Mint Press News

China Tech Ban Mirrors 1980s Attempts To Destroy Japanese Competition

With just days left in office, the Trump administration has blacklisted an additional nine Chinese companies, adding them to a long list of firms on the U.S. military blacklist and escalating the trade war on Beijing as the U.S. attempts to suppress China’s economic rise. 

The Department of Defense claimed that those on its list are secretly owned or controlled by the Chinese military and that it was “determined to highlight and counter” threats that “appear to be civilian entities” but are not. Those companies are now likely partially blocked from the U.S. market and from doing business with American companies. 

Chief on the list is electronics giant Xiaomi, whose stocks plunged by 11% this morning and have not recovered. While still relatively unknown in the U.S., Xiaomi is a global giant, manufacturing televisions, smartwatches, tablets, and all manner of home appliances. They are surely best known, however, as makers of smartphones. In quarter three of last year, Xiaomi stormed past Apple to become the planet’s third-largest smartphone maker, behind only Samsung and fellow-sanctioned Chinese giant Huawei. Xiaomi sold 46.5 million units, a 42% increase on Q3 last year — an impressive jump, especially considering the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Airplane manufacturer Comac, oil giant CNOOOC and Chinese chipmaker SMIC were also added to the list.

Quickly developing a loyal base of customers, Xiaomi is increasingly seen across the planet as a major competitor to Apple, selling similarly specced units for a fraction of the price of an iPhone. By contrast, both Apple’s smartphone sales and market share have been falling dramatically, suggesting that, unlikely as it seems, Apple could go the way of Nokia or Motorola before them. 

 

The government’s move is the latest episode in the ever-intensifying trade war against Beijing. The Trump administration has previously sanctioned other Chinese tech giants like smartphone manufacturer and 5G provider Huawei and video-sharing social media app TikTok, claiming them to be dangerous appendages of the Red Army. In 2020, the president threatened to shut down TikTok, unless it was sold to an American corporation. Other pro-U.S. countries such as India went further, instituting an outright ban on the popular platform. 

  “Pivot to Asia”

It is unclear who, apart from American tech firms, have been the beneficiary of this trade war. A recently-published study found that Trump’s decisions on China have cost close to a quarter of a million American jobs already and will likely lead to the loss of 145,000 more by 2025. 

The Trump administration has also built on President Obama’s military “Pivot to Asia,” attempting to encircle Russia and China with American military bases, and building alliances with Beijing’s neighbors in order to do so. U.S. warships and planes have been probing the Chinese coast for months, attempting to gain more knowledge about their defense systems. In July, the U.S.S. Rafael Peralta went within 41 nautical miles of the coastal megacity of Shanghai. Last month, the military also flew nuclear bombers over Chinese ships close to the province of Hainan Island. 

 

The China tech ban mirrors the moves in the 1980s to destroy the Japanese semiconductor industry, which had rapidly risen and overtaken its American competitor. If nothing was done, Japan would have easily overtaken Silicon Valley to become the world’s electronics and communications capital. The U.S. imposed a 100% tariff on virtually all Japanese electronics and forced Tokyo to sign a one-sided trade deal that reserved much of its domestic semiconductor sector for American companies and opened the country up for American agribusiness. In no small part due to U.S. actions, much of the high-tech sector collapsed, and Japan has suffered over 30 years of economic recession since. Xiaomi also makes semiconductors. 

China’s response to the news was to point the finger at the U.S. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the United States has a long history of civilian-military tech partnerships and accused the Trump administration of double-standards and bullying. 

Lijian is not incorrect; virtually every big American tech firm has close links with the government or the military. In November, for instance, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, IBM, and Amazon Web Services all signed a 15-year deal to provide the CIA and 16 other intelligence agencies with cloud computing and other digital services. In their book titled, “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business,” Eric Schmidt and fellow Google executive Jared Cohen wrote, “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century…technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first,” suggesting that they saw big tech’s role as the tip of the American spear. 

 

During the presidential debates, Trump and Biden appeared to be trying to outcompete each other on their hawkishness towards China, each presenting the other as a puppet of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. While Biden might not have opted for a ban on Chinese companies like Trump has, analysts suggest that he is unlikely to reverse this decision, nor to change the direction of American policy. Thus, the Xiaomi restrictions are unlikely to be the last shots fired in the growing trade war against Beijing.

Feature photo | A woman takes a photo with a phone that has a United States flag themed cover outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China’s Sichuan province on, July 26, 2020. Ng Han Guan | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post China Tech Ban Mirrors 1980s Attempts To Destroy Japanese Competition appeared first on MintPress News.

Birth of the Digital Oligarchy: The Trump Ban and the Social Media Ruse

On January 6, as the events unfolding at the U.S. Capitol were discussed on Twitter, the barrage of opinions predictably accumulated on one side of the political spectrum. Outrage over what mainstream pundits characterized as the desecration of the symbols of democracy and similar bleeding heart liberal rhetoric was far more prevalent than the opposing camp’s tendency to side with the so-called “insurrectionists” or tweets in support of the made-for-social media putsch.

Evidence of straight forward collusion between elements of law enforcement and the Trump loyalists who stormed the Congressional building began to emerge throughout the evening, giving a measure of credence to the emerging narrative of a purported “coup” attempt by the sitting president. Simultaneously, members of Congress with large followings started calling for impeachment and other retaliatory measures against fellow members of Congress, who seemed to be implicated in the tawdry affair.

 

Two days later, after tensions continued to simmer among its most vocal user base, the famously left-leaning social media platform carried out a coup of their own by permanently banning Donald Trump’s Twitter account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” and proceeded to execute a mass purge ­of 70,000 accounts, which ran afoul of their revamped rules targeting “extremist” behavior.

The ban was celebrated by a number of left-leaning media outlets like The Verge and Raw Story; the former publishing an article detailing all the ways in which Twitter’s actions and those of other social media networks were justified as a “desperate response to a desperate situation,” incongruously disparaging any comparisons to the real-life purges of Stalinist Russia, while citing “the facts on the ground” as a legitimate excuse for the virtual takedowns.

Predictably, conservative publications like Fox News decried the measures as a power grab by Big Tech and protestations came as far away from Europe, where German Chancellor, Angela Merkel – whose disdain for Donald Trump has never been a secret – called the decision to deplatform a head of state “problematic,” an opinion shared by France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Marie, who warned of a “digital oligarchy” usurping the powers of the state.

Missing in the salacious back-and-forth conversation between ideological factions and absent from the argument that they are private corporations, which have the legal authority to ban or deplatform anybody they wish, is the fact that Twitter, Facebook, and all the other major social media platforms are organs of the state to begin with, and that nothing they do falls outside of the ultimate designs of the powers they serve. 

Examples abound of how these platforms regularly engage in cyber reconnaissance missions for American and Atlanticist interests in violation of their own terms of service, such as when NATO commanders made use of coordinates provided by Twitter users in order to select missile strike targets in their war against Libya in 2011. 

 

Facebook’s recently created oversight board includes Emi Palmor, who was directly responsible for the removal of thousands of Palestinian posts from the social media giant during her tenure as Director of Israel’s Ministry of Justice. She, along with other individuals with clear sympathies to American interests, now sit on an official body tasked with emitting the last word on any disputes regarding issues of deplatforming on the global social network. 

  Following you since 1972

In Yasha Levine’s seminal work, “Surveillance Valley,” the military origins of the Internet and the close relationship of social media companies to federal and local law enforcement are made patently clear. Since their creation, Twitter, Facebook, and other Silicon Valley behemoths have worked hand in hand with law enforcement agencies to augment their capacity for mass tracking and surveillance.

From facial recognition technologies to aggregated user post history, these platforms have been a crucial component in the development of the pervasive surveillance state we now live in. In the book’s prologue, Levine details the attempted creation of a citywide police surveillance hub in Oakland, California called the “Domain Awareness Center” (DAC), which drew intense opposition from the local citizenry and privacy advocates who were quick to undress city officials who were trying to hide the proposed center’s insidious links to the NSA, CIA and military contractors.

Among other capabilities, the control hub would be able to “plug in” social media feeds to track individuals or groups that posed any kind of threat to the establishment. While the DAC project was successfully defeated by an engaged public, similar initiatives were quickly implemented throughout law enforcement agencies across the country and continue to be perfected in order to not only track, but infiltrate political groups deemed problematic. 

 

From the early 1970s, when the Internet’s precursor ARPANET was used to spy on anti-war protestors, the vast machinery that constitutes our present-day technological ecosystem has not deviated from the original intentions of its creators and has reached a level of sophistication most of us can barely comprehend.

The seemingly innocuous ad-targeting algorithms that generate bespoke advertisements based on our surveilled lives via social media conceals a far more sinister architecture of control, which includes direct influence over people’s political opinions through micro-targeted messaging and even more insidious methods that are powerful enough to influence people’s actual behavior.

  Amateur honeypots and the victory of the surveillance state 

One of the biggest misconceptions we have about social media is that platforms like Twitter and Facebook represent the voice of the people and that they are the new “public square” where anybody can get on and voice their opinion. While this perception holds some water on the surface, a closer examination reveals that – on the contrary – these platforms are simply propaganda tools brilliantly disguised as vox populi.

According to a Pew Research study from 2019, 80% of all tweets are created by just 10% of Twitter users. Most people who have an account on the ostensibly left-leaning social media platform rarely tweet at all. In addition, a majority of the content is created by accounts with very large followings and, in most cases, verified accounts that mainly represent established mainstream media personalities. 

 

Given that the politics espoused by this minuscule portion of the social network’s user base are amplified by the platform’s own algorithms, which have been shown to contain biases as all algorithms do, the perception that these platforms represent some kind of public opinion is revealed to be a very dangerous assumption.

A case in point is disturbingly reflected in a meme that ostensibly developed in yet another social media platform and rapidly spread on Twitter as a result of the incident on Capitol Hill. A tweet posted the day after on January 7 claimed that a woman in Washington D.C. was changing her profile preference on the Bumble dating app to “conservative” in order to entrap “insurrectionists” looking to hook up while visiting the nation’s capital by forwarding their photos to the FBI.

Get in girls. We're going hunting. pic.twitter.com/qIjmiXNoSV

— Dr. Lisa Corrigan (@DrLisaCorrigan) January 14, 2021

The tweet received hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’ and was retweeted thousands of times. The comments expressed overwhelming support for what amounts to an ostensibly spontaneous snitching operation by regular American citizens against other American citizens. In such a case, whether the meme itself is true has no bearing on the fact that Twitter, Facebook and any other platform where it was disseminated has the ultimate effect of normalizing and generating consent for the idea of self-monitoring and bringing the designs of the surveillance state full circle.

Feature photo | Ben Heine | Shutterstock

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

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Twitter Suspends Account of Russian COVID Vaccine Citing Attempted US Hack

The Twitter account of the Russian COVID-19 “Sputnik V” vaccine was suspended yesterday after the Silicon Valley-based platform detected suspicious attempts to log into it. Raising more eyebrows was the stated location of the attempted hack: not Russia, but Virginia, U.S.A. 

The news immediately prompted Internet sleuths to question who was behind the hack. “Now who in Virginia might want to sabotage a global health initiative by one of Washington’s “official enemies?” wrote former MintPress contributor Morgan Artyukhina. Virginia is, of course, home to many of the three-letter national security agencies engaged in online warfare, including the CIA. Many social media users suggested this was evidence of a failed nefarious action. Sputnik’s Twitter account has since been reinstated. 

Now who in Virginia might want to sabotage a global health initiative by one of Washington's "Official Enemies?" https://t.co/rtgzhe9sV0

— Morgan Artyukhina (@LavenderNRed) January 14, 2021

Named after the first manmade satellite to orbit the Earth, the vaccine is among the first to be developed and brought to market. With rich nations buying up huge quantities of Western vaccines before they were even approved, leaving little for poorer states, Sputnik is primarily being used in Russia, Asia, and Latin America. Already, 727 million doses have been ordered by 50 countries, including 200 million from India and 160 million from Russia. Meanwhile, Brazil has ordered 100 million and Mexico 24 million. Bolivia, Argentina, and Venezuela are also major customers. In December, Hungary became the first EU nation to purchase the shots, and there is a possibility that the vaccine could be rolled out across the continent soon. Testing occurred in a number of nations in the Global South and the vaccine will be produced in nine countries. 

Like Western variants, Sputnik must be delivered in two shots weeks apart and must also be stored in deep freezer conditions (-18°C/-0.4°F). Developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute, it is a viral vector vaccine, meaning that it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the desired immune response into cells. Protein coding genes from the coronavirus are inserted into two common cold-like viruses that have been genetically modified so they cannot replicate inside the human body. Trial results suggest that the injections are between 91-95% effective, similar to the Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines. 

However, Western politicians and press have been casting doubts and fears on the safety and effectiveness of the product for months, describing it as “controversial” (The Guardian) or “rushed” (BBC). Others, such as CNN and CNBC have characterized it as unsafe and ineffective. 

  The new Cold War

This is perhaps unsurprising, given the new levels of anti-Russian sentiment expressed in the corporate media since 2016. A central claim from many in the Democratic Party is that the Russian government strongly interfered in the presidential election and swung the result for Donald J. Trump. Russian President Vladimir Putin is supposedly in possession of incriminating evidence on Trump, making the man in the White House a “Siberian candidate,” according to many. Russophobic sentiment has reached such heights that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper could appear on NBC’s Meet the Press to claim that Russians are “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate [and] gain favor” and receive no push back at all. 

Democrats also immediately saw Russia’s hand behind the deadly storming of the Capitol Building earlier this month. “A complete tool of Putin, this president is. Putin’s goal was to diminish the view of democracy in the world. That’s what he has been about … the president gave him the biggest of all of his many gifts to Putin” said Nancy Pelosi. “This is the day that Vladimir Putin has waited for since he had to leave East Germany as a young KGB officer,” reacted Obama advisor Ben Rhodes. “Putin’s Disinformation Campaign Claims Stunning Victory With Capitol Hill ‘Coup’” wrote Omer Benjakob in Haaretz.

 

All of this was a far cry from 2012 when Democrats relentlessly mocked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for suggesting Russia was a threat. “Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching ‘Rocky IV’” joked former presidential candidate John Kerry. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back… the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” President Obama quipped, attempting to present his opponent as a man stuck in the distant past. 

But while many in the Democratic Party see Trump as being either soft on (or controlled by) Putin, in reality, the 45th president has adopted a highly aggressive policy towards Moscow. Trump’s administration armed far-right rebel groups in Ukraine, something Obama shied away from. He also increased sanctions on Russia, bombed a Russian military base in Syria, and walked away from a number of anti-nuclear treaties crucial in maintaining the peace between the two powers. 

As a result, Americans’ view of Russia has crashed. As late as 2011, a substantial majority of the country saw Russia in a positive light. Today, the country has a 28% favorable and a 72% unfavorable rating. By comparison, in 1989, during the Cold War, 62% of Americans saw the Soviet Union as either “highly” or “mostly” favorable, according to historic data from pollster Gallup. 

Despite the Western speculation about the vaccine’s effectiveness, Sputnik V is considered a superior, more trustworthy vaccine by people in the Global South, according to a study of 11 nations conducted by British polling group YouGov. Good thing too, as, lacking the ability to pay, they might not be able to receive any other COVID-19 shot. Although Russia continues to be a central issue in U.S. politics, it is doubtful whether this attempted hack will receive anything like the attention other alleged hacks going the other way have received. 

Feature photo | A medical worker waits for Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin and Serbia’s parliament speaker Ivica Dacica to take a shot of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 6, 2021. Darko Vojinovic | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Social Media Giants Ban Trump, but the Real Censorship is of Palestinians

In the wake of the Capitol Hill insurrection, Facebook and Twitter finally took a principled stand against President Donald Trump by suspending his accounts. While Trump lashed out at the tech giants, media analysts condoned the move—noting stronger moderation of his and other inflammatory posts are long overdue.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media behemoths have faced criticism over the years for allowing misinformation and dangerous incitement to run rampant on their platforms. Yet while these companies seem to fail at controlling right-wing propaganda, they’ve had no problem suppressing content on Palestine.

  Palestinian Facebook pages see 50% drop in reach

According to Palestinian non-governmental organization Sada Social Center, Palestinian Facebook pages saw their content’s reach dip by more than 50%, and in some cases, by more than 80%. Sada Social attributes the steep decline to coverage of Arab countries’ normalization agreements with Israel.

“Most of the pages that brought complaints to us are followed by millions of users through Facebook,” Sada Social wrote in their report. “These pages actively participated in covering the issue of Arab normalization with the Israeli occupation recently.”

 

The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine and Muslim Scholars were just two of the numerous Facebook pages to have their content blocked or restricted in the last month.

When pressed for an explanation about the recent removals, a Facebook company spokesperson told MintPress News:

We do our utmost to ensure that only content in violation of our Community Standards is removed. Where mistakes are made, due to human or technical error, the content is restored. The Global Campaign for Return to Palestine page was unfortunately removed due to an error – it has now been restored. We were not trying to limit anyone’s ability to post or express themselves.”

In response to the increasing censorship, The Palestinian Content Protection Initiative—a group of media outlets, activists, and journalists working to defend Palestinian content online—called for a two-hour boycott of Facebook on Jan. 9.

“The administrations of social media websites have been pursuing, targeting, and restricting the publishing and access of Palestinian pages and accounts, and in full coordination with the Israeli occupation government,” the Initiative said in a statement. “As a result, Palestinian media have been restricted, and were unable to convey their national message.”

  Facebook working with Israel to suppress content

Facebook’s targeting of Palestinian content isn’t new. The social media titan has a long history of working with Israeli authorities to remove Palestinian information.

Under the guise of hate speech, Facebook cracks down on content often related to certain keywords such as “Hamas” or “Zionism,” Alison Ramer, International Relations Manager at 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, explained.

“A lot of times this is done through artificial intelligence, which the companies are really being pushed to use under increasing pressure from governments and the public to respond to hate speech,” Ramer said.

But it’s not just automatic processes that are determining what’s permitted on social media. According to a 2020 7amleh report, the Israeli government has orchestrated a systematic campaign through Facebook to ensure content related to the Palestinian cause is removed.

“The Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked stated that ‘Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israel’s requests to delete content that the Israeli government says incites Palestinian violence.’ This shows a significant focus on Palestinian content and efforts to label Palestinian political speech as incitement to violence,” 7amleh wrote.   

These requests are done through the Ministry of Justice’s Cyber Unit, which was established in 2015. Even Facebook’s own personnel appear to be in bed with Israel. Currently, Emi Palmor, Israel’s former Justice Ministry director-general, sits on Facebook and Instagram’s Oversight Board — a committee responsible for content moderation.

 

Additionally, governmental and non-governmental organizations are urging citizens to report Palestinian content. “Several of these organizations — dubbed “GONGOs” (government-operated NGOs) — are working to conflate criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and hate speech and have designed strategies to manipulate social media algorithms with the support of online trolls,” 7amleh wrote.

These efforts not only remove Palestinian content but elevate smear campaigns against Palestinians. As Facebook works diligently to remove white supremacist content, Ramer acknowledged that it leaves hate speech directed toward Palestinians on its site.

“7amleh has documented hate speech directed toward Palestinians in Hebrew, which we have seen left online for many years, while legitimate political speech critical of Israel is being flagged as hate speech and censored,” Ramer said. “We know that the Israeli government and government-supporting NGOs are pushing for tech companies to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which is leading to increasing censorship of Palestinians and human rights defenders.”

According to Ramer, pressure from the Israeli Lobby is the motivating factor in restricting Palestinian content.  

“There’s pressure on Facebook to expand the definition of anti-Semitism, and we know that the intention of this is to censor those critical of Israel, Palestinians and human rights supporters. And this, obviously, can have a large impact on the development of many other tech companies’ policies,” Ramer said.

  Not just Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media platform for Palestinians, but it’s not the only one restricting their content.

TikTok recently removed the account belonging to Palestinian news organization, Quds News Network (QNN). The account manager, Hamzah al-Shobaki, said it was deleted after sharing 1,200 posts about Arab countries’ normalization with Israel. TikTok has since reinstated the account, claiming a violation error led to the account’s removal.

This isn’t QNN’s first experience with social media censorship, however. In 2019, the news outlet had four of its Twitter accounts deactivated without warning. QNN editors also had their personal Facebook accounts suspended in 2016, reportedly by mistake. Other Palestinian media sources have also had their Twitter and Facebook accounts removed over the years.

YouTube has been accused of violating Palestinian digital rights as well. Research from 7amleh details that the video-sharing platform uses hyper-surveillance tactics referred to as “locative discrimination” to monitor content coming from Palestine.

According to their findings, Palestinian YouTube user Ahmad conducted an online experiment to see if the removal of his content was due to his location:

“I sent the same video which has been deleted from my YouTube account to my friend’s YouTube account in Europe…and YouTube was fine with the video being published from a European country.”

“This simple test showed that content that’s being uploaded in the Palestinian Territories is being treated differently than the content uploaded by Western countries,” 7amleh’s Ramer said. “These policies are discriminatory and overly surveying and censoring Palestinians.”

Ramer emphasized that tech companies should not be the decision-makers regarding freedom of expression. Yet because they control these communication channels, they are ultimately tasked with monitoring what is shared—and Israel is taking full advantage of that.

“Israel is using this for its political aim to silence Palestinians. They’re using hate speech as a political tool,” Ramer said, clarifying that what’s happening not only blacks out Palestinian issues but the global conversation on human rights as a whole.

“This won’t just silence Palestinians, but it’ll silence human rights defenders, and it will show other governments how to use hate speech to silence and censor people.”

Feature photo | In this undated photo, a young Mark Zuckerberg meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo | Magnum

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist covering Palestine, Israel and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf New

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Court Rules Palestinian Filmmaker Must Pay Damages To Israeli Soldier Who Took Part in Massacre

In a particularly draconian decision, an Israeli court has ruled that the documentary film “Jenin, Jenin” will be banned from screening in Israel. Additionally, all copies of the film must be collected and destroyed. The court went even further and ordered producer, director, and actor Mohammad Bakri, the man behind the film which documents the Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp, must pay damages to an Israeli officer who participated in the massacre and appears in the film for about five seconds. 

Israel’s military invasion of the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin and the slaughter which followed took place in March of 2002. The army entered the camp with tanks, special forces, commando units, and several reservist brigades. The camp was bombarded from the air and from the ground. Several hundred Palestinian fighters fought heroically, armed with nothing but semiautomatic rifles and rudimentary guerrilla warfare skills. Twenty-five Israeli soldiers lost their lives in the camp and countless Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed.

  Silencing the survivors’ point of view

Jenin, Jenin” includes testimony from people of all ages who lived through the Israeli assault on the camp. There is no question that hearing the descriptions and experiences of the survivors of that awful trauma is heart-wrenching. But Bakri himself never makes any direct accusations in the film. He shows footage of Israeli soldiers, tanks, and armored personnel carriers, and of Palestinians being arrested, but at no point in the movie is an actual accusation made and it is clear that the only perspectives offered in the film are from those who live in the camp.

Protests erupted in Israel as soon as the movie was shown. Bakri was called a Nazi and slandered by the press and the public for daring to show what Palestinians had experienced at the hands of the Israeli soldiers who entered the camp. Soldiers who had participated in what is known as “The Battle of Jenin” demanded that Israeli authorities censor the movie and not allow theaters to show it, and they eventually got their way.

The film was banned by the Israeli Film Ratings Board on the premise that it was libelous and might offend the public. Bakri appealed the decision and the case went all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ultimately overturned the board’s decision. Since then, those who have participated in the assault have been looking for ways to challenge the film. 

In November 2016, Nissim Meghnagi, a reserve officer who took part in Operation Defensive Shield, also known as the massacre at the Jenin refugee camp, sued Bakri for 2.6 million shekels, the equivalent of around 745,000 U.S. dollars. In his suit, Meghnagi claimed that he appears in, and was named in the film and that it libeled Israeli soldiers by presenting them as war criminals. 

Bakri argued, correctly, that the purpose of the lawsuit was persecution and political silencing, and that the movie makes no accusation against Meghnagi specifically. It only shows, Bakri continuously yet fruitlessly claimed, the point of view of the Palestinians who experienced the onslaught on the camp. Still, the District Court in the Israeli-occupied city of Lyd ruled in Meghnagi’s favor and ordered Bakri to pay Meghnagi the equivalent of $55,000. Now the case is expected to go back to the Supreme Court.

  A History of War Crimes

Israeli forces did not allow the Red Cross or any other international observers to enter the camp for many days after the assault was over. This allowed them to clean up the camp before anyone from the outside was able to witness what had been done.

Israeli authorities, courts, media, and public opinion tend to view Palestinian claims regarding human rights abuses, violence, and massacres committed by military units as lies. Internal investigations by the military and other Israeli government agencies rarely find Israeli forces guilty of any crimes.

The reason that “Jenin, Jenin” created such a strong reaction in Israel is that the people involved, and even those who were not directly involved, know that Israel has a history of atrocities and war crimes. Israel claims that the IDF is the “most moral army in the world,” yet almost every single Israeli has either been witness to or knows someone who has witnessed – or even committed – atrocities. 

 

Committing war crimes of all kinds is a deeply rooted tradition in the Israeli military. It goes back to the earliest days of the pre-state era when Zionist militias operated before an actual Israeli Army was formed. These militias were turned into an organized army in the middle of the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign of Palestine. They were in the midst of committing a horrendous crime for which no one has yet been brought to justice when they became an official army and when Jewish Zionist settlers in Palestine became citizens of a newly established Apartheid State, a state whose very establishment was a war crime.

This is why there is such opposition to the movie and to Mohammad Bakri himself amongst Israelis. Bakri touched an open nerve and because as a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, he also happens to be a household name among Israelis, Israelis are furious at him. Bakri dared to enter the camp and to talk to its residents without showing what is commonly known as “the other side.”  Furthermore, as is made very clear throughout the movie, the spirit of the people in the camp remains undefeated. 

Over and over again throughout the movie, we hear survivors of the assault, even as they sit on the rubble of their own homes, repeat that they will rebuild the camp house by house and that they will never surrender. This is hardly the message that Israelis – who only a short time before had voted for the notorious Ariel Sharon to be their prime minister – want to hear.

  The Driver of a D9

On May 31, 2002, Israeli journalist Tsadok Yehazkeli, working for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, published an article in Hebrew about the driver of a D9 bulldozer who went by the moniker, “Bear the Kurd.” “Bear” made a name for himself during the assault on the Jenin refugee camp, when for 72 hours straight he drove his bulldozer into countess houses and destroyed everything in his path, ramming into homes regardless of whether or not they were inhabited. 

He was quoted as saying “I made them a football stadium,” and “I have no regrets. I’m proud of my work,” and, “I never gave the people a chance to run out of the houses before I ran over them and ruined the houses with my bulldozer.” None of this is shown or mentioned in Bakri’s film yet it provides a picture of the atmosphere among the Israeli troops that entered the camp.

The army unit in which the D9 driver operated went on to receive a medal for its actions during the assault, and the man known as “Bear the Kurd” became a hero to the troops. Because so many were buried under the rubble, to this day no one knows how many Palestinians were killed in 2002 at the Jenin refugee camp.

It is hard to anticipate what the Israeli Supreme Court will rule when it hears the Bakri case. However, in a state that was built on war crimes and atrocities, one may expect that all branches of government will work together to keep the truth from coming out. Either way, few Israeli war crimes are as documented as this one, and so “Jenin, Jenin” must be viewed and shared widely.

Feature photo | A unidentified Palestinian boy holds up a sign blaming the Israelis for the damage in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002. Real World Photographs | Shutterstock

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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Unpacking the Aftermath of Trump’s Coup Attempt With Brian Becker

 

As more details of the apparent conspiracy headed by President Donald Trump to storm the U.S. Capitol building and prevent the electoral college certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory come to light, the United States finds itself on a dangerous precipe. 

The evidence of a conspiracy having take that is available to the public at the time of this writing is as follows:

  • Capitol Hill police chief Steven Sund said House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving declined to declare an emergency before the demonstration. He also revealed that “Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund informally seek his Guard contacts, asking them to ‘lean forward’ and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help.”
  • Sund said that he requested backup six times prior to and during the mob storming the Capitol. All three have since resigned. 
  • Sund also said that his frantic request to the Pentagon for national guard deployment after the pro-Trump mob had already overrun police forces and entered the Capitol building was rejected, even as it was being broadcast around the world.
  • The Pentagon is now headed by a Trump loyalist who was recently installed from a low ranking position after Mark Esper was fired.
  • Numerous police officers and military personnel participated in the mob, including one on-duty Capitol Police officer who was seen wearing a MAGA hat.
  • “Stop The Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, in a now-deleted Periscope video, said that three Republican lawmakers helped him plan the insurrection. “We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” he explained. 
  • Several lawmakers have said that on January 5, they witnessed their Republican counterparts giving “reconnaissance” tours to Trump supporters who would go on to participate in the attack.

While the allegation of conspiracy must be proven in a court of law, the available evidence leaves little room for doubt.

Meanwhile, some on the left have downplayed the coup attempt as a mere “riot,” suggesting that it was unplanned or insignificant. Others have downplayed it, saying that regime change operations that the U.S. carries out with bipartisan support are much more deadly. While this is true, it in no way changes the fact that there was a coup attempt. Worse yet, it excuses white supremacist mob violence and its long history in the United States.

Brian Becker puts the January 6 insurrection in the historical context of the mob violence that ended the era of Reconstruction and enforced white rule in the Jim Crow south. Finally, Cohen and Becker discuss how neoliberal economics ultimately led to the coup attempt.

Feature photo | Members of the National Guard gather at the Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Jan. 13, 2021, in Washington as the House of Representatives continues with its fast-moving House vote to impeach President Donald Trump. Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP

Dan Cohen is a journalist and filmmaker. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. Dan is a correspondent at RT America and tweets at @DanCohen3000.

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Escaping the Singularity: Why Artificial Intelligence Will Not Save the Planet

Artificial intelligence has been touted as the next frontier in technological innovation by the world’s brightest minds and celebrity CEOs like Elon Musk, who predict a hyper-connected future where big data, smart infrastructure, and biology all fuse into what ‘futurist’ Ray Kurzweil and others call the technological singularity.

In his 1999 breakout best-seller titled ‘The Age of Spiritual Machines’, Kurzweil takes the concept first developed by mathematician Vernor Vinge about the merger of technology and human intelligence to an absurd conclusion based on a superficial understanding of mankind’s spiritual nature, in which machines achieve consciousness and co-exist side by side with living organisms in a bleak universe bereft of any connection to natural reality.

As we move into the second decade of the twenty-first century, the ideas Kurzweil brought into the mainstream are being aggressively pursued by Big Tech outfits like Google, which currently employs the author as a director of engineering, and have been enthusiastically embraced by important sectors of the global economy.

Reflecting this trend, the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act (NAIIA) became law on the first day of 2021, officially bringing the full power of the U.S. government to bear through the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy, whose already considerable spending on AI research and development has now been codified into law.

 

The passage of the bill follows a pattern begun in the Reagan years, when the Republican icon signed National Security Decision Directive NSDD 145 making intellectual property a matter of national security, effectively opening a backdoor to America’s largest corporations like IBM and Pfizer to shield their commercial interests behind the full might of the U.S. federal government.

The NAIIA is a continuation of the undeniable symbiosis between government and corporate America, who are together leading us into Kurzweil’s AI dystopia, cloaked behind pseudo-environmental marketing devices like the “green economy” or “sustainable development” on the commercial end and tired concepts of technological primacy vis-à-vis China on the geopolitical end.

But, scientists and researchers are finding out the true cost AI will have on the planet, belying the claims made by the captains of industry and owners of capital who are moving full steam ahead in their campaign to implement an AI-driven socio-economic paradigm, which is at once designed to rid them of troublesome and expensive human labor while, at the same time, rescuing a mortally wounded capitalist system.

  Shocking realizations

A recent study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst revealed that the energy required to train a number of AI models would far exceed those of current technology, and carbon emissions from such a massive energy consumption would dwarf those of what we now consider modern lifestyles.

Among their findings, the researchers calculated that at the pace AI is being trained across industries, CO2 emissions from this activity would equal five times the lifetime emissions of an average car or 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.

An aerial view of construction site for a new Microsoft datacenter in Middenmeer, Holland. Photo | Shutterstock

Experts are warning that the risks to the environment as a result of AI and related emergent technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning systems, are simply not worth it. Roy Schwartz of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence characterized the conclusions of the  as “shocking” and stated that “the larger you make these models, the more energy they consume”, cautioning that if we continue on this traAmherst studyjectory, “we will see a much more significant negative impact on the environment”.

Schwartz stresses that such massive energy consumption doesn’t stop at the stage of AI training and that it is practically impossible to quantify how much energy will be consumed across the world by AI models running in different countries and urged better use of data to substantially reduce energy consumption.

  Behind the curtain

Brilliantly covered for years by independent journalist Cory Morningstar and others, the ruse undertaken by the world’s most powerful corporations and their interlocking interests through international organisms like the World Economic Forum, is becoming increasingly clear.

Despite making public pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% in ten years and similar, largely meaningless promises, companies like Amazon and Microsoft continue to make enormous investments in AI and so-called “renewable energy” infrastructure like wind and solar, which, along with the manufacturing of their consumer products, require as much or more mineral extraction and exploitation of labor in Global South nations than twentieth-century fossil fuel-based methods.

 

The explosive growth of the technology sector and all of its gadgets in tandem with the illusion of achieving a technological singularity through a digitally interconnected planet only pushes us further into ecological catastrophe. A true renewable energy paradigm and reduction in CO2 emissions cannot come through an economic paradigm predicated on consumption and waste. It requires a culture of conservation and localized subsistence, which the proponents of the singularity have no intention of abiding.

Feature photo | Google’s campus-network room at their data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Photo: Connie Zhou | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

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A Record of Hawkish Intervention: Biden Picks Samantha Power to Head USAID

President-elect Joe Biden has selected longtime Democratic insider Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “There is simply no one better to ensure our development agenda is a core pillar of our foreign policy,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said in a video statement, claiming that, under previous Democratic administrations Power, “fought tirelessly to prioritize human rights.”

President-elect Biden has nominated Ambassador Samantha Power as USAID Administrator.

A leading voice for humane and principled American engagement in the world, she will rally the international community and work with our partners to confront the biggest challenges of our time. pic.twitter.com/Gv9G8CLrI5

— Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Transition46) January 13, 2021

USAID styles itself as a human rights organization, a Washington-sponsored group promoting democracy and development around the world. But if one delves deeper than merely the surface level, the organization has been crucial in financing a number of regime change operations across the globe. USAID money has been used to back opposition insurrections in Venezuela and Nicaragua, for example, while it continues to use its grants to provide leadership training for its preferred political candidates worldwide. Allen Weinstein, a co-founder of the National Endowment for Democracy, an organization USAID funds, told the Washington Post, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Power’s appointment was warmly endorsed by Biden’s vice-president, Kamala Harris. “One of the most pressing challenges facing our nation is restoring and strengthening America’s global leadership as a champion of democracy, human rights, and the dignity of all people,” she said, adding that, “Few Americans are better equipped to help lead that work” than the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 

Others were not so sure. Journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote,

“This is a good choice in the sense that as the head of USAID, an agency *ostensibly* devoted to assisting other countries, Samantha Power can work to repair the damage to all the countries she helped destroy the last time she was in government with her unhinged militarism.”

  “A Problem from Hell”

Power came to national attention with the publication of her book, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.” The book was published in 2002, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan and in the run up to the Iraq War. Unlike other critics of U.S. foreign policy, Power castigated Washington for not intervening enough in other countries, arguing the U.S. has a responsibility to protect the weak in the world. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her work. 

In general, Power supported the Iraq War, stating on television that, “An American intervention likely will improve the lives of the Iraqis. Their lives could not get worse, I think it’s quite safe to say,” although she criticized the Bush administration harshly for not effectively managing the conflict. 

 

She got her chance in government once Bush’s years were over, being appointed to a number of positions in President Obama’s State Department and National Security Council, before being appointed Ambassador to the U.N. in 2013. Power presents herself as someone who stopped genocide in Central Africa and was strongly in favor of military interventions in Libya and Syria for the same reasons. Yet in her roles in the Obama administration, Power was a key promoter of some of the worst violence of the twenty-first century. 

 

Power goes to bat for human rights abusers

Yemen is the clear standout example. Described for years by the U.N. as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” the Saudi-led onslaught on the country has led to 80% of the country needing humanitarian assistance, including some 20.5 million lacking access to clean water and sanitation, as Saudi planes target medical, water and sewage facilities. As Ambassador, Power defended Saudi Arabia from criticism and helped block international efforts to respond, even focusing the blame for the violence on Houthi rebel groups. Millions of Yemenis have died or been displaced due to the violence. 

Power also strongly defended Israel from criticism at the U.N., despite the country’s bombing campaigns against the civilian population of Gaza. She excoriated the institution for their “unequal treatment” of the Jewish state and for their, “indefensible silence in response to terrorist attacks on Israelis.” 

In her latest memoir, “The Education of an Idealist,” there is no mention of Yemen, Israeli attacks on Gaza, or drone warfare, subjects she seemingly edited out of history for convenience. Her “education” already appeared complete by 2014, however, when she attended a baseball game with Henry Kissinger, one of the world’s worst human rights abusers and a man she had previously harshly criticized.

Not sure what's less likely: this RedSox fan braving foreign land of Yankee Stadium tonite or going w/Henry Kissinger pic.twitter.com/GYHsYdDH08

— Samantha Power (@AmbPower44) April 11, 2014

Two years later, she accepted the Henry A. Kissinger Prize from the man himself, a sign that she had earned his respect and admiration. 

 

In a sense, Power could be seen as the perfect pick for the Biden administration; a woman who continues to use the language of human rights, but completely committed to the U.S. imperial project and is every bit as hawkish as her Republican counterparts. With groups close to the president already advising him to push for increasing tensions with Russia and China, Biden might have found the right person for the job. 

Feature photo | Samantha Power, center, walks with U.S. soldiers away from the military demarcation line during a visit to the south side of the Joint Security Area at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone which separates North and South Korea, Oct. 9, 2016. Ed Jones | Pool Photo via AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Rumors Spread of a 2024 Presidential Run as Pompeo Paves Way for Future Wars

Yesterday, at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State and former CIA director Mike Pompeo claimed that “al-Qaida has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Offering little evidence, he warned the journalists and other figures present that, “We ignore this Iran-al-Qaida nexus at our own peril…We must confront it. Indeed, we must defeat it.” “Iran is the new Afghanistan” he added, referencing the illegal U.S. invasion and 20-year occupation that began under the Bush administration. Far from pushing back on his assertions, those present applauded Pompeo as he finished his remarks, which came amid a flurry of increasingly outlandish and aggressive policy steps he has taken in the last days of the Trump administration.

There are a number of problems with his assertions, not least that Iran is a Shia theocracy led by Ayatollah Khamenei, while al-Qaeda is a Sunni supremacist organization that regards Shi’ism as entirely heretical. Furthermore, Iran has been battling al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has openly supported what it calls “moderate rebels” in the region, despite the fact, as the Washington Post admitted, those “moderates” are difficult to distinguish from and intermingled with Jihadist forces like al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing al-Nusra. That Tehran was secretly sheltering and promoting its sworn enemy would be surprising, to say the least. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately rejected the claims, stating that Pompeo was “pathetically ending his disastrous career with more warmongering lies. No one is fooled.”

Pompeo made the announcement just hours after meeting with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. Early this morning, Israeli jets using U.S. intelligence bombed targets in eastern Syria, killing 57 people. According to American officials, Pompeo gave his blessing to the attack, claiming that the warplanes were striking warehouses filled with Iranian weapons. 

Earlier in the week, the Secretary of State also designated Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the government of Cuba as terrorists, moves that were immediately condemned by human rights groups. Refugees International wrote that, “it is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible decision,” as the announcement will stymie any moves toward peace. Oxfam America’s Humanitarian Policy Lead Scott Paul made a similar statement, predicting that Pompeo’s actions “will only compound the crisis for millions of Yemenis fighting for their survival.” 

 

On Monday, without a shred of irony, Pompeo condemned Cuba for its supposed, “malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.” The United States has supported multiple coup attempts in the past two years against the Venezuelan government, as well as backing a (since defeated) far-right military putsch in Bolivia. Last week, Pompeo reaffirmed the U.S.’ commitment to the leader of those Venezuelan coups, Juan Guaidó, recognizing him as the legitimate “Interim President” of the country, despite minimal domestic support. Post-Brexit, the European Union took the opposite decision, dropping their support for him after President Maduro’s United Socialist coalition won 253 of the 277 seats in the country’s National Assembly last month. Thus, both Guaidó and the Trump administration are increasingly isolated. 

Last Tuesday, Pompeo also made a point of receiving representatives of The Epoch Times, a far-right fake news outlet associated with the Chinese Falun Gong cult. During their visit to the State Department, the 57-year-old Kansan encouraged and spread wild theories of his own. “The Chinese Communist Party is here in America,” he claimed, insisting that the U.S. must also “protect itself from this Communist threat in China.”

 

While Pompeo will (presumably) be leaving office very soon, there are more than a few rumors that he already has his eyes set on a presidential run in 2024. Vanity Fair suggests that his actions, such as travelling to Georgia to support Republican candidates up for election, “look like a 2024 dry run.” Unlike many in his party, he has stayed decidedly loyal to Trump until the end, which will likely earn him credit with the president’s massive base of supporters and allow him to position himself as the continuity Trump candidate if he is barred from standing himself. 

If Pompeo does decide to throw his hat into the ring, he would likely have support from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he visited in November. Pompeo dined at an illegal West Bank settlement, and asserted that Israel has every right to the territory, a move that delighted many inside the country. 

As former head of the CIA, Pompeo is no stranger to exaggeration or spreading misinformation. “We lied, we cheated, we stole… we had entire training courses [on] it,” he infamously said at a talk at Texas Tech University in 2019. In his last days in office, he seems to have been putting his training to good use.

Feature photo | Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waits nearby before speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Jan. 12, 2021. Andrew Harnik | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Lee Camp: America Condemns One Violent Mob While Celebrating Another

Washington DC (ScheerPost) — Most rational Americans have correctly criticized and denounced the violent insurrection in the Capitol last week. Those moments of attack by a racist, disgusting mob have not lacked for condemnation and denunciation. They were violent. They were reprehensible. They called for the killing of lawmakers, demanded the hanging of Congress members. The liberal media and even most of Fox News have not held their tongues when it comes to excoriating the morally bankrupt people who took part. And I agree with those thoughts. 

BUT – why don’t we see an equal amount of disgust and condemnation for the violence done by our ruling class, the courtesans of corporate destruction?

Is allowing people to die or fall ill due to lead pipes in Flint, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and hundreds of other cities not violence? 

Is allowing citizens to lose their lives to cancer from Teflon chemicals dumped in their water or preventable oil spills not violence? 

Is allowing tens of thousands to die of preventable illnesses from our garbage healthcare system not violence? 

Is allowing 15 million to lose their healthcare during a pandemic and therefore fear going to the hospital when they get sick not violence? 

 

Is imprisoning millions of people for years for non-violent crimes not violence?

Is locking up political prisoners like Steven DonzigerMumia Abu-JamalReverend Pinkney, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Leonard Peltier not violence?? 

Is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes on innocent people in countries thousands of miles away not violence?? 

Is allowing millions in this country to go hungry while we throw out 40% of all food not violence? 

Is arresting people who try to feed those who are starving not violence? 

Is allowing hundreds of thousands to go homeless, living under bridges or on benches or squatting in collapsing structures while this country has trillions of dollars and millions of empty houses —is that not violence?

Is arresting, beating, and persecuting those who try to give those people houses not violence? And bulldozing the homes — is that not violence?

Is causing the sixth great extinction, the mass death of half the world’s wildlife, in pursuit of corporate profit not violence? 

Is causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Venezuelans via economic warfare not violence?

Is creating an opioid epidemic by pushing pills on desperate people, ultimately leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands not violence?

 

And then arresting those who stand up and fight back against the pollutionagainst the pipelinesagainst the factory farmingagainst the war industry —IS—THAT—NOT—VIOLENCE?

Of course it is. 

It’s violence on a breathtaking scale, far greater than what was done at the Capitol and far greater than any of us will witness in person. And yet large scale corporate-endorsed violence, death and destruction is not only allowable, it’s celebrated, it’s furthered, and promoted. Oil company documents show that they tell cities that oil spills are good for the economy. Other documents show that fossil fuel companies have known about the harm climate change would do since the 1970’s, but they simply saw it as the price of doing business. Corporate sacrifice zones like “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana are well known to be deadly to those who live there, yet it doesn’t matter to the corporations because their money will be green nonetheless. It doesn’t matter to the politicians because the poor who live in these sacrifice zones have no political power. The 40% of food that’s thrown out is not a secret. The subsidies paid to factory farms encourage them to produce heaping mountains of food and dairy and meat even if they can’t sell it all in our market economy. So they throw it out or bury it. Giving it to those in need would take too much time and effort. 

Should the racist violent insurrectionists at the Capitol be punished? Absolutely. But so too should the bought-off politicians who do the bidding of our morally bankrupt corporate America. These politicians and the CEOs they serve are purveyors of violence. They trade in, produce, and reap violence. They sit on hordes of money—the obscene profit from feeding American lives into the death cult of unfettered capitalism. 

Our mainstream media are blanketing the airwaves with talk of how the violent insurrectionists must be punished, and while they are not wrong, the criminal behavior those same talking heads and “reporters” ignore speaks volumes. All violence is not equal. Some of it is profitable and protected. Some of it is the American way.

Feature photo | Trump supporters participate in a rally in Washington before marching on the U.S. Capitol while Congress convened to certify the election results, Jan. 6, 2021. John Minchillo | AP

Lee Camp is the host of the hit comedy news show “Redacted Tonight.” His new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” is available at LeeCampBook.com and his stand-up comedy special can be streamed for free at LeeCampAmerican.com.

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Covid-19 under Apartheid: How Israel Manipulates Suffering of Palestinians

Israel’s decision to exclude Palestinians from its COVID-19 vaccination campaign may have surprised many. Even by Israel’s poor humanitarian standards, denying Palestinians access to life-saving medication seems extremely callous.

Amnesty International, among many organizations, condemned the Israeli government’s decision to bar Palestinians from receiving the vaccine. The rights group described the Israeli action as evidence of the “institutionalized discrimination that defines the Israeli government’s policy towards Palestinians.”

The Palestinian Authority was not expecting Israel to supply Palestinian hospitals with millions of vaccines as it hopes to receive two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in February. Instead, the request made by PA official, Hussein al-Sheikh, Coordinator of Palestinian affairs with Israel, was a meager 10,000 doses to help protect Palestinian frontline workers. Still, the Israeli Health Ministry rejected the request.

According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, 1,629 Palestinians died and a total of 160,043 were infected with the deadly COVID-19 disease as of January 4. While such dismal numbers can also be found in many parts of the world, the Palestinian coronavirus crisis is compounded by the fact that Palestinians live under an Israeli military occupation, a state of apartheid and, as in the case of Gaza, an unrelenting siege.

Worse still, starting early last year, the Israeli military conducted several operations in various parts of the occupied territories to crack down on Palestinian initiatives to provide free COVID-19 testing. According to the Palestinian rights group, Al Haq, as early as March 2020, several field clinics were shut down and medical equipment confiscated in the Palestinian town of Khirbet Ibziq in the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank. This pattern was repeated in East Jerusalem, Hebron and elsewhere in the following months.

There is no legal or moral justification for Israel’s action. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 asserts that an Occupying Power has the “duty of ensuring and maintaining … the medical and hospital establishments and services” with “particular reference” on taking the “preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”

Even the Oslo Accords, despite their failure to address many crucial topics pertaining to the freedom of the Palestinian people, oblige both sides “to cooperate in combating epidemics and to assist each other in times of emergency,” the New York Times reported.

Not all Israeli officials deny that Israel is legally compelled to provide Palestinians with the help required to contain the rapid spread of the pandemic. This admission, however, comes with conditions. Former Israeli Ambassador, Alan Baker, told NYT that, while international law does “place an obligation on Israel” to help in the provision of vaccines to Palestinians, Palestinians must first release several Israeli soldiers who were captured in Gaza during and after the 2014 war.

The irony in Baker’s logic is that Israel holds over 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, hundreds of whom are imprisoned without trial or due process.

 

The captured Israelis are held in Gaza as a bargaining chip, to be exchanged for the easing of Israel’s hermetic blockade on the densely populated Strip. One of the Palestinians’ main demands for the release of the soldiers is that Israel allows for the transfer of medical equipment and life-saving medication to the two million people of the Gaza Strip. International and Palestinian human rights groups have long reported on many unnecessary deaths among Palestinians in Gaza because Israel deliberately prevents Gazan hospitals from acquiring cancer medications.

Long before the onset of the coronavirus, Israel has weaponized medicine, and Gaza’s dilapidated health sector is a standing testimony to this injustice.

Perhaps, the overcrowded Israeli prisons remain the glaring testimony of Israel’s mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations and, particularly, the World Health Organization, that states should take immediate measures to help ease the crisis in their prison systems, Israel has done little for Palestinian prisoners. Al Haq reported that Israel “has taken no adequate measures to improve provision of healthcare and hygiene for Palestinian prisoners” in line with the WHO “guidance for preventing COVID-19 outbreak in prisons.” The consequences were dire, as the spread of COVID among Palestinian prisoners continues to claim new victims at a much higher ratio compared with Israeli prisoners.

Israel’s intentional hampering of Palestinian efforts to fight COVID is consistent with a trajectory of racism, where colonized Palestinians are exploited for their land, water and cheap labor, while never factoring as a priority on Israel’s checklist, even during the time of a deadly pandemic.  Israel is an Occupying Power that refuses to acknowledge or respect any of its basic obligations as an Occupying Power under international law.

The Israeli attempt at manipulating Palestinian suffering as a result of the pandemic should also challenge our view of the fundamental relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. Frequently we speak of Israel’s apartheid in Palestine, often illustrating that assertion referring to giant walls, fences and military checkpoints that cage in Palestinian communities and segregate them from one another.

This, however, is merely the physical manifestation of Israeli colonialism and apartheid. In Israel, apartheid runs much deeper as it reaches almost every facet of society where Israeli Jews, including settlers, are treated as superior, while Palestinian Arabs, whether Christian or Muslims, are denied their most basic rights, including those guaranteed under international law.

While Israel’s behavior is not entirely surprising, it being consistent with the sordid reality of military occupation and institutional racism, it is also self-defeating. Despite the obvious imbalance in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians, they are in constant contact, not as equals but as occupier and occupied. Since the coronavirus does not respect Israel’s matrix of control in Palestine, it will travel across all of the physical divides that Israel has created to ensure permanent oppression of Palestinians. Hence, there can be no containing of COVID-19 in Israel if it continues to spread among Palestinians.

Long after the deadly pandemic is contained, the tragedy of occupied Palestine will, sadly, continue unhindered, until the day that Israel is forced to end its military occupation of Palestine and the Palestinians.

Feature photo | Israeli forces crack down on Palestinians during a protest against the expansion of Jewish-only settlements near the West Bank town of Salfit. Majdi Mohammed | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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 A Nation Imploding: Digital Tyranny, Insurrection and Martial Law

“In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. [Y]ou can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization…filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort … to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love… What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.”

— Robert F. Kennedy on the assassination of Martin Luther King

This is what we have been reduced to: A violent mob. A nation on the brink of martial law. A populace under house arrest. A techno-corporate state wielding its power to immobilize huge swaths of the country. And a Constitution in tatters.

We are imploding on multiple fronts, all at once.

This is what happens when ego, greed and power are allowed to take precedence over liberty, equality and justice. 

Just to be clear, however: this is not a revolution. 

This is a ticking time bomb.

There is absolutely no excuse for the violence that took place at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. 

Yet no matter which way you look at it, the fallout from this attempted coup could make this worrisome state of affairs even worse.

First, you’ve got the president, who has been accused of inciting a riot and now faces a second impeachment and a scandal that could permanently mar his legacy. While the impeachment process itself is a political beast, the question of whether President Trump incited his followers to riot is one that has even the best legal experts debating. Yet as First Amendment scholar David Hudson Jr. explains, for Trump’s rhetoric to be stripped of its free speech protections, “The speaker must intend to and actually use words that rally people to take illegal action. The danger must be imminent—not in the indefinite future. And the words must be uttered in a situation in which violence is likely to happen.” 

At a minimum, Trump’s actions and words—unstatesmanlike and reckless, by any standards—over the course of his presidency and on Jan. 6 helped cause a simmering pot to boil over.

Second, there were the so-called “patriots” who took to the streets because the jailer of their choice didn’t get chosen to knock heads for another four years. Those “Stop the Steal” protesters may have deluded themselves (or been deluded) into believing they were standing for freedom when they stormed the Capitol. However, all they really did was give the Deep State and its corporate partners a chance to pull back the curtain and reveal how little freedom we really have. There is nothing that can be said to justify the actions of those who, armed with metal pipes, chemical irritants, stun guns, and other types of weapons, assaulted and stampeded those in their path.

There are limits to what can be done in the so-called name of liberty, and this level of violence—no matter who wields it or what brand of politics or zealotry motivate them—crossed the line.

Third, you’ve got the tech giants, who meted out their own version of social justice by way of digital tyranny and corporate censorship. Yet there can be no freedom of speech if social media giants can muzzle whomever they want, whenever they want, on whatever pretext they want in the absence of any real due process, review or appeal. As Edward Snowden warned, whether it was warranted or not, the social media ban on President Trump signaled a turning point in the battle for control over digital speech. And that is exactly what is playing out as users, including those who have no ties to the Capitol riots, begin to experience lock outs, suspensions and even deletions of their social media accounts

Remember, the First Amendment is a steam valve. It allows people to peacefully air viewpoints, vent frustrations, debate and disagree, and generally work through the problems of self-governance. Without that safety mechanism in place, self-censorship increases, discontent festers, foment brews, and violence becomes the default response for resolving disputes, whether with the government or each other. At a minimum, we need more robust protections in place to protect digital expression and a formalized process for challenging digital censorship.

Unfortunately, digital censorship is just the beginning. Once you start using social media scores coupled with surveillance capitalism to determine who is worthy enough to be part of society, anything goes. In China, which has been traveling this road for years now, millions of individuals and businesses, blacklisted as “unworthy” based on social media credit scores that grade them based on whether they are “good” citizens, have been banned from accessing financial markets, buying real estate or travelling by air or train.

Fourth, you’ve got the police, who normally exceed the constitutional limits restraining them from brutality, surveillance and other excesses. Only this time, despite intelligence indicating that some of the rioters were planning for mayhem, police were outnumbered and ill prepared to deal with the incursion. Investigations underway suggest that some police may even have colluded with the rioters.

 

Certainly, the lack of protocols adopted by the Capitol Police bear an unnerving resemblance to the lack of protocols in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, when police who were supposed to uphold the law and prevent violence failed to do either. In fact, as the Washington Post reports, police “seemed to watch as groups beat each other with sticks and bludgeoned one another with shields… At one point, police appeared to retreat and then watch the beatings before eventually moving in to end the free-for-all, make arrests and tend to the injured.” Incredibly, when the first signs of open violence broke out, it was reported that the police chief allegedly instructed his staff to “let them fight, it will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly.”

There’s a pattern emerging if you pay close enough attention: Instead of restoring order, local police stand down. Without fail, what should be an exercise in how to peacefully disagree turns ugly the moment looting, vandalism, violence, intimidation tactics and rioting are introduced into the equation. Tensions rise, violence escalates, and federal armies move in. 

All that was missing on Jan. 6 was a declaration of martial law.

Which brings us to the fifth point, martial law. Given that the nation has been dancing around the fringes of martial law with each national crisis, it won’t take much more to push the country over the edge to a declaration and military lockdown. The rumblings of armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., will only serve to heighten tensions, double down on the government’s military response, and light a match to a powder keg state of affairs. With tens of thousands of National Guard troops and federal law enforcement personnel mobilized to lock down Washington, DC, in the wake of the Jan. 6 riots and in advance of the Jan. 20 inauguration, this could be the largest military show-of-force in recent years. 

So where do we go from here?

That all of these events are coming to a head around Martin Luther King Jr. Day is telling.

More than 50 years after King was assassinated, America has become a ticking time bomb of racial unrest and injustice, police militarization, surveillance, government corruption and ineptitude, the blowback from a battlefield mindset and endless wars abroad, and a growing economic inequality between the haves and have nots.

Making matters worse, modern America has compounded the evils of racism, materialism and militarism with ignorance, intolerance and fear. 

Callousness, cruelty, meanness, immorality, ignorance, hatred, intolerance and injustice have become hallmarks of our modern age, magnified by an echo chamber of nasty tweets and government-sanctioned brutality. 

“Despite efforts to curb hate speech, eradicate bullying and extend tolerance, a culture of nastiness has metastasized in which meanness is routinely rewarded, and common decency and civility are brushed aside,” observed Teddy Wayne in a New York Times piece on “The Culture of Nastiness.” 

Every time I read a news headline or flip on the television or open up an email or glance at social media, I run headlong into people consumed with back-biting, partisan politics, sniping, toxic hate, meanness and materialism. Donald Trump is, in many ways, the embodiment of this culture of meanness. Yet as Wayne points out, “Trump is less enabler in chief than a symptom of a free-for-all environment that prizes cutting smears… Social media has normalized casual cruelty.”

Whether it’s unfriending or blocking someone on Facebook, tweeting taunts and barbs on Twitter, or merely using cyberspace to bully someone or peddle in gossip, we have become masters in the art of meanness.

This culture of meanness has come to characterize many aspects of the nation’s governmental and social policies. “Meanness today is a state of mind,” writes professor Nicolaus Mills in his book The Triumph of Meanness, “the product of a culture of spite and cruelty that has had an enormous impact on us.” 

This casual cruelty is made possible by a growing polarization within the populace that emphasizes what divides us—race, religion, economic status, sexuality, ancestry, politics, etc.—rather than what unites us: we are all human.

This is what writer Anna Quindlen refers to as “the politics of exclusion, what might be thought of as the cult of otherness… It divides the country as surely as the Mason-Dixon line once did. And it makes for mean-spirited and punitive politics and social policy.”

This is more than meanness, however.

This is the psychopathic mindset adopted by the architects of the Deep State, and it applies equally whether you’re talking about Democrats or Republicans. 

Beware, because this kind of psychopathology can spread like a virus among the populace. 

As an academic study into pathocracy concluded, “[T]yranny does not flourish because perpetuators are helpless and ignorant of their actions. It flourishes because they actively identify with those who promote vicious acts as virtuous.”

People don’t simply line up and salute. It is through one’s own personal identification with a given leader, party or social order that they become agents of good or evil. To this end, “we the people” have become “we the police state.” 

 

By failing to actively take a stand for good, we become agents of evil. It’s not the person in charge who is solely to blame for the carnage. It’s the populace that looks away from the injustice, that empowers the totalitarian regime, that welcomes the building blocks of tyranny.

This realization hit me full-force a few years ago. I had stopped into a bookstore and was struck by all of the books on Hitler, everywhere I turned. Yet had there been no Hitler, there still would have been a Nazi regime. There still would have been gas chambers and concentration camps and a Holocaust. 

Hitler wasn’t the architect of the Holocaust. He was merely the figurehead. Same goes for the American police state: had there been no Trump or Obama or Bush, there still would have been a police state. There still would have been police shootings and private prisons and endless wars and government pathocracy.

Why? Because “we the people” have paved the way for this tyranny to prevail.

By turning Hitler into a super-villain who singlehandedly terrorized the world—not so different from how Trump is often depicted—historians have given Hitler’s accomplices (the German government, the citizens that opted for security and order over liberty, the religious institutions that failed to speak out against evil, the individuals who followed orders even when it meant a death sentence for their fellow citizens) a free pass.

This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

None of us who remain silent and impassive in the face of evil, racism, extreme materialism, meanness, intolerance, cruelty, injustice and ignorance get a free pass.

Those among us who follow figureheads without question, who turn a blind eye to injustice and turn their backs on need, who march in lockstep with tyrants and bigots, who allow politics to trump principle, who give in to meanness and greed, and who fail to be outraged by the many wrongs being perpetrated in our midst, it is these individuals who must shoulder the blame when the darkness wins.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,” Martin Luther King Jr. sermonized.

The darkness is winning.

It’s not just on the world stage we must worry about the darkness winning.

The darkness is winning in our communities. It’s winning in our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches and synagogues, and our government bodies. It’s winning in the hearts of men and women the world over who are embracing hatred over love. It’s winning in every new generation that is being raised to care only for themselves, without any sense of moral or civic duty to stand for freedom.

John F. Kennedy, killed by an assassin’s bullet five years before King would be similarly executed, spoke of a torch that had been “passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”

Once again, a torch is being passed to a new generation, but this torch is setting the world on fire, burning down the foundations put in place by our ancestors, and igniting all of the ugliest sentiments in our hearts. 

This fire is not liberating; it is destroying.

We are teaching our children all the wrong things: we are teaching them to hate, teaching them to worship false idols (materialism, celebrity, technology, politics), teaching them to prize vain pursuits and superficial ideals over kindness, goodness and depth.

We are on the wrong side of the revolution.

“If we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution,” advised King, “we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.

Freedom demands responsibility. 

Freedom demands that we stop thinking as Democrats and Republicans and start thinking like human beings, or at the very least, Americans.

Martin Luther King Jr. dared to dream of a world in which all Americans “would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

He didn’t live to see that dream become a reality. It’s still not a reality. We haven’t dared to dream that dream in such a long time.

But imagine… 

Imagine what this country would be like if Americans put aside their differences and dared to stand up—united—for freedom…

Imagine what this country would be like if Americans put aside their differences and dared to speak out—with one voice—against injustice…

Imagine what this country would be like if Americans put aside their differences and dared to push back—with the full force of our collective numbers—against the evils of government despotism.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, tyranny wouldn’t stand a chance.

Feature photo | Broken glass from last week’s confrontation with a pro-Trump mob is seen in the door to the House chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 12, 2021. J. Scott Applewhite | AP

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His book Battlefield America: The War on the American People is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

The post  A Nation Imploding: Digital Tyranny, Insurrection and Martial Law appeared first on MintPress News.

Saint Anthony Fauci: The Hidden History

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top scientist on the Coronavirus taskforce, is being reproached after it was revealed last month that he was “moving the goalposts” on coronavirus herd immunity. But his long history of misleading the American public, or getting things completely wrong, remains unscrutinized — until now.

Before I get started on Dr. Fauci’s handling of the coronavirus and his handling of the HIV/AIDS crisis and other major outbreaks of infectious diseases, I want to be clear that the point of this article is not to push covid-denialism. I can already envision some mainstream media hack, foaming at the mouth, gesturing wildly towards this article, and earning his paycheck with some snippy line about how conspiracy theories spread at a rate rivaling the deadly pandemic. 

As of the writing of this article, 375,000-plus Americans have died because of the coronavirus. While the fault for this has been overwhelmingly blamed on Donald Trump, by his side throughout the entirety of the crisis has been Dr. Anthony Fauci, who, it seems, was given some kind of criticism vaccine generations ago, immunizing him for the kind of scrutiny one might expect for a career politician who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 37 years. 

Instead, Fauci has attained a cult leader-like status in the minds of many Americans. A Change.org petition to have People Magazine name Fauci the “Sexiest Man Alive” is nearing 30,000 signatures. On the web, you can buy Dr. Fauci blankets and prayer candles. One erotic fiction author has come forward to claim that Fauci was the inspiration for the male love interest in her 1991 book called “Happy Endings.”

The point of this article is to show that, far from his portrayal in the media as Saint Anthony Fauci, his analysis on major issues in his field: AIDS, Cholera, and Coronavirus, has been disastrously off the mark on numerous occasions, with potentially deadly consequences. If Dr. Fauci’s record had been scrutinized by the media, it is entirely possible that we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today, with as many as 4,000 of our fellow citizens succumbing to this disease every day. 

  The Times Dr. Fauci Went ‘Mask Off’ With Haitians

On February 1, 2010, less than a month after the devastating earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti, Anthony Fauci went on the National Institute of Health’s radio program to talk about health concerns in Haiti following the quake.

The audio of the interview sits unlisted on YouTube with only six views at the time of the writing of this article. In it, Fauci says “We often hear people say, mistakenly, but understandably, they’re concerned about an outbreak of cholera. There is no cholera in Haiti, so it would be extremely unlikely that there would be an outbreak of cholera in Haiti.”

RARE AUDIO: Dr. Fauci WRONGLY predicted "there is no cholera in Haiti so it would be extremely unlikely that there would be an outbreak." Then, as the UN was beginning to cover up its role as the source, Fauci claimed cholera was already "there somewhere" https://t.co/1UrnZMcsrE pic.twitter.com/gp2vYYCBSM

— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) January 13, 2021

Fauci was dead wrong. According to the United Nations, the cholera outbreak that followed in the next months eventually infected 800,000 Haitians, killing more than 9,000. But since the source of the outbreak was the United Nations itself, they tried to cover up its origins. 

As rumours were mounting that it was the UN that caused the outbreak, Fauci placed the blame elsewhere. “If there is no problem with sanitation it just lurks there and lives in the water, not as a disease,” Fauci told CNN. “But the microbe was there somewhere in the water in Haiti. In situations where you have natural disasters like floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, if you don’t have the microbe lurking there, then you don’t get an outbreak.”

Poor sanitation, Fauci said, helped trigger the outbreak.

The same day as CNN’s report, the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti put out a press release supposedly meant to “shed light” on the “rumours,” but ultimately denyied any culpability by citing its compliance with international waste management standards. This was, of course, a lie.

As Haitian activist and Twitter user  Madame Boukman has tweeted, “I remember after the UN’s cholera attack against Haiti, Anthony Fauci blamed ‘unsanitary’ Haitians, just like he blamed us for HIV.”

During the height of Fauci’s research on HIV/AIDS, much of which he served as a main public face of government AIDS policy, he was a major proponent of the “Four H’s.” The four H’s referred to governmental designations of “risk groups” and included homosexuals, heroin addicts, hemophiliacs, and Haitians.

As Fauci explained in a 1984 video lecture, “Now, the Haitian situation has created some controversy in this country, and the reason is that we have, public health officials have designated the Haitians as a separate risk group. Now, the objection to that, and it’s a reasonable objection, is that it discriminates against Haitians. Why should you call the Haitians a separate risk group? We call them a separate risk group because only a very small percentage of the Haitian population, their AIDS can be explained by homosexual activity or IV drug use, so there’s something else going on there.”

Despite Fauci’s acknowledgement of discrimination against Haitians, he continued to present them as a separate risk group in public comments and medical journals.

As one Haitian-American writer, Èzili Dantò, commented, “I remember when Dr. Anthony Fauci gave disease a Black face.” She goes on to claim that Africans and Haitians were painted as “diseased.”

“I remember how back then, Haiti workers working at nursing homes, hospitals, hotels, cafeterias, driving taxi cabs, and in private homes as housekeepers and cooks were stigmatized and forced to ‘social distance’ – (i.e. got laid off, fired!) from the general population,” Dantò wrote.

One theory as to why AIDS spread more rapidly in Haiti than other places is that predatory blood plasma centers such as Hemo-Caribbean set up shop in Haiti to target poor people who would be willing to sell their blood, and didn’t use proper sanitary precautions, such as changing needles. Nonetheless, the idea that Haitians constituted a separate risk group for AIDS is now widely rejected.

  Turning the Dial Back on AIDS Awareness

Fauci was an early researcher on the AIDS epidemic. Archival photos show him examining AIDS patients in the early 1980’s. In 1986, the Washington Post was reprinting comments from Fauci’s colleagues in glowing profiles saying the distinguished doctor was “about as close as you could find” to “Superman.” In interviews and news reports, Fauci’s heroics in the early days included his innovative efforts to find a cure. For example, Fauci experimented with an “innovative procedure involving bone-marrow transplants from a healthy identical twin to a twin brother with AIDS.” The Washington Post and Fauci himself avoided mentioning when recounting this dramatic event that the procedure ended the patient going blind and dying. At the time, newspapers across the country touted the unorthodox method as a possible lead to an AIDS cure, waiting until the end of their articles to mention this important outcome of the procedure.

When we talk about the HIV/AIDS crisis, it’s easy to shrug off the mistakes of leaders at the time: there was a good deal of confusion in the early days about how the virus was spread. It also appears to be true that Fauci fought for more funding of HIV/AIDS research.

Since Fauci was well-known to AIDS activists prior to his role in handling the coronavirus, a number stories popped up in the media discussing how he was a hero of the calamity and how he was the target of protests from the most prominent AIDS activist group ACT UP. Peter Staley, a leader of the organization, and Larry Kramer, another leader of the group, began speaking up in defense of Fauci at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Back in the day, they called Fauci a murderer. But before his death in May of 2020, Kramer told the New Yorker in a profile of Fauci that he was “‘the only true and great hero’ among government officials in the AIDS crisis.”

Today, when he is not fawning over Hillary Clinton or hyping up the threat to the United States posed by Vladimir Putin, Staley himself interviews Dr. Fauci. He also recruited Barbra Streisand “for [a] surprise Fauci birthday party on Zoom,” mainstream media has reported.

However, certain facts of how Fauci handled the AIDS crisis have been omitted from profiles on Fauci that have come out since the coronavirus pandemic.

The book “And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic” by Randy Shilts devotes a good amount of attention to one incident in which Fauci single-handedly turned back the page on progress in the social milieu around AIDS that the scientific community had worked so hard to improve.

Liberal influencers have recommended the book as Fauci “has a starring, and heroic, role.” Yet the book only contains 15 references to Fauci, and they are not particularly flattering.

In 1982, it was already well-established how AIDS was transmitted: semen, blood, and “blood products.” Nonetheless, media and medical journals at the time had the same inherent flaw they do today — the profit motive. As always, sensationalism carried more weight than fact.

In 1983, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) was publishing research on children with HIV/AIDS. There were two competing lines of thought from the data they were working with. The first was that children with AIDS had gotten it from their mothers’ blood while still in the uterus, which was promoted by Dr. Arye Rubinstein (no relation.) JAMA had initially drawn a line through the section of Rubinstein’s research paper that showed that, though they eventually published the entire thing at his insistence. 

Then, Dr. James Oleske published a paper in JAMA claiming AIDS “was originally described in homosexual men and subsequently in intravenous drug abusers, Haitians, and hemophiliacs… Recently, we and others have encountered a group of children with an otherwise unexplained immune deficiency syndrome and infections of the type found in adults with AIDS… Our experience suggests that children living in high-risk households are susceptible to AIDS and that sexual contact, drug abuse, or exposure to blood products is not necessary for disease transmission.”

Oleske’s paper totally ignored Rubinstein’s research. And Dr. Fauci did too. He reportedly never read Rubinstein’s paper and instead wrote an editorial on Oleske’s. 

“In the current issue of The Journal, Oleske et al present data that are of potentially great  importance in the continually evolving saga of AIDS,” Fauci wrote. “This is much different from the situation with the male homosexual, IV drug user, adult Haitian, or hemophiliac who was otherwise well for decades and in whom an unexplained, devastating immune deficiency then developed.”

“The implications of AIDS in this patient population are several. It took some time for people to believe that AIDS was indeed transmissible,” he continued. “The finding of AIDS in infants and children who are household contacts of patients with AIDS or persons with risks for AIDS has enormous implications with regard to ultimate transmissibility of this syndrome. First, it is possible that AIDS can be vertically transmitted. Perhaps even more important is the possibility that routine close contact, as within a family household, can spread the disease. If, indeed, the latter is true, then AIDS takes on an entirely new dimension.”

“If we add to this the possibility that nonsexual, non-blood-borne transmission is possible, the scope of the syndrome may be enormous,” Fauci wrote.

Fauci’s editorial unleashed a wave of hysteria around AIDS. First, the American Medical Association put out a press release on Oleske’s study and Fauci’s interpretation. Then, the Associated Press ran a story under the headline “AIDS Disease Could Endanger General Population.” The AP story was then followed by The New York Times and USA Today.

Fauci blamed the media for sensationalizing his comments “out of context.” He pointed out that nothing he said was conclusive; he was only saying that household contact spreading AIDS was a possibility. 

According to Shilts’ book, “The report created a lasting impression on the public that would raise the hysteria level around AIDS for years to come. Scientists just aren’t sure how AIDS is spread, the thinking went.” He continues, “the report of routine household contact lent scientific credibility to ungrounded fears; the social damage would linger for years. The fear inspired by this one story defined the context within which AIDS was discussed for the next crucial months.”

Later that year, anti-gay columnist Patrick Buchanan used Fauci’s editorial to call on the mayors of San Francisco and New York to cancel their gay pride parades, and two doctors held a press conference calling for not just the parades to be cancelled. The doctors also held that all gay bars should be closed, food handlers should be screened for AIDS, and deceased aids patients should be buried in airtight coffins, according to Shilts.

Despite Fauci remarks, which essentially cried fire in a crowded theater, he was promoted to director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases the following year. 

  Pandemic Pandemonium and Propaganda

You should be forgiven for having missed the most recent example of Fauci lying, as the New York Times dropped the bombshell of a piece on Christmas Eve. The paper of record reported that Dr. Fauci was “quietly shifting” his estimate on the percent of the population that needs to be resistant to the coronavirus in order for it to die out:

“In the pandemic’s early days, Dr. Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate that most experts did. About a month ago, he began saying ‘70, 75 percent’ in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC News, he said ‘75, 80, s

In a telephone interview the next day, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts.”

Fauci explained himself: “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent.”

“Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85,” he said, adding “I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I’m not going to say 90 percent.”

In other words, the man who has become the most trusted voice on the coronavirus in the United States, has tailored his public statements — presented to us as scientific assessments — to fit nicely with public opinion.

But it’s far from the first time, or even the most egregious example, of Fauci either misleading or being dead wrong on the coronavirus or other viruses and infectious diseases, which, it probably need not be pointed out, is supposed to be his area of expertise.

Marc Thiessen, who likely knows a thing or two about lying to the American public given that he was a speechwriter for George W. Bush, published in September a pretty succinct chronology of Fauci’s false statements on the coronavirus. While he was careful to equivocate often times, I’ll briefly rehash what he has said which has been, basically, the complete opposite of what happened:

January 21, 2020: Fauci said the virus “is not a major threat for the people of the United States, and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.”

January 26, 2020: “The American people should not be worried or frightened by this. It’s a very, very low risk to the United States, but it’s something that we, as public health officials, need to take very seriously.” 

January 31, 2020: “We still have a low risk to the American public, but we want to keep it at a low risk.”

February 03, 2020: “I think you are going to see a dampening down.”

February 17, 2020: “I don’t think people should be frightened. The risk right now, today, currently, is really relatively low… right now, don’t worry about it. Be more concerned about influenza.” He added that the “danger” of the virus was “just minuscule” and you should “skip the masks unless you are contagious.”

February 28, 2020: “I don’t think it’s gonna be [bad], because I think we’d be able to do the kind of mitigation. It could be mild.”

February 29, 2020: “Right now, at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.”

March 10, 2020: “As a nation, the risk is relatively low.”

As YouTuber and comedian Jimmy Dore has repeatedly hammered, Dr. Fauci, on March 8, told 60 Minutes that there was no reason for most Americans to wear masks.

“When you see people, and look at the films in China, South Korea, whatever, everybody’s wearing a mask. Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” he said.

“You’re sure of it, because people are listening really closely to this,” Dr. Jon LaPook, the 60 Minutes host, pressed.

Fauci doubled down.

I should pause here to note that China has only seen 4,634 deaths due to the coronavirus. In South Korea, there have been only 1,140.

On June 12, journalist Katherine Ross questioned Fauci: “Why were we told later in the Spring to wear them [masks], when we were initially told not to?”

Fauci responded: “The reason for that is that we were concerned — the public health community, and many people were saying this — were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment… were in very short supply.” 

Fauci said that his reason for misleading the American public was that they wanted to make sure the healthcare workers had priority access to personal protective equipment. While a lie is a lie, this rationale is reasonable. Yet in that very same interview with 60 Minutes, Fauci had already warned that everyone wearing masks could lead to shortages.

In short, Fauci, in June, justified his lie about the importance of wearing masks with the same justification he had already coupled with his lie a few months prior. The story went from everyone wearing masks not being an effective prevention and potentially causing shortages to masks being effective but there’s no longer the threat of a shortage.

These are the maneuvers of a politician, not a scientist. And as a politician, Fauci has also done his patriotic duty to malign Russia, warning NBC’s Today Show that he was “skeptical” of the “safety” of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine. 

The Sputnik V vaccine is 91.4 percent effective according to the official website. Early reports claimed it was 95 percent effect, a figure experts agreed with. In comparison, the Pfizer vaccine is said to be 95 percent effect and the Moderna vaccine 94.1 percent effective, however those two have been available for far less time than Russia’s, so those figures may change.

So why was Fauci so adamant against the Russian vaccine? And why was he initially critical of the United Kingdom’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, claiming they “ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile?” For somebody who has railed against vaccine skepticism, he has spread his fair share of it.

Was he just echoing the anti-Russian rhetoric of everybody else that appears on national televised news? It could be worse. The National Institute of Health, which Fauci has longstanding ties to, has joint ownership of the Moderna vaccine. 

The web of connections between Fauci, the National Institute of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and major industry players like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has used poor Africans as “guinea pigs for drug experiments” are myriad. A simple Google search combining the aforementioned keywords turns up a dizzying number of results which have not surfaced in coverage of US coronavirus policy.

While the media has blamed the Trump Administration for the failures of the coronavirus response in the United States, its own failure to critically examine the record of the country’s coronavirus czar is likely not to change on January 20 alongside the White House transition. Joe Biden will keep Dr. Fauci on his coronavirus taskforce, and the media will keep its uncritical promotion of Saint Anthony Fauci.

Read more of Alexander Rubinstein’s work at Substack where this article first appreared.

Feature photo | Dr. Anthony Fauci listens during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 Capitol Hill, Sept. 23, 2020. Graeme Jennings | Pool via AP

Alexander Rubinstein is a former staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He writes about police, prisons, and protests in the United States. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.

The post Saint Anthony Fauci: The Hidden History appeared first on MintPress News.

Oak Flat: Trump’s Final Middle Finger to the Environment

Buried deep in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2015, section 3003 calls for the expeditious facilitation of a land exchange agreement between Resolution Copper Mining, LLC and the United States government to create one of the largest and deepest copper mines in the country, spanning nearly 11,000 square miles of national forest terrain and penetrating 7,000 miles into beneath the surface of the earth.

The land swap specifically targets approximately 2,500 acres that are not already owned by the mining concern and which rest inside Apache hallowed ground known as Oak Flat in the Tonto National Forest in central Arizona. Considered sacred by the Apache and other First Nation peoples who still use the land they call Chich’il Bildagoteel for important ceremonies, food, and a vital link to their heritage, Oak Flat has been at the center of a decades-long battle between the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Resolution Copper, comprised of extraction industry behemoths Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

 

Closed to mining activities by President Eisenhower in 1955, Oak Flat has since flourished as a significant habitat for wildlife, including several endangered species of fish, snakes, and birds, as well as a popular campground and world-renowned rock climbing destination. Reaffirmed in the early ‘70s the protective regulations have nevertheless been incessantly targeted by UK-based Rio Tinto, whose lobbying efforts to obtain burrowing rights to the land have been rebuffed 13 times since.

In 2014, John McCain – the largest recipient of Rio Tinto political contributions in Congress that year ­– inserted the aforementioned rider in the 2015 NDAA, effectively reversing 66 years of environmental protection law and betraying his own history of advocating for indigenous rights as a ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs in 1989, when he led a Republican minority in the fight for the religious freedom of First Nations and the protection of sacred lands.

More than 30 years later, as President Trump leaves office, his administration looks to finish this act of duplicity initiated by his biggest political enemy in yet another demonstration of the hypocrisy that runs through the American political system and pervasive history of broken treaties and disenfranchisement of Native peoples.

  Rushing into destruction 

The U.S. Forest Service will release the final version of the environmental analysis for the Resolution Copper Project and Land Exchange in three days’ time and a full year ahead of schedule as a result of pressure from the Trump administration, according to local officials.

Members of the San Carlos Apache Nation have been camping out at Oak Flat since January 2020 as part of their continued effort to halt the mining project. Tribal member Wendsler Nosie Sr, interviewed by The Guardian in November described the urgency of their plight as the “fourth quarter with two minutes left in the game,” adding that Trump’s move to push the approval process forward by a year meant they now only “have one minute left.”

Oak Flat is just one of several large-scale mining and energy projects the outgoing administration is looking to approve before the proper assessments and consultations with affected populations are made. Other projects include a lithium mine in Nevada; a helium extraction project in Utah and an oil and gas drilling venture in Alaska, among others.

An Apache activist takes part in a rally to save Oak Flat near Superior, Ariz. Molly Riley | AP

Virtually every one of these projects is facing opposition from Native tribes, whose very survival is threatened by the relentless advance of the extraction industry. That industry not only represents a catastrophic menace to their sources of clean water and food but also poses a direct risk to their safety as the proliferation of so-called “man-camps” or the temporary labor sites, plays a central role in the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women.

In the case of Oak Flat, Native communities have found an unlikely ally in their fight against Rio Tinto and BHP. A British government pension fund group with a stake in both companies has requested more information from their subsidiary, Resolution Copper, as to the potential impacts the proposed mine would have on Native American cultural and religious sites.

  Ally or cover? 

Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) Chairman, Doug McMurdo, has voiced his opposition to the mining method Resolution Copper is expected to use in Oak Flat, should the project move forward. The head of the £300 Billion pension investment fund echoes the concerns of the indigenous communities who oppose the “block caving” method planned, which consists of blasting beneath the surface to extract the copper ore through tunnels and inevitably cause the collapse of the rock above, taking ancient burial grounds, petroglyphs, and medicinal plants with it.

LAPFF has advocated for communities affected by Rio Tinto’s irresponsible mining practices in other parts of the world as well. Last year, Rio Tinto faced an official inquiry from the Australian government after the company blew up 46,000-year old caves in Western Australia that were part of the country’s Aboriginal heritage. McMurdo participated in the parliamentary inquiry that found Rio Tinto culpable of knowingly destroying the Aboriginal cultural heritage site. The LAPFF Chair pointed to the conclusions as the reason why the fund “has increased its call for companies to engage meaningfully with affected communities. The fact that Rio Tinto’s senior management had not reviewed a critical report about the site itself calls into question the company’s governance and oversight processes.”

But, at the end of the day, the question arises whether such remonstrations are enough to curtail the irreparable damage the extraction industries have done and continue to do to the environment and to the indigenous communities who are not only fighting for their own survival but the survival of the entire planet.

  The legend of Oak Flat 

One of the most significant areas of Oak Flat threatened by Resolution Copper’s project is a place called Apache Leap. The 400 foot-high cliff is the site of a historic incident of Native American resistance, from which 75 Apache warriors leaped to their death rather than be captured by the U.S. troops that surrounded them after a sneak attack that took the lives of 50 Apache warriors within minutes.

 

The Legend of Apache Tears is an enduring account of defiance against an enemy that keeps coming. When the wives and children discovered the bodies of their brave men at the bottom of the precipice, the legend states that their tears turned the white earth at their feet into black stones (obsidian) and, henceforth, anyone who acquired any such stones would never have to cry again since so many tears had already been shed by the Apache women on that tragic occasion.

If we stand with our Native American brothers and sisters against the destruction of their sacred sites, we might realize that they are sacred to us as well and then we might be able to arm ourselves with obsidian to begin the hard road back to living in harmony with nature and avert the creation of the Legend of Oak Flat.

Feature photo | A protest camp belonging to protesters in the Oak Flat area of Superior, Ariz. Ross D. Franklin | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

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The Trump Administration’s Parting Outrage Against Cuba

On January 11, in his final days before leaving office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added one parting blow to the series of bludgeons his administration has inflicted on Cuba for four years: putting the island on the list of “state sponsors of terror” that includes only Iran, North Korea and Syria. The designation drew swift condemnation from policymakers and humanitarian groups as a decision widely characterized as “politically motivated.” It comes six years after the Obama administration had removed Cuba from the same list as part of his policy of rapprochement. 

In the six years since, Trump’s State Department could not point to a single act of terror sponsored by Cuba. Instead, Secretary Pompeo based his decision on Cuba’s alleged support for the ELN (National Liberation Army – Colombia’s second-largest guerilla group) and the harboring of a handful of U.S. fugitives wanted for crimes committed in the 1970s, including renowned Black revolutionary Assata Shakur. Lacking more specific accusations, the State Department criticized Cuba for its supposed “malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

 

These claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. Regarding the ELN, the gist of the story is that the Trump administration is punishing Cuba for its role in attempting to bring peace to the long-simmering conflict in Colombia. ELN negotiators arrived in Cuba in 2018 for peace talks with the Colombian government. As part of the protocols for these meetings, ELN negotiators were allowed entry into Cuba and promised safe passage back into Colombia after their conclusion. Guarantor countries, including Cuba and Norway, assumed responsibility for their safe return. The talks collapsed in January 2019 following an ELN car bombing in Bogotá that killed 22 people. Colombia requested the extradition of the negotiators, but Cuba refused because the Colombia government will not honor the previous government’s commitment to guaranteeing the negotiators’ freedom upon returning home.

Regarding Secretary Pompeo’s other arguments, Cuba’s main influence in the Western Hemisphere has been the opposite of “malign”: it has deployed its doctors throughout the region and the world, saving thousands of lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. And when it comes to harboring terrorists, it’s worth noting that for decades the United States harbored Luis Posada Carriles, mastermind of a 1973 bombing that killed 73 people on a Cuban commercial airliner. 

Members of the Cuban Los 3 de La Habana, sing during a MAGA event with Ivanka Trump in Miami, Oct. 27, 2020. Wilfredo Lee | AP

Cuba’s placement on the state sponsors of terror list is meant to be a thorn in any plan by the Biden administration for rapprochement. Taking Cuba off the list will require a review process that could take months, delaying any new initiatives to roll back Trump-era policies. It will also cause further pain to Cuba’s economy, already battered by tightened sanctions and the pandemic that has devastated the island’s tourism industry. The new terrorism label will likely scare off many businesses that import to Cuba, banks that finance transactions with Cuba and foreign investors. 

  “Stunning but not surprising.” 

A week before the designation, nine U.S. Senators wrote to Secretary Pompeo and warned that such a step “will politicize our national security.” It has drawn strong condemnation from Senator Patrick Leahy, who said it made a “mockery of what had been a credible, objective measure,” and House Foreign Affairs Chairman, Representative Gregory Meeks who said the hypocrisy from President Trump less than a week after he incited a domestic terror attack was “stunning but not surprising.” 

Faith group Pastors For Peace was one of many organizations to condemn the designation: “We know that this latest act, in the waning days of the Trump administration, is not only an aggressive act against Cuba, but aggression against the incoming administration who have pledged to return to a policy leading to peace and civilized relations with our island neighbor.”

Policy group ACERE (which CODEPINK is a part of) drew a connection between the designation and recent events at home: “Perpetuating the myth that Cuba is a threat to the American people – while minimizing the threat posed by far-right extremists at home – is an embarrassment to our country on the world stage.”

The real motive behind this move is to offer a parting gift to the Cuban exile community and its allies that have been loyal supporters of the Trump administration and helped oust several Democratic members of Congress in the last election. This is par for the course for an administration that has repeatedly used sanctions for political gain with no regard for the Cuban people who, for four years, have borne the brunt of sanctions affecting everything from energy, tourism, medicines, remittances and flights. Just like millions of U.S. citizens, Cubans are counting the days until the Trump administration becomes history and hoping the next administration will offer some relief.

Feature photo | Wearing a face mask amid the new coronavirus pandemic, a woman carries egg cartons in Old Havana, Cuba, Oct. 27, 2020. Ramon Espinosa | AP

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As US Sanctions a Starving Yemen, Iran Asks Interpol to Arrest Trump

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced yesterday that the United States will be designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels a terrorist organization and increasing sanctions on the already beleaguered nation. 

“The Department of State will notify Congress of my intent to designate Ansarallah – sometimes referred to as the Houthis – as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” read an official statement. 

Pompeo acknowledged that “these designations will have an impact on the humanitarian situation” but implied it was a price worth paying in “advancing efforts to achieve a peaceful, sovereign, and united Yemen that is both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbors.” In other words, he was signaling U.S. intent to quash the Houthi rebellion and win the Yemeni Civil War on behalf of Saudi-backed president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. 

The State Department’s decision was immediately condemned by humanitarian organizations. “The Trump administration’s decision to designate the Houthi movement in Yemen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is both reckless and destructive,” wrote Refugees International. “Coming just days before Trump leaves office, the designation will complicate diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yemen and will disrupt relief efforts for the world’s worst humanitarian crisis…it is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible decision,” they added.

 

The United States has played an oversized role in the conflict, supplying weapons to the Saudi-led coalition. In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it had signed a deal to sell $350 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia alone. In addition to the weaponry, the U.S. has trained much of the Saudi armed forces, providing essential military infrastructure and logistical support, and even refueling Saudi bombers in the air and supplying targeting guidance on the ground.

The Saudi coalition (which includes other Middle Eastern monarchies such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates) has targeted civilian buildings for years, with Oxfam calculating that 200 raids — equivalent to one every ten days for the duration of the war — have been carried out against medical and water infrastructure. 

Pompeo continued: “We have expressed our readiness to work with relevant officials at the United Nations, with international and non-governmental organizations, and other international donors to address these implications,” he wrote. Yet, in reality, the U.S. government spent the whole of last year pressuring international bodies like the United Nations to reduce their aid to Yemen in order to conduct a campaign to starve the Houthis into submission. As a result, international aid to the country fell to just 25 cents per person, per day, only about half of what it was in 2019. 

 

This is nowhere near enough. The country topped the list of the International Rescue Committee’s most pressing humanitarian crises of 2021. Around 80% of the population is in need of assistance, with 20.5 million people inside Yemen lacking access to clean water and sanitation. 

Among other reasons, Pompeo’s justification for the sanctions (although he had already been considering the idea for months) was the December 30 terrorist attack at Aden International Airport which left at least 27 people dead and dozens more injured. President Hadi and his new government had been returning from Saudi Arabia, where they had been sworn in, only to return to an airport resembling a war zone. Houthi spokespersons denied responsibility for the incident. They also condemned the State Department’s latest move. “The policy of the Trump administration and its behavior is terrorist,” movement leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said. “We reserve the right to respond to any designation issued by the Trump administration or any administration.”

 

While the Trump administration attempts to punish Yemen, Iran is also trying to appeal to international law to extradite American leaders. Last week, it put out a request to Interpol to arrest Trump and 47 other government officials for their role in the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in January last year. Unlike the attack in Aden, there is no doubt about the identities of Soleimani’s killers, the Trump administration seemingly proud of its work in “taking out the world’s number one bad guy” as CNBC described him. Interpol immediately denied Iran’s request. 

Another controversial target of Washington’s ire is International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. In retaliation to the Gambian lawyer looking into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, the Trump administration has levied sanctions against her. “The ICC is corrupt, politicized and incompetent. Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda abused her authority, engaged in corrupt acts for her personal benefit, and wasted millions with malicious prosecution of American personnel,” Pompeo tweeted on Saturday. 

While this response might seem an overreaction, the United States has an active law nicknamed “the Netherlands Invasion Act” which states that if the ICC ever tries to press charges against American officials, the U.S. will invade the Netherlands in retaliation. The legislation was passed by the Bush administration soon after the invasion of Afghanistan to protect himself and his associates from any international legal consequences. 

 

Back to the present, Pompeo concluded by stating that, “Progress in addressing Yemen’s instability can only be made when those responsible for obstructing peace are held accountable for their actions.” Presumably, he was not referring to his own efforts in prolonging and intensifying the conflict. 

Feature photo | A woman holds her malnourished boy at a feeding center at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Non-MAGA Activists Caught in Social Media War as Twitter Begins Purge

Few could have predicted the huge fallout from the Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C. that saw the president of the United States banned from virtually every social media platform, including his favorite, Twitter. 

In solidarity with Trump, tens of thousands of conservative users appear to be deleting their accounts and moving over to pro-Trump Twitter clone Parler. Celebrities, politicians, and social media figures — particularly conservative ones — have registered losing tens of thousands of followers in a matter of hours. Twitter’s share price plunged by 7% this morning, knocking around $2.5 billion off its market value in one fell swoop. 

While the massive publicity generated would normally be positive news for Parler, which brands itself as a “free speech app,” it seems to have suffered a far worse fate than Twitter. The app was deleted by Google and Apple from their app stores over the weekend. But it was Amazon’s decision early this morning that proved a more fatal blow. The company, whose cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services, hosts the app and website, decided to pull it, effective immediately. “We cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others,” Amazon said in a statement.

Before it was taken offline, however, activists and researchers had begun a project to download and archive vast quantities of information, totaling over 70 terabytes, including deleted posts, videos, and users’ location data. They intend to use it as evidence to find and prosecute those individuals involved in the storming of the Capitol Building last Wednesday, an action that led to Congress and the Senate being evacuated and five people dying. Those leading the action allegedly used Parler to plan and organize the events and to communicate with each other during the violence. 

The president himself encouraged the crowds to go to the building and “fight like hell” to stop what he regards as a “stolen election,” where he was the legitimate winner. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” he added. 

In response, a host of popular social media platforms, including Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat froze Trump’s accounts on the grounds that he was directly inciting violence. Discord and Reddit also banned popular Trump forums. 

 

While many who opposed the president celebrated, whistleblower and internet freedom advocate Edward Snowden warned that allowing social media companies to set a precedent where they could effectively ban whoever they want from their services set a chilling precedent. “I know a lot of folks in the comments [who] read this are like ‘YAAAAS,’ which, like — I get it. But imagine for a moment a world that exists for more than the next 13 days, and this becomes a milestone that will endure,” he wrote on Twitter.

Almost immediately, a number of non-Trump accounts began to face problems, with pro-Assange journalist Suzie Dawson locked out of her account, educational file sharing website Sci Hub’s account suspended, and the Red Scare podcast’s profile deleted. Other figures began to demand that the accounts associated with the Venezuelan and Chinese government be removed from social media platforms as well. 

 

If Parler can find a way past its massive data hack and a company to host it, it still faces a number of huge problems, including rampant racism and false information predominating its platform. There are also large numbers of fake accounts purporting to represent public figures. The company has also broken its free speech absolutism promise as well, deleting incendiary tweets from Trump-supporting lawyer Lin Wood calling for Mike Pence’s head. 

Perhaps more ominous for America, however, is a media reality where different groups of people become completely insulated from one another on the basis of political identification. Already, algorithms have split us off from others who think differently, showing wildly contrasting news and views to us based on our prior actions. However, until now, this was at least happening on the same platform, meaning there was some overlap. If, however, liberals and conservatives are using entirely different social media websites, any chance for inter party debate is lost. 

The storming of the Capitol Building on Wednesday was a prime example of what can happen when one group of Americans lives in an entirely alternative reality. Further disintegration of media will only accelerate this trend, making incidents like this more likely in the future. 

Feature photo | Shutterstock

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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‘A Game Changer’: Ilan Pappe and Awad Abdelfattah on the One Democratic State Campaign

As the US ruling elites have fully succumbed to Israel’s political discourse on Palestine, the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, may feel that it, alone, is capable of determining the future of the Palestinian people. 

This conclusion is, perhaps, gleaned from Israel’s behavior in recent years and months. The expansion of illegal Jewish settlements, the plan to annex large swathes of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the entrenching of the existing system of apartheid and perpetual colonialism are all evidence that demonstrates Israel’s renewed sense of empowerment. 

Israel is further emboldened by the fact that the so-called ‘international community’ has, thus far, failed to challenge American and Israeli intransigency. The European Union, which is fighting for its own identity, let alone survival, is proving to be a marginal force in Israel and Palestine. Without American guidance, the EU seems incapable of leading its own independent initiatives. 

Moreover, the lack of an alternative global power that could offset the political imbalance created by Washington’s blind and unconditional support for Tel Aviv is making it difficult, if not impossible, for the Palestinian leadership to invest in an entirely new political paradigm. 

Normalization among various Arab countries and Israel has added yet more fuel to the fire. Without official Arab solidarity, the Palestinian leadership, which has historically defended its position based on some kind of a collective Arab vision, now feels orphaned, abandoned.

 

But all is not lost. The dismantling of the US-engendered ‘peace’ paradigm should not automatically indicate that Palestinians are not capable of championing their own political vision for liberation and freedom. On the contrary, the US and its ‘moderate’ allies in the region have always represented an obstacle to Palestinian freedom. For this camp, the objective was maintaining the status quo of endless, futile talks without a timeframe, without a legal frame of reference and without any mechanism that is meant to place any kind of pressure or accountability on the Israeli occupier to bring its military occupation to an end. 

Palestinians and their allies are now engrossed in a process of introspection, revisiting old maxims, challenging tired clichés, and imagining a new future where dead ‘solutions’ are no longer an option and where justice is not tailored to fit the expectations and demands of the occupying party. 

A one democratic state, as envisaged by the Haifa-based One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC) is one of these initiatives that hopes to take the conversation on a possible shared future from being an academic subject to an active political process with actual, measurable support on the ground. This is the only way, according to the group, that the minimal requirements for justice can be achieved. These include the right of return for Palestinian refugees who are still scattered, in their millions, in many refugee camps in Palestine and throughout the ‘shataat’ (diaspora). 

On December 30, we reached out to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, a well-known author and highly regarded academic and the respected Palestinian political analyst, Mr. Awad Abdelfattah, who is also the coordinator of the ODSC. 

We asked both intellectuals to make a case of why the two-state solution is not a viable answer to the Israeli occupation and apartheid and why a one democratic state is possible and just.

Ilan Pappe on why a two-State Solution was never viable: 

“The two-state solution was never viable. There were times when, maybe, it looked a little more viable for a few weeks after the June 1967 war, when the Jewish settlers came to the West Bank. But it was not viable even then, because it did not fit the basic policy of the Zionist movement since its inception and its arrival in Palestine in the late 19th century. Zionism is a settler-colonial movement and Israel is a settler-colonial state. 

Orthodox Jews take part in a protest against the expansion of Jewish settlements near Salfit, Dec. 3, 2020. Majdi Mohammed | AP

 

“Its support – and this includes what is even called the ‘peace camp’ in Israel – for a two-state solution is an idea that says that you do not have to directly control every part of historical Palestine in order to establish your dominance and hegemony between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean. So, if you can squeeze the Palestinians into small Bantustans and allow them to have a flag and a semblance of a government, there are quite a few Israelis who do not mind at all, so long as this will be the last and final kind of settlement for the Palestine question. Which means no real political rights for the Palestinians, no right of return for the refugees and keeping all Palestinians in different parts of historical Palestine, at best as second-rate citizens, at worst, as subjects in an apartheid state.

“I think the two-state solution was never a viable solution because what really mattered was the Israeli interpretation of the two-state solution. This interpretation was always accepted unconditionally by the United States. Because of this, even the European countries did not dare to challenge this interpretation and, as we have unfortunately seen recently, some Arab regimes are also beginning to accept the Israeli interpretation. For a while, they tried to challenge it in the Arab League’s famous Peace Plan in 2002. This is not being tried any more.

“I think we have only had one option since the creation of the State of Israel, and this was to replace a settler-colonial state with a genuine, democratic state for all.” 

Awad Abdelfattah on why Israel is not serious about peace and why one state is a strategic Palestinian choice: 

“I am a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, one of the survivors of the Nakba, one of the descendants of the people who succeeded in remaining in their homeland. I belong to that group of the Palestinian people who have been struggling peacefully inside the State of Israel against all forms of discrimination and apartheid. Despite that, we have been under continued and systematic colonization. 

“For many years, people (even those who support the Palestinian cause) did not look at Israel as a settler-colonial state. We, Palestinians within the Green Line, have played an important role in exposing the nature of this regime and to show that the occupation in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip is not something separate from the existing Israeli regime. The opposite is true. It is an extension of this regime.

“We have to expose to the world that we, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, are not treated equally and I think we should recognize that Israel is not keen on making any peace with anybody, either Palestinians or the Arab world. If Israel was indeed serious in wanting peace, then it should have made peace with its own non-Jewish citizens (this is the term that Israel uses to describe us). So, I think we can have a strategic role in promoting the ‘One Democratic State’.

“The apartheid regime cannot be sustainable. I think Israel is behaving like the Crusaders in Palestine. It will never be sustainable. I do not say that this is going to happen soon, but I do not think that this unjust and cruel apartheid regime can be sustained, because half of the Palestinian people are still in their homeland and they are determined to resist, not to surrender, despite the grim reality that they are living.”

 

Ilan Pappe on why one state is gaining momentum among Palestinian youth: 

“There is a big difference between the opinion of the younger generations and the older generations when it comes to the one-state solution. When you ask the older generation, the despair from the two-state solution as a feasible idea is, indeed, the main motive for rejecting the two-state solution. However, if you go to the younger generation (and do remember that more than 50% of Palestinians are under 18; it is a very young population) their belief in the one-state is based on a certain moral, ideological infrastructure. It is not just about despairing over the two-state solution; it is the genuine belief that post-liberation, Palestine should be a place where they would like to live.

“It is not just a dream of having another Arab state, like Egypt. We have to remember that they are also part of the Arab Spring generation, so the aspirations here are not just about national independence. This is far more than just having a one-state because the two-state does not work. This is really a genuine idea that we need to respect human rights and civil rights and, in the case of Palestine, the rights are very clear – from the right of return for the refugees to the making sure that Palestine is part of the Arab world and the Muslim world; making sure that within that world, Palestine can be a lighthouse when it comes to human rights and civil rights.

“I think this is why the topic is never limited to Palestine, geographically or morally. We have seen this during the demonstrations in the Arab world at the time of the Arab Spring. So many demonstrators from Morocco to Bahrain were carrying the Palestinian flag because of what it symbolizes to them, even in their own country.

“I think that despair comes more from political elites. Yes, they are right in their own analysis, that their belief in the two-state solution was, in a way, betrayed by the Israelis and the international community.  There is no doubt about it, but I think that the main push for the one-state solution will come from a popular movement with a lot of young people in it, building their own future, not just the future of the present leadership who, I think, will join, whether it is because they are desperate or because they will be loyal to ideas that they themselves once believed in – and they should remember – in the 1960s and 70s.

“So I think there is good potential for support on the Palestinian side for this idea. The question is whether there will be an organization that will democratically and authentically represent the symbols. Because if this will happen, I think it is a game-changer which will force everyone in the region – and in the world – to look very differently at the Palestine Question.”

(To watch the interview in full click here)

Feature photo | The West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit rises in the background while a protestor waves a Palestinian flag in front of Israeli troops during a protest against Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Bilin. Majdi Mohammed | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

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A Manufactured Crisis: How Saudi Arabia Uses Oil to Bring Yemen to its Knees

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Yemen’s oil is in thrall to a complex, intertwined network of elites that control the smuggling of fuel imports and new, thriving black markets. Starving Yemen of petroleum products has always been a conspicuous feature of Saudi Arabia’s nearly six-year-long war on the country, however, the most recent blockade is significantly more extensive than previous ones and comes at a time when a pandemic, diseases, and hunger are spreading rapidly across the country. The most recent byproducts of that blockade: the spread of schistosomiasis, a faltering economy in areas outside of Saudi control, and a dangerous new black market.

Known colloquially as snail fever, schistosomiasis is a rare disease caused by flatworms that thrive in untreated water, something now abundant in Yemen as the diesel fuel needed to power many of the country’s water treatment facilities, especially those in rural areas far removed from any electric grid, has dried up amid the blockade.

In a remote village in the Al-Marawa’ah district, Khalid Abdu looks at his thin daughter, 12-year-old Jamilah, with heartbreak as she lies still in the family’s hut. Jamilah is suffering from abdominal pain, diarrhea, and blood in her stool. Khalid said she has worms in her stomach, now distended and bloated in stark contrast to her otherwise meager frame. Jamilah was later diagnosed with schistosomiasis according to her family, leaving her with just three to ten more years of life if she doesn’t receive proper medical care, a luxury in her war-torn country.

Hammadi Issa | AP

Near the family’s hut, hobbled together from a hodgepodge of mud, bamboo sticks, thatch, and reed, sits an old Toyota Hilux, its low tires and thin coating of dust a testament to the fact that it hasn’t moved for weeks. Khalid blames the lack of fuel for the family’s endless problems. “I can’t drive my daughter to the hospital in Aden or bring water to my family, even the treatment plant that I used to go to is closed because there is no diesel,” he said. “Now, we drink, wash our clothes and cooking utensils, and do everything using that old well.” You see the result,” he said, pointing to Jamilah.

 

Another grim milestone

As the war in Yemen closes in on yet another grim milestone, the end of its sixth year in March, oil-rich U.S. ally Saudi Arabia continues to prevent oil tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to hospitals, water pumping stations, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging the entire nation into an unending fuel crisis.

The CEO of Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC), Ammar Al-Adrai, told MintPress that at least nine tankers have been trapped in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan Port, which sits on the Kingdom’s western seaboard painfully close to the Yemeni border. The tankers, Al-Adrai says, have been held despite being checked and issued permits by both the Saudi-led Coalition and the United Nations. He confirmed that the vessels are loaded with oil derivatives and that some of them have been detained for over nine months, leading to the suspension of more than 50% of the operational capabilities in the service, health, industrial and commercial sectors. 

That lack of fuel has caused an acute shortage of even the most basic goods. Khalid told MintPress that “the price of fruits, vegetables, and medicine is skyrocketing and my farm is defenseless against desertification.” Like many farmers, Khalid, who like his daughter Jamilah shows symptoms of malnutrition, is unable to power the pumps needed to irrigate his fields, leaving him unable to grow his own food with which to feed his family and the desert sands encroaching on his now derelict fields. At least 80% of Yemen’s 28 million-strong population is reliant on food aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the decimation of the remaining agricultural sector is likely to increase that figure.

“The [Yemeni] government is indifferent and apathetic to the suffering of citizens, even in areas under their control,” Khalid said, accusing the Saudi-backed government of Aden of deliberately compounding the suffering through the proliferation of the black market. “Fuel shortages in the northern provinces are caused by the blockade, but in Aden, we don’t understand what’s going on.”

 

A manufactured oil crisis

By manufacturing an oil crisis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is able to foment political chaos in the country and stir up popular discontent against domestic oil companies, many of which are run by the Houthi-led resistance. As a sort of grim bonus, the manufactured oil shortages also to incapacitate the Houthi-run port of Hodeida, increasing poverty and unemployment rates and siphoning cash out of the market, according to the Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC). 

YPC released a statement placing the estimated economic damage caused by Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow tankers to unload their cargo at billions of U.S. dollars. The company also said that demurrage fees are now at an unprecedented level of nearly $107 million and that Saudi forces have illegally impounded 72 Yemen-bound oil tankers last year, resulting in an approximately 45% drop in the amount of desperately-needed fuel shipments arriving at Yemeni ports. 

The fuel blockade has not only forced thousands of Yemenis to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see, but it has also left water pumps and treatment plants, and hospital generators without fuel. Most drinking water, particularly in rural areas, is extracted using diesel-powered pumps, while the country’s sizable refugee population survives on water brought in by diesel-powered trucks.

Hani Mohammed | AP

Food imports which generally arrive via one of the country’s ports are processed and packaged at diesel-fuel-powered facilities, factories in Hodeida or Aden before being transported across the country or sold locally.

Outside of the country’s coastal cities where more than 60% of the population resides, freight is transported by road leaving remote communities at the mercy of trucks that must traverse roads pockmarked and damaged by airstrikes. The few who are willing to undertake the dangerous journey must contend with the high price and scant availability of fuel, pushing the price and availability of even the most basic commodities – food, water, and medicines – through the roof.

 

A thriving black market is born

The oil crisis in Yemen certainly isn’t new, but it has been growing worse recently amid a black market boom which is adding to the already miserable quality of life for Yemenis. The Saudi government is flooding southern areas of Yemen under its control with cheap fuel, exacerbating regional tensions and creating an ideal environment for black market petroleum products to boom. The stark disparity between the availability of fuel in Saudi-controlled areas versus areas under Houthi control is also causing predictable economic damage to the ladder, which is unable to compete amid the Saudi-imposed blockade. 

Despite the suffocating siege on the country, petrol products are sold illegally on roadsides, streets, and isolated areas in the south and north of the country alike, often at double the official price with prices in some areas reach 11,000 riyals for 20 liters. These black market petrol products are mixed with water and other materials and enter from Saudi-controlled ports in Aden port and border crossings such as Al-Wadiah outlet, Al-Shahr, and the rich-oil Marib province.

Yemen’s oil is now in large part controlled by a complex network of corrupt officials that control smuggling routes, imports, and black market sales. Many members of these elite groups are also key allies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They not only plunder wealth and destroy the economy, but they put people’s lives and property in danger. People are now forced to seek their fuel from shady black market dealers and store fuel in their homes to get them through tough times. Smuggled petroleum products are sold in residential areas and unlicensed storefronts that do not meet security and safety standards and exacerbate the human cost of the crisis.

The crisis is set amid a backdrop of theft of Yemen’s own of crude oil by the Coalition and Saudi-backed militants, a daily occurrence in the Mari and Shabwa Blocks. Recently, Saudi Arabia brought in heavy drilling equipment made to deepen existing oil wells in Hadramout aimed at increasing the rate of oil extraction there.

The effect of the blockade on Yemen is acute, even when compared to countries that are reeling from U.S. sanctions such as Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, where fuel somehow manages to find its way to citizens. Yemen, though, is completely at the mercy of Saudi Arabia, forcing the  Houthi-backed Yemeni Army to step up their oil war against the Kingdom in the Red Sea and putting sensitive oil facilities deep inside Saudi territory at risk of being targeted as they have been in recent years according to the prominent field commander, Major General Yusef al-Madani, the Commander of the Fifth Military Region, the region responsible for Yemeni coasts and territorial waters.

Feature photo | Workers use a water hose to put down a fire at a vehicle oil store hit by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, July 2, 2020. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post A Manufactured Crisis: How Saudi Arabia Uses Oil to Bring Yemen to its Knees appeared first on MintPress News.

While Railing Against Trump Coup, Biden Appoints Chief Ukraine Coup-Plotter Victoria Nuland

Describing it as “one of the darkest days in American history,” President-elect Joe Biden denounced Wednesday’s spectacular assault on the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. as a coup attempt fomented by Donald Trump. 

“I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming, but that isn’t true. We could see it coming,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said. 

The last four years we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law, clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on the institutions of our democracy from the outset, and yesterday was but a culmination … of that attack.”

“This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It’s chaos,” he added, calling the events an “unprecedented assault” on the very fabric of U.S. democracy.

Yet, almost at the same time as the future president was denouncing Trump’s coup attempt, he was appointing Victoria Nuland — the driving force behind the 2014 insurrection that overthrew the Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych — as his new Under Secretary for Political Affairs. 

Victoria Nuland was the driving force in the US-orchestrated coup in Ukraine, was caught discussing who would be installed as head of state and is the wife of Iraq war ideologue Robert Kagan.

No matter who's in office, Democrat or Republican, the neocons manage to stay in power. https://t.co/NzTGbrvWtK

— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) January 5, 2021

The United States and NATO had been making overtures to Ukraine for some time before the coup, hoping that the country would become the latest post-Soviet state to fall into their fold as they continued to expand eastwards. Yanukovych, however, was in favor of steering Ukraine in a more Russia-friendly direction. The decision spurred demonstrations across the country from pro-E.U. forces. The Obama administration immediately sensed an opportunity, sending Nuland across the world to lead and support the movement, the senior diplomat rallying protestors, and was even photographed handing out cookies in the streets. 

Victoria Nuland, right, offers cookies to pro-EU protesters in Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013. Andrew Kravchenko | AP

While in the West, the revolt was presented as being led by tech-savvy, forward-thinking students. In reality, most of the muscle was supplied by neo-Nazi militias who helped force through Yanukovych’s downfall and continue to hold an oversized role in Ukrainian politics and society. In December, the United States and Ukraine were the only two nations to vote against a United Nations measure (passed 130-2), “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.” This was done as they felt the resolution could be used to target the Ukrainian government and the U.S.’ continued funding of it. Leaked phone calls show that Nuland and American Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt had long conversations about who should make up the post-coup government. 

The events of early 2014 spooked Russia so badly that it flew troops into Crimea to annex the territory. The affair led to increasing tensions between the U.S., Ukraine, and Russia, and almost led to a hot war between the two nuclear-armed countries. In the end, President Obama refused to escalate tensions to that point, angering many in Washington. 

Among them, seemingly, was Nuland, who promises to again be a Russia Hawk. As Politico wrote this week, she has been an “outspoken critic of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy — particularly his appeasement of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” In reality, however, Trump was extremely bellicose with Moscow, sanctioning the country, bombing a Russian base in Syria, and letting a number of anti-nuclear treaties expire, much to the Kremlin’s consternation. 

When the far-right storms gov't buildings where DC wants a coup, Dems call them "pro-democracy protesters," even if they hang confederate flags. Biden cheered them in Ukraine & honored some at an NED event called "From Protest to Politics: Honoring Ukraine’s New Democrats" pic.twitter.com/o7tAnXYvMa

— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) January 6, 2021

 

Biden’s regime change agenda

While vice-president, Biden’s administration also oversaw the 2009 overthrow of the democratically-elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, aiding in his ouster and replacement with a brutal military dictatorship that continues to rule the country to this day. In her memoir, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton boasted that she helped “render the question of Zelaya moot.” She did so by blocking action from regional bodies like the Organization of American States.

Wednesday’s events also resemble a number of other U.S.-planned coup d’etats, including that of Venezuela in 2002. With help from the American embassy in Caracas, right-wing and far-right forces marched on the Miraflores presidential palace, joining up with sympathetic military units to storm the building and capture President Hugo Chavez. In the melee, dozens of people were killed and Chavez was overthrown, replaced by a well-known businessman with no political experience. The White House immediately welcomed what it euphemistically called a “change in the government.” (Two days later, the coup was reversed by a huge popular uprising). 

In 2018 MintPress reported that many American far-right and white nationalist groups were receiving training from precisely the same Ukrainian neo-Nazis that the U.S. government had tutored. Those far-right groups were out in force at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA in 2017, where they killed a counter-protester. Thus, it is eminently possible that many of those storming the Capitol Building on Wednesday were taught insurrectionary tactics from individuals trained to do so on behalf of the U.S. empire abroad, a classic case of blowback, and an event that allows Americans to experience a tiny taste of what it has wrought on the world for several decades. 

Feature photo | Victoria Nuland, center, watches cadets of the Ukrainian police academy receiving training from American policemen in Kiev, Ukraine, May 16, 2015. Sergei Chuzavkov | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post While Railing Against Trump Coup, Biden Appoints Chief Ukraine Coup-Plotter Victoria Nuland appeared first on MintPress News.

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