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Political ambiguity or a doomsday weapon: Why Abbas abandoned Oslo

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | May 26, 2020

This time, we are told, it is different and that President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is absolutely serious about his decision to absolve his leadership from all previous agreements signed with Israel and the United States.

But this time is not different, and Abbas is not serious.

“The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the state of Palestine are absolved  … of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments  … including the security ones,” Abbas declared at an emergency meeting of his leadership held in Ramallah on May 19.

Unsurprisingly, there were no massive demonstrations reported throughout Occupied Palestine in support of Abbas’ latest decision. Aside from a few loyalists in PA-controlled media, it seemed as if the man did not utter a word, let alone cancel all agreements that justified the very existence of his Authority over the course of nearly 30 years.

The demonstrable truth is that Abbas ceased to matter to Palestinians a long time ago. However, for Israel, he mattered greatly, because his Authority has served as an additional security buffer between occupied Palestinians and the occupation army. Thanks to ‘security coordination’, Israel was allowed to fortify its occupation in peace.

Palestinians have long lost faith in Abbas as proved by one public opinion poll after another. This is not a sudden occurrence, but the accumulation of decades of failure and disappointments. Abbas’ commitment to the Oslo Accords led to absolutely nothing, except for the creation of a massive and utterly corrupt security apparatus that largely exists to ‘coordinate’ the subjugation of Palestinians with their Israeli oppressors.

Since his advent to power in 2005, Abbas and his faithful followers within the Fatah party became obsessed with their enmity, not with Israel and the United States, but with Abbas’ own Palestinian rivals, within Fatah itself – Mohammed Dahlan, etc. – and, to a larger extent, with Hamas in Gaza.

Israel mainly factored in Abbas’ many speeches in Ramallah and at the UN General Assembly in New York; despite all the rhetoric, little or no action ever followed. Concurrently, Israeli soldiers and illegal Jewish settlers carried on with their systematic abuse of Palestinians, unhindered.

Not once did Abbas’ ever-growing security forces (estimated at 80,000 strong) move to block the path of a single Israeli bulldozer demolishing a Palestinian home or uprooting an ancient olive grove in the West Bank. Nor did they prevent the arrest of an anti-Israeli occupation activist. Often, they carried out the arrests themselves.

Even as Israel was pounding Gaza with massive bombs and white phosphorus, Abbas continued barking insults at his Palestinian enemies. He berated Gaza’s armed resistance, yet offered no meaningful alternative to whatever version of ‘resistance’ he championed.

But if Abbas managed to co-exist under these humiliating conditions, why did he decide to cancel the agreements now? To answer this, first, let us look at the political context of Abbas’ decision.

In February 2015, Abbas threatened to sever security ties with Israel as a response to the Israeli decision to withhold millions of dollars of Palestinian tax revenues, which Tel Aviv obtains on behalf of the PA. Similar threats were made in July 2017, this time in response to Israel’s illegal measures around the Muslim holy sites in occupied Jerusalem. And again, in September 2018, when the US unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And, yet again, in July 2019, when Israel demolished Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

The latest episode, Abbas’s threat to dissolve the PA, was in response to the American announcement of the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’.

These are only the notable threats that registered in media coverage. In reality, Abbas has waged his ‘war’ on Israel in the form of endless threats that were always met with disdain in Israel.

The difference, this time, is because Abbas has never experienced this degree of abandonment and political vulnerability. Discarded by the Americans and disowned by the Israelis, Abbas’ credibility is at an all-time low. More importantly, the Palestinian people have long abandoned any illusion that the path of liberation will go through Abbas’ office in Ramallah.

Overwhelmed by many odds, Abbas decided to conduct what is, most likely, to be his final political act. What happens next matters little, because at this stage the 84-year-old Palestinian leader is left with nothing to lose.

Canceling the Palestinian commitment to the agreements should translate into little on the ground, considering that Israel and the US have already reneged on these agreements.

The Oslo Accords were meant to be relevant up to a point, until 1999, when the final status negotiations were meant to be held as the last step before the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.

Jerusalem, like the rights of Palestinian refugees, was meant to be resolved then, not to be completely “taken off the table”, two decades later. No territorial swap, let alone annexation, was to be permitted without a bilateral agreement between both parties.

Only two components of these agreements survived Israel’s numerous violations: the ‘security coordination’ and the ‘donors’ money’, which kept the PA and its massive – but useless – army in operation.

Now that the US has withheld all funds to Abbas’ Authority, and Israel’s new national unity government has agreed, in principle, to annex much of the West Bank, Abbas is left with nothing.

By canceling all agreements, Abbas and his supporters are hoping that alarm bells sound in Washington and Tel Aviv, especially since the halting of ‘security coordination’ could prove costly to the safety of Israel’s Jewish settlers.

If Abbas was, indeed, serious in his announcement, he would have included in his speech a clear articulation of a new Palestinian political agenda that is predicated on unity – but a true Palestinian strategy was never the PA leader’s ultimate goal.

What Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to achieve, with his latest theatrics, is the establishment of a new political game, one that is based on political ambiguity, so that he is not entirely abandoned by his Western backers, or finally shunned as a collaborator by his own people.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Five Myths About the Venezuelan Opposition

Venezuelanalysis • May 24, 2020

The corporate media is almost unanimous in its support for US regime change plans in Venezuela. This support naturally extends to the US-backed Venezuelan anti-Chavista opposition, which in the past 20 years has constantly tried to overthrow the government. In order to maintain uncritical support for the opposition, the mainstream media has created a series of “myths” about it. The latest joint VA-Tatuy TV production explores five myths that sustain this favorable coverage.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

America Is Drowning in Problems

By Paul Craig Roberts | Institute for Political Economy | May 22, 2020

Washington is picking yet another fight with China. On top of the trade war we now have the coronavirus war. China is accused of being responsible for the virus by withholding information about it. Some in Washington want to make China pay for the cost of the virus by reneging on US debt held by China in the form of US Treasuries.

What information about coronavirus is China supposed to have withheld?

That China was doing coronavirus research? How could this information have been withheld when the US State Department knew about it, the N.I.H. was funding it, and US scientists were complaining about the danger?

That coronavirus was ravaging Wuhan? How was this information withheld when it was in the media every day?

The United States and its vassals knew about the virus outbreak in China two months prior to its outbreak in the West and did nothing. Through either inaction or intent, the US, Canada, and Europe imported the virus. The governments refused to stop flights in and out of China and to prevent cruise ships from welcoming passengers from infected areas. Governments did not want to interfere with profits, which came before public health. Absolutely nothing was done. No efforts were made to stockpile protective masks and gear, or to protect nursing homes, or to segregate hospital facilities, or to think outside the box about treatments. The Swedish government was so unprepared that it did not even try to do anything and just let the virus run its course with devastating effects on the elderly. [Note: There is much disinformation about Sweden from those who believe the virus is a plot to impose police state controls, such as claims that Sweden has kept the economy open without paying for it in a higher death rate and is gaining “herd immunity” against Covid-19. These claims are contradicted by news reports. For example: here  and here.]

In an attempt, more or less successful, to reduce the infection rate so that health facilities were not over-burdened, every other country imposed social distancing rules, bans against crowd events, and workplace closures. As little was known about the disease and the Chinese mortality rate was believed to be vastly understated, there was no responsible alternative to the so-called “lockdowns.” It remains to be seen whether the concern for profits has produced a premature reopening that will result in a second wave of rapid infection rates. Many suspect that Big Pharma and Bill Gates want to keep the infection spreading in order to panic us into being vaccinated with an inadequately tested vaccine.

The blame China game is really an effort to cover-up the failure of Western governments to deal with a crisis.

The failure of governments to deal with crisis is ubiquitous. Just think Katrina, the hurricane that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. If you don’t remember or are too young to have experienced the 2005 hurricane via TV, read Douglas Brinkley’s The Great Deluge.

Everyone knew that the levies protecting New Orleans and surrounding areas were unable to withstand a storm of Katrina’s intensity. The city was a bowl waiting to fill up with the water that wiped out 80% of New Orleans and 150 miles of Gulf Coast communities. Evacuation orders came too late. There were no steps taken to evacuate those without cars and resources. The sick and elderly were left in place. The few steps that were taken to assemble buses, boats, and first responders located the scanty resources in areas that flooded. The New Orleans Police Department went AWOL. Some joined in the looting. FEMA was a total failure. President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff were not focused on the unfolding tragedy but on their creation of a terrortist hoax that was used to justify 20 years of US bombing and invasions of Middle Eastern and North African countries. As Bush had deployed Louisiana’s National Guard to Iraq, the Louisiana governor had to borrow guardsmen from other states.

The US Coast Guard, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries personnel, and private individuals formed the force of first responders. People from Louisiana and from other states showed up on their own time, their own money, and with their own boats and began organizing rescues. There were many heroic and generous people involved in the rescue. As most of the rescuers were white southerners and most of the rescued were black, it put the lie to the propagandistic picture of the white southern racist. For example, Sara Roberts and her husband Buisson, a descendant of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, organized the Cajun Navy. Sara enlisted clients of her accounting firm who came up with 35 boats and crews to man them. One of her clients, Ronny Lovett, paid his construction crews triple wages for their rescue time and spent $200,000 of his money equipping the boats with food, water, medical supplies, chain saws, life jackets, spotlights, ropes and whatever else could contribute to successful rescues. It was individual citizens, not the governments in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington that rescued many thousands of people who otherwise would have perished.

From its founding day, New Orleans was a man-made disaster waiting to happen. Dredging, canals, watercourse alterations, pipelines and a variety of other environmental damaging mistakes had over the years destroyed the wetlands that protected the city and Gulf Coast. In order to serve private profit, failure was built into the system. The Great Deluge is an external cost of a political and economic system that puts private profits first.

We are undergoing it again at this moment as areas of Michigan are inundated from floods caused by dam failures. One of the dams, the Edenville Dam was a long known public safety hazard . Boyce Hydro, the owner of the dam, repeatedly failed despite the intervention of regulators to address the known risk. Not only was Boyce Hydro negligent, but also were the government authorities that permitted the known risk to persist unaddressed. The loss of life and property from the flooding is an external cost imposed on third parties by Boyce Hydro whose agenda was limited to its profits.

It is as difficult to understand the liberal and progressive belief in government as it is to understand the libertarian belief in the efficacy of the invisible hand that allegedly causes private greed to serve the public’s interest. Humans are a built-in failure machine. Their time perspective is short term. They are always surprised by the unintended consequences of their own thoughtless actions and inaction.

Throughout America, state, local, and federal government epitomize failure. Trillions of dollars have been poured into weapons systems that cannot be used without destroying the United States along with the rest of the world, while dams fail, bridges collapse, communities deteriorate, and homelessness grows. The government in Washington spends time, effort, and money manufacturing enemies to justify the budget of the military/security complex, while jobs and the US economy are offshored, the environment is degraded, and health care needs go unaddressed. The US rivals third world countries in terms of the percentage of its population that has no savings, no access to health care, and no prospects for advancement in life.

But we can blow up the world several times over and make mindless interventions in the natural environment that multiply the destructive power of storms, heavy rains, and other natural phenomena.

Another election approaches and yet again there is no acknowledgement of the real problems our country faces or any interest in discussing what to do about them. America and the Western World in general are simply going to drown in their unaddressed problems just as New Orleans drowned in Hurricane Katrina.

May 25, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

China, Russia can initiate probe of US bio-labs

Washington urged to be transparent with bio-weapons program

Drills for Radiological, Biological and Chemical Defence Troops

By Yang Sheng – Global Times – 2020/5/14

In order to hide the fact that the US is researching on biological weapons, the US will not respond to an international query on its bio-labs, Chinese military experts said, adding that China and Russia could initiate an investigation of bio-labs worldwide at the UN to pressure the US.

The US can’t just claim all reasonable inquiries to its bio-labs as “conspiracy theories,” and when US politicians keep accusing China’s lab in Wuhan as the origin of COVID-19 without providing any evidence, they should respond to the questions on US bio-labs, including the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, analysts said.

China and Russia can initiate an international investigation of all P3 and P4 labs worldwide, including the ones run by the US, at the UN Security Council, and US antiwar groups and media can also pressure Washington to be transparent on the question of its bio-labs, Chinese analysts suggested.

Washington’s unwillingness to support the idea of a protocol to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons in order to create a verification mechanism makes one wonder what goals the US seeks to achieve through its overseas bio-labs, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday, TASS reported.

Lavrov said at a news conference following an online meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Wednesday that “These [US] laboratories are densely formed along the perimeter of the borders of the Russian Federation, and, accordingly, next to the borders of the People’s Republic of China,” the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Reasonable concerns

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday that “Russia has repeatedly voiced its concerns to the US about the labs in its neighbors like Ukraine and Georgia, but the US has ignored these concerns. The reason is simple – the US is hiding its bio-weapons program.”

The US has had a very advanced capability to develop chemical and biological weapons since the Cold War, and it had used them in Vietnam, like Agent Orange, which caused serious casualties and harm to Vietnamese civilians and even US soldiers, so it is reasonable for other countries to worry what the US is doing in those overseas bio-labs, said a military expert at a Beijing-based military academy who requested anonymity.

Jin Canrong, associate dean of School of International Studies, Renmin University in Beijing, said the questions that China and Russia raised about US labs are reasonable queries, which are totally different from the groundless accusations and conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19 made by some US congressmen and politicians. The US accusations were dismissed by US scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, and intelligence agencies.

“The US must be transparent and respond to international concerns over its bio-labs,” Jin noted.

US self-isolation

In response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s previous groundless accusation of the Wuhan lab, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference on May 8 that “According to open records we have access to, China has only two P4 labs, the highest bio-safety level lab, while the US has 13 that are either in operation, under expansion or in planning, according to a February report by the Federation of American Scientists.”

“The US also has 1,495 P3 labs, not including many other labs it built in territories of the former Soviet Union, like in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and in many other places around the world… the US has been the only country that has blocked the resumption of negotiations on a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention,” she remarked.

Song said “biological weapons research needs to be carried out in the environment and the people that the weapons might be used for. So, Russia and China, as the major strategic competitors of the US, are the targets, and that’s why the US built these labs in countries neighboring its two major rivals.”

“Additionally, building bio-labs overseas can avoid (impact on US territory) in a potential leak accident, and to avoid the legal problems and pressure from US media and antiwar groups,” Song noted.

Song said “if the US wants to launch an international investigation into Wuhan P4 lab, China and Russia can also initiate an investigation at the UN Security Council on all labs capable of researching bio-weapons. Not surprisingly, the US will refuse as it knows it is the one who is really developing bio-weapons.”

If China and Russia, the two influential UN Security Council permanent members, propose the investigation at the UN of all P4 and P3 labs worldwide, most member states will vote for it except the US, and this will embarrass Washington, Chinese observers said.

The Russian foreign minister said at the conference that “For almost 20 years, Russia and most other countries, including China, have been calling for a protocol on the convention that would establish a mechanism to verify and check states’ commitment not to create biological weapons.”

“The US stands almost alone against this initiative. Tensions around the issue have escalated and Washington’s unwillingness to ensure transparency of its military biological activities in various parts of the world raises questions about what is really going on there and what the actual goals are,” The Russian Foreign Minister pointed out.

Lavrov said that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is preparing an action plan to ensure sanitary and epidemiological safety – specifically bio-safety – with a summit to be held this year in St. Petersburg.

Song noted that “apart from putting pressure on the US, US civilian antiwar organizations and media can also contribute to pressuring Washington to be transparent on its bio-labs.”

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

The Strange Tale of the USS Pueblo

Tales of the American Empire

On January 23,1968 a US Navy ship, the USS Pueblo, was captured by North Korea while conducting environmental research offshore. North Korea killed one sailor during the seizure and held its 82 crewmen for 11 months and kept the ship as a museum. This incident has been cited for decades as proof that North Korea can never be trusted. However, evidence suggests that the secret mission of the USS Pueblo was to get captured!

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Drone Pilots have Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Frozen by Feds for Exposing US Murder

By William N. Grigg | The Free Thought Project | November 25, 2015

The U.S. Government failed to deter them through threats of criminal prosecution, and clumsy attempts to intimidate their families. Now four former Air Force drone operators-turned-whistleblowers have had their credit cards and bank accounts frozen, according to human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack.

“My drone operators went public this week and now their credit cards and bank accounts are frozen,” Radack lamented on her Twitter feed (the spelling of her post has been conventionalized). This was done despite the fact that none of them has been charged with a criminal offense – but this is a trivial formality in the increasingly Sovietesque American National Security State.

Michael Haas, Brandon Bryant, Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis, who served as drone operators in the US Air Force, have gone public with detailed accounts of the widespread corruption and institutionalized indifference to civilian casualties that characterize the program. Some of those disclosures were made in the recent documentary Drone; additional details have been provided in an open letter from the whistleblowers to President Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan.

“We are former Air Force service members,” the letter begins. We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruiting tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”

Elsewhere the former drone operators have described how their colleagues dismissed children as “fun-sized terrorists” and compared killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long.” Children who live in countries targeted by the drone program are in a state of constant terror, according to Westmoreland: “There are 15-year-olds growing up who have not lived a day without drones overhead, but you also have expats who are watching what’s going on in their home countries and seeing regularly the violations that are happening there, and that is something that could radicalize them.”

By reliable estimates, ninety percent of those killed in drone strikes are entirely harmless people, making the program a singularly effective method of producing anti-American terrorism. “We kill four and create ten,” Bryant said during a November 19 press conference, referring to potential terrorists. “If you kill someone’s father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge.”

Haas explained that the institutional culture of the drone program emphasized and encouraged the dehumanization of the targeted populations. “There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring,” he recalled. “Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for.”

Unable to repress his conscience or choke down his moral disgust, Haas took refuge in alcohol and drug abuse, which he says is predictably commonplace among drone operators. At least a half-dozen members of his unit were using bath salts and could be found “impaired” while on duty, Haas testifies.

Among the burdens Bryant now bears is the knowledge that he participated in the mission that killed a fellow U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki. Identified as a radical cleric and accused of offering material support for al-Qaeda, al-Awlaki was executed by a drone strike in Yemen. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed in a separate drone strike a few weeks later while sitting down to dinner at the home of a family friend. Asked about the killing of a native-born U.S. citizen – who, at age 16, was legally still a child – former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared to justify that act by blaming it on the irresponsibility of the innocent child’s father.

As Bryant points out, as a matter of law the elder al-Awlaki was innocent, as well.

“We were told that al-Awlaki deserved to die, he deserved to be killed as a traitor, but article 3 of section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that even a traitor deserves a fair trial in front of a jury of his peers,” Bryant notes, lamenting that his role in the “targeted killing” of a U.S. citizen without a trial was a violation of his constitutional oath.

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill has produced evidence suggesting that the White House-approved killing of Anwar al-Awlaki’s son may have been carried out as retaliation against the family for refusing to cooperate in the search for the cleric. There are indications that the government has tried to intimidate the whistleblowers by intimidating their families.

In October, while Brandon Bryant was preparing to testify about the drone program before a German parliamentary committee, his mother LanAnn received a visit in her Missoula, Montana home from two representatives of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. The men claimed that her personal information was in the hands of the Islamic State, which had placed her name on a “hit list.” She was also told not to share that disclosure with anyone – a directive she promptly ignored by informing Ms. Radack, who represents Brandon and the other whistleblowers.

According to Radack, a very similar episode occurred last March in which the stepparent of another whistleblower received a nearly identical visit from agents of the Air Force OSI. “This is the US government wasting taxpayer dollars trying to silence, intimidate and shut up people. It’s a very amateurish way to shut up a whistleblower … by intimidating and scaring their parents. This would be laughable if it weren’t so frightening.”

Given the role played by the U.S. government in fomenting, equipping, and abetting the growth of ISIS, such warnings have to be perceived as credible, albeit, indirect death threats.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Dutch emergency services battle fire at abandoned NUCLEAR PLANT, urge residents to lock windows and doors

RT | May 21, 2020

Dozens of firefighters have been deployed to tackle a blaze at a disused nuclear facility in Dodewaard in the Netherlands. Police have asked the public to stay away and lock all doors and windows to avoid exposure to the fumes.

The fire broke out shortly before noon local time on Thursday in Dodewaard, which is roughly 100 km from Amsterdam. Eyewitness video from the scene shows fire crews battling the blaze on the roof.

The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but it may have started after work was carried out on the roof recently, according to a spokesperson for the Gelderland-Zuid Safety Region, who added that there may be gas bottles up there. Nearby residents have been told to remain indoors and lock all doors and windows and cut off any ventilation systems.

Police have established a security cordon, while asking cyclists, motorists and other passers-by eager for a look at the incident to leave the area immediately.

The plant has been out of service since 1997 but is not expected to be dismantled until 2045, when radiation at the site drops to safe levels. All fuel rods were removed from the site in 2003, so there is no immediate danger of radioactive fallout.

The main operational areas of the plant were bricked up and contained within a so-called ‘safe zone’, to prevent areas that previously housed radioactive material from being exposed to the outside world.

The power company conglomerate behind the facility is embroiled in a legal battle with the government over who should cover the estimated €80 million cost of decommissioning.

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Dr Shelton Reports on Vitamin D, Parts 1 and 2

Dr. John Campbell | May 21, 2020

Thank you very much Matt, for you excellent insights and knowledge.

Somalia and Sweden

https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m…

Elderly Vit D

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c…

https://www.change.org/p/1-in-5-in-th…

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11…

Vit D

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11…

https://www.gov.scot/publications/vit…

Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults About 42% of the US population is vitamin D deficient. However, this rate rises to 82% in black people and 70% in Hispanics

Vit D in Indonesia

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c…

Vit D

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32252…

Vit D and COVID

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3…

Vit D deficiency in Ireland

https://tilda.tcd.ie/publications/rep…

Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2…

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/…

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/…

Vit D and COVID

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3…

https://www.researchsquare.com/articl…

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Will Washington allow the WHO to investigate its military bio labs?

CGTN | May 19, 2020

In Fort Detrick, Maryland, the U.S. Army has cutting-edge labs researching viruses. In August 2019, Ft. Detrick labs were closed and a number of pneumonia cases, or illness with similarities to pneumonia, occurred in Maryland. What happened when the labs were shut down? What does the U.S. need the labs for? Dr. Qiao tries to connect the dots and get closer to the facts.

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 3 Comments

Will Trump Really Start Two Wars Instead of “Just” One?

The Saker | Unz Review | May 20, 2020

Amidst the worldwide pandemic induced scare most of us have probably lost track of all the other potential dangers which still threaten international peace and stability. Allow me to list just a few headlines which, I strongly believe, deserve much more attention than what they got so far. Here we go:

  • Military Times : “5 Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela amid US pressure tactics
  • Time : “5 Iranian Tankers Head to Venezuela Amid Heightened Tensions Between U.S. and Tehran
  • FoxNews: “Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela in effort to undermine US sanctions

Notice that Military Times speaks of “US pressure tactics”, Time of “tensions” and FoxNews of “efforts to undermine US sanctions”?

I don’t think that this is a coincidence. Folks in the US military are much more in touch with reality than the flag-waving prostitutes which some people call “reporters” or “journalists”.

Furthermore, the US has embarked on a new policy to justify its acts of piracy on the high seas with something called Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) all under the pretext of the war on drugs. To get a better understanding of the context of these developments I asked a specialist of Maritime issues of our community, NatSouth, who replied the following: (stress added)

If a ship does not comply with the request to be boarded, it is usual that the pursuing authorities must gain the permission of the ‘flag’ state prior to boarding, on the high seas and the pursuit has to have started in the coastal state’s jurisdictional waters. The caveat here is that in the Caribbean – Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement (CRA) – (long name: Agreement Concerning Co-operation in Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Air Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean Area). So, there is an agreement with participating coastal states on boardings and pursuits in EEZs and the like. You can find more on the legal aspects of boardings at sea here: and more info on so-called “consensual boardings” here.

The anti-drug/ counterterrorism angle allows the U.S. Navy and the USCG to carry out interdictions on the high seas. Important point to note whether this approach will be taken to interdict the tankers, given that Venezuela is a declared narco-State. The absurdity is that Venezuela isn’t the primary transit point in the region, Colombia holds that honour.

If I could add at this point, the origins are that Venezuela didn’t wish to play ball with Washington anymore, specifically with the DEA back in 2005, squaring the circle of sorts, (or should that be a vicious circle cunningly used by Washington, because who is going to argue with that narrative, aka the war on terror). March: SOUTHCOM’s Adm. Faller: “There will be an increase in US military presence in the hemisphere later this year. This will include an enhanced presence of ships, aircraft, & security forces to reassure our partners… & counter a range of threats to include illicit narco-terrorism.” At the same time, the State dept released this tweet, so the US could effectively carry out boardings under the guise of counterterrorism as well.

While the Iranian tankers were in the Mediterranean, Washington released a (delayed) “Global Maritime Sanctions Advisory”, to the maritime industry, setting out guidelines to shipowners and insurers to enable them to avoid the risks of sanctions penalties related to North Korea, Syria and Iran. This also concerns oil exports from Iran, (but doesn’t apply to Iranian flagged ships). This came after the State Dept gave warning notice to oil companies to stop operations, including Rosneft (Russia), Reliance (India) and Repsol (Spain).

Then NatSouth concluded the following:

Under international law, every merchant ship must be registered with a flag state, which has jurisdiction over the vessel. Hence, this time, the use of Iranian-flagged tankers, as a direct response from Washington’s latest version of restating “maximum pressure” campaign on enforcement of Iran and Venezuela sanctions, (back in Feb, literally the same language as in Aug 2019). There was talk back then of a naval embargo, which would a serious notch up in tensions. There was mention of the 4 U.S. warships in the Caribbean, the U.S. Navy tweeted about, but one the Preble went through the Panama Canal into the Pacific).

Pretty clear, isn’t it?

What the US is doing is substituting itself for the United Nations and it is now openly claiming the right to board any vessel under whatever kind of pious pretext like, say, narco-trafficing, nuclear proliferation, sanctions against so-called “rogue states”, etc. Clearly, the AngloZionists expect everybody to roll over and take it.

How likely is that?

Let’s look at a few Iranian headlines, all from PressTV:

  • PressTV, May 16th: “Iran’s fuel shipment to Venezuela guaranteed by its missile power
  • PressTV, May 17th: “US aware Iran will respond ‘very strongly’ if Venezuela-bound ships attacked: Analyst
  • PressTV, May 18th: “Iran: US bears responsibility for any foolish act against tankers heading to Venezuela

Three days in a row. I think that it is fair to assume that the Iranians are trying very hard to convince Uncle Shmuel not to mess with these tankers. Does anybody seriously believe that the Iranians are bluffing?

Before we look at some of the aspects of this potential crisis, let’s just mention a few things here.

First, the US is acting in total and official illegality. Just like the bombing of Syria, the threats to Iran, or the US murderous sanctions Uncle Shmuel imposes left and right – the blockade of Venezuela is a) totally illegal and b) an act of war under international law.

Second, if USN commanders think they can operate with impunity only because the Caribbean is far away from Iran, they are kidding themselves. Yes, Iranian forces cannot defend these tankers so far away from home, nor can they take any action against the USN in the Atlantic-Caribbean theater of naval operations. But what they can and will do is retaliate against any AngloZionist target in the Middle-East, including any oil/gas tanker.

Third, while Venezuela’s military is tiny and weak compared to the immensely expensive and bloated US military, being immensely expensive and bloated is no guarantee of success. In fact, and depending on how the Venezuelan leadership perceives its options, there could be some very real risk for the USA in any attempt to interfere with the free passage of these ships.

What do I mean by that?

Did you know that Venezuela had four squadrons of Su-30MKV for a total of 22 aircraft?  Did you know that Venezuela also had an unknown number of Kh-31A supersonic anti-shipping missiles? And did you know that Venezuela had a number of S-300VM and 9K317M2 Buk-M2E long range and medium range SAMs?

True, that is nowhere near the amount of weapons systems Venezuela would need to withstand a determined US attack, but it is more than enough to create some real headaches for US planners. Do you remember what the Argentinian Air Force did to the British Navy during the Malvinas war? Not only did the Argentinians sink two Type 42 guided missile destroyers (the HMS Sheffield and the HMS Coventry) which were providing long-range radar and medium-high altitude missile picket for the British carriers, they also destroyed 2 frigates, 1 landing ship, 1 landing craft, 1 container ship. Frankly, considering how poorly defended the British carriers were, it is only luck which saved them from destruction (that, and the lack of sufficient number of Super Étendard strike aircraft and Exocet missiles). I would add here that the British military, having been defeated on many occasions, has learned the painful lessons of their past defeats and does not suffer from the cocky-sure attitude of the US military. As a result, they were very careful during the war against Argentina and that caution was one of the factors which gave a Britain well-deserved the victory (I mean that in military terms only; in moral terms this was just another imperialist war with all the evil that entails). Had the Argentinians had a modern air force and enough anti-shipping missiles, the war could have taken a very different turn.

Returning to the topic of Venezuela, war is a much more complex phenomenon than just a struggle of military forces.  In fact, I strongly believe that political factors will remain the single most important determinant factor of most wars, even in the 21st century. And chances are that the Venezuelans, being the militarily weaker side, will look to political factors to prevail. Here is one possible scenario among many other possible ones:

Caracas decides that the US seizing/attacking the Iranian tankers constitutes an existential threat to Venezuela because if that action goes unchallenged, then the US will totally “strangle” Venezuela. Of course, the Venezuelan military cannot take on the immense US military, but what they could do is force a US intervention, say by attacking one/several USN vessel(s). Such an attack, if even only partially successful, would force the US to retaliate, bringing US forces closer not only to Venezuelan air defenses, but also closer to the Venezuelan people which will see any US retaliation as an illegitimate counter-counter-attack following the fully legitimate Venezuelan counter-attack.

Then there is the problem of defining victory.  In the US political “culture” winning is usually defined as pressing a few buttons to fire off some standoff weapons, kill lots of civilians, and then declare that the “indispensable nation” has “kicked the other guy’s ass”.  The problem with that is the following one: if they other guy is very visibly weaker and has no chance for a military victory of his own, then the best option for him is to declare that “surviving is winning” – meaning that if Maduro stays in power, then Venezuela as won.  How would the USA cope with that kind of narrative?  Keep in mind that Caracas is a city of over two million people which even in peacetime is rather dangerous (courtesy of both regular crime and potential guerilla activities).  Yet, for Maduro to “win” all he has to show is that he controls Caracas.  Keep in mind that even if the US forces succeed in creating some kind of “zone of real democracy” somewhere near the Colombian border, that will mean nothing to Maduro, especially considering the terrain between the border and the capital city (please check out this very high resolution map of Venezuela or this medium resolution one). As for the notion of a USN landing on the shores of Venezuela, all we need to do is to remember how the immense Hodgepodge of units which were tasked with invading Grenada (including 2 Ranger Battalions, Navy Seals, most of an Airborne Division, etc. for a total of over 7,000 soldiers(!) against a tiny nation which never expected to be invaded (for details, and a good laugh, see here for a full list of participating US forces!) was defeated by the waves of the Caribbean and the few Cuban military engineers who resisted with small-arms fire (eventually, most of the 82AB was calling in to fix this mess).

In other words, if Maduro remains in power in Caracas then, in political terms, Venezuela wins even though it would loose in purely military terms.

This phenomenon is hardly something new, as shown by the following famous quote by Ho Chi Minh: “You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.”

By the way, this is exactly the same problem the Empire faces with Iran: as long as the Islamic Republic remains an Islamic Republic it “wins” in any exchange of strikes with the USA and/or Israel.

Still, it is pretty obvious that the US can turn much of Venezuela into a smoking heap of ruins. That is true (just like what the USA did to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Serbia and Israel what did to Lebanon in 2006). But that would hardly constitute a “victory” in any imaginable sense of the word. Again, in theory, the US might be able to secure a number of landing locations and then send in an intervention force which could try to take key locations in Caracas. But what would happen after that?  Not only would the hardcore Chavistas trigger a guerilla insurrection which would be impossible to crush (when is the last time the USA prevailed in a counter-insurgency war?), but many Venezuelans would expect the US to pay for reconstruction (and they would be right, according to the rules of international law, “once you take it, you own it” meaning that the USA would become responsible for the socio-economic situation of the country). Finally, there is always the option of an anti-leadership “decapitating” strike of some kind. I believe that in purely military terms, the US has the know-how and resources to accomplish this. I do not believe that this option would secure anything for the USA, instead – it would further destabilize the situation and would trigger some kind of reaction by the Venezuelan military both outside and inside Venezuela.  If anything, the repeated failures of the various coup attempts against Chavez and Maduro prove that the the bulk of the military remains firmly behind the Chavistas (and the failed coup only served to unmask the traitors and replace them anyway!).

The bottom line is this: if Uncle Shmuel decides to seize/attack the Iranian tankers, there is not only a quasi certitude of a war between the US and Iran (or, at the very least, an exchange of strikes), but there is also a non-trivial possibility that Maduro and his government might actually decide to provoke the USA into a war they really can’t win.

Is Trump capable of starting a process which will result in not one, but two wars?

You betcha he is! A guy who thinks in categories like “my button is bigger than yours” or “super-dooper weapons” obviously understands exactly *nothing* about warfare, while the climate of messianic narcissism prevailing among the US ruling classes gives them a sense of total impunity.

Let’s hope that cooler heads, possibly in the military, will prevail. The last thing the world needs today is another needless war of choice, never mind two more.

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 4 Comments

Israel strikes Syria to keep the USA in the Levant

By Elijah J. Magnier – 19/05/2020

Following its defeat in the second war on Lebanon, Israel discovered that its only way to suppress Hezbollah would be to close the supply line between Lebanon and Syria. That could only be achieved by removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, disrupting the “Axis of the Resistance” that extends from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Gaza. But Israel and the US, supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Emirates, Turkey, Europe and many other countries all failed to achieve their goal of making Syria a failed state. President Assad called upon his allies whose own national security was in jeopardy. If Syria were to fall, jihadists of al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” would be fighting in the streets of Beirut, Baghdad and Tehran. The jihadists would also be powerful enough to remove Russia from its Syrian naval base and to export the war beyond the Levant’s borders. So, Israel and the US failed to destroy Syria and to corner Hezbollah. On the contrary, Hezbollah has become stronger than ever. The Resistance has reaped the harvest of its victory. It has become the decision-maker with key institutions in Lebanon.

Israel sought to destroy Hezbollah because it is an obstacle to Israel’s expansionist plans in Lebanon, namely to steal Lebanon’s water and some of its territories, to force a peace deal of unconditional surrender, to break Lebanon’s alliance with Iran and deprive Tehran of its strongest ally in the Middle East. For the last forty years, since the victory of the “Islamic Republic” in 1979 led by Imam Ruhollah Khomeini which unseated the US proxy ruler, the Shah of Iran, Washington has imposed sanctions, because Iran has refused to submit to US power and because it supports its allies in the Middle East, mainly Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, to stand against Israel.

In 2006, the US was involved in the planning of Israel’s war on Lebanon. At the 2006 G8 Summit, President George W. Bush described the relationship between Hezbollah, Iran and Syria as one of the root causes of “instability”: “The World must deal with Hezbollah, with Syria, and continue to work to isolate Iran.” (Roshandel J. & Lean C.N. (2011) Iran, Israel and the United States, ABC-CLIO, CA, p. 109).

US Secretary Condoleezza Rice refused to mediate a ceasefire unless “the conditions are conducive”, thinking Israel would win the war. Hezbollah was not only left on its own to face the US and Israel, but Lebanese US-Saudi proxies (Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Druse leader Walid Jumblat) supported the position of the US and Israel, and argued that there was “no point in a ceasefire.” (Wilkins H. (2013). The Making Of Lebanese Foreign Policy: understanding the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War, Routledge, Introduction).

When Israel failed to achieve its objectives, the US agreed to mediate an end to the war. Negotiations concentrated on ceasing all hostilities (not a ceasefire) between the two countries. Tel Aviv and Washington failed to obtain the deployment of United Nations Forces in Lebanon, UNIFIL, on the borders with Syria. The US sought to accommodate Israel in its attempt to gain by negotiation what it failed to achieve using its huge war machine in 33 days of the war in 2006. “Israel’s objective was never realistic”, said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

When its attempt to control the Lebanese-Syrian borders failed after its defeat in the 2006 war, Israel had one remaining option with which to counter Hezbollah: close the road via Damascus and find a way to curb Hezbollah’s supply line. This required war on Syria.

Since confronting Hezbollah face-face was no longer an option, Syria became the next target in the campaign to isolate Iran, as President Bush declared. The motives behind the war in Syria have been erroneously described by many researchers and analysts around the globe, who have depicted the war as the outcome of an “Arab Spring” against a dictatorial regime. Yet Saudi Arabia, Bahrein and other Gulf countries have been ruled by dictatorships and the same family members for decades and indeed are considered by the west as its closest- oil-rich- partners!

Actually, the war on Syria started just after the al-Qaeda 9/11 attack on the US. Four-star US general Wesley Clark disclosed Washington’s plan as he learned of it in the days after 9/11: “occupy Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finish with Iran.” Just a few months after the US invasion of Iraq, US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited President Bashar al-Assad and warned him that the US would invade Syria if he refused to interrupt his support for the anti-Israel organisations, Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups: the Syrian president would share the same fate as the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was far from being a piece of cake. The US occupation generated new resistance among both Sunni and the Shia. This encouraged President Assad to rebuff the US threat, unaware of what the future held for Syria. Dozens of states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, the Emirates, Europe and the US all supported a regime change operation via Takfiri proxies. But the consequences of destabilising Syria gave a unique opportunity for al-Qaeda to blossom in Syria and a more lethal group emerged, the “Islamic State” ISIS. President Assad called upon his few allies, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, to stand against the massive coalition gathered to create this failed state in Syria. The Syrian war which ensued offered unprecedented experience to the Syrian army, gave birth to a new Syrian resistance and offered unique warfare knowledge to Hezbollah, with a base for Iran that Tehran could never before have dreamed of having in the Levant.

Hezbollah had forced unconditional Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in the year 2000 and challenged all those Israeli-US plans for a “new Middle East” after the second Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. And the long nine years of war in Syria forced Hezbollah to refine its tactics and armaments and provided Hezbollah with an unprecedented victory. Just as Israel had boosted the creation of Hezbollah, it taught this quasi-state actor all manner of skills and forced it to acquire more training and weapons to repel wars and dismantle the enemy’s objectives. Israel’s former Chief of Staff and Prime Ministerial candidate Benny Gantz believed that Hezbollah had become one of the strongest irregular-organised armies in the Middle East, capable of imposing its rules of engagement and its “balance of deterrence” on the strongest classical army in the Middle East.

“Show me four or five states with more firepower than Hezbollah: they are the US, China, Russia, Israel, France, & the UK,” Gantz said when speaking at the 2014 Herzliya Conference.

That was Israel’s assessment in 2014. Six years later, last February, Israel’s minister of defence Naftali Bennet said: “For every convoy you hit, you miss five convoys and slowly Hezbollah accumulates the critical mass of rockets [missiles] that threaten us.”

Hezbollah has become stronger than many armies in the Middle East. Hezbollah is no longer the organisation that clashes with the Israelis on a hill or site or ambushes a patrol behind an alley. Rather, in Syria and Iraq, it has successfully experienced different warfare scenarios. It has acquired many advanced weapons and became a strategic threat to Israel if it ever contemplated waging outright war on Lebanon and Syria.

Israel set as its goal bringing down Assad in Syria and separating Syria from the “Axis of Resistance.” Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon said that “Israel prefers ISIS on its borders over Assad.” But Israel, America, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates have lost the war. Israel has now chosen to maintain the conflict because it fears that America would let go. This is why Israel is hitting hundreds of targets in Syria, – most of the time without no strategic value whatsoever.

Sources in the “Axis of Resistance” in Syria say that:

“Israel targeted the Iranian HQ at Damascus airport (a building with green glass where Israel destroyed two floors). The following day, Iran restored it and it is back in operation. Israel has repeatedly targeted warehouses with Iranian weapons but also an abandoned training centre in the Kiswa area that has been empty for years. Their aim is to signal to the US that Israel is threatened and that the departure of the US forces would constitute a threat to Israel’s national security. It is indeed too late for Israeli jets to make any difference to Syria’s capabilities. Iran is not exporting weapons but manufacturing them. If it took Israel 9 years and 300 bombing raids to destroy Iranian warehouses in Syria, it took Iran only one year to refill and equip the Syrian army with much more sophisticated precision missiles – and all strategic missiles are in underground warehouses.”

Iran has only a few hundred advisers and officers in Syria, but it leads some tens of thousands of allies from Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and auxiliary Syrian forces that resemble irregular-organised military formations.

In Syria, Hezbollah was able to operate in an area ten times the size of Lebanon, which gave it a unique experience any army in the world would have wished to have. It was also subjected to attacks by a NATO member, Turkey, which used armed drones on the battlefield. That provided Hezbollah with a wealth of experience and taught them lessons that have become integrated into curricula at military schools and colleges in Iran with Hezbollah and their allies.

President Assad does not say that it is time for his allies (especially Hezbollah) to leave Syria. Rather, he says – according to this source – that “Syria has a debt to Hezbollah. Wherever Hezbollah wants to be, it will be also Syria’s wishes.” America and Israel created an unbreakable alliance between Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah has started to harvest its gains. Hezbollah was able to impose the name of the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, despite repeated opposition from Saudi Arabia and the US, the losers in the Syrian war. Lebanon remained without a president for several months until General Aoun assumed the presidency.

Hezbollah rejected multiple offers from different countries by giving the Presidency of the Parliament to anyone other than President Nabih Berri, leader of the Amal movement, who has been on this throne for decades. Hezbollah holds the real power – though not all of it – in Lebanon to call for the appointment of the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the Parliament.

As for the premiership, it cannot be assumed without Hezbollah’s approval of the candidate. Hezbollah has sufficient political weight within the House of Representatives and the Presidency of the Republic to nominate or accept the nomination or direct the appointing of a prime minister. Former prime minister Saad Hariri is making sure his daily friendly contacts with Hezbollah are maintained because he would very much like to return to power. Hariri knows that the door to the premiership goes through one gate: Hezbollah.

This does not mean that Hezbollah wants to take control of Lebanon as a whole. Hezbollah leaders are aware that the Druse leader Kamal Jumblatt, Sunni leader Rafic Hariri, the Maronite Christian leader Bashir Gemayel and the Palestinians have all failed in controlling Lebanon and seizing the country. Hezbollah does not want to succumb to the same mistakes and doesn’t wish to control all of Lebanon. This means that the counter influence of other countries exists and is well-rooted in Lebanon. For example, the US ambassador in Beirut is threatening the Lebanese government with a warning not to remove the Central Bank Governor Riad Salama. Also, the US removed a Lebanese-Israeli agent, Amer Al-Fakhouri, via a plane which landed him at the US embassy without taking into consideration Lebanese sovereignty. The US supports the Lebanese army and internal security forces to maintain its dominance over certain key figures.

Syria has given the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, powers in Lebanon that he would not have obtained without the intervention of Israel and the allies in Syria. Hezbollah has managed to preserve its military pipeline via Syria by defeating the Takfiris (al-Qaeda and ISIS) and has prevented them from establishing an “Islamic emirate” in Lebanon and Syria.

Hezbollah’s victory comes at a price: thousands of martyrs and thousands of wounded. However, the resulting harvest is so abundant and strategic that the Lebanese Shiites now enjoy more power in Lebanon and Bilad al-Sham than they have since the year 661 when the fourth caliphate’s Imam Ali bin Abi Talib was killed.

Proofread by:  C.G.B. and Maurice Brasher

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May 20, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment