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À partir d’avant-hierAmerican Herald Tribune

The Killing of George Floyd: A Turning Point If the People Stay in Motion

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On May 25, 2020 a man named George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis, Minnesota police while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. An onlooker recorded video showing Floyd gasping, “I can’t breathe” numerous times as a policeman pressed a knee on his neck. The killing evoked memories of Eric Garner, who was also recorded speaking the same words as he died at the hands of New York City police. What happens in secret on a daily basis can become a national crisis when a killing is witnessed by millions of people.

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Minneapolis exploded into a full scale rebellion in the wake of Floyd’s death.  Some use the word riot, but the motivation for the mass action is quite serious and should not be so casually dismissed. The protest has taken such a serious turn in large part because the odds of punishment are so low. Eric Garner’s killer is free, so is the Minnesota cop who killed Philando Castille on video. Photographic evidence is of little use when prosecutors are an integral part of law enforcement machinery. Their job is to indict and convict those who fall into the hands of police, often for minor offenses like Floyd. Prosecutors are therefore compromised and unable to provide justice when their police partners become the accused.

Minneapolis prosecutor Mike Freeman gave credence to the worst fears when he said, “That video is graphic and horrific but there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.” Like the officer who killed Floyd, Freeman’s home is now surrounded by angry people. Another group of protesters forced police to flee from a precinct building as they set it on fire. Because there is little hope of justice, there is no peace either.

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar is one of the politicians complicit in police violence. She was the prosecutor in Minneapolis from 1999 to 2007 and she declined to prosecute more than two dozen fatal police encounters during her time in office. She was a presidential candidate and is now being vetted as a possible running mate for presumptive democratic party nominee Joe Biden. Her inaction in bringing justice to police victims didn’t hurt her political fortunes. Other prosecutors chose not to charge Floyd’s killer, Derek Chauvin, when he was involved in three separate shooting incidents.

Chauvin and prosecutors are two sides of the same coin. They are the people who keep the engine of over policing, brutality and mass incarceration running at full speed. The system may react by terminating officers when they become the subject of press scrutiny, but the wheels of a corrupt machinery keep turning.

It is also important to point out that Floyd’s killing did not occur in a vacuum. The one black person killed every day by police, private security and vigilantes includes victims like Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. Arbery’s killers were arrested more than two months after the murder and only after video surfaced, ironically taken by a man now charged as an accomplice. Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville, Kentucky police serving a search warrant on the wrong home. These deaths spawned anger across the country and Floyd’s killing was the last straw for thousands of people now protesting across the country.

This popular anger is not new. The cry for justice goes unheeded and there has been no lasting mechanism for responding to the deaths and injuries that take place out on a routine basis. The movement spawned by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization inspired hope of change but it eventually fizzled out. BLM’s leadership are now among the non-profit industrial complex, dispensing patronage for the democratic party and prospering off of undeserved reputations.

Police violence spawned rebellions in Harlem in the 1940s, and Watts and Newark in the 1960s. The initial acquittal of the police who brutalized Rodney King in 1992 also sparked a violent reaction. This pattern of violence, injustice and reaction will go on until there is real change. That will not happen without desperately needed grass roots organizing.

In Chicago, the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression (NAARP) fights for legislation that would bring the police under full community control. The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) campaign “No Compromise, No Retreat: Defeat the War on African/Black People in the U.S. and Abroad” includes a candidate pledge organizing tool. The pledge demands the end of militarized policing as seen in the Department of Defense 1033 program which sends military equipment to police departments all over the country. BAP also demands federal investigation of all instances of lethal force carried out by the police. This tradition of organizing and engagement with the political structure must be renewed and strengthened if the carnage is to be stopped.

The cycle of video death, protest, outrage and brief media attention must be transformed. The people who burned the Minneapolis police precinct did so because as the saying goes, they have seen this movie and know how it ends. It is now time for a new ending. The Klobuchars and Freemans of the world must be put on notice that they cannot go unchallenged when they have blood on their hands just as the police do. This must be the last time that politicians think that platitudes in a Twitter post will be acceptable to an angry public. Outrage can and must be turned into meaningful organizing that challenges the system. George Floyd’s death can be a turning point if the people stay in motion.

*(Top image: George Floyd Mural in Minneapolis. Credit: Laura Winter/ Twitter)

Joe Biden’s Black America Problem and the 2020 Election Disaster

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Donald Trump’s myriad of failures during the COVID-19 pandemic has done much to shield Joe Biden from criticism. In fact, Joe Biden has largely been missing from public sphere throughout the crisis and for good reason. Biden needs to promote an image of “stability” to differentiate himself from Trumpian chaos but often stumbles in his attempt to do so. The corporate media and Democratic Party loyalists have historically dismissed Biden’s stumbles as “gaffes” or harmless mistakes. His latest mistake, however, says something much more about Biden than Democrats want to admit. Joe Biden is a racist. Not only is he a racist, but he is also a long-standing servant of the white supremacist and imperialist ruling class and thus an existential threat to the future of humanity.

In a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, Biden’s racism was on full display when he declared that anyone who has trouble choosing between him or Donald Trump in the election “ain’t Black.” The comment immediately went viral on every internet channel. Biden’s campaign has since been working overtime to control the damage. His Senior Advisor, Symone Sanders, appeared on MSNBC in a desperate bid to show that Biden is in fact the most pro-Black candidate in the 2020 election. The New York Time’s Paul Krugman made the case that Biden’s ability to admit his errors puts him on a higher moral plane than “you know who.” Joe Biden’s openly racist remark toward the Democratic Party’s most important constituency, Black America, was explained away as fast as it entered the public sphere.

There has been a concerted campaign to minimize and/or erase Biden’s Black America problem ever since he announced his bid to run for president. The corporate media, DNC, and even Bernie Sanders worked together to avoid any scrutiny of Biden’s racist political record. Kamala Harris’ early criticism of Biden’s opposition to desegregation was quickly delegitimized when she walked back on the comment just days later. Even worse, what coverage that was given to Biden’s long history as a champion of mass incarceration made little impact on the corporate media’s narrative of his campaign. This sent a clear message to all sides of the electorate that Black America is nothing but an entrenched Democratic Party voting bloc with no political interests that Biden or anyone else in Washington is bound to respect.

Biden’s claim to Blackness is very much a product of a troubling dialectical relationship that has developed over the course of fifty years between Black America and the Democratic Party. Biden came of age as a virtual Dixiecrat whose service to white supremacy in the state of Delaware and beyond is well documented. Yet Biden also cultivated deep relationships with Black political leaders such as Jim Clyburn to ensure political success. Democrats such as Biden benefitted from the transition of the Republican Party into the White Man’s Party in the aftermath of the Black movement for self-determination of the 1960s and 1970s. Without a movement to pressure the Democratic Party, Biden and his class were free to move rightward without the fear of Black Americans executing a mass exodus from the corporate party.

Still, Biden is playing with fire now that the U.S. is mired in an economic and social crisis of immense proportions. Any small interruption in Black American support for the Democratic Party could spell disaster for the Biden campaign. In 2016, Black voter turnout declined by seven percent. Hilary Clinton’s campaign possessed similar issues to Joe Biden. Her role in framing young Black men as “super predators” to justify the 1994 crime bill turned off young Black American voters in 2016. Hillary Clinton also did little to win over Black voters in cities like Milwaukee who rightfully concluded that neither she nor Trump offered any relief from the racist state violence and economic misery of late stage capitalism.

Biden’s recent comment puts him in a worse position than Hillary Clinton in 2016. There is ample evidence that Joe Biden possesses a deep seeded disdain for Black Americans. Biden’s anti-Black disdain is clearly demonstrated in a 1993 speech on the Senate floor arguing that “predators on our streets,” or young Black men, had to be put “out of society” to protect the mothers, daughters, and husbands of the white well-to-do classes. While Hillary Clinton promoted the crime bill, Biden helped author the 1994 legislation as well as a host of earlier bills that funneled billions into the prison state across the country. And just like Hillary Clinton, Biden has offered an economic agenda that focuses on returning the U.S. capitalist economy to the prosperity enjoyed under the Obama administration. Biden is even less equipped than Clinton to address the fact that Black wealth plummeted during the Obama years. What Biden does possess is the social capital he gained with the Black misleadership class by serving as Obama’s vice president.

Biden’s comment also touches on a fact of Black life that racist white American Dixiecrats are simply unable to grasp. Black nationalism remains a strong feature of the political life of Black America. Progressive programs such as The Rising have yet to figure out how race and Black nationalism shape Democratic Party politics at this juncture of history. It is difficult for the white left to comprehend that in the absence of a Black movement for self-determination, politics are viewed as nothing more than a white American game that inflicts Black losses. The Black misleadership class has used Black nationalism in service of their political careers by framing their very existence as Black uplift. John Lewis, Jim Clyburn, Maxine Waters and the rest thus understand that given the choice between the White Man’s Party and the Democratic Party, a large portion of Black voters are the most likely to reject the White Man’s Party at all cost. Biden’s arrogant comment on The Breakfast Club runs the risk of pointing Black nationalist sentiment in his direction. As Biden inches closer to White Man’s Party territory, the more likely it is that his performance with Black voters will decline.

However, the power of the corporate media cannot be underestimated. DNC-aligned corporate media outlets will keep Biden alive until the November election. Biden’s blunders may very well be dismissed in the face of a global pandemic that has exposed the significant weaknesses of the Trump administration. COVID-19 shows that Donald Trump never had any plans to govern. His entourage has rammed through typical GOP-style economic policy while using his large media platform to serve up racist red meat to his base. On foreign policy, Trump has been incoherent at best and an outright militarist at worst. The Trump administration’s approach to imperial governance has led to over one hundred thousand COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. and an economic crisis that could sink his chances for a second term regardless of Joe Biden’s many weaknesses.

Joe Biden’s anti-Black racism and the crisis-ridden end to Trump’s first term indicate that the 2020 election will be nothing short of a disaster for Black America and the working class in general. Biden is seeking to win the White House based on the premise that Black Americans will vote for him over Donald Trump regardless of his record or his open disdain for actual Black people. Donald Trump has already successfully baited Biden to adopt a hostile posture toward China with the hopes that rising levels of anti-China sentiment in the U.S. will inspire millions to ignore his failings and see “Sleepy Joe’s” neoliberalism as inherently pro-Beijing. Neither candidate possesses a policy agenda that speaks to the needs of the working class. And as per usual, Black Americans are either viewed as an afterthought or, in Biden’s case, an electoral chess piece that can be counted on to support the anointed lesser of two evils. Biden’s potential victory in the 2020 election comes with a long neoliberal, warmongering, and anti-Black track record which guarantees a continuation of the U.S.’ Race to the Bottom.

The 2020 election is a political expression of the broader crisis of U.S. capitalism and imperialism. Joe Biden’s recent anti-Black blunder is just one example of how his candidacy reflects this crisis in real time. In any other political moment, Biden’s track record and obvious cognitive deficits would make him especially vulnerable against an incumbent like Trump, who, for all of his faults, has a knack for using the corporate media to perfect his brand of “outsider” politics. The COVID-19 pandemic may very well bail out Biden and lay the basis for his electoral victory in November should his health maintain. The more important question will be whether Left can organize a movement capable of rejecting the two-party duopoly and constructing an agenda that offers practical yet revolutionary solutions to the struggle against war, late stage capitalism, and racism. That millions feel compelled to decide between two corporate barons like Joe Biden and Donald Trump is a clear sign that the left is unprepared for the task. But if Biden’s recent blunder is any indication, then it is also quite clear that the stagnation and bankruptcy of the U.S. political order will leave no shortage of opportunities for the left to learn the lessons necessary to begin laying the groundwork for such a movement to arise.

*(Top image: Joe Biden at Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston. Credit: stingrayschuller/ Flickr)

2020 Volatility Scare Can Provide Endless Opportunities

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As the curtains fell on 2019, investors stepped into the New Year with enthusiasm. There was bullish sentiment across the financial spectrum, from equities and indices to commodities and even cryptocurrencies.

But a health pandemic and oil price wars have already marked 2020 as a volatile year. Volatility can always trigger fear, but the choppy price action generates numerous lucrative opportunities. With proper risk management, volatility will always be an investor’s best friend.

The Impact of the Coronavirus

On the very last day of 2019, China had reported to the WHO (World Health Organisation) about a rare respiratory virus that would later be named COVID-19. No one doubted the lethality of the virus, but during the first two months of 2020, it was largely considered a short-term Chinese problem with minimal trickle effects on the global economy and markets. The disease would go on to hit pandemic levels and spread to every habitable continent on the planet, altering human living and delivering devastating effects on the economy. By the end of Q2 2020, global equity markets had tanked by at least 20%. In the midst of all this, Russia and Saudi Arabia kicked off fierce price wars in the oil market that saw prices print a record 30% plunge.

Volatility and Trading

In volatile times, the natural instinct among investors is capital flight to safe havens. This makes the case for safe-haven assets such as gold; but while the precious metal has delivered decent gains as the uncertainty persists, more lucrative trading opportunities have emerged elsewhere.

During the pandemic, there have been occasional single-day price spikes that have opened great opportunities for aggressive day trading strategies. In the US, both the Dow and S&P 500 had numerous days of high three-digit losses or gains. These huge spikes resulted in massive portfolio losses for long term buy-and-hold investors, but day traders had lucrative opportunities for trading both rising and falling markets. Short selling strategies have returned gains because markets fall faster than they recover. An example of this is the March 9th (Black Monday 2020) stock market crash that saw the Dow print a loss of over 2000 points. This happened after the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic while expressing disappointment with measures undertaken by most governments across the globe to curb its spread.

But despite the threat of the virus, investors have been keen to exploit retracement opportunities in the market when any ‘mispricing’ arises as a result of panic selling. After the Black Monday crash, the Dow posted an immediate pullback of about 1200 points in less than 24 hours. This aggressive buy-the-dip strategy would come in play again when the Dow plunged again on the 12th of March when Russia and Saudi Arabia switched on the oil taps in a weak-demand oil market. The collapse of crude oil trade inspired a quick reactionary stock market plunge that would fade by the next day.

Risk Management

In these volatile times, the Economic Calendar has emerged as every investor’s best friend. Particularly, positive coronavirus business updates and oil headlines have inspired quick, massive price rebounds in a market where investors are keen to assume risk with cautious optimism. Any update on a potential plateauing of coronavirus new cases or deaths have been a tailwind factor in the market, particularly in major epicentres such as the US, UK, France, Spain and Italy. Such levels of investor confidence have never been seen in times of crisis or potential recession markets. This was the case when President Trump announced that malaria-drug Hydroxychloroquine is showing promising signs as a possible treatment for coronavirus, evidence scientists dismissed as anecdotal at best. Despite that, markets cheered the news with some underlying bullish sentiment. Positive oil headlines have also inspired positive sentiment in the current depressed market. After the screaming 30% oil price collapse when the Russia-Saudi Arabia spat started, it only took a tweet from President Trump on a possible truce meeting between the two oil giants for the price to post an incredible 25% price jump in a single day. A truce would be announced after the Easter weekend, but despite doing little to prop up the price of oil, equity markets ‘rejoiced’ with positive gains on the resumption of trading.

Final Words

The current market volatility is evidence that long term investment strategies are unlikely to deliver substantive (if any) gains at the moment. But high reward short term opportunities also come with major risks. Aside from the obvious volatility risk of sudden price spikes, day traders could also incur massive trading costs that may impact their bottom line. It is therefore prudent to implement solid, proper risk management strategies in the current market environment to efficiently take advantage of the lucrative opportunities which volatility offers investors.

A Death in Herzliya: Mystery Remains About the Death of the Chinese Ambassador

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On Sunday morning May 17th, China's Ambassador to Israel, Du Wei, was found dead in bed inside his official residence in the Tel Aviv upscale suburb of Herzliya. He was 57 years old, married and the father of a son, and had been appointed to his position in February. He was reported to be in good health. His wife and son were not yet in Israel when he died.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry quickly released a report stating that he had died of natural causes, later described by the Chinese Foreign Ministry as “unspecified health problems,” which has been interpreted to probably mean a heart attack or stroke. He had been quarantined for 15 days upon arrival in Israel and his death has not in any way been attributed to the coronavirus.

Israeli police moved quickly to close access to the residence, reported to be standard procedure, and the government in Beijing indicated that it would be sending an investigative team to Tel Aviv to determine what had happened and also to return the body to China. Israel at the time required all travelers entering the country to comply with a mandatory 15 day quarantine, but the Foreign Ministry waived the requirement for the incoming Chinese officials. Du Wei was thereupon removed and returned to China. The Beijing government has not as of this date issued a report indicating its own findings regarding the untimely death.

It is to be presumed that Du in his residence had security. Overseas Embassies differ in their levels of security depending on the threat level in the country where they are located. U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas have Marine guards in the buildings themselves, supervised by Department of State Security (DS), but an outer perimeter of security outside the building and grounds providing access to the diplomatic protected site is frequently contracted to guards that are hired locally or even by host country police. Du, as a Chinese diplomat in Israel, would not have been particularly threatened but one might reasonably assume that he had Chinese bodyguards as well as local security. So, in theory, no one should have been able to get in to injure or kill him.

Du would have likely been secure in his own residence, but there are a couple of interesting back stories that might suggest otherwise. The ambassador’s death occurred less than a week after a surprise visit to Jerusalem by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. As one might have expected, most of the visit took place to discuss Israel’s planned annexation of much of the Palestinian West Bank, but Pompeo also took Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to task for Israel’s willingness to enter into commercial agreements with China that involve major infrastructure developments as well as telecommunications. Pompeo also reiterated the increasingly shrill Trump Administration claims that Beijing must somehow be held accountable for “the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide” from the coronavirus because it had not reported the disease when it first surfaced, a contention that the Chinese dispute.

Du was no ordinary diplomat. He was very experienced, having served for thirty years in the Foreign Ministry. He had been posted to Ukraine prior to Israel and he was noted for his aggressiveness in advancing Chinese interests through investments in infrastructure and in co-production projects, seeking to undercut U.S. influence in both countries. China is currently the largest investor in Israeli infrastructure and the activity of Du and his predecessors in Israel has, to say the least, irked the Trump White House. The New York Times describes the tension between the two nominal allies as follows: “China has been investing heavily in Israel in recent years, taking stakes in hundreds of technological start-ups and acquiring a controlling interest in the dairy food-processing company Tnuva. But Israel has antagonized Washington by allowing Chinese companies to make major infrastructure investments in recent years, including in sensitive locations. A company majority-owned by the Chinese government has signed a 25-year lease to run Israel’s commercial seaport in Haifa, a frequent port of call for the United States Navy, beginning in 2021. And near Israel’s Palmachim air force base, a Hong Kong-based company, Hutchison Water International, is a finalist to build a desalination plant that Israel says will be the largest in the world. Trump administration officials have repeatedly warned Israeli officials that intelligence sharing between the two close allies could be impaired or compromised over such investments by China.”

And Pompeo as well as other Trump administration officials also have had a stronger message that they have been delivering to all of Washington’s presumed allies. Pompeo again made clear the warning to Israel: do not install equipment from Huawei – a Chinese telecom conglomerate that operates globally - in developing a new, next-generation 5G telecommunications network. Washington believes that Huawei equipment is used by Chinese intelligence to covertly access mobile phone networks through “backdoors.” Several nations, including Israel, have been warned that if they go ahead with Huawei, the U.S. might not continue sharing sensitive intelligence information.

The White House concern is in part commercial as the U.S. would like to become the lead provider of the new technology. It derives from the belief that 5G will soon serve as the backbone for all critical telecommunications and its faster download speeds mean that it will be the foundation of many new technologies, leaving the U.S. far behind in the race to develop new consumer products while also giving China the ability to both spy and interfere with America’s infrastructure.

In the event, it has been suggested that Netanyahu was polite about the China problem but did not agree to any of the limitations being imposed by Pompeo, which leads directly to the suspicion that the U.S. government, possibly working through a friendly Mossad, sought to send a message to Bibi by killing an ambassador in such a fashion as to suggest a “heart attack.” It might seem extremely unlikely that even the Trump Administration would behave so recklessly, but one might recall the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassim Soleimani in January, carried out by a feckless U.S. national security team heedless of consequences.

And there is yet another tale circulating privately among former intelligence officers, suggesting something quite different. Some believe that Du was preparing to defect to the United States, possibly because he was somehow presented with financial and other inducements that made up an offer too good to refuse. Inducing foreign diplomats to defect was a feature of the Cold War and has also taken place less frequently since that time, though it has always been unusual to involve an ambassador. The defection story, and, one might add that there is no way to confirm it, would mean that Du might have been ordered killed by his own government. Or Israel if it had made the decision to continue to seek Chinese investment and was concerned that Du would spill the beans to Washington on even more sensitive co-productions or projects.

So, the death of Du Wei remains something of a mystery. Beijing is not saying anything, Israel has done what it could to make the story go away and the United States has not bothered to comment at all. The relative silence about the dead ambassador, one might observe, is itself suspicious.

*(Top image: Du Wei, the Chinese ambassador to Israel. Courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in Israel)

US Police Kill Blacks with Brutality Matching Israeli Military’s

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At around 8.PM, Monday morning, Minneapolis police officers were called to a Cup Foods’ store on the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South. The suspect was a black man, named George Floyd, who was allegedly attempting to use forged documents. Police spokesperson John Elders claimed that George Floyd had resisted arrest and then went on to say, “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and officers noticed that the man was going into medical distress.”

However, the alleged “medical distress,” which the police were having the public believe and caused the death of George Floyd, was caught on camera. The video footage shot by a bystander and released onto Facebook this Tuesday, shows 10 minutes, in which the alleged “criminal” was indeed the victim of police brutality. The video shows an officer, allegedly identified as Derek Chauvin (badge number: #1087), pressing his knee into the victim’s neck for at least seven minutes as the victim screamed, “I cannot breathe” and “my neck hurts,” whilst pleading for his life. Bystanders also scream at the three officers present, which intensifies as the victim passes out unconscious, at which point the officer's knee is still planted firmly into the victim's neck.

The officers present have now been placed on paid leave and the FBI has been called to deal with the situation, which many pundits have pointed out may have to do with the reaction to this case.

The reaction to such a murder

This is far from the first incident of its kind in the United States, where white police officers have choked to death unarmed black men begging for their lives, with the most infamous case being the killing of Eric Garner, which did not result in the conviction of any officer.

So, what routinely happens when a case like this appears, especially such a clear cut case. First of all, we see the police statements assuming no responsibility for the death, which occurred in their custody. We see armies of social media warriors coming out to defend the officers and claim that the black man killed was a criminal and ultimately the media follows suit by reporting on all the previous allegations against the victim.

The reactions from the public on the opposite side of the argument are usually to condemn and demand justice, usually resulting in protests and even riots.

However, the arguments coming from the African American community are rarely ever aired and real discussions about what enables a police officer to use such violence is also not discussed even nearly enough.

As usual as with other places in the world where oppressed communities are attacked, like in occupied Palestine, we see a similar campaign of victim blaming online by the privileged community (the Israelis and their supporters). It does not matter how horrendous the crime, nor whether the videos posted online show the entire incident, Israelis will jump to conclusions and will claim that all the information has not yet surfaced and claim that the Palestinian victim was some sort of terrorist or criminal.

We also see that the Israeli military and police -- if the murder is committed in Jerusalem al-Quds or elsewhere inside the Israeli-occupied territory -- will instantly claim that its troops had been under instant threat and that the death of the Palestinian was some sort of dramatic accident. It does not matter how many thousands of Palestinians are killed by the Israeli occupation forces, every time the privileged Israeli community will largely jump to defend the killing and even laugh at it. This is especially the case as in Israel, the regime behind the occupation forces and illegal settlers, who kill Palestinians, consistently propagate ethnic supremacy and ultra-nationalism.

The fact of the matter is that being able to kill someone with such ease and be fine with lying and justifying your actions, speaks to the lack of humanity in the murder. That lack of humanity may come from many sources, whether it be the psychology of some fake superiority complex of those in uniform or whether it be both societal and systematic hatred perpetuated against those policed. In order to kill so easily and so brutally, first you must find a justification; whether that be through dehumanizing the victim or carrying around hatred which enables the rage to commit such an act.

When people speak of racist police murders in the United States, to pass this by and claim that race does not play as a factor, is utter lunacy. The way black people are viewed in the United States, presented in mainstream media, and the poor socio-economic conditions under which large portions of the African American community suffer are not to be ignored. There is also on top of this, the racism prevalent inside the police, the lack of transparency from the police, the history of racism against African Americans, and the deep-rooted stereotypes about black people in the US and throughout the Western world. This is of course only emboldened by the likes of Donald Trump, sitting in the White House, who consistently uses language that can often be interpreted in two ways -- that many US voters do see as racist and do identify with.

This sort of racism is on a larger (percentage wise) and more obvious scale, prevalent inside of Israeli society and promoted by the Israeli regime, against the indigenous population of Palestine. Where daily shootings of Palestinians is justified in the eyes of Israelis over “security” concerns for the Israeli forces, with the assumption that the Palestinian must have been involved in a crime -- a racist notion -- and that, therefore, the murder or severe injury of the victim is somehow justified.

Just as a black man was choked to death yesterday, by what could be described as thugs in uniforms, three Palestinians were also shot this Monday by Israeli forces. If you are to look online at the responses to these two cases, you will see the same thing with both. On one side there are those outraged and then there are those working to justify the act by any means necessary, even if that means ignoring the video and eye-witness testimony evidence.

*This article was originally published on PressTV.

What If China Promoted Hawaiian Independence?

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A news website created by Tibetan exiles in India, Phayul, has featured an article on a bill (H.R. 6948) introduced in the House of Representatives by United States Congressman Scott Perry (R-PA) that promotes Tibetan separation from China.

The bill would “authorize the President to recognize the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China as a separate, independent country, and for other purposes.”

Other purposes? That the US was running geopolitical intrigues in Asia (and throughout the world) is well known. That the US CIA was running schemes in Xinjiang and Tibet was written about by Thomas Laird in his Into Tibet: The CIA’s First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa.

It is farcical for Americans to push for purported liberation of lands for other peoples. Why? Because if one grouping of people is entitled to country status in a delimited territory, then that same principle must apply to all peoples in similar circumstances. The US would have to recognize Palestinian statehood in historical Palestine. The same would apply to the Kurds, the Kashmiris, the Basques in France and Spain, the Catalans in Spain, etc. National liberation can not be seriously considered as just a pick-and-choose principle among peoples seeking liberation in a homeland.

Even worse, not only is it farcical, it is hypocritical for Americans. If Americans (and let’s be specific to certain Americans because here we are mainly discussing Americans derived from European migrants) are to be regarded as earnest and sincere in advocating the liberation of peoples elsewhere, then one should first look in one’s own backyard before calling for an overhaul of a neighbor’s backyard. To express fidelity with H.R. 6948, the US would have to turn over Puerto Rico to Puerto Ricans, Guam to the Chamorros, the Chagos archipelago to the Chagossians (yes, Britain lays claim, but the Chagossians were expelled at the request of the US military), and others.

The fact is that the entirety of the US landmass is a landmass stolen from the Original Peoples. [1] The occupation continues to this very day.

Nonetheless, that the US would endorse and practice the subjugation of a people would not mitigate China’s alleged subjugation of Tibetans nor usurping control over the Tibetan plateau. Given the CIA’s penchant for instigating coups and installing governments kindly disposed to the US, and given US manipulation of the Tibetan opposition to gain influence into Tibet, and given the key role that the “Roof of the World” has for the security of the Chinese state and its peoples, encompassing Tibet under the wing of the Chinese dragon is understandable. And contrary to propaganda that alleges China has been oppressing Tibetans, debasing their culture, language, and religion, China has been a boon for the Tibetan economy and ways of life. Newsweek even saw fit to chime in a 2012 headline that “China Is Good for Tibet.”

Now suppose what the American reaction would be if the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress were to promote a law whereby the government of China would recognize the colonized state of Hawai’i as a separate, independent country, and for other purposes.

*(Top image: Rep. Scott Perry of R-Pennsylvania: Credit: GOP.gov)

ENDNOTE

  1. See e.g., Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, review and David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World.

Why Did Russia Refuse Venezuela's Request but Iran Accepted It?

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Iranian tankers were 2200 km from the US coast when the Iranian-flagged “Fortune”, followed by “Forest”, entered Venezuelan waters, challenging the US embargo and the US’s threats. The Islamic Republic was broadcasting loud and clear a strong message.

The first message was dispatched to the US administration after Gulf and Arab Leaders conveyed a direct message to the Iranian leaders: “Washington is determined to stop the Iranian tankers sailing to Venezuela”. Iran responded to all messages received that “its five tankers will sail to Venezuela and if any of these tankers is intercepted, Iran will respond in the Straits of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman or anywhere else it sees fit.”

“These five tankers – the Clavel, Fortune, Petunia, Forest and Faxul- are only the beginning of the supply to Venezuela. Iran has the right to send any of its tankers anywhere in the world and any US interception will be considered an act of piracy and will trigger a direct response,” said an Iranian decision-maker who revealed the Iranian response to the US administration via message-carriers. 

“Iran had decided to avoid the horn of Africa because the plan was for the first tanker to reach the Venezuelan waters on the first day of Eid el-Fitr. The aim was to share an important day of the Islamic Republic’s defiance to the US in its backyard and to break the sanctions imposed on one of Iran’s main allies. It is a message for the “Axis of the Resistance” that Iran will not abandon its friends and allies anywhere in the world whatever the challenges. It is directly confronting the US by imposing a new rule of engagement”, said the source.

Iran shut its ears to all threatening messages from the US menace and instructed its five tankers to go not round the horn of Africa but through the Gulf of Aden via Bab al-Mandab strait, the Suez Canal and Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean- where the US has a strong presence and influence. This shortens the distance and it tested the intentions of the American Navy. Simultaneously, Iran informed its allies of its readiness to confront the US if ever an escalation should loom on the horizon so that these allies within the “Axis of the Resistance” are ready for a wider confrontation if needed.

The first Iranian tanker, “Fortune”, reached the Caribbean Sea on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, on Sunday 24th of May, with US Navy ships in the vicinity. The tankers are carrying over 10 million barrels of oil but also Alkylate and spare parts to start repairing any of the eight “out of order” refineries, to enable oil-rich Venezuela to be self-sufficient in the future. The US sanctions on Venezuela had paralyzed Venezuelan refineries and caused gasoline shortages, with the aim of overthrowing the legitimately elected President, Nicolas Maduro. 

Iran is challenging the US administration and considers it a victory that its first tanker went through without being intercepted. Tehran considers this challenge to US authority much more significant than the downing of the US’s most sophisticated drone or the bombing of the US’s largest military base in Ayn al-Assad, Iraq.

“Our allies used to wonder why Iran was not confronting the US dominance face-to-face. In fact, we were preparing for this day, and what helps us the most is the US sanctions that force this country to be autonomous on many levels. Today, Iran and its allies are all equipped with strong ideology and motivation to face down US hegemony, with sufficiently advanced military and financial support to stand up to the US and its allies, both in the Middle East and outside the Middle East. Since World War II the US has not faced a challenge to its hegemony similar to the one Iran is representing, particularly when the main enemy, the US, believes that 40 years of sanctions and maximum pressure have crippled Iran’s capabilities. Imam Khamenei informed all our allies that the military and financial support to all of them will increase and will meet all their needs in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The Axis of the Resistance is now ready and united as one front”, said the source.

Venezuela had asked President Vladimir Putin for help. Russia said clearly it was not willing to send ships close to the US coast because that might support President Trump by triggering a false threat which could lead to unifying the national feeling behind him. This is why Putin had to refuse Venezuela’s request. Iran came forward at the first demand and was grateful for the opportunity to challenge the US and to pay back the support Venezuela offered in the year 2008 when Iran was in need and under heavy US sanctions that forbid technology transfer to build or repair its own refineries. Since then, Iran has built 11 refineries (and 3 more in Pars, Anahita and Bahman Geno which are still under construction) and is considered the third most important country in the world to have developed Gas to Liquid technology (GTL).

Since the US assassinated Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport, Iran has imposed new rules of engagement on the US. Its message consists in the inevitability of a response against its enemies if they hit Iran, and the threat that no attack will go unanswered. It seems Iran is no longer ready to turn the other cheek and has decided to take special measures to respond to any attack against its troops or interests, including in Syria (more details will be provided in another article). Also, Iran and its allies have raised the level of readiness to maximum in case the US administration decides to attack any aspect of Iran’s interests, particularly the flotilla heading to Venezuela.

Iran is not facing the US directly, and is not asking its allies to do the job on its behalf. The “Persian rug weaver” waited through 40 years of sanctions for this day, until its capability and preparations were completed. This means that now Iran will be tougher and harder, and that is manifest in the election of the new parliament and the new government. President Trump has abused and exhausted all the avenues used by President Hassan Rouhani. Therefore, any new negotiation between Iran and the US will be very difficult: there is a total lack of trust in any document signed by the US.

Whether a Republican or a Democrat reaches the White House at the end of 2020, they will be waiting by the phone for many long years if they imagine that Iran will take the initiative and call the US for a meeting. It will now be up to the US to prove to Iran that it is worth holding any negotiations at all.

Iran has planted robust roots in Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. It is now spreading towards Venezuela and will support President Maduro, a strategic rather than ideological ally, to stand against US hegemony and sanctions. More tankers are expected to follow in the very near future. Iran is eager to confront President Trump and tempt him into a confrontation only months before the elections. The Coronavirus mismanagement, the US’s rebuttal of its deals with Russia, Trump’s aggressive position towards China and the World Health Organisation, and his rejection of the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA): all these are striking possibilities for a challenge to his re-election. This is why Iran is preparing more surprises for Trump- to show that his Middle Eastern policy is jeopardizing the safety and security of the US and its allies both in Europe and the Middle East, and indeed global world security.

*(Top image: Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El Aissami greets captain of Iranian oil tanker Fortune, 1st of 5 Iranian ships delivering crude to Venezuela in face of threats from US warships patrolling the region.)

Democracy: Or How to Choose A Candidate in United States Elections

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I am both a Swiss and US citizen and vote in both jurisdictions. In Switzerland I participate in its semi-direct democratic system, characterized by voting on issues, initiating legislation, approving or rejecting laws and regulations by referendum.  We can even decide whether a bridge or a tunnel is built over Lake Geneva – or decide not to build it at all.  Governance by the people and for the people works rather well, guided by the old principle salus populi suprema lex (the well-being of the people is the highest law, Cicero De legibus 3,3,8).

Everybody hails “democracy” and “democratic values”, but what do we mean by it?  We mean hands-on participation to ensure the correlation between the needs and wishes of the people and the laws and structures that affect them. Democracy functions best with an informed citizenry, but this is sabotaged by world-wide media dis-information, selective reporting, suppression of facts. The curse of “fake news” has accompanied humanity through millennia, but today not only governments, but also private media conglomerates, the “quality press” and civil society are all purveyors of “fake news” and participate in the free-for-all of false information and skewed analysis. Since the goal of politicians is to be elected, they operate according to the old principle of “the end justifies the means”.  Lie now, govern later.  At the same time, there is a concerted effort to make it all appear plausible and coherent, and thus politicians and media cooperate in an effort to ”manufacture consent” (Noam Chomsky).

Because there are no mechanisms of direct democracy in the United States (nor in many European countries), we do not have the opportunity to decide whether a bridge is built, taxes are lowered, securities regulation is strengthened.  We can, however, influence government by means of what is termed “representative democracy”, which is not co-terminous with “participatory democracy”.  The system works by organizing clusters of ideals and goals into a “platform” and dividing the players into political parties or “teams”, which are expected to enter into coalition with other parties in order to achieve viable majorities in Parliaments, so that they can adopt legislation.

Ideally we would like to identify a person we can trust to advance our ideals, adopt legislation necessary for the well-being of society -- also in all those abstruse areas of political activity about which we know nothing and understand even less. 

The problem with “representative democracy” is that often enough the Senators and congressmen/women do not really represent us, the electorate, but are more committed to the agendas of certain lobbies, big business, big pharma, Wall Street, the automobile industry, the weapons manufacturers, the American Rifle Association.  Indeed, there is a great disconnect between power and the people and certainly if many of the laws adopted by Congress were put to the direct vote of the electorate, they would be voted down.

In the United States the democratic deficit of “representative democracy” becomes more acute, because although there are some “marginal” political groupings, essentially there are only two players or teams – like in a football match.  We are expected to root for Team A or Team B, and the newspapers tend to act as cheer-leaders for the one or the other.  There is no possibility of entering into coalitions that represent a broader proportion of the population – it is either A or B, take it or leave it. 

The fundamental downside of the two-party system operates on the basis of  competing “platforms” of things-to-do.  This cocktail, however, inevitably incorporates disparate ingredients – some of which we may be allergic to.  In my personal experience as a conscious citizen in Chicago, Boston and New York, I often found myself in a quandary because whereas I enthusiastically approved 50% of the Republican or Democratic platform, I abhorred most of the remaining 50 %, some of which elements I considered toxic.  I never wanted to be compelled to endorse the 50% that sometimes contradicted my deepest moral and religious convictions.  It thus became impossible for me to vote according to my conscience – a situation which led me to abstain or to throw my vote away by voting for a “write-in” candidate, who of course had zero chance of being elected.  In the United States the voter is expected to compromise his/her ideas and beliefs and is forced to vote “strategically”.  In order to try to get certain policies adopted, we are forced to vote against our convictions in a number of important social, economic and cultural domains.

Unlike in Switzerland, there is no possibility in the US to vote for issues and policies one by one. The differences between the two parties are mostly marginal, because on the key issues of governance they converge. Both US Democrats and Republicans are for huge military budgets, cater to the military-industrial complex, support Wall Street, reject multilateralism in international affairs, enter into alliances with rogue States like Saudi Arabia and other strange bedfellows.  Thus, in deciding for one party or the other, we often have to choose between bad or very bad.  Does this situation have any resemblance to democracy?  Is democracy just the pro-forma casting of a ballot for either one of two candidates we do not trust?  Have we arrived at such a level of dysfunction that constitutional reform has become an urgent necessity?

PROFILE OF MY IDEAL CANDIDATE

My ideal candidate for President, Senator, Congressman/woman should have integrity and demonstrate intellectual and emotional honesty.  He/she must have a moral compass and a sense for proportions.  He/she must have competence and independence of mind, must be able to think both inside and outside the box, must be committed to transparency and accountability.  He/she must understand his/her role as a servant, not as a master. He/she must be able to listen and demonstrate flexibility and empathy, must be committed to pragmatically advancing human dignity through the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  He/she must be committed to ensuring a level playing field for all, without privileges, monopolies or scams, so that the “American dream” can become reality, so that the concept of “meritocracy” is more than just a PR farce.  He/she should have a knowledge of world history and the courage to accept that the United States has not always acted in conformity with “American values”, and that we owe a huge debt to the First Nations of the Americas, the indigenous Iroquois, Algonquins, Crees, Cherokees, Sioux and other indigenous peoples, whom our ancestors massacred in great numbers and whose right to property was ignored, whose land and resources we took without compensation. He/she must place people over profits. He must be committed to domestic and international peace, understanding that patriotism is not chauvinism or jingoism, nor waging aggressive wars against real or imagined enemies. Patriotism means devising ways to strengthen local, regional and international peace. The guiding principle should be: si vis pacem, cole iustitiam – if you want peace, you must cultivate social justice – both domestically and internationally.

PLATFORM OF MY IDEAL PARTY

On domestic issues:  Ensure that the basic necessities of all persons under the jurisdiction of the State are covered. This entails advancing  the well-being of all, e.g. through preparedness to meet daily needs and unexpected emergencies such as earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and pandemics; universal medical coverage, enhanced research and development in the fields of health security, prevention of disease, new medicines and medical equipment to prevent and/or cure disease; free public education from grammar school to university; job-creation and re-training programs; a Civilian Conservation Corps to ensure maintenance of National Parks, dams, bridges and infrastructures; affordable housing; environmentally sensitive energy policies with an emphasis on promoting the use of renewable energy; sensible public transportation, construction of more cycling lanes; access to information, maximum disclosure by government offices, a truly free media instead of a corporate press that manipulates public opinion through fake news, suppression of crucial facts, and the partisan interpretation of events and history; freedom of opinion and expression that guarantees the right to dissent and not just the right to echo whatever nonsense we heard last night over CNN or Fox; academic freedom that is not restricted by pressures of “political correctness”; abolition of structural violence, racial and gender discrimination; affordable housing and a solution to the homelessness problem in many big cities throughout the United States.

Budget priorities:  taxpayers’ money should not be squandered in exorbitant military expenditures, procurement of more aeroplanes and bombers, missiles and drones, research and development into nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, lethal autonomous weapon systems, artificial intelligence, military bases all over the world.  The mantra should be:  disarmament for development. The priorities of the national budget should ensure a better future for all Americans through job-creation and comprehensive social programs. Congress should allocate no funds to subsidize the oil and gas industries, or provide cheap fuel to the airliners. Government must immediately stop unconstitutional activities such as those conducted by the CIA and the National Security Agency with its Orwellian “mass surveillance” of American citizens.  Moneys should be allocated to facilitate the conversion of a military economy into a human services economy.

Economy:  Create jobs. Support Main Street over Wall Street. Encourage private initiative and small business enterprises. Downsize large corporations and use anti-trust legislation where necessary. Break down monopolies. Regulate banks and Wall Street so as to prevent the boom-and-bust cycles and the necessity to bail-out rogue banks.

Criminal law: The State is ontologically obliged to protect the population from crimes and abuses. Here, like elsewhere, prevention is better than cure.  This requires a police department that is truly democratic, not racist, and inspired by a philosophy of public service. The State must not privatize the police, security services or the prisons.  The primary goal of prisons should not be to “punish”, bearing in mind that punishment is always ex-post facto. The goal must be to prevent crime and to rehabilitate the criminal so that he can be reintegrated into society after he has paid his debt to society. Prosecution of common criminality is part of the State’s obligation to ensure the “security of person” (article 9, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), but this obligation extends also to the prosecution of “white collar crime” or economic crimes, including speculation, market scams, insider trading, fraudulent bankruptcies, “sweetheart” deals, “golden parachutes”, etc. 

Urgently needed legislation:  significant strengthening of Securities Regulation, abolishing tax havens and criminalizing all forms of tax evasion and most forms of “tax optimization”, regulating the activities transnational corporations to ensure that they pay taxes where the profits are generated and that their employees receive decent salaries without racial or gender discrimination.  Abolish “mass surveillance” of the population and impose high penalties on government officials who breach the privacy of persons without judicial warrant. Following the revelations of Edward Snowden, the NSA should be disbanded, and officials who acted illegally and unconstitutionally should be prosecuted.

International law and international relations:

Apply international law uniformly and not à la carte; government lawyers should facilitate the implementation of international treaties (pacta sunt servanda) and not try to find loopholes so as to weasel out from international obligation; abandon unilateralism and “exceptionalism”; participate in multilateral negotiations and constructive action; stop military adventures that generate terrorism, create enemies and alienate friends; respect freedom of navigation and freedom of trade; lift economic sanctions and financial blockades of geopolitical rivals; be a leader in the regional and international human rights court systems; commit to the purposes and principles of the  United Nations; acknowledge the UN Charter as a kind of “world constitution; properly fund all UN agencies, including the WHO, ILO, UNESCO UNDP, UNEP and UNWRA;  commit to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals; abolish Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms contained in many free-trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties, because they undermine the rule of law and circumvent the system of public courts, recognizing that ISDS cannot be reformed because it is an ontological aberration and contra bonos mores; ensure that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund advance and do not frustrate the principles and purposes of the United Nations.   

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

Yes, if we only revive the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Zionists Have Feelings Too

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Regular visitors to this site will be aware that I frequently write about the massive propaganda campaign being run by supporters of Israel to conceal the damage done by the Jewish state to actual United States’ interests. One of the more interesting aspects of that effort is the bowdlerization of language to extirpate some words that might have anti-Semitic overtones and to twist the meaning of others in such a fashion as to deprive them of any meaning. Providing loans at usurious rates of interest used to be regularly referred to “Shylocking” even in legal circles, named after the Shakespearean character in the Merchant of Venice. It is an obvious word just waiting around to be censored and has consequently disappeared from use.

Recently, those obvious expressions denoting ethnicity have been joined by a whole lot of words condemned by the American Jewish Committee that are a lot more subtle like “clannish,” “cosmopolitan” and “globalist.” The AJC defines the alleged anti-Semitic expression “dual loyalty” as “…a bigoted trope used to cast Jews as the ‘other.’ For example, it becomes antisemitic when an American Jew’s connection to Israel is scrutinized to the point of questioning his or her trustworthiness or loyalty to the United States. By accusing Jews of being disloyal citizens whose true allegiance is to Israel or a hidden Jewish agenda (see globalist), anti-Semites sow distrust and spread harmful ideas—like the belief that Jews are a traitorous ‘fifth column’ undermining our country.”

The AJC’s definition of “dual loyalty” would perhaps bemuse President George Washington whose Farewell Address included “…nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest… So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.”

If it seems that the First President was predicting the current subservient condition of the United States vis-à-vis Israel, I will leave that judgement up to the reader. More recently, Jewish pressure groups who seek to benefit Israel exclusively have been aided and abetted by the so-called U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to suppress the use of words that cast Israel in a bad light. Most contentious is the elimination of the word “occupation” in State Department reporting to describe the wholesale illegal Israeli seizure of land in Palestine. The “occupied territories” held by Israel for over fifty years are now described as “disputed” while Jewish settlements on Palestinian land once routinely described as illegal are now legal. Friedman has expressed his approval of those “disputed” bits being scheduled for “annexation” after July 1st. Perhaps he will come up with a new word to replace annex, possibly something like “restore” or “reunite.” Or “fulfilling biblical prophecy.”

Words are important because how they are used and their context shapes the understanding of the reader or listener. In the United States there has been a concerted effort to equate any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism while simultaneously making anti-Semitism a hate crime and thereby converting what one might perceive as exercise of a First Amendment right into a felony. This is largely being done as part of the plan to create a legal basis to suppress the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Twenty-seven states have now passed laws criminalizing or otherwise punishing criticism of Israel, to include requirements to sign documents declaring opposition to boycotts of the Jewish state if one wants a government job or other benefits. Donald Trump has also signed an executive orderto combat what he calls discrimination against Jews and Israel at universities and there are several bills working their way through Congress that can criminalize BDS in particular, incorporating prison time and punitive fines.

But when it comes to protecting Israel in speech and in writing, no one outdoes the totally cowed Europeans. It is a criminal offense to challenge the many shaky details of the standard holocaust narrative in France, Germany and Britain and now the wordsmiths are hard at work to broaden what is unacceptable in speaking or writing.

A truly bizarre story comes from England, once upon a time the mother of parliamentary democracy and a model for those who cherished free speech. One recalls that recently Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was ousted after a sustained effort headed by the country’s Chief Rabbi marshalling what one might reasonably call Britain’s “Israel Lobby.” It was claimed that Corbyn was an anti-Semite because he believed in the human rights of the Palestinian people and had also attended several pro-Palestinian events. Since the departure of Corbyn, there has been a major effort by the totally subdued Labourites to purge the party of all traces of anti-Semitism to include criticism of Israel and any expressions of sympathy for the Palestinians.

The new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has apparently learned how to behave from the Corbyn experience. He has been crawling on his belly to Jewish interests ever since he took over and has even submitted to the counseling provided by the government’s “Independent Adviser on Antisemitism,” a special interests office not too dissimilar to the abomination at the U.S. State Department where Elan Carr is the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism.

The adviser, Lord Mann, who like Carr is of course Jewish, has now insisted to Starmer that the use of words like ‘’Zionist’’ or ‘’Zionism’’ in a critical context must be regarded as anti-Semitism if Starmer wants to establish what he refers to as “comprehensive anti-racism” within the Labour Party. Mann wants to confront what he refers to as “anti-Jewish racism” in Britain, saying that “the thing Keir Starmer has to do is stick with the clear definition of antisemitism, and not waver from that. The second thing he should do if he wants to really imbed comprehensive anti-racism including antisemitism across the Labour Party – then the use of the words Zionist or Zionism as a term of hatred, abuse, of contempt, as a negative term – that should outlawed in the party.”

Perhaps not surprisingly Lord Mann’s comments came during an online discussion with the Antisemitism Policy Trust’s director Danny Stone, one of the major components of Israel’s powerful U.K. Jewish/Zionist Lobby. A majority of British Members of Parliament of both parties are registered supporters of “Friends of Israel” associations, another indication of how Jewish power is manifest in Britain and of how spineless the country’s politicians have become.

Mann added: “If he does that, it gives him [Starmer] the tools to clear out those who choose to be antisemitic, rather than those who do so purely through their ignorance as opposed to their calculated behavior. I think he is seeing tackling antisemitism as one of those things that will be shown to mark that he is a leader.”

So, in Britain you are still presumably free to criticize Zionism, but not Israelis, as long as you do not use the word itself. If you do use it in a critical way you will be one of those presumably who will be “cleared out [of the Labour Party] for choosing to be antisemitic.” Do not be alarmed if similar nonsense takes hold in the United States, where already criticism of Israel, such as it is, eschews the word Jewish in any context. Fearful of retribution that can include loss of employment as happened to Rick Sanchez at CNN, the few who are bold enough to criticize Israel regularly employ generic euphemisms like the “Israel Lobby” or “Zionism,” ignoring the fact that what drives the process is ethno- or religious based. However one chooses to obfuscate it, the power of Israel in the United States is undeniably based on Jewish money, media control and easy access to politicians. When the friends of Israel in America follow the British lead and figure out that the word Zionist has become pejorative they too will no doubt move to make it unacceptable in polite discourse in the media and elsewhere. Then many critics of the Jewish state will have no vocabulary left to use, nowhere to go, as in Britain, and that is surely the intention.

*(Top image: Protest in Washington DC denouncing the US supported Israeli bombings and invasion of Lebanon, August 12th, 2006. Credit: Danny Hammontree/ Flickr)

*This article was originally published on UNZ Review.

The Wisdoms in Khamenei’s ‘Guidelines to Liberate Palestine’

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In his recent World Quds Day speech, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei declared seven guidelines for the liberation of Palestine. Delivered via televised broadcast instead of in front of a large audience in view of ongoing coronavirus-related risks, the occasion demanded a robust speech from the senior official. However, the guidelines laid out were more than just rhetoric, but contain strategic truth to them as well.

The art of framing: a riposte to a Zionist-approved ‘Arab solution’ to Palestine 

The guidelines, especially the first, cast support for the Palestinian struggle a duty in righteous Jihad for all Muslims and a duty for all mankind based on principles of humanity. Concurrently, the notion of Palestine as an ‘Arab issue’ is expressly rejected.

Seemingly perfunctory on the surface, it is when placed into adequate historical and geopolitical context that this stance stands out as exceedingly prescient.

To consign the issue of Palestinian statehood to a vague footnote in their agenda is a goal of the anti-Iran alliance between Israel and the Gulf Arab states (GCC). Pivoted around confronting Iran, the alliance finds special utility in the framing of the Palestine issue as one for ‘the Arab world’ and one that Israel-friendly Arab states will resolve. Iran is held as an intrusive, even dominating non-Arab actor which must be kept away while a solution is settled.

The fraudulence of this framing of the Palestine issue is exemplified best by the supreme irony of Israel partaking in and leading this new bloc of ‘Arab world’ custodians. Israel is a central enemy to supporters of pan-Arab unity, the Arab world’s welfare and Palestinian freedom, yet Israel’s GCC – and Egyptian - partners seek to allot that status of public Arab-enemy number one to Iran. The Zionist enemy is incredulously replaced by the Persian boogeyman.

This, of course, makes no sense for a host of reasons – prime among them being the simple fact that Iran’s own major allies across the region are Arabs. Regardless, this particular Israel-approved brand of the monopolization of pan-Arab discourse is pursued in earnest by Arab partners in the form of what this author describes as a ‘neo-Arab project’.

Thus, guideline-one’s rejection of the ‘Arab issue’ tag is prudent. Iran has been Palestine’s only steadfast supporter over the last few decades, arming and training the Palestinian resistance just as it did – to far greater impact – the Lebanese resistance against Israel. By opposing the framing of the Palestine issue in a way which would leave Palestine’s fate in the hands of those ‘Arab stakeholders’ who support the atrocious Israeli-engineered ‘Deal of the Century’ on Palestine announced in January, Iran also emphasizes the bond between its own status as a regional pan-Islamist power and Palestine’s resistance.

Resistance as the best and only way forward 

Notably, Khameneis guidelines also saliently denounce proponents of the deceptive ‘Arab issue’ framing of Palestine as guilty of betrayal for distorting the truth’. This leaves no doubt as to how highly Iran prioritizes opposition to the deceptive, Israel-approved ‘Arab issue’ label. It is made clearly to be a part of the enemy’s arsenal of weapons.

Building upon this, the call for resistance and Jihad emphasizes that proponents of the ‘Arab issue’ framework allow no room for resistance. Indeed, the ‘Deal of the Century’ would see ‘Palestine’ existing as isolated fragments of land lacking any military capability and living under Israeli military control.

The call for resistance also makes sense in Palestine’s context and especially during current circumstances. Whereas the Deal would have Israel disarm the Iran-supported Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, Israel’s demonstrated lack of appetite for prolonged confrontations with them stands in the way of this objective.

Many analysts have pointed out the increasing inefficiency, contrary to Israeli marketing, of Israel’s anti-missile systems in defending against Gazan rockets and mortars. Coupled with Israel’s highly narrow land mass means, this means its economic assets and civilian targets remain highly exposed to Gaza’s retaliatory attacks and even potentially those of the far more powerful, better-equipped Hezbollah in Lebanon toward Israel’s north if the situation with Palestine escalates badly enough.

Additionally, certain highly important yet somewhat precarious contemporary Israeli policy initiatives further lower Israel’s appetite for a fight against a determined resistance.

Israel of late, in what has become a core facet of its ties with the GCC and aligned Arab states, has sought to attain dominance in the export of Eastern Mediterranean gas. Israeli gas exports to Egypt and Jordan – highly controversial amongst the public in both countries – now constitute a key facet of Israel’s ties with the two Arab states.

The last thing Israel needs is the delicate and expensive exploration and production at its gas fields being disrupted by projectiles launched from nearby Gaza in response to Israeli moves to impose the Deal’s conditions upon it. Cheap rockets and mortars from Gaza can punch well above their weight as a deterrent to Israeli advances against Gaza by inflicting significant damages upon the pipelines and other infrastructure used by Israel to export the gas and thus tie Egypt and Jordan’s energy security to Israel’s economic welfare.

Thus, Khamenei’s call for resistance and Jihad rings especially true at this stage in history and fits neatly into the strategic environment around Palestine.

Non-reliance on international organizations and rejection of the ‘inevitability’ of Israel 

Khamenei’s stress on a pan-Islamist liberation struggle for Palestine does not only counter the deceptive ‘Arab issue’ label but also promotes another important trait. That is independance from reliance on Western governments and international organizations under their sway, who Khamenei says are ‘opposed to any effective entity of an Islamic nature.

While not necessarily anti-Islamic, international organizations based largely in the West and reliant upon Western government funding can do little better than advocating a futile mediation-and-negotiation approach to settling Palestine’s fate. Pre-requisites to such processes involve cessations of hostilities by ‘both sides’ which Israel unlike the Palestinians has the impunity to never abide by.

In describing the impotence of these global organizations in terms of pursuing justice, Khamenei states: ‘The so-called United Nations is not fulfilling its function and the so-called human rights organizations are dead.’ 

The Islamic resistance proposed by Khamenei’s guidelines recognizes this and while drawing up humanity-based global support ensures it does not enter into conditions imposed upon such organizations in exchange for ‘diplomacy’ with Israel.

Yet again, in the context of history and current affairs, Khamenei has the right idea.

That an arrangement as antithetical to international law as the Deal was announced via the highest echelons of the US government shows that international organizations such as the UN are not graced with even lip-service to their myriad resolutions on Palestine. Thus, even the case for entering into their long-winded ‘peace processes’ which inevitably dull down resistance to Israel is difficult to take seriously. 

Even in the miraculous scenario whereby the UN was pushed by pro-Palestine forces successfully and punished Israel, it would not make much of a difference. This punishment would take the form of international sanctions, only to see Israel call upon its wealthy supporters abroad instead of somehow allowing a real Palestinian state to take shape. Indeed, Israel has more than enough mega-rich Jewish donors abroad who pull political strings and send huge flows of capital, foreign direct investment and even jobs Israel’s way which it otherwise did not merit and who could even sustain it with their own private wealth. Israel’s economy would not stagnate or contract but continue to grow.

The US would not dare adhere to UN sanctions on Israel and Israel would continue receiving irrational amounts of financial hand-outs to keep it financially healthy. Meanwhile, minus vibrant resistance from Gaza, Lebanon and the Syrian front as well, Israel would find it easier to pursue much-needed socio-political and economic ‘normalization’ through the aforementioned linking of its economy with that of regional states such as Egypt and Jordan. 

Amidst toothless UN objections, Israel would gradually make itself an undeniable ‘fact’ of Middle Eastern life and politics and far from the pariah status it deserves. Even the undoubted historical development represented by actual sanctions on Israel would not halt Israel integrating itself into regional economies and thus ensuring that it can export and import as a proper economy besides simply being stuffed with US aid.

With resistance unhindered by concerns from obsolete international organizations, however, Israel’s ambitious yet vulnerable economic projects would face constant risk. They would be rendered unviable over time and Israel regardless of the huge flow of US taxpayer dollars to it every year would soon find itself in a highly uncomfortable position with hostile elements in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.

Indeed, Khamenei directly condemns ‘normalization’ of Israel as a hostile plot and describes attempts by Israel’s Arab allies to portray it as inevitable part of the conspiracy. The solution put forth by Khamenei is to ‘continue this struggle and to better organize the organizations for Jihad work, their cooperation and to expand the areas of Jihad inside Palestinian territories. Everyone must assist the Palestinian nation in this holy struggle. Everyone must contribute to the Palestinian fighters and stand behind them. We will proudly do everything in our power on this path.

Dismissing the Two-State ‘Solution’ canard 

Even if there was a time when Israel’s uncompromising expansion-via-settlements had not rendered it impossible, the Two State Solution’ as has been fixated upon by international organizations for decades was no true solution to begin with. It sought to establish a Palestinian state upon less than 25% the land of historic Palestine, essentially gifting Israel an easy-to-target and congested mass of Palestinians to test its weapons upon.

Consistent with the general theme of resistance, shunning of cumbersome ‘peace processes’ overseen by useless international organizations and rejection of the notion that Israel is inevitable and here to stay, Khamenei declares:

The aim of this struggle is the liberation of all the Palestinian lands – from the river to the sea – and the return of all Palestinians to their homeland. Reducing this struggle to the formation of a government in a corner of the Palestinian lands – particularly, in the humiliating way that is mentioned in the discourse of shameless Zionists – is neither a sign of righteous struggle nor a sign of realism

Indeed, with the liberation struggle capable of threatening Israel’s economic welfare and yet capable of forcing isolation upon it in the region, the Two State ‘Solution’ barely warrants a second thought.

Uncompromising resistance till the very end 

Khamenei’s guidelines thus conform to reality and not just sentimental anti-Zionist rhetoric. From the strategic perspective of countering Israel and then forcing it into an erosive, isolated state far from the expansion it desires, the guidelines not only make a strong case but also cast Israel and Zionism accurately as anathema to the well-being of the very region Israel today so desperately seeks to make itself a part of. 

The Irreconcilable Conflict with Zionism

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Nakba Day, May 15.  One day, one date, but every day since May 15, 1948, has been a nakba day for the Palestinians. Their suffering at Jewish hands eclipses anything ever suffered by Jews in the Middle East.  Their treatment is worse than suppression. It is persecution. On the West Bank they are subjected to pogroms at the hands of Jewish settlers, big pogroms, little pogroms, inside one long continuing pogrom.  In Gaza the Palestinians live in a game reserve created by Israel, there to be hunted down as the hunter desires, butchered en masse from the air or shot by some squib of a soldier with a big gun along the fence line. 

In the name of the Jewish people, this is what the zionists have done to the PalestiniansIn the name of the Jewish people, this is what the zionists have done to the Jewish people. In the name of the Jewish people, this is what the zionists have done to Judaism.  In the name of the Jewish people, this is what the zionists have done to Jewish communities that had lived across the Middle East peacefully for 2000 years A tragedy by any measure, only the remnants of these communities are left.  

Israel has been built on an ideology that actively repudiates universal human rights, whatever the lip service paid to the latter by governments of Israel.  There cannot simultaneously be a state based on zionist ideology and one based on respect for universal human rights.  For one to live the other must die, which is why suggestions that the forthcoming annexation of the West Bank will somehow result in one state with equal rights for all are a delusion.  

The state already has laws in place that can be further used to disenfranchise the Palestinians.  The charter of the Jewish National Fund prevents land taken from Palestinian Muslims or Christians ever being sold or leased back to them. Then there is the absent ownership law, allowing the state to take over the land of Palestinians driven out of their homeland in 1948 and in 1967.  Along with the absent absentees were the present absentees, Palestinians who had not fled or been driven out in 1948 but were not living at their usual place of residence.  Their homes and land were taken, too.  These laws are part of the web of bogus judicial measures passed since 1948 that have the single intention of transferring Palestinian property into Jewish hands.  They will be there to be used in various ways once the West Bank is annexed. 

The task ahead of the Israeli government after annexation will be to whittle down the Palestinian presence on the West Bank by all means possible. Changing the demographic balance by expanding existing settlements or building new ones and attracting waves of settlers to fill them with tax and other benefits will be the priority.  While the aim over time will be to reduce the Palestinians to a negligible ethnic minority, if circumstances arise or can be created as in 1948 and 1967 to get rid of them all, so much the better. To think that having formally engorged the last of Palestine, Israel will begin sharing it with the people it has oppressed for the past seven decades is a complete delusion. 

Israel thinks it has finally won its war against the Palestinians. There are sound reasons for its triumphalism.  İt is armed to the teeth and it has more support than ever before from one of the most powerful governments in the world, the US.  It has the increasingly open support of some Arab governments, with the United Arab Emirates now opening a direct air connection to Tel Aviv.  Corrupt as they might be, these governments are the thin end of a wedge Israel thinks it can drive further into the Arab world.  

Given the combination of all these factors Israel is not going to miss the opportunity to annex.  All the circumstances have fallen into place.  The time is right and the time is now.  The ‘international community’ is already critical of what is coming but when Israel annexed East Jerusaem in 1967 ‘western’ governments did nothing.  They did nothing when Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981.  They have done nothing to punish Israel for its serial atrocities in Gaza and on the West Bank and even now are trying to block prosecution of Israel in the International Criminal Court. They are all complicit in Israel’s crimes and after Israel annexes the West Bank they will again do nothing beyond administering verbal slaps on the wrist.

The EU is huffing and puffing but is not likely to take any meaningful action. The UN General Assembly may pass a resolution of condemnation, adding to the hundreds it has passed over the years, all of them treated with contempt by Israel. These resolutions are morally and legally significant but the UNGA has no power to follow through with measures that will punish Israel in real time and the US will prevent any similar resolution being passed by the Security Council. 

King Abdullah of Jordan is threatening war, and one will probably erupt eventually but not because of anything the Jordanian king say or does.  The Palestinian Authority has broken off all dealings with Israel and the US.  Rather too late, Mr Abbas.  You made your deal with the devil and now the devil is collecting his due.  He will be laughing all the way to the West Bank.  

On the brink of annexation even Gideon Levy thinks it should go ahead. “Let Israel annex the West Bank. It’s the least worst option for the Palestinians,” ran the Haaretz headline over his article on May 10. “We have to stop fearing it and even say yes to it. It is the only way out of the deadlock.” 

His logic goes as follows.  The Palestinians have never been so weak, so isolated, fragmented and bereft of fighting spirit and everyone knows the world is tired of this conflict anyway.   The occupation is here to stay.  Annexation will put an end to the Palestinian Authority, but so what? It is dead anyway.  Opponents of annexation fear that without a formal process it will be possible to sow ‘peace process’ and ‘two state’ delusions forever, so let’s have annexation and blow the delusions away. 

Furthermore, unlike the settlements, which are there forever, annexation is reversible.  One day it can be turned into democracy. So let’s awaken this reality from its sleep, and embrace annexation, thinks Gideon Levy: “Anschluss [the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938].  In the hills and in the valleys, in area C and in the end the entire West Bank.”

It is true that the Palestinians have never been in such a weak position but from the beginning their fate was never going to be determined just between themselves and their enemies.  The first was Britain.  It gave the zionists what it had no right to give them and it shielded them while they were establishing their colonies. Otherwise they never would have got their foot through the door.  

Britain and France followed through in 1956 by trying to destroy the Egyptian champion of Arab nationalism and Palestinian rights, Gamal abd al Nasir.  France and Britain supplied Israel with its tanks and planes and France built the nuclear reactor at Dimona before the US took over as Israel’s protector and benefactor, arming and financing it to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars since the 1960s.  What small people could defeat this combination, no matter how valiant their resistance?

What is critically important in this historical morass is that the Palestinians are not alone.  Unlike other native people who have been put to the sword by imperialism and colonialism, they have a vast hinterland embracing not just the Middle East and the Islamic world but a large and constantly growing segment of public opinion in ‘westerncountries.  Palestine is not just a Palestinian question but an Arab question, a Muslim question and a global human rights question.  In the long term it is this hinterland that Israel has to vanquish, not just Palestine. 

While Israel is on the back foot morally, ethically and legally, abstract issues count for nothing against its logic of forceIn 1967 ‘western’ intelligence agencies knew it could defeat any combination of Arab armies and it did.  In 1973 it took a beating in the first week but still came out on top, with territory in Sinai it could then trade for what it really wanted, the consolidation of its military and settler presence on the occupied West Bank.  However, while it remains outwardly confident that it can defeat any combination of enemies, there is an underlying nervousness in the statements of its military commanders that has not been evident before. 

In fact, for those who look carefully, the conventional military balance has been changing steadily against Israel ever since 1973 The war of that year would have been lost had not Anwar Sadat stopped the advance of the Egyptian army after a week of fighting.  The US saved Israel with weapons airlifted straight to the battlefield As Sadat knew, the US would have intervened with its own forces to prevent Israel being defeated but the myth of invincibility that had prevailed since 1967 was exploded The war showed that on the battlefield, Israel could be defeated.   

Israel’s next major war, Lebanon 1982, was predominantly an aerial and artillery onslaught on a civilian population.  The ‘enemy’ was several thousand Palestinian fighters and the small number of Syrian troops based in Lebanon, hopelessly trying to stop an invading army of 40,000 soldiers backed by tank, artillery and air and sea power. In these circumstances the outcome on the ground was inevitable, but logistically the campaign was a mess, acknowledged even by the Israelis themselves. On top of this was the shame and horror of the Sabra and Shatila massacres.  

The PLO went from Beirut but Hizbullah was born.  On the ground its part-time fighters were soon not only holding the line against Israel’s soldiers and their South Lebanese Army quisling proxies, but on occasion scoring spectacular successes, some based on the interception of Israel’s electronic communications.  By 2000 Israel had had enough and pulled out, virtually overnight.  

In 2006 it tried to show Hizbullah who was boss with another invasion, failing again and failing in the most humiliating fashion.   Its troops were outfought by Hizbullah’s part-time soldiers and its supposedly indestructible Merkava tanks repeatedly blown to bits by Hizbullah explosivesThe launching of the land-to-sea missile that put an Israeli warship out of action was another unpleasant surprise. 

Since that time Israel has been planning continually for a third round but so has Hizbullah.   It is far stronger and better armed than it was in 2006 and capable of inflicting devastation on Israel whatever the damage it also suffers

The assassination in 2005 of Lebanon’s former Prime Minster, Rafiq Hariri, was immediately blamed on Syria when there was only beneficiary – Israel.  Later, Hizbullah opened its electronic surveillance secrets to show how Israel had been tailing Hariri across Beirut by drone for months and had drone footage of the precise spot on the Corniche road where Hariri was assassinated in FebruaryBecause relations with Hariri had been difficult, Syria was automatically blamed in the ‘west.’ The outrage generated in Lebanon compelled Syria to withdraw the few troops it still had in the country. 

While the propaganda played in Israel’s favor it did not impede the rise of Hizbullah as a political and military force, as a resistance movement in the eyes of many Christians as well as Muslims.  The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia continued trying to undermine Syria and its allies in Lebanon through Hariri’s son Saad but he was not up to the task, as his arrest and chastisement in Saudi Arabia in 2017 was to show.

During this period sanctions against Iran were continually tightenedIran’s computer systems were sabotaged and its scientists assassinated by Israel’s agents and in 2018 the US withdrew from the multi-state nuclear agreement with Iran The assassination of Umar Suleimani in January this year was another provocation which Iran took in its stride, retaliating with missile attacks on US bases in IraqThe assassination infuriated Iraqis as well,  as their countrymen were among the dead.  They and their parliament again demanded that the  US remove its troops from their country.  This refuses to do, thereby setting them up for further retaliation. 

With the US refusing to launch an open military attack on Iran, and with the combination of sanctions, assassinations, cyber sabotage and the threats of military attack failing to bring down the Iranian government, the US/Israel turned on Syria. It was the central pillar in the ‘axis of resistance’ (Iran, Syria and Hizbullah) and if it could be destroyed, the axis would collapse at the centre. That was the calculation.  This criminal conspiracy was initially orchestrated by Obama and Clinton, who wanted to launch an air war that would destroy Syria just as the US-NATO air war had destroyed Libya.   

However, seeking a UN fig leaf, the US and its allies were blocked at the Security Council by Russia and China Thwarted, they had to settle for a proxy war fought on the ground by the most violent armed groups on the face of the earth, the same groups they had pledged to destroy as part of their ‘war on terror.’  

So far their war has taken the lives of close to half a million Syrians The material damage has been enormous Syria has been gravely weakend, yet the US/Israel and their ‘western’ and regional allies have failed to reach their overall objective. Syria still has territory to liberate but Bashar is still in the presidential palace and the strategic alliance with Iran and Hizbullah remains intact. 

Yemen is another strand of this pan-regional war waged by the US/Israel and their allies The Houthis are an independent force, but it suits the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia to present them as Iranian puppets in the same way that they like to present Hizbullah as no more than an Iranian proxy.  

From planes built in the US and with missiles produced in the US and the UK, Saudi pilots have been killing Yemenis in their streets, their homes and their markets. After five years of war the death toll - overwhelmingly civilian - hovers around 250,000.  Malnutrition alone, caused by the US-supported Saudi land, sea and air blockade, is thought to have killed 85,000 children.

Yet, with the material odds all against them, the resistance of the Houthis has been extraordinary.  Saudi Arabia launched this war five years ago but has proven unable to win it.  The Houthis are destroying Saudi convoys, they have missiles that can reach Saudi cities and shipping in the Red Sea, and they now say they are ready to extend their campaign to Israel. Far from being shrunk, the ‘axis of resistance’ has now been effectively expanded to include the Houthis and a large segment of Iraqi society. 

Israel continues to launch aerial attacks on Syria every other day.  It vows to clear all Iranian forces from Syria but Hizbullah and Iran will not leave Syria to stand alone and neither are they going to be drawn into war at a time that suits Israel. In fact, they do not believe the Israelis at present have the confidence to go to war, certainly not alone against Iran (and so far they have failed to convince the US to do their dirty work for them).  

On World Quds Day (May 22) Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatullah Khamenei, reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to Palestine in a speech centring around seven main points that make it clear Iran has not retreated one inch from the position it set out in 1979

1) the liberation of Palestine is a Muslim religious obligation but also a human rights issue. 2) the aim is the liberation of all Palestine “from the river to the sea” and the return of all Palestinians to their homeland.

3) in the struggle for Palestine there should be no trust in ‘western’ governments and institutions dependent on them.

4) the attacks on Syria and Yemen, the assassinations, the creation of Daesh (the Islamic State) and many other things are all intended to divert attention from the resistance front and open up attacks for the zionist regime.

5) attempts by some Arab governments to normalize relations with Israel are shameful, vain and futile.

6) greater efforts need to be made to organize resistance as “one cannot communicate with a savage enemy except through force and from a position of power.”

7) Palestine belongs to all Palestinans and on this basis Jewish, Christian and Muslim Palestinians will eventually decide their future in a referendum, “but the zionist regime has to go.” 

In confronting Iran the zionists are dealing with a culture/civilization thousands of years old that knows how to play the waiting game, however long the game has to be played. To interpret forbearance under military attack as weakness is to misunderstand the mindset and the strategy of both Iran and Hizbullah. They look at the changing military balance and the declining global power of the US and they do not believe time is on Israel’s side. The zionist state believes otherwise.  It has nuclear weapons so, in its view, this is not a gamble with history but ultimately a war it cannot lose.   

In time, how much time we don’t know, the outcome between two irreconcilable positions will be decided. 

*(Top image credit: Alisdare Hickson/ Flickr)

20 Years After the Unconditional Israeli Withdrawal from Lebanon, Hezbollah Extended Its Activity to Iraq and Became a Game-Changer

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Every major Middle Eastern aggressive event has triggered the creation of a counterpower to stand against the aggressor. It comes, therefore, as no surprise that after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Hezbollah announced its birth and became a deterrent force stronger than many armies in the Middle East. When Israel and the US decided to deflate Hezbollah’s lungs and break the “Axis of the Resistance”, war was declared on Syria, with al-Qaeda and Takfiri foreign fighters as the sectarian tool to achieve the US’s objective. A new Syrian resistance was born, and Iran and Hezbollah established one of their strongest bases in the Levant. After 2003, when the US decided to surround Iran by invading Iraq and threatened Syria as next in the line of countries to be invaded, a new force emerged to join the “Axis of the Resistance”, feared by both the US and Israel: Hashd al-Shaabi, the “Popular Mobilisation Force”. Twenty years after the Israeli unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon, Hezbollah extended its activity to Iraq and became a game-changer. Israel and the US are the sources which created the “Axis of the Resistance”.

Iran has vowed, in its constitution (articles 2 and 3), to support all oppressed peoples. It started with Palestine whose leaders were informed by Iran that “no sanctions would be allowed to reduce Iran’s financial and training support for the Palestinians to recover their stolen territory.” Iran supported the Lebanese when Israel invaded their country. It supported Syria when Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and combined western nations allowed Jihadists to create their Islamic Emirates in the Levant, creating a potentially failed state situation. And it supported the Iraqis when the US occupied Iraq and allowed ISIS to overrun a third of the country.

Iraqi Shia politicians – promised “democracy and stability” – supported the US to remove Saddam Hussein. Iraqi Sunni resistance complained to Hezbollah about the lack of Iraqi national unity against the US forces, in particular the Shia stand in favour of the occupier. Hezbollah’s position was clearly announced by its secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah before the US invasion. Notwithstanding the atrocities of Saddam Hussein against Iraqis in general and the Shia in particular, for Hezbollah, standing against the US was a top priority over removing Saddam Hussein. Saddam’s rule was coming to an end before the 2003 US invasion. A decade of sanctions against Saddam Hussein had crippled his power and the Shia resistance – supported by Iran – was already gaining momentum when the US decided to move in on that false pretext: removing non-existent “Weapons of Mass Destruction”.

Notwithstanding the Iraqi Shia support to the Americans, the US did not hide its aggressive intentions against the “Axis of the Resistance” nor its aim to totally deprive Iran of any allies. Iran moved into Iraq to support the Sunni resistance first and trained those few Shia willing to fight against the US occupation forces. Hezbollah became attractive to both Sunni and Shia. 

Many Iraqi Shia politicians complained to Hezbollah about the training it provided to Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi in the first years of the US occupation. Hezbollah maintained close relationships with Iraqi politicians who requested mediation to form their government and to reduce the gaps among them. Endless meetings were held in Beirut between Hezbollah officials and Sunni and Shia politicians before the formation of every government.

When ISIS occupied a third of the country, Iraq found in Hezbollah – who forced Israel to withdraw and defeated it in 2006 – a reliable and adequate ally to return to during the US invasion of the country. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki contacted Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah asking for advisors and trainers to stop ISIS’s advance. Twenty-four hours later, Hezbollah sent in dozens of officers who began training those Iraqis willing to bear arms, stop ISIS and defend their country. 

The US refused to help and ignored over 6 verbal and written requests by the Prime Minister of Iraq asking Washington to deliver all weapons Iraq had paid for; they had been due to be delivered long before the ISIS attack. Following the testimony of US General Michael Flynn, the US saw ISIS growing and crossing from Iraq to Syria to establish a Caliphate in both countries. Iraq forced a US withdrawal in 2011 and Syria refused to submit to Colin Powell’s threatening demand to stop support for Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance groups. The US wanted to reach its objectives by any means and the jihadists offered the best and cheapest solution to divide the Middle East and relieve the danger to Israel. The 2006 second war on Lebanon significantly showed Israel powerless when confronted with Hezbollah.

By stepping back, the US gave Hezbollah a chance to move into Iraq, in 2014 and led the Marjaiya to call for the formation of Hashd al-Shaabi, a popular force ready to take up arms to defend their country. Iran was the only country helping both Baghdad and Erbil: Sunni, Shia, Christians and Kurds were armed by Iran against ISIS, under watching US eyes. The US allowed the creation of Hashd al-Shaabi and allowed Iran and Hezbollah to plant strong roots in Iraq. The US training of the Iraqi army proved ineffective. The Iraqi army lacked patriotic convictions and fighting spirit. Hezbollah had both, but also used the experience to enhance its warfare capability, fighting on open space in the desert, an experience different from the one in Lebanon and Syria.

In 2020, the “Axis of the Resistance” won all the wars it fought in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen; Hezbollah was present in all theatres. The US assassination of Qassem Soleimani, leader of this “Axis of the Resistance”, was morally painful but did not downgrade Iran’s commitment or financial obligations to its allies. In Yemen, Sayyed Abdel Malek Badreddin al-Houthi asked Saudi Arabia to exchange a Saudi pilot and 9 Saudi officers he captured during their bombing of Yemen with Mohammad al-Khodary, former Hamas representative and another 60 Palestinians and Jordanians arrested in Riyadh, indicating how the “Axis of the Resistance” bond is unified across the borders. 

“Negotiating hostages exchange with the Israelis or the Americans is much smoother than negotiating with Saudis whose responsible have no consideration to the life of their own captured officers,” said a leader of the “Axis of the Resistance”.

The Hamas stand has changed: from fighting against President Assad to fully believing that the only way to recover the Palestinian usurped territories is through a robust unity with the “Axis of the Resistance”. The call for the “Jerusalem Day” – celebrated on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan called by Imam Khomeini – is unifying all members of the “Axis of the Resistance” more than ever. Tehran informed the Palestinians that the “US maximum pressure” is irrelevant to the Iranian commitment to Palestine, and that the cause will be supported as long as the Palestinians are ready to fight for their territory.

Israel and the US will not give up, and they are wary of Hezbollah’s growth and influence. They are trying to counter its supporters abroad, putting Hezbollah on the US State Department terrorism list – a totally ineffective move. The US believes the current global financial crisis presents an opportunity to gain what was impossible by war. They can be expected to return fire, but meanwhile the “Axis of the Resistance” will continue to resist and find more ways to reduce US influence in the Middle East. 

This comes at a time when China and Russia are ready to show a more friendly and economically aggressive approach in favour of Middle Eastern countries. Hezbollah’s regional successes foreshadow global challenges to US power. Many leaders of the “Axis of the Resistance” may be killed without irreversible impact on the objectives and strategies of the camp resisting Israel and US hegemony. The objective and achievements of the “Axis of the Resistance” have become irreversible. 

America Is Drowning in Problems

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Washington is picking yet another fight with China. On top of the trade war we now have the coronavirus war.  China is accused of being responsible for the virus by withholding information about it.  Some in Washington want to make China pay for the cost of the virus by reneging on US debt held by China in the form of US Treasuries.

What information about coronavirus is China supposed to have withheld?

That China was doing coronavirus research?  How could this information have been withheld when the US State Department knew about it, the N.I.H. was funding it, and US scientists were complaining about the danger?

That coronavirus was ravaging Wuhan?  How was this information withheld when it was in the media every day?

The United States and its vassals knew about the virus outbreak in China two months prior to its outbreak in the West and did nothing. Through either inaction or intent, the US, Canada, and Europe imported the virus.  The governments refused to stop flights in and out of China and to prevent cruise ships from welcoming passengers from infected areas. Governments did not want to interfere with profits, which came before public health.  Absolutely nothing was done.  No efforts were made to stockpile protective masks and gear, or to protect nursing homes, or to segregate hospital facilities, or to think outside the box about treatments.  The Swedish government was so unprepared that it did not even try to do anything and just let the virus run its course with devastating effects on the elderly.  [Note: There is much disinformation about Sweden from those who believe the virus is a plot to impose police state controls, such as claims that Sweden has kept the economy open without paying for it in a higher death rate and is gaining “herd immunity” against Covid-19.  These claims are contradicted by news reports.  For example: here  and here.]

In an attempt, more or less successful, to reduce the infection rate so that health facilities were not over-burdened, every other country imposed social distancing rules, bans against crowd events, and workplace closures.  As little was known about the disease and the Chinese mortality rate was believed to be vastly understated, there was no responsible alternative to the so-called “lockdowns.”  It remains to be seen whether the concern for profits has produced a premature reopening that will result in a second wave of rapid infection rates. Many suspect that Big Pharma and Bill Gates want to keep the infection spreading in order to panic us into being vaccinated with an inadequately tested vaccine.

The blame China game is really an effort to cover-up the failure of Western governments to deal with a crisis.

The failure of governments to deal with crisis is ubiquitous.  Just think Katrina, the hurricane that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  If you don’t remember or are too young to have experienced the 2005 hurricane via TV, read Douglas Brinkley’s The Great Deluge.

Everyone knew that the levies protecting New Orleans and surrounding areas were unable to withstand a storm of Katrina’s intensity.  The city was a bowl waiting to fill up with the water that wiped out 80% of New Orleans and 150 miles of Gulf Coast communities.   Evacuation orders came too late.  There were no steps taken to evacuate those without cars and resources. The sick and elderly were left in place.  The few steps that were taken to assemble buses, boats, and first responders located the scanty resources in areas that flooded.  The New Orleans Police Department went AWOL. Some joined in the looting. FEMA was a total failure.  President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff were not focused on the unfolding tragedy but on their creation of a terrortist hoax that was used to justify 20 years of US bombing and invasions of Middle Eastern and North African countries.As Bush had deployed Louisiana’s National Guard to Iraq, the Louisiana governor had to borrow guardsmen from other states.

The US Coast Guard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries personnel, and private individuals formed the force of first responders. People from Louisiana and from other states showed up on their own time, their own money, and with their own boats and began organizing rescues.  There were many heroic and generous people involved in the rescue. As most of the rescuers were white southerners and most of the rescued were black, it put the lie to the propagandistic picture of the white southern racist. For example, Sara Roberts and her husband Buisson, a descendant of Confederate General P.G.T.Beauregard, organized the Cajun Navy.  Sara enlisted clients of her accounting firm who came up with 35 boats and crews to man them.  One of her clients, Ronny Lovett, paid his construction crews triple wages for their rescue time and spent $200,000 of his money equipping the boats with food, water, medical supplies, chain saws, life jackets, spotlights, ropes and whatever else could contribute to successful rescues. It was individual citizens, not the governments in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington that rescued many thousands of people who otherwise would have perished. 

From its founding day, New Orleans was a man-made disaster waiting to happen.  Dredging, canals, watercourse alterations, pipelines and a variety of other environmental damaging mistakes had over the years destroyed the wetlands that protected the city and Gulf Coast. In order to serve private profit, failure was built into the system. The Great Deluge is an external cost of a political and economic system that puts private profits first.

We are undergoing it again at this moment as areas of Michigan are inundated from floods caused by dam failures. One of the dams, the Edenville Dam was a long known public safety hazard . Boyce Hydro, the owner of the dam, repeatedly failed despite the intervention of regulators to address the known risk.  Not only was Boyce Hydro negligent, but also were the government authorities that permitted the known risk to persist unaddressed.  The lost of life and property from the flooding is an external cost imposed on third parties by Boyce Hydro whose agenda was limited to its profits.

It is as difficult to understand the liberal and progressive belief in government as it is to understand the libertarian belief in the efficacy of the invisible hand that allegedly causes private greed to serve the public’s interest.  Humans are a built-in failure machine.  Their time perspective is short term.  They are always surprised by the unintended consequences of their own thoughtless actions and inactions.

Throughout America, state, local, and federal government  epitomize  failure. Trillions of dollars have been poured into weapons systems that cannot be used without destroying the United States along with the rest of the world, while dams fail, bridges collapse, communities deteriorate, and homelessness grows. The government in Washington spends time, effort, and money manufacturing enemies to justify the budget of the military/security complex, while  jobs and the US economy are offshored, the environment is degraded, and health care needs go unaddressed.   The US rivals third world countries in terms of the percentage of its population that has no savings, no access to health care, and no prospects for advancement in life.   

But we can blow up the world several times over and make mindless interventions in the natural environment that multiply the destructive power of storms, heavy rains, and other natural phenomena.

Another election approaches and yet again there is no acknowledgement of the real problems our country faces or any interest in discussing what to do about them. America and the Western World in general are simply going to drown in their unaddressed problems just as New Orleans drowned in Hurricane Katrina.

How the Pandemic Defrocked Hegemonic Neoliberalism

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The COVID19 pandemic has laid bare the human disaster that is hegemonic liberalism, a project of the Anglo-American powers. In terms of the basic protection of human life the virus has made it plain that there are few countries whose performance is as bad as that of the USA and the UK.

Quite recently those two presented themselves as number one and number two in the ‘Global Health Security’ rankings of those most prepared for an epidemic (IPT 2020). In fact, at the peak of the pandemic over March-May 2020, the USA and the UK showed the largest absolute numbers of deaths and amongst the highest death rates on earth (Worldometer 2020). In future, few serious analysts will take seriously the slogans and ‘model’ of the Anglo-American duo.

What was Anglo-American hegemonic liberalism? It was a political project for propertied and imperial elites, later corporate privilege, which made selective use of nice sounding liberal or ‘open market’ ideas. Historically those ideas helped a massive expansion of private slavery, entrenched colonialism, privileged the US dollar and made use of financial leverage for global domination. In recent times that model preached small and weak states (except for the ‘necessary hegemon’), destruction of social controls on global capital and the erosion of public services and social guarantees in favour of privatisation and private ‘partnerships’.

In practice this meant that public health guarantees were blocked in the USA while a once decent National Health Service (NHS) in the UK was run down and its public subsidies diverted to private health companies.

The consequences of hegemonic liberalism were dire, both for the populations of ‘peripheral’ states and for the mass ‘metropolitan’ populations of Britain and North America. Weak to non-existent health guarantees led to catastrophic epidemic death rates amongst disadvantaged classes (Schifferes 2020), much higher than the high national averages. Poor preventive health preparation (inherent to heavily privatised systems) caught these wealthy countries off guard. The inconsistent and often incoherent responses of leaders Donald Trump and Boris Johnson were not simply idiosyncratic but reflected a long term commitment to corporate profiteering before human life. The primacy of corporate privilege blinded these states to well established principles of public health. And when the seriousness of the pandemic imposed itself, the Anglo-America duo swung from one extreme to the other – from libertarian slogans to repressive measures.

In countries where there was some culture of public health, relative trust in health authorities allowed a fairly rapid collective response. Yet where corporate privilege had become central to the system, populations reacted with fear, anger and cynicism. Accusations of a ‘planned’ epidemic or a plan for forcible mass vaccinations, covered up the real crime, that these neoliberal systems were designed to abandon human life in favour of corporate profit.

The first section of this essay sets out in some detail the behaviour of the US and UK leadership, to show their essential consistency with the neoliberal project. There was denial, prevarication and avoidance of the serious public health threat. When the level of illness and death imposed itself on those regimes, there were wild swings in their responses from inaction to repressive action. The public health outcomes were very poor and should spark serious debate about those systems. Yet Washington’s anti-China campaign and an anti-science brigade of Pandemic Sceptics tend to obscure this failure.

In the second section I outline some of the misinformation from these sceptics who, rather than critically examining the US-UK failures, have launched a range of wild and basically anti-science theories. In the name of opposing greedy corporations they lash out at all medical science and at a ‘lockdown’ they wrongly imagine was planned by the big powers. Their libertarian critiques mostly echo the approach of right wing populists like Trump and Johnson; while the left populist sceptics (which rightly expose greedy private health corporations) are mostly shallow, attacking symptoms rather than causes.

The third section argues the central importance of public health systems to pandemic responses, and shows how proper understandings can inform practical politics, to help mitigate the present and contain future crises. This logic bypasses the overly general and clichéd arguments about capitalism versus socialism. Decent preventive and public health systems can and should be demanded in every society.

  1. Responses of the USA and UK

Both Donald Trump and Boris Johnson showed, in their reactions to the pandemic and their focus on economic ‘normalisation’, that public health was no natural priority. The particular idiosyncrasies of these men should not prevent us from recognising that they faithfully represented a long standing system of corporate privilege through ‘open economy’ ideology.

Washington moved indecisively, with a series of complacent and repeated assurances throughout February from President Trump, that “we have it very well under control” (Brewster 2020; Guerra 2020). Over an extended period of time, when there were many warnings, Trump tried to play down the virus and play up the economy. On 24 February he said the virus “is very much under control” and the stock market was “starting to look very good to me”. On the 26th of February Trump claimed the US was “really prepared” and on the 29th of February claimed that the US was “leading in testing” for the virus (AJ 2020).

In fact, while most countries had not yet published data on testing, at that time, of those which had the USA showed the third lowest testing rate (above that of Nepal and Serbia). Table 1 shows that there were higher testing rates in 15 countries (Ourworldindata 2020). The point here is not that President Trump is an unreliable source of information, though that is obvious; it is that he was consistently downplaying the severity of the epidemic and exaggerating the preparedness and capacity of Washington.

Table 1: COVID19 testing rates in 18 countries, 29 Feb 2020

Country

Testing /1,000

Austria

0.183

Czech Republic

0.019

Estonia

0.033

Finland

0.069

France

0.029

Hong Kong

4.081

Iceland

0.199

Israel

0.145

Italy

0.309

Japan

0.018

Latvia

0.061

Mexico

0.015

Nepal

0.008

Serbia

0.005

South Korea

1.671

Switzerland

0.209

United Kingdom

0.154

USA

0.013

Source: Ourworldindata 2020

Trump announced travel bans on those coming from China, on 31 January, and from Europe on 11 March, the day the W.H.O. declared a global pandemic. On that same day he persisted with this complacency, telling his supporters at a rally in New Hampshire he believed the virus would go away with the warm weather in April: “a lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat, as the heat comes in, typically that will go away in April … We’re in great shape, though. We have 12 cases, 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now” (Levin 2020). In fact on 11 March the USA recorded 1,301 cases of COVID19 infections and 38 deaths (Worldometer 2020). On 13 March the President declared a ‘national emergency’, but that was to provide the legislative trigger for a $50 billion package of subsidies to be passed to the states and territories. At the same time he warned against testing those without symptoms. This was “totally unnecessary” he said, as “this [virus] will pass” (AJ 2020).

It was not until 17 March that Trump asked all workers to ‘stay at home’, claiming he had “always known this is real, this is a pandemic. I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic” (Koning Beals 2020). A week later, on 24 March, Trump went back to his theme of re-opening the economy by April. On Twitter he argued that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself”, as US economic output was crashing. He said he would make a decision within 15 days (Trump 2020b; Haberman and Sanger 2020). After that period, on 3 April, the USA recorded 283,477 cases and 8,839 deaths, and the death count was rising. There were 1,263 US COVID19 deaths that day. Those deaths would surpass 2,000 every day for most of the period between 7 April and 7 May, after which numbers began to subside (Worldometer 2020).

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Trump signed a $2.2 trillion emergency spending bill on 27 March, which included both corporate and social welfare, including a huge $180 billion allocation to private health corporations. The President blamed China and the previous Obama administration, then began to advocate dubious and unproven ‘cures’ such as use of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (see Wong 2020), and the use of bleach (AJ 2020). Much of this should be seen as bluster, simply designed to hide his inconsistent and incompetent reactions.

Similarly, British leader Boris Johnson was accused of complacency, being “slow to act” and even – on 12 March, the day after the W.H.O. announced a global pandemic – suggesting that some natural “herd immunity” might be necessary. This was reported as sounding like the UK government “was deliberately aiming for 60 percent of the populace to fall ill” (Stewart, Weaver and Proctor 2020; Yong 2020). Without proper treatment or vaccines such ‘herd immunity’ would mean many tens of thousands could die. The UK government clearly tried to keep business open as long as possible, on 11 March directing 30 billion pounds to “protect the economy against coronavirus” and another 330 billion in loans and 20 billion in “tax cuts and grants for companies threatened with collapse” (Manning 2020; Emberson-Dennis 2020). Johnson consulted Trump about the pandemic on 14 March (Manning 2020). They clearly used this moment share ideas on priorities. Then on 16 March, 12 days after COVID19 cases in Britain began to surge, Johnson urged citizens to work from home and to avoid pubs and restaurants, but without mandating measures. It was not until 20 March that the UK government ordered “all pubs, restaurants, gyms and other social venues” to close; on the same day schools were ordered to close (Embury-Dennis 2020; Manning 2020). By that time there were 3,983 recorded COVID19 cases and 194 deaths in the UK. Between 27 March and 12 April Johnson himself contracted the virus and was hospitalized. By the end of April the UK recorded 171,253 cases and 26,771 deaths (Worldometer 2020).

On 13 April, at the height of the crisis, Trump claimed ‘total authority’ over the states and governors, for the agenda of “reopening” the economy (White 2020). This once again showed his anxiety to resume ‘normal’ economic activity. It incited public clashes with some Governors. It turns out the ‘total authority’ claim was overstated; nevertheless, on 16 April the President issued guidelines for the states on reopening businesses and local economies (AJ 2020). A week after he himself had recovered from the virus, Boris Johnson again spoke with Trump and on 22 April they jointly announced “close cooperation through the G7 and G20 to reopen global economies and ensure medical care and supplies reach all those in need” (Reuters 2020).

That is all background to the dismal performance of the US and the UK in face of the virus.

These two countries, which had been ranked first and second in ‘global healthy security’, and specifically in preparedness for an epidemic, had amongst the highest death rates in the world. Table 2 below shows a selection of countries alongside the Anglo-American duo. It includes those with at least two months of infections, some ‘pairs’ in apparently similar circumstances (France and Germany; Sweden and Norway) and some independent countries (Iran and Cuba). The final column shows how many days each country had more one death per 10 million people. Less than this effectively signals no health crisis. All countries, by mid-May, had quite high levels of testing. China’s testing rates does not appear in the same datasets, but other sources tell us that it was also very high. China had been carrying out mass testing from early days, including on symptom-free people (Wee 2020; Bloomberg 2020a).

Table 2: Better and worse performance in COVID19 management

‘Global Health Security’ rank

Cases / million

Deaths / million

Tests / million

Popn in millions

Days of more than 1 death per 10m popn

USA

1

4,619

275

35,903

330

60+

UK

2

3,592

511

38,040

67

64+

Netherlands

3

2,568

332

16,809

19

64+

Sweden

7

2,987

365

17,589

10

62+

South Korea

9

216

5

14,693

51

43 ended

France

11

2,752

431

21,218

65

67+

Germany

14

2,109

96

37,584

84

60+

Norway

16

1,523

43

39,946

5

25 ended

Greece

37

272

16

12,324

10

0 ended

China

51

58

3

Na *

1,439

5 ended

Iran

97

1,433

83

8,191

84

79+

Cuba

110

165

7

7,232

11

25 ended

Sources: Data @ 18 May 2020. IPT 2020; Worldometer 2020; JHCRC 2020; for China’s testing see: Bloomberg 2020a, Wee 2020

Observe the very high death rates in the USA and UK, as also in France, the Netherlands and Sweden. These are all countries that were said to rank highly in their preparedness for just such an epidemic. Observe also the relatively low death rates in South Korea, Cuba and China, and the much worse outcomes in France compared to Germany and similarly the much worse outcomes in Sweden as compared to Norway. South Korea, Norway, Greece China and Cuba all ‘flattened the curve’ to the point that their crisis was over in less than two months. The others (USA, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany and Iran) had not done so, after more than two months. Comparing such data sets has its problems but this is the best available evidence. We have no better option but to use it while recognising its limitations.

For example, while some have suggested COVID19 deaths might be over-estimated by conflation with other illnesses, especially amongst older people (Schwalbe 2020), there is also good reason to consider that such deaths may be under-estimated, because of deaths amongst those who did not present and were not diagnosed as infected (Walsh 2020). Serious analysis has to look widely and not just rely on sources which seem to confirm pre-formed ideas.

In any case, the practice and outcomes in the USA and the UK were very poor. The pandemic showed the ‘Global Health Security’ rankings (IPT 2019) as meaningless. The Anglo-American duo were poorly prepared. They showed great reluctance to identify and act to contain the threat. Maintaining systems of production and accumulation – of corporate profits – remained their top priority. That helps explain their failure to protect human life.

Evidence of these failures keeps emerging. Whistleblower Rick Bright – former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) – told a Congress panel that as early as January he was removed from meetings with the Health Secretary Alex Azar because he was “causing a commotion” over the virus (Naylor 2020). The views of such people were dismissed. Studies show that the introduction of ‘stay at home’ regimes even a few days earlier could have made a significant difference in infections and lives: “simulation on early-implementation and removal of SAHO reveals considerable impact on COVID-19 daily new cases and deaths” (Xu et al 2020). Stocks of protective equipment were extremely low in the USA and by early April Washington had resorted to buying up stocks destined for other hard hit countries, like Germany and France (Willsher, Borgia and Holmes 2020). One study said tens of thousands of lives could have been saved “if authorities had acted more swiftly in recommending self-isolation and the wearing of face masks” (Chen 2020).

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*(Dr. Rick Bright testifies before House Commerce. Credit: CSPAN/ Twitter)

However these failures have been masked in two ways. First there is the ‘blame China’ campaign, pushed by Trump. The US President claimed that the virus had its origin in China and that the Chinese government had withheld information from the international community (Trump 2020a). Both suggestions were quite false. Early on China warned that the virus was dangerous and published the genome, a fact reported on 11 January (Cohen 2020a). Further, while the first recorded mass outbreak of infections came from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan city, multiple studies suggest its origin was not China. Such findings parallels the so called Spanish Flu of 1918-19, which was later found to have its origins in Kansas, USA (Burnet and Clark 1942; Barry 2004).

An early Chinese genetic study suspected that COVID-19 came to Wuhan from elsewhere, suggesting that the virus “was potentially imported from elsewhere; the crowded market then boosted SARS-CoV-2 circulation” (Yu, Tang and Corlett 2020). Another Chinese study of the first hospitalised patients observed that 66% “had been exposed to Huanan seafood market” but 33% had not (Huang et al 2020). “That’s a big number, 13 , with no link” said infectious disease specialist Daniel Lucey of Georgetown University (Cohen 2020b). Professor Robert Garry, from the University of Tulane in New Orleans, also pointed out “our analyses, and others too, point to an earlier origin than [Wuhan]. There were definitely cases there, but that wasn’t the origin of the virus” (Holland 2020). Then a British study, looking at 160 varieties and combining them in three groups, with A as the ancestral strain, found that most of the COVID19 varieties from Wuhan and from east Asia were Type B and non-ancestral (Forster, Forster, Renfrew and Forster 2020).

The second smokescreen is a proliferation of anti-science Pandemic Sceptic theories, which distract from the root problems. These claims deserve separate treatment.

  1. The Pandemic Sceptics

Obscuring neoliberal failures in health are a series of claims by ‘Pandemic Sceptics’, a wide group of western populists and libertarians who share many features with climate change sceptics. Most have adopted ‘anti-vax’ positions and most are critics of government responses to the pandemic. But they typically misread both the pandemic and the government responses.

Virtually all these theories are deeply anti-science. Hardly any of the proponents have expertise in public health or epidemiology and, what is worse, they see no need to listen to those who do have such expertise. They reject entirely all official data on illness and death and refer only to select dissident figures, just like the climate change sceptics. The libertarian critiques mostly echo the approach of right wing populists while the left populist attacks are most often shallow, attacking symptoms rather than causes. Most deny the seriousness of the pandemic and avoid the public health implications.

At the extreme ends of these theories are those which claim the pandemic was either (a) harmless, just like the common cold, or (b) a planned assault, to kill off millions and reduce the human population (see Joyce 2020). Many raise alarms that the crisis is a plot to impose mandatory and dangerous vaccines. Others link, without evidence, the new 5G microwave networks to the COVID19 virus (Shanapinda 2020). The ‘toxic vaccine’ theory was a key theme of the documentary ‘Plandemic’, which relies on fringe scientist Dr Judy Mikovits. That documentary was controversially banned on YouTube, but her ideas are available in many other videos and sites, notably on the site of Robert F. Kennedy Jr (2020), politician and prominent anti-vaccine campaigner (Mole 2019). Dr Mikovits’s arguments are basically these: she helped discover the HIV/AIDS virus; but her work has been suppressed by prominent people, in particular US health official Anthony Fauci; she linked a virus to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and this virus “entered the human virome through a contaminated blood supply and vaccines”; many vaccines including the common MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio are contaminated and are creating diseases such as autism (Kennedy 2020). Many scientists have debunked virtually all Dr Mikovits’s claims, including those about MMR, CFS and the viral contamination of vaccines (Enserink and Cohen 2020; Neuman 2020; Kasten 2020). There is no need to spend more time on that matter here.

Plandemic 8d8b7

*(Screenshot of the Plandemic documentary.)

Broader anti-vaccine claims have become popular but are not backed by most scientific studies. For example, multiple studies have found no evidence to support claims linking the MMR vaccine and the preservative thimerosol with autism (Gerber and Offit 2009; Woodley 2019). That some vaccines contain mercury is partly true but misleading. The preservative thiomersal contains ethylmercury (cleared from the body more rapidly than the methylmercury found in certain fish) but the tiny amounts used in the MMR vaccine have not been shown to endanger human health or, in particular, any of “the neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, ADHD, and speech or language delay” (Stratton, Gable, McCormick 2001). Nevertheless, because of public alarm, thimerosol in children’s vaccines was replaced in the USA by substitute preservatives back in the year 2001. Many scientists, including childhood specialists, have expressed concern at the constant attacks on life-saving vaccines, on the ‘mercury’ basis, when there is more mercury in a small can of tuna than in a tiny thimerosol preservative (WHO 2011; CDC 2013; Kiefer 2020).

Nevertheless, because of the decades long compromises of neoliberal states, private interests have been embedded in public policy. Pandemic Sceptics use this corporate influence as a pretext to reject all state public health advice and all official statistics. Yet in their place the sceptics use far more dubious, anecdotal or entirely baseless ‘facts’.

For example, journalist Vanessa Beeley (2020a; 2020b), while avoiding some of the extreme theories, simply rejects all official statistics. Yet she then uses poor logic and weak evidence to advance her central argument that ‘lockdown’ is the enemy. Like many, she mistakes the symptoms of the crisis for the causes. She wrongly suggests that, because big health corporations dominate health policy in the UK and the US, (a) the private cartel therefore aimed at a ‘lockdown’ and that (b) this ‘lockdown’ is responsible for more death and illness than the virus. Having told us “it is impossible to rely on official statistics” she presents a graph of those same statistics to suggest that more have died under ‘lockdown’ regimes than in ‘non-lockdown’ regimes. She says this “demonstrates the lack of correlation between lockdown and ‘saving lives’”. Not so.

First, the polemic between ‘lockdown and ‘non-lockdown’ is a straw man. Countries have imposed a range of protective or quarantine like measures, according to their circumstances, their public health capacity and the approach of their governments. The bipolar division is arbitrary. In China the extreme measures taken in Wuhan and parts of Hubei province were called a “lockdown”, while other parts of China were subject to “slow down” or “shut down” (Fuller 2020). Almost all states (whether their health policy is captured by private cartels or not) have practised some form of quarantine, including ‘stay at home’ advice. How that was done varied. But it should have been difficult to ignore the fact that leaders of the more independent countries - like Vietnam, Cuba, Syria and Iran - set examples by appearing in public wearing face masks. They did not deny or avoid the pandemic.

Second, to suggest that ‘lockdown’ is associated with high death rates (or ‘not associated’ with low death rates) is to put the cart before the horse. One reason for stronger protective measures must be the magnitude of the threat. Wuhan, for example, had a lockdown because local health authorities suddenly discovered many infections and they acted (quite successfully it seems) to prevent the disease spreading throughout China. In countries with lower infection rates less severe measures were justified.

However, there was another important reason behind the most harshly imposed quarantine measures. After China, the worst ‘lockdown’ measures came in those regimes which rejected or dismantled public health systems and reacted slowly to their epidemics. They wanted to protect their own profitable corporate regimes. It was the combined pressure of illness, death, public health advice and fear that forced them to change course. Britain and the USA swung from libertarian positions to more repressive policing, because they had little public health capacity and were forced to shift their positions. So to attack the ‘lockdown’ as a oligarchical plan is to confuse the symptoms with the cause. Throughout the crisis pressures for ‘reopening’ were confronted with genuine public health warnings, over a possible ‘second wave’ of infections.

It is similarly illogical to suggest that ‘lockdowns’ were imposed, through captured states, by the ‘Big Pharma’ cartel. Vanessa Beeley observes that vaccine industry revenue was “projected to reach almost $60 billion by 2020; [and that] this number may well increase with the arrival of COVID-19” (Beeley 2020a). But how could Big Pharma incite the British state, or any other state, to ‘lock down’ much of the world? Global economic losses by mid-April were estimated at $7.8 trillion (Fraser 2020), affecting many sectors other than the vaccine industry. In mid-May the US Congress passed a $3 trillion subsidy and stimulus package (Business Standard 2020). How could any corporate elite justify a general ‘lockdown’ simply to add pressure for a few billion more for the vaccine industry? And all that assumes that a better and cheaper Chinese vaccine does not come out first, undercutting and destroying any anticipated ‘vaccine bonanza’. That argument, put up by many, is just absurd.

To support a claim that the lockdown kills more than the virus, Vanessa Beeley reproduces a Twitter post by journalist John Pilger, which speaks of an “‘expert’ estimate of 150,000 deaths as a result of the lockdown”. No source is given. However it seems to refer to a British Daily Mail post, which cited an anonymous source on a “tentative estimate circulating in Whitehall” (Chalmers 2020). Well no doubt there are serious psychological costs of social isolation, even though mental health workers in many countries maintain their services. But why, on such an important claim, should anyone rely on an anonymous claim in the tabloid media, while ignoring all official statistics about death and illness?

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There is a second claim that the British lockdown “is ensuring conditions that will suppress immune systems to dangerous levels and create the perfect environment for COVID-19 to flourish” (Beeley 2020b). Once again, although there are other similar popular media assertions, no scientific evidence at all is given to back up the claims.

There has been a public health consensus on testing, tracing and protective quarantine (including ‘stay at home’ regimes), in face of a new and unknown epidemic, until infections subside and proper treatments and/or vaccines are in place. Vanessa ignores this and argues (rather like the climate change sceptics) that science is divided: “Scientists, epidemiologists and analysts are not speaking as one voice on COVID-19’. This seems a device to qualify her selective use of public health dissidents, such as Knut Wittkowski, who opposes ‘lockdown and social distancing’. She does not cite any of the NHS workers who support protective quarantine measures. Misunderstanding British health policy and practice is easy if one ignores the history and public health ideas of Britain’s National Health Service (National Archives 2020), and the views of NHS workers. By pretending that public health policy and practice simply do not exist – rather than being in a compromised relationship with the private cartel – responses to the pandemic can be portrayed as all just a commercial game.

Similarly, the threat of ‘mandatory vaccines’ and mandatory biometric tracing may indeed be on the agenda of some ambitious corporations. However these issues are hardly foregone conclusions that can be collapsed into a singular ‘vaccine agenda’. Well before greedy corporations began to capture patents on medicines there were public health reasons in favour of vaccines. Neither vaccines nor biometric tracing have been generally mandatory, and if either were tried there would be strong opposition.

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, for example, said he was opposed to any mandatory vaccine. But he expected, in this case, people would be “queuing up” for it (McIlroy 2020). Today, of the more than one hundred COVID19 vaccines under study, very few of them are financed by the Pandemic Sceptics’ favourite villain, Bill Gates. And contrary to many assertions, there is no such thing as a ‘global patent’, nor a pre-emptive patent. No billionaire can capture future patents. At the time of writing China had five COVID19 vaccines in the second stage of human trials (Bloomberg 2020b) and the Chinese Premier Xi has offered the first of them free or at low cost, as a “global public good” (Wheaton 2020). So much for the Bill Gates vaccine monopoly theory.

There is, however, a global oligarchy which will use its weight in attempts to squeeze out Chinese companies from particular national markets. Whether they succeed depends on national struggles, to ensure equitable access to safe and effective treatments. In some cases there will be socialised generic treatments, in other cases (as in my country, Australia) there are state schemes to pay Big Pharma massive amounts for bulk purchases, then provide them at nominal cost to the public; in the USA there is a much harsher commercial user-pays logic. It is quite likely that multiple vaccines and various anti-viral treatments for COVID19 will soon appear and compete, in a huge propaganda war.

Many sceptics doubt the fact that governments have reported over 300,000 deaths from the virus. The British alt-media group OffGuardian reports: “as we have been pointing out since day one … the virus is ‘mild’ or even asymptomatic in the majority of cases, and chiefly a danger only to the already ailing or severely immuno-compromised” (Black 2020). Such arguments not only misunderstand the epidemic but encourage the same complacency shown by the neoliberal regimes.

Simplistic Pandemic Sceptic theories with little real evidence do not help a critical understanding of the virus and responses to it. Engagement with public health principles alongside commercial agendas would allow us to see corporations as raiders rather than simple purveyors of false ‘snake oil’ remedies. Because Big Pharma made billions out of HIV/AIDS drugs, do we condemn those drugs? Of course not.

The libertarian arguments (‘my liberties above all else’) are basically anti-social individualism, similar to that run by Donald Trump, Alex Jones and the ‘Minnesota Freedom’ groups. Collective action to combat an epidemic can go to hell, they say. Yet when the quarantine ends they will return to an individualistic ‘everyone for themselves’ health system, based on private insurance and Big Pharma. No room for paternalistic public health here.

There is also what has been presented as a “left argument against lockdowns”. Alexis Fitzgerald argues that lockdowns are causing an economic depression and this will disproportionately hurt the working class and marginalised people. He continues “it is not just our liberty we are losing but our livelihoods and our young peoples’ futures” (FitzGerald 2020). This is a clear line of logic, but it also begins on the wrong foot. ‘Lockdowns’ did not start this crisis. He ignores both the public health arguments and the real politics. The first rebuttal should be obvious: “saving lives will save livelihoods” (Cherukupalli and Frieden 2020). If there is a ‘second spike’ of infections and deaths, as occurred in cities like San Francisco and St Louis, which opened up too soon during the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic (Strochlic and Champine 2020), many more lives will be lost. The burden of death, illness and unemployed in this case will fall disproportionately on working class and marginalised populations. That is already happening in the current crisis, with African-Americans in the USA (Aratani and Rushe 2020). For those who follow public health science this is obvious.

If lockdowns are one’s main concern, why not address the proportionality of particular local issues such as the role of police, limits on movement, curfews and/or school closures? Quarantine regimes vary enormously across countries. Some are terribly repressive, others have already been removed. In mid-May in Britain, with hundreds of COVID19 deaths each day, only 5% of school teachers felt safe to return to school (Hockaday 2020); whereas in Australia, with less than one death per day, schools had already resumed. There is international ‘proportionality’ law on liberties and freedom of movement (HRC 1999: 14), but I am yet to see it seriously cited by the Pandemic Sceptics. They tend to keep their arguments global.

To sum up, Pandemic Sceptics present a range of fanciful ideas which, by raising baseless conspiracy claims, obscure the Anglo-American failure to protect lives. Their common failures are to deny or avoid public health principles and replace social evidence with anecdotal scare stories. Blind opposition to protective public health measures, or to treatment and vaccines, runs a very big risk of throwing out the public health ‘baby’ with the Big Pharma ‘bathwater’. That is both misleading and disempowering.

  1. The importance of public health systems

Meaningful critiques of the current crisis should focus on mitigating the crisis and helping contain future crises. Both the pandemic and responses to it deserve assessment, and a focus on public health systems is important. Protective responses have varied across countries according to (1) the severity and trajectory of infections, (2) decisions of the political leadership, and (3) the strength of the public health system. The latter is a project built over time in particular circumstances, as a result of popular pressures.

Apart from the vagaries of where infection hot-spots first arose, the pandemic has already shown that those countries which have done better are well organised societies with strong social guarantees and investment in preventive and public health. This cannot be a simple matter of capitalism versus socialism, since all societies have public institutions, services and guarantees, which can be built or weakened. Every country can build or improve its health system, and strong, well-resourced public health systems offer the best protection against exclusion, unaffordable and/or inappropriate treatments and corporate control.

It is important to recognise that most of the Pandemic related failures of Anglo-American Hegemonic Neoliberalism flow directly from their particular rejection of public health and social support. The following links can be made:

  • Weak or undermined public health guarantees, which led to a failure to protect citizens and so mass illness and death;
  • Weak or undermined preventive health systems, which caused slow and limited capacity responses to the pandemic;
  • Privatised, use-pays approach to health care, which led to complacent and delayed responses, after which pressure of mass illness and death cause reactions from one extreme to the other, with protective response led by policing rather than the public health system;
  • ‘Managed Care’ (USA) which allows corporations to determine treatment, which caused fear and distrust of any treatment or even information, whether from government or companies;
  • Primacy of commercial processes and corporate privilege, which led to a failure to recognise key principles of public health;
  • Economic siege warfare (and other forms of warfare) on dozens of countries, in pursuit of hegemonic control, which undermined international cooperation and sabotaged the availability of health resources (e.g. protective personal equipment) in other countries.

Table 3 below characterises types of systems, pointing to the competing influence of the privatised and public systems. Strong public health systems can ensure the foundational health of all citizens and limit the compromises of private commercial interests. They necessarily include preventive health and health education, efficiencies ignored by commercialised systems. Good public health systems have been created in many countries and they help explain their relatively better performance in face of threats.

Table 3: How health systems determine public health responses

Highly privatised systems

Universal cover hybrid systems

Public health systems

e.g.

e.g. USA (<50% public) with 'managed care'

e.g. west Europeans, Australia, Canada (65-80% public)

e.g. Cuba (>95% public)

Character & orientation

Private finance given control of services; curative and commercial

Public guarantee subsidises private and providers; some public health; curative with some preventive

State guarantor of services; preventive and social medicine

Role of private finance?

PF directs treatment, blocks universal guarantee

Public system subsidises PF, which in turn influences services

Little; but PF controls international markets

Emergency response?

Private insurance and the 'National Guard'

Some public health capacity to extend social guarantees

Social guarantees, health authority manages

The themes of Table 3 help us understand the links between highly privatised systems and repressive responses. There is neither the capacity nor the trust that is available in strong public systems, to respond rapidly and effectively. Several countries with very low levels of infection closed their schools as a pre-emptive measures to stop the possible spread of infection. The neoliberal regimes dithered. Children were not at great risk of death but they did pose a high risk of taking and spreading infections back into the home. In countries where the quarantine measures were led by the ministry of health, there was often much greater trust than in the US and the UK, where the switch from complacency to ‘lockdown’ was handed to police and the national guard. President Trump saying he would “rapidly” mobilize the U.S. military to distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it was ready can only add to fear, more distrust and conspiracy theories (Watson 2020).

Better understandings of epidemics and health systems help inform political engagement. Dramatic misinformation disempowers and distracts. Neoliberal ideology has repeatedly blocked the construction of social institutions, under the pretext of governments not interfering in markets. Yet the Pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to challenge that dogma. Bregman (2020) observes that even bastions of neoliberal ideology, like Britain’s Financial Times, recognise that neoliberal doctrine is at risk. In early April that paper wrote:

“To demand collective sacrifice you must offer a social contract that benefits everyone. Today’s crisis is laying bare how far many rich societies fall short of this ideal … Radical reforms - reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades - will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less insecure … Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix” (Financial Times 2020).

No doubt the financialised world will press its own new agendas, trying co-opt popular themes such as health, incomes and the environment. However those concerned at building public health systems, social support and more accountable states should not miss this chance. Universal health protection is very popular, except with private health finance.

For example, in the UK the crisis should empower demands for reconstruction of the NHS, an institution built on decent universal service principles (National Archives 2020). Critics of the corporate infiltration and undermining of the NHS should use this moment to elevate the voices of NHS health workers and those health professionals and analysts who have tried to defend it for many years. They know the problems and where reconstruction is needed.

In the USA the decades long movement to actually create a public health guarantee, betrayed by both major parties, could be put back ‘on the rails’. Yet in an election year the Democrats have joined the Republicans in a new round of subsides for the private health insurance companies (Johnson 2020), maintaining the dreadful user-pays status quo that was so powerfully exposed by Michael Moore’s film Sicko (Moore 2007).

The demand for and development of social support schemes such as guaranteed minimum income (GMI), or universal basic income (UBI), so valuable during long periods of unemployment, has already gained impetus with this crisis. Some wealthier countries which already have social security, like Australia, extended that during the crisis into ‘job keeper’ schemes (Cassells and Duncan 2020), to maintain positions and business during the 2 to 3 month quarantine period. In poorer countries we see renewed reliance on the subsidies of basic food items, a practice neoliberalism through IMF loans tried to suppress, because such subsidies distorted ‘open markets’. These are precedents, the logic of which can be developed.

The important field of vaccines has been attacked for years by an anti-vaccine movement, a bandwagon which most Pandemic Sceptics have joined. As indicated above, most of the generic criticisms of vaccines are unfounded. Vaccines have saved millions of lives, particularly in infectious diseases such as measles and tuberculosis (Anderson 2006). Yet failures in public support for the MMR vaccine recently led to dozens of children’s deaths in Samoa (UNICEF 2020).

Critics have decried the capture of vaccine markets by big companies; and those companies have great influence in neoliberal governments. But the world has changed since US companies pretended to run the world. The centres of industry and leading technology are shifting eastwards. While the Pandemic Sceptics scream ‘Bill Gates’ and his cartel, China offers the best chance of an affordable vaccine. At the time of writing China had 5 COVID19 vaccines in the second stage of human trials (Bloomberg 2020b). Then in mid-May the Chinese president said that China’s first vaccines would be made available to the world “as a public good”, presumably at a very low cost. China’s leader told the World Health Assembly in a virtual gathering, “this will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries” (Wheaton 2020). That is the best answer to the Bill Gates scare stories.

Vaccines present no single answer to an epidemic. The threat will diminish with protective measures, effective treatment and with a subsidence in rates of infection. But a safe and effective vaccine could save millions of vulnerable lives. The anti-vaccination campaigns have had their greatest impact in parts of Europe, but worldwide “79% of people agree that vaccines are safe and 84% agree that they are effective” (Wellcome 2019). In the USA polls show there has been a fall in confidence, but 84% still believe “say vaccinating children is important” (Reinhardt 2020). New treatments from China may even preclude the need for a vaccine. Laboratory manufactured ‘neutralising antibodies’ are said to “shorten the recovery time … and even offer short term immunity”. Unlike plasma from recovered patients, which is also effective, this treatment can be mass produced (Ye and Knight 2020). Wider options are always a good thing.

China’s ‘public good’ vaccine proposal will be met by the anti-China ‘international investigation’ plan, into what Trump has already branded a ‘Chinese virus’ (Trump 2020a). Meantime the Trump administration is reported as having taken steps to hijack and divert protective equipment destined for several other countries, to control exports of experimental treatments and to claim exclusive access to new vaccines (Jeffery 2020; Oltermann 2020). This mercantile behaviour led the Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), Jane Halton to warn against “vaccine nationalism” as it amounted to a threat to public health (McIlroy 2020).

China’s commitment is a real blow to hegemonic neoliberalism, which typically aims to capture new technology and resell it at a maximum price. That is exactly the neoliberal theory of international ‘technology transfer’ (Reddy and Zhao 1990): that the transmission of new knowledge between countries occurs through the ‘normal’ commercial activities of multinational private companies. Cooperation can change that. Yuanqiong Hu, senior legal and policy adviser for MSF Access Campaign, pointed out that international debate at the WHA may “be key to devising [new] rules for how countries collaborate” (Wheaton 2020).

International cooperation, or lack of it, remains a key issue. The Chinese initiative of ‘public good’ vaccines may widen or be limited, depending on levels of cooperation. Its main current obstacle seems to be the ‘blame China’ campaign. Yet there are enormous potential benefits in enhanced international cooperation. First of all sharing lessons between countries is of critical importance. China took a first step by publishing the genome of COVID19 and the emerging giant has helped many other countries with test kits and PPE supplies, including the USA (Stevenson, Kulish and Gelles 2020). But obstacles to the importation of treatments are often created within national health systems, largely through the influence of Big Pharma and local regimes. For example, Cuba has unique treatments for diabetic ulcers and lung cancer, and these are available in a number of countries but blocked in others, such as the USA (Reed 2016; Almendrala 2016). Partnerships with US companies have been made difficult, so Cuba has developed agreements with Russia and China.

Similarly, China has for some time produced the best anti-malarial medicine, from the Artemesia plant, but various obstacles (e.g. US influence through the W.H.O.) delayed international recognition for decades (White, Hien, and Nosten 2015). In the current crisis a group of US Congress members introduced a “COVID-19 Vaccine Protection Act, to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from stealing or sabotaging American COVID-19 vaccine research” (PTI 2020). That foreshadows the competitive battle to come over treatments and vaccines. Greater cooperation could remove such obstacles.

What lessons can we learn from the more independent countries, like Vietnam, Syria and Cuba? (All COVID19 data in this paragraph is at 20 May 2020 and from Worldometer). Despite sharing a border with China and with a population of 97 million, at 20 May Vietnam had recorded only 324 cases and no deaths. Vietnam’s response, led by the Health Ministry, closed all borders and schools and set in place state-hosted and funded quarantine for all those thought to be at risk. Testing, tracing, public education and face masks were used (Tran, Gregorio and Nixon 2020). Despite being occupied by three foreign armies and large terrorist gangs, war-torn Syria had only recorded 58 infections and 3 deaths. It quarantined almost 7,000 and some particular areas, imposed a curfew and closed all schools before the country had even registered a single case. Testing is free of charge, but priority is given “to the elderly, those with chronic diseases, pregnant women and people with disabilities” (Shaza 2020).

Cuba was exposed to infections from a very large tourist industry, and the first cases were registered amongst tourists; but after more than two months the country had only registered 1,887 cases and 79 deaths. While sending specialist brigades of doctors to more than 20 other countries, Cuba maintains a health system which has a presence in every residential block. Even when there were no recorded cases, Cuban health authorities began to impose quarantine measures, including ‘stay at home’ advice. Overseas tourism was shut down. Public transport was shut down except for essential workers (Anderson 2020b; Sánchez 2020). In each case the response was led by health authorities and followed the W.H.O. agreed principles of protective measures, testing and tracing, according to each country’s circumstances. These examples are valuable, as they help distinguish practice based on widely accepted public health principles, from those that are far more heavily influenced by corporate lobbies.

Public exposure of the failures of Anglo-American hegemonic neoliberalism opens a number of doors. Many raise the reasonable question: what could have been done in health and preventive health systems in the USA, if it were not for the six trillion dollars spent on multiple wars across the Middle East (Baraka 2019; Cole 2020)? in the largely futile attempts at extending its influence in that region. Others are pointing out that the proverbial ‘emperor’ has no clothes: “the world stands aghast at the naked truth that America is not only incapable of leading the world, but [is] also failing to protect its own people” (Zogby 2020). Lessons can certainly be learned, across cultures, but ‘models’ cannot be simply copied or transplanted from one country to another. They must be built on the historical circumstances of each particular country (Anderson 2010). There are a range of possible outcomes in a post neoliberal era, but none of them should neglect a decent public health system.

===========================

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With Iran Defying US Sanctions on Venezuela, Trump Must Choose Between Two Different Cowardly Paths

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Washington’s illegal and deadly sanctions on Venezuela continue. However, President Nicolas Maduro has found an ally from across the world in Iran. Five Iranian tankers carrying roughly $45 million in gasoline and other petroleum products are heading straight for the Caribbean, and are currently in the Atlantic Ocean. Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami warned the United States to allow his country’s ships into Venezuela, vowing retaliation if they were attacked. “Iran will not tolerate obstacles [to its oil ships]. Both the United States and other countries know that we will not hesitate. If the obstacles continue or increase, Iran’s response will be forceful,” he said.

President Trump was equally forceful in his words, shooting back that, “We’ve got it [Venezuela] surrounded, it is surrounded at a level that nobody even knows but they know. We are watching to see what happens.” Trump recently sent the US Navy south towards Venezuela on a dubious “anti-drugs” mission.

Despite having the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela’s petroleum industry is in tatters, with the country facing widespread gasoline shortages. This is due in no small part to the US sanctions regime, which has choked off domestic production and stopped the importation of key diluents and spare parts the industry needs to function. Foreign corporations have pulled out of the country, refusing to do business with it, lest they incur the wrath of US sanctions themselves.

The sanctions are only part of a wider plan to overthrow the Maduro administration and replace it with handpicked, US-trained loyalists. In March, the DEA put out a $15 million bounty on Maduro’s head, while in May, American mercenaries led a hare-brained scheme to invade the country and shoot their way into the presidential palace. The coup attempt failed at the first hurdle, with many of the group being intercepted by the Venezuelan Navy before they had even reached land. 

While foreign corporations or governments may have a lot to lose if Washington sours on them, Iran does not. Tehran is under its own US sanctions, with Trump green lighting the assassination of top general and statesman Qassem Soleimani in January and threatening a mass attack against the country to boot. “We have targeted 52 Iranian sites,” he tweeted, “some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, will be hit very fast and very hard. The USA wants no more threats!” The threat of deliberately destroying priceless Iranian cultural and heritage sites was immediately condemned as a breach of the genocide convention.

On Venezuela, the president enjoys bipartisan support. Liberal senator Elizabeth Warren, for example, said she was “all for” the sanctions, while Guaidó, who a December poll showed had only a 10 percent approval and an 69 percent disapproval rating inside Venezuela, was a guest of honor at Trump’s State of the Union Speech in February, receiving a standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats alike. In contrast, the sanctions have been formally condemned by the United Nations, who noted they “disproportionately affect the poor and most vulnerable,” calling on all member states to break them, and even starting to discuss the reparations the US should pay. Alfred de Zayas, an American UN Special Rapporteur who visited Venezuela, described the sanctions as “akin to a medieval siege” and declared the Trump administration guilty of crimes against humanity, estimating they have already killed over 100,000 people. The sanctions, according to de Zayas, a specialist in international law, are illegal under UN, OAS and even US law. At a speech at the UN on Wednesday, Venezuelan Ambassador Samuel Moncada condemned the Trump administration’s savagery; “What would happen if, in the middle of Covid-19, New York ran out of gasoline?” he asked.

Venezuela announced it would be sending warships to escort the Iranian tankers to their final destination. Thus, on the issue of oil supply, it appears that neither Venezuela nor Iran is in any mood to back down. If that is the case, Trump, the consummate coward, will have to choose between two equally cowardly options: commit a huge international war crime and environmental disaster by sinking the vessels, or back down, broken beaten and embarrassed. The world will be watching to see if he will allow the two nations to successfully stand up to his intimidation.

Trump's Main Challenges in the 2020 Election and Why He's Losing

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It is a little bit early to say who will win the 2020 election, but Donald Trump is currently losing. Having conducted extensive polls, it shows that Joe Biden is higher in public opinion polls than Trump, and even in Texas, a state that is home to Republicans, poll numbers for Trump and Biden are on par.

If we're not willing to accept the poll numbers, we have to pay attention to Trump's words and his presidential campaign, Trump has repeatedly stated in recent weeks that he was not convinced in the current polls and believe that they are wrong, analysts close to him also point to Trump's backwardness in opinion polls.

Biden is also ahead of Trump in key states such as Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These are the rotating states that determine the winner of the election, and Trump is not in a good position in these states at the moment, the polls show that Joe Biden could defeat Trump by a higher percentage compared to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. However, Trump was in the same situation in the 2016 Presidential Election and was behind Clinton in most of the all polls, but Trump's surprising victory has convinced the American people that this may happen again.

By trying to open up the US economy early and undermine public health, Trump is trying to bring economic figures to pre-Corona levels and make up for the grievances of the American people, in order to increase his chances of winning in the November election. People have been using their savings and little government assistance in the last few months, and they are becoming more and more pessimistic about the economic situation. It seems that people have realized that this crisis cannot be solved that easily, Trump has to come to terms with that, on the other hand he wants the economy to open up as soon as possible, but the consequences could be devastating and put the United States in a health catastrophe, and when the time comes, the election will be no longer important, and in practice, the US government will be very weak and inefficient, no matter who wins the election.

Trump is trying to push his two-month disregard for seriousness and confrontation with Coronavirus back to China and the World Health Organization, Trump's talk of postponing the payment of the US share to the WHO and blaming the Organization did not work for him, He is trying to ease the media pressure and control the country's public opinion, But the point is that his attack on the World Health Organization did not benefit Trump because the American people did not consider WHO an enemy or rival to the US. Trump is now focusing on China and blaming the country, and it seems understandable to the American people that the current situation in the US is China's fault because that's how their minds work.

As the main season of the US presidential election approaches, Donald Trump's attacks on the Republican Party have intensified. Trump's unprecedented tweet attacks on his party colleagues could cause him a lot of trouble in the run-up to the election, Trump is trying to mobilize all the power of the Republican Party to win the difficult November election, but as criticism of his administration's performance has grown, especially in the wake of the crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, doubts about Trump's support among some figures and factions in the Republican Party have increased. As the head of state and the highest official of the country, Trump is known for his political, economic, and social turmoil these days, and this has drawn criticism as a President, including his party members.

These contradictory behaviors and inefficiencies have negatively affected the popularity of Trump and the Republican Party, most polls suggest Trump's popularity is declining in the weeks following the Coronavirus crisis. Also, according to most polls, Democratic candidate Joe Biden has surpassed Trump in the 2020 US presidential election in key states. Some estimates suggest that if the number of people infected with Covid-19 disease continues to rise Unemployment crisis will not subside for around 30 million job seekers, not only will Trump fail in the presidential election; Republicans will also lose the majority of the Senate.

This is important because Trump has turned to extremist and militant groups to escape responsibility and deal with health issues, including quarantine in parts of the United States. Trump's repeated support for those who are protesting against quarantines and even occupying some governorates with weapons and the Republican Party has been alarm by this move. This Movement is an attempt to separate its ranks from Trump before it is too late, or at least take a critical stance against some of the Trump administration's policies. With that decision, they hope to avoid major political failures in the future, an approach that has angered Donald Trump against the Republican Party.

The situation of Democratic candidates

The Corona Crisis has created a situation for Trump and his economic gains to take a big hit, and the wave of protests in the United States against his performance on crisis management has risen, this could be the thing the democratic and anti-Trump media have been waiting for, to use it in the November 2020 elections. Democrats are gathering and targeting their energy for the 2020 election. Concerns about the coronavirus spread and the US economic situation have now become important issues for voters, economic expertise and crisis management skills are the main criteria that Democratic voters want to consider even more than executive or legislative experience in electing a vice president. These criteria are even more important for Democrats who are very concerned about losing their jobs or becoming infected with COVID-19. A new poll by CBS News Agency shows that 71 percent of American Democratic voters say Elizabeth Warren should be elected as vice president, Warren is the first choice for this position between white Democrats and liberals, she is also a good choice among those who say that economic expertise is a key criterion.

Elizabeth Warren is also particularly interested in Democrats, who say Biden should choose a liberal or progressive deputy. But there are others who prefer the vice president to be a moderate man that are on the list.

According to Voters, the coronavirus outbreak and the US economy are currently the two main criteria for their selection and emphasize the issue of the economy in particular. It is in these two important areas that Trump has disappointed many with his behavior and actions, in contrast, the Democratic Party's words and actions can restore the people's lost trust and hope in the current government.

Joe Biden, who represented the state of Delaware in the US Senate for many years and was Barack Obama's deputy for eight years, has had good relations with some prominent Republican figures in Congress. Some reports suggest that he is recruiting some influential people who are some of his Republican friends, non-extremist Republicans to criticize Trump himself. The recruitment of these people by Biden and their use of influence can be a weight in changing the outcome of the election in favor of the Democrats.

*(Top image: President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during the White House National Day of Prayer Thursday, May 7, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. Credit: Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Leading Neocon Directs Pentagon Middle East Planning

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The Global War on Terror or GWOT was declared in the wake of 9/11 by President George W. Bush. It basically committed the United States to work to eliminate all “terrorist” groups worldwide, whether or not the countries being targeted agreed that they were beset by terrorists and whether or not they welcomed U.S. “help.” The GWOT was promoted with brain-dead expressions like “there’s a new sheriff in town” which, after the destruction of large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia, later morphed into the matrix of the God-awful belief that something called “American Exceptionalism” existed.

With a national election lurking on the horizon we will no doubt be hearing more about Exceptionalism from various candidates seeking to support the premise that the United States can interfere in every country on the planet because it is, as the expression goes, exceptional. That is generally how Donald Trump and hardline Republicans see the world, that sovereignty exercised by foreign governments is and should be limited by the reach of the U.S. military. Surrounding a competitor with military bases and warships is a concept that many in Washington are currently trying to sell regarding a suitable response to the Chinese economic and political challenge.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo puts it another way, that the U.S. is a “force for good,” but it was former Secretary Madeleine Albright who expressed the fantasy best, stating that “…if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.” She also said that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children through U.S. imposed sanctions was “…a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.” That is the basic credo of the liberal interventionists. Either way, the U.S. gets to make the decisions over life and death, which, since the GWOT began, have destroyed or otherwise compromised the lives of millions of people, mostly concentrated in Asia.

One aspect of the American heavy footprint that is little noted is the ruin of many formerly functioning countries that it brings with it. Iraq and Libya might have been dictatorships before the U.S. intervened, but they gave their people a higher standard of living and more security than has been the case ever since. Libya, destroyed by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, had the highest standard of living in Africa. Iraq is currently one of the world’s most corrupt countries, so corrupt that there have been massive street demonstrations recently against the government’s inability to do anything good for the its own people. Electricity and water supplies are, for example, less reliable than before the U.S. intervened seventeen years ago.

Add Afghanistan to the “most corrupt” list after 19 years of American tutelage and one comes up with a perfect trifecta of countries that have been ruined. In a more rational world, one might have hoped that at least one American politician might have stood up and admitted that we have screwed up royally and it is beyond time to close the overseas bases and bring our troops home. Well, actually one did so in explicit terms, but that was Tulsi Gabbard and she was marginalized as soon as she started her run. Alluding to how Washington’s gift to the world has been corruption would be to implicitly deny American Exceptionalism, which is a no-no.

The failures of the American foreign policy since George W. Bush have been accredited to the so-called neoconservatives, who successfully hijacked the Bush presidency. Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Scooter Libby and the merry crowd at the American Enterprise Institute had a major ally in Vice President Dick Cheney and were pretty much able to run wild, creating a casus belli for invading Iraq that was largely fabricated and which was completely against actual U.S. interests in the region. Apparently no one ever told Wolfie that Iraq was the Arab bulwark against Iranian ambitions and that Tehran would be the only major beneficiary in taking down Saddam Hussein. Since Iraq, the chameleonlike neocons have had a prominent voice in the mainstream media and have also played major roles in the shaping the foreign and national security policies of the presidencies that have followed George W. Bush.

Ironically, neocons mostly were critics of Donald Trump the candidate because he talked “nonsense” about ending “useless wars” but they have been trickling back into his administration since he has made it clear that he is not about to end anything and might in fact be planning to attack Iran and maybe even Venezuela. The thought of new wars, particularly against Israel’s enemy Iran, makes neocons salivate.

The disastrous American occupation of Iraq from 2003-2004 was mismanaged by something called the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which might have been the most corrupt quasi-government body to be seen in recent history. At least $20 billion that belonged to the Iraqi people was wasted, together with hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Exactly how many billions of additional dollars were squandered, stolen, given away, or simply lost will never be known because the deliberate decision by the CPA not to meter oil exports means that no one will ever know how much revenue was generated during 2003 and 2004.

Some of the corruption grew out of the misguided neoconservative agenda for Iraq, which meant that a serious reconstruction effort came second to doling out the spoils to the war’s most fervent supporters. The CPA brought in scores of bright, young true believers who were nearly universally unqualified. Many were recruited through the Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute websites, where they had posted their résumés. They were paid six-figure salaries out of Iraqi funds, and most served in 90-day rotations before returning home with their war stories. One such volunteer was former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer’s older brother Michael who, though utterly unqualified, was named director of private-sector development for all of Iraq.

The $20 billion disbursed during the 15-month proconsulship of the CPA came from frozen and seized Iraqi assets held in the U.S. Most of the money was in the form of cash, flown into Iraq on C-130s in huge plastic shrink-wrapped pallets holding 40 “cashpaks,” each cashpak having $1.6 million in $100 bills. Twelve billion dollars moved that way between May 2003 and June 2004, drawn from the Iraqi accounts administered by the New York Federal Reserve Bank. The $100 bills weighed an estimated 363 tons.

Once in Iraq, there was virtually no accountability over how the money was spent. There was also considerable money “off the books,” including as much as $4 billion from illegal oil exports. Thus, the country was awash in unaccountable cash. British sources report that the CPA contracts that were not handed out to cronies were sold to the highest bidder, with bribes as high as $300,000 being demanded for particularly lucrative reconstruction contracts. The contracts were especially attractive because no work or results were necessarily expected in return.

Many of its staff, like Michael Fleischer, were selected for their political affiliations rather than their knowledge of the jobs they were supposed to perform and many of them were not surprisingly neocons. One of them has now resurfaced in a top Pentagon position. She is Simone Ledeen, daughter of leading neoconservative Michael Ledeen. Unable to communicate in Arabic and with no relevant experience or appropriate educational training, she nevertheless became in 2003 a senior advisor for northern Iraq at the Ministry of Finance in Baghdad.

Simone has now been appointed deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) for the Middle East, which is the principal position for shaping Pentagon policy for that region. Post 9/11, Ledeen’s leading neocon father Michael was the source of the expressions “creative destruction” and “total war” as relating to the Muslim Middle East, where “civilian lives cannot be the total war’s first priority … The purpose of total war is to permanently force your will onto another people.” He is also a noted Iranophobe, blaming numerous terrorist acts on that country even when such claims were ridiculous. He might also have been involved in the generation in Italy of the fabricated Iraq Niger uranium documents that contributed greatly to the march to war with Saddam.

Apparently Simone’s gene pool makes her qualified to lead the Pentagon into the Middle East, where she no doubt has views that make her compatible with the Trump/Pompeo current spin on the Iranian threat. The neocon Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) gushed “Simone Ledeen has worked at the Pentagon & Treasury and at a major bank. Exactly what we should want for such a position.” Of course, FDD, the leading advocate of war with Iran, also wants someone who will green light destroying the Persians.

Ledeen, a Brandeis graduate with an MBA from an Italian university, worked in and out of government in various advisory capacities before joining Standard Chartered Bank. One of her more interesting roles was as an advisor to General Michael Flynn in Afghanistan at a time when Flynn was collaborating with her father on a book that eventually came out in 2016 entitled The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies. The book asserts that there is a global war going on in which “We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.” The book predictably claims that Iran is at the center of what is an anti-American alliance.

The extent to which Simone has absorbed her father’s views and agrees with them can, of course, be questioned, but her appointment is yet another indication, together with the jobs previously given to John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Elliot Abrams, that the Trump Administration is intent on pursuing a hardline aggressive policy in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is also an unfortunate indication that the neoconservatives, pronounced dead after the election of Trump, are back and resuming their drive to obtain the positions of power that will permit endless war, starting with Iran.

*(Top image: Simone Ledeen is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Middle East. Credit: Defense.gov)

*This article was originally published on strategic-culture.

Miguel Urban Crespo: “Workers of the World, Unite. This Is the Last Call”

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Mohsen Abdelmoumen: You called for a COVID tax on high net worth individuals and multinational corporations. Why? Didn't the Covid-19 crisis show us the failure of the neoliberal model?

Miguel Urbán Crespo: The emergence of COVID was particularly deadly after decades of neo-liberal policies and cuts in public services and health care. The coronavirus has shown us that in centers and countries where more has been invested in health, there are fewer deaths, because, as we already knew, there is no better social shield than the protection of fundamental rights and the collective interest. The right to health has been reduced by neoliberal policies and the cost of this pandemic amounts to hundreds of thousands of lives.

Relocation and de-industrialization have meant that European countries in the midst of a viral disaster have not been able to manufacture the emergency equipment needed to combat Covid-19. Europe needs reindustrialization in line with a change in the production model that must be social, ecologically just, and feminist. The economy must be at the service of life, not to fatten up private profits. This is undoubtedly one of the great lessons of this crisis.

Didn't the Covid-19 crisis accentuate the crisis of capitalism? Shouldn't we end the capitalist system once and for all?

This pandemic has exposed the shameful nature of capitalism. Capitalism's inability to take up the challenge of protecting the working classes and saving lives has been demonstrated. Now is the time to examine the consequences of years of continuous cuts in the public domain. Before this pandemic, the Davos Forum was already announcing the imminence of an economic crisis. Covid-19 expedited his arrival. We must denounce the policies that brought us here. If Marx were to write the Communist Manifesto today, he would end with the phrase: "Workers of the world, unite. This is the last call".

The financial crisis of 2008 was finally paid for by the working classes by collectivizing the losses of banks and large corporations after decades of profit privatization. It is impossible to collectivize again the debts and losses of a dangerous minority of millionaires, leaving entire families to sink into misery. The working classes do not have to pay for their crises, nor do they have to face alone their devastating effects.

In short, today capitalism is pushing us into a civilizational precipice. Being anti-capitalist means putting the emergency brake on this crazy train heading towards the precipice that capitalism has become.

You worked on tax evasion in Europe which amounts to astronomical sums. How do you explain the behavior of this 1% of rich people who don't pay taxes?

I coordinated the work of the Left Group (GUE) for two years in the European Parliament's special committees of inquiry on tax fraud and tax evasion.  Worldwide, more than 600 billion - half of Spain's GDP - is diverted to these tax havens. The Panama Papers, for example, have shown how theft has been committed from every appropriation of public finances through what are wrongly called "tax havens". According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, more than 30 % of global investments in 2015 were made through tax havens or offshore investment centers. Stiglitz told in the European Parliament that we face an unfair global tax regime and that behind tax havens there is a sector that relies on secrecy to create a "shadow world economy".

Despite the repeated patriotic proclamations that the main political parties fill their mouths with, the multinationals and the billionaires to whom they pledge allegiance have no other homeland than money. Leak after leak, we discover new names of companies, celebrities or politicians who use offshore companies or covers to hide their real wealth in tax havens outside of tax obligations. The only real homeland for tax evaders is money. And they do not cover with flags the safes where they keep the untaxed profits that should finance social policies. We are witnessing a veritable insurrection of the privileged, where billionaires and multinationals refuse to pay taxes, practicing real fiscal terrorism with the complicit help of governments and major parties, whereas they work to denounce or threaten those who denounce their practices of public finances embezzlement.  That is why the fight against tax evasion is more than ever a challenge to the dominant neo-liberal world order, a questioning of the monopolization of all the planet's resources by the minority of the 1 %.

How do you explain the fact that inequalities have increased between a minority of 1% who concentrate the totality of the world's wealth and a majority who live in total precariousness?

Tax evasion and fraud are not isolated or circumstantial cases, they are a structural phenomenon of the liquid capitalism of our times, intimately linked to the neo-liberal offensive that has been raging in our economies for decades. Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz told in the European Parliament that we suffer from an unfair global tax regime and that behind tax havens there is a sector that relies on secrecy to create a "shadow world economy".

Tax havens are one of the main causes of the extreme inequality in the concentration of wealth because they allow large multinationals and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. In fact, all the studies show that there has never been as much money in tax havens as there is today. According to economist Gabriel Zucman, there are about $7.6 trillion in personal fortunes hidden in places like Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore. As a result, inequality statistics significantly underestimate the true degree of wealth concentration, as they do not include the money hidden in these opaque territories or in tax havens.

We must opt for a determined model of wealth redistribution, we cannot, we the 99 %, hold only 1 % of the world's wealth. The response must be international. Netflix, which reaches more than three million households in Spain, pays 3,000 euros in taxes - the same amount as a worker with a low taxable income in Spain. Now that we are talking about the Green New Deal in Europe, we must remember that Roosevelt imposed 94 % of income tax on people with a fortune of more than 200,000 dollars - the equivalent of more than 2 million euros today. We have to place the distribution of wealth and work at the heart of the debate, include feminist logics and talk about eco-socialism. These are the main thrust of our proposals. All this is not possible if a dangerous minority remains immensely wealthy. A decision has to be made: either we govern for a dangerous minority of billionaires, or for social majorities.

A COVID tax must be put in place to ensure that the wealthy pay a generalized tax on the wealthy, the billionaires, and the multinationals in order to finance our health and social services. Ambitious measures of this kind need to be taken. It is those who are richest to pay the bills, not the working classes.

You are a people's defender who is very committed to just causes, particularly that of the Saharawi people. Why do you think this cause is ignored in the West? Why does the media never talk about the struggle of the people of Western Sahara for its liberation?

This silence has its roots in the origin of the fact itself, in 1975, when Spain simply sold the Sahara to Morocco, amidst the specific strategic geopolitical interests of the powers involved. Despite the fact that the international chessboard has changed, the interests in the region have remained the same and it is these same interests that maintain the silence and inaction complicit in what we see today.

In 1975, on the international scene and in the midst of the Cold War, the United States, with Henry Kissinger at the head of diplomacy, did not allow the establishment of a socialist regime close to Algeria, an ally of the Soviets, in an area of strategic importance such as Western Sahara, both because of its geographical location and its phosphate-rich resources. He therefore supported and encouraged the annexation of Western Sahara to Morocco, using his allies, Spain and Saudi Arabia.

With the same gesture, Kissinger ensured the stability of the Moroccan monarchy, a rival to Algeria and located on the north-western flank of Africa, with a coastline on two seas and the ability to control the strait linking the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, while at the same time Saudi Arabia provided an important ally in the Arab League. The whole with the support of the United States and the Saudi funding. Kissinger was very clear about the geopolitical game at that time and never had any qualms about acting according to the interests of the moment.

In the specific case of Spain, this betrayal towards the Saharawi people is linked to the beginning of the Bourbon Restoration, inaugurating one of the darkest pages of Spanish foreign policy in the transition and the role of the person who is now King Emeritus Juan Carlos I. In this sense, the deepening of this historical betrayal implies questioning the return of the monarchy and the monarchy itself, which the media and the political establishment have denied throughout these years and even today, when, in full containment by COVID-19, the umpteenth corruption scandal linked to the crown exploded with the discovery of another million dollar account and the offshore foundation Lucum, in which Juan Carlos I had amassed 100 million euros in supposedly illicit commissions from Saudi Arabia. There is a history of exchange of favors and corruption between the Saudi theocracy and the King Emeritus, whose abandonment of Western Sahara is only the beginning. Thus, we must not forget that the Spanish crown is the heir to Franco's regime and that the figure of the king played a key role in the transition and the Moncloa pacts, which institutionalized the impunity on which Spanish democracy is based. Questioning the monarchy is questioning this whole system of impunity.

I interviewed Ana Gomes, Member of the European Parliament, who told me about a very powerful Moroccan lobby within the European institutions and the European Parliament. How do you explain the fact that some parliamentarians elected by their people sell themselves and, instead of supporting the just cause of a people, defend the occupier and colonizer, namely Morocco. Is that not immoral?

In Brussels, there are about 15,000 "lobbyists" working for some 2,500 pressure groups or lobbies. Although initiatives have been launched to regulate this activity, it is dictated by the interests of capital and big business, and relations between the EU, Morocco and Western Sahara are not exempt from this reality. Globally, this EU is a great machine for ensuring the functioning of markets, not for guaranteeing the rights of individuals. We have seen it and we are still seeing it today, when we talk about dealing with a social and economic crisis that was announced but which was triggered by a health crisis, which directly questions quality public services, that is to say the rights. We have come to the institutions to change these practices, to make them our own, to put them at the service of the functioning of popular majorities and solidarity between peoples and not of the markets.

It is obvious that the Moroccan Government spends huge amounts of money to influence European policies, as we have seen in the European Parliament's report on the EU-Morocco trade agreement. An agreement that could in no way include the occupied Sahrawi territories, as decided by the European Court of Justice itself, but in the end, pressure from the Moroccan Government intervened and they were included. Shortly before the vote on the parliamentary report approving the trade agreement, we learned that the rapporteur Member belonged to a foundation funded by the Moroccan Government. Such a scandal would have been enough to invalidate the report itself, but in the end, the signature of the scandal-spattered member was removed and the report was approved as is.

I am Algerian and my country suffered the crimes of French colonialism. Does not the cause of the Saharawi people concern all humanity, knowing that it is about the decolonization of a country?

Of course, but not only the Saharawi people. So many other peoples are today struggling for the right to self-determination as a sine qua non for further decolonization processes. All over the world we have many cases: the Kurdish people, the largest without a State of their own and divided among four States; the Palestinian people, who are accumulating decades of blood, occupation and injustice;  the indigenous peoples of Latin America, such as the Mapuche people who, divided between what is now Chile and Argentina, have been resisting continuously since the initial colonization by the Spanish invasion 500 years ago.

In this sense, the emancipation of peoples and their decolonization is the matter of all those who aspire to change the world at the base. But it is necessary to broaden our patterns of analysis on the implications of "decolonization" according to neo-colonial offensives such as extractivism as an economic policy that destroys the environment and is imposed on entire regions, the imposition of a hegemonic culture, the divisions imposed by borders themselves, among others, and which the examples mentioned above illustrate as part of the same struggle.

All of humanity suffers from Covid-19. How do you explain the inhuman treatment of the Palestinian people in Gaza, deprived of everything and which continues to suffer from the criminal blockade of Israel?

It is not easy to explain the horrors of humanity. While the international dynamic is marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Israeli army continues to engage in the humanitarian siege of Gaza and the harassment of Palestinian communities in the West Bank that Israel has been trying to expel for decades, also with silence and international complicity.

We saw at the end of March how Israel confiscated tents destined for a field clinic in the northern West Bank, that is, Israeli apartheid continues to demonstrate that it has no measures or restraints despite the current health emergency. Intervening in a basic community care initiative during a health crisis is a cruel example of Israeli abuse, but it is already the norm in these communities and of course goes against all human rights principles and standards.

Why the world's silence on the extremely harsh living conditions of the Gazan people under Covid-19?

The silence is relative, but generalized in relation to the effects of the necropolitics that capitalism is deploying at the global level. In your question and in the case of Israel, we know that the Zionist lobby is necessary to strengthen the militaristic State of Israel and is a necessary tool to whitewash its own strategies in the agendas of international organizations and its natural ally, the United States, by emulating official positions in policies emanating from Washington, with clear geopolitical interests. It is obvious that the media apparatus that accompanies it must necessarily have the same power and impact. It should also be noted that during the COVID pandemic, our political group in Parliament highlighted the dramatic situation in Gaza, denouncing its illegal and inhumane blockade.

You worked on the rise of the extreme right in Europe. How do you explain that the ideology of fascism that caused the death of millions of Europeans could be resurrected again? Doesn't this rise of extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi groups that have taken power in some countries reflect the failure of the traditional political parties that ruled Europe after the Second World War?

The rise of the extreme right is a dangerous reality that sends us back to the worst ghosts in Europe, but there is something at least as dangerous: how the proposals of the extreme right are bought by the major parties of the neo-liberal Grand Coalition, a phenomenon known by many sociologists as the lepenization (note: in reference to Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the National Front - extreme right - in France) of European migration policies. Moreover, in Europe, reductions in rights and freedoms have been justified by policies of institutional xenophobia such as those of Fortress Europe, which have made the Mediterranean the largest mass grave in the world. All this has undoubtedly helped to normalize the extreme right, which is still paradoxical when Europe's day of remembrance is 9 May, the day of victory over Nazism. A celebration that implicitly recognizes the antifascist genesis of European democracy.

The crisis of the parties that traditionally held power after the Second World War does not seem to be a particular symptom of a specific country, but rather a European one, a symptom of its transformation into that extreme center that governs Europe into a grand coalition. In recent years, we have seen how it is fundamentally social democracy that has been electorally replaced by the emergence of new forces that occupy a large part of its political space. Although in most cases this shift has been to the right, in some cases it has also been to the left, as in Greece or Spain. Recently, however, we have also seen a heavy electoral cost on the part of the Christian Democratic Right, which has given way to its right, the case of Spain with the emergence of Vox being a good example of this.

The rise of the extreme right is closely linked to the spread of neo-liberal policies. For, over and above concrete cuts and privatizations, austerity is, as the economist Isidro Lopez puts it, "taxation" for 80 % of the European population a persistent imaginary shortage. A "there's not enough for everyone" that opens the door to "a few will have". Scarcity as a motor of exclusion mechanisms. This phenomenon, which Habermas defined as "welfare chauvinism" and where the ever-latent tensions between citizenship status and national identity are intersecting. Situations in which social unrest and political polarization are canalized by their weakest link (the migrant, the foreigner or simply "the other"), thus exonerating the political and economic elites who are actually responsible for the looting.

Brexit is a good example of how political polarization can be expressed in contradictory ways in an anti-establishment revolt that combines exclusionary nationalism, anti-immigration demagogy, and lassitude in the face of social inequality. Thus, the vacuum generated by a credible European political alternative is filled by fear, xenophobia, identity withdrawal, narrow-minded egoism and the search for scapegoats. But it is important to bear in mind that this phenomenon is not exclusively European. We are facing an authoritarian and reactionary international wave where there are different beliefs and religions: the role of evangelists in Latin America, Islamism or radical Hinduism are just a few examples. We are witnessing an unprecedented democratic regression over the last few decades, which threatens the very concepts of liberal democracy.

As a Member of the European Parliament who is committed to just causes, do you not think that the European Parliament should play a more important role than at present in resolving the conflicts raging in certain countries such as Yemen, Libya, etc.?

I believe it and I have denounced it on several occasions. The problem is that for too long, most European countries have had Saudi Arabia as a privileged partner in the region thanks to petrodollar diplomacy and/or the lucrative infrastructure and armament contracts of Spanish, French, British or German companies, which have paid the price for the systematic violation of human rights by thunderous official silences, as a deliberate buying strategy involving European governments and media. As hard as it is to say and hear, not all dead are worth the same, not all armed conflicts have the same impact or the same political treatment on the part of the European institutions.

Venezuela is continuing to be attacked by the United States. By supporting Juan Guaido, the puppet of the Americans, did Europe not commit a serious mistake? In your opinion, shouldn't US imperialist interventions stop?

When Guaidó proclaimed himself President in January 2019, not all member States recognized him. One of the first to recognize him was Spain, which I think is a real shame. As a bloc, the EU has also yielded to US pressure in the face of the situation: on 31 January, by a resolution of the European Parliament, Juan Guaidó was recognized as interim President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

This episode marked a new stage in the international offensive against Venezuela. On the one hand, transnational capital sees in Voluntad Popular, the party of Leopoldo López and Guaidó, a possibility of exit in favor of the logic of market restructuring, that is why it continues to enjoy the recognition and support of many countries. Moreover, more than sixty countries subordinate to the United States have launched a media offensive against the Maduro government and a new possibility of intervention under the guise of "humanitarian aid".

We have always maintained a total rejection of any form of opposition offensive against the Bolivarian Government. It should not be forgotten that the Venezuelan opposition is led by profoundly undemocratic sectors linked to the ruling class, which has been enriched by oil extraction and export concessions through American companies. The oil industry organizes the grounds for class struggle in Venezuela. Thus, this oil-bourgeoisie is preparing an authoritarian agenda against the conquests of the Bolivarian revolution, which have been greatly diminished by the crisis that the country has been experiencing for some time.

In this sense, it is a priority to stop the offensive of imperialism and the ruling class, which does not mean not having criticism for the Maduro government and its political management. As to who or how to stop this imperialist offensive, of course, the answer must not come from Europe. You cannot dismantle one imperialism by activating another under neo-colonialism. The revolution must involve an increase in freedoms, a deepening of democracy, a greater redistribution of wealth and the establishment of institutional mechanisms to ensure that the economy serves the needs of the popular classes. In a word: the power of the People against all forms of imperialist offensives.

Isn't there a need for a global anti-imperialist front to counter the disastrous plans of successive US administrations? Shouldn't Europe free itself from US hegemony?

Some strategies that in the past have served to revive cycles of accumulation, such as colonial imperialist expansionism, are blocked because capitalist expansion itself has meant that no place in the world is exempt from the logic of capital.

As in the case of Venezuela, just as the political leadership of the opposition serves its class interests, the capital's interests are defended around the world. Although this action is led by the United States under the leadership of Trump, it is part of a global logic and, regionally, in a context of soft or authoritarian coups d'état, depending on the country in Latin America as in Brazil, Honduras, Paraguay and more recently Bolivia (although this does not fall into the category of a soft coup d'état) in the same logic, but whose immediate consequences were severe repression of activists and communities in resistance. These coups were received with the complicit silence of governments and the international press.

Capitalism is in a long wave of depression caused by a crisis of profitability, the main cause of which is the downward trend in the rate of profit. Faced with this permanent difficulty, capitalism has sought its way out, as it systematically does, by intensifying the exploitation of human beings and nature in a process of permanent devaluation of labor and degradation of the biosphere. Thus, it will be the ecological crisis that will introduce, as it already does, new limits to capitalist developmentalism but also new limits to the cycles of transformation and their strategies. In this sense, it is fundamental to generate a new solidarity and a militant internationalism capable of building an eco-socialist project that responds, starting from different contexts and regional particularities, to the common challenge of facing a post-capitalist scenario.

Throughout history, we have always seen that crises of capitalism lead to war. Don't you think that the recession looming with the Covid-19 crisis could lead to a war provoked by the Trump administration against China?

The ecological crisis and the increasing scarcity of the planet's resources are essential for understanding the evolution of the capitalist crisis, especially in the post-COVID-19 pandemic world, whose full impact cannot yet be seen, but which will probably change the balance of power and accelerate the crisis that has been lasting since 2008. Until that moment, the trend towards a recomposition of capitalism at the global level had taken the form of " deglobalization ", although apparently since then, the backdrop has always been the global financialization of the economy. It's the central node of geopolitics today: how, in a competitive and crisis-stricken world, the major powers manage to improve their situation. The States are competing with each other for capital, which is manifested through the large-scale reorganization of the capitalist oligarchy with new agents, new strata of capital (especially in Asia) vying for control of wealth and income.

The trade war between the United States and China, or Brexit, is part of this process of restructuring the world system on a global level, which will attempt to divide the world into zones of competing influences. This also explains the emergence of new forms of looting of disadvantaged countries, particularly serious in the extractive industries and the control of fertile land or water resources. The possibility of a large-scale war seems to be temporarily excluded for political reasons, and I insist that it is the ecological crisis that will determine the course of the crisis.

Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen

Who is Miguel Urbán Crespo?

Miguel Urbán Crespo is a Spanish politician, Member of the European Parliament integrated within the European United Left–Nordic Green Left political group, and an anti-capitalist activist. As a MEP, he is member of the Committee on Development, the Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Delegation for relations with Mercosur, and the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly. He is also substitute of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, and the Delegation for relations with the Federative Republic of Brazil.

Why Israel Fears the Nakba: How Memory Became Palestine’s Greatest Weapon

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On May 15, thousands of Palestinians in Occupied Palestine and throughout the "shatat", or diaspora, participated in the commemoration of Nakba Day, the one event that unites all Palestinians, regardless of their political differences or backgrounds.

For years, social media has added a whole new stratum to this process of commemoration. #Nakba72, along with #NakbaDay and #Nakba, have all trended on Twitter for days. Facebook was inundated with countless stories, videos, images, and statements, written by Palestinians, or in global support of the Palestinian people.

The dominant Nakba narrative remains – 72 years following the destruction of historic Palestine at the hands of Zionist militias – an opportunity to reassert the centrality of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Over 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Palestine in 1947-48. The surviving refugees and their descendants are now estimated at over five million.

As thousands of Palestinians rallied on the streets and as the Nakba hashtag was generating massive interest on social media, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, paid an eight-hour visit to Israel to discuss the seemingly imminent Israeli government annexation, or theft, of nearly 30% of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

“The Israeli government will decide on the matter, on exactly when and how to do it," Pompeo said in an interview with Israeli radio, Kan Bet, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Clearly, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has American blessing to further its colonization of occupied Palestine, to entrench its existing Apartheid regime, and to act as if the Palestinians simply do not exist.

The Nakba commemoration and Pompeo’s visit to Israel are a stark representation of Palestine’s political reality today.

Considering the massive US political sway, why do Palestinians then insist on making demands which, according to the pervading realpolitik of the so-called Palestinian-Israeli conflict, seem unattainable?

Since the start of the peace process in Oslo in the early 1990s, the Palestinian leadership has engaged with Israel and its western benefactors in a useless political exercise that has, ultimately, worsened an already terrible situation. After over 25 years of haggling over bits and pieces of what remained of historic Palestine, Israel and the US are now plotting the endgame, while demonizing the very Palestinian leaders that participated in their joint and futile political charade.

Strangely, the rise and demise of the so-called "peace process" did not seem to affect the collective narrative of the Palestinian people, who still see the Nakba, not the Israeli occupation of 1967, and certainly not the Oslo accords, as the core point in their struggle against Israeli colonialism.

This is because the collective Palestinian memory remains completely independent from Oslo and its many misgivings. For Palestinians, memory is an active process. It is not a docile, passive mechanism of grief and self-pity that can easily be manipulated, but a generator of new meanings.

In their seminal book Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory, Ahmad Sa’di and Lila Abu-Lughod wrote that "Palestinian memory is, at its heart, political."

This means that the powerful and emotive commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba is essentially a collective political act, and, even if partly unconscious, a people’s retort and rejection of Donald Trump’s "Deal of the Century", of Pompeo’s politicking, and of Netanyahu’s annexation drive.

Despite the numerous unilateral measures taken by Israel to determine the fate of the Palestinian people, the blind and unconditional US support of Israel, and the unmitigated failure of the Palestinian Authority to mount any meaningful resistance, Palestinians continue to remember their history and understand their reality based on their own priorities.

For many years, Palestinians have been accused of being unrealistic, of "never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity," and even of extremism, for simply insisting on their historical rights in Palestine, as enshrined in international law.

These critical voices are either supporters of Israel, or simply unable to understand how Palestinian memory factors in shaping the politics of ordinary people, independent of the quisling Palestinian leadership or the seemingly impossible-to-overturn status quo. True, both trajectories, that of the stifling political reality and people’s priorities seem to be in constant divergence, with little or no overlapping.

However, a closer look is revealing: the more belligerent Israel becomes, the more stubbornly Palestinians hold on to their past. There is a reason for this.

Occupied, oppressed and refugee camps-confined Palestinians have little control over many of the realities that directly impact their lives. There is little that a refugee from Gaza can do to dissuade Pompeo from assigning the West Bank to Israel, or a Palestinian refugee from Ein El-Helweh in Lebanon to compel the international community to enforce the long-delayed Right of Return.

But there is a single element that Palestinians, regardless of where they are, can indeed control: their collective memory, which remains the main motivator of their legendary steadfastness.

Hannah Arendt wrote in 1951 that totalitarianism is a system that, among other things, forbids grief and remembrance, in an attempt to sever the individual’s or group’s relation to the continuous past.

For decades, Israel has done just that, in a desperate attempt to stifle the memory of the Palestinians, so that they are only left with a single option, the self-defeating peace process.

In March 2011, the Israeli parliament introduced the "Nakba Law", which authorized the Israeli Finance Ministry to carry out financial measures against any institution that commemorates Nakba Day.

Israel is afraid of Palestinian memory, since it is the only facet of its war against the Palestinian people that it cannot fully control; the more Israel labors to erase the collective memory of the Palestinian people, the more Palestinians hold tighter to the keys of their homes and to the title deed of their land back in their lost homeland.

There can never be a just peace in Palestine until the priorities of the Palestinian people – their memories, and their aspirations – become the foundation of any political process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Everything that operates outside this paradigm is null and void, for it will never herald peace or instill true justice. This is why Palestinians remember; for, over the years, their memory has proven to be their greatest weapon.

*(Top image credit: falasteenyia/ Flickr)

The RCMP ... in Deep Again - A Mari Usque ad Mare - That Is to Say: ‘From Sea to Sea’

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In British Columbia, as Gary Mason points out in the May 16 Globe and Mail (A16), David Butcher QC, heading an RCMP investigation into fraudulent (BC) election donations (taking three years to do it!), (yawned, apparently, and) said the sums were too small to bother with court action. “Screw the Rule of Law”… so to speak (speaking for himself and the RCMP.)

At the other end of the country, in Nova Scotia, more than 30 academics in the Dalhousie University Law School are calling upon the premier of the province to create an “independent public Inquiry into the shooting rampage that took 22 lives last month”. (Globe and Mail, May 18, 2020, A21).  “They say in the letter the inquiry’s terms must allow for a critical review of the procedures and decisions employed by the police during the April 18 and 19 shootings….” “The police” were of course the RCMP … who did not, apparently, sound the necessary, appropriate Public Alarm.  Had the Force done so, most on the ground believe a number of lives would have been spared.  Why, one might ask, did the RCMP not only fail to sound that alarm … but failed to do so even when it was suggested to them…?

The Dalhousie request seems to suggest the petitioners want the long-term relation between the RCMP and the gun-man examined.

The RCMP produces disaster after disaster … and NOTHING ever happens… (to them).

I will make a prediction.  (Pandemicists apparently predicted the present Coronavirus pandemic at least five years ago … and were ignored….) The RCMP, which has a growing list of astonishingly ugly actions, will, I predict, (in the next five years or so) commit The Really Big One – so big it can’t be ignored, and the public will demand a full-scale, wide-open Public Inquiry into the criminal actions and the structure of the RCMP … finally.

Those who remember know that Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was murdered in Vancouver International Airport in 2007 when four RCMP officers answered a call to that location. Those who remember know the “official” story was false … and proved to be so by the accidental appearance of a filming of the event by an arriving flight passenger. They know that no charge of murder was ever laid. And they probably know that the RCMP officers involved went through processes that cost taxpayers an enormous sum of money ….  One of the officers was even convicted of perjury (perjury??) eight years later.

Those who remember probably don’t know that in-fighting in the RCMP produced court cases connected to the Dziekanski affair for the next twelve years!!  They don’t know that because the Mainstream Press and Media … seemingly … didn’t think the court cases would be of interest to … anybody. (About Nova Scotia … apparently the Mainstream Press and Media are already dropping from ‘coverage’ the failure by the RCMP to effect the appropriate public alarm…. THAT may have sparked the Law School petition to the premier.)

People forget what I call The Big One … the faked Islamic Terrorist Event at the B.C. Legislature grounds on July 1, 2013 – staged completely by the RCMP and involving a large complement of actors.  That was the conclusion of a B.C. Supreme Court judge …. Her finding was appealed by the Crown (the RCMP) … and in 2018 the finding of the BC Supreme Court judge was upheld by the unanimous judgement of three B.C. Appeal Court judges. 

I call it The Big One because I suspect it was “ordered” or “set up” or “encouraged” from the PMO of Stephen Harper.  At that time Right Forces in the world were deep into “the clash of civilizations” and Islam was the whipping boy in “the West”, even –  perhaps - more than it is now.  The July 1, 2013 event involved the entrapment (by the RCMP) of two innocent, socially troubled people, converts to Islam.  It involved their improper counselling by the RCMP, their improper arrest, trial, and incarceration – the last, I believe, more than once. ALL was ‘about’ a faked operation to make it look like ‘nutcase Muslims’ were (one more time, of course) attacking the innocent, peace-loving Christian West.

(There are – but we won’t get into it here – those who insist – in the same kind of pattern – that Muslims accused of toppling the Trade Towers in New York in 2001 (called “9/11”) were nowhere near the event … that Muslims, as in the non-event at the BC Legislature grounds in 2013, were set up to look like the bad actors….)

The two Canadian victims were finally released onto the street after having lost everything they possessed. Neither the RCMP nor the Canadian government ever paid the two victims a cent of compensation or issued a single sentence of public apology! 

In that faked Islamic Terrorist Event, apparently, a very large number of RCMP officers/employees were involved … a network. And so, one might conclude, the RCMP will do ANYTHING… (usually with the support of … or encouragement by the Cabinet in Ottawa). When the Justin Trudeau Cabinet was addressed on the matter of the proved Major, Fake July 1 Event staged by the RCMP (happening before the Justin Trudeau Cabinet came to power) … the Trudeau Cabinet would do nothing whatever …not even to set things right for the abused pair entrapped! And so the RCMP is set up to think it can do anything … and I’m saying it will … within the next five years or so.

Pride, they say, goeth before a fall. And, as we know, the RCMP is a Proud, Honourable, Truth-Seeking body existing with one purpose only: to serve the Canadian people and to uphold the law.

My prediction is it will make one criminal move too many and it will be nailed by the Canadian people – a mari usque ad mare.

*(Top image: A special effect of the RCMP troops performing their show at Exhibition Park, Cold Lake, Alberta. Credit: Mohamed Anis Assari/ Algiers Photography/ Flickr)

How Does the U.S. Rally Support for Wars That Kill Millions of Innocent People Worldwide?

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Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies its Wars Releases June 2020 (Red Pill Press)

Campaigns against Native Americans. The War of 1812. World War I, World War II, Iraq and Afghanistan… The United States has been at war for the vast majority of its history.

These wars have killed millions of innocent men, women and children around the world. Yet more often than not they have been based on weak evidence, questionable motives, and outright lies. Why, then, do large portions of the public staunchly support the US troops?  Why are so many Americans satisfied with the U.S. bombings of Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries, knowing that this is creating starvation and refugee crises of catastrophic proportions?

In his new book, Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies its Wars (June 2020, Red Pill Press), journalist and human rights activist Robert Fantina explains how the US government has rallied public opinion to support its wars and military objectives since before the American Revolution.

Through a deep, comprehensive analysis of every war the U.S. or its colonial predecessor has waged from 1755 to the present, Fantina demonstrates a clear pattern that has shaped not only decisions to enter into war, but also the narrative used to rally U.S. citizens’ support of these actions.

The pattern consists, first, of brandishing what Fantina refers to as “false flags”—that is, perceived threats, dangers or human rights violations such as Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and involvement in 9/11, or alleged chemical attacks by the government of Syria that were never corroborated. Next comes the use of propaganda to manipulate public opinion and enlist widespread buy-in. Quoting and parroting the government, the media helps spread this propaganda. This approach has successfully garnered support for both official warfare and acts of aggression such as plundering other country’s resources and removing left-leaning foreign leaders.

The cost in human life is staggering. Since World War II alone it is estimated that the U.S. has killed at least 20,000,000 people in over 37 nations. In response to the killing of 3,000 U.S. citizens on September 11, 2001, the U.S. killed at least 1,000,000 Iraqis who, along with their government, had nothing to do with the 2001 attacks on the U.S.

The many revelations in Propaganda, Lies and False Flags include:

  • The testimony that sparked the first Gulf War—the Nayirah testimony—was entirely falsified to further the agenda of Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a US-backed organization. And Nayirah? She was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, not a hospital volunteer as she claimed in Congressional testimony.
  • In 2020 the US assassinated Iran’s General Qassam Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and then considered retaliation from Iran an unprovoked aggression that went to the brink of triggering an invasion.
  • The US government developed a narrative positioning Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president despite not being democratically elected by the people of Venezuela, enabling Guaido to stage a bloody albeit unsuccessful coup. Ultimately it was not about democracy, but oil.
  • The 2011 US intervention in Libya for “humanitarian purposes” following Libya’s attempts to quell violent unrest belied resentment for Libya's support of Palestine and the desire to seize Libya’s rich oil assets.


Each of the book’s fifty-plus case studies is presented with meticulous research and corroborating primary sources.

Ultimately, Fantina hopes that by recognizing the ‘big lies’ that the U.S. government tells, people will begin to believe them with less ardor and less frequency--and that this will be the first step toward changing the centuries-long U.S. policy of constant war-making.

Praise for Propaganda, Lies and False Flags

Keep this book on your shelf to quickly lay your hands on the false reasons for each

past war, and many of the real reasons too. The latter are always shameful, which is

why the former are invented. Included here are wars, coups, and incidents you may not

know about. Not only is this a resource for countering new war lies by comparison with

old ones, but with a limited number of nations on earth and the Pentagon’s penchant for

attacking the same ones repeatedly, you may just find the very lies now on the news

already debunked in this book.

—David Swanson, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and author of twelve books including War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.

Meticulously detailed and thoroughly articulated, Bob Fantina's latest book, Propaganda, False Flags and US Wars, is an incredibly valuable resource for citizens across the world. The amount I learned while reading this book is staggering and Fantina's core thesis, that propaganda and false flags are not outliers, but vital and significant aspects of US war making, going back to the Native American wars, is imparted in such a manner readers will return to this book continually as a resource for not just understanding history, but for understanding current and future US wars.
—Matthew Hoh, Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy

About the Author

Robert Fantina, author of Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies its Wars, is a human rights activist and journalist. Shortly after the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Fantina left the United States for Canada and now holds dual citizenship. A truth seeker, Fantina is active in supporting the human rights struggles of the Palestinian people, and is the past Canadian coordinator of World Beyond War . He serves on the boards of Canadians for Palestinian Rights, and Canadians for Justice in Kashmir.  He is the author of several books, including Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 – 2006; Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign PolicyLook Not Unto the Morrow, a Vietnam-era, anti-war story and Occupied Palestine: Israel, the U.S. and International Law. His writing appears regularly on Counterpunch, Global Research and several other sites.

Title: Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies its Wars

Author: Robert Fantina

Publisher: Red Pill Press

Print:  $24.00

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1-7349074-0-1

ISBN-13: 978-1-7349074-0-7

Israel Strikes Syria to Keep the US in the Levant

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Following its defeat in the second war on Lebanon, Israel discovered that its only way to suppress Hezbollah would be to close the supply line between Lebanon and Syria. That could only be achieved by removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, disrupting the “Axis of the Resistance” that extends from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Gaza. But Israel and the US, supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, Turkey, Europe and many other countries all failed to achieve their goal of making Syria a failed state. President Assad called upon his allies whose own national security was in jeopardy. If Syria were to fall, jihadists of al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” would be fighting in the streets of Beirut, Baghdad and Tehran. The jihadists would also be powerful enough to remove Russia from its Syrian naval base and to export the war beyond the Levant’s borders. So, Israel and the US failed to destroy Syria and to corner Hezbollah. On the contrary, Hezbollah has become stronger than ever. The Resistance has reaped the harvest of its victory. It has become the decision-maker with key institutions in Lebanon.

Israel sought to destroy Hezbollah because it is an obstacle to Israel’s expansionist plans in Lebanon, namely to steal Lebanon’s water and some of its territories, to force a peace deal of unconditional surrender, to break Lebanon’s alliance with Iran and deprive Tehran of its strongest ally in the Middle East. For the last forty years, since the victory of the “Islamic Republic” in 1979 led by Imam Ruhollah Khomeini which unseated the US proxy ruler, the Shah of Iran, Washington has imposed sanctions, because Iran has refused to submit to US power and because it supports its allies in the Middle East, mainly Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, to stand against Israel. 

In 2006, the US was involved in the planning of Israel’s war on Lebanon. At the 2006 G8 Summit, President George W. Bush described the relationship between Hezbollah, Iran and Syria as one of the root causes of “instability”: “The World must deal with Hezbollah, with Syria, and continue to work to isolate Iran.” (Roshandel J. & Lean C.N. (2011) Iran, Israel and the United States, ABC-CLIO, CA, p. 109). 

US Secretary Condoleezza Rice refused to mediate a ceasefire unless “the conditions are conducive”, thinking Israel would win the war. Hezbollah was not only left on its own to face the US and Israel, but Lebanese US-Saudi proxies (Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Druse leader Walid Jumblat) supported the position of the US and Israel, and argued that there was “no point in a ceasefire.” (Wilkins H. (2013). The Making Of Lebanese Foreign Policy: understanding the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War, Routledge, Introduction). 

When Israel failed to achieve its objectives, the US agreed to mediate an end to the war. Negotiations concentrated on ceasing all hostilities (not a ceasefire) between the two countries. Tel Aviv and Washington failed to obtain the deployment of United Nations Forces in Lebanon, UNIFIL, on the borders with Syria. The US sought to accommodate Israel in its attempt to gain by negotiation what it failed to achieve using its huge war machine in 33 days of the war in 2006. “Israel’s objective was never realistic”, said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

When its attempt to control the Lebanese-Syrian borders failed after its defeat in the 2006 war, Israel had one remaining option with which to counter Hezbollah: close the road via Damascus and find a way to curb Hezbollah’s supply line. This required war on Syria.

Since confronting Hezbollah face-face was no longer an option, Syria became the next target in the campaign to isolate Iran, as President Bush declared. The motives behind the war in Syria have been erroneously described by many researchers and analysts around the globe, who have depicted the war as the outcome of an “Arab Spring” against a dictatorial regime. Yet Saudi Arabia, Bahrein and other Gulf countries have been ruled by dictatorships and the same family members for decades and indeed are considered by the west as its closest- oil-rich- partners!

Actually, the war on Syria started just after the al-Qaeda 9/11 attack on the US. Four-star US general Wesley Clark disclosed Washington’s plan as he learned of it in the days after 9/11: “occupy Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finish with Iran.” Just a few months after the US invasion of Iraq, US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited President Bashar al-Assad and warned him that the US would invade Syria if he refused to interrupt his support for the anti-Israel organisations, Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups: the Syrian president would share the same fate as the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was far from being a piece of cake. The US occupation generated new resistance among both Sunni and the Shia. This encouraged President Assad to rebuff the US threat, unaware of what the future held for Syria. Dozens of states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, the Emirates, Europe and the US all supported a regime change operation via Takfiri proxies. But the consequences of destabilising Syria gave a unique opportunity for al-Qaeda to blossom in Syria and a more lethal group emerged, the “Islamic State” ISIS. President Assad called upon his few allies, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, to stand against the massive coalition gathered to create this failed state in Syria. The Syrian war which ensued offered unprecedented experience to the Syrian army, gave birth to a new Syrian resistance and offered unique warfare knowledge to Hezbollah, with a base for Iran that Tehran could never before have dreamed of having in the Levant.

Hezbollah had forced unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in the year 2000 and challenged all those Israeli-US plans for a “new Middle East” after the second Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. And the long nine years of war in Syria Hezbollah forced Hezbollah to refine its tactics and armaments and provided Hezbollah with an unprecedented victory. Just as Israel had boosted the creation of Hezbollah, it taught this quasi-state actor all manner of skills and forced it to acquire more training and weapons to repel wars and dismantle the enemy’s objectives. Israel’s former Chief of Staff and Prime Ministerial candidate Benny Gantz believed that Hezbollah had become one of the strongest irregular-organised armies in the Middle East, capable of imposing its rules of engagement and its “balance of deterrence” on the strongest classical army in the Middle East. 

“Show me four or five states with more firepower than Hezbollah: they are the US, China, Russia, Israel, France, & the UK,” Gantz said when speaking at the 2014 Herzliya Conference.

That was Israel’s assessment in 2014. Six years later, last February, Israel’s minister of defence Naftali Bennet said: “For every convoy you hit, you miss five convoys and slowly Hezbollah accumulates the critical mass of rockets [missiles] that threaten us.”

Hezbollah has become stronger than many armies in the Middle East. Hezbollah is no longer the organisation that clashes with the Israelis on a hill or site or ambushes a patrol behind an alley. Rather, in Syria and Iraq, it has successfully experienced different warfare scenarios. It has acquired many advanced weapons and became a strategic threat to Israel if it ever contemplated waging outright war on Lebanon and Syria.

Israel set as its goal bringing down Assad in Syria and separating Syria from the “Axis of Resistance.” Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon said that “Israel prefers ISIS on its borders over Assad.” But Israel, America, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates have lost the war. Israel has now chosen to maintain the conflict because it fears that America would let go. This is why Israel is hitting hundreds of targets in Syria, -most of the time without no strategic value whatsoever.

Sources in the “Axis of Resistance” in Syria say that

“Israel targeted the Iranian HQ at Damascus airport (a building with green glass where Israel destroyed two floors). The following day, Iran restored it and it is back in operation.  Israel has repeatedly targeted warehouses with Iranian weapons but also an abandoned training centre in the Kiswa area that has been empty for years. Their aim is to signal to the US that Israel is threatened and that the departure of the US forces would constitute a threat to Israel’s national security. It is indeed too late for Israeli jets to make any difference to Syria’s capabilities. Iran is not exporting weapons but manufacturing them. If it took Israel 9 years and 300 bombing raids to destroy Iranian warehouses in Syria, it took Iran only one year to refill and equip the Syrian army with much more sophisticated precision missiles- and all strategic missiles are in underground warehouses.”

Iran has only a few hundred advisers and officers in Syria, but it leads some tens of thousands of allies from Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and auxiliary Syrian forces that resemble irregular-organised military formations. 

In Syria, Hezbollah was able to operate in an area ten times the size of Lebanon, which gave it a unique experience any army in the world would have wished to have. It was also subjected to attacks by a NATO member, Turkey, which used armed drones on the battlefield. That provided Hezbollah with a wealth of experience and taught them lessons that have become integrated into curricula at military schools and colleges in Iran with Hezbollah and their allies.

President Assad does not say that it is time for his allies (especially Hezbollah) to leave Syria. Rather, he says – according to this source – that “Syria has a debt to Hezbollah. Wherever Hezbollah wants to be, it will be also Syria’s wishes.” America and Israel created an unbreakable alliance between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah has started to harvest its gains. Hezbollah was able to impose the name of the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, despite repeated opposition from Saudi Arabia and the US, the losers in the Syrian war. Lebanon remained without a president for several months until General Aoun assumed the presidency.

Hezbollah rejected multiple offers from different countries by giving the Presidency of the Parliament to anyone other than President Nabih Berri, leader of the Amal movement, who has been on this throne for decades. Hezbollah holds the real power – though not all of it – in Lebanon to call for the appointment of the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the Parliament.

As for the premiership, it cannot be assumed without Hezbollah’s approval of the candidate. Hezbollah has sufficient political weight within the House of Representatives and the Presidency of the Republic to nominate or accept the nomination or direct the appointing of a prime minister. Former prime minister Saad Hariri is making sure his daily friendly contacts with Hezbollah are maintained because he would very much like to return to power. Hariri knows that the door to the premiership goes through one gate: Hezbollah.

This does not mean that Hezbollah wants to take control of Lebanon as a whole. Hezbollah leaders are aware that the Druse leader Kamal Jumblatt, Sunni leader Rafic Hariri, the Maronite Christian leader Bashir Gemayel and the Palestinians have all failed in controlling Lebanon and seizing the country. Hezbollah does not want to succumb to the same mistakes and doesn’t wish to control all of Lebanon. This means that the counter influence of other countries exists and is well-rooted in Lebanon. For example, the US ambassador in Beirut is threatening the Lebanese government with a warning not to remove the Central Bank Governor Riad Salama. Also, the US removed a Lebanese-Israeli agent, Amer Al-Fakhouri, via a plane which landed him at the US embassy without taking into consideration Lebanese sovereignty. The US supports the Lebanese army and internal security forces to maintain its dominance over certain key figures.

Syria has given the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, powers in Lebanon that he would not have obtained without the intervention of Israel and the allies in Syria. Hezbollah has managed to preserve its military pipeline via Syria by defeating the Takfiris (al-Qaeda and ISIS) and has prevented them from establishing an “Islamic emirate” in Lebanon and Syria.

Hezbollah’s victory comes at a price: thousands of martyrs and thousands of wounded. However, the resulting harvest is so abundant and strategic that the Lebanese Shiites now enjoy more power in Lebanon and Bilad al-Sham than they have since the year 661 when the fourth caliphate’s Imam Ali bin Abi Talib was killed.

News Stories Avoid Naming Israel

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There are two stories that seem to have been under-reported in the past couple of weeks. The first involves Michael Flynn’s dealings with the Russian United Nations Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. And the second describes yet another bit of espionage conducted by a foreign country directed against the United States. Both stories involve the State of Israel.

 The bigger story is, of course, the dismissal by Attorney General William Barr of the criminal charges against former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn based on malfeasance by the FBI investigators. The curious aspect of the story as it is being related by the mainstream media is that it repeatedly refers to Flynn as having unauthorized contacts with the Russian Ambassador and then having lied about it. The implication is that there was something decidedly shady about Flynn talking to the Russians and that the Russians were up to something.

 In reality, the part left out of the story is that the phone call to Kislyak on December 22, 2016, was made by Flynn at the direction of Jared Kushner, who in turn had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had learned that the Obama Administrating was going to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning the Israeli settlements policy, meaning that for the first time in years a U.N. resolution critical of Israel would pass without drawing a U.S. veto. Kushner, acting for Netanyahu, asked Flynn to contact each delegate from the various countries on the Security Council to delay or kill the resolution. Flynn agreed to do so, which included a call to the Russians. Kislyak took the call but did not agree to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed unanimously on December 23rd.

In taking the phone calls from a soon-to-be senior American official who would within weeks be part of a new administration in Washington, the Russians did nothing wrong, but the media is acting like there was some kind of Kremlin conspiracy seeking to undermine U.S. democracy. It would not be inappropriate to have some conversations with an incoming government team and Kislyak also did nothing that might be regarded as particularly responsive to Team Trump overtures since he voted contrary to Flynn’s request.

The phone call made at the request of Israel was neither benign or ethical as the Barack Administration was still in power and managing the nation’s foreign policy. At the time, son-in-law Jared Kushner was Trump’s point man on the Middle East. He and his family have extensive ties both to Israel and to Netanyahu personally, to include Netanyahu’s staying at the Kushner family home in New York. The Kushner Family Foundation has funded some of Israel’s illegal settlements and also a number of conservative political groups in that country. Jared has served as a director of that foundation and it is reported that he failed to disclose the relationship when he filled out his background investigation sheet for a security clearance. All of which suggests that if you are looking for possible foreign government collusion with the incoming Trumpsters, look no further.

And it should be observed that the Israelis were not exactly shy about their disapproval of Obama and their willingness to express their views to the incoming Trump. Kushner went far beyond merely disagreeing over an aspect of foreign policy as he was actively trying to clandestinely subvert and reverse a decision made by his own legally constituted government. His closeness to Netanyahu made him, in intelligence terms, a quite likely Israeli government agent of influence, even if he didn’t quite see himself that way.

Kushner’s actions, as well as those of Flynn, would most certainly have been covered by the Logan Act of 1799, which bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States and also could be construed as a “conspiracy against the United States.” But in spite of all that the investigation went after Flynn instead of Kushner. As Kushner is Jewish and certainly could be accused of dual loyalty in extremis, that part of the story obviously makes many in the U.S. Establishment and media uncomfortable, so it was and continues to be both ignored and expunged from the record as quickly as possible.

The second story, which has basically been made to disappear, relates to spying by Israel against critics in the United States. The revelation that Israel was again using its telecommunications skills to spy on foreigners came from an Oakland California federal court lawsuit initiated by Facebook (FB) against the Israeli surveillance technology company NSO Group. FB claimed that NSO has been using servers located in the United States to infect with spyware hundreds of smartphones being used by attorneys, journalists, human rights activists, critics of Israel and even of government officials. NSO allegedly used WhatsApp, a messaging app owned by FB, to hack into the phones and install malware that would enable the company to monitor what was going on with the devices. It did so by employing networks of remote servers located in California to enter the accounts.

NSO has inevitably claimed that they do indeed provide spyware, but that it is sold to clients who themselves operate it with the “advice and technical support to assist customers in setting up” but it also promotes its products as being “used to stop terrorism, curb violent crime, and save lives.” It also asserts that its software cannot be used against U.S. phone numbers.

Facebook, which did its own extensive research into NSO activity, alleges that NSO rented a Los Angeles-based server from a U.S. company called QuadraNet that it then used to launch 720 hacks on smartphones and other devices. It further claims in the court filing that the company reverse-engineering WhatsApp, using an program that it developed to access WhatsApp’s servers and deploy “its spyware against approximately 1,400 targets” before “…covertly transmit[ting] malicious code through WhatsApp servers and inject[ing]” spyware into telephones without the knowledge of the owners.”

The filing goes on to assert that the “Defendants had no authority to access WhatsApp’s servers with an imposter program, manipulate network settings, and commandeer the servers to attack WhatsApp users. That invasion of WhatsApp’s servers and users’ devices constitutes unlawful computer hacking.”

NSO, which is largely staffed by former (sic) Israeli intelligence officers, had previously been in the news for its proprietary spyware known as Pegasus, which “can gather information about a mobile phone’s location, access its camera, microphone and internal hard drive, and covertly record emails, phone calls and text messages.” Pegasus was reportedly used in the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Adnan Kashoggi in Istanbul last year and it has more recently been suggested as a resource for tracking coronavirus distance violators. Outside experts have accused the company of selling its technology and expertise to countries that have used it to spy on dissidents, journalists and other critics.

Israel routinely exploits the access provided by its telecommunications industry to spy on the host countries where those companies operate. The companies themselves report regularly back to Mossad contacts and the technology they provide routinely has a “backdoor” for secretly accessing the information accessible through the software. In fact, Israel conducts espionage and influence operations both directly and through proxies against the United States more aggressively than any other “friendly” country, which once upon a time included being able to tap into the “secure” White House phones used by Bill Clinton to speak with Monica Lewinsky.

Last September, it was revealed that the placement of technical surveillance devices by Israel in Washington D.C. was clearly intended to target cellphone communications to and from the Trump White House. As the president frequently chats with top aides and friends on non-secure phones, the operation sought to pick up conversations involving Trump with the expectation that the security-averse president would say things off the record that might be considered top secret.

Politico report detailed how “miniature surveillance devices” referred to as “Stingrays” were used to imitate regular cell phone towers to fool phones being used nearby into providing information on their locations and identities. According to the article, the devices are referred to by technicians as “international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.”

Over one year ago, government security agencies discovered the electronic footprints that indicated the presence of the surveillance devices near the White House. Forensic analysis involved dismantling the devices to let them “tell you a little about their history, where the parts and pieces come from, how old are they, who had access to them, and that will help get you to what the origins are.” One source observed afterwards that “It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible.”

So two significant stories currently making the rounds have been bowdlerized and disappeared to make the Israeli role in manipulating and spying against the United States go away. They are only two of many stories framed by a Zionist dominated media to control the narrative in a way favorable to the Jewish state. One would think that having a president of the United States who is the most pro-Israel ever, which is saying a great deal in and of itself, would be enough, but unfortunately when dealing with folks like Benjamin Netanyahu there can never be any restraint when dealing with the “useful idiots” in Washington.

*(Top image: Benjamin Netanyahu in meeting with Jared Kushner. Credit: PM of Israel/ Twitter)

*This article was originally published on UNZ Review.

China Has Won from Globalism while America Has Lost

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America can’t do without an enemy.  An enemy is what funds America’s largest industry—military spending—and an enemy provides a national security focus which holds our tower of babel together. 

During the Obama regime, Russia was re-established as The Enemy. Trump’s intent to normalize relations with Russia, that is, to erase Russia’s enemy status, brought fire and brimstone down on his head from the military/security complex.  The CIA Director actually denounced the elected American president as a traitor.  The defeated Democrats, seeing the formidable military/security complex aligned against Trump, jumped in to recover their political loss by concocting “Russiagate.”  Trump survived, but lost three years of his first term to a hoax created to drive him from office.

In Trump’s fourth year, the enemy has been relocated.  Now it is China.  Several developments contributed to changing the enemy to China.  One was China’s growing willingness to stand up to Washington’s provocations and to speak back.  One was Washington’s need for someone to blame for America’s large trade deficit.  Another was the realization of China’s manufacturing and industrial prowess and the leadership China is taking in technology as exemplified by Huawei’s lead in 5G.  Disturbed US communications technology companies, neoconservative hegemonic ambitions, and prospects for more military spending to contain China were given lobbying power by Trump’s verbal fight with China.  These conflicts were given more potential by the rise of Covid-19 blamed on China.

A US Senator and right-wing radio speak of Washington making China pay for the cost of Covid-19 to the US by reneging on US Treasury debt obligations to China.  It is hard to imagine a more stupid or implausible idea.  As China could simply sell the bonds into the international market, Washington would need a list of identification numbers on China’s holdings and post them as instruments on which interest and principle would not be paid.  As Treasuries are bought and sold in the market, it is not clear that the US Treasury knows who holds which bonds.

Assuming this scheme could be successfully implemented, the problems begin. Reneging on debt is the practice of third world countries.  If the US adopts this practice, other countries will wonder if their holdings are next.  The market for Treasuries could disappear, leaving the Federal Reserve as the only purchaser.  There would be no point in issuing bonds.  Money would be printed to finance the deficit.

This, in turn, could affect the willingness of other countries to hold dollar-denominated assets such as equities.  This would have negative effects on the stock market. The US dollar could lose its role as world reserve currency, which would mean that Washington could no longer pay its bills by printing money.

Additionally, China has a range of retaliatory measures. The production facilities of many US corporations, such as Apple, are located in China. China is the favored location for the offshored production of US corporations.  These facilities could be nationalized.  In a number of cases the production facilities are not owned by US firms.  Instead, the US firms contract out their production to Chinese firms.  China could stop the production of the products for US firms, steal the patents or brand name, or simply continue the production and re-brand it as a Chinese product.  As the US does not respect laws of other countries or international law, there is no reason for China to respect US law.

The Chinese have mistakenly purchased a number of assets within the US.  If the values of these assets equal or exceed the US assets located in China, the retaliatory policy would not pay for China.

When it comes to law, the US does not play fair. Washington has tried to hamstring Huawei by blacklisting the company and by pressuring NATO allies to reject Huawei technological products such as 5G. This policy has probably done more harm to US semiconductor corporations than to China as it has complicated US sales of chips to Huawei.

Washington’s effort to constrain Huawei’s international business also comprises an attack on the supply chains of global manufacturing, which has to displease first world global corporations.  It assaults the idea of global dependence.

The US trade deficit with China is not China’s fault.  It is the fault of the global US corporations that offshored their production to China.  When the offshored products, such as Apple computers and iPhones, are brought back to the US for sale, they count as imports.  Thus, it is US firms such as Apple, Nike, and Levi that are responsible for the US trade deficit, a responsibility shared by neoliberal economists who tauted globalism, which has come at the expense of first world work forces.

Globalism gave China its manufacturing base.  China should use this base to develop its massive consumer market.  It is not globalism that any longer serves China’s interest.  With the largest consumer market in the world, China should shift its focus to internal development.  The internal market is so vast that exports should be of no concern to China.  China, awash in US dollar reserves that Washington threatens to disavow, has no need for foreign reserves.  China’s strength is in her economy.  This strength should be developed.  The intelligent path for China is to throw away neoliberal junk economics and develop a Chinese economy.

This was the American way during the first half of my life. The US economy was so large that US firms were awash in profits without recourse to sales abroad.  Producing domestically for domestic consumption meant that high value-added, high productivity jobs remained in the US where they fueled the growth of real income that guaranteed a rising aggregate demand, which supported a growing economy and ladders of upward mobility.  Once offshoring began, these ladders were dismantled, and today the result is that American consumers lack the income growth to drive the economy.

China has won from globalism while America has lost.  To avoid the American decline, China needs to cash out of globalism and construct its domestic economy. Not only would this be very advantageous for China, but it would also benefit the cause of peace by reducing points of conflict between the US and China. 

Zionism and COVID-19: Two Viruses that Require the Same Remedy

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On May 15th, Palestinians and their allies around the world marked another Nakba Day on the calendar. The 72nd anniversary of the founding of the Zionist state intersected with the continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. COVID-19 has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and plunged millions more into economic precarity. The devastation of the virus in many ways relates to the ongoing Zionist colonization of Palestine. Nakba Day symbolizes the heinous oppression that Israeli colonialism has imposed upon the Palestinian people and it should come as no surprise that many people sympathetic to the Palestinian cause view Zionism as its own kind of virus. To commemorate Nakba Day, Twitter users all over the world shared the hashtag #COVID1948 to make the comparison between Zionist aggression and COVID-19.

The colonial virus of Zionism reached its deadliest phase of development after World War II. Between 1947 to 1949, nearly 800,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homeland by Zionist security forces. If Palestinians did not flee, then they were massacred. At least thirteen thousand Palestinians were killed over the same period. Nakba Day was the culmination of thirty years of British colonial policy that had all but sold the Palestinian homeland to “the Jewish People,” a euphemism for the Zionist settlers seeking to produce their own colonial empire in the heart of the Arab world.

May 15th itself merely marks the moment when Zionist colonial forces were able to declare an “independent state” of Israel with the help of stolen Palestinian land and the blessings of the Western dominated United Nations. Since Israel’s formation, the viral spread of the Zionist occupation has become no less violent and destructive for the Palestinian people. After losing nearly 80 percent of historic Palestine to Zionist aggression in the Nakba, Palestinians were removed from the remaining twenty percent following the defeat of the Arab resistance to Israel in the 1967 war. Colonial settlement in the West Bank continues unabated and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip live under conditions unfit for human life.

Since 2000 alone, Zionist occupation forces have slain ten thousand Palestinian lives, including over one thousand children. Thousands of political prisoners languish in Israeli prisons. The colonization of Palestine is supported by the United States. U.S. aid to Israel since 1948 totals to around 142 billion USD. Israel also benefits from U.S. protection in the form of diplomatic immunity on the global stage. Despite ample evidence of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and the commission of war crimes, Israel has never been punished by the International Criminal Court or any other U.N. body.

COVID-19 has only given Israel further reason to annex more Palestinian land in the West Bank and intensify economic ruin for Palestinians in Gaza. In this way, Palestinians and their allies in the Arab world are currently struggling with two viruses. The first is the virus of Zionist colonialism. Israeli settlers not only benefit from the oppression of the Palestinians but also from a relationship with the U.S. that strengthens an equally destructive imperialist policy employed throughout the region and the globe. Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Libya are but a few allies of the Palestinian people that have either been successfully destabilized or placed under ongoing imperial siege by the U.S., Israel, and their regional allies. Israel’s hand in these regime change campaigns has been verified by strategic documents such as the Oded Yinon Plan published by the World Zionist Organization in 1982.

The second virus is COVID-19. Palestinians in the West Bank have largely been left to the whims of their colonizer in battling the pandemic. Palestinians essentially have no state of their own, but rather an instrument of Israel in the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority only has jurisdiction in portions of the West Bank carved out by the Israeli colonizers. Furthermore, Palestinian Authority officials, especially security forces, have no real autonomy. Israel is ultimately responsible in the final analysis for enforcing social distancing measures and providing necessary medical supplies and other basic necessities. While Israeli officials boast of their success in stopping the spread in segregated cities, Palestinians have voiced concern that the virus is spreading virtually undetected due to a lack of testing capacity. Life under colonial occupation has made the containment of the virus virtually impossible.

Israel’s relationship with Palestine is a reminder that colonialism did not end during the anti-colonial liberation movements that followed the Second World War. COVID-19 and Zionism are two viruses that require the same remedy. The end of colonialism and its violent legacy in the 21st century is the only path to recovery from the Zionist plague. Palestine’s colonial status is a reminder that the principle of self-determination has yet to be applied equally among nations. Zionism must be cut off from its host. This means that the Palestinian people must be given full autonomy through an independent state such as what occurred in the former colonial world. A mere satellite state that neighbors a hostile colonial regime, which is what is proposed by advocates of the two-state solution, cannot stem the tide of land theft, military occupation, and ethnic cleansing without a redistribution of power into the hands of the Palestinian people.

There is a direct connection between nations that have overthrown their formerly colonial or semi-colonial status and success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Vietnam became a truly independent nation in 1975 after its national liberation movement defeated the United States. Vietnam currently reports 0 deaths from COVID-19 due to its swift response to the virus’ spread in China. China, which was the first nation to report the new virus, preserved hundreds of thousands of lives by using its enormous state and mass organizations to test and quarantine citizens living in dense urban centers. And Venezuela, a nation that remains economically vulnerable due to U.S. sanctions, has lost just ten people to the virus through effective mass quarantine measures and popular mobilization.

The collective power necessary to rid of COVID-19’s deadly transmission as well as Zionism’s deadly expansion cannot be achieved in isolation. As Al-Quds day approaches, efforts to develop solidarity with the Palestinian people must be intensified. The American people can fulfill their commitment to solidarity with Palestine by pressuring the U.S. government to withdraw from bilateral military and economic aid relations with Israel. Such pressure should also extend to U.S. wars of aggression abroad that weaken allies of Palestine such as Syria and Iran. Americans must demand that their government cease its pursuit of permanent hegemony—a goal which requires Israel’s unmitigated colonial expansion in the Middle East to successfully achieve.

On the domestic front, there is much work to be done in strengthening the principle of self-determination and combating the spread of the virus. As is the case with Palestine, the two struggles go hand in hand. Native Americans and Black Americans, two oppressed nations ravaged by centuries of U.S.-based colonialism, have also been hit hardest by COVID-19. Furthermore, wonton violence, state repression, and economic disparities continue to shape the lives of people within these communities. A movement for the self-determination of oppressed nations in the U.S. mainland necessarily leads to a situation where the U.S. government must think twice about its unanimous support for Israel’s predatory expansionism. It would also give Palestinians and all oppressed peoples more breathing room to address global pandemics such as COVID-19 and the destruction of the environment. More crises are bound to arise from the innumerable contradictions that the people of the world have inherited from the rise and fall of global capitalism and its imperialist stage of development. The struggle for freedom and self-determination in Palestine will be critical in the broader movement to resolve these contradictions in the days, years, and decades to come.

*(Top image credit: Carlos Lattuf/ Twitter/ MintPress News)

Trump Presidency Will Accelerate the People's Suffering, Biden’s Will Only Slow the Pace Slightly

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Once again, the United States electorate has somehow managed to shoot itself in the foot. Come November, barring any unforeseen occurrence like either U.S. President Donald Trump finally becoming so patently unhinged that he is removed from office, or likely Democratic candidate Joe Biden being publicly diagnosed with dementia, they will be the candidates most obvious to the hapless voters.

Prior to the 2016 election, even my now-late, ultra-conservative mother apologized to a relative visiting her from Canada, saying sarcastically that the U.S. is a small country and Trump and Hillary Clinton were the best we could do. This year does not offer much more of a choice than that one did, if one only looks at the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Yes, a Biden presidency will probably see better Supreme Court justice nominations (it would be difficult to do worse than Trump has done), and it is less likely that Biden will have arrogant, incompetent relatives running around the White House, inserting themselves in areas in which their only interest is profit. But the long U.S. history of war-making will continue, since both parties prefer bombs to diplomacy, and believe firmly that ‘might makes right’. Lobbyists will still write legislation that will be introduced by members of Congress who they have bought and paid for, Black Lives will continue not to matter, and the myth, believed nowhere but in the halls of Congress (if even there) of Israeli democracy will persist. The rich will get richer, and the poor (predominantly people of color) will get poorer. Business as usually in ‘the land of opportunity’.

It seems that the Democrats decided, foolishly, to ‘play it safe’. Once Biden started racking up wins in primaries, his competitors quickly dropped out and endorsed him. Better to maintain the status quo than shake things up. An elderly, white, ostensibly Christian male, the powers that be apparently assumed, probably would have a greater chance against another elderly, white, ostensibly Christian male than would a woman, a person of color, someone gay or Jewish. So what if he generates as much excitement as watching paint dry? He is ‘safe’; he can’t be too black or brown, too young, too gay, too Jewish or too anything else to alienate anyone. Better, it seems to select a bland candidate who can easily blend into the background, than one that voters could actually get excited about. And say what one will about Trump’s base: they are an excited crowd.

So what is a late-middle-aged, white, Christian, socialist ex-pat voter to do? Must he pull the lever (actually, he should say mark the ballot before mailing it in) for the Great Orange Buffoon or Mr. Blend-into-the Woodwork? There are a number of important considerations here.

Foreign Policy:

  • Iran: Which candidate, as president, gives the world the greater chance of avoiding war with Iran? Trump is itching to bomb Iran, and let’s not forget Biden’s vote authorizing war against Iraq for no reason whatsoever. This seems to be a toss-up.

  • Venezuela: Which candidate, if inhabiting the White House, would leave the people of Venezuela to run their own country, and resolve their own problems? Both are proponents of the U.S. interfering in the internal affairs of countries whose system of government is not in keeping with U.S. geopolitical goals. Again, neither is better than the other.

  • Palestine: Would a President Trump or a President Biden give the Palestinian people a better chance at self-determination? Trump has given Israel everything it could possibly dream of, and Biden has said that he would maintain U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of that apartheid nation. He has also stated that he loves Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. And he refers to legitimate opposition to the occupation as ‘incitement’. There is no hope for genuine assistance for Palestine from either candidate.

  • Kashmir: Which worthless candidate, as president, would pressure India to end the current brutal oppression of Kashmir and grant long-overdue independence to that nation? Since the U.S. is India’s largest trading partner, such a lucrative money tap must not be shut off. It will be ‘same old, same old’ with either candidate.

Domestic Policy:

  • ‘Safety Net’: Would Biden or Trump be friendlier to the poor and middle-class? Based on past performance, we must again give this a toss-up, with both disdaining anyone not rich.

  • Civil Rights: Biden’s popularity with Black voters seems to stem mainly from his eight years as vice-president to the country’s first Black president; hardly a resounding endorsement. And Trump and people of color? Since his comments about a white supremacists’ rally included saying there were good people on both sides, we can eliminate him as a champion of civil rights.

  • Taxation: Did either candidate ever see tax cuts for the rich that he didn’t love? No.

  • Environment: Trump has proven that profits come ahead of the environment every time, regardless of the risks to people who must breathe polluted air or drink impure water. Biden has mainly ignored environmental concerns, although his campaign website does address them. But one must wonder how much of this is ‘Johnny Come Lately’ or political pandering.

Based on this, finding a convenient cliff and leaping off it seems like a better choice than voting for Trump or Biden. But before the concerned reader comes to believe that this is the last article from this writer, please be reminded that Trump and Biden are not the only electoral choices. This writer has long since repented of voting for the lesser of two evils, recognizing that by doing so, he was still voting for evil.

Enter Gloria La Riva, running for president representing the Party for Socialism and Liberation, with long-imprisoned indigenous-rights activist Leonard Peltier as her running mate. Their 10-Point Program makes more sense than the Republican or Democratic Party platforms ever have. Theirs is a genuine platform for the common people, not for corporations and their wealthy owners.

As a voter, this writer does have more than one choice. Howie Hawkins, a self-described Green ecosocialist running for the Green Party nomination, is also a viable choice.

To say that the two-party system is broken is like saying that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; it is so obvious as to not need to be expressed. But it is one of those problems that is so big that people don’t see it. If the voters recognized this, and recognized their own power to change it, the problem could be resolved this year. Simply vote for a third-party candidate. There are many others in addition to those mentioned herein (this writer plans to vote for the La Riva-Peltier ticket). Voting Republican or Democratic only perpetuates the problem, at the same time giving the main sources of the problem the validation that they are acceptable to large swaths of the population. When one looks at polls about the major issues of the day, one quickly sees that neither party is in conformity with the will of the electorate. So we must simply stop validating them.

This writer knows this isn’t always easy. We are inundated with campaign ads, either touting the glories of one candidate or the evils of the other. We hear little of Gloria La Riva or Howie Hawkins, candidates whose past experience and current plans put the people first. But information is there; it is up to us to find it, read it and act upon it.

Four more years of Trump will only accelerate the suffering of so many people in the United States and around the world; a Biden administration will only slow the pace slightly. The U.S. can do better, and it must.

*(Top image credit: Business Insider/ YouTube)

The Best Activities for When You Are Really Stressed

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Stress; it can take over your life. And it tends to creep up on you. One minute everything is fine and the next, everything is in shambles. Between dealing with strict work deadlines, piling up bills and all the social obligations that you have to deal with (because FOMO is real), it can be hard to keep it all together.

Regardless of what the cause of your stress is, one thing is clear- you have to learn how to master stress before it masters you. High levels of stress can render you useless and helpless unable to be productive or think clearly. Simply put, there is not a whole lot that you can get done when your mind is fogged up and when your energy is drained by stress.

Stress is inevitable. It was designed to do two things; either build or kill us. Sometimes stress can be just what you need to remain motivated to succeed. However, the problem arises when you let your stress levels get out of control. 

When you allow things to escalate, it automatically puts your body in flight or fight mode, which prevents you from tapping into all your available resources. It is totally normal to have some bad days (such is life) but it is also essential that you pay attention to how you are feeling so that you can keep yourself mentally and emotionally stable. 

If you are looking for tips to help you deal with stress, here are some activities that you can try when you are down in the dumps:

Eat a healthy meal

When we are feeling overwhelmed, most of us instinctually reach for a quick fix. That salty-sweet punch of sinfully delightful snack foods is often what helps to get us through the hard times. But the ice-cream and the cookies will only make you feel good for so long; in the end, it will leave you feeling rotten and maybe even sadder than you were, to begin with.

So instead of reaching for that quick fix in the shape of sugar-rich treats and drinks, grab something super healthy instead. Healthy foods, especially healthy proteins, and complex carbs will give you more energy, which is exactly what you need to face a stressful day. 

Sweet sugary snacks will only make you feel good for a little while; the sugar will cause an instant spike in serotonin (the feel-good chemical) but it will only be temporary.

Exercise is your best friend

If you are one of those individuals that have an all or nothing mentality when it comes to exercise, you may need to re-evaluate your point of view if you want to deal with stress. When life gets in the way that is when you should take your exercise regimen more seriously instead of throwing everything out of the window.

The great thing about exercise is that you will never regret it. If you don’t feel up to working out, try and remind yourself how good you will feel after the workout session. There is always a guarantee that you will feel better after a workout. This is because when you get up and get your body moving, the body releases endorphins, which is what helps you beat stress.

Take a bubble bath

The power of a relaxing bubble bath should never be underestimated when it comes to dealing with stress effectively. Not that any of us need an excuse to draw a foamy relaxing bubble bath, but studies show that taking warm baths regularly can have a positive effect on your mood- a lot more than exercise.

And it’s not just because they make you feel like all your burdens have been washed away. Warm baths help to increase the body’s core temperatures, which consequently strengthens and synchronizes one’s circadian rhythm so that the hormone melatonin can be released. Melatonin is what helps you sleep better for longer.

A warm bubble bath can also be just what you need when you need relief from aches or pain. Nothing can make your stress levels worse than joint pain or lower back pain. As such, the next time you are feeling weighed down and anxious, simply grab your bath salt, bath pillow, an aromatherapy candle and set the perfect scene for you to relax your troubles away.

Light a candle

Aside from creating the perfect ambiance for relaxation to occur, candles can also help you de-stress. The gentle, mesmerizing nature of a flickering candle can help to soothe you, soul while increasing your levels of awareness. The soft illumination offered by a candle can even allow you to attain a meditative state a lot more easily.

If you want to make the most use of your candles for stress, consider investing in aromatherapy candles. Every individual has a trigger scent, which refers to that scent that makes you feel good or the scent that conjures up unpleasant memories from the past. The right scent can have medically healing benefits as well as help you manage the effects of depression or anxiety,

Some of the best scents for dealing with stress include eucalyptus and spearmint, bergamot, as well as ylang-ylang, which is a scent that is native to Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Citrus is also great for combating anxiety; you cannot help but feel less stressed whenever you are greeted by a fresh, lemony scent.

Play a game with your spouse

There’s a lot of easy games out there which are incredibly easy to play - especially now when we’re stuck at home with our significant others. Playing games helps with mental health, overall self esteem and it increases dopamine levels (the thing in our body that makes us feel good about ourselves and others). So buy yourself a ping pong table, a dartboard game or even an adult card game and have some fun with your loved one. Your body and mind will thank you, that’s for sure.   

Final Thoughts

Are you often too hard on yourself? Perhaps you are trying too hard to be the best at everything? Is your calendar already too filled with obligations yet you continue to take up more projects? Are you making the mistake of overcommitting? 

And when it is finally time to rest, relax and take a break, do you often feel guilty for not keeping pace with the hurried schedule that you have forced on yourself? If your answer is yes to all these questions, take a minute to breathe in deep. When you are done, take a closer and honest look at what your expectations are doing to you and your health. 

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: How Are They Different?

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To the casual user of AI technology, the terms artificial intelligence and machine learning are often used interchangeably. One thing that not many people realize is that while these two things are very similar, there are actually a lot of subtle differences between the two aspects, which makes it important to know the distinction. 

While it might be easy to use the terms to represent the same thing, it can and has caused some misunderstandings in the past, so you will want to have a good understanding of the differences between the two topics when delving into the world of artificial intelligence as a whole. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are intricately interwoven with one another, often in inextricable ways that make one part of the other. Even though one is part and parcel of the other, the differences between the two help lend context and understanding of their unique aspects and how they work so well together. Without this basic understanding of the distinction, a lot of confusion can arise when reading and researching the topics, as well as while staying abreast of the rapid growth in this sector of the technology world. 

One of the best ways to explain the way in which these two terms differ is to understand that the term artificial intelligence represents a broad umbrella of all the facets of the technology, while machine learning is a specific subset of this term. Artificial intelligence encompasses so many different aspects, one of which is machine learning, making them differ in the breadth of what they can include. The application of machine learning is very specific to that topic, while the application of artificial intelligence can be more widespread and all-inclusive. 

The topic of machine learning and artificial intelligence is a broad and complex topic that requires a little research to understand the differences fully.

For a comprehensive overview of the wealth of information available, check out Cool Things Chicago’s article titled: 22 Best Artificial Intelligence Books to Read in 2020

Meanwhile, continue reading this article to learn some of the unique things that make machine learning such a specific aspect of artificial intelligence as a whole.

Machine Learning Can Develop Logical Thought

Machine learning is a complex aspect of artificial intelligence that allows computer applications to grow and develop over time after receiving information from outside sources. This sort of processing of information has been part of artificial intelligence, but the specific application of this skill is what makes machine learning unique. Absorbing information and making connections with it is what differentiates machine learning as a specific subset of the overall umbrella. 

Recent advances in the development of machine learning have resulted in the ability of computer applications to apply a logical deduction to the information it receives. Previous iterations of the technology were only capable of linear cause-and-effect processes, but the fine-tuning of machine learning has developed programs that can operate with a logical deduction on par with that of the average high-school student. 

Machine Learning Can Translate Brain Waves

One of the most exciting and potentially life-changing aspects of machine learning is its ability to process information, learn from the information, and then apply what it has learned in practical applications. This happens in small ways every day across all sorts of applications and devices, from learning your searching and buying habits to what programs you use the most. This ability to interpret data and come to conclusions with it is what makes machine learning so special.

Recent advances in this specific aspect of artificial intelligence have resulted in new technology that can examine brain waves and turn those stimuli into text. The promise of this innovation gives hope to people who are unable to speak or communicate, allowing for a potential future in which they might be able to finally communicate effectively. While the advance is still new, it is just another example of how important machine learning is for artificial intelligence as a whole. 

Machine Learning Can Predict the Future

Another one of the most incredible aspects of this part of artificial intelligence as a whole is its ability to process a huge amount of data and use that data to predict trends and developments in the future. Much like data analysts examine the information and use that to determine the most likely effect of similar patterns in the future, these complex algorithms can quickly and efficiently process large amounts of information very quickly. 

The ability of a computer to learn from past data to predict future outcomes is one of the most exciting developments of this machine learning technology. 

Recently advances in the financial sector, for example, have led to a huge increase in the reliance on complex outcomes to handle stock trading and predictions. These computer algorithms can quickly and efficiently analyze a huge amount of data in a very quick period of time, allowing for accurate predictions on the future of certain stocks and companies.

 With every new trade, the algorithms learn intuitively on their own and develop an even more complex understanding of what the future might hold for other similar companies. 

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence go hand in hand, but there are a lot of distinct differences between the two that make them unique from one another. While artificial intelligence is the umbrella term that includes many different facets including machine learning, the specific qualities of machine learning are those things that we see and experience most often. 

Whether you are training your ad preferences without even realizing it or fine-tuning your email to show specific senders more readily than others, we experience machine learning technology every single day. 

With the swift development and boundless potential of this technology, it is important to understand the difference between the two and why it is important to use the right term when researching this complex technology. Once you understand the difference, you will quickly see how much machine learning has influenced and will continue to influence our lives.

5 B2B Marketing Tips That You Should Definitely Try Out in 2020

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We’re coming up to the end of the year, and as usual, the digital marketing industry has completely changed. The marketing world never sits still, and this can be quite frustrating from a business perspective.

Once you think you’ve got your digital marketing campaigns sorted- boom. A new social media platform launches or an algorithm changes, and it all gets flipped on its head. It’s annoying, right?

Digital marketing for B2B campaigns can be particularly tricky to perfect. Businesses are always looking for new and innovative ways to get their name in front of other businesses, and as of late, it’s become particularly saturated on the internet.

With that being said, what are the best ways for you to get your company’s message out there in the new year to your clients? That’s what we’ll be looking at today. In this blog post, we will be taking a look at 5 key digital marketing tips that you and your marketing team should definitely take a look at in 2020.

Actively track and monitor your digital marketing efforts

It’s worth making sure that you start off your new year on the right foot with your tracking and analysis efforts. Data and analytics might not be the most fascinating parts of digital marketing for some, but they are incredibly vital.

A great place to start is to set yourself the goal of understanding the analytics page on each social media platform that you use. You can then use this new found knowledge to keep an eye on how each piece of content you make performs with your audience.

Over time, you’ll be able to see patterns and understand what it is that your audience is looking to gain from your content. This is invaluable data for any marketing team looking for success.

Set yourself clear, attainable goals

Following on from the previous point, make sure that you and your marketing team have clear and achievable goals for 2020. According to Digital Authority, this is one of the most important steps that you can take.

Don’t be vague about it, either. How many people do you want the email campaign to reach? How many clicks on your YouTube video warrants a celebration? The more specific you are, the better.

To be perfectly frank, marketing without a goal in mind is pointless. How are you going to know if your campaign was a success if you have no goals and targets to measure it against? Makeshift marketing is something that many businesses struggle against, and it’s important that you stomp this out in 2020.

Be open to new concepts and platforms

It’s a guarantee that there’s going to be some new and exciting marketing strategies, platforms and concepts in 2020. As we discussed earlier, this is one industry that never takes a day off.

The creativity and innovation in digital marketing is truly awe-inspiring, but it does mean that us marketers never really get a break.

If you really want your B2B marketing to flourish in 2020, you’re going to need to keep an open mind. It’s perfectly okay to have favorite social media platforms or strategies to get a campaign rolling- but this doesn’t mean that it’s okay to get complacent.

To really make sure that you’re making an impact in the new year, try to keep on top of the latest developments in your industry. Stay active on social media platforms like LinkedIn, and keep in contact with your peers.

Keep creating content

This may sound like an obvious point, but you would be surprised at the amount of businesses who are still falling short with their content marketing. Don’t let this be you in 2020.

Having evergreen content is, of course, very beneficial for a marketing strategy. It’s incredibly important to keep creating new and innovative content, though. After all, why should your audience stay with you if you’re always telling them the same thing?

We’d recommend taking some time to research new content forms and ways of producing work. If you always do email marketing, try social media campaigns. If you’ve never tried podcasts before, the new year could be the best time to start. There’s always new ways of producing content to be found.

Always give your audience a CTA

Something that a lot of businesses fail to do is consider their customer’s next step. Getting someone to your website is only half the battle. According to Hubspot, having a meaningful CTA and ideal customer journey is very important, if you want to retain your audience’s attention.

Suppose that you got someone to click on your blog and read it, for example. Great! What happens next? You can’t just leave them floundering and give them a chance to hop over to a competitor’s blog. Make sure that there’s a ‘next blog’ button, a link to your social media pages or an email list subscription button.

A great way to do this is to map out the journey that you’d like your customer to take. Start off on google, and search for your company as your customer would. Then, follow your ideal journey from search, to blog, to product- and see how easy it is to get side tracked and lost on the site. This will help you add in better CTAs and understand how to keep your customer’s attention.

To sum up

While B2B digital marketing may be overwhelming at times, it’s important to remember that it’s not as complex as it may seem. With some careful planning and willingness to adapt to new circumstances, your marketing strategy is sure to land in 2020.

How Israel Instructed Its Worst Nightmare in the Art of War

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We were Hezbollah trainers. It is an organization that learns quickly. The Hezbollah we met at the beginning (1982) is different from the one we left behind in 2000”. This is what the former Chief of Staff and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, said twenty years after the Israeli unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon.

For the first time we met a non-conventional army, but also an ideological organization with deep faith: and this faith triumphed over us. We were more powerful, more technologically advanced and better armed but not possessing the fighting spirit …They were stronger than us”. This is what Brigadier General Effi Eitam, Commander of the 91st Division in counter-guerrilla operation in south Lebanon said. 

Alon Ben-David, senior defense correspondent for Israel’s Channel 13, specialized in defense and military issues, said: “Hezbollah stood up and defeated the powerful Israeli Army”.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the architect of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, said: “The withdrawal didn’t go as planned. The deterrence of Hezbollah and its capability increased greatly. We withdrew from a nightmare”. Barak meant he had planned to leave behind him a buffer zone under the control of his Israeli proxies led by the “South Lebanon Army” (SLA) commander Antoine Lahad. However, his plans were dismantled and the resistance forced Lahad’s men to run towards the borders, freeing the occupied buffer zone. As they left Lebanon, the Israeli soldiers said: “Thank God we are leaving: no one in Israel wants to return”.

*(Israeli soldiers are happy to leave Lebanon in the year 2000.)

In 1982, Israel believed the time had come to invade Lebanon and force it to sign a peace agreement after eliminating the various Palestinian organizations. These groups had deviated from the Palestinian compass and had become embroiled in sectarian conflict with the Lebanese Phalange, believing that “the road to Jerusalem passed through Jounieh” (the Maronite stronghold on Mt. Lebanon, northwest of Beirut, a slogan used by Abu Iyad). Israel intended Lebanon to become the domicile of its Palestinian conflict. It failed to realize that in so doing it was letting the Shiite genie out of the bottle. Signs of this genie began to appear after the arrival of Sayyed Musa al-Sadr in Lebanon and the return of students of Sayyed Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr from Najaf to their home country and residency in the Lebanese Bekaa. Also, the victory of Imam Khomeini and the “Islamic revolution” in Iran in 1979 was not taken into consideration by Israel, and the potential consequences for the Lebanese Shia were overlooked.

The 1982 Israeli invasion triggered the emergence of the “Islamic resistance in Lebanon”, which later became known as “Hezbollah”, and it forced Israel to leave Lebanon unconditionally in 2000. This made Lebanon the first country to humiliate the Israeli army. Following their victory over the Arabs in 1949, 1956, 1967 and 1973, Israeli officials had come to believe they could occupy any Arab country “with a brass band”.

Israeli soldiers exited through the “Fatima Gate” (on the Lebanese border, also known as Good Fence, HaGader HaTova) under the watchful eyes of Suzanne Goldenberg on the other side of the border. She wrote: “After two decades and the loss of more than 1000 men, the chaotic Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon leaves its northern flank dangerously exposed, with Hezbollah guerrillas sitting directly on its border. The scale of the Israeli fiasco was beginning to unfold… After the Israelis pulled out of Bint Jubayl in the middle of the night, their SLA allies, already in a state of collapse in the center of the strip, simply gave up. Branded collaborators, they and their families headed for exile. Behind them, they left tanks and other heavy equipment donated by their patrons. Shlomo Hayun, an Israeli farmer who lives on Shaar Yeshuv farm, said of the withdrawal, “This was the first time I have been ashamed to be Israeli. It was chaotic and disorganized.”

*(Israeli withdrawal (2000) crossing Fatima Gate.)

What did Israel and its allies in the Middle East achieve?

In 1978, Israel occupied a part of southern Lebanon and in 1982, for the first time, it occupied an Arab capital, Beirut. During its presence as an occupation force, Israel was responsible for several massacres amounting to war crimes. In 1992, Israel thought that it could strike a death blow to Hezbollah by assassinating its leader, Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi. He was replaced by his student, the charismatic leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Nasrallah has proved to be more truthful than the Israeli leaders, and thus capable of affecting the Israeli public through his speeches, as Israeli colonel Ronen, chief Intelligence officer for the Central Command of Israel Defence Forces, has said.

The new Hezbollah leader showed his potential for standing up to and confronting Israel through TV appearances. He mastered the psychological aspects of warfare, just as he mastered the art of guerrilla war. He leads a non-conventional but organized army of militants “stronger than several armies in the Middle East,” according to Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, the former Israeli Chief of Staff. 

The Israeli doctrine relies on the principle of pre-emptively striking what is considered as a potential threat, in order to extinguish it in its cradle. Israel first annexed Jerusalem by declaring it in 1980 an integral part of the so-called “capital of the state of Israel”. In June 1981, it attacked and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor that France had helped build. In 2007, Israel struck a building in Deir Ezzor, Syria, before it was completed, claiming that the government had been building a nuclear reactor.

6 years after its withdrawal, Israel declared war on Lebanon in 2006, with the aim of eradicating Hezbollah from the south and destroying its military capacity. Avi Kober, a member of the department of political studies at Bar Ilan University and researcher at the Israeli BESA center said: “The war was conducted under unprecedented and favorable conditions the like which Israel has never enjoyed – internal consensus, broad international support (including tacit support on the part of moderate Arab States), and a sense of having almost unlimited time to achieve the war objectives. The IDF’s performance during this war was unsatisfactory, reflecting flawed military conceptions and poor professionalism and generalship. Not only the IDF fail in achieving battlefield decisions against Hezbollah, that is, denying the enemy’s ability to carry on the fight, despite some tactical achievements, throughout the war, it played into Hizballah’s hands.”

*(“Soon we shall pray in Jerusalem” (Portray Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah).

Israel withdrew from the battle without achieving its goals: it was surprised by Hezbollah’s military equipment and fighting capabilities. Hezbollah had managed to hide its advanced weapons from the eyes of Israeli intelligence and its allies, who are present in every country including Lebanon. The result was 121 Israeli soldiers killed, 2,000 wounded, and the pride of the Israeli army and industry destroyed in the Merkava Cemetery in southern Lebanon where the Israeli advance into Wadi al-Hujeir was thwarted. 

Hezbollah hit the most advanced class Israeli destroyer, the INS Spear saar-5, opposite the Lebanese coast. In the last 72 hours of the war, Israel fired 2.7 million bomblets, or cluster bombs, to cause long-term pain for Lebanon’s population, either through impeding their return or disrupting cultivation and harvest once they did return. “An unjustified degree of vindictiveness and an effort to punish the population as a whole”, said the report of the UN commission of inquiry conducted in November 2006 (Arkin M. W. (2007), Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, Air University Press, Alabama, pp 67-71).

The battle ended, Israel withdrew again, closed the doors behind its army, raised a fence on the Lebanese borders, and installed electronic devices and cameras to prevent any possible Hezbollah crossing into Palestine.

When Israel’s chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi said “Israel instructed Hezbollah in the art of war”, he was right. Hezbollah has learned from the wars that Israel has waged over the years. In every war, Hezbollah saw the necessity of developing its weapons and training to match and overcome the Israeli army (which is outnumbered) and which enjoys the tacit support of Middle Eastern regimes and the most powerful western countries. Hezbollah developed its special forces’ training and armed itself with precision missiles to impose new rules of engagement, posing a real threat to the continuity of the permanent Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.

Today, Hezbollah has sophisticated weapons, including the armed drones that it used in Syria in its war against the Takfirists, and precision missiles that can reach every region, city and airport in Israel. It has anti-ship missiles to neutralize the Israeli navy in any future attack or war on Lebanon and to hit any harbor or oil platform. It is also equipped with missiles that prevent helicopters from being involved in any future battle. The balance of deterrence has been achieved. Hezbollah can take Israel back to the Stone Age just as easily as Israel envisages returning Lebanon to the Stone Age.

Hezbollah is Israel’s worst nightmare, and it was largely created by the Israeli attempt to overthrow the regime in Lebanon, occupy Lebanon, and impose an agreement that Israel could then mold to its own liking. But the tables were turned: a very small force emerged in Lebanon to become a regional power whose powerful support was then extended to the neighboring countries of Syria and Iraq. The harvest journey has begun.

*(Top image: A woman mocking an Israeli tank left behind when withdrawing from south of Lebanon in the year 2000, using its cannon as a hanger to dry cloths. Credit: Younes Zaatari)

If You Think the Coronavirus Lockdown Is Worse Than the Disease, You Don’t Understand the Disease

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It’s no accident that one of the world’s great morons—he who thinks injecting disinfectants and shining bright lights into bodily cavities will save the world from COVID-19—should be cheering on one the world’s most moronic public health policy choices.

The novel coronavirus—aptly dubbed the stealth virus—is highly infectious, if not peerlessly contagious. People can be infected by the virus—and spread the disease to others—for up to two weeks before showing symptoms. Or they can experience symptoms so mild that they’re not aware they’re ill. If we believe it’s now safe to co-mingle with people who aren’t visibly sick, we’re mistaken.

It’s estimated that if no measures to limit the spread of the virus are taken, each infected person will pass on the pathogen to three others. If you do the math, it will soon become apparent that left unchecked, the coronavirus will spread like wildfire. According to standard epidemiological models, a virus as contagious as this will reproduce exponentially until 60% of the world’s population is infected, whereupon the spread will begin to slow. In the end, 90% of us will be infected. With an estimated death rate of 1%, COVID-19 will kill 68.4 million people (the world’s population of 7.6 billion X a 90% final epidemic size X a 1% fatality rate)—that is, if we decide that letting the virus spread unfettered is better than continuing the lockdown until the virus is brought to heel.

To be sure, the overwhelming majority of those infected won’t die, and the fatality rate is miniscule, but a miniscule fraction of a large number (the world’s 7.6 billion people) can be surprisingly large. Only 3% of the world’s population was killed by the Second World War, but we would hardly blithely accept a reprise of that conflict simply because most of us would make it out alive.

If the pandemic is allowed to run its course, millions more will die from other conditions than can’t be treated as hospitals are overwhelmed and doctors and nurses are left bedridden by infection. Millions will die from heart attacks, strokes, other infections, postponed surgeries, delayed cancer treatments, and trauma that over-stressed healthcare systems can no longer accommodate. Economies will teeter, and then collapse, from massive absenteeism, as workers succumb to infection or refuse to show up to work to protect themselves from a now raging pandemic. If you think lockdown is tough, just wait to see what happens when the virus spreads unchecked.

On the precipice of a disaster

Fatigued by the lockdown, a number of countries, jurisdictions, and people, are giving up the fight. They’re lifting suppression measures, or ignoring social distancing guidelines, on the grounds that ‘the cure can’t be worse than the disease.’ The trouble is, if the disease is an out-of-control pandemic whose destination is 68.4 million dead, healthcare systems in collapse, and supply chains breaking down under massive worker absenteeism, it will be far worse than they imagine—and unquestionably far worse than the cure.

In North America, some states and provinces are pressing ahead with the phased reopening of their economies despite the counsel of public health officials that it’s too early; the virus has not yet been brought under control. In some jurisdictions, rather than slowing, the virus has resumed a growth path. The R value, a measure of the virus’s reproduction rate, has climbed above 1.0 in many places—indicating that the number of new infections has returned to an exponential path. In jurisdiction after jurisdiction, economies that weren’t supposed to reopen until the number of new infections had unremittingly declined over many weeks, are now throwing caution to the wind, and inviting populations to begin resuming normal activities.

The idea is to sacrifice some people, mainly the elderly, so we can save the economy. But killing off 68.4 million people so we can get back to work, won’t produce the desired outcome. On the contrary, as bodies pile up in mass graves, economies will collapse—the worst of all possible worlds.

UCLA economist Andrew Atkeson explains:

Under the policy of resuming normal activity now, or in 30 days, the disease is likely to spread rapidly. The dynamics of the disease would build to a crescendo over the next several months. At peak, over 10% of the population would have an active infection at the same time, and the daily death rate is likely to be very high – on the order of 20,000 deaths per day. And all of this would be going on in the context of a completely overloaded healthcare system. One naturally wonders whether under these conditions, Americans would lock themselves down, afraid to go out to shop and work given the illness and death around them, meaning that economic activity would grind to a halt then just as it is doing now under lockdown likely to spread rapidly. The dynamics of the disease would build to a crescendo over the next several months. At peak, over 10% of the population would have an active infection at the same time, and the daily death rate is likely to be very high – on the order of 20,000 deaths per day. And all of this would be going on in the context of a completely overloaded healthcare system. One naturally wonders whether under these conditions, Americans would lock themselves down, afraid to go out to shop and work given the illness and death around them, meaning that economic activity would grind to a halt then just as it is doing now under lockdown.

US treasury secretary Stephen Mnuchin has been lobbying for the reopening of the US economy on the grounds that it’s being ravaged by the lockdown. In a tense Oval Office meeting, US national security adviser Robert O’Brien—exhibiting more foresight and critical analytic skill than Mnuchin—told the treasury secretary that, on the contrary, the economy would be destroyed if officials did nothing.

A policy that kills the economy, and dispatches 68.4 million people to early graves, is, come to think of it, the public policy equivalent of injecting Lysol in your arm and shining a bright light up your ass.

*This article was originally published on Stephen Gowans' blog.

Dropshipping for Beginners - What Exactly is Dropshipping?

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If you are looking to start making money through dropshipping, this overview will get you prepared to start succeeding in this type of market. Before we begin, it’s important to understand what exactly it means to dropship items.

This particular business model allows entrepreneurs to tap into the ecommerce market and sell items without having the actual stock yourself. Instead of you physically shipping the item, a third party has your listed item shipped directly to the customer on your company’s behalf. Sometimes even under your company’s name as if it came from your own warehouse. All of this is done without you touching a single piece of inventory or printing out a single shipping label.

Dropshipping provides a simple and low-risk approach for businesses to test out new product ideas without having to pay for large amounts of the product up front. This business model makes it easier for more people to begin participating in creating their own business, because instead of purchasing large sums of inventory, they can invest that money into other aspects of their business.

If you are looking to get started in dropshipping, we have compiled a checklist to get beginner’s understand what it will take to break into the wonderful world of dropshipping.

Select Your Niche Market - When deciding on what to sell, try and focus on items you are genuinely interested in. Starting and running a successful ecommerce business will take a lot of work, so working in a market that you are passionate about will ensure you keep working when things seem discouraging. When looking for potential products, it takes the same amount of effort to sell a low price item as it does one with higher profit margins, so look for items that will make you more money.

Shipping - It’s important to also take into account shipping costs. Even though your supplier or manufacturer will cover the shipping, a high shipping cost can deter potential buyers. Finding inexpensive shipping items or potentially being able to offer free shipping will result in more people purchasing your items. Focusing on traffic to your website should be one of the most vital aspects of dropshipping, and a good way to ensure that is offering products that represent impulse spending.

Research Your Potential Competition - You will probably not be the sole dropshipper for your market, which makes researching your competition very important. Keep in mind that for products with seemingly no competition, that it might be that way because there simply is no demand for those items. Now there may be aspects that are affecting the low demand like high shipping costs, poor profit margins, and issues with manufacturing, so take all of that information into consideration as well. For those items you have with proper competition, base your selling prices at a comparative rate to other companies selling the same things. For more info visit SaleSource, the best all-in-one dropshipping tool.

Find a Supplier - Partnering with the wrong supplier can be one of the main reasons your dropshipping company fails, so it’s crucial to do your due diligence and find the best supplier for your business. Most dropshipping suppliers will be overseas, so communication will play one of the most important aspects in selecting your supplier. Make sure to ask questions about their production capabilities so you have a supplier that will grow with you as your business takes off.

Create a Plan on Acquiring Customers - No matter how great your products are, without customers you don't have a business. Whether it is a Facebook ad campaign or other avenue of spreading information on your company, take the time to create a plan to help attract potential customers. Generating sales and revenue at the beginning life of your company can contribute greatly to quick scaling your new business.

Set Up Your Website - To start an ecommerce business, you have to have a website to display your products and policies to potential customers. There are many platforms where you can easily set up and start creating your online website.

Once you have your basic site set up and revenue is coming in, you can start to look into professional design and development companies to give you website an overhaul, but that isn’t a requirement if you are just starting out.

Dropshipping is an amazing way for budding entrepreneurs to tap into the consumer sales, or even b2b markets and the only thing they need is a laptop or a desktop to sell thousands upon thousands of products. If you’re new to the world of eCommerce and want to find a way to learn about selling online without the need to invest in tons of inventory, then dropshipping may be the route for you!

Nahj al-Balagha: An Encyclopedia of Islamic Culture

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Yesterday, the 21st of Ramadan marked the day on which Imam Ali, the first Imam of Shia thought died after being attacked while saying his morning prayers. In Shia faith, he is a martyr.

I will not take this opportunity to talk about his assassination, or mourn him. The personality of Imam Ali had long oriented the studies, writing, analysis, and comments of various groups of scholars and thinkers from different religious backgrounds. His speech had the great impact on providing Arabic language and literature with wisdoms and orations.

After the Quran, Imam Ali’s ‘Nahjul-Balagha’ is the greatest example of linguistic eloquence to have graced mankind. It is second only to the Quran in its deep meanings and serves as a living exegesis of the meanings of the Quran, since Imam Ali is himself the “speaking Quran” as per Shi’i thought.

Nahj al-Balagha is an encyclopedia of Islamic culture, and after the words of the holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s tradition, it is considered the widest recognized and accredited Islamic resource of such unique religious value.

The importance of Nahjul-Balagha, which al-Sharif al-Radi undertook the thorough task of compiling, lies in the facts that it stands as a testament to the high linguistic eloquence held by Imam Ali to an extent he was cursed by his enemies for his eloquence. It is also important because it allows people to know how Imam Ali responded to certain situations [one of the most important would be the Shaqahqiya sermon on his patience to the usurping of the succession], how he thought, how he saw God, his ethics, his way of life.

Nahjul-Balagha in itself, became a way of life for lovers of Imam Ali of all religions.

Imam Ali’s noble qualities are reflected in his sermons, letters and sayings which flood with mercy when talking about all human beings. For instance, in his Letter 53 in an order to one of his companions Maalik al-Ashtar "Remember, Maalik; that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you have; they are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than that of yours, they are human beings like you." Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that human beings are inclined to, they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and unintentionally without realizing the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you.”

Also, in a commandment to his son Al-Hassan after the Battle of Siffin, he said “O’ my son, make yourself the criterion between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself. Do not oppress as you do not like to be oppressed. Do good to others as you like good to be done to you. Regard as bad of yourself whatever you regard bad of others. Accept that (treatment) from others which you would like others to accept from you. Do not talk about what you do not know even though what you know is little. Do not say to others what you do not like to be said to you.”

Therefore it is not surprising that Christian authors and poets such Abdul Masih Antioch, George Gerdak, Boulos Salameh and others have written on the lofty and noble qualities of Imam Ali (as) such as benevolent indisposition, bravery, broadmindedness and martyrdom in the true senses of the words. The majority of these figures who got acquainted with the personality of Imam Ali were Arabs, perhaps due to their access to Arabic language. However, French philosopher and orientalist Henry Corbin who said “The status and effect of this book relates to its doctrinal aspects aimed at setting logical relationships in the world, establishing a correct approach of arriving at conclusions, creating technical terms in Arabic: terms of such great beauty, literary and philosophical richness to have entered the Arabic language.”

Here are a few verses of Salameh’s famous poem on Imam Ali in which he says:

Say not Shias are the only lovers of Ali, for every faithful person is a Shia

The pride to all history, he is…and not just to people who have taken him Wali (guardian)

Oh Prince of Eloquence to you I pay pledge, I thank the Lord that I was born to be faithful,

His love has occupied the heart of a Christian, with intense love he became an Alawite

I am that who adores heroism, inspiration…I am that who adores justice, manners and good will

If Ali was not a Prophet, he was of these prophetic manners

Oh skies bear witness, and lands be submissive, for I have just recalled Ali

Why U.S. Must Be Prosecuted for Its War Crimes Against Iraq

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The reason why the U.S. Government must be prosecuted for its war-crimes against Iraq is that they are so horrific and there are so many of them, and international law crumbles until they become prosecuted and severely punished for what they did. We therefore now have internationally a lawless world (or “World Order”) in which “Might makes right,” and in which there is really no effective international law, at all. This is merely gangster “law,” ruling on an international level. It is what Hitler and his Axis of fascist imperialists had imposed upon the world until the Allies — U.S. under FDR, UK under Churchill, and U.S.S.R. under Stalin — defeated it, and established the United Nations. Furthermore, America’s leaders deceived the American public into perpetrating this invasion and occupation, of a foreign country (Iraq) that had never threatened the United States; and, so, this invasion and subsequent military occupation constitutes the very epitome of “aggressive war” — unwarranted and illegal international aggression. (Hitler, similarly to George W. Bush, would never have been able to obtain the support of his people to invade if he had not lied, or “deceived,” them, into invading and militarily occupying foreign countries that had never threatened Germany, such as Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia. This — Hitler’s lie-based aggressions — was the core of what the Nazis were hung for, and yet America now does it.)

As Peter Dyer wrote in 2006, about “Iraq & the Nuremberg Precedent”:

Invoking the precedent set by the United States and its allies at the Nuremberg trial in 1946, there can be no doubt that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a war of aggression. There was no imminent threat to U.S. security nor to the security of the world. The invasion violated the U.N. Charter as well as U.N. Security Council Resolution #1441.

The Nuremberg precedent calls for no less than the arrest and prosecution of those individuals responsible for the invasion of Iraq, beginning with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleez[z]a Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Take, for example, Condoleezza Rice, who famously warned “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” (That warning was one of the most effective lies in order to deceive the American public into invading Iraq, because President Bush had had no real evidence, at all, that there still remained any WMD in Iraq after the U.N. had destroyed them all, and left Iraq in 1998 — and he knew this; he was informed of this; he knew that he had no real evidence, at all: he offered none; it was all mere lies.)

So, the Nuremberg precedent definitely does apply against George W, Bush and his partners-in-crime, just as it did against Hitler and his henchmen and allies.

The seriousness of this international war crime is not as severe as those of the Nazis were, but nonetheless is comparable to it.

On 15 March 2018, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies headlined at Alternet “The Staggering Death Toll in Iraq” and wrote that “our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion,” and linked to solid evidence, backing up their estimate.

On 6 February 2020, BusinessInsider bannered “US taxpayers have reportedly paid an average of $8,000 each and over $2 trillion total for the Iraq war alone”, and linked to the academic analysis that supported this estimate. The U.S. regime’s invasive war, which the Bush gang perpetrated against Iraq, was also a crime against the American people (though Iraqis suffered far more from it than we did).

On 29 September 2015, I headlined “GALLUP: ‘Iraqis Are the Saddest & One of the Angriest Populations in the World’,” and linked to Gallup’s survey of 1,000 individuals in each of 148 countries around the world, which found that Iraq had the highest “Negative Experience Score.” That score includes “sadness,” “physical pain,” “anger,” and other types of misery — and Iraq, after America’s invasion, has scored the highest in the entire world, on it, and in the following years has likewise scored at or near the highest on “Negative Experience Score.” For example: in the latest, the 2019, Gallup “Global Emotions Report”, Iraq scores fourth from the top on “Negative Experience Score,” after (in order from the worst) Chad, Niger, and Sierra Leone. (Gallup has been doing these surveys ever since 2005, but the first one that was published under that title was the 2015 report, which summarized the 2014 surveys’ findings.) Of course, prior to America’s invasion, there had been America’s 1990 war against Iraq and the U.S. regime’s leadership and imposition of U.N. sanctions (which likewise were based largely on U.S.-regime-backed lies, though not totally on lies like the 2003 invasion was), which caused massive misery in that country; and, therefore, not all of the misery in Iraq which showed up in the 2015 Global Emotions Report was due to only the 2003 invasion and subsequent military occupation of that country. But almost all of it was, and is. And all of it was based on America’s rulers lying to the public in order to win the public’s acceptance of their evil plans and invasions against a country that had never posed any threat whatsoever to Americans — people residing in America. Furthermore, it is also perhaps relevant that the 2012 “World Happiness Report” shows Iraq at the very bottom of the list of countries (on page 55 of that report) regarding “Average Net Affect by Country,” meaning that Iraqis were the most zombified of all 156 nationalities surveyed. Other traumatized countries were immediately above Iraq on that list. On “Average Negative Affect,” only “Palestinian Territories” scored higher than Iraq (page 52). After America’s invasion based entirely on lies, Iraq is a wrecked country, which still remains under the U.S. regime’s boot, as the following will document:

Bush’s successors, Obama and Trump, failed to press for Bush’s trial on these vast crimes, even though the American people had ourselves become enormously victimized by them, though far less so than Iraqis were. Instead, Bush’s successors have become accessories after the fact, by this failure to press for prosecution of him and his henchmen regarding this grave matter. In fact, the “Defense One” site bannered on 26 September 2018, “US Official: We May Cut Support for Iraq If New Government Seats Pro-Iran Politicians”, and opened with “The Trump administration may decrease U.S. military support or other assistance to Iraq if its new government puts Iranian-aligned politicians in any ‘significant positions of responsibility,’ a senior administration official told reporters late last week.” The way that the U.S. regime has brought ‘democracy’ to Iraq is by threatening to withdraw its protection of the stooge-rulers that it had helped to place into power there, unless those stooges do the U.S. dictators’ bidding, against Iraq’s neighbor Iran. This specific American dictator, Trump, is demanding that majority-Shiite Iraq be run by stooges who favor, instead, America’s fundamentalist-Sunni allies, such as the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia and who hate and loathe Shiites and Iran. The U.S. dictatorship insists that Iraq, which the U.S. conquered, serve America’s anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian policy-objectives. “The U.S. threat, to withhold aid if Iran-aligned politicians occupy any ministerial position, is an escalation of Washington’s demands on Baghdad.” The article went on to quote a “senior administration official” as asserting that, “if Iran exerts a tremendous amount of influence, or a significant amount of influence over the Iraqi government, it’s going to be difficult for us to continue to invest.” Get the euphemisms there! This article said that “the Trump administration has made constraining Iran’s influence in the region a cornerstone of their foreign policy.” So, this hostility toward Iran must be reflected in Iraq’s policies, too. It’s not enough that Trump wants to destroy Iran like Bush has destroyed Iraq; Trump demands that Iraq participate in that crime, against Iraq’s own neighbor. This article said that, “There have also been protests against ‘U.S. meddling’ in the formation of a new Iraqi government, singling out Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk for working to prevent parties close to Iran from obtaining power.” McGurk is the rabidly neconservative former high G.W. Bush Administration official, and higher Obama Administration official, who remained as Trump’s top official on his policy to force Iraq to cooperate with America’s efforts to conquer Iran. Trump’s evil is Obama’s evil, and is Bush’s evil. It is bipartisan evil, no matter which Party is in power. Though Trump doesn’t like either the Bushes or Obamas, all of them are in the same evil policy-boat. America’s Deep State remains the same, no matter whom it places into the position of nominal power. The regime remains the same, regardless.

On April 29th, the whistleblowing former UK Ambassador Craig Murray wrote:

Nobody knows how many people died as a result of the UK/US Coalition of Death led destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and, by proxy, Syria and Yemen. Nobody even knows how many people western forces themselves killed directly. That is a huge number, but still under 10% of the total. To add to that you have to add those who died in subsequent conflict engendered by the forced dismantling of the state the West disapproved of. Some were killed by western proxies, some by anti-western forces, and some just by those reverting to ancient tribal hostility and battle for resources into which the country had been regressed by bombing.

You then have to add all those who died directly as a result of the destruction of national infrastructure. Iraq lost in the destruction 60% of its potable drinking water, 75% of its medical facilities and 80% of its electricity. This caused millions of deaths, as did displacement. We are only of course talking about deaths, not maiming.

UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair should hang with the U.S. gang, but who is calling for this? How much longer will the necessary prosecutions wait? Till after these international war-criminals have all gone honored to their graves?

Although the International Criminal Court considered and dismissed possible criminal charges against Tony Blair’s UK Government regarding the invasion and military occupation of Iraq, the actual crime, of invading and militarily occupying a country which had posed no threat to the national security of the invader, was ignored, and the conclusion was that “the situation did not appear to meet the required threshold of the Statute” (which was only “Willful killing or inhuman treatment of civilians” and which ignored the real crime, which was “aggressive war” or “the crime of aggression” — the crime for which Nazis had been hanged at Nuremberg). Furthermore, no charges whatsoever against the U.S. Government (the world’s most frequent and most heinous violator of international law) were considered. In other words: the International Criminal Court is subordinate to, instead of applicable to, the U.S. regime. Just like Adolf Hitler had repeatedly made clear that, to him, all nations except Germany were dispensable and only Germany wasn’t, Barack Obama repeatedly said that “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation”, which likewise means that every other nation is “dispensable.” The criminal International Criminal Court accepts this, and yet expects to be respected.

The U.S. regime did “regime change” to Iraq in 2003, and to Ukraine in 2014, and tried to do it to Syria since 2009, and to Yemen since 2015, and to Venezuela since 2012, and to Iran since 2017 — just to mention some of the examples. And, though the Nuremberg precedent certainly applies, it’s not enforced. In principle, then, Hitler has posthumously won WW II.

Hitler must be smiling, now. FDR must be rolling in his grave.

The only way to address this problem, if there won’t be prosecutions against the ‘duly elected’ (Deep-State-approved and enabled) national leaders and appointees, would be governmental seizure and nationalization of the assets that are outright owned or else controlled by America’s Deep State. Ultimately, the Government-officials who are s‘elected’ and appointed to run the American Government have been and are representing not the American people but instead represent the billionaires who fund those officials’ and former officials’ careers. In a democracy, those individuals — the financial enablers of those politicians’ s‘electoral’ success — would be dispossessed of all their assets, and then prosecuted for the crimes that were perpetrated by the public officials whom they had participated in (significantly funded and propagandized for) placing into power. (For example, both Parties’ Presidential nominees are unqualified to serve in any public office in a democracy.)

Democracy cannot function with a systematically lied-to public. Nor can it function if the responsible governmental officials are effectively immune from prosecution for their ‘legal’ crimes, or if the financial string-pullers behind the scenes can safely pull those strings. In America right now, both of those conditions pertain, and, as a result, democracy is impossible. There are only two ways to address this problem, and one of them would start by prosecuting George W. Bush.

*(Top image credir: Carlos ZGZ/ Flickr)

*This article was originally published on the Saker.

Obamagate Shows Biden Is Inadequate in Challenging Trump

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama is coming under increasing pressure, led by what President Donald Trump is calling “Obamagate.” This comes as Mexico has requested to finally clarify the affair with the secret sale of American weapons to Mexican drug cartels. Mexico is asking for the case to be clarified after almost ten years.

In this secret operation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, weapons from the U.S. were sold to Mexican drug cartels. The U.S. claimed that about 2,000 automatic weapons were sold to Mexicans so that the Barack Obama administration could follow their path to the drug cartels. Instead, these weapons were used in massacres. Mexican authorities are now seeking answers from the United States.

In addition to selling weapons to Mexican drug cartels, Obama is responsible for a lot of global upheaval on the world stage - primarily the so-called “Arab Spring” that should be more accurately described as the “Arab Winter” as it brought death and destruction across the Arab world. 

The sale of these weapons to Mexican drug cartels is another ugly legacy of Obama's rule that liberals like to view as one of the best periods of American history. Let’s not forget that in 2009 Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for his apparent “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.”

The majority of U.S. media will most likely try and find appropriate excuses so they can minimize Obama's role in these scandals. It is completely clear that the battle over who will be in the White House in the next four years is now taking focus on the Obama era as of opposed to Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 80,000 Americans and infected more than 1.3 million people.

With endless tweets by Donald Trump dedicated to Obama over the past few days, it is as if the presidential battle in November will be fought between him and Obama, and not Democrat сandidate Joe Biden.

The reason for Trump’s many tweets against the former president was because of Obama's private conversation that was leaked to the public in which he criticized the suspension of the investigation against Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, while he called Trump's fight against the coronavirus epidemic a “chaotic disaster.”

The American president started tweeting on the morning of May 10 and stopped late in the evening, making over a hundred tweets against Obama. This exchange between Obama and Trump is not common in American politics as former presidents usually do not interfere in the politics of their successors. However, there are suggestions that Obama still has connections to the deep state and is actively undermining Trump.

Obama, who openly admitted he would remain active in politics and wished he could contend for a third term, could be exerting influence through Hillary Clinton and Biden. It is likely Obama is becoming more public as Trump's opponent Biden is proving inadequate and incapable of defeating Trump.

The battle between Obama and Trump started with the announcement that the Ministry of Justice is terminating the investigation against former Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn, who was probably the shortest-serving national security adviser in history, was sacked at the beginning of his term on charges of lying to Vice President Mike Pence about talks with the Russian ambassador to Washington. His removal triggered a chain of failed investigations and campaigns against Trump and his alleged links to Russian interference during the U.S. presidential election, which also ended in a failed impeachment.

In private conversations that leaked to the public, Obama described Flynn's acquittal as a threat to the rule of law.

Trump also retweeted statements from CIA agent Buck Sexton, in which he accused Obama of sabotaging the Trump administration in the first days of his term. Sexton also called former FBI Director Andrew McCabe “a dishonorable partisan scumbag who has done incalculable damage to the reputation of the FBI and should be sitting in a cell for lying under oath” 

Trump then continued with accusations on Twitter and said that Obama committed “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” and ended briefly with “Obamagate.”

As for the affair with the secret operation of selling weapons to Mexican drug cartels, journalists of Forbes in 2011 wondered whether that operation would become Obama's “Watergate,” and it appears that it very well could be. Obama’s attempts to smear Trump has not only backfired, but it could have very serious legal ramifications against him and others in his administration.

*(Top image: President Donald J. Trump shakes hands with the 44th President of the United States, Barack H. Obama during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. More than 5,000 military members from across all branches of the armed forces of the United States, including Reserve and National Guard components, provided ceremonial support and Defense Support of Civil Authorities during the inaugural period. Credit: DoD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo)

Source: InfoBrics

Why “Obamagate” Will Never Lead to Anything of Significance

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The word “Obamagate” was thrust into mainstream attention by the concerted efforts of Trump and his surrogates after new details on the early days of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation emerged. These details include Obama officials (including Joe Biden) requesting the unmasking of a conversation between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the FBI’s then-counterintelligence director discussing trying to get Michael Flynn to lie during his interrogation about the Kislyak call, and the revelation that there was never any concrete evidence that Russia hacked the DNC.

These are important revelations that are worthy of mainstream attention, but like basically everything else in this stupid, stupid timeline this issue has instead been reduced to the stagnation of vapid partisan squabbling. Democrats and their allied media are finger wagging at Trump for using “conspiracy theories” to distract from his coronavirus failures, and “MAGA” pundits are once again beating the tired old drum that this scandal is going to bring down major Deep State players and drain the swamp once and for all.

Ever since 2016 both of America’s mainstream political parties have been taking turns screaming at the top of their lungs that earth-shattering revelations are right around the corner which are about to obliterate the other party any minute now, and if you’re still buying into this show I highly recommend you also take up watching WWE, because you’ll definitely love it.

“By any normal standard, former FBI Director Comey would now be in serious legal trouble, as should [former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, et al,” Ray McGovern wrote for Consortium News the other day. “Additional evidence of FBI misconduct under Comey seems to surface every week — whether the abuses of FISA, misconduct in the case against Gen. Michael Flynn, or misleading everyone about Russian hacking of the DNC. If I were attorney general, I would declare Comey a flight risk and take his passport. And I would do the same with Clapper and Brennan.”

Indeed, this would be the “normal standard”, yet it hasn’t happened. Neither Comey nor Clapper nor Brennan are in any legal trouble at all, nor will they be, nor will any other major player responsible for leading America on a crazy collusion wild goose chase which accomplished nothing but distracting from real issues and manufacturing consent for mountains of cold war escalations against Russia.

You will never see Obama or his administration officials brought down by “Obamagate” for the same reason Trump wasn’t brought down by the Mueller investigation: the swamp protects its own. Both Obama and Trump administrations are packed full of crooks and mass murderers who could and should be imprisoned for any number of offenses, but they won’t be, because that would require a prosecutorial body that is separate from the swamp of corruption with which both of America’s mainstream parties are inexorably interwoven. You cannot use the swamp to drain the swamp.

Do you know why Trump never made good on his campaign platform of locking up Hillary Clinton? Besides the fact that their entire conflict has always been fake, I mean? The Trump administration could easily have found grounds upon which to prosecute Clinton if they wanted to, but going after a loyal establishment swamp monster would have brought the wrath of the entire swamp down upon him. As soon as he had a political opponent in office, if not before, Trump would himself be facing criminal prosecution. By collaborating with the swamp you ensure your own protection, and by attacking it you ensure your destruction.

That’s why no serious attempt has ever been made to remove Trump from office; he’s been playing nice with existing power structures without challenging them in any meaningful way. Everyone who knew anything was aware that the Mueller collusion would never go anywhere, and anyone who could count Senate seats knew impeachment would fizzle. It was all kayfabe conflict so that Trump’s “opposition” could present the appearance of opposition without interfering in agendas they themselves support or prosecuting crimes of which they themselves are also guilty.

It’s also why Obama never had any intention of prosecuting Bush’s heinous war crimes, citing “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”. In reality Obama always understood that in order to play the “president” role (and enjoy its massive perks for the rest of his life), he’d need to collaborate with establishment power structures rather than upsetting them. He knew that if he were to go after Bush he’d ensure his own destruction; under “normal standards” prosecution is the only sane and normal response to war crimes, but in the Mutually Assured Destruction environment of establishment corruption, there are no normal standards.

I point this out because it’s painful to watch people on both sides continually getting their hopes up that the big KABOOM is right around the corner which will finally vindicate their worldview and punish their partisan rivals. It will not happen. Trump will not drain the swamp, and neither will Biden or whatever soulless swamp monster inhabits the White House next. You were lied to. It’s good to be aware of surveillance abuses, mass-scale psyops and media malpractice, but definitely abandon hope that any of this will lead to any major changes in the establishment itself.

If we want real change, it cannot and will not come from either of the two mainstream political factions whose primary job is preventing real change. It’s going to have to come from the people; we’re going to have to find a way to punch through the propaganda brainwashing, wake up to reality, and use the power of our numbers to force the changes which will benefit us past all the oligarchic safeguards that have been placed in front of us to prevent us from doing so.

This is a lot less pleasant than believing some magical hero in a white hat is going to ride in and do all our work for us and all we need to do is relax and “trust the plan”. It’s a lot less comfortable than expunging the fake two-party worldview from our minds which vast fortunes and years of conditioning have gone into manufacturing. But it is reality.

___________________________

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so the best way to keep seeing the stuff I publish is to get on the mailing list for my website, so you’ll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, or buying my book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers

*(Top image: U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Former U.S. President Barack Obama wait to exit the east front steps for the departure ceremony during the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. More than 5,000 military members from across all branches of the armed forces of the United States, including reserve and National Guard components, provided ceremonial support and Defense Support of Civil Authorities during the inaugural period. Credit: DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

Trump Creates New Base in Syria and Ships ISIS to Iraq

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The US military has created a new base at Deir Ez Zor, in eastern Syria, after bringing in military supplies, the ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ (SOHR) reported on Friday. Massive reinforcements were observed in the al-Jazat area, just west of the oil-rich area of Deir Ez Zor.  Reports indicated some 300 trucks entered eastern Syria from western Iraq.

300 US military shipments reached al-Jazrat over the past few days, according to ‘SOHR’, based in the UK.  They further reported the US troops are expanding their base at the al-Omar oil field, to the east of Deir Ez Zor, where President Trump ordered his troops to take possession of the Syrian oil and prevent it from being used by Syria.  The US has established numerous illegal military bases in Syria, scattered through the northeast, the Iraqi border, and at the border triangle of Iraq, Syria, and Jordan to the south.

The Syrian government has demanded that all US troops must leave Syria, as they are occupation forces and illegal under international law. However, the Trump administration is dead-set on keeping the Syrian oil wells and preventing the rebuilding of Syria, which has endured 9 years of a US-NATO planned attack for ‘regime-change’, at which they failed.

The Pentagon reported that the US military killed 132 civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia during operations in 2019. However, watchdog groups accuse the US at under-reporting the true tally by hundreds. ‘Airwars’ reported that the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq killed from 416 to 1,030 civilians during the first six months of 2019.  The US began a series of never-ending wars after Sept. 11. 2001, which now spans two continents, and with no ending in sight.

US base at TANF 

The US base at Tanf is located at the triangle where Jordan, Syria, and Iraq meet.  The al-Walid border crossing on the M2 highway is also there, providing a land link between Beirut, Damascus, and Baghdad.  The US established the illegal base in 2016 and created a mercenary army called Maghawir al-Thawra (MAT).  The MAT has been deserting, and their numbers now have dwindled to just about 300 mercenaries. Today, they are not fighting ISIS, but are the war-lords ruling over the 12,000 refugees living at the nearby Rukban camp. MAT has been accused by former camp residents of charging refugees for food and medicines, which had been donated freely by international aid groups. Under international law, the Rukban camp’s residents are an American responsibility; however, the US military allows the mercenaries to administer the camp, and turn a blind eye to crimes against the suffering refugees. 

Tanf has no oil, and the only reason the US troops and mercenaries are there is to prevent transportation along the M2 highway and to assure that the al-Walid crossing is not open to transportation from Iraq to Syria, which prevents the economic recovery of Syria.

The Iraqi border

Iraqi army and their Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have kept the Qaim-Bukamal border crossing open, which is the only Iraqi-Syrian crossing officially operated by both governments. The governments of Baghdad and Damascus share the strategic objective of establishing sovereign control over their borders, which brings the two governments into a partnership.  Military experts among the partners have said the time is coming which will see the full Iraqi-Syrian border secure and without the threat of US occupation forces, who will become increasingly isolated and insignificant. 

Russian moves in Syria

The Russian military recently expanded its presence in Qamishli in northeastern Syria. Reinforcements arrived at the Qamishli airport bringing with them heavy equipment, tanks, and armored vehicles, which coincides with the recent buildup of the US troops at al-Jazrat.

US moves ISIS to Iraq

The US has been accused of moving ISIS terrorists from Syria into Iraq after the 5,000 US forces were asked to leave by the Iraqi parliament. 

Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayati, a leader of the Badr Organization in Iraq said: “Eyewitnesses living along the border with Syria have informed security officials that American forces are conducting extensive airborne transfers of Daesh terrorists from Syria to Iraq.” In January, Iraqi security commentator Karim al-Khikani, said that ISIS terrorists had been transported into Iraq.

The terrorists were entering Iraq from the Syrian border of the former ‘Rojava’ Kurdish area in the northeast.  The Kurds had formerly been US partners in the fight against ISIS, and had captured thousands of ISIS terrorists and held them in prisons there.  Trump ordered the US troops out of Syria, and it was thought the ISIS prisons would be unmanageable, once the US funding to the Kurds was cut. The US military has found a new use for the ISIS prisoners.  By allowing the ISIS terrorists to attack in Iraq, the US troop presence can be justified to stop ISIS.  Military strategists call for using ‘assets on hand’, and ISIS is just the type of asset the US military can use in Syria and Iraq, to justify the US occupation and presence long after they have been ordered to leave. 

Trump has said before, that he wants the US troops in Iraq to stay indefinitely, as a counter to Iran. The US has increased its forces in Iraq and sent more military equipment. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi told US ambassador Matthew Tueller on Saturday, that the country would not be turned into an arena for settling scores and launching attacks on its neighbors. Trump recently said the US was “making a lot of moves in the Middle East and elsewhere.” 

The Syrian end-game

The US under Obama began the attack on Syria in 2011, using terrorists following Radical Islam, which is a political ideology, and neither a religion nor a sect. Trump inherited the war in Syria but cut off the CIA’s operation there in 2017.  In 2016 campaign promises, Trump said he would bring home the US troops from Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East; however, his promises went unfulfilled, as he sent an occupation force to Syria and expanded the US presence there to include looting the Syrian oil.  Trump and his team have an incoherent military footprint in Syria and Iraq. With a seemingly ‘blind leading the blind’ foreign policy in Syria, the chances for miscommunication could further escalate tensions among the various players on the ground: the US, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Syria.

*This article was originally published on Mideast Discourse. 

The Mouse Roars: Australia, China and a Coronavirus Independent Inquiry

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Australia matters little when it comes to international muscle.  It is the retainer and pretender of power, a middle-distance runner who runs out of puff on the final stride.  The big boys and girls look, agog. Why did you even bother?  In the recent international relations shouting match (for Australia, shouting; for China, sotto voce with a touch of menace), you are left with a remarkable impression that Australia has the sort of heft to terrify opponents.  It never has and never will, except when it comes to victimising refugees and bullying neighbouring states in the Pacific, whom they supposedly claim to have respect for.  On all other matters, its best to consult the US State Department dispatches.

With a lack of prudence, the mouse has decided to roar.  The theme tune: Chinese responsibility for COVID-19.  The object: to take the lead in holding Beijing to account for the losses arising from it.  It began with a certain rush of blood arising from a phone call between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US President Donald Trump on April 22.  Morrison emerged from the call brashly confident: an independent inquiry (however oxymoronic) into the origins of the pandemic, should be formed. 

A letter to various world leaders was drafted and sent, and received a generally cool response.  To spend time pursuing such an effort was an unnecessary distraction, taking away from the main task at hand: to battle the immediate effects of COVID-19.

Looking at this behaviour with puzzlement, veteran journalist Tony Walker suggested that Morrison, having created himself a sizeable hole, was intent on digging further.  “Prime Minister Scott Morrison has excavated a diplomatic cavity for himself and his country as a consequence of an unwise intervention in the debate about China’s responsibility for a coronavirus pandemic.”

Beijing is certainly showing signs of assisting an enlargement of that cavity.  China’s ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye has spoken of tourists “having second thoughts” and parents of students reconsidering sending their children to a place “they find is not so friendly, even hostile”.  There have been threats of slapping punitive tariffs on Australian barley (upwards of 80 percent) and halting beef exports. Red meat from four Australian suppliers, who control more than a third of the country’s exports to the PRC, have been banned

The official justification – that Australian exporters had breached quarantine and other health regulations – conceals the retributive motivation of the decision.  Publicly, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is playing dumb.  “Chinese officials both publicly and privately are adamant that these are unconnected and so it is the best interests of our farmers and exporters for us to treat these issues all on their merits, and certainly from our policy perspective these are completely unconnected issues.”

The response to China’s moves has been marked by smugness, and also omits the fact that Australia has been more than happy to impose duties on Chinese steel, aluminium and chemicals for the best part of a decade.  Australian journalists and commentators are confident that Chinese threats to abandon Australian iron ore in favour of Brazilian options are being dismissed.  According to the Australian Financial Review, “there simply isn’t enough of the core commodity used to make steel to meet China’s demand.”  UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock is quoted to add credibility to the claim.  “With the market tight, it is difficult for China to source iron ore from alternative sources.”  The general sentiment at the AFR, then, is that China is simply too prudent to risk self-harming in the matter, given that 62 percent of its iron ore hails from Australian sources.  The same cannot be said about coal.

The strategic fraternity also fail to sight Morrison’s large and self-destructively aimed shovel, with its not so well concealed US inspiration.  Peter Jennings, Executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, actually seems to think that the words “transparent” and “independent” would go hand-in-hand with “inquiry” into COVID-19.  For any such pursuit to be worthwhile, it would have to be divorced from countries who had suffered harm, a decidedly difficult prospect given the virus’ devastating spread. 

Jennings prefers to lob a grenade of accusation or two against China, making the trite point that they have “something to hide”.  He omits the patent truth that China’s great accuser, the United States, has done its fair share of hiding and concealing matters relating to the coronavirus since it started to make its deadly impression. 

It would be hard to forget the various twists and turns of Trump, who has done his heroic best at diminishing the effect of the virus while inflating the efforts of combating COVID-19.  On February 28, he claimed that the virus “like a miracle”, would “disappear”.  On March 4, he trotted out that cruel thesis that influenza kills with greater effect, suggesting that the novel coronavirus was pygmy-like by comparison, a view rejected by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci before Congress a week later.  He has never tired of suggesting that the United States was, and remains, the “most prepared country in the world”. Then there is that most superb of howlers, the suggestion that coronavirus be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body.  (Another lesser known bright idea he entertained: radiating patients with UV light.)

Australia finds itself, not so much an unwitting as a witless attachment in the pandemic politics of COVID-19, but best not let the ASPI tell you about it.  Given that prudence and discretion have been banished from Canberra’s corridors, the issue of swatting Australia for its fanciful presumptions is very much on the cards.  Those in the business of dealing with China in a direct, and it should be said more mature way, may well dread this Morrison moment.

*(Top image: Ambassador Cheng Jingye at the Reception to Celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China; 2019/10/15.)

Remembering Palestine on Nakba Day: Use the Hashtag COVID1948

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Palestinians worldwide have an annual day of remembrance called Nakba Day. Nakba comes from the Arabic al-Nakbah and means “disaster” or “catastrophe.” It takes place on May 15th, the day after the Gregorian calendar date for Israeli independence in 1948. It is an opportunity for a people who live largely in exile to recall what was stolen from them by the nascent Israeli state in 1947 through 1949. An estimated 700,000 Palestinians, half of the country’s Arab Christian and Muslim population, were driven from their homes through a deliberate policy of terrorism officially initiated in January 1948 to drive the Palestinian population out, a clear case of government initiated ethnic cleansing.

The expulsion orders, formulated as Plan Dalet in March, were carried out by the Jewish state’s military and militia forces, to include terrorist groups like Irgun and Lehi. The massacre of Arab civilians at Deir Yassin in April 1948, in which hundreds of civilians died, was, for example, implemented to terrorize the local population, forcing it to flee. In the portion of Palestine that was to become Israel fully 80% of the resident Arabs, many of them Christian, were killed, fled in terror or were compelled to leave at gunpoint.

In the expulsion process, which continued into early 1949, between four hundred and six hundred Arab villages were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, while Palestinians in the larger urban centers were driven from their homes. Those homes were then given to Jews coming from Europe or America and one of the first acts carried out by the new nation Israel’s parliament was to pass laws blocking the return of any Palestinian to his or her home in what was to become the Jewish state. This meant in practice that a European Jew could arrive in Israel on one day and by the next be settled in a former Palestinian home. The legal owner of that home, however, had no right to return or even visit his former property. United Nations demands that the Palestinians should one day be able to return home have been since that time ignored by Israel and unsupported by the United States.

In fact, Israel never intended to allow Palestinians to return to their homes, in spite of the fact that when it joined the United Nations in May 1949 it agreed to "unreservedly accept the obligations of the United Nations Charter and undertake to honor them from the day when it becomes a member of the United Nations." This included an explicit understanding in principle to allow the return of all Palestinian refugees.

Palestinians are to a certain extent wards of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which was founded in 1949 to support those displaced by the Israelis. In 1949 there were less than one million refugees, but today, due to large families and other population growth, the number who technically qualify for UNRWA's assistance is over 5 million. Services include education, health care, food security and other essentials, to some 800,000 Palestinians registered as refugees in the West Bank and 1.3 million people in the Gaza Strip, as well as 534,000 in refugee camps in Syria, 464,000 more in Lebanon and also 2 million in Jordan.  Approximately 1 million refugees have no documents other than an UNRWA identification card.

Israel has long been highly critical of UNRWA and the Donald Trump Administration predictably followed its lead to eliminate funding to the organization in August 2018.

The so-called peace plan being promoted by the Trump Administration has been rightly described as a non-starter as it is a wish list for Israel that will permit annexation of much of the West Bank with a rump Palestinian state that has no control over its airspace, water, borders or defense in place for those Arabs who can be induced to remain. It would mark the clearly perceived end of any Palestinian aspirations for either statehood or even for an acceptable relationship marked by mutual respect with its de facto Jewish overlords.

American antipathy towards the Palestinians, particularly as expressed by Evangelicals, is somewhat surprising as there has long been a vibrant Christian community in Palestine that has been sharply diminished through the actions of the state of Israel. Residents and church leaders describe the nervousness of the tiny Christian communities in Israel, caught between larger Muslim and Jewish populations. Like other Palestinians, Christians face land seizures, arbitrary arrests, home demolitions and collective punishment that come with the Israeli occupation. Recently radical Jewish settlers have become more active, defacing Christian churches and cemeteries while also threatening and spitting on clergy in the streets.

In and around Bethlehem, Christians constituted 80 percent of the population in 1950 and are only around 12 percent today. Jewish settlements have annexed land owned by Christians in many areas. In Israel itself, Christians were 21 percent of the Arab population in 1948 but number only 8 percent today, just 2 percent of the total population. The process has been described as “a quiet ethnic cleansing… not large-scale massacres or large-scale deportations, but it is bit by bit over many years with a variety of policies which Christians are not necessarily attacked as Christians but they are marked by being Palestinians.”

This year Palestinians are expressing themselves on Nakba Day to demonstrate their rejection of the Trump peace plan as well as of the new Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu led government’s intention to annex large portions of the West Bank, to include the entire Jordan River Valley, after July 1st. They have adopted the hashtag #COVID1948, which seeks to equate the current devastation resulting from the coronavirus with the catastrophe that occurred to the Palestinian people in 1948 at the hands of the Israelis. It is reportedly trending on social media and is in one sense an eloquent reminder of the wrongs committed against an entire people, to include a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing that bore fruit in 1948-9. It is also a reminder that the Palestinians are a stubborn and self-aware people who will not just go away because the Israelis and the United States would like to see that happen.

Iran Is Not A Victim, It Is One of The Most Influential and Strong-Minded Nations on Earth.

Soleimani Iran Hero 26624

When facing mortal danger, its people unite, harden themselves and get ready to face invaders, no matter how threatening they might be.

Iran is home to one of the oldest and deepest cultures in the world, and it’s precisely this culture that helps Iranian people to survive the most frightening moments.

And one such moment is sadly, right now.

***

US battleships are sailing right next to the Iranian territorial waters. One mistake, one false move, and war could erupt, engulfing the entire region in flames. Iran is a proud nation, and it takes its independence extremely seriously.

Right now, the country is facing one of the most unjust embargos in human history. It is being punished for nothing; or more precisely, for sticking to all the points of the agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) also known as The Iran Nuclear Deal, which it signed in 2015 with China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany, and which the United States abandoned, without providing any logical explanation. While not particularly happy about the U.S. withdrawal; Germany, France and U.K. are doing all they can not to anger their senior partner, and its leaders in Washington.

Add COVID-19, and inability of the country, due to sanctions, to buy medical equipment, at least in the West, and you have the perfect scenario for a national calamity and even for imminent collapse.

Or more precisely, anywhere else this would be the case, but not in Iran!

After receiving terrible blows from the West, one after another, Iran has never fallen to its knees. It has never abandoned its internationalist and socialist course (socialist, with Iranian characteristics), and it has preserved its dignity.

What it has managed to achieve is amazing, nothing short of heroic, given the circumstances.

***

If you look at the latest, 2019 HDI (Human Development Index, compiled and published by the UNDP), Iran is in the High Human Development bracket, and only 3 steps from the Highest Human Development group of countries. Which is thoroughly amazing, given the above-mentioned sanctions, embargos and constant military intimidations.

Whenever I visit Iran, I am astonished by its public spaces, cultural institutions, public transportation, fountains, comfortable trains… The country is functioning well, showing incredible grace under pressure. Its television channel – PressTV – is one of the most important anti-imperialist news outlets in the world. I don’t see extreme misery, or homelessness, there. Iranians are polite, well-educated and proud. They have to deal with complex exchange rates, which I do not understand. Whenever I pay in a café or taxi, I simply extend my hand full of local currency, and I never get cheated. Things are solid and reassuring there; I feel it and really appreciate it.

Iran is an internationalist country. Not unlike Cuba or Venezuela, who are its long-term allies. Even when injured, itself, it helps others, those who need solidarity even more. This can never be forgotten, particularly in places like Latin America, or Syria.

Hezbollah, Iran’s close ally in the Middle East, is fighting the most dangerous terrorist groups in Syria; those groups that have been injected there by the West, but also by Washington’s allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. But Hezbollah is also essentially the only social net for the poor in Syria’s neighbor – Lebanon. And not only for the Shi’a Muslims, but also for the disadvantaged Sunni citizens, for the Christians, and non-believers. Whoever is destitute in Lebanon, comes to Hezbollah, for assistance. I was based in Beirut for five years, and I know what I am talking about. All this, while the Lebanese elites are burning money in Paris, in Nice, in the nightclubs of Beirut, driving their lavish cars through the slums. And the more Iran and Hezbollah help the region, the more frustrated, outraged and aggressive the West gets.

Look at Palestine. When it comes to the liberation of the Palestinian people from the long and brutal Israeli occupation, the Gulf countries just talk and talk. In the end, some of them side with the West and Israel. The closest, the most determined allies of the long-suffering Palestinian people in the region, are, without doubt, Iran and Syria. That, everybody in the Middle East, knows, and it is only “a secret” to Westerners.

In Afghanistan, particularly in Herat, I witnessed long lines of Afghan people in front of the Iranian consulate. Devastated by the NATO occupation, Afghanistan is in despair, rated as a country with the shortest life expectancy in Asia, and the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) on the Asian continent. Tens of thousands of Afghan people have been traveling to Iran in search of jobs. Without Iran, Herat would most likely starve to death. And now, Iran is searching for ways, (together with China and Russia), how to help Afghanistan to find a political solution, and send the NATO forces packing.

For years, all the Socialist countries of Latin America, could always rely on Iran. Be it Bolivia, before the legitimate government of Evo Morales was overthrown, or Cuba and especially Venezuela. Iran has been building social housing, it was helping with oil technology, and with many other social essentials.

Iraq and Iran, two great nations, in the past brutally pitched against each other by Washington, are once again cooperating, working together. The Western occupation has already thoroughly ruined Iraq (as it has ruined Afghanistan), historically one of the richest countries in the region. However, more positively Iran gets involved in neighboring Iraq, the more aggressively the West behaves. It now habitually crosses all the lines of acceptable behavior. In January 2020, a U.S. drone strike murdered Iran’s national hero, General Quasem Soleimani, while he was traveling right near the Baghdad International Airport.

For years now, Iran has been standing shoulder to shoulder with Russia, China, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba; the nations which are openly and bravely deterring the aggression and brutality of Western imperialism.

It seems that no matter what the West tries to do, Iran cannot be broken. Despite the embargos and sanctions, it demonstrates that it is capable of producing and shooting satellites into space, or of producing its own medical equipment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. While the nation creates its great scientific and technological achievements, Iranian filmmakers keep producing their cinematic masterpieces. What a nation!

Unfortunately, all this is hidden from the eyes and ears of the public, both in the West, and in the client states. There, Iran is portrayed as a “threat”.

***

Look at this irony. On April 30, 2020, Reuters released a report about the German move to ban Hezbollah:

“Last December, Germany’s parliament approved a motion urging Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to ban all activities by Hezbollah on German soil, citing its “terrorist activities” especially in Syria.

On a trip to Berlin last year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped Germany would follow Britain in banning Hezbollah. Britain introduced legislation in February of last year that classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.”

When the West says “Terrorist activities, especially in Syria”, what it really means is “fighting the terrorism injected by the West and its allies, into Syria”. Everything is twisted, perverted and turned upside-down by the propaganda outlets operating out of the United States, Europe, Israel and the Gulf.

“Terrorist activities” outside Syria, also means supporting the Palestinian struggle for independence, as well as at least moral support for Syria, in its attempts to regain the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, an occupation which has never been recognized, even by the United Nations. It also means helping Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Latin American countries, which are brutalized (or should we say ‘terrorized’), relentlessly, by Washington and its allies.

This is precisely the logic and lexicon which was used by German propagandists during WWII, to describe resistance forces in its colonies. Freedom fighters and partisans were labeled as terrorists, in France, Yugoslavia, Ukraine.

***

Even the otherwise mainstream newspaper – The Independent – published on May 1, 2020 a report critical of the bizarre US scheming against Iran:

“The United States is pushing ahead with a scheme to extend a United Nations arms embargo on Iran that is due to be lifted in October as part of the nuclear deal that Washington abandoned two years ago.

To force the extension, Washington will attempt to lobby the Security Council to continue the arms embargo, which bars weapons sales to or from Iran.

But it also is making what legal experts and diplomats describe as a convoluted argument that it is still part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action it left, and hence able to use one of its provisions to “snapback” the embargo.”

This weird political somersault has been, according to The Independent, criticized even by one of Washington’s allies, the French President Emmanuel Macron:

“China and Russia have already vowed to use any means to block the US plan. France’s Emmanuel Macron has been working behind the scenes to sabotage the Trump scheme because of what it sees as an attempt by the White House to destroy international legal norms, said a well-placed European diplomat.”

France, the UK, Germany and other EU countries are not necessarily happy with Washington’s foreign policy towards Iran, but their outrage is far from being moral indignation. Iran is big and it is far from being poor. European companies are losing billions of euros in trade, because of the sanctions. For instance, in the recent past, two Iranian airlines were ready to purchase large numbers of brand-new Airbus aircraft, in order to compete with Qatar Airways and the Emirates. Such plans collapsed, because of the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, and the almost immediate imposition of new, senseless but brutal sanctions against Teheran. Now even Mahan Air, a civilian airline, is facing sanctions, allegedly because of its flights to Venezuela, and to several Middle Eastern destinations.

***

Now, many are perhaps wondering, what triggered, in the West, such hate towards Iran?

There is a well-hidden (again, in the West) secret regarding Iran: “It is a Socialist country. Socialist with Iranian characteristics.”

In his latest and by all means ground-breaking book about Iran (“Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism”), which our publishing house Badak Merah will be publishing later in May 2020, an Iranian author and the PressTV Paris chief correspondent, Ramin Mazaheri, passionately defends the Iranian socialist concept:

“I think that if open-minded leftists would simply become aware of the facts and… modern socialist interpretations of Iran’s policies – many of which I’m sure are being presented in English for the first time – I’m sure that they would not be waiting breathlessly for the collapse of the Middle East’s greatest bulwark against imperialism and capitalism.

It is urgent that Western leftists understand that the reversal of Iran’s popular, democratic revolution would have incredibly negative ramifications for the anti-imperialist movement in the Middle East, and thus the global anti-imperialist movement, and it certainly would be the cruelest loss for Islamic Socialism, which is taken quite seriously in the Muslim world even if atheistic Trotskyism cannot even discuss the concept without resorting to insults.

And, of course, a counter-revolution in Iran would be a major blow for global democracy, as there is no doubt that the Iranian People support their revolution, constitution and unique system in a democratic majority.”

Like Russia and China in Euro Asia and in Asia, like Venezuela, Cuba and before the coup, Bolivia, Iran is spreading hope and revolutionary optimism in its entire part of the world. And it is an extremely wounded part of the world, where hope is absent, but desperately needed.

Spreading hope – that is never forgiven by the Western empire, which, like some gigantic and sadistic prison warden, constantly demands submission, while spreading depression and fear.

In the entirety of modern history, Iran has never invaded, never attacked anyone. Iran is a peaceful nation. But at the same time, it is a powerful, brave and proud country.

The United States and its turbo-capitalist regime understand brutal force, only. They do not comprehend, do not appreciate cultural nuances, let alone depth. Pity! There is so much to learn from Iran and its culture.

Iran will not attack anyone, that is clear as is proven by history. But if physically confronted, it will defend itself, and its people. It will fight, well and bravely.

The West should know: if it triggers a war with Iran, the entire Middle East will be consumed by terrible fire.

[First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook – a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences]

Venezuela Shows World Under No Less Threat of War After Donald Trump’s First Term

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When Donald Trump ran for president in the 2016 election, his criticisms of regime change presented a real opportunity for anti-war voices and organizations to demand an end to U.S. regime change wars abroad. That did not happen. In fact, the Trump administration has become even more bellicose amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Anti-war forces in the U.S. made the mistake of believing Donald Trump would truly make a difference in the bipartisan war agenda. Venezuela is facing the brunt of the consequences.

Despite the economic and social devastation engendered by COVID-19, the U.S. warfare state has been working overtime to achieve its longstanding goal of regime change in Venezuela. On April 29th, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the U.S. embassy would reopen in Caracas and that the U.S. flag would be waving in the country very soon. He followed up these comments on May 1st with fresh accusations that the Venezuelan government transferred assets to Iran in a bid to enrich the Islamic Republic at the expense of the Venezuelan people. By May 3rd, the U.S. had set “Operation Gideon” into motion to violently remove Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro from his elected post.

Operation Gideon was a complete failure. Dozens of terrorists employed by SilverCorp, a private military contractor, have been arrested by Venezuelan authorities with the full cooperation of the Venezuelan people. All evidence points to the operation being led by U.S.-appointed coup leader and “interim” Venezuelan president Juan Guaido with possible backing from the State Department. According to The Grayzone, a leaked contract of the operation indicated that over 200 million USD was funneled from Guiado to SilverCorp to conduct a multifaceted coup operation which would have essentially empowered a private contractor to terrorize working class Venezuelans. The Trump administration has continued to deny any direct involvement in the coup.

Neither Venezuela nor the rest of the world has found any relief from U.S. military aggression amid the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. As the United States rejected the U.N.’s proposed global ceasefire, the Trump administration was organizing its proxies to facilitate a bloody regime change war in Venezuela. Venezuela has received special attention from the U.S. since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Already labeled a threat to U.S. “national security” and reeling from a U.S.-backed rightwing terrorist movement, Trump has subjected Venezuela to harsh sanctions that have killed at least 40,000 people since 2017. In 2019, the Trump administration selected Juan Guaido to serve as the new president of Venezuela even though 80 percent of the country was unaware of his existence and not one Venezuelan had cast a vote for him in a democratic election. President Nicholas Maduro, fresh off surviving an attempted drone assassination in 2018, now has a fifteen-million-dollar bounty on his head courtesy of trumped up charges of narcoterrorism from William Barr and the U.S. Justice Department.

Venezuela is not the only country facing an increased threat of war from the United States since Trump assumed office. The U.S. has slapped tighter sanctions on Iran and is currently pressuring its allies to support an illegal arms embargo initially embedded in the JPCOA agreement that the U.S. left behind in 2018. The U.S. pursuit of an arms embargo against Iran brings the two countries dangerously close to a direct military confrontation. It comes after President Donald Trump threatened naval warfare with Iran over Twitter in late April and more recently vetoed a resolution that would have limited his ability to order military strikes on Iran without Congressional approval. Like Venezuela, Iran has received any respite from U.S. imperial aggression during the pandemic.

Venezuela and Iran are two examples of just how wrong many U.S.-based journalists and activists were about the anti-war composition of the Trump administration. While Donald Trump certainly spoke to war fatigue in the U.S. population, his policy maneuvers to remove U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan have been complimented by an escalation in bombing campaigns in the region. The U.S. dropped a record 7,423 bombs and missiles on Afghanistan alone in 2019. President Trump has also escalated tensions with Cuba and has used deadly drone strikes in nations such as Yemen with more frequency than his predecessor Barack Obama.

But the most damning indictment of Trump’s anti-regime change credentials is the fact that as Commander-in-Chief, his powers to roll back the war machine far exceed any other branch of government. His campaign promises to ease tensions with Russia have gone nowhere. U.S. military activity along Russia’s border remains a dangerous threat to world peace and is part of the Trump administration’s national security strategy of “Great Power Competition.” The doctrine also labels China as a threat to U.S. economic and military supremacy. Trump himself has been hostile toward China since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015. COVID-19 only further emboldened his anti-China cabinet to launch a deeply racist propaganda campaign that blames China for COVID-19 to justify growing U.S. military and economic hostilities directed at the second largest economy in the world.

Donald Trump’s first term as U.S. president has thus done little to curb the threat of global confrontation between the U.S. and major powers such as China and Russia. The Trump administration, far from a steward of peace, has escalated hostilities with Iran and Venezuela while the world battles a pandemic that has taken the lives of nearly 90,000 Americans and over 300,000 people globally. None of this should surprise anyone familiar with U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. military state is comparable to a deadly virus that causes death and destruction wherever it spreads. Conservative estimates of U.S.-induced casualties of war number in the tens of millions since the end of World War II but there has yet to be an accurate count which includes U.S. military’s proxy incursions over the last decade in Libya, Syria, and the Ukraine, to name just a few.

Some may point to the fact that Donald Trump has facilitated discussion with the DPRK’s Kim Jong-Un as a positive sign of his commitment to peace. Others may argue that just having a president willing to raise “regime change” in political discussion is a massive upgrade from prior administrations. Yet it would be mistaken to understand phenomena outside of their context. The people of Korea have struggled for decades to reunify the country and eject imperialism. Just as  Obama was forced to ease relations with Iran and Cuba due to decades of work on the part of these nations to resist imperialism, so too was the strong impulse among the Korean people to mend relations a catalyst in Trump’s decision to make denuclearization of the Korean peninsula part of his foreign policy legacy. Trump’s Korea diplomacy should not cloud the fact that Trump and the U.S. military state stand united on key questions of foreign policy. Nor should it overshadow the massive amount of death and destruction imposed on nations such as Iran and Venezuela as a result of U.S. foreign policy under Trump.

Venezuela, Iran, and the rest of the world’s nations are no safer under Trump because war fatigue in and of itself does nothing to suspend the interests of the U.S. military state. No crisis is too big for the U.S. to consider scaling back its militarist regime. War is a key component of U.S. political economy. Not only is U.S. capitalism shrinking in scale, but U.S. corporations and monopolies also have every interest in cutting off competitors such as China from key resources in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. U.S. capitalism cannot compete with China economically and has thrown much of its weight into military expansionism to maintain global leadership. In this geopolitical context, Venezuela, Iran, and all national governments that resist the dictates of U.S. unilateralism and capitalist penetration must be overthrown and made in Washington’s image. Our only hope for peace lies not in a U.S. presidential candidate or political party but in the capacity of people themselves to demand that a new set of economic and political relations take hold in the United States, one that prioritizes the needs of humanity over the profits of a tiny few.

*(Top image: President Trump Visits with Juan Guaido. Credit: Shealah Craighead/ Official White House Photo)

The American Genie – Engineering a Catastrophe

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The first signs that something terrible had gone wrong with the security at the Fort Detrick bio-defence facility fifty miles north-west of Washington DC were when cases of a previously unknown and serious respiratory illness appeared at a retirement village on the western outskirts of the capital in July 2019.  The first cases were noted on June 30th amongst the 260 residents of the Greenspring Assisted Living unit, with the infectious disease later affecting 19 staff and taking the lives of some older residents.

“The notice that went out on July 10 from Donna L. Epps, an administrator at Greenspring, said several residents had been having symptoms of respiratory illness, including fever, coughing and body aches. Epps’s notice, which says the symptoms recede in about five to seven days with treatment but have caused pneumonia, also announced limits on visitors, enhanced sanitation measures and other steps.”

The story was rapidly picked up, and statements issued to ease concerns:

“-- the two patients who died in the outbreak had been hospitalized with pneumonia but were "older individuals with complex medical problems."

"One of the things about skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities is that when you have a lot of people in close proximity, who have underlying medical conditions, there is an increased risk for outbreaks," he said. "Seeing a respiratory outbreak in a long-term care facility is not odd. ... One thing that's different about this outbreak is just that it's occurring in the summer when, usually, we don't have a lot of respiratory disease."

The Centre for Disease Control was alerted on July 8th and took samples but “was unable to identify the organism responsible”. As if. Perhaps it was just a sensible precaution to close down the Fort Detrick research facility two weeks later, where infection control mechanisms had previously been suspect.

“The statement said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention decided to issue a “cease and desist order” last month to halt the research at Fort Detrick because the center did not have “sufficient systems in place to decontaminate wastewater” from its highest-security labs.”

While the organisms Fort Detrick conducted research on and with included such lethal ones as Ebola, concerns had been raised back in 2015 about their research on genetically engineered and mutant viruses that posed an unacceptable risk to humans should they escape. This research, known as “gain of function” or GOF had been banned in 2014 by the Obama administration, but some programs appear to have continued, and in November 2015 caused scientists to issue a warning. While this warning has been widely publicised, as well as used to support the theory that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab and not from nature, the GOF research it referred to, published a little earlier in Nature medicine has had little attention.

This research was a collaborative project between the scientists at the University of Carolina and a team led by “Bat Woman” Shi Zhengli at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. While the research is complex and the motives obscure, there is little doubt that the researchers successfully engineered a “chimaera” which combined a lethal coronavirus from a bat with one capable of easily infecting human cells, and proved its “gain of function” both in vitro and in vivo.

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*(Shi Zhengli. Credit: Weibo)

Further information has now come to light on evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered following a detailed scientific study into the genome of the virus. Ironically perhaps, the focus of the anonymous analyst seems to have been to incriminate the Chinese government “communist party” and its research lab in Wuhan.  As explained by “GM Watch”, despite this political angle and the suspect anonymity of the unpublished research, the science it presents is very persuasive. Significantly however, they question the analyst’s view that the synthetic virus was designed as a bioweapon, “though it may have been”. They conclude:

“In our view, the evidence presented above shows that there is an urgent need for a credible and independent international investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and the roles played by Shi Zhengli, the Chinese government, and the US bodies that helped fund the virus research at the WIV, including the National Institutes of Health and the EcoHealth Alliance.”

It may be a surprise for some to learn of US involvement in research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but it should be a shock to learn how this collaboration came about and who was involved. As recently revealed in the mainstream publication Newsweek, America’s high-profile scientific expert Dr Anthony Fauci strongly supported GOF research, and following the ban in the US was involved in funding a similar project in Wuhan. That five-year project ended in 2019 and was extended:

“A second phase of the project, beginning that year, included additional surveillance work but also gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans. The project was run by EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit research group, under the direction of President Peter Daszak, an expert on disease ecology. NIH canceled the project just this past Friday, April 24th, Politico reported. Daszak did not immediately respond to Newsweek requests for comment.”

Newsweek notes that Dr. Fauci also did not respond to their requests, and other media didn’t pick up the story. But:

“according to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project description refers to experiments that would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. In the wake of the pandemic, that is a noteworthy detail.

Ebright, along with many other scientists, has been a vocal opponent of gain-of-function research because of the risk it presents of creating a pandemic through accidental release from a lab.”

As well as supporting GOF research, for reasons described by Newsweek, Dr. Fauci was renowned for his work on HIV, and more recently on bird flu viruses. He also was involved in the development of Remdesevir, which he has recently promoted as a treatment for COVID-19 cases despite little evidence for its efficacy, in contrast to the widely used Hydroxychloroquine favored by the US President – and many others around the world.

But the treatment or consequences of the release of this novel Coronavirus are not my concern at this crucial junction point – or rather disjunction point – in history.

Having concluded some time ago that the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was most probably the bio-insecure facility at Fort Detrick, the one question that remained unanswered was how and why it appeared in Wuhan, and what happened in the months before it was first identified there.

A number of impossibly unlikely coincidences led to that conclusion, in particular the first detected appearance of the virus in the hotel where US soldiers stayed during the World Military Games, held between October 18th and 27th 2019 in Wuhan. Coincidentally and indicatively also, a “novel Coronavirus” pandemic simulation exercise was held in New York on the very day the games began, sponsored by and involving some key actors in the health and pharmaceutical industry, as well as significant international experts.

The apparent suppression of reporting on “Event 201” in the mainstream media has led observers to interpret this pandemic rehearsal in the way that other coincidental exercises have been – as further evidence of “conspiracy”. The involvement of CEPI director Jane Halton in Event 201 is the most indicative of these coincidences, given the role Australia is playing in pushing for an “inquiry” targeting China, and Halton’s role in the National Coronavirus Coordination committee.

It is instructive to read the recommendations issued following the Event 201 exercise, particularly on the development of public-private partnerships and on the control of false information in the media, as this is reflected in the control of the “COVID-19 Pandemic” narrative here in Australia.

Although there is a divergence of opinion on how to treat the escalating conflict with China, particularly following the Chinese Government’s actions on food imports from Australia, no-one in the Government, Opposition, think tanks or media is saying that China is not to blame for the pandemic, in some way or another. Influential commentators, as well as union leaders, are portraying the dispute as a choice between taking China’s money or protecting our sovereignty, a position that is both idiotic and mistaken, ignoring the reality of our dependence on Chinese exports and imports.

Australians may not be able to see it, but for the Chinese foreign ministry it is crystal clear – that Australia’s proposals and actions are in no-ones interest, except America’s.

Until now the situation appeared paradoxical. Concluding that the US had intentionally introduced the novel Coronavirus into Wuhan made little sense, given the inevitable blowback. Four months on it is the US which has suffered worst from the Coronavirus Pandemic, while China is restarting its temporarily disabled economy after successfully suppressing the epidemic in Wuhan. Barring some of the wilder conspiracy theories that might see a benefit for some elites and vested interests in health and security in the chaos induced by the lock-downs, the question of “cui bono” remained unanswered, until now.

Some of the US soldiers in the team sent to Wuhan for the games reportedly fell ill and even went to hospital, but it now appears that athletes in teams from other countries were infected by contact with them. Two French athletes recently reported having suffered a strange respiratory illness after returning home from Wuhan, which they now realize was very probably CV19. Apparently similar cases have been reported in athletes from other teams who participated in the Wuhan games, with Luxemburg and Sweden cited in this report. A more recent but still early appearance of a distinct strain of the virus in France suggests an origin in those early cases from Wuhan. The distinct and early outbreaks in Italy and Iran may well have also originated similarly from returning athletes.

So now the possibility arises that far from the Wuhan Military Games being the point where the novel Coronavirus was introduced into China, they were the point from which the infection fanned out across the world, potentially to all the countries participating in the Games. Except for one.

As with Italy and France, they were early reports of an unusually severe pneumonia occurring in the US in December and November, but with cases mistaken for influenza at that time of year, except by the CDC, which recognized the infection as “COVID 19” but kept quiet about it until questioned in senate hearings. Unsurprisingly, China picked up on this admission from the CDC, asking the question to which we now have the answer – “where was your patient zero?”.

Perhaps they may also be considering a new “conspiracy theory” following the revelation of the July outbreak at Greensprings retirement village. This would be my suggestion:

To say that the escape of the Coronavirus Genie from Fort Detrick was a monumental disaster looming for the US health system and for the economy is a gross understatement. As we can see from the way the world has been turned upside down by the chaotic response to the pandemic, being held responsible for this long predicted catastrophe could bring the world down on you. So rather than admit to the viral Genie’s escape and the total failure of the Centre for Disease Control to control this unknown and deadly disease, they had to come up with a plan.

Because of the collaboration with Wuhan on GOF research and the presence of similar or identical viruses at the WIV, a scheme might be devised to plant the infection in the centre of the city and lay the blame for the subsequent predicted pandemic on China. When the virus later reached the US, its already established presence there would be effectively concealed, at least from the public. Concealing such things from epidemiologists and virologists is clearly harder, and it has been noted that while cases in Washington State are closely related to the Wuhan strain, those in New York are not. (It has also been reported that Italy has requested the exhumation of bodies in the US following suspicions on the origins of the Italian outbreak; the US has so far refused.)

I propose that the scheme devised in desperation last summer for this “diversionary tactic”, was to send the Fort Detrick Virus with the soldiers set to compete at the Wuhan games in three months’ time, while trying to keep a lid on the domestic epidemic until the new year, and a lock on the inquisitive media. Rehearsing for the subsequent global pandemic called for “Event 201” to prepare participants for what they might have to face, and bring their organizational and media responses into line. Shi Zhengli’s presence in Wuhan also looks to be an important part of this US operation, with stories about her work with Horseshoe Bats, and her recent insistence on the natural origins of the Virus playing a vital role in the cyber-warfare side of the operation. Given Zhengli’s role in the controversial genetic engineering research project in 2015, those stories are clearly vital disinformation.

Whether this theory is the correct one may not yet be proven, but it does provide an explanation to the conundrum of the genie that was accidentally released from the bottle but intentionally released from Wuhan. And we must all now suffer the consequences of that US “culpable manslaughter” as we learn to live with their engineered Genie. Just don’t take it out on China.

*(Top image: Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper tours the U.S Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID) with Army Brig. Gen. Mike Talley, commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Research Development Command (USARMDC) during his visit to Fort Detrick, Md., March 17, 2020. Credit: DoD photo by Army Staff Sergeant Nicole Mejia)

COVID-19 Lockdown Is Liberalism Last Hurrah

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Ode of a Liberal

They passed the USA PATRIOT Act---and I did nothing because I am a patriot.

They passed the USA Freedom Act---and I believe in freedom.

They nominated Hillary Clinton---and I voted for the lesser evil.

They declared medical marshal law---and I didn’t want to kill grandma.

They said to wear a facemask---and I passively obeyed.

I believe in Joe Biden---because I am a liberal.

In 2010 Chris Hedges declared the liberal class as dead as a doornail.  He was late.  Liberalism had died decades earlier.  All that remains is the separate components of the body of liberalism.  The stinking compounds have decomposed into identity politics.

The cause of death for the liberal class, as Chris Hedges tells us, was gullibility.  Liberals were foolish enough to believe that they could moderate capitalism.  They thought that they could change corporatism by elections, mass movements, whining and begging for incrementalism. 

The liberal class started their negotiations by compromising all of their ethics, beliefs, and powers.  All they got in return were scraps to identity politics.  The power elite did not give up anything it really care about.  The corporatists raped, pillaged and burned with abandon, while liberals wallowed in political correctness. 

Taxes for the rich are the lowest in over 100 years.  The military budget is the highest in history.  The concentration of wealth and income is in the fewest hands. US wars have killed millions of people, and war profits are booming.  Labor unions were neutered. Government is privatized.  The economy has been deindustrialized.  The police are militarized.  The working class has been disenfranchised.  The middle-class is being impoverished.  The poor are criminalized.  I could go on, but you get the point.

And what has the liberal class got in return?  Token integration.  Ending conscription.  Adulthood at 18 years of age.  Women in the workforce.  Acceptance of LGBTQ.  A black president.  The MeToo movement.  Legalized marijuana.  A $1200 bailout.  Help me out here---what else have the liberal class gotten in return for their soul?

Liberals elected Barack Obama, cried on his election night, and then the liberal class went to sleep for eight years.  They though that Obama would do the heavy lifting for them. Instead, he went from bombing three countries to bombing seven, after getting the Nobel Peace Prize for nothing.  He imprisoned and tortured whistleblowers, and he became the deporter-in-chief.  He bailed out the banks, and he did nothing as millions of families lost their homes.  Obamacare has been a bonanza for insurance companies and big-pharma.  Gitmo stands as the legacy of his droning wedding parties, funerals, and for all his other broken promises.  Obama is the reason we have Trump.    

The rich do not care about any of the identity politics and political correctness.  It costs them nothing to make those concessions.  The liberals are not willing to fight for anything of importance, and the corporatists know it.  The corporatists don’t care if Trump or Biden is president. 

Fugget about it:  Bernie Sanders is just a sheepdog, a foil, a professional wrestler, and Kabuki theater actor.  Bernie is the Senator from Lockheed and Israel.  He is a carnival huckster herding the liberal suckers into the big tent.   

The DNC will be happy to keep Trump.  They get to still keep their jobs, their power, their influence, and their gravy train keeps on rolling.  Nancy Pelosi will still get her kicks from gourmet chocolate ice-cream, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will keep making arm-waving rants to an empty House, Ilhan Omar will kowtow to the Zionist lobby, the Congressional Black Caucus will keep voting against blacks; and the banks, corporations, military-industrial complex, Israel, and the well-connected will continue to get unlimited hand-outs. 

Liberals will continue to happy listening to the Democrats’ politically correct platitudes.  Lest I forget, Rachel Maddow and her ilk in the media will still get paid $30 thousand a night to kick around Donald Trump.  And Liberals will commiserate with each other, blame everybody except themselves, and waste another four years without organizing an opposition party.

Medical marshal law reveals just how out of touch liberals are with common people.  Liberals have abandoned the working class, the poor, the incarcerated, the ghettoized, wage-slaves, the indebted, the bankrupt, veterans, the homeless, beggars, red-necks, slum dwellers, the uneducated, and old people surviving on three-figure Social Security checks.  All the liberal class whines about are Trump and their own selfish interests; the so-called middle-class issues.  They despise their natural allies among the people, look down on them as if they are riff raff. Liberals should be uplifting the downtrodden. 

Liberals naively believe the COVID-19 fearmongers. They begged the authoritarians for medical marshal law, and they have grown accustomed to their self-imposed imprisonment.  They would rather give up all of their civil liberties, and those of others, than to risk catching the flu.  The facemask is their badge of obedience, which does more medical and psychological harm to the body and mind.  The facemask is a nasty garb.  It provides the perfect environment for breeding and spreading germs.  Wearing a face mask is humiliating, because it is a symbol of passive submission.

What liberals can never be forgiven for is their abandonment of internationalism.   They have deserted international socialism, leaving socialist countries to be crushed by international capitalists.  While liberals cower-in-place in fear of COVID-19, their passiveness supports the medical blockades against socialist countries.  They are “Good Americans”, just like the Good Germans during the Third Reich. 

Two million Gazans have been forced to shelter in place by fascistic Israelis, since 2007.  Another three million Palestinians have been imprisoned since 1967 in an ever-shrinking isolated West Bank.  There are another 5 million Palestinian members of the diaspora, who cannot return to their homeland, as is their God-given human right.  Palestinian are tortured in Israeli concentration camps.  Liberals can not say they do not know, and their silence speaks volumes. 

Since World War Two the U.S. has killed an estimated 30 million people, none of whom were ever a threat to the US American people.  Ethically, morally and probably legally every US American is guilty of war crimes.  The German people were not let off the hook after WW2.  The US American people stand guilty, as charged.

Liberals know the U.S. government is a pathological liar.  The past two decades have been especially rich with its lies.  George W. Bush winning the election in 2000 was a lie.  The attacks of 9/11 were lies, the invasion of Afghanistan was based on a lie, Iraq weapons of mass destruction were a lie, Iran’s nuclear weapons program is a lie, the Katrina Hurricane response was a lie, the Russian invasion of Georgia was a lie, the 2009 bailout of the Wall Street was based on lies, the Ukraine coup was lied about, Gaddafi’s Viagra was a lie, the moderate rebels was a lie, the lie that Venezuela is a threat to the US is a lie, the White Helmets are a propaganda lie, Russiagate is a lie, the Douma chemical attack was a lie, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons report was a lie, the torture of Chelsea Manning is lied about, the Julian Assange lie is a lie.

So now we are supposed to believe that the government authorities are telling us the truth about COVID-19?  Liberals say that we should believe that lie too, and we should obey.  The first clue that the authorities were lying is that the banks, corporations and the well-connected were bailed out again.  Six-trillion U.S. dollars disappeared overnight.  The second clue was that the U.S. illegal wars of aggression did not stand-down.  There was no break in the illegal U.S. blockades against socialist countries. Instead, there is a campaign of maximum pressure during a pandemic.  The military’s Defender 2020 war-game invasion of Russia was not canceled due to COVID-19.  The power elite do not isolate, wear face masks, and practice social distancing.  We are not in it all together, and COVID-19 has not made us all equal.  Those memes are liberal pipedreams.     

There is no bailout for the people.  There has been no unified response to provide the people with adequate food, healthcare, housing, and financial relief during the imposed lockdown.  The physical, mental and emotional damages caused by isolation are being ignored.  The casualties caused by the medical marshal law goes unreported, if the statistics are even being kept. 

Instead what we see is the permanent stripping away of our civil liberties.  The economy is being restructured for the benefit of big-tech, and more concentration of income and wealth is going to the top.  Yet, liberals meekly accept the assault on the people in silence.  They could at least honk their car horns in solidarity with wage-slave workers.    

Are liberals going to show up when people are evicted from their homes, have their cars repossessed, and their wages garnished?  Are they going to stand in picket lines with workers, who are demanding fair wages?  Are liberals going to storm the state houses and Washington to demand a return to civilian government?  Are liberals going to resist forced vaccinations, contact tracking, snitching, and ID chipping?  Are they going to be standing up for civil liberties and human rights?  Or are they going to be with, and even begging, the corporatists on with their fiendish programs in the name of COVID-19?

Liberals have made “liberal” a dirty word.  Now they are trying to hide behind the identity of progressive.  There is nothing liberal or progressive about making bargains with the corporatists and the power elites.  It is time to bury the putrid body of the liberal class.  It has already become a biohazard more dangerous than COVID-19.

Resist!

*

“Revolt will come from the right.  That the revolt will be funded, organized, and manipulated by the corporate forces is one of the tragic ironies.  But the blame lies with the liberal class.  Liberals, by standing for nothing, made possible the rise of inverted and perhaps soon classical totalitarianism.”--- The Death of the Liberal Class, by Chris Hedges, 2010.

*(Top image: U.S. Regime Has Killed 20-30 Million People since World War II”, Transcend Media Service)

US-Backed Militants Steal a Bank of the Syrian State in Hasakah City then Hand It to US Forces

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Armed groups of the US-backed "Syrian Democratic Forces" have stolen the Syrian Commercial Bank located within the security square of the Syrian state in Hasakah city.

Local sources from Hasaka said that during daylight hours, a large number of “SDF” militants attacked the bank and took control of the entire building after expelling the guards and employees from it and stealing the money and contents there.

The sources pointed out that after controlling the bank, the militants broke the iron fences and the walls surrounding it, then they stole its contents and transferred them to their centers before they handed over the entire building to the American army under the pretext of converting it to a security center.

The sources added that “SDF” militants simultaneously expelled the government officials and students from the Tourism Directorate building in Al-Zohour Street in Hasaka, which is also the high school for Tourism and Hotels and the Technical Institute for Tourism and Hotels. They also changed the door locks of the building, and deployed their security guards and barriers around it.

This is not the first incident of its kind committed by "SDF" militants, as they had previously seized many governmental, military and police departments and institutions of the Syrian state in the city of Hasaka, and turned them into their own security centers with direct US support. Among the buildings seized by SDF: “Civil Status Directorate, Personal Status department, Branch of the fuel company (Sadcob),  Industrial Directorate, The General Authority for Monitoring and Inspection, Gwiran Grain Center, Police departments of Immigration and Passports and Traffic, Central Prison,” and other vital buildings that continue their work to serve citizens in the city.

Surveillance Tech: Leave It to the Mossad and Shin Bet to Profit Militarily and Financially from Coronavirus

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Israel’s external spy organization Mossad and its internal espionage equivalent Shin Bet have reputations that are much larger than their actual successes, but the one area where they have excelled is electronic intelligence gathering. Recent electronic spying around the White House and other federal buildings in Washington carried out by the Israeli Embassy demonstrates that Israel does not differentiate much between friends and enemies when it conducts espionage. In fact, spying targeting the U.S. is probably its number one priority due to the fact that the Jewish state is so heavily dependent on American support that it feels compelled to learn what discussions relating to it are taking place behind closed doors.

Israeli penetration of U.S. telecommunications began in the 1990s, when American companies like AT&T and Verizon, the chief conduits of the National Security Agency (NSA) for communications surveillance, began to use Israeli-produced hardware, particularly for law enforcement-related surveillance and clandestine recording. The devices had a so-called back door, which meant that everything they did was shared with Israel. Israeli cyber-specialists even broke into classified networks with the NSA and FBI aware of what was going on but unwilling to confront “America’s best ally.” President Bill Clinton once quipped to Monica Lewinski that they should avoid using the Oval Office phone because someone might be listening in. He was referring to Israel.

To be sure, the Jewish state’s high-tech sector has been much assisted in its effort by “own goals” provided by the United States, which allows Israel to bid on government contracts relating to national security, virtually guaranteeing that any technical innovations will be stolen and re-exported by Israeli high-tech companies. Major technology innovators like Intel, which works with the NSA, have set up shop in Israel and have publicly stated, “We think of ourselves as an Israeli company as much as a U.S. company.” Vulture capitalist Zionist billionaire Paul Singer has recently been accused of steering highly paid U.S. tech sector jobs to Israel, jobs that are lost to the American economy forever.

So, Israel is a leader in using electronic resources to carry out espionage and collect information on various targets of interest. Israel is also an innovator, and its close relationship with the U.S. intelligence community (IC), most particularly the NSA, means that technologies and procedures developed by the Jewish state will inevitably show up in America.

The U.S. is in any event working hard on its own tools for managing the public, spurred by Covid-19 hysteria. Special ID cards could help track the health status of individuals. This status would be recorded and updated on a chip readable by government scanners that, by some accounts, might be either carried or even permanently embedded in everyone’s body. Another plan being promoted in a joint venture by Apple and Google that appears to have White House support involves “add[ing] technology to their smartphone platforms that will alert users if they have come into contact with a person with Covid-19. People must opt into the system, but it has the potential to monitor about a third of the world’s population” with monitoring done by central computers. Once the legal principle is established that phones can be manipulated to do what is now an “illegal search,” there are no technical or practical limits to what other tasks could also be performed.

DEVELOPMENTS IN ISRAEL

With those steps being taken to control the movements of possibly infected citizens in mind, some recent developments in Israel are, to put it mildly, ominous. The Jewish state is currently achieving multi-level 24/7 surveillance of everyone residing in the country conducted in real time. Investigative reporter and peace activist Richard Silverstein describes in some detail why it is happening now, what it means, and how it works.

Per Silverstein, Israel, like every other authoritarian state, is currently taking advantage of the distraction caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose political fortunes seemed to be on the wane due to three hung elections, exploited the fear of the virus to assume emergency powers and obtain Knesset approval to use a highly classified national database “compiled by the Shin Bet and comprising private personal data on every Israeli citizen, both Jewish and Palestinian. In the aftermath of 9/11, Israel’s Knesset secretly assigned its domestic intelligence agency the task of creating the database, which was ostensibly meant as a counterterrorism measure.”

The database, nicknamed “The Tool,” includes names, addresses, phone numbers, employment, and educational information but it goes well beyond that in using phone tracking data to record every phone call made by the individual to include names and numbers of those called and the geo-location of where the call was made from. Phone tracking also enabled Shin Bet to create a log of where the caller traveled in Israel and the occupied territories. Internet use, if active on the phone, was also recorded. It is as complete and total surveillance of an individual as is possible to obtain and it does not involve any human participation at all, every bit of it being done by computer.

Netanyahu publicly proclaimed his intention to use the database, stating that it would be employed to combat the coronavirus, which he described as a threat to national survival. As a result of the claimed crisis, he and his principal opponent, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, were able to come to terms on April 20 to form a “national emergency unity government” with Netanyahu as prime minister yet again. The exploitation of the fear of the virus plus that revelation about Israel’s powerful technical tool to thwart it produced a victory for Netanyahu, who effectively portrayed himself as a strong and indispensable leader, erasing the stigma resulting from his pending trial on charges of massive corruption while in office. One of the first steps Netanyahu will reportedly take is to replace the attorney general and state prosecutor who were seeking to send him to prison, effectively taking away the threat that he might go to prison.

The exposure of the existence of the database inevitably led to charges that Netanyahu had, for personal gain, revealed Israel’s most powerful counterterrorism weapon. There were also concerns about the significance of the huge body of personal information collected by Shin Bet, to include suggestions that it constituted a gross violation of civil liberties. But carefully stoked fear of the virus combined with some political deals and maneuvers meant that use of the data was eventually approved by the Knesset security committee at the end of March.

Israel, which has closed its borders, and which still has a relatively low level of coronavirus infections and deaths, has already started using the Shin Bet database while also turning the attempts to deal with the disease as something like an intelligence war. The information obtained from “The Tool” enables the police and military to determine if someone were standing near someone else for more than a few minutes. If the contact included someone already infected, all parties are placed under quarantine. Any attempt to evade controls leads to arrest and punishment of a six-month prison term plus a $1,500 fine. Armed soldiers patrolling the streets are empowered to question anyone who is out and about.

Mossad is also involved in fighting the virus, boasting of having “stolen” 100,000 face masks and also respirators from a neighboring country presumed to be the United Arab Emirates. Silverstein observes that “Israel’s far-right government has militarized the contagion. Just as a hammer never met a nail it didn’t want to pound, it is only natural for a national security state like Israel to see Covid-19 as a security threat just as much or more than a health threat.” And when it comes to bioweapons, Israel is no parvenu. Ironically, the hidden story behind the “war on the coronavirus” is that Israel is itself one of the most advanced states in developing and testing biological weapons at its lab at Nes Tziona.

Returning to the emergence of “The Tool,” hardline Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has also suggested monetizing the product by selling a “civilian version of it,” to include its operating system, analytic capabilities, and setup details to foreign countries, including the United States. Israel has already successfully marketed to security agencies and governments a similar product called Pegasus, which has been described as the most sophisticated malware on the market.

Like The Tool, Pegasus does data mining and real-time analysis of individuals based on a range of collection techniques. The Israeli cyber company NSO Group that markets Pegasus was recently involved in an attempt to hack Facebook-owned secure communications system Whats-App, targeting journalists and political activists, on behalf of an unknown client. Ironically, it is believed that Facebook had earlier used NSO Group’s somewhat shadowy services. Perhaps more notoriously, Pegasus was also used to monitor contacts and establish physical location in the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by Saudi intelligence agents in Istanbul.

So, Americans should beware when confronted by the new cyber-security software being promoted by Israel because the Jewish state is also exporting its own vision of a centrally controlled militarized state where all rights are potentially sacrificed for security. As whistleblower Edward Snowden has already revealed, the NSA has the capability to collect vast amounts of information on citizens. If the United States government falls for the bait and moves in the Israeli direction, using that data to enable the surveillance and manage all the people all the time, the temptation will be great to employ the new capability even if its use is not strictly speaking warranted.

And there will be no one there to say nay to the new powers, not in Congress, on the Supreme Court or in the White House. And the media will be on board, too, arguing that security against external and internal threats requires some infringements of individual rights. It is one of the ironies of history that the United States of America, with its vast resources, large population and legacy of individual freedom, has been becoming more like its tiny militarized client state Israel. It is a tendency that must be resisted at all costs by every American who cares about fundamental liberties.

*This article was originally published on the American Free Press.

Biden Can’t Return Things To Normal, Because Trump Is A Normal US President. That’s The Problem.

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“I am with Joe Biden all the way- let’s get this country back to where it was before the orange man started destroying it!!!”, reads a viral tweet by tennis legend Martina Navratilova that was going around recently.

This idea that Obama’s vice president will restore normality to a nation that has been ruined by a highly abnormal president has been a very common sentiment among Democrats for a long time now, and it’s silly for a number of reasons.

Firstly, wanting America to go back to how it was before Trump is wanting the conditions which gave rise to Trump. This is like landing at the bottom of a well and wishing you could go back in time to a few moments earlier when you were merely falling down the well. Wanting the same status quo austerity, exploitation, oppression and warmongering that made people so angry they wanted an obnoxious demagogue to come knock over the whole apple cart in the first place is just rewinding the same horror movie to the scene right before the scene that’s scaring you.

Secondly, this fabled “return to normality” that Biden is supposedly offering is literally impossible, since normality never actually left. Normality never left, because Donald Trump is a very normal US president.

Don’t yell at me, it’s true. This is something people who love Trump and people who hate him will be equally vehemently averse to hearing, but it’s just a fact: Donald Trump is a normal US president. If hearing this upsets you your gripe isn’t with me, it’s with reality.

To be clear, this is not a good thing. Trump has kept the bloodthirsty imperialism, corporate cronyism, Orwellian oppression, neoliberal exploitation and police militarization that holds the US empire together ticking along in basically the same way as his predecessors, in some ways more egregiously and in some ways less so. For all the evils he’s helped inflict on our worldevils he’s helped inflict on our world he still hasn’t done anything as bad as the two wars Bush launched during his first term, or arguably even Obama’s destruction of Libya and attempted destruction of Syria during his.

Trump hasn’t even matched Obama’s deportation numbers, but he has imprisoned Julian Assangere-started the Cold Warkilled tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, vetoed attempts to save Yemen from US-backed genocide, is working to foment civil war in Iran using starvation sanctions and CIA ops with the stated goal of effecting regime change, occupied Syrian oil fields with the goal of preventing Syria’s reconstruction, greatly increased the number of troops in the Middle East and elsewhere, greatly increased the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians, and reduced military accountability for those airstrikes. To name just a few of the ways Trump has continued and expanded upon the depravity of his predecessors just as they did theirs.

Trump is a very normal president, the media just yell about this president a lot more than usual because he puts an ugly face on the horrific normal that was already there. Sure he makes rude tweets and says dumb things and has made a mess of the pandemic response, but by and large when you strip away the narrative overlay Trump has been a reliable establishment lapdog advancing more or less all the same status quo imperialist and oligarchic agendas as the presidents who came before him. There are just a lot of establishment loyalists with a vested interest in spinning the ugliness his oafishness is exposing as caused by and unique to him.

So when they say “Biden 2020, for a return to normal”, all they’re really saying is “Biden 2020, for a depravity you can sleep through”.

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. We can’t say exactly what ‘normal’ is; it will still definitely involve military expansionism, mass murder, ecocide, omnicidal cold war escalations, crushing austerity and economic, social and racial injustice. But by golly, it’ll feel normal.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. Nothing will fundamentally change, but the media will stop screaming in your face all the time about how freakishly abnormal this particular presidency is.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. No, not a return to sanity, peace, prosperity, democracy and equanimity in America; America never had those things, so there’s no returning to them. We just mean we’ll return to making it easier for you not to think about that.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. To when you were able to sleep comfortably through the violence, insanity and depraved psychopathy of the status quo instead of having it unpleasantly drawn to your attention by rude tweets.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. A return to the days where a competent president makes important decisions in accordance with the will of the electorate. That’s right, a return to a fictional fantasy land where you can live in your imagination.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. A return to the days when you could happily pretend that freakish, murderous madness spanning the entire planet is normal.”

“Biden or Trump 2020, for a return to normal. Because ‘normal’ never bloody left.”

Trump is normal. Trump is normal. Trump. Is. Normal. Trump is the thing that normal is.

And that’s precisely the problem.

It isn’t Trump’s abnormality that makes him truly heinous, it’s his normality. It’s his perpetuation of a status quo which is brutal, corrupt, and utterly fascistic. And which got there long before he did.

This is what your government is, America. This is what it’s always been. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, don’t just try to put a nicer mask on it so you can go back to sleep. Change it. Change your normal. Create a new normal.

Trump is everything America is. As one reader recently put it, “Trump didn’t make things the way they are, he is the personification of the situation. If the United States was a suit, then it was tailor made for Trump.”

Trump is normal. If you don’t like your normal, America, then push for real change, not cosmetic change. It’s not going to come from any president. It’s going to have to come from you.

___________________________

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so the best way to keep seeing the stuff I publish is to get on the mailing list for my website, so you’ll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, or buying my book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers

*(Top image credit: Andrea Widburg/ Flickr)

Michael Barker: “Of Central Importance Is That the Ongoing Battle Against Capitalism and Imperialism Is Waged Internationally”

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Mohsen Abdelmoumen: In your opinion, why was Jeremy Corbyn ousted as leader of the Labour Party? Don't you think that Jeremy Corbyn has paid the price of being a supporter of the Palestinian cause and an anti-Zionist?

Michael Barker: Right until the moment that Corbyn took the mistaken position of volunteering to leave his position as Labour leader he still had the support of the vast majority of his party’s active socialist membership. So, although it is true that he came under immense pressure to resign throughout the duration of his time as Labour leader from the vast majority of his Parliamentary colleagues, it is not strictly true that he was ousted. Corbyn and his parliamentary supporters however failed to seriously encourage the types of actions that would have enabled ordinary Labour members to assert any form of democratic control over Corbyn’s opponents, who to this day still maintain their elected positions within the Parliamentary Labour Party. One of Corbyn’s most serious shortcomings revolved around his perpetual efforts to bridge the gap between the socialist membership of the Labour Party and the pro-capitalist elements of the Party. This blurring of class interests served to promote political confusion where clarity was needed and meant that a critical opportunity to reclaim the Labour Party for working-class interests has now likely been squandered.

Of course, Corbyn’s support for the people of Palestine and his vocal opposition to the right-wing State of Israel meant that this longstanding issue became an important point of attack for the warmongering elements of the Labour Party. We would not expect anything less considering that many of those within the Labour Party who attacked him using this issue continue to provide uncritical support for Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing politics, as they do to capitalist politicians all over the world. But I would say the main reason why Corbyn was opposed so viciously by the machinery of his own party was that they felt threatened by his promotion of democratic and socialist ideas, which could open the door to attempts to transfer political power in society away from the billionaire-class and towards the hands of ordinary people.

How do you explain that every time someone defends the just Palestinian cause against Israel's criminal policies, he is accused of anti-Semitism?

Anti-Semites exist in society beyond their most common home on the far right of the political spectrum, and it is true that conservative commentators regularly slur socialist criticisms of the Israeli state as being anti-Semitic when this is rarely the case. Capitalists stoke division and racism within the working-class in order to prevent us organizing effectively against them, and this is the primary reason why individuals on the left are so regularly denounced for their alleged anti-Semitism. This is a very dangerous game that is being played by right-wing politicians, and in the long-run this game can only serve to increase genuine confusion amongst society on this critical matter which can only act to increase the growth of real anti-Semitism.

In your very relevant book "Under the Mask of Philanthropy", you raise the issue of philanthropy in the West. Aren't these philanthropic foundations a scam? Don't they serve big money?

Philanthropic foundations are indeed a scam in much the same way that the entire capitalist system is a scam. Capitalism does not promote the needs of the 99.99% of ordinary people but only exists to service the greed of the 0.01% billionaire-class. Under the current economic system every capitalist enterprise, whether that be their for-profit corporations or their non-profit corporations, that is philanthropies, serve to prop up capitalism. Any good that may be derived from such enterprises is purely secondary to the pursuit of profits.

How do you explain that a minority of 1% controls the majority of the world's wealth?

In the final analysis it has been the historic failure of socialist organizations to overthrow capitalism globally that explains why we still have such massive inequality in society today. It is not Marxist ideas per se that are at fault, but the long and anti-democratic legacy of first Stalinism and then Maoism that contributed to lost opportunities to replace capitalism with a socialist alternative.

As many people know already, the tiny 0.01% minority is only able to maintain their precarious grip on power by waging a relentless offensive against the democratic organizations of our class. Hence huge corporations owned by multi-millionaires, with the active support of capitalist politicians, try to prevent workers gaining access to the immense wealth that our class generates through our everyday work. Many people have already paid with their lives for capitalisms crimes, but if anyone is to pay for this pandemic it should be the corporate scroungers in society. In the UK alone the super-rich fail to pay around £120 billion a year in tax, money that could have been spent on helping ensure our country was prepared to deal with any coming pandemic.

Here in the UK a perfect example of such divisive corporate actions is being played out the food manufacturing sector, where Britain’s key food workers are being treated by their bosses in the most appalling ways. Where I live in the East Midlands, members of Socialist Alternative supporting organizing efforts of local food workers at exploitative manufacturers like Greencore Food Group and Samworth Brothers, and we raise the basic demand that no worker should lose out because of this pandemic. Locally, increasing numbers of workers are now joining the Bakers Union, a good example of a militant union that fights hard for its membership. This perpetual struggle in workplaces up and down the country will only intensify in the coming weeks and months and workers must be firm that under no circumstances will we be forced to pay for a crisis that is not our making.

Don't you think that the exploited peoples of the Earth must have strong organizations to fight big capital and imperialism?

I believe that the most critical factor in determining the success of any socialist organization in waging a successful fight against capitalism and imperialism is that such organizations must be run democratically. The more democratic such organizations are, the greater their ability to marshal the collective strength of the working-class in a unified struggle to overthrow their class enemies. Also, of central importance is that the ongoing battle against capitalism and imperialism is waged internationally. So, exploited peoples across the planet must coordinate their resistance against their capitalist oppressors across all borders. Personally speaking, I am a member of Socialist Alternative, a revolutionary socialist organization that is part of an international body built across all continents called International Socialist Alternative. https://internationalsocialist.net If you are not already part of a socialist organization then I would suggest that you consider joining ours.

Knowing that the mass media are controlled by the establishment and the oligarchy that rules the world, don't you think the working class and the exploited peoples need an alternative press that defends their interests in the face of capitalist domination?

Yes, the capitalists have their own media, so all exploited people need an alternative press to push forward our own working-class interests. Such a press should take no money from representatives of the billionaire-class, be that through advertising or grants, and must be democratically run and funded by ordinary people.

Doesn't the Covid 19 crisis, with the lack of beds, respirators, tests, the precariousness of the nursing staff, reveal the bankruptcy of the capitalist system?

Of course. I couldn’t agree more. Capitalist politicians across the world knew that a pandemic was coming, and yet they still failed to prepare us for the coming devastation. In fact, rather than ready our countries for a deadly pandemic our so-called leaders made decisions that rendered us more vulnerable. In the UK, our health services have had real terms funding cuts for years, while wages and working conditions have been continually ground down too. Moreover, when the British government undertook their latest pandemic planning exercise in 2016 (Exercise Cygnus) they concluded that our country needed to stockpile PPE for our front-line health staff. But rather than invest money in stockpiling PPE our government apparently prioritized other things, like supplying military hardware to the government of Saudi Arabia to allow them to continue their illegal war upon Yemen.

In your opinion, by making health care an economic sector that generates profit, didn't the proponents of the capitalist order break the health care system? Are we not experiencing the consequences of catastrophic management of the public hospital?

Health services should never be linked to the profit motive, but they are. The tragedy is that the acceptance of mass mortalities is a central part of any privatised health care system: those who are wealthy enough and can afford treatment and those who can’t… well, they die. With a deadly pandemic in progress, it is the working-class who are now suffering the consequences of the decimation and privatisation of healthcare services across the world. This is one of the reasons why COVID-19 is claiming its highest numbers of victims from amongst the poorest in society. This needless sacrifice of life makes the nationalization of all healthcare systems under democratic workers control absolutely essential.

How do you read the war being waged by multinationals like Gilead, Johnson & Johnson, etc. over the Covid 19 vaccine?

Getting a safe vaccine created for COVID-19 cannot be left in the hands of Big Pharma. They have a track record of treating human life with contempt and will fight tooth and nail against all other corporate interests to maximize their own personal profits from this crisis. Globally Big Pharma have had years in which they could have helped prepare medical responses to all manner of threatened pandemics, but evidently such life-saving work has been deemed unprofitable. Their recklessness demonstrates beyond all reasonable doubt that their businesses must be taken into public ownership. This is a task that must be undertaken at the earliest opportunity. We need full democratic oversight over the global response to the pandemic.

How do you explain the behaviour of capitalist thugs who steal each other's loads of protective masks? Hasn't the capitalist system reached an unprecedented degree of immorality?

Capitalism is a system in perpetual crisis, always straining to extract profits from every element of life. During periods of global economic growth, the capitalist systems political enforcers have an easier job in glossing over the brutality inherent to their relentless profiteering. During crises, however, the unplanned chaotic rules of capitalism and its deeply immoral attitude to human life are fully exposed for the world to see, as elites compete in a desperate scramble for essential resources like PPE. There is no solidarity of interests in capitalism, where only the most ruthless and powerful succeed, except to note that the ruling-class share one interest and that is in trying to make the rest of us pay for their system and their mistakes.  More than anything the actions of capitalist thugs highlight the limitations of their system, providing a horrifying demonstration of the social murder that takes places when profits come before people.

Are not some politicians not criminals who should be tried for exposing the lives of their citizens, such as Boris Johnson who first refused to confine the British people? In your opinion, isn't the world run by thugs and corrupt people rather than Statesmen? Can we talk about democracy?

It is true that many politicians have committed political actions that are directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. And yes, in any meaningful democracy it is commonsense that they should be held accountable. But the capture of much of the world’s political apparatus by elites, who only serve the interests of corporate power, means that justice will never really be delivered until we transition to a socialist society. In the meantime, we can use the existing democratic processes that do still exist to elect fighting representatives to political office, where we can use their positions of authority to agitate for a socialist alternative. These socialist tribunes should be part of and not separate from mass struggles against capitalism. And good examples of how individual elected representatives can work alongside workers to expose the corruption of the super-rich include Seattle city Council member Kshama Sawant, and Mick Barry, an Irish member of Parliament, both of whom are revolutionary socialists and tried-and-tested class fighters.

Don't you think we're going to experience an unprecedented economic recession because of this Covid 19 crisis? Shouldn't the peoples of the Earth take their destiny into their own hands to counter the disastrous projects of an oligarchic minority that rules the world?

Even before the pandemic hit, the press was reporting that the world was already entering a new period of economic recession. The shock caused by the pandemic has therefore brought forward, and deepened, the beginning of this recession, which makes the need for organizing to ready ourselves for ousting the worlds capitalists’ thugs a pressing reality. Here a critical terrain of struggles will need to take place within the trade union movement. Needless to say it is a sad reality that for many years the leadership of many unions have been dominated by individuals who would rather seek accommodations with capitalist exploiters than work to unite the working-class in a fight for socialism. But this can and will change, and already we are seeing a grassroots radicalisation of workers, who are now recognising why it is vital to become better organised both locally, nationally, and internationally. We cannot trust the bosses and political class to say when it is safe to return to work. If workers collectively decide that it is unsafe to return to work then they should refuse to start work until their workplaces are made safe. It is we who hold the real power in society, a power that is often untapped and suppressed, but now is the time to make that power a living reality to take our destiny into our own hands and work towards building a world that places the needs of humanity before the needs of profit.

Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen

 

Who is Michael Barker?

Michael Barker is a support worker at a school in the UK where he also acts as a trade union steward. He is also an Assistant Secretary to the Leicester and District Trades Union Council. In his spare time Michael writes about local and international issues for a variety of publications, include Counterpunch. He is a member of http://socialistalternative.net

Michael is the author of three books: Under the Mask of Philanthropy (2017); Fighting For Our Future: Ongoing Struggles Against Big Business and New Labour (2016); and Letters to Mercury: The Socialist Fightback in Leicester (2015). He is also the author of two pamphlets, Why Socialists Oppose the EU (2018) and How and Why Labour Councils Should Fight All Cuts Now (2019).

Stamping Out the Outbreak of the Zionism Virus of the 1948 Nakba

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To me, an American-Palestinian, the world tainted by the coronavirus is analogous to Israel tainted by the evil it contains.

Every day for the past few days, I have been listening to New York Governor Cuomo give his daily briefing on the virus. His words resonate with me eerily transforming themselves to advice on how to handle Israel’s cruel manifestation in Palestine as a Zionist Jewish apartheid colonial state. As talk of “re-opening” the New York increases in volume, so does my feverish imagination.

For those who don’t know, the Arabic word “Fateh” [فتح], the name of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, which is the political bloc now dominating the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, means “opening”. It also carries the meaning of “conquering”. What’s more, “Fateh” and “key” [مفتاح], that profoundly indicative word of Palestinian longing for return, have the same linguistic root in Arabic. Hence, all these unbidden associations in my mind as I listen to Cuomo.

Every day, I wait for Cuomo’s briefing impatiently and watch while perched, tense and hyper-alert, at the edge of my seat, mesmerized by the shifting lines of his charts that, I swear, often morph into the outline of the map of Palestine.

My mind automatically sucks in Cuomo’s words and echoes them back at the TV in an altered form. I am Muslim, but the dynamic gripping me is one akin to the relationship between a pastor and his congregation at a black church. Cuomo calls and I respond, sometimes aloud. I hold back from hollering and shouting at his image, so as not to scare my family.

I take in every word of his sane, hopeful message — facts, not “facts on the ground”; science, not myths; let’s learn from our mistakes. Yes!

I translate his sentences into something else, like this: After decades of land theft, when will Palestinians be finally in control of their destiny and not subject to the whims of Israel and the international community? You tell me how Israel behaves today; I will tell you how Palestinians will be resisting a year from now.

The Zionist virus that is the Jewish state of Israel has yet to be stamped out. Hot-spot outbreaks have been with us since the Nakba of 1948. Currently, they are in the form of Israel’s horrifying annexation of parts of the West Bank, preying on the most vulnerable of peoples. We need to look for solutions that make things better for the Palestinian people. We need to reimagine the status quo and pose such a solution.

“In the first phase, we had to figure out what we are dealing with because we had no idea.” Yes, we had no idea — just intimations of unbelievable cruelty and diabolical greed! In 1947–48, we really had little idea. Remember, Palestine was 80% agrarian then — not the sophisticated community of Basle, Switzerland, where the plot for our dispossession was hatched at the First Zionist Conference in 1897.

“In the first phase, stabilize, control the damage,” says Cuomo. It turns out the key (here is that word again!) is information.

“I worked hard every day to make sure they knew the facts. ‘Trust the people’ — Lincoln, right? An informed public will keep this country safe. True, and that’s exactly what happened here,” Cuomo continues.

Funny Cuomo should say that, because, just the other day, a Palestinian friend on Facebook, Imad Jibawi, was saying something similar. He was commenting on a Zoom discussion I had posted titled “What do we do now?” conducted by Hani al-Masri, Director General of Masarat — The Palestinian Center for Policy Research & Strategic Studies (Masri is also a Policy Advisor for Al-Shabaka).

Imad Jibawi wondered:

What is it that would drive the Palestinian people to the streets to protest by the thousands? Is it the annexation of Jerusalem? No; is it annexation of the Jordan Valley? No; is it Israel’s new settlements, then? No.

Why is that so?

I think the answer is in the question: Who is it mainly that we expect to take to the streets? They are those who are primarily under 30 — i.e., the Oslo generation.

These Palestinians were born and brought up in the reality of the Palestinian Authority, a government, ministries, VIPs, jobs, loans, etc.

[Preserving that] has been the national project for which our people sacrificed for years. People’s very livelihoods are now the red lines, holding them back. Their concerns are the teachers’ movement, the social security movement, the “we want to live” movement.

The question that concerns the political class as a whole is this: What next? What to do? The answer is: We start with our ABCs all over again. The first lesson is: Who are the Palestinians? What are the borders of the homeland of Palestine? The second lesson is: Who is our enemy? And what do we want?

Wanted: a new national awareness …. [my translation from Arabic]

But then, as I continued to listen to Cuomo, I realized that, even though he and Jibawi are appealing to people to act collectively in their best interests by looking to themselves, rather than to their governments, there is a fundamental difference.

Cuomo is invoking security of health, family and livelihood as a raison d’etre for a certain set of collective behaviors, whereas what Jibawi is pushing for, necessarily given the Palestinian condition, is a revolutionary national consciousness that calls for a sacrifice of the very same things Cuomo is protecting for New Yorkers.

To Jibawi, the ideal of home and hearth (job security, health care, education, etc., as provided currently by the Palestinian Authority and the Oslo regime) must be superseded by the ideal of liberty, justice and equality for a people under occupation, who have escaped Israel’s genocide so far, but who continue to be dispossessed, brutally subjugated and oppressed by a vicious, powerful judeo-fascist entity and its allies.

Cuomo says, “I don’t know when government became so political. It all became about rhetoric rather than actual competence, but it happened somewhere along the way that government could not handle the situation. People had to get engaged; people had to be informed and that’s the new thing I did. They got engaged because it mattered — this is not an abstract issue we are talking about people’s lives and people’s health and the health of their children.”

They’ll get engaged, because it matters. For both Palestinians and New Yorkers, these are not abstract issues. Far from it. In our case, all you have to do to realize the concreteness is to tune in to the daily news of thievery and savagery in their myriad forms the Israeli regime inflicts on the Palestinian people.

Many ask, if not the Palestinian Authority, if not the status quo of self-government for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, what then? My answer is this: First, hard as it is for many, we must find the will and steadfastness to effect an insurrection to continue the interrupted Palestinian revolution, returning to the political and community structures that sprang up to further the first intifada. We need a supreme manifestation of popular resistance against both the Palestinian Authority and Israel in all of occupied Palestine from the river to the sea with aid from Palestinians in exile.

Cuomo is right! “No government can impose any of these things … Stay in the house. Close every school. Close every bus. State government can’t enforce that. People had to understand the facts people had to engage in governing themselves in a way they hadn’t in decades … We are smart, united, disciplined and loving” — even if our governments aren’t.

Amen to that! Hallelujah!

*This article was originally published on the Medium.

Israel to Annex the United States

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As the Beatles once put it, “I read the news today, oh boy…” One might argue that the “oh boy” has been part and parcel of one’s morning media review ever since 9/11, but depending on one’s own inclinations, the daily content might well be considered particularly depressing over the past several years. As regular readers of Unz.com will already know, my particular perception is that the American “special relationship” with the Jewish state has been a disaster for the United States and for the entire Middle East region, to include even Israel itself. Israel has used the uncritical U.S. support it has enjoyed since the time of Lyndon Johnson to pursue unwise policies vis-à-vis its neighbors that have drawn Washington into conflicts that would have been avoided. It has meanwhile exploited the power of its formidable domestic lobby to bleed the U.S. Treasury of well over $100 billion in direct grants plus three times that much in terms of largely hidden trade and co-production arrangements approved by a subservient Congress and endorsed by a controlled media.

In return, the United States has wound up with a “best friend and ally” that has spied on the U.S., stolen its technology, corrupted its government processes and lied consistently about its neighbors to create a casus belli so Americans can die in pointless wars rather than Israelis. The Lavon Affair and the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty reveal that Israel’s government will kill Americans when it suits them to do so, knowing full well that the sycophants in Washington and the Jewish dominated media will hardly whimper at the affront.

Over the past three years Donald J. Trump has delivered on his promise to be the “best friend in Washington that Israel has ever had.” He appointed his own bankruptcy lawyer and arch Zionist David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador, a man who clearly sees his mission as promoting Israeli interests rather than those of the United States. Israel has illegally exploited an American green light to declare all of Jerusalem its capital and Trump has obligingly moved the U.S. Embassy to suit. The Jewish state, which has inevitably declared itself legally to be “Jewish” and no longer anything like a democracy, has also illegally annexed the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and is now preparing to assimilate much of the formerly Palestinian West Bank. Expulsion of nearly all remaining Palestinians, even the ones who are Israeli citizens, will no doubt come next and has in fact been called for by some Jewish politicians. The extreme Israel-philia embraced by the White House and Congress has, inter alia, meant unrelenting hostility towards both Iran and Syria, neither of which poses any real threat or challenge to the American people or to any genuine U.S. interests.

Friedman has even distorted the State Department’s use of the English language, the “occupied” West Bank is now referred to as “disputed” or “contested.” Friedman, who has disregarded existing U.S. law by contributing to Israel’s illegal settlements, has consistently served as an apologist for Israeli snipers shooting unarmed demonstrators in Gaza and for his much beloved rampaging settlers destroying the livelihoods of Palestinian farmers.

The record is appalling, thank you Mr. Trump, but, to return to the “news today,” an article that appeared last Thursday in the Jerusalem Post still had the power to make me spill my cup of coffee in disbelief. The headline read “Friedman: Second Trump term could take U.S.-Israel ties to next level.” I was not sure if I wanted to read the piece at all as I feared that it would probably mandate transferring the U.S. Treasury Department to Jerusalem and placing the Pentagon under the control of Benjamin Netanyahu. Meanwhile, we Americans would be required to cross through checkpoints when traveling between states and would only be able to find Untermensch work growing cabbages on a sprawling network of kibbutzes.

As it turned out, of course, the Friedman interview with Jerusalem Post journalists was all about Israel, not the United States, even though there was some vague nonsense about the Trump so-called peace plan munificently ending most conflict in the Middle East region and thereby benefiting Americans. Friedman began with “We need to maximize mutual benefits of the relationship in ways I don’t think have happened before. The only limits are one’s imagination as to where we can go.” If Friedman meant that the U.S. has not reaped any of the “mutual benefits” he is undoubtedly correct, but somehow I don’t think that was his intention. And there certainly has been a lot of imagination in the convoluted and often hidden Israeli Lobby schemes to bilk the American taxpayer over the course of the past 75 years.

Friedman characterized the situation before the Embassy move as “We were applying a double standard to Israel, relative to every other country in the world. We were telling Israel, you don’t have the right to choose your capital city… And it’s not just any capital; it’s Jerusalem.” Wrong, Dave. The problem with Jerusalem is that the Jewish state wanted its capital on land that it controlled but did not own under international law and through the agreements that led to the founding of Israel. Pretending that there is some special right through divine providence doesn’t change that one bit.

Friedman also had the interesting sidebar comment that illustrated just how warped the Trump view of Israel actually is. Apparently, Friedman and the president-elect had discussions on moving the Embassy prior to inauguration day “with some officials predicting that he was going to announce the move the same day as his inauguration on January 20, 2017. That didn’t happen, Friedman said, because first conversations were needed in all of the different government offices – State Department, the Pentagon and more.” That Trump was willing to highlight and promote a major pander to the Israel Lobby on the very day he was inaugurated is more than just telling, it is bizarre.

Symbols are apparently also dear to the heart of David Friedman. “Americans who support Israel understand the significance of Jerusalem. It’s what the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, Plymouth Rock and Valley Forge are… Because America was founded on those types of principles, Americans profoundly understand the importance of Jerusalem to the State of Israel.” Friedman added that retaining symbols like Hebron, which is in the Jewish people’s “biblical DNA” is also an important element in the Trump “peace plan.”

Whoa, David, it’s convenient to cite the American experience to justify what Israel is doing but the United States at least ostensibly was founded on the principle that “all men are created equal.” Israel is by law an apartheid state based on religion. And when last I checked Hebron was a predominantly Palestinian city under military occupation to protect the settler interlopers who are working hard to drive out the original residents. It is the site of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre of Palestinian worshippers carried out by Brooklyn-born Jewish fanatic Baruch Goldstein. Twenty-nine Palestinians were killed. Yes, “biblical DNA” seems to fit just right if one considers the fate of the Canaanites.

And Friedman had something to say about the planned July 1st Israeli annexation of “West Bank settlements, biblical sites and the Jordan Valley.” He provided a Trump Administration green light saying “We will be ready to address this issue if Israel is ready. Ultimately, as Secretary Pompeo said, it’s Israel’s decision. They have to decide what they want to do.” According to Friedman, the Trump administration’s “vision for peace” would allow Israel to directly annex 30% of the West Bank and exercise control over most of the remainder, which would include “all settlements and the entire Jordan Valley.” The Palestinians would have no control over water resources or even their own airspace. Mapping the precise details is currently subject to “judgment calls in Israel’s court.” Note that all the critical decision making is by Israel with the full backing of the United States. The peace plan has been rightly characterized as a complete surrender to Israeli interests with the Palestinians having no say in the outcome.

Friedman also described the importance of sending a clear message to the Palestinians blaming them for everything to include the denial of basic human rights, which is in fact an Israeli specialty. “If you tell the Palestinians that no matter what happens, no matter how recalcitrant you are, no matter how malign your activities are, no matter how you fail to observe basic human rights for your own people – with all that, you still get to veto the rights of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and their unquestionable capital… it’s just the wrong signal.”

And where to go from here? Friedman opines that “the equation of U.S.-Israel relations needs to be flipped. Rather than Americans seeing themselves as helping Israel, they must realize how much Israel can do for the U.S. – for example, by putting groundbreaking Israeli innovations on the market in the U.S. first.” Sure, steal the technology, re-engineer it, and then quietly arrange sweetheart trade deals through one’s co-religionists to sell it back to the suckers in the United States.

The Jerusalem Post interview concludes with Friedman’s prediction that “Should Trump be reelected, there will be many more opportunities for deepening the connections between the U.S. and Israel.” If that is all true, we Americans might as well surrender our sovereignty right now and save ourselves the pain of going through another corrupt presidential election.

*(Top image: Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, on January 23, 2020. The meeting took place in the office of U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who presented the two dignitaries with two American flags which flew on the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Credit: Matty Stern/ U.S. Embassy Jerusalem)

A Breakdown of Academic Integrity at Universities, 9/11 to COVID-19

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The subject matter of Robin's letter below provides insight into a case study among many others that demonstrates the failure of the academy to put the quest for truth and understanding above political expediency and successful fund raising. The implications of this pervasive failure in the academy are slowly but surely making their way into venues of public discourse. 


One of the precedents set in transforming universities into pawns of powerful lobbies, including the Israel lobby, has animated the continuing failure of academic institutions to protect realms of multi-faceted academic research, publication and pedagogy on the 9/11 debacle. The failure of our societies to come to terms with the deeper content and meanings of that debacle have resulted in multiple military invasions abroad, many police state and surveillance state intrusions at home. These hostile intrusions at home are now being extended and enlarged in the name of combatting the new coronavirus.

As demonstrated by the University of Lethbridge case and by many other cases of a similar nature, university administrations and faculty associations have generally not been up to the challenge of protecting the kind of safe academic environments necessary for investigating war propaganda during a time of many US-led military invasions of Muslim-majority countries. The necessary conditions have simply not been safeguarded that would have allowed for systematic testing of the thesis on which I was working when I was suddenly suspended and pulled from the classroom in mid-term during the autumn of 2016. Without any due process this tenured full professor was forbidden to set foot on campus and stripped of all pay based, in part, on unsubstantiated and unarbitrated administrative assertions that my academic work on 9/11 was anti-Semitic.

The systematic failure of most university administrations to be supportive of faculty members skeptical of the official 9/11 narrative helped establish a dangerous precedent. This tainted precedent has been heavily built upon so that institutions of higher learning are, with some rare exceptions, decidedly not places where free and open debate is protected, sometimes even in the case of professional exchanges among tenured colleagues. Surely the unwillingness of our universities to safeguard even minimal standards of academic debate on controversial subjects undermines the necessary conditions for the identification of sound, empirically-verifiable conclusions in many many fields.

The tragedy of this development is being put on full display by the COVID-19 fiasco. Those who are attentive will notice that the likes of multibillionaire Bill Gates have been handed the keys to academic palaces where data is concocted with the goal of shaping events to conform with possibly preconceived agendas like multiple lockdowns that collectively produce a dire economic crash felt profoundly across the world.

As we can now see, the prestige still attending sometimes bought-and-paid-for university research can create false justifications for the imposition of many draconian measures. These may include the resort to compulsory vaccines imposed universally without the safeguard of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials; imposed without the legal possibility that the recipients of the forced vaccinations can sue the manufacturers for dangerous products that may well harbor serious injuries to health. The huge but repressed scandals in the deeply corrupt vaccination industry extend in many ways to the badly tarnished integrity of many universities where the allure of external funding regularly triumphs over all else. 

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Appendix
 
Robin Mathews Open Letter to Vice-Dean of the Law School at the University of Alberta
 
Dear Vice Dean of Law (and) Professor Adams … and interested others ….
 
       The question so forcefully put (vice Dean Adams) by your refusal to reply to my direct and simple questions about the nature of your task in the matter of the Anthony Hall case at the University of Lethbridge (2016-2018) should, I believe, be presented as publicly as it can be:
 
       To begin: your salary is paid by (in fact) the taxpayers of the Province of Alberta and  (to a lesser extent) the taxpayers of Canada. You were invited to preside over a Committee of ?Investigation? by members of the Administration of the University of Lethbridge … all of whose salaries are paid for by the taxpayers of the Province of Alberta and (to a lesser extent) the taxpayers of Canada. You were, I believe, paid for your duties involving your work for members of the Administration of the University of Lethbridge: the payment being made, in fact, by the taxpayers of Alberta and (to a lesser extent) the taxpayers of Canada. (The federal government of Canada involves itself in the support of Canadian universities in a number of ways … by means of taxes it gains from the people of Canada.)
 
       Your statement to me that you consider any such work you do (publicly, by public invitation, to fulfill a public end, paid for with public monies,or etc.) as confidential … can only be read as an insult … and, perhaps, as a warning that you see yourself as working within a select and elite group, using monies gained from the taxpayers of Canada to pursue ends that you have no intention of discussing with anyone outside the select and elite group.  If so, that is deeply regrettable.  I may be wrong in the preceding statements … and if I am, you will have to provide the information necessary to correct my mistake.
 
       As you must know … the whole conflagration that arose around the person of Professor Anthony Hall arose from a viciously anti-Semitic cartoon placed on his Facebook Page (unknown to him) when he was out of the country (Summer 2016). The number of readers of his Facebook Page, we may imagine, was quite limited.  But almost within hours, it seems, what might be called Israel government-connected Canadian persons and organizations were not only informed but were making themselves heard in protest to persons in the University of Lethbridge administration and even, apparently, to the Lethbridge Police.  (In fact, I believe one or other of those entities contacted the Lethbridge Police the day before the incident, revealing, if that is true, a telepathic/psychic power that must be admired.) 
 
      From that very strange posting arose the conflagration to which I refer: accusing Professor Anthony Hall of anti-Semitic activities and statements. The appearance of the viciously anti-Semitic cartoon on Anthony Hall’s Facebook Page was never investigated by you … or by any authority at the University of Lethbridge. I will admit to you that I believe the anti-Semitic cartoon was placed on Professor Anthony Hall’s Facebook Page by people wishing to fake evidence that could be used against him to make the anti-Semitic accusations to which I refer.  And, I believe, that before you heard any accusations of anti-Semitism against Professor Anthony Hall you were absolutely duty-bound to put into action or to insist steps be taken to put into action every attempt possible to find who posted the anti-Semitic cartoon on his Facebook Page in order to entrap him.  (Professor Hall had suggested in broadcast - as have many others - that the government of Israel may have been involved in the collapse of the Trade Towers in New York on September 11, 2001. How much that suggestion by him precipitated the ‘placed’ anti-Semitic Cartoon on his Facebook Page … and then the escalating charges of Anti-Semitism … must be left to the judgement of the reader.) 
 
      But there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that you had an obligation to attempt to find who placed the viciously anti-Semitic cartoon on his Facebook Page, especially because it was used as the prelude to other complaints against him (some of which surfaced in the Committee of Investigation (?) which you chaired.)  And … indeed … allegations of anti-Semitism that surfaced in your Committee may have been a part of a programme that began with the Facebook Page Fraud.  Though perhaps not the reality of what occurred … an impartial observer might conclude that the complaint against Professor Hall of anti-Semitism was a second step after the planting of the vicious anti-Semitic cartoon. (In fact, I understand that  the first time 'the complaint’ was made to the Dean of Arts and Sciences at  Lethbridge University it was rejected as baseless … just as the first time a complaint against Professor Hall was made to Alberta Human Rights by (I believe) the Lethbridge University Board of Governors, it, too, was rejected as baseless.  And … it, too … was polished up and intended for re-presentation. (I don’t know if re-presentation was proceeded with.  But an objective and unbiased observer might conclude that an intense process was undertaken to involve Professor Hall in anti-Semitic charges…somehow, someway, somewhere….)
 
     Perhaps it is useful to look at the general political atmosphere before your Committee went to work (in 2018).  Coming into power for the first time a few years earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau effected a rather strange - apparently not “official” - vote of some kind in the House of Commons in Ottawa. It was a vote to reject what is known as BDS.  That is a movement apparently begun by Palestinians asking others to Boycott (goods of), to Divest (investments in …) and to Sanction (with various measures) the State of Israel as a way to discourage it from (what some insist is) its policy to exterminate the Palestinians.  Mr. Trudeau wished to gain … and did gain a vote overwhelmingly rejecting support of BDS (with, I believe, NDP support).  The leader of the other major Party in Canada. Stephen Harper, around the time, went to visit Israel and, there, he fell into the  favour of the president of Israel as if they were children of the same birth mother. In the Green Party … the history is a little messier.  In the absence of leader, Elizabeth May, a body of the Greens adopted BDS as the policy of the Green Party. Ms. May went into a state like shock, threatened to resign leadership, met with fellow members, withdrew support for BDS … and tried to work out some face-saving statements of policy…. Plainly, the government of Israel exerted … and perhaps continues to exert … extraordinary influence in governments and political parties of Canada.  Indeed, the (then) NDP premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley - with a member of one of the Israel government-connected Canadian organizations by her side - excoriated and attacked Professor Anthony Hall as someone not fitting to teach the young of the Province of Alberta … [thereby, allegedly, she influenced any present or future Inquiry into Professor Hall’s ideas and activities] - a display of intemperance by the premier which was (I believe) as shocking as it was unbecoming….
 
   I first asked you what you were tasked with as head of the Committee struck in the Anthony Hall matter; and I asked you how the other two members of the Committee were chosen.  You refused to give me any information ….  That is the reason I wonder/and wondered if you consider/considered yourself a member of an Unaccountable Elite in Alberta…. I still wonder if that is the case … and I believe the people to whom I am sending this message will have the same number of questions and uncertainties that I have….
 
respectfully, 
Robin Mathews
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