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Intelligence agencies fail to protect us from pandemic


CSIS and CSE headquarters
By Yves Engler · April 16, 2020

With millions forced out of work and many more stuck at home, Canadians need to ask tough questions of organizations receiving billions of dollars to protect them from foreign threats. The country’s intelligence/security sector has done little to respond to the ongoing social and economic calamity. Even worse, their thinking and practices are an obstacle to what’s required to overcome a global pandemic.

A recent Canadian Press article highlights the failure of intelligence agencies to warn of the COVID-19 outbreak. They largely ignore health-related threats despite receiving huge sums of federal money.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) has more than 3,000 employees and a $500 million budget, which is nearly equal to that of the lead agency dealing with the pandemic. The Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) budget is $675 million and it has 2,200 employees. For its part, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) employs 2,500 and receives over $600 million annually. In 2011 Department of National Defence run CSE moved into a new $1.2 billion, 110,000 square metre, seven-building, complex connected to CSIS’ main compound.

CSE is but one component of DND’s intelligence juggernaut. Not counting CSE, the Canadian Forces has greater intelligence gathering capacities than any organization in the country. While their budget and size are not public information, the government’s 2017 Defence Policy review notes that “CFINTCOM [Canadian Forces Intelligence Command] is the only entity within the Government of Canada that employs the full spectrum of intelligence collection capabilities while providing multi-source analysis.” The Defence Policy Paper called for adding 300 military intelligence positions and expanding CFINTCOM’s scope.

CFINTCOM has a medical intelligence (MEDINT) cell to track how global health trends and contagions impact military operations. Apparently, they reported on the coronavirus outbreak in January but it’s unclear who received that information.

The $2 billion spent on CSIS/CSE/CFINTCOM annually — let alone the more than $30 billion devoted to DND/Veterans Affairs — could have purchased a lot of personal protective equipment for health care workers. It could have paid for many ventilators and it could also have been used to raise the abysmally low wages of many who work in long-term care and nursing homes.

But, it’s not only that CSIS/CSE/CFINTCOM resources could be better used. Their ideology and structures are an obstacle to avoiding/overcoming a global pandemic. Two weeks ago, CSE put out a statement warning Canadian coronavirus researchers to beware of malign international forces seeking to steal their research. A Canadian Centre for Cyber Security statement noted, “these actors may attempt to gain intelligence on COVID-19 response efforts and potential political responses to the crisis or to steal ongoing key research toward a vaccine or other medical remedies.” But, wouldn’t it, in fact, be great if our ‘enemies’ in Russia, China, Iran, or anywhere else employed Canadian research to develop a cure or vaccine for COVID-19? Who, except extreme right-wing ideologues could believe a vaccine or cure should be patented and profited from?

It won’t be easy to shift their orientation to include pandemics. In a recent commentary, prominent intelligence agency insider Wesley Wark notes, “our security and intelligence agencies have never seen health emergency reporting as part of their core mandate, despite a plan laid down in the National Security Policy announced after SARS that unfortunately went nowhere.” For a time after the 2003 SARS outbreak the CSIS-based Integrated Threat Assessment Centre reported regularly on pandemic dangers, but the unit was soon collapsed into the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre. For the intelligence agencies “terrorism” is appealing because it justifies militarism and a ‘security’ state. Health emergencies, on the other hand, justify better work conditions for long-term care providers.

The CSIS/CSE/CFINTCOM definition of ‘security’ is heavily shaped by corporate Canada, state power projection and ties to the US Empire. In criticizing Canadian intelligence agencies’ failure to warn/protect us from the pandemic, Wark highlights the dangerously narrow outlook of the intelligence community. He suggests CSIS/CSE/CFINTCOM could have helped prevent the calamity by gathering better intelligence on China. But, if Beijing hid early information on COVID-19, it’s at least partly because China is locked in a destructive geopolitical competition with the US empire, which was instigated by Washington and its allies (from 1949 to 1970 Canada refused to recognize China and in 1950 sent 27,000 troops to Korea largely to check Chinese nationalism). In recent months CSIS/CSE/CFINTCOM have sought to identify China as a threat.

Wark’s thinking must be rejected. Avoiding and overcoming global pandemics requires a free exchange of health information. It also requires international solidarity.

After the COVID-19 crisis dies down, progressives should renew their push to devote intelligence agencies’ resources towards initiatives that protect ordinary Canadians’ security, rather than the interests of the rich and powerful.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Taxes Paid By Billionaires Decreased 79 Percent Since 1980, as Percentage of Their Wealth

By Bob Lord – Chuck Collins | CounterPunch | April 16, 2020

Conventional economic wisdom says a time of crisis is not the moment to enact tax increases. But, as Eric Toder at the Tax Policy Center recently pointed out: “[Tax experts] can begin to think of the time after the pandemic passes and how government should respond to massive increases in the public debt, and the new tax increases that Congress will need to enact to fund them.”

Initial tax increases should hold harmless working- and middle-class families who will be the most economically vulnerable coming out the pandemic. The first several trillion in new revenue should come from America’s wealthiest households, those who have seen their taxes slashed over past decades.

At the top of the list of new tax increases should be a wealth tax on our billionaire class.

A new Institute for Policy Studies Inequality briefing paper, authored by Bob Lord, reveals that between 1980 and 2018, the taxes paid by America’s billionaires, when measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased a staggering 79 percent.

The only appropriate metric by which to measure the tax burden on billionaires, the briefing paper explains, is the rate of tax they pay on their wealth. Unlike the rest of us, the living expenses of billionaires do not constrain their accumulation of wealth. Nor do they rely on their work to generate additional wealth. For billionaires, the accumulation of wealth is driven forward almost exclusively by the growth of their existing wealth and constrained almost exclusively by the tax they are required to pay. No matter how the taxes imposed on billionaires are determined – by income, consumption, property ownership, transfers by gift or bequest – they function only as a tax on wealth.

By allowing the tax burden of billionaires, as a percentage of their wealth, to plummet since 1980, policy makers have caused the nation’s wealth to concentrate obscenely at the very top. In the 12 years between 2006 and 2018, IPS reports, nearly 7 percent of America’s real increase in wealth, measured in 2018 dollars, went to the top 400 billionaires. If the pattern of the past four decades does not change, an even greater share of the nation’s newly created wealth over the next 12 years will flow to the billionaire class.

As we emerge from this pandemic with trillions of additional debt on the nation’s balance sheet, substantial tax increases are inevitable.  Early out of the box should be a 10 percent surtax on the incomes of the top 0.1 percent of households, including on capital income. We should also strengthen the estate tax to limit the intergenerational transfers of wealth of billionaires.  But central to the program should be a tax that limits the further accumulation – that is, hoarding – of wealth by the billionaire class. That, the IPS report concluded, requires a wealth tax:

Only an annual wealth tax — a direct tax on billionaire wealth — can reliably limit the Billionaire Class rate of wealth accumulation to a level no greater than wealth accumulation for the population at large. Other forms of taxation have valid purposes. But to rein in the Billionaire Class we need something more. And rein in we must.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Economics | | 2 Comments

U.S. Government’s $3.7 Million Grant to Wuhan Lab at Center of Coronavirus Outbreak

By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Chairman, Children’s Health Defense | April 15, 2020

The Daily Mail reported that it has uncovered documents showing that Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) gave $3.7 million to scientists at the Wuhan Lab at the center of coronavirus leak scrutiny. According to the British paper, “the federal grant funded experiments on bats from the caves where the virus is believed to have originated.”

Background: Following the 2002-2003 SARS coronavirus outbreak, NIH funded a collaboration by Chinese scientists, US military virologists from the bioweapons lab at Fort Detrick and National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists from NIAID to prevent future coronavirus outbreaks by studying the evolution of virulent strains from bats in human tissues. Those efforts included “gain of function” research which is “accelerated viral evolution” to create COVID Pandemic superbugs, enhanced bat borne COVID mutants more lethal and more transmissible than wild COVID.

Fauci’s studies alarmed scientists around the globe who complained, according to a December 2017 NY Times article, that “these researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic.” Dr. Marc Lipsitch of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Communicable Disease Center told the Times that Dr. Fauci’s NIAID experiments “have given us some modest scientific knowledge and done almost nothing to improve our preparedness for pandemic, and yet risked creating an accidental pandemic.”

In October 2014, following a series of federal laboratory mishaps that narrowly missed releasing these deadly engineered viruses, President Obama ordered the halt to all federal funding for Fauci’s dangerous experiments. NIAID-funded gain of function research continued after the moratorium in a Wuhan-based laboratory. Congress needs to launch an investigation of NIAID’s mischief in China.

[Addendum after our story ran: CNN reports that: “An intelligence official familiar with the government analysis said a theory US intelligence officials are investigating is that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, and was accidentally released to the public. Other sources told CNN that US intelligence hasn’t been able to corroborate the theory but is trying to discern whether someone was infected in the lab through an accident or poor handling of materials and may have then infected others.”]

This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 2 Comments

NYT flip-flops on Covid-19 contact tracers – because now it’s not China

‘Mao-style social controls’ or benign citizen ‘armies’?

Protesting is a “non-essential” activity, citizen! © Reuters / Kevin Lamarque
By Helen Buyniski | RT | April 16, 2020

The same citizen virus-tracing corps the New York Times decried in China as Maoism incarnate is being tried in Massachusetts and San Francisco, and the outlet has decided that what’s bad for Beijing is good for democracies.

Massachusetts and San Francisco – as well as the Republic of Ireland – are deputizing citizens to track down contacts of people infected with coronavirus, the Times reported on Thursday, describing the programs in glowing terms. After a blow-by-blow of a phone call between one of the newly-hired Massachusetts virus-trackers and her target, who gratefully gives up a file’s worth of data, we learn that the state plans to hire 1,000 caring professionals just like her to fill out its “fleet of contact tracers, charged with tracking down people who have been exposed to the coronavirus, as soon as possible, and warning them.”

The article emphasizes the bonds of “trust” between contract-tracer and coronavirus victim. There’s no talk of imprisoning people in their homes, of “keeping away outsiders” or of “arbitrary” enforcement. Indeed, one has to read to the end of the article to find out that the Massachusetts program was heavily informed by data from Wuhan and techniques from South Korea.

Massachusetts gets the warm-fuzzy treatment… © New York Times

There is just one slight problem: the NYT had already described a similar program in an article from February saying that “Mao-Style Social Control” was “blanketing” China. That piece sketched out an oppressive world in which “battalions of neighborhood busybodies, uniformed volunteers and Communist Party representatives” conducted “one of the biggest social control campaigns in history.” The goal, as the outlet melodramatically put it back then, was “to keep hundreds of millions of people away from everyone but their closest kin.”

… while China’s equivalent is “coercive” and “arbitrary” © New York Times

Stripped of the linguistic fireworks, the story described Beijing deputizing citizens to enforce quarantines by (among other things) tracing who infected persons had been in contact with, in order to keep the infected separate from the rest of the population. Not a bad idea, given the unreliability of testing and the highly-infectious nature of the coronavirus. It’s not surprising it’s catching on in the West.

San Francisco is training an all-volunteer group of 150 contact tracers, while Ireland plans to repurpose 1,000 furloughed government workers to trace contacts. Former US Centers for Disease Control director Thomas Frieden has even recommended a national “army” of 300,000 contact tracers, while other public health experts have praised the idea. It’s difficult to see how – other than the shift in vocabulary – these incarnations of what Mike Ryan of the World Health Organization called “shoe-leather epidemiology” differ from what the Times described as “Mao-style social control” in China.

With the question of how to end lockdowns still unresolved in many ‘democracies,’ human contact-tracing may emerge as the “lesser evil” with regard to preserving individual rights. While Bill Gates touts his “digital certificates” and dubious vaccines, and Apple and Google collaborate on a digital contact-tracing platform – an approach laden with privacy pitfalls that has already been used in Singapore and South Korea – that ‘Mao-style social control’ is starting to look like the most freedom-friendly option.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Will This Pandemic Finally Mark the End of the US Carrier Fleet?

The Saker • Unz Review • April 16, 2020

Frankly, I have never considered USN carrier strike groups as a “Cold War capable” element of the US Navy. Yes, in theory, there was the notion of forward deploying these carriers to “bring the war to the Soviets” (on the Kola Peninsula) before they could flush their subs and aircraft through the GUIK gap and into the Atlantic. In theory, it should have been a 600 ship navy too, but that never happened. In reality, of course, US strike groups were the ultimate “colony disciplining” instrument which Uncle Shmuel would park off the coast of a country disobedient to the demands and systematic plundering of the USA. Since most countries in the 20th century could not sink a US carrier or prevail over the comparatively advanced aircraft deployed on them, this was, all in all, a very safe game to play for the USA.

As for “bringing the war to the Soviets”, the truth is that had it ever come to a real war, the US carriers would have been kept far away from the formidable Soviet cruise missile capability (delivered simultaneously by aircraft, surface ships and submarines) for a very simple reason: every time such an attack was modeled a sufficient number of Soviet missiles successfully passed through the protective cordon around the carrier and successfully hit it with devastating results (while sinking a carrier is not that easy, damaging it and making it inoperable does not take that many missile hits).

And that was long before hypersonic missiles like the Kinzhal or the Zircon!

Truly, as an an instrument to deter or defeat the Soviets the USN strike groups were already obsolete in the 1980s, that is long before the the Russians deployed their hypersonic missiles which, as my friend Andrey Martyanov explained in his books (see here and here) and on his blog (see here), basically made the entire US surface fleet obsolete not only to fight Russia, but also to fight any country which possesses such missiles. Such countries already include India and China, but there will be many more soon, probably including Iran!

Today, however, I won’t discuss the missile issue, but what happened recently on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which you probably know about: her captain got fired for writing a letter (according to his accusers, bypassing the chain of command) asking for help because his crew got infected by the virus. His letter was published by the San Francisco Chronicle and you can read it here.

Interestingly, when the captain, Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, left the ship, his sailors gave him a standing ovation:

Next, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly called Captain Crozier “stupid.” That also became public, and he had to apologize and resign (clearly, Modly is not exactly a genius himself!). Then even more of the crew of the carrier got sick, including Crozier himself!

This is what is known in the US military jargon as a “clusterbleep”…

There is, however, also a lot of interesting stuff coming out from this story.

First, the obvious: USN carriers cannot operate effectively under a bio-attack (a truly weaponized virus would both be much more transmissible than SARS-COV-2 and it would be far more deadly). This also indicates that they would probably do no better under a real chemical warfare attack either.

Considering that in reality USN carriers are an instrument of colonial repression and not ships to be engaged against the USSR (which had real biowarfare capabilities), this makes sense (while most university labs & the like could produce some kind of virus and use it as a weapon, truly weaponized viruses, the kind effectively used in special delivery systems, can only be produced by a limited list of countries). However, in theory, all the formations/units/subunits/ships/aircraft/armor/etc of a military superpower should be trained to operate in case of a nuclear, chemical and biological attack. Clearly, this is not the case with US carriers, most likely because nobody in the USA really expected such an attack, at least not during the Cold War.

For the current situation, however, I think that the lesson is clear: the USN simply does not have an effective capability to operate under NBC attack conditions.

By the way, this appears to also be true of the French, whose only carrier has 30% infected sailors!

Second, I agree that going outside the chain of command is wrong, but let’s also consider the following here: the fact that the USS Theodore Roosevelt was having a large number of infected sailors is not something which could have been kept secret anyway, especially while in port. Not only that, but how do we know that Capt. Crozier did not write other memos through the regular chain of command before he wrote the one which became public? After all, any such memos could very easily be classified and never made public.

Finally, I will admit that my sympathies are squarely with the man who placed the lives of his men and women above all else, and not with the bureaucratic drone who put procedures and ruffled feathers above the lives of sailors and called the real officer “stupid” for his actions (wait! a USN carrier captain stupid?! Somehow I don’t think so…..).

At the time of writing (April 14th) there have been 600 sailors from the Theodore Roosevelt who contracted the virus and one death.

Finally, over 4000 sailors have now been evacuated from the ship (1000 are still onboard to operate the nuclear reactor and other key systems).

In other words, the USS Theodore Roosevelt is now completely inoperable!

The quoted CNN article concludes with:

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten told reporters Thursday the US military needed to plan for similar outbreaks in the future as the Defense Department works to cope with the virus’ impacts. “I think it’s not a good idea to think the Teddy Roosevelt is a one-of-a-kind issue. We have too many ships at sea, we have too many deployed capabilities. There’s 5,000 sailors on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. To think it will never happen again is not a good way to plan. What we have to do is figure out how to plan in these kind of Covid environments,” Hyten said.

Yet more proof that the USN never took a bioattack threat seriously.

To be honest, it seems that the US Army has similar problems, here is a map of affected US bases I found on Colonel Cassad’s blog:

It appears that the US-based forces never expected any real attack (other than maybe one by terrorists equipped with small arms) so NBC security was never a priority.

Note, in Russia, at least so far (April 14th), there are zero cases of servicemen infected with the virus. This will almost inevitably change in the future, but for the time being, this is true, in spite of having Russian military units helping to fight the virus both in Russia and outside. Just saying…

However, this is not a fair comparison. First, bases located on land have far more interactions with the outside world than ships, even ships in port. Second, and much more importantly, in case of a pandemic or chemical/biological attack, bases located on land can better isolate those affected, bring in more resources or quickly disperse the personnel to better protect them. You can’t do that on a ship. In fact, the bigger the ship, the more it looks like an “armed cruiseliner” which, as we now all know, is a gigantic Petri dish.

Questions such as those above will only increase in number as the pandemic finally sheds much-needed light on the shocking reality about “the best! most powerful! best equipped! and best trained military force in the Galaxy!”: it can’t even protect itself from a relatively weak virus, never-mind defeat a competent enemy.

Will we get answers? Eventually, probably yes. But for the time being, the US is all about covering your ass while pointing fingers and blaming others (especially China, Russia and even the WHO!). This strategy has been an abject failure for the past decades and it will be an abject failure in the future.

Trump’s latest decision to defund the WHO (to whom the US already owes a ton of money anyway) is arguably his worst act of “international PR seppuku” which will further increase the disgust the USA already inspires worldwide. As for our Israeli friends, they are proud that their Mossad actually steals medical equipment from other countries: after all, every Israeli know that Jewish blood is sacred, while goy blood is worthless. Another case of self-inflicted “international PR seppuku” for “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

But since that is all US politicians know how to do, this is not stopping anytime soon. Likewise, what is known as the “carrier fiction” will be upheld for as long as possible, especially since there is a lot of money involved for the US ruling classes.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | | 1 Comment

Buying Punishment for “Terrorists”: Washington’s Reward Program Is Largely Ineffective

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald tribune | April 15, 2020

Many people worldwide are aware of the fact that the United States government offers cash rewards to informants who provide information on individuals and groups that it chooses to define as terrorists. The program is referred to as the Rewards for Justice Program (RFJ). It was established in 1984 as part of the Act to Combat International Terrorism and is run by the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DS). The rewards can be substantial, up to the $25 million that was offered for Osama bin Laden, and they sometimes include resettlement in another country with a new identity for informants whose security is threatened by their cooperation.

The program relies on information provided by local people, referred to on the RFJ website as “tips.” The website itself is accessible in a number of languages and, in its English version, features a headline that promotes its mission as: “Stop a Terrorist Save Lives. The most important reasons to stop a terrorist are all around you. Terrorism kills innocent people in every walk of life. By providing information that prevents a terrorist act, you save lives, protect families, and preserve peace. The United States is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of persons engaged in terrorism. If you have information that can help, please submit a tip now. Submit a Tip.”

RFJ elaborates its role in very broad terms as “… offering rewards for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against U.S. persons or property worldwide. Rewards also may be paid for information leading to the arrest or conviction of terrorists attempting, committing, conspiring to commit, or aiding and abetting in the commission of such acts. The Rewards for Justice Program has paid more than $145 million for information that prevented international terrorist attacks or helped bring to justice those involved in prior acts.

After a slow start in which the program was first called the Counter Terror Rewards Program and then HEROES, by 1997 the site was processing over one million contacts per year. Admittedly, many of the “tips” were little more than bids to obtain cash and resettlement from the American government, but the State Department’s periodic evaluations of the program have considered it to be a success.

Critics note, however, that the reward for bin Laden attracted thousands of calls but no substantive information was obtained. Nor has RFJ been very effective against Islamic radical groups, considered to be its primary target. The website identifies top terrorist targets, but apart from Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, the World Trade Center bomber of 1993 who was also involved in various plots involving airliners in the Philippines, no one important has been identified and arrested through information developed by way of the program. Ramzi was arrested in Pakistan in 1995 after an informant identified him. He is currently in prison in Colorado.

The RFJ program has also claimed several executions of claimed terrorists, to include the killing of two leaders of the Filipino radical group Abu Sayyaf. Many more terrorist leaders, like ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were killed without any input from RFJ. The relative lack of success against actual militants from groups recognized generally as terrorist, inevitably led to a broadening of the target pool. On December 22, 2011, RFJ offered a $10 million for information leading to Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, the alleged organizer of an al-Qaeda fundraising operation in Iran that sent money to Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was the first listing of what was claimed to be a terrorist financier.

Two major current targets of RFJ are, in fact, financiers and fund-raising mechanisms related to Lebanese Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). To include them on the list, the United States declared both organizations to be Foreign Terrorist Groups (FTOs) in 1997 and 2019 respectively. Regarding Hizballah, the RFJ website includes “Rewards for Justice is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of Lebanese Hizballah. Terrorist groups such as Hizballah rely on financing and facilitation networks to sustain operations and launch attacks globally. Hizballah earns almost one billion dollars annually through direct financial support from Iran, international businesses and investments, donor networks, corruption, and money laundering activities. The group uses those funds to support its malign activities throughout the world, including: Deployment of its militia members to Syria in support of the Assad dictatorship; alleged operations to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence in the American homeland; and enhanced military capabilities to the point that Hizballah claims to possess precision-guided missiles. These terrorist operations are funded through Hizballah’s international network of financial supporters and activities — financial enablers and infrastructure that form the lifeblood of Hizballah.”

Regarding the IRGC, the RFJ site includes “The U.S. Department of State’s Reward for Justice Program is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its branches, including the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). The IRGC has financed numerous terrorist attacks and activities globally. The IRGC-QF leads Iran’s terrorist operations outside Iran via its proxies, such as Hizballah and Hamas… Since its founding 40 years ago, the IRGC has been involved in terrorist plots and supports terrorism worldwide. The IRGC is responsible for numerous attacks targeting Americans and U.S. facilities, including those that killed U.S. citizens. The IRGC has supported attacks against U.S. and allied troops and diplomatic missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The first thing that strikes the casual reader of the descriptions of the cases made against both Hizballah and the IRGC is that much of the “evidence” is unsubstantiated, fabricated or exaggerated. To be sure, neither group is a friend of the United States or of Israel, but the descriptions of worldwide terror operations is largely made up, particularly the claims about attacks against Americans which have been credibly attributed to ISIS, not to Iranian sources or proxies. That Lebanese Hizballah has been gathering intelligence on the “American homeland,” presumably to stage an attack, is complete nonsense.

To cite only one example of how the RFJ is primarily a vehicle for attacking individuals and groups that the U.S. and Israel do not like, one might cite Muhammad Kawtharani. Informants would be rewarded for information on the “… activities, networks, and associates of Muhammad Kawtharani, a senior Hizballah military commander. This announcement is part of the Department’s standing reward offer for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of the terrorist organization Lebanese Hizballah. Muhammad Kawtharani is a senior leader of Hizballah’s forces in Iraq and has taken over some of the political coordination of Iran-aligned paramilitary groups formerly organized by Qassim Soleimani after Soleimani’s death in January. In this capacity, he facilitates the actions of groups operating outside the control of the Government of Iraq that have violently suppressed protests, attacked foreign diplomatic missions, and engaged in wide-spread organized criminal activity. As a member of Hizballah’s Political Council, Kawtharani has worked to promote Hizballah’s interests in Iraq, including Hizballah efforts to provide training, funding, political, and logistical support to Iraqi Shi’a insurgent groups.”

Well, RFJ gets Kawtharani’s name right and he is a Hizballah commander, but from that point on the story is pure spin and disinformation. The militia groups that Kawtharani presumably associates with and that have been attacked by U.S. forces are not “outside control of the government,” nor are they “insurgents.” They are, in fact, integrated into the Iraqi army. Nor have attacks on foreign diplomatic missions been demonstrated to be their responsibility as the rage against U.S. presence in Iraq is widespread across sectarian lines. Kawtharani is present in Iraq as a guest of the government in Baghdad, as was Qassim Soleimani before him, largely to assist in the fighting against ISIS. And if he is in Iraq to promote Hizballah interests in that country, why should it surprise anyone? In short, his being featured in RFJ is part of a plan to create a major incentive to kill him, little more. If he committed an actual terrorism crime or act, where is it?

Rewards for Justice is not about justice at all, unless one is promoting vigilante justice, as virtually no one who appears on its site is actually arrested and tried. It is a kill list providing the United States with one more tool to target and eliminate political opponents from countries with which Washington is not at war. As it has now been expanded to include the targeting of organizations and funding mechanisms of groups that are considered hostile, it is a mechanism for widening the hideous global war on terror that has done such terrible damage to American democracy while also killing hundreds of thousands and upending whole countries worldwide.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Beijing says committed to moratorium on nuclear tests after US accusations

RT | April 16, 2020

China said on Thursday it is committed to a moratorium on nuclear tests. The statement from its Foreign Ministry followed a US State Department report that said China may have conducted low-level underground nuclear test explosions.

Spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that China has been actively fulfilling commitments to treaties on arms control. “The US criticism of China is entirely groundless, without foundation, and not worth refuting,” the spokesman added.

Beijing may have secretly set off low-level underground nuclear test explosions despite claiming to observe an international pact banning such blasts, the US State Department said, in a report on Wednesday.

US concerns about possible breaches of a ‘zero yield’ standard for test blasts have been prompted by activities at China’s Lop Nur nuclear test site throughout 2019, Reuters said, citing the report. Zero yield refers to a nuclear test in which there is no explosive chain reaction of the type ignited by the detonation of a nuclear warhead.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Cutting military spending to fund human security is ‘The Least’ world leaders can do after pandemic – Gorbachev

RT | April 16, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic shows that governments that think of security in mostly military terms are simply wasting money, Mikhail Gorbachev has said. Defence spending must be cut globally to fund things that humanity actually needs.

The former Soviet leader called on the world to move away from hard power in international affairs. He remains especially worried about the kind of military brinkmanship that lately has almost led to a shooting war in the Middle East.

“What we urgently need now is a rethinking of the entire concept of security,” he wrote, in an op-ed published by TIME magazine. “Even after the end of the Cold War, it has been envisioned mostly in military terms. Over the past few years, all we’ve been hearing is talk about weapons, missiles and airstrikes.”

The Covid-19 outbreak has highlighted once again that the threats humanity faces today are global in nature and can only be addressed by nations collectively. The resources currently spent on arms need to go into preparation for such crises, Gorbachev said.

“All efforts will fail if governments continue to waste money by fueling the arms race.”

“The overriding goal must be human security: providing food, water and a clean environment, and caring for people’s health,” he said.

The first thing that nations should do after the coronavirus is dealt-with is to make a commitment to a massive demilitarization.

“I call upon [world leaders] to cut military spending by 10 percent to 15 percent. This is the least they should do now, as a first step toward a new consciousness, a new civilization.”

Gorbachev, the former leader of the USSR who is credited with de-escalating the Cold War against the US and with negotiating a dramatic reduction in the nuclear arsenals of the two powers, shared his opinions and aspirations as the global number of Covid-19 cases surpassed the two-million benchmark. The pandemic has led to over 130,000 deaths and is projected to plunge the world economy into a recession of a magnitude unseen since the 1920s.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | Leave a comment