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Don’t Be Stupid – Inform Your Decisions

By Gillian Dymond | OffGuardian | May 28, 2021

Are you tired of having to watch everything you say, in case you’re accused of “hate speech”? Do you frequently have to bite back innocently-spoken words, when someone claims to be “offended” by them? Have you become used to avoiding lively debate or expressing frank opinions on social media, for fear of finding police officers on your doorstep?

If so, you’ll be glad to know that at last there is a whole class of people you may attack with impunity; people who may be derided, slandered and ostracised to your heart’s content; people so selfish and stupid that you are fully entitled to incite hatred against them with the full blessing of your government.

These are the Great Unclean: the “anti-vaxxers” who are not just nasty spoilsports, standing between you and the ever-deferred reopening of society, but who continue to waft death and disease through a world which can only be made safe by universal, and repeated, “jabbing”.

The opportunity to indulge in virtuous hate speech has been seized with zest by household names and obscure Twitterati alike.

“Love the idea of covid vaccine passports for everywhere,” enthuses Piers Morgan“restaurants, clubs, football, gyms, shops etc. It’s time covid-denying, anti-vaxxer loonies had their bullshit bluff called and bar themselves from going anywhere that responsible citizens go.”

Edwina Currie has emerged from political oblivion to agree:

I hear what you say about someone exercising their freedom not to have a vaccination and they’re perfectly healthy. I don’t want them sitting next to me in the theatre. I don’t want them standing next to me at the theatre bar. I don’t want them next to me or anywhere near me or even in the same carriage on the train. So they can exercise their freedom by staying at home.”

As for the chorus of the immunologically saved on social media, here’s a sample meme:

If you’re antivax and you see me making fun of antivax people, I just want to say I’m talking about you personally and I hope you’re offended because you’re fucking stupid.”

Just try substituting one of a whole range of tenderly protected diversities for “antivax people” or “anti-vaxxers”, and watch the frisson of outrage creeping down any bien-pensant spine. But as the State extends its tolerance, even its encouragement, to our abusers, we covid sceptics, it seems, are fair game.

For there is no quarter from the government for those who are standing aloof from the stampede to get “shots into arms”, as believers in the WHO’s revised definition of herd immunity so crudely like to put it.

This is, after all, a government which, spurred on by behavioural psychologists and with malice aforethought, has industriously stirred up and exploited social disapproval as a potent means of shaming dissent and achieving maximum compliance.

Be kind, they urge you, and deprive yourself and your children of oxygen for your neighbour’s sake. Be responsible, and roll up your sleeve to receive the magic injection that will not only make you immortal but demonstrate your selfless concern for others. Don’t be stupid! Remember, having no symptoms doesn’t mean you’re not a silent super-spreader.

But do sceptics really deserve the contempt being dished out to them so freely?

Are they really so stupid?

Would any self-respecting “anti-vaxxer”, for instance, have been silly enough to come out with the nonsense spouted by the UK’s secretary of state for health, when he told us that:

If you think about it, the vaccine is a tiny bit of the virus in order to get your body to be able to respond.”

Really, Mr Hancock? Are you sure that’s what’s actually on offer here?

Perhaps Mike Yeadon, former head of respiratory research at Pfizer, can set you straight. As he pointed out to James Delingpole recently“a tiny bit of the virus” is not what goes into these novel treatments – perhaps because, when it comes down to brass tacks, “no-one’s got any”.

What is actually being pumped into millions of arms throughout the world with such careless abandon is not, he says, “just a vaccine”. Although these gene-based medications do “ultimately raise an immune response … the way they do it is completely different from any vaccine we’ve used before … they induce the body, the cells of your body, to actually manufacture a piece of this pathogen, this infective agent. And you respond to that.”

“Anti-vaxxers” could have told you that, Mr Hancock, because they’ve done their own research, and they understand the difference between the traditional idea of a vaccine and what is currently being held up as the golden ticket to freedom. So please stop feeding us blatant untruths about what is actually being injected into all those trusting arms and making its insidious way around millions of bloodstream.

Let’s have the facts that would enable everyone to make a truly informed decision. It really doesn’t help when you fuel sectarian hatred by standing up in parliament and declaring that:

those who promulgate lies about the dangers of vaccines that are safe and have been approved … are threatening lives …”

The obvious response to that is, “those who promulgate lies about the safety of novel and incompletely tested gene therapies doled out on emergency approval only are threatening lives.”

The life of Peter Meadows, for instance: a superlatively healthy seventy-six-year-old, who, trusting government and NHS assurances that the “vaccines” were “safe and effective”, suffered an unprecedented heart attack within hours of receiving the Pfizer jab, and died a few days later: just one of over a thousand post-vaccine fatalities officially logged in the UK’s Yellow Card system to date – or perhaps, as the evidence is increasingly suggesting, of thousands of vaccine-related deaths which, unlike those ascribed to Covid, are not in line with natural mortality profiles.

It seems that those castigated for being “anti-vaxxers” are, in fact, far from stupid. On the contrary, they are the ones sensible enough to take the time and trouble to research and weigh up risks versus benefits before exposing their bodies to any of the novel gene therapies currently being hawked around as “vaccines”.

It is those who don’t search out the facts for themselves who are not using their intelligence, and who are thereby laying themselves open to the smooth sales talk of drug pushers in high places. Peter Meadows and his wife were apparently not handed even the minimal information supplied by the NHS regarding possible side effects they might suffer until after they had received their shots.

They had no idea that the “vaccines” so confidently touted by Matt Hancock were not fully tested for immediate, let alone medium- or long-term, safety, and were issued under the “black triangle” system – ie, were still “subject to intensive safety monitoring”, with the proviso that a record should be kept of all adverse reactions experienced by those acting effectively as human guinea pigs on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies.

What is more, a “high volume” of such adverse reactions were anticipated by the apparently unconcerned UK government before the roll-out began.

Although the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is quick to state that the black triangle label “does not indicate that the product is unsafe for use in patients”, the common-sense response to such a claim, after careful examination of the Yellow Card data, must surely be, “Oh yeah? And now pull the other one!”

In fact, a Pubmed paper advising the US as to whether or not the black triangle system does indeed promote “more judicious prescribing” of new medications, concludes that, “Accelerated drug approvals could cause more uncertainty about drug effectiveness and safety, but specific labeling of newly approved medicines is unlikely to promote more judicious prescribing.”

How much more accelerated could approval be, than the emergency approval accorded to the new coronavirus “vaccines”? And how much less judicious their prescribing, encompassing, as it does, the wholesale jabbing of populations throughout the world, including young people and children, who are at little to no risk of succumbing to the disease, let alone dying of it? It is depressing to learn that Peter Meadows’ daughters had understood enough about the uncertain nature of the hastily concocted “vaccines” to urge their parents not to have the jabs.

Unfortunately, like so many others, the couple were swayed by a longing to return to their old normal, and by peer pressure whipped up by the likes of Matt Hancock and SAGE, rather than by the reasonable concerns raised by their daughters after careful scrutiny of the facts.

So, once more: just how stupid are anti-vaxxers? Interestingly, a recent paper by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science Online found that, contrary to their popular denigration as “covidiots”, and to the embarrassment of the researchers themselves, covid sceptics “practice a form of data literacy in spades”.

Many of them “express mistrust for academic and journalistic accounts of the pandemic, proposing to rectify alleged bias by ‘following the data’ and creating their own data visualisations.” What they value is “unmediated access to information” and they “privilege personal research and direct reading over ‘expert’ interpretations.” And “Most fundamentally,” say the MIT team, “the groups we studied believe that science is a process, and not an institution.”


In which case, their dismissal of the WHO’s presumption, in claiming to be custodians of “The Science”, is hardly surprising. Nonsense, say the sceptics. Science can never be above questioning. It is not a bundle of rubber-stamped, government-approved dogmas, handy for facilitating some political or commercial agenda.

Like all forms of human knowledge, science remains eternally incomplete, the evolving construction of many minds researching truth in a continuing process of discovery: forming hypotheses, and attempting by all means possible to disprove those hypotheses; seeking to explain or resolve anomalies, but never holding any theory sacrosanct which further investigation might yet prove false; adapting to the gradual unfolding of new perspectives, as fresh evidence shakes the foundations of old paradigms.

It is the alleged “covidiots” and “anti-vaxxers” who, while they may not be scientists themselves, understand the principles on which the scientific method is based. As the MIT study admits, to complain that these irritating people “need more scientific literacy is to characterize their approach as uninformed and inexplicably extreme. This study shows the opposite: they are deeply invested in forms of critique and knowledge production they recognise as scientific expertise.”

All the same, the authors of the study seem to find the concessions they are compelled to make disturbing. “(H)ow do these groups diverge from scientific orthodoxy,” they wonder, “if they are using the same data?” Since all right-minded facts should show decent respect for the statutory consensus, surely anyone inducing them to defect in support of alternative, unsanctioned conclusions must be employing underhand methods?

“We have identified a few sleights of hand that contribute to the broader epistemological crisis we identify between these groups and the majority of scientific researchers,” the defenders of the true faith plead: and they shake their heads at the way “these groups skillfully manipulate data to undermine mainstream science,” quoting as examples the sceptics’ “outsize emphasis on deaths versus cases” and their suspicion of the officially promoted confusion of deaths “with” and “of” covid: both very good reasons, less partial analysts might say, for questioning the figures being spewed out ceaselessly by the government-funded mainstream media, and taken by a terrorised public to be gospel truth.

Yet it’s not just annoying amateurs, with their absurd claims that actual facts should trump any institutionally-coerced consensus, who question the official “narrative” – and, indeed the very existence of a pandemic, as traditionally understood before the WHO decided to “re-imagine” the term, on 4th May 2009, in anticipation of the projected swine-flu apocalypse (in the event, a damp squib, but a useful practice-run for the present resounding success).

After accumulating hard evidence in interviews with over a hundred eminent scientists and other experts, the Corona Investigation Committee, a team headed by Dr Reiner Fuellmich, are likewise challenging the means – essentially, a fraudulent PCR test capable of manufacturing cases on demand and fuelling the myth of the “asymptomatic superspreader” – by which the global coup and its predestined outcome, the push to “get jabs into arms”, have been so artfully engineered.

Dr Fuellmich – a lawyer qualified to practise in both the States and Europe – has already taken on such giants as Deutschebank and Volkswagen. We can only hope that the evidence which he and the rest of the Committee have gathered so painstakingly over the past year and shared with lawyers all over the world will continue to result in court cases where facts will triumph over consensus, vindicating the unvaccinated of “stupidity” before they are forced by the uninformed to wear yellow stars and find themselves rounded up in camps for the unclean.

And that those behind the coup, along with all who enabled and enforced their unlawful actions by “just following orders”, are brought to justice before an international tribunal, to be charged with what the Corona Committee describes as “the greatest crime against humanity ever committed.”

May 28, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 1 Comment

Israel Rejects Cooperation With UN Human Rights Council Commission, Foreign Ministry Says

Sputnik – 27.05.2021

Israel refuses to cooperate with the commission on Gaza and Israel, the creation of which is envisaged by a UN Human Rights Council resolution, and rejects the resolution itself, claiming that it acted in accordance with international law and ethical standards, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution calling for the creation of a commission of inquiry to investigate violations in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

“Israel rejects outright the resolution adopted today (Thursday, 27 May 2021) by the United Nations Human Rights Council, a body with a built-in anti-Israel majority, guided by hypocrisy and absurdity. Any resolution that fails to condemn the firing of over 4,300 rockets by a terror organization at Israeli civilians, or even to mention the terror organization Hamas, is nothing more than a moral failure and a stain on the international community and the UN,” the statement says.

The ministry noted that Israeli security forces had acted in accordance with the highest ethical standards and in accordance with international law, protecting their citizens from Hamas attacks.

“Israel cannot and will not cooperate with such an investigation,” the statement says.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the resolution a mockery of international law.

“Today’s shameful decision is yet another example of the UN Human Rights Council’s blatant anti-Israel obsession. Once again, an immoral automatic majority at the Council whitewashes a genocidal terrorist organization that deliberately targets Israeli civilians while turning Gaza’s civilians into human shields. This while depicting as the “guilty party” a democracy acting legitimately to protect its citizens from thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks. This travesty makes a mockery of international law and encourages terrorists worldwide,” Netanyahu said.

The resolution adopted on Thursday by the UN Human Rights Council, inter alia, calls for the urgent creation of a permanent independent international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the president of the UN Human Rights Council, to investigate all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel before and after April 13, 2021, as well as all root causes of recurring tension, instability and protracted conflict, including systematic discrimination and repression on the basis of national, ethnic, racial or religious affiliation.

May 28, 2021 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

Brits protest outside BAE Systems for weapons sales to Israel

By Ahmed Kaballo – Press TV – May 28, 2021

London – Hundreds of pro-Palestine protestors gathered outside the BAE Systems factory in Blackburn in the north of England, to call upon the weapons manufacturer to stop supplying components for F-35 fighter jets that have been used in the recent bombardment of Gaza.

The protest came on the back of one the largest pro-Palestine demonstrations in British history on Saturday and similar demonstrations throughout the week led by Palestine action groups who have been protesting outside the Israeli-owned Elbit Systems factory that provides drones, weapons, and military hardware to the Israeli army.

We have seen protests in Leicester, Tamworth, Oldham, and today in Blackburn as the anger amongst the British public begins to swell at the thought that UK weapons have been used by the Israeli army to kill Palestinian children.

It has become increasingly clear that the British government’s unwavering support for Israel is not representative of the feeling on the ground with more than 383,000 Brits calling on their government to sanction the Israeli regime for their crimes against the Palestinian people.

But while the UK remains complicit through the hundreds of millions of pounds worth of weapons sold to the Israeli army. Some might wonder if the UK should also be held accountable.

May 28, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Massive turnout in Syria election was loud shout of victory over terrorists, their sponsors, says analyst

Press TV – May 28, 2021

A political commentator has lauded the massive voter turnout in Syria’s presidential election as an outstanding sign and loud cry of victory notched up by people in the war-stricken Arab nation over Takfiri terrorist groups and their sponsors.

“Voters turned out in stunning numbers. Millions are said to have cast their votes. They were gleeful; the atmosphere was triumphant. The massive turnout was a shout of victory over foreign terrorists and the powers that backed them,” Richard Black, a former Republican member of the Virginia State Senate told Press TV in an exclusive interview on Friday.

He added that the election allowed Syrians to symbolically reject the horrors imposed on them by the United States, United Kingdom, France and their regional allies, stressing the latter have been relentlessly seeking to intimidate the Syrian nation by waging a reign of terror for more than a decade.

“The US, the UK, and France have been the unwavering supporters of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists since the moment that the war began [in Syria in March 2011]. To this day, they have been supporting terrorists controlling [Syria’s northwestern] Idlib Province,” the pundit said.

Black went on to dismiss criticism of Syria’s president election, stating that Western powers did not let voters in militant-held parts of Syria head to the polls and cast ballots because “they do not really care about elections or about freedom. Their objective is terror and conquest.”

“The occupying powers never gave a thought to holding elections, because their puppets would have been ousted. They are much too busy looting the wealth of Syrian people than to worry about elections in the areas they rule,” he pointed out.

The analyst also stated that Washington can by no means denounce Syria’s May 26 presidential election, as a large percentage of Americans believe that the 2020 US presidential poll was fraudulent and invalid.

He rejected as “ludicrous” demands by the United States and a number of European nations that Syria’s election should have been convened under UN supervision.

“If the UN needs to conduct elections in Syria, why shouldn’t they supervise them in the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Italy? By what authority does the UN run the internal affairs of sovereign nations?

“It is ironic that nations working to overthrow Syria’s government with a naval blockade, brutal sanctions, and armies of terrorists are now trying to tell Syrian people how to vote,” Black argued.

He underscored that Syria was in a much better position to hold presidential poll compared to the last round of election in 2014.

“During the 2014 election, foreign powers did everything possible to block Syrians from voting. Just before the election, many countries closed down Syrian embassies to prevent expatriates from expressing their will. The closure of the embassies was orchestrated by the US, which feared that an overwhelming vote in favor of Bashar al-Assad would embarrass the State Department and undermine its campaign against Syria,” the political analyst said.

Black concluded that Syrians have now driven out foreign-backed terrorists from most of their cities and towns, and could vote this time without having to brave explosives sent by Western powers to disrupt their election.

The Syrian parliament announced on Thursday that President Assad won his fourth seven-year term in the 2021 presidential race.

Hamoudeh Sabbagh, the parliament speaker, said that Assad won 95.1 percent of the vote as opposed to 88.7 percent in the 2014 election.

He said that about 14 million of the estimated 18 million eligible voters inside and outside Syria cast their votes, with a turnout rate of 78.64 percent.

Assad’s competitors, former Deputy Cabinet Minister Abdallah Saloum Abdallah and head of a Syrian opposition party, Mahmoud Ahmed Marei, won 3.3 and 1.5 percent of the vote respectively.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

May 28, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | 3 Comments

Tanks and Think Tanks: How Taiwanese Cash is Funding the Push to War with China

By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | May 22, 2021

TAIPEI — At MintPress, we have been at the forefront of exposing how Middle Eastern dictatorships and weapons contractors have been funneling money into think tanks and political action committees, keeping up a steady drumbeat for more war and conflict around the world. Yet one little-discussed nation that punches well above its weight in spending cash in Washington is Taiwan.

By studying Taiwan’s financial reports, MintPress has ascertained that the semi-autonomous island of 23 million people has, in recent years, given out millions of dollars to many of the largest and most influential think tanks in the United States. This has coincided with a strong upsurge in anti-China rhetoric in Washington, with report after report warning of China’s economic rise and demanding that the U.S. intervene more in China-Taiwan disputes.

These think tanks are filled with prominent figures from both parties and have the ears of the most powerful politicians in Washington. It is in their offices that specialists draw up papers and incubate ideas that become tomorrow’s policies. They also churn out experts who appear in agenda-setting media, helping to shape and control the public debate on political and economic issues.

Twenty years ago, a group of neoconservative think tanks like the Project for a New American Century, funded by foreign governments and weapons manufacturers, used their power to push for disastrous wars in the Middle East. Now, a new set of think tanks, staffed with many of those same experts who provided the intellectual basis for those invasions, is working hard to convince Americans that there is a new existential threat: China.

A fistful of dollars

In 2019, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) — for all intents and purposes, the Taiwanese embassy — donated between $250,000 and $499,999 to the Brookings Institute, commonly identified as the world’s most influential think tank. Taiwanese tech companies have also given large sums to the organization. In turn, Brookings Institute staff like Richard C. Bush (a former member of the National Intelligence Council and a U.S. national intelligence officer for East Asia) vociferously champion the cause of Taiwanese nationalists and routinely condemn Beijing’s attempts to bring the island more closely under control.

TECRO featured prominently among myriad defense interests on the donor rolls for both the Atlantic Council, left, and Brookings Institute

Last week, Brookings held an event called “Taiwan’s quest for security and the good life,” which began with the statement that “Taiwan is rightly praised for its democracy. Elections are free, fair, and competitive; civil and political rights are protected.” It went on to warn that the “most consequential” challenge to the island’s liberty and prosperity is “China’s ambition to end Taiwan’s separate existence.”

According to another organization’s latest financial disclosure, TECRO also gave a six-figure sum to the Atlantic Council, a think tank closely associated with NATO. It is unclear what the Atlantic Council did with that money, but what is certain is that they gave a senior fellowship to Chang-Ching Tu, an academic employed by the Taiwanese military to teach at the country’s National Defense University. In turn, Tu authored Atlantic Council reports describing his country as a “champion [of] global democracy,” and stating that “democracy, freedom and human rights are Taiwan’s core values.” A menacing China, however, is increasing its military threats, so Taiwan must “accelerate its deterrence forces and strengthen its self-defense capabilities.” Thus he advises that the U.S. must work far more closely with Taiwan’s military, conducting joint exercises and moving towards a more formal military alliance. In 2020, the U.S. sold $5.9 billion worth of arms to the island, making it the fifth-largest recipient of American weaponry last year.

Other Taiwan-employed academics have chided the West on the pages of the Council’s website for its insufficient zeal in “deter[ring] Chinese aggression” against the island. “A decision by the United States to back down” — wrote Philip Anstrén, a Swedish recipient of a fellowship from the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs — “could damage the credibility of U.S. defense guarantees and signal that Washington’s will to defend its allies is weak.” Anstrén also insisted that “Europe’s future is on the line in the Taiwan Strait.” “Western democratic nations have moral obligations vis-à-vis Taiwan,” he added on his blog, “and Western democracies have a duty to ensure that [Taiwan] not only survives but also thrives.”

The reason this is important is that the Atlantic Council is an enormously influential think tank. Its board of directors is a who’s-who in foreign policy statecraft, featuring no fewer than seven former CIA directors. Also on the board are many of the architects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and James Baker. When organizations like this begin beating the war drums, everybody should take note.

Perhaps the most strongly anti-Beijing think tank in Washington is the conservative Hudson Institute, an organization frequented by many of the Republican Party’s most influential figures, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Vice-President Mike Pence and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. The words “China” or “Chinese” appear 137 times in Hudson’s latest annual report, so focused on the Asian nation are they. Indeed, reading their output, it often appears they care about little else but ramping up tensions with Beijing, condemning it for its treatment of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Uyghur Muslims, and warning of the economic and military threat of a rising China.

Over the years, Hudson’s efforts have been sustained by huge donations from TECRO. The Hudson Institute does not disclose the exact donations any sources give, but their annual reports show that TECRO has been on the highest tier of donors ($100,000+) every year since they began divulging their sponsors in 2015. In February, Hudson Senior Fellow Thomas J. Duesterberg wrote an op-ed for Forbes entitled “The Economic Case for Prioritizing a U.S.-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement,” in which he extolled Taiwan’s economy as modern and dynamic and portrayed securing closer economic ties with it as a no-brainer. Hudson employees have also traveled to Taiwan to meet and hold events with leading foreign ministry officials there.

The Hudson Institute also recently partnered with the more liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) to host an event with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who took the opportunity to make a great number of inflammatory statements about the “ever more challenging threats to free and democratic societies” China poses; applaud the U.S.’ actions on Hong Kong; and talk about how Taiwan honors and celebrates those who died at the Tiananmen Square massacre. TECRO gave the CAP between $50,000 and $100,000 last year.

It is the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), however, that appears to receive the most Taiwanese money. According to its donor list, Taiwan gives as much money to it as the United States does — at least $500,000 last year alone. Yet all of the Taiwanese government money is put into CSIS’s regional studies (i.e., Asia) program. Like Hudson employees, the CSIS calls for a free trade agreement with Taiwan and has lavished praise on the nation for its approach to tackling disinformation, describing it as a “thriving democracy and a cultural powerhouse.” Although acknowledging that the reports were paid for by TECRO, CSIS insists that “all opinions expressed herein should be understood to be solely those of the authors and are not influenced in any way by any donation.” In December, the CSIS also held a debate suggesting that “[w]ithin the next five years, China will use significant military force against a country on its periphery,” exploring what the U.S. response to such an action should be.

Like the Atlantic Council, the CSIS organization is stacked with senior officials from the national security state. Its president and CEO is former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, while Henry Kissinger — former secretary of state and the architect of the Vietnam War — also serves on its council.

The CSIS accepts money from the Global Taiwan Institute and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) as well. The former is a rather shadowy pro-Taiwanese group that appears not to disclose its funding sources. The latter is a government-funded organization headed by former Taiwanese President You Si-kun. Every year, the TFD publishes a human rights report on China, the latest of which claims that “the Chinese Communist Party knows no bounds when it comes to committing serious human rights violations” — accusing it of “taking the initiative” in “promoting a new Cold War over the issue of human rights” and trying to “replace the universal standing of human rights values around the world.” Ultimately, the report concludes, China “constitutes a major challenge to democracy and freedom in the world.”

The TFD has also been a major funder of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a far-right pressure group that insists that Communism has killed over 100 million people worldwide. Last year, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation added all global COVID-19 fatalities to the list of Communist-caused deaths on the basis that the virus started in China. The Foundation also employs Adrian Zenz, a German evangelical theologian who is the unlikely source of many of the most controversial and contested claims about Chinese repression in Xinjiang province.

In the past 12 months, TECRO has also donated six-figure sums to many other prominent think tanks, including the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Center for a New American Security, and the Carnegie Endowment for International PeaceMintPress reached out to a number of these think tanks for comment but has not received any response.

“It would be naive to believe that Taiwan’s funding of think tanks is not pushing them to take pro-Taiwan or anti-China positions,” Ben Freeman, the director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy, told MintPress, adding:

After all, why would Taiwan keep funding think tanks that are critical of Taiwan? There’s a Darwinian element to foreign funding of think tanks that pushes foreign government funding to think tanks that write what that foreign government wants them to write. Taiwan is no exception to this rule.”

TECRO is not just sponsoring American think tanks, however. It has also given funds to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a hawkish and controversial group described as “the think tank behind Australia’s changing view of China.” The country’s former ambassador in Beijing described ASPI as “the architect of the China threat theory in Australia” while Senator Kim Carr of Victoria denounced them as working hand-in-hand with Washington to push “a new Cold War with China.” ASPI was behind Twitter’s decision last year to purge more than 170,000 accounts sympathetic to Beijing from its platform.

“We must be ready to fight our corner as Taiwan tensions rise,” ASPI wrote in January, having previously castigated the West for being “no longer willing to defend Taiwan.”

ASPI — like Brookings, the Atlantic Council and others — are directly funded by weapons manufacturers, all of whom also have a direct interest in promoting more wars around the world. Thus, if the public is not careful, certain special interests might be helping move the United States towards yet another international conflict.

While the situation outlined above is concerning enough, the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative’s research has shown that around one-third of think tanks still do not provide any information whatsoever about their funding, and very few are completely open about their finances. Freeman maintains that, while there is nothing inherently wrong with foreign governments funding Western think tanks, the lack of transparency is seriously problematic, explaining:

This raises a lot of questions about the work they’re doing. Are their secret funders saying what the think tank can do in a pay-for-play scheme? Are the funders buying the think tanks silence on sensitive issues? Without knowing the think tank’s funders, policymakers and the public have no idea if the think tank’s work is objective research or simply the talking points of a foreign government.”

Freeman’s study of the Taiwanese lobby found that seven organizations registered as Taiwan’s foreign agents in the U.S. Those organizations, in turn, contacted 476 Members of Congress (including almost 90% of the House), as well as five congressional committees. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was their most frequent contact, the Californian being contacted 34 times by Taiwanese agents. Pelosi has been a great supporter of Taiwanese nationalists, successfully promoting pro-Taiwan legislation and proudly announcing that the U.S. “stands with Taiwan.”

Foreign agents working on behalf of Taiwan also made 143 political contributions to U.S. politicians, with former Alabama Senator Doug Jones the lead recipient (Pelosi was third).

Losing China, regaining Taiwan?

The reports listed above understand the dispute as purely a matter of Chinese belligerence against Taiwan and certainly do not consider U.S. military actions in the South China Sea as aggressive in themselves. That is because the world of think tanks and war planners sees the United States as owning the planet and having a remit to act anywhere on the globe at any time.

To this day, U.S. planners bemoan the “loss of China” in 1949 (a phrase that presupposes the United States owned the country). After a long and bloody Second World War, Communist resistance forces under Mao Tse-tung managed to both expel the Japanese occupation and overcome the U.S.-backed Kuomintang (nationalist) force led by Chang Kai-shek. The United States actually invaded China in 1945, with 50,000 troops working with the Kuomintang and even Japanese forces in an attempt to suppress the Communists. However, by 1949, Mao’s army was victorious; the United States evacuated and Chang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan.

The Kuomintang ruled the island for 40 years as a one-party state and remains one of the two major political groups to this day. The war between the Communists and the Kuomintang never formally ended, and Taiwan has now lived through 70 years of estrangement from the mainland. Polls show a majority of Taiwanese now favor full independence, although a large majority still personally identify as Chinese.

While many Taiwanese welcome an increased U.S. presence in the region, Beijing certainly does not. In 2012, President Barack Obama announced the U.S.’ new “Pivot to Asia” strategy, moving forces from the Middle East towards China. Today, over 400 American military bases encircle it.

In recent months, the United States has also taken a number of provocative military actions on China’s doorstep. In July, it conducted naval exercises in the South China Sea, with warships and naval aircraft spotted just 41 nautical miles from the coastal megacity of Shanghai, intent on probing China’s coastal defenses. And in December, it flew nuclear bombers over Chinese vessels close to Hainan Island. Earlier this year, the head of Strategic Command made his intentions clear, stating that there was a “very real possibility” of war against China over a regional conflict like Taiwan. China, for its part, has also increased its forces in the region, carrying out military exercises and staking claims to a number of disputed islands.

A new Director of National Intelligence (DNI) report notes that China is the U.S.’ “unparalleled priority,” claiming that Beijing is making a “push for global power.” “We expect that friction will grow as Beijing steps up attempts to portray Taipei as internationally isolated and dependent on the mainland for economic prosperity, and as China continues to increase military activity around the island,” it concludes.

In an effort to stop this, Washington has recruited allies into the conflict. Australian media are reporting that their military is currently readying for war in an effort to force China to back down, while last week President Joe Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to shore up a united front against Beijing vis-a-vis Taiwan.

In February, the Atlantic Council penned an anonymous 26,000-word report advising Biden to draw a number of red lines around China, beyond which a response — presumably military — is necessary. These included any military action or even a cyber attack against Taiwan. Any backing down from this stance, the council states, would result in national “humiliation” for the United States.

Perhaps most notably, however, the report also envisages what a successful American China policy would look like by 2050:

[T]he United States and its major allies continue to dominate the regional and global balance of power across all the major indices of power;… [and head of state Xi Jinping] has been replaced by a more moderate party leadership; and … the Chinese people themselves have come to question and challenge the Communist Party’s century-long proposition that China’s ancient civilization is forever destined to an authoritarian future.”

In other words, that China has been broken and that some sort of regime change has occurred.

Throughout all this, the United States has been careful to stress that it still does not recognize Taiwan and that their relationship is entirely “unofficial,” despite claiming that its commitment to the island remains “rock solid.” Indeed, only 14 countries formally recognize Taiwan, the largest and most powerful of which is Paraguay.

Along with a military conflict brewing, Washington has also been prosecuting an information and trade war against China on the world stage. Attempts to block the rise of major Chinese companies like HuaweiTikTok and Xiaomi are examples of this. Others in Washington have advised the Pentagon to carry out an under-the-table culture war against Beijing. This would include commissioning “Taiwanese Tom Clancy” novels that would “weaponize” China’s one-child policy against it, bombarding citizens with stories about how their only children will die in a war over Taiwan.

Republicans and Democrats constantly accuse each other of being in President Xi’s pocket, attempting to outdo each other in their jingoistic fervor. Last year, Florida Senator Rick Scott went so far as to announce that every Chinese national in the U.S. was a Communist spy and should be treated with extreme suspicion. As a result, the American public’s view of China has crashed to an all-time low. Only three years ago, the majority of Americans held a positive opinion of China. But today, that number is only 20%. Asian-Americans of all backgrounds have reported a rise in hate crimes against them.

Cash rules everything around me

How much of the United States’ aggressive stance towards China can be attributed to Taiwanese money influencing politics? It is difficult to say. Certainly, the United States has its own policy goals in East Asia outside of Taiwan. But Freeman believes that the answer is not zero. The Taiwan lobby “absolutely has an impact on U.S. foreign policy,” he said, adding:

At one level, it creates an echo-chamber in D.C. that makes it taboo to question U.S. military ties with Taiwan. While I, personally, think there are good strategic reasons for the U.S. to support this democratic ally — and it’s clearly in Taiwan’s interest to keep the U.S. fully entangled in their security — it’s troubling that the D.C. policy community can’t have an honest conversation about what U.S. interests are. But, Taiwan’s lobby in D.C. and their funding of think tanks both work to stifle this conversation and, frankly, they’ve been highly effective.”

Other national lobbies affect U.S. policy. The Cuban lobby helps ensure that the American stance towards its southern neighbor remains as antagonistic as possible. Meanwhile, the Israel lobby helps ensure continuing U.S. support for Israeli actions in the Middle East. Yet more ominously with Taiwan, its representatives are helping push the U.S. closer towards a confrontation with a nuclear power.

While Taiwanese money appears to have convinced many in Washington, it is doubtful that ordinary Americans will be willing to risk a war over an island barely larger than Hawaii, only 80 miles off the coast of mainland China.

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

May 28, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | | 3 Comments

Switch to Remote Learning Caused Large Increases in School Dropout and Learning Losses in Brazil

By Noah Carl • Lockdown Sceptics • May 28, 2021

Back in April, I wrote about a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that Dutch students made “made little or no progress while learning from home”. Now researchers have reported a similar finding in Brazil.

As in the Dutch study, the researchers used rigorous methods to gauge the impact of remote learning on student outcomes. In other words, they didn’t just compare outcomes in 2020 to those the year before.

In São Paulo State (where the study was based) state schools switched to remote learning only at the end of the first quarter, and they continued to teach remotely thereafter. This allowed the researchers to compare the change in outcomes between the first and last quarters of 2020 to the change in outcomes between the same two quarters of 2019.

They looked at two different outcomes: high dropout risk (i.e., whether the student had any math and Portuguese grades on his school record in the relevant quarter), and standardised test scores.

When comparing the change in 2020 to the change in 2019, the researchers found large increases in school dropout and learning losses.

Furthermore, they exploited a natural experiment to gauge the impact of switching back to in-person learning. In the fourth quarter of 2020, some municipalities allowed high-schools but not middle-schools to switch back. This allowed the researchers to compare middle- and high-schools in those municipalities with respect to the change in 2020 versus the change in 2019.

Consistent with the previous result, they found that switching back to in-person learning was associated with higher standardised test scores.

In the authors’ own words, their results show that “the societal costs of keeping schools closed in the pandemic are very large”. As such, they argue that “the public debate should move from whether schools should be open or not to how to reopen them safely”.

May 28, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Shocking! – Latest update on adverse reactions to the Covid Vaccines in the USA released by CDC

THE DAILY EXPOSE • May 23, 2021 

The number of reported adverse reactions to the Covid vaccines in the USA surpassed 200,000 according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data comes directly from reports submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

VAERS is the primary government-funded system for reporting adverse vaccine reactions in the U.S. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before a causal relationship can be confirmed.

Every Friday, VAERS makes public all vaccine injury reports received as of a specified date, usually about a week prior to the release date. The latest data shows that between the 14th December 2020 and the 14th May 2021, a total of 227,805 total adverse events were reported to VAERS, including 4,201 deaths — an increase of 144 over the previous week — and 18,528 serious injuries, up 1,338 on the previous week.

This data also showed 943 total adverse events, including 23 rated as serious, among 12- to -17-year-olds.

In the U.S., 268.4 million COVID vaccine doses had been administered as of May 14. This includes 115 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, 144 million doses of Pfizer and 9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID vaccine. […]

The latest VAERS data shows:

There have also been 822,845 adverse reactions to the Covid vaccines in the UK alongside 1,180 unnecessary deaths, you can read our latest analysis of the UK report here.

May 28, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Vax Passports: Where Your State Stands

Alliance for Natural Health | May 27, 2021

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, and vaccination recommendations extend to younger and younger Americans, we are starting to see more efforts to require vaccination as a condition of receiving services, as we’ve seen at American universities. This endangers autoimmune patients who are more at risk of serious adverse events following COVID vaccination. States can take a stand for medical freedom and privacy rights. To prevent de facto vaccine mandates that endanger millions of patients, we must encourage state leaders to take action to protect our health.

Ten states, so far, have taken steps to restrict or ban the use of vaccine passports, electronic applications that display an individual’s vaccination status or COVID lab test results. Many have done so through executive orders signed by the governor: Arizona, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. Three states have passed legislation along similar lines, including Utah, Indiana, and Arkansas.

These policies have important differences. In Florida and Montana, executive orders prevent businesses, in addition to state institutions, from requiring patrons to provide proof of vaccination to gain entry or service from the business. In IdahoArizonaSouth DakotaUtahSouth CarolinaArkansasIndiana, and Texas, the ban on vaccine passports is generally limited to entities of the state government or (in the case of Texas) any business that receives state funds.

Legislation is pending in the following states to prevent discrimination based on vaccination status and/or to prevent the use of vaccine passports: FL, NC, OK, HI, OR, RI, TX, WI, PA, and VT.

Texas State Senator Bob Hall, one of the sponsors of a bill preventing discrimination in Texas, had eloquent words to share about vaccine passports: “[My bill] aims to give Texans the peace of mind of knowing that their ability to navigate, participate, and function without being required to undergo an experimental medical procedure as a condition of that engagement is protected by law.”

Some governors have made positive statements, though have not yet taken action to prevent vaccine passports. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tweeted, “I do not and will not support any kind of state-mandated vaccine passport… the decision to receive the vaccine should be left up to each individual.” Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska said “Nebraska will not participate in any vaccine passport program. This concept violates two central tenets of the American system: freedom of movement and healthcare privacy.” Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced “I oppose vaccine passports. The COVID-19 vaccine should be a personal health choice, not a government requirement.”

Some states are moving in the other direction. Hawaii is allowing fully vaccinated Hawaiians to travel between islands without quarantine and other testing rules, with plans in the works to launch a vaccine passport system. New York has already launched the Excelsior Pass, a voluntary app that allows people to upload negative COVID-19 test results or proof of vaccination. Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut said he expects “some type of passport or validation … probably led by the private sector,” and that more planning will occur once vaccinations are open to everyone. Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina said his administration is exploring the development of vaccine passports.

We’re already seeing how this can play out. In Israel, for example, the government issues “green passes” allowing access to social, cultural, sporting events, gyms, restaurants, etc., to individuals who have either recovered from COVID or have had the vaccine. Green passes must be renewed every six months.

We are all eager for life to return to “normal” following extended lockdowns and isolation. But vaccine passports are not the answer. We cannot deny rights and privileges to those, such as autoimmune patients, who choose not to receive a medical procedure due to a legitimate medical concern.

Action Alerts!

  1. Florida and Montana residents, thank your legislators for banning vaccine passports. Take Action!
  2. If you live in a state that banned vaccine passports only in state institutions (AZ, AR, ID, IN, SC, SD, TX, and UT), thank lawmakers for taking action but urge them to extend the ban on passports to businesses in the state. Take Action!
  3. All other states: urge your lawmakers to take action to ban vaccine passports in your state. Take Action!

May 28, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment