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Open Letter to Chinese Government Highlights MSM Hypocrisy

By Daniel Lazare | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 30, 2020

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal have written an open letter to the Chinese government urging it to reverse its “damaging and reckless” decision to expel their reporters amid a spiraling COVID epidemic.

The letter makes all the usual points about a “free flow of reliable news and information” in the middle of a growing international emergency. And however clichéd, such sentiments are correct since access to the broadest possible sources of information is indeed essential if the world is to make it through the crisis.

But the letter would have been a lot more convincing if the three papers had spoken up on Mar. 2 when the Trump administration moved to expel sixty Chinese journalists working for five news organizations that the White House regards as little more than state propaganda outfits.

Moreover, they’d be on even firmer footing if they had not actively cheered on the most dangerous anti-media effort of all, the U.S. crackdown on the TV news service RT, formerly known as Russia Today, that began in November 2017.

The crackdown on RT was in some ways even worse than McCarthyism since the latter was at least about something real and important, which is to say a Communist movement that controlled roughly forty percent of the global population and was pressing in on capitalism from every side. If the ruling class seemed spooked, it was facing a challenge of unprecedented dimensions.

But the threat this time around was about something entirely made up, i.e. the belief that Russia had supposedly used various dark arts to trick Americans into voting for Trump. The nonsense began in January 2017 when the CIA, NSA, and FBI “assessed” that Vladimir Putin had interfered in the previous year’s election in order “to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability” and, in the process, boost Trump. The report was entirely devoid of evidence, yet the press took it as gospel. Even worse, the intelligence report included a seven-page annex accusing RT of engaging in “criticism of U.S. and Western governments as well as the promotion of radical discontent,” running “numerous reports on alleged U.S. election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities,” contending that U.S. election results cannot be trusted and do not reflect the popular will,” and hosting third-party candidates who contend that “the U.S. two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham.’”

Imagine – a foreign news service daring to suggest that U.S. politics were flawed! If papers like the Times or Post had the slightest inkling of self-respect, they would have laughed themselves silly over such hyper-sensitivity and told the CIA to grow a thicker skin. But they didn’t. Instead, they worked themselves up into ever greater levels of indignation. Within a few months, the New York Times was warning that “if there is any unifying character to RT, it is a deep skepticism of Western and American narratives of the world and a fundamental defensiveness about Russia and Mr. Putin” and that, thanks to snazzy graphics and snappy repartee, the network had put together “the most effective propaganda operation of the 21st century so far, one that thrives in the feverish political climates that have descended on many Western publics.”

Of course, one might observe that outlets like CNN and MSNBC are characterized by a deep skepticism of Russian narratives, so what’s the difference? But that wouldn’t be fair since everyone knows that America is right and Russia wrong and that any comparison between the two is automatically invalid, isn’t it?

Not to be outdone, the Washington Post – official slogan: “Democracy dies in darkness” – ran not one but two op-eds (here and here) calling on the federal government to require RT to register as a foreign agent, a step the Trump administration would dutifully take just two months later.

So the big two turned out to be more aggressive than the Trump administration in reducing journalistic diversity and using the power of the state to undermine a foreign competitor. Finally, just a month ago, the Times ran a front-page article declaring – queue the ominous music – that Radio Sputnik, RT’s sister outlet, had begun “broadcasting on three Kansas City-area radio stations during prime drive time.” Horror of horrors, the station was bombarding Missourians with Russki propaganda criticizing impeachment, the media, and the U.S. political system in general and informing that, in the words of one Sputnik host, that “the masses of poor and working people don’t have access to even the most essential things.”

Where did Radio Sputnik come up with such a notion? Doesn’t everyone know that perfect equality reigns in the United States and that anyone who says otherwise must be working for a foreign power?

In fact, while America never tires of touting its devotion to the First Amendment, it loses control when a foreign news service turns tables by engaging in journalism that is cheeky and irreverent. It wants a free press, which is to say one that is free to repeat over and over again how perfectly wonderful America really is. But it does not believe in a free press that allows foreigners to say the contrary.

March 30, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Black Swan author Taleb urges UK to let Branson’s airline go bust

RT | March 29, 2020

Famed author and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb has trained his sights on billionaire Richard Branson, urging the UK government to let the airline owned by the “tax refugee” to go bankrupt.

Branson has had a torrid fortnight, drawing the ire of politicians of all stripes for putting all Virgin Atlantic staff on unpaid leave because the carrier has been walloped by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tycoon has led the calls for a state-sponsored bailout of the aviation sector, but plans to use the funds to cover fixed costs, rather than pay its staff.

Taleb wrote The Black Swan, which is widely touted as one of the most influential books of the century. His writings give his words extra weight in the current global situation as they focus on the extraordinary impact of rare events.

The risk analyst has given short shrift to the suggestion of bailouts for airlines, saying that the industry was hugely influential in preventing governments from calling a halt to flights from China as the outbreak spread in the Asian country.

However, the author reserved his most scathing analysis for Branson, whom he dubbed a “tax refugee” who “walks around virtue-faking with [the] TED [and] Davos crowd.”

“He lives in the British Virgin Islands and since the UK has no worldwide taxation, [he] pays no taxes. Yet wants the UK taxpayer’s backstop,” Taleb said, in a blistering tweet. “Let him go bust. Planes will fly with new owners!”

Virgin Atlantic has been particularly badly hit by the Covid-19 crisis as it does not have the cash reserves of some of its larger competitors. It reportedly approached the UK government and the Rothschild investment bank, who are said to be handling negotiations, for a package worth hundreds of millions of pounds in loans and guarantees.

March 29, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , | 1 Comment

Exposing a Biden Staffer’s Connections to Troubled Israeli Spyware Firm

By Jefferson Morley | Deep State | March 16, 2020

After Sunday night’s Democratic presidential debate, Anita Dunn, senior adviser to Joe Biden’s campaign, defended the vice president’s performance in a briefing with reporters.

Last year, Dunn, who served as communications director in Barack Obama’s White House, did a similar duty for NSO, the spyware firm founded by former Israeli intelligence officers. The NSO Group created the infamous Pegasus intrusion tool, which has been used to harass and disrupt journalists from India to Mexico to Saudi Arabia—and also to pick Jeff Bezos’ pocket.

As Avi Asher-Schapiro of the Committee to Protect Journalists noted on Twitter, Dunn is “Managing Director at SKDKnickerbocker, a firm that managed the US public relations work for NSO Group.”

Dunn’s work for NSO indicates a willingness to defend private power against the public interest. Her condescending remarks about Bernie Sanders’ performance evoke the arrogance that pervades the intersection of big government and corporate power in Washington. She represents the reasons why some of Sanders’ supporters are reluctant to support the former vice president. She embodies the difficulty of unifying the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party going into the 2020 presidential election.

What Is NSO?

On the trail of NSO, Asher-Schapiro “has been tracking research by Citizen Lab, Amnesty International, and other local and international human rights groups involving journalists targeted by Pegasus, a spyware tool that the NSO Group markets and sells to governments.”

“Once covertly installed by means of spear-phishing attacks that trick the recipient into clicking on a malicious link, the technology passes control of a phone’s camera, microphone, and contents to the attacker,” Asher-Schapiro wrote last year.

Asher-Schapiro reported on:

“an attempted Pegasus attack targeting Griselda Triana, the widow of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez. Valdez, the winner of CPJ’s 2011 International Press Freedom Award, was murdered in May 2017; the Mexican government has not charged anyone for ordering the killing, which CPJ believes was in reprisal for his coverage of narcopolitics.”

When Asher-Schapiro sought comment from NSO, he says, “I would email Dunn’s subordinates at SKDK asking them to kindly provide comments explaining why their client kept being accused of spying on journalists.” He wrote:

“‘We do not tolerate misuse of our products,’ an NSO Group spokesperson told CPJ by email. ‘We regularly vet and review our contracts to ensure they are not being used for anything other than the prevention or investigation of terrorism and crime.’ The spokesperson declined to be named because the comment was from the organization, not an individual.”

And so Dunn’s role in the defense of NSO was not publicly reported.

Whom Dunn Defends

The privatization of intrusive surveillance technology has enabled repression of independent journalists seeking to hold governments accountable. Saudi Arabian intelligence officials reportedly used Pegasus to track dissident Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi before his murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018.

It may have also been used against the world’s richest man.

A technical report on the hack of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ phone (now available on Motherboard) concluded that the exact type of software used to extract Bezos’ data could not be determined but that it had the same capabilities as Pegasus.

A backlash against NSO has been growing.

The messaging giant WhatsApp is suing NSO, accusing it of “‘unlawful access and use’ of WhatsApp computers. According to the lawsuit [filed in northern California federal court] NSO Group developed the malware in order to access messages and other communications after they were decrypted on targeted devices, allowing intruders to bypass WhatsApp’s encryption.”

A Washington Post columnist who served as an adviser to NSO recently quit the firm after criticism. Juliette Kayyem, a Harvard professor, resigned after controversy over her role at the spyware group prompted Harvard to cancel an online seminar she was due to host.

The U.S. government and other leading countries will soon require buyers and sellers of intrusion technologies such as Pegasus to obtain licenses and thus disclose their identities. Whether this voluntary measure will curb abuses is unknown.

Given Dunn’s role in the Biden campaign, it is fair to ask: Is Biden soft on the abuse of private intelligence? Is he a defender of journalism?

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | 1 Comment

Forced displacement and the US-Israel special relationship

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | March 18, 2020

Democrats in the US House of Representatives have sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking the government to ensure that Israel is not using military equipment supplied or financed by America to perpetuate the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians.

“As supporters of the US-Israel special relationship and in light of the longstanding use of US-origin and supplied equipment by Israeli security forces,” they wrote, “we specifically request an examination of Israeli compliance with the requirements.” This was a reference to the US Arms Export Control Act which does not permit recipient countries to use such equipment unless for “legitimate self-defence” purposes.

The US said the Representatives, “should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of US-origin equipment in this destructive practice.”

Politically, though, the US-Israel relationship will take precedence over any human rights concerns. A letter by supporters of this relationship is already compromised in terms of upholding the colonial narrative and separating the recent statistics regarding home demolitions from the historical ethnic cleansing of Palestine which paved the way for colonial Israel’s establishment.

In light of the US “deal of the century” and the impending annexation of more Palestinian land, there is an inherent futility in this exercise of demanding answers from the government. It might satisfy some uneasy consciences but it will not contribute anything to the Palestinian people in terms of safeguarding their legitimate rights.

The deal of the century has demonstrated that what Israel has been doing all along — imposing unilateral measures to expand its colonial project — has given the Zionist state perpetual impunity. Israel, now aided by the US overtly, is ahead of the international community and its stagnant practices when it comes to human rights violations and international law. The US, like other countries, should be working towards eradicating forced displacement. Instead, it has chosen to support Israel’s expansion and penned a deal which will increase the number of people displaced.

Asking for clarification as a means to preserve US support for Israel defeats the purpose of trying to ensure that the end use of US aid is lawful. This contradictory approach must not be construed as a step forward in protecting Palestinians’ rights. It is a perfunctory exercise that detracts from the international law violation at hand, which is America’s political support for Israel’s annexation plans.

The letter shows how human rights concerns are being subjected to political allegiances. It does not call for a suspension of the “special relationship” between the US and Israel, but rather selectively targets a sliver of cooperation which facilitates Israel’s colonial expansion. It is well known that Israel manipulates its self-declared “exceptionalism” to prolong its violations against the Palestinian people and that the US is happy to play along with this.

“My hope is that Israel will stop the home demolitions and will see that there are many supporters of the US-Israel relationship on this letter,” explained US Representative Rohit Khanna. Such emphasis clarifies the underlying intent; the signatories may oppose forced displacement, but the political relationship will continue to take precedence, rather than make Israel reflect upon the consequences of what the International Criminal Court has clearly defined as war crimes.

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 1 Comment

On the ICC and Canadian Government Hypocrisy

By Yves Engler | Palestine Chronicle | March 4, 2020

Just when you think Canadian government hypocrisy could hit no greater heights, the Liberals launch a double standards rocket to the stars.

The Trudeau government recently pressed the International Criminal Court to stop investigating Israeli war crimes. Ottawa sent a letter to the ICC saying it didn’t believe the court had jurisdiction over Palestine.

Canada’s longstanding position is that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize the accession of such a state to international treaties, including the Rome Statute.

In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada’s view that the Court does not have jurisdiction in this matter,” a Global Affairs official told the Jerusalem Post. But, it doesn’t matter if Canada recognizes Palestine. The vast majority of UN member states recognized Palestine and it joined the ICC in 2015.

In response to Ottawa’s letter to the ICC, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat tweeted that Canada supported “Israel’s campaign for impunity.” Erekat added, “it is not about jurisdiction: It’s about war crimes. This is an encouragement to continue the war crimes.”

Canada’s letter to the ICC implies it could sever funding if the ICC pursued an investigation of Israeli crimes. Reportedly, it reminds the court that Canada’s “financial contribution to the ICC will be $10.6 million this year.”

Ottawa’s letter was a response to ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s statement in December that “I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.” At the time Bensouda called for a full-fledged investigation into Israeli war crimes, which could lead to arrest warrants being issued for Israeli officials.

Since then Tel Aviv has unleashed a vicious campaign against the ICC. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labeled the court’s investigation “pure anti-Semitism”. Israel has pushed other countries to join their attacks. Netanyahu sent a letter to Justin Trudeau calling on Canada to condemn any ICC investigation of Israeli war crimes.

Trudeau’s willingness to bow to Israeli pressure on the issue is remarkable. Not only does it claim to support the ICC, but the institution is also closely linked to how it markets its foreign policy.

In his recent mandate letter to the foreign minister, Trudeau told Francois-Philippe Champagne to “reinforce international institutions like the International Criminal Court.” In March Global Affairs noted, “we are proud to support the International Criminal Court and the important work that it does.”

The press release boasted that Canada helped “bring the ICC into existence” and was “the first country in the world to adopt comprehensive legislation implementing the Rome Statute” that created the ICC. The statement adds that “Canada firmly supports the rules-based international order and the multilateral institutions that underpin it.‎

When Trudeau addressed the UN General Assembly in September 2018, the ICC was central to his talk. The government announced Canada was taking Venezuela to the ICC and the prime minister described the court as a “useful and important way of promoting an international rules-based order.”

On dozens of occasions, former foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, Trudeau and other Liberal officials have referred to the “international rules-based order”, “international order based on rules” or “international system based on rules”. The top stated “aim” laid out in Freeland’s major June 2017 foreign policy pronouncement was: “First, we will robustly support the rules-based international order, and all its institutions, and seek ways to strengthen and improve them.” The number one priority on Global Affairs website is “revitalizing the rules-based international order.”

By threatening the ICC on behalf of Israel the Trudeau government is not simply enabling Palestinian dispossession. The Liberals are also making a mockery of their foreign policy rhetoric.

 – Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and a number of other books.

March 4, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada Joins ‘Friendly States’ in Opposing ICC War Crimes Investigation in Palestine

Palestine Chronicle | February 26, 2020

The Canadian government has submitted a letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC), in which it declared support for the Israeli position, thus rejecting the ICC jurisdiction over cases of alleged war crimes committed by Israel in Palestine.

The Canadian Jewish News (CJN), which reported on the letter, said that Ottawa has communicated its position to the Court on February 14, although the content of the letter has not been made public until today.

In the letter, Canada, which reminded the Court that its “financial contribution to the ICC will be $10.6 million this year,” stated that it does not recognize Palestine as a state and that the ICC has no jurisdiction on the case that is presented by the State of Palestine.

The Canadian decision followed a public demand last December by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to condemn a preliminary report by the ICC that has a “reasonable basis” to investigate Israeli war crimes in the occupied territories.

Netanyahu’s letter, which was obtained by the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper, asserted the position which was eventually adopted by the Canadian government, that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the case because Palestine does not meet the criteria of statehood.

Netanyahu’s letter read in part:

“In light of our special relations and the steadfast friendship between our countries, I urge you to publicly condemn this erroneous decision, to acknowledge there is not a Palestinian state, that the court has no jurisdiction in this matter, which involves political issues to be determined by the parties, and to voice your deep concerns regarding its dangerous ramifications to the court and the region.”

The intense Israeli lobbying followed a statement by the ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, in which she declared to be “satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine”.

“In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” she said.

Two days after Ottawa communicated its position to the ICC, Netanyahu praised what he called “efforts” by “friendly states” to prevent the ICC from launching an investigation.

February 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trudeau’s extraordinary campaign to overthrow Maduro

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By Yves Engler · February 26, 2020

The effort Justin Trudeau’s government is putting into removing Venezuela’s President is remarkable. So is the utter hypocrisy of their campaign.

On Thursday Ottawa hosted the Lima Group, a coalition of countries supporting Washington’s bid to overthrow the Venezuelan government. A CBC headline noted, “Ottawa attempts to reboot campaign to remove Maduro from power in Venezuela.” For more than a year the Lima Group has openly pushed Venezuela’s military to overthrow the government. Thursday’s summit was the third held in Canada of a coalition instigated by Canada and Peru in mid 2017.

During the recent Munich Security Conference Trudeau discussed the South American country with a US Senate and House of Representatives delegation led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. The Prime Minister’s release noted, “the Congressional delegation thanked Canada for its leadership on the Lima Group and for supporting Interim President Juan Guaidó and the Venezuelan National Assembly in their efforts to achieve a peaceful democratic transition in Venezuela.”

Similarly, the Prime Minister discussed Venezuela at a meeting with Austria’s Chancellor on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. According to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Canada and Australia “have many shared goals such as the empowerment of women and our support for free & fair elections in Venezuela.” According to this formulation, the empowerment of half the world’s population is of similar import to purported electoral discrepancies in Venezuela.

Foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne also discussed Venezuela with International Crisis Group President Robert Malley at the Munich Security Conference.

Last month Venezuelan politician Juan Guaidó was fêted in Ottawa. The self-declared president met the Prime Minister, deputy PM, international development minister and foreign minister. Trudeau called him “Interim President Guaidó” and Champagne sometimes referred to him simply as “President”.

Over the past couple of years, the government has put out hundreds of press releases, tweets and public statements critical of the Venezuelan government. They hired a Special Advisor on Venezuela to oversee the government’s coup efforts and the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers gave Patricia Atkinson, Head of the Venezuela Task Force at Global Affairs, its Foreign Service Officers award in June 2019 for her role in overseeing a team of diplomats that organized Lima Group meetings, sanctions, etc. The government has implemented four rounds of sanctions against Venezuelan officials and it’s brought that country to the International Criminal Court, shuttered its Embassy in Caracas, funded opposition groups and decided a marginal opposition politician was the legitimate president.

A look at Canada’s Lima Group allies highlights the hypocrisy of their campaign against Venezuela. The constitutional legitimacy of Honduras’ President is far weaker than Maduro’s; Far more dissidents were assassinated in Colombia last year; The government of Chile is facing greater popular contestation; The electoral legitimacy of Haiti’s President is much weaker; Honduras’ president has clearer links to drug runners; Violence is worse in numerous countries in the Hemisphere.

It is true that Venezuela’s economic downturn – and concurrent outward migration – is substantially worse than other Lima Group members. But, the sanctions imposed by the US and Canada have contributed to Venezuela’s economic collapse as much as any action of the government.

Canada is engaged in an extraordinary effort to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro. But, it isn’t designed to advance democracy or human rights in Venezuela.

February 26, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 2 Comments

Democrats resurrect ‘Russiagate’ to go after both Trump and Bernie Sanders, hide their own election trickery

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | February 22, 2020

Establishment Democrats have now used the claims of ‘Russian meddling’ to go after their own progressive wing as well as President Donald Trump. The bogus accusation seems to be nothing more than cover for their own wrongdoing.

Moscow is now supposedly helping Bernie Sanders in the 2020 US presidential election – that is, if you believe the anonymously sourced Washington Post “bombshell.” This follows a New York Times claim on Thursday that the Kremlin is “again” betting on Trump, written by known partisan hacks and likewise based on anonymous sources.

In the minds of the ‘Russiagate’ cult, the Kremlin is backing Sanders either to get Trump re-elected, or to get a “socialist” president. Never mind that Russia is not socialist, try arguing that there has been precisely zero evidence – now, or back in 2016 – that Russia has backed any US candidate, and watch people’s heads explode. Much like the vaunted US “intelligence community,” they want to believe. That’s the only way they can explain the mind-breaking shock of Hillary Clinton losing to Trump.

Through endless repetition and paranoid denunciations, “Russian meddling” has been elevated to an article of faith, and anyone who dares question it in the slightest is a heretic fit only for the pyre.

So there was little surprise when the canard was trotted out on Thursday, in what was clearly an effort to delegitimize Trump’s pick of Richard Grenell as Director of National Intelligence with a rumored mandate to “clean house” – of, I don’t know, maybe the people involved in spying on Trump’s campaign on false pretenses and manufacturing the predicate for ‘Russiagate’, perhaps?

What’s more shocking, however, is that this accusation has now been leveled against Sanders – and after him spending the past four years proving time and again how he was a loyal DNC foot soldier. Not only did he bend the knee to Clinton after it was documented that she and the DNC colluded to rob him in the primaries, he also jumped on the ‘Russiagate’ bandwagon, and even tried using it just this week to deflect from the Clintonite smear about “Bernie bros” being mean to people online.

Even so, Bernie has now been smeared as a “Russian asset.” Looking at the state of Democrat primaries, the answer is obvious: because he’s winning, despite the DNC’s attempts to promote Pete Buttigieg or literally anyone else in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries. With Joe Biden crashing and burning, the party even embraced billionaire media mogul Mike Bloomberg, only to see him wither on the debate stage last Friday and Sanders climb in the polls.

So the paper owned by Jeff Bezos, who reportedly asked Bloomberg to run and stands to pay billions in taxes if Sanders gets elected, breaks the glass and pushes the big red Russiagate button. Perfectly normal, you see.

In what surely must be a coincidence, the DNC had changed its debate rules to accommodate Bloomberg, even as it bent itself into pretzels to exclude Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. In an even more remarkable coincidence, Gabbard was accused last fall of being a “Russian favorite” by none other than Hillary Clinton, the very source of the original ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy.

There’s no way these things are related, though, and anyone who thinks so simply must be a Russian agent! Expect armed FBI agents to show up at your door, accompanied by CNN cameras, and a federal judge to declare you a danger to Our Democracy any moment now.

That is not to say that US elections haven’t been targeted for meddling, influence, and even hacking. Trouble is, every documented incident tends to point to, well… Democrats.

Lost in the shrieking about “Russia helping Bernie” on Friday was the announcement that the FBI has arrested and charged a hacker linked to California Democrat Katie Hill, who allegedly conducted cyber-attacks against her (Democrat) primary rivals back in 2018. Oops.

Then there is New Knowledge, the “cybersecurity” company that the Senate Intelligence Committee chose to inform its understanding of “Russian active measures.” They were uniquely qualified, you see, because they actually ran a disinformation campaign during the 2017 special election for the Senate in Alabama, using fake Russian bots to frame and defame the Republican candidate.

When you factor in that the loudest shrieking about ‘Russian meddling’ comes from the people who were actually involved in election shenanigans – such as illegally spying on Trump’s campaign using a dodgy dossier compiled by a British spy – what emerges is a damning picture of psychological projection.

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

February 22, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Subcomandante Bloomberg

By CJ Hopkins | Consent Factory | February 21, 2020

Break out the pussyhats and vuvuzelas, folks, because the neoliberal Resistance is back, and this time they’re not playing around. No more impeachments and investigations. It’s time to go mano-a-mano with Trump, and they’ve finally got just the bad hombre to do it. No, not Bernie Sanders, you commies. A battle-hardened Resistance fighter. El Caballo Pequeño! El Jefe Mínimo! Subcomandante Michael Bloomberg!

Yes, that’s right, Michael Bloomberg, multi-billionaire Republicrat oligarch, has mobilized a guerilla army of overpaid PR professionals, Wall Street sociopaths, liberal racists, and anti-outdoor-smoking fanatics, and is steamrolling toward the Democratic convention to buy a brokered nomination and save America from “Putinism.” He’s had it with you sugary-soft-drink-drinking, chain-smoking, gun-toting, Oxy-gobbling, Hitler-loving, Putinist peasants and your infatuation with Donald Trump. So he’s decided to transform the entire country into a sterile, upscale, fascist themepark where you can rent a studio for $3,000 a month and the cops keep “the darkies” in their place, like he successfully did to New York City.

Although his campaign seemed to come out of nowhere (and sort of resembles a desperate attempt to prevent a Bernie Sanders nomination), the Resistance have been planning this corporatist Tet Offensive for quite some time. Apparently, Subcomandante Bloomberg and his inner circle of sub-subcomandantes have been hiding out deep in the mountainous jungles of Manhattan’s affluent Upper East Side (or in the Hamptons, or London, or in one of El Jefe’s other multi-million-dollar homes) since Trump and the Russians invaded the country, waiting for the perfect moment to start inundating the American people with television commercials and social media posts informing them of his “electability.”

Clearly, that moment has now arrived.

Bloomberg has spent over $400 million on TV, radio, and digital ads, and it isn’t even Super Tuesday yet. He bought the Democratic National Committee and had them change the rules so he could join the debates (which, based on his poor performance in Las Vegas, might not have been the most brilliant strategy). He has been buying politicians, community organizers, journalists, pundits, his opponents’ campaign staff, Instagram and Facebook influencers, and everyone else he can possibly buy to support his campaign to buy the presidency … which is totally legal, and the American way, and is our only hope of overthrowing the Putin-Nazi Occupation Government and regaining our God-given capitalist freedom!

Sure, to some folks, it looks … well, unseemly (not to mention decidedly undemocratic), this Wall Street oligarch attempting to bribe and bully his way into the White House, but, given the stakes, what choice do we have? As the corporate media and intelligence agencies have been telling us for the last three years, the country is under occupation by an evil conspiracy of Russian-backed Nazis personally controlled by Vladimir Putin! More or less any moment now, Putin is going to order Trump to nullify the U.S. Constitution, declare martial law, appoint himself Führer, and start rounding up and murdering the Jews … or investigating Hunter Biden, or the spooks who have been trying to force him out of office.

This Putin-Nazism cannot continue! Trump must be deposed, no matter the cost. As Robert Reich put it in this piece in The Guardian:

“If the only way we can get rid of the sociopathic tyrant named Trump is with an oligarch named Bloomberg, we will have to choose the oligarch.”

There you have it, folks. We’ll have to choose Bloomberg, or else his golf buddy, Literal Hitler, will destroy the fabric of democracy, or whatever.

Another op-ed in The Washington Post, It Might Be Time to Take Bloomberg Seriously, wondered, if it comes down to Bloomberg versus Bernie:

“Do you choose socialism or capitalism? An ideologue or an executive? Are you really going to ask Americans to trade one extreme for the other, or do you want to offer them a certified, electable moderate?”

Vox, in its “Case for Michael Bloomberg — Mike Bloomberg and His Billions Are What Democrats Need to Beat Trump,” observes that, sure, Bloomberg has drawbacks, like his history of racist remarks and policies, abusing women, oppressing the poor, and just generally being an arrogant little authoritarian corporatist creep, but hey, he’s apologized for all that stuff, and he’ll probably never do it again.

Plus, according to this piece in …uh, Bloomberg Opinion (which “does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bloomberg LP and its owners”), The 2020 Election Is a Choice Between Democracy and Putinism! At the end of the day, once the dust has settled:

“It will come down to rule of law. In November, Americans will decide whether they will fight for the foundation of liberal democracy and democratic capitalism or whether they will accede to Putinism.”

You’ll be hearing variations of this message over and over, and over again, as we approach election day in November … that is, assuming Bloomberg and the rest of the Resistance can buy, bribe, badger, and bamboozle enough Democratic voters into nominating him. First, they need to deal with Bernie Sanders and his swarm of kill-crazy commie terrorists (who rumor has it are also being remotely controlled by Vladimir Putin). To do this, all they will need to do is deny Sanders a first ballot win in Milwaukee, which shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. Sure, a brokered convention will be ugly, but, as Robert Reich said, they’ll have to do it, or else … well, you know, end of democracy.

Yes, I’m aware that Subcomandante Bloomberg blew his first debate (prompting Twitter pundits to pronounce him DOA) and that millions of “progressive” Democrats hate him, and that the corporate media are running a lot of “Bloomberg’s Nasty Past” pieces now (in order to maintain the appearance of journalism), but, make no mistake, if he secures the nomination, they’ll be lining up to “reluctantly” endorse him, because the alternative will be Russian Hitler!

Look, it’s easy to get distracted by the day-to-day ups and downs of the horse race (which is the primary purpose of the horse race, after all) and forget that we are in the middle of a global capitalist War on Populism … a war that GloboCap intends to win. Sure, they will survive another four years of Trump (or even four years of Sanders if they have to), but, at some point, in order to restore “normality,” or “democratic capitalism,” or whatever, they are probably going to need to stop dicking around and install a bona fide global capitalist oligarch in the Oval Office. They are going to need to do this in order to crush the hopes of the populist insurgency that erupted in the Spring of 2016, and led to the rise of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, the Brexit, the ongoing protests in France, the downfall of Angela Merkel, etc.

Another Obama is not going to cut it … people aren’t buying that con anymore. No, if the empire is going to reestablish control, it is going to need to take its liberal mask off, and shove a blatant corporatist oligarch like Bloomberg down the public’s throat in order to remind everyone who’s boss. It may not be Michael Bloomberg this time, but it is going to be someone like Bloomberg eventually. Someone powerful, and extremely unpleasant, who will be sold to us as the only one who can save the world from the “Nazis” and the “Russians” … which will necessitate taking some very extreme measures, like the ones we took during the War on Terror. You remember the measures we took back then, don’t you?

Or what, you think that GloboCap has been manufacturing all this mass hysteria over “Russian election interference” and “Nazi terrorism” for their own amusement? Yeah, that’s probably all it is. It’s probably not a prelude to anything.

February 21, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | | 1 Comment

Sanders tells New York Times he would consider a preemptive strike against Iran or North Korea

By Jacob Crosse and Barry Grey | WSWS | February 14, 2020

Bernie Sanders has won the popular vote in both the New Hampshire and Iowa presidential primary contests in considerable part by presenting himself as an opponent of war. Following the criminal assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani last month, Sanders was the most vocal of the Democratic presidential aspirants in criticizing Trump’s action. His poll numbers have risen in tandem with his stepped-up anti-war rhetoric.

He has repeatedly stressed his vote against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, reminding voters in the Iowa presidential debate last month, “I not only voted against that war, I helped lead the effort against that war.”

However, when speaking to the foremost newspaper of the American ruling class, the New York Times, the Sanders campaign adopts a very different tone than that employed by the candidate when addressing the public in campaign stump speeches or TV interviews.

The answers provided by Sanders’ campaign to a foreign policy survey of the Democratic presidential candidates published this month by the Times provide a very different picture of the attitude of the self-styled “democratic socialist” to American imperialism and war. In the course of the survey, the Sanders campaign is at pains to reassure the military/intelligence establishment and the financial elite of the senator’s loyalty to US imperialism and his readiness to deploy its military machine.

Perhaps most significant and chilling is the response to the third question in the Times’ survey.

Question: Would you consider military force to pre-empt an Iranian or North Korean nuclear or missile test?

Answer: Yes.

A Sanders White House, according to his campaign, would be open to launching a military strike against Iran or nuclear-armed North Korea to prevent (not respond to) not even a threatened missile or nuclear strike against the United States, but a mere weapons test. This is a breathtakingly reckless position no less incendiary than those advanced by the Trump administration.

Sanders would risk a war that could easily involve the major powers and lead to a nuclear Armageddon in order to block a weapons test by countries that have been subjected to devastating US sanctions and diplomatic, economic and military provocations for decades.

Moreover, as Sanders’ response to the Times makes clear, the so-called progressive, anti-war candidate fully subscribes to the doctrine of “preemptive war” declared to be official US policy in 2002 by the administration of George W. Bush. An illegal assertion of aggressive war as an instrument of foreign policy, this doctrine violates the principles laid down at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi officials after World War II, the United Nations charter and other international laws and conventions on war. Sanders’ embrace of the doctrine, following in the footsteps of the Obama administration, shows that his opposition to the Iraq war was purely a question of tactics, not a principled opposition to imperialist war.

The above question is preceded by another that evokes a response fully in line with the war policies of the Obama administration, the first two-term administration in US history to preside over uninterrupted war.

Question: Would you consider military force for a humanitarian intervention?

Answer: Yes.

Among the criminal wars carried out by the United States in the name of defending “human rights” are the war in Bosnia and the bombing of Serbia in the 1990s, the 2011 air war against Libya that ended with the lynching of deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi, and the civil war in Syria that was fomented by Washington and conducted by its Al Qaeda-linked proxy militias.

The fraudulent humanitarian pretexts for US aggression were no more legitimate than the lie of “weapons of mass destruction” used in the neo-colonial invasion of Iraq. The result of these war crimes has been the destruction of entire societies, the death of millions and dislocation of tens of millions more, along with the transformation of the Middle East into a cauldron of great power intervention and intrigue that threatens to erupt into a new world war.

Sanders fully subscribes to this doctrine of “humanitarian war” that has been particularly associated with Democratic administrations.

In response to a question from the Times on the assassination of Suleimani, the Sanders campaign calls Trump’s action illegal, but refuses to take a principled stand against targeted assassinations in general and associates itself with the attacks on Suleimani as a terrorist.

The reply states:

Clearly there is evidence that Suleimani was involved in acts of terror. He also supported attacks on US troops in Iraq. But the right question isn’t ‘was this a bad guy,’ but rather ‘does assassinating him make Americans safer?’ The answer is clearly no.

In other words, the extra-judicial killing of people by the US government is justified if it makes Americans “safer.” This is a tacit endorsement of the policy of drone assassinations that was vastly expanded under the Obama administration—a policy that included the murder of US citizens.

At another point, the Times asks:

Would you agree to begin withdrawing American troops from the Korean peninsula?

The reply is:

No, not immediately. We would work closely with our South Korean partners to move toward peace on the Korean peninsula, which is the only way we will ultimately deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.

Sanders thus supports the continued presence of tens of thousands of US troops on the Korean peninsula, just as he supports the deployment of US forces more generally to assert the global interests of the American ruling class.

On Israel, Sanders calls for a continuation of the current level of US military and civilian aid and opposes the immediate return of the US embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

On Russia, he entirely supports the Democratic Party’s McCarthyite anti-Russia campaign and lines up behind the right-wing basis of the Democrats’ failed impeachment drive against Trump:

Question: If Russia continues on its current course in Ukraine and other former Soviet states, should the United States regard it as an adversary, or even an enemy?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Should Russia be required to return Crimea to Ukraine before it is allowed back into the G-7?

Answer: Yes.

Finally, the Times asks the Sanders campaign its position on the National Security Strategy announced by the Trump administration at the beginning of 2018. The new doctrine declares that the focus of American foreign and military strategy has shifted from the “war on terror” to the preparation for war against its major rivals, naming in particular Russia and China.

In the following exchange, Sanders tacitly accepts the great power conflict framework of the National Security Strategy, attacking Trump from the right for failing to aggressively prosecute the conflict with Russia and China:

Question: President Trump’s national security strategy calls for shifting the focus of American foreign policy away from the Middle East and Afghanistan, and back to what it refers to as the ‘revisionist’ superpowers, Russia and China. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Answer: Despite its stated strategy, the Trump administration has never followed a coherent national security strategy. In fact, Trump has escalated tensions in the Middle East and put us on the brink of war with Iran, refused to hold Russia accountable for its interference in our elections and human rights abuses, has done nothing to address our unfair trade agreement with China that only benefits wealthy corporations, and has ignored China’s mass internment of Uighurs and its brutal repression of protesters in Hong Kong. Clearly, Trump is not a president we should be taking notes from. [Emphasis added].

In a recent interview Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressman and national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, assured Atlantic writer Uri Friedman that Sanders would continue provocative “freedom of the seas” navigation operations in the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea, while committing a Sanders administration to “maintain some [troop] presence” on the multitude of bases dotting “allied” countries from Japan to Germany.

Millions of workers, students and young people are presently attracted to Sanders because they have come to despise and oppose the vast social inequality, brutality and militarism of American society and correctly associate these evils with capitalism. However, they will soon learn through bitter experience that Sanders’s opposition to the “billionaire class” is no more real than his supposed opposition to war. His foreign policy is imperialist through and through, in line with the aggressive and militaristic policy of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration.

The Democrats’ differences with Trump on foreign policy, though bitter, are tactical. Both parties share the strategic orientation of asserting US global hegemony above all through force of arms.

No matter how much Sanders blusters about inequality, it is impossible to oppose the depredations of the ruling class at home while supporting its plunder and oppression abroad.

Sanders is no more an apostle of peace than he is a representative of the working class. Both in foreign and domestic policy, he is an instrument of the ruling class for channeling the growing movement of the working class and opposition to capitalism back behind the Democratic Party and the two-party system of capitalist rule in America.

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , , , , | 6 Comments

EU delaying tactics bring it closer to Trump’s deal

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | February 18, 2020

For all its purported peace-building efforts and support for Palestinian rights, the EU is committed to supporting Israel’s colonial-settler expansionism. Its feeble response to US President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” was accentuated in the recent decision to refuse to pass any official resolutions until after next month’s Israeli General Election.

Palestine is never a priority in foreign policy anywhere. Yet the Palestinian Authority persists in pursuing non-existent international support, notably that of the EU, ostensibly to navigate the labyrinth of dispossession which the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan forced upon the people of Palestine. The truth is that the PA is scrambling to retain its bequeathed diplomatic standing and the funding that allows it to function as the “sole representative” of the Palestinians.

In return, the PA facilitates the waiting game for the international community, while Palestinians suffer statements such as the latest by EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell. “We briefly discussed how best to relaunch a political process that is acceptable to both parties and how best to defend the internationally agreed parameters, equal rights and international law,” he declared on Monday. Defending internationally agreed parameters has nothing to do with protecting Palestinian rights, and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is aware of this discrepancy.

Meanwhile, Israel is lobbying EU countries to refrain from taking a stance against Trump’s plan. Israeli media highlights the fact that recognition of the State of Palestine by several European countries has “little, if any, diplomatic effect.” While in previous years, recognition of Palestine raised Israel’s ire, it is now being touted as a futile PA effort in comparison with the US-Israeli partnership to colonise Palestine, as well as the EU’s increasingly non-committal stance towards Palestinians and their legitimate political rights.

Nevertheless, Israel will not take any risk that the EU might voice a unified condemnation of Trump’s plan. The delay communicated by the EU with regard to its response over US-Israeli scheming indicates diplomatic activity that favours Israel. The latter allegedly “fears” the EU playing a major role in any future negotiations. Netanyahu has pledged to carry out the annexation of the occupied West Bank if re-elected, and the EU has done nothing other than issue the usual bland condemnation. If the EU does indeed take on a more influential role in negotiations, whether these are based on the defunct two-state compromise or Trump’s proposal, it will clearly adopt a pro-Israel stance.

Behind the scenes, Israel is lobbying for such a scenario and there is nothing to impede the EU from continuing with its track record of marginalising Palestinians. Before Trump’s deal was revealed, EU diplomats attempted to differentiate between the allegedly law-abiding EU and the international law-abusing US. The illusion of a political struggle between both entities was the focus of analysis, which suited Israel as it shifted attention away from the Palestinians.

The final step in this process will matter little to Israel as long as the EU does not depart from its decades-long policy of pretending to support Palestinian rights while actively pursuing stronger ties with Israel. One point, however, must be clarified. If the EU is seeking additional delays before issuing a statement regarding the deal of the century, the words of former EU representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini must be recalled: the EU would consider working with the US plan if the two-state paradigm is included. One obsolete imposition has now been replaced by another that offers fragments of a state, which the EU and its backing for Israeli expansionism has supported tacitly all along.

 

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Profiting from Loss: How Business in Illegal Israeli Settlements Continues Unchecked

UN efforts to protect Palestinian land from economic exploitation are failing, and exposing the hypocrisy of western states 

By Jonathan Cook – The National – February 18, 2020

After lengthy delays, the United Nations finally published a database last week of businesses that have been profiting from Israel’s illegal annexation and settlement activity in the West Bank.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, announced that 112 major companies had been identified as operating in Israeli settlements in ways that violate human rights.

Aside from major Israeli banks, transport services, cafes, supermarkets, and energy, building and telecoms firms, prominent international businesses include Airbnb, booking.com, Motorola, Trip Advisor, JCB, Expedia and General Mills.

Human Rights Watch, a global watchdog, noted in response to the list’s publication that the settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. It argued that the firms’ activities mean they have aided “in the commission of war crimes”.

The companies’ presence in the settlements has helped to blur the distinction between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. That in turn has normalised the erosion of international law and subverted a long-held international consensus on establishing a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Work on compiling the database began four years ago. But both Israel and the United States put strong pressure on the UN in the hope of preventing the list from ever seeing the light of day.

The UN body’s belated assertiveness looks suspiciously like a rebuke to the Trump administration for releasing this month its Middle East “peace” plan. It green-lights Israel’s annexation of the settlements and the most fertile and water-rich areas of the West Bank.

In response to the database, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to intensify his country’s interference in US politics. He noted that his officials had already “promoted laws in most US states, which determine that strong action is to be taken against whoever tries to boycott Israel.”

He was backed by all Israel’s main Jewish parties. Amir Peretz, leader of the centre-left Labour party, vowed to “work in every forum to repeal this decision”. And Yair Lapid, a leader of Blue and White, the main rival to Netanyahu, called Bachelet the “commissioner for terrorists’ rights”.

Meanwhile, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, accused the UN of “unrelenting anti-Israel bias” and of aiding the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

In fact, the UN is not taking any meaningful action against the 112 companies, nor is it encouraging others to do so. The list is intended as a shaming tool – highlighting that these firms have condoned, through their commercial activities, Israel’s land and resource theft from Palestinians.

The UN has even taken an extremely narrow view of what constitutes involvement with the settlements. For example, it excluded organisations like FIFA, the international football association, whose Israeli subsidiary includes six settlement teams.

One of the identified companies, Airbnb, announced in late 2018 that it would remove from its accommodation bookings website all settlement properties – presumably to avoid being publicly embarrassed.

But a short time later Airbnb backed down. It is hard to imagine the decision was taken on strictly commercial grounds: the firm has only 200 settlement properties on its site.

A more realistic conclusion is that Airbnb feared the backlash from Washington and was intimidated by a barrage of accusations from pro-Israel groups that its new policy was anti-semitic.

In fact, the UN’s timing could not be more tragic. The list looks more like the last gasp of those who – through their negligence over nearly three decades – have enabled the two-state solution to wither to nothing.

Trump’s so-called peace plan could afford to be so one-sided only because western powers had already allowed Israel to void any hope of Palestinian statehood through decades of unremitting settlement expansion. Today, nearly 700,000 Israeli Jews are housed on occupied Palestinian territory.

On Monday European Union foreign ministers were due to meet to discuss their response to the plan. Tepid criticism was the most that could be expected.

The actions of several European states continue to speak much louder than any words.

On Friday, Germany followed the Czech Republic in filing a petition to the International Criminal Court at The Hague siding with Israel as the court deliberates whether to prosecute Israeli officials for war crimes, including over the establishment of settlements.

Germany does not appear to deny that the settlements are war crimes. Instead, it hopes to block the case on dubious technical grounds: that despite Palestine signing up to the Rome Statute, which established the Hague court, it is not yet a fully fledged state.

So far Austria, Hungary, Australia and Brazil appear to be following suit.

But if Palestine lacks the proper attributes of statehood, it is because the US and Europe, including Germany, have consistently broken promises to the Palestinians.

They not only refused to intervene to save the two-state solution, but rewarded Israel with trade deals and diplomatic and financial incentives, even as Israel eroded the institutional and territorial integrity necessary for Palestinian self-rule.

Germany’s stance, like that of the rest of Europe, is hypocritical. They have claimed opposition to Israel’s endless settlement expansion, and now to Trump’s plan, but their actions have paved the way to the annexation of the West Bank the plan condones.

Back in November the European Court of Justice finally ruled that products made in West Bank settlements – using illegally seized Palestinian resources on illegally seized Palestinian land – should not be labelled deceptively as “Made in Israel”.

And yet European countries are still postponing implementation of the decision. Instead, some of them are legislating against their citizens’ right to express support for a settlement boycott.

Similarly, Europe and North America continue to afford the Jewish National Fund, an entity that finances settlement-building, “charitable status”, giving it tax breaks as it raises funds inside their jurisdictions.

The Israeli media is full of stories of how the JNF actively assists extremist settler groups in evicting Palestinians from homes in East Jerusalem. But Britain and other states are blocking legal efforts to challenge the JNF’s special status.

Soon, it seems, Europe will no longer have to worry about its hypocrisy being so visible. Once the settlements have been annexed, as the Trump administration intends, the EU can set aside its ineffectual agonising and treat the settlements as irrevocably Israeli – just as it has done in practice with the Israeli “neighbourhoods” of occupied East Jerusalem.

Then, the UN’s list of shame can join decades’ worth of condemnatory resolutions that have been quietly gathering dust.

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment