Archive | June 5th, 2020

Why gay rights is not a class issue

It is not ‘homophobic’ for socialists to focus their attention on those contradictions that concern the whole working class in its struggle for socialism.

Proletarian writers

Judith Gough, British Ambassador to Ukraine, at Pride Kiev 2017, shows how gay rights are used by the bourgeoisie as she claims it to be “Another step forward for equality in Ukraine”.

This text is an excerpt from a speech made by a member of the central committee to the party’s eighth congress in September.

The speech was part of a long discussion on the topic of identity politics in general and LGBT+ activism in particular. At the end of the discussion, the central committee’s emergency motion on identity politics was overwhelmingly adopted by the congress. Other motions on the topic, asking the party to adopt LGBT+ activism into its programme, were overwhelmingly voted down.

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First of all, I want to address the issue of why we give priority to the question of the oppression of women and to fighting racism but do not give the issue of LGBT rights the same priority.

Primary contradictions affecting our struggle for socialism

The answer to this is straightforward. Our party exists to promote the interests of the working class as a class, and to assist it in overthrowing the rule of the bourgeois class and establishing its own class rule. In that context, the question of LGBT is not a class question.

The question of women’s oppression, that is a class question, because when society was divided into classes, then as a result of that, women became the domestic slaves of men, and the only way of finally getting rid of that status is to abolish classes. Therefore the interests of working-class women are intimately bound up with the struggle of the working class as a whole for its emancipation.

Women’s liberation is absolutely 100 percent a class question.

The question of racism is also a class question, related to imperialism. As imperialism has gone all over the world, in order to mobilise the white workers at home to help them in their rape of the whole world, the colour question has become: “Well you know, these people are black, they’re inferior.” If white workers continue to harbour such prejudices, however, it will be impossible to bring about sufficient unity in the working class for it to be able to overcome the power of bourgeois rule.

That is why the question of racism is very much a class question.

Contradictions among the people and how they are manipulated by imperialism

Now the question of people being unpleasant to others who are a bit different, that is not a class question. We don’t approve of being mean to people who are different. We don’t approve of mocking people because they have wooden legs or are different in any other way. It tends to be a feature of human nature, but of course we are opposed to people being persecuted for being a bit different to the norm.

Only a minority of people are gay, and only a very tiny minority of people have gender dysphoria. However, these people are harmless to society and there is absolutely no need to persecute them.

The western imperialist bourgeoisie has suddenly discovered and embraced gay and transgender rights, which only yesterday it was vigorously opposing, to the point that today it is those who raise even the slightest question over even the most absurd demands of self-appointed LGBT activists who find themselves persecuted.

The advantage to the bourgeoisie of its newly-discovered enthusiasm for gay rights is that it can use them to castigate oppressed countries who stick to traditional religious prejudices on this issue whenever they fail to fall in line with imperialist demands.

Needless to say, the full force of this ‘human rights’ assault never falls on such client states of imperialism as Saudi Arabia, but only on those countries that resist imperialist hegemony. An excessive obsession with LGBT rights can therefore lead the unwary into backing imperialism against anti-imperialist governments.

LGBT ideology wants more than equal rights

But, to return to the question of the demands of the self-appointed LGBT activists. Unlike ordinary people who happen to be gay or transgender, they are not happy with simply being allowed to live their lives in peace and without discrimination; it is not just a question of men and women wanting to be accepted even though they’re different.

For the so-called activists, it is a question of going far further than that, to the point of absurdity. Transgender activists want us, for instance, to encourage little boys and little girls who prefer the lifestyle that society offers to people of the opposite sex to the one that accords to their own sex to actually physically mutilate themselves in order to achieve the appearance of a person of the other sex.

Now I was saying earlier to another comrade that both she and I, when we were eight, nine and ten, we cut our hair short and we wanted to be boys; we desperately wanted to be boys. Well, you know, in those days it was just accepted that some girls wanted to be boys, and nobody thought that strange in the least.

An example was the character Georgina (George) in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. They were called tomboys and expected to grow out of it, which for the most part they did. Generally speaking, these girls on reaching puberty were more than happy to be girls and not boys, and to have boyfriends and not girlfriends. Only a tiny minority would have genuine gender dysphoria.

It was of course much harder for little boys who preferred the lifestyle offered to little girls, and they would no doubt have been pressurised into concealing that preference, but there’s no saying that in their case, too, puberty would change everything for most of them.

Nowadays, any ‘tomboy’ would be encouraged to think: “Well, have an operation, have hormones, have an artificial extension” – as a young child. That would honestly ruin their lives. If that had happened to me and I had been allowed to have hormone treatment to make myself more into a boy when I was clearly a girl, then it would have ruined my life.

Gay workers fight for socialism as workers, not as ‘gays’

We do want to represent the whole of the working class, including those people who happen to be LGBT. Not accepting the absurdities being promoted by self-appointed ‘activists’ means acting in the real interests of the working class, including those who happen to be LGBT, not against them, however genuinely such ‘activists’ may believe in the absurdities they are promoting.

