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15,000 NATO troops from 14 nations, including the US, Sweden, Finland and Ukraine, start drills near Russia

Samizdat | May 16, 2022

Large-scale NATO military drills started in Estonia on Monday. The exercise dubbed ‘Hedgehog 2022’ is one of the largest in the Baltic nation’s history, according to the military bloc. The drills will involve some 15,000 troops from 14 nations, including both military bloc members and their partners.

Soldiers from Finland, Sweden, Georgia and Ukraine are among those that will take part in the exercise, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported. The drills will include all branches of the armed forces and will involve air, sea and land exercises, as well as cyber warfare training, according to the broadcaster.

According to a NATO statement, the drills will also see the US Navy Wasp-class landing ship ‘Kearsarge’ take part in the exercises. Both the military bloc and Estonian Defense Forces deputy commander, Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, have denied that the drills just over 60km from the Russian border have anything to do with Moscow’s ongoing military action in Ukraine.

The drills started just a day after Finland and Sweden officially announced their plans to join NATO, and were planned long before the conflict in Ukraine broke out, Western officials have said.

The exercises in Estonia are, however, just one part of NATO’s large-scale military activities near the Russian border. Another Baltic state, Lithuania, is hosting the ‘Iron Wolf’ exercise, which involves 3,000 NATO troops and 1,000 pieces of military equipment, including Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks.

Two of NATO’s biggest exercises – ‘Defender Europe’ and ‘Swift Response’ – are taking place in Poland and eight other countries, involving 18,000 troops from 20 nations, according to NATO’s statement on Friday.

“Exercises like these show that NATO stands strong and ready to protect our nations and defend against any threat,” the military bloc’s spokesperson, Oana Lungescu, said, adding that the drills “help to remove any room for miscalculation or misunderstanding about our resolve to protect and defend every inch of allied territory.”

The NATO Response Force is currently taking part in the 7,500-strong ‘Wettiner Heide’ drills in Germany. The Mediterranean Sea is about to witness ‘Neptune series’ naval drills involving the USS ‘Harry S. Truman’ carrier strike group that will be placed under NATO command. This will only be the second time since the end of the Cold War that a US carrier group has been transferred under the military bloc’s command, NATO has said.

In June, the Baltic States and Poland will host what NATO describes as “Europe’s largest integrated air and missile defense exercise,” which would involve 23 nations.

In late April, Finland hosted NATO naval drills. Now, it is also hosting a joint land exercise, in which troops from the US, the UK, Estonia and Latvia are participating.

The massive military wargames are taking place amid heightened tensions between Russia, NATO and some of the military bloc’s partners. Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, and Sweden decided to reconsider their long-standing policy of non-alignment following a major change in public opinion after the launch of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The development sparked a wave of criticism from Moscow, which warned that it would have to respond if Finland and Sweden join NATO. Moscow also maintains that it considers NATO’s expansion as a direct threat to its own security.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 10 Comments

School District Restricts First Amendment Activity with Non-Disparagement Clause in Employment Contracts

The Rutherford Institute | May 16, 2022

SOUTHLAKE, Tex. — The Rutherford Institute is challenging attempts by a Texas school district to prohibit its employees from publicly criticizing the school or its policies. In a letter to officials at the Carroll Independent School District, Rutherford Institute attorneys warn that the non-disparagement clause included in the District’s employment contracts, which requires employees to “agree to not disparage, criticize, or defame the District, and its employees or officials, to the media,” constitutes a restriction on speech in violation of the First Amendment that would likely not hold up in court.

“As public bodies entrusted with the care and education of America’s children, schools should be free speech forums that encourage critical thinking skills,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Forcing teachers to muzzle their concerns about the government’s policies or actions sends a chilling message to students that there is no room for transparency and accountability in government.”

In 2021, the Texas legislature enacted House Bill 3979, commonly referred to as Texas’ “critical race theory law,” which requires teachers who choose to discuss “controversial issues of public policy or social affairs” in the classroom to strive to present multiple perspectives. During a training session, an administrator at the Carroll Independent School District suggested that if teachers have a book on the Holocaust, they should also provide a book from an opposing perspective. The suggestion dismayed teachers, spurring them to speak out publicly on the issue and resulting in significant media attention and criticism of the school district for its interpretation of House Bill 3979. Several months later, apparently in response to the media backlash, a non-disparagement clause was included in the District employees’ annual contracts. The clause prohibits criticism of the District, its officials, and employees to the media but does not prohibit employees from praising or commending the District and its officials. However, as Rutherford Institute attorneys warn in a legal analysis provided to the District, muzzling teachers in order to avoid bad press is unconstitutional. Whether the individual is a teacher, parent, student or member of the community, the right to publicly criticize a government body is firmly grounded in the First Amendment. Moreover, such content-based restrictions on speech “are presumptively unconstitutional.” As the letter notes, “public school teachers… cannot ‘constitutionally be compelled to relinquish the First Amendment rights they would otherwise enjoy as citizens to comment on matters of public interest in connection with the operation of the public schools in which they work.’” Non-disparagement policies by government employers have also been found unconstitutional. Rutherford Institute attorneys concluded by calling on the Carroll Independent School District to remove the non‑disparagement clause from the District’s employment contracts in order to ensure that its policies align with the spirit and the letter of the Constitution.

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, provides legal assistance at no charge to individuals whose constitutional rights have been threatened or violated and educates the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting their freedoms.

DOCUMENTS

Letter to the Carroll Independent Sch. Distr.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | Leave a comment

Conspiracies about conspiracy theories

A little trip down memory lane

el gato malo – bad cattitude – may 16, 2022

My goodness, these “conspiracy theorists” certainly do have vivid imaginations, don’t they?

i mean, that would be terribly divisive, counter to rights, and directly antagonistic to people who just want bodily autonomy. can you even imagine public officials doing something like that?

pretty far fetched…

or health bodies using disease to engage in surveillance?

or governments seeking to do the same and mitigate privacy altogether?

i mean, that’s just silly!

what next, some wild eyed claims that they want universal digital ID?

that they have been quietly rolling out the standards for

and making international and inescapable?

i mean, what will these prolific conspiracy boffins think up next, some sort of state run digital currencies to link to this new ID and surveillance state?

i mean, who would even suggest something like that?

federalreserve.gov/cbdc-faqs.htm

and anyhow, what’s the worst that could happen?

i mean, they told us this is all benign, right?

and it’s not like they ever lied to us before! (or if they did, i’m sure it was for our own good…)

and it’s not like they are seeking to give this power to deeply compromised and captured transnational agencies with no accountability whatsoever and grant them authority over citizens who had no say in the matter…

“The Biggest Global Power Grab We Have Seen in Our Lifetimes”: How Serious is the Threat From the WHO Pandemic Treaty?

so let’s all take a breath. i’m sure you’re just overwrought and imagining things.

there are no conspiracies.

no one is out to get you, least of all some shadowy davos cabal.

and come on, if they were really trying to do this to you, i’m sure they would not just come right out and tell you in some sort of james bond villain megalomaniacal monologue.

i mean, this is real life. no one actually does that…

and hey, i’m sure they’ll probably manage to keep those first 2 promises.

watch out for that third one though.

i have some real doubts about it it…

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

The vaccine cajolers, Part 6: Indoctrinating children is the key

This is the sixth and final part of Paula Jardine’s investigation into the planning behind ensuring vaccine acceptance and countering vaccine ‘hesitancy’. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here and Part 5 here. 

TCW Defending Freedom | May 16, 2022

COVID-19 vaccines were authorised for emergency use to prevent Covid infection. The ‘vaccine confidence’ people found the word ‘protection’ resonated more with the public than ‘prevention’; accordingly the vaccines were promoted as protecting the community from hospitalisation and death. People who could authentically ‘sell gratitude’ for getting on board with the Covid campaigns for masking or accepting vaccines, the trusted health professionals, social influencers, and ‘people like me’ were deployed to persuade the public. But any talk of a moral obligation to accept the vaccines was to be avoided as they thought it invoked strong negative responses.

Dr Heidi Larson, who set up the ‘Vaccine Confidence Project’ at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, admitted there are challenges, especially when it comes to defining what is misinformation. ‘Social media users may pose questions or instil doubt without saying something that is explicitly false. If someone asks “Do you really know what’s in a vaccine?” we cannot legally or ethically remove it,’ she said. ‘Getting the balance right between freedom of expression, privacy and public health is a major challenge. The erosion of public trust is part of a wider distrust of authorities, experts and industries, but vaccine advocates could lead the way in rebuilding resilience.’

Such reservations have not stopped efforts to police information shared on social media. The authoritarian reflex is to monitor and censor dissent. In 2018, the EU introduced a code of practice on disinformation, and committed to supporting what it called an independent network of fact-checkers, stimulating quality journalism and promoting media literacy. Facebook, Google and Twitter agreed to collaborate by monitoring ‘misinformation’ to ‘ensure the protection of European values and security’.

In June 2021 with the Covid vaccine programme six months old, Věra Jourová, the EU’s vice president for values and transparency, said in a statement: ‘We decided to extend this programme, because the amount of dangerous lies continues to flood our information space and because it will inform the creation of the new generation Code against disinformation.’

To borrow the words of the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the authorities are reaching the point where ‘unless you hear it from us it’s not the truth’.

Last August BBC Media Action, generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, began a campaign to counter ‘disinformation’ on Covid-19 vaccines, advancing the compromised World Health Organisation (WHO) as the only viable authority on this topic. It is little wonder that the fact checkers themselves began to come under scrutiny, for example by the Critic.

The vaccine safety net approach of counterbalancing was no longer considered sufficient. ‘Inoculation theory’, an idea from the field of public relations, was deployed: ‘Inoculation involves debunking false claims before people encounter them. Then, their first encoding of misinformation is strongly tied with the notion that it is false, equipping people with arguments that can be used to refute and dismiss it. The two main elements of inoculation are explicit warnings that there are attempts to mislead people and refutations of misinformation.’

Dr Emily Brunson, an anthropologist who studies vaccine confidence issues, said: ‘By exposing people to a message that counters your argument and then refuting it, you can help people become more resilient to harmful or inaccurate messaging they may hear later. And just as vaccines only work when they’re administered before someone is exposed to the disease, inoculation theory works when your message is heard first.’

There’s an old-fashioned name for inoculation theory. It is indoctrination. Children, whose minds are the most malleable, are becoming the target. In 2014, the WHO Sage working group laid some of the blame for vaccine hesitancy on the education system saying, ‘Historically, children have not been systematically educated in schools about vaccines, resulting in some in the adult population (i.e. parents and adults) who do not appreciate their benefits to health and societal value for their children and for themselves.‘ Larson agrees: ‘We need to do a better job in schools, helping children to understand essential concepts about how immune systems work to fight disease and how vaccines help build our body’s own protection against infection.’

With the Covid vaccines, applying ‘social norms’ has become part of the persuasion playbook. Lisa Fazio, a psychologist who participated in the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Covid communications expert group, said: ‘It’s useful to find the influencers and get them to change their mind, which can have big downstream effects. So, for example, if you were working in schools, you would target the kids who have the most connections with other kids and have them be the ones implementing change. Identifying those influencers is going to have a bigger effect than just random people.’

If the Covid vaccine campaign exposes anything 18 months in, with some people having received fourth and even fifth doses, as any protection conferred by the hastily developed vaccines is short-lived, it’s that the idea that vaccines can be used to eradicate diseases is a pipe dream. It demonstrates too that the War on Microbes persists and that, with Covid, the opportunity for a further coercive tool to encourage uptake – the vaccination pass – can be added to its arsenal.

Today the EU is leading the world on the development of these digital certificates. According to Ursula von der Leyen, ‘the development of a vaccine certificate within Europe helps ensure the functioning of the single market, as well as enable Europeans to move freely for work or tourism.

If these certificates achieve permanence, they will remove any remnant of choice over vaccination. The future won’t be Mahler’s holistic vision of health, instead it threatens to be one of being endlessly and needlessly medicated with vaccines, the ultimate fulfilment of Grant’s vision of universal vaccination. Dystopia for the greater good.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Data From Iceland and Australia Confirm: Vaccine Effectiveness Is Overstated

By Noah Carl | The Daily Sceptic | May 16, 2022 

Back in March, I wrote a post noting that excess mortality data from Europe and Israel were hard to reconcile with claims of 95% vaccine effectiveness against death. However, I also noted that some countries data were consistent with very high vaccine effectiveness against death.

The two examples I gave were Australia and Iceland – both countries with very high vaccination rates. By the end of 2021, each country had double-vaccinated 77% of its population, compared to only 70% in the U.K. and only 63% in the U.S. (see below).

At the time I wrote the post, Iceland had only seen a minor uptick in excess mortality, while Australia had not seen any at all – despite both countries experiencing major outbreaks in the winter/spring of 2022. If countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Israel had seen deadly post-vaccination waves, why hadn’t Iceland and Australia? That was the puzzle.

It appears that ‘puzzle’ is now solved – we just needed to wait for more data. The latest figures from Iceland and Australia show sizeable upticks in excess mortality. First, let’s look at Iceland:

After bouncing around the zero mark for the first two years of the pandemic, excess mortality jumped to 74% in the first week of March. And it has now been above zero for eleven of the last thirteen weeks. Next, let’s consider Australia:

Over the first two years of the pandemic, excess morality averaged roughly zero – dipping lower in the summer and rising higher in the winter. Yet since the start of October, it has been consistently positive, jumping to 26% in the third week of January.

It should be noted: these upticks in excess mortality are not as large as those seen in European countries during 2020 and 2021.

However, they indicate that even very high vaccination rates are not sufficient to prevent mortality from rising when there’s a major outbreak. And they cast further doubt on claims that the vaccines are 95% effective against death. If they were 95% effective against death, excess mortality should hardly have risen at all in Iceland and Australia.

Given that 77% of the entire population was double vaccinated before the latest outbreaks began (and that’s the entire population, not just over 16s), you’d have to believe that excess mortality would have been many, manty times higher in the absence of vaccination to rescue the claim of 95% effectiveness against death.

What’s probably true instead is that the vaccines do reduce mortality from Covid – but not by 95%.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Investigation Launched After ‘Mystery’ Surge in Deaths of Newborn Babies

By Paul Joseph Watson | Summit News | May 16, 2022

Health authorities in Scotland have launched an investigation after a mystery surge in deaths of newborn babies, the second time the phenomenon has been recorded in the space of six months.

A report by the Herald newspaper highlights the “very unusual” spike in deaths of babies, with the alarm being raised after 18 infants died within four weeks of birth in March.

That same control limit was also breached in September last year, when 21 neonatal deaths were reported, the first time this had occurred since records began.

“The neonatal mortality rate was 5.1 per 1,000 live births in September and 4.6 per 1,000 in March, against an average of 1.49 per 1000 in 2019,” reports the newspaper.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) said the deaths could not have been down to chance, while the cause behind the previous spike in September also “remained a mystery.”

The report notes that vaccination uptake has increased in expectant mothers and that COVID infections during pregnancy are associated with a higher chance of premature birth, but found no “direct link” between COVID surges and the deaths.

PHS Scotland says COVID infections “did not appear to have played a role” in the September spate of deaths.

Edinburgh University’s Dr. Sarah Stock said, “The numbers are really troubling,” but admitted she didn’t know the cause of the deaths.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Covid-hit Ardern’s unshakeable self-belief

By Guy Hatchard | TCW Defending Freedom | May 16, 2022

So Jacinda Ardern is vaccinated, boosted, wears masks, dutifully isolates – and she has Covid. She is urging us to follow her example. Her self-belief astounds. Words fail me.

I woke at 4am a day or two ago and lay wondering what I could say that might persuade people to reconsider their faith. I fell back to sleep and dreamed I went to a media conference about Covid. I pleaded with the press to realise that freedom of expression was at risk and the whole audience began to laugh at me.

In the morning, I recounted my dream to my family; my daughter reported that she had much the same dream. Of course this was not prophetic dreaming, it is the new normal we have been dreading and now must live every day. Stop the bus, I want to get off.

I have recently been to Wellington, dull party central of the hard-working civil service. It was the Full Monty of mass conformity. Masking was as near 100 per cent as makes no difference.

Now that 2million vaccinated Kiwis have caught Covid, Twitter feeds are full of people worried that the unmasked have been stealing their immunity. They are forming a society of the convinced against all evidence; Jacinda will surely be their hero and president.

This has happened despite increasing evidence that masking does not stop the spread of infection, and a great deal of evidence that it actively harms our health.

A recent study of mask wearing in Finland concluded: ‘According to our analysis, no additional effect seemed to be gained [from mask wearing], based on comparisons between the cities and between the age groups of unvaccinated children.’

It appears to me that science sprinkled on the media is like water off a duck’s back. Even without science, the media are training the public to be (like themselves) oblivious to the obvious. Look at a map of the world, and observe that many countries with the least Covid also have the least vaccination.

I am bombarded everyday with new data analyses which indicate that mRNA vaccination has been ineffective and dangerous. Rather than stopping infection, hospitalisation and death, it is associated with immune deficiency and excess all-cause mortality. The boosters take the biscuit. Are we like lemmings, driven to self-destruct when we are overpopulated?

Meanwhile we are bombarded with calls for censorship of social media and revocation of free speech. The NY Post reports that Nina Jankowicz, a Twitter user tapped by Joe Biden to head his new US agency of disinformation, is demanding the right to correct tweets which she considers false. Jankowicz is well qualified to correct everyone’s understanding of science: she has a BA in political science.

I want to wake up from this dream, but I know that even as I write there are people busy in biolabs around the world creating illnesses, probably with the express intention of mandating me to take their patented vaccine. In most cases, they are funded by government and trumpeted as heroes by the bought media.

As John Maynard Keynes said: ‘Capitalism is the astounding belief that the wickedest of men will do the wickedest of things for the good of everyone.’

Justin Fox, a commentator favoured by the World Economic Forum, author of The Myth of the Rational Market (or should it be World?), writes on May 1 in Bloomberg : ‘The vaccines have been spectacularly effective at preventing severe disease and death . . .’ and continues: ‘. . . scientists wildly underestimated the deadliness of the disease’.

Conceding that Covid vaccination is ineffective at preventing transmission, he mused with us that perhaps only repeated infection and the growth of natural immunity(a concept which NZ government scientists have labelled a conspiracy theory) could defeat Covid, but he left us with this parting shot of government folk wisdom: ‘Wearing masks on buses and subways ought be encouraged even after the mandates go away.’

If you can locate a coherent theme in his article, let me know. Justin Fox is also educated in political science, which says just about all that can be said about mainstream media Covid advice. Our Jacinda would be proud of him.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Chinese Dimension of Russia’s Coal Business in a New Environment

By Petr Konovalov – New Eastern Outlook – 16.05.2022

Various projects to do away with coal and switch to other fuels that emit less combustion gases have long been discussed in developed countries. Some experts have even begun to predict the imminent demise of the entire global coal industry. One of the reasons for these forecasts has been statements by China, the world’s main coal consumer, that it also wants to reduce its use of coal as much as possible, along with Western countries.

However, despite all these claims, coal is still the cheapest and most transportable fuel, which no country with a developed industry can do without. The global coal trade continues to grow, generating good revenues for its main suppliers, including Russia.

In 2020, the Russian Federation produced about 401 million tons of coal, 199 million of which was exported to other countries.

In 2021, tensions between the PRC and Australia escalated, causing China to stop importing Australian coal and contributing to an increase in Chinese coal purchases from Russia.

By the end of 2021, Russian coal production was about 440 million tons per year, with 227 million tons exported. Thus, both Russian coal production and exports have shown significant growth. Of the above-mentioned coal exports, 129 million tons were sold to the Asia-Pacific region, which is particularly noteworthy because it is specifically this region that has major coal consumers such as China, South Korea and Japan, making the APR market particularly attractive for all coal exporters. China received 53 million tons of Russian coal, 20 million tons more than in 2020, earning Russia $7.4 billion.

In total, the Russian Federation accounted for more than 16% of the global coal market in 2021, 12% of the APR market and 15% of the Chinese market.

Since the Chinese coal situation came rather unexpectedly, the Russian Federation could not fully replace Australia on the Chinese market: most of Russia’s coal exports had already been allocated to other buyers and there was not enough time to multiply production. As a result, faced with an energy crisis, China started importing Australian coal again in late 2021, partly lifting the restrictions. However, the situation at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 still looked encouraging for the Russian coal sector. First, experience has shown that China cannot do without coal; Chinese decarbonization projects, which Beijing has been talking about for years, will not be implemented anytime soon – until then, the Celestial Empire will be importing coal. Second, having experienced power shortages without Australian coal, Beijing was able to see that its reliance on one supplier, Australia, was excessive. The tensions with Canberra in 2020-2021 are just one part of the larger political and economic confrontation between China and the West, and there could be many more conflicts ahead for the PRC and Australia. Therefore, to secure its energy sector, China needs to diversify its coal imports, including by further increasing supplies from Russia.

In February 2022, the media reported that Beijing and Moscow were negotiating an intergovernmental agreement under which coal supplies from Russia to China could be increased to 100 million tons per year.

However, at the end of February, a special operation by Russian troops in Ukraine began and the situation changed dramatically. The West has unleashed a torrent of sanctions on Russia, including Western countries starting to reduce imports of Russian hydrocarbons. In March 2022, for example, Russian coal shipments to the EU dropped by around 50%.

Although China is not an ally of the West, Russian coal exports to the Celestial Empire are also on the decline, as Chinese banks have reduced funding for related operations for fear of Western sanctions. The disconnection of a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system and the fact that most of the coal purchase contracts were in dollars also played a role: the Chinese side has had difficulty making payments.

Some pro-Western media have concluded that the Russian coal industry has suffered serious damage, that trade with China will not compensate for this damage, and that coal exports may not recover to their previous levels. However, such conclusions are rather premature.

Thus, despite the overall decline in the Russian coal exports to the PRC, exports of coking coal, a type of hard coal particularly valuable for the steel industry, increased in the first quarter of 2022. It can be assumed that the decline in Chinese purchases of other types of coal, which are used for winter heating, for example, may be due to the approaching summer period.

China now has a considerable supply of different types of coal, and in the run-up to the warm season, when there is no need for mass home heating, it can afford to reduce coal imports to explore new conditions. By autumn, however, it can be expected that Chinese-Russian coal cooperation will intensify.

As for sanctions-related difficulties, talks began as early as March between Russia and China on settlements in national currencies and on the use of CIPS, China’s equivalent of SWIFT.

It should further be noted that the Chinese side’s caution over the threat of Western sanctions is also a temporary phenomenon, as the PRC’s relations with the West are not good at all, and China may soon fall under its own sanctions regardless of its relations with Russia. Especially in view of certain features of Chinese foreign policy: on May 6, 2022, for example, some 15 Chinese planes entered the airspace of the partially recognized state of Taiwan, which the PRC considers part of its territory. The Taiwanese have scrambled their warplanes and put their air defense forces on alert. Fortunately, the incident ended peacefully. However, since Taiwan is under the protection of the US military, there is no doubt that the incident will further strain Chinese-US relations, and if it continues, the PRC will soon find itself in the same “sanctions boat” as Russia. In this case, Chinese coal imports from Australia are likely to suffer again.

It can therefore be assumed that China is seeking economic independence from the US and its allies, including from Australian coal supplies, and the Chinese leadership is already working out how to circumvent Western sanctions. One can fully expect that joint efforts in this area will soon allow Russia and China to move towards more intensive trade, including in coal and other energy sources.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

What happens if US designates Russia ‘a state sponsor of terrorism’?

By Drago Bosnic | May 16, 2022

The designation “state sponsor of terrorism” is used by the US Department of State to unilaterally sanction countries which the US government claims to have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism”. The State Department is required to maintain the controversial list under special acts passed by the Congress, imposing various restrictions aimed at the economies and international trade relations of the targeted countries.

As of late 2021, State Department lists Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria as “state sponsors of terrorism”, however, there were other countries formerly on the list, such as Iraq, Libya, South Yemen and Sudan. Designating a country as “a state sponsor of terrorism” can affect it in many ways, some of which include:

 – freezing of the targeted country’s financial and real estate assets in the US;

 – requiring the US to prevent efforts of the targeted country to secure World Bank or IMF loans;

 – prohibition on the export of so-called “dual-use products” (items that can be used both for civilian and military purposes);

 – requiring the US to impose economic and other sanctions against countries that continue to do business with the targeted country.

Since Russia started its special military operation in Ukraine, the more hawkish members of the US and NATO establishment have been insisting on the inclusion of Russia on this list. Some, such as the Baltic states, infamous for their virtually endemic Russophobia, already designated Russia as the “state sponsor of terrorism”. Luckily, actions taken by such microstates are largely inconsequential. However, what would happen if some of the larger and more significant NATO and EU members were to take the same course of action?

Considering the controversial designation is aimed not just against the targeted country, but also any third party doing business with it, this would effectively force member states to sanction each other, since many EU and NATO members simply cannot function without trading and dealing with Russia. This includes countries like Hungary, Austria and even Germany, the EU’s largest economy and arguably the most powerful member state. Without Russia’s oil, gas, food, rare earth metals and nonmetals, heavy machinery and many other commodities, these countries would collapse, economically and otherwise.

The designation also directly affects relations within NATO. In case the Congress was to add Russia to the list, possible sanctions wouldn’t just affect the aforementioned EU member states, but also some of the largest and most powerful NATO members, such as Turkey. Ankara has already been sanctioned for the purchase of Russia’s top-of-the-line S-400 surface-to-air missile system. However, the sanctions in the context of trading and dealing with a country designated “a state sponsor of terrorism” would be much more severe. Thousands of private Turkish companies are present in Russia, many of them in the construction business, which directly affects the troubled Turkish economy, currently dealing with enormous inflation and unemployment.

In terms of global relations and trade, such a move would affect the world in ways which are difficult to predict in the long term. However, in short term, it would certainly affect countries such as China and India, dozens of countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere, as all these countries would be affected by the third-party sanctions. In doing so, the US would effectively sanction around 80% of the world. This would lead to an uncontrollable escalation of economic collapse in many of these countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa. It would force the US to either implement sanctions on a case-by-case basis, or change the law completely, effectively blunting the effects of sanctions. This would also exponentially accelerate the process of dedollarization, as countries would seek other ways to do business with Russia without US interference.

However, the far-reaching consequences for the global economy would pale in comparison to the resulting security issues. Officially deeming a country with over 6,000 nuclear weapons “a terrorist state” pushes the planet to a brink of a world-ending conflict, as such a designation eases legal restrictions on the use of the US military against the targeted country. Such moves have resulted in rising tensions with North Korea and Iran in previous years. Within the framework of the designation, the US targeted and killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in 2020, to which Iran retaliated by targeting US bases in Iraq.

Even at the height of the Cold War, the US did not sanction the USSR with this designation, which is what makes this move even less logical, since the strategic military situation is still virtually unchanged, with both Russia and the US still relying on the mutually assured destruction (MAD) doctrine. Also, Russia is not without options for a reciprocal response, as it could easily designate the US itself as a state sponsor of terrorism. This designation would hardly just be a (geo)political one, as the US has been providing ample support to a wide range of terrorist actors from at least the 1980s to this very day. Former US State Secretary and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton openly admitted that Al Qaeda was in essence the mujahideen the US funded and armed to fight the USSR in the 1980s.

The same happened in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s, where the US openly worked with Neo-Nazi and terrorist groups to help dismantle former Yugoslavia. During the Arab Spring color revolution which swept through the Middle East and North Africa, the US directly supported dozens of terrorist groups, resulting in the destruction of Syria, Libya and Iraq. US and NATO attempts to rebrand these groups as the so-called “moderate democratic opposition” failed miserably as the terrorists exposed themselves by allying with the Islamic State and even posting videos of gruesome crimes against civilians and POWs. In short, the US should take a long, hard look in the mirror before it even begins contemplating the idea to designate anyone “a state sponsor of terrorism”.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

‘Finns & Swedes won’t benefit from NATO’

Samizdat | May 16, 2022

NATO membership won’t make Finland and Sweden more secure, but would likely see them fighting somebody else’s wars and hosting American bases, Dr. Jan Oberg, director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, has told RT.

“It’s a disastrous decision,” Oberg said on Sunday, following an official declaration by the Finnish government that it is planning to join the US-led military bloc. Hours later, a similar announcement was made by the ruling party in Sweden. The two Nordic nations stayed out of NATO during the Cold War, but their governments said Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has become a game-changer.

Finland and Sweden have failed to carry out “long-term consequence analysis,” he added. “Nobody seems to ask whether NATO is the right thing to join. After all these years since 1945, NATO has proven that it’s not able to deliver what taxpayers are paying for, namely stability, peace and security… and then Finland and Sweden say: ‘We’ll join this failed organization,’” he remarked.

“We have to ask ourselves: ‘Who caused the conflict [between Moscow and Kiev]?’ Everybody talks about the Russian invasion, which I deplore too, but underlying that is the conflict, which has to do with the NATO expansion,” the peace researcher said.

Making sure Ukraine becomes a neutral country that will never join NATO has been cited by Moscow as one of the main reasons for its ongoing military operation.

Oberg said he understood Russia’s concerns about the expansion of the bloc towards its borders. “If I was sitting in Moscow, I would feel that this was threatening,” he observed, referring to Finland and Sweden’s possible membership. “When you move troops up to the very border on both sides you increase tension; you decrease reaction time; you do all the things you shouldn’t do strategically if peace was your goal. Peace is not the goal of these people.”

The military-industrial complex – “those who sell weapons and profit from wars” – will gain from NATO adding two new members, he said. “The Swedish people and the Finnish people will not benefit from this. It’ll be completely new for them that they are now supposed to participate… in somebody else’s wars.”

With the US pushing for bases in Denmark and Norway, “are we to believe that there will not be American bases or American troops or something, you know, more permanent in Sweden and Finland?” he wondered.

NATO membership would also be “opening these countries for potential nuclearism that should never have been done in this particular area,” the peace researcher added.

Oberg said it was “appalling” that the governments in Helsinki and Stockholm didn’t put the issue to a referendum. “This is unheard of with such an important decision as joining NATO.”

While opinion polls have shown an overwhelming support for NATO membership in Finland, in Sweden the idea was backed by less than 50% of the public, he noted. “I’m amazed that there’s so little public discussion, so little uproar in terms of huge demonstrations in large cities in Sweden,” the scholar said.

He blamed the media, of which “80% to 90% is pro-NATO,” for this situation. “It’s very difficult to get into the media today with an alternative view… There’s no democracy and free media practice in this,” Oberg insisted.

Jan Oberg is a Danish-Swedish peace researcher, who received his doctorate from Lund University in Sweden. He taught courses in several countries, including Japan, Austria and Switzerland.

In 1986, the scholar co-founded the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Futures Research (TFF), an independent think tank aimed at promoting conflict-mitigation and achieving peace through peaceful means around the globe. He assisted on-the-ground work in ex-Yugoslavia, Georgia, Burundi, Iraq, Iran and Syria. In 2013, Oberg and TTF were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their activities.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 12 Comments

Europe looks to Israel for natural gas

Samizdat | May 16, 2022

Deliveries of Israeli natural gas via Turkey to Europe are being considered as an alternative to Russian energy supply, Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak reported on Monday.

“Israeli gas is considered as an option, its route is planned via Turkey, through the Eastern Mediterranean,” the paper reported, adding that, in case of such an agreement, “it is expected that the Turkish ship will be on duty during transmission periods.”

The report also highlighted that “focusing on deep-water drilling for the extraction of oil and natural gas from the seas, Turkey has included a fourth drilling vessel in its fleet.”

The new drilling ship, which left South Korea on March 7, is expected to arrive in Turkey on May 19. “A new generation ship that will serve in the Eastern Mediterranean, will begin its first mission in July after two months of preparatory work, it will facilitate deep-sea exploration and dredging in the Mediterranean,” the newspaper said.

The ship can reportedly operate at depths of up to 3,600 meters, and is capable of drilling up to 12,200 meters.

In March, media reported that a Turkey-Israel gas pipeline was being discussed behind the scenes as one of Europe’s alternatives to Russian energy. The idea, first conceived years ago, is to build a subsea pipeline from Turkey to Israel’s largest offshore natural gas field, Leviathan. Gas would flow to Turkey and on to southern Europe looking to diversify away from Russia.

Industry officials, however, have warned of production restraints and geopolitical factors that could leave the plan dead in the water. Lebanon has claimed that the gas field extends into its waters.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Did the CIA train Ukrainian torturers?

Journalist reports similarities between Ukrainian and American torture techniques

By Lucas Leiroz | May 16, 2022

Western media accuse Russia of perpetrating war crimes in Ukraine and committing human rights violations against civilians and prisoners. However, these same agencies are absolutely silent in the face of the evident practices of torture by Kiev’s agents against their enemies, which, curiously, present several similarities with the already known torture techniques applied by the CIA, according to a recent report by a journalist. The matter raises suspicions about a possible “instruction” that would be transmitted by American intelligence to Ukrainian neo-Nazis on “how to torture”.

On May 6, a meeting was held at the United Nations Security Council in order to discuss topics concerning the war crimes committed by Kiev against the population of Donbass during the eight years of conflict. Various evidence was presented, showing that such crimes are real and constitute indeed a serious problem in the region. The proofs included photos, videos, oral testimonies from residents of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as many other materials collected by journalists on the ground.

One of the journalist team’s leaders is the Dutch independent reporter Sonja van den Ende, who categorically claims that there is irrefutable evidence of the collaboration between Ukrainian official forces and neo-Nazi battalions in the execution of such crimes, showing that the practice is institutionalized and not restricted to isolated paramilitary groups. She also states that, despite the material presented, some Western countries – mainly US, UK, and France – showed an “arrogant” attitude, being disrespectful to the delicacy of the subject and ignoring the evidence of suffering of the people of Donbass, as well as despising the work of journalists.

These were some of her words: “I participated in the UN Security Council Arria-Formula meeting on 6 May 2022 (…) The goal of this meeting was to present to the United Nations (UN) members evidence about war crimes committed by the Ukrainian Army in cooperation with the Azov Battalion which was provided by us, journalists on the ground, in Donbass. The evidence was presented in the form of videos and oral testimonies, from residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, especially Mariupol, Volnovakha and Melitiopol (…) [However] They (Western countries) completely ignored us and didn’t ask any questions (…) I personally made some remarks at the end of the meeting. I asked them if they want WWIII and why they don’t listen to us, the journalists, who are working on the ground”.

More than simply ignoring the gravity of the facts, the representatives of the Western powers even tried to deny the irrefutable evidence of such crimes. Rodney Hunter, political coordinator for the US Mission to the United Nations, claimed that Russia was “misusing” the Council’s functions and “spewing falsehoods, disinformation, lies and false narratives”. He ignored the fact that the accusations were not simply “made by Russia” but corroborated by an international team of journalists.

In fact, this Western attitude was already expected by all analysts who study the Ukrainian case. Silence and disdain have already become central hallmarks of the way Kiev’s allies deal with the countless evidence of war crimes, genocide and torture committed by the Ukrainian armed forces and Russophobic neo-Nazi militias. Russia has been trying to resolve the case in international instances for a long time, but without success, as is the case with the lawsuit filed within the European Court and ignored by the judges. The impossibility of peaceful resolution was one of the reasons why the military operation became inevitable.

What seems most shocking, however, is the fact that the reports pointed out by Van den Ende state as a conclusion that there is a similarity in practices between the acts of torture witnessed in the Donbass and those practiced by US agents in other parts of the world. Some of the journalists who participated in the investigations in Donbass, including Sonja herself, had previously participated in similar activities elsewhere, investigating crimes of torture committed by Americans. These professionals see an extreme similarity of practices in both cases and believe that this is not a mere coincidence.

The Dutch journalist stated that the torture techniques she saw practiced in a secret Ukrainian prison in Mariupol are strikingly similar to those practiced by the CIA in clandestine detention sites around the world. These techniques include acts of extreme violence, such as the so-called “enhanced interrogations”, where the interrogated are physically hurt in order to give information – a practice that was already confirmed by the US Senate, in 2014, to have been used by the CIA against prisoners.

Furthermore, Van den Ende claims that she has found evidence that Ukrainian neo-Nazis practice the so-called “waterboarding”, a drowning technique that is also widely used by the CIA, which leads her to believe that the Azov Battalion and other Ukrainian nationalist militias have been specifically trained by the Americans on “how to torture” their detainees.

Considering the high level of proximity between US intelligence and Ukrainian neo-Nazis, it does not seem surprising that the US has in fact operated some sort of clandestine training, teaching torture techniques considered “efficient”. What is surprising is that international organizations remain silent in the face of such an absurd fact. Something so serious cannot in any way be ignored: sanctions must be applied against the US for its connivance with Ukrainian crimes in Donbass.

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

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , | 2 Comments