Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

OSCE nothing more than a branch of NATO

By Ahmed Adel | December 2, 2022

The West is attempting to turn the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) into a subsidiary organisation of NATO, which is paradoxical because it is meant to be concentrated on peacebuilding, unlike the Atlantic Alliance which fosters tensions to justify its existence in a post-Soviet world. It is for this reason, among others, why Poland refused to grant a visa to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, thus barring him from attending the OSCE meeting held on December 1 and 2 in Lodz.

Poland claims it refused to grant Lavrov a visa because he is on the list of people who have been sanctioned. However, this does not explain why many from the Russian delegation were also denied visas despite not being on a sanctions list.

This weak excuse is to justify Warsaw’s consistent policy of provocation against Moscow, especially in the context of the current war in Ukraine. Poland and the West are hoping that by humiliating Russia, the country will withdraw from the OSCE. The West are desperate for Russia to withdraw so as to be able to implement and impose whatever it wants on the OSCE.

It is recalled that Moscow very effectively blocked the 2022 OSCE budget. Without a Russian withdrawal, the West will not be able to put the OSCE under its complete control, something that should be avoided as it would undermine the very foundation of the organisation – serving as a platform where Western and Eastern Europe could discuss and resolve issues.

Rather, the OSCE today has turned into a political tool of the West and effectively has no meaning or role anymore. With the OSCE descending into childlike behaviour by barring Russian delegates and top diplomats, it does seem that the organisation has become redundant as it is appearing more like a Euro-focussed political wing of NATO.

The OSCE meeting in Poland was essentially a two-day event for speakers to bash Russia.

None-the-less, Moscow is unlikely to be deterred by these provocations and will remain committed to its responsibilities as an OSCE member. This is likely to ensure that paths of reconciliation are always open despite Western attempts to close them.

The Kremlin might also believe that the OSCE’s uptick in provocations is because Poland is the current chairman. Russian policymakers might also believe that tensions will relax when North Macedonia takes over the chairmanship in 2023. It could be for this reason that Lavrov called out Poland by highlighting that its “anti-chairmanship” was taking the OSCE to its “most miserable place ever in this organisation’s history.”

It can be argued though that the OSCE has always been geopolitically against Moscow. It is recalled that the American establishment boasted that they had inserted a Trojan horse into the Eastern Bloc with the signing of the Helsinki Accords in 1975, the roots of today’s OSCE.

The Helsinki Accords stresses the respect for human rights and equal rights, a result of Western insistence because the Soviets were instead mostly interested in finalising Germany’s borders. The West is not interested in human rights though, and rather their main interest is ideological, economic and military hegemony all over the world, with human rights only being weaponised as one vehicle of achieving this goal.

Effectively, it can be argued that the OSCE was born as a trap for Moscow. When “security”, “cooperation” and “Europe” are in the name of the OSCE but it turns into an organisation completely dominated by promoting US interests, the argument is made that the organisation now resembles something like a branch of NATO.

Playing its own role in serving Western interests, Ukraine continues to call for Russia to be kicked out of the OSCE entirely, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba claiming in a tweet that the “OSCE is on a highway to hell because Russia abuses its rules and principles.”

“Everything has been tried in regards to Russia: to please, to appease, to be nice, to be neutral, to engage, not to call a spade a spade. The bottom line: It would be better for OSCE to carry on without Russia,” he added.

However, this is once again an example of Kiev’s classic projection of portraying their own illiberal values as that of Russia. In fact, it is Europe’s own unwillingness to “call a spade a spade,” such as whitewashing Ukraine’s fascistic policies and pretending it was a Western-styled liberal country, which ultimately led to war.

Proving that the OSCE is now nothing more than a branch of NATO, US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said, when speaking in Lodz, that Russia had “failed demonstrably to break the OSCE.”

If the OSCE is anything other than a branch of NATO, it must be questioned why the US Under Secretary of State was an honoured guest at a Europe-focussed and Europe-based organisation, which was initially established to connect Western and Eastern Europe together, while Russia’s top diplomat and other officials were barred.

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

December 2, 2022 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

US troops are combat ready on Russian border – Lithuanian commander

RT | December 2, 2022

The US forces stationed in Lithuania have switched their stance from deterrence of Russia to combat readiness, Lithuanian Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupsys has said. The country shares a border with Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea, as well as with Belarus and Latvia.

“The main factor used to be deterrence, the demonstration that they were here and could increase our forces at any time,” Rupsys told radio LRT on Friday.

“And now the situation has changed: those units are being deployed so that they can fight immediately. It’s a seamless … transition from one mode to another.”

“At least until 2025, we will have rotating US units that will carry out military training and serve as a factor of deterrence, but also will be ready to carry out defensive actions together with us and other allies,” he added.

The chief of defense said on Wednesday that he had been assured by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley that American troops would have “a persistent presence in Lithuania.”

Battalion-sized US units with around 500 troops, Abrams tanks and Bradley armored vehicles have been stationed on a rotation basis in the eastern Lithuanian city of Pabrade since 2019. NATO also maintains a German-led multinational unit in the country.

The US-led bloc announced the enhancement of its military capabilities in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, which began in February. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in June that the alliance’s rapid-response force would grow from around 40,000 to over 300,000.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that it considers NATO troops near its borders a national security threat. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that the bloc’s actions signify its return to “conceptual priorities” adopted during the Cold War.

December 2, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

January 6 Was Not a Seditious Conspiracy

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | December 1, 2022

It’s a shame that a course in logic is not offered in law school. If it was, maybe, just maybe, attorney Harry Litman would not have written an op-ed entitled “A Jury Delivers the Truth about Jan. 6. It Was Seditious Conspiracy,” which appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times. 

In his article, Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general, claims that the recent  federal conviction of Oath Keepers leaders Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs for seditious conspiracy “will go a long way toward defining the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol melee, once and for all, as a heinous crime orchestrated by enemies of democracy.”

Well, actually, it does no such thing. My hunch is that Litman’s prosecutorial mindset is clouding his thinking.

The jury’s verdict of seditious conspiracy applies only to Rhodes and Meggs, not to anyone else. In fact, in the same trial the jury acquitted other defendants of seditious conspiracy and instead convicted them of the lesser charge of obstructing a government proceeding. 

Simply because two people are convicted of seditious conspiracy doesn’t mean that the thousands of other people involved in the Capitol protests are also guilty of seditious conspiracy. The convictions apply only to the people who are convicted, not to the thousands of other people who aren’t convicted. 

In other words, you can have a situation where thousands of people have no intention whatsoever of committing seditious conspiracy and who are simply protesting some governmental action. At the same time and in that same situation, you can have two people who are conspiring to commit sedition. 

Under the law, the fact that those two people are conspiring to commit sedition does not convert the thousands of other people into people who are also conspiring to commit sedition. If the law permitted the feds to convict innocent people in that manner, then everyone involved in the January 6 protests would have been charged with seditious conspiracy and convicted. The fact that federal prosecutors did not charge most of the protestors with seditious conspiracy and the fact that the jury acquitted some of the defendants in the recent sedition case of seditious conspiracy demonstrate the legal principle that only those who are guilty of a crime should be prosecuted and convicted of the crime. 

Litman also reveals his deeply set prosecutorial mindset by suggesting that other people who are still facing trial for the January 6 event “may want to think hard about pleading guilty and offering to cooperate with the government investigation.’

Really? But what if they’re innocent, Litman? Do you still think they should think hard about pleading guilty? As a criminal-defense attorney, would you permit a client in the January 6 event to plead guilty knowing that he was claiming to be innocent? Or are you saying that your client would automatically be guilty, regardless of what he claimed, simply because Rhodes and Meggs were convicted of seditious conspiracy? 

Moreover, what’s wrong with going to trial? Isn’t that a person’s right? Well, not exactly. Litman knows that it is long-established policy in the federal courts to hit people who go to trial and are convicted with higher sentences than those who simply plead guilty. In other words, in the federal court system, you have a right to a jury trial but if you exercise it and lose, you are going to receive a double penalty for making those federal judges and federal prosecutors work for their generous tax-funded salaries.

The fact that two people are convicted of seditious conspiracy does not mean that everyone else involved in the January 6 protests is guilty of seditious conspiracy or, for that matter, any other crime. Moreover, people who are claiming to be innocent should never be encouraged or permitted to plead guilty. Everyone has the right of trial by jury and should never be punished for exercising that right. 

December 1, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

US brings culture wars to Afghanistan

Reflections on Events in Afghanistan

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | DECEMBER 1, 2022

The time has come to pick up threads from my blog of January 27 titled The West co-opts the Taliban. Indeed, the wheel has come full circle: the three-day conclave in Oslo on January 23-25 between a core group of Western diplomats with Taliban officials failed to work out a reasonable a modus vivendi. The pendulum has since swung to the other extreme. 

Afghanistan has once again become the cockpit of big power rivalries due to developments intrinsic to Afghan situation, a regime change in Pakistan and the shifts in regional politics in Central Asia due to the fallouts from the collective West’s proxy war with Russia in Europe.

To recapitulate, Russia and China brilliantly undercut the US’ attempt in Oslo to co-opt the Taliban government as its partner. The terms of partnership were not acceptable to the Taliban, especially the leeway that the US and British intelligence sought to stage covert operations from Afghan soil. 

Russia and China created space for Taliban to negotiate with the US by simply offering them the prospect of a beneficial relationship. The US’s core objective was to use Afghanistan as a staging post for its containment strategies against Russia, China and Iran.

Since then, the US estimates that with Russia bogged down in Ukraine and China remaining extra-cautious in consorting with Moscow, a window of opportunity is available for it to proactively work toward promoting regime changes in Central Asia and roll back the Russian influence in the region.

Attempts were made in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan but the regimes in those countries were vigilant.  The failed attempts once again drew attention to the importance of Afghanistan as a high ground in the geopolitics of the Central Asian region. Hence the need to regain control over Kabul.

This is a truly collective effort by the Western intelligence, with the US, UK, France and Germany in the lead role. Unsurprisingly, the West’s focus has shifted to the northern regions of Afghanistan bordering the ex-Soviet republics of Central Asia. 

With a pro-Western regime in power in Pakistan, the US gets a free hand to work with the non-Taliban groups. The Western powers assess that the so-called National Resistance Front (NRF) led by the Panjshiri leader Ahmed Massoud provides a congenial platform for advancing their regional agenda. 

Apart from the Massoud clan’s decades-old links with the French intelligence, Ahmed Massoud himself was trained in Sandhurst. The Panjshiris are irreconcilably opposed to Pashtun rule and also have ethnic affinities with Tajikistan. 

Enter Emmanuel Macron. France has a score to settle ever since Russia’s Wagner Group summarily replaced the French Legion as the provider of security to the Francophone countries in the Sahel region. Macron hopes to turn the table against Russia in Central Asia (and the Caucasus.) 

In this shadow play, Macron sees as quasi-ally the president of Tajikistan Imomali Rahmon. Now, Rahmon’s motivations are never easy to fathom and are rather complicated in this case, but he does see that there is a lot of money that the West is prepared to spend to foster the NRF and Massoud, and this western venture is for sure going to be for the long haul.

Rahmon’s trump card is that Tajikistan is the gateway to Panjshir and it can provide a transit corridor for the flow of Western money, men and materials to boost the NRF’s capability to wage an armed struggle and emerge quickly as a credible political entity regionally. 

Dushanbe hosted the so-called Herat Security Dialogue earlier this week to facilitate a meet-up between the NRF (Massoud) and sundry other disgruntled Afghan politicians hostile toward Taliban rule and domiciled in the West, with the US and European intelligence officials mentoring the event. 

Clearly, the venture aims to broad-base the NRF by bringing on board all anti-Taliban elements. Interestingly, a sideshow at Dushanbe was that the Afghans networked with hand-picked invitees from regional states as well, including Russia and Iran, largely self-styled “liberals” who are willing to subserve the West’s agenda.  

In a nutshell, the venture aims to build up another Afghan resistance movement to oust the Taliban from power. The ground is being prepared for a new civil war where the West hopes to emerge victorious eventually but without having to put “boots on the ground.”

However, this incoming civil war is going to be very unlike all previous ones in Afghan history. For, this is being projected as a culture war — a struggle for dominance between groups within the Afghan society arising from their different beliefs or practices — although quintessentially it is yet another grab for political power with foreign help.

It bears similarity with the culture wars playing out in America during the past two decades and more between the liberal secular society and a conservative opposition that rooted its worldview in divine scripture. Today, in America it is playing out in vicious fights over abortion, gay rights, religion in public schools and the like.

The culture war in Afghanistan too will inevitably expand from issues of religion and family culture to take over politics almost totally, creating a dangerous sense of winner-take-all conflict over the future of the country, as has happened in America. 

The paradox here is that it is taking place in the cause of Democracy, whereas, democracy at its core is an agreement that we will not kill each other over our differences, but instead we’ll talk through those differences howsoever long it may take. Massoud’s NRF, on the contrary, is wedded to violence to overthrow the Taliban government which has been in power only briefly.  

Fundamentally, there is a dangerous misconception here since politics at its core is nothing but an artifact of culture. And culture underwrites politics in all countries. To be sure, the Taliban will see the incoming civil war promoted by the West as an existential threat to their way of life, to the things they hold sacred. That is to say, the Taliban’s resistance to the NRF will be rooted in fear of extinction. They will fight to the death for a way of life.

Why is the West doing this to Afghanistan after having destroyed that country’s social fabric through the past two decades perpetrating such horrific war crimes? At the very least, first return that country’s money in western banks and allow the Afghan nation a decent respite to lick its war wounds, before inciting another civil war. 

Abdul Latif Pedram, a rare progressive-minded Afghan politician known for his integrity, wrote in a tweet “I was invited to the security meeting of Herat (at Dushanbe), but I did not participate in the meeting due to the presence of corrupt people.” 

Indeed, it is an insult to the Afghan people that the westerners continue to treat them like mute cattle. Pedram added that the invitees to the Dushanbe meeting were all associated with the corrupt regime that the Taliban replaced, and are bankrupt in ideas to improve the tragic situation in his country. 

December 1, 2022 Posted by | Corruption | , , | 1 Comment

Lavrov rubbishes ‘lies’ about Ukraine peace talks

RT | December 1, 2022

Allegations that Russia is seeking peace talks with Ukraine as a ploy for a military build-up are false, Russia’s foreign minister has said. Sergey Lavrov was responding to statements to that effect from top officials in Kiev, including President Vladimir Zelensky.

The accusations are “ridiculous and unpleasant, because [those who make them] blatantly lie,” the minister told journalists on Thursday during a press conference.

“We never asked for any negotiations. But we always stated that if somebody has an interest in a negotiated settlement, we are ready to listen,” he stressed.

In October, President Zelensky said during a virtual speech to the European Council that Russia was “manipulating the negotiations issue” due to Kiev’s battlefield successes. He went on to claim that Moscow was calling for dialogue, “which it rejected itself by starting a war against Ukraine and all of you, the entire Europe,” while rejecting “dozens of our proposals” for peace.

Lavrov noted that Ukraine and Russia were on the verge of striking a peace deal after talks in Istanbul in late March. At that time they inked a proposed agreement, which would have given Ukraine international security guarantees in exchange for neutral status.

Kiev pulled out of the talks soon afterwards, with Zelensky claiming that fresh evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by Russian troops had left him no other option. Moscow rejected the accusations, calling the evidence falsified.

“Not only did we listen, but we were prepared to make a deal on the terms that [the Ukrainians] proposed themselves,” Lavrov explained. “They were not allowed to do that because the war had not made enough profit for those who supervise and direct it.”

The Russian diplomat pointed to the US, and to a lesser degree the UK, as parties who are allegedly directing Ukraine’s actions. Washington pursues its goals of weakening Russia and benefiting from arms sales at the expense of the Ukrainian people, he said.

Lavrov added that the US and its allies have a pattern of rejecting ways to reduce tensions with Russia. Hostilities in Ukraine started after they refused to heed Russian warnings that the expansion of NATO was crossing a red line, he insisted. The military bloc brushed aside a proposed security deal, which in Russia’s view would have addressed the issue.

December 1, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Zelensky’s $1 trillion ‘reconstruction’ pipe dream

By Drago Bosnic | December 1, 2022

It’s safe to say the world has gotten used to mind-blowing statements coming from the detached Kiev regime, as this has become their common theme. Apart from boastful claims of supposed “victories” of the Neo-Nazi junta forces against the Russian military, talks of how much financial assistance is necessary is the usual topic in Kiev. The regime frontman Volodymyr Zelensky is never tired of demanding yet another few billion dollars (euros and pounds are good enough, too) per month to support the political West’s favorite puppet regime. However, his most recent statements make every other demand look entirely “reasonable”. Namely, the Kiev regime frontman now wants over $1 trillion for the supposed “reconstruction” of the country.

During a video address on November 29, Zelensky stated that it would cost more than $1 trillion to “rebuild” Ukraine. If the number sounds astounding, that’s quite expected, given that it’s over five times the country’s 2021 GDP. However, even this sounds laughable when the second requirement is listed – this “reconstruction” plan would come into effect only after the military superpower with over 6,000 thermonuclear warheads next door is somehow “defeated”. Many have ignored Zelensky’s mind-boggling statements regarding this matter, but he keeps insisting that this is precisely what the Kiev regime needs.

“The reconstruction of our country will become the most momentous economic, technological, and humanitarian project of our time. Even now, we engage dozens of our partner countries to rebuild Ukraine,” Zelensky said during his late-night video address on Tuesday, according to a report translated by Newsweek. “The total volume of work amounts to over a trillion dollars,” he added.

Zelensky mentioned the figure while talking about his hopes that the country would host the World’s Fair in 2030. Another interesting aspect of the plan was that foreign governments and corporations could become “permanent sponsors of specific regions, cities or economic sectors”. Apart from being unrealistic, Zelensky’s ideas are also boiling down to the direct colonization of Ukraine. By giving control of different regions of the country to “permanent sponsors”, the Neo-Nazi junta frontman is effectively fracturing what’s left of the country and giving it to foreign corporate interests in a free-for-all exploitation scheme.

According to Western-backed, Latvia-based news outlet “Meduza”, Zelensky is hoping to develop a system that will allow “partner countries” to become “patrons” of Ukrainian regions, cities or businesses. “We’re already seeing interest [in the program] from France, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Poland, Portugal, Czechia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, Canada, the U.S., Japan, and Australia. And that’s not an exhaustive list,” he said.

Interestingly, the mind-blowing $1 trillion figure was mentioned by Zelensky at least once before, but it somehow went under the radar of most mainstream media. The first time he mentioned it publicly was on September 6, when he was invited to virtually “ring” the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Zelensky used this unique opportunity to float the idea and initially appealed for “at least” $400 billion in foreign funds. “The general project of Ukrainian reconstruction will be the largest economic project in Europe of our time. The largest for several generations. Its volume is already estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars,” he stated at the time and then added: “And with the necessary modernization of the Ukrainian infrastructure, taking into account security needs, it is more than a trillion dollars and in a fairly short term – less than ten years.”

As previously mentioned, the country’s GDP was just over $200 billion in 2021, according to official data from the World Bank. This effectively means that the Kiev regime is demanding others invest half a decade’s worth of Ukrainian “peacetime” GDP. Although this may seem like a dumbfounding request, what’s even more staggering is the fact that at least one US-based think tank already backed the proposal. The renowned Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) openly supported the idea, claiming that “it would provide strategic benefits to the United States.”

In a November 22 report titled “United States Aid to Ukraine: An Investment Whose Benefits Greatly Exceed its Cost”, CSIS authors argued the following: “In practice, Ukraine cannot continue to fight and to recover without continuing aid from the US and other powers. Moreover, if the war drags on as it well may do, the total costs of both the war and recovery states could easily rise well over $500 billion. A truly long war could put the total cost of the war and recovery to a trillion dollars or more.” The report further states: “So far, there has been only limited domestic political resistance in the United States to continuing civil and military aid to Ukraine.”

This clearly implies that the authors think the US government should always insist on more financial “assistance” to the Kiev regime and push back against anyone trying to focus on mounting domestic issues. Given just how corrupt the Neo-Nazi junta is, it’s hardly surprising there’s a lack of enthusiasm for this idea among many in the US. The recent FTX-Kiev regime-DNC scandal, along with the fact that Washington DC cannot account for over $20 billion in previous “aid” provided to the Neo-Nazi junta, all serve as a testament to the skepticism many Americans feel in this regard. Considering the current state of the US (and global) economy, who could possibly blame them.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

December 1, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , | 1 Comment

College Graduates Are the New Favored Class of Democratic Largesse

By Jim Bovard | The Libertarian Institute | November 28, 2022

When Americans make lists of the persecuted, downtrodden groups in our society, college graduates rarely top the ranking. But President Joe Biden is offering one bribe after another to convert college graduates into perpetual dependents of the Democratic Party. Biden’s handouts helped prevent a “red wave” of Republican victories on Election Day and he appears hellbent on forcing taxpayers to pay any price to continue buying votes for his party.

Federal subsidies for higher education have been one of the least recognized boondoggles of recent decades. Federal-backed loans for higher education took off in the 1960s and have skyrocketed in this century. Almost $2 trillion in federal student loans are owed by 46 million people.

Federal aid spurred tuition increases that make it far more difficult for unsubsidized students to afford higher education. A student’s financial “need” is defined largely by tuition fees. Every tuition increase means an increase in federal aid for students—and thus an increase in the federal aid for the college. A 2012 study by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity concluded that financial aid “inevitably puts upward pressure on tuition. Higher tuition reduces college affordability, leading to calls for more financial aid, setting the vicious cycle in motion all over again.” A 2015 Federal Reserve analysis “found that for every new dollar made available in federally subsidized student loans, schools…rose their rates by 65 cents.”

Federal policies have helped turn young people into a debtor class perpetually clamoring for relief from its burdens. Rather than seeing the federal government as a potential peril to their rights and liberties, some debt-burdened young adults view it as the “Great Liberator”—presuming the right candidate is elected.

Rather than ending the perverse incentives embedded in federal aid, Biden “solved” the problem by canceling borrowers’ obligation to repay their subsidized loans. On August 24, Biden invoked an obscure provision of the post-9/11 Heroes Act to justify hundreds of billions of dollars of handouts to people who had taken out federal college loans. The Heroes Act permits the Education Department “to waive or modify student loan payments in times of national emergency.” Individuals earning less than $125,000 could have up to $20,000 in federal debt automatically erased; couples earning $250,000 could see a $40,000 forgiveness windfall.

Biden had previously admitted that the law would not justify blanket forgiveness of college loans, but he and his advisors decided to force Americans to pay any price for Democrat votes in the midterm congressional elections. The Department of Education justified Biden’s decree as “a program of categorical debt cancellation directed at addressing the financial harms caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” including “cancellation for borrowers who have been financially harmed because of the COVID- 19 pandemic.” But college graduates were doing much better financially than other Americans who get stuck with the bill for their schooling. Their unemployment rate was less than two percent at that time.

Former Education Department lawyer Hans Bader estimates that the total cost of Biden’s student loan write-offs could exceed a trillion dollars. A Wall Street Journal editorial headlined “Biden’s Half-Trillion-Dollar Student-Loan Forgiveness Coup” derided his decision as “easily the worst domestic decision of his Presidency.” The Journal pointed out that Biden based the loan cancellation for more than 40 million borrowers “on no authority but his own” power as president. “This is a college graduate bailout paid for by plumbers and FedEx drivers,” the Journal noted. As former OMB director David Stockman observed, “Student debt is overwhelmingly an investment in professional credentialization that should never have been an obligation of the taxpayers in the first place.” ZeroHedge quipped on Twitter: “Have colleges raised tuition by $10,000 yet or are they waiting a few days first?”

There was no rationale for blanket cancellation of student debts that would not justify blanket cancellation of almost any debt citizens owed to the government. At the same time that Biden played Santa Claus with student loan forgiveness, his administration was hiring 87,000 new IRS agents and employees to squeeze more money out of working Americans.

The handouts helped buy Democrats their biggest boost among voters — a 28% advantage over Republicans in voters age 18 to 29 in the mid-term elections. Two days after the election, Biden tweeted, “I want to thank the young people of this nation” who voted for “student debt relief.” Jon Cooper, a former top Biden campaign operative, tweeted, “Young people: You saved our butts. THANK YOU.”

Two days after the election, federal judge Mark Pittman struck down the bailout as an unconstitutional decree: “In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government.” Pittman rejected the “emergency” basis of the order in part because Biden had proclaimed in September on “60 Minutes” that “the pandemic is over.” The following week, a federal appeals court in St. Louis unanimously voted to impose a nationwide “injunction considering the irreversible impact the Secretary’s debt forgiveness action would have” on “Americans who pay taxes to finance the government.”

Some activists believe Biden intentionally swindled young voters with a bait-and-switch scheme. Briahna Joy Gray, who was the press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, asked, “Did Biden RIG student debt forgiveness to fail, just to help him in midterms?” She explained on Twitter: “They used the promise of student debt cancellation to induce young voter turn out—knowing it wasn’t going anywhere [because] they relied on faulty legal authority. Hard to convince me the Biden admin didn’t do this intentionally.” A student activist group called the Debt Collective is circulating a petition: “I refuse to pay a debt the President promised to cancel.”

Biden came up with a Solomonic solution—sawing taxpayers in half—to placate his enraged supporters. He announced on Twitter, “Republican special interests and elected officials sued to deny this relief even for their own constituents. It isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit.” On November 22, Biden announced that he was extending the moratorium on repaying student debt until August 2023. That moratorium began in March 2020 during the first COVID lockdowns and has already cost taxpayers $155 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. When Biden announced his loan forgiveness decree in August, he promised, “The student-loan payment pause is gonna end. It is time for the payments to resume.” Biden betrayed that promise, apparently believing that no one should be obliged to fulfill their legal obligation as long as there was a snowball’s chance in hell that some judge would uphold his scheme. Extending the loan payment moratorium could give a crucial boost to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, locked in a tight December 6 run-off election.

What happens when the latest moratorium extension ends in August 2023? Biden may be formally kicking off his re-election campaign at that time. And what better way to buy support than by extending a handout to one of his most important constituencies? In the 2022 mid-term elections, “52 percent of voters with college degrees supported Democrats while 42 percent of voters without degrees did so,” The Washington Post reported.

Protecting former students from the federal debts they voluntarily accepted has become one of the great human rights issues of our times. Michael Pierce, chief of the Student Borrower Protection Center, is calling for Biden to “make it clear that the student loan system will remain shut off as long as these partisan legal challenges persist. Borrowers’ fate is in Biden’s hands.”

And this is the ultimate problem for democracy. Student loan bailouts have extended Biden’s power over a huge swath of American voters. Each new federal benefit program extends political control over both the recipients and anyone forced to finance the handouts. Speaking to an AFL-CIO convention earlier this year, Biden shouted, “I don’t want to hear anymore of these lies about reckless spending. We’re changing people’s lives!” “Changing” means controlling—but only for their own good, or at least for the re-election of their benefactors

French philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenal warned, “Redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, than a redistribution of power form the individual to the state.” If Biden’s loan repayment moratorium is extended through 2024, “a typical medical student who graduated in 2019 would effectively have $107,000 forgiven and a law school graduate would have $65,000 forgiven… New doctors receive almost ten times the benefit of the average borrower and $107,000 more than someone who never attended college,” the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reported. Even The Washington Post editorial page slammed Biden’s student debt forgiveness decree as a “regressive, expensive mistake.”

But the inequity is irrelevant if the handouts enable Biden and his Democratic colleagues to perpetuate their grip on power. As legal fights over loan bailouts continue, Americans will continue to be assailed by claptrap about ex-students as a holy class of martyrs—or at least oppressed victims. But most of the self-proclaimed “best and brightest” are not smart enough to recognize how they have been converted into tools for Leviathan.

Jim Bovard is the author of Public Policy Hooligan (2012), Attention Deficit Democracy (2006), Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (1994), and 7 other books.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Economics | | Leave a comment

Moscow names condition for resuming arms control talks with US

RT | November 30, 2022

Russia sees no possibility of resuming talks with Washington on the cornerstone New START arms control treaty while the US continues to arm Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Speaking in a live interview on radio Sputnik, Maria Zakharova said: “The US intends to supply even more weapons to the conflict region, in which the Russian Federation is directly involved. That is, they will supply all these weapons, they will encourage the Kiev regime to cause even more bloodshed, they will allocate money for extremist activities that are carried out under the auspices of these delusional people [in the Ukrainian presidency], and we will sit with them at the same table and discuss issues of mutual security with them, including those in their interest?”

The spokeswoman stressed that Moscow values the New START agreement, as it serves the best interests of both Russia and the US, adding that the necessary conditions must be met before talks can be resumed.

Russian and American diplomats were set to meet in Cairo on Tuesday for a new round of talks on prolonging the deal, set to expire in early 2026. The meeting, however, was called off shortly before it was set to happen, with no new date announced.

“The event is being postponed to a later date,” the Russian Foreign Ministry told RT on Monday. Meanwhile, CNN has quoted the US State Department as saying Washington was ready to hold talks at the earliest possible date, and considered that “resuming nuclear inspections under the New START treaty is a priority.”

New START, signed back in 2010, is effectively the last arms control agreement between the two major nuclear powers following Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 2019. The pact limits the number of nuclear warheads that the US and Russia can possess, and restricts the number of deployed silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and nuclear bombers. The total number of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles must not exceed 800.

Russia suspended the inspection regime under the treaty back in August, blaming the move on Western sanctions that had prevented Russian inspectors from doing their work in the US and giving Washington an unfair advantage. Moscow said the inspection could resume only when the principles of parity and equality were restored.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Satellites Used Against Russia in Ukraine May Become Legitimate Targets

Samizdat – 30.11.2022

MOSCOW – Quasi-civilian satellites used by Western countries to support the Ukrainian military throughout the conflict may become legitimate targets for Russia, Vladimir Ermakov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, has told Sputnik.

“Western countries are actively using the potential of civilian space infrastructure, first of all, a group of low-orbiting satellites, to support operations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These are used to exclusively perform combat tasks to reveal locations, routes of movement and actions of Russian troops, to control combat aerial vehicles, as well as to target high-precision munitions from space,” Ermakov said.

He added that such a provocative use of “civilian satellites at the very least raises questions in the context of the Outer Space Treaty” and “requires the most serious condemnation by the world community.”

“We confirm that such quasi-civilian infrastructure, should it be used in military action against Russia, may quite logically become a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike,” Ermakov said.

Given the global coverage of the Earth by civilian spacecraft, “the Pentagon is testing the concept of a prospective command and control system for troops anywhere in the world, and the vast majority of countries have no effective means of countering it,” the director said.

“We advocate the prevention of the use of civilian commercial satellites to achieve combat tasks. We urge all countries interested in the proper use of space technologies to make joint efforts in the interests of the exploration of near-Earth space for purely peaceful purposes,” the diplomat noted.

“The development of legally binding norms of international law that would be comprehensive in nature and aimed at the prevention of an arms race in outer space” is the only way to ensure that outer space is used only for peaceful purposes, Ermakov said.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 3 Comments

Pentagon cannot account for $20 billion worth of weapons in Ukraine while another $19 billion for Taiwan is missing

By Drago Bosnic | November 30, 2022

As if ongoing corruption scandals, including the FTX-Kiev regime-DNC connection, weren’t enough, the troubled Biden administration is now faced with another one. According to the latest reports, the US government is unable to account for the approximately $20 billion worth of weapons it sent to the Kiev regime. The US Congress has become a place of heated debates as Republicans warn there will be “impending audits” after they take full control of the House of Representatives in January. Major news media, such as Fox News, claim that the US government under Biden inspected only 10% of approximately 22,000 weapons it sent to the Kiev regime from late February to November.

The GOP wants audits to determine what is going on with the massive amounts of weapons the US is sending and how much of it is ending up “where it’s supposed to be.” Republican representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has vowed to “hold our government accountable” for spending US taxpayers’ dollars for the sake of the corrupt Kiev regime. Other members of the US Congress have been asking for audits for months, while Senator Rand Paul asked on Twitter: “Didn’t someone try to legislatively mandate a special inspector general to scrutinize Ukrainian spending?  Oh, that’s right, it was my amendment and most Democrats AND Republicans opposed any semblance of oversight.”

Back in May, the Biden administration promised it would pledge more than $54 billion in the military, financial and humanitarian “aid” to the Kiev regime. Various estimates of the full amount of funds the political West sent (and is still sending) put the actual number much higher (more than $65 billion back in May). Since Russia launched its counteroffensive on February 24, the US provided the bulk of those funds, far more than all of its vassals and satellite states combined, according to data cited by Summit News. On multiple occasions, the US government and the Pentagon indirectly admitted they weren’t able to track Ukraine-bound funds and resources after they reached the Polish-Ukrainian border.

On the other hand, representatives of some of the US vassals and satellite states in Europe have expressed frustration with the GOP’s requests for accountability of where the funds earmarked for the Kiev regime are ending up. These European officials “hope that such measures would not lead to cutting off funding to Ukraine and ultimately to victory for Russia.” Others, such as the United Kingdom Parliament member Tobias Ellwood, have been more direct and accused the Republicans of “playing into Putin’s hands” by asking for audits and imposition of stricter control, oversight and accountability regarding the funds for the Kiev regime.

Yet, weapons deliveries to the Kiev regime are hardly the only issue the US is faced with at present. Weapons the Biden administration promised to deliver to China’s breakaway island province of Taiwan have been considerably delayed and slowed as a result of the US commitment to arming the Neo-Nazi junta. It is estimated that Washington DC approved approximately $20 billion in arms sales to the government in Taipei since 2017. In late August, a Defense News report claimed there was a $14 billion backlog in weapons sales to Taiwan. However, the latest data indicates that the number has now drastically increased to nearly $19 billion in delayed deliveries, according to a new estimate by The Wall Street Journal.

“US government and congressional officials fear the conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating a nearly $19 billion backlog of weapons bound for Taiwan, further delaying efforts to arm the island as tensions with China escalate,” the WSJ report begins. “The US has pumped billions of dollars of weapons into Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, taxing the capacity of the government and defense industry to keep up with a sudden demand to arm Kiev in a conflict that isn’t expected to end soon,” the authors added in an admission rarely seen in mainstream media.

The information indicates that the US might not be able to respond effectively to a potential escalation of tensions in Taiwan. “The flow of weapons to Ukraine is now running up against the longer-term demands of a US strategy to arm Taiwan to help it defend itself against a possible invasion by China, according to congressional and government officials familiar with the matter,” WSJ report states.

Somewhat ironically, many Washington DC and Taipei officials have consistently used the Ukraine crisis as a reference point to reinforce the narrative that the US “must urgently equip the island with everything it needs.” However, very few of them have admitted that the US Military Industrial Complex doesn’t have the production capacity necessary to concurrently arm the Kiev regime and the government in Taipei. This is especially true given the aforementioned issues with tracking weapons and other funds earmarked for the Neo-Nazi junta in Kiev.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , | 4 Comments

US exaggerating ‘China threat’ to justify nuclear build-up – Beijing

RT | November 30, 2022

The US is hyping up a supposed “Chinese threat” as an excuse to expand its nuclear arsenal and maintain its military hegemony, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday, calling it a “go-to tactic of the US.”

China’s nuclear policy remains consistent and clear, the spokesman explained, noting that Beijing was sticking to its no-first-use policy in regard to nuclear weapons and has limited the development of its strategic arsenal to the minimum level required by national security. “We are never part of any form of an arms race,” he pointed out, stating that China does not pose a threat or challenge to other countries, with which it hopes to be a development partner.

Meanwhile, the US has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world and openly devises first-strike deterrence policies against particular countries, Zhao noted.

“What the US should do is to seriously reflect on its nuclear policy, abandon the Cold-War mentality and hegemonic logic,” the spokesman said. He called on Washington to “stop disrupting global strategic stability,” and cut down its nuclear arsenal in order to “create conditions for attaining the ultimate goal of complete and thorough nuclear disarmament.”

Zhao’s comments come after the US Defense Department published on Tuesday the so-called 2022 China Military Power Report, which describes Beijing as “the most consequential and systemic challenge to our national security and to a free and open international system.” The report also suggests that China could step up the modernization of its nuclear forces in the next decade and produce about 1,500 tactical warheads by 2035.

Last month, the US also released its 2022 National Security Strategy, in which China was labeled as “the most consequential geopolitical challenge,” noting that Beijing had the intent to reshape the international order and possessed “the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it.”

Beijing responded by accusing Washington of being driven by “the logic of domination” and deliberately “misrepresenting” China’s foreign and defense policies.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Russian Foreign Ministry: No Evidence That Tehran Wants to Develop Nuclear Weapons

Samizdat – 30.11.2022

MOSCOW – There is no evidence that Tehran intends to develop nuclear weapons, reviewing its participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Vladimir Yermakov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department, said in an interview with Sputnik.

“Iran has been and remains a conscientious participant in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The conclusion of the JCPOA in 2015 helped to finally and irrevocably remove all the questions that the [International Atomic Energy Agency] had to Tehran at that time.”

“After that, for several years Iran remained the most verified state among agency members. No deviations from its obligations were identified,” Yermakov said. “There is no evidence that would indicate Tehran’s intention to ever reconsider its participation in the NPT and start developing a nuclear explosive device.”

Yermakov’s remarks come as the US undertakes joint military drills with Israel, complete with fighter jet simulations on strikes against Iran’s nuclear program infrastructure. Earlier announcements detailed the drills would be held in the Mediterranean Sea starting November 29, and lasting through December 1.

At the time, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stressed that the drills were needed in order for Israel to “prepare” its service members for any “possibility.”

Days before the drills kicked off, US media reported that Tehran was inching toward achieving a weapons-grade enrichment, paving the way for Iran to acquire the technology to assemble nuclear weapons.

However, it’s worth noting that Iran has repeatedly indicated it has no intention to create nuclear arms; in fact, Iranian leadership imposed a fatwa in 2003 on the production or usage of any form of nuclear weapons.

Tension between Iran, Israel and the US has remained high for years. Under the Trump administration, however, escalations were at near-boiling after the US withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, reimposed past sanctions and continued on a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.

Talks to restore the agreement under the Biden White House have remained stalled for months. Iran earlier dispatched a “constructive” response to Washington’s proposals but was ultimately shut down by administration officials who deemed the messages “not constructive.”

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments