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Biothreat from US on the Rise

https://journal-neo.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/BIO32342.jpg

By Vladimir Platov – New Eastern Outlook – 03.06.2020

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate many nations of the world, the global community and media outlets have been increasingly focusing on questionable activities being carried out at biolabs financed by funds from the US Department of Defense budget.

There have already been a number of publications expressing concern about the collection of human specimens for research from members of various ethnic groups by the Pentagon. The total budget for this program is supposedly $2 billion. The key long-term aims of USA’s biological defense program are to “counter and reduce the risk of biological threats and to prepare, respond to, and recover from them if they happen” in any given region. These goals include monitoring all the research conducted on pathogens; collecting biological specimens in countries of interest (and then handing them over to the United States); studying how susceptible certain ethnic groups are to various diseases and their responses to appropriate treatments, and conducting clinical trials of drugs in regions with ethnically diverse populations. In order to reach these objectives, the United States has ensured the establishment of partner alert and response systems for epidemics in the aforementioned countries, which encompass national, regional and local research laboratories, institutes of veterinary medicine as well as medical facilities.

USA’s National Security Strategy, unveiled in 2017, stated that “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity”. Hence, it is not surprising that research on bio-threats is being actively conducted in partnership with the United States in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region. In addition, a network of US partner biolabs is being established on the borders of Russia and China. In this regard, the USA seems to be particularly interested in Central Asian nations, Ukraine and Eastern European countries. It is particularly frightening that, in recent years, new US partner biological laboratories have reportedly been established in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Ukraine (altogether, there are several dozen facilities of this nature in 25 countries).

For example, in Ukraine, which appears to be under Washington’s direct influence after the Maidan Revolution, the USA has purportedly opened a network of 15 secret biolabs. Recently, Oleksandr Lazarev, a Ukrainian political scientist, told Ukrainian TV channel ZIK that these laboratories were conducting research on weaponizing viruses and could therefore jeopardize national security. He added that 15 laboratories had been established in Ukraine since the so-called Orange Revolution in 2005. The political scientist pointed out that these facilities were funded by the US Department of Defense, which meant that their presence in the region was in line with USA’s military objectives. Oleksandr Lazarev used biolabs in Georgia as an example of facilities where questionable research was being carried out. According to the Ukrainian expert, in 2008, when the Georgian–Ossetian conflict occurred and there was a flare-up in tensions between the United States and Russia, the African swine fever virus (ASFV) spread from Georgia to Russia. The political scientist said that numerous factors suggested that the pathogen came from the aforementioned biolabs in Georgia. He also reminded the audience that ASFV then reached the territory of Ukraine, where it indiscriminately killed livestock. Oleksandr Lazarev also opined that outbreaks of various dangerous diseases, which had occurred in different regions of Ukraine, were directly linked to the US partner biolabs in the country.

Many media outlets have reported about the work carried out at the Richard Lugar Public Health Research Center (a US partner biolab in Alekseyevka, Tbilisi). These news items have expressed concern about the legitimacy of US-funded activities in Georgia. Secret experiments are being conducted at the facility. Some research is even done on people, who are isolated in special units and subsequently infected with the most dangerous diseases.

Another region that the US Department of Defense is particularly interested in is Central Asia, where the US military and political leadership has decided to establish partner laboratories in Soviet-era facilities, called the “anti-plague system”. In Kazakhstan, four out of nine regional research centers (in Nur-Sultan, Otar and Oral) have already been repaired and equipped with necessary instruments as part of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) program.

In recent years, the United States has continued to ramp up its activities in partner biolabs in Uzbekistan, a country not far from Russia, China and Iran. The Pentagon started increasing the reach of its secret biolabs within Uzbekistan since the end of 1990s, during the upheavals that followed the collapse of the USSR. Hence, US experts from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA, a body within the US Department of Defense) could have gained access to previously secret biological and chemical facilities in this nation. The first National Reference Laboratory opened in 2007 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2013, two more began operations in Andijan and Fergana, and in 2016, another laboratory opened in Urgench (the Khorezm Regional Diagnostic Laboratory). These facilities, as others in countries of the region, were built with the support of the DTRA of the US Department of Defense. Currently, there are more than 10 laboratories aside from the one in Tashkent: in Andijan, Bukhara, Denau, Qarshi, Nukus (the capital of the Republic of Karakalpakstan), Urgench, Samarkand and Fergana. As this network of US partner biolabs continues to expand in Uzbekistan (the most highly-populated Central Asian country), periodic outbreaks of unknown origins have occurred in the nation. However, there is very little information about them at present. For instance, in August 2011, within 24 hours, 70 sick individuals were admitted to hospital in Yangiyul, a city not far from Tashkent. In 2012, an unknown disease spread in Uzbekistan and dozens of people died as a result. In spring 2017, there was an outbreak of chickenpox (a dangerous disease especially for infants, caused by a virus). It had a negative effect on the health of the population in the region and the country, and spread among individuals of working age. Strangely, the rise in infections coincided with the opening of US partner facilities supposedly aimed at reducing the risk of biological threats. It is, therefore, not surprising that there have been rising concerns among the public about the lack of transparency in these laboratories and reporting practices used by them involving US officials.

The United States has been increasing its sphere of influence in the bio defense sector by, first and foremost, expanding its network of partner biolabs and conducting more experiments of interest to the Pentagon. As a result, the aforementioned countries are losing their ability to function independently in this particular field. Fulfilling its objectives could allow the United States to subsequently use these biolabs for military purposes; to ensure US servicemen are protected if they are deployed in the regions where the laboratories are located, and to conduct in-depth research into pathogens that can affect ethnic groups in different ways.

Recently, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Washington’s rejection of the protocol containing verification measures to strengthen the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction was a cause for concern. “Tensions around the issue have escalated and Washington’s unwillingness to ensure the transparency of its military biological activities in various parts of the world raises questions about what is really going on there and what the actual goals are,” the official pointed out.

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Foiling Predictions, Russians Did Not Go Hungry After 2014

Natylie Baldwin, in this excerpt from her new book, describes what happened after the U.S. and EU sought to punish Moscow with agricultural sanctions.

2019 view of Moscow International Business Center. (Dzasohovich, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)
By Natylie Baldwin | Consortium News | June 3, 2020

A common response in the Anglo-American media to Russia’s counter-sanctions against agricultural imports from the United States and EU in 2014 was that Russians would go hungry and were, therefore, shooting themselves in the foot. Within a matter of days of the announcement, however, numerous Latin American countries, namely Argentina and Brazil, got in line to fill the gap, as well as China, which started selling produce directly to Russia.

More importantly, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Russia ranked as one of the top three producers in the world for a range of agricultural products at the time, from various fruits and vegetables to grains, potatoes and poultry. As of 2018, it was the world’s top exporter of wheat. The government has also had plans in place since 2013 to significantly boost the country’s already respectable production of organic produce from small farms and gardens.  

Natural Society reported in May 2014 that 35 million Russian families are growing an impressive percentage of Russia’s fruits and vegetables on 20 million acres:

According to some statistics, they grow 92% of the entire countries’ potatoes, 77% of its vegetables, 87% of its fruit, and feed 71% of the entire population from privately owned organic farms or house gardens all across the country. These aren’t huge Agro-farms run by pharmaceutical companies; these are small family farms and less-than-an-acre gardens.

