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Joe Biden Picks Up the Baton from Barack Obama

By Vladimir Odintsov – New Eastern Outlook – 07.07.2021

Barack Obama, the once US President, member of the Democratic Party, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, fought four wars.

Republican Donald Trump who succeeded him preferred not to increase the number of war zones and conflicts involving the United States Armed Forces.

It is thus not surprising that some members of the international community began to attentively monitor USA’s foreign policies once Joe Biden became the head of US administration. What steps will he take in relation to armed conflicts that the United States is embroiled in? What regions could the new US President start wars in?

Such concerns stem from the fact that Joe Biden had previously supported military interventions, and in matters of foreign policy, he is probably more of a “hawk”, i.e. a politician who tends to escalate conflicts, than a dove.

For instance, back in the day, he voted for the resolution authorizing military air operations and missile strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In addition, the United States supplied Bosnian majority Muslim fighters with weapons. Thousands of civilians, including 400 children, died as a result of NATO-led bombing.

As Senator, Joe Biden also supported the 2001 US military operation in Afghanistan, arguing that Washington was obliged to attack the Afghanis “whatever the cost”. According to some estimates, the number of people who died during the war in Afghanistan may be as high as 360,000, including 26,000 children.

Since 1998, Joe Biden talked about use of force in Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power. In 2003, he was an ardent supporter of the Operation Iraqi Freedom, which resulted in over 200,000 civilians dead, of which about 40% were children. Because uranium containing weapons were used by the United States in Iraq, it has been suggested that there could be a link between cancer incidence (a 17-fold growth compared to 1991!) among the population in Iraq and their use.

In 2011, the then Vice President, Joe Biden followed Obama administration’s policies, including the intervention in Libya. NATO air strikes killed hundreds of civilians, and the Libyan civil war that followed resulted in many more deaths.

After winning the presidential election, Joe Biden “declared his presidency would not be a third Obama term” but a number of reports since then have challenged his assertion. Barack Obama played a crucial role during Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. One could even say that the former’s popularity helped the latter win the presidency.

As regards the US military budget, which was determined back under Barack Obama at a total of $1.3 trillion, Joe Biden promised during his election campaign that he would not dramatically decrease spending on national defense. He also did not hide his satisfaction with the amounts spent on the Barack Obama era nuclear modernization programs. The current President would probably also like to ensure that US armed forces are well-equipped with the latest weapons, equipment and ammunition.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, Joe Biden said he was an advocate for arms control and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. In fact, he stated that reducing the threat of a nuclear attack was a priority for the administration. Then Vice President expressed his belief that the United States needed to “keep pursuing the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”.

Now that Joe Biden has been in his new role as President for approximately six months, there has been an increasing number of signs indicating that his administration intends to return to Barack Obama era policies if possible. Still, it is unquestionably difficult to do so to a full extent because times have changed and so has the geopolitical situation.

According to an article published by The Spectator, “Joe Biden ordered his first big missile sally, a retaliatory strike in Syria” in early March 2021, during which the US “air forces dropped seven 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) at a crossing used by Iranian-backed militia groups, reportedly killing 17”. At the time, some lawmakers expressed concern about the move as the new President ordered the military operation without congressional authorization.

On June 28, 2021, President Joe Biden directed military forces to conduct defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region”, as reported by CNN.

According to an article in the Türkiye newspaper, Joe Biden instructed the US military command to soon step up military activities in Syria and get rid of Iranian presence in the region to appease Israel. Syrian field commanders during in an interview with the publication confirmed the news and gave further details of the American plan.  In particular, the United States was in the process of recruiting 30,000 local fighters in order to conduct a large scale operation in Eastern parts of Syria, between the city of Al Bukamal, near the border with Iraq, and Al-Tanf (one of three official border crossings between Iraq and Syria). The military campaign is expected to last at least 8 months and will begin at the same time within the 250-km region between Al Bukamal and Al-Tanf. The publication also claims that US officials have asked their Turkish counterparts for permission to use two of their military bases for training and equipping the mercenaries. Supposedly, these fighters are to be paid $300 while their leaders – $600 to 1,000 depending on their rank.

Joe Biden wrote “a letter to Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Patrick Leahy” regarding the air strikes in Syria, which was published on the White House website on June 29, 2021. In it, he stated that the United States stood “ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks”.

Aside from military operations in the Middle East, the US President has all but declared the start of two cold wars against Russia and the PRC.

The author believes that increasing domestic polarization over a number of years could lead to a major public rift in the United States. In fact, during the 2020 election, “317 retired generals and admirals signed an Open Letter” warning that America was in deep peril and was fighting for survival. At the beginning of May, 2021, over 120 retired US generals and admirals published another open letter, which said that “without fair and honest elections” the Constitutional Republic was lost, and some former military leaders may not be on the side of the current Democratic President. A major rift could thus be brewing within the nation.

And so could external military conflicts, as the US leadership does not know any other ways of dealing with its domestic issues, of which there are as many as during the Civil War, without inciting conflicts in other countries.

Hence, the possibility of escalations in tensions abroad is growing, for instance, between the United States and the PRC in the Taiwan Strait as well as the South China Sea; or in the Korean Peninsula. It is also possible that the US leadership will try to involve other Western nations in its confrontation against Russia and its allies. Still, it is unlikely that such moves will benefit the current US administration. After all, not all Americans would choose to send their children to fight in yet another war. In addition, the current balance of military power has been shifting. China’s and Russia’s growing military clout and stockpiles of cutting edge weapons are indicative of the fact that the United States may not emerge victorious in a confrontation against them.

In the author’s opinion, the Biden administration could consider waging a brief war that the US is capable of winning as an option in order to unite the divided nation and raise levels of patriotism among the populace. It would be even better if fighters from, for instance, Syria, South America or other parts of the world, were to take part in such a conflict instead of US servicemen.

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , | 5 Comments

Biden nominates Thomas Nides as ambassador to Israel

MEMO | June 16, 2021

US [proclaimed] President Joe Biden appointed Thomas Nides as the country’s next ambassador to Israel, the White House announced in a statement yesterday.

Nides, 60, is vice chairman of Morgan Stanley, the fourth-largest US investment banking firm and has previously served as deputy secretary of state from 2011 to 2013 during the administration of former President Barack Obama.

“Thomas Nides is a distinguished public servant and business leader,” the White House said in a statement. “Nides was Chief of Staff to the US Trade Representative Micky Kantor, was Senior Advisor to Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley, and earlier to House Majority Whip Tony Coelho,” the announcement reads.

“He is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the former Chairman of the Board of the Woodrow Wilson Center appointed by President Obama. Nides received his B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota. He is the recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award,” it adds.

Born in 1961 to a Jewish family in Duluth, Minnesota, his father, Arnold Nides, was the president of Temple Israel and the Duluth Jewish Federation.

As deputy secretary of state, Nides built effective working relationships with several Israeli officials and played a key role in the Obama administration’s approval of an extension on loan guarantees for Israel worth billions of dollars in military aid, including funding for the Iron Dome missile defence system.

In 2012, Nides articulated the Obama administration’s opposition to an effort to redefine Palestinian refugees as only people who were forced to leave Palestine in and around 1948 – excluding their descendants.

“United States policy has been consistent for decades, in both Republican and Democratic administrations – final status issues can and must only be resolved between Israelis and Palestinians in direct negotiations,” Nides said in a letter to congressional leaders at the time.

“The Department of State cannot support legislation which would force the United States to make a public judgment on the number and status of Palestinian refugees.”

His appointment now needs to be confirmed by the Senate, but no opposition is expected.

June 16, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Enduring False Narrative About the PULSE Massacre Shows the Power of Media Propaganda

Democrat Hillary Clinton visits the site of Pulse nightclub in Orlando, July 22, 2016. (Photo by Brooks Kraft/Getty Images)
By Glenn Greenwald | June 14, 2021

On the fifth anniversary of the PULSE nightclub massacre in Orlando, numerous senators, politicians and activist groups commemorated that tragic event by propagating an absolute falsehood: namely, that the shooter, Omar Mateen, was motivated by anti-LGBT animus. The evidence is definitive and conclusive that this is false — Mateen, like so many others who committed similar acts of violence, was motivated by rage over President Obama’s bombing campaigns in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and chose PULSE at random without even knowing it was a gay club — yet this media-consecrated lie continues to fester.

On Saturday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) falsely described the massacre as an “unspeakable act of hate toward the LGBTQ+ community.” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) went even further, claiming “the LGBTQ+ community was targeted and killed—all because they dared to live their lives.” Her fellow Illinois Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, claimed forty-nine lives were lost due to “anti-LGBTQ hate” (he forgot the +). These false claims were compiled by the gay socialist activist Matt Thomas, who correctly objected: “the shooter literally picked PULSE at random from Google after security was too tight at the mall he went to first,” adding that while LGBT groups “are hopeless of course,” too much money and power is at stake for them to give up this self-serving fiction. But he asked, “Shouldn’t the bar be a little higher for senators?”

In the immediate aftermath of that horrific crime, it may have been reasonable for the public to speculate that Mateen, given his professed support for ISIS, chose PULSE because it was a gay club. That belief also neatly played into a liberal political agenda of highlighting anti-LGBT hate crimes, and also comported with the dual stereotypes of the gay-hating Muslim and the closeted gay man who harbors self-hatred that ends up directed at other gay people. This storyline was instantly consecrated when politicians and LGBT groups quickly seized on this claim and ratified it as unquestionably true.

Rather than acknowledging that it was anger over his relentless bombing raids in the Muslim world, President Obama immediately declared that anti-LGBT hatred was the real cause. “This was an attack on the LGBT community,” the president said, adding: “And hatred towards people because of sexual orientation, regardless of where it comes from, is a betrayal of what’s best in us.” Chad Griffin, then-head of the largest LGBT advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, claimed: “the maniac who did this was somehow conditioned to believe that LGBT people deserve to be massacred, that they are ‘less than’ in this society.”

Then-candidate Hillary Clinton, as part of her campaign, made a pilgrimage to Orlando and seized on the attack. In addition to its constituting anti-American terrorism, the Democratic nominee proclaimed the massacre “was also an act of hate,” adding that “the gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month.” She vowed: “We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.” Speaking with Clinton in Orlando, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that it is “a cruel irony that a community defined almost exclusively by whom they love [LGBT people] is so often a target of hate.” Then-candidate Donald Trump also endorsed this view: “A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub, not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens, because of their sexual orientation.”

Liberal propagandists who pose as journalists treated this storyline as definitively proven. The massacre was “undeniably a homophobic hate crime,” Jeet Heer wrote in The New Republic. “Let’s say it plainly: This was a mass slaying aimed at LGBT people,” Tim Teeman wrote in The Daily Beast. In USA Today, James S. Robbins speculated that Mateen was likely “trying to reconcile his inner feelings with his strongly homophobic Muslim culture.” In the days following the killing spree, one writer in USA Today, Steph Solis, even accused those of questioning this narrative of propagating bigotry and exhibiting cruel indifference to gay suffering: “Those who insist the shooting was solely an Islamic terror attack try to erase the LGBT community from the narrative, causing only more pain by invalidating their experiences in this ordeal.”

Barack Obama and Joe Biden place flowers for victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, June 16, 2016. (Photo SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

But journalism is supposed to function on evidence, not speculation, and there never was any evidence that supported the storyline that he was driven by hatred for LGBTs. The evidence that was available suggested the opposite.

On June 12, 2016, Mateen spent just over three hours in PULSE from the time he began slaughtering innocent people at roughly 2:00 a.m. until he was killed by a SWAT team at roughly 5:00 a.m. During that time, he repeatedly spoke to his captives about his motive, did the same with the police with whom he was negotiating, and discussed his cause with local media which he had called from inside the club. Mateen was remarkably consistent in what he said about his motivation. Over and over, he emphasized that his attack at PULSE was in retaliation for U.S. bombing campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. In his first call with 911 while inside PULSE, this is what he said about why he was killing people:

Because you have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. They are killing a lot of innocent people. What am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there. … You need to stop the U.S. airstrikes. They need to stop the U.S. airstrikes, OK? . … This went down, a lot of innocent women and children are getting killed in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, OK? … The airstrikes need to stop and stop collaborating with Russia. OK?

In the hours he spent surrounded by the gay people he was murdering, he never once uttered a homophobic syllable, instead always emphasizing his geo-political motive. Not a single survivor reported him saying anything derogatory about LGBTs or even anything that suggested he knew he was in a gay club. All said he spoke extensively about his vengeance on behalf of ISIS against U.S. bombing of innocent Muslims.

Mateen’s postings on Facebook leading up to his attack all reflected the same motive. They were filled with rage about and vows of retaliation against U.S. bombing. Not a single post contained any references to LGBTs let alone anger or violence toward them. “You kill innocent women and children by doing U.S. airstrikes,” Mateen wrote on Facebook in one of his last posts before attacking PULSE, adding: “Now taste the Islamic state vengeance.”

It was of course nonetheless possible that he secretly harbored hatred for LGBTs and hid his real motive, but that never made sense: the whole point of terrorism is to publicize, not conceal, the grievances driving the violence. And again, good journalism requires evidence before ratifying claims. There never was any to support the story that Mateen’s attack was driven by anti-LGBT hatred, and all the available evidence early on negated that suspicion and pointed to a radically different motive. But the media frenzy ended up, by design or otherwise, obscuring Mateen’s anger over Obama’s bombing campaigns as his motive in favor of promoting this as an anti-LGBT hate crime.

As the FBI investigation into Mateen proceeded, all the early media gossip — that Mateen was a closeted gay man who had searched for male sexual partners and had even previously visited PULSE — was debunked. The month after the attack, The Washington Post reported that “The FBI has found no evidence so far that Omar Mateen chose the popular establishment because of its gay clientele,” and quoted a federal investigator as saying: “While there can be no denying the significant impact on the gay community, the investigation hasn’t revealed that he targeted PULSE because it was a gay club.” The New York Times quickly noted that no evidence could be found to support the speculation that Mateen was gay:

F.B.I. investigators, who have conducted more than 500 interviews in the case, are continuing to contact men who claim to have had sexual relations with Mr. Mateen or think they saw him at gay bars. But so far, they have not found any independent corroboration — through his web searches, emails or other electronic data — to establish that he was, in fact, gay, officials said.

The following year, the local paper that most extensively covered the PULSE massacre, The Orlando Sentinel, acknowledged that “there’s still no evidence that the PULSE killer intended to target gay people.”

As the investigation proceeded, this anti-LGBT hate crime narrative became more and more unlikely. But the question of Mateen’s motives was settled once and for all — or at least it should have been — during the unsuccessful attempt by the Justice Department to prosecute Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, on numerous felony charges alleging her complicity in her husband’s attack. That trial — quite justifiably — ended in a full acquittal for Salman, but evidence emerged during it that conclusively disproved the widely held view that Mateen chose PULSE because he wanted to kill gay people.

Along with my then-colleague Murtaza Hussain, I extensively reported on the Salman trial and compiled all the evidence that emerged during it that proved anti-LGBT hatred was not part of Mateen’s motive. But it was not just us: virtually every journalist who covered that trial, including several who began believing or at least suspecting that this was an anti-gay hate crime, definitively concluded that this was false. Reporter Melissa Jeltsen covered that trial for The Huffington Post and — writing under the headline “Everyone Got The Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong” — explained:

Almost overnight, a narrative emerged that until now has been impossible to dislodge: Mateen planned and executed an attack on PULSE because he hated gay people. . . . Salman’s trial cast doubt on everything we thought we knew about Mateen. There was no evidence he was a closeted gay man, no evidence that he was ever on Grindr. He looked at porn involving older women, but investigators who scoured Mateen’s electronic devices couldn’t find any internet history related to homosexuality. (There were daily, obsessive searches about ISIS, however.) Mateen had extramarital affairs with women, two of whom testified during the trial about his duplicitous ways.

Mateen may very well have been homophobic. He supported ISIS, after all, and his father, an FBI informant currently under criminal investigation, told NBC that his son once got angry after seeing two men kissing. But whatever his personal feelings, the overwhelming evidence suggests his attack was not motivated by it.

Even the gay reporter for NBC News who covers the LGBT community, Tim Fitzsimons, tried to make clear that the commonly held view of the PULSE attack as an anti-LGBT hate crime was false. “The attack on the nightclub has long been seen as a hate crime directed at the LGBTQ community,” explained the headline under which he wrote, “but all evidence says the gunman chose it at random.”

NBC News, June 12, 2018

 

What that conclusive evidence proved is that Mateen had spent days scoping out Disney locations but concluded they were too secured to attack. Search records from Mateen’s phone and computers showed him looking for “Orlando clubs,” but never “gay Orlando clubs.” That night, after cell tower records and security cameras showed him scoping out several Disney venues, he used his phone to Google the search term “Orlando nightclubs” — not “gay clubs” — and chose PULSE because the popular nightclub was the first search term that appeared. Witnesses said that when he entered, he asked security guards: “where are the women?” As Jeltsen wrote: “As far as investigators could tell, Mateen had never been to PULSE before, whether as a patron or to case the nightclub.” None of Mateen’s phones or computers had any evidence he sought sex with men but contained ample evidence of his affairs with numerous women.

Whatever Mateen’s motives were, the horror and tragedy of the extinguishing of forty-nine innocent lives at PULSE on June 12, 2016, remains the same. But this enduring falsehood — which continues to deceive many well-meaning people through this very day, long past the point that it has been definitively debunked — is damaging for so many reasons.

Lying about what happened dishonors Mateen’s victims. It harms the cause of LGBT equality, which does not need lies and fabrications to be a just movement. It obscures how often U.S. violence in the Muslim world causes “blowback” — to use the CIA’s term — by motivating others to bring violence to the U.S. as retaliation and deterrence for violence against innocent Muslims. And a major reason for the completely unjust prosecution of Noor Salman was to appease understandable demands within the Orlando LGBT community for someone to be punished, but mob justice rarely produces anything benevolent.

No matter how noble the intent, journalism — and activism — becomes corrupted if it knowingly supports falsehoods. That the PULSE massacre was an act of anti-LGBT hatred is a fiction. Unless you are a neocon, there is no such thing as a “noble lie.” It is way past time for politicians and activist groups to stop disseminating this one.

June 14, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

Dr. Fauci’s Entire Career and Reputation Now Hinge On This One Video…

revolver | May 10, 2021

If you were online last year around this time, your social media timeline was likely flooded with an endless stream of stories and memes featuring bats.

The coronavirus was just gaining steam back in January of 2020 and rumors were swirling that the virus started because Chinese people ate “bat soup.”

While most of the bat-themed stories and memes were outlandish, the Worldwide Health Organization (WHO) did admit that Covid-19 and bats are most likely ancestrally linked. However, that’s where they say the connection ends. WHO still claims the origins of Covid-19 remain a mystery.

Until now…

bombshell investigative report from Fox News host Steve Hilton has shed all-new light on the origins of Covid-19, and according to the report, it has nothing to do with bat soup and everything to do with Dr. Fauci and ferrets.

Yes, ferrets.

Ferrets are those adorable-looking furry little weasels that many Americans keep as pets… and Dr. Fauci is that annoying little weasel Americans can’t get rid of.

And when these two weasels finally came together inside a research lab in Wuhan, China, something unthinkable occurred — a deadly and destructive pandemic was created and unleashed upon the world.

That’s what Steve Hilton is claiming in his new investigation into the origin of the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, the story of Covid-19 doesn’t start in Wuhan, China. It actually began about ten years ago in a Netherlands research lab.

An innovative epidemiological study took place at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands. Researchers were looking to discover different ways respiratory viruses reacted in humans. Scientists used ferrets in their study because ferrets have similar pulmonary structures to humans, with well-developed respiratory bronchioles and submucosal glands.

Specifically, researchers wanted to know if a non-airborne virus could be mutated in order to become a contagious airborne disease.

So, in order to find this out, researchers injected the ferrets with a flu virus and after a series of tests, they discovered that yes, non-airborne viruses could be manipulated to become much stronger and spread via respiratory droplets.

The findings were groundbreaking and this study paved the way for an entirely new type of scientific genomics research called “gain-of-function.”

The point of gain-of-function research was to replicate in a lab what had been done with the ferrets in the Netherlands — to take a virus and manipulate and mutate it to make it “stronger” in order to see if it will “gain new function.”

On the surface, it sounds a bit ghoulish and almost “Frankenstein-like,” but imagine the advances medical research could make in the field of virus testing and vaccines simply by recreating these viruses in a lab.

Gain-of-function research was based on the philosophy, “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

However, when you keep your enemies that close, you run the risk of getting burned.

Creating these ungodly strong and highly contagious viruses for research purposes could lead to an accidental or nefarious catastrophe of epic proportions.

But even so, and despite the danger, many in the scientific community believed the potential for progress outweighed the tremendous risks involved.

Dr. Anthony Fauci was one of those people.

The gain-of-function research quickly spread to labs all over the world and the money was flowing in from all corners of the globe, including the United States.

According to a Newsweek piece written in 2019, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Fauci-led National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), committed $3.7 million dollars to research bats and coronaviruses in China over a six-year period.

It’s worth noting that in the Newsweek piece US intelligence backtracked from their earlier claims that the coronavirus outbreak occurred “naturally,” and conceded that the pandemic “might” have started from a leak in the Wuhan lab.

But this new research wasn’t just about bats. It went deeper and darker than that. As a matter of fact, Dr. Fauci was among the first to fund the controversial gain-of-function ferret research in Wuhan, China. Fauci was so committed to the controversial work that back in 2011 he wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post, entitled, “A Flu Virus Risk Worth Taking,” where he vigorously defended gain-of-function research.

But something very interesting took place right before Obama’s moratorium on gain-of-function took effect.

Dr. Fauci had commissioned a study to assess the risk of new coronaviruses emerging from wild animals. Fauci wanted to see what viruses could infect animals and humans. The directive behind the research and written in the project summary was gain-of-function manipulation.

But the Obama admin was getting cold feet about the program.

While many in the scientific community (like Fauci) were very excited by gain-of-function research, the more popular it became, the more scrutiny it received, and significant security issues were being raised. Eventually, the controversy got to be too much and in 2014 the United States pulled the plug.

NPR reported that the Obama administration was concerned about any research that could make the viruses more dangerous, so they wanted to stop and review studies to see if they could make these germs capable of causing more disease or spreading easily through the air.

This is the official US statement on defunding gain-of-function research.

Gain-of-function studies, or research that improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease, help define the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions, thereby enabling assessment of the pandemic potential of emerging infectious agents, informing public health and preparedness efforts, and furthering medical countermeasure development. Gain-of-function studies may entail biosafety and biosecurity risks; therefore, the risks and benefits of gain-of-function research must be evaluated, both in the context of recent U.S. biosafety incidents and to keep pace with new technological developments, in order to determine which types of studies should go forward and under what conditions.

In light of recent concerns regarding biosafety and biosecurity, effective immediately, the U.S. Government (USG) will pause new USG funding for gain-of-function research on influenza, MERS or SARS viruses, as defined below. This research funding pause will be effective until a robust and broad deliberative process is completed that results in the adoption of a new USG gain-of-function research policy 1 . Restrictions on new funding will apply as follows: New USG funding will not be released for gain-of-function research projects that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility in mammals via the respiratory route. The research funding pause would not apply to characterization or testing of naturally occurring influenza, MERS, and SARS viruses, unless the tests are reasonably anticipated to increase transmissibility and/or pathogenicity. [PHE.gov]

But Dr. Fauci didn’t stop funding gain-of-function.

That little weasel kept digging…

Fauci kept the research alive by cleverly subcontracting the work out to a New York group called Eco-Health Alliance, led by Zoologist Peter Daszak. Daszak’s claim to fame is discovering the link between bats and SARS.

Fauci paid the three-plus-million dollars to Eco-Health Alliance and the research continued.

But here’s the wildest part…

According to Steve Hilton’s bombshell report, Eco-Health then turned around and subcontracted the gain-of-function portion of Fauci’s research back to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Hilton says the paperwork from Wuhan has a “reference number” attached that leads directly back to the funds Fauci paid to Eco-Health Alliance.

All roads lead back to Wuhan, and Fauci is driving the car.

It’s no secret that Fauci funded the Wuhan lab, there’s been a lot of reporting on his “general funding.” However, Steve Hilton’s bombshell report uncovered gory details about the specific work that was being done which nobody has reported on thus far.

According to the Wuhan paperwork that Mr. Hilton downloaded, the lab collected bat feces from a cave in China and discovered many cases of novel Coronavirus in the samples. Researchers analyzed and sequenced their genetic information, then built new viruses off of those samples and infected human cells with them. That research revealed that their man-made viruses could actually behave exactly like a natural virus.

But it’s what researchers unlocked that is the most terrifying of all.

According to the report, the lab’s creation and research of the virus unlocked a very specific “gateway” into the human body. And even more curious and creepy is that the Covid-19 virus that we’re dealing with today has those exact same gateway characteristics.

Do you believe in coincidences? I don’t…

The Covid-19 virus sticks to cells 10-20 times stronger than the SARS virus did, and this is what makes Covid-19 so incredibly contagious.

Take a look at what happens when Covid enters the body:

Coronavirus enters the body through the nose, mouth, or eyes. Once inside the body, it goes inside healthy cells and uses the machinery in those cells to make more virus particles. When the cell is full of viruses, it breaks open. This causes the cell to die and the virus particles can go on to infect more cells.

The viruses created during the Wuhan research are not exactly the same as the Covid-19 virus we’re dealing with today. However, as Mr. Hilton points out, the research that was done confirmed that Covid-19 could be manufactured in a lab using the same techniques that were developed in Dr. Fauci’s project.

In addition, Fauci’s project continued for another three years.

Today’s Covid virus is different than any other “natural” virus we’ve seen in the past. Natural viruses become more contagious over time as they naturally mutate, but today’s virus already had that feature “built-in” right out of the gate.

The paperwork from Dr. Fauci’s project explains how researchers swapped viruses from bats and other animals in order to make more infectious viruses to study.

And even more curious was what Chinese Virologisst Shi Zhengli said — she explained that the “backbone” of this Covid-19 virus matches other man-made viruses from the Wuhan lab library.

According to Steve Hilton, experts say that Covid-19 looks like two different strains from bats, and another unidentified animal… possibly the ferret again?

The question is this — can something like Covid-19 happen naturally? And if so, why does it look and act so similarly to man-made viruses from just a few years before, many of which are from Dr. Fauci’s personal disease vault?

More coincidences? They’re really piling up now.

I don’t believe in coincidences, but I also don’t know how Covid came to be or how it was unleashed on the world. But I do think that Steve Hilton’s investigation is the most in-depth and compelling that we’ve seen thus far. It definitely puts Fauci in the thick of things in a very precarious way, and it opens the door to a lot more questions.

Personally, I find it very hard to believe that all of this groundbreaking research was going on without Obama’s knowledge. He’s a man that loves to “weaponize” things. That’s what his entire legacy consists of — weaponized IRS, Intel, and media.

Was Dr. Fauci hiding the research from Obama, or were Obama and Dr. Fauci hiding the research from everyone else? And after all of this information we just digested, is it so far-fetched to ask if Dr. Fauci’s project and research were used later for something horribly nefarious in order to regain power?

Or was everything just one big coincidence?

All good questions and the American people deserve answers.

This is the video that outed Dr. Fauci’s gain-of-function research, and right now, everything he’s worked for hinges on whether or not Americans see this video and demand answers. If that happens, Fauci is likely done for.

May 15, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Ten years on, Syria is almost destroyed. Who’s to blame?

Syria in ruins after ten years of conflict (File photo)
BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | MARCH 20, 2021 

In George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, the ruling pigs led by Napoleon constantly rewrote history in order to justify and reinforce their own continuing power. The rewriting by the western powers of the history of the ongoing conflict in Syria leaps out of Orwell. 

The joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy last week to mark the tenth anniversary of the Syrian conflict begins with an outright falsehood by holding President Bashar al-Assad and “his backers” responsible for the horrific events in that country. It asserts that the five western powers “will not abandon” the Syrian people — till death do us part.

The historical reality is that Syria has been a theatre of the CIA’s activities ever since the inception of that agency in 1947. There is a whole history of CIA-sponsored “regime change” projects in Syria ranging from coup attempts and assassination plots to paramilitary strikes and funding and military training of anti-government forces.

It all began with the bloodless military coup in 1949 against then Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli which was engineered by the CIA. As per the memoirs of Miles Copeland Jr, the CIA station chief in Damascus at that time — who later actually went on to write a fine book of high literary quality on the subject — the coup aimed at safeguarding Syria from the communist party and other radicals!

However, the CIA-installed colonel in power, Adib Shaishakli, was a bad choice. As Copeland put it, he was a “likeable rogue” alright who had not “to my certain knowledge, ever bowed down to a graven image. He had, however, committed sacrilege, blasphemy, murder, adultery and theft” to earn American support. He lasted for four years before overthrown by the Ba’ath Party and military officers. By 1955, CIA estimated that Syria was ripe for another military coup. By April 1956, a joint CIA-SIS (British Secret Intelligence Service) plot was implemented to mobilise right-wing Syrian military officers. But then, the Suez fiasco interrupted the project.

The CIA revived the project and plotted a second coup in 1957 under the codename Operation Wappen — again, to save Syria from communism — and even spent $3 million to bribe Syrian military officers. Tim Weiner, in his masterly 2008 book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, writes:

“The president (Dwight Eisenhower) said he wanted to promote the idea of an Islamic jihad against godless communism. “We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect,” he said at a 1957 White House meeting… (Secretary of state) Foster Dulles proposed a “secret task force,” under whose auspices the CIA would deliver American guns, money, and intelligence to King Saud of Saudi Arabia, King Hussein of Jordan, President Camille Chamoun of Lebanon, and President Nuri Said of Iraq.”

“These four mongrels were supposed to be our defence against communism and the extremes of Arab nationalism in the Middle East… If arms could not buy loyalty in the Middle East, the almighty dollar was still the CIA’s secret weapon. Cash for political warfare and power plays was always welcome. It could help an American imperium in Arab and Asian lands.”

But, as it happened, some of those “right-wing” officers instead turned in the bribe money and revealed the CIA plot to the Syrian intelligence. Whereupon, 3 CIA officers were kicked out of the American embassy in Damascus, forcing  Washington to withdraw its ambassador in Damascus. With egg on its face, Washington promptly branded Syria as a “Soviet satellite”, deployed a fleet to the Mediterranean and incited Turkey to amass troops on the Syrian border. Dulles even contemplated a military strike under the so-called “Eisenhower Doctrine” as retaliation against Syria’s “provocations”. By the way, Britain’s MI6 was also working with the CIA in the failed coup attempt; the details came to light accidentally in 2003 among the papers of British Defence Minister Duncan Sandys many years after his death.

Now, coming down to current history, suffice to say that according to the WikiLeaks, since 2006, the US had been funding London-based Syrian dissidents, and the CIA unit responsible for covert operations was deployed to Syria to mobilise rebel groups and ascertain potential supply routes. The US is known to have trained at least 10,000 rebel fighters at a cost of $1 billion annually since 2012. President Barack Obama reportedly admitted to a group of senators the operation to insert these CIA-trained rebel fighters into Syria.

The well-known American investigative journalist and political writer Seymour Hersh has written, based on inputs from intelligence officers, that the CIA was already transferring arms from its Benghazi station (Libya) to Syria around that time. Make no mistake, Obama was the first world leader to openly call for the removal of Assad. That was in August 2011. Then CIA chief David Petraeus paid two unannounced visits to Turkey (in March and September 2012) to persuade Erdogan to step in as the flag carrier of the US’ regime change project in Syria (under the rubric of “anti-terror fight”.)

In fact, the US’ key allies in the Persian Gulf — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE — took the cue from Obama to loosen their purse strings to recruit, finance and equip thousands of jihadi fighters to be deployed to Syria. Equally, from the early stages of the conflict in Syria, major western intelligence agencies provided political, military and logistic support to the Syrian opposition and its associated rebel groups in Syria.

Curiously, the Russian intervention in Syria in September 2015 was in response to an emergent imminent defeat of the Syrian government forces at the hands of the jihadi fighters backed by the US’ regional allies. Saudi Arabia withdrew from the arena only in 2017 after the tide of the war turned, thanks to the Russian intervention.

The joint statement issued last week by the US and its NATO allies belongs to the world of fiction. In reality, there is Syrian blood in the hands of these NATO countries (including Turkey) and the US’ Gulf allies. Look at the colossal destruction that the US has caused: in the World Bank’s estimation, a cumulative total of $226 billion in gross domestic product was lost to Syria due to the war from 2011 to 2016 alone.

The Syrian conflict has been among the most tragic and destructive conflicts of our time. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died, half a nation has been displaced, and millions have been forced into desperate poverty and hunger. In the UNHRC estimation, after ten years of conflict, half of the Syrian population has been forced to flee home, 70% are living in poverty, 6.7 million Syrians have been internally displaced, over 13 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, 12.4 million people suffer from lack of food (or 60% of the entire population), 5.9 million people are experiencing a housing emergency and nearly nine in 10 Syrians are living below the poverty threshold.

And, come to think of it, Syria used to have one of the highest levels of social formation in the entire Muslim Middle East. It used to be a middle income country until the US decided to destabilise Syria. Ever since the late 1940s, the US’ successive regime change projects were driven by geopolitical considerations. The agenda is unmistakeable: the US has systematically destroyed the heart, soul and mind of “Arabism” — Iraq, Syria and Egypt — with a view to perpetuate the western [Zionist] domination of the Middle East.

Former President Donald Trump intended to withdraw the US troops from Syria and end the war. He tried twice, but Pentagon commanders sabotaged his plans. What Joe Biden proposes to do is anybody’s guess. Biden doesn’t seem to be in any rush to withdraw the US troops.

The most disturbing aspect is that the US is methodically facilitating a Balkanisation of Syria by helping the Kurdish groups aligned with it to carve out a semiautonomous enclave in the country’s northeast. In fact, the the Arab population in northeastern Syria resents being under the Kurds’ governance, and this may eventually turn into a new source of recruits for Islamic State. Meanwhile, Turkey seized the US-Kurdish axis as alibi to occupy vast territories in northern Syria.

The sad part of the joint statement by the US and its European allies is not only that it is rewriting history and spreading falsehood but conveys a sense of despair that there is no hope for light at the end of the tunnel in the Syrian conflict in a conceivable future. 

The US policy in Syria is opaque. It has oscillated between aiming to prevent a resurgence of IS, confronting Iran, pushing back against Russia, providing humanitarian aid, and even protecting Israel, while the crux of the matter is that successive US administrations have failed to articulate a clear strategy and rationale for the US military presence in Syria.

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Biden Extends Obama’s Executive Order Against Venezuela for One More Year

Biden considers Venezuela a threat to the security of his country. File photo.
By Randolf Borges | Ultimas Noticias* | March 3, 2021

US President Joe Biden has extended Executive Order 13692 signed by Barack Obama in 2015, declaring Venezuela as “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to the North American country. The renewal of the order was signed on Tuesday, March 2 and published this Wednesday and maintains that the measure will continue after March 8, the date on which the document turns six years old.

“The situation in Venezuela continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue with the national emergency declared in Decree 13692 with respect to the situation in Venezuela,” says part of the document that Biden sent to the Congress of his country to continue with the suffocation campaign against million of Venezuelans.

The new US president considers that the “threat” raised in 2015 “has not improved” with respect to Venezuela, which is why he decided to extend the sanctioning mechanism against the South American country.

The Executive Order that paved the way for more sanctions

After Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13692, the way was open for a series of sanctions and coercive measures to be imposed against the Venezuelan people.

Thus came Executive Order 13808, of August 24, 2017, which prohibits the direct or indirect purchase of securities from the Government of Venezuela.

Then Executive Order 13827, of March 19, 2018, was imposed, which prevents all transactions related to the issuance and use of any type of electronic money. That same year, Executive Order 13835 was issued, with which the prohibitions on transactions or refinancing operations of the Venezuelan debt are intensified.

On November 1, 2018, Executive Order 13850 was issued, which blocks assets and prohibits transactions by persons operating in the gold sector. Executive Order 13857, of January 25, 2019, designated Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), its subsidiaries and associated entities as subject to sanctions by the United States, blocking the main source of revenues for the Venezuelan economy.

One of the last sanctions was issued through Executive Order 13884, of August 5, 2019, which transforms the coercive measures into an “embargo” and authorizes the application of secondary sanctions against companies or countries that have commercial relations with Venezuela.

In a recent visit to Venezuela by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the effects of sanctions on human rights, Alena Douhan, a preliminary report was made public labeling sanctions as criminal and urging the lifting of all sanctions. A few days before, the US Government Accountability Office issued a report recognizing the negative effects of US sanctions on Venezuelan economy and on human rights.

Here is the full text of Joe Biden’s letter:

CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO VENEZUELA

On March 8, 2015, the President issued Executive Order 13692, declaring a national emergency with respect to the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela’s erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant government corruption.

The President took additional steps pursuant to this national emergency in Executive Order 13808 of August 24, 2017; Executive Order 13827 of March 19, 2018; Executive Order 13835 of May 21, 2018; Executive Order 13850 of November 1, 2018; Executive Order 13857 of January 25, 2019; and Executive Order 13884 of August 5, 2019.

The circumstances described in Executive Order 13692, and subsequent Executive Orders issued with respect to Venezuela, have not improved, and they continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. Therefore in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

THE WHITE HOUSE,

March 2, 2021.

*Translation: Orinoco Tribune

March 5, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Biden Digs Up the Hatchet

By Vladimir Danilov – New Eastern Outlook – 02.03.2021

Just one month has passed since the newly elected, 46th US President started his tenure in the White House, and he has clearly shown that his foreign policy strategy for the next four years is by no means dovish. Demonstratively renouncing the “era of the previous Republican president”, which was, incidentally, marked by the fact that Donald Trump was the only US president over the past thirty years who did not start any new wars, Joe Biden decided from his very first days to plunge the US – and the entire world – into the cold world of armed confrontation, something that was a trademark for the 44th US president, Democrat Barack Obama.

It is worth recalling how right when Barack Obama was about to leave office The American Conservative gave an objective assessment for this president (with whom Joe Biden had worked on the same team) who had undeservedly won the Nobel Peace Prize, emphasizing his particular love for the use of brute military force abroad: “Obama [is] … the only president to spend his entire tenure presiding over foreign wars… [T]he US has bombed at least half a dozen countries on his watch, and his administration has assisted other governments in laying waste to one of the poorest countries on earth.” According to Airwars data for that period, during 2014-2016 alone the United States carried out more than 9,600 air raids in Iraq, and about 5,000 in Syria, with dozens of thousands of civilians killed. And in the United States itself, many people died because of Obama’s policies, and therefore it was with good reason that WorldNetDaily back then emphasized that “Obama has been blithely watching coffins float by his entire presidency”.

Having understood from the example set by the 44th President of the United States that the Nobel Peace Prize can be won for efforts that are anything but peaceful, Joe Biden, using a specially chosen slogan: “America is Back”, in his very first days in office started to “intimidate” Russia and China, trying to show everyone “who is in charge in the world.”

Long-suffering Syria (primarily at the hands of the United States itself!) was chosen as the starting point of the “Biden-style” war saga, where the United States launched an airstrike on February 25 on a facility that may have belonged to the Iranian military. According to the American side, the airstrike was a response to a series of attacks that were carried out on US targets in Iraq.

As Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby said, the United States executed precision strikes against targets run by pro-Iranian forces in Syria located along the border zone with Iraq. According to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the US military allowed the Iraqi side to “develop intelligence” for the operation, and encouraged them to do so. At the same time, Austin stressed that cooperation on the part of the Iraqi side greatly helped to clarify their goals. F-15 fighter jets were involved in executing the US strikes. In its report on Washington’s operation, Reuters emphasized that the order to launch the airstrike was personally given by the head of the White House, Joe Biden.

According to the monitoring group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), at least three trucks with weapons and ammunition were destroyed in a strike by the US air force in eastern Syria, and at least 17 militants were killed. The militants themselves announced that one person was killed, and that several others suffered minor injuries. The Washington Post also reported on the deaths of people as a result of this airstrike, stressing that before this occurred no US representatives had spoken about eliminating terrorists, or that civilians could have died because of this airstrike.

This strike in Syria by the US Air Force is being fiercely debated in international circles. What was highlighted in particular was that, clearly guided by the “pieces of silver” from the US military-industrial complex that brought Biden to power, the new master in the White House used this attack on Iranian [backed] militias on Syrian territory in an obvious attempt to placate Israel and the Gulf countries, which are afraid of the new American administration sliding towards a pro-Iranian position.

There was emphasis placed on how the consequences of these actions by Washington could be an escalation of military confrontation across the region. Among other risks, what also stands out is the failure of the process charted out to normalize relations between Washington and Tehran on the nuclear deal.

In the telephone conversations between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad that took place immediately after the US airstrike on the Syrian-Iraqi border, the ministers pointed out the need for the West to adhere to the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, respect the sovereignty and independence of the Arab republic, and not to lend support to terrorist groups. In addition, they stressed their commitment to the process of settling the situation in Syria as agreed upon during the talks in Astana. The airstrikes that the US Air Force carried out in Syrian territory near the border with Iraq are a manifestation of “American aggression”, the state-run TV channel Al-Ikhbariyah Syria emphasizes. The Syrian government-run TV channel Al-Surya stressed that “the United States took aggressive action against Syria, attacking ground targets in the eastern Deir ez-Zor Governorate”.

As the chair of the Russian Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev pointed out, despite the fact that four states are involved in the situation – the United States, Iraq, Iran, and Syria – the United States is the only one overtly using military force, in violation of international law. According to him, the American authorities are again assigning themselves the right to “conduct an investigation, pass sentence, and execute it out of court.”

Discussing the airstrike on Syria carried out by the United States under the leadership of Democrat Joe Biden, even American observers (in particular, the conservative FOX News channel) highlight that his predecessor, Donald Trump, was criticized for taking the same actions by Jen Psaki, the current White House press secretary. For example, users pointed to Psaki’s Twitter post after the 2017 airstrikes, where she questioned the legitimacy of the attacks and stressed that Syria is a sovereign state, even if President Bashar al-Assad is a “brutal dictator.”

After the most recent airstrike, Psaki’s remarks were cited by both social media users and politicians in the United States. For example, Muslim House Representative Ilhan Omar posted a short response to an old Psaki tweet: “Good question.”

March 2, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

Voluntary implementation of Additional Protocol must stop if sanctions remain in place: Iran MPs

Press TV | February 21, 2021

Iranian lawmakers have once again highlighted the necessity of stopping voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic remain in place.

The call came in a statement issued by 226 members of the Iranian Parliament following an open session of the legislature on Sunday.

“All Iranian officials, including the administration officials, are duty-bound to stop voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol as of Esfand 5, 1399 (February 23, 2021) and restrict the (International Atomic Energy) Agency’s inspections [of Iran’s nuclear facilities] to those stipulated in the Safeguards Agreement if sanctions are not lifted,” they said.

The statement added that following the conclusion of the multilateral nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), between Iran and major world powers in 2015, Western parties, including the United States and three European countries – Britain, Germany and France – were expected to treat the Iranian nation with honesty and fulfill their obligations under the accord.

“Although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified 15 times at various intervals that Iran has fully implemented its JCPOA commitments, enemies of the Iranian people have not fulfilled any of their fundamental and important obligations.”

Based on the JCPOA, sanctions on Iran’s banking and oil sectors were scheduled to be lifted in January 2016 but “unfortunately” more restrictions were imposed on the country, the lawmakers said.

They added that the process of harming the Iranian people’s interests and imposing more sanctions on Tehran under different pretexts started under the former democratic US president, Barack Obama, and culminated in the decision by former Republican president, Donald Trump, to withdraw from the JCPOA in May 2018.

In 2015, Iran and six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — signed the historic nuclear deal, which was ratified in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

However, Trump unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 and reinstated the anti-Iran sanctions that had been lifted by the virtue of the deal.

The Trump administration also launched what it called a maximum pressure campaign against Iran, targeting the Iranian nation with the “toughest ever” restrictive measures.

Elsewhere in their statement, the Iranian legislators further noted that in order to defend the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights and make enemies of the nation lift unjust sanctions, Iran finally decided to start the process of enriching uranium to 20 percent purity and also to give a two-month deadline to the US and the three European parties to the JCPOA to lift cruel sanctions.

Another part of that decision, the parliamentary statement said, was to stop voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol based on articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA and in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, if the opposite side failed to fulfill its obligations.

On December 1, 2020, Iranian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the ‘Strategic Action Plan to Lift Sanctions and Safeguard Interests of Iranian People’, which intends to counteract sanctions imposed on Iran. The bill became law after being endorsed by Iran’s Guardian Council.

According to the new law, the Iranian administration is required to suspend more commitments under the nuclear deal if the US sanctions are not eased by February 21.

The law tasked the AEOI with producing and restoring at least 120 kilograms of enriched uranium at a 20-percent purity level every year and also enrichment beyond 20 percent if the country’s peaceful nuclear activities demanded.

In January, Iran started the process to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity at its Fordow nuclear facility.

The lawmakers’ statement came on the same day that the IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi held talks with Iranian officials, including Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran, hours before the deadline set by the Islamic Republic to limit inspections by the agency if US sanctions are not lifted.

Grossi announced on Tuesday that he was ready to visit Iran after the country informed the UN body of its decision to end voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as of February 23 in line with the new law passed by the Parliament.

Grossi said in a statement that the aim of the visit was to find a solution for the agency to continue to carry out its verification work under the JCPOA.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Sunday, the Iranian foreign minister said the Islamic Republic will be open to negotiations on reviving the historic 2015 nuclear accord once all signatories begin fulfilling their obligations.

He said US President Joe Biden has spurned predecessor Trump’s Iran policy in words, but has so far pursued the same course of action in practice.

“Nothing has changed. Biden claims that Trump’s policy of maximum pressure was maximum failure… But for all practical purposes, they are pursuing the same policy,” Zarif added.

February 21, 2021 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Shafting The Poor

By Willis Eschenbach | Watts Up With That? | February 5, 2021

Let me start with a couple of the most callous and heartless quotes that I know of. Here’s a description from Politico of the first one:

President Barack Obama’s Energy secretary unwittingly created a durable GOP talking point in September 2008 when he talked to The Wall Street Journal about the benefits of having gasoline prices rise over 15 years to encourage energy efficiency.

“Somehow,” Chu said, “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

And here’s the second quote, from President Obama:

“Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket, regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gases”

In agreement with the beliefs of President Obama and Secretary Chu, and a vain attempt to fight the imaginary menace of CO2, the countries of Europe have driven up the price of energy. This is supposed to make people use less of it, and thus reduce CO2 emissions.

As a result of the European policies, the current energy price situation looks like this:

Not a pretty picture …

So consider the effect of this on the poor. To begin with, the poor spend a much larger part of their income on energy than do the rich.

Now, the energy prices in Europe are more than twice what they are in the US. So if the US doubled to match the fantasies of Secretary Chu and President Obama, the richest fifth of the nation would only be paying 10% of their income for energy … but the poorest fifth of the nation would be paying close to half of their income for energy. And as I pointed out about the poorest of the poor in my post “We Have Met The 1% And He Is Us“,

Those people have no slack. They have no extra room in their budgets. They have no ability to absorb increases in their cost of living, particularly their energy spending. They have no credit cards, no credit, and almost no assets. They have no health insurance. They are not prepared for emergencies. They have no money in the bank. They have no reserve, no cushion, no extra clothing, no stored food in the basement, no basement for that matter, no fat around their waist, no backups, no extras of any description. They are not ready for a hike in the price of energy or anything else.

The result of all of these factors is what is called “energy poverty”. That’s where you don’t have enough energy to keep your home warm. That’s where you’re a single mom with three kids and your old car you need to get to work drinks gas faster than your ex-husband drank whiskey … so if gas prices double your kids will do without something important. That’s where you and your family sit in the cold and the dark and shiver because you can’t pay your energy bills.

And that’s where a study from the Jacque Delors Institute says (emphasis mine):

During this winter of 2020-2021, hundreds of millions of Europeans are constrained to stay at home because of lockdowns and curfews instituted to contain the propagation of COVID19. For millions of them, this means staying in poorly heated houses, which causes both discomfort and a threat to their own health.

This policy paper gives an overview of the state of energy poverty in the European Union (EU) and the way this issue is currently addressed by Member States and by the EU. While it appears that energy poverty has generally been decreasing over the last years, in 2019 there were still over 30 million Europeans who claimed to be unable to heat their home adequately in the winter.

Thirty million Europeans, many of them pensioners, many of them kids, all of them poor, sitting in unheated houses … that’s about the population of California. Or for the folks across the pond, it’s about the population of Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic combined. Again per the report, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus are the countries with the highest share of the population who are unable to heat their homes.

Now, there’s an old saying, “No pain, no gain.” Me, I think that’s crazy because I’ve had lots of painless gains. But if there is pain, well, there should at least be some gain to go along with it. So … shall we take a look at the purported gain in the question of CO2 emissions?

I mean, all those countries signed on to the Paris Climate Discord, they all have followed President Obama’s and Secretary Chu’s theories and drove their energy prices through the roof to reduce greenhouse gases, so now at the end of the day there must be some real gains in per capita CO2 emissions, right?

Here you go:

Thirty million Europeans are freezing in the winter, unable to heat their homes, and for what?

For nothing. Zip. Niets. Diddley-squat. Ingenting. Zero. Nada. Rien. Nichts. Not one thing.

Despite Europe creating widespread energy poverty, despite the US not being in the Paris Agreement, the US has reduced emissions more than any of the countries shown above. Europe is condemning old people and children to shiver in the dark and cold, and for absolutely no gain at all.

Look, I don’t think CO2 is the secret knob that controls the climate. I think that’s a simplistic scientific misrepresentation of a very complex system. As a result, I think that the “War On CO2” is a destructive, costly, and meaningless endeavor.

However, perhaps you do think that the climate, one of the more complex systems we’ve ever tried to analyze, is ruled by just one of the hundreds of different factors affecting the system. If so, I presume you think the European actions are justified because you believe you will be helping the poor people in the year 2050 or 2100.

So … if those are your motives I ask you, I beg you, I implore you, don’t wage your war on CO2 by screwing today’s poor to the floor! 

Because I can assure you, possibly helping tomorrow’s poor by actually hurting today’s poor is a crime against humanity, one you absolutely don’t want to have on your conscience.

My best to all, regardless of your views regarding the climate control knob,

w.

February 6, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 3 Comments

How soon will the Left eat their own?

By Jon Rappoport | January 18, 2021

Hey. I’m always here to offer advice to the Left, to make their road smoother, to point them in the direction of fellow travelers they should cancel for deficiencies of “wokeness.”

Let’s start with the issue of GMOs, poisonous Roundup, and Monsanto (now swallowed up by Bayer).

Joe Biden is going to appoint Mr. Monsanto, Tom Vilsack, as his Secretary of Agriculture. Tommy boy held that post under Obama.

The Organic Consumers Association writes [1] (see also [2], [3], [4]): “If, like us, you dream of an organic, regenerative food system led by independent family farmers, then news that Joe Biden has asked Tom Vilsack to return to his Obama Era post as Secretary of Agriculture should be a real cause for concern.”

“…when you look behind the curtains to see what Vilsack was really doing at USDA from 2009 through 2017, it’s not pretty.”

“He pushed through a corporate agribusiness agenda that began with his approval of more new genetically modified crops than any other Secretary, culminated in his shepherding of a bill to kill GMO labels through Congress, and included his racist firing of African American land trust hero Shirley Sherrod and his distortion of data to conceal decades of discrimination against black farmers. Between 2006 and 2016, the USDA [US Dept. of Agriculture] was six times more likely to foreclose on a black farmer than a white farmer.”

“But, Biden doesn’t care about any of this. Vilsack is Biden’s buddy and that’s all that matters to him. As the American Prospect reports, Vilsack has had ‘a decades-long relationship with Joe Biden, going back to when he endorsed him for president while mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, in 1988’.”

“Vilsack has remained very loyal to Biden. In the last year, he gave Biden more than $8,000 in campaign contributions (excluding money from his wife or to Democratic Party committees).”

“This support didn’t just get him a job in the cabinet, he wrote Biden’s campaign platform on agriculture issues, stuffing it full of false solutions like corn ethanol and methane digesters run on factory farm dairy waste.”

“We need a USDA Secretary of Agriculture who will be a hero, steering our food and farming system toward a brighter, regenerative future—not a Secretary who will continue to be a pawn for the same corporate interests that are causing, and profiting from, the mess we are in.”

Good luck with that dream under Biden.

Let’s go further. Here’s a piece I wrote during the Obama years—you know, when we were all living in paradise—about the president’s GMO program.

Keep in mind that Biden’s new secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, was on board every step of the way, with Obama. Vilsack was enabler, expert, political operative, cheerleader—

MEET MONSANTO’S MAN IN WASHINGTON, BARACK OBAMA

Obama? A warrior against corporations on behalf of the people? It’s long past the time for ripping that false mask away.

During his 2008 campaign for president, Barack Obama transmitted signals that he understood the GMO/Roundup issue. Several key anti-GMO activists were impressed. They thought Obama, once in the White House, would listen to their concerns and act on them.

These activists weren’t just reading tea leaves. On the campaign trail, Obama said: “Let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.”

Making the distinction between GMO and non-GMO was certainly an indication that Obama, unlike the FDA and USDA, saw there was an important line to draw in the sand.

Beyond that, Obama was promising a new era of transparency in government. He was adamant in assuring that, if elected, his administration wouldn’t do business “the old way.” He would be “responsive to people’s needs.”

Then came the reality.

After the election, people who had been working to label GMO food and warn the public of its huge dangers were shocked to the core. They saw Obama had been pulling a bait and switch.

After the 2008 election, Obama filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in food issues, the USDA and the FDA:

At the USDA, as the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto Danforth Center.

As deputy commissioner of the FDA, the new food-safety-issues czar, the infamous Michael Taylor, former vice-president for public policy for Monsanto. Taylor had been instrumental in getting approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.

As commissioner of the USDA, Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack. Vilsack had set up a national group, the Governors’ Biotechnology Partnership, and had been given a Governor of the Year Award by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto.

As the new Agriculture Trade Representative, who would push GMOs for export, Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist.

As the new counsel for the USDA, Ramona Romero, who had been corporate counsel for another biotech giant, DuPont.

As the new head of the USAID, Rajiv Shah, who had previously worked in key positions for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major funder of GMO agriculture research.

We should also remember that Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, once worked for the Rose law firm. That firm was counsel to Monsanto.

Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. Kagan, as federal solicitor general, had previously argued for Monsanto in the Monsanto v. Geertson seed case before the Supreme Court.

The deck was stacked. Obama hadn’t simply made honest mistakes. Obama hadn’t just failed to exercise proper oversight in selecting appointees. He wasn’t just experiencing a failure of short-term memory. He was staking out territory on behalf of Monsanto and other GMO corporate giants.

And now let us look at what key Obama appointees have wrought for their true bosses. Let’s see what GMO crops have walked through the open door of the Obama presidency.

Monsanto GMO alfalfa.

Monsanto GMO sugar beets.

Monsanto GMO Bt soybean.

Coming soon: Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn.

Syngenta GMO corn for ethanol.

Syngenta GMO stacked corn.

Pioneer GMO soybean.

Syngenta GMO Bt cotton.

Bayer GMO cotton.

ATryn, an anti-clotting agent from the milk of transgenic goats.

A GMO papaya strain.

And perhaps, soon, genetically engineered salmon and apples.

This is an extraordinary parade. It, in fact, makes Barack Obama the most GMO-dedicated politician in America.

You don’t attain that position through errors or oversights. Obama was, all along, a stealth operative on behalf of Monsanto, biotech, GMOs, and corporate control of the future of agriculture.

From this perspective, Michelle Obama’s campaign for gardens and clean, organic, nutritious food is nothing more than a diversion, a cover story floated to obscure what her husband has actually been doing.

Nor is it coincidental that two of the Obama’s biggest supporters, Bill Gates and George Soros, purchased 900,000 and 500,000 shares of Monsanto, respectively, in 2010.

We are talking about a president who presented himself, and was believed by many to be, an extraordinary departure from politics as usual.

Not only was that a wrong assessment, Obama was lying all along. He was, and he still is, Monsanto’s man in Washington.

To those people who fight for GMO labeling and the outlawing of GMO crops, and against the decimation of the food supply and the destruction of human health, but still believe Obama is a beacon in bleak times:

Wake up.

—end of 2014 article—

Well, well. Tom Vilsack is back. Biden is about to betray the Left on a key issue.

Dear Lefties: Are you going to sit still for this?

Start tweeting and FBing.

I wonder whether you’ll get censored by your comrades in Big Tech…

SOURCES:

[1] https://advocacy.organicconsumers.org/page/25412/action/1

[2] https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/tom-vilsack-agriculture-secretary-everything-thats-wrong-democratic-party

[3] https://www.organicconsumers.org/blog/back-future-tom-mr-monsanto-vilsack-part-i

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/21/joe-biden-tom-vilsack-agriculture-secretary

January 18, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Biden Picks “Mr. Monsanto” Tom Vilsack to Head the USDA

Return to Now | December 29, 2020

Under Obama, Vilsack brought us cloned farm animals, lab-grown meat and more GMOs than any Agriculture Secretary before or after him

“No More Malarkey” Joe Biden just nominated one of Monsanto’s best friends to head the US Department of Agriculture.

During his eight years under Obama, Tom Vilsack earned the nickname “Mr. Monsanto” for approving more new genetically modified organisms than any Agriculture Secretary in history, and for making gobs of money for every approval.

The Organic Consumer’s Association has compiled a list of GMOs we have to thank him for:

Roundup Ready sugar beets. A judge ruled Monsanto’s sugar beets would inevitably contaminate other crops, eventually “eliminating a consumer’s choice to eat non-genetically engineered food.”

Roundup Ready alfalfa. Monsanto’s first genetically modified perennial went wild, costing alfalfa growers millions.

Monsanto’s DroughtGard corn. The GMO seeds actually ended up yielding 11% LESS corn than conventional corn during the 2012 drought.

Dicamba-tolerant Xtend soy and cotton.  Several states have banned Monsanto’s dicamba herbicide since its approval in 2015, after it drifted and destroyed millions of acres of conventional soy, as well as nurseries, vineyards, vegetables, trees and native plants.

Roundup Ready lawn grass. Vilsack told the Scotts Miracle-Gro it didn’t need permits to sell genetically engineered grass commercially.

Agrisure corn. Vilsack allowed Syngenta to sell corn seed with genetically engineered traits that were illegal in China to U.S. farmers. The corn crop was rejected by the markets, costing farmers $1.5 billion.

Ethanol-only corn. Unsuitable for human or animal consumption, Syngenta’s ethanol corn has the potential to destroy the genome of edible corn where cross contamination occurs.

2,4-D-tolerant corn, cotton and soy. A known endocrine disruptor, Dow’s 2,4-D is linked to cancer, thyroid disorders, decreased fertility and birth defects. Vilsack’s approval of the crops increased the use of 2,4-D as much as 600%.

Innate potatoes. The former Monsanto scientist who invented this “RNA interference” GMO exposed the dangers of his work four years after Vilsack approved it. He found an accumulation of toxins in the potatoes,  and even scarier, he found their double-stranded RNA enters the human bloodstream, where it can influence our own cell function.

Arctic Apples. These ever-green apples don’t turn brown when they bruise or start to rot, and even retain their bright green pigment when they are juiced. These GMOs were also created using RNA interference technology.

Cloned animals. When Vilsack was asked in 2010 if cloned cows or their offspring had made it into the North American food supply, he claimed he “didn’t know”. Needless to say, this aroused alarm. While Europe responded with an embargo, Vilsack left the door open for cloned animal products to be labeled “USDA Organic.”

“It is very likely that the offspring of cloned animals are now being used to produce organic milk and other food,” the Organic Consumer’s Association says.

Synbio dairy substitutes. Vilsack allowed companies like Perfect Day to begin using genetically-altered yeast cultures to manufacture synthetic dairy substitutes. Most vegans have no idea their non-dairy cheese is a product genetic engineering.

Lab-made meat. Vilsack gave companies like Memphis Meat the green light to engineer cell-cultured meat without requiring USDA inspection or labeling. A former USDA staffer of his ended up lobbying for the company.

Click here to send your senator a message telling them to “vote no” on Mr. Monsanto for Agriculture Secretary.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

The Threat of Authoritarianism in the U.S. is Very Real, and Has Nothing To Do With Trump

The COVID-driven centralization of economic power and information control in the hands of a few corporate monopolies poses enduring threats to political freedom

By Glenn Greenwald | December 28, 2020

Asserting that Donald Trump is a fascist-like dictator threatening the previously sturdy foundations of U.S. democracy has been a virtual requirement over the last four years to obtain entrance to cable news Green Rooms, sinecures as mainstream newspaper columnists, and popularity in faculty lounges. Yet it has proven to be a preposterous farce.

In 2020 alone, Trump had two perfectly crafted opportunities to seize authoritarian power — a global health pandemic and sprawling protests and sustained riots throughout American cities — and yet did virtually nothing to exploit those opportunities. Actual would-be despots such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán quickly seized on the virus to declare martial law, while even prior U.S. presidents, to say nothing of foreign tyrants, have used the pretext of much less civil unrest than what we saw this summer to deploy the military in the streets to pacify their own citizenry.

But early in the pandemic, Trump was criticized, especially by Democrats, for failing to assert the draconian powers he had, such as commandeering the means of industrial production under the Defense Production Act of 1950, invoked by Truman to force industry to produce materials needed for the Korean War. In March, The Washington Post reported that “Governors, Democrats in Congress and some Senate Republicans have been urging Trump for at least a week to invoke the act, and his potential 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, came out in favor of it, too,” yet “Trump [gave] a variety of reasons for not doing so.” Rejecting demands to exploit a public health pandemic to assert extraordinary powers is not exactly what one expects from a striving dictator.

A similar dynamic prevailed during the sustained protests and riots that erupted after the killing of George Floyd. While conservatives such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), in his controversial New York Times op-ed, urged the mass deployment of the military to quell the protesters, and while Trump threatened to deploy them if governors failed to pacify the riots, Trump failed to order anything more than a few isolated, symbolic gestures such as having troops use tear gas to clear out protesters from Lafayette Park for his now-notorious walk to a church, provoking harsh criticism from the right, including Fox News, for failing to use more aggressive force to restore order.

Virtually every prediction expressed by those who pushed this doomsday narrative of Trump as a rising dictator — usually with great profit for themselves — never materialized. While Trump radically escalated bombing campaigns he inherited from Bush and Obama, he started no new wars. When his policies were declared by courts to be unconstitutional, he either revised them to comport with judicial requirements (as in the case of his “Muslim ban”) or withdrew them (as in the case of diverting Pentagon funds to build his wall). No journalists were jailed for criticizing or reporting negatively on Trump, let alone killed, as was endlessly predicted and sometimes even implied. Bashing Trump was far more likely to yield best-selling books, social media stardom and new contracts as cable news “analysts” than interment in gulags or state reprisals. There were no Proud Boy insurrections or right-wing militias waging civil war in U.S. cities. Boastful and bizarre tweets aside, Trump’s administration was for more a continuation of the U.S. political tradition than a radical departure from it.

The hysterical Trump-as-despot script was all melodrama, a ploy for profits and ratings, and, most of all, a potent instrument to distract from the neoliberal ideology that gave rise to Trump in the first place by causing so much wreckage. Positing Trump as a grand aberration from U.S. politics and as the prime author of America’s woes — rather than what he was: a perfectly predictable extension of U.S politics and a symptom of preexisting pathologies — enabled those who have so much blood and economic destruction on their hands not only to evade responsibility for what they did, but to rehabilitate themselves as the guardians of freedom and prosperity and, ultimately, catapult themselves back into power. As of January 20, that is exactly where they will reside.

The Trump administration was by no means free of authoritarianism: his Justice Department prosecuted journalists’ sources; his White House often refused basic transparency; War on Terror and immigration detentions continued without due process. But that is largely because, as I wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in late 2016, the U.S. Government itself is authoritarian after decades of bipartisan expansion of executive powers justified by a posture of endless war. With rare exception, the lawless and power-abusing acts over the last four years were ones that inhere in the U.S. Government and long preceded Trump, not ones invented by him. To the extent Trump was an authoritarian, he was one in the way that all U.S. presidents have been since the War on Terror began and, more accurately, since the start of the Cold War and advent of the permanent national security state.

The single most revealing episode exposing this narrative fraud was when journalists and political careerists, including former Obama aides, erupted in outrage on social media upon seeing a photo of immigrant children in cages at the border — only to discover that the photo was not from a Trump concentration camp but an Obama-era detention facility (they were unaccompanied children, not ones separated from their families, but “kids in cages” are “kids in cages” from a moral perspective). And tellingly, the single most actually authoritarian Trump-era event is one that has been largely ignored by the U.S. media: namely, the decision to prosecute Julian Assange under espionage laws (but that, too, is an extension of the unprecedented war on journalism unleashed by the Obama DOJ).

The last gasp for those clinging to the Trump-as-dictator fantasy (which was really hope masquerading as concern, since putting yourself on the front lines, bravely fighting domestic fascism, is more exciting and self-glorifying, not to mention more profitable, than the dreary, mediocre work of railing against an ordinary and largely weak one-term president) was the hysterical warning that Trump was mounting a coup in order to stay in office. Trump’s terrifying “coup” consisted of a series of failed court challenges based on claims of widespread voter fraud — virtually inevitable with new COVID-based voting rules never previously used — and lame attempts to persuade state officials to overturn certified vote totals. There was never a moment when it appeared even remotely plausible that it would succeed, let alone that he could secure the backing of the institutions he would need to do so, particularly senior military leaders.

Whether Trump secretly harbored despotic ambitions is both unknowable and irrelevant. If he did, he never exhibited the slightest ability to carry them out or orchestrate a sustained commitment to executing a democracy-subverting plot. And the most powerful U.S. institutions — the intelligence community and military brass, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the corporate media — opposed and subverted him from the start. In sum, U.S. democracy, in whatever form it existed when Trump ascended to the presidency, will endure more or less unchanged once he leaves office on January 20, 2021.

Whether the U.S. was a democracy in any meaningful sense prior to Trump had been the subject of substantial scholarly debate. A much-discussed 2014 study concluded that economic power has become so concentrated in the hands of such a small number of U.S. corporate giants and mega-billionaires, and that this concentration in economic power has ushered in virtually unchallengeable political power in their hands and virtually none in anyone else’s, that the U.S. more resembles oligarchy than anything else:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

The U.S. Founders most certainly did not envision or desire absolute economic egalitarianism, but many, probably most, feared — long before lobbyists and candidate dependence on corporate SuperPACs — that economic inequality could become so severe, wealth concentrated in the hands of so few, that it would contaminate the political realm, where those vast wealth disparities would be replicated, rendering political and legal equality illusory.

But the premises of pre-Trump debates over how grave a problem this is have been rendered utterly obsolete by the new realities of the COVID era. A combination of sustained lockdowns, massive state-mandated transfers of wealth to corporate elites in the name of legislative “COVID relief,” and a radically increased dependence on online activities has rendered corporate behemoths close to unchallengeable in terms of both economic and political power.

The lockdowns from the pandemic have ushered in a collapse of small businesses across the U.S. that has only further fortified the power of corporate giants. “Billionaires increased their wealth by more than a quarter (27.5%) at the height of the crisis from April to July, just as millions of people around the world lost their jobs or were struggling to get by on government schemes,” reported The Guardian in September. A study from July told part of the story:

The combined wealth of the world’s super-rich reached a new peak during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study published by the consulting firm PwC and the Swiss bank UBC on Wednesday. The more than 2,000 billionaires around the world managed to amass fortunes totalling around $10.2 trillion (€8.69 trillion) by July, surpassing the previous record of $8.9 trillion reached in 2017.

Meanwhile, though exact numbers are unknown, “roughly one in five small businesses have closed,” AP notes, adding: “restaurants, bars, beauty shops and other retailers that involve face-to-face contact have been hardest hit at a time when Americans are trying to keep distance from one another.”

Employees are now almost completely at the mercy of a handful of corporate giants, far more trans-national than with any allegiance to the U.S., which are thriving. A Brookings Institution study this week — entitled “Amazon and Walmart have raked in billions in additional profits during the pandemic, and shared almost none of it with their workers” — found that “the COVID-19 pandemic has generated record profits for America’s biggest companies, as well as immense wealth for their founders and largest shareholders—but next to nothing for workers.”

These COVID “winners” are not the Randian victors in free market capitalism. Quite the contrary, they are the recipients of enormous amounts of largesse from the U.S. Government, which they control through armies of lobbyists and donations and which therefore constantly intervenes in the market for their benefit. This is not free market capitalism rewarding innovative titans, but rather crony capitalism that is abusing the power of the state to crush small competitors, lavish corporate giants with ever more wealth and power, and turn millions of Americans into vassals whose best case scenario is working multiple jobs at low hourly wages with no benefits, few rights, and even fewer options.

Those must disgusted by this outcome should not be socialists but capitalists: this is a classic merger of state and corporate power —- also known as a hallmark of fascism in its most formal expression — that abuses state interference in markets to consolidate and centralize authority in a small handful of actors in order to disempower everyone else. Those trends were already quite visible prior to Trump and the onset of the pandemic, but have accelerated beyond anyone’s dreams in the wake of mass lockdowns, shutdowns, prolonged isolation and corporate welfare thinly disguised as legislative “relief.”

What makes this most menacing of all is that the primary beneficiaries of these rapid changes are Silicon Valley giants, at least three of which — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — are now classic monopolies. That the wealth of their primary owners and executives — Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai — has skyrocketed during the pandemic is well-covered, but far more significant is the unprecedented power these companies exert over the dissemination of information and conduct of political debates, to say nothing of the immense data they possess about our lives by virtue of online surveillance.

Stay-at-home orders, lockdowns and social isolation have meant that we rely on Silicon Valley companies to conduct basic life functions more than ever before. We order online from Amazon rather than shop; we conduct meetings online rather than meet in offices; we use Google constantly to navigate and communicate; we rely on social media more than ever to receive information about the world. And exactly as a weakened population’s dependence on them has increased to unprecedented levels, their wealth and power has reached all new heights, as has their willingness to control and censor information and debate.

That Facebook, Google and Twitter are exerting more and more control over our political expression is hardly contestable. What is most remarkable, and alarming, is that they are not so much grabbing these powers as having them foisted on them, by a public — composed primarily of corporate media outlets and U.S. establishment liberals — who believe that the primary problem of social media is not excessive censorship but insufficient censorship. As Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) told Mark Zuckerberg when four Silicon Valley CEOs appeared before the Senate: “The issue is not that the companies before us today is that they’re taking too many posts down. The issue is that they’re leaving too many dangerous posts up.”

As I told the online program Rising this week when asked what the worst media failings of 2020 are, I continue to view the brute censorship by Facebook of incriminating reporting about Joe Biden in the weeks before the election as one of the most significant, and menacing, political events of the last several years. That this censorship was announced by a Facebook corporate spokesman who had spent his career previously as a Democratic Party apparatchik provided the perfect symbolic expression of this evolving danger.

These tech companies are more powerful than ever, not only because of their newly amassed wealth at a time when the population is suffering, but also because they overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party candidate about to assume the presidency. Predictably, they are being rewarded with numerous key positions in his transition team and the same will ultimately be true of the new administration.

The Biden/Harris administration clearly intends to do a great deal for Silicon Valley, and Silicon Valley is well-positioned to do a great deal for them in return, starting with their immense power over the flow of information and debate.

The dominant strain of U.S. neoliberalism — the ruling coalition that has now consolidated power again — is authoritarianism. They view those who oppose them and reject their pieties not as adversaries to be engaged but as enemies, domestic terrorists, bigots, extremists and violence-inciters to be fired, censored, and silenced. And they have on their side — beyond the bulk of the corporate media, and the intelligence community, and Wall Street — an unprecedentedly powerful consortium of tech monopolies willing and able to exert greater control over a population that has rarely, if ever, been so divided, drained, deprived and anemic.

All of these authoritarian powers will, ironically, be invoked and justified in the name of stopping authoritarianism — not from those who wield power but from the movement that was just removed from power. Those who spent four years shrieking to great profit about the dangers of lurking “fascism” will — without realizing the irony — now use this merger of state and corporate power to consolidate their own authority, control the contours of permissible debate, and silence those who challenge them even further. Those most vocally screaming about growing authoritarianism in the U.S. over the last four years were very right in their core warning, but very wrong about the real source of that danger.

December 28, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 1 Comment