Aletho News


The American Invasion of Russia in 1918

Tales of the American Empire | December 20, 2019

President Woodrow Wilson dispatched 5000 American troops to northern Russia and 8000 troops to Siberia without seeking approval from the US Congress. The Allies wanted to overthrow the new communist government in Russia to restore a monarchy that would renew war with Germany. Moreover, they wanted to crush the idea that workers can oust monarchs and take control of governments.


Related tale: The American Invasion of Siberia in 1918…

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Pro-Israel news outlets ran ‘deepfake’ op-eds in ‘new disinformation frontier’

MEMO | July 20, 2020

Pro-Israel news agencies have run “deepfake” op-eds, in what is said to be “a new disinformation frontier”. Details of the “hyper-realistic forgery” were uncovered by a Reuters report this week, which uncovered the mystery around the identity of Oliver Taylor.

Taylor has been writing for a number of well-known publications, including Israel National Newsthe Jerusalem Post, and the Times of Israel. However, his article in the US Jewish newspaper the Algemeiner, which accused a London based academic Mazen Masri and his wife, Palestinian rights campaigner Ryvka Barnard, of being “known terrorist sympathizers”, exposed his true identity.

Mystified by Taylor’s accusation, Masri and Barnard alerted Reuters to their suspicion over the anti-Palestinian writer. The senior lecturer in law said when he pulled up Taylor’s profile photo, he couldn’t put his finger on it, but he explained that something about the young man’s face “seemed off”.

It seems as though Masri had drawn the ire of Taylor over his work in late 2018 when the lecturer helped launch a lawsuit against the Israeli surveillance company NSO on behalf of alleged Mexican victims of the company’s phone hacking technology. The spyware company has been accused of being “deeply involved” in carrying out mobile phone hacks of 1,400 of its users.

Taylor’s identity was finally uncovered. Rather than being a real person, Taylor appears to be a “deepfake”, or a hyper-realistic forgery, created in part to criticise Mazen. Reuters interviewed six experts who conclude that it had the characteristics of forgery that would not be detectable to the naked eye.

In their report raising concerns over “the marriage of deepfakes and disinformation”, the Reuters report warned deepfakes like Taylor are “dangerous” because they undermined public discourse.

Taylor is just one of several deepfakes. Earlier this month, the Daily Beast, reported that 46 conservative news outlets, including some reporting on the Jewish community, were duped into publishing Middle East “hot takes” by 19 non-existent authors as part of a massive propaganda campaign that appears to have started in July 2019.

Only a few of the news outlets covering Israel are said to have removed articles that later turned out to be deepfakes.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 3 Comments

Spanish Politics Jolted by Claims of Government Spying

By Cain Burdeau – Courthouse News – July 14, 2020

Spain was rocked Tuesday by allegations that the government may have hacked a smartphone used by the pro-independence president of the Catalan parliament and spied on him and others during a tense period in the run-up to a politically explosive trial against Catalan leaders.

Allegations that the Spanish state may have used an Israeli company’s hacking spyware to target Roger Torrent, the speaker and president of Catalonia’s regional parliament, were revealed in a joint investigation by the newspapers El País and The Guardian.

The domestic espionage claims open a new chapter in an emotional and epochal fight in Spain over the future of Catalonia and its capital Barcelona. About half of Catalonia’s population wants to secede from Spain. An unauthorized independence referendum in 2017 led to massive protests, police violence, the arrests of Catalan politicians and the criminal conviction of pro-independence leaders last October.

The newspaper reports about the hacking of Torrent’s phone sprang from a wide-ranging probe by digital experts at a Canadian university into allegations that authoritarian governments around the world have abused technology developed by Israeli hacker-for-hire firm NSO Group and taken control of cellphones to spy on dissidents, journalists, lawyers, activists, human rights advocates and opposition politicians. NSO is fighting numerous lawsuits in the United States and elsewhere against it over its spying program called Pegasus.

NSO claims no responsibility for how its Pegasus spyware is used by governments and says it only sells the spyware to governments to help them fight crime and terrorism. The Pegasus program can take control of a phone, its cameras and microphones, and mine the user’s personal data.

Spanish authorities denied any knowledge of the alleged spying on Torrent.

Andrew Dowling, an expert on Spanish politics and history at Cardiff University, said the allegations against Spanish authorities appear solid.

“In one sense it is not that surprising at all,” he said in an email to Courthouse News. It appears, he said, that “sectors of the Spanish security services act autonomously and are not fully subject to democratic control.”

Torrent called on the Spanish state to investigate the claims. He said he was unsure who was behind the hacking but he suspects state actors carried out the surveillance without judicial authority.

“The espionage I have been subjected to violates my right to privacy, the right to secrecy of communications and the right to be able to develop a political project without illegitimate interference,” Torrent said on Tuesday in a statement to media at the Catalan parliament. “It is inappropriate in a democracy that state apparatuses illegally spy on political opponents.”
He charged that the evidence confirms the Spanish state is seeking to use illegal means to squash Catalonia’s drive for independence.

“This is the first time, therefore, that what many of us already knew and have been denouncing for a long time has been conclusively proven: espionage against political opponents is practiced in Spain,” he said.

He said he was told about the alleged hacking by newspaper reporters and that he feared his smartphone’s camera and microphone were remotely turned on to spy on him. He said the Pegasus program allowed hackers to listen to all his conversations on the phone and those that took place while the phone was close at hand. He said conversations he had with politicians, trade union members, economic leaders and international representatives had been put at risk.

“This type of software is intended for use in investigating complex and serious crimes, such as terrorism or drug trafficking,” Torrent said. He said watchdogs, including United Nations Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye and Amnesty International, have warned that governments in Morocco, Mexico and Saudi Arabia have abused the Pegasus software to spy on opponents.

“Now,” he said, “we know that this practice has also occurred in Spain.”

He said Catalan authorities will “take all political and legal action” to “get to the bottom of the matter.”

The hacking of Torrent’s phone was confirmed by Citizen Lab, a center that researches digital threats, the newspapers reported. Citizen Lab is working with the social media platform WhatsApp to find improper hacking that took place around the world in April and May 2019 by exploiting a previous weakness in WhatsApp. The lab is based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

Besides Torrent, a former Catalan parliamentarian, Anna Gabriel, and pro-Catalan activist Jordi Domingo also were hacked, according to the newspapers. Gabriel fled Spain after the Spanish state cracked down on the Catalan independence drive in 2017 and she remains in exile in Switzerland. Other Catalan politicians, most notably former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, also fled Spain to avoid arrest. Puigdemont is a member of the European Parliament and condemned the alleged domestic espionage on Tuesday.

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, said on Twitter that there is a “troubling sign of a pattern of political hacking in Spain.”

The newspaper reports said WhatsApp believes the hacking took place between April and May 2019 and involved 1,400 of its users around the world. Until now, European governments had not been linked to the hacking attack.

WhatsApp is suing the NSO Group in the U.S. and charges that the Pegasus program was used to hack more than 100 journalists, human rights activists, diplomats and government officials in various countries around the world. The Pegasus program has been linked to surveillance of associates of slain Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Citizen Lab says Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and India have been linked to abusive use of the spyware to target civil society.

Citizen Lab says the software is among the world’s most sophisticated commercial spyware and can be deceptively placed on phones without a user’s knowledge or permission. Once the software infects a phone, hackers can obtain a person’s private data, including passwords, contact lists, calendar events, text messages, and live voice calls, Citizen Lab says. Hackers can also turn on the phone’s camera and microphone to monitor activity in the phone’s vicinity and track someone’s movements through GPS, the group says.

On Monday, NSO won a case in an Israeli court brought by Amnesty International seeking to stop the company from selling its software around the world.

Spanish authorities said they were not behind the hacking of Torrent’s phone.

The newspapers said the National Intelligence Center, Spain’s domestic and foreign intelligence service, issued a statement saying it acts “in full accordance with the legal system” and that its work is overseen by Spain’s Supreme Court.

Socialist Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also issued a statement saying his “government has no evidence” that Torrent was hacked, according to the newspapers. The hacking allegations have the potential to sour relations between Sanchez and Catalan politicians upon whose cooperation he depends in the Spanish parliament.

The hacking allegedly took place while Sanchez was prime minister and may erode trust in the Socialist leader’s promises to open dialogue with the Catalan separatists to find a political solution to demands for Catalan independence.

Torrent called on Sanchez to live up to his pledges, he is leading a progressive government in coalition with the far-left Podemos party.

“A government that claims to be the most progressive in history cannot allow such practices to go unpunished,” Torrent said. “We cannot make it normal for there to be prospective wiretaps, to criminalize a peaceful and democratic movement.”

Dowling, the Cardiff University expert, doubted the Spanish state or European Union institutions will investigate the allegations.

“Spain has little tradition of independent investigation into political scandals, however deep,” he said. “The fact that it has had widespread European coverage will be embarrassing but I don’t perceive the EU intervening in what it will consider to be the internal affairs of the Spanish state.”

Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Australia’s Potential Participation in the Malabar Exercise

By Vladimir Terehov – New Eastern Outlook – 20.07.2020

On July 10, a number of news agencies reported that India’s leadership is considering inviting Australia to participate in the international naval exercise Malabar, scheduled later this year. The report is noteworthy for a number of reasons, mainly from the perspective of assessing the state of affairs in the Indo-Pacific region. The changes that have taken place in this region are directly linked to the history of the Malabar exercises.

This was the name given to the first joint Indian-US Navy exercise to be conducted in decades, which took place in the Gulf of Bengal in 1992. This was a notable sign of the burgeoning transformation of the entire geopolitical map after the end Cold War. India, for one, was in a state of strategic solitude (because of the disappearance of its former ally, the USSR) in the face of the same foreign policy challenges from China and Pakistan.

Naturally, India’s leadership began to seek a new external “balancing force,” and Washington was willing to fill this role. The very fact that the Malabar 1992 exercise had taken place marked the start of a US-India rapprochement—something that had seemed unbelievable just a few years before. This process has been neither smooth nor easy and continues to this day.

The first sticking point on this path was India testing its own nuclear weapons in 1998. The termination of the Malabar exercise was just one amongst other “sanctions” against Delhi.

However, compared to the Cold War, Washington stayed displeased with India for quite a long time. The prospect of a new geopolitical opponent in the face of China, which was already obvious then, forced Washington to turn a blind eye to Delhi’s recent “nuclear debacles” and to resume developing relations with India. Since then, India itself sees the US as the potential balancing force for the rapidly developing China.

The starting point of the process was President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000. A year later, Washington made it clear that it was willing to recognize India as a de facto nuclear power and generally cooperate in the field of peaceful nuclear energy. This led to the US-India nuclear deal, signed in 2006 by President George W. Bush. In 2002, the annual Malabar exercise was resumed.

At the same time the idea of forming an “Asian NATO” (evidently based on anti-Chinese sentiments) was put on the table in Washington’s political circles. The core of the new NATO was to consist of the US, India, Japan and Australia. In 2007, at the ASEAN Regional Forum, US Defense Secretary R. Gates formulated a concept to create a so-called Quad comprising the above-mentioned countries.

The evidence of the potential participants of the proposed project taking this seriously was the participation of Japan and Australia (joined by Singapore) in the Malabar exercise held that year.

This was, however, the first and, for many years to come, the last of these exercises to be conducted in a quadrilateral format. However, the very idea of the Quad seemed to have been forgotten. Among other reasons, we note the internal unrest that struck Japan at that time, as well as a sharp change in the domestic political situation in Australia.

As for Japan, with the early (and rather scandalous) end of Shinzo Abe’s first term as prime minister in 2007, the country entered a period of annual changes of government. At such times, it is difficult to conduct any significant foreign policy actions. Japan’s partners (including the US) also had doubts about doing serious business with a country whose leaders were replacing each other so quickly.

The domestic political situation in Japan only stabilized after Abe’s triumphant return to the Prime Minister’s seat at the end of 2012. This dramatically boosted the country’s foreign policy activity. In the summer of 2014, the Japanese Navy took part in another Malabar exercise after a seven-year hiatus. For the first time, it was held not in the Bay of Bengal, but on the eastern coast of Japan.

Since then, the exercise has adopted a trilateral format, and Japanese ships head to the Indian Ocean to participate in it. However, this wasn’t the only occasion for the Japanese Navy to frequent the Indian Ocean.

Australia paused its participation in the Malabar exercise due to a bloc of left-centrist parties coming to power in 2007. Their foreign policy (along with certain ideological considerations) considered economic wellbeing its main priority. China had already begun to occupy the position of Australia’s leading trade and economic partner, and it seemed absolutely unnecessary for the latter to spoil relations with it because of some “solidarity with the democratic countries of the region.”

Its foreign policy preferences underwent dramatic changes again in 2013 with the return of the bloc of center-right parties, who then won again twice (in 2016 and 2019) in the parliamentary elections. For the center-right government, the aforementioned factor of solidarity, which Canberra still tires to demonstrate on various occasions, was quite significant. One of the examples of this solidarity, recently discussed in the New Eastern Outlook, was the question of the “culprit” of the SARS COV-2 pandemic, as well as Australia joining a Western propaganda campaign connected to events in Hong Kong.

From the moment it came to power, the center-right government renewed its interest in the Malabar exercise and repeatedly asked the Indian leadership to allow Australia’s participation. The latest such request took place in late April 2018. For quite understandable reasons, Delhi refused every time.

A positive answer would obviously indicate the Indian leadership’s departure from the strategy of keeping the country in a neutral position (which over time grows more and more relative) in the aggravating confrontation between the two leading world powers.

Despite all the difficulties in China-India relations, the leaders of both countries, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, have made efforts to keep their development in a positive and constructive direction in recent years. Two informal meetings between them were of particular importance in this regard. The first took place in Wuhan at the end of April 2018, and the second in the Indian resort town of Mamallapuram a year and a half later.

Something negative had to happen recently between China and India in order for the latter to start considering the possibility of Australia joining the Malabar exercise in Delhi, which is tied to the prospect of forming an anti-Chinese Quad. And there is no doubt about what this “something” was. It is connected with another escalation of the situation on one of the China-India (quasi) borders in the highlands of Ladakh. This happened on the night of June 16 and resulted in the largest collision between the border patrol units of both countries over the past 40 years.

There was another noteworthy event taking place between early May and June 16, namely the Australian-Indian virtual summit, attended by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Narendra Modi. The parties focused on cooperation defense and security in general.

Perhaps the June 16 incident in Ladakh was intended to serve as a warning to India in response to the outcome of this summit. This summit, in turn, could also be seen as a response to the aggravation of the situation in Ladakh that began back in May. Thus, a possible invitation extended to Australia to join the upcoming Malabar exercise could well be an answer to the “response” of June 16.

This raises the question of how far the spiral of mutual “responses” can reach. The fact that this question has been raised at all leads to some upsetting conclusions.

Hopefully, however, the “spirit of Wuhan” has not yet been completely eroded from the relationship between the two Asian powers, and even with the (possible) quadrilateral Malabar exercise, the idea of building an “Asian NATO” with India’s participation won’t develop further.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kremlin pours cold water on anonymous Bloomberg claims about ‘elite’ Covid-19 vaccine

RT | July 20, 2020

President Vladimir Putin has not received the domestic coronavirus vaccine, according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The denial comes on the day anonymous claims emerged that the Russian elite has had access to it since April.

Speaking to reporters, Peskov explained that the president had not yet been administered the experimental drug, because it’s “not very good for the head of state to receive an uncertified vaccine.” He was diagnosed with Covid-19 himself in May, and also denied being vaccinated.

On Monday morning, Bloomberg claimed that “scores of members of Russia’s business and political elite have been given early access to an experimental vaccine against Covid-19,” claiming they included business executives, tycoons, and government officials. According to the outlet, the vaccine has been available for Russia’s wealthy elite since April, and has already been administered to “several hundred people.”

Bloomberg did not name any of its sources or provide any evidence, but stated that the vaccine had been received by the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, as well as senior managers at aluminum company Rusal and chemical producer PhosAgro. In mid-June, Dmitriev admitted that he had volunteered to take the drug.

According to the news agency, those who received the vaccine “are monitored, and their results logged by the institute.” The establishment in question is Moscow’s Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

On June 16, the institute received approval from the Ministry of Health to begin testing an experimental coronavirus vaccine on humans. In conjunction with the Ministry of Defense, it completed the drug’s first trial stage, and on July 15, announced that no volunteers had experienced “serious side effects, health complaints, complications or adverse reactions.”

On Monday morning, a second group of trialists was discharged from the hospital, with the test results “unambiguously” showing “the development of an immune response in all volunteers.” This is the same vaccine that Bloomberg claims was administered to Russia’s elite.

Following Bloomberg’s allegations, the director of the Gamalei Institute, Alexander Ginzburg, denied any knowledge of “big or small” businessmen receiving the immunization, with Vadim Tarasov, director of the Institute of Translational Medicine and Biotechnology at Sechenov University, calling the reports “speculation.” Aleksey Kuznetsov, an assistant to Russia’s Minister of Health, also denied that the vaccine is in “civilian circulation.”

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Trump’s Wrong: Biden Isn’t Brainwashed, He’s The Perfect Puppet!

By Andrew Korybko | One World | July 17, 2020

Brainwashed Or Brainless?

Trump claimed last week that Biden is “brainwashed” by the most radical members of his party, but he’s wrong since the opposition front-runner has been a puppet of them and the “deep state” from the very beginning. The Democrats’ candidate is visibly senile and incapable of thinking for himself, which is actually why he was chosen to represent them this November. Having no personal agency of his own, he’s destined to comply with the “deep state’s” foreign policy demands and the radical Democrats’ domestic ones in the event that he enters into office. This was the plan all along since it enables the party to bridge its intra-organizational ideological divide by presenting him as an Obama-like blank canvass upon which each faction can paint their political desires. If Trump wants to win re-election, then he must more confidently call Biden out as the “Manchurian Candidate” that he truly is, not just beat around the bush by playing the “brainwashed” card.

The Perfect Puppet

Members of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) crave a Biden Presidency because it’ll allow them to reverse most, if not all, of Trump’s foreign policy decisions. The most relevant involve the so-called “trade war“, the Iran deal, and the Paris Agreement, the reversal of all three of which could greatly “reset” American foreign policy to its pre-Trump status quo of subordinating the US to globalist interests at the expense of national ones. Domestically, the leftist-racists of “Antifa” and the other radical political networks waging the ongoing Hybrid War of Terror on America would impose a “liberal” totalitarian dystopia on the rest of the country that would overthrow the American Revolution exactly as Trump warned during his recent speech at Mount Rushmore. The present statue-toppling spree is intended to rewrite history according to their ideological vision whereas disarming Americans and defunding the police will impose Democrat-controlled mob rule on its many cities directed against all of their ideological opponents.

A Personal Vendetta

This prediction is predicated on the fact that many “deep state” members have already endorsed Biden and the Democrats’ disparate factions are in the process of uniting under the so-called “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force“. Their “Manchurian Candidate” can barely mumble a sentence without gaffing, so bad is his late-stage senility, yet he’d be their puppet for publicly signing into force whatever decisions they foist upon him through his handlers and thus “legitimizing” them. Since he no longer has any real agency of his own, one could describe him as a “palace hostage”, though Trump was indeed correct in saying that he probably wouldn’t fight their agenda even if he disagreed with it, which the President doesn’t think that he does. Before his mental faculties began to fail him, Biden was obsessed with protecting his family’s reputation amid claims that he and his son were engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine, which is no longer a question after voice recordings to this effect emerged in May. He thus knew what he was getting into by allowing himself to be used by the “deep state”, which he willingly went along with in order to get back at Trump as part of his personal vendetta against him.

Bring Back The Old Trump!

The President must therefore return to his characteristic style of calling things out as he sees them no matter how crudely he tends to do so otherwise he risks demoralizing his base and losing the support of the so-called “Silent Majority”. On-the-fence voters and “moderate Democrats” alike might actually be attracted to Biden’s senility since it’s easy for them to imagine that he’ll do their political bidding based on some of the comparatively less radical statements that he read over the past couple of months from what many have mockingly claimed to be his basement, which stand in stark contrast to AOC, Ilham Omar, and Bernie Sanders‘ latest statements for example. They need to be made aware that Biden isn’t just “brainwashed”, but is a puppet of shadowy “deep state” forces and Democrat-controlled street thugs, so their belief that he’ll preside over “committee rule” of the country is sorely mistaken and driven solely by their personal hatred of Trump.

The Biden Coup

Trump already seems to be building upon former New Hampshire Governor Judd Gregg’s recent claim that Biden might be overthrown in a coup through the invocation of the 25th amendment if he’s elected, but the President must go even further than that by pointing out that the very election of Biden itself would be a coup since there’s no need for anyone to replace a puppet like him with someone else who would have even a bit more personal agency. The “committee rule” that Biden would be the figurehead of wouldn’t incorporate any “moderate” policies on either the foreign or domestic fronts since there doesn’t exist any “moderate” influence upon him behind the scenes. Rather, the party’s “moderates” are being manipulated into thinking otherwise based on their personal hatred for Trump and are therefore functioning as the coup plotter’s “useful idiots”. Revolutions have a tendency to “eat their own” and extinguish all “moderate” influences that helped bring them into force, meaning that the “moderate Democrats” would lose just as much as the “Trumpists” would.

Concluding Thoughts

Claiming that Biden is the victim of a brainwashing conspiracy isn’t going to win “moderate Democrats'” votes since Biden himself is the embodiment of the aforesaid conspiracy. Trump needs to directly call out Biden’s puppet status and double down on exposing the “deep state” and leftist-racist influences that are controlling him. Saying that he’s “brainwashed” only makes those already inclined to vote for him dream that some “moderate” force might “liberate his mind”. Trump knows very well that America’s in the midst of an ever-intensifying Hybrid War considering what he said at Mount Rushmore so he needs to present every single one of his words and actions as part of his hands-on leadership in doing everything that he can to help his country emerge victorious from this unconventional conflict. There are different political tactics that he’ll seek to employ throughout the course of this struggle such as making certain political and economic promises to appeal to the greatest number of voters possible, but the one thing that he mustn’t do at all costs is “go soft” and hold back out of fear that going all in against Biden will scare away “moderate Democrats”.

Andrew Korybko is an American political analyst.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | 1 Comment

The Evil, Immoral, Vicious, and Hypocritical Embargo Against Cuba

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | July 20, 2020

The banality of evil that characterizes the U.S. national security state is demonstrated perfectly by the continuation of its deadly economic embargo against Cuba, which has been ongoing for some 60 years.

What’s the point of the embargo? After all, the Pentagon’s, CIA’s, and NSA’s official enemy Fidel Castro died years ago. Why continue to intentionally inflict harm on the Cuban people?

And make no mistake about it: Inflicting harm on the Cuban people is the purpose of the embargo. Its aim is to impoverish or starve Cubans into ousting their post-Castro regime and installing another pro-U.S. right-wing brutal dictatorship similar to the one that Castro ousted from power in the Cuban revolution.

In fact, the first embargo that the U.S. implemented against Cuba was during the reign of the crooked, corrupt, and brutal pro-U.S. right-wing dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. That was an arms embargo. U.S. officials didn’t want weaponry imported into Cuba because that might enable the Cuban people to oppose Batista in a violent revolution.

During his reign, Batista partnered with the Mafia, the premier criminal organization that was smuggling drugs into the United States. As part of their partnership agreement, Batista let the Mafia operate gambling casinos in Cuba. As part of that cozy relationship, Batista would have his henchmen kidnap under-aged girls in Cuba and turn them over to the Mafia, which would then provide them as perks to the high-rollers in its casinos. That’s one of the things that brought on the Cuban Revolution.

That’s the guy that the U.S. national-security state was hell-bent on keeping in power. Thus, it should surprise no one that the CIA, like Batista, later entered into partnership with the Mafia, knowing full well that the Mafia was engaged in massive criminal activity. The purpose of the CIA-Mafia partnership was assassination. They were working together to assassinate Castro.

It stands to reason that the Mafia would try to assassinate Castro. It has lost all its casinos to Castro’s nationalization. And it was in the business of killing people.

But the U.S. government? In the business of murder? And in partnership with the biggest criminal organization in the world?

Don’t forget something important here: Castro, Cuba, and the Cuban people have never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. No invasion. No terrorist attacks. No assassinations.

In fact, it has always been the other way around. In the more than six decades of bad relations between Cuba and the U.S., it has always been the U.S. government that has been the aggressor. An invasion, terrorist attacks, assassination attempts, and the embargo, all on the part of the U.S. government.

U.S. national-security state officials always justified such actions under the notion that Cuba was the spearhead of a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States, one that was supposedly based in Moscow. It was always a ridiculous notion but that was the mindset of CIA, NSA, and Pentagon officials during the Cold War — that Cuba’s communist regime posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.”

But the Cold War ended more than 30 years ago. Do the CIA, NSA, and Pentagon still think that the United States is in danger of falling to the Cuban communists?

Of course not. Now, it’s just sheer viciousness. Now, it’s just a matter of doing everything possible to oust the current regime in Cuba from power and restoring a Batista-like dictatorship, one that will be loyal and deferential to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

The viciousness is demonstrated by the fact that the embargo doesn’t just criminalize Americans who do business with Cuba. It also targets foreign companies who do so. If they are caught doing so, they are targeted for prosecution or economic banishment here in the United States. In the minds of U.S. officials, it’s more imperative than ever to squeeze as many Cubans as possible into death and suffering.

Needless to say, the embargo has made things significantly worse for the Cuban people during the COVID-19 crisis. That’s fine with U.S. officials. The more Cubans who die, the greater the chance of an internal regime-change operation.

Sure, there is no doubt that Cuba’s socialist economic system is a major factor in the economic suffering of the Cuban people. But there is also no doubt that the U.S. embargo has served as the other side of a vise that has squeezed the economic lifeblood out of the Cuban people.

A dark irony, of course, is that the embargo has enabled the U.S. government to wield and exercise the same type of economic control over the American people that the Cuban socialist regime exercises over the Cuban people. It’s called adopting socialism to oppose socialism.

When will the evil, immoral, vicious, and hypocritical U.S. embargo against Cuba be lifted? When a critical mass of the American people, including those who go to church every Sunday, have a crisis of conscience and demand that it be lifted.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia: Ambitious Plans and Facts on the Ground

By Viktor Mikhin – New Eastern Outlook – 20.07.2020

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to implement an ambitious $800 billion initiative aimed at increasing the size of Riyadh in the next decade, and at transforming the capital into an economic, social and cultural hub in the Persian Gulf region.

The ambitious strategy was presented by Fahd Al-Rasheed, the President of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, ahead of this year’s key high-level meetings between leaders of G20 and of the commission responsible for the urban, economic, social, and cultural development of the capital city of Saudi Arabia. “Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” Fahd Al-Rasheed told Arab News. “We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens,” he added. In the next few years, 7 million trees will be planted in Riyadh, despite its arid climate, and once completed, King Salman Park is expected to be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

All of these plans sound really promising and it would be easy to share in the enthusiasm of our Saudi partners in the oil industry. Unfortunately, the current reality is not as rosy and “plots of the folk tales One Thousand and One Nights” often change to reflect the stark facts on the ground. Although Fahd Al-Rasheed talked about Saudi Vision 2030, few in the Kingdom appear to concern themselves with the strategy. And it is not that the Saudi leadership does not wish to transform the Kingdom into a heavenly place, but that they simply lack money for even the nation’s basic necessities and have to save money in every sphere. Hence, it is far more sensible to forget the unrealistic plans for the time being. Of course, it is pure joy to live and not to worry about a thing, but to do so a country needs to have a robust economy and high earnings, as it did earlier.

The poorly thought through and formulated oil strategy, which Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud has been trying to implement, has had a strong negative impact on all the oil producing nations, and especially on Saudi Arabia. As a result, the Saudi leadership was forced to come back down to Earth and start saving money in every possible sphere. So for now, Saudi Vision 2030 appears all but forgotten.

To cope with the hardship, Saudi Arabia tripled its value-added tax (VAT) rate starting on July 1, and suspended a cost of living allowance from June as part of cost-cutting programs to counter the severe economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the sudden fall in oil prices. Approximately 1.5 million state employees are affected by the latter measure. The cost of living allowance was a monthly payment of 1,000 riyals ($267) introduced by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 2018 “to help offset increased financial burdens, including VAT and a rise in the price of petrol”. The Kingdom’s “central bank foreign exchange reserves fell in March at their fastest rate in at least 20 years”, reaching their lowest levels since 2011, while Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit hit $9 billion in the first quarter of 2020 as oil revenues collapsed. The news outlet Middle East Eye reported that in January 2015, when Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became king, the country’s “foreign reserves totaled $732 billion”. According to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, these reserves had been diminished to $499 billion by December 2019, and they have since continued to decrease. The Kingdom has sustained considerable financial losses and damage to its reputation, because it was forced to temporarily suspend entry for foreigners for pilgrimage to the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan ruefully said that “the global economic crisis associated with the Coronavirus pandemic” had led to three major shocks to the Saudi economy. The first was the unprecedented fall in oil prices “leading to a sharp decline in” the kingdom’s revenues. The second stemmed from “the preventive measures taken to curb the spread of Covid-19, leading to the suspension of many economic activities”, which in turn took a toll on non-oil revenues. The third shock was caused “by the rising expenditure on the health sector to deal with the rising number of Covid-19 patients”. “The challenges combined have led to a decline in government revenues and pressure on public finance to levels that are hard to counter without harming the kingdom’s macroeconomics and public finances in the medium and long term,” Mohammed Al-Jadaan said. “Therefore, a further reduction in expenditures is a must, along with measures to stabilize non-oil revenues,” added the Minister of Finance.

Incidentally, Mohammed Al-Jadaan appears to have forgotten to mention the vast sums of money the power-hungry Crown Prince has wasted. Seemingly on autopilot, he spent enormous amounts to oust the democratically elected President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. Even nowadays, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud allegedly continues to provide financial support to militants occupying Syria’s Idlib Governorate, thus contributing to the delay in finding a resolution to the complex Syrian conflict. It was at the Crown Prince’s initiative that Saudi Arabia spearheaded a coalition that intervened in the civil war in the brotherly nation of Yemen, resulting in death and destruction in this impoverished nation. Such a military undertaking requires a considerable amount of money, something that the Kingdom’s budget is in dire need of. Even now, Riyadh continues to stoke tensions with Iran, seemingly failing to comprehend the simple fact that the West, while appearing to support Saudi Arabia, is actually following its favorite divide and conquer strategy and thus strengthening its position in this important region of the world. In addition, outdated US weapons are being sold for too high a price to the Kingdom. In fact, Saudi Arabia has accumulated more military equipment and arms than its army needs. And do Saudi “falcons” really expect to emerge victorious from a confrontation with Iran, while they continue to suffer defeats at the hands of poor Yemeni inhabitants, who are still mainly fighting with Soviet armaments? Plus another question arises: “Why did Saudi Arabia spoil its relationship with Qatar and impose tough sanctions (as Americans are prone to do) against this small nation?” It appears that the answer is “Just for the fun of it.”

Consequences of Crown Prince’s poorly thought through policies are being felt even today. In fact, there is still a risk of new tensions arising in the global oil market and further financial losses for everyone and especially the Kingdom. Media outlets and experts have been reporting about yet another rivalry on world markets. Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell its oil at a discount to undercut Nigeria and Angola for their non-compliance with production cuts, agreed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies. The tough stance taken by the Kingdom, with its world’s largest crude oil production capacity, may lead to yet another oil price war, which is bound to have serious consequences. “We know who your customers are,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy reportedly told the representatives of Nigeria and Angola, which count China and India as their biggest clients. However, India is still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, hence its economy has not recovered as yet. Riyadh’s only hope is China, which receives unlimited supplies of cheap oil and gas from Russia via pipelines. It is quite clear that Moscow has no plans to reduce supplies of these fossil fuels in the current tough climate. The Saudi leadership, therefore, has no other choice but to stop and think long and hard before taking any rash decisions. The world has changed and Saudi Arabia is no longer the only leader on the global oil market.

Still, Riyadh’s officials are free to continue talking about their ambitious plans, but realizing them requires vast sums of money, which the Kingdom simply does not have in its budget at present. And without financial backing, all of these hopes and dreams are nothing more than a mirage in the Arabian Desert, which disappears as soon as one tries to take a closer look at it.

Victor Mikhin is a member-correspondent of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment