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‘For The People Act’ confirms it: Our Democracy has officially replaced the American Republic

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | March 4, 2021

If there were any doubts that a civil war had in fact been waged in the US, and that the side that “fortified” the 2020 election and redefined the republic as “Our Democracy” triumphed, HR1 should dispel the last vestiges of them.

The bill, also named “For The People Act” of 2021, passed in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in a 220-210 vote on Wednesday. Only one Democrat was opposed.

The 800-page bill basically codifies all the problematic practices of the 2020 election into law. There’s an expansion of mail-in ballots and extended deadlines to count them, but also automatic voter registration, a waiver for voter IDs, and nationwide ballot-harvesting, California-style. It also shifts the authority to draw congressional districts from states, criminalizes broadly defined “interference” in elections, and so much more.

Whatever one may think of the Heritage Foundation, its analysis of the bill is factually accurate. Don’t take my word for it, though, read it and compare it to the actual text.

Naturally, Democrats have denounced any opposition to it as “racist” and “voter suppression.” CNN quickly located and trotted out their vaunted “fact-checker” Daniel Dale to criticize not Heritage’s analysis, but former VP Mike Pence’s op-ed based on it.

Ironically, most of Dale’s fact-check was either Clintonesque quibbles about the meaning of words – which we’ve already established one side can and does change at will – or acknowledgments that Pence was factually correct. The latter was buried at the end and framed otherwise. The Narrative, you see, must be preserved.

Republicans are either whining about how the law is bad, unfair, un-American, what have you – and putting faith in the Senate filibuster to stop it from becoming law. What makes them think the Democrats won’t use this as an excuse to abolish the filibuster, the same way they cited the pandemic to implement the voting changes in 2020?

When Democrats have power they use it, and controlling both legacy and social media means they can easily shape the Narrative. They can just “cancel” and “deplatform” those who disagree.

Nor should anyone put hope in the courts. HR1 has incorporated the same “trick” as Pennsylvania used, narrowly defining how it can be legally challenged to the point of making it almost impossible. If a challenge somehow reaches the US Supreme Court, odds are the Nine will simply wash their hands and look the other way, as they did with the Texas brief.

Meanwhile, thousands of National Guard troops that have been patrolling the Capitol inside a razor-wire perimeter fence are now staying through June, because the Biden administration keeps claiming there is “chatter” from “extremists” online about some kind of insurrection.

When nothing happens, they claim their measures prevented it, of course. That’s how phantom menaces are supposed to work. Feel free to shrug off the ‘Star Wars’ prequels or the ‘Hunger Games’, but there are clearly people in Washington who take their inspiration from them.

Shortly after the January 6 riot at the Capitol, I suggested that a second US civil war has already been fought and won, basing it not on some hard evidence in my possession but simply on the way the Democrats were behaving. Then came the infamous TIME magazine article about how there really was a “conspiracy” by Democrat operatives and neocons to “fortify” the election by changing rules, recruiting poll workers and getting social media companies to ban anything they labeled “disinformation.”

What else does one need to understand that the old America, the Republic defined in the Constitution of 1789, has ceased to exist? It has been replaced by something everyone calls Our Democracy. You can hear the words capitalized when they say it. And in this new society, inspired by the intersectionality of dystopian fiction, the old rules simply no longer apply.

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

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | Leave a comment

Governor Andrew Cuomo Imposes Vaccination Passports in New York

By Adam Dick | Ron Paul Institute | March 4, 2021

Some politicians can’t stop coming up with new ways of bossing people around and preventing the return of normal life, all in the name of countering coronavirus. A prime example of such coronavirus tyrants is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

This week, Cuomo, who has been imposing on people in New York for a year some of the harshest coronavirus-related restrictions in America, announced he is rolling out yet another rights abuse. Cuomo is requiring in a new “pilot program” that people obtain and present vaccination passports to gain entrance to certain places and take part in various activities that have been curtailed by government over the last year.

Cuomo calls the vaccination passports Excelsior Passes. No matter the name the state’s vaccination passports are marketed under, they are a mechanism for government tracking people’s movements, pressuring people into taking experimental coronavirus vaccines that carry risk of serious injury and death, and implementing a vaccinations-based caste system.

Elizabeth Elizalde writes at the New York Post that in the New York state pilot program people are being required to present their vaccination passports “in order to enter sports arenas, theaters and other businesses.” To receive a vaccination passport, Elizalde writes, a person must prove he has received one of the experimental coronavirus vaccines or that he has recently tested negative for coronavirus.

With time — after the experimental coronavirus vaccines have become more widely available — expect Cuomo to adjust the program so proof of injection with one of the not-really vaccines will be the only means to receive an Excelsior Pass and, thereby, the ability to take part legally in many activities.

Copyright © 2021 by RonPaul Institute

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel extends so-called administrative detention of two Palestinian officials

Palestinian detained officials Khaled Abu Arafa (L) and Sheikh Ra’ed Salah
Press TV – March 4, 2021

Israel has extended the custody of two current and former Palestinian officials according to the so-called administrative detention rule, a form of imprisonment in which the individual is never tried and can be held indefinitely.

An Israeli court extended the solitary confinement of Sheikh Ra’ed Salah for yet another six months, the Palestinian Information Center said in a report on Thursday.

A few days earlier, his lawyer Khaled Zabarqa had revealed that the Tel Aviv regime intended to hold Sheikh Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, in isolation under flimsy security pretexts.

“He has been in isolation since six months ago and today the court extended it for another six months, which means he will spend a whole year in solitary confinement,” Zabarqa said.

Israeli security authorities claimed that the Palestinian official could pose a security threat to the regime if he were held with other inmates, his lawyer added.

Zabarqa described Wednesday’s court session as a mere formality, lambasting the tribunal for approving what the security services had requested without looking into the truth of their accusations and not caring about the impact of its verdict on his client.

“Israel is prosecuting Salah for his ideology and religious beliefs and not because of any criminal offense,” the lawyer stressed.

Separately on Wednesday, a court in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds extended the administrative detention of Khaled Abu Arafa, the former Palestinian minister of al-Quds affairs, for another four months, without trial or indictment.

Israeli’s spy agency Shin Bet arrested Abu Arafa, 59, in November last year after summoning him for interrogation at the Ofer detention center near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

A week later, an Israeli court in Jerusalem al-Quds extended his detention for several days before issuing an administrative detention order for four months against the ex-minister.

The Palestinian official has so far been in Israeli jail several times. He was banished from Jerusalem al-Quds upon his release in 2014.

More than 350 detainees are under administrative detention, in which Israel keeps the detainees for up to six months, a period which can be extended an infinite number of times. Women and minors are also among the detainees.

Such detentions take place on orders from a military commander and on the basis of what the regime describes as “secret” evidence.

Some prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years without any charge. Palestinians in administrative detention resort to hunger strikes to force the Israeli authorities to release them.

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Biden becomes the sixth successive President to bomb Iraqis: how far could this latest round of escalation go?

By Aram Mirzaei for The Saker | March 4, 2021 

Another president, another act of aggression. For the past few decades, it’s almost like a mandatory rite of passage for US presidents to bomb Muslim countries. I don’t think many of us are surprised to see that current US President Joe Biden turned out to be no different to his predecessors, when Washington once more bombed Iraqis last week.

Continuing the same policy of terrorism and humiliation from the Trump era, Washington felt the need to show strength against the Resistance forces on the Syrian-Iraqi border area. What angers me most, is not just the terrorist act of killing people who are fighting US occupation and US backed terrorism, but the fact that Washington cannot and will not recognize that there is a growing local resistance to Zionist hegemony, instead resorting to degrading and humiliating legitimate resistance groups such as Hashd al-Sha’abi of Iraq (PMU) or the Houthis of Yemen by labelling them “Iranian backed proxies”.

Everything and everyone that oppose Washington and Zionist hegemony in West Asia are “Iranian backed”. Whether it is a Houthi attack on a Saudi airport, a Taliban attack on a NATO convoy or a suspiciously random rocket attack on a US base in Iraq, it is always Iran’s fault and somehow the Islamic Republic must be held responsible for these attacks. Both Washington and the Zionist entity keep attacking Resistance forces in the very area where ISIS remnants have been re-emergent for the past months, claiming their right to self defense. Self defense?! America is more than 10,000 kilometres away. US troops are occupying Syrian and Iraqi territory and Washington claims the right to self defense? This narrative has been drilled into the minds of so many people in the West that nobody even reacts when one of the Obama gang’s old crude liars, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby was telling the press that Washington acted to “de-escalate” the situation when it bombed Resistance forces on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

What Kirby really meant by “de-escalation” was that he believes that Washington sent Iran and its allies a “clear message”, that messing with Washington is unwise. The sad part is that he and the other psychopaths in Washington actually believe that the so called “message” will in any way deter the Resistance forces in West Asia. It is pretty clear what the US is doing with these random attacks on the Resistance forces. Washington knows the realities on the ground and acts in response to them. In Syria, it has become clear for Washington that Damascus won’t fall, that dream came down crashing when Russia entered the war in 2015. So, Washington is acting to deny Syria and her allies their well deserved victory through the occupation and looting of eastern Syria. Washington will act for as long as it takes to starve the Syrian people into submission.

In Iraq, Washington, being well aware that the Iraqi parliament has voted to expel US forces from Iraq, is desperately seeking new reasons to prolong their occupation. Be it through the magical re-emergence of Daesh terrorists in Western Iraq or through suspicious Katyusha rocket attacks on US interests in Baghdad’s green zone, which are then blamed on the Iraqi Resistance forces without any kind of evidence presented, Washington is seeking to undermine the Iraqi parliament’s decision.

In Iraq, Washington has a foothold in Baghdad not seen in Syria’s Damascus. It is through this foothold that Washington wields influence over many Iraqi politicians and thus has the ability to cause great internal disunity and animosity among Iraqis themselves.

Washington has both great influence over the Kurds in northern Iraq and over the Prime Minister’s office. PM Al-Kadhimi is known to be a close associate of Washington’s and is suspected to be cooperating with the US to prolong their stay in Iraq. During his tenure, tensions between Baghdad and the PMU have run high as government forces have made random raids on the PMU headquarters, arresting some members even. Yet even more dangerous is the escalating tension between Washington and the PMU. On Wednesday March 3rd, a new rocket attack on the Ain Al-Assad military base was reported. This is the same military base that was struck by the IRGC last year in retaliation for Washington’s murder of martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis. Previously the PMU had vowed revenge for Washington’s attack last week, which makes it rather obvious that Washington will blame the PMU for this recent strike.

With this latest round of escalation, one wonders what will happen next? Of course I’m just speculating but I see some real dangers with tensions running this high. I believe that Washington could very well seek to push Iraq into a new civil war in a bid to eradicate the Hashd al-Sha’abi. Many of the groups within the PMU have threatened to wage war on US forces if Washington refuses to withdraw. Unfortunately, this threat by the PMU can easily be exploited by the US, giving Washington a casus belli, as they intensify their “defensive” airstrikes while claiming to support Baghdad’s campaign to bring “stability” to Iraq. Such an endeavour could risk dragging several regional countries into the conflict as the Islamic Republic could be forced to intervene on behalf of the Iraqi Resistance forces. It is clear that Washington cannot and will not attack Iran directly, such an adventure would be too risky for the crazies in the White House and Pentagon. However, fighting “Iranian backed” forces and rolling back Iranian influence could serve to both solidify the continued US occupation of Iraq in the short term, and prevent the Resistance forces from achieving complete victory, in the mid-to-long term. In order to manufacture consent, Washington must portray their actions as both “defensive” and in service of “stability and peace”. Having others fight Washington’s wars for them is a speciality for the Empire. This is why I believe the most likely scenario to be one where Washington attempts to pit Baghdad against the PMU, then sweep in to “help” Baghdad “preserve stability”. This strategy has been used in different ways before by the Obama regime when it unleashed the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq, then claimed to fight the same terrorists it had armed and trained, in a bid to continue their occupation of Iraq and pressure pro-Iran PM Nouri Al-Maliki to resign. Obama then did the same thing in Syria with the support of Kurdish militants in a bid to pressure Damascus into concessions. Trump continued on the same path but went even further when his administration began using phony attacks on “US interests” in Iraq as a pretext for direct confrontation with the PMU, a path that ultimately led to the murder of Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis. The then-secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Washington had acted to “stabilize” Iraq with the murder of these “terrorists” who were “hated among Iraqis”.

Iraq is key to the Resistance Axis and cannot fall into enemy hands. It is however also the most vulnerable of the countries where the Resistance forces are active, as not only does Washington have great influence over Baghdad, but also over the Kurdish autonomous region in the north.

Supporting Kurdish independence is another way that Washington could seek to attack the Resistance Axis. This can be seen in Syria as well where the Kurdish militants are acting as excellent proxy troops for Washington, occupying about a third of the country and helping US forces in the looting of Syrian oil. Kurdish parties also have excellent ties to the Zionist entity in Tel Aviv, as Zionist chieftain Netanyahu has on several occasions been a vocal supporter of Kurdish independence, often likening the Kurdish people’s cause with the Zionist one. The reactionary Kurdish parties, who are too ignorant and too greedy to understand and realize that they are being used as cannon fodder to further US imperial ambitions, will be more than happy to wage war on Syria and Iraq with US support behind them.

It’s been almost 10 years since the war in Syria began, and 18 years since the war in Iraq began, and still there seems to be no peace in sight for any of the Arab countries. Biden has been in office in less than two months, but in my opinion, the next four years seem to be rather clear in terms of Washington’s policies towards the West Asia region- the long wars will continue and more blood is to be expected. Bush bombed Iraq, [Clinton bombed Iraq, Bush Jr bombed Iraq,] Obama bombed Iraq, Trump bombed Iraq, and now Biden bombs Iraq. For our people, it never matters who or what occupies the White House, the bombings and wars will continue. Iraq has a rather young population, more than 60 percent of the population is under 25 years of age. This means that most Iraqis have known nothing else except the US imposed wars on their homeland. It is a tragedy and a shameful moment in human history where most people in the totally “advanced, civilized, democratic, morally superior” West don’t care about what their despicable governments are doing in Iraq or Syria, because they are stupid Muslim terrorists anyway. This is why Iraq cannot and should not rely on Western public opinion. Resistance is the only way, and the US Empire must be kicked out with force in order for Iraqis to finally have some peace.

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Disappearing Spy

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | March 4, 2021

It is exactly three years since one of the most absurd yarns of modern times was spun just a few stone’s throws from where I live. The official narrative of the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal was so patently ridiculous and full of holes, that I remain amazed at how anyone could have been taken in by it — although it must be said that this astonishment has since been surpassed by an order of magnitude by some of the things millions of people have been willing to believe over the past year, including the myth that healthy people can transmit an illness, the myth that wearing a mask prevents virus spread, and the myth that Lockdowns save lives rather than destroying both lives and society.

I don’t really have anything new to say on the subject, but would simply point anyone who is interested to the in-depth piece I wrote a year ago (here), which includes the 40 most absurd, implausible and impossible elements of the case (I have also republished these points below). They remain as absurd, implausible and impossible as ever, which the British security services and Metropolitan Police know full well.

I would just add one further observation, though. I have titled this piece, The Disappearing Spy, and for good reason. Of all the glaring issues in the deception put forward by the British authorities, the single biggest is the fact that Sergei Skripal, alleged victim of nerve agent poisoning, has not been seen or heard of since. Nor has a statement ever been issued on his behalf. This is extraordinarily odd, given the enormity of the story at the time, and the huge opportunities an interview or even a few snaps would have presented to the authorities and media to milk the story even more.

There are only two possible explanations for this:

The first is that it has been deemed too dangerous for him to be seen. However, three other high profile cases may help to put this explanation into perspective. Firstly, when Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by Polonium-210, it was not deemed too dangerous for photographs of him to be taken in his hospital bed and plastered all over the media. Secondly, after Yulia Skripal’s apparent departure from Salisbury District Hospital, it was not deemed too dangerous for a statement to be released on her behalf, and for her to subsequently appear on camera (most probably at a US Airbase) looking remarkably well for a victim of nerve agent poisoning, reading a pre-prepared statement. Thirdly, it was not deemed too dangerous for a recent alleged victim of “Novichok” poisoning, Alexei Navalny, to not only appear on camera, but travel back to Moscow. All three of these cases make a nonsense of any idea that it was too dangerous for Mr Skripal to make an appearance. A video at a secret location would have done. A photo at his hospital bedside would have sufficed (everyone knew that location, so it could hardly have given his location away to take a snap of him there). Even a brief statement would have been something. But nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

I’ll leave readers to work out what the second possible explanation is, and which of the two is more likely.

  1. That two men put themselves and everyone on their flight in jeopardy, by boarding a plane with at least one, possibly two, bottles of the World’s Deadliest Nerve Agent (WDNA) in their luggage. ​(ABSURD)
  2. That the two suspects dropped an unused package of the WDNA in a bin somewhere, whilst taking the used bottle of nerve agent back to Moscow with them. ​(ABSURD)
  3. Or alternatively, that they only had one package of WDNA with them, but brought a cellophane wrapping machine to Salisbury to wrap the used box up in, before discarding it. ​(ABSURD)
  4. That the two men sprayed WDNA in an open space, without wearing any protective clothing. ​(ABSURD)
  5. That after they had done this, rather than legging it, they decided to spend an hour in the city centre window-shopping and taking pictures. ​(ABSURD)
  6. That Mr Skripal and his daughter both somehow managed to touch the door handle of his front door on their way out (try it with someone next time you exit your house).​ (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  7. That despite being contaminated with WDNA, they showed no effects for hours afterwards​. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  8. That when they did show effects hours later, it was at precisely the same time, despite their very different heights, weights and metabolisms. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  9. That despite being contaminated with WDNA, they went into town, fed ducks, went for a meal, then went to a pub for a drink.​ (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  10. That despite having hands contaminated with WDNA, Mr Skripal handed a piece of bread to a local boy who ate it without becoming contaminated. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  11. That despite having hands that were contaminated with WDNA, Mr Skripal somehow managed to contaminate the table in Zizzis, but not the door or door handle on the way in. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  12. That despite having hands that were contaminated with WDNA, Mr Skripal somehow managed not to contaminate the manager of Zizzis when he shook hands with him (confirmed to me by a local source). (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  13. That after becoming extremely aggressive in Zizzis, which some assume was the effects of poisoning with WDNA​, Mr Skripal wolfed down a plate of seafood risotto before sauntering over to the pub for a drink. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  14. That no CCTV of Mr Skripal or his daughter on 4th March could be shown to the public to jog their memories, because of something called “National Security”. (ABSURD)
  15. That no CCTV could be shown of The Maltings, on the grounds of National Security, even though according to the official story no crime took place there. (ABSURD)
  16. That the Russian couple who were filmed on CCTV camera at 15:47 in Market Walk (confirmed by a reliable source in the comment section on this blog), were not in any way connected with the case. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  17. That the only CCTV the public were allowed to see of this pair was an absurd, blurred, fuzzy image taken second hand on a mobile phone, when they could have shown crystal clear footage from the CCTV camera at the other end of Market Walk. (ABSURD)
  18. That the Skripals were somehow in Zizzis at the same time that they were actually in the Mill pub (The Met’s timeline shows them to have been in Zizzis from 14:20 and 15:35, which is demonstrably untrue). (IMPOSSIBLE)
  19. That the Metropolitan Police are unable to put out correct timelines. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  20. That WDNA deteriorated so much after an hour on a door handle, that it was too weak to kill the Skripals. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  21. That this same WDNA, which allegedly deteriorated in an hour, was then found three weeks later after exposure to the elements and after being touched by many human hands, to be in a state of “high purity, persistent and weather resistant”. (IMPOSSIBLE)
  22. That WDNA, which was allegedly sprayed on a door handle, somehow managed to spread to the roof of the house, meaning that it had to be replaced. (IMPOSSIBLE)
  23. Yet that same WDNA, 2mg of which is apparently enough to kill a person (according to BBC Panorama), and which causes whole roofs to have to be replaced and cars to be destroyed, can be cleansed by members of the public using baby wipes. (ABSURD)
  24. That the police cars which attended the Maltings needed to be destroyed, yet the ones that attended Mr Skripal’s house, where the poison was apparently most concentrated, did not. (ABSURD)
  25. That Detective Sergeant Nicholas Bailey managed to be a first responder at the bench when the two Russians were on it, at the same time as not being at the bench when the two Russians were on it. (IMPOSSIBLE)
  26. That Mr Bailey entered Mr Skripal’s house via the back door, because he couldn’t open the front door; but also managed to enter the house via the front door because he was able to open it. (IMPOSSIBLE)
  27. That he was wearing a forensic suit to enter the house of someone who had apparently overdosed in a park on Fentanyl. (ABSURD)
  28. That he managed to get contaminated by WDNA despite wearing a forensic suit. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  29. That the numerous police officers not wearing forensic suits, who went in and out of the house on 4th and 5th March, did not become contaminated by WDNA, even though it was allegedly found to be most concentrated there three weeks later, and in a state of “high purity”. (IMPOSSIBLE)
  30. That the police somehow managed to miss all four of Mr Skripal’s pets (two cats and two guinea pigs), so leaving them to starve to death. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  31. That an air ambulance was called for what looked like a drug overdose on a park bench, when a land ambulance can get to the hospital just as quickly, if not quicker given where the helicopter had to land. (ABSURD)
  32. That the chief nurse of the British Army just happened to be shopping near the bench when the two Russians were on it. (ABSURD)
  33. That there just happened to be two Porton Down trained doctors at Salisbury District Hospital. (ABSURD)
  34. That despite The Met, the Government and the media referring to the substance used as “Novichok”, in their only official statement to a court of law, Porton Down were unable to confirm this, instead referring to it as “a nerve agent or related compound” and “a Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent.” (ABSURD)
  35. That Porton Down were able to identify a substance within 36 hours that apparently no other country on earth makes, has made, or can make. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  36. That “Novichok” can only be made in Russia, despite variants of it having been synthesised or stocked in numerous countries including Czechia, Sweden, Germany, Iran, the US, and Britain (Boris Johnson having unwittingly confirmed this when he blurted out that they had samples of it at Porton Down). (IMPOSSIBLE)
  37. That after she and her father were allegedly poisoned by the Russian state, Yulia Skripal said she wanted to return there. (ABSURD)
  38. That Mr Skripal and his daughter have never been seen together since — not even in a single photo. (IMPLAUSIBLE)
  39. That nothing has ever been heard from Mr Skripal since (national security won’t wash – his daughter was able to appear in a video). (ABSURD)
  40. That Salisbury had its first case of Fentanyl poisoning on the same day, at the same time, and in the same shopping centre apparently involving another couple. (IMPLAUSIBLE)

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Russia will take ‘tough measures’ against German media if Berlin impedes work of Russian journalists

RT | March 4, 2021

Moscow sees the closure of RT-affiliated companies’ accounts by a German bank as “political pressure” on Russia and will react in kind if the work of the Russian media in Germany is impeded, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“We consider such an openly hostile attitude … toward media, including the Russian ones, unacceptable,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Thursday. She referred to the decision of the German Commerzbank to close the accounts of RT’s video agency Ruptly and RT DE Productions GmbH which runs the German-language website by May 31.

Such actions are an “element of political pressure” on journalists and they constitute a “violation of Germany’s commitment to protect the freedom of speech,” Zakharova said.

The Commerzbank decision came just about a month after RT announced its plans to launch a German-language TV channel later this year.

Zakharova said that it is such plans that apparently sparked an angry reaction among the “anti-Russian” forces within the German media and establishment and have led to what she described as a “persecution” campaign.

“All actions of the Russian broadcaster were legally valid. Therefore, such a primitive approach apparently was chosen to obstruct its work.”

RT has been trying to find a replacement for Commerzbank, but several financial institutions have either ignored RT’s inquiries or refused to open accounts on its behalf.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called on Berlin to stop obstructing the work of Russian journalists in Germany and lift all restrictions imposed against the Russian media. “Otherwise, we will have to take tough reciprocal measures against German media working in Russia,” Zakharova warned.

Russia has its own concerns about the work of the German media and German journalists on its territory, Zakharova noted. She added, though, that all such issues are resolved in accordance with the law and on the basis of “mutual respect” and dialogue.

“We would very much like to see Germany doing the same,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman added.

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Lorena Gonzales Versus Frank Wilkinson

How the Democrats Learned to Love Big Brother

By Carl Boggs | Unz Review | March 4, 2021

The mounting Democratic assault on free speech is finally producing blowback – most lately, from a bill proposed by California State Senator Melissa Melendez to protect diversity of political belief and affiliation. Her much-overdue legislation (Senate bills 238 and 249) are together known as the Diversity of Thought Act, which seeks to modify both California Government and Education Codes, ensuring citizens cannot be discriminated against based on political views. That such a bill is needed speaks loudly to the sad deterioration of American political culture. In an age of multiculturalism, wokism, and identity-politics mania it appears that every known human property has been legally protected but one: that of political belief.

In the supposed land of freedom and democracy, Californians – like other Americans – do in 2021 require special legislation to protect free speech. A brief glance at U.S. history reveals a tortured legacy of political repression directed against those daring to hold unpopular beliefs: suffragists, anarchists, socialists, Communists, antiwar and civil rights activists to name some. Now? Well, after years and decades of free-speech activism in defense of First Amendment rights, the country has once again descended into a reign of bigotry and censorship – this time orchestrated by sanctimonious Democratic elites and their shills in the media and Big Tech.

Melendez notes that “it is unfathomable to me that corporations and members of the public would ruin a person’s career, business, and family because of their political ideology. A free society should not allow thoughts and ideas to be censored. Free speech covers all speech –not just that with which you agree.” But thanks to small-minded Democratic politicians, censorship has indeed been the order of the day, and it’s getting steadily worse in schools, on college campuses, in businesses, in the political system, across Silicon Valley and the corporate media. Though scarcely necessary, the Senator added: “A climate of intolerance has been established and has stifled healthy and normal debate.”

As if to immediately validate Melendez’ claims, Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales, based in San Diego, fired back on Twitter: “I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but your racist, pro-domestic terrorism, xenophobic, misogynist views do not warrant protection from discrimination. Your choice to hate does not make you part of a protected class.” If this crude outburst happened to be directed specifically at Melendez, then charges of racism and misogynism, not to mention “domestic terrorism”, could be nothing more than another mindless episode of hate speech. In fact Gonzales never identified any concrete example related to Melendez, so best to assume she has in mind some larger targeted collective.

Xenophobia? Can Gonzales be taken seriously? She is a fiercely partisan member of a party that has spent five years promoting the nonstop Russiagate hoax – probably the most disgraceful episode of media-fanned xenophobia in American history. Here was an entirely contrived hatred that brought the U.S. and Russia, heavily-armed nuclear states, disturbingly close to military conflict. There is no sign that Gonzales ever spoke out against such national outrage, which continues into the present. Further, if she has condemned the months of ongoing domestic terrorism carried out by Antifa and Black Lives Matter, still visible in a few cities, we have no record of it.

Being free to speak one’s political mind, without fear of retribution, has deep psychological meaning for me. I happened to be one of those students who occupied Sproul Hall to protest crackdowns on free speech at U.C., Berkeley in fall 1964. I still own the original hand-painted button that spells “FSM”. Later, for the crime of political deviance (as a Gramscian Marxist) I was purged from my reputedly safe job as professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Calling the shots for the university were three giant corporations – Monsanto, McDonnell-Douglas, Ralston-Purina. Aside from my activism against the Vietnam War during the early 1970s, I helped organize the infamous McDonnell-Douglas Project as well as the local underground newspaper, The Outlaw. Any right to combat political repression I had was strictly formal – and my fate was hardly unusual.

It turned out that this personal experience would soon intersect with the life and work of Frank Wilkinson – for decades known as “Mr. First Amendment” – lasting more than 30 years. We were close friends. As visiting professor at Carleton University in Ottawa during 1985, I invited Frank (a spellbinding orator on behalf of free speech) for a lecture tour of Ontario. Wilkinson passed away in January 2006 after a prolific career of speaking, writing, and activism dedicated to First Amendment rights. Knowing him as I did, he would be outraged today at the despotic attitude of Lorena Gonzales and other Democratic admirers of Big Brother.

For more than 50 years, Wilkinson was indefatigable and uncompromising: he knew that, without free speech, efforts to challenge any power structure were doomed. So too were any prospects for personal freedom. At the time of his death, ACLU president Nadine Strossen would describe Wilkinson as “a towering and inspiring figure throughout his entire career, starting from when he was a young person advocating for equal rights for the poor and racial minorities.” She added: “He was constantly challenging governmental power to restrict First Amendment freedoms of belief, speech, and association, as well as privacy, which continues to be relevant today.” For his tireless work, Wilkinson was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover, Senator Joe McCarthy, and the same intelligence agencies that Democrats today have come to embrace.

In 1958, during a visit to Atlanta in support of civil-rights activists called before the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee, Wilkinson was subpoenaed and then cited for contempt of Congress when asserting his own First Amendment right to refuse to testify. He was sentenced to one year in federal prison, serving nine months.

Wilkinson helped form the National Committee to Abolish HUAC in 1960, later renamed the National Committee against Repressive Legislation (NCARL) in 1975, when HUAC was finally disbanded. Wilkinson took serious personal risks to ensure political dissent would be protected — the same protection Gonzales and her righteous party hacks now want to destroy. The dark, repressive side of American history associated with Hoover and McCarthy, the FBI and CIA, is now being revived with sanctimonious fury by current defenders of unfettered corporate-state power.

For Wilkinson – in stark contrast to the bigoted, iron-fisted Gonzales – the Bill of Rights was a living document in need of constant renewal. In 1986 he filed a Freedom of Information Act suit against the FBI and eventually was sent 132,000 pages of files spanning 38 years of federal surveillance and espionage. The story of Wilkinson’s ordeal would find its way into Robert Sherrill’s appropriately-titled biography, First Amendment Felon, in 2005.

In the 15 years since Wilkinson’s death, matters have only gotten worse; the Gonzales diatribe, unfortunately, perfectly fits the Democratic modus operandi. Ordinary conservatives are denounced as “white supremacists”, “Nazis”, and “domestic terrorists”, many targeted for personal ruin even where evidence of such transgression is nowhere to be found. Collective guilt is blithely imputed to broad groups of people simply going about their everyday lives. Medical professionals daring to veer from official narratives are smeared and cancelled, their jobs and careers jeopardized. Vaccine doubters can encounter a similar fate. Questionable opinions expressed years in the past nowadays come back to haunt, if not destroy. Anyone brazen enough to criticize the actual domestic terrorism of Antifa and BLM — spanning several months, not a few hours — will be smeared as a vile “white nationalist”.

While Red Scares of earlier years originated from the pathetic schemes of Hoover and McCarthy, today the threats are far more pervasive, cloaked (as before) in the language of moral enlightenment. Dissidents are nowadays savaged as wretched haters, extremists, terrorists – not to mention, in a period of extreme Russiaphobia, as “foreign agents” or “traitors”. CNN pundits, typically at the forefront, routinely parrot blind hate when referring to Russians, oblivious to meaningful facts and context. Centers of power work to impose ideological conformity: corporate media, Wall Street, deep state, Big Tech, academia, military-industrial complex. Stripped of binding protections, individuals and groups targeted are much too weak and isolated to effectively fight back.

In earlier days dissent was said to be the work of “heretics” or “subversives”, marginal Commies readily hunted down by the Feds. (In American society, the CPUSA was always something of a joke, yet still targeted for years as a major threat.) Nowadays the morality police, backed by the usual oligarchs and billionaires, are ready to pounce on sinful transgressions large and small: white supremacy, transphobia, Covid denial, scheming with the Russians. Those stepping outside the ideologically-vetted discourses of CNN, Washington Post, and New York Times will be identified, demeaned, censored, and (where possible) punished. Reality cops guard against the evils of “misinformation”, “disinformation”, and “conspiracy theories” that undermine “our democracy”. In the case of California, the bill proposed by Melendez will be seized upon by Gonzales and identity-politics fanatics as a sign of guilt, of sinful deviance.

Recently two California members of the U.S. Congress, Democrats Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, sent letters to twelve cable, satellite, and streaming companies – AT&T, Verizon, Apple, Alphabet among them – urging management to shut down centers of “misinformation”, starting with FOX TV. These ideological guardians believe media outlets are contributing to a “polluted environment”, spewing lies that lead to “seditious behavior” and, worse, Covid “science denial”. The problem for Eshoo and McNerney, however, is that pandemic tropes advanced by their favorite corporate-media outlets veer toward fear-rattling propaganda more than established medical science: false computer projections, wildly-inflated death rates, unscientific lockdown orders, needless school closings, mixed signals on facemasks, over-hyping of vaccines. Eshoo and McNerney are best advised to look closer to home, to their own conduits of false information.

Could liberal Democrats, in past years known as champions of free speech and civil rights, have now become so embedded in the power structure that their authoritarian impulses reflect a new-found hubris? Could Gonzales and her anointed elites be imbued with the level of political certitude their censorship zeal seems to imply? Could the party that has carried out years of witch hunts linked to debunked tales of Putin-Trump collusion actually believe in its political integrity? My guess is that Democratic righteousness really masks insecurity and deceit: those responsible for the endless lies and myths must know those lies and myths cannot survive the test of open debate. Easier to denounce your critics as “white nationalists”, cancel their speech platforms, then close off discussion. The shutting down of oppositional speech reflects acute intellectual weakness, not strength.

In the end, the “diversity” and “inclusion” that Gonzales and Democrats piously celebrate is nothing but a sham. Those words have relevance only within a single narrative – a tightly-regulated, fiercely-guarded worldview consistent with elite agendas. Where real diversity should matter most – regarding conflict over how power is exercised, over economic policy and job concerns, over matters of war and peace – genuine debate is largely absent, overridden by an ensemble of authoritarian codes, norms, and practices. Corporate-state rulers manage what is truly important. As with earlier lies and myths about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or “humanitarian crises” in Serbia and Libya, years of Russiagate tales of a stolen election would never be “fact-checked”, but instead repeated monotonously by liberals and their stable of media propagandists. According to Gonzales, all this deceitful manipulation at the hands of Democrats must fall into the category of “protected speech”.

Oligarchical power rules American society more thoroughly than ever, its conformist ideology the true measure of political speech. Identity politics furnishes an opportune facade behind which those in control can expand their power, wealth, and technological advantage never having to worry about anti-system insurgency (keeping mind that January Sixth was no more than a primitive revolt). Supposedly progressive figures like Gonzales, fearing real diversity, serve as valuable instruments of such rule and its legitimation, which those figures always embellish with an ethos of righteous arrogance.

In years past the break with political orthodoxy was denounced as un-American, disloyal, a fifth-column menace, targeted now and then for blacklisting. Nowadays even moderate dissidents are accused of “domestic terrorism” – a charge dutifully repeated by Gonzales. Contemporary dissidents are in fact no better than Nazis, or at least neo-Nazis, meaning they are eligible to be “de-platformed”, sent before a “Reality Czar”. Yet it is Gonzales and her power-mongering ideologues who wind up closer to the monolithic, hateful spirit of fascism than their hapless targets of collective guilt owing to mere association with a political party or outlook. Those ideologues turn out to be the biggest threats to “our democracy”. As Wilkinson had long ago recognized, the struggle against such malevolence is not simply legal but cultural and political – and is never finished.

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

For all its international posturing and boasting, the US can’t even take care of its citizens

By Helen Buyniski | RT | March 3, 2021

Though marketed as ‘the shining city on the hill’ envied by all other nations, America is rapidly proving to its own inhabitants and the world that not only can it not keep its own people safe – it can barely keep them alive.

Between the Covid-19 pandemic and the disastrous economic fallout engendered by government responses to that outbreak, the US has proven itself shockingly incapable of actually functioning in any way its peers might consider “normal.” Whether it’s keeping the lights on in American households, providing healthcare that cures rather than kills, educating children, or merely standing out of the way while residents try to build a life for themselves, Washington has demonstrated a profound, almost malignant ineptitude at the simplest tasks, so much that one might ask if it actually wants to perform them at all.

Dozens of Texas residents perished amid the massive snowstorm that seized the state last month. The storm knocked out the electric grid and left over 4 million residents with neither heat nor light. The state’s electricity vendors added insult to injury by slapping customers with absurdly high electric bills (some over $10,000) as the utility’s money-grubbing equivalent of “surge pricing” kicked in – all in a state where energy can literally be pulled out of the ground.

Texas is only one state, though – surely the rest of the country can’t be so horrifically incompetent when it comes to something as basic as electricity? But oh no, out West, there’s always California bidding to fail bigger and better. The Golden State’s own power supplier PSE&G was sued for starting the wildfires that destroyed entire neighborhoods in 2017 and 2018. Indeed, PSE&G has been blamed for more than 1,500 fires since 2014 alone and is in the process of declaring bankruptcy after being sued by over 70,000 of its victims, including the entire city of Paradise. It’s so inept when it comes to not burning down the state that for years it has shut off power – often for extended periods – during the summer, lest its equipment trigger still more wildfires.

OK, but surely such travesties are rare? It’s not like the US government just goes around displacing people from their land deliberately? Yet Georgia man Tim Leslie is living through that Kafkaesque nightmare of his own right now after having bought a plot of land in Polk County to homestead and raise animals with his family. Because they haven’t built their house yet, they’re (legally) living out of a trailer on that land – or were, until the police forced them to abandon their animals and move to a proper RV park. It’s difficult to imagine a community so free of crime that it wouldn’t have benefited from the cops finding something else to do during the hours spent harassing the Leslie family, but victimizing law-abiding citizens is much easier than going after criminals.

Policing – once the pride and joy of the world’s largest prison state – has itself deteriorated rapidly. New York City endured a major surge in crime thanks to the shutdown, while cops who might have been able to stop it were ignominiously tasked with guarding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s virtue-signaling “Black Lives Matter” mural or (somewhat schizophrenically) detailed to clobber the odd BLM protester. The NYPD even punished its own officers for public display of Trump fandom while real crimes went ignored and unpunished. (New York also released hundreds of supposedly low-level convicts last year “because Covid,” only for the public to learn they were guilty of much more serious offenses, with many ending up right back in the clink after committing further crimes. It’s an ominous state of affairs indeed for the country with the most prison inmates per capita in the world, and those numbers are almost guaranteed to further explode thanks to law enforcement’s new fixation on “domestic terrorists” – a group defined so broadly as to include anyone who’s expressed opinions outside the ever-narrowing mainstream.

Maybe the US is just focusing its efforts on combating the Covid-19 pandemic? Americans may spend more on healthcare than any other first-world country, but it wasn’t getting much for its money even before Covid. When the pandemic hit, all hell broke loose in many states, and when hospitals were barred from seeing ‘normal’ patients for lucrative procedures, they instead turned to ventilating anything that moved in order to get reimbursed by the government – even though 88 percent of those intubated died. Governors didn’t beg for lifesaving treatments – indeed, they banned some. Instead, they pleaded for ventilators, all while shunting Covid-infected patients into nursing homes where they would go on to decimate the helpless population.

If this is how the US treats its sick, what about its children? Despite some scientists confirming vanishingly few kids are falling ill, major teachers’ unions refuse to return to the classroom, never mind how poorly most children have been shown to learn over a distance model. In some areas, the shutdown of schools revealed a problem the US had been covering up for a while – the need to feed the millions of destitute children who rely on their schools not just for learning, but for free meals their families can’t afford. At the same time, these kids’ parents spent hours lined up in the cold for free groceries from the nearest food bank, and millions remain out of work or severely underemployed, many dangling on the verge of eviction. Sorely-needed stimulus checks never arrived for many, whose only recourse now is to claim the check on their taxes in the hope of maybe getting reimbursed later.

Most of these problems could be solved with some smart policies and a fraction of the infusion of cash that has already gone out to large corporations. But there’s wars to fight, and no evidence the ruling class wants its domestic problems fixed anyway. Instead, it seems to take sadistic pleasure in gaslighting Americans to within an inch of their sanity, insisting the rest of the world wants to be just like us. After all, it’s not like we can fly there to check.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Telegram

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | 1 Comment


By Paul Robinson | IRRUSSIANALITY | March 3, 2021

Imperialism is big gigantic waste of money. Let’s start with that.

A couple of news items caught my attention this week that illustrate this point, but before getting on to them, we first need to make a bit of a detour and try to determine imperialism’s roots.

It’s harder than it might seem. For instance, historians have a real problem explaining late nineteenth century imperialism, in which European powers conquered large parts of the globe, most notably in Africa. All sorts of explanations have been generated, but few stand up to a lot of scrutiny.

Particularly implausible are the theories of socialist thinkers, the most famous of which is Lenin’s Imperialism: The Last State of Capitalism. The socialists’ idea was that capitalism generates lots of surplus capital that it can’t get rid of because it is suppressing the wages of its own workers and so denying itself investment opportunities at home. Instead, capitalism exports its surplus, for which it needs colonies – thus imperialism.

The problem was that, like a lot of Lenin’s stuff, the theory was total hogwash. First, capitalist economies had no shortage of investment opportunities at home; and second, they didn’t need colonies to invest abroad. The British, for instance, invested far, far more in Latin America, which they never conquered, than in Africa, which they did.

Furthermore, imperialism was, generally speaking, loss-making. Colonies had to be defended and administered, but they tended to be economically undeveloped, and so didn’t generate much revenue. There was a reason why the Brits were so happy to let the Canadians become self-governing – they were fed up having to pay for a frozen piece of wasteland that only produced some fur and lumber.

So, imperialism doesn’t make a lot of sense from the point of view of the national interest, broadly defined. But it does make sense to certain minority interests within an imperial society. There are medals and promotions to be won by the military; there are contracts for the military industrial complex; and there’s also money to be made by all sorts of other entrepreneurs willing to hang on the imperialists’ coattails. If these people and groups have outsized political influence – through control of the media, financial support to politicians, or whatever – they can distort politicians’ and even the entire population’s understanding of the national interest. And thus the nation gets dragged into foreign endeavours that enrich and empower a few but do nothing at all for the people as a whole.

Which brings me on to this week’s new stories, both of which involve staggering waste of government money on military and imperial adventures.

The first story concerns the Canadian navy’s program to build a new generation of warships. This was originally budgeted as costing $14 billion. Now the parliamentary budget officer has announced that the cost has leapt to a mind-blowing $77 billion, and that the total could go up even more if the project experiences further delays (which, let’s face it, is quite likely).

Going over-budget is hardly unusual in the world of defence procurement, but a leap from $14 to $77 billion is more than a bit off the charts. Imagine what you could do with $77 billion. Apart from putting it back in taxpayer’s pockets, think of what you could do for healthcare, education, or the condition of the country’s indigenous people, many of whom don’t even have access to drinkable water. And then think of what benefits you’re going to get from $77 billion worth of warships. Or rather, think of how you would suffer if you didn’t have those ships. Would anyone invade Canada? Would the world collapse into chaos? Would any of you not directly involved in building or manning them even notice??? No, no, and no.

This is a scandalous and appalling waste of the nation’s wealth. Yet it’s passed almost unnoticed. We live in a world of pandemic economics, in which money appears to grow on trees, budget deficits have ballooned to simply incomprehensible proportions, and the loss of $70-odd billion just slips by without causing so much as a blink of an eye. Clearly, something isn’t right.

And then there’s story number two. This is the latest report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a person whose work I have mentioned many times before. SIGAR audits the money spent by the United States in Afghanistan, and it’s a litany of waste and corruption on a scale that … well, I’ve already used the word mindblowing, so I won’t say that it blows the mind, but you get the point, it involves a lot, a real, real lot, of money flushed down the toilet of Afghanistan for no obvious benefit.

Anyway, SIGAR’s latest report, which came to me in an email, says the following:

–This report is the result of a congressional request of SIGAR to summarize all capital assets in Afghanistan paid for by U.S. agencies that SIGAR has found in its prior work to be unused, not used for their intended purposes, deteriorated or destroyed.

— The capital assets reviewed for this report were funded by DOD, USAID, OPIC, and the State Department to build schools, prisons, a hotel, hospitals, roads, bridges, and Afghan military facilities.

— Of the nearly $7.8 billion in capital assets reviewed in its prior reports, SIGAR identified about $2.4 billion in assets that were unused or abandoned, had not been used for their intended purposes, had deteriorated, or were destroyed.

— By contrast, SIGAR found that more than $1.2 billion out of the $7.8 billion in assets were being used as intended, and only $343.2 million out of the $7.8 billion in assets were maintained in good condition.

— Most of the capital assets not used properly or in disrepair or abandoned are directly related to U.S. agencies not considering whether the Afghans wanted or needed the facilities, or whether the Afghan government had the financial ability and technical means to sustain them.

— This waste of taxpayer dollars occurred despite multiple laws stating that U.S. agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources, and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively.


— “SIGAR’s work reveals a pattern of U.S. agencies pouring too much money, too quickly, into a country too small to absorb it,” said Special Inspector General John F. Sopko. “The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects. The lesson of all of this is two-fold.  If the United States is going to pay for reconstruction or development in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world, first make certain the recipient wants it, needs it and can sustain it.  Secondly, make certain before you spend the money there is proper oversight to prevent this type of waste.”

I’m a great fan of SIGAR, but there’s something about his work that really frustrates me. He’s been saying this stuff for years, but nothing ever changes. The money keeps flowing, and keeps getting squandered. There should be ‘proper oversight’ SIGAR says, but surely by now he’s got to have woken up to the fact that it’s not going to happen. It’s like all he can say is, ‘do all this stuff better’, but can never bring himself to say, ‘Stop doing it! It’s a gigantic boondoogle.’

To be fair, that’s not an auditor’s job, and I guess that he can’t go beyond his legal remit. But you see what I’m saying. This isn’t something you can solve by introducing better processes. It’s rotten to the core.

Unfortunately, it continues, and continues, and continues. And so it is that our profligate military and imperial adventures impoverish us all, while bringing us absolutely diddly squat in return for our money. Back in the day, I was taught that the essence of democracy is accountability. Judging by this, we’re not democracies at all.

But I’ll give the final word to two-times winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, General Smedley Butler. ‘War is a racket’, he said.

How very true.

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Hague-based tribunal orders US to pay $37mln to Iran for breaching 1981 treaty

Press TV – March 4, 2021

In a legal victory for the Islamic Republic, the Hague-based Iran–United States Claims Tribunal (IUSCT) has ordered Washington to pay $37 million to Iran after finding it guilty of passing Treasury regulations that prevented or delayed the transfer of part of the Iranian assets in violation of the 1981 Algiers Accords.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Iran’s Presidency Center for International Legal Affairs said the tribunal — which resolves claims by nationals and governments of Iran and the US — had ruled in favor of Iran in the legal case brought by Tehran, obliging the US to pay financial damages to the country and restitute some of the assets belonging to the Iranian government and government institutions.

In 1982, the Islamic Republic of Iran brought the case against the US before the IUSCT, which issued its initial ruling in 1992, it added.

After hearings, the center said, the tribunal handed down a final verdict in March 2020 condemning the United States for failing to transfer Iran’s assets or delaying the process.
Under the ruling, the US government was ordered to pay almost $29 million to Iran.

The court also set a time limit for America to restitute some assets with historical value like musical instruments belonging to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. If the US fails to do so, it must pay Iran $8 million dollars, bringing the total fine to $37 million.

The IUSCT, which was established on January 19, 1981, consists of nine members, three appointed by each government and three (third-country) members appointed by the six government-appointed members.

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Territorial dispute growing between Guyana and Venezuela

By Lucas Leiroz | March 4, 2021

An old territorial dispute in South America is reaching its most tense point in decades. The territory known as Essequibo has been mutually claimed by Guyana and Venezuela since the 19th century when Guyana still belonged to the United Kingdom. In 1897, the Venezuelan and British authorities agreed to submit their dispute to an arbitrary international court in Paris, which ruled that the land belonged to the UK. For decades, the arbitration decision was accepted by Caracas, but in 1948 Venezuelan authorities revealed some irregularities in the trial, which were documented in old government files. As a result, the decision was considered null, and years later, in 1963, Venezuela formally submitted its territorial claim to the United Nations, and the dispute remains unresolved till today, when the interests of foreign oil companies threaten to increase the tensions.

As a region rich in oil, Essequibo has recently entered the map of the large multinationals in this sector, especially the American Exxon Mobil. More than that, the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela and the political alignment of Guyana with Washington contribute to create an even more controversial scenario. Guyana has the support of the large private oil sector and the American government, while Venezuela remains alone. Last year, the case was filed with the International Court of Justice, but Venezuela did not accept it and remained out of the trial.

However, in a sentence on December 18, 2020, the Court proclaimed its competence to intervene in the dispute, despite Venezuela’s position. It is necessary to highlight that, regardless of any decision taken by the Court over who really has sovereignty in Essequibo, this sentence must be considered null, since the absence of Venezuelan consent prevents the execution of the sentence. The need for consent is one of the most elementary principles of international law and the very fact that the Court declares itself competent already leads us to question whether its judges are really impartial – clearly, the norms of international law are being violated in favor of Guyana.

Guyana has publicly admitted that its expenses for the court case in The Hague were paid by Exxon Mobil. Although the American oil company has been operating in Guyana for decades, its interest has been greatly increased with the recent discoveries of oil reserves and investors are willing to do anything to ensure the exploration of local natural resources. Currently, Exxon Mobil is interested in expanding its facilities over an area of more than 26,000 square kilometers, which not only crosses the disputed territory in Essequibo, but also violates Venezuelan undisputed national territory.

With this scenario of clear attack on Venezuelan national sovereignty and possible collaboration of the International Court with one of the parties, Venezuela is at a disadvantage mainly due to its diplomatic weakness. Venezuela, at this point, lacks sufficient influence to cause the Court to review its decision or judge the case in a really partial way. For that, only strong international alliances can help Caracas. The large nations that are not aligned with Washington and have so far cooperated strongly with Venezuela, Russia and China, might be provoked by the Venezuelan government to incite international pressure in this regard. Only these two countries can mediate a parallel agreement that may be established between Caracas and The Hague in order to choose between two paths: either Venezuela agrees to submit to trial on the condition that there is a partial judgment and without the influence of private companies, or the Court declines jurisdiction. As the first scenario is unlikely and difficult to monitor, the most viable route would be for The Hague to abdicate any form of judgment.

It is important to mention that, in the absence of international judgment, what is in force in Essequibo is the Geneva Agreement of 1966, which did not decide on sovereignty in the region, but, in search of a peaceful solution, defined what activities would be allowed or prohibited in Essequibo. Oil exploration by foreign companies is not allowed, so, in principle, Guyana is violating the agreement and its activities could only become lawful if there was a decision by the International Court on the matter, allowing exploration. As Venezuela does not submit to the Court, the trial is impossible and, therefore, exploration remains prohibited and Guyana is committing an international offense.

However, more worrying than that is the fact that the American military is working in Essequibo, carrying out tests with the aim of intimidating Venezuela and pressuring Caracas to renounce its demands. There are American military ships in Essequibo “protecting” Exxon Mobil facilities and provoking Caracas. In addition, considering that the American company wants to publicly explore areas within Venezuelan territory, what will become of the American presence? If Caracas does not allow the activities of Exxon Mobil, it is the Venezuelan right to control or even destroy the facilities in its territory. And what would be the American reaction to that – considering Biden’s aggressive interventionist policy?

It is for these reasons that, more than ever, countries of greater international relevance must mediate the issue in order to maintain the status of illegality to the Exxon Mobil’s activities. With international pressure, it is possible that the American company will retreat or that at least the American military in the region will leave and with that we would have a reduction in tensions.

Still, it is possible that with international mediation a mutual exploration agreement will be reached that allows both countries to enjoy the local wealth, without, however, allowing companies that violate the Geneva Agreement to operate.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

March 4, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment