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Israel may ask for double its usual $3.8 billion from the U.S this year

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | April 26, 2020

Breaking Defense, a digital magazine that covers military issues, reports that Israel may ask for its U.S. aid early, possibly in a lump sum that could be as high as $7.6 billion.

This would work out to almost $21 million per day from American taxpayers, even though the U.S. is approaching a $4 trillion deficit (the largest in the world), and Israel typically has a lower unemployment rate than the United states.

The report is by Breaking Defense Israel correspondent Arie Egozi, an Israeli citizen who served in the Israeli military and is close to the Israeli security establishment.

Egozi’s article states that because of the coronavirus pandemic, “Israel’s Ministry of Defense and high command have hammered out an emergency plan for an appeal to Washington.”

The article, which carries a Tel Aviv dateline, reports: “Sources here say the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Israel to ask Washington to make major changes to the [aid] agreement, including a request to receive the annual allocation $3.8 billion earlier than planned.”

U.S. aid to Israel is normally disbursed in October, in a lump sum that is deposited to an interest-bearing Israeli account in the New York Federal Reserve Bank. (Since the U.S. has been operating at a deficit, this means that the U.S. government borrows the money and pays interest on it long after it has gone out.)

Potentially $14,000 per minute from American taxpayers

In addition to receiving the aid earlier than usual, a “senior source” quoted by Egozi suggests that Israel may request that the aid expected for 2024 also be disbursed this year.

If that happens, it would work out to nearly $21 million per day, or $14,460 per minute to Israel from American taxpayers suffering from a devastating hit to the U.S. economy.

Moreover, it is highly likely that when 2024 comes around, the advance would be forgiven, as have numerous U.S. “loans” to Israel, and Israel would get the aid again.

The current aid to Israel is based on a 2016 agreement by the Obama Administration to give Israel $3.8 billion annually for the next 10 years – a total of $38 billion, touted as the largest such aid package in U.S. history. Overall, Israel has received more U.S. aid than any other country, on average, 7,000 times more per capita than others.

While the Obama Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a non-binding agreement, Israel has received this sum every year since it was signed. Israel advocates in Congress are currently seeking to cement it into a law that would permit this amount to go even higher in the future.

A ‘wild idea’ that might not appeal to Americans

Egozi reports that the former president of Israel Aerospace Industries, Joseph Weiss, said asking for the money ahead of time is “a wild idea,” but said it “makes sense in the special conditions created [in Israel] by  the pandemic.”

However, it’s unlikely that this would make equivalent sense to Americans, who have been at least as hard hit by the pandemic.

Over 26 million Americans so far have lost their jobs, and many U.S. companies are facing bankruptcy. A comment below Egozi’s article suggests how Americans would respond to a massive outlay to Israel this year:

“Why do Americans put up with all this money going to Israel when millions of them have no healthcare, no job, and are eating from food banks?”

To deflect such outrage, Israel partisans in the U.S. typically defend the aid by saying that it eventually goes to U.S. defense companies. However, they fail to mention that millions of the dollars go to Israeli companies that compete with American businesses, often leading to job losses in the U.S. No other country receiving U.S. military aid is allowed to do this.

In addition, many Americans feel that Israel should use its own money to purchase its weaponry, as the U.S. does. They point out that if Americans wished to subsidize weapons companies, the U.S. government could simply purchase items for American use.

Similarly, a growing number of Americans object to the uses Israel makes of U.S. weapons, regularly deploying them in violation of both international law and U.S. law (also this).

However, the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. is extremely influential in both political parties, and U.S. media rarely report on aid to Israel, so the lump sum could slip through without notice.

An administration official recently said that Israel would not need to worry about money “even if there is a depression.”

Petition by Council for the National Interest

A critic of the aid, former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, points out that Israel is not an ally, and that it has often “done damage to the United States.” Giraldi, who is currently executive director of the Council for the National Interest (CNI), notes that Israel often spies on the U.S. and has stolen American technology. It also tried to sink a U.S. Navy ship, killing 34 Americans and injuring over 170.

Giraldi is asking people to sign a petition by CNI: “Stop the $3.8 Billion to Israel.”

The petition states: “… We need to take care of Americans and not send our tax money to a wealthy foreign country. Israel has already received billions of dollars from American taxpayers. It has received over $10 million per day, year after year. This year it’s time to keep our money home.”


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 4 Comments

Two Palestinians wounded in violent Israeli raid on Kafr Qaddum, Settlers pitch tent in Bethlehem

Palestine Information Center – April 26, 2020

WEST BANK – Two Palestinian young men were badly injured during violent clashes on Saturday with the Israeli occupation forces in Kafr Qaddum town, east of Qalqilya.

Local activist Murad Shetaiwi said that a large number of Israeli troops stormed the town from different sides and embarked on intensively firing live and rubber bullets at local youths.

Shetaiwi added that two young men suffered rubber bullet injuries, one in his neck and the other in his face.

He also said that soldiers deliberately fired live ammunition at water tanks on rooftops of some houses, causing damage to them.

Every week, Palestinians and foreign activists stage a weekly march in the town of Kafr Qaddum to protest Israel’s closure of the village’s main street and settlement activities.

The Israeli occupation army blocked off the road after expanding the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim in 2003, forcing village residents to take a bypass road in order to travel to Nablus, which has extended the travel time to Nablus from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

In a separate incident, a horde of extremist Jewish settlers on the same day deployed a tent on Palestinian land in al-Khinzeer area in Jab’a village, south of Bethlehem.

Recently, Jewish settlers living in illegal West Bank settlements escalated their violations in different areas of Bethlehem, where they set up a prefabricated house in the Palestinian area of Khilat al-Nahla and planted saplings on plots of land in the south of the city as part of their attempts to seize more lands.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

US seeking to replace Iraq’s PMU in the western Anbar province bordering Syria: Analyst

Press TV – April 26, 2020

An Iraqi military advisor and analyst has said that the US is seeking to replace Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units in the western Anbar province bordering Syria with its own forces.

Speaking to Iraq’s al-Maloumah news agency on Sunday, Safa al-A’ssam said that Washington seeks to force the PMU out of the province’s al-Qaim border region by fanning sectarian tensions.

“The plan is to redeploy American forces to the al-Qaim region on the pretext of countering Deash terrorist attacks and filling the security vacuum following a PMU withdrawal,” he added.

The PMU formed shortly after the emergence of the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq in mid-2014.

The group played a major role pushing back and ultimately defeating the terrorist forces which had taken control of a large swathes of the country.

The Iraqi parliament voted to integrate the PMU into the Iraqi military in 2016, effectively placing the force under the command of the prime minister and granting the group a standing similar to that of other branches of Iraqi security forces.

Fazel Jaber, an Iraqi lawmaker affiliated with the Fatah Alliance, has also warned of attempts by certain Iraqi groups to undermine the PMU’s presence in the province despite being deployed under the command of Iraq’s federal government.

He said the attempts to weaken the PMU were led by Washington, which fears the group’s presence.

The PMU has long rejected Washington’s military presence in the country as an obstacle impeding long-lasting security and stability in Iraq.

In January, Washington assassinated the group’s deputy commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, alongside Iran’s top anti-terror Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in the capital city Baghdad.

Iraqi resistance groups have vowed to take up arms against US forces if Washington fails to comply with a parliamentary order calling for the expulsion of US troops following the assassination.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jacobin Magazine Is Funded by Zionist Money; Stiffs Authors

By Eric Striker • National Justice • April 25, 2020

Jacobin Magazine is today the premier magazine of the “Bernie Left” and the Democratic Socialists of America.

Since 2017, they have come under attack for purging many of the original writers who captured the essence of left-wing populism — defending white working people, pushing back against identity politics — and trading them in for liberal interventionists, embrace of “antifa” and anarchist voices, open borders activists, and “sex worker” advocacy.

Research into the 990 forms of the Jacobin Foundation Ltd and some of the organizations giving them grants may provide clues explaining the abrupt change in Bhaskar Sunkara’s editorial line.

According to a 2017 990 form uncovered by National Justice, the Annenberg Foundation gave the Jacobin $100,000. The organization writes checks to numerous Jewish and Zionist causes, as well as a wide variety of pro-immigration and gay lobbies and legal groups.

Walter Annenberg, the foundation’s namesake, was a Wall Street speculator turned media mogul. He used his money to aid Israel’s war effort during the ’67 conflict and was known for backing various ethnocentric endeavors. A six figure check from the Annenbergs to an ostensibly socialist, anti-Zionist publication raises eyebrows, to say the least.

Another significant Jacobin donor, the Jewish Communal Fund, cut the magazine a $70,000 check alongside an infinite list of pro-Israel causes..

While Jacobin reported a total revenue of $1.5 million in 2018 mostly from program services, these two organizations provided a substantial amount of their grants and contributions. The Annenberg Foundation provided almost half of Jacobin’s grant money in 2016 ($219,861), while in 2017 the JCF’s money provided almost 70% of the free cash in this column ($107,301). Not bad!

According to sources who spoke to National Justice on condition of anonymity, the editor’s promise to pay them $50 dollars for their articles never materialized.

Political magazines are rarely profitable and not all can afford to pay their writers, but the Jacobin does not appear to have money problems. According to their latest IRS filings, they have set aside $576,019 in bonds, equities, and ETFs so that they can play the stock market.

In the same year, Jacobin’s Sunkara had the money to purchase the British Tribune, which George Orwell once worked for as an editor. Sunkara immediately fired all of its loyal employees with a pitiful severance package that compensated them for only 70% of their wages.

The prestige-purchase is a mirror image of Will Chamberlain’s costly take over of Ronald Reagan’s favorite magazine Human Events, which Chamberlain then proceeded to turn into a crappy gamergate blog.

Sunkara’s latest venture is to employ The Young Turks’ Ana Kasparian and Majority Report’s Michael Brooks for a weekend podcast. It’s unlikely either of these two liberal figures are cheap. The description for the show sounds like more “liberals vs conservatives” partisanship interchangeable with the crap on MSNBC.

Bhaskar’s pivot from anti-capitalist advocacy to profitable liberalism is as obvious as the Soviet flag is red.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Cruise Ships: The Cuban Difference

By Tim Anderson | American Herald Tribune | April 26, 2020

On 19 March two cruise ships with COVID19 infected passengers and crew were evacuated, one in Havana and the other in Sydney. The first evacuation, of the Braemar, was so successful and uneventful that it barely raised a ripple in the world media. The second, of the Ruby Princess, led to at least 21 deaths, 700 infections and a criminal investigation.

Why was there such a big difference and what can we learn from this contrast?

The evacuation of the British-American cruise ship Ruby Princess, with 2,700 passengers and 1,100 crew, was an unmitigated disaster and with the worst outcomes of all 28 cruise ship epidemics in early 2020. The ship returned early to Sydney after 13 passengers reported respiratory problems. COVID19 tests were taken of the sick passengers but on 19 March the other 2,700 were allowed to leave, apparently without proper health checks. Those people are now known to have spread the virus across Australia. A month later 190 crew had become infected and it was reported that this mismanaged evacuation was responsible for more than 10% of all COVID19 infections in Australia.

Responsibility for the Ruby Princess disembarkation was shared between the ship, the Australian Border Force and the NSW State Department of Health. The NSW police investigation of the incident arises because of “discrepancies” between versions of events given by the cruise line and the state agencies. The police will look for breaches of the law, but may not have much of a role in the oversight of failures in public health management.

Evacuation of the British-owned Braemar, on the other hand, was a successful operation. This ship had 682 passengers and 381 crew. After one disembarked passenger in Canada tested COVID19 positive, five more were detected on board. With this public knowledge, the British ship was refused disembarkation permission in Barbados and The Bahamas, even though both island-nations are members of the British Commonwealth. It was also refused access to Sint Maarten, a small Dutch territory. Finally, Cuba allowed access.

On 16 March Cuban Foreign Affairs announced that it would:

“allow the docking of this vessel [Braemar] and will adopt established sanitary measures to receive all citizens on board, in accordance with protocols established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Cuban Ministry of Public Health”

That meant thorough testing, sanitary protection measures and contact tracing. At this stage there had only been a handful of COVID19 infections in Cuba, including the death of one Italian tourist. Just a few days earlier Cuba had developed a national strategy to deal with the virus, in coordination with the regional branch of the WHO, the Pan American Health Organisation.

This evacuation of around 700 people involved 43 Cuban doctors, port officials and bus drivers. Passengers were given medical check-ups, protective equipment and then taken to Jose Martí Airport to board four aircraft for the United Kingdom. Cuban authorities said any persons too sick to travel could remain under care in Havana. A British paper said a group of about 80 were sent to a British Ministry of Defence isolation hospital at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. That group comprised two passengers and four crew plus 28 passengers and 27 crew who had already been quarantined, along with isolated passengers’ partners. There have been no reports of any deaths from the Braemar.

After that evacuation the 43 Cuba workers involved in the operation were placed in an isolation hospital near Matanzas for two weeks. On 2 April, as they returned to their families, the 43 were met with a warm welcome at La Cujae University, 30 kilometres east of Havana, “to avoid large crowds of people” and thus any further infection risk. All tested negative to COVID19 infection and none showed any fever or other symptoms during those 14 days.

Peter Deer, on behalf of the Braemar owners, expressed his “most sincere thanks to the Cuban authorities, the port of Mariel and the Cuban people for their support”. British Ambassador Anthony Stokes was effusive, expressing his “immense gratitude and that of my country” for the Cuban operation. Ambassador Stokes addressed “the 43” in impeccable Spanish, saying:

“I highly appreciate the courage and humanism of those who decided to be in the front line, knowing that this would be a complex and delicate operation, and that later they would have to be two weeks in isolation, separated from their families and dear ones. I am profoundly happy to know that, today, they have returned to their home, safe and sound … During Operation Braemar I was witness to the numerous qualities of the Cuban people, their humanitarian principles, friendliness and industriousness, facets of the Cuban character which I have come to know and love.”

So what are the lessons from the Havana operation, and what made it so different from the Sydney fiasco?

Dr. Francisco Durán García, National Director of Epidemiology in Cuba’s Ministry of Health, said that the final safety of the health workers “demonstrated the effectiveness of the strict measures taken during the operation, amongst others the isolation of the exposed personnel”, which included bus drivers and port workers as well as health professionals. Cuban journalist Jose Díaz Pollán added that “each one of these people had effective protective equipment”.

There are good and well equipped health workers in Sydney, too. However it seems evident that the effective coordination employed in Havana was lacking in Sydney. Cubans often speak of “inter sectoral coordination”, which means strong links between education, health, transport, police and other authorities, in priority matters. This is often decried in western countries as the ‘authoritarian’ nature of socialist systems. But inter-sectoral coordination works well in public health, and that was clearly lacking in Sydney.

References:

[1] Anderson, Tim (2020) ‘Public Health, COVID-19 and Recovery’, American Herald Tribune, 10 April, online.

[2] Anderson, Tim (2020) ‘How Has Cuba Faced the COVID-19 Epidemic?’, American Herald Tribune, 14 April, online.

[3] Bellew, Lesley (2020) ‘’Quarantines and cancelled tours – but at least we get free drinks’: A diary on board a cruise hit by coronavirus’, The Telegraph, 19 March, online.

[4] Cockburn, Paige (2020) ‘How the coronavirus pandemic would look in Australia if Ruby Princess had never docked’, ABC, 23 April, online.

[5] Cubadebate (2020) ‘De alta médica los 43 cubanos que apoyaron la operación del crucero MS Braemar’, 2 April, online.

[6] Díaz Pollán, Jose Guillermo (2020) ‘Sanos y en sus casas trabajadores de Transtur, GEMAR y la aduana vinculados al crucero Braemar’, Cubadebate, 2 April, online.

[7] Granma (2020) ‘De alta médica los 43 cubanos que apoyaron la operación del crucero MS Braemar’, 2 April, online.

[8] Marsh, Sarah and Nelson Acosta (2020) ‘Passengers of British coronavirus-hit cruise ship evacuate in Cuba’, Reuters, 18 March, online.

[9] MINREX (2020) ‘Cuba will accept and assist travelers on British cruise ship MS Braemar’, Granma, 16 March, online.

[10] Nguyen, Kevin and Sarah Thomas (2020) ‘Ruby Princess coronavirus deaths to be subject of criminal investigation by NSW Police homicide squad’, ABC, 5 April, online.

[11] OnCubaNews (2020) ‘In Cuba, British cruise ship with COVID-19 cases; evacuation of passengers underway’, 19 March, online.

[12] Radio Rebelde (2020) ‘UK thanks Cubans for supporting MS Braemar cruise’, 19 March, online.

[13] Rashad Rolle (2020) ‘Virus Ship Told: You Can’t Land – Cruise Liner With Five Infected Not Allowed To Dock’, The Tribune, 12 March, online.

[14] Ross, Monique and Damien Carrick (2020) ‘The Ruby Princess coronavirus saga could lead to homicide charges. These cases offer insight into a key legal issue’, ABC, 23 April, online.

[15] Stone, Jon (2020) ‘UK thanks Cuba for ‘great gesture of solidarity’ in rescuing passengers from coronavirus cruise ship’, Independent, 7 April, online.

[16] Zhou, Naaman (2020) ‘Ruby Princess crew fear for their health as ship leaves Australia’, The Guardian, 23 April, online.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Covid-19 pandemic exposes deep flaws in America’s broken healthcare system

By Margaret Flowers | RT | April 26, 2020

The coronavirus crisis is demonstrating why it’s time we replaced a system that exists purely for profits with one that puts public health first.

When it comes to the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, the United States is off the charts compared to other countries. Although the USA comprises five percent of the global population, 32 percent of Covid-19 cases and 25 percent of deaths worldwide are there. By contrast, China, where the novel coronavirus originated, has one-tenth of the number of cases and deaths, despite having a population that is four times larger.

A disaster scenario is playing out across the United States, particularly in New York City where scores of refrigerator trucks have been brought in to hold the dead, hundreds of people are dying in their homes without medical attention every day, mass graves are being used to store bodies while mortuaries are overwhelmed, and health professionals lack basic personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and dialysis machines.

Dr Mike Pappas, a doctor there, has described the difficulties he and other health professionals are facing. The shortage of PPE means doctors and nurses are reusing masks and gowns and are sometimes working without them. They are wearing trash bags over their bodies to protect themselves and their patients from becoming infected. In an interview, Dr Pappas spoke about the stress of not having enough staff, having to clear hallways and the cafeteria to make bed space, and the reluctance of hospital administrators to buy more ventilators.

As people in America struggle to wrap their heads around the twin crises of the rampant pandemic and collapsing economy, it is easy to blame the Trump administration for its failures to take rapid and effective action to contain the spread of infection and provide financial support. In reality, the roots of the crises precede Trump. The US would have fared poorly during a pandemic under any president.

It’s the system, stupid

The current disaster exists in large part because the US healthcare system is the opposite of what is needed. It is fragmented, discriminatory and designed for corporate profits, not the wellbeing of the public. Even before the pandemic, the United States had the highest number of preventable deaths compared to other wealthy nations and a declining life expectancy.

Nearly every facet of the system, which is twice as expensive as other developed countries, is designed to extract profit whether it is the hundreds of private health insurers that compete for the healthiest enrollees while avoiding those with health conditions, or the pharmaceutical corporations that charge whatever the market will bear. Even hospitals are shutting down essential departments such as obstetrics and pediatrics to make space for more lucrative areas like cardiology and orthopedics.

Two-thirds of US bankruptcies are caused by medical bills 

There are now more than 30 million people without health insurance. In the past five weeks, as more than 26 million people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, five million of them lost their health insurance. The number of uninsured is expected to rise by more than 13 million by June. On top of that, tens of millions of people with health insurance can’t afford care because of the thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs they must pay before their insurance benefits begin.

Even if a person has health insurance, there may not be anywhere to go for care. Over the past 45 years, as the US population grew by over 100 million, the number of hospital beds shrunk by about 600,000. Hospitals closed in rural areas because they could not bring in enough revenue to keep their doors open. Another 453 rural hospitals are teetering on the edge of closure out of the 1,844 that remain. In cities, hospitals that served poor communities for over 100 years are being shuttered to make way for luxury housing or retail space in gentrifying areas.

Another flaw that has been exposed by Covid-19 is the supply chain for goods and equipment. In February and early March, when patients went to hospitals with symptoms of the virus, there were few to no tests for diagnosis because the US chose to create its own tests rather than purchasing them from the World Health Organization. There have been severe shortages of protective gear. States have been fighting with each other to get basic kits as suppliers raise prices by as much as 1,000 percent.

This situation has made the call for a national improved Medicare for All healthcare system grow louder. If the US already had Medicare for All, many of the problems being experienced would not exist. Under the Medicare for All system, as defined by the congressional bill in the House of Representatives, every person in the US would be covered from birth to death without requiring payment before care is given.

This would alleviate the real fear Americans experience of financial ruin. For example, in March a nurse sought care and testing for Covid-19 symptoms and subsequently received a bill for $35,000 even though she was never admitted to the hospital. Two thirds of personal bankruptcies in America are because of medical bills.

Put people before profits

There’s a more fundamental case for a more socialized approach: it works better. A look at healthcare systems around the world that have performed well during the pandemic finds universal coverage, central planning, and the principle of health over profit are essential features. Even countries that are suffering from economic sanctions are doing a better job of containing the spread of infection than the United States.

Under a national improved Medicare for All, hospitals would not be closing their doors or shutting down departments that don’t generate high revenues in favor of more lucrative ones. Every hospital and health facility would receive a budget to cover operating costs and capital expenses. The days of investment companies buying up hospitals, running them into bankruptcy and leaving them stranded would be over.

Another key feature would be that the federal government would purchase pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in bulk to lower the cost and ensure states have what they need. Bidding wars and price gouging would cease to exist.

The US is an outlier in this pandemic in terms of the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, and an expert predicts the next winter will be even worse as the flu season begins. But the US has been an outlier for a long time for spending the most on healthcare and still having poor health outcomes. Around the world, the countries that have handled the pandemic well, such as China, South Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, share common features of their healthcare systems: central planning, universal coverage and a focus on public health.

Whether America finally adopts a similar system depends on what people do to demand it, but there certainly has not been a more opportune time to make that demand.

Margaret Flowers is co-director of Popular Resistance and is an adviser to the board of Physicians for a National Health Program. Follower her @MFlowers8

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

U.S. Concocting Intel to Frame China for COVID-19 Crisis

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | April 25, 2020

China’s communist leaders have blood on their hands, so say U.S. hawks. Chinaphobes in Congress and a battalion of media pundits are demanding compensation from Beijing for the spiraling death toll and economic destruction incurred by the United States.

Already U.S. states have begun litigation to sue China. Rightwing think-tanks like the Hudson Institute are projecting that China is liable to pay out trillions of dollars for American losses over the Covid-19 pandemic.

The chorus of “Yellow Peril” fever goes beyond financial retribution right up to creating a casus belli against China. It is no coincidence that U.S. warships have stepped up provocative maneuvers in the South China Sea this week.

President Donald Trump and his top envoy Mike Pompeo have weighed in to point the finger at China for pandemic mayhem hitting the U.S. China is being set up as the scapegoat to “explain” why the supposedly most powerful nation in the world has been left so ravaged by a virus.

The “blame China” narrative turns on two sub-plots. It is claimed in U.S. media that the Chinese authorities knew a lot more than they let on they did about the potential harm from the epidemic when it first emerged in the city of Wuhan in December. The insinuation is that China (and the World Health Organization) engaged in a cover-up about the scale of the disease, thereby putting other nations in danger through misinformation.

The second sub-plot in the “blame China” agenda is that a Chinese virology laboratory leaked out the deadly virus, either by accident or as part of biowarfare program. That again implies a China cover-up. Both sub-plots fit the slogan taken up by Trump supporters and anti-China hawks more generally: “China Lied, People Died”.

In both cases, however, it is more than plausible that the media agitation is information warfare to scapegoat China. What is happening here this: a disastrous current situation in America is being retrospectively “explained” with false U.S. intelligence claims that seek to shift blame on to China, and, crucially, distract from questions about inherent systematic failure in Washington.

On the “China knew more but didn’t let on” claim, the primer for this theme came from an ABC report published on April 9. It quotes anonymous U.S. sources as saying that the Pentagon’s disease experts were briefing the White House and senior national security officials about a new contagion sweeping through China’s Wuhan region as far back as November.

As ABC reported with convenient sinister implication: “Those analyses said China’s leadership knew the epidemic was out of control even as it kept such crucial information from foreign governments and public health agencies.”

The basic problem is “those analyses” referred to by ABC’s anonymous sources are only alleged to have happened. Where’s the evidence, transcripts, memos and so on? An open mind should ask the question: was such an intel assessment even formulated?

ABC’s report took off in the pundit-sphere even though it updated its report with a disclaimer from the Pentagon denying that any such assessment existed. Fair enough, maybe the Pentagon is mischievously disowning. There again, more likely, ABC is being played by its anonymous sources to concoct an anti-China narrative?

A few other contradictions are the following: Mark Esper, the Pentagon chief, subsequently told ABC in an interview that he didn’t know anything about any such alleged contagion warning which he had supposedly received back in November or December. Esper’s cack-handed tone suggests he simply did not receive any such briefing, rather than any sort of smart sophistry on his part.

Furthermore, if the alleged Pentagon intelligence warning of a new contagion was presumably circulated in Presidential Daily Briefs, why was Trump voicing complacency about the potential pandemic during January and February? Indeed, why was Trump on record for praising China’s efforts at controlling the outbreak during this crucial period if he had been warned, allegedly, about the pandemic and the implied cover-up by Beijing?

Here’s another amusing cause for doubt. The Pentagon’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI) – the agency which purportedly warned of a contagion in China back in November – is officially tasked with detecting diseases which “pose serious risk to U.S. forces” in Asia and internationally. Strangely enough, the NCMI didn’t seem to know about outbreaks of COVID-19 onboard U.S. aircraft carriers deployed in Asia-Pacific which only came to light when navy crews publicly complained – yet we are led to believe the same agency knew what was going down in the obscure environs of Wuhan, even before Chinese authorities knew about the virus.

The second sub-plot is the alleged escape of the virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The WIV is an internationally respected disease research center, which has partnered with French and other governments’ researchers. It operates at the highest international safety standards, yet somehow the WIV supposedly let a deadly virus escape. There is an added insinuation that the virus was man-made as part of a scientific program. President Trump said last week that Washington “was looking into it” and hinted that the release may even have been deliberate.

This is a shoddy conspiracy theory based on zero evidence, as documented by investigative journalist Max Blumenthal. The claim of “lab release” has been doing the rounds in dodgy rightwing U.S. media like the Washington Times for months. It has recently been elevated by equally dodgy reporting in the Washington Post that has all the hallmarks of an intel psy-ops.

The World Health Organization, as well as a vast body of scientific opinion, concludes that the Covid-19 virus (also known as SARS-CoV-2) is of natural origin emanating from wildlife, and that it is neither man-made nor manipulated in a lab. Indeed, many eminent scientists in the field of virology have condemned “conspiracy theories” claiming the virus came out of a lab as “pure baloney”.

What this all boils down to is an attempt by American anti-China hawks and elements of U.S. intelligence to retrospectively construct a narrative which lays the blame for the Covid-19 global crisis on Beijing. Given the abysmal failure of the U.S. to mitigate this crisis – exposing the deep flaws of its capitalistic society – the temptation is all the stronger for Washington to jump on the bandwagon scapegoating China.

Considering Trump’s re-election hopes are at stake, it is not surprising he is clambering into the driving seat of this bandwagon.

But concocting intel to fit a conclusion is a precarious pursuit. It has disturbing resonance with the Iraqi WMD intel manufacturing and media indulgence which led to disastrous war.

Is U.S. power so shameless that it would prefer war rather than face public accountability for its own criminal complacency and neglect? You better believe it.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Oregon State University researcher: Vitamins C, D can help prevent COVID-19

“The stakes are huge”

By Whitney Woodworth | Salem Statesman Journal | April 23, 2020

Supplements containing vitamins C and D, along with other micronutrients [zinc], can be a “safe, effective and low-cost” means to fight off COVID-19 and other acute respiratory tract diseases, according to an Oregon State University researcher.

Adrian Gombart of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute, along with his collaborators at universities across the world, said public health officials should issue a clear set of nutritional guidelines to complement the existing advice about washing hands to prevent the spread of infections.

Findings were published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients. … continue

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Palestinians hunker down for Ramadan, facing a virus that doesn’t discriminate but an occupier that does

By Jonathan Cook | Palestine DeepDive | April 25, 2020

As the holy fasting month of Ramadan begins, the coronavirus outbreak in Israel and the Palestinian territories is proving how inevitably intertwined the two populations’ lives are, while also underlining the extreme differentials of power between them.

While 15,000 Israelis have tested positive for Covid-19 so far, the numbers infected in the occupied territories are still measured in the hundreds – though that, in part, reflects the difficulties for Palestinians of getting tested. The Palestinian Authority is desperately short of equipment, including testing kits, to deal with the virus.

Research suggests that most infections of Palestinians have originated in contacts with Israelis. Israel is much further advanced along the contagion curve because of its population’s access to international travel, the country’s greater exposure to tourism and its integration into the global economy.

Israel’s tight restrictions over Palestinians’ freedom of movement – from the complete blockade on Gaza to the walling-in of the West Bank – as well as its colonial-style control of the Palestinian economy have ensured the late arrival of Covid-19 to the occupied territories.

But it has also guaranteed that the Palestinian leaderships – both Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank – will be weakly positioned to cope when contagion kicks in more forcefully.

And just such a major outbreak is all but inevitable in the West Bank. Ramadan may well provide the trigger.

In recent years about 80,000 Palestinians – from a West Bank population of nearly 3 million – have received permits to work either in Israel or in Israeli settlements, with a few tens of thousands more entering “illegally” through missing sections of the wall. For most families, such work is the only hope they have of earning a living.

The Palestinian economy is entirely dependent on Israel. Palestinians cannot leave the West Bank without permission from Israel, which is often hard to get.

Israel imposes costly and lengthy bureaucratic controls on Palestinian exports, making it nigh-impossible for Palestinian firms to compete in the global market-place.

And World Bank studies show that Israel has plundered most of the West Bank’s key resources, making it impossible for Palestinians themselves to exploit those resources. Israel even controls the flow of tourists into Palestinian areas.

But Palestinian workers’ dependence on Israel is now placing them in harm’s way. Although many are likely to catch the virus in Israel while working, Israel is refusing to take responsibility for their welfare.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is able to do little itself because many of the workers are from Area C, the two-thirds of the West Bank that Israel fully controls under the long-expired Oslo Accords. The PA has no access to these areas.

Difficult choice

The Ramadan holiday is likely to severely exacerbate the problem of the virus spreading in the occupied territories.

Last month, as Israel intensified its lockdown to prevent contagion in the run-up to its week-long Passover holiday in the second week of April, Palestinian workers were given a choice. Either they committed to continue working in Israel for several more weeks, often in jobs defined as “essential”, such as food production, or they had to stop work and return to the West Bank until the lockdown ended.

Many chose to keep working and stayed in Israel, while many more worked off-radar, without permits, by sneaking in and out through one of the many gaps in the wall.

This latter group, among the poorest members of Palestinian society, is posing a particular problem for West Bank officials. These workers are at high risk of catching the virus, and can spread it without the PA knowing.

For this reason, groups of Palestinians are reported to be patrolling the missing sections of wall to stop such workers entering Israel. Paradoxically, there are even cases of them trying to patch up breaks in the wall on Israel’s behalf.

The Israeli government has supposedly put in place regulations to keep the Palestinian workers safe: firms must take their temperatures daily, ensure social distancing is maintained on production sites, properly house workers and make sure no more than four sleep to a room.

But the government is leaving it to the firms to comply. There are no inspectors. Media investigations show that the rules are being widely flouted, leading to the rapid spread of the virus among Palestinian workers.

Any who try to leave Israel to avoid catching Covid-19 are being threatened by their employers that their work permits will be revoked, leaving them without work long term.

And now many are heading home to the West Bank to spend Ramadan with their families. Israel has refused to conduct any testing, so a proportion will be bringing – unknown to them – the virus home.

But these workers and their families are not just facing an imminent health crisis that Palestinian medical services are in no shape to withstand. They are also being hit harshly in the pocket by Israel’s lockdown policies.

Palestinians who work in Israel are often the only breadwinner, providing for an extended family that lives close to the poverty line. For the forseeable future there will be no income for the tens of thousands of workers who joined the lockdown in the West Bank before Passover, for those who caught the virus in Israel and were forced home, and for those returning for Ramadan.

Israel is also taking no responsibility for their welfare, even though many have worked for years in Israel and have had to pay a substantial proportion of their wages each month into a sick fund run by the Israeli government.

The fund amounts to more than $140 million, and has grown so large because Israel makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to make a claim.

Israeli human rights groups have pressed Israel to release the funds to Palestinians who are not able to work to help them through this health and economic emergency. So far the Israeli government has done nothing.

Trying to fill the void

The Palestinians under Israeli rule in occupied East Jerusalem face their own set of problems.

Despite claiming that all of Jerusalem – including the Palestinian parts of the city – are Israel’s “united capital”, Israeli officials have continued an apartheid-like approach in the city that treats Palestinians, who are classified by Israel simply as “residents”, very differently from Jews, who are Israeli “citizens”.

The numbers of Palestinians who have officially tested positive so far in Jerusalem is still low, at several dozen, but that probably reflects the fact that until recently there were almost no clinics carrying out testing in Palestinian neighbourhoods.

Many Palestinian areas have not been sanitised by cleaning crews, as Jewish areas have been, nor has there been significant enforcement by Israeli police of lockdown measures or mask-wearing regulations – a surprise given that Israeli police are usually very diligent in patrolling Palestinian areas and making arrests.

Israeli authorities have also been slow to put out information in Arabic about the virus and on safety measures – either for 330,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem or for the 1.8 million Palestinians who live inside Israel and have a very degraded form of Israeli citizenship.

Experts say the lack of an awareness-raising campaign in Palestinian areas will likely lead to a rapid rise in cases over Ramadan, if extended families follow traditional practice and spend more time together.

Palestinian officials in Jerusalem have tried to fill the void by disseminating information, organising sanitisation operations and helping to set up a testing clinic. Israel has cracked down on any such activities, including by violently arresting the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem and the PA’s Jerusalem affairs minister.

Instead Palestinian charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have formed into a “Jerusalem Alliance” to try to pick up the slack left by Israel.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem are likely to be especially vulnerable to disease. Three-quarters live below the poverty line, and less than half are formally connected to the water network. Planning restrictions mean there is widespread overcrowding.

East Jerusalem’s three Palestinian hospitals are also in poor shape, bedevilled by large debts courtesy of Donald Trump, who cut $25 million in financial aid in 2018.

The Israeli health ministry has also failed to provide protective equipment and funds to these hospitals to deal with the coronavirus crisis. They have found an unusual ally in Jerusalem’s mayor, Moshe Leon. He has berated the Israeli government, apparently fearful that West Jerusalem hospitals will be overwhelmed if Palestinians cannot get help from their own hospitals.

More precarious still is the situation of Palestinian neighbourhoods, like Kfar Aqab, that were effectively split off from East Jerusalem after Israel built a wall putting them on the West Bank side. That has made city services difficult to access for some 100,000 Jerusalem residents.

Israel has been progressively abandoning responsibility for these areas – in an effort to raise the Jewish majority in the rest of Jerusalem.

Nonetheless, it has been reluctant to allow the PA to fill the void. The Covid-19 crisis is gradually revealing Israel’s intention towards these “outside” neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. On Thursday, Israel sent in the army to pull down coronavirus information notices that had been put up by the PA.

The Israel army has no role in Jerusalem, but does operate in the West Bank. The new action suggests Israel is preparing to formally reclassify areas like Kfar Aqab as no longer part of Jerusalem.

Apartheid wins out

Things are only slightly better for the fifth of Israel’s population who belong to its Palestinian minority. These 1.8 million second-class citizens are descended from Palestinians who managed to avoid Israel’s ethnic cleansing operations in 1948, when Israel was established on the Palestinians’ homeland.

Israel has created a strange hybrid apartheid system, in which Jewish citizens live almost entirely separate from Palestinian citizens. The two populations are educated separately, and many areas of the economy are segregated too.

But one area where Palestinian and Jewish citizens are highly integrated – coming into regular contact – is in the health sector.

In fact, Palestinian citizens are over-represented in the medical professions, in large part because it is one of the few significant areas of the economy that is not defined in security terms and is therefore relatively open to the Palestinian minority.

One in five doctors in Israel is a Palestinian citizen, a quarter of nurses are, and a half of all pharmacists.

But despite the strong showing of Palestinian citizens in health services, the Israeli government’s apartheid instincts have won out.

In February Israel established an emergency team to handle the pandemic. It devised a national strategy for testing, quarantines, hospitalisations, awareness-raising and the lockdown policy.

However, not one expert from the Palestinian minority – or from the occupied territories – was included on the committee, leaving it entirely ignorant of the special conditions relevant to Palestinian society, in either Israel or the occupied territories.

The Israeli health ministry also refused to meet with the minority’s own national health committee, established by Palestinian doctors and researchers in Israel to help tackle the virus in the Palestinian community.

These failures explain the long delay in Israel producing any information on the virus in Arabic, and the similar delay in setting up testing stations in Palestinian communities. Limited action came only after concerted protests from Palestinian legislators in the parliament.

After a very low initial rate of infection, Palestinian citizens are now the fastest growing group in Israel testing positive for the virus – and that despite continuing low levels of testing.

Ramadan is expected to exacerbate that upward trend dramatically as families shop for food and eat meals with extended families. Mosques are already closed, and Muslim leaders have told worshippers to pray at home. In a last-minute effort to avert a new epidemic, the Israeli government has banned shops and businesses opening during the hours of darkness, as would normally occur during Ramadan.

As in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Palestinians in Israel are vulnerable. Two-thirds of families live below the poverty line – more than three times the rate of Jewish families. There is massive overcrowding in Palestinian communities, after decades in which Israel has refused new building permits for Palestinians.

And health services are poor or non-existent in many Palestinian communities, especially in dozens of Bedouin villages Israel has refused to recognise. In these communities, Bedouin are also denied water and electricity.

Further, Israel’s main ambulance service, Magen David Adom, rarely operates in Palestinian communities, though its staff alone have training to deal with coronavirus. It is unclear how the private companies serving Palestinian communities will cope if there is a major outbreak.

And as is the case in other Palestinian communities, Palestinian families in Israel are also particularly exposed to the economic consequences of lockdown. Many work as casual labourers, and have lost their work during the past weeks.

The coronavirus outbreak was a test of Israel’s ability to put aside its security and demographic obsessions and deal with the Palestinians not just as fellow human beings but also as allies in a struggle for the health of both peoples. In that test, Israel has failed dismally.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

The Senseless Battle of Peleliu

Tales of the American Empire

The 1944 plan to retake the Philippines was to invade the island of Peleliu first to deny the Japanese use of its excellent airfield, which could then be used by American aircraft to support a US Army landing in the southern Philippines. A huge US Navy carrier task force cruised through the region to destroy Japanese air power prior to the planned landings and found little opposition. As a result, the Army and Navy agreed to skip the invasion of the southern Philippines and land at Leyte in the central Philippines with Navy carriers providing air support. There was no need to invade Peleliu, but the US Marine Corps had already assembled an invasion force and insisted the landing proceed. This madness resulted in over 10,000 unnecessary American casualties.

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“OPERATION STALEMATE II”; LtCol Daniel C. Hodges USMC; Fort Leavenworth KS, 2004; https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltex… agrees that Peleliu was senseless.

Related tale: “The American Empire’s Disastrous Defeat in 1942”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG1yL…

Related tale: “The Japanese Victory on Iwo Jima”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b9wU…

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment