Archive | March 11th, 2020

COVID-19: Italian Army Chief Infected. Whole Italy in Quarantine

More than 7thousands infected in Italy as in Iran with undreds dead. Italians guinea-pigs for Five-Eyes’ Vaccine?

By Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio 

by Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio for VT Italy

After the Governors of Lazio and Piedmont regions also the top officer of Italian Army has been found positive to COVID-19. The Chief of Major State, General Salvatore Farina, resulted yestarday infected by coronavirus. It is he himself who makes it known.

«I underwent the Coronavirus test, proving positive – he explains – I’m fine, I am in isolation in my accommodation, in compliance with the directives issued by the government authorities and with the health protocols envisaged; on the basis of which we are proceeding to verify the contacts we had in the last few days. I will continue to perform my duties and will be replaced by General Federico Bonato for the activities I cannot take part in. I extend a warm greeting and heartfelt thanks to the women and men of the Army who work to deal with this emergency in the operational, logistics and healthcare sectors».

The Chief of Major State, General Salvatore Farina

CoronaVirus has now infected more than 100,000 people worldwide and has killed over 3,000 in a dramatic report very hard to update. The total cases have risen to total cases thus rise to 9.172 in our country, 1,797 more than yesterday. Among these, 7,985 are currently positive, 724 the total healed (+102 over yesterday) and 463 the victims (+97).

The whole of Italy has been declared a “red zone” by the government with all the restrictions on travel and public gatherings already in force in Lombardy and in 14 provinces. In the final document there are generalized limitations for all of Italy, including the stop to pubs, discos, game rooms and cinema and theater events and other much more rigorous.

«There is no longer a red zone but all of Italy will be a protected area – explains Prime Minister Conte – Here until April 3 – to give just two examples – the movements will be limited, save the possibility of returning to your home, and the bars and restaurants will have to close at 18 and for the rest of the day guarantee distances of at least one meter. Those with a fever of 37.5 are invited to stay at home, those in quarantine are strictly prohibited from going out».

Iran has been the worst-hit country in the Middle East, and the third in the world after China and Italy, with a total of 237 deaths and 7,161 infection cases.

POSTED ON MARCH, 3

«Technically, this is already a pandemic. The pandemic declaration is only a formal fact: when the international emergency started, the WHO activated the necessary tools to mobilize member states. If the WHO were to choose this path, on the basis of the data collected, absolutely nothing will change for citizens. But the WHO will ask the wealthy states for the money needed to control the virus in poor countries, which risk more».

This was stated by epidemiologist Pierluigi Lopalco, professor of Hygiene and preventive medicine at the University of Pisa, highlighting the exponential growth of this virus which is arousing the strong concern of the World Health Organization especially in some countries.

For this reason, WHO has for some days raised the global level of the risk of contagion from “high” to “very high”, until a few days ago so reported only in China, where the number of new cases of CoVid-19 (or Sars Covid -2) is decreasing.

«The number of cases in China continues to decline. Yesterday, China reported 206 cases of COVID-19 to WHO, the lowest since the 22nd of January. Only 8 cases were reported outside Hubei province yesterday. Outside China, a total of 8739 cases of COVID-19 have been reported to WHO from 61 countries, with 127 deaths» dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesussaid, World Health Organization’s general director said in a press-conference on march,2.

«In the last 24 hours there were almost 9 times more cases reported outside China than inside China. The epidemics in the Republic of Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan are our greatest concern. I would also like to inform you that a WHO team arrived in Iran this afternoon to deliver supplies and support the government in the response. A WHO staff member in our Iran country office has now tested positive for COVID-19. He has mild disease» WHO DG added.

But it’s impossible to release a real update because in Italy and Iran dead and contagious raise again much more every hour: the thesis of the biogenetic weapon is becoming more concrete…

«This virus is not influenza (flu – ed). We are in unchartered territory. We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures. If this was an influenza epidemic, we would have expected to see widespread community transmission across the globe by now, and efforts to slow it down or contain it would not be feasible. But containment of COVID-19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries. With early, aggressive measures, countries can stop transmission and save lives» dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesussaid highlighted.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesussaid, WHO General Director

«We appreciate that people are debating whether this is a pandemic or not. We are monitoring the situation every moment of every day, and analyzing the data. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: WHO will not hesitate to describe this as a pandemic if that’s what the evidence suggests. But we need to see this in perspective. Of the 88,913 cases reported globally so far, 90% are in China, mostly in one province. Of the 8739 cases reported outside China, 81% are from four countries. Of the other 57 affected countries, 38 have reported 10 cases or less, 19 have reported only one cases, and a good number of countries have already contained the virus and have not reported in the last two weeks. More than 130 countries have not detected any cases yet».

The vaccine and treatment to treat coronavirus may be available starting in late summer, early autumn, said American Vice President Mike Pence, who coordinates the US government’s response to the emergency that caused the former. two victims.

Australia (as reported below) also reported that the vaccine has passed laboratory tests. Pence has made it known in the meantime that the United States will implement 100% of the checks on all direct flights arriving from Italy and South Korea in the next 12 hours.

UPDATE 1 MARCH 2020

The numbers State by State China: 2,870 victims and China and 79 thousand positives mainly in the province of Hubei Hong Kong: 94 cases and two deaths Macau: 10 cases South Korea: 3,736 cases, 21 deaths Italy: 1,128 positive, 29 victims. Japan: 951 cases, including those of the Diamond Princess, and 12 dead Iran: 54 dead and 978 infected. Singapore: 102 positive. France: over 100 cases and two deaths Germany: 66 positive. United States: 70 positive and one dead Spain: 46 cases Kuwait: 45 cases Thailand: 42 positive and one victim. Taiwan: 39 cases, one death. Bahrain: 38 cases. Malaysia: 29 positive. Australia: 22 cases and one victim. United Kingdom: 35 positive and one victim. United Arab Emirates: 21 positive. Canada: 20 cases. Vietnam: 16. Norway: 15. Iraq: 19 positive. Sweden: 13 cases. Switzerland: 10. Greece: 7. Lebanon: 7. Netherlands: 7 positive. Croatia: 7. Oman: 6 cases. Austria: 5 cases Israel: 5 positive Russia: 5 positive. Mexico: 4 Pakistan: 4 positive. Finland: 3 cases. India: 3 cases Philippines: 3 positive. Romania: 3. Czech Republic: 3. Brazil: 2. Denmark: 2. Algeria: 1. Afghanistan: 1. Armenia 1. Azerbaijan: 1. Belarus: 1. Belgium: 2. Cambodia: 1. Ecuador: 1. Egypt: 1 case. Estonia: 1. Iceland: 1. Ireland: 1. Lithuania: 1. Monaco: 1. Nepal : 1. New Zealand: 1. Nigeria: 1. North Macedonia: 1. Qatar: 1. San Marino: 1. Sri Lanka: 1. Dominican Republic: 1. RAI News source

There is nothing to comment on the new dramatic numbers about dead and infected: we have only to remember a disturbing and authoritative prophecy.

The Center for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) of the University of Cambridge in an August report highlighted the dangers of technology in the war field because «a bio-weapon could be built to target a specific ethnic group based on its genomic profile» defining this eventuality «extremely harmful and potentially unstoppable».IRANIranian’s vice president for women and family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, has contracted the coronavirus. Three high-ranking officials, including Iran’s deputy health minister, were already known to be infected. “Ms. Ebtekar showed signs of infection with coronavirus and was tested. The results came back positive,” IRNA quoted a spokesperson for the vice president as saying.

Iranian’s vice president for women and family affairs,

Earlier in the day, the head of the parliamentary security and foreign relations commission Mojtaba Zonnour said he had also tested positive for the virus.Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi has tested positive for coronavirus, Iranian state media has reported. Harirchi has been at the forefront of the country’s response to the outbreak. A spokesperson for Iran’s health ministry confirmed in a television interview on Tuesday that Harirchi has been infected and is under quarantine.

Iranian Health deputy minister Iraj Harirchi Covid-19 positive

Schools have been closed across much of the country for the last two days and five of Iran’s seven neighbors have closed their borders with the Islamic Republic. Clashes broke out between protesters and security forces at the weekend, over Tehran’s handling of the country’s outbreak, local media reported.

ITALY

The governor of Lombardy has chosen to put himself in voluntary quarantine after one of his collaborators has tested positive. The governor of Lombardy Attilio Fontana in voluntary quarantine after a collaborator of his staff resulted positive at CoronaVirus.

Governor of Lombardy Attilio Fontana in voluntary quarantine

ITALIANS INFECTED FOR FIVE-EYES’ VACCINE…

If the good news comes from Austria that the railway connections with Italy blocked yesterday at the Brenner border have been restored, the CoronaVirus catastrophe appears more and more like a military attack studied in detail (by the CIA according to our intelligence sources as highlighted in the survey published Sunday 23 February).

In Italy, there was the fourth victim in Bergamo and the fifth in Albettone (Vicenza), a 60-year-old farmer, then the sixth… In fact, the pandemic hit first of all China, the uncomfortable economic rival of the USA, with almost 80 thousand infected and over 2300 dead: useless to write the exact number because it grows every half hour.

Morbidity has been so devastating in the Wuhan outbreak area that there have been thousands of SARS-CoV-2 victims despite the low mortality rate of 2%.

While, if the data on the infected in Iran are real and not intentionally contained by the authorities to avoid panic, the mortality index in the country of the Shiites, bitter enemy of the White House allied with the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is even equal to 20% and in a few days from the presence of the virus it has already killed 8 people, among 43 infected or perhaps more since the IRNA (Islamic Republic National Agency) also releases updates with the dropper.

Iran’s revenge starts from Qom. Thanks to Fordow’s nuclear bunker plant

The main outbreak is in Qom, the site of the most important Shiite mosque and the most powerful military nuclear power plant, where 7 infected were registered on Sunday, another 4 in Tehran, 2 in Gilan, 1 in Markazi and another in Tonekabon. The data released by the Iranian Ministry of Health are however to be taken with the benefit of inventory as it could be an extremely provisional and partial budget.

The mortality of 8 people out of 43 infected is, in fact, equal to about 20%: or almost ten times that found in China, settled around 3%, and that of other countries such as Italy at 2% (3 out of 150).

Iranian President Hassan Rohani signing the decree establishing the special Sars-CoV-2 emergency committee

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has signed the decree to re-establish a Special National Committee for the health emergency. In Italy, on the other hand, the Civil Protection Crisis Unit has already been working for days in close collaboration with the Prime Minister, which is increasingly placing restrictions on the movement of people and places of mass attendance in various Regions.

Finally, we come to Italy where CoronaVirus killed 5 people and brought the number of infected and hospitalized patients to 219: 167 cases in Lombardy, 27 in Veneto, 18 in Emilia-Romagna, 4 in Piedmont, 3 in Lazio.

The Milan Cathedral has been closed and the historic Carnival of Venice has been interrupted. In 72 hours, the infected thus far exceeded those of Japan (yesterday 135), affected by the epidemic since the end of January. Now Italy is the third country in the world for the dead (after China and Iran) and also for contagious.

And it has already ascertained a third of the infected of South Corea (603), the country most affected by proximity to China and North Korea, the other enemy of the United States, that first opened to accuse the Pentagon of having used a biochemical weapon, such as he then did the Chinese Communist Party (see previous post).

If the increasingly well-founded thesis of the biogenetic weapon is accepted, the motives for a chemical attack can be identified in three factors. Firstly, a warning to the first European country that signed the Silk Road trade agreement with Beijing, secondly, the restarted dialogues between Italy and Iran on Artificial Intelligence, taken up by that “baby-genius” of Luigi Di Maio, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the height of tensions between Tehran and Washington (lol)…

Finally, this pandemic is a powerful signal to the vast NO-VAX community that contested the Lorenzin law (2017) on the 10 mandatory vaccines of the experimental health plan wanted by the American administration of President Barack Obama, within the 40 countries participating in the Global Health Security Agenda, and implemented by the Italian health and pharmaceutical institutions in collaboration with the Anglo-American multinational Glaxo Smith Kline.

As highlighted in the first report about CoronaVirus, Just GSK is now helping the University of Queensland to develop the vaccine on behalf of the British Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Australia, a member of the FIVE EYES international intelligence committee (with the USA, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand) has just announced that it has already found the vaccine but that it will now obviously need to be tested first.

read more VEGETAL THERAPY FOR LIKELY DEFENSE FROM VIRUS

Could a solution for scientists be to use seriously ill Italians, at high risk of death, as guinea pigs, as mortality is becoming threatening and morbidity is growing unstoppably and exponentially?

There are many ways to impose geopolitical-military colonialism: the pharmaceutical one is certainly the most sneaky, cowardly and horrifying …

Posted in Health, WorldComments Off on COVID-19: Italian Army Chief Infected. Whole Italy in Quarantine

Russia fires 14 Kaliber Cruise Missiles at EAQ (Erdogan Al Qaeda) Strongholds inside Syria

By Boyko Nikolov

DAMASCUS, (BM) – After the expiration of the Turkish ultimatum against Syria, the Turkish military and Ankara-controlled troops launched a large-scale attack, as we reported earlier today.

Syrian_MC@Syrian_MC

14 cruise missiles crossed the mid section over the Syrian coast line and landed in #Idlib4319:43 PM – Feb 29, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy244 people are talking about this

Read more: BulgarianMilitary.com 24/7 – War in Syria: Who controls what and what happens

However, according to local sources and news agency Aviapro, 14 Caliber cruise missiles were launched from the area of ​​the Russian Navy base in Tartus, which inflicted a powerful blow on jihadists in Idlib.

“14 cruise missiles crossed the midsection over the Syrian coastline and landed in Idlib,” said Syrian MC on Twitter.

At present no official comments have been made by Russia on this subject, but as we reported a few days ago, several Russian military warships, each equipped with 8 Caliber cruise missiles were immediately spotted off the coast of Syria.

Syrian_MC@Syrian_MC

Total plane loses until this moment
SAA
2 fixed wings Su-24s
2 choppers mi-8s
2 spare pare parts donors il-39s
3 UAVs Mohajer and Shahed-129 and and one unknown

Turkey
2 Choppers T129 and UH-60
UAVS 13 3 Anka-S and 10 are unknown1514:58 PM – Mar 2, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy134 people are talking about this

Among other things, there is also evidence that today multiple missile attacks were actually launched on the territory of Idlib.

BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that two Su-24 bombers, belonging to the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, were shot down by the Turkish military while trying to attack early today the Turkish Air Force.

Details of the destruction of Syrian aircraft were revealed to the Turkish Ministry of Defense on Sunday, March 1, Anadolu reports.

According to the military, Turkish troops also destroyed three air defense installations of the Syrian army, including the one with which a Turkish unmanned aerial vehicle near the city of Sarakib was shot down earlier on Sunday.

A few hours earlier, official Tehran threatened Turkey with very severe measures. In the event that Ankara does not stop the military operation in Syria, including, it could be a missile strike against jihadists and the main observation posts of the Turkish army in Idlib and Aleppo.


A fourth landing ship of the Russian Navy is sent to Syria

By Boyko Nikolov

MOSCOW, (BM) – The large landing ship of the Russian Navy Novocherkassk passed the Bosphorus and entered the Mediterranean Sea, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Komersant.ru.

Read more: BulgarianMilitary.com 24/7 – War in Syria: Who controls what and what happens

Presumably, the ship is heading to the Syrian port of Tartus. Since the end of February, the frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich, as well as the BDK Orsk, have already been sent to Syria.

Information about the movements of Novocherkassk was published by the Yoruk Isik Twitter account, which tracks ship passage through the Bosphorus.

According to him, the ship is carrying a “heavy load.” The BDK was accompanied by Turkish coast guard boats.

BulgarianMilitary.com recalls two Russian frigates are already in the area of Syria.

Another Admiral Essen frigate has been performing tasks in the Mediterranean since December 2019. BulgarianMilitary.com indicates that the frigates had already repeatedly participated in the Russian operation against militants off the coast of Syria.

Yesterday we reported 14 Caliber cruise missiles were launched from the area of ​​the Russian Navy base in Tartus, which inflicted a powerful blow on jihadists in Idlib.

“14 cruise missiles crossed the midsection over the Syrian coastline and landed in Idlib” said Syrian MC on Twitter.

Recall that at the beginning of the year, the conflict between the Syrian and Turkish military escalated in Idlib. On March 1, the Syrian army shot down a Turkish drone, and Turkey – two Syrian Su-24 aircraft. Syria has closed the airspace over Idlib.


Iranian-backed forces launched a missile strike on Turkish troops on Syria

DAMASCUS, (BM) – After Iran gave an ultimatum to Turkey, demanding an immediate end to the occupation of Syria, and in Ankara ignored such a requirement, Iran-backed forces launched a missile strike on Turkish troops on the border using a ballistic missile, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing several sources – AviaPro, Israeli news agency Nziv and Israeli 9tv channel.

Read more: Iran addressed Turkey: ‘Our patience over the situation in Idlib is running out’

According to them, the Iranian-backed forces have used an upgraded version of the Soviet short-range ballistic missile. The Sources also comment that the ballistic missile was destroyed by a Turkish air defense system.

It is reported that a missile strike was launched from territory controlled by Iranian forces, however, according to the official version of the Turkish authorities, Damascus is behind the strike.

“The pro-Iranian forces fighting on the side of the Bashar al-Assad regime fired a ballistic missile at the positions of the Turkish army in the north of Idlib province. This is with reference to the Syrian media reports the Israeli news portal “Nziv”. According to preliminary data, we are talking about a medium-range missile that is identical to that used by the Yemen Houthi against the Saudi forces. It is reported that the shell was shot down by a missile defense system deployed on the border of Turkey and Syria,” 9tv channel reports.

Experts do not exclude that the Iranian forces may repeat the attack, but this time on the Turkish military in Syria.

BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that early today Iran’s leadership broke the silence and ultimately warned the Turkish armed forces that Tehran’s patience and stock of “loyalty” over the situation in Idlib are running out.

The message was transmitted to Ankara through the Iranian Military Advisory Center (MAC) in Syria.

In it, in particular, it was indicated that Turkey continues to deliver massive artillery attacks on positions of the pro-Iranian militia, despite Tehran’s incredible restraint.

Posted in Russia, Syria, TurkeyComments Off on Russia fires 14 Kaliber Cruise Missiles at EAQ (Erdogan Al Qaeda) Strongholds inside Syria

AQE (Al Qaeda Erdogan) Factory Discovered in Aleppo Suburbs

The Syrian military uncovered a large missile production factory in one of the newly captured areas in the Aleppo Governorate.

According to Syrian state TV, the military found this missile production factory while they were combing through the areas formerly held by the jihadist rebels around Aleppo city.

In the video released on Tuesday, a reporter tours the missile factory, which had both launchers and projectiles that were to be used by the jihadist rebels in Aleppo.

The jihadist rebels often launched missiles and artillery shells into Aleppo city from their positions around the provincial capital.

These attacks by the jihadist rebels often resulted in several civilian casualties and heavy material damage to buildings in Aleppo city.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Campaigns, Syria, TurkeyComments Off on AQE (Al Qaeda Erdogan) Factory Discovered in Aleppo Suburbs

Libya: Zionist Erdogan and Muslim Brotherhood Control Only 1% Libya

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

I am posting this map of Libya today to show how far the LNA has come in their work to clean out the Muslim Brotherhood extremist UNELECTED GNA regime in Libya. The Libyan people’s army (LNA) is the RED part of the map.

The question anyone would ask when looking at this map is: Why would the Libyan People or their army (LNA) ever negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood regime that controls less than 1% of Libya and was never elected??? They would NOT – those perpetrating the so-called negotiations are attempting to save their criminal puppet in Tripoli

The Libyan people’s army (LNA) that is fully supported by all the great tribes of Libya (who represent all the Libyan people) has been fighting extremists, terrorists, mercenaries, and gangs of criminals for a few years now. They are working to clean out the mess that was left behind by Clinton, Obama and their NATO illegal attack/invasion of Libya in 2011. The LNA is working to return Libya to the legitimate Libyan people; restore security and peace in their great country.

The LNA started into Tripoli (the biggest nest of vipers) last April and has made steady progress in cleaning the city. The problems they face are the terrorist mercenaries who support the GNA unelected Muslim Brotherhood terrorist regime in Tripoli. This regime has been receiving support illegally from Turkey and Qatar in order to maintain its foothold in Libya and to continue its theft from the Libyan people.

The GNA has never been a legitimate government, they were never accepted into Libya by the duly elected government and did not come into Libya legally but sneaked in by the dark of night. Their terrorist mercenaries continue to use civilians to hide behind in order to thwart the army from finishing its stated task and taking back the sovereignty of Libya.

This is all a nasty game, perpetrated by the UN as they are the criminal organization that appointed the GNA and its terrorist group to go into Libya. Once this Muslim Brotherhood appointed group set foot on Libyan soil, the UN recognized them as the government of Libya. All of this was done to control and steal Libyan assets and to create chaos to keep the legitimate Libyans from regaining control of their country.

During this time, many of the terrorists, extremists, and criminal gangs became extremely rich by stealing money from Libya, whilst the legitimate Libyan people suffer without poor food, no clean water, no medical, poor infrastructure, illegal imprisonment, torture and millions still in exile.

It is obvious to anyone why the Libyan people support their army and why they pay NO ATTENTION to the UN and Mr. Gassam Salame who is from LEBANON and is their so-called UN representative appointed by the UN.

The people of Libya require all negotiations about their country to be done by legitimate Libyan representatives inside their country. As Syria’s representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar Al-Ja’afari, told the UN – “Idlib is inside of Syria, not California or any foreign territory,” The same would be stated by the Libyan people if they had a legitimate representative in the UN. Who is the US, UK or any other foreign country to tell Libya or Syria how to manage the terrorists that are raping, killing and pillaging their country?

And lastly, Turkey – why is Turkey being allowed to run terrorist mercenaries all over the Middle East and N. Africa?

Why is Turkey being allowed to openly bring arms and mercenaries into Libya against all international accords?

Does Erdogan want to rebuild the Ottoman empire? Why would the US and the UN allow this?

There is a big underlying agenda here and that is the question, who is allowing this, why are they allowing this and how will it end?

I can tell you now, it will end with no Turkish fighters or militias, or mercenaries left in Libya. The Libyan people have come to hate Turkey for cause and it will not end well for Turkey or any of their treasonous allies in Libya.

Posted in LibyaComments Off on Libya: Zionist Erdogan and Muslim Brotherhood Control Only 1% Libya

Irish election: Sinn Féin tops the popular vote

As the establishment duopoly is burst asunder, Ireland’s rulers are desperately trying to turn back the rising tide.

Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams with his successor Mary Lou McDonald. Belfast-born Gerry Adams led the party from 1983, when the war between republicans in the north of Ireland and Britain was at its height, guided the peace process that was initiated in 1998, and presided over its growth as an all-Ireland political force. Dubliner Ms McDonald took over the party leadership on his retirement in 2018.

On 8 February, the Irish people voted in a general election to determine the composition of the 33rd Dáil Éireann (Ireland’s parliament). In a shock result, more votes were cast for Sinn Féin (SF), traditionally viewed as the party of republican struggle in the north, than for any other party.

Consensus overturned

The result directly challenged the centre-right consensus that has dominated politics in the 26 counties since the 1930s, threatening to end the effective duopoly enjoyed by the rival Fianna Fáil (FF) and Fine Gael (FG) parties.

These two great monoliths, historically on opposing sides of the civil war, in practice have between them stitched up all political life.

Smaller parties like Labour and the Greens are periodically drawn into coalition by one or other of them to make up the numbers and then spat out when no longer needed. In the case of the outgoing minority administration, a coalition headed by Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael was buttressed by independents and by a loose deal with Fianna Fáil – an agreement that doubtless contributed in significant measure to the mass rejection of the establishment parties and embrace of Sinn Féin.

February’s election results have called time on such cosy arrangements. SF, the voice of Irish republicanism, stunned everyone (and itself too, it would seem) by polling the highest number of votes of any party.

SF also won 37 seats, which would have placed them neck and neck with FF, were it not for a convention that automatically returns the former speaker, who is FF, making their total up to 38. For FF, this means a loss of six seats from the previous election in 2016, whilst SF’s star is clearly rising.

Damned if they do, damned if they don’t

The Irish bourgeoisie is really on the horns of a dilemma with this election result, in which it is very hard for them to knock together a stable government, or indeed any government at all, and where a fresh election in the near future would almost certainly serve to further strengthen SF, their greatest enemy, and major source of their nightmare.

Whilst a SF/FG partnership in government was never a serious proposition, it is at least arguable that there could be some sort of a basis for a government that included FF and SF. Be that as it may, FF has now reiterated (after slight signs of a wobble) its pre-election pledge not to go into government with SF.

Historically, smaller parties in Ireland have been punished for their role as coalition partners, and some might say there would be a far-sighted bourgeois view of getting SF into government, taming them and discrediting them.

However, SF is neither the Labour party nor the Greens. Whereas previous coalition partners had very much been the little brother to be kicked around, this is hardly the case with SF this time, which polled the highest number of votes of any party and has just one TD less than FF.

In fact, Sinn Féin would have had the largest number of TDs but for the fact that it ran a very limited slate of candidates. The reason for this was that neither SF nor anyone else foresaw the dramatic increase in their support.

After a poor run of elections over the last few years, SF ran a small slate of candidates because, if your vote is low, with multimember constituencies elected by proportional representation, you risk not getting anyone elected if your first preference votes are divided on a low base of support.

Sinn Féin is highly unlikely to repeat that mistake in the event of there being another election in the fairly near future.

So, Fianna Fáil has ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin. For its part, SF has made efforts to broker a “government of the left”. The Greens won 12 seats, independents won 21, three small left-wing parties won another 17 and Labour scraped in with a paltry six, which in theory means that there could be the arithmetical basis for a Sinn Féin-led coalition (80 seats would be required to secure a majority government, there being a total of 160 seats in the parliament).

But the Labour party has already thrown its toys out of the pram and decided to take its six TDs and 4 percent of the vote share home to the sanatorium, and other seat-holders are at present a little slow to adjust to the dominant role SF has carved for itself, such is the breathtaking speed of political change.

That leaves the prospect of other parties forming a government without Sinn Féin. The only possibility here has to be centred around some sort of coalition or otherwise a looser form of agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

The problem here is that the surge in support for SF rests precisely on the rejection of this reactionary duopoly, which has dominated the politics of Ireland since the inception of the Free State, and of the way working people have been made to pay for the capitalist economic crisis by both parties.

A deal between FF/FG would be rightly seen therefore as an establishment stitch-up, and serve to underline the fact that SF is the only alternative. Moreover, and whilst this being‎ bourgeois politics it’s not the final word, outgoing Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar has said that he envisages being leader of the opposition in the next Dáil, indicating that FG is not anxious to rush into government with FF.

Even if FF and FG do come to a deal, they don’t have enough seats between them to form a majority government. There are indications that the Greens might agree to play little brother again, which would give the required numbers.

The Greens have recently held talks with SF, FF and FG, and are very much keeping their options open. Perhaps they are forgetting that their reward for joining a previous FF government was to lose all their seats at the next election.

A vote for social change

In this election, the Green party increased its seats and the Trotskyite Solidarity/People Before Profit held onto its seats also, largely as a result of transfers from SF – due, as already noted, to SF running a comparatively small number of candidates.

This indicates that the Sinn Féin vote was not simply nationalist (which would have more likely resulted in transfers to Fianna Fáil) but consciously pro-working class, anti-austerity and progressive (eg, on climate change), irrespective of the merits (or lack of them) of the parties who’ve benefited this time.

It is clear that Sinn Féin’s electoral message of a change to the established order and its anti-austerity programme resonated deeply with the electorate. If the party stands a fuller slate of candidates in another election soon, both the Greens and Trots can expect to take a hit.

The Irish bourgeoisie is wary of resorting to a ‘grand coalition’ – ie, an open partnership of the two halves of the duopoly, FF and FG – which would too brazenly display the identity of class interests underpinning Ireland’s Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

For this reason, there are increasing noises in both FF and FG against the idea of such a lash-up. Bertie Ahern (former FF Taoiseach) has said a partnership between the parties would only strengthen the ‘left’, arguing that any coalition, besides the Greens, should also include the Social Democrats and some of the rural independents – to try and make it look less like an establishment fix.

Whichever way a new administration is cobbled together, it will be clear to all that henceforth any manoeuvre that persists in excluding the voice of popular republicanism from power can only be a temporary delaying tactic.

When the next election looms, it is highly likely that with the combination of Sinn Féin fielding a much larger slate of candidates, the political education provided to the electorate by the unseemly manoeuvring of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and others as they attempt to keep SF out of power, and the simple realisation that Sinn Féin really could win an outright majority, the republicans can and would win a substantially greater number of seats.

This could then quite possibly allow them to command a less disparate coalition than any they might try to put together this time and in a more hegemonic and authoritative fashion.

Either way, bourgeois politics in Ireland faces its biggest shake-up since the end of the civil war, and the prospects for Irish reunification just took another great leap forward.

Posted in UKComments Off on Irish election: Sinn Féin tops the popular vote

Will COVID-19 Kill Globalization?

by JOHN FEFFER

Photograph Source: CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy – Public Domain

At a dinner party in mid-February, an architect told me that he was having a problem finishing his building projects. It was the carpets.

Most wall-to-wall carpeting for big construction projects in the United States, he explained, comes from China. The coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan — and the subsequent shutdown of many Chinese factories — was having a ripple effect across the global economy all the way down to the carpeting in U.S. buildings.

The global spread of a new pathogen has exposed the fragility of modern life. As it moves around the world, the coronavirus has compromised the circulatory system of globalization, dramatically reducing the international flow of money, goods, and people. The disease has done so rather economically, by infecting fewer than 100,000 people so far. Extrapolation and fear have done most of the work for it.

In the world of things, the coronavirus has infected the global supply chains that connect manufacturers and consumers. Port traffic in Los Angeles, the largest U.S. port, declined by 25 percent in February. Container traffic in general was down over 10 percent last month.

Manufacturers that depend on the sourcing of components in far-off countries had already been rethinking their participation in the global assembly line because of tariffs, the costs of transport, and increased automation. This “reshoring” will get a boost from the disruptions of the coronavirus.

People, too, are not moving around as much. Airline service in and out of emerging hot spots — South Korea, Italy — has been cancelled. Airline ticket sales last week were down 10 percent over the same period last year. The cruise industry, after outbreaks on a couple big ships, has taken a major hit.

After blithely ignoring the coronavirus outbreak in China for most of February, markets took a major dive in the final week of the month. The stock market lost $6 trillion in value last week, its worst showing since the financial crisis of a decade ago. This is testament to both the persistence of the disease and the incompetence of certain national leaders, notably Donald Trump. Despite the intervention of the Federal Reserve and other central banks, market volatility continues.

It might seem ridiculous to expect that a pathogen, even one that spreads at the rate of a pandemic, could reverse an economic trajectory that’s more than a century in the making. But the coronavirus outbreak coincides with attacks on economic globalization from many different quarters.

Environmentalists, for instance, have long been skeptical of unrestrained global economic growth. The threat of climate change has sharpened that critique and placed it squarely in the middle of mainstream debate.

Meanwhile, worsening economic inequality has called into question the capacity of economic globalization to lift all boats in a rising tide. Even the IMF has acknowledged the pernicious impact of this inequality (but without engaging in the necessary institutional overhaul to address the problem).

Finally, a slowing of global economic integration over the last decade suggests that the world may already have passed peak globalization.

On top of these systemic challenges, a rising political populism has targeted the global economic elite as the enemy of “the people.” Donald Trump challenged this elite and their orthodoxy of free trade by imposing tariffs on allies and adversaries alike and by withdrawing U.S. participation in big trade pacts, like the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The trade war he began with China has had perhaps the greatest impact. It has hit both economies hard, with job loss, higher bills for consumers, and lost markets for manufacturers and farmers. The recent agreement between Beijing and Washington notwithstanding, most of the tariffs remain in place.

Meanwhile, the UK finally pulled out of the European Union this year, which was a victory for economic nationalists. Populists elsewhere have railed against what Steve Bannon calls the “Davos class.” Neoliberal orthodoxy has given way to pronouncements of America First, Brazil First, and the like.

Such a setback is not necessarily fatal. Globalization has been challenged before by financial crises, pandemics like the Hong Kong Flu, even the specter of Y2K.

This time around, however, the failure of the global community to establish new rules of the road for the economy, the environment, and health care is creating a perfect storm of international disfunction. If something with a relatively low mortality rate like the coronavirus — between one percent and four percent, compared to 50 percent for Ebola — can do such a number on the global economy, perhaps the patient was already suffering from some pretty dire underlying conditions.

Pandemic

When people travel, they bring all sorts of luggage, including pathogens.

Thus was the great era of exploration also the dismal era of genocide. Explorers to the New World brought a panoply of diseases like smallpox and measles that were new to the indigenous communities. The colonial invaders subjected the Americas to war and slavery. But it was those diseases that were largely responsible for a catastrophic reduction in populations up and down the Americas. As many as 56 million people, or 10 percent of the world population at the time, died by the beginning of the 1600s. The mortality rate for the indigenous communities was an astonishing 90 percent.

In exchange, the explorers returned to their native countries with syphilis, a horrible disease to be sure, but it didn’t radically depopulate Europe.

Pandemics are closely associated with the movement of traders and soldiers. Roman soldiers returning from Mesopotamia were responsible for the plague that ravaged the empire in the second century AD, one of several pandemics that helped end Rome’s global dominance. The bubonic plague of the fourteenth century began in China and reached Europe via merchant ships carrying flea-infested rats. In the modern era, soldiers returning home from fighting in World War I spread the Spanish flu, killing up to 50 million people.

This last pandemic was one of the factors behind the collapse of the first wave of modern globalization. Prior to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the world had never been more tightly connected with steamships, trains, and the telegraph serving as the connective tissue. Trade as a proportion of GDP stood at 14 percent on the eve of the war.

The devastation of World War I followed by the flu epidemic dealt a heavy blow to world trade and economic integration. The global economic depression of the 1920s, the rise of various types of nationalism, and a second world war ensured that, by 1945, trade as a proportion of GDP had dropped to a mere 5 percent.

Modern globalization is made possible by modern medicine. A couple of pandemics have broken out since 1945, but they haven’t disrupted the global circulatory system. In the ancient Akkadian language, the word for epidemic disease meant “certain death.” Only recently have medical professionals been able to handle outbreaks of disease on such a scale.

Thanks to a second wave of globalization, trade would rise again to the levels it registered in 1914 — but only by the late 1980s. With the collapse of the Soviet bloc, a third wave of globalization removed more barriers to the movement of goods and money. Even China, a nominally Communist country, joined the World Trade Organization at the end of 2001. It has since offered its own version of globalization through the Belt and Road initiative that places China at the center of a burgeoning network of trade and finance.

The coronavirus, by itself, will not put an end to this most recent wave of globalization. Like the flu pandemic of 1918, it could contribute to a trend of greater fragmentation. Or, by serving as a reminder of how the health of humanity has been mutually dependent across borders for millennia, the latest outbreak could prompt a rethinking of how the world works together.

Things Fall Apart?

China will prove pivotal in determining which direction the world heads.

At the moment, economic pundits in the West are exhibiting a degree of schadenfreude at Beijing’s difficulties. Kenneth Rapoza, for instance, argues in Forbes that “The new coronavirus Covid-19 will end up being the final curtain on China’s nearly 30 year role as the world’s leading manufacturer.” The global assembly line was already shifting away from Chinese sources as a result of Trump’s tariffs, so the pandemic only reinforces this trend.

China could still come out a winner in all of this. No longer dependent on low-end manufacturing, it could invest its surplus capital into an even greater push toward higher value-added production, particularly in the digital sphere. This shift could facilitate a major reduction in the country’s carbon footprint as well.

Much depends on the U.S.-China relationship. Long before the coronavirus crisis, the U.S. policy elite had already moved away from supporting engagement with China. China was already prepared for disengagement. It had laid the groundwork for an alternative globalization, denominated in the renminbi and financed by the country’s considerable trade surpluses. Many countries in China’s vicinity opted to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and receive financing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

At the very moment that China and the United States need to forge a new consensus on economy and environment, the two countries are heading in different directions. And that will make it very difficult for the international community, such that it is, to come up with global solutions to what are increasingly global problems such as climate change and pandemics.

Because of the coronavirus, China has rediscovered how dependent it is on the rest of the world — to buy Chinese products, to supply Chinese consumers, to provide raw materials for Chinese business, to service Chinese tourists.

China’s projected growth rate for 2020 has been revised down from 6 percent to 5 percent, but it might drop even further. Sociologist Walden Bello has long argued that the Chinese economy is in fact quite fragile — with overcapacity in the manufacturing sector, a real-estate bubble, high rates of debt, and growing inequality.

With the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing was hoping it could grow its way out of these problems. That strategy depends on a number of unknown variables, which in the short term include the persistence of the pandemic and the results of the upcoming presidential election in the United States.

The coronavirus is a wake-up call for both Beijing and Washington. The new status quo of a revived Cold War between the two hegemons is unworkable. It’s time for another wave of globalization, but this time one that reduces carbon emissions, proceeds more equitably, and strengthens the capacity of international institutions to fight pandemics.

It won’t happen without U.S.-China cooperation. And that won’t happen without a different U.S. president and a different approach in Beijing.

Posted in Education, Environment, WorldComments Off on Will COVID-19 Kill Globalization?

Syria: US will not provide air support to Turkey in Idlib

By VT Editors 

…from Sputnik News, Moscow

On Saturday, President Trump said the US had been speaking with President Erdogan of Turkey “a lot” over the situation in Idlib, and confirmed that the two countries were discussing Ankara’s request for the temporary deployment of US Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems.

The United States will not provide air support to Turkey in the wartorn Syrian province of Idlib, Pentagon Chief Mark Esper has said, speaking to reporters in Washington on Monday.

Asked directly if US assistance would include air support, Esper responded bluntly “No.”

“I should add that the the United States is looking at providing increased humanitarian aid for the persons in Syria. That’s one thing I had a conversation with [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] about that,” Esper said.

The secretary of defence also confirmed that he has spoken to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about the situation in Syria, and that NATO was prepared for anything that might happen.

Commenting on Ankara’s recent move to open its borders with the European Union, Esper said that this was Turkey’s decision to make.

Asked what he told his Turkish counterpart Sule Akar during their recent phone call, Esper said the message was that “Russians aren’t always good partners.”

Also Monday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said there was “no clear, unambiguous intelligence on who was flying which planes” in the deadly attack on Turkish troops in Idlib last week. Earlier, Moscow stressed that the Russian air force was not involved in the strikes in the area of Behun, Idlib where the troops were killed.

Later, the MoD-affilliated Center for Syrian Reconciliation clarified that the Turkish forces were hit by Syria as it retaliated to a Nusra* offensive, with the troops operating outside of their observation posts and in the same area as Nusra militants for some reason.

On Saturday, President Trump confirmed that he had discussed Turkey’s request for the temporary deployment of US Patriot missiles in southern Turkey with President Erdogan, adding that the talks were ongoing.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Turkey’s NATO allies to assist the country with air defence and intelligence cooperation.

Idlib tensions exploded in February after the deaths of Turkish military personnel in the course of an ongoing Syrian military offensive against Ankara’s militant proxies. Damascus began its operation in the wayward province in December, after repeated attacks on Syrian troops by jihadist militants.

Posted in USA, Russia, Syria, TurkeyComments Off on Syria: US will not provide air support to Turkey in Idlib

Global Warming on a Rampage

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Global warming is not waiting around for the signatories to the Paris climate accord ‘15 to go to net zero emissions 2030/50. Sorry, those bold plans are way too little way too late. Already, across the board, the planet is on a hot streak that defies all projections. It’s starting to look downright scary!

Listen… when Helsinki has no snow in January/February accompanied by inordinate heat, it’s a powerful signal that “something is not right.” According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute: “Monthly records were not just broken, they were shattered with large margins.” (Source: 9 Freaky Phenomena Revealing How Warm This Winter Was, Treehugger, March 3, 2020)

Not only that, across the planet, heat-heat-heat too much heat is altering ecosystems beyond expectations, as, for example, an “uncharted granite island” suddenly emerged from rapidly melting ice in Antarctica, surprising researchers stationed off the coast of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, which has the troubling distinction as one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world. The research team named the new discovery Sif Island.

Similar to global warming’s recent onslaught, Pine Island Glacier also is not waiting around for Paris ’15 signatories to take mitigation steps to avert catastrophic “Global Warming,” which likely will be officially renamed “Global Heating” at some point in time in the near future, not global warming, which term is already out-of-date.

Perilously, Pine Island Glacier experienced yet another monster iceberg calving event February 2020 the size of a U.S. state. Monster calving events used to occur every 5-6-7 years but have become annual events. Making matters scarier yet, “large cracks in the ice shelf are forming in places that scientists hadn’t seen before, such as the middle of the ice shelf.” (Source: Iceberg That’s Twice the Size of Washington Cleaves off Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica, in a Sign of Warming, The Washington Post, February 10, 2020)

Scientists are deeply concerned and closely monitoring Pine Island Glacier and nearby Thwaites Glacier for signals of “runaway melting” that would free up inland ice flow. The ice shelves that are calving hold back rapid glacial flow to the sea. According to NASA, just those two glaciers hold back a surrounding region of potential glacial ice flow that could raise sea levels by 4 feet, which is a mere 2% of total Antarctic sea level rise locked in ice.

Therefore, the sudden emergence of Sif Island out of the blue is not a comforting signal. Not only that, but according to Carlos Schaefer, a Brazilian government scientist who’s analyzing recent Antarctica temperatures of 68°F (sizzling hot for Antarctica): “We have never seen anything like this.”

Dreadfully, the entire planet is being hit with hot stuff. French ski resorts had to import snow with helicopters. Snow-less Moscow shattered previous record temperatures by an astonishing 3.5°C.

And, heaping one disaster on top of another disaster, Japan’s Daisen White Ski Resort had to shut down early in January because it was so hot that fake-generated snow melted as soon as it was generated. And, for the first time ever, ever, ever Germany was unable to make ice-wine in any of the German wine regions. The 2019 ice-wine vintage will go down as the first-ever no harvest. It was too hot!

Still, by all appearances, global average temperatures are a misleading indicator for public instruction of global warming’s true impact. Global averages miss the true impact of regional global warming events that have the power to undercut life, as we know it.

For example, Yakutia, an eastern Siberian federal Russian republic, has heated up by more than 3°C preindustrial or three-times the global average, bringing on disastrous results. Yakutia, one-third the size of the U.S., has seen its arable land for farming plummet by more than 50% as a result of cascading permafrost. And, buildings are sagging into the ground, hillsides are collapsing, and lakes suddenly appear throughout the region. Life is turning chaotic.

All of which brings to mind the ever-dicey East Siberian Arctic Shelf where massive quantities of subsea permafrost contains and holds back vast reservoirs of methane frozen in ice in extremely shallow waters, unfortunately. Even though mainstream science believes the risks are low of a major eruption of methane out of the ESAS, which in turn could ignite powerful damaging Runaway Global Warming, there are serious scientists who have studied the ESAS in detail and who adamantly claim otherwise by assigning a high risk to the event, which would take civilization down to its knees by decimating agricultural regions across the planet as well as turning several latitudinal zones uninhabitable.

Meanwhile, according to the IEA (International Energy Agency) fossil fuel companies plan on increasing oil and gas production by 120% to 2030. Demand for oil is irrepressible. And, not only that, China is embarking on mega-mega construction plans for new coal-burning power plants, and so is India, and Japan recently announced its intention of building 22 new coal-burning plants over the next 5 years.

All of that in the face of irrefutable evidence of acceleration of climate change well beyond the influence of natural events. Still, Trumpers refuse to recognize and act upon that reality, thus unofficially blessing other nations increases in fossil fuel usage and thus silently encouraging rejection of Paris ’15. Is that wayward influence a plot hatched in America?

As a result, and with great fanfare, trumpets blaring, and drums rolling, Trump has been crowned “the Worst President for our Environment in History” by nine major green orgs: Alaska Wilderness League Action, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, EDF Action, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society. Trump is Global Warming’s Man of the Year 2019.

The year 2019 is the 43rd consecutive year, since 1977, with both land and ocean temperatures above the global 20th century average. And, of extreme significant deep concern, the global rate of global warming has doubled, specifically since 1977. That is an ominous and clear signal of acceleration of an unwelcoming rate of global warming. Frankly, it’s horrible news. Brace yourself!

Posted in Campaigns, EnvironmentComments Off on Global Warming on a Rampage

Cookie Monster: the Nuts and Bolts of Online Tracking

by ROB LARSON

Photograph Source: Peter Mooney – CC BY 2.0

Big Tech has become notorious for its hoarding of its users’ personal data, collected with great breadth and down to minute details. Billions have been paid by online platforms to settle legal charges over their invasive and reckless privacy follies. Facebook in particular is associated with this, especially after a series of major scandals involving leaks or hacks of personal data. But Google is inarguably the greediest of these companies in its data collection, to an extent that can surprise even jaded users. This makes sense economically, since the collection of data is a key part of the network effect of online search—more searches and click data mean algorithms that deliver more accurate searches, attracting more users and searches, in the familiar positive feedback cycle of what economists call “network effects.”

From early days, Google held onto all the data it could get its hands on—who searched for what, what kind of results were likely desired, where searches came from, and so on. A major step in this was the release of Google’s email service, Gmail. It caused a large stir itself as users learned the free, high-storage email service served ads on-screen that were targeted to the user by scanning the text of their emails. The scanning was conducted automatically by software algorithms similar to those used to filter out spam from inboxes, but the company was completely unprepared for the backlash, not realizing that their huge scale and power made such moves feel creepier. However the service had a crucial ancillary benefit for the company—it required a login. With that, Google could cross-reference people’s email data with their search history on Google and their YouTube platform (which also required login to post video), along with precise location data from Maps and GPS data from phones running Android—the beginning of its program to synthesize its data into comprehensive individual profiles.

But the real turning point was the acquisition of the major display ad agency DoubleClick, which brought pivotal changes to the company’s “cookies.” Cookies are pieces of software planted on your computer or phone by sites as you browse the Web, recording where you’ve been for the purpose of presenting ads you’re likely to be interested in. Cookies are now stupendously widespread—visiting a typical websites like CNN or dictionary.com can put dozens of them on your PC or phone.

Google’s AdSense system had always used these cookies, but the escalation was dramatic, as Wired’s pro-industry reporter Steven Levy wrote covered in his book In the Plex. He reported that the company gained “an omniscient cookie that no other company could match.” As a user browses, the cookie:

develops into a rather lengthy log that provides a fully fleshed out profile of the user’s interests…virtually all of it compiled by stealth. Though savvy and motivated consumers could block or delete the cookies, very few knew about this possibility and even fewer took advantage of it. The information in the DoubleClick cookie was limited, however. It logged visits only to sites that ran DoubleClick’s display ads, typically large commercial websites. Many sites on the Internet were smaller ones that didn’t use big ad networks…Millions of those smaller sites, however, did use an advertising network: Google’s AdSense. AdSense had its own cookie, but it was not as snoopy as DoubleClick’s. Only when the user actually clicked on an ad would the AdSense cookie log the presence of the user on the site. This ‘cookie on click’ process was lauded by privacy experts…Google now owned an ad network whose business hinged on a cookie that peered over the shoulder of users as it viewed their ads and logged their travels on much of the web. This was no longer a third-party cookie; DoubleClick was Google. Google became the only company with the ability to pull together user data on both the fat head and the long tail of the Internet. The question was, would Google aggregate that data to track the complete activity of Internet users? The answer was yes…after FTC regulators approved the DoubleClick purchase, Google quietly made the change that created the most powerful cookie on the Internet. It did away with the AdSense cookie entirely and instead arranged to drop the DoubleClick cookie when someone visited a site with an AdSense ad…Now Google would record users’ presence when they visited those sites. And it would combine that information with all the other data in the DoubleClick cookie. That single cookie, unique to Google, could track a user to every corner of the Internet.

Amazingly, Google co-founder Sergei Brin dismissed fears about this mega-cookie as “more of the Big Brother type,” meaning exaggerated. But even that might be putting a positive gloss on today’s data hoarding—Lawrence Lessig, who has defended the company in areas like its book scanning, noted that in Orwell’s book 1984 where Big Brother was introduced, at least the characters “knew where the telescreen was…In the Internet, you have no idea who is being watched by whom. In a world where everything is surveilled, how to protect privacy?”

And in 2016, Google went even further by changing its terms of service, asking users to activate new functions that would give them more control over their data, and let Google serve more relevant ads. But what the change did was merge its tracking data with your search history and the personal information in your Gmail/YouTube/Google + accounts, into “super-profiles.” And Google wasn’t done—beside using the mega-cookie to record our browsing history, combined with our search logs and Gmail contents, Google “Now Tracks Your Credit Card Purchases and Connects Them to Its Online Profile of You,” as a recent MIT Technology Review headline indicates. By contracting with third party data firms that track 70% of all credit and debit card purchases, Google can now offer advertisers further confirmation of which ads are working, not just to the point of clicking but to the point of sale.

With its new TOS, Google does let users view some of the data it holds on them, but it takes “an esoteric process of clicks,” as Ken Auletta put it in his book Googled, and again most users are unaware of these issues in the first place, and since we’re opted in, most fail to view their data files. Additionally, each Google service has its own privacy terms and settings, and they change without warning, so we have to be constantly vigilant for their changes and subtleties. And Google joins the tech community in its use of “dark patterns,” repetitive tactics that wear down users into allowing data access. And finally, even opting-out of customization doesn’t end the data collection, just the use of it to target ads to you—your movements, browsing, searching, emailing and credit card buying are all still compiled. In time Google announced it would soon stop the unpopular scanning of Gmail text to place ads—the catch was that the company had enough data on users from its super-profiles that it could personalize them without the scanning.

And for all its hoarding, the pile isn’t secure—Google had allowed software developers to design applications like games for Google +, the company’s unsuccessful attempt to compete with Facebook in social media. But a glitch in the software allowed developers access to private portions of Google + user profiles over a three-year period before its discovery, including full names, email, gender, pictures, locations, occupation and marital status. An internal memo indicates that as with Facebook’s own developer data leaks, there’s no way to know if the data was misused in any way. But most important, Google learned of the issue in spring 2018 but refused to announce or disclose it, fearing “reputational damage” to itself.

Whatever this company is, it rhymes with “shmevil.”

Posted in USA, MediaComments Off on Cookie Monster: the Nuts and Bolts of Online Tracking

The Most Hated Man Who Ever Lived

by GAITHER STEWART

Western journalists covering the Euromaidan riots and murders in Kiev in late February of 2014 encountered a historical figure few recognized. The black-and-white image of pasty-faced Stepan Bandera was plastered everywhere in the Ukraine capital— on barricades, over the entrance to Kiev’s city hall, and on the placards held by demonstrators calling for the overthrow of the Russian-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych. Now who in the hell is that? Bandera, the journalists likely thought, had simply been a nationalist … even though controversial. But so what? The Russians said he was a Nazi and an anti-Semite but according to Western media that was just more Moscow propaganda. So foreign journalists hedged in their reports from Maidan. The Washington Post reported that Bandera had had only a “tactical relationship’ with Nazi Germany and that his followers “were only accused of committing atrocities against Poles and Jews.” According to the New York Times he had been vilified by Moscow as a pro-Nazi traitor. Foreign Policy simply dismissed Bandera as “Moscow’s favorite bogeyman and metonym for all bad Ukrainian things.” Whoever Bandera was, he couldn’t have been as nasty as Putin claimed.

Some historical figures seem to just fade away into the gossamer past. They gradually sink into oblivion. But this man Bandera? Who was he anyway? Well: the name of Stepan Bandera (b, 1909 in West Ukraine, d. Munich1959) is today the symbol of Ukrainian Nazism, the symbol of the ideology and practice of the big, new-old nation of Ukraine, a former Republic of the Soviet Union. In the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv—better known as Kiev—once one of Russia’s major cities, the name Bandera lives again. To his memory are dedicated streets, squares, monuments in Ukraine, especially in his native West Ukraine. Today, Nazis of all nationalities pay homage to his memory.

But then those terrible Russians were right again. For the vast majority of Russians, the term Banderovtsy or Banderite is even worse than Liberal applied to that small minority who worship Western things, yearn for America, the European Union and NATO and detest Putin and Russian nationalists.

In his lifetime, however, the little Bandera—he stood 5 feet and 2 inches—Russian-hating, West Ukrainian Nazi was detested literally by everybody. His political opponents within the Ukrainian independence movement hated him, as did many of his own allies and followers. Jews and ethnic Russians hated him for his crimes against them. Even his German Nazi masters considered him despicable because he betrayed and murdered his own people. The masses of displaced Ukrainians living in West Germany after World War II hated him for his crimes against other Ukrainians. Elements of the post-war German government and many of Germany’s American occupiers hated him… even those he served. Poles hated him for his crimes against the Polish people. Russians hated him in a special way because Bandera, in his German SS uniform, was responsible for the elimination of hundreds of thousands of Russians, soldiers, prisoners of war and civilians alike. Today his figure is hated by nearly all Russians because of everything he stood for. Ukrainian immigrants in Russia hate him and dislike being called Banderites simply because they are Ukrainian.

Yet, among nationalists in western Ukraine, he is revered as a patriotic freedom-fighter, a martyr who led the struggle for independence from the Soviet Union, though in the pro-Russian east of the country he is reviled as a fascist traitor and terrorist who collaborated with the Nazis and whose followers murdered thousands. But Bandera remains a hero in the eyes of the growing number of extreme rightists and Nazis in today’s nationalist, jingoistic Ukraine, among Ukrainian nationalists abroad and right-wing extremists elsewhere..

In 2010, Stepan Bandera was named “Hero of Ukraine” by the pro-West President Yushchenko. His image was honored on a postage stamp while his memory assumed founder-of-Ukrainian-nationalism proportions. Moscow Avenue in the Ukraine capital of Kyiv was changed to Bandera Avenue. Meanwhile, articles galore have emerged in the international press of the life of an ugly and justifiably hated man, especially in Polish, German and English writings which can be seen on Internet. To the joy of re-flowering Nazi-Fascist organizations and parties across Europe in today’s Ukraine the Nazi- Banderite Svoboda (Freedom) and Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) parties run things.

Bandera was the son of a nationalist-minded Greek Catholic priest. Stepan was a self-punishing fanatic who stuck pins under his fingernails to prepare himself for torture at the hands of enemies. As a university student in Lviv (Lvov), he is said to have whipped himself with a belt. “Admit, Stepan!” he would cry out. “No, I don’t admit!” Yet a follower said Bandera was hypnotic: “You couldn’t stop listening to him.”

Stepan enlisted in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) at age twenty of which he quickly steered an already violent faction into more extreme directions. In 1933, he organized an attack on the Soviet consul in Lviv, killing an office secretary. A year later, he directed the assassination of the Polish Interior Minister. He ordered the execution of two alleged informers and was responsible for other deaths as well when the OUN took to robbing banks, post offices, police stations, and private households in search of funds.

A study by the German writer Rossoliński-Liebe of what drove Bandera’s violence takes us through the times and the politics that captured Bandera’s imagination. Galicia—Western Ukraine today—had been part of Austro-Hungary prior to WWI. The Polish-controlled western half of Galicia was incorporated into the newly established Republic of Poland in 1918, the Ukrainian-dominated eastern portion (of West Ukraine) where Bandera was born in 1909, was absorbed also by Poland in 1921 following the Polish–Soviet War and enjoyed a brief period of independence. Bitter at being deprived of a state of their own, Ukrainian nationalists there refused to recognize the takeover and, in 1922, responded with arson attacks on thousands of Polish-owned farms.

Warsaw resorted to mass arrest. By late 1938, some 30,000 Ukrainian-Poles languished in Polish jails. Polish politicians spoke of the “extermination” of the Ukrainians while a German journalist who traveled through eastern Galicia in early 1939 reported that local Ukrainians were calling for the German Führer to intervene and impose a solution of his own on the Poles.

The conflict in the Polish-Ukrainian borderlands of mixed peoples, languages and cultures exemplified the ethnic wars that erupted throughout Eastern Europe as WWII approached. Bandera meanwhile moved ever farther to the right. He read the works of militant nationalists who dreamed of a united Ukraine stretching “from the Carpathian Mountains to the Caucasus, a Ukraine free of Russians, Poles, Magyars, Romanians, and Jews. He studied the works of Dmytro Dontsov, the ultra-rightist spiritual father who translated Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Mussolini’s La Dottrina Del Fascismo and taught that ethics should be subordinate to the national struggle.

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was marked by extreme anti-Semitism. Anti-Jewish hatred had branded Ukrainian nationhood since the seventeenth century when Ukrainian peasants, maddened by the exactions of the Polish landlords and their Jewish estate managers, engaged in vicious pogroms.

Gruesome pogroms during the Russian Civil War resulted in waves of Jewish emigration to Israel and accelerated the acquisition of Palestinian lands by legal Jewish emigrants, the subject of a Spanish novel, Dispara, yo ya estoy Muerto, by Julia Navarro. A curiosity in the novelist’s presentation was that many of the early Jewish settlers who bought their lands near Jerusalem legally were Socialists/Communists and their small farms and orchards were organized as communist collectives.

In the Ukraine anti-Semitic passions intensified in 1926 when a Jewish anarchist named Sholom Schwartzbard assassinated the exiled right-wing extremist Ukrainian political leader, Symon Petliura, in Paris. Such events accelerated the Jewish flight from East Europe to Palestine in the years following the Balfour Declaration in 1917 pertaining to the British commitment to the creation of a state of Israel in Palestine.

Polish-Ukrainian-Russian Relations

Polish-Russian relations remain one of the most contentious political issues in Eastern Europe today. Some understanding of currents in the huge area between Germany and Russia—Poland, Ukraine, Russia in a West-East sequence—shed light on the significance of the US coup in Kiev and the emergence of a fake country under US/NATO dominance. Ukraine with its 233,000 square miles is almost size of France with 248,000 square miles. Stretching back centuries, the memory of the confusing past of East Europe influences the policies of the present.

The era beginning from World War II provides a useful starting point in understanding the current state of political affairs between Ukraine and Poland and, because Ukraine was once part of Soviet Russia, also between Russia and Poland which once shared a common border. Reflecting also the complexity of Polish-Ukrainian-Russian relations in general and thus US/NATO encirclement of Russia.

Western Ukraine, particularly the city of Lviv-Lvov, occupies a special part of the Polish psyche—something like Kosovo for Serbs which NATO stole and the USA built there a huge military base, Camp Bondsteel. Therefore the separation of the former western portion of Ukraine, former Galicia, from the Polish state after WWII was hard for Poles to accept despite the new socialist ideology in East Europe. Nationalism was not supposed to take on emotional significance. Socialist solidarity between peoples counted more than nationalism; emphasis was on economics, not nationality. Nonetheless, the border changes proved to be a strategic miscalculation caused by blindness to the ever-present nationalism. At the time there was little that Poland could do about what it felt was the unfair dislocation of its eastern provinces (with it many Ukrainians and peoples of complex and uncertain feelings of nationality).

Contemporary Poland has believed that the influence of the EU can re-establish its cultural and historical hegemony in its eastern regions. Poland believes it can rival Russia in terms of influence in the now western regions of Ukraine: whereas Russia influence is dominant in East Ukraine. Thus the European Union, via Poland, has a strong influence in the West Ukraine. On the other hand, the EU is also concerned about the quasi Fascist government of Poland: it worries that an unpredictable super-nationalistic Poland could consider a Polexit; the European Union could not stand up to another defection from its ranks. Moreover, such fears and hopes create confusion over both Polish and Ukrainian state identity.

Polish nationalists dream of their former great state. A kind of Polish Exceptionalism emerged out of the influence of Polish Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) and Solidarity’s historical victory over the communist government in 1989. Aided by God via the Polish Pope, Poles successfully defied Soviet power. Today Poles feel they have a future historical role because of their Exceptionalism.

Poles believe their historical legacy entitles them to a major presence in Eastern Europe. And it wants its eastern lands back. Therefore Poland’s opposition to Russia and its historical legacy. In order to pursue this destiny, after the end of the Cold War Poland decided on its pro-Western course of political and military development. Poland exploits concepts of putative Exceptionalism also within the institutions of the EU and NATO in order to advance its national interests at Russia’s expense. Poland uses what it subjectively considers Russian Guilt to justify Polish Exceptionalism, thereby damaging Russia’s soft power potential. (See: Russian Guilt and Polish Exceptionalism by Andrew Korybko, August 1, 2017 for more on the above)

Stepan Bandera in the Post-War Era

In such confusion, nationalism and Nazism flourished. Men like Stepan Bandera and Adolf Hitler played major roles. During the post-war of the late 1940s and early 50s, Stepan Bandera was an immigrant in West Germany. He worked for the BND, the German Intelligence Service, and its forerunner, the Gehlen Org, a top secret organization established in a Munich suburb run by Hitler’s former intelligence chief in East Europe, General Reinhard Gehlen. Financed by the USA, the Gehlen Org was specialized in espionage and training of spies to be infiltrated into the Soviet Union. Bandera and his wife, Yaroslava, and their three children had also settled in Munich. While the Germans and Americans used Bandera only sparingly and for many he seemed forgotten, the Soviet Union had not forgotten him. Repeated attempts were reportedly made on his life. Yet Bandera remained in Munich, living under the name of Stepan Popel, still a thorn in the side of his many enemies.

On October 15th, 1959, Bandera was killed at his apartment on Kreittmayrstrasse 7 in downtown Munich, allegedly by the KGB assassin Bogdan Stashinsky. According to the police report Bandera had let his bodyguards off that day. When Stashinsky produced his cyanide gun inside a rolled-up newspaper, Bandera didn’t even draw his own gun. Shot in the face, the fifty year-old Bandera died on a third-floor landing before the ambulance arrived. A medical examination established that the cause of his death was poison by cyanide gas. On 20 October 1959, Stepan Bandera was buried in the Waldfriedhof Cemetery in Munich.

Bandera’s murder was one of the most publicized assassinations of the Cold War. In the sensational show trial in 1962 in the Federal Constitutional Court in the city of Karlsruhe, the 30-year old assassin Bogdan Stashinsky, a self-declared Soviet citizen, was both defendant as well as star witness about the “nefarious” KGB. He allegedly defected to Germany together with his wife in 1961 and after spilling the beans to the CIA was handed over to German authorities. The young man was presented as a KGB killer and spy; he confessed to having assassinated another Ukrainian émigré in the 1950s. After weeks of testimony, Stashinsky was condemned to only eight years prison. For at least two assassinations! The whole affair stank. It seemed like a false flag operation.

Some reports claimed that the Bandera faction of the OUN had been backed by British MI6 since the 1930s. In any case Banderites were associated with the CIA in the post-war for espionage in the Soviet Union. Yet American intelligence organizations too described Bandera as “extremely dangerous”, traveling around in disguise, killer, counterfeiter and political abductor. When the Bavarian government cracked down, Bandera promptly offered his services to the German BND intelligence despite CIA’s growing mistrust of him.

I fictionalized the Bandera-Stashinsky story in the political novel, The Trojan Spy, from which the following excerpts:

Truth is elusive, many-sided. In any case, a young Ukrainian KGB agent by the name of Stashinsky was later tried in Karlsruhe and convicted for the murder of Bandera with a poison spray concocted in Moscow. They said he was an agent of “Smersh”.… A Russian acronym for Death To Spies. Once a top secret NKVD organization for its wet work. For the assassination of enemies. Killers all. Maybe they wanted to enlist him. But I doubt it. One said that during the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine, Stashinsky learned enough German to pass for a German and that he was hired by the KGB already at the age of nineteen after he was caught on a train without a ticket. All unlikely. Not KGB style. He admitted he worked in Germany…. He traveled around Germany…. He had a supervisor in Berlin…. But it’s a long jump from that to Smersh. I’ve always suspected Ukrainian émigré political opponents of Bandera’s murder. Western Ukrainian émigrés were always killing Eastern Ukrainians. With German and American help. That is, if Bandera was even murdered. He might have had a heart attack. As in a fairytale the cold-blooded assassin Stashinsky allegedly repented after he saw a newsreel in an East Berlin theater of poor Bandera lying in his coffin and his wife and children weeping. Can you imagine that touching scene? Oh, the soft heart of a KGB killer! ….Unimaginable…..It’s a ridiculous story from beginning to end. Not even the stuff of mythology. Who knows what really happened? Once he got back to East Berlin the handsome young Ukrainian fell head over heels in love with a German woman … who hated the Soviet Union….When she learned Stashinsky was a KGB agent, she convinced him of the perfidy of Communism and they escaped to West Germany the day before the Wall was built. Soap opera stuff. An American story, the whole Stashinsky affair. A Reader’s Digest story. The naiveté is disgusting….

Two feature films have been made about Stepan Bandera – Assassination: An October Murder in Munich (1995) and The Undefeated (2000), both directed by Oles Yanchuk—plus a number of documentary films.

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