By autumn 2017, Vladimir Putin had publicly set a goal for Russia to become the world’s top producer and exporter of organic agriculture. In the summer of 2018, the Russian president signed legislation creating official standards, labeling and certification procedures for organic products produced for commercial sale in Russia that went into effect in 2020. Government support will be available to organic farmers, and a public registry will be created listing certified producers.

The agricultural sanctions created some immediate problems, mainly temporary shortages of some meat products and price increases due to the need to work out infrastructure issues to accommodate imports from countries at greater distances.

But Russians did not go hungry, as I witnessed plenty of food in markets, from street vendors, and in restaurants in all cities I visited during my trips in 2015 and 2017. There was, however, concern over price increases.

Author Sharon Tennison, who has traveled throughout Russia extensively since 1983, reported the general attitude of most Russians toward Western sanctions during her trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg in September 2014:

The general outlook of Russians I spoke with is one of quiet confidence, saying that sanctions will turn out good for Russia in the long run––that Russia must become self-sufficient––remarking that Russia became infatuated with foreign products in the 1990s. At that time they felt Russia didn’t need to manufacture high-end products that they could purchase them from other countries. However, the situation has changed. Today production has become the “in” discussion wherever one goes. The sanctions have helped bring this about. Several Russians remarked that they hoped the sanctions lasted for three years or more, since that would give Russians sufficient time to learn to manufacture formerly imported items themselves. The Russian government is offering financial support to entrepreneurs who are ready to move into consumer production.

Sanctions Imposed

In March of 2014, the U.S. and the European Union (EU) began imposing sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its “annexation” of Crimea. These initial sanctions were largely comprised of asset freezes and visa restrictions on certain Russian officials. As the situation in Eastern Ukraine escalated, with rebels taking over local government buildings and demanding autonomy from what they perceived as a coup government in Kiev, the list of individuals targeted for sanctions grew.

After the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 in July 2014, the west imposed more wide-ranging sanctions, which included several Russian banks as well as the defense and energy sectors. In March of 2018, there were diplomatic “sanctions” (expulsions) for the alleged Skirpal poisoning, which Russia responded to with its own expulsions. That same month, there were business/personal sanctions against a number of Russians for their alleged interference in the 2016 elections.

In order to provide the most accurate and comprehensive assessment of the effect of Western sanctions on Russia over the past five years, University of Birmingham professor Richard Connolly, in his 2018 book, “Russia’s Response to Sanctions: How Western Economic Statecraft is Reshaping Political Economy in Russia,” describes how Russia’s economy actually works in order to provide a contextual framework for understanding the success or failure of the West’s policy. He concluded that the ultimate effect of the sanctions is likely not what was intended by Washington policymakers.

Economy with Four Sectors

Connolly explains that the Russian economy can be divided up into roughly four sectors.

Sector A generates revenue, or “rents,” in the form of taxes, fees and other benefits that support Sector B. Sector A is comprised largely of fossil fuel and mineral extraction industries but also includes large “agricultural conglomerates,” manufacturers of nuclear power generation equipment, and some defense industry manufacturers. Economic actors in Sector A are highly profitable and competitive in the global market, into which they are successfully integrated. The state also plays a strong role in Sector A industries either through significant ownership stakes, as is the case with Gazprom, Rosneft, and Rosatom, or through strong personal ties among private owners and the political class, as is the case with Lukoil and Novatek.

Sector B is comprised of economic actors that are dependent upon the rents generated by Sector A. This includes companies that are generally not competitive globally and provide goods and services to the domestic market rather than for export. Despite state assistance, they do not always generate consistent profits. Examples include automotive manufacturing, shipbuilding, fossil fuel equipment and some defense manufacturing. Other beneficiaries of Sector A include state bureaucracy workers and pensioners. It is estimated that Sectors A and B together comprise around 70 percent of the Russian economy.

Sector C is independent of Sectors A and B and includes large construction companies, retail and business services, and various small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in retail, transportation, business support and communications technology. Because these businesses are outside of the Sector A and B relationship, they’re dependent upon successful profit-making and tend to encourage more competition, innovation and productivity, though they are vulnerable to various forms of outside corruption and unfair takeovers. One successful example of a Sector C industry that enjoys significant and growing export rates is computer software.

The last sector is the financial sector, which, as Connolly points out, developed virtually out of nothing over the past three decades into a system of numerous, largely state-owned or state-influenced banks that provide a wide range of services. However, Russia’s overall financial sector is small in comparison with other middle-income countries, with Sector A and B entities getting preferential treatment in receipt of the limited credit that is available. There are few small banks or other financial institutions that can provide SMEs with credit, as is reflected in the fact that, as of 2016, two-thirds of assets and liabilities were owned by large state-controlled banks.

As Connolly notes, the obvious disadvantages of this system of political economy are hobbled competition, innovation and productivity. It also limits the development of SMEs.

The advantages, however, include support of domestic employment and the funding of social programs. Perhaps most importantly, this system has also enabled the Russian state to cushion the country from the worst potential effects of Western sanctions and even encourage the stimulation of alternative economic investment, which has strengthened agriculture and some industry and finance.

In terms of how Russia responded to Western sanctions, Connolly provides the following summary:

The Russian response was multifaceted and included the securitization of strategic areas of economic policy, a concerted effort to support import substitution in strategic sectors of the economy, and vigorous efforts to cultivate economic relations with non-Western countries, especially in Asia.

Policy of Diversification  

Securitization officially justified certain policies using national security and subordinating certain other objectives in the economic realm that might be prioritized under “normal” circumstances. In order to increase Russia’s economic independence or sovereignty, policies of import substitution and “diversifying” its range of foreign economic partners and the extent of those relations were implemented.

Import substitution involved increasing the proportion of goods and services in Russia that were produced domestically. As an official policy, it was begun in earnest after the imposition of Western sanctions. By 2015, the government was providing federal budget funding, facilitation of loans and access to state procurement funds as well as institutional support to specific sectors of the economy, which included the provision of legal and regulatory frameworks for such policies. In 2016, a plan was presented by Russia’s minister for industry and trade that encompassed “2,000 projects across nineteen branches of the economy. These projects were to be carried out between 2016 and 2020.”

By early 2018, there were 2,500 projects worth $38 billion that were to be completed by 2020. The areas of priority for industrial manufacturing included power equipment, oil and gas equipment, machine tool and civil aviation manufacturing, and agricultural machinery, all of which had import levels between 50 percent and 90 percent.

Gains in domestic food production were seen quickly as Russia became the world’s No. 1 supplier of wheat in early 2018, subsequently capturing over half of the world’s market. Wheat exports continue to increase; sales to other nations increased by 80 percent during the first half of 2018 over the same period in 2017.

Diversifying foreign economic relations is pretty self-explanatory, and in this case it focused heavily on countries in Asia such as China, India, Vietnam and South Korea, as well as Turkey and Latin America. Connolly points out that Russia did not present this as a “zero-sum” action and still conducts most of its trade with various European countries (46 percent of exports and 38 percent of imports). This fact should be considered when assessing the credibility of accusations against Putin that he wants to destroy the EU.

President Vladimir Putin meeting with German business executives, Nov. 1, 2018. (The Kremlin)

China, however, has now become Russia’s single largest trading partner, accounting for 10 percent of Russia’s exports and 22 percent of its imports. But this figure alone does not begin to provide the full picture of Russia’s increasing partnership with Eurasia in general and China in particular.

According to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar, who has been closely following the trend of Eurasian economic integration for several years, what’s known in Russia as the “Greater Eurasia” project was recently presented to the Council of Ministers in Moscow and is now largely accepted as an entrenched foreign policy guide for Russia’s future.

After interviewing three top Russian academics and policymakers who have been championing the Greater Eurasia project for years, Escobar explained that the policy would not preclude continuing a relationship with Europe, recognizing that the Russian elite has been intimately influenced by European culture and trade and technology since the time of Peter the Great, but is meant to be a rebalancing toward the inevitable economic center that will soon be led by Asia and to serve as a “civilizational bridge” between east and west.

The New Silk Road

Situated as it is geographically, Russia is in a perfect position to play this role, serving as a cultural connector between the Enlightenment and the Mongols and as a physical connector between Europe and Asia. In terms of the latter, Russia will play a pivotal role in connecting China’s New Silk Road (aka Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI) through Russia and Central Asia and into Europe.

Escobar writes:

Greater Eurasia and the Belt and Road Initiative are bound to merge. Eurasia is crisscrossed by mighty mountain ranges such as the Pamirs and deserts like the Taklamakan and the Karakum. The best land route runs via Russia or via Kazakhstan to Russia. In crucial soft power terms, Russia remains the lingua franca of Mongolia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

And that leads us to the utmost importance of an upgraded Trans-Siberian railway—Eurasia’s current connectivity core. In parallel, the transportation systems of the Central Asia “stans” are closely integrated with the Russian network of roads; all that is bound to be enhanced in the near future by Chinese-built high-speed rail.

. . . And all across the spectrum, Moscow aims at maximizing return[s] on the crown jewels of the Russian Far East: agriculture, water resources, minerals, lumber, oil and gas. Construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Yamal vastly benefits China, Japan and South Korea.

Iran, Turkey, and India are all pivoting toward Eurasia as well, with a free trade agreement between Iran and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union having been recently approved. Iran is also playing a role in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to facilitate closer economic cooperation between Russia and India, who have enjoyed cordial relations and strong trade in defense for decades.

But Russia and China’s “comprehensive strategic partnership” — as it is referred to officially by both countries — is much more than economic. In an unprecedented move, China sent 3,000 troops to join Russia in a 2018 military exercise to practice countering NATO in Eastern Europe. In July of 2019, “Russian and Chinese bombers conducted their first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific.” To reinforce the strategic importance of Russian-Chinese relations, the day after these maneuvers, the Chinese government published a “white paper” in which it promised to further increase military cooperation between the two countries, partly as a result of the United States’s “undermining” of regional stability.

A former senior national security official in Russia described the relationship to National Interest correspondent Graham Allison as a “functional military alliance.” Allison elaborated that “Russian and Chinese generals’ staffs now have candid, detailed discussions about the threat US nuclear modernization and missile defense pose to each of their strategic deterrents.”

S-400 surface-to-air missile systems during the Victory parade 2010. (Wikimedia)

Allison also reiterated that Russia has lifted its decades-long withholding of advanced military technologies to its eastern neighbor, selling China the S-400 air defense system and partnering in research and development on rocket engines and drones. Furthermore, Russia and China vote the same on the UN Security Council 98 percent of the time, and Russia has supported all Chinese vetoes since 2007.

As evidence that the Russian public will likely support the Greater Eurasia project and Russia’s diversifying of economic partnerships in an eastern direction, recent polling reveals that 69 percent of Russians hold a positive view of China — the exact same percentage that hold a negative view of the United States. Two-thirds of Russians identify the United States as their nemesis, while only 2 percent identify China that way.

Now that we’ve explored how Russia has actually responded to Western sanctions, we can turn to the question of how effective those sanctions have been in terms of what their presumed intent was. As Connolly enumerates, in addition to sending a symbolic message of disapproval of Russia’s actions and to show a united front among Western allies, the intent among some policymakers was to cause significant economic harm to Russia—not just as a deterrent to further “bad behavior,” but with the idea that this would encourage political revolt among targeted Russian elites that would endanger Putin’s government and result in regime change with the installment of a new Russian leader that would be more amenable to Washington’s desires.

The answer is that Washington has once again — in its hubris and ignorance — been hoist with its own petard. As British scholar on Russia Paul Robinson sums up in his review of Connolly’s book:

First, it [sanctions] has created a system that “is less vulnerable to external pressure” than that which existed before, in that it is more independent from the West. Second, it has accelerated a shift in Russia’s place in the global economy towards the East. This obviously has political ramifications which Connolly does not explore. Somewhat perversely, Western sanctions have reduced, not increased, Western leverage over Russia. This is probably permanent.

Moreover, since Russia has weathered the sanctions reasonably well, even using them to strengthen certain sectors of its economy in the long term, the sanctions have likely failed as a tool of deterrence. As Connolly states:

How can policymakers expect sanctions to act as a credible deterrent to third countries when the target country in any given instance might appear to be coping or even flourishing under sanctions? In short, a significant and negative impact on the target economy is a necessary, although not sufficient, condition of sanctions to be effective.

For the policymakers implementing sanctions, it might have been worthwhile to have been briefed by real experts on what Russia’s economy is actually like. If they’d done so, they might have realized that sanctions were likely to have a limited effect on a country that, as analyst Patrick Armstrong has pointed out, has a “full-service economy.” In other words, Russia has demonstrated that it has both the natural and human resources to build sophisticated infrastructure, weapons and defense capabilities, a space station, military and commercial aircraft, heavy trucks and passenger cars, to provide energy and the attendant infrastructure, and to feed its people.

Instead, beliefs that Russia is a “gas station posing as a country,” or that it was still somehow frozen in the 1990s, underpinned policy decisions that ultimately failed.

Natylie Baldwin is author of “The View from Moscow: Understanding Russia and U.S.-Russia Relations,” from which this article is excerpted. “The View from Moscow” is available in e-book and print. She is co-author of “Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated.” She has traveled throughout western Russia since 2015 and has written several articles based on her conversations and interviews with a cross-section of Russians.  She blogs at Natyliesbaldwin.com .

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

US Appeals Court Contemplates Hillary Clinton Testifying on Email Scandal

By Oleg Burunov – Sputnik – June 3, 2020

Earlier this year, a federal judge ordered Hillary Clinton to provide a sworn deposition in person about her using a private email server for government business while serving as US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

During an online hearing on Tuesday, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dealt with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s efforts to avoid testifying under oath about her involvement in the email scandal.

The hearing was first reported by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, which said that Clinton’s former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills is also seeking to shun providing testimony on the matter.

The watchdog added that the appeals court was looking into Clinton’s and Mills’ extraordinary request, also known as “petition for writ of mandamus,” aimed at overturning an order earlier issued by US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth that would require them to testify.

According to Judicial Watch, the appeals court ruled that the case had been adjourned until 9 September, when Clinton’s testimony is slated to take place. She insists that she is not obliged to testify because she is a former senior government official and that the FBI already conducted a probe into the matter.

Judge Orders Hillary Clinton to Give Depostion on Her Private Email Server 

The Tuesday hearing comes after Lamberth ordered the former US Secretary of State in March to provide a sworn deposition in person about her private email server. The order granted Judicial Watch’s request to depose Clinton about her correspondence and documents related to the 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

At the time, Republican officials and members of Congress accused then-Secretary of State Clinton of failing to prevent the attack, which left four Americans dead, while she defended her handling of the incident.

The court also ordered the deposition of Mills and two other State Department officials, additionally allowing Judicial Watch to subpoena Google for documents and records related to Clinton’s emails during her time at the State Department from 2009 to 2013.

The watchdog’s lawsuit seeking Benghazi-related records led to a scandal in 2015 when it helped discover that Clinton had repeatedly used her own private email server, rather than a government-issued one, when she served as US Secretary of State.

The issue resurfaced amid the 2016 presidential election campaign as the FBI probed the former Secretary of State for misconduct.

Despite the use of a private server preventing her emails from being available via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the FBI advised against opening a criminal case against Clinton, merely describing her actions as “extremely careless”.

The results of the probe reportedly irked President Donald Trump as he complained that alleged attempts by Clinton to hide emails from the public must be further investigated.

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , | 1 Comment

Zuckerberg won’t censor Trump, but don’t mistake Facebook for a bastion of free speech

By Helen Buyniski | RT | June 2, 2020

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken heat over refusing to hide a post from US President Donald Trump that Twitter claimed “glorified violence.” But his reasons are more about placating power than defending free speech.

Zuckerberg’s decision to leave up a Trump post condemning the riots in Minneapolis that warned “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” upset Facebook employees, a few of whom even threatened to appeal to the company’s newly-appointed oversight board – notoriously larded with anti-Trump voices.

But the CEO’s reasoning – “people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open” – had little in common with the fiery rhetoric of free speech activism. In fact, it was so mind-numbingly obvious it would likely have gone unremarked-upon in any other era. How, indeed, are Americans supposed to hold their leaders accountable if they don’t know what those leaders are saying?

It’s not clear if anyone would even have expected Facebook to take action on Trump’s post, had Twitter not already done so, hiding the message behind a warning that it violated the platform’s rules about “glorifying violence.” And it’s unlikely that Twitter would have taken action on that particular message had the president not been needling the platform for weeks with envelope-pushing tweets, starting with accusing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murdering an intern nearly 20 years ago.

While Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski demanded Trump be kicked off Twitter for the smears, it was a post about mail-in voting that finally brought down Twitter’s fact-check hammer. Still, that was enough of a rationale for Trump to unveil an executive order proposing to strip social media platforms of their cherished Section 230 immunity, which protects them from lawsuits based on user-generated content but also forbids them from selectively curating that content. Checkmate?

Silicon Valley is hurtling into a future whose ever-shrinking boundaries are dictated by censorship algorithms and all rough edges are sanded off (literally, in Twitter’s case) lest any comment wound another user’s feelings. Facebook is as guilty of this as anyone, alerting Instagram users when they’re about to post a “bullying” comment and banning “sexual” emojis. Even as social media styles itself the “new public square,” platforms find themselves in the surreal position of trying to outdo each other in silencing their users: if Facebook exiles conservative performance artist Alex Jones, declaring him a “dangerous individual,” Youtube and Twitter follow suit.

However, while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has attempted to apply the platform’s increasingly absurd restrictions across the board, subjecting even the president of the US to Kafkaesque limitations that seem to shift from day to day, Zuckerberg knows on which side his bread is buttered. While his competitors in Silicon Valley wore their anti-Trump politics on their sleeves, the Facebook founder met with Republican congressmen and took care to include Breitbart in the rollout of Facebook News, triggering howls of outrage from liberals.

While Dorsey exiled political advertising from his platform completely earlier this year, Zuckerberg has clung to his promise not to fact-check the speech of politicians – ensuring a steady flow of advertising dollars from both parties’ campaigns, even as Democratic politicians condemn Facebook’s hands-off approach.

This doesn’t make Zuckerberg a free speech hero, or Facebook a bastion of political enlightenment. “Regular” users will still find themselves shadow-banned or exiled entirely if they post too much “wrongthink,” as even popular pages like PragerU have discovered recently. The Facebook CEO’s equal-opportunity pandering merely makes him a competent businessman, and means he’ll almost certainly survive whatever Section 230-related crackdown is coming.

It also makes it vanishingly unlikely Zuckerberg’s platform will face anything like a takeover bid from formidable Republican “vulture capitalist” and rabidly pro-Israel Trump donor Paul Singer. The notorious hedge-funder reportedly sought to oust Dorsey from Twitter earlier this year when the CEO suggested he’d be stepping back from full-time management of the company to spend six months of the year in Africa. While Singer was apparently rebuffed with the help of loyal Twitter employees and fellow billionaire Elon Musk, he still has four directors on the company’s board and may still be circling overhead looking for signs of weakness.

Twitter has fallen a long way from the days when it referred to itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party” and now competes with Facebook and YouTube for the title of Silicon Valley’s Ministry of Truth. The future of social media looks bleak indeed when Zuckerberg is cast as the defender of free speech. But ordinary Facebook users shouldn’t mistake his indulgence of Trump for standing on principle. His legendarily low opinion of the platform’s users – “dumb f***s” – is more pertinent now than ever.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Wolf Warrior Diplomacy’: Israel’s China Strategy in Peril

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | June 3, 2020

Israel’s balancing act that allowed it to reap America’s unconditional and, often, blind support, while slowly benefiting from China’s growing economic influence and political prestige, is already floundering.

Thanks to the heated cold war between the US and Chinese economic superpowers, the Israeli strategy of playing both sides is unlikely to pay dividends in the long run.

Soon enough, Tel Aviv might find itself having to make a stark choice between Washington and Beijing.  When US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, visited Israel on May 13, two items topped his agenda: Israel’s imminent illegal annexation of Palestinian land and the growing Israeli-Chinese economic ties.

Pompeo communicated his country’s stand on both issues, reflecting Washington’s long-standing policies regarding Palestine and China. In the case of Palestine, as with the rest of the Middle East, Washington seems to adhere to Tel Aviv’s agenda, often to the letter. China is a different story.

Two significant historical examples come to mind: one, is Israel’s attempt to sell China Israeli-made Phalcon airborne radar system, which relied heavily on American technology in the 1990s; a similar event transpired in 2005, this time concerning Israel’s Harpy anti-radar missile. On both occasions, Israel succumbed to American pressure and canceled both deals.

For the Chinese, Israel matters for two different reasons. One, Israel is a strategic stop in China’s Belt and Road initiative, China’s most significant economic project to date, ultimately aimed at turning Beijing into a center of global trade and financial activities. Two, China is hoping to fight the US on its own political turf in the Middle East – partly in response to the American ‘pivot to Asia’ strategy, which was initiated by the Barack Obama administration.

But the world – in terms of political and economic balances of power – after the coronavirus pandemic is likely to prove a different one when compared with previous years. China’s rise has been in the making for many years and the US political retreat and declining global outreach has been quite evident for some time. The isolationist policies of the Donald Trump Administration, coupled with Washington’s many China-related tantrums in recent years, are all indicators of the vastly changing political realities of a once-unipolar world.

A few years ago, Beijing had the time, patience, and resources to play a long-drawn geopolitical game in order for it to challenge the US’s global influence, whether in South America, Africa, or Israel.

The visit by China’s Vice President, Wang Qishan, to Israel in 2018, to “boost business ties”, was part of this Chinese strategy. That visit followed the signing, one year earlier, of the China-Israel Innovative Comprehensive Partnership. As of 2018, China-Israel trade has jumped to $14 billion and has grown exponentially ever since.

China would have been happy to carry on with that strategy for many years to come. Israel, too, would have played along, considering the lucrative financial returns from its China partnership.

Indeed, despite Washington’s warnings against and, at times, explicit demands on Israel to refrain from giving Chinese companies access to fifth-generation infrastructure (5G) projects in the country, Israel labored to make China feel welcomed.

However, the global response to the coronavirus pandemic is likely to change this, as it has already accelerated the cold war between the US and China, pushing the latter to adopt a more aggressive form of diplomacy and pour massive sums into other countries’ economies to help them in their desperate fight against the COVID-19 disease.

The Chinese strategy is predicated on two main pillars: fortifying existing ties and solidarity with China’s allies or potential allies anywhere in the world, while pushing back against China’s foes, especially those who are participating in Washington’s anti-Beijing campaign.

The latter phenomenon is known as ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’. The ‘wolf warriors’ are Chinese diplomats who have, for months, pushed back with unprecedented ferocity against what they perceive to be US and Western propaganda.

“We never pick a fight or bully others,” China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, told reporters in Beijing on May 24, while explaining China’s novel approach to diplomacy. “We will push back against any deliberate insult, resolutely defend our national honor and dignity, and we will refute all groundless slander with facts,” the top Chinese official said firmly.

China’s new aggressive diplomacy, especially if it continues to define the country’s approach to foreign policy in the coming years, is unlikely to permit Israel to maintain its balancing act for much longer.

China’s ambassador to Israel, Du Wei, who was entrusted with implementing Beijing’s soft-diplomacy with Tel Aviv, died in his home only a few days following Pompeo’s visit to the country. Although Wei’s death was not – at least publicly – perceived to be the result of foul play, his absence, especially in the age of coronavirus and ‘wolf warriors’, might signal a shift in China’s approach to its economic and political interests in Israel.

On May 26, under American pressure, the Israeli Finance Ministry denied China a massive $1.5 billion desalination plant contract, awarding it to an Israeli company, instead.

This is the first time that the US has used its political and economic sway over Israel to curb Chinese influence in the country. China must be anxiously watching events unfold, to see if US pressure on Israel will continue to undermine Beijing’s long-term strategy.

The world’s quickly shifting balance of power and the US-Chinese unmistakable fight for dominance is likely to, eventually, force countries like Israel to make a choice, of wholly joining the American or the Chinese sphere of influence. It is all reminiscent of the American-Soviet Cold War, where much of the globe was divided into zones of influence operated by proxy from Washington or Moscow.

Balancing acts in politics only work if all parties are willing to play or, at least, tolerate the game. While this form of politics suited Israel’s interests in the past and was played, quite successfully for years by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s balancing act is, possibly, over.

Between Washington’s precise demands to Israel to keep Beijing at bay, and the latter’s aggressive ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy, Israel is facing a stark choice: remaining loyal to a fading superpower or diving into the uncharted waters of an emerging one.

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Tony Blair: Ties between Gulf and Israel are ‘game changer’

MEMO | June 3, 2020

Tony Blair has cast doubt over the chance of a Palestinian state ever emerging in an interview with a Rabbi from the United Synagogue, a union of British Orthodox Jewish synagogues, representing the central Orthodox movement in Judaism.

During the online interview reported in the Jewish Chronicle the former British prime minister spoke gushingly about relations between Israel and the Gulf states. “That is the single biggest game-changer for the Middle East”, Blair is reported saying while describing the relationship as ”the biggest reason for hope in the Middle East.”

His optimistic reading of the region’s future however did not extend to the Palestinians. Blair, who was appointed special envoy of the Quartet – a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – all but gave up on any hope of a Palestinian state emerging with Israel’s ongoing annexation.

”It was very difficult to see how a Palestinian state survives that,” said Blair in reference to Israel’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley in contravention of international law.

During the interview Blair said that he had spent the last few years working on strengthening ties between Israel and the Gulf states, which he said was not purely a “security relationship”.

“Yes it’s true they both have security interests in common.  They are both worried about Iran,” said Blair before explaining a new, emerging leadership in the region found common alliance with Israel. “That is the single biggest game-changer for the Middle East,” Blair argued.

Blair’s term as the Middle East envoy has been heavily criticised, and this latest remark is likely to be further confirmation that the former prime minister, who many consider to be a war criminal over his role in the invasion of Iraq, was never interested in seeking justice for the Palestinians.

Critics accuse Blair of constantly pandering to the wishes of Israel. In one instance Palestinian officials said: “Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home,” adding his job, and the body he represents, are “useless, useless, useless”.

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Annexation, War, Liberation

By Taxi | Plato’s Guns | June 3, 2020

Nothing sends chills down the spine of Israel more than the mere mention of the name ‘Hezbollah’. Nothing, no superpower nor hurtling supernova petrifies Israel more than the existence of Hezbollah’s muscle and missile at its doorstep.  Israel does not fear Egypt; it does not fear Jordan or Syria or even faraway Iran, but, it is indeed absolutely and positively petrified of little Lebanon with its uncontested resistance army: the Hezbollah. And this deep-seated pathological fear has found much gory and exuberant expression since the Israeli military was soundly defeated by Hezbollah back in 2006. Every single Israeli military project right across the Middle East since 2006 has been about defeating Hezbollah and stopping the spread of its popular resistor-culture. And evidently, every Israeli attempt to achieve this for the past decade and a half has flatly failed.

Unable to best Hezbollah’s spectacular performance on the battlefield, unable to also access any consequential Intel on Hezbollah’s brains and brawn, and moreover, unable to ignite a sectarian civil war in Lebanon after numerous attempts over the years, a humiliated Israel resorted to engineering, through American hands and influence, the unleashing of an army of  terrorist Takfiris on Syria: Damascus being the main artery of support from Tehran to Hezbollah in Lebanon. One could say that Syria was attacked by an army of head-choppers because Hezbophobic Israel could not directly retaliate against a victorious Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Israeli master plan here was to cut off Hezbollah from Syria, thereby from its Iranian sponsor, and to flood both Levantean nations with Takfiri terrorists, thus specifically busying Hezbollah’s hands while the Israeli military “attacked it from the back”. Yet, alas for the Israelis, this diabolical plan to defeat or weaken the Hezbollah has only produced the opposite results for Tel Aviv. Syria, though severely damaged, still stands and remains a main artery of Iranian support to Hezbollah, and Hezbollah itself has increased its wholesale military and geopolitical powers even further. Now Hezbollah possesses an even larger stockpile of sophisticated missiles pointing at Tel Aviv and at everywhere else of vital value in Israel proper. Presently, there is not a single inch of Israel that’s not in Hezbollah’s cross-hairs. The Israeli military’s top brass know only too well that Hezbollah will most certainly use these missiles on Israel if provoked, or, indeed when a wider regional war is ignited. And this is precisely what is causing an incurable insomnia to both Israel’s military architects, as well as to all its Judeo-centric allies in the West: all flaccidly scrambling to find ways to assist a geopolitically cornered Israel.

But, dear reader, there is also another issue that Israel equally fears and loses much sleep over. A fear that has rattled Israel’s shadowy bones since the Palestinian Nakba back in 1948. An old, old fear. A terrorizing fear that Tel Aviv has somewhat succeeded at camouflaging and suppressing from the public eye and ear with the help of its propaganda arm in Western media.

This primordial Israeli fear, this mortifying bugaboo is known as the Palestinian ‘Right of Return’.

If Israel were to describe its perpetual nightmare, it would be one where Palestinian refugees are at the three land borders of the Holy land and pouring back into their ancestral territory in their millions.

This is your standard Israeli tableau of horror.

This is the very scenario that Israel fears the most. This, and of course, Hezbollah’s missiles raining on Tel Aviv and Haifa and Eilat and Dimona and every single illegal Israeli settlement and post.

Realistically, it is impossible to imagine Palestinian refugees returning to their homelands without Resistance missiles first clearing the path for them. And this, dear reader, this very combination of missiles raining and refugees returning is THE absolute and ultimate Israeli tableau of horror.

Presently finding itself in an intractable geopolitical pit of despair, and with all its plans against its Resistor enemies having thus failed since 2006, all that Israel can now achieve is easy land-grabs and annexations inside of occupied Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem, in the West Bank and in the Jordan Valley: all areas already under Israeli control. Considered criminal and illegal by International Law, these imminent annexation maneuvers are justified by Tel Aviv as part and parcel of the dictates and content of the Deal of the Century: a unilateral Israeli-centric deal that not a single Palestinian the world over has accepted – not one!  In fact, it appears to be the case that the rejection of the Deal of the Century is the only issue that all Palestinians agree on. This is because fundamentally, the Deal demands the total cancellation of the Right of Return of Palestinian war refugees back to their ancestral villages and lands. No Palestinian would ever accept this condition.

Moreover, the Palestinians see an existential threat that’s writ in invisible ink between the lines of the Deal.  They see Tel Aviv’s nefarious second stage of the Deal: they see the illegal mass transfer of all Palestinians out of Historic Palestine, including the eviction of the Palestinian ’48-ers who hold Israeli passports, should the Palestinians break out into a Third Intifada and physically rebel against the Deal when it’s actually being implemented on the ground. Presently, the visible parts of the Deal of the Century are being promoted by Israel and her global media agents and politicians. The invisible part of the Deal will undoubtedly follow because the Israelis already know that the Deal will be rejected by the Palestinians and they have already prepared for this rebellion: mass and total ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Historic Palestine. The big move. The breathtaking move. The wettest dream for the terrorist invader Jews currently occupying Historic Palestine. The ruling Ashkenazim Jews of Europe have long been dreaming of this – nay they have orchestrated numerous wars including WWI, WWII, the Bolshevik Revolution and numerous wars against the Arabs just to realize this blood-splattered Jewish dream. Engineered the mass murder of some 170 million non-Jews just to enable them entrance into Historic Palestine, which they achieved in 1948. And since then, Israel’s Jews have been on the final leg of their grand mission of taking over the whole of Historic Palestine: using inhumane and incessant brutality, periodical mass murder and expulsion of the native Palestinians.  In effect, a full-on genocide committed sneakily and incrementally for some 72 years now.

In other words, the Deal of the Century is but a massive land-grab facilitator and the prelude to Israel’s ‘Final Solution’ to their Palestinian problem: atrocious mass murders and absolute ethnic cleansing right across the board.

We all already know that Palestinians are not waiting on Abbas to rescue them from the lethal Deal, despite him recently cancelling Oslo as well as all security cooperation with the Jewish state. Palestinians are not waiting on any specific Arab state either, or on the international community to rescue them and their rich heritage and history. But Palestinians presently are indeed en mass looking to the Axis of Resistance for salvage and liberation.

So what can the Axis of Resistance do for them? How will it react to the Deal? What does it have planned to counter the implementation of the Deal that Netanyahu has promised to begin applying on July 1st, 2020?

The answer to this must be the closest held secret in the universe. But, let us, however, look at their options – and they do have several options, bar one: surrender. There will be no surrender to the Deal of the Century.

Obviously, non-surrender implies war. And so it is. The only question remaining therefore is ‘when’. Who controls the timing of an imminent war? Here, consider if you may, that the side that’s positively ready for war and sacrifice is not concerned with who fires the first bullet and at what hour of day, but how to go to war and win it with least casualties to their side. With this firmly in mind, let us then look at the options available to the Axis of Resistance and their assured response to Israel’s imminent annexation plans.

Option one: Upon Israel’s implementation of the first stage of annexation, the Resistance could conceivably go into immediate war with the state of Israel and its allies. A war where Israel will have to simultaneously defend itself on multiple fronts. Defend itself within against Palestinians in Gaza AND the West Bank: both sectors now fully armed by Iran and trained by Hezbollah. And defend itself without against its closest neighbors of Syria and Lebanon – and very plausibly against an incensed-by-Israel Jordan and Egypt too – as well as with Israel’s faraway regional enemies of Iran, Iraq and Yemen (including hundreds of thousands of trained volunteer fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Malaysia). This means a regional war which the USA, UK and France (possibly other NATO nations too) will all jump into, either directly or indirectly, thus dragging Russia and China, either directly or indirectly, into a massive Mideastern power-grab confrontation: the eastern rising giants of China and Russia here geostrategically compelled and obliged to assist their mega assets-hosting nations of Syria and Iran. This option is a turbulent and bloody one that would lead to untold human and material losses, as well as needing much time and conferencing to negotiate a post-war disentanglement between a multitude of nations, all gridlocked in a foreign territory. Yet, despite the hectic burdens of this option, the Axis of Resistance’s sacrifices will still lead to victory for the Resistance as they have all the needed weapons to completely destroy a tiny Israel in a handful of days, and this despite the destructive hits they may suffer from Tel Aviv and its powerful allies. It’s a brutal ‘sooner than later’ liberation of Palestine and the eviction of Israeli and Western colonialists projects in the region. In this regard, we could say that the price for ‘instant liberation’ is the highest.

Option two:  Wait for the Israelis to commit their usual and predictable atrocities against the rebelling Palestinian civilians – wait for massive global outrage then enter into warfare while riding the moral high ground and the coattails of massive global support for justice for the Palestinians. This option probably has the best optics: a war to save six million long-suffering Palestinian civilians from a rabidly racist, sadistic and genocidal occupier. A righteous war that aims to bring justice and freedom to the archetypal victim. The global masses will resonate with such an emotive narrative, and Western nations under the spell of Zionism would be hindered here from giving full or prolonged support to Israel on account of public opinion at home being massively against it. This option is costly on both civilian and armed Resistor, but not as costly as the first one.

Option three: Knowing that Israel is a coward who tiptoes hunchbacked in the shadows; knowing too that Israel would not dare implement ALL its annexation plans at once and overnight, but instead, it will implement them incrementally and with unsteady hands: knowing all this, the Axis of Resistance may very well decide to hold back on any immediate explosive reaction to the annexation; let time pass and remain coiled and ready: hold back and just wait for the US Empire to weaken even further before entering into a direct liberation war with Israel. The equation here being a weakened US equals a severely, nay fatally handicapped Israel. And let us all be very clear here that it is the United States’ military protection of Israel that puts oxygen into Israel’s lungs. Without America’s military support to Israel, the Resistance could easily take on the Israeli army and defeat it and liberate the whole of Palestine today: right this very second, in fact. This is not bravado, but sourced information. It is only American military power and this alone that stands in the way of liberating Palestine. Simply, Israel is currently incapable of defending itself against the Axis of Resistance, despite its stockpile of illegal nukes and its hi-tech American defensive weaponry, gifted to Tel Aviv through the corrupt fleecing of the American taxpayer by DC politicians. This option will cost less lives than the two above.

Option four: Post-annexation, allow for Jewish Apartheid to massively flourish for several years, thus allowing for Israeli society itself to further disintegrate its democracy internally and become an abhorrent and much hated racist, rogue nation in the eyes of the globe, with barely any support for it possible even by its traditional European allies. This method is known as ‘forcing the snake to eat its own tail’, thus eventually, through a self-defeating Apartheid system, swallowing up its own deflated shekel and body politik: eventually strangling itself with its own masticating mouth; leading thus to its political disintegration a-la the South African model in the 1980’s – a model that saw the natives overnight reclaiming their rightful territories without having to resort to mass bloodshed and all out war with the tyrannical ruling colonialists. This option will cost less lives for Resistance fighters but needs much civilian sacrifice, as indeed, the punitive Jewish occupiers will in the meantime unleash horrendous levels of violence against the increasingly restless native civilians.

Option five: Now, this here is an interesting option, an option that Hassan Nasrallah spoke of only last week. In a two and a half hour interview he gave to Al-Nour Radio, Nasrallah parsed various war issues and suggested for the first time ever the plausibility that Israelis, upon realizing in the near future that their American Empire protector is too weakened internally and externally and therefore unable to war any further on their behalf, and Tel Aviv also already knowing that an existential war with the Axis of Resistance would lead to a mass death of Jews and the utter destruction of Tel Aviv: these two sobering realizations will force it into radical withdrawal from the holy land altogether. In other words, facing sure material devastation and mass loss of Jewish life in the coming war, Israeli state architects would have no other smart option but to pack up suitcases and simply leave the holy land in peace before a lethal war is imposed on them by the Resistance. Indeed, the Axis of Resistance would most certainly take full advantage of America’s incapacitation and inability to protect Tel Aviv and activate thus their Liberation War. Just up and leave sans war is what Nasrallah is suggesting here. An astonishing yet plausible scenario. A scenario that is suddenly made more plausible by the rapid and palpable decline of American hegemony around the world, as well as the current disintegration of America’s society that we’ve all recently witnessed on the streets of half the existing American states: violent protests that the belligerent American security apparatus will find impossible to contain and control 100% and indefinitely, regardless of who is president.  Protests that will keep waxing and waning till either the corrupt bi-partisan Status Quo itself surrenders and a new and more humane and equitable one takes its place, or, all out civil war breaks out in the United States of America: thus bringing with it proof positive that the American Empire has indeed fallen and its Republic now drowns in blood and chaos. That aside, the devastating affects of COVID-19 on the American military cannot be understated here either. Many of its bases are under COVID-19 restraints and presently, the US Navy has 26 of its navy warships under Covid-19 quarantine, thus leaving only two war-ready ships in the Middle East. And this, dear reader, is the major reason why the US did not, in fact could not challenge the Iranian vessels transporting fuel to Venezuela, despite an aggressive naval blockade against Caracas. This ‘suitcase’ option that Nasrallah spoke of is, of course, the most desired by the Axis of Resistance as it will be the least costly to its civilians and fighters. Of course, the death of an Empire does not occur overnight and this option requires extreme vigilance and exceptional patience on behalf of the Axis of Resistance. Two attributes that fortunately the Axis of Resistance is well-practiced in. And by the gauge of recent headlines on America’s speedy decline internally and externally, it would seem to be the case that the Empire’s fall will not occur in faraway decades, but in the near to medium future, meaning: inside of half a decade.

Dear reader, any of the above options will work to liberate Palestine and the region from all foreign control and abuse. There is not even the slightest glimmer of doubt about this in the minds of the Resistance strategists whatsoever. It is the cost of various options and paths to liberation that the leaders of the Resistance currently pontificate upon, not their military readiness or capability. This is the current status of the Axis of Resistance. And the option that will eventually be chosen will be dependent on the challenges that the US and Israel will throw at it in the meantime. Not forgetting here of course that the Masada-ists in Israel may very well panic in the meantime and reflexively and foolishly play a wild card out of dire, pathological fright: out of profound morbid fear of Resistance missiles clearing the way for the Right of Return.  Their desperate fear and terror may very well drive them to miscalculate and choose a fight-to-death ‘today instead of tomorrow’, knowing that tomorrow Israel will be weaker than today. This would be the worst option for Israel as this will guarantee massive loss of life for them.

Whichever way the future wind blows in the Levant, all options and wild cards will lead to the liberation of Palestine. This we can be certain of: the death of Israel. Death at the heels of the fall of the American Empire.

The world will be forever changed with the coming momentous victory for the Axis of Resistance. And the countdown to victory begins… with Israel’s intended annexation on the 1st July, 2020.

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bigoted Cops and the Drug War

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | June 3, 2020

If Americans want to diminish racial bigotry in police departments across the country, the best way to start is by legalizing drugs, all of them. That would bring an end to the legal opportunity that bigoted cops have in the enforcement of drug laws against blacks.

I’m not saying that all cops are racial bigots. We all know that they’re not. But we also know that some of them are. And the drug war permits them to exercise their racial bigotry to their heart’s content — and even get praised and thanked for their service while doing so.

After all, let’s face it: there are racial bigots in society, and there will always be racial bigots in society. Anyone who thinks he is going to wipe out racial bigotry through “education” and “enlightenment” is living in la la land.

When someone engages in racial bigotry on a private level, he is subject to private and peaceful retaliatory measures, such as loss of sales if he is a business owner or the loss of a job if he is an employee. He is also subject to criticism and social ostracism. The free society makes the bigot bear an economic and social penalty for his bigotry, which might well nudge, not force, him into better behavior.

It’s totally different with drug laws. They have converted police departments into magnets for racial bigots. With the drug war, cops are empowered to stop blacks arbitrarily and subject them to abusive interrogations and intrusive, demeaning, and oftentimes violent searches and seizures of their persons, automobiles, and homes.

As long as they are “searching for drugs,” it’s all okay. No loss of sales. No loss of job. No public criticism. No social ostracism. Hey, they are helping cleanse our society of illegal drugs! They’re considered heroes! People praise them for their courage and thank them for their service.

That includes many judges, some of whom do not hesitate to mete out extraordinarily long jail sentences to blacks. A good example is a black man in North Carolina named Michael Holmes who has now served some 30 years of a 200-year jail sentence for a non-violent drug offense. There are thousands more like him.

The drug war also provides bigoted cops with the perfect opportunity to frame blacks for drug offenses by planting drugs on them or by simply lying about drug transactions. As prosecutors ask jurors, “Who are you going to believe — this upstanding (white) police officer who is simply trying to keep drugs from reaching your children or this (black) defendant who obviously has a motive to lie?” The false and fraudulent arrests, prosecutions, convictions, and harsh jail sentences meted out to dozens of innocent blacks in Tulia, Texas, several years ago is just one example of this phenomenon.

The noted academician Michelle Alexander rightly calls the drug war the new Jim Crow. It gives bigoted cops a license to do what bigoted cops did during the days of racial segregation. In fact, the drug war is without a doubt the most racially bigoted government program since segregation.

The legalization of drugs would, of course, not end racial bigotry in society. But it would end the opportunity that drug laws have given cops to legally exercise racial bigotry. Unable to exercise their bigotry legally through the enforcement of the drug war, police departments would no longer serve as a magnet for racial bigots. Those who are already cops would begin drifting back into the private sector where they would be nudged toward more appropriate behavior with such things as boycotts, criticism, and social ostracism rather than praised and thanked for their bigoted enforcement of the drug war.

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

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

America masterminded ‘color revolutions’ around the world. Now the very same techniques are being used at home

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | June 2, 2020

Peaceful protests degenerating into riots and arson, followed by violence, clashes with police and political demands for regime change: today’s America, or what happened in Ukraine, North Africa and Serbia – or both?

How Americans view the events of the past week greatly depends on their political persuasion, media preferences and to large extent even ethnic identity. This is hardly the first death of an African-American man at the hands of police, nor the first time a peaceful protest turned violent and resulted in a city on fire. It is, however, the first Black Lives Matter protest that spread all over – and quickly gained an openly political, partisan dimension.

That ought to be baffling. The four officers involved in George Floyd’s death were fired almost immediately, rather than suspended with pay pending investigation. One of them was charged with murder just days later. Conservatives and liberals alike agreed that Floyd was murdered and that the men responsible should face justice. Yet the riots started, and spread, anyway.

The brief moment of unity in outrage could have resulted in healing the racial fault lines in the US. Instead, the already polarized political climate became divided more sharply than ever, with Republicans criticizing President Donald Trump for not cracking down on the riots fast and hard enough, while Democrats denounced him for responding at all, claiming that there were no riots really and Trump was just “declaring war on the American people.”

Could the clues to why this is happening lie beyond America’s borders? In December 2010, a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire and died after tax police confiscated his unlicensed stall. Within days, there were demonstrations. Within a month, the country’s president of 23 years was overthrown and exiled. Similar rebellions broke out in Libya, Egypt, Syria… It was dubbed the “Arab Spring.”

In November 2013, thousands of demonstrators gathered on Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in Kiev, Ukraine, protesting the government’s decision to reject a trade deal with the European Union. Attempts by police to clear them out resulted in clashes with armed protesters, and eventually a firefight – where snipers allegedly loyal to the government opened fire on the crowd. Finally, in January 2014, violent protesters stormed the government offices and declared themselves in charge.

The 2014 “Euromaidan” – fully endorsed by the US – was a far more violent iteration of the “Orange Revolution” from ten years earlier, when sympathizers of an opposition coalition refused to accept the results of an election and forced the government to hold another one.

“US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev,” proclaimed a Guardian headline from November 26, 2004. “The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections,” the article beneath it said, adding it was “first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000.”

While the Western media painted the events in Serbia as a spontaneous revolt against a hated dictator, they also revealed that the protesters were funded by “suitcases of cash” smuggled across the border by US diplomats and NGOs, and that the entire thing was led by a handful of activists, trained by the National Endowment for Democracy in neighboring Hungary, using a manual written by Gene Sharp, a US scholar.

Claiming the government had stolen an election, the “revolutionaries” first seized the national TV station, then set the parliament on fire –  conveniently destroying any evidence that could disprove their claim they had won – and appealed to police and the military to join them. With security forces unwilling to engage in bloodshed, President Slobodan Milosevic stepped down.

The whole operation was accompanied by a slick marketing campaign, featuring graffiti, t-shirts, posters and banners, all emblazoned with a stenciled fist. The fist would become an all-too familiar sight over the next two decades, and the formula packaged as “color revolution” and taken on the road by US-trained activists.

Most recently, the scenario played itself out in Bolivia (successfully), Venezuela (not) and Hong Kong, where “pro-democracy” protests against an extradition bill lasted long after it was withdrawn.

Interestingly, the Hong Kong protests were embraced by the progressive firebrands such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her ‘Squad,’ calling for something similar at home, against Trump.

“Marginalized” communities have “no choice but to riot,” Ocasio-Cortez said on a radio program in July 2019, adding that she meant “communities of poverty” in the US, as well as around the world. That was long before Covid-19 killed more than 100,000 Americans and lockdowns imposed to stop it cost 40 million Americans their jobs. Long before George Floyd.

It’s hardly surprising that Trump is now getting blamed for Floyd, even though Minneapolis and Minnesota are both run by Democrats. He was also blamed for the coronavirus, by the very Democrat governors that insisted on harsh lockdowns, and congressional Democrats who held aid hostage. The people doing the blaming insisted for years that ‘Russiagate’ was real, too. Now they blame Trump for responding to the riots – sorry, “peaceful protests” – by sending in the military. Hence the shock when rioters in Atlanta went after the CNN headquarters.

Meanwhile, as cities across America burn, it’s a fundraising windfall for Democrats – says the New York Times, of all outlets.

The thing about color revolutions is that they follow a script. Find a legitimate grievance and piggyback onto it. Ask the police and the military to join the protests. If they don’t, escalate into riots to provoke a forceful response to create martyrs. Optics are key; everything useful to the cause has to be captured on camera, and anything inconvenient memory-holed. Media are the most important ally. The endgame is not reform, or fairness, or justice, but regime change – physical removal of the “tyrannical dictator violating human rights” from office.

“A color revolution can’t happen in America, because there’s no US embassy there,” went the grim joke in Serbia after disappointment with the astroturf revolt of October 5, 2000 set in. Well, guess that settles it, then. Any similarities between the current situation in the US and dozens of other countries over the past 20 years must be purely coincidental and not at all relevant or significant in any way.

Nothing to see here, move along – and make sure you don’t step on the broken glass on your way home for the curfew. Remember to wear your mask to protect from the coronavirus as well as smoke and tear gas. Everything’s fine. It really can’t happen here…

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Israelis Trained the Minnesota Cop How to Kill

By Paul Craig Roberts | Institute For Political Economy | June 2, 2020

Precisely as I reported Minnesota police received Israeli training. The knee-on-neck is an Israeli restraint hold that Israeli forces use for breaking Palestinian necks. I doubt the Minneapolis cop intended to kill Floyd. He probably thought he was just using a restraint technique. In so many of the cases of police-inflicted death and injury there is no need for restraint. People are not resisting. Maybe the cops just want to practice their training.

Another main cause of police-inflicted death and injury are the middle of the night home invasions, sanctioned by courts and local authorities. There is absolutely no reason for these invasions. They are nothing but murder weapons.

The real murderers of George Floyd were the Israelis who taught the Minnesota cops the knee-on-neck restraint technique. The irresponsible court rulings that permit unannounced home invasions have also killed a lot of people. The police have been turned into killers by their absurd and inappropriate training. The cop will pay the price for his wrongful training just as did George Floyd.

It is pure idiocy to let those responsible for these practices off the hook and to run around shouting “racism.” Knee-on-neck is a restraint technique taught to the police. It is not racism. The technique should not have been taught to American police, and people who are not resisting should not be restrained. George Floyd died because of wrongful police training, not because of racism.

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment