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Chile vote is a blow to corporate Canada and Trudeau

By Yves Engler · October 26, 2020

With Chileans voting overwhelming to rewrite the country’s Pinochet era constitution it’s a good moment to reflect on Ottawa’s support for his coup against Salvador Allende. It’s also worth looking at Canadian companies’ opposition to the popular uprising that lead to the referendum on reforming the dictatorship’s neoliberal constitution.

On Sunday nearly 8 in 10 Chileans voted to rewrite the country’s Augusto Pinochet era constitution. The vote was the culmination of months of antigovernment protests that began against a hike in transit fares last October and morphed into a broader challenge to economic inequality and other injustices. The dictatorship’s constitution entrenches pro-capitalist policies and was widely seen as contributing to the country’s large economic divide.

The Pierre Trudeau government was hostile to Allende’s elected government and predisposed to supporting Pinochet’s dictatorship. Days after the September 11 1973 coup against Allende, Andrew Ross, Canada’s ambassador to Chile cabled External Affairs: “Reprisals and searches have created panic atmosphere affecting particularly expatriates including the riffraff of the Latin American Left to whom Allende gave asylum … the country has been on a prolonged political binge under the elected Allende government and the junta has assumed the probably thankless task of sobering Chile up.” Thousands were incarcerated, tortured and killed in “sobering Chile up”.

Within three weeks of the coup, Canada recognized Pinochet’s military junta. Diplomatic support for Pinochet led to economic assistance. Just after the coup Canada voted for a $22 million Inter American Development Bank loan “rushed through the bank with embarrassing haste.” Ottawa immediately endorsed sending $95 million from the International Monetary Fund to Chile and supported renegotiating the country’s debt held by the Paris Club. After refusing to provide credits to the elected government, on October 2nd, 1973, Export Development Canada announced it was granting $5 million in credit to Chile’s central bank to purchase six Twin Otter aircraft from De Havilland, which could carry troops to and from short makeshift strips.

By 1978, Canadian support for the coup d’etat was significant. It included:

  • Support for $810 million in multilateral loans with Canada’s share amounting to about $40 million.
  • Five EDC facilities worth between $15 and $30 million.
  • Two Canadian debt re-schedulings for Chile, equivalent to additional loans of approximately $5 million.
  • Twenty loans by Canadian chartered banks worth more than $100 million, including a 1977 loan by Toronto Dominion to DINA (Pinochet’s secret police) to purchase equipment.
  • Direct investments by Canadian companies valued at nearly $1 billion.

Prominent Canadian capitalists such as Peter Munk and Conrad Black were supporters of Pinochet.

When the recent protests began against billionaire president Sebastián Piñera in October, Trudeau supported the embattled right-wing leader. Two weeks into massive demonstrations against Piñera’s government, the PM held a phone conversation with the Chilean president who had a 14% approval rating. According to Amnesty International, 19 people had already died and dozens more were seriously injured in protests. A couple thousand were also arrested by a government that declared martial law and sent the army onto the streets for the first time since Pinochet. A Canadian Press story on the conversation noted, “a summary from the Prime Minister’s Office of Trudeau’s phone call with Pinera made no direct mention of the ongoing turmoil in Chile, a thriving country with which Canada has negotiated a free trade agreement.”

Rather than express concern about state-backed repression in Chile, the Prime Minister criticized “election irregularities in Bolivia” during his October conversation with Piñera. The false claims of “election irregularities” were then being used to justify ousting leftist indigenous president Evo Morales.

Amidst the massive demonstrations against Piñera in October, Trudeau also discussed Venezuela. In another phone conversation with Piñera two months ago Trudeau again raised “the situation in Venezuela”, according to the official readout, as he did in February 2018 and previously.

Chile is the top destination for Canadian investment in Latin America at over $20 billion. Over 50% of Chile’s large mining industry is Canadian owned and Canadian firms are major players in the country’s infrastructure. Scotiabank is one of the country’s biggest banks.

A number of stories highlighted Scotiabank’s concerns about the protests against inequality that ultimately lead to Sunday’s constitutional referendum. The Financial Post noted, “Scotiabank’s strategic foray into Latin America hits a snag with Chile unrest” and “Riots, state of emergency in Chile force Scotiabank to postpone investor day.” The CEO of the world’s 40th largest bank blamed the protests on an “intelligence breakdown” with people outside Chile “that came in with an intention of creating havoc.” In a January story titled “Why Brian Porter is doubling down on Scotiabank’s Latin American expansion”, he told the Financial Post that Twitter accounts tied to Russia sparked the unrest against Piñera!

Canadian companies, with Ottawa’s support, have led a number of environmentally and socially destructive projects in Chile. In the mid 2000s Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management led a consortium, with US $700 million invested by the Canadian Pension Plan and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, pushing to build a massive power line and dams in Chile’s Patagonia region, one of the planet’s greatest environmental treasures. “This kind of project could never be implemented in a full-fledged democracy,” explained Juan Pablo Orrego, a prominent Chilean environmentalist, to the Georgia Straight. “Our country is still under a constitutional, political, and financial checkmate to democracy which was put in place during the [Pinochet] military dictatorship and empowers the private sector.”

Sunday’s referendum is a blow to Canadian corporations operating in Chile and the Trudeau government’s alliance with right-wing governments in the Hemisphere.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

‘Pseudo-expert’: College dropout billionaire Bill Gates attacks Trump adviser Dr. Scott Atlas over Covid-19 stance

RT | October 26, 2020

Self-styled Covid-19 authority and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has weaponized media demands to “trust the science” to tear into Trump adviser (and actual medical doctor) Scott Atlas for not backing stricter Covid policies.

“We now have a pseudo-expert advising the president,” Gates snarled during an interview at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on Monday, denouncing Atlas – who, unlike the billionaire software tycoon, completed both college and medical school – as an “off the rails” bad influence on the Trump administration.

“The most malign thing is where you start to attack your own experts and suggest that maybe politicians know better than disease experts,” Gates continued. The billionaire is neither a politician nor a medical doctor, despite the vast sums he has spent through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its affiliates in an effort to vaccinate the developing world. Atlas, on the other hand, has a medical degree from the University of Chicago and has taught healthcare policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute.

While Gates’s words might seem to apply to his own denunciation of Atlas, the billionaire meant them as a condemnation of the Trump administration over its alleged line-by-line tweaks to health guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May. He has bemoaned the “politicization” of both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for months, blaming the White House for both their loss of public trust and unspecified yet “very unfortunate” setbacks to the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine.

However, medical experts have insisted for years that both institutions were co-opted long ago by the pharmaceutical industry, of which Gates is both a significant funder and a well-remunerated beneficiary.

Yahoo (and other media organizations, many of which have received and avoided disclosing funding from Gates’ foundations) have almost universally backed the avuncular software tycoon in his dispute with Atlas, suggesting it is the trained medical expert who stepped out of his place in dissenting from prevailing orthodoxy. Forbes even called Atlas a “bad scientist” for not deferring to Gates’ favorite expert, US corona czar Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Atlas has long been seen as a thorn in the side of Gates and his ideological cheerleaders for his refusal to toe the lockdown line, however. A tweet “falsely” downplaying the effectiveness of masks and an article warning the US’ pandemic-related economic shutdowns will have lasting consequences far worse than the deaths thus far attributed to the virus have been held up as proof Atlas knows not of what he speaks – even as experts in other countries have echoed his economic concerns and the science remains far from settled on masks.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gates has been hailed by the media as a venerable expert on viral outbreaks for a 2015 Ted Talk in which he bemoaned the lack of epidemic preparedness among the world’s governments. However, Gates was far from the only person to predict a pandemic (or the societal upheaval it would trigger).

The Rockefeller Foundation, along with the Global Business Network, predicted in a 2010 “scenario” that a devastating viral outbreak would bring about an authoritarian crackdown, devastating entire industries while making totalitarianism palatable to the populations of previously democratic countries. And Fauci himself predicted in 2017 that Trump’s administration would be faced with a deadly pandemic it was unprepared for. The US military and private sector partners have also run several simulations of major pandemics, each time finding (yet never doing much to fix) that the government is woefully unprepared.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 1 Comment

WHO Taps ‘Anti-Conspiracy’ Crusader to Sway Public Opinion on COVID Vaccine

By Jeremy Loffredo | Children’s Health Defense | October 23, 2020

An outspoken proponent of government-led tactics to influence public opinion on policy and to undermine the credibility of “conspiracy theorists” will lead the World Health Organization’s (WHO) efforts to encourage public acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine, Children’s Health Defense has learned.

Last week, WHO’s general director, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, tweeted that he was glad to speak with the organization’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health to “discuss vaccine acceptance and uptake in the context of COVID-19.”

In his next tweet Ghebreyesus announced that Cass Sunstein, founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School, will chair the advisory group, which was created in July.

Sunstein was former President Barack Obama’s head of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where he was responsible for overseeing policies relating to information quality.

In 2008, Sunstein wrote a paper proposing that governments employ teams of covert agents to “cognitively infiltrate” online dissident groups and websites which advocate “false conspiracy theories” about the government. In the paper, Sunstein and his co-authors wrote:

“Our principal claim here involves the potential value of cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, designed to introduce informational diversity into such groups and to expose indefensible conspiracy theories as such.”

The government-led operations described in Sunstein’s paper would work to increase faith in government policy and policymakers and undermine the credibility of “conspiracists” who question their motives. They would also maintain a vigorous “counter misinformation establishment” to counter “conspiracy” groups opposed to government policies that aim to protect the common good.

Some of this would be accomplished by sending undercover agents, or government-paid third parties, into “online social networks or even real space groups.”

Sunstein also advocated in 2008 that the government pay “independent experts” to publicly advocate on the government’s behalf, whether on television or social media. He says this is effective because people don’t trust the government as much as they trust people they believe are “independent.”

WHO has already contracted the public relations firm, Hill + Knowlton. The PR giant, best known for its role in manufacturing false testimonies in support of the Gulf War, was hired by WHO  to “ensure the science and public health credibility of the WHO in order to ensure WHO’s advice and guidance is followed.”

WHO paid Hill + Knowlton $135,000 to identify micro-influencers, macro-influencers and “hidden heroes” who could covertly promote WHO’s advice and messaging on social media, and also protect and promote the organization’s image as a COVID-19 authority.

There’s no evidence that WHO has yet implemented any “cognitive infiltration” policies similar to what Sunstein advocated in 2008. If the organization were to adopt such a strategy, and use it to convince hesitant populations to take a COVID vaccine, it would raise questions of legality.

As put forward in a report by the Congressional Research Service, illegal “publicity or propaganda” is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials; (2) purely partisan activity; or (3) “covert propaganda.” By covert propaganda, GAO means information which originates from the government but is unattributed and made to appear as though it came from a third party.

Because WHO is a multinational organization and not a U.S. Government agency, covert “cognitive infiltration” policies could fall into a gray area, or even be considered legal.

Dr. Margaret Chan, former general-director of WHO, once stated that the organization’s policies are “driven by what [she called] donor interests.”

According to a 2012 article in Foreign Affairs, “few policy initiatives or normative standards set by the WHO are announced before they have been casually, unofficially vetted by Gates Foundation staff.” Or, as other sources told Politico in 2017, “Gates’ priorities have become the WHO’s.”

WHO’s current general director, Ghebreyesus, was previously on the board of two organizations that Gates founded, provided seed money for and continues to fund to this day: GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, a public–private global health partnership focused on increased access to vaccines in poor countries, and the Global Fund, which says it aims to accelerate the “development, production and equitable global access to safe, quality, effective, and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.”

If, as Politico put it, “Gates priorities have become the WHO’s,” and if WHO’s policies are driven by “donor interests,” this raises questions as to what online groups, people and websites would be targeted by such covert programs.

The idea of government agents carrying out psychological operations on social media is not far fetched. Earlier this year the head of editorial for Twitter’s Middle East and Africa office was outed as an active officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit, known as the 77th brigade, which specializes in online behavioral change operations.

© 2016-2020 Children’s Health Defense® • All rights Reserved

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | 1 Comment

Maduro Says Venezuela Found 100% Effective Medicine Against COVID-19

Sputnik – 26.10.2020

CARACAS – The Venezuelan Scientific Research Institute (IVIC) discovered a medicine that contains molecule DR10 to combat COVID-19, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said on national channel Venezolana de Television, stating that the medicine can eliminate 100 percent of the coronavirus infection.

“Venezuela has created a medicine that eliminates 100 percent of the coronavirus, as the six-month studies by the Venezuelan Scientific Research Institute have demonstrated, and this study has been consequently certified by the experts,” Maduro said on Sunday.

Maduro added that the molecule that eliminates COVID-19 is DR10, which is already used in the treatment of such diseases as hepatitis C, Ebola and human papilloma.

Maduro hopes that the World Health Organisation (WHO) will ratify the results obtained by the IVIC and Venezuela will be able to prepare the mass production of this molecule as a cure for COVID-19 and provide it worldwide with the necessary international collaboration.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Venezuela has registered 89,565 positive cases, including 83,947 patients who have recovered and 773 people who died.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Bolivian court drops ‘terrorism’ charges against ex-President Evo Morales, withdraws arrest warrant

RT | October 26, 2020

Bolivia’s regional court in La Paz has dismissed “terrorism” charges and dropped the arrest warrant issued against former President Evo Morales, arguing that his rights were violated and judicial procedures breached.

The ex-president’s rights, including his right for judicial protection, have been violated, Judge Jorge Quino, the head of the Departmental Court of Justice in La Paz, said as he explained the court’s decision to grant a request filed by Morales’ lawyers.

He also said that judicial procedures were violated in this case since Morales was not properly summoned. The charges were dropped as the prosecutors did not comply with the procedures established by law, Quino told Bolivia’s Unitel TV Network.

The ruling does not mean though that the currently exiled former president, who was indicted for inciting riots and “terrorism” in the wake of his ousting last year, can safely return home just yet. The decision is yet to be approved by the nation’s Plurinational Constitutional Court which can still reverse it.

An arrest warrant against Morales was issued by the Bolivian prosecutor general back in December 2019 under a ‘provisional’ government formed in the wake of a coup. The interim government, led by right-wing Senator Jeanine Anez, argued that his calls for protest amounted to “sedition and terrorism,” and vowed to jail the ex-president “for the rest of his life.”

Morales, who ruled the nation for 14 years, resigned from the presidency and went into hiding in November 2019, under pressure from the military. Earlier that month he was [falsely] accused of election fraud by the opposition after a controversial vote.

Following his resignation, Morales first traveled to Mexico and eventually arrived in Argentina where President Alberto Fernandez granted him political asylum.

Still, even in absence of its leader, Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party secured majorities in both chambers of the Bolivian parliament in the latest general elections held on October 18. Socialist Luis Arce, who served as an economy minister under Morales and was allegedly handpicked by the former leader as a presidential candidate, also won the vote, securing a landslide victory against his leading rival, Carlos Mesa.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Whoever wins the US presidency the pressure on Venezuela will continue: Scholar

Press TV | October 26, 2020

Whoever wins the presidency on November 3 election in the United States the pressure on Venezuela will continue, an American human rights expert and peace activist says.

Daniel Kovalik, who teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in the state of Pennsylvania, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday.

In Venezuela, many say US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden represent the same threat against peace in the world, especially in Latin America. They believe whoever the winner is, the South American country will go on fighting against illegal US sanctions.

“In terms of Venezuela they’re certainly correct that whoever wins the presidency whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump the pressure on Venezuela will continue in the form of sanctions and other provocations,” Kovalik told Press TV on Monday.

“You have to remember in fact that it was Obama that began the sanctions regime against Venezuela when Joe Biden was Vice President,” he said.

“And in terms of resisting, it’s critical that Venezuela continue to resist this pressure and hold firm. I think it gives courage to other countries around the world like Iran, North Korea, Nicaragua, Cuba that are also under pressure by the US – pressure to change their governments,” he added.

“We see what happened in Bolivia recently with the election, which voted out the coup government after a year. And I think that’s given a lot of hope to people. So I, you know, Venezuela has to hold on tight, regardless of who wins the US election,” he concluded.

Venezuelans claim that US presidential election will not improve the foreign policy of the United States toward other nations, including those in Latin America, as this region is regarded by Washington as its political backyard.

Whether Republican Trump is re-elected or his Democratic rival Biden emerges victorious, Venezuelans affirm that the meddlesome and aggressive US policy against the Bolivarian Republic will not cease as both politicians belong to a political system that characterizes US imperialism. Venezuelans say Trump and Biden are the same in political terms.

Regarding the US sanctions, experts believe they won’t be lifted if Biden wins the Presidency. In spite of the US savage policies against Venezuela, people seem to be hopeful about a better future.

Observers say Democrats and Republicans in Washington have both led hostile policies against Latin American, Venezuelans say no matter who wins the US Presidency, the hostility will go on but Venezuelans won’t surrender.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Pompeo will not have his way in Sri Lanka

By P.K.Balachandran | Daily Express | October 25, 2020

Colombo – The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who will be here on October 28, is expected to ask Sri Lankan leaders, point blank, to review relations with China; consider the options US is offering; and accept American advice on domestic and foreign policy.

A top foreign ministry official told Daily Express on Sunday, that Lankan leaders, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, will politely tell Pompeo that Sri Lanka’s decisions and policies will be guided by election mandates, the law and the constitution of the country, and its interests, while maintaining good relations with all countries in the region and the world.

“All the three leaders will tell the ranking US official politely that it is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country,” the top Lankan official, who spoke on anonymity, said.

Pompeo is expected to press the government not to go in for Chinese-funded projects anymore but choose other countries and international organizations to fund projects mutually agreed upon.

The US Secretary of State will also press for the acceptance of the US$ 480 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (MCC) which a Lankan Presidential Commission wanted to be either rejected in toto, or re-negotiated to accord with Lankan law, constitution and socio-political and economic realities.

The Lankan official said that the controversial issue of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) will not come up for discussion because the government has made it clear that SOFA is against the Sri Lankan constitution and laws.

On the US bid to draw Sri Lanka into an anti-China alliance like Quad, the official said: “We would tell Pompeo that Sri Lanka, which has only recently emerged from a thirty-year war, does not want to be a theater of international conflict in any way. But it is interested in ensuring free navigation in the Indian and other oceans. Pompeo would be reminded that in 1971 Sri Lanka had pioneered the idea of turning the Indian Ocean into a Zone of Peace.”

On the American demand that Sri Lanka abjure Chinese investments, the leaders would say that Sri Lanka needs investments from all countries as it is keen on developing the country, especially in the infrastructure sector.

“All countries, including the US, are welcome to invest in Sri Lanka. If the US and others match China, their offers would be considered,” another foreign ministry official said.

However, given the fact that the US is primarily interested in geopolitical and military matters with a focus on isolating and weakening China in these spheres, it would not make any economic investment proposals. Pompeo would find it difficult to proceed further on this matter in his discussions here, it is felt.

“Debt Trap” Issue

“If he raises the debt trap issue, we have facts and figures to show that the debt to China is only 5.6 billion USD out of a total external debt of 55 billion USD (which is 10%). The US owes China much more – USD 1 trillion,” the official said.

Arm-Twisting

However, Pompeo could indulge in arm-twisting by threatening further sanctions against Chinese companies involved in Sri Lankan development projects. Some subsidiaries of the China Communications and Construction Company (one of which is executing the Colombo US$ 1.4 billion Colombo Port City) are already “listed” for alleged “predatory practices and lack of transparency”.

However, the Sri Lankans do not appear to be perturbed by such a possibility because listing has to be on solid grounds. And even if security issues are cited, it has to stand legal scrutiny in the US itself, the officials explained.

But the shoe might pinch if the US stops or lessens its imports of apparels from the island. The US buys about US$ 2.5 billion worth of Lankan apparels annually. This is 3% of the Lanka’s DGP and the US is the single largest market. But even stopping this is unlikely given the fact Lankan apparels enter the US market without GSP duty concessions.

Ethnic Reconciliation

As for Pompeo’s prescriptions on ethnic reconciliation, the Sri Lankan leaders will cite the mandates they got through the November 2019 Presidential and August 2020 parliamentary elections, which is that any solution to the ethnic question will have to be acceptable to the majority community in Sri Lanka and that reconciliation should be brought about by measures to develop the country economically in a way which benefits all communities equitably.

American Intentions Not A Secret

American intentions were made clear on October 22 by Dean Thompson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs at a press briefing. Thompson said that Pompeo will “encourage Sri Lanka to review the options we offer for transparent and sustainable economic development in contrast to discriminatory and opaque practices.”

“We urge Sri Lanka to make difficult but necessary decisions to secure its economic independence for long-term prosperity, and we stand ready to partner with Sri Lanka for its economic development and growth. The Secretary will also emphasize the ties between our people, our shared commitment to democracy, and the importance of our ongoing regional maritime security cooperation. We’ll continue to urge Sri Lanka to advance democratic governance, human rights, reconciliation, religious freedom, and justice, which promote the country’s long-term stability and prosperity and ensure the dignity and equality of all Sri Lanka’s diverse communities.”

With regard to China’s increasing influence in Sri Lanka, Thompson said: “I think we’re looking to frame a discussion with them about a more positive trajectory, as I mentioned in my opening remarks. So definitely we’ll be discussing where they’re headed and looking for ways to strengthen their commitment to human rights rule of law and democracy.”

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

Moscow won’t deploy controversial 9M729 missiles in European Russia if NATO reciprocates: Putin

By Jonny Tickle | RT | October 26, 2020

Russia will delay deployment of its much-debated 9M729 missiles in the European part of its territory, as a goodwill gesture, if NATO takes reciprocal steps. Monday’s proposal comes after the US withdrew from the INF treaty.

“Given the unrelenting tension between Russia and NATO, new threats to European security are becoming evident,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website.

Signed in 1987, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) banned land-based missiles with a range of more than 500km. According to Putin, the agreement was vital for ensuring international security and strategic stability, and the US’ withdrawal was a mistake which risks provoking a missile arms race.

In October 2018, American President Donald Trump announced that his country would withdraw from the treaty, blaming supposed Russian non-compliance. In particular, Trump accused the Kremlin of creating a missile that is effective over the legal limit of 500km, named 9M729. Steven Pifer, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, once estimated that its range is 2,000 kilometers. Pifer is now the director of the Arms Control Initiative at the Brookings’ lobby group, which is funded by Gulf states, amongst other donors.

As part of his stated attempt to de-escalate, Putin also revealed that he wishes to take further steps to minimize the negative consequences of the collapse of the INF Treaty, including an agreement for mutual inspections of missile systems. The president also reiterated Russia’s previous promise not to deploy ground-based INF missiles until US-made missiles of similar classes are deployed.

On the controversial 9M729 missiles, Putin maintained they are in “full compliance” with the previously existing INF treaty, but still offered not to position them in Europe.

“The Russian Federation, nevertheless, is ready, in the spirit of goodwill, to continue not to deploy 9M729 missiles in European Russia, but do so only provided NATO countries take reciprocal steps that preclude the deployment of the weapons earlier prohibited under the INF Treaty in Europe,” the statement read.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Pompeo’s ‘Tokyo Kick’ Cannot Start the QUAD

By  Salman Rafi Sheikh | New Eastern Outlook | October 26, 2020

Mike Pompeo lashed out at China in his latest visit to Tokyo where he met his counterparts from India, Australia and Japan as part of his efforts to revive the QUAD, a US-centered anti-China alliance of the four countries. Speaking to his counterparts, Pompeo said that there was an urgent need to counter China, adding that “As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP’s exploitation, corruption, and coercion.” In an interview given to a Japanese news outlet, Pompeo also said that the grouping was a “fabric” that could “counter the challenge that the Chinese Communist Party presents to all of us.” “Once we’ve institutionalized what we’re doing – the four of us together – we can begin to build out a true security framework”, he added further. Mike Pompeo, who was clearly on a mission to persuade his allies to join the military alliance, was obviously trying to make US allies sell the same anti-China discourse that the Trump administration has used at home to start a ‘trade war’ with China. The US, now aiming to expand the war, is recruiting allies; hence, Pompeo’s high-pitched speeches against China.

While Pompeo said what he had to say, prospects of the QUAD’s rise as a powerful military alliance or an ‘Asian NATO’ remain bleak. Its most important reason is the fact that none of the countries—India, Japan and Australia—are interested in picking a military fight with China, while the US has no real allies against China.

While there is no gainsaying that all of these countries—India, Japan and Australia—have tense and uneasy relations with China, they appear not in the least interested in formalizing a US led anti-China military alliance, thus making PRC their official enemy.

It explains why these countries have so far chosen to manage their relations with China on their own and continue to shy away from exacerbating the fault lines by joining the US bandwagon of a ‘global anti-China coalition.’

Consider this: while Japan has its economic ties with China and there is no will in Tokyo to ‘de-couple’, following the US in its footsteps, it, with an eye on China, still is increasing its military strength. Whereas it is already converting two of its existing ships into aircraft carriers, it is going to make a record increase in its defense spending as well. Japan’s Defence Ministry has asked for an 8.3 per cent increase in the defense budget, which is by far the country’s largest rise in last two decades. Interestingly enough, one crucial reason why Japan has decided to increase the budget is the pressure that the Trump administration has been putting on the Japanese to manage their own national security. If Japan is anyway going to spend more and more on defense, increasing its military capability to position itself better in the region, not requiring extensive US military support, and it still wants to continue to have strong economic ties with China, there is no reason why it would want to permanently destabilize its relations with China by joining the ‘Asian NATO.’ Although this was prime minister Abe’s dream, his absence from the government will leave a further dampening impact on the alliance’s future prospects and Japan’s standing therein.

Australia’s government has announced a raft of legislation to curb foreign influence that is clearly (though unofficially) targeted at China. And India is actively engaged in a high-altitude, high-stakes game of chicken with China in the Himalayas—a hot-and-cold conflict in which India is no longer acting passively.

The fact that all of these countries have their specific problems with China and yet they have not been able to fully activate the QUAD shows there is no active and strong desire for a US-led military alliance. As such, the QUAD summit failed yet again to issue a joint statement or a communique.

Notwithstanding the US belligerence, the main focus of Japan, Australia and India remains a politically, economically and militarily balanced relationship with China.

This is the crucial reason that explains why, despite Pompeo’s hype and upbeat assessment of the ‘China threat’, none of the countries’ mentioned China directly in their statements issued after the meeting.

Unlike Pompeo, Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi notably did not mention China in his remarks, and the Japanese government was quick to clarify that the talks were not directed at any one country. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar noted the fact that the meeting was happening at all, given the coronavirus pandemic, was “testimony to the importance” of the alliance. Accordingly, while India like Japan, did endorse the agenda of “free pacific region” and “rule-based system”, it did not mention China either. Certainly, Indian policy makers were not looking to further destabilize the situation in and around the Ladakh region. For Australian foreign minister, who also did not mention China, the essence of the QUAD was to “promote strategic balance” in the Indo-pacific (and not start an Indo-pacific military alliance).

Starting a military alliance against China does not make sense. If the US is these countries’ biggest military and security ally, China is by far one of the largest trading partners, which makes the summit more symbolic than substantive. Accordingly, while Pompeo was talking of creating a ‘security network’, Japanese officials confirmed to local media that the subject was not even raised in the meeting; for, such a venture is unlikely to gain traction in the wake of these countries’ main thrust for balanced ties with China.

In the absence of a clear will and desire for building up military pressure on China, the ‘Asian NATO’ will remain an engine-less rail car, one that even persistent kicks wouldn’t be able to ignite.

Salman Rafi Sheikh is a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

China’s new sanctions against American defence companies have the potential to cause major damage to the US military

By Tom Fowdy | RT | October 26, 2020

Beijing has fired a warning to the US over its arms sales to Taiwan with a new round of sanctions. The move is symbolic for now, but if China wants to get tough it really could hammer the supply chains of the impacted companies.

On Monday afternoon, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Beijing would be placing sanctions on a number of US firms and linked individuals over arms sales to Taiwan, with Washington having approved a record sale worth around $5 billion to the island the previous week.

The listed companies included Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defense and Raytheon, striking at the heart of what is often referred to as ‘America’s Military Industrial Complex’. However, what the specific measures mean, how they will be implemented and what their impact might be remains to be seen.

At first glance, these sanctions look symbolic; such military firms do not pursue business in China, and do not have market traction in America. One exception is Boeing’s civilian wing, which stated in an email it was still committed to the Chinese market.

On the other hand, this is not to say that such sanctions will not have strategic implications. First of all, China has an overwhelming dominance on the ‘rare earth’ materials required for US defence manufacturing, and should these sanctions really look to bite, they could have a major impact on the supply chain.

Secondly, even if the measures are only symbolic, it is nonetheless a warning shot from Beijing that it may retaliate further against US actions in the future.

What are ‘rare earths’? And why do they matter? The name refers to 17 elements which are used primarily in the manufacture of all kinds of items, including electronics, vehicles and of course military equipment.

Naturally, these resources form the bedrock of many supply chains around the world. China has a near total monopoly over this industry; a study found that the country “produced roughly 85 percent of the world’s rare earth oxides and approximately 90 percent of rare earth metals, alloys, and permanent magnets”. In 2018, up to 80 percent of America’s own rare earth imports came from China; Washington knows this and is scrambling for contingencies.

The strategic implications of this are quite clear; the US military relies deeply on materials imported from China to manufacture its equipment. If Beijing wanted, these sanctions could hammer the supply chains of the impacted firms.

However, whether Beijing will actually do that is a question of political will, given Washington would treat the move as a major escalation and retaliate harshly against Chinese firms such as Huawei. Such a move is clearly not a good idea, particularly in the run-up to an election, and would only be a last resort, perhaps in a war-like scenario. Given this, it may be more accurate to interpret the move as a ‘warning shot’ of what China may do – evidence that it is ready to get tougher on US firms.

A month ago, China released its own ‘entity list’ – an export blacklist which may prohibit exports or business with companies that are deemed a threat to national security, deliberately mirroring that used by the US Department of Commerce against Chinese companies. The aim is to leverage its own market against countries that discriminate against, or hurt the interests of, Chinese firms.

And this is where the blacklisting of Boeing Defense is significant. While the sanctions have carefully avoided the civilian branch of Boeing – which supplies commercial aircraft, and has huge business in China – it is nevertheless a clear red flag that the company isn’t untouchable. As Beijing seeks to develop its own commercial aircraft further, including the COMAC C919, it may become even more assertive.

Given all this, China’s sanctions against US defence firms are less a policy in practice as they are a pronouncement of things to come. While Beijing is not ready to take advantage of America’s dependency on rare earths yet, it is signalling clearly it is ready to take measures against US companies where it sees fit.

Taiwan, for one, is a huge red line for China’s government. As it illustrated with its military exercises, there has to be some demonstration of clear consequences for pushing against it, albeit without resorting to methods that could prove extremely destabilizing.

Beijing is developing a toolkit, and it wants us to know that it is ready to use it should it be absolutely necessary. These showcase sanctions have potential in multiple ways to have real teeth, and that’s what we need to be looking at.

Tom Fowdy is a British writer and analyst of politics and international relations with a primary focus on East Asia.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Nuking Itself… How Russophobia Led the U.S. to Bomb its Own Citizens

By Finian Cunningham – Strategic Culture Foundation – October 26, 2020

Generations of countless Americans have been contaminated and sickened by the first-ever atomic bomb test. The Trinity explosion on July 16, 1945, was carried out in the New Mexico desert. Three weeks later, two A-bombs were dropped on Japan, killing up to 200,000 people.

But the number of American victims caused by radiation fallout from the Trinity test is reckoned to be also imponderably high. The American government conducted the explosion in secret, unbeknownst to the population of New Mexico. That was in spite of warnings from Manhattan Project scientists of a high risk to public health from the extreme radiation. Without a warning to the public and because of a cover-up about the event, countless Americans were exposed to carcinogenic radiation.

In a recent interview with Karl Grossman, New Mexican resident Tina Cordova tells how her community has been campaigning for decades to find out the truth behind the Trinity test and to seek reparations from the federal government. Incredibly, there has never been a federal investigation into establishing the human health impact from that atomic test explosion. But Cordova and her community estimate that the number is huge. She is the fourth generation in her family to have suffered from cancer. Countless others tell of high numbers of infant mortality over the decades and other morbidities that stretch across the entire state of New Mexico.

A combination of factors conspired to wreak a heavy toll on the people of New Mexico. It is one of the poorest states in the U.S., with large numbers of native Americans and Latinos. In selecting the test site for the A-bomb, there was a tacit racism among planners in Washington who viewed the area and its population as expendable. By not warning the people of the explosion, local populations were given no chance to take protective measures such as evacuation or avoiding consumption of contaminated water and food produced from the soil. The people were deceived into continuing their livelihoods as normal following the explosion, drinking contaminated water and breathing radioactive air. The New York Times was instrumental in the cover-up, issuing reports that the explosion was due to a conventional munitions incident. It was only after the horrific bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 an 9 that the people of New Mexico realized what had really happened at the Trinity site. Even then they were kept in the dark by Washington stonewalling about the event for decades to come.

Still another factor that maximized the damage on public health was the rush by the American government to weaponize the A-bomb technology. As Karl Grossman points out, the rationale behind the Manhattan Project was said to be to preempt Nazi Germany. But by July 1945, Nazi Germany was defeated and imperial Japan was on its knees. The inescapable implication is that President Harry Truman and the Pentagon wanted to display the new awesome weapon of mass destruction to the Soviet Union in what would be a chilling demarcation of the postwar globe according to American power.

Truman eagerly awaited the news of the Trinity test while attending the Potsdam allies’ conference in Germany along with Britain’s Winston Churchill and the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin. On receiving news of the successful explosion, Truman immediately adopted a more strident attitude towards Stalin. In that moment, a new Cold War was born.

Thus, it was Russophobia among the American ruling class that rushed the Trinity A-bomb explosion, even though that event would lead to generations of American citizens stricken with fatal diseases from the fallout. In a very real and frightening way, the U.S. rulers took a decision to “nuke” their own people such was their obsession with confronting the Soviet Union.

Subsequent U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 60s was conducted in remote areas of Nevada and in the Pacific Ocean. Those tests also took a deadly toll on the environment and local populations on Pacific islands.

But the recklessness and callous conditions of the New Mexico test is unparalleled in the toxic exposure it imposed on unsuspecting populations.

The stone-cold willingness to, in effect, bomb its own citizens by the federal government is a shuddering testimony as to the nefarious lengths the planners in Washington were prepared to go in their obsessive Russophobia.

When we survey the relentless fixation today in Washington and the U.S. political class with blaming Russia for all sorts of alleged malign intent, one can easily discern that this endemic Russophobia among America’s rulers has not waned.

The barbarity of what happened in New Mexico 75 years ago is alive and well. If it can be inflicted without apology on American citizens, then what does that say about the danger to the rest of the world?

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Insisting on insult, Macron opens floodgates for Muslim backlash

Press TV | October 26, 2020

Numerous Muslim states and peoples have denounced French President Emanuel Macron’s persisting support for blasphemy in his country against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

“We will not give in, ever,” Macron tweeted on Sunday. The tweet served to back up his earlier support for a French teacher’s displaying of cartoons insulting of the Prophet of Islam in his class under the pretext of “freedom of speech.”

“France will never renounce caricatures,” Macron had declared on Wednesday, defending the teacher for “promoting freedom.”

The teacher Samuel Paty was murdered by an 18-year-old Chechen assailant. Commenting on the attack, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide, trying to suggest that the assailant had been motivated to kill the teacher by the faith rather than radicalism.

The comments have raised controversy and provoked a wave of criticism from the Muslim world.

On Sunday, the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) described Macron’s position as “irresponsible,” and said it was aimed at spreading a culture of hatred among peoples.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had called on Macron to have his mental status examined for defending blasphemy, repeated the call on Sunday. Macron “is a case and therefore he really needs to have [mental] checks,” Erdogan said.

In a statement, Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry warned that attempts at linking Islam to terrorism “represents a falsification of reality, insults the teachings of Islam, and offends the feelings of Muslims around the world.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also hit out at Macron for “attacking Islam clearly without having any understanding of it.”

He urged the French president to rather address the marginalization and polarization that is being committed against minorities in France that “inevitably leads to radicalization.”

The Pakistani head of state also wrote to Facebook, asking the social media network to clamp down on Islamophobic content in the same way that it purges content aimed at skewing or denying the Holocaust.

He warned about a “growing” trend of Islamophobia throughout the platform among elsewhere, pleading with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust.”

“One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Khan said, adding that this attitude was “reflective of prejudice and bias….”

Pakistan also summoned France’s ambassador and notified him about Islamabad’s protest at “systematic Islamophobic campaign under the garb of freedom of expression.”

Jordan’s Islamic Affairs Minister Mohammed al-Khalayleh said “insulting” prophets is “not an issue of personal freedom but a crime…,” and Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said continuing publication of such “offensive” is an act of provocation.

Hamas and Hezbollah, respectively Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements, have also condemned Macron’s position.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Saturday that publishing the cartoons was “provocative to the feelings of the Islamic nation and an aggression on its religion and beliefs,” while Hezbollah said blasphemy did not categorize as “freedom of speech.”

Protests were, meanwhile, reported in the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Libya as well as elsewhere throughout the Muslim world.

Boycott spree

Many Muslim companies and associations, meanwhile, have stopped handling or serving French items in protest.

These have included the Al-Naeem Cooperative Society and the Dahiyat al-Thuhr association in Kuwait as well as the Wajbah Dairy firm and Al Meera Consumer Goods Company in Qatar. The Qatar University has also postponed a French cultural week.

Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #ExceptGodsMessenger trended across many countries, including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

The French Foreign Ministry, however, reacted angrily to the bans.

“The calls for a boycott are groundless and must be stopped immediately, like all attacks against our country committed by a radical minority,” it alleged, trying to associate the protests with “radicalism.”

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Islamophobia | , | Leave a comment