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Lockdowns were not just an untested public health measure. They were a new paradigm of governance.

By Aaron Kheriaty, MD | April 4, 2022

From the lepers in the Old Testament to the Plague of Justinian in Ancient Rome to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, covid represents the first time ever in the history of managing pandemics that we quarantined healthy populations.

While the ancients did not understand the mechanisms of infectious disease—they knew nothing of viruses and bacteria—they nevertheless figured out many ways to mitigate the spread of contagion during epidemics. These time-tested measures ranged from quarantining the sick to deploying those with natural immunity, who had recovered from illness, to care for them.

Lockdowns were never part of conventional public health measures. In 1968, 1-4 million people died in the H2N3 influenza pandemic; businesses and schools never closed, and large events were not cancelled. One thing we never did until 2020 was lockdown entire populations. And we did not do this because it does not work. In 2020 we had no empirical evidence that it would work, only flawed mathematical models whose predications were not just slightly off, but wildly off by several orders of magnitude.

These devastating economic consequences were not the only major societal shifts ushered in by lockdowns. Our ruling class saw in Covid an opportunity to radically revolutionize society: recall how the phrase “the new normal” emerged almost immediately in the first weeks of the pandemic. In the first month Anthony Fauci made the absurd suggestion that perhaps never again would we go back to shaking hands. Never again?

What emerged during lockdowns was not just a novel and untested method of trying to control a pandemic by quarantining healthy people. If we view lockdowns outside of the immediate context in which they supposedly functioned in early 2020, their real meaning comes into focus.

Changes ushered during lockdowns were signs of a broader social and political experiment “in which a new paradigm of governance over people and things is at play,” as described by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. This new paradigm began to emerge in the wake of September 11, 2001.

The basic features were already sketched back in 2013 in a book by Patrick Zilberman, professor of the history of health in Paris, called “Microbial Storms,” (Tempêtes microbiennes, Gallimard 2013). Zilberman’s description was remarkably predictive of what emerged during the first year of the pandemic. He showed that biomedical security, which was previously a marginal part of political life and international relations, had assumed a central place in political strategies and calculations in recent years.

Already in 2005, for example, the WHO grossly over-predicted that the bird flu (avian influenza) would kill 2 to 50 million people. To prevent this impending disaster, WHO made recommendations that no nation prepared to accept at the time—including population-wide lockdowns. Based upon these trends, Zylberman predicted that “sanitary terror” would be used as an instrument of governance.

Even earlier, in 2001, Richard Hatchett, who served as a member of George W. Bush’s National Security Council, was already recommending obligatory confinement of the entire population. Dr. Hatchett now directs the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an influential entity coordinating global vaccine investment in close collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry. CEPI is a brainchild of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Like many others, Hatchett regards the fight against Covid-19 as a “war,” on the analogy to the war on terror. I confess that I took up the martial rhetoric early in the pandemic: in a March 2020 piece entitled, “Battlefield Promotions,” I issued a call to action encouraging medical students to stay involved in the covid fight after they had been sent home. While the piece had some merit, I now regret my deployment of this military metaphor, which was misguided.

A kind of overbearing medical terror was deemed necessary to deal with worst-case scenarios, whether for naturally occurring pandemics or biological weapons. Agamben summarizes the political characteristics of the emerging biosecurity paradigm:

1) measures were formulated based on possible risk in a hypothetical scenario, with data presented to promote behavior permitting management of an extreme situation; 2) “worst case” logic was adopted as a key element of political rationality; 3) a systematic organization of the entire body of citizens was required to reinforce adhesion to the institutions of government as much as possible. The intended result was a sort of super civic spirit, with imposed obligations presented as demonstrations of altruism. Under such control, citizens no longer have a right to health safety; instead, health is imposed on them as a legal obligation (biosecurity).

This is precisely the pandemic strategy we adopted in 2020. Lockdowns were formulated based on discredited worst-case-scenario modeling from the Imperial College London, which predicted 2.2 million deaths in the U.S.

As a consequence, the entire body of citizens, as a manifestation of civic spirit, gave up freedoms and rights that were not relinquished even by the citizens of London during the bombing of the city in World War II (London adopted curfews but never locked down). The imposition of health as a legal obligation was accepted with little resistance. Even now, for many citizens it seems not to matter that these impositions utterly failed to deliver the public health outcomes that were promised.

The full significance of what transpired over the last two years may have escaped our attention. Perhaps without realizing it, we just lived through the design and implementation of a new political paradigm—a system that was far more effective at controlling the population than anything previously done by Western nations.

Under this novel biomedical security model, “the total cessation of every form of political activity and social relationship [became] the ultimate act of civic participation.” Neither the pre-war Fascist government in Italy, nor the communist nations of the east, ever dreamed of implementing such restrictions.

Social distancing became not just a public health practice but a political model and the new paradigm for social interactions, “with a digital matrix replacing human interaction, which by definition from now on will be regarded as fundamentally suspicious and politically ‘contagious’,” in Agamben’s words.

For the sake of health and human flourishing, this new normal should never be normalized.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Amazon’s proposed employee chat app has a list of banned words: “union,” “slave labor,” and more

By Christina Maas | Reclaim The Net | April 5, 2022

Amazon will not allow employees to use phrases that highlight the company’s shortcomings in a planned chat app, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The app would have an automatic filter to block terms such as “slave labor,” “union,” “pay raise,” and even “restrooms,” probably due to reports of employees using bottles instead of restrooms to meet deadlines.

A source for The Intercept said that in November, the company’s executives met to discuss plans for an employee chat app. The main feature of the app would be posts called “Shout-outs,” which would allow employees to applaud other employees for good performance.

The “Shout-outs,” would be integrated with a gamified reward system, which would allow employees to be rewarded with virtual badges and stars for achieving objectives that “add direct business value,” according to the documents.

However, the executives noted “the dark side of social media,” with the solution being to closely monitor posts to maintain a “positive community.” The head of worldwide consumer business, Dave Clark, suggested that the app should be one-on-one, like dating apps, not forum-based like Twitter and Facebook.

The executives also agreed that the app should have an “auto bad word monitor.” The filter would flag offensive and inappropriate phrases. However, it would also prevent employees from terms that could be used to criticize the company or those that could be used to organize a union.

“With free text, we risk people writing Shout-Outs that generate negative sentiments among the viewers and the receivers,” a document summarizing the program states. “We want to lean towards being restrictive on the content that can be posted to prevent a negative associate experience.”

According to The Intercept, terms that would be banned include “Union,” “this is concerning,” “slave,” “slave labor,” “prison,” “unite,” “committee,” “restrooms,” “grievance,” and “injustice.”

“Our teams are always thinking about new ways to help employees engage with each other,” said Amazon spokesperson Barbara M. Agrait. “This particular program has not been approved yet and may change significantly or even never launch at all.

“If it does launch at some point down the road, there are no plans for many of the words you’re calling out to be screened. The only kinds of words that may be screened are ones that are offensive or harassing, which is intended to protect our team.”

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Russia willing to investigate Bucha’s tragedy

By Lucas Leiroz | April 5, 2022

The alleged massacre of civilians in Bucha is one of the most talked about topics around the world in recent hours. Russia has been repeatedly accused by Western governments and mainstream media, and there are already calls for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be prosecuted for war crimes and human rights violations. However, there is a series of controversies in the case, from possible falsifications in the images released by Ukrainian forces to incoherent information about the dates of the massacre, which demands a deep investigation.

According to the official Kremlin’s position, the Russian government categorically denies any involvement by its forces in operations that killed civilians in Bucha. Spokesperson Dmistry Peskov stated on Monday, April 4, about the case, making it clear that Moscow, in addition to denying participation in the massacre, supports the immediate launch of high-level investigations on the occurrence. The Russian authorities also committed to take the discussion forward to the UN Security Council in order conduct an international investigation in the grave tragedy.

Furthermore, Peskov made it clear that the Russian government does not trust the veracity of all the information contained in the videos and photos of dead civilians released by the Ukrainian government. There are reports from Russian experts pointing out possible forgeries and frauds in the content of the videos. Other Russian officials also commented on the case, pointing out that there is evidence that the videos were forged or performed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for example, claimed during a meeting with UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths that the Ukrainian press had released fake videos about Russian operations in Bucha, and that there had been a staging organized by Kiev’s forces in the region days after the departure of Russian troops.

In the same vein, the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, said that the videos and photos released by the Ukrainian press and the Western statements about them appear to be a “custom-made story”. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also spoke out, claiming that the case is a production by the Kiev regime for Western media that sounds like a provocation against Russia. Finally, the head of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, also expressed distrust about the veracity of the material released by Kiev and requested a procedural assessment on the possible massacre of civilians.

Despite the distrust, which seems justified in the face of a long history of fake news and information warfare on the part of the NATO-Kiev axis, Moscow seems open to hearing contrary opinions, which is precisely why the government seems so interested in launching an investigation, both using its official experts and international agents convoked by the UNSC. It is possible that, in addition to the obviously fake and staged videos, there is also real material, with actual images of dead people. The Kremlin’s main point is that, regardless of whether the videos and photos are real or not, there is no Russian involvement in cases of massacre of civilians.

Considering the evident victory of the Special Operation in Bucha region, there would be no strategic advantage for the Russian military to shoot civilians, which would cause unnecessary harm to the country. Now, Zelensky, Biden and other Western leaders are calling for Putin to be condemned by international courts and planning an increase in sanctions. So, it does not seem at all reasonable that Russian forces would have deliberately planned and carried out a massacre of civilians, considering that these would be the obvious consequences of such acts.

Another point that needs to be mentioned is that there is an evident time lapse in the case. The Russians withdrew from Bucha on 30 March. The Ukrainians entered Bucha on March 31, and the “retake” of the city was announced by the mayor on the same day. Azov’s paramilitaries entered the city only on April 1. So how were the “bodies in the streets” found only on April 3?

If international society is really interested in the truth, it must heed the Russian request for an investigation at the UNSC. If Western governments refuse to cooperate with the investigation, it will be possible to conclude that they have something to hide. The UN must remain neutral and commit itself to the search for the truth of the facts, even if this truth is unpleasant for the West.

Lucas Leiroz is a researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 3 Comments

Why are the Chinese losing their minds over Omicron?

Thoughts about the significance and meaning of the Shanghai lockdown

eugyppius | April 5, 2022

Sooner or later, Zero Covid makes you crazy, and right now, it is making the Chinese crazy.

That is my theory about what is going on in Shanghai, which has descended into a mass panic over a relative handful of Omicron infections, imposing a harsh and destructive lockdown to stop a disease that is probably no more dangerous than influenza.

Let us rehearse some recent history:

Lockdowns and mass testing and contact tracing and masking are all Asian (primarily Chinese) policies, adopted en masse and with little forethought by western countries in Spring 2020. Our public health mandarins set aside their own planning and opted for Chinese mass containment instead, because they noticed the virus was not very deadly in Asia, and they assumed this was because whatever it was the Asians were doing was the thing to do. Mass containment is a worldwide delusional rain dance: Everyone hops about trying to coax water out of the heavens, copying whatever dance was current in the first place it started to rain.

Crucially, virology has a very primitive and inadequate understanding of how viruses actually circulate. Virological doctrine is that they ought to behave the same everywhere, but they don’t. Early wild-type SARS-2 strains spread far more slowly and were far less deadly in the Asia Pacific, and this had nothing to do with lockdowns or “SARS experience.” Japan started out by ignoring Corona more or less entirely, while South Korea set up mass testing and contact tracing operations straightaway, and both countries saw minimal mortality.

There are many theories about why SARS-2 hit Asia so softly. Probably, the Asian-Pacific populations enjoyed some kind of prior immune protection, which would explain why the later, immune-resistant variant strains of SARS-2 have coincided with higher mortality in the East.

But the main point is this: Countries which did well early in the pandemic got another kind of virus, the Zero-Covid kind. They adopted an eradicationist orientation; they believed their containment measures had succeeded, and the officials who had championed these measures ascended to new heights of prestige. This is what happened in China and throughout Asia, and it is what happened in Australia and New Zealand. To a lesser extent, it is even what happened in Germany. The next act of this play, is the return of SARS-2, the impending revelation that there was only ever the illusion of control, and a spiral of harsh suppression measures that everyone believes in because they seemed to work last time, even though they’re not working now.

We’ve spent many months speculating about Chinese reasons for locking down Hubei and then promoting lockdowns to the rest of us. While malicious ends shouldn’t be excluded, their behaviour in Shanghai points increasingly to official incompetence and stupidity. The Chinese government has almost surely spent two years sowing horror of Corona among its people, to defend its harsh actions in Wuhan and to collect accolades for its alleged Zero Covid success. Now they are going the route of other Zero Covid regimes. They will double down on worthless policies, until their failure becomes so overwhelmingly evident, that they give up.


Further considerations, developed mostly in the context of a recent conversation with a friend, who is sceptical of my thoughts here:

Is this not better understood as some sort of exercise in new authoritarian methods? I don’t think so, because the Chinese won’t be able to control Omicron, and whatever methods they deploy in their attempts to do so will just be discredited.

Did the Chinese then promote lockdowns to the West, simply out of good will and charity, because they sincerely believe in these policies? No. We may never fully understand their motives, but an important aspect, was probably the fear that the West would ignore Corona, nothing much would happen, and the Hubei lockdown would be discredited. These were policies that had been developed in the belief that China was facing a wider-scale version of the SARS virus from 2003. In early March 2020, it was clear that these fears were exaggerated. Evidently, this does not mean that the institutional (and perhaps also popular) momentum behind Zero-Covid policies vanished. In China, in Australia, everywhere, the lockdowners are empowered, as long as Corona appears to be under control. When Corona endangers this illusion, the lockdowners will fight powerfully to vindicate their policies, but sooner or later they’ll lose.

Doesn’t this destroy your prior hypothesis, that the Chinese escaped the mass containment dilemma entirely, by changing test criteria and perhaps taking other actions behind the scenes to ‘construct’ Corona out of existence? Maybe, but perhaps these aren’t mutually exclusive possibilities. As long as a given virus isn’t having any population-wide impact, it is possible to ignore it. Omicron spreads too fast to be ignored.

Do Chinese officials, with unique knowledge of SARS-2 origins, know something we don’t about the virus? Most of the SARS-2 genome has natural analogues, with a couple of odd tweaks, like the furin cleavage site. There’s not a lot of room for hidden functions in there, and mainland Chinese policies and science have never demonstrated special foreknowledge or awareness of SARS-2 features. If anything, the opposite is true: They overestimated the risk at first, and they seem to persist in this error now.

So you believe the West is stupid, and China is stupid, you just believe everyone is stupid but you I guess? I think institutions in mass society develop behaviours and even ideologies that are beyond the understanding of the individuals who participate in them. Our critical views of containment and mass vaccination are surely shared by many people throughout these institutions, who however find it in their best interests to promote quite different ideas, not reluctantly but even with enthusiasm.

Why is it always boring banal explanations from you? The extent to which Corona resists elaborate conspiratorial theories is a good sign that it is either an emergent phenomenon or epiphenomenal. The most compelling theories are those which cast Corona and containment as the unintended consequences of something else.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Casualties feared after alleged Ukrainian chemical plant attack

Samizdat | April 5, 2022

Retreating Ukrainian forces have allegedly blown up a tank allegedly containing hydrochloric acid, at a chemical plant in the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) town of Rubezhnoe, which has emerged as a flashpoint in the ongoing military conflict.

The tank explosion was aimed at a populated area, controlled by local fighters, the LPR’s militia claimed on Tuesday.

“[These] terrorist actions might lead to mass civilian casualties,” the force warned on its Telegram channel, adding that authorities are currently collecting information about any casualties resulting from the incident.

The LPR has also accused Ukrainian media of “actively spreading fakes” that Donbass fighters had blown up the tank themselves. They said Kiev has been doing this in order to cover up “the criminal terrorist actions” of its own forces.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Kiev-nominated governor of Lugansk, Sergey Gaidai, stated in his Telegram channel that a Russian projectile had hit a nitric acid tank in the area, and called on local residents to stay indoors and close all doors and windows, as well as to prepare wet face masks.

“Nitric acid is dangerous if inhaled or swallowed,” he warned. It is unclear if he was referring to the same incident or to a different one. Ukrainian authorities have not commented on the allegations leveled by the Donbass militias so far. Neither have Russian officials or the country’s military.

The incident occurred on Tuesday at the ‘Zarya’ chemical plant, once one of Ukraine’s leading chemical enterprises. Videos reportedly taken at the scene and published by the RIA news agency show thick, orange-tinged smoke billowing over the area, which has some residential buildings.

The plant has storage facilities for sulfuric and hydrochloric acid. When released into the atmosphere, strong hydrochloric acid might produce a toxic fog affecting people’s eyes and airways. If mixed with various oxidizers like potassium permanganate, it releases highly toxic chlorine gas.

In early March, Moscow warned the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) about potential false-flag attacks staged by the Ukrainian radicals that might involve the use of toxic chemical agents. “Ukrainian radical groups aided by the American security services have developed several potential scenarios of using toxic chemicals to stage various false flag attacks,” Russia’s statement to the OPCW said at that time.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | | Leave a comment

NATO and Asian nations plot response to China’s ‘systemic challenge to security’

Samizdat | April 5, 2022

NATO plans to deepen its cooperation with partners in Asia as a response to a rising “security challenge” coming from China, which refuses to condemn Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a press conference on Tuesday.

He announced that the bloc will host foreign ministers from member states as well as Finland, Sweden, Georgia, and the EU. However, he also noted that NATO’s Asia-Pacific partners such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea have been invited as well, stating that the current security crisis has “global implications.”

The ministers will discuss new strategic concepts which will account for the military conflict in Ukraine, but will also include for the first time the issue of China’s “growing influence and coercive policies on the global stage which pose a systemic challenge to our security and to our democracies.”

“We see that China has been unwilling to condemn Russia’s aggression and has joined Moscow in questioning the right of nations to choose their own path,” said Stoltenberg, urging that democracies must stand up for their values against “authoritarian powers.”

He expressed hope that NATO would be able to deepen its cooperation with its Asia-Pacific partners in areas such as “arms control, cyber, hybrid and technology.”

Since the start of Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine, Beijing has held off on taking a particular stance on the issue, calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict but refusing to condemn Moscow’s actions or join the sweeping economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the likes of the US, Canada, the UK, the EU, Japan, Australia, and other nations.

For the last few weeks, the US has increasingly been putting more pressure on China to “pick a side,” with Joe Biden warning Beijing of potential “consequences” and “costs” should China choose to back Russia in the Ukraine conflict, either militarily or by helping circumvent international sanctions.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Germany seizes Russian gas company

Samizdat | April 5, 2022

Germany has taken ownership of a local branch of Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom. Berlin’s energy regulator will temporarily control the company despite Moscow’s previous insistence that such a move would be illegal.

Gazprom Germania, a subsidiary of the Saint Petersburg-based firm, operates some of the country’s largest natural gas storage facilities.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck announced the decision on Monday, arguing it would mean that Germany’s energy infrastructure is not “subject to arbitrary decisions by the Kremlin.”

“The arrangement of the trust administration serves to protect public safety and order and to maintain the security of supply,” Habeck told reporters, adding that the step “is urgently necessary” to ensure the “security of supply in Germany.”

The minister said the Gazprom branch would come under the trusteeship of the Federal Network Agency, Germany’s main energy regulator, until September 30. He did not elaborate on what would happen after that date, however, leaving it unclear how the government plans to proceed with the company.

While Gazprom announced last Friday that it would end its participation in the Gazprom Germania subsidiary, divesting all assets from the firm, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov nevertheless stated that any nationalization of Russian companies by Berlin would “seriously violate international law,” deeming it “unacceptable.”

“The nationalization in Germany of the subsidiaries of Gazprom and Rosneft would seriously violate international law… it will violate all imaginable and unimaginable laws,” Peskov told reporters on Friday.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | 4 Comments

Russia blasts ‘shameless US interference’ in Pakistan’s affairs

Press TV – April 5, 2022

Russia has blasted “another attempt of shameless interference” by the United States in the internal affairs of Pakistan, saying that Washington sought to punish a “disobedient” Prime Minister Imran Khan following his visit to Moscow on February 23-24.

The spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova said in a statement issued on Monday that the political development in Pakistan “leaves no doubt” that the United States plotted to topple the government of Prime Minister Khan.

The Russian foreign office condemned the United States over its involvement in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the Pakistani government.

“Immediately after the announcement of the working visit of Imran Khan to Moscow on February 23-24 this year, the Americans and their Western associates began to exert rude pressure on the prime minister, demanding an ultimatum to cancel the trip,” Zakharova said.

The Russian foreign office stated that US Deputy Secretary of State for South Asia Donald Lu called upon the Pakistani ambassador in Washington and subsequently called upon Ambassador Asad Majid to “condemn the balanced reaction of the Pakistani leadership to the events in Ukraine,” as evidence of American interference in Pakistan’s affairs.

“When he [Khan] nevertheless came to us, [Lu] called the Pakistani ambassador in Washington and demanded that the visit be immediately interrupted, which was also rejected,” she stated.

“According to the Pakistani media, on March 7 this year, in a conversation with Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majid, a high-ranking American official (presumably the same Donald Lu) sharply condemned the balanced reaction of the Pakistani leadership to the events in Ukraine and made it clear that partnerships with the United States are possible only if Imran Khan is removed from power,” Zakharova said.

She added that further development of the situation in Pakistan left no doubt that Washington “decided to punish the ‘disobedient’ Imran Khan,” for not condemning the Russian military action in Ukraine as was demanded by the US.

“This is another attempt of shameless US interference in the internal affairs of an independent state for its own selfish purposes. The above facts eloquently testify to this,” Zakharova said.

“The [Pakistan] prime minister himself has repeatedly stated that the conspiracy against him was inspired and financed from abroad. We hope that Pakistani voters will be informed about these circumstances when they come to the elections, which should be held within 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly,” she said.

Addressing a large rally in the capital Islamabad last week, Prime Minister Khan accused an unnamed “foreign power” – in a clear reference to the United States – of funding a “conspiracy” to topple his democratically-elected government.

He said the “foreign power” sent millions of dollars to opposition parties to launch a no-confidence vote against him in the parliament.

On Sunday, members of Pakistan’s parliament chanted “Death to America” as they rejected a no-confidence vote, which sought to oust Khan, saying “foreign powers” were interfering in the country’s democratic process.

The National Assembly deputy speaker dismissed the no-trust move against the prime minister, terming it as “contradictory” to Article 5 of Pakistan’s Constitution.

Suri said that the motion was presented on March 8 and should be conducted according to the law and the Constitution, stressing, “No foreign power shall be allowed to topple an elected government through a conspiracy.”

The Pakistani president later dissolved the National Assembly on Khan’s advice.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 6 Comments

Washington nudges Moscow toward default

Samizdat | April 5, 2022

The US authorities have stopped the Russian government from paying holders of its sovereign debt more than $600 million from reserves frozen in American bank accounts.

“Russia must choose between draining remaining valuable dollar reserves or new revenue coming in, or default,” a US Treasury spokesperson said on Monday as the largest of the payments came due, including a $552.4 million principal payment on a maturing bond.

An $84 million coupon payment was due on the same day on a 2042 sovereign dollar bond.

JPMorgan, which had been processing payments as a correspondent bank heretofore, was stopped by the US regulator, according to a source familiar with the issue, as cited by Reuters. Now Russia has a 30-day grace period to make the payment.

Russia’s foreign currency reserves held by the country’s central bank at US financial institutions had been previously frozen as part of Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.

However, the country was allowed to use the funds to make coupon payments on dollar-denominated sovereign debt on a case-by-case basis. Since February 24, when the operation was launched, Russia managed to make as many as five bond payments, having averted the default that was predicted by international rating agencies.

Moscow was last allowed to make a $447 million coupon payment on a 2030 sovereign dollar bond on March 31.

The sanctions-hit country has a total of 15 international bonds outstanding with a face value of around $40 billion.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

Biden, Zelensky and the Neocons

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • APRIL 5, 2022

There are many backstories surfacing from what is going on in Ukraine and Washington that have been largely ignored amid the drumbeat of casualty counts combined with claims and counter-claims from the two sides. Two stories that I believe have received insufficient attention are the US government’s three decades long obsession with weakening and de facto destroying the Russian state and the dominant neocon plus associate liberal democracy promoter role in what has become American foreign policy.

To be sure, anyone who doubts that the US is currently on a course to not only replace President Vladimir Putin but also to crash the Russian economy is delusional. Washington has been trying to deconstruct the former Soviet Union ever since 1991, beginning with President Bill Clinton’s expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe in spite of a pledge not to do so and his unleashing the oligarchs who looted the country’s natural resources under President Boris Yeltsin. The pressure continued under the beatified President Barack Obama, who appointed as Ambassador Michael McFaul, who saw his mission as connecting with dissidents and opposition forces inside Russia, a role incompatible with his promotion of US interests and protecting US persons.

And then we had the redoubtable President Donald Trump undoing confidence building agreements with Russia followed by the current disaster that is unfolding before our very eyes. One should not ignore the fact that the fighting in Ukraine came about largely because the Biden Administration refused to negotiate seriously regarding the mostly reasonable demands that the Kremlin was making to enhance its own security. Former US arms inspector Scott Ritter cites a reported comment by a senior Biden Administration official which sums up the current policy, such as it is: “The only end game now is the end of Putin regime. Until then, all the time Putin stays, [Russia] will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations.”

Indeed, President Joe Biden’s recent disastrous trip to Europe can likely be characterized as one wishes to see it and the media has certainly done considerable spinning, but Biden left behind a legacy of various gaffes and lapsus linguae that made clear that the US is in the game to defeat Russia however long it will take to play out. And Biden has considerable support from brain dead congressmen like Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who has called for someone to murder Putin, lamenting “Is there a Brutus in Russia?”

On his trip, Biden revealed that he expects US combat troops to go to Ukraine’s assistance and he has also taken delight in denouncing Putin as a “killer,” a “thug,” a “murderous dictator” and a “man who cannot remain in power.” In so doing, he has openly called for Putin’s removal from office, i.e. regime change, while also opening the door to an obvious false flag operation in his unwillingness to reveal when questioned by a reporter how the US might respond if Russia were to use chemical weapons in Ukraine. That he has taken those positions means that it will be impossible to restore manageable relations with Moscow post Ukraine. It is a heavy price to pay for something that is little more than posturing.

The chemical weapon issue is particularly important as President Donald Trump bombed Syria with cruise missiles in the wake of a fabricated report that Bashar al-Assad had used such weapons in an attack on Khan Shaykhun in 2017. It turned out that the anti-regime terrorists who were occupying the city at the time had themselves staged the attack and deliberately blamed it on the Syrian government to produce an expected US response.

Based on what I am seeing and hearing, I would conclude that the neoconservatives and their liberal democracy promoting friends are working hard from the inside to make something like a war with Russia happen. Note in particular that we are talking about war with shooting and deaths, not just a reincarnation or extension of the Cold War of yore. News on April 1st, admittedly April Fools’ Day, suggests that Ukraine has staged helicopter launched missile attacks on a fuel storage depot inside Russia, which, if true, could produce a massive escalation from the Kremlin. It would be a typical neocon maneuver to dramatically increase the level of the fighting and draw the United States into the conflict.

In addition to that, I know I am not the only one who has noticed the pace and focus of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskys’ widely promoted appeals to groups and world governments to come to his country’s aid, to include establishment of a no-fly zone. The appeals are slick, convincing and carefully focused, with Zelensky being framed as a “hero” fighting valiantly against savage invaders. To put it mildly they are way beyond the capabilities and experience level of a former comedian, whose performances featured erotic dancing and playing a piano with his penis, corruptly placed on the presidential hotseat by a billionaire oligarch Israeli citizen.

The US media is, of course, lavishly praising Zelensky, but I would bet that he has a cadre of American and possibly Israeli neoconservatives working diligently behind him to get it right, coaching him on what to say and do. There might be US government players also in on the act, to include NED (National Endowment for Democracy), CIA information specialists, State Department media consultants and observers from the National Security Council. Indeed, there is as much a war going on over the airwaves and internet to influence thinking internationally as there is fighting taking place on the ground.

One should conclude that the CIA is playing the central role in the “Russia Project” because of its ability to shield what it is doing from scrutiny. Based on previous operations to overthrow governments in various places, one might assume that the so-called covert action approach is multi-level. It consists of media placements that are intended to sway opinion both inside and outside Russia and produce unrest, the identification and recruitment of Russian government officials when they travel overseas, and the support of dissidents both internally and externally who share a negative view of Moscow and its policies. A major component in the approach is to obtain Western liberal support for harsh sanctions and other repressive measures against the Kremlin based on the fraudulent proposition that Putin and his associates are out to destroy “democracy” and “freedom.” Ironically, Americans are less “free” and also poorer because of the actions of their own government since 2001, not because of Vladimir Putin.

As was the case with Iraq, Afghanistan and the long list of American interventions, it is the neocons who are in front demanding a powerful military response, both to Russia and, inevitably, to Iran. What is particularly noticeable is how the neocons and their liberal democracy promoting counterparts have in several areas dominated the foreign policies of both parties. Leading neocon Bill Kristol, who called the Biden speech “a historic call to action on par with Ronald Reagan[‘s] ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall speech,’” recently also contributed “There would be no real prospect of an awakening in the United States and Europe were it not for the stand the Ukrainians have made. We would still be denying the threats we face. We would still be turning away from the urgency of the task we face. We would even, I daresay, still fail to appreciate the preciousness of the freedom and decency we have the obligation—and the honor—to defend. It is the Ukrainians who have shown us what free men and women can do, and what they are sometimes required to do, in defense of that freedom. It is the Ukrainians who have shown the world that we are in a new period of consequences. It is the Ukrainians who have given us the example of what it means today to fight back against brutality, and to fight for freedom.”

Kristol is, as so often, full of flag waving, chest puffing nonsense, peddling the notion that the United States has an obligation to police the world. Another leading neocon and regular Washington Post and The Atlantic contributor Anne Applebaum puts it this way and in so doing expands the playing field to include much of the world: “Unless democracies defend themselves together, the forces of autocracy will destroy them. I am using the word forces, in the plural, deliberately. Many American politicians would understandably prefer to focus on the long-term competition with China. But as long as Russia is ruled by Putin, then Russia is at war with us too. So are Belarus, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Nicaragua, Hungary, and potentially many others.”

It would be nice, for a change, to end an article on a high note, but high notes are hard to find these days. If there is anything beyond Ukraine to demonstrate the insanity of US foreign policy it would have to be, inevitably, recent news out of Israel. US Secretary of State Tony Blinken was recently in Israel trying in part to sell the possibility that the Biden Administration might actually come to a non-proliferation agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. Israel strongly opposes any such move and its lobby in the US led by various neocon think tanks has been working hard to kill any deal. So, what did Blinken do? He asked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for suggestions of what might be done in lieu of an actual agreement. Naftali reportedly suggested harsher sanctions on Iran. Cut it any way you want, but the renewal of 2015’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is beneficial for both the United States and all of Iran’s neighbors, and here the US senior-most representative involved in the negotiations is asking the head of a foreign government to tell him what to do. Something is very wrong in Washington.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Ukraine stages more ‘killings’ of civilians: Russia

Samizdat | April 5, 2022

Ukrainian security services have staged more ‘killings’ of civilians in several towns and villages to make headlines in the Western media and accuse Moscow of war crimes, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed on Tuesday.

Moscow insists that the same tactics have been used by Kiev to blame Russian forces for atrocities in the town of Bucha last week.

“The troops of the 72nd Ukrainian Main Center for Psychological Operations conducted another staged filming of civilians allegedly killed by violent actions of the Russian armed forces in order for it to be distributed through the Western media,” the ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said during a briefing.

According to “confirmed information,” the filming took place in the village of Moschun some 23km northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Monday, he stated.

Similar false flag operations have been carried out by the Ukrainian side in the cities of Sumy, Konotop and elsewhere, Konashenkov added.

On Saturday, Ukraine distributed graphic footage of multiple corpses lying in the streets of the suburban town of Bucha northwest of Kiev, saying that they were executed by Russian troops.

Moscow, which insists that it is not targeting civilians during its operation in Ukraine, has rejected those accusations as a provocation and a false flag operation by Kiev.

It pointed out numerous inconsistencies in the Ukrainian story, including the fact that the video emerged several days after the Russian forces withdrew from Bucha, and that the local mayor didn’t mention any killings in his video address declaring the “liberation” of the city.

Despite Russian arguments and Moscow’s attempt to call a UN Security Council session, the West has immediately picked, who to blame for the purported atrocities. US President Joe Biden has demanded a “war crimes trial” for his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and the EU promised to send its experts to aid Ukrainian authorities in collecting evidence at the site.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | 1 Comment

AARON SIRI BREAKS DOWN ICAN’S LATEST LEGAL WINS

The Highwire with Del Bigtree | March 31, 2022

Del catches up with ICAN Lead Attorney, Aaron Siri, Esq, on the recent legal win against Washington D.C., putting the kibosh on the outrageous law which allowed minors to get vaccinated without parental consent.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment