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Pentagon exploits post 9/11 laws to wage ‘secret wars’ worldwide: Report

The Cradle | November 9, 2022

A report released last week by the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice details how the US Department of Defense (DoD) has been allowed to covertly deploy troops and wage secret wars over the past two decades in dozens of countries across the globe.

Among the nations in West Asia affected by these so-called ‘security cooperation authorities’ are LebanonIraqSyria, and Yemen; however, they also include many African and Latin American nations.

Known as ‘security cooperation authorities,’ they were passed by the US Congress in the years following the 11 September attacks, and are a continuation of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a piece of legislation that has been stretched by four successive governments.

According to the report, the AUMF covers “a broad assortment of terrorist groups, the full list of which the executive branch long withheld from Congress and still withholds from the public.”

Following in this tradition, the ‘security cooperation authorities’ being abused by the Pentagon are Section 333 and Section 127e of Title 10 of the United States Code (USC).

Section 333 authorizes the US army to “train and equip foreign forces anywhere in the world,” while Section 127e authorizes the Pentagon to “provide support to foreign forces, paramilitaries, and private individuals who are in turn supporting US counterterrorism operations,” with a spending limit of $100,000,000 per fiscal year.

However, thanks to the vague definition of ‘support’ and ‘training’ in the text of these laws, both Section 333 and Section 127e programs have been abused to target “adversarial” groups under a strained interpretation of constitutional self-defense; they have also allowed the US army to develop and control proxy forces that fight on behalf of – and sometimes alongside – their own.

As a result of this, in dozens of countries, these programs have been used as a springboard for hostilities, with the Pentagon often declining to inform Congress or the US public about their secret operations under the reasoning that the incidents are “too minor to trigger statutory reporting requirements.”

“Researchers and reporters uncovered Section 127e programs not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen,” the report highlights.

Researchers also point out that defense authorities “have given little indication of how [they] interpret Section 333 and 127e.”

Even more concerning, and ignoring the damage caused by these ‘anti-terror’ laws, the US Congress recently expanded the Pentagon’s security cooperation authorities, particularly with Section 1202 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Section 1202 allows the US army to allow “irregular warfare operations” against “rogue states” like Iran or North Korea, or “near-peers,” like Russia and China.

The report comes at a time when the US army and its proxy militias are accused of illegally occupying vast regions of Syria and Yemen, looting oil from the war-torn countries, just over a year after their brutal occupation of Afghanistan ended. Moreover, a former US official on Tuesday revealed that anti-Iran militias are being armed in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), where both the CIA and the Mossad are known to operate.

November 11, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US wants to build military bases in Uruguay

By Ahmed Adel | November 7, 2022

A draft defence cooperation agreement between Washington and Montevideo, which could allow the installation of US military bases in Uruguay, is once again being considered in the Uruguayan Parliament. Allowing US military bases would effectively damage the sovereignty of Uruguay, a country which currently maintains good relations with both Russia and China.

Senator Gustavo Penadés for Uruguay’s ruling centre-right National Party claimed that the project only involves “some type of investment in construction” and not the permanent presence of US forces in Uruguayan territory. For his part, the president of the Uruguayan Defence Commission and of the opposition centre-left Broad Front, León Lev, admitted that the project is “ambiguous” and will instigate “profound discussion” in Parliament.

The project is defined as “a complementary agreement” for “reciprocal provision” of “logistical support, supplies and services.” It says that Uruguay and the US express their “desire to improve the interoperability, preparation and efficiency of their respective military forces through greater logistical cooperation.” In addition, the purpose of the agreement is to “facilitate logistical support” between the two countries during “combined exercises, training, displacements, stopovers, operations or other cooperative activities.”

Effectively, it is very clear that the bilateral agreement will in fact enable US actions more than anything else. For example, the supply of services that can be provided to each other in reality only benefits the US as Uruguay does not have the capacity to do military missions or operations in North America like the US does in South America. It cannot be overlooked that the initiative is from the US and is drafted in the terms that it proposed.

The project was first discussed in 2012, during the government of José Pepe Mujica, but it did not have the support of parliament. Today, just like in 2012, if the parliament authorises it, it would mean a loss of Uruguayan sovereignty over a part of its territory.

According to Senator Penadés, there is no possibility of US bases in Uruguay and he believes that this interpretation of the agreement is incorrect. The legislator claimed that it is a “standard agreement” like the ones that have been signed between the US and other countries on defence cooperation. When asked what the project refers to when it says “operations in bases [and the construction corresponding to that support],” Penadés said it is about the “infrastructure” that is built in “cooperation,” such as, according to him, hospitals.

For his part, Lev affirmed that the project is “ambiguous” and will provoke “very deep discussion” in parliament.

“As it is ambiguous, it is going to give rise to at least a very deep discussion, I have no doubt. This is not going to be voted on tables and this discussion is going to take many months, if not years. But one can never anticipate,” he said, adding: “There are two main laws for the Government, such as the organic law of the Armed Forces and the retirement law. Parliament is not in a position to quickly study this project.”

Lev pointed out that, in general, agreements with foreign countries take months or years to approve.

“An issue of this nature, with the ambiguities, especially with this potential base, is going to generate a deep debate. The Uruguayan government does not propose the agreement, it makes a scheme with the US and proposes what Washington aspires to. But in politics one should never rush. One has to carefully analyse and see the actions of the political system,” Lev said.

The underlying issue is that the Uruguayan military’s limited defence budget means that it is reliant on the generosity of donor nations. In one example, the US State Department GPOI funds contributed $36 million since 2008 in equipment, training, and construction for the Uruguayan Armed Forces. This is evidently a paltry amount, but in the context of the Uruguayan military, which has a total budget of $1.16 billion, it is significant.

It is recalled that Daniel Castillos, Uruguay’s Ambassador to Moscow, announced in April that his country does not support the economic sanctions on Russia.

“Despite the current situation and criticism regarding [Russia’s] special military operation [in Ukraine], Uruguay has not imposed and does not support any economic and financial sanctions against Russia… and maintains an interest in strengthening trade and maintaining good relations,” he said, adding that it was “necessary” to cooperate with Russia.

For the US, it is important that initiatives like the defence cooperation agreement are signed with Uruguay so that the country can be brought under its sphere of influence. Uruguay currently has friendly relations with the US, Russia and China, but Washington hopes to upset this balance by slowly influencing the country, beginning with military bases. For now, although the US undoubtedly has ambitions for military bases in Uruguay, it appears unlikely to happen in the short and medium term.

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

November 7, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , | 5 Comments

Chile’s Boric wasted an opportunity for Palestine at the UN General Assembly

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | September 24, 2022

Chilean President Gabriel Boric may currently be the most outspoken leader in Latin America on Palestinian rights and Israeli violations. However, his rhetoric leaves much to be desired. It, in turn, raises questions about how Chile – the country with the largest Palestinian community in the region – can differentiate itself from other countries to become a model to follow, rather than following international consensus over the two-state compromise and Israel’s security narrative.

In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Boric spoke about Palestine’s right to freedom and sovereignty while mangling his message by including a false equivalence with Israel that eliminates the colonial context. “[Palestinian people] should yield to their inalienable right to establish their own free and sovereign state. In the same way, [let’s] guarantee Israel’s legitimate right to live within secure and internationally recognised borders,” Boric asserted.

Boric’s speech was pronounced “politically correct”, while noting that Chile’s stance has always advocated for the recognition of Palestinian people’s rights and Israel’s rights while promoting the two-state compromise, like the rest of the international community. In which case, Boric’s activist stances as president are unlikely to leave any impact on Chilean diplomacy. Under Boric, the Chilean government is advocating for the same stance that his predecessor Sebastian Pinera adhered to, which is a bonus for Israel, despite the grievances Israeli media aired upon Boric’s electoral victory.

Days before his UNGA speech, Boric postponed accepting the credentials of the new Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, in response to the Israeli forces’ killing of 17-year-old Palestinian Odai Trad Salah in Kufr Dan near Jenin. However, his stance, which made headline news in major media outlets worldwide, was diminished by the UNGA speech that attempted equivalence between the coloniser and the colonised while simplifying, to the point of obliteration, the reason why Palestinians are deprived of a state, possibly permanently.

Boric is not unaware of the Palestinian plight as a result of Zionist colonisation. Neither is he oblivious to the fact that Palestinians and the indigenous people of Chile – the Mapuche – have suffered similar forms of aggression because of governments criminalising their struggle for land reclamation and political autonomy. Yet, it is possible that, as president, Boric’s activist stances will be mellowed by diplomatic requirements, such as abiding by the two-state compromise, which has failed Palestinians and become defunct in all but international rhetoric.

Prior to the presidency, Boric stood out as one of the most vocal activists in Chile. As president, Boric is navigating a complex reality that includes the legacy of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship and ties to Israel during that period, as well as the country’s reliance on securing military and surveillance equipment from Palestine’s oppressors.

To cast Israel and legitimacy together is an aberration, particularly when using such descriptions to balance advocating for Palestinian rights. Boric wasted an opportunity at his first UNGA speech to call out Israel’s colonial violence and how it invalidates legitimacy. It is not up to the international community to guarantee Israel’s existence, but Boric knows that Chile can play a pivotal role in ensuring that the international community gravitates towards the legitimacy of the Palestinian people’s political demands.

September 25, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia won’t congratulate CIA on its diamond jubilee

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | SEPTEMBER 15, 2022 

In the Russian journal Natsionalnaya Oborona (National Defence), the chief of Russia’s foreign intelligence Sergey Naryshkin has written a riveting essay on the 75th anniversary of the Central Intelligence Agency, which falls on Sunday. It is an unusual gesture, especially in the middle of the hybrid war in Ukraine. 

Probably, it serves a purpose? Most certainly, it serves to remind the Russian people and foreigners alike that nothing has been forgotten, nothing forgiven. 

The title of the essay — 75 candles on the CIA Cake — is somewhat misleading, as Naryshkin’s concluding remark is that “Anniversary congratulations and wishes there will not be. As there can be no compromise in assessing its (CIA’s) role in history and ‘merits’ to humanity.” 

Naryshkin’s essay will be closely studied by the western intelligence  for any “clues.” Indeed, what is he messaging? Naryshkin and President Vladimir Putin go back some 40 years. Naryshkin had just graduated from one of Moscow’s most prestigious institutions, the Felix Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the KGB and  Putin was already working in the foreign intelligence department of the Leningrad KGB when they bumped into each other in the corridors of the Big House (as KGB’s regional headquarters in Leningrad was known).

Unsurprisingly, Naryshkin writes about the CIA with an easy familiarity. As he put it, “The CIA was created at the beginning of the Cold War era in order to conduct intelligence activities around the world as a tool to counteract the existence and strengthen the role of the USSR in the world, the formation of a bloc of socialist states, and the rise of the national liberation movement in Africa, Asia, and South America.” 

Funnily enough, nonetheless, the CIA began with a colossal intelligence failure when it predicted on 20th September 1949 that the first Soviet atomic bomb would appear in mid-1953, when, actually, 22 days before the publication of that forecast, the Soviet Union had already conducted its first test of a nuclear device.  

The CIA was once again clueless when Putin announced in March 2018 in an address to the Russian Parliament that Russia had developed a new hypersonic missile system, which “will be practically invulnerable.” US officials and analysts were taken aback. The CIA has a history of getting Russia all wrong, including about the collapse of the Soviet Union.  

But the CIA had its successes too — for example,  the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1951 after his move to nationalise Iranian oil fields. By the 1950s, CIA already turned into a “multi-disciplinary monster” when besides traditional intelligence activities, it was also “tasked with tracking and suppressing any political, economic, military processes in all parts of the planet that could threaten the world hegemony of the United States and its allies.” Naryshkin gives credit to Allen Dulles for this metamorphosis. Dulles introduced “aggressiveness and lack of morality into the activities” of the CIA. He was just the man to do so, having been station chief of the OSS (CIA’s predecessor) in Bern in 1942-1945, who had clandestine dealings with the Nazis behind the back of the US’ Soviet ally. 

Naryshkin takes us through the chronicle of CIA’s “coups d’etat, direct military interventions, provocations of all kinds, assassinations of objectionable politicians, terror, sabotage, bribery” and all that cloak and dagger stuff, which prompted President Lyndon Johnson’s famous condemnation of the agency as the “damn murder corporation.” Like in Banquo’s ghost scene at Macbeth’s banquet table in Shakespeare’s play, the victims appear — Patrice Lumumba, Salvador Allende …

There are chilling references to the CIA’s practice of using cancer spreading technology to eliminate “objectionable” Latin American leaders — Argentina’s Kirchner (thyroid cancer), Paraguay’s Lugo (lymphoma), Brazil’s Lula da Silva (laryngeal cancer) and D. Dilma Rousseff (lymphoma) — and, of course, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (tracheal cancer). According to Naryshkin, “In 1955, the CIA attempted to eliminate Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, who was perceived by the Americans as “a maniacal fanatic seeking to take over the world,” but failed miserably. Agents blew up the plane on which Zhou was supposed to fly to a conference of Asian and African leaders in Indonesia.” Thereupon, Dulles developed a plan to poison Zhou but gave up fearing that CIA’s involvement might get exposed!

A US Senate commission in 1975 uncovered and confirmed CIA involvement in contract killings and coup d’état. It counted 8 cases of assassination attempts by CIA agents and mercenaries on Fidel Castro during 1960-1965 alone. Havana later revealed the full tally — from 1959 through 1990, CIA planned 634 assassination attempts on Fidel. To quote Naryshkin, “With maniacal persistence, the CIA officers developed simply exotic ways to eliminate the Comandante. They tried to kill him with the help of suicide pilots, paratrooper agents, recruited agents from the inner circle, shelling cars and yachts from ships, boats and subversive saboteurs, with the help of scuba gear with a tubercle bacillus brought there, poisoned cigars, poisonous pills for food and much more.”

“The CIA used every opportunity to inflict maximum damage on the Soviet Union, including economic damage. CIA director W. Casey personally addressed the king of Saudi Arabia and persuaded him to sharply increase oil production, which caused world prices for the most important export resources for the USSR to fall by almost three times. For the budget of the Soviet Union, this was a huge loss, which seriously influenced further political events in the USSR.” 

Naryshkin throws some riveting insights into the saga of Ukraine in the 1948-1949 period when the CIA “actively used the experience of Hitler’s special services for launching subversive work against the USSR with recruits in the camps of displaced East Europeans who included quarter of a million Ukrainians. “Almost all the leaders and top functionaries of the Ukrainian nationalists were in one way or another bound by cooperation with the Nazis and therefore were completely controlled” by the CIA and British intelligence. In November 1950, the head of the CIA’s Policy Coordination Office, Frank Wisner bragged that CIA was capable of deploying up to 100,000 Ukrainian nationalists in case of a war with the Soviet Union. 

The U2 incident — shooting down the CIA spy plane — in the Urals on May 1, 1960 was a dramatic incident when Washington accused the USSR of destroying a scientific aircraft and a pilot-scientist, but was profoundly embarrassed when Moscow presented not only the wreckage of the aircraft and spy equipment to the media, “but also the living pilot Francis Gary Powers, who frankly told what he was doing in the sky over the USSR and on whose instructions.”

On the other hand, the masterstroke of a South Korean Boeing entering  Soviet airspace and getting shot down in 1983 provided just the “propaganda basis” for President Reagan “to announce another ‘crusade against communism.’ The policy of detente was thrown aside, and a new round of the arms race began.”  

Naryshkin’s final reflection is calm and collected with no trace of hyperbole: “Evaluation of the effectiveness of any special service is always relative. The US Central Intelligence Agency, entering its 76th year of existence, has been and remains a zealous executor of the will of the ruling circles of its country. Despite the significant changes taking place, they continue to imagine themselves as the only hegemon in the unipolar world. The organisation is intelligence, based on its name, but with a sensitive focus on conducting subversive actions against sovereign states.” 

To Indians, CIA has become a benign creature, no longer feared. Having links with the CIA carries no stigma among Indian elites. They regard “CIA phobia”  as a legacy of the Indira Gandhi era. And they thrive as mainstream columnists, think tankers and opinion makers. Naryshkin’s essay is a sobering reminder that history has not ended — and it never will. 

The essay (in Russian) is here. 

September 17, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

WHO’S DRIVING THE PANDEMIC EXPRESS?

By Dr David Bell and Emma McArthur | PANDA | September 4, 2022

Sceptics of the growing ‘pandemic prevention, preparedness and response’ (PPR) agenda celebrated recently, heralding a perceived ‘defeat’ of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) controversial amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR). Although the proposed amendments would have undoubtedly expanded the WHO’s powers, this focus on the WHO reflects a narrow view of global health and the pandemic industry. The WHO is almost a bit-player in a much larger game of public-private partnerships and financial incentives that are driving the pandemic gravy train forward.

While the WHO works in the spotlight, the pandemic industry has been growing for over a decade and its expansion accelerates unabated. Other major players such as the World Bank, coalitions of wealthy nations at the G7 and G20 and their corporate partners work in a world less subject to transparency; a world where the rules are more relaxed, and a conflict of interest receives less scrutiny.

If the global health community is to preserve public health, it must urgently understand the wider process that is underway and take action to stop it. The pandemic express must be halted by the weight of evidence and basic principles of public health.

Funding a global pandemic bureaucracy

“The FIF could be a cornerstone in the construction of a truly global PPR system in the context of the International Treaty on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, sponsored by the World Health Assembly.” (WHO, 19 April 2022)

The world is being told to fear pandemics. Ballooning socio-economic costs of the COVID-19 crisis are touted as justification for increased focus on PPR funding.

Calls for ‘urgent’ collective action to avert the ‘next’ pandemic are predicated on systemic ‘weaknesses’ supposedly exposed by COVID-19. As the WHO steamed ahead with its push for a new pandemic ‘treaty’ during 2021,  G20 members agreed to establish a Joint Finance & Health Task Force (JFHTF) to ‘enhance the collaboration and global cooperation on issues relating to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response’.

A World Bank-WHO report prepared for the G20 joint task force estimates that US$ 31.1 billion will be required annually for future PPR, including US $ 10.5 billion per year in new international financing to support perceived funding gaps in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Surveillance-related activities comprise almost half of this, with US $4.1 billion in new funding required to address perceived gaps in the system.

In public health terms, the funding proposed to expand the global PPR infrastructure is enormous. By contrast, the WHO’s approved biennium programme budget for 2022-2023 averages US $3.4 billion per year. The Global Fund, the main international funder of malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS – which have a combined annual mortality of over 2.5 million – currently dispenses just US $ 4 billion annually for the three diseases combined. Unlike COVID-19, these diseases cause significant mortality in lower income countries and in younger age groups, year in, year out.

In April 2022, the G20 agreed to establish a new ‘financial intermediary fund’ (FIF) housed at the World Bank, to address the US $10.5 billion PPR financing gap. The FIF is intended to build upon existing pandemic funding to ‘strengthen health systems and PPR capacities in low-income and middle-income countries and regions’. The WHO is predicted to be the technical lead, landing them with an assured role irrespective of the outcome of current ‘treaty’ discussions.

The establishment of the fund has proceeded with breathtaking speed, and it was approved on June 30 by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors. A short period of consultation precedes an expected launch in September 2022. To date, donations totalling US $1.3 billion dollars have been pledged by governments, the European Commission and various private and non-government interests, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust. The initial areas for the fund are somewhat all-encompassing, including country-level ‘disease surveillance; laboratory systems; emergency communication, coordination and management; critical health workforce capacities; and community engagement’.

In scope, the fund has the appearance of a new ‘World Health Organization’ for pandemics – to add to the existing (and ever-expanding) network of global health organisations such as the WHO; Gavi; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); and the Global Fund. But is this increased expenditure on PPR justified? Are the escalating socio-economic costs of COVID-19 due to a failure to act by the global health community, as is widely claimed; or are they due to negligent acts of failure by the WHO and global governments, when they discarded previous evidenced-based pandemic guidelines?

COVID-19: failure to act or acts of failure?

In the debate surrounding the growing pandemic industry, much attention is being directed towards the central role of the WHO. This attention is understandable given the WHO’s position as the agency responsible for global public health and its push for a new international pandemic agreement.

However, the WHO’s handling of the response to COVID-19 creates serious doubts about the competency of its leadership and raises questions about whose needs the organisation is serving.

The WHO’s failure to follow its own pre-existing pandemic guidelines by supporting lockdowns, mass-testing, border closures and the multi-billion-dollar COVAX mass-vaccination program, has generated vast revenue for vaccine manufacturers and the biotech industry, whose corporations and investors are major contributors to the WHO. This approach has crippled economies, damaged existing health programs and further entrenched poverty in low-income countries. Decades of progress in children’s health are likely to be undone, together with the destruction of the long-term prospects of tens of millions of children, through loss of education, forced child marriage and malnutrition. In abandoning its principles of equality and community-driven healthcare, the WHO appears to have become a mere pawn in the PPR game, beholden to those with the real power; the entities who are providing its income and who control the resources now being directed to this area.

Corporatizing global public health

Recently established health agencies devoted to vaccination and pandemics, such as Gavi and CEPI, appear to have been highly influential from the beginning. CEPI, is the brainchild of Bill Gates, Jeremy Farrar (director of the Wellcome Trust), and others at the pro-lockdown World Economic Forum. Launched at Davos in 2017, CEPI  was created to help drive the market for epidemic vaccines. It is no secret that Bill Gates has major private financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, in addition to those of his foundation. This clearly places a question mark over the philanthropic nature of his investments.

CEPI appears to be a forerunner of what the WHO is increasingly becoming – an instrument where individuals and corporations can exert influence and improve returns by hijacking key areas of public health. CEPI’s business model, which involves taxpayers taking most of the financial risk for vaccine research and development whilst big pharma gets all the profits, is notably replicated in the World Bank-WHO report.

Gavi, itself a significant WHO donor that exists solely to increase access to vaccination, is also under direct influence of Bill Gates, via the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation. Gavi’s involvement (alongside CEPI) with the WHO’s COVAX program, which diverted vast resources into COVID-19 mass-vaccination in countries where COVID-19 is a relatively small disease burden, suggests the organisation is tied more strongly to vaccine sales than genuine public health outcomes.

Pandemic funding – ignoring the big picture?

At first glance, increased PPR funding to LMICs may seem a public good. The World Bank-WHO report claims that ‘the frequency and impact of pandemic-prone pathogens are increasing.’ However, this is belied by reality, as the WHO lists only 5 ‘pandemics’ in the past 120 years, with the highest mortality occurring in the 1918-19 H1N1 (‘Spanish’) influenza pandemic, before antibiotics and modern medicine. Apart from COVID-19, the ‘Swine Flu’ outbreak in 2009-10, which killed less people than a normal flu year, is the only ‘pandemic’ in the past 50 years.

Such a myopic focus on pandemic risk will do little to address the most serious causes of illness and death, and it can be expected to make matters worse for people experiencing the most extreme forms of socio-economic disadvantage.

Governments of low-income countries will be ‘incentivised’ to divert resources to PPR related programs, further increasing the growing debt crisis. A more centralised, top-down public health system will lack the flexibility to meet local and regional needs.  Transferring support from higher burden diseases, and drivers of economic growth, has a direct impact on mortality in these countries, particularly for children.

The WHO-World Bank report states that the pillars of the global PPR architecture must be built on the ‘foundational principles of equity, inclusion and solidarity’. As severe pandemics occur less than once per generation, increased spending on PPR in LMICs clearly violates these basic principles as it diverts scarce resources away from areas of regional need, to address the perceived health priorities of wealthier populations. As demonstrated by the damage caused by the COVID-19 response, in both high and low-income countries, the overall harm of resource diversion from areas of greater need is likely to be universal. In failing to address such ‘opportunity costs’, recommendations by the WHO, the World Bank, and other PPR partners cannot be validly based in public health; nor are they a basis for overall societal benefit. .

One thing is certain. Those who will gain from this expanding pandemic gravy train will be those who gained from the response to COVID-19.

The pandemic gravy train – following the money

The new World Bank fund risks compounding existing problems in the global public health system and further compromising the WHO’s autonomy; although it is stated that the WHO will have a central ‘strategic role’, funds will be channelled through the World Bank. In essence, it financially side-steps the accountability measures at the WHO, where questions of relative worth can be raised more easily.

The proposed structure of the FIF will pave the way for organisations with strong ties to pharmaceutical and other biotech industries, such as CEPI and Gavi, to gain even greater influence over global PPR, particularly if they are appointed ‘implementing entities’ – the operational arms that will carry out the FIF’s work program at country, regional and global level.

Although the initial implementing entities for the FIF will be UN agencies, multilateral development banks and the IMF, plans are already underway to accredit these other international health entities. Investments are likely to be heavily skewed towards biotechnological solutions, such as disease surveillance and vaccine development, at the cost of other, more pressing, public health interventions.

Protecting public health rather than private wealth

If the world truly wants to address the systemic weakness exposed by COVID-19, it must first understand that this pandemic gravy train is not new; the foundations for the destruction of community- and country-based global public health began long before COVID-19.

It is unarguable that COVID-19 has proved to be a lucrative cash cow for vaccine manufacturers and the biotech industry. The public-private partnership model that now dominates global health enabled vast resources to be channelled into the pockets of corporate giants, through programs they directly influence, or even run. CEPI’s ‘100 days Mission’ to make ‘safe and effective’ vaccines against ‘viral threats’ within 100 days – to ‘give the world a fighting chance of containing a future outbreak before it spreads to become a global pandemic’ –  is a permit for pharmaceutical companies to appropriate public money on an unprecedented scale, based on their own assessments of risk.

The self-fulfilment of the ‘increasing frequency of pandemic’ prophecy will be ensured by the push for increased disease surveillance – a priority area for the FIF. To quote the World Bank-WHO report:

“COVID-19 highlighted the need to connect surveillance and alert systems into a regional and global network to detect zoonotic transmission events, raise the alarm early to enable a swift public health response, and accelerate the development of medical countermeasures.”

Like many claims being made about COVID-19, this claim has no evidence base – the origins of COVID-19 remain highly controversial and the WHO’s data demonstrate that pandemics are uncommon, whatever their origin. None of the ‘countermeasures’ have been shown to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19, which is now globally endemic.

Increased surveillance will naturally identify more ‘potentially dangerous pathogens’, as variants of viruses arise constantly in nature. Consequently, the world faces a never-ending game of seek and ye shall find, with never-ending profits for industry. Formerly once per generation, this industry will make ‘pandemics’ a routine part of life, where rapid fire vaccines are mandated for every new disease or variant that arrives.

Ultimately, this new pandemic fund will help to hook low- and middle-income countries into the growing global pandemic bureaucracy. Greater centralisation of public health will do little to address the genuine health needs of people in these countries. If the pandemic gravy train is allowed to keep growing, the poor will get poorer, and people will die in increasing numbers from more prevalent, preventable diseases. The rich will continue to profit, while fuelling the main driver of ill-health in lower income countries – poverty.

Dr. David Bell is a clinical and public health physician with a PhD in population health and background in internal medicine, modelling and epidemiology of infectious disease. Previously, he was Director of the Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in the USA, Programme Head for Malaria and Acute Febrile Disease at FIND in Geneva, and coordinating malaria diagnostics strategy with the World Health Organisation. He is a member of the Executive Committee of PANDA.

September 6, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Only 1 in 3 UN members back new anti-Russia resolution

Samizdat | August 26, 2022

Ukraine’s latest proposal to condemn Russia has attracted the backing of just 58 out of 193 UN member states, a far cry from the number that symbolically supported Kiev in the General Assembly in March.

Kiev’s envoy to the UN Sergey Kislitsa heralded the proposed resolution on Wednesday, following the Security Council meeting convened on Ukraine’s independence day. The session featured a video address by President Vladimir Zelensky, for which the council had to override protocol requiring in-person appearances, and a series of statements by Western governments denouncing Russia.

Moscow’s envoy Vassily Nebenzia provided the counterpoint by introducing evidence of Ukrainian atrocities into the record and even naming Kiev’s western backers as accomplices in specific instances.

Kislitsa’s resolution also fell short of the support Kiev had back in March, right after the start of the Russian military operation. At the March 2 General Assembly session,141 member countries – or 73% of the UN – voted for a nonbinding resolution to condemn Moscow.

This week, however, that support stood at 30%, with no African, Persian Gulf or BRICS countries on board – and only two Latin American governments, Colombia and Guatemala, standing with Ukraine.

August 26, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Russia Backs Comprehensive Military-Technical Cooperation Amid Formation of Multipolar World: Putin

Samizdat – 15.08.2022

Russia supports the development of “comprehensive” military-technical cooperation with other countries, including joint drills and the sales of weapons systems, and highly values its many allies and partners across the globe, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

“I want to emphasize that Russia stands for the widest possible development of military-technical cooperation. Today, in the conditions of a steadily emerging multipolar world, this is especially important,” Putin said Monday at ARMY-2022.

“We highly appreciate the fact that our country has many allies, partners and like-minded people on different continents. These are states which do not bend before the so-called ‘hegemon’, their leaders are showing strong character and do not bend,” he added.

The Russian president said Russia is ready to present its partners across Latin America, Asia and Africa with “the most modern weapons systems,” from small arms and armored vehicles to artillery, warplanes and drones. He recalled that Russian armaments have built up a reputation across the world for their reliability, quality and efficiency in real combat conditions.

Putin extended a formal invitation to Russia’s allies and partners to take part in joint command-staff exercises and other drills, and expressed confidence “that by developing broad military-technical cooperation, by pooling our efforts and potential, we will be able to ensure reliable security for our countries and the world as a whole.”

Putin also pointed to the “great prospects” Russia has in the training of foreign servicemen and improving their qualifications, saying that thousands of soldiers and officers from countries around the world are already proud to call Russian military academies and officer training schools their alma maters.

The president thanked Defense Ministry for organizing the forum, saying it would help strengthen international security and stability. He also expressed gratitude to Russia’s weapons makers for equipping Russia’s ground forces and Navy with modern weapons, including those being used in Moscow’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine.

ARMY-2022 kicked off on Monday across several venues in the Moscow region and will run until Sunday. The forum and expo is combined with the International Army Games – a friendly military competition in which 12 countries are taking part. The games will run until August 27.

August 15, 2022 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

The 1954 CIA Coup in Guatemala

Tales of the American Empire | August 4, 2022

Aug 4, 2022 During World War II, American President Franklin Roosevelt promoted democracy in Latin America to ensure these nations remained allied with the United States. This allowed the people of Guatemala to improve their standard of living by slowly reforming their feudal plantation system established by Spanish colonizers and later exploited by American corporations. This threatened profits for United Fruit, a huge American corporation that dominated politics in Central America. It quietly demanded action by the United States, labeling popular economic reforms – communism. The CIA developed a plan that was approved by the American President. In 1954, the popular democratically elected President of Guatemala was ousted in a violent coup that resulted in decades of turmoil and violence.

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“CIA and Assassinations: The Guatemala 1954 Documents”; The National Security Archive; https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSA…

“The Unbelievable Story of the Original First Fake News Network”; Sylvia and Shane Snow; Narratively; August 26, 2020; https://narratively.com/the-literally…

Related Tale: “US Marines Seized Panama in 1903”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hItHA…

Related Tale: “The 1964 Coup in Brazil”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXP4S…

Related Tale: ”The Empire’s 2009 Coup in Honduras”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3RXl…

August 8, 2022 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Russia calls for reform of UN Security Council

Samizdat | August 3, 2022

The United Nations is in dire need of reform and the Security council must be “democratized” by expanding its representation, Russian foreign ministry official Alexey Drobinin has written in a keynote article published on Wednesday.

Drobinin, the Director of the Department of Foreign Policy Planning, commented on the current state of international relations and came to the conclusion that “more conscious effort and imagination is needed” to reform the UN.

He pointed out that the organization’s current agenda, which is primarily fueled by the West, is not necessarily in line with the interests of the majority of its international members.

Drobinin suggested that for most UN members the most important issues are things like access to cheap energy sources rather than the transition to “green” technologies, socio-economic development rather than human rights “in an ultra-liberal interpretation,” and security and sovereign equality rather than the artificial imposition of electoral democracy according to Western patterns.

He added that another topic that has once-again become relevant is the process of decolonization and ending the neo-colonial practices by transnational corporations in regards to the development of natural resources in developing countries.

However, international organizations such as the UN have essentially been “privatized” by the West, Drobinin points out. He suggests that the UN Secretariat and the offices of special envoys and special representatives of the Secretary General have all been saturated with the West’s own “tested” personnel, and that this also extended to non-UN organizations as well, such as the OPCW.

“The saddest thing is that this rust is eating away at the ‘holy of holies’ of the UN system – the Security Council,” Drobinin writes. “It devalues the meaning of the right of veto, which the founding fathers endowed to the permanent members of the Security Council with one single purpose: to prevent the interests of any of the great powers from being infringed, and thus save the world from a direct clash between them, which in the nuclear age is fraught with catastrophic consequences.”

While there are no “clear and simple recipes for correcting the situation here,” the diplomat continues, “clearly more conscious effort and imagination is needed when it comes to UN reform.” He goes on to suggest that the Security Council needs to be “democratized,” first of all by expanding the representation of African, Asian and Latin American countries.

Drobinin suggests that whatever the fate of international organizations such as the UN, WTO, IMF, World Bank or G20 is, the divisive policies of the West makes it “an absolute imperative for the coming years to form a new infrastructure of international relations.”

“After their frankly perfidious decisions and actions against Russia, its citizens and tangible assets, we simply cannot afford the luxury of not thinking about alternatives. Especially since many of our friends who have lost faith in Western benevolence and decency are thinking about the same thing,” the diplomat surmised.

August 3, 2022 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US asks Argentina to confiscate aircraft linked to Iran

MEMO | August 3, 2022

The US Department of Justice said on Tuesday that it has asked the government in Buenos Aires for permission to seize an Iranian plane that was sold to new owners in Venezuela but is being held in Argentina on suspicion of being linked to international terrorist groups.

The unannounced arrival of the plane in Argentina on 8 June raised concerns within the Argentinian government about its relations with Iran, Venezuela and companies that the US has imposed sanctions on. The Justice Department said that the seizure request followed the disclosure of a warrant in the District Court for the District of Columbia dated 19 July to take the aircraft for violating export control laws.

According to the department, the US-made Boeing 747-300 is under sanctions because Iran’s Mahan Air sale to Emtrasur last year violated US export laws. Both companies are subject to US sanctions over their alleged cooperation with terrorist organisations.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said that, “The department will not tolerate transactions that violate our sanctions and export laws.” Mahan Air faces sanctions for its ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, which the US has listed as a terrorist organisation.

There were 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians travelling on the aircraft when it landed in Buenos Aires. Seven of the passengers are still being held by the Argentinian authorities.

August 3, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Wants to Increase RT, Sputnik Moderation Due to Their Objectivity – Russian Embassy

Samizdat – 28.07.2022

US senators are calling for increased moderation of Spanish-language RT and Sputnik, as they are dissatisfied with the interest of Latin Americans in objective coverage of events, the Russian Embassy in the United States said in a statement.

On Wednesday, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, Senators Bill Cassidy and Tim Kaine called on the CEOs of Meta (banned as an extremist organization in Russia), Twitter and Telegram to better moderate content distributed by Spanish-language versions of RT and Sputnik. The senators said they were concerned by reports that the reach of such media outlets has increased amid the situation in Ukraine.

“Parliamentarians, in the typical manner, once again turn everything upside down, seeing in the work of our news agencies attempts to “spread disinformation”, “undermine democracy” and “sow chaos” in the Western Hemisphere. The reason for such accusations is dissatisfaction with the interest of the Latin American public in objective coverage of events in Russia and the world,” the Russian Embassy said on Telegram.

“Washington’s ruling circles are clearly annoyed that, thanks to high-quality and timely news content, citizens of the countries of the region make a choice in favor of Russia Today and Sputnik, and not US-controlled media,” it said.

July 28, 2022 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

South American trade bloc snubs Zelensky

Samizdat | July 21, 2022

South America’s Mercosur trade bloc has declined a request by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to speak at its summit, host nation Paraguay said on Wednesday, according to the AFP news agency.

Mercosur members Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay failed to reach an agreement on whether to invite the Ukrainian leader, Deputy Foreign Minister, Raul Cano said, albeit refusing to name the countries that opposed the move.

“There was no consensus on such communication, that’s why the Ukrainian counterpart has already been informed that under current circumstances there are no conditions allowing to speak with the president of Ukraine in the Mercosur format,” the minister explained.

Earlier this month, Julio Cesar Arriola, Paraguay’s foreign minister, said that Zelensky had talked with Mario Abdo Benitez, the nation’s president, on the phone and asked for the opportunity to address the upcoming Mercosur summit. According to Arriola, Benitez promised to discuss the matter with his colleagues in the bloc.

Mercosur is an economic and political organization that was established in 1991 to create a common market and incentivize development in South America.

After Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, Zelensky has addressed a slew of national parliaments and major international forums, including NATO, the G7 and the UN in an effort to rally countries to Kiev’s cause and help it fight off Moscow’s offensive.

However, in late June, when the Ukrainian president took part in a virtual meeting with the African Union, only a handful of leaders reportedly tuned in to listen to his speech. Following the conference call, the President of Senegal and African Union Chairperson, Macky Sall, indicated that Africa’s position of neutrality over the conflict in Ukraine remained unchanged.

July 21, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment