Aletho News


Saskatchewan warns Trudeau’s federal Nitrogen agents could be arrested

By Keean Bexte | The Counter Signal | August 21, 2022

Saskatchewan Minister Jeremy Cockrill has sent a warning to the Trudeau government that officers sent by Ottawa will be arrested if they continue to trespass on farmland to test nitrogen levels.

According to Cockrill, Trudeau’s government has been unlawfully sending federal employees onto Saskatchewan farmlands to test for nitrogen levels without the consent of landowners.

In the letter, the Minister raised multiple complaints from Saskatchewan farmers that raised “serious concerns about Government of Canada employees, in clearly marked Government of Canada vehicles, trespassing on private lands.” The farmers reporting these trespasses made clear that these government agents did not request permission to access the land and were not in any other manner given consent to access it.

Minister Cockrill further pointed out to the Trudeau government that these actions constitute a breach of the Saskatchewan Trespass to Property Act, and warned that these actions could carry with them serious penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to six months in prison.

By sending this letter, the Saskatchewan government has provided a clear order to the Trudeau government to cease and desist with any unlawful trespasses and warned them that should it continue, their employees could face arrest and prosecution.

What is more concerning to some than the actual trespass are the motivations of the federal agents. According to the land owners who confronted the federal agents trespassing on their land, they were told that the purpose of them being there was to test the water in the farmers’ dugouts to measure nitrate levels.

For those following recent news in the agricultural world, this is being seen as connected to the Trudeau government’s recently announced policy to reduce the use of fertilizer on Canadian farms by 30%. This policy has been widely criticized by farmers across the country and by provincial governments in the Western provinces.

Some observers have said that there is reason to suspect that these actions are the first steps in replicating the attacks on farmers that have provoked widespread unrest in the Netherlands and other places in Europe.

While the federal government has not yet confirmed it, there is speculation that the water sampling we now know is underway, will be used as baseline measurements to enforce reductions in fertilizer usage going forward.

All of these factors have led Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to demand an explanation from the Trudeau government as to what exactly they were up to.

Sign petition.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

The declining standards of FDA drug approvals

By Maryanne Demasi, PhD | August 16, 2022

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a legal obligation to protect the public and ensure that the benefits of medicines outweigh the harms before being marketed to people.

But the agency’s increasing reliance on pharmaceutical industry money has seen the FDA’s evidentiary standards for drug approvals significantly decline.

The need for speed

Since the enactment of the 1992 Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), the FDA’s operations are kept afloat largely by industry fees which have increased over 30-fold from around $29m in 1993 to $884m in 2016.

Industry fees were meant to speed up drug approvals – and they did. In 1988, only 4% of new drugs introduced onto the global market were approved first by the FDA, but that rose to 66% by 1998 after its funding structure changed.

Now, there are four pathways within the FDA which are designed to speed up drug approvals: Fast Track, Priority Review, Accelerated Approval, and Breakthrough Therapy designation.

As a result, the majority (68%) of all new drugs are approved by the FDA via these expedited pathways.

While it has improved the availability of transformative drugs to patients who benefit from early access, the lower evidentiary standards for faster approvals, have undoubtedly led to harm.

study focusing on drug safety found that following the introduction of PDUFA fees (1993-2004) there was a dramatic increase in drug withdrawals due to safety concerns in the US, compared to the period before PDUFA funding (1971-1992).

The researchers blamed changes in the “regulatory culture” at the FDA which had adopted more “permissive interpretations” of safety signals. Put simply, the FDA’s standards for approving certain medicines became less stringent.

Consequently, faster approvals have resulted in new drugs that are more likely to be withdrawn for safety reasons, more likely to carry a subsequent black-box warning, and more likely to have one or more dosages voluntarily discontinued by the manufacturer.

Evidence – Lowering the Bar

– Surrogate outcomes

For accelerated drug approvals, the FDA accepts the use of surrogate outcomes (like a lab test) as a substitute for clinical outcomes.

For example, the FDA recently authorised the use of mRNA vaccines in infants based on neutralising antibody levels (a surrogate outcome), rather than meaningful clinical benefits such as preventing serious covid or hospitalisation.

Also last year, the FDA approved an Alzheimer’s drug (aducanumab) based on lower β-amyloid protein levels (again, a surrogate outcome) rather than any clinical improvement for patients. One FDA advisory member who resigned over the controversy said it was the “worst drug approval decision in recent US history”.

This lower standard of proof is becoming increasingly common. An analysis in JAMA found that 44% of drugs approved between 2005-2012 were supported by (inferior) surrogate outcomes, but that rose to 60% between 2015-2017.

It is a huge advantage to the drug industry because drug approvals may be based on fewer, smaller and less rigorous clinical trials.

– Pivotal trials

Traditionally, the FDA has required at least two ‘pivotal trials’ for drug approval, which are typically phase III clinical trials with ~30,000 subjects intended to confirm the drug’s safety and efficacy.

But a recent study found the number of drug approvals supported by two or more pivotal trials fell from 81% in 1995-1997 down to 53% by 2015-2017.

Other important design aspects of pivotal trials, such as “double blinding” fell from 80% in 1995-1997 down to 68% by 2015-2017 and “randomisation” fell from 94% to 82% in that period.

Similarly, another study found that of the 49 novel therapeutics approved in 2020, more than half (57%) were on the basis of a single pivotal trial, 24% did not have a randomisation component, and almost 40% were not double-blinded.

– Post-authorisation studies

Following an accelerated approval, the FDA allows drugs onto the market before efficacy has been proven.

A condition of the accelerated approval is that manufacturers must agree to conduct “post authorisation” studies (or phase IV confirmatory trials) to confirm the anticipated benefits of the drug. If it turns out that there is no benefit, the drug’s approval can be cancelled.

Unfortunately though, many confirmatory trials are never run, or they take years to complete and some fail to confirm the drug is beneficial.

In response, the FDA rarely imposes sanctions on companies for failing to adhere to the rules, drugs are rarely withdrawn and when penalties are applied, they are minimal.

An embattled agency

The FDA thinks its main problem is ‘public messaging’ so the agency is reportedly seeking a media-savvy public health expert to better articulate its messaging going forward. But the FDA’s problems run deeper than that.

A recent Government Accountability Office report revealed FDA staff (and other federal health agencies) did not report possible political interference in their work due to fear of retaliation and uncertainty about how to report such incidents.

Over the course of the pandemic, employees “felt that the potential political interference they observed resulted in the alteration or suppression of scientific findings…[and] may have resulted in the politically motivated alteration of public health guidance or delayed publication of covid-19-related scientific findings”.

Political interference has compounded an already problematic interference by the drug industry. The policy changes enacted since the 1992 PDUFA fees, have slowly corrupted the drug regulator, and many are concerned its decisions about drug approvals have prioritised corporate interests over public health.

Independent experts now say the declining evidentiary standards, shortening approval times, and increasing industry involvement in FDA decision-making, has led to distrust, not only of the agency, but in the safety and effectiveness of medicines, in general.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

How the US controls Lebanon’s energy supply

The US is leveraging Egypt’s gas supply to pressure Beirut over US-brokered maritime border talks with Israel

By Yeghia Tashjian | The Cradle | August 19 2022

Consider the chaos in Europe today caused by a sudden reduction in Russian gas supplies.

Now imagine the catastrophic state of Lebanon’s energy sector after two years of fuel shortages, limited foreign currency with which to purchase new, urgent supplies, and US-sanctions on Syria impeding Lebanon’s only land route for imports.

After decades of stalled reforms, Lebanon is running out of time and money.

In June 2021, a lifeline was handed to the country in a deal struck with Baghdad to supply two Lebanese power stations with Iraqi fuel. The agreement, which was due to expire in September 2022, has recently been extended for one year.

But while there are short and long term solutions available to remedy Lebanon’s energy crisis, the two main options are both monopolized by US policymakers with stakes in regional geopolitics.

The first option involves transporting fuel to Lebanon via the Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP), whereby Egypt will supply gas through Syria. Although the proposal was originally an American suggestion, this fuel route requires US sanctions waivers that have not yet been approved by Washington.

The second option is for Lebanon to extract its own gas supply from newly discovered fields off its coastline. This too depends entirely on US-mediated, indirect negotiations with Israel to resolve a maritime dispute over the Karish gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Accessing its own gas supplies will go a long way to guarantee Lebanon’s own energy security, while providing the state with much needed revenues from exports.

However, the success of either project depends largely on the status of US-Lebanese relations at any given moment. The two options are also inextricably linked to each other: Washington is pressuring Beirut to compromise with Tel Aviv on the maritime border dispute before agreeing to “green light” Cairo’s gas exports via Syria, which is in turn heavily sanctioned by the US’s “Caesar Act.”

While Washington is playing a leverage game, Lebanon is slowly collapsing.

Gas from Egypt

Under the agreement signed with Cairo, 650 million cubic meters of natural gas will be exported annually via the AGP. As it turns out, the actual supply of gas, as per the World Bank’s conditions, awaits US approval to exclude Egypt from sanctions imposed on the passage of goods through Syria.

The AGP is already a functioning pipeline that has supplied Lebanon with Egyptian gas in the past, but operations were halted in 2011 when Syrian pipelines were damaged during the country’s armed conflict.

Under the deal, Egypt will pump gas through the pipeline to supply Lebanon’s northern Deir Ammar power plant, which can then produce 450 megawatts of electricity – adding four hours of additional electricity supply per day. It is a modest but necessary improvement over the barely two hours of electricity currently provided by the state.

The World Bank has pledged to finance the deal on the condition that the Lebanese government implements much needed reforms in the electricity sector, which has created tens of billions of dollars in public debt.

The Syrian equation       

For the Syrian government, the arrangement is perceived as a diplomatic victory as it confers ‘legitimacy’ to the state and represents a step toward its international rehabilitation. The AGP deal was also hailed by Syrian Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tohmy as one of the most important joint Arab cooperation projects.

According to Will Todman, a research fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the agreement is “a win for the [Bashar al-]Assad government. The deal represents the first major move toward Syria’s economic integration with the region since Arab Spring protests shook Syria in March 2011, halting previous integration efforts.”

However, due to US Caesar Law restrictions, no concrete progress has been made over the past months. Amman and Cairo have both requested guarantees from Washington that they will not be subject to sanctions – to no avail. US President Joe Biden has yet to make a final decision on whether the plan will be considered a violation of sanctions on Syria.

Linking the Egypt deal with Israel talks

In order to create a certain interdependency in the region to minimize the possibility of new conflicts with Israel, the US is attempting to link the Egyptian gas deal with the ongoing, indirect, maritime negotiations between Tel Aviv and Beirut.

Amos Hochstein, the State Department senior adviser on energy security, who acts as chief mediator on the disputed maritime border between Lebanon and Israel, said after arriving in Beirut on 14 June that the US side will look at the final agreement between Egypt and Lebanon to evaluate the sanctions compliance of the natural gas project.

This means that Washington is linking the fate of the gas deal to the maritime dispute with Israel to exert additional pressure on Lebanon.

On 14 October, 2020 – just two months after the Beirut port blast which severed the primary transportation route for seaborne Lebanese imports – Lebanon and Israel began the long-awaited US-mediated talks to demarcate their maritime borders, under the supervision of the UN.

The framework agreement announced by both countries at the time was the most serious attempt to resolve the maritime dispute and secure gas drilling operations through diplomatic means.

However, there are many challenges that can slow or even derail these negotiations.

According to Lebanese estimates, the country has 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 865 million barrels of oil offshore, and is in urgent need to begin drilling to save its ailing economy.

Israel is also in hurry to resolve this dispute as it wants to finalize the negotiations before September 2022, when the Karish gas rig is expected to begin production. The concern is that if a deal is not signed by then, Hezbollah may take action to halt Israel’s extraction altogether – until Lebanon is able to extract its own fuel from those waters.

Resolution or conflict

Last month, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah reiterated warnings against Tel Aviv in the event that Lebanon is prevented from extracting its own resources in the Med. “When things reach a dead-end, we will not only stand in the face of Karish… Mark these words: we will reach Karish, beyond Karish, and beyond, beyond Karish,” he cautioned.

Initially, Lebanon took a maximalist position on its maritime borders with Israel: the main dispute was around the percentage both countries should share in the disputed 860 square kilometers, which covers Lebanon’s offshore gas Blocks 8, 9 and 10.

It is worth mentioning that Lebanon does not enter these negotiations from a position of strength and is in dire economic need to unlock foreign aid and begin the flow of potential gas revenues.

Meanwhile, the arrival this summer of the British-based Energean, an oil and gas exploration company, which will begin a drilling operation close to the Karish gas field, has sparked tensions between both countries, prompting US envoy Hochstein to race back to the region on 13 June.

In order to provide Lebanon with some much-needed leverage and accelerate negotiations, Hezbollah dispatched three drones towards the Karish gas field on 2 July. The operation sought several results: to test Israeli military responses to the drones, to scare off the private company contractors working on the rig, and to motivate both Tel Aviv and Washington to step up and strike a deal.

The operation achieved its goals. Israel’s military now can’t rule out the possibility that the Lebanese resistance movement will launch additional attacks on the gas field in the near future, or provoke Israel in a different manner – if the maritime dispute is not ironed out, and soon.

Beyond the Mediterranean Sea

The negotiations have also been impacted by international developments, chiefly, the war in Ukraine and the growing energy crisis in Europe. Sweeping western economic sanctions on Moscow’s economic interests have dried up Russian exports to the continent, driving Europe to seek alternative sources of energy, few of which are readily available.

In May 2022, the US and EU unveiled a plan to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and in June, the EU and Israel signed an agreement to export Israeli gas to Europe. These external factors have further motivated the US and Israel to hasten the negotiation process with Lebanon, all of which are overshadowed by the aforementioned US pressure on the Lebanese government.

Energy expert Laury Haytayan believes that linking Lebanon to regional energy projects makes it harder for Lebanon to go to war with Israel. Haytayan told The Cradle: “Lebanon needs gas, Israel needs stability, and the US wants to give both what they want.”

It is important to recognize that a final maritime demarcation agreement also means defusing the tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border, which may require a broader US-Iranian agreement, something that is unlikely in the short term.

If the gas deal is successful and the US approves the Egyptian energy exports, the move will only increase US leverage over Lebanon when it comes to future negotiations on energy security.

It is in Lebanon’s interest to ensure that one party, the US, does not continue to hold all the cards related to its vital fuel needs. A recent offer from Iran to supply the country with monthly free fuel was tacitly accepted by Lebanon’s prime minister and energy minister, but needs work. Other states have offered to build power generation plants to enhance the nation’s infrastructure and efficiency.

But with Lebanon so deeply affected by Washington’s whims – and punishments – it isn’t at all certain that the country can steer itself to these more independent options.

The US and Israel have never been this highly incentivized to solve the maritime dispute. If the deal fails, Hezbollah may proceed with military action, especially before the conclusion of political ally President Michel Aoun’s term this Fall.

Furthermore, the gas issue may turn into a contentious domestic political issue ahead of Israel’s November parliamentary elections. In that instance too, a military conflict between Israel and Hezbollah may be triggered.

The only solution is to strike a deal, get gas flowing, and avert war. Will saner minds prevail, or will the region’s high-stakes geopolitical competition continue to escalate blindly? More importantly, can Washington bear to allow Lebanon the breathing space after three years of severe economic pressure to control Beirut’s political decisions?

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , | 2 Comments

Occupation raids, attacks Palestinian organizations: EU, US and Canada are complicit!

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | August 21, 2022

In the early morning hours of Thursday, 18 August, armed Israeli occupation forces invaded the offices of seven prominent Palestinian NGOs, civil society organizations and human rights defenders: the Health Work Committees, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Bisan Centre, Defence for Children International – Palestine, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. These organizations have all been designated by the Israeli occupation as “terrorist” in retaliation for their advocacy and community organizing work for Palestine, and then labeled “illegal organizations” in a military order covering the occupied West Bank of Palestine.

The invading forces ransacked the offices, confiscating computers, legal client files, documentation, printers and monitors and leaving clutter behind — as documented by the organizations’ surveillance cameras, recording the occupation forces’ invasion. The doors of the organizations were welded shut and a paper military order affixed to the door declaring their operation “illegal” under the occupation’s (illegal) military orders.

The organizations declared that they would not be silenced by these attacks, holding press conferences and returning to the offices to reopen them and continue their work. The attacks received widespread condemnation not only from Palestinian and pro-Palestinian forces but even from European governments whose policies and practices consistently target the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights.

Now, on Sunday, 21 August, occupation intelligence authorities — the Shin Bet — phoned Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin to threaten him with interrogation and arrest if the organization’s work continues, while Defence for Children International – Palestine director Khaled Quzmar was summoned to and held under interrogation.

“Terror” Designations and Political Control

The invasions, interrogations, ransacking and attacks on these organizations reflect the failure of the occupation’s regime of “terror” designations to undermine their work. In 2021, not only did the regime designate Al-Haq, Addameer, DCI, Bisan, the UPWC and the UAWC as “terrorist” organizations — quickly followed by the military orders banning their work in the occupied West Bank of Palestine — it earlier in the year designated Samidoun (on 21 February 2021), followed by three more organizations. Previously and in a similar pretext, the occupation had issued a similar designation against the Health Work Committees along with designations of groups including the Arab Organization for Human Rights UK, the Palestinian Return Centre and Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

As we noted at the time, this

“indicates just how meaningless the term ‘terrorist’ is in the hands of the Israeli regime. It means precisely any organization, activist, or freedom fighter that challenges Zionist colonialism through any method or means of resistance at all. The flurry of ‘terrorist’ designations for organizations working to expose Israel’s crimes and organize Palestinians underlines this reality….These designations are not attacks on individual organizations but against Palestinian human rights defenders and those around the world who stand up for Palestinian liberation — and, fundamentally, the Palestinian people as a whole, especially the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons. They attempt to repress growing support for the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people and confrontation of imperialism and Zionism.”

Further, it is clear that the use of such designations is intended to further political control over Palestinian society. These designations hinge on the allegation that organizations are close to one or another Palestinian resistance organizations, most commonly the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or Hamas. Israeli officials have shopped around “evidence” to various governments that is so weak so as to be ludicrous, consisting almost entirely of unsubstantiated statements or on the idea that employing a person who supports a political organization (or, in some cases, relatives of people in political organizations “designated” by the occupation) is “funding” that organization by paying employees a salary for doing their job.

While it is obvious that these are false claims, the objective of this type of attack goes beyond simply lobbing allegations. Indeed, the European governments that have criticized the attacks and designations have also repeatedly affirmed their willingness to “examine evidence” and “act” if the Israeli regime “proves” that popular organizations, civil society groups and human rights advocates are in some way “tied” to Palestinian resistance movements. Not only are the organizations “innocent” of the Israeli claims, the claims themselves are fundamentally repugnant. The Palestinian people have the right to resist occupation and to be a part of political, social and armed movements in that resistance; this is not “terrorism” but an essential right of people under occupation and colonization.

Rather than affirming the right of Palestinians to resist and to organize themselves to achieve those goals, these European governments instead use these attacks to impose even greater political scrutiny and conditions. In many cases (such as the Netherlands), these governments recommend or require that all employees of these organizations must not be associated with any “banned” Palestinian political organization. If Palestinians are part of a political party or movement, they must be unemployable and impoverished: this is both the argument of the occupation and of the European states providing a meager “defense” of Palestinian civil society.

For the European funding agencies and many large foundations, supporting Palestinian NGOs has never been primarily about empowering or supporting the Palestinian people to achieve their liberation but rather about redirecting Palestinian energies into “state-building” and/or “reform” projects that exist within the confines of Oslo. Time and time again, these forces have introduced new conditional funding mechanisms and restrictions on everything from the political affiliation of individual employees to the names of buildings and schools.

European Union: Partners in Colonialism and Apartheid

This is borne out once again by the statement of nine European states — Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden — which invokes the promotion of “democratic values and the two-state solution,” a fundamental contradiction as the so-called “two-state solution” itself is the legitimization of the colonization and occupation of 78% of Palestine and no solution at all for the Palestinian people. This brief comment lays bare the real political motivation for European involvement in funding Palestinian organizations, which is to limit rather than to achieve rights, justice and liberation. Further, the statement notes that “should convincing evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly.”

Here, the “evidence” being referred to would be any “links” between these NGOs and the Palestinian resistance. By including this statement in their alleged defense of the organizations, these European states actually encourage the occupation to continue its raids and ransacking, confiscation of files, arrests and interrogations, in an attempt to manufacture such “evidence”.

Of course, the position of these states themselves — members of the aggressive NATO alliance, defenders of the Israeli occupation in international arenas — is all too clear. The European Union, while rejecting the designation of advocacy and civil society organizations, continues to designate Palestinian resistance organizations as “terrorists.”

France continues to imprison Georges Ibrahim Abdallah while doing almost nothing to advocate for its citizen Salah Hamouri, jailed without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention, as the government attempts to criminalize Palestinian activism, such as the Collectif Palestine Vaincra. Germany not only engages in weapons deals with the occupation, it also engages in severely repressive practices against Palestine organizing, particularly Palestinian communities in exile and diaspora, from the expulsion of Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat and Palestinian torture survivor and feminist Rasmea Odeh to the ban on 15 May Nakba demonstrations in Berlin. This is not to mention the links between Zionism and European colonialism from the very beginning of the Zionist project.

Now, Israeli prime minister and war criminal Yair Lapid is scheduled to come to Brussels on 6 October to convene the “Association Council” with all EU member states’ foreign ministers, for the first time in 10 years. This is the council under the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the agreement that provides for free trade for occupation products inside the EU and allows for occupation institutions to receive European grants for research and development.

Ending the EU-Israel Association Agreement is a long-time demand of the Palestine solidarity movement, but despite their expressed “concerns” about the violent repression imposed on Palestinians, these European states are planning to welcome Lapid and convene the Association Council after a long hiatus, celebrating their complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Canadian government has refused to make any meaningful statement about these attacks, despite posing as a defender of “human rights.” U.S. officials stated their “concern,” while continuing to provide $3.8 billion in military support to the occupier.


Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network affirms that these attacks are part and parcel of the ongoing war on Palestinian existence and organization, carried out by the Zionist state and supported by the imperialist powers that ally with the Israeli occupation, as well as Arab reactionary regimes engaged in “normalization” and the Palestinian Authority. While PA officials declare their public support for the targeted organizations, the PA continues to engage in security coordination with the occupation, declined the use of its security forces to defend the organizations, and has even previously detained leaders, directors and staff of these organizations challenging its repression at the behest of the occupier.

We reaffirm that the primary way that we can confront these designations is by intensifying our organizing, action, mobilization and resistance to bring down the structures of colonialism, implement the right to return for Palestinian refugees, and support the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners and of Palestine, from the river to the sea. This includes campaigning to bring an end to the so-called “terrorist lists” used to terrify Palestinian communities and Palestine solidarity organizers, which only provide a weapon in the hands of the occupation and encourages it to engage in further specious designations.

We also urge all to take action to confront Lapid’s visit on 6 October in Brussels and to bring down the “EU-Israel Association Agreement,” an agreement built on the colonization of Palestine and the massacres targeting the Palestinian people. It is incumbent upon all institutions and organizations concerned about these raids and about the Palestinian people to adopt and implement the boycott and international isolation of Israel, including at the United Nations and its bodies.

Further, we urge all to join us in organizing to march in Brussels on 29 October for the March for Return and Liberation to the European Parliament, to demand an end to European complicity, involvement in and support for the colonization of Palestine, the siege on Gaza, the imprisonment of Palestinians and the denial of millions of Palestinians’ right to return home.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pakistani police surround ex-PM’s home

Samizdat | August 21, 2022

Ousted former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been charged with violating the country’s anti-terrorism laws for allegedly threatening a female judge and two senior police officials during a rally in Islamabad on Saturday night. Video reportedly shot at his home on Sunday evening shows police surrounding the residence hours after a police report was filed against him.

In his speech during Saturday’s rally, Khan threatened to file charges of his own against Judge Zeba Chaudhry, two police agencies, the Pakistani Election Commission, and other political opponents, warning they should prepare to face “consequences” over their abysmal treatment of his chief of staff, Shahbaz Gill. He had organized the rally in Islamabad’s F-9 Park in solidarity with Gill, who was arrested last week on sedition charges.

Later that night, the country’s digital media watchdog, called PEMRA, forbid satellite stations from airing the speech – or any future live addresses from the ex-prime minister – without a time-delay mechanism “to ensure effective monitoring and editorial control.”

Khan has been “continuously targeting state institutions by leveling baseless accusations and spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officers,” PEMRA explained in its directive on preemptively censoring the politician. Khan’s so-called “hate speech” was “prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb public peace and tranquillity,” they claimed.

Khan’s attempt to livestream his speech on YouTube was also stymied when the Google-owned video platform was taken offline in a coordinated move by eight Pakistani internet service providers, according to Netblocks. The site returned to functionality as soon as Khan finished speaking.

Khan was ousted as prime minister in April following a controversial no-confidence vote that he dismissed as a US-led conspiracy to have him removed for opposing Washington’s “forever wars” in Central Asia and the Middle East.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

University of Massachusetts Lowell bans online speech that could cause “offense”

By Ben Squires | Reclaim The Net | August 21, 2022

The University of Massachusetts Lowell has an Acceptable Use Policy that bans students from using university Wi-Fi to intentionally share, send, or view “offensive” content.

This policy might be a violation of the First Amendment and ignores the fact that most online content is offensive to someone – which, these days, is pretty much any content.

Additionally, the Supreme Court has in multiple cases ruled that speech should not be restricted by the government just because it is offensive to someone.

For instance, in the Texas v Johnson case back in 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that burning the US flag was protected by the First Amendment, arguing: “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

But that has not stopped public institutions all over the country from restricting free speech in one way or the other.

It would be impractical for UMass Lowell to take action every time a student views or shares something offensive. However, the policy makes it easy for the university to selectively censor speech they do not agree with.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

US taunts Russia to escalate in Ukraine

An UAV hit the roof of the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol, Crimea, August 20, 2022

In military terms, the crude, locally assembled drone dropping a country-made bomb or two on unguarded sites in Crimea are at best pin pricks in the big picture of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. But it can be profoundly consequential in certain other ways. 

For a start, this escalation has Washington’s approval. A senior Biden  administration official told NatSec Daily the US supports strikes on Crimea if Kiev deems them necessary. “We don’t select targets, of course, and everything we’ve provided is for self-defence purposes. Any target they choose to pursue on sovereign Ukrainian soil is by definition self defense,” this person said.

But Washington knows — and Moscow knows — that like any sophistry, this one too is a clever argument but inherently fallacious and deceptive. The New York Times has interpreted the drone attack on Crimea as a challenge to the leadership of President Vladimir Putin. The Times wrote that the Crimea attacks “put domestic political pressure on the Kremlin, with criticism and debate about the war increasingly being unleashed on social media and underscoring that even what the Russian government considers to be Russian territory is not safe.” 

The Times claimed that “as images of antiaircraft fire streaking through the blue Crimean sky ricocheted through social media, the visceral reality of war was becoming more and more apparent to Russians — many of whom have rallied behind the Kremlin’s line, hammered home in state media, that the “special military operation” to save Ukraine from Nazi domination is going smoothly and according to plan.” 

The paper quoted a prominent establishment think tanker in Moscow acknowledging that the Crimean attack is a “serious” development insofar as “People are beginning to feel that the war is coming to them.” The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky claimed in a nationwide address on Saturday, “One can literally feel in the air of Crimea that the occupation there is temporary, and Ukraine is returning.” 

Once again, while Russia is steadily winning the ground war in Ukraine, the US is determined not to lose the information war. In Washington’s reckoning, in this Internet Age, the war is to be ultimately won in the Russian people’s minds. Therefore, this studied escalation by Washington puts Moscow in a dilemma, since if it is unanswered, Zelensky may target the 19-km long Crimean Bridge connecting the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar in mainland Russia with the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea.  

In fact, it is a near certainty. The point is, the Kerch bridge is “Putin’s bridge” in the Russian people’s consciousness. While formally opening the bridge to car traffic in May 2018, Putin was quoted as telling the workers, “In different historical epochs, even under the tsar priests, people dreamed of building this bridge. Then they returned to this in the 1930s, the 40s, the 50s. And finally, thanks to your work and your talent, the miracle has happened.” 

Therefore, there is no better way to puncture the halo around Putin than by despatching at least a bit of the Kerch bridge to the bottom of the Black Sea. Meanwhile, from the US perspective, Kiev’s drone attacks on Crimea already serve three purposes. 

First, this is meant to be a blow to the Russian morale. Indeed, Putin’s towering popularity within Russia has become an eyesore for the Biden Administration. Putin’s masterly navigation of the Russian economy out of crisis mode is an incredible feat that defied all logic of power in the American calculus — inflation is steadily falling (in contrast with the European countries and the US); the GDP decline is narrowing; foreign reserves are swelling; the current account is on the plus side; and lo and behold, the Biden Administration’s so-called “nuclear option” — Russia’s removal from the SWIFT messaging system — failed to cripple foreign trade. 

Second, both Washington and Kiev are desperately scrambling for “success” stories to distract attention. The Times playing up the story speaks for itself. In reality, Russia’s Donbass offensive has created a new momentum and is steadily grinding the Ukrainian forces. Within the week, Russian forces will have encircled the lynchpin of the Ukrainian defence line, Bakhmut city, which is a communication hub for troop movements and supply logistics in Donbass. Russian forces have reached the city outskirts from the north, east and south. The fall of Bakhmut will be a crushing defeat for Zelensky. 

On the other hand, even two months after Zelensky promised a “counteroffensive” on Kherson near Crimea, it is nowhere in sight. Even his most ardent votaries in the western media feel let down. To be sure, there is growing disenchantment in Europe. 

The Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, undoubtedly the smartest European politician today (with an economy registering over 6% growth when the rest of the continent is mired in recession), told German magazine Tichys Einblick in an interview last week that this war marked the end of “western superiority.” Interestingly, he named Big Oil as “war profiteers” and singled out that Exxon doubled its profits, Chevron quadrupled, and ConocoPhillips’ profits have shot up manifold. (Of course, all three are American companies.) Orban’s message was clear: America has weakened the EU. This thought must be troubling many a European politician today. 

Third, Washington has thrown down the gauntlet in a measured way. But there is no way the war can be brought into the drawing rooms of the average Americans the way Times says is happening in Russia. Twenty  Americans were killed in Kharkiv two days ago in a high-precision Russian missile strike, but there aren’t going to be any body bags returning to Arlington Cemetery; nor does it make headlines in the cooperative American media. 

The US plans to go further up on the escalation ladder. Escalation is the Biden Administration’s last chance to stall a Russian victory. The American strategic thinker and academic John Mearsheimer has written that the risk of a disastrous escalation is “substantially greater than the conventional wisdom holds. And given that the consequences of escalation could include a major war in Europe and possibly even nuclear annihilation, there is good reason for extra concern.” 

Moscow’s preference is to avoid any escalation, since the special military operation is achieving results. Whereas, it is the US that is in some visible despair, and in immediate terms, Russia’s plans to hold referendums in Kherson and Zaporozhye in September must be stalled. Herein lies the danger.

The US’ current build-up over Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant points toward a hidden agenda to intervene in the war at some point directly. Kiev’s attempt to arrange a nuclear explosion in Zaporozhye can only be seen in this light. Moscow seems to anticipate such an eventuality.

Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu disclosed yesterday that Russia has begun mass production of Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missiles and is already deploying them. The US lacks the capability to counter Tsirkon, which is estimated to be 11 times faster than Tomahawk with far superior target-penetration characteristics. Shoigu may have given a stark warning that Russia will not be cowed down if there’s a NATO intervention in Ukraine. 

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Austria: FPÖ demands speedy referendum on sanctions

Free West Media | August 21, 2022

VIENNA – Current surveys suggest that the majority of Austrians are fed up with the ineffective sanctions and would rather overturn them today than tomorrow. But the people’s call for help is ignored by the aloof political elite. “Great Reset” Minister Karoline Edtstadler declared that there was “no alternative” to sanctions, while the ruling ÖVP negates reality and considers sanctions to be “effective”.

The leaders of the Greens and NEOS denounce critics as uncritical of president Putin or “traitors” or “useful idiots” of the Kremlin. Some even consider the majority of citizens to be “Russian collaborators”.

FPÖ leader Herbert Kickl said that in terms of ending sanctions,  time was of the essence: “We have no time to lose. The heating season is fast approaching.” A referendum on anti-Russian sanctions, which the Austrian leaders are currently supporting to the country’s detriment, was needed as soon as possible, he added.

Instead of lifting sanctions, the government has so far relied on absurd energy saving tips for people.

According to Kickl: “These sanctions have no effect on the war, but they fuel inflation and hurt the local economy.” The situation reminded him of the Corona crisis: “Here, too, the government talked people into things that weren’t right for two years before they finally switched to the FPÖ line of reasoning.” Recently, not least because of the resistance of people on the streets, the government has had to recognize reality and stop the harassing compulsory jabbing and the absurd quarantine rules.”

But “in the case of sanctions, we no longer have two years, but a maximum of two months,” Kickl said. “If sanctions, which amount to a gunshot in the knee, are not ended, then the coming winter threatens to be very uncomfortable for many people.” The proposed referendum is also intended to give the “reasonable forces within the ÖVP” the chance to show their colours and act for the benefit of the people.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Turkey says it will enforce anti-Russia sanctions

Samizdat | August 21, 2022

Turkish Deputy Finance Minister Yunus Elitas has told US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo that Ankara won’t allow the “breaching” of American sanctions on Moscow but that its “balanced” position on the Ukraine conflict remains unchanged.

Elitas and Adeyemo spoke by phone on Friday, several weeks after the Financial Times reported that Western officials are “increasingly alarmed” at Turkey’s growing trade ties to Russia, and are considering ways to retaliate if these ties help Russia bypass EU and US sanctions.

According to a readout of Friday’s call from the US Treasury Department, “Adeyemo raised concerns that Russian entities and individuals are attempting to use Turkey to evade sanctions put in place by the United States and 30 countries.”

Adeyemo also “reiterated the United States’ interest in the success of the Turkish economy” and “the integrity of its banking sector.” This statement could be perceived as a threat, considering that the officials quoted by the FT suggested that Western nations could potentially instruct their corporations and banks to pull out of Turkey over the supposed sanctions evasion.

The Turks appear to be cooperating. According to its own readout of the call, Turkey’s Finance Ministry said that “Elitas confirmed that Turkey’s position has not changed regarding the current processes and sanctions, but that it would not allow the breaching of sanctions by any institution or person.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously described his position on the conflict in Ukraine as “balanced.” While Turkey has condemned Russia over the conflict and has sold some weapons to Ukraine, it is the only NATO member that has not sanctioned Moscow or closed its airspace to Russian flights.

Turkey continues to import Russian oil and gas, and following a meeting between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, the countries agreed to increase their bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2030 and cooperate on energy projects and counterterrorism initiatives. Erdogan and Putin also agreed that Turkey would pay for some of its gas imports from Russia in rubles.

Erdogan has also positioned himself as a middleman between Ukraine and Russia. Turkey hosted ultimately unsuccessful peace talks in March but later helped broker an agreement to resume shipments of grain to world markets via the Black Sea.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment


By PhD Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD | August 19, 2022

Free speech debates often focus on the mental health risks of bullying and hate speech- but they rarely consider the mental health benefits of freedom of expression. As a clinical psychologist, I believe that open dialogue is ultimately better than top-down censorship for those seeking wellness, authenticity, and individual as well as relational growth.

Caveat: Free speech does not prevent us from “censoring” certain voices in our own personal life: Whether it’s the proverbial toxic mother-in-law or a news website that seems rife with bias, none of us has an obligation to lend our ears to anyone or anywhere– but we also don’t need to stifle the ability of those voices to continue to exist. In fact, we may even benefit from talking with members of the communities where we live and work… even if (sometimes especially if) their viewpoints differ from our own.

If you’re curious about the potential mental health benefits of free speech, I invite you to consider three main points:

1. Free speech helps people learn and grow:

Humans develop (and sometimes discard) ideas based on social feedback. Our incredible gift of language is so powerful that evolutionary psychologists have speculated that language was an essential factor for humans to evolve into such a sophisticated species.

In addition to facilitating the exchange of information and development of ideas, free speech allows a healthy separation between a person’s ideas or beliefs and that person’s core self: Language lets us externalize our thoughts and feelings, recognizing them as separate from ourselves. Of course, our thoughts and beliefs are part of who we are–but a healthy person can retain a stable sense of self despite changes in their thoughts and beliefs over time.

When we can separate our thoughts from our core identity, we set the stage for growth– but when we experience them as a permanent part of our core identity, we become rigid and inflexible about noticing and discarding them– even if they are what psychologists call “maladaptive beliefs”. Learning to discard these inaccurate or distorted beliefs is key to mental health.

Ironically, being able to say “stupid things” actually helps us to realize how stupid they are; and potentially choose to change our minds. Have you ever noticed that there are certain things we need to “learn by experience”? Sometimes, that comes in the form of hearing ourselves say something aloud and realizing how foolish it sounds, and/or having our community provide feedback that generates a new perspective. Without free speech, we are less likely to examine our thoughts and get feedback on them, which actually leaves us more vulnerable to harboring inaccurate or distorted views.

2. Free speech helps Safe Spaces:

When speech is prohibited, the viewpoints underlying hateful speech do not disappear– instead, they become subverted. This makes it harder to trust we are accessing the true views of others. In fact, the “forbidden speech” model means that we can wisely assume that others are hiding certain “verboten” views. This undermines social trust, thereby ironically undermining the concept of a “safe space”. Conversely, when “haters” can make their views openly known, it’s much easier to avoid, challenge, or take steps to bolster ourselves with support whenever we encounter them. Personally, as a woman, I would rather know if a man automatically views me as less intelligent simply because of my sex. Rather than silencing his voice, I’d much rather know about him so that I could choose to challenge, avoid, or persuade him.

Free speech also helps “safe spaces” because security and stability increase when people understand that they are actually safe even if others voice abhorrent viewpoints that evoke a “mental earthquake” (compared, to say, an actual earthquake). Words are not violence–I say this as a clinical psychologist and as a woman who suffered extreme, life-threatening domestic violence before meeting my wonderful husband. Teaching people that “words are violence” is actually disempowering because it suggests that we should cower in fear or risk physical blows over words rather than reserving that type of retreat or attack for situations of actual physical danger. Instead, we should teach people to rise up, “answer back” vociferously, and not to be afraid in the least over words (unless of course those words are an actual credible threat of physical danger).

When clinical psychologists assess a patient, one of the areas we probe is whether the person has a history of violence, and we don’t mean verbal– we mean physical. This is because a physically violent person is a danger to others in a way that a nonviolent person is not. Yes, verbally abusive people are “flagged” by psychologists too– but not in the same way as a person who poses a physical danger to self or others.

3. Free Speech may reduce Anxiety and Depression:

Anxiety and depression can arise for many reasons, and there are multiple ways to be resilient against them. Here are some ways that free speech can help:

  • Verbalizing our thoughts and feelings increases our sense of control: The ability to put our thoughts and feelings into language has been proven to increase a sense of control, which likely increases our sense of self-efficacy and encourages what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”. Both increased self-efficacy and having an internal locus of control are protective factors against anxiety and depression. Moreover, research shows that labeling feelings helps prevent the amygdala from “hijacking” our thought process; this is partially why learning to label our thoughts sets the stage for more rational, clear-headed thinking.
  • Authenticity facilitates social support: Social support is a known protective factor for mental health. It helps to bolster us against anxiety and depression. When we feel forced to keep significant parts of ourselves secret, we are less authentic and more vulnerable to feelings of isolation. We are less able to fully experience social support because of fears that people might “cancel” us if they knew that perhaps some small component of our authentic self didn’t fit neatly into the bounds of whatever is considered to be “acceptable” speech. Social isolation can develop when social support is degraded by fears of being “canceled” over free expression and open dialogue.
  • Free Speech may increase self-awareness: The key to mental health often begins with self-awareness. When we habitually hide our thoughts from others, we tend to become less aware of them internally as well. We go into denial. When we aren’t addressing our thoughts in a straightforward, healthy manner, we may “let them out” in ways that make us vulnerable to anxiety or depression. For example, a person who felt afraid to voice any questions or concerns about political disagreements to the point where they stopped even mentally acknowledging their concerns to themselves might display a generalized sense of anxiety and say truthfully that they “really don’t know why” they’re so anxious. When we aren’t aware of important parts of our feelings and/or we can’t handle them directly, we’re more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.


As a clinical psychologist, I believe that suppressing freedom of expression deprives us of healthy discussions where people can persuade each other through intellectual exploration and develop ideas that help society. Social support that includes free speech allows people to put their thoughts and feelings on the table to examine them, reflect on them, and even change them in a gradual, authentic manner over time (rather than feeling compelled to pantomime a dramatic “change” immediately or risk being ostracized or deplatformed).

Mental wellness requires healthy boundaries. As a psychologist, if I were working with a client who generally expected it was the role of others to either stop having ideas that the client doesn’t like, or that it was always the role of the public square to eliminate voices that the client disliked, I would likely have a discussion with the client about building a sense of personal agency, boundaries, and resilience for his or her own benefit. In my book, Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety, I actually explore techniques to help empower people to use their anxiety or discomfort constructively, rather than becoming overly eager to destroy or deny whatever makes them nervous– it’s often a process that leaves them stronger and more empowered.

Obviously, there are times and places where certain dialogue is not appropriate– but the parameters of what speech is “permissible” even in college classrooms or neighborhood barbecues seems to be ever-shrinking to the point of speech phobia” that results in unhealthy levels of suppression and repression. As a clinical psychologist, I think we would be a richer, healthier, more intelligent society if we welcomed more diversity of thought… even if some words feel like a figurative “slap in the face” (figurative being the key word). If you disagree, I would love to have an open discussion and learn or consider some new viewpoints – I’m truly open minded. I have even been known to change my mind now and then.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Outrage as Pakistan’s Media Watchdog Bans Channels From Broadcasting Ex-PM Imran Khan’s Speeches

Samizdat – 21.08.2022

Pakistan’s media watchdog, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), has banned TV channels from broadcasting live addresses by former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The decision, effective immediately, was made on the eve of his rally in Rawalpindi on Sunday. According to the regulator, Khan is making “baseless allegations and spreading hate speech.”

“His provocative statements against state institutions and officers… is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility,” the PEMRA added.

The decision has been slammed by members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and his supporters.

Asad Umar, a senior PTI official, took to Twitter, saying that the ban would be challenged in court.

A local journalist said the watchdog’s decision actually had the opposite effect.

Since his ouster from power in April 2021, Khan has held massive rallies across the country, branding the government of his successor Shehbaz Sharif as “traitors” installed by a “foreign conspiracy” hatched in the US. He has also repeatedly said that Washington has made Pakistan a “slave” without invading it. Prior to the no-confidence motion that saw him voted out of power, Khan accused the US of seeking to have him removed.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

Another First Amendment lawsuit against Facebook censorship fails

By Didi Rankovic | Reclaim The Net | August 20, 2022

The US judicial system has dismissed yet another lawsuit filed by censored users of Big Tech’s social media platforms, who allege First Amendment free speech violations.

This time it was the US District Court for the Northern District of California that granted a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant, Facebook (Meta). The plaintiff in this case, Richard Rogalinski, sued on First Amendment grounds after a number of his posts about Covid got censored on Facebook.

We obtained a copy of the decision for you here.

One of the posts expressed Rogalinski’s skepticism about the efficacy of masks, saying that he has not seen scientific evidence of their usefulness, but instead, “just talking heads who want to spread fear and control you.”

To this, Facebook’s “fact-checkers” reacted by adding a warning label claiming the post was “missing context.” The same warning was slapped on a post that saw the plaintiff criticize the Covid vaccine rollout.

Finally, a screenshot of a tweet posted by a doctor who promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine got labeled as “false information” by Facebook and removed.

Originally, the Florida resident filed a class action lawsuit in that state, but Facebook moved to either dismiss or transfer it, after which the judge transferred it to California.

In an attempt to fight against the usual defense that massive tech corporations have when censoring content and users – that they are private operations that have the right to do that, while the First Amendment applies only to state actors – Rogalinski mentioned statements made by former White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

In July 2021 – and the California judge noted in the ruling that this happened “after Meta took action against Rogalinski’s posts” – Psaki told a press conference that the Biden administration is “in regular touch” with major social media platforms, and actively flagging content posted on Facebook that the government thinks are “problematic” on misinformation grounds.

Rogalinski argued that the state “chose the targets and content of the statements that it deemed worthy of the defendant’s censorship” which then resulted in censorship by Facebook.

The plaintiff further accused the government and Meta of communicating directly and specifically about the censorship actions and engaging in the act together by sharing responsibility for the two-step process of censorship.

However, the court disagreed, citing several similar cases, including O’Handley v. Padilla, where the ruling reads that the government “can work with a private entity without converting that entity’s later decisions into state action.”

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | 2 Comments