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The US could see its supply chain derailed

By Bradley Blankenship | RT | November 25, 2022

One of the United States’ largest rail unions rejected a deal with freight companies and, after a cooling-off period that expires on December 9, the country could see a rail strike that could collapse its supply chain ahead of the holiday season. The cost to the US economy could be about $2 billion per day and passenger rails, like Amtrak, could see major disruptions.

A deal has appeared distant but Congress could still intervene to force one, based on Depression-era legislation. At present, the biggest sticking point to an agreement is paid sick leave and other quality-of-life issues that impact rail workers. A tentative deal struck earlier by President Joe Biden in September granted the largest wage increases in 50 years – that is, 14% raises with back pay and 24% raises over the course of five years, plus thousand-dollar cash bonuses every year – but this was never the main sticking point.

Instead, unions are upset by a lack of sick leave and personal time that leaves rail workers with a permanent threat of termination over visits to a doctor, as well as having to be on call seven days a week. They’re also ticked about workers having to operate rails solo, which they deem a safety concern, given the long hours associated with the industry. That’s why unions voted narrowly to reject the deal, even if it saw a large pay bump.

While this issue has been boiling for many years, the pandemic brought scheduling issues to the fore. Successive waves of Covid-19 didn’t see any meaningful worker protections or paid sick leave implemented, and staffing shortages only worsened. Workers were forced to show up and be on call without any protections and, to top it off, the freight lines saw record profits deposited to the ultra-wealthy, such as Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett.

Despite those record profits and revenues, rail operators did not spread this wealth to employees or amend contracts to grant more benefits. Instead, they spent these lavish profits on stock buybacks and dividend payouts to shareholders. For example, CSX reported a 37% surge in fiscal year 2021 net income and the company repurchased $3.7 billion worth of its own shares during the first three quarters of this year to artificially boost stock prices.

And now the industry is hoping that Congress will intervene to kneecap workers. One of the main legal hurdles to a rail strike is the 1926 Railway Labor Act, which forbids workers from striking, unlike in most other businesses. This has significantly reduced the leverage of rail workers, while entrenching the powerful people that own the freight lines and raising the odds that Congress will intervene with a deal that unions would otherwise not have accepted.

That does appear to be the goal of the rail lobby. Unions are hoping that pro-union members of the lame-duck Congress won’t intervene on employers’ behalf but the economic damage could be too much to stomach. Up to 30% of all cargo could be strung up in the event of a strike, causing all sorts of items, from fuel to cars, to rise significantly in price, thanks to supply-chain hiccups. Freight lines are hoping that even a divided Congress will intervene to give them a favorable deal.

But this would be foolhardy and would only kick the can down the road. Congress should not damage the leverage of unions and should let the strike unfold, even if that means seeing huge price increases. The rail industry has seen sky-high profits and used anti-competitive practices to profiteer off of pandemic-induced supply bottlenecks. It also enjoys unparalleled antitrust law exemptions and benefits from the country’s privatization model around railroads.

On the contrary, Congress should take the chance to break up rail companies, strengthen anti-monopoly laws and implement universal paid sick leave, given the fact that the US is enduring a virtual case plateau with Covid-19. The US is, notably, one of the few developed countries in the world to not have universal paid sick leave and does not have a government-owned or subsidized rail competitor besides Amtrak.

This means that only a handful of companies are allowed to control entire freight lines and set arbitrary fees, which has resulted in numerous lawsuits, though current laws shield railways from any liability. Congress should displace the rail industry from its privileged position even if it is important for the national supply chain because, inevitably, these monopolies are damaging the market and hurting workers’ livelihoods.

Bradley Blankenship is an American journalist, columnist and political commentator. He has a syndicated column at CGTN and is a freelance reporter for international news agencies including Xinhua News Agency.

November 25, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Russia strategises with Iran for the long haul in Ukraine

Ali Shamkhani (L), representative of Supreme Leader and Secretary of Supreme National Security Council, met Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Tehran, Nov. 9, 2022
BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | NOVEMBER 14, 2022

Ignoring the hype in the US media about White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s Kissingerian diplomacy over Ukraine, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, former KGB counterintelligence officer and longstanding associate of President Putin, travelled to Tehran last Wednesday in the equivalent of a knockout punch in geopolitics. 

Patrushev called on President Ebrahim Raisi and held detailed discussions with Admiral Ali Shamkhani, the representative of the Supreme leader and secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. The visit marks a defining moment in the Russia-Iran partnership and plants a signpost on the trajectory of the war in Ukraine. 

The Iranian state media quoted Raisi as saying, “The development of the extent and expansion of the scale of war [in Ukraine] causes concern for all countries.” That said, Raisi also remarked that Tehran and Moscow are upgrading relations to a “strategic” level, which is “the most decisive response to the policy of sanctions and destabilisation by the United States and its allies.” 

The US State Department reacted swiftly on the very next day with spokesman Ned Price warning that “This is a deepening alliance that the entire world should view as a profound threat… this is a relationship that would have implications, could have implications beyond any single country.” Price said Washington will work with allies to counter Russian-Iranian military ties. 

Patrushev’s talks in Tehran touched on highly sensitive issues that prompted President Vladimir Putin to follow up with Raisi on Saturday. The Kremlin readout said the two leaders “discussed a number of current issues on the bilateral agenda with an emphasis on the continued building up of interaction in politics, trade and the economy, including transport and logistics. They agreed to step up contacts between respective Russian and Iranian agencies.” 

In this connection, Patrushev’s exceptionally strong support for Iran over the current disturbances in that country must be understood properly. Patrushev stated: “We note the key role of Western secret services in organising mass riots in Iran and the subsequent spread of disinformation about the situation in the country via Persian-language Western media existing under their control. We see this as overt interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.” 

Russian security agencies share information with Iranian counterparts on hostile activities of western intelligence agencies. Notably, Patrushev sidestepped Iran’s suspicions regarding involvement of Saudi Arabia. Separately, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also publicly offered to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh. 

All this is driving Washington insane. On the one hand, it is not getting anywhere, including at President Biden’s level, to raise the spectre of Iran threat and rally the Arab regimes of the Persian Gulf all over again. 

Most recently, Washington resorted to theatrics following up an unsubstantiated report by Wall Street Journal about an imminent Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia in the coming days. The US forces in the West Asian region increased their alert level and Washington vowed to be ready for any eventuality. But, curiously, Riyadh was unmoved and showed no interest in the US offer of protection to ward off threat from Iran.

Clearly, the Saudi-Iranian normalisation process, which has been front-loaded with sensitive exchanges on their mutual security concerns, has gained traction neither side gets provoked into knee-jerk reaction.

This paradigm shift works to Russia’s advantage. Alongside its highly strategic oil alliance with Saudi Arabia, Russia is now deepening its strategic partnership with Iran.

The panic in spokesman Price’s remarks suggests that Washington has inferred that the cooperation between the security and defence agencies of Russia and Iran is set to intensify.  

What alarms Washington most is that Tehran is adopting a joint strategy with Moscow to go on the offensive and defeat the weaponisation of sanctions by the collective West. Despite decades of sanctions, Iran has built up a world class defence industry on its own steam that will put countries like India or Israel to shame. 

Shamkhani underscored the creation of “joint and synergistic institutions to deal with sanctions and the activation of the capacity of international institutions against sanctions and sanctioning countries.” Patrushev concurred by recalling the earlier agreements between the national security agencies of the two countries to chart out the roadmap for strategic cooperation, especially in regard of countering western economic and technological sanctions.

Shamkhani added that Tehran regards the expansion of bilateral and regional cooperation with Russia in the economic field as one of its strategic priorities in the conditions of US sanctions, which both countries are facing. Patrushev responded, “The most important goal of mine and my delegation in traveling to Tehran is to exchange opinions to speed up the implementation of joint projects along with providing dynamic mechanisms to start new activities in the economic, commercial, energy and technology fields.” 

Patrushev noted, “Creating synergy in transit capacities, especially the rapid completion of the North-South corridor, is an effective step to improve the quality of bilateral and international economic and commercial cooperation.” 

Patrushev and Shamkhani discussed a joint plan by Russia and Iran “to establish a friendship group of defenders of the United Nations Charter” comprising countries that bear the brunt of illegal western sanctions. 

With regard to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Shamkhani said the two countries should “intelligently use the exchangeable capacities” of the member countries. He said the danger of terrorism and extremism continues to threaten the security of the region and stressed the need to increase regional and international cooperation. 

Patrushev’s visit to Tehran was scheduled in the run-up to the conference on Afghanistan being hosted by Moscow on November 16. Iran and Russia have common concerns over Afghanistan. They are concerned over the western attempts to (re)fuel the civil war in Afghanistan. 

In a recent op-ed in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov alleged that Britain is financing a so-called “Afghan resistance”  against the Taliban (which is reportedly operating out of Panjshir.) Kabulov wrote that the US is baiting two Central Asian states by offering them helicopters and aircraft in lieu of cooperation in covert activities against the Taliban. 

Kabulov made a sensational disclosure that the US is blackmailing the Taliban leaders by threatening them with a drone attack unless they broke off contacts with Russia and China. He said, specifically, that the US and Britain are demanding that Kabul should refrain from restricting the activities of Afghanistan-based Uyghur terrorists. 

Interestingly, Moscow is exploring the creation of a compact group of five regional states who are stakeholders in Afghanistan’s stabilisation and could work together. Kabulov mentioned Iran, Pakistan, India and China as Russia’s partners. 

Iran is a “force multiplier” for Russia in a way no other country — except China, perhaps — can be in the present difficult conditions of sanctions. Patrushev’s visit to Tehran at the present juncture, on the day after the midterms in the US, can only mean that the Kremlin has seen through the Biden administration’s dissimulation of peacemaking in Ukraine to actually derail the momentum of the Russian mobilisation and creation of new defence lines in the Kherson-Zaporozhya-Donbass direction. 

Indeed, it is no secret that the Americans are literally scratching the bottom of the barrel to deliver weapons to Ukraine as their inventory is drying up and several months or a few years are needed to replenish depleted stocks. (herehere  ,here and here) 

Suffice to say, from the geopolitical angle, Patrushev’s talks in Tehran — and Putin’s call soon after with Raisi — have messaged in no unmistaken terms that Russia is strategising for the long haul in Ukraine. 

November 13, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Over 50,000 People Taking Part in Protests Against Government in Moldova

Samizdat – 06.11.2022

KISHINEV – Mass demonstrations organized by Moldova’s opposition Sor Party are taking place in the country’s capital of Kishinev on Sunday, with over 50,000 people trying to get to the city’s center to demand snap parliamentary elections, Sor member Dinu Turcanu said.

Since September 18, regular demonstrations have been taking place across Moldova, gathering thousands of Sor supporters from all parts of the country to protest against the government.
The organizers said that the police were trying to prevent protesters from getting to Kishinev’s center, cordoning off the city’s central square.

“Over 50,000 people came here to peacefully exercise the right to express their opinion. The police violate our right for freedom of expression. The regime of [President] Maia Sandu is afraid of people’s protests,” Turcanu said.

Demonstrators brought Moldovan flags, funeral wreaths and white chrysanthemums, which they threw at the police cordon blocking Kishinev’s central square.

Moldova’s opposition has repeatedly accused the government of failing to cope with the economic crisis amid record inflation of 33.5% and deteriorating living standards. The country’s leadership has also been criticized for its unwillingness to negotiate better gas prices with Russia and for putting political pressure on opponents.

On Wednesday, the Moldovan Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office said that it had conducted an investigation and searched the central office of the Sor party in Kishinev. Eight people were detained on suspicion of complicity in the party financing by an organized criminal group.

November 6, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | | Leave a comment

All Those Responsible Must Pay a Price for Terrorising and Harming the People They Are Meant to Serve

BY DR GARY SIDLEY | THE DAILY SCEPTIC | NOVEMBER 2, 2022

I belong to a privileged generation. Not that I was raised in affluence; far from it. Born in 1958, to a mother who worked all her life as a weaver in the textile industry and a father employed as a maintenance mechanic at the local factory, I lived on a council estate for the first decade of my life. Money was tight, holidays were basic and infrequent, and treats – in the form of confectionary – were rare, usually restricted to a Turkish Delight chocolate bar each Sunday evening. Although I never realised it until I was 62, I was, however, part of a cohort who possessed something sacrosanct, something so very precious and – deplorably – something future generations may never enjoy again: individual freedom.

To be clear, the world I have lived in has been far from perfect. My era has been one incorporating fundamental inequalities and injustices, widespread poverty, discrimination and – particularly in my young-adult years – a recurring risk of physical assault. But despite this context, each of us took for granted a range of basic human rights: to meet with whomever we wished; to leave our homes whenever we chose; to eat whatever we wanted; to express opinions others might not agree with; to take risks, make mistakes and learn sometimes painful lessons; to wear whatever we wanted; to work to improve our career prospects and earn more money to enhance our lives and those of our families; and to decide what drugs and other medical interventions to accept. When cheap flights emerged in the 1970s and 80s, the whole world became wonderfully accessible.

My perception (probably a naïve one) of successive Labour and Conservative Governments was that, although often inept and guilty of policy errors, they broadly sought to improve the lives of their citizens and could at least be relied upon to protect us against external malignant forces. Furthermore, it seemed that the life-spans of our elected politicians were dependent upon keeping us – their constituents – satisfied by acting primarily in the interests of U.K. citizens.

But 30 months ago, this illusion was shattered.

I knew something was awry as early as February 2020. By March the same year my early-warning detector would not rest. While the media, politicians and the science ‘experts’ informed us – incessantly – that a uniquely lethal pathogen was spreading carnage across the world, and unprecedented and draconian restrictions on our day-to-day lives were essential to prevent Armageddon, I wasn’t buying it. I formed the view that a momentous event, unparalleled in my lifetime, was unfolding, but it was not primarily about a virus.

Why, at that point in time, did I recognise that something sinister was underway while almost everyone else I met seemed to be swallowing the dominant narrative? It is a difficult question to answer. Perhaps my time in the early 1980s as a psychiatric charge nurse in an NHS hospital, occasionally interfacing with the ‘infection control’ department, gave me insight into how this professional group operate. Although well-meaning, their advice regarding how to minimise the spread of contagion on a ward often seemed impractical, revealing an apparent inability to see the bigger picture. Or maybe my in-depth knowledge of risk assessment (gleaned in my doctoral thesis during my time as a clinical psychologist) had impressed upon me how woefully inaccurate we are in gauging the relative threat levels posed by various hazards inherent in our environment. What I did know for sure was that Big Pharma – arguably the most corrupt industry in the world – would exploit the emerging ‘crisis’ for its own ends. And how right I was.

The list of state-driven human rights abuses we have endured under the pretence of ‘keeping us safe’ and the (ominous) ‘greater good’ is long: prohibition of travel; confinement in our homes; social isolation; closure of businesses; denial of access to leisure activities; de-humanising mask mandates; directives (scrawled on floors and walls) dictating which way to walk; an arbitrary ‘stay two metres apart’ rule; exclusion from the weddings and funerals of our loved ones; the seclusion and neglect of our elderly; school shutdowns; children’s playgrounds sealed off with yellow and black tape; muzzled children and toddlers; students denied both face-to-face tuition and a ‘rites-of-passage’ social life; and coerced experimental ‘vaccines’ that turned out to be more harmful and less effective than initially claimed. Equally egregious were the strategies deployed to lever compliance with these restrictions, namely psychological manipulation (‘nudging’), pervasive censorship across the media and academic journals and the cancellation and vilification of anyone brave enough to speak out against the dominant Covid narrative. All-in-all, a state-driven assault on the core of our shared humanity.

As the state-orchestrated infringement of our basic human rights continued, I felt compelled to act in ways that were far outside of my comfort zone. The 61-year-old man who had never been on a protest march until summer 2020, and who had innocently assumed that most of society’s leaders were decent people who tried to do what was right, had changed. I found myself walking with tens of thousands of others along Regent Street, London, screaming “Freedom!” I pushed “Back to Normal” leaflets through the letterboxes of hundreds of my neighbours. I stood on the corner of our local shopping street with a placard held aloft stating, “Say No To Vaccine Passports”.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, I struggled to find reasons for the irrational, masochistic Covid restrictions and the ubiquitous infringement of our basic human rights. My explanations evolved. Initially I clung to the ‘panic and incompetence’ rationale, that our governments had been spooked by the images coming out of China – remember the videos of people falling dead in the streets – and the mono-focused, blinkered and catastrophic prophecies of our so-called epidemiological experts. As the atrocities persisted, this explanation was rendered inadequate, and it morphed into an ‘opportunistic agendas’ account where activists – promoting green aspirations, digitalised IDs, social credit systems, a cashless society, universal income, a biosecurity state – had exploited the anxieties associated with the emergence of a novel respiratory virus. By 2021 these conclusions, in turn, seemed insufficient to explain the persistence of the horrors we were enduring and it – belatedly – became clear that globalist and ‘deep state’ powers were at work, striving to realise their inhuman aspirations. My further reading about the activities of World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the European Union, the World Health Organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, Anthony Fauci and Big Pharma, and others, confirmed this emerging conclusion.

As the Covid event fades from media attention (replaced by a focus on similarly dehumanising and totalitarian responses to environmental threats, the war in Ukraine and the imminent cost-of-living crisis) it is intriguing to reflect upon its residual effects.

I continue to mourn what I have lost, a process associated with a complex mix of fluctuating emotions. For two years, our Government, aided and abetted by state-funded scientists, denied us opportunities for fun and human connection, stymied our freedoms and orchestrated a systematic campaign to coerce us to both accept experimental ‘vaccines’ and to slavishly cover our faces with cloth or plastic. Consequently, I feel anger and disgust towards many of our politicians, epidemiological ‘experts’ and behavioural scientists who were complicit with this shameful period in our history. And I now distrust all sources of information, whether it be the media, the ‘scientific’ world or public health experts. Without an anchor for truth, I float – incredulous – in an ocean of mainstream-generated misinformation.

My 60-plus years of naivety have been shattered. I believe only those few who have shown selfless integrity throughout the Covid debacle. Also, I am now sceptical about much of the green agenda: state-funded scientists lied to us about Covid so why wouldn’t they show the same self-serving dishonesty about the climate?

Closer to home, it is clear my life has changed. I feel disappointment and irritation towards many people who I previously respected and liked, such as friends who colluded with the catastrophically damaging Covid restrictions because of fear, ignorance or a desire to avoid hassle and condemnation. Many relationships are now more distant. On the rare occasions we meet there is often an ‘elephant in the room’, and when the Covid issue is touched upon I typically feel frustrated that many do not want to consider the implications of what has been inflicted upon us.

I feel similarly towards mental health colleagues who, for years, I had stood alongside and respected, collectively fighting the tyranny of biological psychiatry (its human rights infringements, coercion, overuse of drugs and vilification of those who questioned them) but who failed to recognise a much bigger tyranny when it emerged in 2020. While a handful of this anti-psychiatry lobby did soon recognise the totalitarian threat inherent to the Covid response, most bought into the dominant narrative. Heated disagreements ensued with a few, followed by ongoing mutual resentment; for most we just avoid each other.

But the residual effects of the Covid debacle are not all negative. New friendships have emerged with people from across the political spectrum. Based on a mutual respect, enduring bonds have formed with fellow sceptics both locally (through the Community Assembly and the Stand in the Park initiatives) and nationally via joint endeavours in HARTSmile Free, and PANDA. And it was uplifting to recently discover – via a chance meeting in the local pub – that the family I had lived across the road from for the last seven years, yet had rarely spoken to, had always been as sceptical as me about the dominant Covid narrative.

Furthermore, I have noticed that my behaviour has changed in subtle ways. I now make more of an effort to smile and gain eye contact with – unmasked – strangers. Similarly, when greeting acquaintances, I’m more inclined to hug or shake hands as compared to pre-2020 levels of bodily contact. (Non of that fist-bump and elbow-touch nonsense for me.) It’s as if I’m striving to compensate for the human connection deficit that we’ve accrued over the last 30 months. Or perhaps I’m making a defiant metaphorical one-finger salute to any onlookers who still adhere to the risk-averse and dehumanising dominant Covid narrative?

While we continue to drown in a sea of propaganda, censorship and coercion, who knows what the future might hold?

One thing is for sure: We must never forget what the political leaders and public health specialists inflicted upon us. Whether the reason was weakness, groupthink, conflict of interest or unadulterated corruption, the miscreants must all be held to account and pay a price for terrorising the people they are meant to serve. This assertion is not fuelled by a primitive desire for retribution – well, not primarily – but by an expectation that, if the guilty are not named and shamed, the same totalitarian impositions will be repeated again and again.

The conviction sheet is a long one. It includes political leaders at home (Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer, Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drayford) and abroad (including Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Joe Biden and Jacinda Ardern); Bill Gates and his various funding agencies; SAGE scientists who danced to the tune of their academic and political paymasters; the behavioural science ‘nudgers’ at the helm of the worldwide psychological manipulation strategy; the professional organisations that have manifestly colluded with the state-driven tyranny (including the British Medical Association and the British Psychological Society); the conflicted drug regulators (such as the MHRA); the powerful, profit-driven pharmaceutical companies, deploying their financial clout to influence health policy decisions; and the mainstream media, who have slavishly peddled the dominant Covid narrative while dismissing alternative viewpoints.

To successfully expose the wrongdoings of such powerful individuals and institutions is a big ask. Realistically, only bottom-up resistance and protests from millions of ordinary people could achieve this aim, and in this regard there are reasons for optimism. Truth will – eventually – reveal itself. Despite the ongoing censorship and manipulation, public dissent to the attempted imposition of a biosecurity state is becoming increasingly visible. Masking in the community is – at the time of writing – practised only by an eccentric minority. The net harms of Covid restrictions are more widely recognised. Ordinary citizens increasingly claim they will not be locked down and separated from their loved ones ever again. And – perhaps more importantly – the ‘safe and effective’ vaccine narrative is crumbling, as indicated by more and more people rejecting the jabs.

If we do not wish to live in a ‘transhuman’ society devoid of personal freedoms, where our day-to-day decisions – where we go, what we say, what we eat, how we spend our money, what drugs we ingest – are determined by the state’s version of the ‘greater good’, we must all continue to show visible dissent to the globalists’ new world order.

Together, I believe we can defeat the biggest threat to Western values witnessed in my lifetime. And even if we don’t succeed, history will show that at least we tried.

Dr. Gary Sidley is a retired NHS Consultant Clinical Psychologist and co-founder of the Smile Free campaign. He blogs at Coronababble

November 2, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vietnam reassures China: no foreign military bases will be hosted on its territory

By Ahmed Adel | November 2, 2022

China and Vietnam are strengthening their partnership to resist Western interference in their internal and regional affairs. Although the two Asian countries have major issues between them and centuries worth of historical animosity, Hanoi will never allow the US to use Vietnam to fight or pressure China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) Central Committee General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Beijing on October 31. Xi Jinping emphazised in their meeting that the Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of Vietnam should not allow anyone to interfere in the sustainable progress of their respective countries.

For his part, Phu Trong clarified that China has the right to count on Vietnamese support in sensitive issues of regional security. Specifically, the Vietnamese leader assured that his country would maintain peace and stability at the land and sea border and not let issues over territorial waters hinder overall bilateral relations. He assured that Hanoi would not develop any official relations with Taiwan, and significantly, that no foreign country will be allowed to set up military bases on Vietnamese territory.

Reaffirming Vietnam’s position on issues that are sensitive and critical to regional security was one of the important outcomes of the high-level talks in Beijing. As Vietnam is the biggest country in Southeast Asia which borders China, in terms of economic power, the US hoped to use Vietnam as a tool of pressure against China. For Washington, it would be ideal if Vietnam and China clashed in the South China Sea so Hanoi could pivot towards AUKUS and/or QUAD.

To Washington’s disappointment though, Hanoi made it clear that it shares Beijing’s position on no foreign military bases and military alliances. At the same time, Vietnam maintains its position against Beijing on the South China Sea issue. Although this could be an issue for the US to exploit, Hanoi has stated that it will not use military force to solve it. Effectively, Vietnam signalled to the US that it will not be a tool to confront China.

At the meeting in Beijing, Xi Jinping noted that development between China and Vietnam faces serious risks and challenges. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has further highlighted the geopolitical issue between great powers, which has contributed to the multitude of challenges that developing countries are facing. Specifically, the energy and food crises are issues that deeply concern Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam.

According to the World Bank, Vietnam is projected to become the fastest growing economy in Asia this year despite a regional downturn caused by China’s sharp economic deceleration. In its most recent economic outlook report for East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank forecast these regions to grow by 3.2% in 2022, down from 7.2% in 2021, before accelerating to 4.6% in 2023. The projected growth rate for this year marked a significant reduction on the 5% that the World Bank forecast for the year in its last outlook report in April.

Vietnam appears to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this growth, with the World Bank estimating the country’s economy to grow by 7.2% in 2022, up from its projection of 5.3% in April. The World Bank then projects it to grow by a further 6.7% in 2023. Impressively, Vietnam was one of the few countries whose economy grew during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This comes as there is also a continuing trend to move high-tech production from China to Vietnam.

Given Vietnam’s growing importance in the region, the US hoped to exploit the historical animosity the Southeast Asian country has with Beijing and differences over the South China Sea. However, this has failed.

In fact, the two countries, along with several ASEAN countries, are working on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, something that Washington opposes. The Americans want to tighten pressure on China, but the successful visit of Phu Trong to Beijing has ended any thoughts of the US using Vietnam to pressure China. In this way, the US is finding it extremely difficult to find Southeast Asian allies to oppose China.

Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

November 2, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 1 Comment

Prague protests: local occurrence or indicator of coming unrest across Europe?

By Drago Bosnic | October 31, 2022

As if the political unraveling across the European Union, United Kingdom and other powers of the political West wasn’t bad enough, the people who have become fed up with the disastrous policies of their failing governments are finally taking to the streets. Pushed to the brink of (or beyond) poverty, with soaring food, energy and housing costs, tens of thousands of protesters railed against the policies of the Czech government. Starting on Friday, the residents of Prague took to the streets, demanding the resignation of the Czech government under Prime Minister Petr Fiala, withdrawal from NATO, as well as direct talks and an agreement on future natural gas supplies from Russia.

“This is a new national revival and its goal is for the Czech Republic to be independent,” organizer Ladislav Vrabel stated. “When I see a full square, no one can stop this.”

Demonstrations were not only limited to Prague, but occurred both in the capital city, as well as the second-largest Czech city of Brno. Organized under the slogan of “Czech Republic First,” the protests drew large-scale support from both sides of the political spectrum, as left-wing and right-wing parties joined forces to protest the subservient policies of the government in Prague.

“Russia’s not our enemy, the government of warmongers is the enemy,” one speaker said, according to a report by the Associated Press. Prague has sent munitions, armored vehicles, tanks, artillery systems and other heavy weapons to the Kiev regime and provided approximately 500,000 visas to Ukrainian citizens, along with full benefits. This has caused frustration among millions of Czechs, many of whom are now struggling to afford basic necessities, as their government is wasting increasingly scant resources by sending them to the corrupt Neo-Nazi junta in Kiev. Among the aforementioned requests such as the halt of anti-Russian policies, protest organizers are also demanding that Ukrainian citizens in Czechia not be granted permanent residency status.

This protest was the third in a series of demonstrations organized by a Czech group demanding Prague’s withdrawal from NATO and the establishment of normal ties with Moscow. According to Bloomberg, Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s government has attempted to dismiss the protests as supposedly “inspired by pro-Kremlin propagandist narratives.” The Czech government has been woefully unprepared for the economic fallout of anti-Russian sanctions and policies it was ordered to implement, resulting in the ever-rising costs which have not been tackled despite aid to businesses and household electricity price caps. On the contrary, price controls only backfired, causing shortages and resulting in even greater price hikes.

Despite attempts by the Western mainstream propaganda machine to present the Prague protests as “merely a local occurrence”, the truth is that they are just a relatively small part of a rising wave of discontent across not just the EU, but Europe as a whole. On October 27, just a day before the demonstrations in Prague erupted, tens of thousands protested in France, demanding higher wages to offset the rising costs of living. The strike also included teachers, healthcare providers and railway workers, among thousands of other French citizens. In recent months and weeks, similar protests have been organized in Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria.

“This is merely the silence before the storm — the discontent is great, and people do not have any sense that the government has a plausible strategy to master the crisis,” German pollster Manfred Güllner told The Wall Street Journal.

At a time when approximately 75% of German families are forced to cut back on energy consumption, a mere 9% of Germans support Chancellor Olaf Scholz in his policies to tackle the escalating energy crisis threatening to destroy the EU’s largest industrial power. Although the protesters in France didn’t put anti-Russian sanctions at the forefront of their demands, German demonstrators have called for an end to these self-harming policies. The massive discontent in Europe will certainly spread all over the world, as hundreds of millions now realize that there is a direct connection between Western sanctions against Russia and their ever-growing economic and financial issues.

It does not take an expert in geopolitical matters to connect the dots and understand how the latest proxy war against Russia is affecting the well-being of the world. The situation in the EU has become so bad now that millions of Ukrainian citizens who have fled to Europe are returning to their (unfortunately) Neo-Nazi junta-run country. According to the latest figures by the International Organization for Migration (IMO), over six million people have gone back, despite the still ongoing conflict. The Kiev regime is now struggling to accommodate everyone and the Neo-Nazi junta officials are urging citizens not to return this winter. Blackouts have become the norm in multiple cities and with the coming sub-zero temperatures heating will be a major concern in the next several months.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

October 31, 2022 Posted by | Russophobia, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Massive Protest By Czechs Targets Russia Sanctions, High Prices

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | October 29, 2022

Fed up with soaring food, energy and housing costs, tens of thousands of Czech protestors railed against their government on Friday, demanding the resignation of conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s government, withdrawal from NATO and the negotiation of gas purchases from Russia.

“This is a new national revival and its goal is for the Czech Republic to be independent,” said organizer Ladislav Vrabel. “When I see a full square, no one can stop this.”

The protests occurred both in the capital city of Prague as well as the second-largest Czech city of Brno. Organized under the slogan of “Czech Republic First,” the demonstrations drew their strength from both the left and right wings of Czech politics.

“Russia’s not our enemy, the government of warmongers is the enemy,” one speaker said, according to the Associated Press. Czechia has donated tanks and other heavy weapons to Ukraine, and provided nearly a half million visas to Ukrainian refugees, along with benefits. Protest organizers are also demanding that the refugees not be granted permanent residency.

The protest was the third in a series organized by a group demanding Czechia’s withdrawal from NATO and better relations with Russia. As observed in the United States, the Czech government has attempted to marginalize them by calling them “pro-Kremlin propagandist narratives.”

The Czech government has tried to battle the rising prices with aid to businesses and household electricity price caps.

Friday’s protests were part of a rising wave of discontent throughout Europe. On Thursday, thousands protested in France, demanding higher wages to offset the rising cost of living — among them, striking teachers, healthcare providers and railway workers. Recent weeks have seen similar protests in Germany, Austria and Belgium too.

“This is merely the silence before the storm—the discontent is great, and people do not have any sense that the government has a plausible strategy to master the crisis,” German pollster Manfred Güllner tells The Wall Street Journal.

At a time when three quarters of German households are cutting back on energy consumption, just 9% say Chancellor Olaf Scholz has a sound strategy for surmounting the energy crisis. While the French protests didn’t target the Western sanctions regime against Russia, German protestors have called for an end to them.

The discontent is certain to rise all over the world, as more people connect the dots between Western sanctions and their personal misery… all for the latest proxy war over strategically irrelevant territory.

October 29, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Difficult months ahead: Why Israel is afraid of the Lions’ Den

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | October 18, 2022

This headline in the Israeli newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, only tells part of the story: “The Lions’ Den, Other Palestinian Groups are Endless Headache for Israel, PA.”

It is true that both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority are equally worried about the prospect of a widespread armed revolt in the Occupied West Bank, and that the newly formed Nablus-based brigade, the Lions’ Den, is the epicentre of this youth-led movement.

However, the growing armed resistance in the West Bank is causing more than a mere ‘headache’ for Tel Aviv and Ramallah. If this phenomenon continues to grow, it could threaten the very existence of the PA, while placing Israel before its most difficult choice since the invasion of major Palestinian West Bank cities in 2002.

Though Israeli military commanders continue to undermine the power of the newly formed group, they seem to have no clear idea regarding its roots, influence and future impact.

In a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, claimed that the Lions’ Den is a “group of 30 members”, who will eventually be reached and eliminated. “We will lay our hands on the terrorists,” he declared.

The Lions’ Den, however, is not an isolated case, but part of a larger phenomenon that includes the Nablus Brigades, the Jenin Brigades and other groups, which are located mostly in the northern West Bank.

The group, along with other armed Palestinian military units, has been active in responding to the killing of Palestinians, including children, elders, and, on October 14, even a Palestinian doctor, Abdullah Abu Al-Teen, who succumbed to his wounds in Jenin. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 170 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza, since the beginning of the year.

The Palestinian response included the killing of two Israeli soldiers, one in Shuafat on 8 October, and the other near Nablus on 11 October.

Following the Shuafat attack, Israel completely sealed the Shuafat refugee camp as a form of collective punishment, similar to recent sieges on Jenin and other Palestinian towns.

Citing Israel’s Hebrew media, the Palestinian Arabic daily, Al Quds, reported that the Israeli military will focus its operations in the coming weeks on targeting the Lions’ Den. Thousands more Israeli occupation soldiers are likely to be deployed in the West Bank for the upcoming battle.

It is difficult to imagine that Israel would mobilise much of its army to fight 30 Palestinian fighters in Nablus. But not only Israel, the PA, too, is terribly concerned.

The Authority has tried but failed to entice the fighters by offering them a surrender ‘deal’, where they give up their arms and join the PA forces. Such deals were offered in the past to fighters belonging to Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, with mixed degrees of success.

This time around, the strategy did not work. The group rejected the PA’s overtures, compelling the Fatah-affiliated governor of Nablus, Ibrahim Ramadan, to attack the mothers of the fighters by calling them ‘deviant’ for “sending their sons to commit suicide”. Ramadan’s language, which is similar to language used by Israeli and pro-Israel individuals in their depiction of Palestinian society, highlights the massive schisms between the PA’s political discourse and those of ordinary Palestinians.

Not only is the PA losing its grasp of the narrative, but it is also losing whatever vestiges of control it has left in the West Bank, especially in Nablus and Jenin.

A senior Palestinian official told the Media Line that the Palestinian “street does not trust us any more”, as they “view us as an extension of Israel”. True, but this lack of trust has been in the making for years.

The ‘Unity Intifada‘ of May 2021, however, served as a major turning point in the relationship between the PA and Palestinians. The rise of the Lions’ Den and other Palestinian armed groups are but a few manifestations of the dramatic changes underway in the West Bank.

Indeed, the West Bank is changing. A new generation that has little or no memory of the Second Intifada (2000-2005), had not experienced the Israeli invasion then but grew up under occupation and apartheid, feeding on the memories of the resistance in Jenin, Nablus and Hebron.

Judging by their political discourse, chants and symbols, this generation is fed up with the crippling and often superficial divisions of Palestinians among factions, ideologies and regions. In fact, the newly established brigades, including the Lions’ Den, are believed to be multi-factional groups bringing, for the first time, fighters from Hamas, Fatah and others into a single platform. This explains the popular enthusiasm and lack of suspicion among ordinary Palestinians of the new fighters.

For example, Saed Al-Kuni, a Palestinian fighter who was recently killed by Israeli soldiers in an ambush on the outskirts of Nablus, was a member of the Lions’ Den. Some have claimed that Al-Kuni was a leading member of Fatah’s Brigades, and others say he was a well-known Hamas fighter.

This lack of certainty regarding the political identity of killed fighters is fairly unique to Palestinian society, at least since the establishment of the PA in 1994.

Expectedly, Israel will do what it always does: amassing more occupation troops, attacking, assassinating, crushing protests and laying sieges on rebellious towns and refugee camps. What they fail to understand, at least for now, is that the growing rebellion in the West Bank is not generated by a few fighters in Nablus and a few more in Jenin, but is the outcome of a truly popular sentiment.

In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, translated by Al-Quds, an Israeli commander described what he has witnessed in Jenin during a raid:

“When we enter (Jenin), armed fighters and stone throwers wait for us in every corner. Everyone takes part. You look at an old man … and you wonder, will he throw stones? And he does. Once, I saw a person who had nothing to throw (on us). He rushed to his car, grabbed a milk carton and he threw it on us.”

Palestinians are simply fed up with the Israeli occupation and with their collaborating leadership. They are ready to put it all on the line; in fact, in Jenin and Nablus, they already have. The coming weeks and months are critical for the future of the West Bank and, in fact, for all Palestinians.

October 18, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 2 Comments

Submission to Canada’s Public Order Emergency Commission

Fearless Canada | October 16, 2022

As a non-partisan, volunteer activist group, Fearless Canada was present at the beginning and on several other occasions during the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa. As such, many of our members witnessed first-hand what the situation looked like on the ground and how it all began. We took extensive video footage of the events during the first weekend from the moment when truckers were being directed toward Parliament by Ottawa police. We have decided to submit our evaluation of the events as well as our strongly held view that the invocation of the Emergency Measures Act (hereafter referred to as “EMA”) by the Trudeau government was not only inappropriate, but also unlawful and unconstitutional.

We must first unequivocally state that, in our view, the Trudeau government’s decision to invoke the EMA in no way met the legal threshold to do so. The usage of the EMA is reserved for exceptional circumstances in which a serious foreign or existential threat imperils the security of the nation. Such security threats would be typically related to war, as the older, subsequently replaced War Measures Act aimed to address. In no conceivable way could the temporary discomfort or inconvenience borne by Ottawa citizens or businesses justify the use of an Act that is meant to aid the government in protecting the nation against threats of an incalculably larger scale. As such, the purpose of the Commission is not to determine whether the invocation of the EMA served the Trudeau government in its objective to deescalate the so-called “occupation” of Ottawa’s downtown core, but rather to assess whether the legal threshold for its invocation was met.

The Early Days in Ottawa

Our group arrived in Ottawa in the early afternoon of January 28, 2022. The first thing we noticed was Ottawa police directing truckers and their rigs onto Wellington Street towards Parliament. The atmosphere was festive and light despite the frigid weather. As more protesters arrived in Ottawa over the course of the weekend, we would quickly observe that the crowds were both peaceful and diverse. Men, women, and children from all different backgrounds and walks of life gathered in the capital with a common goal. They demanded that the Trudeau government lift measures that, in their view, were both unjustified and discriminatory in nature. As a result of those measures, the majority of protesters in Ottawa were themselves directly impacted in profound and often irreversible ways.

In talking with dozens of truckers and protesters, we learned that many had lost their jobs, connections to loved ones, access to essential services, and much more. While speaking with police officers, we learned that many felt they were unlawfully coerced into taking a COVID vaccine in order to keep their jobs. Our impression on the ground was that the majority of police officers were in fact aligned with the goals of the protest. They, too, wanted to see an immediate end to damaging and ineffective policies that divided our nation along medical lines previously acknowledged as a matter of private and personal concern.

Legacy Media and the Trudeau Government’s Portrayal of the Freedom Convoy

While in Ottawa, our group kept an eye on the news coming out of legacy media outlets such as the CBC, CTV News, and Global News. It became impossible not to notice that a concerted narrative had quickly taken shape to misrepresent the situation and characterize protesters as far-right extremists, racists, antisemites, and more. The unjustified slander of protesters directly conflicted with our experience on the ground. What we saw was a festive and peaceful rally, replete with volunteers offering food and shelter from the cold, routinely cleaning streets and sidewalks, and organizing fun activities for the kids. At no time did we spot a single racist or Nazi in the vast crowds, as was incessantly suggested by both the Liberal government and the mainstream media. From what we could tell, these characterizations were fabricated in order to serve a narrative that aimed to discredit the legitimacy and lawfulness of the protest.

As time went on, the media’s portrayal of the situation continued to unhinge itself from reality. The press published stories about imminent violence, a van loaded with illegal firearms, and more. None of these allegations turned out to be true. Yet, the misrepresentation of the situation had already reached the eyes and ears of Canadians from coast to coast, very few of which witnessed the event themselves. But by then, the damage had already been done, just as it seemed to have been intended.

The Invocation of the EMA

At the moment the Trudeau government invoked the EMA, it must be noted that the protest in Ottawa was already in the process of de-escalation. The protest organizers and their lawyers had already brokered a dismantlement deal with the Ottawa mayor and police services. Truckers were already on their way out of the downtown core and the blockades at two Canadian points of entry had already long-since been dismantled. Yet rather than follow an organized de-escalation plan agreed to by all factions, Ottawa police and the Trudeau government instead opted to escalate the situation by using violence and propaganda against Canadian citizens. The impacts of the invocation of the EMA were profound and unwarranted.

Immediately ensuing the invocation of the EMA, police and governmental authorities froze protesters’ bank accounts and deployed violent anti-riot squads all over the downtown core of Ottawa. Several protesters were injured as police again escalated tensions using all manner of crowd dispersal techniques. In the days following the invocation of the EMA, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland wasted no time in announcing that certain aspects of the EMA would be written into law, granting broad and unconstitutional powers to government without the requisite EMA enacted. It had become clear that the Trudeau government had a predetermined objective in enacting the EMA, one that would grant greater leverage over political dissidents and, more broadly, Canadians that disagreed with its ideology. This in itself represents an egregious misuse of the EMA in order to further a political agenda.

Conclusion

The volunteer activists at Fearless Canada include Canadian scholars, lawyers, professors, small business owners, and artists. We unanimously and unequivocally feel that the Trudeau government’s invocation of the EMA as a response to ongoing protests in Ottawa was both unlawful and unconstitutional. We submit that the government manipulated public opinion by fabricating evidence of unlawful activity in Ottawa and invoked the EMA under false pretenses in order to abet their predetermined agenda. We believe that the evidence overwhelmingly supports our position, and we look forward to seeing all of it brought to light during the Commission’s discovery process.

This statement was authored by the executive of Fearless Canada and endorsed by members.

The statement has been submitted to the Public Order Emergency Commission of Canada, which began public hearings on Thursday, October 13, which will run every weekday until November 25. Live hearings can be viewed here, and True North Centre publishes a recap for each day.

October 17, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

French Trade Unions Announce Massive Strike on October 18

Samizdat – 13.10.2022

PARIS – The leading French trade unions will hold a nationwide strike on October 18, demanding higher wages and protesting against the government’s attempts to force striking energy sector employees to go back to work, the unions said on Thursday.

“We call on employees to demonstrate for higher wages and protection of the right to organize strikes,” the unions said in a statement, aired by the Franceinfo broadcaster.

According to the statement, the planned strike is a response to government interference in the social movement of oil sector employees and encroachment on the right to strike.

The strike will be held at the call of the General Confederation of Labor, Force Ouvriere, the Federation Syndicale Unitaire and the Solidaires labor union. French transport unions, including national rail operator SNCF and youth organizations will also join.

The industrial action by energy sector employees has been ongoing in France since September 21, when ExxonMobil employees went on strike. They were joined on September 27 by workers of French energy company TotalEnergies. Last Tuesday, trade unions announced a three-day protest demanding a 10% pay increase as well as the indexation of 2022 wages to match the current record-breaking inflation. The strike led to a shortage of fuel at every third gas station in the country. The government forcibly returned the personnel of oil storage facilities to work in the city of Dunkirk and in a commune of Port-Jerome-sur-Seine in northern France.

October 13, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | | 6 Comments

West might try to damage Russian-Chinese relations using Aigun Treaty issue

By Uriel Araujo | September 22, 2022

Some analysts have been claiming that Beijing is “breaking” with Moscow over the issue of Ukraine. In June this year the Chinese government conducted military drills in its northeastern border with Russia, while Moscow was mostly preoccupied with its own military operations in Ukraine. This event led some Western observers to speculate, albeit there is no evidence, that this could be a sign China has unfinished business in that border area.

The 1858 Treaty of Aigun established much of the modern border between Manchuria (Northeast China) and the Russian Far East. From a Chinese Perspective, especially since the rise of Chinese nationalism in the 1920, it was an “unequal treaty”, having been signed, as it was, when the Chinese Empire was in a weakened state: it gave the neighboring Russian Empire over 600,000 square km from Manchuria.

As a legacy of the 19th and the 20th century, the Eurasian great powers often have border disagreements. Japan historically has variances with Russia over the Kuril islands, for example, as it has with its other “neighbors” China and South Korea as well. India and China notoriously have theirs too, which, by the way, has not stopped both of them from cooperating with one another, as is exemplified by the fact that they have recently withdrawn their troops from the disputed Ladakh region’s border area, thus moving one step towards the Asian century.

Indian-Chinese cooperation in fact is particularly remarkable, considering the former’s position within the QUAD, which is seen by many as a Western anti-Chinese “new NATO”. Yet even amid serious bilateral disagreements, Eurasian states have shown that there is plenty of room for cooperation on a number of levels, and, in the same way, New Delhi has also maintained close ties with Moscow, while getting closer to Washington. The same logic must apply to Sino-Russian cooperation, notwithstanding their differences over the Northeast China-Russian Far East border region.

In 1969, in this very region, near the Amur river, there was a seven-month undeclared military conflict between China and the Soviet Union, shortly after the so-called Sino-Soviet split. After the conflict, the United States sought to strengthen ties with Beijing by secretly sending Henry Kissinger to China for his now famous 1971 meeting with Zhou Enlai, which in turn paved the way for then US President Richard Nixon visiting China and meeting with Mao Zedong the next year. And yet even with the Sino-Soviet split, the two states managed to stabilize their relations in the late seventies. 

In the more recent past, on 21 July 2008, then Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, signed in Beijing an additional Sino-Russian Border Line Agreement, thus marking the acceptance of the eastern portion of the Chinese-Russian border’s demarcation.

On February 4, in Beijing, a joint statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping famously declared that the friendship between the two states “has no limits”. Such a statement, somewhat hyperbolic as it may be, in any case, from an American perspective, is quite terrifying as it poses a direct challenge to Washington’s ambitions of maintaining unipolarity. 

No friendship is really absolute, but the truth is that Chinese-Russian relations have entered a new era, and Beijing’s trade and investment in the Russian Far East, such as in the Vladivostok Port – Trans-Siberian Railway, must also be seen in this context, as the Belt and Road Initiative investments into the Russian Federation go on. Chris Devonshire-Ellis, publisher of Asia Briefing, writes that both powers view the Heihe-Blagoveshchensk border cities (which sit opposite each other on the Amur River opposing banks) as key strategic development hubs in an access point to the Trans-Siberian railway. That being so, maintaining peace at the border is in the best interests of both Moscow and Beijing, contrary to the wishful thinking of some Western analysts.

In any case, much has been done, in the US-led West, in terms of PR and diplomacy to try to “counter” the “no-limits” friendship concept, and to promote and explore Russian-Chinese points of contention. Thus, in the same way Washington inflates Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments to Putin on Ukraine, it tries to do the same pertaining to Moscow and Beijing and it will certainly try to explore the issue of Manchuria.

Although, under American influence, Japan has changed its stance on Russia partly over the aforementioned Kuril islands, this of course does not in any way mean that China would behave similarly. Chinese-Russian Eurasian strategic interests converge very deeply and both states have sophisticated diplomacy apparatuses to bilaterally pursue collaboration, bilateral disputes apart, while also employing the framework of forums such as the SCO and the BRICS group to coordinate their perspectives together so as to maximize benefits for all.

Uriel Araujo is a researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

September 22, 2022 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Massive rally in Brussels over cost of living

Samizdat | September 21, 2022

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brussels on Wednesday for a “national day of action” to demand higher wages and lower energy prices. According to police, over 10,000 people descended on the Belgian capital as it was revealed that some 64% of the country’s citizens are afraid they may not be able to pay their bills.

The demonstrations were organized by Belgian trade unions, who claim that the average energy bill for families in the country has already increased threefold to more than €700 ($691) a month.

“It’s not that we don’t want to pay, but we can’t pay,” said Thierry Bodson, chairman of the General Labor Federation of Belgium, while speaking to thousands of union activists at the Place de la Monnaie. While the average Belgian family only makes €2,500 ($2,468) a month, Bodson pointed out that it’s “absolutely impossible” for someone below that line to pay their bills.

Addressing the government’s recommendation for citizens to use less energy, Bodson said this was “pointless,” as most Belgians have already taken all possible measures to lower their energy consumption but it was still not enough.

Placards seen in the crowds shared Bodson’s sentiments with some reading “Freeze prices, not people,” and “Everything is going up except our wages.”

The protesters are demanding that Belgian authorities do more to combat skyrocketing prices, and claim they should draw additional resources from energy companies that have reported record profits this year and made billions while the standard of living for average people has plummeted.

Last month, Belgium’s Statbel statistics agency reported that inflation in the country had jumped to 9.94% amid a surge in energy prices, almost reaching a record set in 1976.

Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo has warned that “the next five to ten winters will be difficult” due to record gas prices, but stated that Belgium would endure the crisis “if we support each other in these difficult times.”

September 21, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Solidarity and Activism | | 1 Comment