group for the Armenian diaspora in the United States. It supports Armenian claims to the entire disputed territory and does not trust Azerbaijan to respect the results of a referendum. It also wants the de facto government of the Republic of Artsakh to be allowed to join international negotiations on its future, which is probably a good idea.

On the other side, the Azerbaijani government of President Ilham Aliyev now has the full backing of Turkey for its demand that all Armenian forces must disarm or withdraw from the disputed region, which is still internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Turkey is reportedly paying jihadi mercenaries from Turkish-occupied northern Syria to go and fight for Azerbaijan, raising the specter of Sunni extremists exacerbating a conflict between Christian Armenians and mostly Shiite Muslim Azeris.

On the face of it, despite these hard-line positions, this brutal raging conflict should be possible to resolve by dividing the disputed territories between the two sides, as the Madrid Principles attempted to do. Meetings in Geneva and now Moscow seem to be making progress toward a ceasefire and a renewal of diplomacy. On Friday, October 9th, the two opposing foreign ministers met for the first time in Moscow, in a meeting mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and on Saturday they agreed to a temporary truce to recover bodies and exchange prisoners.

The greatest danger is that either Turkey, Russia, the U.S. or Iran should see some geopolitical advantage in escalating or becoming more involved in this conflict. Azerbaijan launched its current offensive with the full backing of Turkey’s President Erdogan, who appears to be using it to demonstrate Turkey’s renewed power in the region and strengthen its position in conflicts and disputes over Syria, Libya, Cyprus, oil exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean and the region in general. If that is the case, how long must this go on before Erdogan has made his point, and can Turkey control the violence it is unleashing, as it has so tragically failed to do in Syria?

Russia and Iran have nothing to gain and everything to lose from an escalating war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and are both calling for peace. Armenia’s popular Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan came to power after Armenia’s 2018 “Velvet Revolution” and has followed a policy of non-alignment between Russia and the West, even though Armenia is part of Russia’s CSTO military alliance. Russia is committed to defend Armenia if it is attacked by Azerbaijan or Turkey, but has made it clear that that commitment does not extend to Nagorno-Karabakh. Iran is also more closely aligned with Armenia than Azerbaijan, but now its own large Azeri population has taken to the streets to support Azerbaijan and protest their government’s bias toward Armenia.

As for the destructive and destabilizing role the United States habitually plays in the greater Middle East, Americans should beware of any U.S. effort to exploit this conflict for self-serving U.S. ends. That could include fueling the conflict to undermine Armenia’s confidence in its alliance withRussia, to draw Armenia into a more Western, pro-NATO alignment. Or the U.S. could exacerbate and exploit unrest in Iran’s Azeri community as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.

At any suggestion that the U.S. is exploiting or planning to exploit this conflict for its own ends, Americans should remember the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan whose lives are being lost or destroyed every day that this war rages on, and should condemn and oppose any effort to prolong or worsen their pain and suffering for U.S. geopolitical advantage.

Instead the U.S. should fully cooperate with its partners in the OSCE’s Minsk Group to support a ceasefire and a lasting and stable negotiated peace that respects the human rights and self-determination of all the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist, a researcher for CODEPINK and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Chinese scholar Lanxin Xiang has written a book, The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics, that is arguably the most extraordinary effort in decades trying to bridge the East-West politico-historical divide.

It’s impossible in a brief column to do justice to the relevance of the discussions this book inspires. Here we will highlight some of the key issues – hoping they will appeal to an informed readership especially across the Beltway, now convulsed by varying degrees of Sinophobia.

Xiang delves right into the fundamental contradiction: China is widely accused by the West of lack of democratic legitimacy exactly as it enjoys a four-decade, sustainable, history-making economic boom.

He identifies two key sources for the Chinese problem:

“On the one hand, there is the project of cultural restoration through which Chinese leader Xi Jinping attempts to restore ‘Confucian legitimacy’ or the traditional ‘Mandate of Heaven’; on the other hand, Xi refuses to start any political reforms, because it is his top priority to preserve the existing political system, i.e., a ruling system derived mainly from an alien source, Bolshevik Russia.”

Ay, there’s the rub: “The two objectives are totally incompatible”.

Xiang contends that for the majority of Chinese – the apparatus and the population at large – this “alien system” cannot be preserved forever, especially now that a cultural revival focuses on the Chinese Dream.

Needless to add, scholarship in the West is missing the plot completely – because of the insistence on interpreting China under Western political science and “Eurocentric historiography”. What Xiang attempts in his book is to “navigate carefully the conceptual and logical traps created by post-Enlightenment terminologies”.

Thus his emphasis on deconstructing “master keywords” – a wonderful concept straight out of ideography. The four master keywords are legitimacy, republic, economy and foreign policy. This volume concentrates on legitimacy (hefa, in Chinese).

When law is about morality

It’s a joy to follow how Xiang debunks Max Weber – “the original thinker of the question of political legitimacy”. Weber is blasted for his “rather perfunctory study of the Confucian system”. He insisted that Confucianism – emphasizing only equality, harmony, decency, virtue and pacifism – could not possibly develop a competitive capitalist spirit.

Xiang shows how since the beginning of the Greco-Roman tradition, politics was always about a spatial conception – as reflected in polis (a city or city-state). The Confucian concept of politics, on the other hand, is “entirely temporal, based on the dynamic idea that legitimacy is determined by a ruler’s daily moral behavior.”

Xiang shows how hefa contains in fact two concepts: “fit” and “law” – with “law” giving priority to morality.

In China, the legitimacy of a ruler is derived from a Mandate of Heaven (Tian Ming). Unjust rulers inevitably lose the mandate – and the right to rule. This, argues Xiang, is “a dynamic ‘deeds-based’ rather than ‘procedure-based’ argument.”

Essentially, the Mandate of Heaven is “an ancient Chinese belief that tian [ heaven, but not the Christian heaven, complete with an omniscient God] grants the emperor the right to rule based on their moral quality and ability to govern well and fairly.”

The beauty of it is that the mandate does not require a divine connection or noble bloodline, and has no time limit. Chinese scholars have always interpreted the mandate as a way to fight abuse of power.

The overall crucial point is that, unlike in the West, the Chinese view of history is cyclical, not linear: “Legitimacy is in fact a never-ending process of moral self-adjustment.”

Xiang then compares it with the Western understanding of legitimacy. He refers to Locke, for whom political legitimacy derives from explicit and implicit popular consent of the governed. The difference is that without institutionalized religion, as in Christianity, the Chinese created “a dynamic conception of legitimacy through the secular authority of general will of the populace, arriving at this idea without the help of any fictional political theory such as divine rights of humanity and ‘social contract’’.

Xiang cannot but remind us that Leibniz described it as “Chinese natal theology”, which happened not to clash with the basic tenets of Christianity.

Xiang also explains how the Mandate of Heaven has nothing to do with Empire: “Acquiring overseas territories for population resettlement never occurred in Chinese history, and it does little to enhance legitimacy of the ruler.”

In the end it was the Enlightenment, mostly because of Montesquieu, that started to dismiss the Mandate of Heaven as “nothing but apology for ‘Oriental Despotism’”. Xiang notes how “pre-modern Europe’s rich interactions with the non-Western world” were “deliberately ignored by post-Enlightenment historians.”

Which brings us to a bitter irony: “While modern ‘democratic legitimacy’ as a concept can only work with the act of delegitimizing other types of political system, the Mandate of Heaven never contains an element of disparaging other models of governance.”  So much for “the end of history.”

Why no Industrial Revolution?

Xiang asks a fundamental question: “Is China’s success indebted more to the West-led world economic system or to its own cultural resources?”

And then he proceeds to meticulously debunk the myth that economic growth is only possible under Western liberal democracy – a heritage, once again, of the Enlightenment, which ruled that Confucianism was not up to the task.

We already had an inkling that was not the case with the ascension of the East Asian tigers – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea – in the 1980s and 1990s. That even moved a bunch of social scientists and historians to admit that Confucianism could be a stimulus to economic growth.

Yet they only focused on the surface, the alleged “core” Confucian values of hard work and thrift, argues Xiang: “The real ‘core’ value, the Confucian vision of state and its relations to economy, is often neglected.”

Virtually everyone in the West, apart from a few non-Eurocentric scholars, completely ignores that China was the world’s dominant economic superpower from the 12th century to the second decade of the 19th century.

Xiang reminds us that a market economy – including private ownership, free land transactions, and highly specialized mobile labor – was established in China as early as in 300 B.C. Moreover, “as early as in the Ming dynasty, China had acquired all the major elements that were essential for the British Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.”

Which brings us to a persistent historical enigma: why the Industrial Revolution did not start in China?

Xiang turns the question upside down: “Why traditional China needed an industrial revolution at all?”

Once again, Xiang reminds us that the “Chinese economic model was very influential during the early period of the Enlightenment. Confucian economic thinking was introduced by the Jesuits to Europe, and some Chinese ideas such as the laisser-faire principle led to free-trade philosophy.”

Xiang shows not only how external economic relations were not important for Chinese politics and economy but also that “the traditional Chinese view of state is against the basic rationale of the industrial revolution, for its mass production method is aimed at conquering not just the domestic market but outside territories.”

Xiang also shows how the ideological foundation for Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations began to veer towards individualist liberalism while “Confucius never wavered from a position against individualism, for the role of the economy is to ‘enrich people’ as a whole, not specific individuals.”

All that leads to the fact that “in modern economics, the genuine conversation between the West and China hardly exists from the outset, since the post-Enlightenment West has been absolutely confident about its sole possession of the ‘universal truth’ and secret in economic development, which allegedly has been denied to the rest of the world.”

An extra clue can be found when we see what ‘economy” (jingji) means in China: Jingji is “an abbreviate term of two characters describing neither pure economic nor even commercial activities. It simply means ‘managing everyday life of the society and providing sufficient resources for the state”. In this conception, politics and economy can never be separated into two mechanical spheres. The body politic and the body economic are organically connected.”

And that’s why external trade, even when China was very active in the Ancient Silk Road, “was never considered capable of playing a key role for the health of the overall economy and the well-being of the people.”

Wu Wei and the invisible hand

Xiang needs to go back to the basics: the West did not invent the free market. The laisser-faire principle was first conceptualized by Francois Quesnay, the forerunner of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”. Quesnay, curiously, was known at the time as the “European Confucius”.

In Le Despotisme de la Chine (1767), written 9 years before The Wealth of Nations, Quesnay was frankly in favor of the meritocratic concept of giving political power to scholars and praised the “enlightened” Chinese imperial system.

An extra delicious historical irony is that laisser-faire, as Xiang reminds us, was directly inspired by the Taoist concept of wu wei – which we may loosely translate as “non-action”.

Xiang notes how “Adam Smith, deeply influenced by Quesnay whom he had met in Paris for learning this laisser-faire philosophy, may have got right the meaning of wu wei with his invention of “invisible hand”, suggesting a proactive rather than passive economic system, and keeping the Christian theological dimension aside.”

Xiang reviews everyone from Locke and Montesquieu to Stuart Mill, Hegel and Wallerstein’s “world system” theory to arrive at a startling conclusion: “The conception of China as a typical ‘backward’ economic model was a 20th century invention built upon the imagination of Western cultural and racial superiority, rather than historical reality.”

Moreover, the idea of ‘backward-looking’ was actually not established in Europe until the French revolution: “Before that, the concept of ‘revolution’ had always retained a dimension of cyclical, rather than ‘progressive’ – i.e., linear, historical perspective. The original meaning of revolution (from the Latin word revolutio, a “turn-around”) contains no element of social progress, for it refers to a fundamental change in political power or organizational structures that takes place when the population rises up in revolt against the current authorities.”

Will Confucius marry Marx?

And that brings us to post-modern China. Xiang stress how a popular consensus in China is that the Communist Party is “neither Marxist nor capitalist, and its moral standard has little to do with the Confucian value system”. Consequently, the Mandate of Heaven is “seriously damaged”.

The problem is that “marrying Marxism and Confucianism is too dangerous”.

Xiang identifies the fundamental flaw of the Chinese wealth distribution “in a system that guarantees a structural process of unfair (and illegal) wealth transfer, from the people who contribute labor to the production of wealth to the people who do not.”

He argues that, “deviation from Confucian traditional values explains the roots of the income distribution problem in China better than the Weberian theories which tried to establish a clear linkage between democracy and fair income distribution”.

So what is to be done?

Xiang is extremely critical of how the West approached China in the 19th century, “through the path of Westphalian power politics and the show of violence and Western military superiority.”

Well, we all know how it backfired. It led to a genuine modern revolution – and Maoism. The problem, as Xiang interprets it, is that the revolution “transformed the traditional Confucian society of peace and harmony into a virulent Westphalian state.”

So only through a social revolution inspired by October 1917 the Chinese state “begun the real process of approaching the West” and what we all define as “modernization”. What would Deng say?

Xiang argues that the current Chinese hybrid system, “dominated by a cancerous alien organ of Russian Bolshevism, is not sustainable without drastic reforms to create a pluralist republican system. Yet these reforms should not be conditioned upon eliminating traditional political values.”

So is the CCP capable of successfully merging Confucianism and Marxism-Leninism? Forging a unique, Chinese, Third Way? That’s not only the major theme for Xiang’s subsequent books: that’s a question for the ages.

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Selected Articles: Coronavirus Policing and Overreach

October 10th, 2020 by Global Research News

Evidence that the Face Mask does not Impede Viral Transmission

By Prof. Bill Willers, October 09 2020

An Open Letter to Robert Redfield, Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Reimagine and Reset Our World”: “COVID-19, The Great Reset” by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret

By Catherine Austin Fitts, October 09 2020

What surprised me about Covid-19: The Great Reset was the implied confidence that the “official reality” is selling. From their approach, I assume that the authors are targeting young people—helping them establish a framework that feels positive about the future and will support where the global leadership wants to go.

While No One Was Looking: America, Guyana, and Venezuela

By Ted Snider, October 09 2020

On March 2, 2020, the people of Guyana went to the polls. According to the Carter Center, at first things went really well. And then they didn’t. At the close of the day, President David Granger had been re-elected. But, though nine of ten districts reported cleanly, the largest district was mired in confusion. And the promise became chaos.

Colombia Covid Lockdown: Collapse of Healthcare, Social Crisis, Poverty

By Yanis Iqbal, October 09 2020

The present-day shambolic structure of Colombian healthcare is an inevitable consequence of an all-pervasive implementation of neoliberalism.

US Sanctions: Weapons of War by Other Means on Targeted Nations

By Stephen Lendman, October 09 2020

Despite their illegality and ineffectiveness, they’re imposed time and again on numerous countries. According to international security affairs expert Professor Robert Pape, sanctions are only effective around 5% of the time.

Omnibus Collisions: Coronavirus Policing and Overreach in Victoria

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, October 09 2020

Officers would have the power to detain anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or anyone who had been in close contact with a positive case, for a period “reasonably necessary to eliminate a serious risk to public health,” provided it was “reasonably believed” they would fail to comply with a direction of self-quarantine

Over 6000 Scientists, Doctors Sign Anti-lockdown Petition

By Steve Watson, October 09 2020

Over six thousand scientists and doctors have signed a petition against coronavirus lockdown measures, urging that those not in the at risk category should be able to get on with their lives as normal, and that lockdown rules in both the US and UK are causing ‘irreparable damage’.

Video: “Contact Tracing”, A Certified Contact Tracer Exposes the Truth

By Timothy Alexander Guzman, October 09 2020

The US government, the Clinton Foundation and several states are actively creating an army of contact tracers, so in a sense, Obama’s call for a civilian force is becoming a reality.

A Big Move In Silver: Watch The Currency Markets

By Hubert Moolman, October 09 2020

The 2020 silver bottom occurred one month before the April 2020 USD/ZAR top (a similar setup to 2001). Since then, we have had a multi-month silver rally which is very likely just the beginning of a multi-year rally.

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“In my opinion, tens of thousands are dying unnecessarily. Our current approach of waiting for these high-risk patients to become ill and then hospitalizing them is failing. The answer is early diagnosis of the high-risk individuals, and then treating them as outpatients with the HCQ cocktail to prevent hospitalization.” – George C Fareed, MD [1]

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The COVID virus without a doubt, has dominated discussions in the broader community. The measures aiming to control the bug have become extreme. Many employees are wondering whether or not they’ll return to work. Many people in centres around the world wonder if even we will return to a pre-pandemic era.

Increasingly, World Health Organizations (WHO) tell us that the fastest solution will be a vaccine admitted to all or most people on the planet.

Is vaccination the only answer to the plague of the 21st century?

According to many, many medical doctors, the answer is “no.”

A medication called hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin or doxycycline and zinc, when applied to patients within the early stages of the illness, have made a resounding improvement on their prospects to recover completely. An effective treatment, with no evidence of significant side effects. [2]

One small problem. Hydroxychloroquine has faced a barrage of negative press among major press organizations. It was continually accused of negative consequences and finally got crossed off of the solutions hit list after a famous study on it was published in the prestigious medical journal: The Lancet.

When a group of “America’s Frontline Doctors” was promoting the medication on Facebook and YouTube, the event, after having attracted engagement by the millions was pulled down from both social platforms on the grounds that the video shared “false” or “harmful” information about COVID or otherwise “violating YouTube community guidelines.” [3]

And of course, the thought of President Trump promoting Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment stirred up enough opposition from his political opponents to give that drug a wide berth.

Is there a deeper layer of meaning behind this humble pill’s personality assassination? We devote the show to finding out.

Our first interview is with Jane Orient, MD. On behalf of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, she talks about the unfairness of blocking dissemination of the drug by doctors and about the legal actions taken against the Food and Drug Administration by the organization.

Then we hear from Meryl Nass, MD about the plan to deconstruct and discourage use of Hydroxychloroquine by the WHO, the medical journals and even the media.

Finally, we hear from three researchers: Roland Derwand, MD, Martin Scholz, PhD, and Vladimir Zelenko, MD. They discuss the study pioneering early intervention with Hydroxychloroquine “cocktails” and measuring their success as a COVID 19 treatment.

Jane Orient, MD is a general and internal physician based in Tucson, Arizona. She is the Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Meryl Nass, MD is a General Internal Medicine Physician with 40 years of experience. She is an epidemic and anthrax expert and composes a series of blogs for the site Anthrax Vaccine as well as Global Research. She’s based in Ellsworth, Maine.

Roland Derwand, MD is a German doctor and a life science industry expert. He currently heads the medical affairs department of a U.S. biotech company in Germany.

Martin Scholz, PhD is an independent consultant and adjunct professor for experimental medicine at Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany.

Vladimir Zelenko, MD is a family physician based in New York City. He is medical director at the Monsey Family Medical Center.

(Global Research News Hour Episode 290)

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

Notes:

  1. George C Fareed, MD, Open letter to Congressman Juan Vargas, ‘Medical Studies Support MDs Prescribing Hydroxychloroquine for Early Stage COVID-19 and for Prophylaxis’, P. 241
  2. ibid
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/28/tech/facebook-youtube-coronavirus/index.html

Armenian forces have reclaimed the tactical initiative in the battle for the Nagorno-Karabakh region and conducted several counter-attacks taking back positions earlier captured by Azerbaijan on the Jabrayil front on the evening of October 7. Later, on the morning of October 8, the Armenian Defense Ministry announced that Azerbaijani forces had launched a military offensive in the area, which had been repelled.

“Early in the morning, at 08:30, the enemy attempted an attack in the southern direction, but after losing 3 units of military equipment and about 20 soldiers, the enemy escaped from the battlefield near Jabrayil,” the representative of the Armenian Ministry of Defense Artsrun Hovhannisyan said.

“Fighting continues. our troops are performing their tasks brilliantly. We have some good luck, but heavy fighting continues,” he said.

It should be noted that, according to the Armenian side, Jabrayil remains a contested area despite Azerbaijani claims that it had been captured. In their turn, Baku says that all Armenian reports are fake news and their statements about retaking some positions just confirm that they have lost them.

Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani military released videos showing captured Armenian positions in the villages of Shaybey, Shukurbeyli and Chaxirli. Armenian forces abandoned three T-72 battle tanks, three D-30 howitzers as well as many military vehicles and trucks, most of them were damaged to some extent.

As of October 8, the Turkish-backed advance by Azerbaijan on Karabakh slowed down due to the fierce resistance of Armenian forces, complex mountain terrain and bad weather. Nonetheless, the Azerbaijani leadership and its Big Brothers in Turkey demonstrate no indication of readiness for a new prolonged ceasefire and the resumption of negotiations. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that the “attempt to achieve the ceasefire” could be made only after the Armenian side provides an official schedule of the withdrawal of its forces from the contested region, which should be approved by the OSCE Minsk group. The Azerbaijani military, with help from Turkey, still maintains full air dominance and has an upper hand in artillery, heavy military equipment and manpower. Therefore, it seeks to develop the initial success gained in the first week of the war and further deliver a devastating blow to Armenian forces and then dismantle the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. On the other hand, Armenian forces deployed in the contested region lack modern air-defense measures, heavy equipment and artillery. They compensate this with a wide network of fortified positions in the mountain area and the better combat readiness of their infantry.

More and more evidence of Turkish involvement in the conflict surfaces online. After multiple photos and videos with Turkish-backed Syrian militants deploying to the combat zone, satellite images show Turkish F-16 jets on the airbase near Azerbaijan’s Ganza. The satellite images confirm that as of October 3, Turkish warplanes were still there. On September 29, Armenia announced that one of its Su-25 fighter jets had been shot down by a Turkish F-16 that had taken off from Ganja. At that time, Turkey and Azerbaijan denounced these claims as fake news. Nonetheless, it is clear that Turkey at least had the theoretical opportunity to have done so.

The Azerbaijani leadership and its Turkish ally cannot agree on a new ceasefire and negotiations in Karabakh without claiming at least a PR victory in the conflict otherwise this may lead to a political crisis in Azerbaijan. Society, which was put in a state of military hysteria, will not accept such a decision from their government. Thus, it is expected that if Azerbaijan experiences more difficulties in the conflict and is not able to develop momentum, Turkish involvement in the conflict will grow further.

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This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Trump 2.0 essentially would turbo-charge its bet on decoupling, aiming to squeeze “malign” China on a multiple Hybrid War front, undermine the Chinese trade surplus, co-opt large swathes of Asia, while always insisting on characterizing China as evil incarnate.

Team Biden, even as it professes no desire to fall into the trap of a new Cold War, according to the Dem official platform, would be only slightly less confrontational, ostensibly “saving” the “rules-based order” while keeping Trump-enacted sanctions.

Very few Chinese analysts are better positioned to survey the geopolitical and geoeconomic chessboard than Lanxin Xiang: expert on relations between China, US and Europe, professor of History and International Relations at the IHEID in Geneva and director of the Center for One Belt, One Road Studies in Shanghai.

Xiang got his PhD at SAIS at Johns Hopkins, and is as well respected in the US as in China. During a recent webinar he laid out the lineaments of an analysis the West ignores at its own peril.

Xiang has been focusing on the Trump administration’s push to “redefine an external target”: a process he brands, “risky, dangerous, and highly ideological”. Not because of Trump – who is “not interested in ideological issues” – but due to the fact that the “China policy was hijacked by the real Cold Warriors”. The objective: “regime change. But that was not Trump’s original plan.”

Xiang blasts the rationale behind these Cold Warriors: “We made a huge mistake in the past 40 years”. That is, he insists, “absurd – reading back into History, and denying the entire history of US-China relations since Nixon.” And Xiang fears the “lack of overall strategy. That creates enormous strategic uncertainty – and leads to miscalculations.”

Compounding the problem, “China is not really sure what the US wants to do.” Because it goes way beyond containment – which Xiang defines as a “very well thought of strategy by George Kennan, the father of the Cold War.” Xiang only detects a pattern of “Western civilization versus a non-Caucasian culture. That language is very dangerous. It’s a direct rehash of Samuel Huntington, and shows very little room for compromise.”

In a nutshell, that’s the “American way of stumbling into a Cold War.”

An October Surprise?

All of the above directly connects with Xiang’s great concern about a possible October Surprise: “It could probably be over Taiwan. Or a limited engagement in the South China Sea.” He stresses, “Chinese military people are terribly worried. October Surprise as a military engagement is not unthinkable, because Trump may want to re-establish a war presidency.”

Image on the right: Prof. Lanxin Xiang

Interview with Prof. Xiang Lanxin - YouTube

For Xiang, “if Biden wins, the danger of a Cold War turning Hot War will be reduced dramatically.” He is very much aware of shifts in the bipartisan consensus in Washington: “Historically, Republicans don’t care about human rights and ideology. Chinese always preferred to deal with Republicans. They can’t deal with Democrats – human rights, values issues. Now the situation is reversed.”

Xiang, incidentally, “invited a top Biden adviser to Beijing. Very pragmatic. Not too ideological.” But in case of a possible Trump 2.0 administration, everything could change: “My hunch is he will be totally relaxed, may even reverse China policy 180 degrees. I would not be surprised. He would turn back to being Xi Jinping’s best friend.”

As it stands, the problem is “a chief diplomat that behaves as a chief propagandist, taking advantage of an erratic president.”

And that’s why Xiang never rules out even an invasion of Taiwan by Chinese troops. He games the scenario of a Taiwanese government announcing, “We are independent” coupled with a visit by the Secretary of State: “That would provoke a limited military action, and could turn into an escalation. Think about Sarajevo. That worries me. If Taiwan declares independence, Chinese invade in less than 24 hours. “

How Beijing miscalculates

Unlike most Chinese scholars, Xiang is refreshingly frank about Beijing’s own shortcomings: “Several things should have been better controlled. Like abandoning Deng Xiaoping’s original advice that China should bide its time and keep a low profile. Deng, in his last will, had set a timeline for that, at least 50 years.”

The problem is “the speed of China’s economic development led to hot headed, and premature, calculations. And a not well thought of strategy. ‘Wolf warrior’ diplomacy is an extremely assertive posture – and language. China began to upset the US – and even the Europeans. That was a geostrategic miscalculation.”

And that brings us to what Xiang characterizes as “the overextension of Chinese power: geopolitical and geoconomic.” He’s fond of quoting Paul Kennedy: “Any great superpower, if overstretched, becomes vulnerable.”

Xiang goes as far as stating that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – whose concept he enthusiastically praises – may be overstretched: “They thought it was a purely economic project. But with such wide global reach?”

So is BRI a case of overstretching or a source of destabilization? Xiang notes how, “Chinese are never really interested in other countries’ domestic policies. Not interested in exporting a model. Chinese have no real model. A model has to be mature – with a structure. Unless you’re talking about export of traditional Chinese culture.”

The problem, once again, is that China thought it was possible to “sneak into geographical areas that the US never paid too much attention to, Africa, Central Asia, without necessarily provoking a geopolitical setback. But that is naiveté.”

Xiang is fond of reminding Western analysts that, “the infrastructure investment model was invented by Europeans. Railways. The Trans-Siberian. Canals, like in Panama. Behind these projects there was always a colonial competition. We pursue similar projects – minus colonialism.”

Still, “Chinese planners buried their head in the sand. They never use that word – geopolitics.” Thus his constant jokes with Chinese policy makers: “You may not like geopolitics, but geopolitics likes you.”

Ask Confucius

The crucial aspect of the “post-pandemic situation”, according to Xiang, is to forget about “that wolf warrior stuff. China may be able to re-start the economy before anyone else. Develop a really working vaccine. China should not politicize it. It should show a universal value about it, pursue multilateralism to help the world, and improve its image.”

On domestic politics, Xiang is adamant that “during the last decade the atmosphere at home, on minority issues, freedom of speech, has been tightening to the extent that it does not help China’s image as a global power.”

Compare it, for instance, with “unfavorable views of China” in a survey of nations in the industrialized West that includes only two Asians: Japan and South Korea.

And that brings us to Xiang’s The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics – arguably the most important contemporary study by a Chinese scholar capable of explaining and bridging the East-West political divide.

This book is such a major breakthrough that its main conceptual analyses will be the subject of a follow-up column.

Xiang’s main thesis is that “legitimacy in Chinese tradition political philosophy is a dynamic question. To transplant Western political values to the Chinese system does not work.”

Yet even as the Chinese concept of legitimacy is dynamic, Xiang stresses, “the Chinese government is facing a legitimacy crisis.” He refers to the anti-corruption campaign of the past four years: “Widespread official corruption, that is a side-effect of economic development, bringing out the bad side of the system. Credit to Xi Jinping, who understood that if we allow this to continue, the CCP will lose all legitimacy.”

Xiang stresses how, in China, “legitimacy is based on the concept of morality – since Confucius. The communists can’t escape the logic.

Nobody before Xi dared to tackle corruption. He had the guts to root it out, arrested hundreds of corrupt generals. Some even attempted two or three coups d’état.”

At the same time, Xiang is adamantly against the “tightening of the atmosphere” in China in terms of freedom of speech. He mentions the example of Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew, an “enlightened authoritarian system”. The problem is” China has no rule of law. There are a lot of legal aspects though. Singapore is a little city-state. Like Hong Kong. They just took over the British legal system. It’s working very well for that size.”

And that brings Xiang to quote Aristotle: “Democracy can never work in bigger countries. In city-states, it does.” And armed with Aristotle, we step into Hong Kong: “Hong Kong had rule of law – but never a democracy. The government was directly appointed by London. That’s how Hong Kong actually worked – as an economic dynamo. Neoliberal economists consider Hong Kong as a model. It’s a unique political arrangement. Tycoon politics. No democracy – even as the colonial government did not rule like an authoritarian figure. Market economy was unleashed. Hong Kong was ruled by the Jockey Club, HSBC, Jardine Matheson, with the colonial government as coordinator. They never cared about people in the bottom.”

Xiang notes how, “the richest man in Hong Kong only pays 15% of income tax. China wanted to keep that pattern, with a colonial government appointed by Beijing. Still tycoon politics. But now there’s a new generation. People born after the handover – who know nothing about the colonial history. Chinese elite ruling since 1997 did not pay attention to the grassroots and neglected younger generation sentiment. For a whole year the Chinese didn’t do anything. Law and order collapsed. This is the reason why mainland Chinese decided to step in. That’s what the new security law is all about.”

And what about that other favorite “malign” actor across the Beltway – Russia? “Putin would love to have a Trump win. The Chinese as well, up to three months ago. The Cold War was a great strategic triangle. After Nixon went to China, the US sat in the middle manipulating Moscow and Beijing. Now everything has changed.”

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On March 2, 2020, the people of Guyana went to the polls. According to the Carter Center, at first things went really well. And then they didn’t. At the close of the day, President David Granger had been re-elected. But, though nine of ten districts reported cleanly, the largest district was mired in confusion. And the promise became chaos.

As the Granger government and Irfaan Ali’s opposition convicted each other of fraud and accused each other of coups, the battle between throwing out the election and recounting the large district four ended with a recount. And the recount reversed the decision. Granger was pressured to hand over power to Irfaan Ali.

The US was a leading voice in the call for a recount and the US applied a great deal of pressure on Granger to hand over the office of President. Two weeks after the initial count, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Granger not to form an “illegitimate government” based on “electoral fraud” or he would “be subjected to a variety of serious consequences from the United States Government.” Then, on July 15, five weeks after the June 7 recount was completed, Pompeo announced “visa restrictions on individuals who have been responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Guyana.”

After undermining democracy, declaring fair elections frauds and supporting coups in Bolivia and Venezuela, why is America so concerned about fair elections in Guyana?

Like what really happened in the election, the answer is not clear. But what is clear is that Irfaan Ali now holds the Presidential office in Guyana. And, now in office, Ali has agreed to hold joint maritime patrols near waters that are importantly contested with Venezuela. In his joint announcement with Irfaan Ali, Pompeo referred to “Greater security, greater capacity to understand your border space, what’s happening inside your Exclusive Economic Zone” as “things that give Guyana sovereignty.”

Ali’s willingness to cooperate with the US, who is actively and aggressively pressing for regime change in Guyana’s neighboring Venezuela, is in sharp contrast to Granger’s reluctance. Granger rejected a request that came just after the March election from Voice of America for permission to use Guyana to broadcast into Venezuela. Just after the new election results, Ali agreed to partner with America against Venezuela. Granger’s campaign manager suggested that the Guyanese election “seem no longer to be about the Guyanese people but about other interests.”

Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of Latin American History at Pomona College, and one of the world’s leading experts on Venezuelan history and politics, told me in a personal correspondence that “The US has been attempting to manipulate relations between Guyana and Venezuela, especially the long standing border dispute between both countries over the issue of the Essequibo which Venezuela has historically claimed.” He added the reminder that “Pompeo was recently in Guyana and Suriname to promote the US policy of isolating Venezuela.”

But, as Miguel Tinker Salas’ comment points out, the US has more than Venezuela in its sights. It also has its sights on the oil discoveries in the disputed waters of the Essequibo. As Miguel Tinker Sala told me, “Add to that oil, and the role of Exxon which is still smarting over their exit from Venezuela and you have the conditions which allow the US to exacerbate tensions between both countries.” But to understand the important role of oil in the US’s interference in the relationship between Guyana and Venezuela requires an understanding of two hundred years of history. And a half century of hypocrisy.

History

The border dispute that the US is exploiting and manipulating was born almost two centuries ago in 1835 when the British gently eased over the western borders of the Guyanese colony it had inherited from the Dutch and usurped a large portion of land from Venezuela.

In 1899, the matter of the disputed territory came up before an international tribunal. But the tribunal ruled in favor of Britain and granted British Guyana control over the disputed territory. Of course it did: the tribunal was stacked. Rather than being an impartial tribunal made up of Latin American countries as it should have been, the dispute was adjudicated by an international body dominated by the United States and – of all countries – Britain. Britain was hardly a disinterested party. Worst of all, Venezuela was not permitted a delegate to the tribunal! The Venezuelans were represented by former U.S. President Benjamin Harris.

“Needless to say,” Miguel Tinker Salas says in his book Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know, Venezuela’s “prospects of prevailing in a tribunal dominated by foreign powers appeared slim.” And slim it was. The tribunal, which was dominated by Britain and excluded Venezuela, ruled in favor of Britain and against Venezuela. The tribunal issued its decision without any supporting rationale. The ruling gave Britain possession of over 90% of the disputed territory it had stolen from Venezuela sixty-four years earlier.

Years later, it would be revealed that the tribunal was not only stacked, it was fixed. The official secretary of the American represented Venezuelan delegation to the international tribunal, Severo Mallet-Prevost, confirmed Venezuela’s allegation when he revealed in a posthumously published letter that the governments of Britain and Russia influenced the president of the tribunal to exert pressure on the arbitrators to rule in Britain’s favor.

That letter was not published until 1949. Seventeen years later, in 1966, citing the corruption that usurped the territory that was rightfully theirs, Venezuela claimed the territory at the United Nations. At that time, Venezuela, Guyana and Britain signed the Treaty of Geneva, agreeing to resolve the dispute and promising that neither Venezuela nor Guyana would do anything on the disputed territory until a border settlement had been arrived at that was acceptable to all.

That treaty is violated by Pompeo’s agreement with Ali to hold joint maritime patrols that reinforce Guyana’s “security”, “border space”, “Exclusive Economic Zone” and “sovereignty,” in the words of Mike Pompeo.

But this is not the first time. As Miguel Tinker Salas said, Exxon “is still smarting over their exit from Venezuela” in the Hugo Chavez years. So, despite the Treaty of Geneva, Guyana has begun extracting oil in the disputed territory. In 2015, ExxonMobil made a huge oil discovery in the very waters disputed by Guyana and Venezuela. In order to get around the laws enacted by Chavez that nationalized the oil and natural gas industries of Venezuela that had previously been controlled mostly by American oil interests, ExxonMobil and Guyana simply asserted that the oil was in Guyanese territory. That assertion was made in flagrant defiance of the Treaty of Geneva, which stipulated that neither country could act in that territory until the border had been resolved. America can now portray Venezuela as an aggressor, attempting to steal oil from its tiny, impoverished neighbor.

That flagrant violation has continued as ExxonMobil “ramps up crude output from Guyana’s massive” offshore oil reserves. ExxonMobil has been extracting and exporting this oil at least since December of 2019.

So, the US is concerned with Guyana as a tool for exerting pressure on Venezuela both for regime change and to steal back the oil that Chavez took back to use for his own people: oil reserves so large, they could now make Guyana one of the richest countries in the world.

Hypocrisy

There is also a historical hypocrisy to America using Guyana as a tool to bring about a coup against the left wing, nationalist government of Venezuela because Guyana just got over the effects of the American coup that brought down its left wing, nationalist government. Though the US is using Guyana to help bring down the government of Venezuela, documents just declassified in April of 2020 reveal clearly that in the first half of the 1960’s, Guyana was the Venezuela of its day.

Cheddi Jagan was the popularly elected Prime Minister of British Guyana. He had been elected by a large majority in 1953 and reelected in 1957 and 1961. But, by then, the Americans had had enough, and in 1962, the CIA undertook to organize and finance anti-Jagan protests: President Kennedy would use the CIA to remove Jagan in a coup.

For decades after the thirty year rule on classified documents had expired, the CIA and the State Department refused to declassify the documents on British Guyana. But now they have finally been declassified. As The New York Times reported on October 30, 1994, at the end of the thirty years, the then “Still-classified documents depict in unusual detail a direct order from the President to unseat Dr. Jagan, say Government officials familiar with the secret papers. . . . The Jagan papers are . . . a clear written record . . . of a President’s command to depose a Prime Minister.”

Jagan was a nationalist politician who considered himself a socialist. A 1962 National Intelligence Analysis admitted that Jagan was not a communist and that his posture would probably be one of nonalignment. Nonetheless, the CIA feared that Jagan demonstrated susceptibility to being receptive of advice from communists; the NSA said he could become one. Later, US intelligence would call him a communist while admitting he was not under the sway of the Soviet Union. By the middle of 1962, Kennedy had told the British Prime Minister “that we simply cannot afford to see another Castro-type regime established in this Hemisphere. It follows that we should set as our objective an independent British Guiana under some other leader.” Kennedy called for a coup.

To achieve that goal, he would unleash a full spectrum political action to remove the democratically elected Jagan from power. So, the CIA set about changing the direction of Guyanese domestic affairs: it boosted Jagan’s opponents, engaged in propaganda, pushed against his popularity and tried to discredit him. The focus of the political action was the so called “General Strike” that began in April of 1963. The CIA advised union leaders on how to organize and sustain the strike and trained strikers. They provided strike pay for workers and food and funds to keep the strike going. They also provided money for propaganda on behalf of the strike. Is estimated that the CIA spent about $800,000, which today is the equivalent of around $6.7 million.

The CIA also created new parties that were positioned to bleed off Jagan supporters. They provided those parties with advisors and support. According to National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy’s assistant, Gordon Chase, the CIA “in a deniable and discreet way” had begun financing party workers. US money paid for leaflets, campaign buttons and more. The CIA helped with slogans and campaign strategy. Labor operatives and some campaign workers had their salaries paid by the US. McGeorge Bundy even approved paramilitary training: just in case.

The coup de grâce of the coup was getting the British to amend the Guyanese constitution to transform the Guyanese political system into one of proportional representation. That change, it was expected, would work to gain opponents seats sufficient to deny Jagan another majority government.

Simultaneously with all of these political maneuvers, the States was crippling Guyana’s economy by closing markets to its exports, imposing an embargo and refusing to provide oil. The deprivation would force Jagan to turn increasingly to Cuba and the U.S.S.R, and old trick to allow the States to declare an opponent a communist.

Despite all of these actions, Jagan won the most votes – 47%, which was more than he won in the last election – and a plurality of the seats (24 out of 53). But the CIA’s political action succeeded in denying him his majority, and, in a blatant move, the British governor simply refused to allow Jagan his opportunity to put together a government and called on the second place finisher, CIA supported Forbes Burnham, to form the government.

Burnham would go on to rule Guyana as a corrupt dictator until his death, ending democracy in Guyana until 1992, when, in its first free election since the coup, the Guyanese elected . . . Cheddi Jagan.

In 1990, Kennedy advisor Arthur Schlesinger publicly apologized to Cheddi Jagan and admitted that it was his recommendation that got the British to make the constitutional change to proportional representation that cost Jagan his government.

So, the US interference in, and manipulation of, the relationship between Guyana and Venezuela is long on history and hypocrisy that needs to be remembered in understanding the events of today being maneuvered by Mike Pompeo in the contested waters near Venezuela.

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Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Japan today to attend a high-profile summit of top diplomats from the countries involved in the “Indo-Pacific Quad.” The Quad is a U.S.-initiated alliance composed of Australia, Japan, the United States and India. It is an important pillar of the Trump administration’s strategy to ratchet up confrontation with China.

In Pompeo’s opening address to the summit, he stated,

“I also look forward to … renewing our resolve to protect our precious freedoms and the sovereignty of the diverse nations of the region. As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP’s exploitation, corruption, and coercion.”

As is to be expected from the managers of U.S. foreign policy, this statement turns reality on its head. Pompeo uttered these words while visiting a country in which the United States carried out the nuclear obliteration of two cities with minimal military significance at the cost of over 200,000 civilian lives. Elsewhere in the region, the U.S. military has waged genocidal wars of conquest in the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam. The U.S. government has backed brutal dictatorships and played a key role in orchestrating the 1965 Indonesian genocide.

Hypocrisy aside, the Quad poses a distinct threat to peace in the present day. While most Asian states have extensive relations with both powers, the United States hopes to polarize the region into competing pro-U.S. and pro-China blocs. To the strategists of U.S. empire, Japan, Australia and India are naturally their most important junior partners.

U.S. strategy falls flat

Despite its best efforts, the U.S. government has run into difficulty drumming up enthusiasm around the world for a full-on “new Cold War” against China. “The Quad is clearly a coalition of the unwilling, apathetic, and disinterested,” said KJ Noh, a peace activist and scholar on the geopolitics of Asia, citing “Their failure to make even a single common statement even naming China or directly agreeing with Secretary Pompeo.” Noh argued

“This is partially because all the Quad countries are mutually dependent on China for their economic well being and growth … Their economies–and futures–are intertwined, even more so now, given that China is currently the only country in the world with a growing economy.”

There is also unevenness among the members of the Quad. Noh acknowledges that Japan is the most predisposed to follow the United States into all-out conflict, noting that the country has a history of brutal colonial rule in China and “hosts nearly 100 U.S. bases which would be the “unsinkable” aircraft carrier in case of a shooting war.”

India is currently engaged in a tense standoff along its disputed, mountainous border with China. While clashes this year have claimed soldiers’ lives, India maintains its participation in several important international initiatives alongside China, such as the BRICS bloc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There is a clear advantage for India, a former British colony, in the emergence of a “multi-polar” world order as advocated by China over the existing western-dominated one.

Noh told Liberation that Australia is “currently the most obviously hawkish … with their Defense department think tank, ASPI, responsible for a huge amount of anti-China propaganda and information warfare” but added that in doing so the country runs the risk of “suffering serious repercussions from China, as their trade and service sectors are largely dependent on China.” This is not lost on large sectors of the Australian elite, and even led the province of Victoria to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative trading bloc in defiance of the federal government’s position.

Pompeo had initially planned a more extensive regional tour involving stops in South Korea and Mongolia following the meeting in Japan, but had to cancel as a result of the outbreak of Coronavirus infections among members of the Trump administration’s inner circle. While he failed to secure a firm commitment at the Quad summit for an escalation in hostility towards China, the U.S. is highly unlikely to give up anytime soon.

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Featured image is from Liberation News

A Big Move In Silver: Watch The Currency Markets

October 9th, 2020 by Hubert Moolman

The USD/ZAR chart has been a good predictor for silver rallies. Similar to the US Dollar index, but a bit more accurate or precise. Very important silver bottoms tend to coincide with tops of the USD/ZAR chart.

Below, is a chart of silver as compared with the USD/ZAR chart, to demonstrates this fact:

The 2001 silver bottom(SB) occurred one month before the key 2001 USD/ZAR bottom. This was followed by a multi-rear silver rally.

The 2008 silver bottom occurred in the same month (October) as the 2008 USD/ZAR top. Again, it was followed by a multi-year rally.

The 2020 silver bottom occurred one month before the April 2020 USD/ZAR top (a similar setup to 2001). Since then, we have had a multi-month silver rally which is very likely just the beginning of a multi-year rally.

October into November tend to also be a key month for this relationship, as it was the case in 2002 and 2008. It is often the turnaround time or the period where silver really starts accelerating.

The USD/ZAR ratio is actually looking tired from a long-term and short-term view, and this is consistent with the outlook for the US Dollar index.

We have to keep our eyes on this ratio:

Often we see a key or big decline in the USD/ZAR ratio just before a massive silver spike. Here, possibly a move (lower) out of the wedge. Also, silver does seem ready to move much higher soon.

This is all still consistent with the greater silver cycle as shown in this chart:

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, Hubert Moolman on Silver and Gold.

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Evidence that the Face Mask does not Impede Viral Transmission

October 9th, 2020 by Prof. Bill Willers

Dr. Redfield:

I made it a point to watch you after seeing Wisconsin’s Chief Medical Officer and Epidemiologist, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, state publicly on June 3, 2020 

“Now the science is in. [Because of] recent studies with large numbers of patients in large numbers of countries….  we have hard evidence that risk of transmission goes down dramatically when people wear masks.”

I thought that he had to be wrong, because dozens of studies over decades had established that public masking does not impede viral transmission. The CDC, under your directorship, had even published a mere two months earlier, in May, 2020,

 “In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks”.

I emailed Dr. Westergaard for citations to back up his claim. He refused to answer me, but after multiple entreaties, and only more than a month later, he was willing to send my state representative a list of four publications that, as you would know, demonstrated nothing.

To check the CDC position, I went to your website (the August 7 update) and found your recommendation that people wear masks, along with a silly cartoon diagram of little spiked balls that indicate viruses bouncing off of a cloth surface. 

 

In nearby text, there is reference to “droplets” and a link to “emerging evidence” taking one to a bibliography of 19 entries presumably intended to justify the sudden position of the CDC to support public masking. Here, a snippet of a summation of my recently published article:

“It is difficult to explain to non-scientists what do, and what do not, qualify as bona fide scientific studies, but, just to make a point, the first listed in this CDC bibliography is a report based on a single asymptomatic infection …..

The other 18 consist primarily of reports of viral loads, the prevalence of asymptomatic patients, “presumed” transmission in a family of 5, rates of spread, fabric filtration efficiency, even laser light visualization of oral droplets (really).

Only 4 deal with masks per se, and not one comes close to making a case for the efficacy of public masking. One actually ends with the authors support of

‘…. surgical mask use as one of the recommended cough etiquette interventions’ [their term].

Etiquette? The list, a pathetically limp effort by the CDC to justify its indefensible authorization of public masking, does absolutely nothing to overturn years of studies that, in sum, show public masking to be ineffective in preventing transmission of viruses.”

Dr. Redfield, that list is erroneous.

Then, just two weeks ago, on September 16, 2020, I listened carefully to your testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Coronavirus Response when you said, beginning at 1:04:40,

“Face masks are the most important powerful public health tool we have ….. We have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense. I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guarantee to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70%, and if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This mask will.” (emphasis added)

Your statement is  that “clear scientific evidence” would necessarily involve randomized controlled trials.

Such bona fide scientific studies could not have been accomplished in the brief period between Spring, 2020, when it was understood within the scientific community that public masking is pointless, and July, when the CDC began telling people to mask up, using as justification a list of barely related anecdotal notes.

I consider these statements as politicized “expertise”.

The CDC under your leadership misrepresents the protective value of masks.

That, of course, points to a much larger political project at play.

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

 

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Featured image: President Trump visited the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on March 6, 2020. From the left: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, CDC director Robert R. Redfield, and CDC associate director Stephan Monroe. Credit: White House photo by Shealah Craighead

OneWorld is publishing the original English-language version of Andrew Korybko’s analysis on the titular topic that was first released in Russian at the Moscow-Baku information portal.

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Armenia’s decision to skip next week’s CSTO drills in Belarus and the bloc’s subsequently announced postponement of planned exercises in the South Caucasus country later this month (purportedly decided weeks ago) can be interpreted as Yerevan and Moscow sending strong signals to one another over the Nagorno-Karabakh Continuation War.

Russia defied the Alt-Media Community‘s exaggerated expectations of its military support to Armenia by thus far refusing to intervene in defense of its continued illegal occupation of universally recognized Azerbaijani territory. Even Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan was forced to admit last week that “Moscow is formally and legally a strategic partner of Armenia, but the fact is that now Moscow is totally neutral. Russia is a member of the Minsk Group co-chairmanship, and, to be honest, it is her duty to be neutral.” This is still the case despite “Armenia Going For Broke By Attacking Azerbaijan’s Ganja”, its second largest city, over the weekend in a desperate attempt to provoke a similarly devastating counterstrike against a target within its internationally recognized territory in order to prompt Russia’s possible military intervention through the CSTO’s mutual defense clause. The “security dilemma” that Armenia is provoking with its Russian ally has now led to them sending strong signals to one another through their latest decisions related to that bloc.

Armenia first announced that it’ll skip next week’s CSTO drills in Belarus due to its ongoing hostilities with Azerbaijan, which is seemingly plausible since it’s a tacit acknowledgement of how badly it’s being defeated by its foe that it can’t spare any extra soldiers but could also be interpreted as a passive-aggressive decision intended to display Yerevan’s disagreement with the bloc’s refusal to intervene in its support. Shortly after Tuesday’s decision, the CSTO then said that it’ll postpone its planned exercises in the South Caucasus country later this month (purportedly decided weeks ago), which can be interpreted as Moscow not wanting to do anything to provoke Baku or encourage more aggression from Yerevan. That doesn’t mean that Russia wouldn’t seriously consider intervening in Armenia’s support in the highly unlikely scenario of a joint Azerbaijani-Turkish land invasion of their target’s internationally recognized borders, but just that it won’t let the CSTO be exploited by one of its members as bait for drawing the Eurasian Great Power into what might turn out to be a larger war.

Expanding upon this insight, it can be said that the CSTO has yet to become a player in this conflict and that its leadership clearly doesn’t want it to ever become one either. This contrasts with Armenia’s false expectations of the alliance and might compel it to reach out to the West (especially France) for military support instead. That doesn’t mean that it’ll do so publicly, let alone at this time, or that it’ll succeed if or when it does, but just that the scenario remains on the table considering Yerevan’s disappointment with the bloc. From the Russian perspective, any Armenian outreaches to security partners other than those within the CSTO pose a threat to its interests, which includes its military base in the country but also the unity of its military alliance. For this reason, Russia might try to “diplomatically appease” Armenia as best as possible without provoking Azerbaijan or contradicting Moscow’s strict support of international law, perhaps by issuing some ambiguous statements that could be interpreted either way by those who want to. Still, by not intervening in its support, ties will chill.

While it’s best for Russia to seek equally strategic relations with all partners, the author recently argued the “Five Ways That An Azerbaijani Victory Over Armenia Would Advance Russian Interests”, so a “zero-sum” reading of the situation would suggest that all might not be lost if Russia “loses” Armenia like some might misleadingly portray it has having done. In reality, any worsening of their relations as a result of the “security dilemma” that Armenia provoked would be Yerevan’s fault taken on its own initiative as opposed to Moscow’s since the Eurasian Great Power’s “junior partner” should have known that its “big brother” couldn’t be so easily tricked into a dangerous game of CSTO-NATO brinkmanship with Azerbaijan’s Turkish ally over a territory that no UN member recognizes as other than Azerbaijani land. The best-case scenario is that Armenia finally awakens to the disaster that its leadership, foreign partners, and ill-intended diaspora are responsible for creating, but it might just double down on its aggression out of desperation until it finally loses the war.

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The English version of this article was originally published on OneWorld.

The Russian version was published at the Moscow-Baku information portal under the title “Американский эксперт Эндрю Корыбко: Армения и Россия шлют друг другу сигналы через ОДКБ”.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorld

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As we head in to winter watch death statistic manipulation go into overdrive, check out this “Medical Practitioners” guidance on death provisions. 

Did you know that the UK Government have removed Form 5 of the Cremation Certificate for deaths relating to Covid-19 under the Coronavirus Act which is the form that the relative who registers the death must be given as it enables them to see and query the death certificate before cremation.

So basically if your loved one dies of or with Covid19 they can have their death certified and cremation certified by the same medical practitioner and sent for cremation within hours and the government have removed your right to see or query that decision before the cremation takes place which in turn removes your right to request a coroners report or second opinion.

Why would they do this? And the removal notice of Form 5 doesn’t explain what the section that’s been removed is actually for.  I had to search the internet for older cremation forms to find out what  Form 5 was used for. That information was nowhere on the UK Government website.

The order in which the comorbidities are listed determines how the death appears in the statistics and if the patient just happens to test positive without symptoms then it should not be listed in the cause of death at all. Neither “of Covid19” or “with Covid19” should be used at all….. the scam is bigger than you know.

I think this is about keeping COVID deaths high enough to justify the continuation of mask and lockdown fascism.This will prevent a lot of autopsies and second opinions. Dr. Yeadon has recently been taking them to task for classifying so many people who died of their comorbidities as deaths from COVID-19. He keeps pointing out that, on autopsy, forensic pathologists are regularly determining these patients expired from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and so on.Will our newly weaponized and deputized rule authoritarians prevent us from bringing these monsters to justice for their crimes against humanity?” Darwin K Hoop

Please take time to read these documents as I tracked them all down and pieced them together myself:

Update:

It appears that these changes were made in advance of Covid-19.

Related information:

“Also good time to recall the other changes made in the Coronavirus Act to the way deaths are processed.

*Only one medic needed to certify cause of death.

*Cause of death can be pronounced or amended by a medic who never attended the deceased or saw the body after death

This might explain why we see relatives complaining of altered CoD – and ‘covid19’ being added after the fact” ~ Catte Black, @OffGuardian

Covid 19 is a statistical nonsense by Iain Dale at Off Guardian:

Not only did the act indemnify all NHS doctors against any claims of negligence during the lockdown, it also removed the need for a jury led inquest. Effectively, only in the case of death from the notifiable disease of COVID 19. Worrying as these elements of the legislation are, they are just part of a raft of changes singling out registered COVID 19 deaths as unusually imprecise.

Coronavirus and sectioning – changes to the Mental Health Act under Coronavirus Act.

Section 5 holding powers can be used to keep you in hospital if you want to leave but your care team wants time to decide whether to section you. The team can use these powers if you are already in hospital, for example as a voluntary patient. These powers aren’t relevant if you are in hospital because you have already been sectioned.

Outside the emergency period, specially qualified nurses can keep you in hospital for up to 6 hours using these powers. This is to allow time for a doctor to assess whether to keep you in hospital for longer.

During the emergency period, nurses will be able to use the same powers to hold you in hospital for up to 12 hours.

Outside the emergency period, the doctor or approved clinician in charge of your treatment can use these powers to hold you for up to 72 hours.

During the emergency period, the time limit for these holding powers will increase to 120 hours. And the person who uses these powers doesn’t have to be the doctor or approved clinician in charge of your care, if this is impractical or would involve undesirable delay. In this case, any doctor or approved clinician can use the holding powers.

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The United States has drawn up a list of 80 sites in Iraq linked to Iranian-backed groups that it plans to target if it follows through with a threat to close its embassy in Baghdad, Middle East Eye has learned.

The sites include secret headquarters and shelters used by Hadi al-Amiri and Qais Khazali, the respective leaders of the Badr Organisation and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), as well as sites associated with Kataeb Hezbollah (KH).

All three are Shia armed groups supported by Tehran which are also part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces under the nominal control of the Iraqi government.

Political leaders and armed group commanders told MEE that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared hundreds of satellite images of the 80 sites with Iraqi President Barham Salih during a phone call on 20 September.

Pompeo also informed Salih of Washington’s plans to close its embassy unless the Iraqi government took action to stop attacks targeting the Green Zone, where the fortified building is located, and convoys delivering supplies to US and international forces elsewhere in Iraq.

“The Americans’ message was clear. If you don’t react, we will,” a prominent Shia politician told MEE, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Allowing this to happen means an open war in Baghdad, and America’s exit from Baghdad means that this war is imminent.”

MEE asked the State Department for comment but had not received a response at the time of publication.

The State Department did not publish a readout of Pompeo’s call with Salih, as it often does when the Secretary of State speaks to foreign dignitaries.

Pompeo’s threat caused alarm in Baghdad where supporters of Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government did not imagine that the Iraqi prime minister, who was warmly welcomed to the White House in August, would be abandoned so quickly by his leading international ally.

They fear that the closing of the US embassy could lead to consequences including the withdrawal of other diplomatic missions, economic and political collapse, and the unleashing of sectarian and ethnic divisions.

“All signs indicate that we are heading into a perfect storm. The Americans’ withdrawal means an economic collapse within two weeks, followed by a political collapse in two or three months, then a security breakdown and the fall of the government,” a senior Iraqi official familiar with the discussions told MEE, speaking on condition of anonymity.

According to the official, US officials are concerned about the possibility of an imminent attack on the embassy by an Iranian-linked group ahead of November’s US presidential election “to embarrass Trump”.

They did not say that there was a plan or information confirming these concerns. The problem is that they require guarantees to secure the embassy [and] this is very difficult in light of the current circumstances,” he said.

Forty-day truce

The day after his phone call from Pompeo, Salih summoned Kadhimi, Mohammed al-Halbousi, the parliamentary speaker, and Faiq Zaidan, the president of the Supreme Judicial Council, to a meeting to discuss the government’s response.

A flurry of diplomatic activity followed, with Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein dispatched to Tehran on 26 September to request Iranian help in reining in the armed factions, political leaders and officials told MEE.

According to Ahmed al-Sahhaf, a spokesperson for the Iraqi foreign ministry, Hussein carried a “verbal message” from Kadhimi to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “focused on the developments in the region and the expected possibilities and their implications”.

But the head of a political Shia bloc familiar with the talks told MEE: “All that Kadhimi requested from Iran was a 40-day truce, no more.

“They said that they do not support any attacks targeting diplomatic missions and that the Iraqi government must take the necessary measures to prevent such attacks. But are they serious about reducing tension or not, that is the question?”

The Shia politician compared the current situation with upheaval a year ago when deadly force used by security forces and the militias against Iraqi protesters led to the resignation of Adel Abdul-Mahdi and paved the way for Kadhimi, a US-feted former intelligence chief, to become prime minister.

“This is the opportunity [the Iranians] have been waiting for for a long time,” he said.

“They see that last October was won by the United States by supporting the demonstrations and the overthrow of Abdul-Mahdi, and their October has now come.”

‘Political game’

Shia militia commanders have so far reacted with defiance, dismissing the threatened closure of the embassy as posturing, reiterating their operational independence from Iran and vowing to continue attacks on American forces.

Hussein’s visit to Tehran was followed by talks the next day in Baghdad between Mohammad Baqeri, commander of the Iranian general staff, and Juma Inad, the Iraqi defence minister, but Baqeri did not meet any of the leaders of the political or armed factions.

“We have not received any signals or messages from the Iranians regarding this matter,” a senior pro-Iran militia commander told MEE.

“The Iranians will not interfere in this, nor will they control all the armed factions. We would hear from them, but that doesn’t mean we do everything they say.

We do not target diplomatic missions, except for the Americans, because they carry out security and intelligence activities. As for the convoys, they are military forces that represent the occupation and all the armed factions participate in attacking it.”

The commander of another Iranian-backed armed faction also dismissed the threatened closure of the embassy as part of a “political game” being played by Washington and “its local allies including Salih and Kadhimi”.

“In our assessment, the crisis is fabricated and the aim is to place the greatest possible pressure on the anti-American forces to give [the Americans] more space in Iraq,” the commander told MEE.

The talk about closing the US embassy in Iraq is a clear lie, and no politician with any experience can believe it.”

Betting on back channels

Tensions between the government and the Iranian-backed forces have been escalating since June when Kadhimi ordered the arrest of a group of Kataeb Hezbollah fighters accused of launching missile attacks into the Green Zone, where most government buildings and diplomatic missions are located.

The arrests provoked an angry response. At least 14 activists linked to Kadhimi have since been killed while others have been kidnapped, security sources told MEE.

At least 34 missile and IED attacks have targeted the Green Zone and military bases housing US and other foreign troops, while convoys have been attacked with IEDs and direct fire.

In response to US demands to put a stop to the attacks, Kadhimi issued orders to evacuate all armed forces from the Green Zone and re-assigned security to the 54th Special Forces Brigade, as was the case before Abdul-Mahdi took over as prime minister in 2018.

Kadhimi was most concerned about units linked to Abu Fadak al-Muhammadawi, a prominent leader of Kataeb Hezbollah and the chief of staff of the Popular Mobilisation Authority (which oversees the PMF).

Other orders closed all offices used by security agencies and government ministries at Baghdad International Airport, except for those of the intelligence and interior ministries.

As well as sending Hussein to Tehran, Kadhimi sent an envoy to Najaf to meet representatives of Iraqi Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to warn of the repercussions of a sudden American withdrawal, politicians and officials told MEE.

“The bet now is on the back channels between [Shia seminaries in] Najaf and Qom,” a former minister close to Sistani told MEE.

We know that Sistani can make a difference at critical times, and we know that his sense of the threat’s seriousness will push him to talk to the Iranians and ask them to intervene.”

Kadhimi also met leaders of the Shia armed factions and political groups in an effort to convey to them the seriousness of the situation.

“The political forces and the faction leaders are still in denial. They think that the Americans are not serious about leaving Iraq,” the head of one political bloc told MEE.

“Despite statements of condemnation published by some of them denouncing the targeting of diplomatic missions, their reactions are still below the required level.

“Iraqi Shiite forces have not yet gathered on a unified position. If they agree on one position, they will force the Iranians to change their position, and they will stop the Kurds and Sunnis from acting selfishly and continuing to inflame the situation and present themselves as the ideal alternative to the Shiites.”

Decision delayed

Kadhimi, Salih, Hussein and other political leaders have also been lobbying representatives of other embassies and international leaders to ask for their help in persuading the US government to keep the embassy open, officials said.

“The European Union and a number of other embassies promised that they would stay and would not withdraw with the Americans, but we do not think they will stay for long,” a key advisor to Kadhimi told MEE.

“The withdrawal of diplomatic missions has a negative impact on the military cooperation and the aid received. The situation is dangerous and worrying.”

Those approached to convey Iraqi concerns to the US include French President Emmanuel Macron, UAE leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Jordan’s King Abdullah and a number of members of the US Congress.

A senior official close to Kadhimi told MEE that the government had long expected to find itself caught in the middle of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran but had been surprised by the ferocity of the reaction of the Shia armed groups to the Kataeb Hezbollah arrests and by the suddenness of the US threat to close the embassy.

Still, he said, the government hoped to push the issue back until after the US election.

“The prime minister led a diplomatic campaign through contacts with leaders of countries who could influence the US president, and he held many meetings with European ambassadors, and these efforts succeeded at least by delaying the implementation of the decision,” he said.

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“In Russia we only had two TV channels. Channel One was propaganda. Channel Two consisted of a KGB officer telling you: Turn back at once to Channel One.” ~ Yakov Smirnoff

Professor Klaus Schwab founded and runs the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Forum’s tag line is “committed to improving the state of the world,” which it does by gathering global leaders together at its annual meeting and encouraging ongoing conversations about important issues and problems.

As a global group, it has made a concerted effort to foster open conversations through its website and other media.

The Forum has made a significant effort during 2020 to market the central bankers’ global reset to a non-financial audience. In a nutshell, the Forum’s vision says that Covid-19 is a serious global health crisis that gives us the opportunity to reset our way of living to address the dire consequences of climate change and various global problems. It speaks eloquently of the opportunity for young people to embrace these changes.

To my knowledge, it does not address the nuts and bolts or risks of transhumanism or technocracy and where these are likely to lead. (I confess I have not plumbed the depths of their extensive reset website.) It is, essentially, a soft sell for supporting the effort to dismantle human divinity and sovereignty in the Western world. Presumably, radically lowering the general population’s energy and resource use will make the world safer for animals and insects (a good thing) and Lockheed’s F-35s and the private planes that jet into the World Economic Forum once a year (you decide).

Last Sunday, I spent nine hours recording our quarterly News Trends & Stories analysis with Dr. Joseph Farrell. This is the intellectual equivalent of playing “right road, left road” over a beautiful countryside in a Ferrari.

The next day, on Monday, I read Covid 19: The Great Reset by Schwab and his colleague Thierry Malleret. It was like driving the Ferrari off a pier into an ocean of salt water taffy. Since then, I have been cleaning off the goo and trying to think of a framework for commenting on the extraordinary and growing divide between reality and official reality.

Typically, when I read books that are marketing official reality, I look for nuggets related to decision-makers’ concerns or strategies. In this case, I was looking for more insight on what the central bankers are up to. What surprised me about Covid-19: The Great Reset was the implied confidence that the “official reality” is selling. From their approach, I assume that the authors are targeting young people—helping them establish a framework that feels positive about the future and will support where the global leadership wants to go.

The inaccurate assumptions are thick. Covid-19, again, is assumed to be a real and serious global health crisis worthy of pandemic status.

Climate change is also assumed to be real—although with no clear picture of what exactly it is, what is causing it, or what it has to do with the various multi-trillion-dollar shenanigans that the national security state has underway. The authors are silent about the financial coup d’état and federal financial fraud, and they do not communicate the devastating contribution from the legalization and promotion of usury and organized crime to inequality. Theirs are all assumptions that I am used to reading, but I confess the ones on inequality are particularly galling.

For example, it seems a bit much when the authors portray the ongoing riots in the United States as if they were genuine grassroot events emerging from passionate protestors.

One of the people suspected of organizing and financing these operations regularly attends the Davos meetings. Given the rollover investments of the tech industry in Opportunity Zones, I also suspect that there may be more than one attendee at the last few World Economic Forum meetings who is in the know or legally liable. The protest patterns clearly look like the redevelopment patterns I observed when I served as Assistant Secretary of Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner in the first Bush Administration. I believe that the protests will help accelerate the development of “smart cities” in U.S. cities with Fed banks and branches, and certainly will significantly increase the returns for Opportunity Zone investors—but you won’t hear about it in this book.

Because these operations involve trafficking and financing across state lines with an intent to destroy property and have resulted in loss of livelihood, health, and lives, spreading propaganda about them raises ethical and legal questions. There is a perfectly logical reason why the general population is concerned that meetings such as those occurring every year at Davos create platforms for criminal co-conspirators to meet and plan safely. I am surprised that Schwab and Malleret are not more sensitive to these concerns.

When U.S. riots were engineered in the 1960s, it was difficult, if not impossible, for even the most financially sophisticated citizens to connect the dots. Local African American business owners whose businesses and real estate were targeted and destroyed were not online and communicating in the same forums as high-net-worth suburban business owners, real estate investors, and attorneys. Today they are. That means that there are branding questions involved in promoting this official story. Promoting lies is bad enough, and getting caught makes it worse—particularly when your image has to do with “being in the know.”

Schwab and Malleret are intelligent, well-educated people. I believe that Schwab’s tag line is sincere. He is “committed to improving the state of the world.” It is a profound comment on the state of secrecy in this world that they would publish a book this conceptually misleading. In my latest discussion with Dr. Farrell, we discuss the risk that the success of mind control technology may have resulted in serious blowback—causing the leadership to literally forget what is true.

There is, of course, another possibiity. Schwab and Malleret may simply want to earn their next rung on the insiders’ ladder by persuading young people to get on board the reset train. In that case, it does not matter what parents and grandparents or godmothers and godfathers think, or what aunts and uncles think. The weapons and systems are in place to control and manage the more experienced, knowledgeable generations. To draw from the Harry Potter series, the older generations are only “muggles” set to be culled by the “wizards” in the great reset. If you offer the younger generation a story that justifies why they should support the leadership, it gives young people the excuse they need to “go with the flow.”

I hope Schwab and Malleret are better than that. We need an open and inclusive conversation of the kind they could help lead. To do that, however, they need to know that the audience’s learning speed has leaped way ahead of where they are.

Time to catch up. Despite the complexity and uncertainty, reality beckons.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, Solari Report.

When unilaterally imposed by one nation on others, sanctions have no legal validity.

Along with color revolutions, old-fashioned coups, and assassinations, US sanctions are a favored tactic.

When imposed, they’re all about seeking to weaken nations economically.

They also aim to impose hardships on their people — wanting them and targeted nations suffocated into submission to Washington’s will.

In 1996, the Vienna-based International Progress Organization called sanctions “an illegitimate form of collective punishment of the weakest and poorest members of society, the infants, the children, the chronically ill, and the elderly.”

Despite their repeated use by the US throughout the post-WW II periods, they consistently fail to achieve their objectives.

Earlier, establishment Brookings called their use “little more than expressions of US preferences that hurt American economic interests without changing the target’s behavior,” adding:

Their “widespread use…constitutes one of the paradoxes of contemporary American foreign policy.”

Despite their illegality and ineffectiveness, they’re imposed time and again on numerous countries.

According to international security affairs expert Professor Robert Pape, sanctions are only effective around 5% of the time.

“The key key reason that sanctions fail is that modern states are not fragile,” he argued, adding:

“Nationalism often makes states and societies willing to endure considerable punishment rather than abandon their national interests.”

“States involved in coercive disputes often accept high costs, including civilian suffering, to achieve their objectives.”

“Even in the weakest and most fractured states, external pressure is more likely to enhance the nationalist legitimacy of rulers than to undermine it.”

Increased multi-world polarity weakens the ability of a nation like the US to get widespread support among nation states for its hegemonic agenda.

China and Russia notably pursue their own domestic and geopolitical aims independently.

Both nations have close ties to Iran politically and economically. They oppose unilateral use of sanctions by any nations to achieve geopolitical aims.

On October 6, China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun — along with his counterparts from over two dozen other nations — issued a joint statement against sanctions, saying the following:

“We continue to witness the application of unilateral coercive measures, which are contrary to the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and international law, multilateralism and the basic norms of international relations.”

He stressed that these measures violate human rights of populations in targeted countries — notably women, children, the elderly and infirm, adding:

The Trump regime “is maliciously tightening US illegal sanctions with aim of draining Iran’s resources needed in the fight against COVID19—while our citizens are dying from it.”

“The world can no longer be silent as US economic terrorism is supplanted by its medical terrorism.”

On Thursday, the Trump regime imposed illegal sanctions on 18 more Iranian banks, a Treasury Department statement saying:

Its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) “sanctioned 16 Iranian banks for operating in Iran’s financial sector and one bank for being owned or controlled by a sanctioned Iranian bank.”

“Additionally, today’s action includes the designation of an Iranian military-affiliated bank under Treasury’s counter-proliferation authority.”

“Our sanctions programs will continue until Iran stops its support of terrorist activities (sic) and ends its nuclear programs (sic).”

Fact: State terrorism is official US policy — waged domestically and worldwide against targeted nations.

Fact: Iran is in the forefront of combatting US-sponsored terrorism in Syria and regionally.

Fact: In January, the Trump regime assassinated Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani — along with deputy head of (Iraq’s PMU) Hashed, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

They were killed in cold blood because of their effectiveness in combatting US-supported ISIS in Iraq.

Fact: Iran’s legitimate nuclear program has no military component — affirmed repeatedly by IAEA inspectors.

Fact: Israel is the region’s only nuclear armed and dangerous nation — its illicit program supported by both right wings of the US war party.

The OFAC statement falsely said its action against Iranian banks “allow for humanitarian transactions to support the Iranian people (sic).”

Reality is polar opposite the above deception.

US policy toward Iran and other independent nations it doesn’t control aims to immiserate and suffocate their people into submitting to its imperial will.

Last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said “(w)hatever the Americans are saying about their sanctions not affecting humanitarian items, it’s just a lie… It’s basically medical terrorism.”

In response to sanctions imposed on Thursday, Zarif slammed what he called the latest diabolical “US regime (plot) to blow up our remaining channels to pay for food & medicine,” adding:

“Conspiring to starve a population is a crime against humanity.”

“Iranians will survive this latest of cruelties. Culprits & enablers—who block our money—will face justice.”

On Tuesday, Iranian President Rouhani called on the world community to reject illegal US sanctions — calling its policy “economic war” on targeted nations.

In September, he said

“(t)he US can impose neither negotiations nor war on us. (T)oday is the time to say ‘no’ to (its) bullying and arrogance.”

Separately, Iranian First Vice-President Ishaq Jahangiri said the goal of US sanctions is “to bring about the collapse of Iran’s economy but the government, through planning, did not allow them to achieve their goal.”

“Fortunately, the country’s economy is still kept afloat.”

US war on Iran by other means has been ongoing since its 1979 revolution — ending a generation of US/UK imposed fascist tyranny.

Everything thrown at the Islamic Republic by Washington to return the country to client state status failed — including Trump regime “maximum pressure.”

US imperial arrogance, its unilateralism, and wars on humanity are self-defeating over time — contributing to its decline.

Like earlier failed empires, the US imperial project one day will join them in history’s dustbin where it belongs.

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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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On October 3rd NPR reported that the Michigan Supreme Court struck down Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency and the powers it granted. NPR writes 

In a 4-3 majority opinion, the state’s high court said she did not have that authority. “We conclude that the Governor lacked the authority to declare a ‘state of emergency’ or a ‘state of disaster’ under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we conclude that the EPGA is in violation of the Constitution of our state because it purports to delegate to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government– including its plenary police powers– and to allow the exercise of such powers indefinitely,” wrote Justice Stephen J. Markman on behalf of the majority.

Governor Whitmer has been one of the more heavy-handed executive figures during the pandemic. One of her policies went as far as to ban the selling of gardening supplies in stores that were still permitted to stay open.

More importantly, however, this court ruling was not the first of its kind but the third in a series of legal victories against lockdown orders. The first was a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that declared parts of Governor Tony Evers’ stay at home order unconstitutional and the second was by a federal court that struck down Governor Tom Wolf’s policies in Pennsylvania.

There is no doubt that the governors across the country have gone off the constitutional deep end in response to Covid-19, exercising powers that are not only unprecedented but unproven. These cases, notably in Michigan and Wisconsin, all share some important legal themes that may suggest the beginning of a constitutional reckoning for governors across America.

The Story in Michigan 

Back in March, Governor Whitmer declared a state of emergency in response to the pandemic, much like many others across the country. Unlike many other governors, hers was particularly strict and arbitrary. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, an organization that represented a number of healthcare firms in a suit against the state write,

“One of the affected medical practices, Grand Health Partners, operates in the Grand Rapids area. It performs endoscopies and other elective surgeries, many of which were deemed nonessential by executive order. Due to the shutdown, many of their patients were not able to receive treatment and have suffered because of it.”

This is one of the many unintended consequences that come with policies such as stay at home orders and deeming certain businesses “nonessential.” Interestingly, this had little to do with the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling. Such claims would be justified under the equal protection clause guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. However, the court decided to take a different route.

The court ruled that the governor lacked the very authority to continue her state of emergency. The Michigan legislature authorized the governor to declare a state of emergency in March but only until April 30. Governor Whitmer decided to invoke the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) of 1945 as well as the Emergency Management Act of 1976 to grant herself virtually unlimited power. This unilateral and unauthorized exercise of power without legislative oversight was what the court deemed unconstitutional.

The court not only struck down the governor’s emergency powers but it also declared the EPGA unconstitutional, albeit with a narrow margin. Record Eagle writes

“Although the constitutionality of the ’45 law produced a split ruling, the justices unanimously agreed that any orders past April 30 without input from the Legislature were not valid.”

Such a ruling is an absolutely necessary check on the powers of the executive branch by the judicial branch. The Michigan governor was essentially acting in contempt of the democratically elected legislature which did not grant her the power to continue her policies for as long as she did. Record Eagle writes,

 “Our Constitution matters, and this was a big win for our democratic process,” said Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield of Emmet County.

In a footnote to his opinion, Markman offered an optimistic message.

“Our decision leaves open many avenues for the governor and Legislature to work together to address this challenge and we hope that this will take place,” he said.

The Case of Wisconsin

The ruling in Wisconsin was one of if not the first that challenged lockdown orders enacted by state governors. Way back in May, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ order shutting down daily life to limit the spread of coronavirus — marking the first time a statewide order of its kind has been knocked down by a court of last resort.”

The court took an angle similar to the Michigan Supreme Court in striking down parts of Wisconsin’s stay at home order because it was made without any legislative oversight. That is that lawmakers in the Wisconsin State Assembly did not grant the governor or his bureaucratic officers the power to enact lockdown policies.

The Pacific Legal Foundation writes 

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision should be seen as a victory for the principle that even in a crisis, the rulemakers must follow the rules. Regardless of how anyone feels about the orders themselves, if the governor and Health Secretary had worked with the legislature as they’re required to—even during crises—they could have crafted a constitutional law that the State Supreme Court likely would have upheld.”

They also explain that

“The Wisconsin Governor issued an order granting Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm nearly limitless power to respond to the crisis without any form of accountability. Even though Palm is not elected by the people and has not yet been confirmed by the state legislature, she was authorized to issue orders to shut down broad swaths of the state’s economy. And Palm’s orders could continue indefinitely without being subjected to public scrutiny. In other words, Palm’s authority violated key safeguards put in place to ensure that rulemakers remain accountable.”

The governor and his public health officials acted without the democratic consent of the people via their elected representatives in the legislature. Unilateral and quite frankly, rogue, actions such as this are a clear violation of the separation of powers doctrine that the Founders put in place to prevent tyranny.

The Case of Pennsylvania 

AIER has already covered how a federal court held that Pennsylvania’s lockdown orders were unconstitutional in an article by Stacy Rudin. However, it is worth reiterating again because it is certainly an important case that differs from the rulings in Michigan and Wisconsin. Rudin gives some important context when she writes,

“Pennsylvania Federal Court in Butler County v. Wolf reviewed the indefinite “emergency” restrictions imposed by the executive branch of Pennsylvania government, declaring limitations on gathering size, “stay-at-home orders,” and mandatory business closures unconstitutional. Refusing to accept the alleged need for a “new normal,” the Court stated that an “independent judiciary [is needed] to serve as a check on the exercise of emergency government power.”

About time. The Judicial Branch is coming to save us.”

Pennsylvania implemented many of the lockdown measures that we see in the most draconian states such as stay at home orders and business closures. However, unlike Michigan and Wisconsin, Governor Wolf’s policies were struck down by a federal court, not a state court. Furthermore, the ruling was based not on a separation of powers argument but violations of the 1st and 14th Amendments, making it more of an individual rights case.

A reporter writes

The declaratory judgment says “(1) that the congregate gathering limits imposed by defendants’ mitigation orders violate the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment; (2) that the stay-at-home and business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) that the business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Another key component to the ruling was the fact that such orders were not narrowly tailored, which is a key criterion for any policy that intends to restrict individual rights.

Reason Magazine explains that

“The fact that the governor’s orders allow people to visit malls, restaurants, and stores in greater numbers than what the state’s restrictions on gatherings permit showed that the latter were overly broad, (Judge William) Stickman wrote. His opinion also cites comments from Wolf’s chief of staff about how large protests—which the governor attended—didn’t lead to a “super spreader” event as evidence that restrictions on gatherings were overly broad.”

Such policies have no logical foundation and reek of political favoritism. The court upheld the fact that such practices have no place in America.

Key Takeaways

This country was built on fundamental rights and doctrines that were specifically crafted to prevent domestic tyranny, whether it be from the rule of the few or the mob. It may not be such hyperbole anymore to claim that governors across the United States have acted like tyrants.

In Michigan and Wisconsin, we have seen the affirmation of the separation of powers doctrine, which is an elementary school civics concept that forms the very foundation of a free society. There are three branches of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. The legislative branch is a democratically elected and representative body that has the sole authority to write laws. The governor and the executive branch bureaucracy derive their powers from the legislative and their duty is to execute the mandate given to them by the legislature, not make up its own rules. Such a process may be cumbersome but in the end, it protects our liberty and ensures that the power wielded by government is accountable to the people. The governor is not representative of the people, just 50.1% of the vote.

Although we have seen the affirmation of these important constitutional rights and doctrines in these three states, it is clear that across the country there is much work to be done. What governors and mayors are getting away with violating the basic rights of their citizens? Has every executive officer acted with the powers granted to them by the legislature or are they acting as tyrants? Hopefully, these three rulings are just the first of many in what could become a constitutional landslide of justice.

Covid-19 will come and go as all pandemics do. However, if we do not resolve the fundamental questions that have arisen regarding our liberties and the power of government, they will haunt this republic till its final days, if you can even call it one at this point.

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Ethan joined AIER in 2020 as an Editorial Assistant and is a graduate of Trinity College. He received a BA in Political Science alongside a minor in Legal Studies and Formal Organizations. He currently serves as Local Coordinator at Students for Liberty and the Director of the Mark Twain Center for the Study of Human Freedom at Trinity College. Prior to joining AIER, he interned at organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Connecticut State Senate, and the Cause of Action Institute. Ethan is currently based in Washington D.C.

On July 2nd, 2008, former US President Barack Obama spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in Colorado Springs, Colorado about expanding a “civilian national security force” to meet national security goals in areas from education, healthcare to saving the environment.

He said that

“As president I will expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 slots [from 75,000] and make that increased service a vehicle to meet national goals, like providing health care and education, saving our planet and restoring our standing in the world, so that citizens see their effort connected to a common purpose.”

Although most of Obama’s promises did not become a reality, he did continue the same agenda as his predecessor, George W. Bush in expanding a “civilian national security force” in several key areas that are crucial for US citizens.  George W. Bush signed off on the creation of Transportation Security Agency (TSA) on November 19th, 2001 after the September 11th false flag attacks. Obama advocated for a civilian national security force with the same powers as the US military. Here is the main point of his speech:

We will enlist our veterans to find jobs and support for other vets, and to be there for our military families. And we’re going to grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy. We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. 

We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded. We need to use technology to connect people to service. We’ll expand USA Freedom Corps to create online networks where American can browse opportunities to volunteer. You’ll be able to search by category, time commitment and skill sets. You’ll be able to rate service opportunities, build service networks, and create your own service pages to track your hours and activities.  This will empower more Americans to craft their own service agenda and make their own change from the bottom up

Obama’s call for a civilian national security force can be compared to the brown shirts of Nazi Germany.

The concept of contact tracing with government-trained recruits for the sake of tracking Covid-19 cases will lead to the violation of your privacy when it comes to your health concerns.  The US government, the Clinton Foundation and several states are actively creating an army of contact tracers, so in a sense, Obama’s call for a civilian force is becoming a reality.

But there is good news, not everyone is on board with such an invasive idea.  According to an article published back in May by Technology Review on US attitudes towards government intrusion on privacy especially when it comes to their health, “In a Twitter thread earlier this week, Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, argued that public health officials are underestimating how much US attitudes toward government authority could undermine national testing and tracing programs.”  The article describes how ordinary Americans defy Covid-19 lockdowns when it comes to facemasks, stay-at-home restrictions and social distancing rules that were put in place.

 

Here is a video by a California woman who got certified as a contact tracer explains in detail what they actually do:

Another point made in recent contact tracing efforts in the state of Louisiana is that it is basically a failure.  On August 4th, Reuters’ published an in-depth analysis on the failures of contact tracing ‘Special Report: Local governments ‘overwhelmed’ in race to trace U.S. COVID contacts.’ One example is what the director of the Louisiana Department of Health, David Holcombe had said about the realities of contact tracing and why he deemed it useless:

David Holcombe, the director of the Louisiana Department of Health for the central portion of that state, said that, as of mid-July, the turnaround was as long as 14 days. The lag time makes “contact tracing virtually useless,” he said. That’s because by the time positive results come back, the infected person has potentially had many more contacts, who have potentially infected others themselves 

The report admits that contact tracers face a public that basically does not trust the government:

Even with sufficient money and staff, health departments often have trouble convincing people to pick up the phone and cooperatively answer questions. Playing into that problem are political divisions throughout the country over how seriously to take the pandemic and what responsibilities the government should or should not impose on the public.

In Texas, a Republican state representative in June called for ending the contact tracing program as “a threat to our privacy and individual liberties.” The Republican-controlled Kansas legislature in June passed a COVID-19 bill with bipartisan support ensuring that no civil or criminal penalties would apply to anyone who refuses to provide information to a tracer. Such penalties, to the limited extent they are allowed under public health laws, are rarely enforced.

People may be reluctant to engage with tracers for a variety of other reasons, including embarrassment for exposing themselves to infection or fear they’ll lose their job. Sometimes, contact tracers are hindered by misunderstandings

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Timothy Alexander Guzman writes on his blog site, Silent Crow News, where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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As the confirmed Coronavirus cases in Colombia reach more than 880,000, the healthcare infrastructure in Bogota is crumbling and according to the president of the Bogota College of Medicine Herman Bayona, “We are close to collapse.” Bogota’s Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are operating at a 90% capacity, an indication of the city’s over-stretched and strained healthcare system. The Santa Clara Hospital, for example, is assisting 52 patients with only a 44-bed capacity. Ivan Duque Marquez, the president of Colombia, is adamant on re-opening Bogota and considers that “a lockdown is not the solution.”

The present-day shambolic structure of Colombian healthcare is an inevitable consequence of an all-pervasive implementation of neoliberalism. In 1993, Colombia had created the General Social Security System for Health (GSSSH) through the approval of Law 100. Through Law 100 of 1993, the Colombian government “introduced a social security system based on the managed competition model, which has been increasingly exported from the USA to low and middle income countries”. As Luz Stella Alvarez, J. Warren Salmon, and Dan Swartzman have remarked, “international financial institutions and a variety of academics promulgated the U.S. model as desirable for all nations despite the evidence of its failings when confronting impoverishment, rising social epidemics, and a host of “neglected diseases” across the southern hemisphere”.

Colombia was no exception to the devastating influence of American health hegemony and the violent repercussions of the neoliberal health reforms attest to this fact: “Public health programs, including vaccinations, were dramatically reduced or eliminated, and there was a sharp increase in mortality rates nationwide. Preventable deaths in children under five rose dramatically, from four to 15 per 100,000 children. Many consider the health care crisis that began with the reforms and continues to the present to be the worst in Colombian history.” Public hospitals, which have an indispensable role in regulating the Covid-19 pandemic, “were defunded, rented out, transformed into for-profit health care institutions, or closed down” during the neoliberal health reforms.

Ivan Duque Marquez, the current president of Colombia, is deliberately apathetic towards this historically situated health crisis and despite the economic exigencies of the Covid-19 pandemic he is actively facilitating the enrichment of banks. As per “Colombia Reports”, out of the $1.5 billion which Ivan Duque allocated for the health sector, only $110 million has reached the Health Ministry and National Health Institute. This $1.5 billion was part of the $8 billion emergency fund of which $996 million was used. More than $636 million of the entire $996 million has apparently gone to the banks, suggesting that government officials are busy helping the financial sector. In the recent years, one has witnessed the neoliberal integration of Colombia in the global regime of finance with international investments increasing from $1,036 billion in 1994 to $40,549.6 billion in 2013. The embezzlement and the consequent use of health-related money in the financial sector can be considered a decisive step taken to bolster domestic banks and robustly financialize capital accumulation in Colombia.

The ongoing health crisis is only the tip of the neoliberal iceberg and the contagion of capitalism is impacting the entirety of the country. The Institute of Studies for Development and Peace documents how 95 social leaders have been killed during the Covid-19 pandemic (between March 6 and July 15). Moreover, 223 social leaders and 36 former FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas have been assassinated in 2020. Under Duque, the killing of social leaders and ex-FARC guerrillas has accelerated. Since Ivan Duque’s election to power in 2018, 573 social leaders and approximately 85 ex-FARC guerrillas have been killed. Opposition to these systematic and strategized killings has been tenacious and even during the pandemic, Colombians are protesting and some have marched for 600km to vehemently agitate against state-sanctioned violence.

The current acceleration of a bellicose and violent campaign against revolutionary forces has its roots in the signing of the peace agreement in November 2016. One of the main reasons for FARC’s acceptance of peace negotiations was its declining military capacity due to the implementation of Plan Colombia and the growing paramilitarization of FARC-dominated regions. Plan Colombia, a $10 billion aid program funded by USA and primarily managed by State Department’s International Narcotics Control programme, heavily militarized Colombia’s southern regions and pragmatically paralyzed FARC’s organizational structure. This was done through two modalities: the privatization of violence and the re-configuration of operational architectures according to the necessities of asymmetrical warfare.

Firstly, USA enhanced the subversion of FARC guerrillas by privatizing and correspondingly, specializing violence. USA, for example, collaborated closely with Military Professional Resources Incorporation (MPRI), a private military company whose aim is politically aligned with imperialist ambitions: “MPRI’s mission is to gather and employ the experience and talent of the top of the national resource of former military professionals, primarily in defence related areas, for the US government, and to assist foreign governments in converting their military into western models that support democratic institutions .” MPRI, along with having an overtly imperialist mission of re-structuring militaries as enclaves of western-styled brutality, also specializes in “hard-core defence related activities”.

In 1999, the American government awarded MPRI with a $4.3 million contract to seek the company’s advice on warfare in Colombia. In 2000, MPRI was provided with $6 million as a part of Plan Colombia to train the Colombian army. Apart from MPRI, Lockheed Martin, DynCorp, Arinc, TRW, Matcom, Air Park Sales, Integrated Aero Systems and California Microwave Systems were the other private military and security corporations assisting the asphyxiation of FARC guerrillas. In 2005, there were 600 private military contractors like these on the Colombian soil, engaged in a ruthless battle against class conscious revolutionaries.

Secondly, USA, through Plan Colombia, re-organized the Colombian military and prepared it for exigencies of asymmetrical warfare. USA did this by “not only…funding this process [Plan Colombia] but also by integrating the operations and intelligence sharing of the army, navy, and air force….The US sent advisors, monitors, and military personnel to Colombia to oversee the process and conclude it successfully. These operational changes together with real-time intelligence sharing offered by US satellites, planes, and drones allowed the Colombian military to gain a tactical advantage over the FARC”. Through US-assisted modernization of the army, the Colombian government was able to kill three key leaders of FARC. Raul Reyes, a FARC commandant, was killed through Operation Fenix. Mono Jojoy, second-in command to Alfonso Canon, the top military commander, died due to a military air strike and lastly, Alfonso Canon too got killed in a gun battle.

Paramilitaries, defined as “armed groups, created and funded by wealthy sectors of society, with military and logistical support provided unofficially by the state”, have augmented the armipotent authoritarianism of US-aided Colombian army by establishing the everydayness of violence. While state-supported military attacks on FARC encampments are effective in-themselves, paramilitaries solidify this culture of violence. Through a decentralized network of micro-aggressions, paramilitaries are able to create a perpetual atmosphere of slow violence, constantly destabilizing FARC organizational structures.

Slow or perpetual violence was achieved through guerrilla tactics (hit-and-run tactics, ambushes and sabotage) which FARC itself utilized in its counter-hegemonic fight against capitalism. Furthermore, paramilitaries are capable of constantly attacking FARC guerrillas because of their collusion with the state: Paramilitaries’ “bases have often been in close proximity to those of the state military, and police have provided the illegal armies with weapons, equipment, uniforms and transportation services. Compared to other non-state armed groups, paramilitaries enjoyed more power within and protection from the state, and were able to influence the government via various forms of corruption”.

The Colombian state is not the only apparatus funding the paramilitaries and in fact, agri-business owners, cattle ranchers, drug lords and mining giants have proven to be a perennial financial fount for paramilitary operations. Capital accumulation“through drug-trafficking, extortion, collection agencies, and the appropriation of land all require the use of violence…. Those who accumulate capital, whether through legal or illegal means,… see the guerrilla as an enemy and consequently resort to violence whenever necessary and possible to neutralize the threat.” Due to the need of eradicating the Marxist-Leninist redistributive campaign of the FARC, the Colombian bourgeoisie funded the right-wing paramilitaries and hence, contributed to the debilitation of the revolutionary organization.

As FARC’s structural-organizational patterns enormously eroded, it was forced to enter into peace negotiations with the Colombian state. With FARC’s abandonment of its controlled territories in February 2017 and disarmament in July 2017, there has been an increase in deforestation. In “NNPs [National Natural Parks] and NNRs [National Natural Reserves], 31 of the 39 PAs [Protected Areas] (79%) experienced increased deforestation in the post-conflict years….This translated into a dramatic and highly significant 177% increase in the deforestation rate between the two 3-year periods [3 years before and after Colombia’s peace agreement with FARC]… resulting in 330 km2 of additional loss of protected forest. In the biogeographical Amazon, of which FARC controlled vast areas, several parks suffered notably severe upswings in deforestation following the peace agreement”.

In Protected Areas,

“the governance vacuum left after FARC’s official withdrawal from strongholds (Picachos-Tinigua-Macarena) has been filled by dissidents and non-state actors who have intensified disturbance. In Putumayo and deeper into the Amazon watershed… non-state actors moved into areas that were previously off-limits by FARC mandate and cleared forests to start farms (e.g. cattle ranching) and speculatively acquire land.”

According to the report “Peace and Environmental Protection in Colombia”,

“there is a risk that the end of the armed conflict, though crucial for Colombia’s future, will trigger further plundering of natural resources. The withdrawal of the FARC’s armed authority suggests that…the constraint that kept many areas inaccessible will be lifted, opening the way for new populations to settle[in]former conflict zones and for infrastructure and legal industries such as agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, and oil exploration to expand into environmentally sensitive areas. These changes could lead to increased deforestation and water shortages”.

The environmental havoc brought about by FARC’s demobilization is one of the primary contributory causes behind the current large-scale social upheaval. As counter-hegemonic forces have withdrawn from resource-rich regions, the dominance of extractive capital has increased. In Colombia, extractive capital has a significant economic penetration and “between 2010 and 2014, foreign direct investment in mining amounted to about US$7 billion (52 percent of total foreign investment) annually, up from 6 percent between 1995 and 1999”. The extractive economic program of Colombian neoliberalization had included the “liquidation of the state mining company, Minercol (along with the national mining union), and the sale of the state coal corporation, Carbocol, to a foreign consortium composed of Exxon Mobil, Anglo American, BHP Billiton, and Glencore International”.

Colombia, therefore, was being imperialistically peripheralized by multinational companies and was becoming a victim of the “paradox of plenty”. Meanwhile, FARC, with its Marxist ideological leanings, was presenting a subjectively enriched opposition against the unhampered rampage unleashed by marauding multinationals. Through a discourse of resource nationalism, FARC was able to highlight the revolutionary potentialities of the country’s resources which comprise of emeralds, silver, platinum, copper, nickel, natural gas and coal.

Simon Trinidad, a FARC commander and spokesman for the organization, said that USA targets FARC “Because the FARC is the only political organization that is in opposition to the Colombian oligarchy that keeps Colombians in poverty, misery and a state of underdevelopment. [The FARC] will make better use of the natural resources and provide jobs, health care, education and housing so 40 million Colombians can live well. Who are those that are opposed to these social, economic and political changes? They are the people who monopolize the riches and resources in Colombia. A small group that monopolizes the banks, industries, mines, agriculture and international commerce, including some foreign companies, especially North Americans.” Here, we come to know how FARC’s revolutionary ideology acted as a bulwark against the homogenous hegemony of pure imperialism and culturally fissured the concealed rapaciousness of capitalism.

With FARC left drastically debilitated, extractive capital is re-initiating a predacious program of mining and the rise in mining output confirms this fact. In 2016, Colombia’s coal production “surpassed 90m tonnes per annum (tpa) of coal production for the first time in its history, representing a 6.1% increase on 2015.” Guillermo Fonseca, the CEO of the Cerrejón coal mine in northern Colombia, said that “The new government [of Ivan Duque Marquez] has brought a breath of fresh air,”. According to Fonseca, Duque’s administration is “showing important support for the private sector, hoping to strengthen it to reactivate the economy and the country. Now there are topics that we can raise that before were unmentionable because there was no political space in which to do so.” Fonseca implicitly referred to the fact that in the post-peace period, coal mining has got legal leeway and political freedom to freely trample on the rights of Colombian to self-manage their own resources.

Similarly, gold mining also witnessed resurgence with production reaching “1.99m oz in 2016, a 4.4% increase on 2015 and the second-highest level in history, beaten only by the 2.13m oz recorded in 2012”. Emeralds too saw an increase in production with the total mining output being “2.39m carats in 2016, a 10% increase over the previous year”. Colombians have begun protesting against this re-intensification of an unsustainable mining sector in the post-peace period and have espoused a radical resource nationalism to fight against the ideologically inert uniformity of imperialism.

As Colombia gets gripped by the ramifications of a violent peace process, it is becoming conspicuously clear that the 2016 imposition of peace was a geo-political strategy to outmanoeuvre progressive forces.  Earlier, FARC “demonstrated not only that class-conscious support for revolution can be created in populations subjected to the utmost brutality by the forces of U.S. imperialism and the murderous Colombian oligarchy, but also that through solidarity and emancipatory fortitude successful armed revolutionary guerrilla warfare remains a viable option in contemporary geopolitics.” Now, the revolutionary organization is being steadily subverted as paramilitaries carry out state-supported violence and ex-FARC guerrillas get throttled due to the benumbing brutality of a bloody peace.

At the same time, the prospects of an organized class struggle are increasing. Reinforced extractivism, an agro-export crop production model combined with a rentier agrarian economy and cuts in corporate tax rates are converging to generate cross-country solidarity. According to a report produced by the Colombian Forjando Futuros foundation, 333 companies and 150 individuals are implicated in forcibly and violently evicting people from their rural lands. The Afro-descendent communities living in Alto Cauca have been facing a similar situation with dispossession resulting “from the norms that aim to enhance foreign corporate capital and large-scale mining projects. Accumulation by dispossession, in the case described here, has not only been shown to be coercive, but also legalised through a sophisticated structure of norms that has restricted the communities’ autonomy to decide over their resources and territory.”

 As mining expands, more dispossession is likely becausev“mining companies not only benefit from coercive land acquisition, they often require it.” All this will be accompanied with violence because “mining and oil companies are unable to rely on voluntary transactions to obtain the land necessary for their investments. The extractive development model requires dispossession and displacement. And the Colombian State has satisfied mining and oil investors’ requirements by giving priority to these sectors – allegedly, in the name of ‘public utility and social interest.” Due to this violent process of dispossession, a hunger pandemic would be unleashed as land for food crops gets progressively diminished and land for mining enlarges (currently, more than half of Colombia’s land comes is covered by hydrocarbons interests with 2.3 million hectares lying within production contracts, 25 million hectares under exploration and 47 million hectares available for future bids).

The hunger pandemic engendered by mining would get exacerbated by the export-oriented rentier agrarian economy of Colombia which leaves little space for crop production for domestic consumption. Rural unrest and the re-surfacing of the agrarian question are coinciding with protests against police brutality and the 2019 tax reform package. The changes done by the reform package include “the progressive reduction of corporate income tax from 33% in 2019 to 30% in 2022, along with the repeal of a 4% surcharge on corporate earnings. It also provided for the repeal of the presumptive income tax, an alternative tax based on a percentage of net equity from 2018, which will fall from a rate of 3.5% in 2019 to zero by 2021.” Anger caused due to the corporatist tax reform has been supplemented by outrage against the brutal death of Javier Ordóñez, a 46-year old aeronautical engineer, lawyer, and father of two, who was pinned to ground by two police officers in Bogota and repeatedly tased with a stun gun as he begged “Please, no more, I can’t breathe”. Through the inter-mixing of rural unrest and urban protests, a critically charged class struggle is being started by the oppressed masses of Colombia.

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Everybody’s Favourite COVID Jester Makes a Big Math Blunder

October 9th, 2020 by John C. A. Manley

In his recent skit, comedian JP Sears makes a big math blunder regarding the COVID death count. One I’ve made before.

Imitating a spokesperson of unclear affiliation, with tape on his glasses and a psychedelic T-shirt, JP starts off by poking fun at bizarre masking etiquette: “So I should put the mask on while I walk from here to podium and then take it off?”

Once at the mic, JP says: “We have updated numbers on the infection-fatality rate for COVID-19 directly from the CDC.” He then references the CDC’s most recent infection-fatality estimates, claiming that it says only 0.054% of people over 70 (who are infected with SARS-COV-2) are dying.

My immediate reaction was: “Whoa! That’s too low. Has the CDC gone from over-exaggerating the deaths to under-exaggerating?”

The commonly accepted fatality rate for the flu (among the general population) is 0.1%. Seniors should be higher than that, not lower. Looking at the source document, I saw JP’s error — he’s talking in percentages but CDC’s table clearly indicates ratios:

I made this same mistake in an article I wrote two months ago, where I calculated the infection-fatality rate in Canada. It was thanks to an email from Dr. Ron Brown PhD that I was able to spot and remove the error. As Brown said: “That decimal point is a killer! Just remember to move the decimal over TWO places to the RIGHT to convert [a ratio] to a percentage. (And TWO places to the LEFT to convert a percentage to a [ratio].)”

Here’s how I would explain the difference between a ratio and a percentage, using the above CDC estimate for those over 70:

A ratio is dealing with only just one infected person. For every ONE person infected with SAR-COV-2 the CDC is estimating that 0.054 will be having an permanent out-of-body experience.

But a percentage is showing how many will die out of ONE-HUNDRED infected (cent being Latin for one hundred). In order to arrive at a percentage from the ratio, the ratio needs to be multiplied by 100. Therefore, if 100 are infected that would mean 5.4 are doomed to die. 5.4%.

Yesterday, I sent an email to Prof. Denis Rancourt PhD to confirm whether or not I had indeed spotted an error. His to-the-point reply: “Yes, JP f*cked up. He took the CDC ratios to be percentages.”

Like I said, I did the same mistake a month or so ago. I would ask that JP Sears do what I did: Remove the error. In this case, delete the video. Make a new one. Even if you go with the higher percentages, a 5.6% fatality rate for seniors over 70 doesn’t justify destroying a nation. A 2003 study in Clinical Infectious Disease, for example, cites flu fatality rates as high as 25% for elderly people in nursing homes — and an average of 8%.

JP’s a skilled comedian. He can make an even funnier video without having to falsify what the CDC says. Just like his clever janitorial skit or his brilliant video about staying healthy in 2020. His satirical work is invaluable for helping change the not-so-funny direction the world is headed.

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

All images in this article are from the author

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Removing Trump from Office Attempt 2.0?

October 9th, 2020 by Stephen Lendman

In December 2019, Pelosi-led House Dems showed contempt for the rule of law.

Two articles of impeachment to oust Trump from office were spurious.

Accusing him of abuse of power, they falsely claimed he sought foreign interference from Ukraine in the US 2020 presidential election.

At the time, Ukrainian President Zelensky debunked the accusation, publicly saying there was no Trump blackmail threat, no quid pro quo, no conspiracy, nothing discussed about withholding US aid for political reasons.

A second phony charge claimed obstruction of Congress, falsely saying he “directed (an) unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its sole Power of Impeachment (sic).”

No evidence proved it. Trump’s unwillingness to participate in the sham process did not obstruct Congress.

At the time, Law Professor Jonathan Turley said: “You could impeach every living president” by standards Dems used to impeach Trump.

The unacceptable action set a disturbing standard that may be used against future US presidents by either wing of the one-party state against the other.

A House member for nearly three decades Pelosi supports domestic and geopolitical issues across the board that just societies abhor.

The Center for Responsive Politics estimated her household wealth at over $114 million — ranking her 6th among super-wealthy House members.

On domestic issues alone, she supported neoliberal harshness on ordinary Americans throughout Obama’s tenure and after Trump took office.

She backs increasingly unaffordable marketplace medicine — by far the world’s most expensive, making it unaffordable for millions of Americans.

Throughout her time in office, she’s been beholden to powerful monied interests at the expense of public health and welfare.

Since taking office in January 2017, she wanted Trump ousted for defeating media darling Hillary.

On Thursday, she threatened to try ousting Trump again on spurious grounds, saying:

Trump “is…in an altered state right now (sic). The disassociation from reality would be funny if it weren’t so deadly (sic).”

“We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.”

It states that when US presidents are “unable to discharge the powers and duties of (their) office…such powers and duties shall be discharged by the vice president as acting president.”

The president pro tempore of the Senate and House speaker are next in line.

Pelosi is involved in preparing House legislation to create a commission that will decide if Trump is too ill to perform his duties.

Pulling this off is no simple task, Trump sure to challenge it — in which case a two-thirds congressional majority would be required for a transition of power to new leadership.

Republicans would likely reject the idea, a coup attempt by other means, a hugely dangerous precedent if succeeds.

Trump slammed Pelosi, tweeting:

“Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!”

When GW Bush was president and hugely unpopular in his second term, she said impeaching him was “off the table,” adding:

“I took (impeachment) off the table a long time ago. You can’t talk about impeachment unless you have the facts, and you can’t have the facts unless you have cooperation from the” White House.

Having none didn’t deter her earlier attempt to remove Trump by impeachment.

It surely won’t if she tries removing Trump from office for dubious health reasons.

As earlier explained, many past US presidents were ill in office, some seriously.

None were replaced for this reason. None voluntarily or involuntarily stepped down for ill health.

California’s 8th congressional district voters would best be served by voting for House representation to serve their interests over Pelosi’s consistent record otherwise.

GOP Rep. Mark Green tweeted:

“I wouldn’t put it past @SpeakerPelosi to stage a coup” attempt.

“She has already weaponized impeachment. What’s to keep her from weaponizing the 25th amendment? We need a new Speaker!”

Throughout her time in office — especially as House speaker — she’s been a loyal guardian of wealth and power interests exclusively over what matters most to most people.

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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 Massoud Nayeri

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In her September 17 speech to parliament, the Attorney General of the Australian state of Victoria, Jill Hennessy, explained various provisions of the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill.  Of most interest was the proposal that would dramatically inflate the scope of public health power in ostensibly preventing a spread of COVID-19.  “The broader class of persons who may be appointed as authorised officers may include public sector employees from Victoria and other jurisdictions.  For example, health services staff, WorkSafe officers such as Inspectors, Victoria Police members and Protective Service Officers.”   

The formulation seemed an odd one: health services staff as designated officers to halt transmission perhaps, but unqualified members of the Victoria Police, along with Protective Service Officers?  The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services was the proposed appointer; the appointees (“authorised officers”) would be anybody deemed to possess appropriate skills, attributes or experience.  Such elevated, muscularly vested officers would have the power to detain anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or anyone who had been in close contact with a positive case, for a period “reasonably necessary to eliminate a serious risk to public health,” provided it was “reasonably believed”  they would fail to comply with a direction of self-quarantine. 

Hennessy evaded the severe implications of such a broadly worded provision, arguing for convenience and efficiency, the two traditional hallmarks of the authoritarian mentality. The appointment power would focus upon “individuals with particular attributes, such as connection to particular communities”.  “Contact tracing” would be able to take place in “a culturally safe manner.”  A for any oversight limitations, these appointments would be subject to a “specific instrument” outlining specific authority and limitations authorised by the Secretary and Chief Health Officer. 

This was something that did not escape the notice of some members of the Victorian Parliament.  Greens MP Tim Read noted how the Omnibus Bill, in that draft form, gave police, protective services officers and private security guards powers to unilaterally determine who constituted a high risk with little regard to medical expertise.  “Currently only public servants with the relevant skills and experience can make that decision”.  Enforcing directions was a separate function of law enforcement.  “So the bill would allow police to both make health directions on individuals and then to enforce them.” 

The Omnibus Bill also saw various legal advocates spring into action. Michael Borsky QC went for understatement in claimingthat detaining someone for hypothetical future conduct was a “very unusual legal construct”.  The provision was “open to abuse”.  Nor did impress the legal heads at the Victorian Bar, where there was much head shaking.  The proposed criteria for appointing such officers was deemed too “broad and generic”.  Their lack of precision “potentially opened the door for those who are not trained as health professionals to be appointed ‘authorised officers’.”

Granting such individuals unilateral powers of detention against individuals not abiding by a public health direction was another point of concern. An officer’s “reasonable belief” was a “standard of validation” vast and subjective.  The Victorian Bar also suggested some measure of accountability: that decisions made by such authorised officers be “reviewed by the Chief Health Officer (or senior delegate) within a short, stipulated period (preferably not longer than 24 hours).”

The talents of Victorian policing have already been found wanting during one of the most extreme lockdown measures in the developed world.  Reem Mussa, humanitarian advisor on forced migration to Médicins Sans Frontières, remembered the terror caused by the appearance of five hundred police “on housing estates [in Melbourne], trapping residents inside with no coherent health strategy or plans to keep them safe, fed or with access to medication and essentials.”  23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been found on the estates in July.  Panic coursed through the various administrative arms of government.

In September, a very public display of policing mismanagement took place with the arrest of Ballarat resident Zoe Buhler, a pregnant mother apprehended in front of her children and husband in their home for a Facebook post inciting protest against the lockdown rules.  No police officer thought it necessary to explain the offence of incitement, nor accept her offer to remove the offending post.  It was such conduct that prompted Greg Barns of the Australian Lawyers Alliance to argue for limits on police powers when linked to pandemic controls.

The Police Accountability Project, based at the Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre in Melbourne, has also been alarmed by the aggressive, untutored policing formula pursued in the state.  “The policing we have seen in Victoria to date and the scale of the policing we have seen [on July 4] and today in Flemington & North Melbourne, has caused and continues to do harm.”

Over the course of the lockdown, the PAP project has noted ten concerns about how harsh Stage 4 restrictions have been enforced.  A few are worth noting.  Police, for instance, were ill trained to make complex assessments about exemptions requiring health expertise.  “Police ignored genuine health based exemptions and continually resorted to lock-down responses because it more closely aligned with their training.”  They had failed to comprehend the public health impacts of their work, and that most pressing of points that policing “undermines public health responses.”  The policing of curfews had been “applied in a discriminatory, abusive and harmful manner.”  With such a stunning resume of faults and blunders, it is a wonder how the drafters in the Attorney-General’s department took leave of their senses.

On October 8, the Victorian government quietly trimmed parts of the proposed bill dealing with detention.  Finding themselves in retreat, a flutter of qualifications were made.  “We have always said we would negotiate in good faith,” claimed a less than chastened Hennessy.  Giving little away, the Attorney-General claims to have made such amendments that will continue “to deliver the temporary, necessary changes we need to respond to the challenges the pandemic presents”.

According to Guardian Australia, the proposed table of changes will still preserve the power to appoint police and protective services officers as authorised officers, but with fewer powers.  They will still be able to exercise considerable discretion in, for instance, searching property without a warrant if “necessary for the purpose of investigation, eliminating or reducing the risk to public health”.  The daft dangers of making police and security personnel pseudo-health officers remain.

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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: A woman walks her dogs in Fitzroy Gardens park as police and defence force officers patrol in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia [David Crosling/EPA]

Over six thousand scientists and doctors have signed a petition against coronavirus lockdown measures, urging that those not in the at risk category should be able to get on with their lives as normal, and that lockdown rules in both the US and UK are causing ‘irreparable damage’.

Those who have signed include professors from the world’s leading universities. Oxford University professor Dr Sunetra Gupta was one of the authors of the open letter that was sent with the petition, along with Harvard University’s Dr Martin Kulldorff and Stanford’s Dr Jay Bhattacharya.

It declares that social distancing and mask mandates are causing ‘damaging physical and mental health impacts.’

The petition, dubbed the Great Barrington Declaration after the town in Massachusetts where it was written, has been signed by close to 54,000 members of the public at time of writing, as well as over 2600 medical and public health scientists and around 3500 medical practitioners.

“Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal,” it notes, adding “Keeping these [lockdown] measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.”

“Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the declaration also declares.

It continues,

“The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular [heart] disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden.”

“Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice,” the declaration adds.

“Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal, it concludes, explaining that “Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold.”

“Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home,” it emphasises.

Finally, the declaration demands that normal life should resume, stating that

“Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”

The declaration echoes President Trump’s words earlier this week when he returned to the White House and asked Americans not to live in fear or let let the virus dominate their everyday lives:

The declaration dovetails with other research that has concluded lockdowns will conservatively “destroy at least seven times more years of human life” than they save.

Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Muller, has warned that lockdown measures throughout the globe will end up killing more people than the Coronavirus itself.

In an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, Muller warned that the response to the global pandemic has resulted in “one of the biggest” hunger and poverty crises in history.

Muller’s comments come five months after a leaked study from inside the German Ministry of the Interior revealed that the impact of the country’s lockdown could end up killing more people than the coronavirus due to victims of other serious illnesses not receiving treatment.

As we have previously highlighted, in the UK there have already been up to 10,000 excess deaths as a result of seriously ill people avoiding hospitals due to COVID-19 or not having their hospital treatments cancelled.

Professor Richard Sullivan also warned that there will be more excess cancer deaths in the UK than total coronavirus deaths due to people’s access to screenings and treatment being restricted as a result of the lockdown.

His comments were echoed by Peter Nilsson, a Swedish professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at Lund University, who said, “It’s so important to understand that the deaths of COVID-19 will be far less than the deaths caused by societal lockdown when the economy is ruined.”

According to Professor Karol Sikora, an NHS consultant oncologist, there could be 50,000 excess deaths from cancer as a result of routine screenings being suspended during the lockdown in the UK.

In addition, a study published in The Lancet that notes “physical distancing, school closures, trade restrictions, and country lockdowns” are worsening global child malnutrition.

Experts have also warned that there will be 1.4 million deaths globally from untreated TB infections due to the lockdown.

As we further previously highlighted, a data analyst consortium in South Africa found that the economic consequences of the country’s lockdown will lead to 29 times more people dying than the coronavirus itself.

Hundreds of doctors are also on record as opposing lockdown measures, warning that they will cause more death than the coronavirus itself.

Despite citizens across the world being told to observe the lockdown to “save lives,” numerous experts who are now warning that the lockdown could end up costing more lives are being ignored or smeared by the media.

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This Week’s Most Popular Articles

October 9th, 2020 by Global Research News

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Selected Articles: Assaulting Science in the Name of Science

October 8th, 2020 by Global Research News

The Construction of an Alternative to “Manufactured Dissent”

By Prof. Charles McKelvey, October 08 2020

In The Globalization of War, Michel Chossudovsky writes of the process of “manufacturing dissent,” which functions to channel the anger and frustrations of the people in a direction that does not challenge elite interests.

Racism and the Death Penalty

By Abayomi Azikiwe, October 08 2020

DPIC entitled its study “Enduring Injustice: the Persistence of Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Death Penalty”. The research report looks at the application of the death penalty historically and draws striking parallels to event taking place in the 21st century.

What’s Wrong with Development? The Geopolitics of The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

By Keith Lamb, October 08 2020

The Belt and Road Initiative seeks to bring development to the world. Why is this a problem for the USA and some of its Western allies?

The Biden Doctrine: Cheerlead Wars, Feign Ignorance Later

By Nauman Sadiq, October 08 2020

If we look at the track record of Joe Biden during his political career first as a senator and then as Obama’s vice president, he is a typical establishment Democrat who has played into the hands of the US national security establishment like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama before him.

Assaulting Science in the Name of Science: Exploring the Coronavirus Crisis of 2020

By Prof. Anthony J. Hall, October 08 2020

There is a battle going on over who and what most credibly represents science. As the months pass, the contest over science is integral to the acrimony concerning the nature of COVID-19.

Evo Morales’ Ally Has Real Chance of Winning Bolivia’s Upcoming Elections

By Paul Antonopoulos, October 08 2020

In the near full year since the accession of Añez to power, Bolivia has regressed in social and economic terms, is tinkering with inflation, and has seen an increase in unemployment and poverty.

US Military Bases Are Key Pieces of the Global War Machine

By Sarah Lazare, October 08 2020

We don’t hear about them very often, but the estimated 800 US military bases around the globe have played an essential role in turning the whole world into a bloody battlefield. Any effort to roll back US empire has to include dismantling the machinery of US military bases.

Fires Raze Nearly Half of Indigenous Territories in Brazil’s Pantanal

By Bianca MunizBruno Fonseca, and Raphaela Ribeiro, October 08 2020

In September, 164 fires were recorded across Indigenous territories in the Brazilian Pantanal, the world’s biggest wetland. In August, there were more than 200.

Resisting Corona “New Normal” Oppression: Every Civil Rights Movement Begins with a Shunned 5%

By John C. A. Manley, October 08 2020

After a TV interview on Canada Citizen’s Forum, host Jack Etkin said to me something to the effect of: We’re really in the minority, aren’t we? Probably only 5% of people see through the COVID-19 hoax. 80% completely believe the official story. And 15% fall somewhere in between.

Matters of International Justice: Challenging Trump’s ICC Sanctions

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, October 08 2020

On September 2, US sanctions – the sort normally reserved for fully fledged terrorists and decorated drug traffickers – were imposed on the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda and her colleague Phakiso Mochochoko, head of Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation.

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The Turkish reports alleging that the Kurdish-allied Syrian-Armenian militia “Nubar Ozanyan Brigade” is fighting in Azerbaijan on the side of the separatists prompt questions about exactly how Damascus regards this armed group, but if Syria’s official statements pertaining to the US-backed “Syrian Democratic Forces” umbrella organization under which those fighters operate are any indication, then everything suggests that it presently considers them traitors although their recent military adventure might end up being their “saving grace” which could pave the way for “reconciliation”.

***

Are Syrian-Armenian Mercenaries Fighting In Azerbaijan?

Most of the world never heard of the “Nubar Ozanyan Brigade” (NOB) until recently when Turkish reports alleged that this Kurdish-allied Syrian-Armenian militia was dispatched to Azerbaijan by Yerevan in support of the separatists fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. To those who only have a casual understanding of the region’s complex dynamics, it might have seemed like pure propaganda since few were probably aware that there was even such a group in the country to begin with, let alone allied with the US-backed Kurds. Many are already familiar with most Syrian Armenians’ patriotic support of their government, especially since it stands for their constitutionally secular state and has sacrificed plenty in defending religious minorities such as themselves from Takfiri terrorists. That’s why these reports were probably dismissed by all non-Turks who came across them, but that’s a huge mistake since the NOB veritably exists even if its illegal presence in Azerbaijan has yet to be independently confirmed, and its activities in Syria are curious enough that they deserve a closer look.

The “Nubar Ozanyan Brigade’s” Founding Statement

The NOB was established in April 2019 in US-occupied Northeastern Syria in response to Turkey’s latest military intervention at the time. Their official founding statement declares in part that the NOB’s formation “is a step towards organizing the unorganized strength of the Armenian people in Rojava and to defend them and the Rojava revolution. The Kurdish, Arab, Syriac and Assyrian peoples in the Rojava revolution have formed their self-organizations, brigades and regiments. It was a shortcoming and a need for the Armenian people to do the same. We as the Martyr Nubar Ozanyan Armenian Brigade feel this burning need and base ourselves on the military, ideological, cultural and social aspects and on learning our mother tongue to never experience a genocide again. To that end, we will organize more and increase our self-organization to grow our revolution.” Quite clearly, they’re a militant ethno-nationalist group with an extreme left-wing ideology considering their support for the “Rojava” project, which also makes them fiercely anti-Damascus too.

Syria’s Official Condemnation Of The SDF

The Syrian government has taken a very strong stance against the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) umbrella organization under which the NOB operates. For example, the country’s official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) information outlet reported in May 2019 less than a month after the NOB’s formation that “Syria called on the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities by working to stop the attacks and treasonous actions of the SDF militias, which are backed by the US and some Western states.” This was echoed by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Maqdad’s comments about the SDF in October 2019, who said that these “armed groups had betrayed their country and committed crimes against it. We won’t accept any dialogue or talk with those who had become hostages to foreign forces…There won’t be any foothold for the agents of Washington on Syrian territory.” President Assad also predicted “popular resistance” to the US if it doesn’t leave Syria during his interview earlier this week with Sputnik, which also implies a grassroots rebellion against its SDF proxy groups.

Treason Is Treason Regardless Of Whoever Commits It

Since Damascus officially regards the Kurdish-led SDF umbrella organization as “treasonous”, “backed by the US and some Western states”, “hostages to foreign forces”, and “agents of Washington on Syrian territory” which are provoking “popular resistance” from the patriotic locals, it can naturally be understood that it also holds this opinion of the Kurdish-allied Syrian-Armenian NOB militia too. Syria isn’t the “racist regime” that its enemies spent years portraying it as and therefore isn’t ethnically selective in accusing its citizens of treason. Whether of Kurdish, Armenian, Arab, and/or any other ethnicity, those that collude with occupying US forces like the NOB does through its membership in the American-backed SDF are considered traitors. It wasn’t just coincidental either that the politically radical minority of Armenians in Syria decided to ally with the Kurds since there’s a long history of the Armenian ASALA and Kurdish PKK terrorist groups cooperating with one another. This is just the latest manifestation of their alliance, which was forged under the cover of “Neo-Marxism”.

Armenia’s Inadvertent Admission

It should be pointed out that since Syria doesn’t exert sovereignty over the northeastern corner of its internationally recognized borders, Damascus shouldn’t be held responsible for the NOB’s activities, but that still doesn’t mean that they didn’t actually travel to Azerbaijan in support of the Nagorno-Karabakh separatists. According to an article from “The Armenian Weekly” in October 2019, “While the Armenian government has announced its readiness to take in Armenian refugees from Rojava, it is yet unclear how many have taken them up on the offer. Armenian repatriates from the region have proven to successfully integrate in the past. For the 29 Armenian families who resettled from the Qamishli area to Artsakh’s Kashatagh District in 2012, for instance, acclamation to a rural lifestyle and experience in agriculture was an asset for them as well as for their adopted communities. Thanks to them, Artsakh will soon be exporting olive oil.” Since the Armenian government can resettle refugees in occupied territory, it also obviously has the capabilities to transfer NOB fighters there too.

Strategic Cynicism

It’s unclear whether Syria is aware of Armenia’s likely ties to the NOB “agents of Washington” on its territory, let alone what might be the South Caucasus country’s illegal dispatch of this militia to universally recognized Azerbaijani territory in order to fight against its government, but that wouldn’t automatically mean that Damascus would disapprove of this even if it did. It would be strategically cynical for Syria to hold such a stance since Turkey illegally dispatched foreign armed groups to Damascus’ universally recognized territory during the course of the ongoing nearly decade-long war, but if a variation of the reverse happened whereby Syrian armed groups were sent to fight against a Turkish ally and happened to inflict devastating losses against them in a way that impeded the effective execution of Ankara’s regional policy, then the scenario can’t be ruled out that Damascus might be interested in “reconciling” with them as a “reward”. All potential moral, ethical, and legal qualms about this aside, as they say, “all’s fair in love and war”, and Syria and Turkey are unofficially at war.

Concluding Thoughts

Officially speaking, while President Assad recently accused Turkey of rekindling the formerly frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh by sending anti-government Syrian terrorists there, he gave no indication that he’s aware of the Turkish reports alleging the presence of the Kurdish-allied Syrian-Armenian NOB militia fighting on the side of the Armenian separatists. There’s likely much more credibility to those reports than many in the Alt-Media Community might feel comfortable admitting since the NOB veritably exists as one of many proxy groups operating under the SDF umbrella, the latter organization of which Damascus officially condemned as “treasonous”, “backed by the US and some Western states”, “hostages to foreign forces”, and “agents of Washington on Syrian territory”. Even so and for as strategically cynical as it may be, Syria might tacitly approve of this development if turns out to be true despite playing no role in it since it could represent an indirect way to pay Turkey back for the war that it unofficially waged on the Arab Republic for almost a decade already.

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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

The Construction of an Alternative to “Manufactured Dissent”

October 8th, 2020 by Prof. Charles McKelvey

In The Globalization of War, Michel Chossudovsky writes of the process of “manufacturing dissent,” which functions to channel the anger and frustrations of the people in a direction that does not challenge elite interests.

The concept of manufacturing dissent takes as its point of departure the notion of “manufactured consent,” used by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky to refer to the forging by the mass media of a popular consensus in support of established norms, values, and institutions.  Fabricated through the media’s narrative and its factual distortions, the consensus functions to serve the interests of corporate elites.  This fabricated mainstream narrative, Chossudovsky maintains, includes affirmation of the principle of democracy, and accordingly, the elite has an interest in accepting dissent and protest, in order to create the illusion of democracy.  But the dissent cannot go too far, in that it cannot actually threaten elite interests.  Therefore, the elite seeks “to shape and mold the protest movement, to set the outer limits of dissent, to control dissent.”  It seeks to channel popular discontent in a direction that does not threaten to expose the fundamental historical and contemporary facts that presently are beyond the horizon of popular consciousness.

Funding Dissent

The manufacturing of dissent, Chossudovsky maintains, is achieved by donating financial resources to NGOs, civil society organizations, trade unions, and political parties that are involved in organizing protests against the established order.   In this way, social movement leaders are coopted and manipulated, channeling the movement away from ideas and strategies that would constitute a true threat to elite interests.

Central to the funding of dissent are private foundations, including the Ford, Rockefeller, and McCarthy foundations, which fund antiwar collectives and people’s movements as well as environmental movements and supposedly progressive anti-capitalist networks, with the intention of molding and manipulating the protest movement.  In addition, the channeling of protest movements is aided by the fact that “many NGOs are infiltrated by informants often acting on behalf of western intelligence agencies.”  Through these means, the illusion of democracy is maintained, with anti-establishment organizations and protests visible to the public eye.  But the elite remains firmly in control, as the protests and supposedly anti-establishment movements are rendered incapable of asking the most fundamental questions.

Elite funding of civil society organizations tends to focus on particular issues, such as the environment, anti-globalization, peace, women’s rights, or climate change.  This leads to the compartmentalization of dissent, which undermines the formation of a cohesive mass movement that integrates the various popular sectors and issues, thus limiting its impact on political dynamics and popular consciousness.

Chossudovsky provides numerous examples indicating U.S./NATO support for “opposition” sectors in the Middle East and Eastern Europe as an imperialist strategy.  He further notes that the anti-globalization and occupy movements in the United States were infiltrated and manipulated.  I would submit that similar questions should be asked with respect to the Black Lives Matter Movement, which provides a unidimensional explanation of a multifaceted historical and contemporary problem, bursting on the national scene in an historic moment in which various social sectors are in a condition of anxiety and a disposition to rebellion, due to the economic consequences of worldwide health restrictions.  Why was it that, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, prominent political figures not known for their commitment to social transformation expressed support for the Black Lives Matter Movement?

What can be done?

Chossudovsky maintains that the development of a true mass movement “cannot be led by organizations which are financed by corporate foundations.”  On the ideological plane, he maintains that the lies and fabrications that legitimate the “war on terrorism” must be exposed; and that the structures of power and the nature of the capitalist world order must be challenged.

With respect to strategies and tactics, Chossudovsky maintains that “the holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well-organized grassroots antiwar network, nationally and internationally.”  What is required is “a massive campaign of networking and outreach to inform people across the land, nationally and internationally, in neighborhoods, workplaces, parishes, schools, universities and municipalities.”

I would like to further reflect on the development of a national mass network of people in places of work and study and in neighborhoods.  And I would like to begin by basing our reflection in the study of revolutions and mass movements in other lands, where the peoples confronted challenges similar to the challenges that we face today, in that they confronted their own powerlessness before structures of domination, exploitation, and ideological distortions.  Many of the most successful of these revolutionary movements of the last 100 years are known to us, but for the most part we do not study them with sufficient care to enable us to discern how they accomplished the taking of political power and the partial, even if sometimes temporary, transformation of structures of power in their various nations.  I refer to the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Vietnamese Revolution, the Cuban Revolution, the socialist revolution in Chile led by Salvador Allende, the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, the Movement toward Socialism led by Evo Morales in Bolivia, and the Citizen Revolution headed by Rafael Correa in Ecuador.

We have in these cases the experience of revolutionary theory developing in practice, providing sources for our understanding of human social dynamics and of the process through which humanity can take steps toward the development of a more just world.

The first and most important lesson to be learned from the world’s revolutions is that the political and economic accomplishments of these processes were forged through the development of an integrated movement of all of the sectors of the people.  Although it was natural for the people to think of themselves as peasants or workers or professionals, as blacks or whites or mulattos or mestizos, and as men or women, all the revolutions proceeded on a foundation of the unification of all the people in united political action in support of common principles and political proposals.  Our observation of these revolutions confirms Chossudovsky’s lament of the fragmentation of the popular movement today.

The second important lesson is that none of these revolutions were confused or divided concerning what their fundamental objective was or ought to be.  For all of them, the fundamental objective was the taking of political power, by themselves, and in the name of the people.  The taking of political power can only occur in a form that is adapted to national conditions, and therefore, the tactics varied.  In Russia, the revolutionary party seized power on the basis of the control of popular councils by workers, peasants, and soldiers.  In China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Nicaragua, power was taken by a guerrilla force that began in the countryside and triumphed in the city.  And in Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, political power was taken through the electoral process of representative democracy.  In spite of these differences, the leadership of these revolutionary processes were clearly committed to the taking of control of one or more state structures, and of continuing the revolutionary struggle against the national and international counterrevolution from that position of triumph.  In revolutionary practice, the fundamental slogan has been “Power to the people.”

With consciousness of these dynamics of revolutionary processes of the last 100 years, we are able to see the necessity of forming a political party or a political movement that seeks to take political power.  Our agenda ought not be the pressuring or persuading of elites to enact particular reforms.  Nor should it be “speaking truth to power.”  And our agenda must go beyond the education of the people to the taking of power by the people, in the long term and in accordance with a formulated plan.  The road to a more just world is the taking of control of the political structures of nation-states, so that the peoples can govern said states in accordance with their interests, continuing the struggle of the world’s revolutions.

Taking into account the corruption of political parties in processes of representative democracy, a newly formed political party must be an alternative party that redefines what a political party is and does.  It has to be a party that above all educates the people, and the first lesson to be taught is the capacity of the people to take power and to govern by and for themselves.  And it has to educate the people beyond the superficialities of the current prevailing tendencies of reform and rebellion, guiding the people to a profound understanding of the historical development of the established political-economic-ideological system and of the structural transformations that are necessary for genuine human liberty and for a more just society.

In the revolutions of the last one hundred years, manifestos and platforms were written, with the intention of explaining to the people.  The example of reading and seeking to understand was placed before the people, and commitment to developing understanding was established as a responsibility of membership in the revolutionary party.  This integration of intellectual work in the revolutionary process was fully present in the American Revolution; during the entire revolutionary era of 1763 to 1840, numerous pamphlets were written, and pamphleteering played a central role in the political process and public debate.

In The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Bernard Bailyn writes that the spokespersons for the revolution were active politicians, merchants, lawyers, plantation owners, and preachers who expressed their ideas in pamphlets, usually from 5,000 to 25,000 words printed in ten to fifty pages, although some extended to sixty or eighty pages.  Most were responses to the great events of the time, such as the Stamp Act or the Boston Massacre.  Some generated a series of replies, rebuttals, and counter-rebuttals.  Some were published in commemoration of the anniversary of the particular events.  And the pamphlets were written with the intention to persuade.

“The American writers were profoundly reasonable people.  Their pamphlets convey scorn, anger, and indignation; but rarely blind hate, rarely panic fear.  They sought to convince their opponents, not . . . annihilate them. . . .  The communication of understanding, therefore, lay at the heart of the Revolutionary movement, and its great expressions, embodied in the best of the pamphlets, are consequently expository and explanatory: didactic, systematic, and direct, rather than imaginative and metaphoric. . . .  The reader is led through arguments, not images.  The pamphlets aim to persuade.”

We have to retake these examples in the history of popular revolutions.  We have to forge the unity of the people through a narrative and a platform that is historically informed, scientifically based, and politically intelligent.  We have to write pamphlets that explain to the people the fundamental facts of our reality.  Pamphlets that explain the central role of European conquest and colonialism, which provide the structural foundation for today’s global inequalities.  Pamphlets explaining that development through domination and exploitation has reached its limits, because the capitalist world-economy has reached and overextended the geographical and ecological limits of the earth.  Pamphlets that explain to the people that the governments and movements of the Third World are proclaiming the need for cooperation among the nations and peoples as the only possible way toward a more just, democratic, and sustainable world-system.  Pamphlets that call the people toward that cooperation and mutually beneficial trade that is the necessary road for humanity today, leaving behind the historically outdated matrix of economic development through domination and exploitation and leaving behind the stage of competing imperialisms.

Our peoples already know that their governments lie to them, so the alternative political party ought to be able to delegitimate the lies and distortions that establishment politicians and parties routinely disseminate.  And the focus ought to be on the big lies, such as omitting the history of colonialist exploitation and intervention with respect to a particular region; and presenting governments that defend the sovereignty of their nations as threats to humanity.  In every case in which the global powers designate a country as a supposed threat, the alternative political party has to be present distributing PDFs that explain the true history and political-economy of said nation.  If we explain with thoroughness and clarity, our people would be able to understand that the government is distorting reality in order to advance its imperialist objectives.

We have to explain to our peoples that imperialist wars are not in their interests.  Wars are in the interests of corporations, because they provide spectacular markets and profits in the production and distribution of arms and military supplies.  And if successful, imperialist wars can make markets, raw materials, and cheap labor available in a relatively permanent form.  Moreover, wars give corporations a free hand, because the government is dependent on them to produce arms and military supplies.

But if the nation is at peace, and if the people have control of the government, there is the possibility that the government can regulate the corporations and direct the economy, channeling productive processes toward responding to the fundamental human needs of the people as well as toward addressing the serious problems that humanity confronts.  The alternative political party has to be present with pamphlets and public discourses that debunk the distorted claims that are designed to provide pretexts for imperialist wars, pamphlets and discourses that are effective in explaining to and persuading the people and in presenting an alternative approach to the development of the nation’s economy.

The alternative political party has to develop mastery of the art of politics.  It should put forth candidates in demographically favorable districts, with the intention that elected representatives of the party would be visible on a national level, educating the people with respect to the party’s understanding, analysis, and platform.  And the party should avoid putting forth a candidate in any election in which the party’s candidate would enable a fascist to defeat a liberal.  The party should cooperate with liberal politicians on some issues, as it focuses on the education and organization of the people and its goal of taking political power in the long run.

Can we move beyond critique and protest to the offering of politically viable alternatives to our peoples?

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Charles McKelvey is Professor Emeritus, Presbyterian College, Clinton, South Carolina.  He has published three books: Beyond Ethnocentrism:  A Reconstruction of Marx’s Concept of Science (Greenwood Press, 1991); The African-American Movement:  From Pan-Africanism to the Rainbow Coalition (General Hall, 1994); and The Evolution and Significance of the Cuban Revolution: The Light in the Darkness (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).


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.

Corruption Inc. – Somalia Style

October 8th, 2020 by Dr. Bischara A. Egal

This article was originally published in February 2020.

Political corruption is so rampant in Africa and Somalia in particularly since the civil war 1991. Resource-rich African countries such as Angola, Algeria, DRC, Libiya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan suffer from the curse of resources which attracts foreign/Western governments and their intelligence agencies which wage hybrid warfare by dumping hugh amounts of corrupt money to the local political and social arena in order to Balkanize, divide and colonize the country.

“Only in Africa will thieves be regrouping to loot again and the youths whose Future is being stolen will be celebrating…” -Professor & Nigerian Nobel prize laureate Wole Soyinka

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Introduction

Corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal offense undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, to acquire illicit benefit or abuse power for one’s private gain. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries (1)

Political corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain. Corruption is most commonplace in kleptocracies, oligarchies, narco-states and mafia states.

Corruption can occur on different scales. Corruption ranges from small favors between a small number of people (petty corruption) (2), to corruption that affects the government on a large scale (grand corruption), and corruption that is so prevalent that it is part of the everyday structure of society, including corruption as one of the symptoms of organized crime. Corruption and crime are endemic sociological occurrences which appear with regular frequency in virtually all countries on a global scale in varying degree and proportion. Individual nations each allocate domestic resources for the control and regulation of corruption and crime. Strategies to counter corruption are (3).

Corruption involves more than high-level officials taking bribes. Low-level officials are addicted to abusing their authority and milking the public with Hugh amounts of bribes of cash, material gifts; and even sexual favors which stains the office and authority they are so entrusted.

Corruption is destructive and contagious in developing world and in particularly resources rich war-torn countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where Western intelligence agencies and their governments funnel cases full of brand-new American dollars notes to local political leadership in order to curry favor.

Somalia ranks among the world’s most corrupt countries. Insecurity is also a major issue; the ongoing instability greatly restricts business. Corrupt government officials tolerate illegal activities in return for bribes.

Dysfunctional institutions facilitate an environment of lawlessness, and the absence of any form of regulatory framework hinders prospects of economic competitiveness. Business is based on patronage networks, and tight monopolies dominate the market. Somalia’s Provisional Constitution criminalizes several forms of corruption (including abuse of office, embezzlement and bribery); however, implementation is non-existent. The governing elite is continuously involved in allegations of embezzlement of public funds from the already meager Somalian coffers. Finally, bribery is commonplace in all sectors, and procurement contracts frequently involve corruption (4).

Political corruption is the abuse of public power, office, or resources by elected government officials for personal gain, by extortion, soliciting or offering bribes. It can also take the form of office holders maintaining themselves in office by purchasing votes by enacting laws which use taxpayers’ money. Evidence suggests that corruption can have political consequences- with citizens being asked for bribes becoming less likely to identify with their country or region (5).

Political corruption is so rampant in Africa and Somalia in particularly since the civil war 1991. Resource-rich African countries such as Angola, Algeria, DRC, Libiya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan suffer from the curse of resources which attracts foreign/Western governments and their intelligence agencies which wage hybrid warfare by dumping hugh amounts of corrupt money to the local political and social arena in order to Balkanize, divide and colonize the country.

Western Corporate empire elites have no respect for any African and Somalia in particularly, nor our culture or future development. They dislike our African and black skin and culture more than anything on earth as Franz Fanon wrote.

Colonial era in Africa has been replaced with “neo-colonialism, neo-imperialism”. It means that Africa is now undergoing a profound economic and socio-cultural exploitation and plundering by the same imperial capitalist powers as well as their proxies from Gulf-Arab countries.

Somalia has experienced death, destruction, poverty at the hands of US/EU powers and their local African and Gulf proxies since 1999.

Western corporate empire in cahoots with local corrupt political and economic elites are looting and pillaging Somalia through privatization and neo-liberal economic models which they are buying up public-owned industries and corporations of Somali Democratic Republic (SDR) built over 30 years of scientific socialism without public participation and oversight. These foreign corporate empire elites have employed local corrupt politicians and Tribal warlords who are only interested in “Getting Rich Quick “ at the public expenses.

These massive corrupt and criminal financial transactions are encouraged and supported through the IMF-World Bank and other financial Institutions such as (Saudi, Qatari & Emirati Banks) financing capital markets . Just as they have done in the former USSR republics of Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, as well as Romania, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, and Former republics of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).

Conclusions

For the first time in Somali history, corrupt and unelected governments and leaders have sold off public agricultural, industrial, military, commercial and real estate without the full consent, approval and votes from the so-called parliament and the Somali public from 1991 -2016. They gave away public (national) properties to foreigners.

Somalia ranks among the world’s most corrupt countries. Insecurity is also a major issue; the ongoing instability greatly restricts business. Corrupt government officials tolerate illegal activities in return for bribes. Dysfunctional institutions facilitate an environment of lawlessness, and the absence of any form of regulatory framework hinders prospects of economic competitiveness. Business is based on patronage networks, and tight monopolies dominate the market. Somalia’s Provisional Constitutioncriminalizes several forms of corruption (including abuse of office, embezzlement and bribery); however, implementation is non-existent. The governing elite is continuously involved in allegations of embezzlement of public funds from the already meager Somali coffers. Finally, bribery is commonplace in all sectors both public and private enterprises and procurement contracts frequently involve corruption.

Somalia has again been ranked the world’s most corrupt country, according to the just released 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Transparency International, TI. Somalia was bottom of the standings with 9 / 180 (score/rank).

Other African countries that ranked at the bottom of the list were: South Sudan (12 / 179), Sudan (16 / 173), Equatorial Guinea (16 / 173) and Guinea-Bissau (18 / 168).

The ranking measures perceived public-sector corruption using a scale on which 100 is seen as very clean and zero is very corrupt. More than two-thirds of countries around the world scored below 50% and the average score was pegged at 43%.

This year’s results reveal that a majority of the 180 countries analyzed are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption.

Somalia’s government has in the past dismissed poor rankings on the CPI terming them as “unreliable and falsehood”, with the country’s Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beyle previously threatening to sue Transparency International.

New Zealand was named the most corrupt free country followed by Denmark and Finland respectively. Somalia has been wracked by vicious tribal civil –war since 1991 and terrorist violence unleashed by al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab group since 2010.

The current government led by Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has continued to make gains in seeking international assistance across different sectors to rebuild the country despite repeated deadly attacks especially in the capital Mogadishu (7).

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Dr. Bischara A. Egal is Chief Executive Director of the Horn of Africa Center for Strategic and International Studies (http://www.horncsis.org).

Notes

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_in_Somalia (accessed on Feb. 16)
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. https://www.ganintegrity.com/portal/country-profiles/somalia/ (accessed on Feb. 16, 2020)
  5. https://www.academia.edu/6868546/Bribery_and_Identity_Evidence_from_Sudan(accessedfeb.22, 2020)
  6. https://www.jstor.org/stable/159742 (accessed Feb. 22, 2020)
  7. https://www.africanews.com/2020/01/24/the-other-insurgency-somalia-ranked-world-s-most-corrupt-nation// (accessed Feb. 25, 2020)

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COVID-19 Masks Are a Crime Against Humanity and Child Abuse

October 8th, 2020 by Dr. Margarite Griesz-Brisson

The following is a transcript of the highlights (by Henna Maria) from Dr. Margarite Griesz-Brisson’s recent extremely pressing video message, that was translated on-air from German into English by Claudia Stauber. Video at the end of the transcript.

Dr. Margarite Griesz-Brisson MD, PhD is a Consultant Neurologist and Neurophysiologist with a PhD in Pharmacology, with special interest in neurotoxicology, environmental medicine, neuroregeneration and neuroplasticity. This is what she has to say about masks and their effects on our brains:

“The rebreathing of our exhaled air will without a doubt create oxygen deficiency and a flooding of carbon dioxide. We know that the human brain is very sensitive to oxygen depravation. There are nerve cells for example in the hippocampus, that can’t be longer than 3 minutes without oxygen – they cannot survive. The acute warning symptoms are headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, issues in concentration, slowing down of the reaction time – reactions of the cognitive system.

However, when you have chronic oxygen depravation, all of those symptoms disappear, because you get used to it. But your efficiency will remain impaired and the undersupply of oxygen in your brain continues to progress.

We know that neurodegenerative diseases take years to decades to develop. If today you forget your phone number, the breakdown in your brain would have already started 20 or 30 years ago.

While you’re thinking, that you have gotten used to wearing your mask and rebreathing your own exhaled air, the degenerative processes in your brain are getting amplified as your oxygen deprivation continues.

The second problem is that the nerve cells in your brain are unable to divide themselves normally. So in case our governments will generously allow as to get rid of the masks and go back to breathing oxygen freely again in a few months, the lost nerve cells will no longer be regenerated. What is gone is gone.

[..]I do not wear a mask, I need my brain to think. I want to have a clear head when I deal with my patients, and not be in a carbon dioxide induced anaesthesia.

[..]There is no unfounded medical exemption from face masks because oxygen deprivation is dangerous for every single brain. It must be the free decision of every human being whether they want to wear a mask that is absolutely ineffective to protect themselves from a virus.

For children and adolescents, masks are an absolute no-no. Children and adolescents have an extremely active and adaptive immune system and they need a constant interaction with the microbiome of the Earth. Their brain is also incredibly active, as it is has so much to learn. The child’s brain, or the youth’s brain is thirsting for oxygen. The more metabolically active the organ is, the more oxygen it requires.  In children and adolescents every organ is metabolically active.

To deprive a child’s or an adolescent’s brain from oxygen, or to restrict it in any way, is not only dangerous to their health, it is absolutely criminal. Oxygen deficiency inhibits the development of the brain, and the damage that has taken place as a result CANNOT be reversed.

The child needs the brain to learn, and the brain needs oxygen to function.  We don’t need a clinical study for that. This is simple, indisputable physiology. Conscious and purposely induced oxygen deficiency is an absolutely deliberate health hazard, and an absolute medical contraindication.

An absolute medical contraindication in medicine means that this drug, this therapy, this method or measure should not be used – is not allowed to be used. To coerce an entire population to use an absolute medical contraindication by force, there must be definite and serious reasons for this, and the reasons must be presented to competent interdisciplinary and independent bodies to be verified and authorised.

When in ten years, dementia is going to increase exponentially, and the younger generations couldn’t reach their god-given potential, it won’t help to say “we didn’t need the masks”.

[..]How can a veterinarian, a software distributer, a business man, an electrical car manufacturer and a physicist decided on matters regarding the health of the entire population? Please dear colleagues, we all have to wake up.

I know how damaging oxygen depravation is for the brain, cardiologist knows it for the heart, the pulmonologist knows it for the lungs. Oxygen deprivation damages every single organ.

Where are our health departments, our health insurance, our medical associations? It would have been their duty to be vehemently against the lockdown and to stop it and stop it from the very beginning.

Why do the medical boards give punishments to doctors who give people exemptions? Does the person or the doctor seriously have to prove that oxygen depravation harms people? What kind of medicine are our doctors and medical associations representing?

Who is responsible for this crime? The ones who want to enforce it? The ones who let it happen and play along, or the ones who don’t prevent it?[..]It’s not about masks, it’s not about viruses, it’s certainly not about your health. It is about much much more. I am not participating. I am not afraid.

[..]You can notice, they are already taking our air to breathe.

The imperative of the hour is personal responsibility.

We are responsible for what we think, not the media. We are responsible for what we do, not our superiors. We are responsible for our health, not the World Health Organisation. And we are responsible for what happens in our country, not the government.”

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Featured image: A woman wearing a face mask is seen in the subway in Milan, Italy, March 2, 2020.(Photo by Daniele Mascolo/Xinhua)

Armenian forces launched a missile attack on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, according to Azerbaijan. The country’s prosecutors said that Armenian forces had carried out the attack, which was prevented by the Azerbaijani military, on the pipeline in Yevlah at around 9 p.m. local time on October 6. The incident was described as a “terrorist act”.

The BTC pipeline delivers Azeri light crude oil (mainly from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field) through Georgia to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan for export via tankers. Another crucial Azerbaijani energy infrastructure object, which could become a potential target of Armenian attacks is the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, which connects the giant Shah Deniz gas field with Europe through Georgia and Turkey. The Armenian side denounced the Azerbaijani report as fake news. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia regularly accuse each other of striking civilian and infrastructure objects on their sovereign territory and denounce the opponent’s claims as propaganda and fakes.

It is interesting to note that just a few hours earlier Vahram Poghosyan, the press secretary of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) President, claimed that Armenian forces had delivered powerful missile and rocket strikes on military objects in large Azerbaijani towns destroying multiple pieces of equipment and eliminating the enemy. The Azerbaijani official narrative provides a similar position that Azerbaijani forces are pulverizing Armenian military targets.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov threatened Armenia with “using the weapons with great destructive power” to deliver strikes on “the military-strategic infrastructure” of Armenia if it employs its Iskander operational-tactical missile systems against Azerbaijani forces.

However, it does not seem that the Armenian political leadership is ready to employ all the variety of its means and forces to fight back in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. Instead, the government of Nikol Pashinyan is now mostly focused on the diplomatic campaign in Western media in an attempt to convince the so-called international community to help it to keep control over Karabakh. Mr. Pashinyan, who just a few days ago was promising to inflict a military defeat on what he called the Azerbaijani-Turkish terror alliance even declared that Armenia is ready for mutual concessions. Nonetheless, Baku and Ankara do not seem to be ready for a new ceasefire and the resumption of negotiations at the present time.

On the frontline in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region itself, the main hot point is the district of Jabrayil. Using the worsening weather conditions (fog and thick clouds), which complicate the work of Azerbaijani combat drones, Armenian forces were able to stabilize the frontline and prevent further gains of the Azerbaijani military in this part of Karabakh. On October 7, Armenia even claimed that a large-scale Azerbaijani attack had been repelled in the area. The Defense Ministry claimed that over 60 dead and multiple equipment pieces were left by Azerbaijan on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Armenian forces and cities of the region are still subjected to intense artillery bombardment by the Azerbaijani military. Heavy destruction was inflicted on the city of Stepanakert. As soon as the weather improves, Azerbaijan with help from Turkey will likely resume active drone strikes and launch a new phase of the ground offensive along the contact line.

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Juan Guaidó Creates a Parallel Consulate in Brazil

October 8th, 2020 by Lucas Leiroz de Almeida

A “parallel” Venezuelan Consulate in Brazil was condemned in a recent statement by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. In late September, supporters of the Venezuelan opposition leader, the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó, announced that they would form a new consulate in Brazil. Basically, the objective is to create a parallel Venezuelan diplomatic representation, which meets the interests of the opposition – which is supported by the Brazilian government. The decision has received strong criticism from the Venezuelan government, which considers it illegal. However, despite the criticism, the consulate is starting its operations this week in the Brazilian state of Roraima – a region strategically chosen because it borders Venezuela.

Jorge Arreaza, head of the Bolivarian government’s foreign relations, reinforced his criticism and published an official statement warning the international community against the activities of the opposition, which he classified as fraudulent. According to Arreaza, there is an attempt to usurp the legitimate consular power of the Venezuelan government – which, in legal terms, is correct, considering that Guaidó is not actually the president of Venezuela.

Guaidó’s initiative in Brazil continues a series of clashes between the government of Jair Bolsonaro and representatives of Nicolás Maduro. Last month, the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared Venezuelan diplomats as “persona non grata” after setting a deadline in April for them to leave the country – which did not happen due to a later decision by the Supreme Court. Now, with the appointment of new “diplomats” by Juan Guaidó, the situation between both countries is even more tense, since the Brazilian government will publicly recognize the role of the opposition’s parallel diplomatic service, while denying maintaining relations with the Venezuelan official diplomacy.

No specific date has been set for the opening of the parallel consulate, and it has just been announced that from this week on the agency would be fully operational. In fact, Guaidó’s “diplomats” are already acting freely in Brazil and even distributing documents to Venezuelan citizens in Brazilian territory. The Maduro government has already stated that such documents have no validity, but the Brazilian government recognizes the actions and cooperates with the oppositionist Consulate. It is also important to emphasize that the employees of the parallel consulate have no diplomatic training, being political militants chosen by Guaidó to represent his interests in Brazil.

Brazil is making a serious mistake in accepting the formation of an illegal consulate in its territory. This represents a total violation of good customs in international relations. Although Brazil is directly opposed to the Venezuelan government, recognizing the legitimacy of an illegal “consulate” and allowing parallel diplomats to act in its territory sets an undesirable precedent in bilateral relations between these states. According to the Montevideo Convention, a State is constituted by the presence of territory, government and diplomatic relations. Therefore, when recognizing a new diplomacy, Brazil is, in practice, recognizing the existence of a Venezuelan State parallel to the Bolivarian Republic. The Venezuelan case, moreover, illustrates an absolutely inappropriate international behavior among the nations that oppose Maduro. To recognize a deputy as president for the simple fact that there was political opposition to the legitimate government had already been a serious violation of international customs. Now, with the creation of parallel consulates, the situation is likely to get even worse, mainly due to the fact that Brazil may not be the only country to receive the “Guaidó’s diplomats”.

Interestingly, the inauguration of the parallel Consulate in Brazil takes place a few weeks after the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to four countries in South America. The head of American diplomacy met with Brazilians including Brazil’s minister of foreign affairs Ernesto Araújo and Venezuelan immigrants precisely in the state of Roraima. The secret talks between Pompeo and Araújo still remain obscure. When called by the Senate to clarify the content of the meeting, Araújo gave no details and mentioned only generic aspects of the conversations he had with Pompeo. The other countries visited by Pompeo were Colombia, Guyana and Suriname – countries strategically chosen to form a siege against Venezuela. Considering that Pompeo’s visit to Brazil was most likely decisive for the Brazilian government to agree to cooperate with Guaidó’s parallel diplomacy, it is possible to foresee that anytime soon some of the other countries visited by Pompeo will also announce a similar decision, receiving “diplomatic missions” coming from the self-proclaimed and illegitimate government of Juan Guaidó.

It remains to be seen what consequences of these acts will be from now on. The parallel consulate is already acting freely in Brazil, consolidating a historic act of violation of Venezuelan state sovereignty perpetrated by the Brazilian government. However, the US – the world power that promotes the crusade against Maduro – has not yet made such a bold decision and does not publicly have “diplomats” in the service of Guaidó. In fact, Brazil is being the laboratory of a great experiment, where the limits of the violation of Venezuelan sovereignty are being tested. Depending on the reaction of Caracas and its allies, other countries will receive – or not – such “diplomats”.

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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

Racism and the Death Penalty

October 8th, 2020 by Abayomi Azikiwe

Christopher Vialva, 40, was executed by the United States government on September 24 in Terra Haute, Indiana.

Vialva was the first Black person put to death by the federal criminal justice system since the resumption of executions by Washington earlier this year.

The now deceased Vialva committed his crimes in the state of Texas as a youth. His offenses were designated as a federal crime due to the fact that it took place in an area considered under the control of the Fort Hood military base. Vialva’s mother, Lisa Brown, who is Caucasian, pleaded with President Donald Trump to commute the death sentence of her son, to no avail.

Six others faced the same fate in rapid succession during 2020. These events, overshadowed by the presidential elections, the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread mass demonstrations and rebellions fueled by racism and national oppression, represents the continuing unjust treatment of people of color communities, working and poor people in the most advanced capitalist state in the world.

The death penalty was reinstated in 1976 after being suspended for four years. Nonetheless, only three federal executions were carried out between 1976 and the beginning of 2020, after a 17 year hiatus.

The escalation in federal executions is a direct result of the policies of the administration of President Donald Trump. Attorney General William Barr was instrumental in facilitating the renewal of capital punishment on a federal level.

Even within the state criminal justice systems in the many areas where the death penalty remains legal there has been a notable decline in the utilization of this outmoded and barbaric form of punishment. However, the current administration in Washington is seeking to illustrate that it is committed to the maximum sentencing of prison inmates despite its claims of prison reform directed towards African Americans. Barr was quoted as saying “we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.” (See this)

Racism, National Oppression and the Death Penalty

A recent study released by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) further exposes the link between race and criminal justice. The study comes at a critical conjuncture in the U.S. when millions have demonstrated and spoken out against the arbitrary use of lethal force involving police and vigilante contacts with African Americans and people of Latin American descent.

The recrudescence of federal capital punishment is a ruthless by-product of the ideological racism of the current administration. Trump built his 2016 presidential campaign through the targeting and denigration of immigrant workers, African Americans, women and other oppressed groups. Yet this stiffening of overt national discrimination and bigotry has prompted widespread opposition both domestically and internationally.

This report by the DPIC was issued prior to the November 3 national elections. The findings reinforce the narratives related to the expanding prison-industrial-complex which is inextricably linked to the disproportionate profiling, arrest, sentencing, imprisonment and execution of oppressed people in comparison to whites in the U.S.

DPIC entitled its study “Enduring Injustice: the Persistence of Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Death Penalty”. The research report looks at the application of the death penalty historically and draws striking parallels to event taking place in the 21st century.

Death Penalty and Race graph

According to Ngozi Ndulue, lead author and Senior Director of Research and Special Projects for DPIC:

“The death penalty has been used to enforce racial hierarchies throughout United States history, beginning with the colonial period and continuing to this day. Its discriminatory presence as the apex punishment in the American legal system legitimizes all other harsh and discriminatory punishments. That is why the death penalty must be part of any discussion of police reform, prosecutorial accountability, reversing mass incarceration, and the criminal legal system as a whole.” (See this)

DPIC study cover on Enduring Injustice

In the U.S. in 2020, there are approximately 2.3 million people incarcerated in numerous jails, juvenile detention centers and prisons. Millions more are under some form of judicial and law-enforcement supervision. African Americans and other people of color make up over half of all those locked up while these communities constitute less than 40% of the overall population of the U.S. combined.

The Executive Director of DPIC and the editor of the report, Robert Dunham, said of the study that:

“If you don’t understand the history — that the modern death penalty is the direct descendant of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow-segregation — you won’t understand why. With the continuing police and white vigilante killings of Black citizens, it is even more important now to focus attention on the outsized role the death penalty plays as an agent and validator of racial discrimination. What is broken or intentionally discriminatory in the criminal legal system is visibly worse in death-penalty cases. Exposing how the system discriminates in capital cases can shine an important light on law enforcement and judicial practices in vital need of abolition, restructuring, or reform.”

Movements Aimed at Prison Abolition and National Liberation Are Needed Today

Consequently, the system of national oppression and institutionalized racism in criminal justice requires consistent work and political struggle. Those incarcerated and targeted by the correctional system are also the victims of super-exploitation.

Many prisoners and those threatened with imprisonment are forced to work under slave-like conditions. In California, inmates are being utilized to fight forest fires which are a direct outcome of the failure of the capitalist and imperialist system to place adequate focus on the environmental impact of climate change.

Other inmates are brutalized by guards and administrators, many of whom are racists. The prison system is both public and private. There has been a dramatic increase in the proliferation of private correctional facilities. Migrant workers in greater numbers are being imprisoned, including children. Recent reports indicate that these inmates are being molested by guards and subjected to unwanted medical procedures related to their reproductive health.

Mass incarceration and the death penalty are also forms of social containment. Millions over the last four decades have been removed from society away from families, neighborhoods and workplaces. Therefore, the growth in the prison industry has contributed immensely to the destruction of Black, Brown and working class families.

The new DPIC report points to the insidious character of the federal executions by noting that the renewed process of capital punishment was begun with six white death row inmates. Nevertheless, the report states emphatically:

“Although the first set of executions scheduled by the federal government in 2020 have been strategically directed at white people, the federal death penalty has long been plagued by the same racial bias present in state death penalty systems. Thirty-four of the 57 people currently on federal death row are people of color, including 26 Black men. Some were convicted and condemned by all-white juries. In an action widely regarded as an assault on Native sovereignty, the sole Native American on federal death row was executed for an offense on tribal lands over the repeated objection of his tribe and Native American leaders across the country.”

Any analysis related to the emancipation from national and class oppression must include a critique of the criminal justice structures in the U.S. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, a large-scale movement among prisoners themselves surfaced leading to protests, strikes, rebellions and the takeover of correctional institutions.

In 1971, thousands of inmates at the Attica State Prison in New York seized the facility and made militant demands on the warden and then Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Instead of negotiating in good faith with the African American-led insurrection, Rockefeller ordered the state police to retake the prison, afterwards killing dozens of inmates and most of the guards held by the prisoners.

Since the early 1970s, periodic eruptions of resistance have occurred in the prison system. These efforts include petitioning for better treatment, hunger strikes and work stoppages which demand an end to brutality and harassment. These actions are occurring in California, Georgia, Michigan, among other states.

These struggles inside the prison system are part and parcel of the movement to end racism, national and class oppression. With no end in sight of the prison-industrial-complex under capitalism, only the building of a socialist society can guarantee equal protection under the law.

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

All images in this article are from the author; featured image: Christopher Vialva and his mother Lisa Brown just days before his execution in Indiana