Actually, the working class as a whole has a lot of common sense, and their attitude will be: “I’m sorry but a man’s a man and a woman’s a woman and you’re not going to be able to mess me around.” Any party that is claiming to be serious, but actually expects workers to believe that a fully equipped male who hasn’t even had an operation is actually female and ought to be allowed to come into women’s changing rooms, is going to be laughed out of court and told: “Look, get lost. This is not a serious party. This is not a party that I can trust to represent my interests, to overthrow capitalism and get a better life for everybody – including the LGBTs.”

In fighting for the interests of the working class as a whole, LGBTs will obviously also benefit. LGBTs would be much better off if everyone had a job. LGBT people won’t be able to say: “Well I’m not able to get a job because of my sexuality.” If everybody has decent healthcare, there is nothing special for LGBTs. We can honestly say that under socialism there will be no ‘LGBT rights’ because everybody will have full rights; end of story.

Silencing debate doesn’t vanquish existing prejudice, it simply creates fresh hostility

The other point that is very upsetting about the way LGBT ‘activists’ behave, the ones who are pushing this ideology, is that you are not allowed to have any dissent. The minute you disagree, you’re a ‘fascist’. All sorts of terrible words are used to describe the fact that you disagree with them. Is that how we want to proceed? Is that how you win hearts and minds? That we can’t debate; we can’t even raise it?

Recently there has been an argument in the Girl Guides. The Girl Guides have been told that a man, a fully equipped hairy male with all the necessary appendages, who self-identifies as a ‘woman’, is perfectly entitled to take young girls out on camping trips without supervision.

Now, can you really accept that nobody is even allowed to protest about that? Nobody is allowed to say: “Well I’m sorry but I’m unhappy about that. I think men are men actually, and I don’t want young girls exposed to the danger that that conceivably could produce. I’m sure this particular person is a lovely person, my daughter would probably be perfectly all right with him/her/them, but I can’t take the risk, I’m sorry.”

Frankly, by attempting to force absurd views onto people, ‘activists’ can only succeed in rousing hostility against LGBT people – even those who themselves oppose the absurd demands being made in their name.

And finally, if I’m a man because I say I’m a man – if that is the criterion, then that is surely the purist idealism … and I don’t think I need to say more.

Posted in Politics, UKComments Off on Why gay rights is not a class issue

Dilemma of the covid crash vultures

Having maximised indebtedness in order to avoid paying taxes, vulture capitalists now find they are missing out on state aid during the crisis.

Proletarian writers

Whilst workers are driven to their wits’ end trying to make ends meet and keep their families safe through the current health emergency, spare a thought for the trials and tribulations endured by those private equity firms that specialise in buying up troubled companies, stripping their assets, sacking their workforce and then leaving them burdened with enormous debts, earning for themselves the title of vulture capitalists.

Such private equity dealings reach fever pitch during the crisis of overproduction when footloose capital, starved of opportunities for productive investment, instead indulges in an orgy of debt-fuelled speculation in which vast fortunes can be made or lost on the turn of a dice.

Workers will be interested to learn that these public-spirited adventures are funded by the taxpayer. A recent article in The Times explained how companies that have been snaffled up by private recentequity firms manage to dodge taxes by misrepresenting their true level of profitability – and all with a minimum of hard cash fronted by the vultures in the first place.

“Private equity deals typically are structured to include a thin layer of equity capital and a large proportion of debt. The cost of servicing the debt pushes down the company’s profits, which has the effect of lowering its taxes. It can result in healthy businesses announcing statutory losses.”

But now the vultures have a dilemma. While all around them other private businesses are tapping into a bonanza of state aid to prop up capitalism, companies bought out by private equity firms are panicking that they will miss the boat.

As The Times puts it: “In the race to access the government’s coronavirus loan schemes, which carry those reassuring 80 percent state guarantees, businesses owned by private equity groups have been left behind, unable to clear the hurdle of European state aid rules.”

The problem is that, whilst downplaying company profitability may reduce the tax burden, it may simultaneously disqualify the company from receiving state aid.

“Under European rules, a company is blocked from receiving state aid if it is an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ and has accumulated losses that are equal to or greater than 50 percent of its subscribed share capital.

“The rule is aimed at stopping businesses that are unviable from being propped up artificially. Unfortunately for private equity-owned companies, they are also being classed as undertakings in difficulty because of the losses they publish as a result of their debts. As a result, they are being rejected for state-guaranteed loans by the commercial lenders handling Britain’s rescue schemes.

“A survey carried out by the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association in early May provided a snapshot of the woes facing businesses controlled by buyout firms. It found that 51 private equity-owned companies had been blocked from accessing the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme and a similar lending programme for larger firms.

“A further 93 companies had not applied because they knew that they would be barred by the rules drawn up in Brussels.” (Private equity firms fear a day of reckoning by Ben Martin, The Times, 26 May 2020)

But before we get too grief-stricken by the plight of the hapless vultures, we should remember that there will be plenty more carcasses for them to batten on in the months to come.

As one private equity executive put it: “About a third of the leisure, retail and consumer-facing sectors will be bankrupt, no question about that. So how they get out of that will require corporate activity and there will be opportunities, for sure.”

You bet.

Posted in Health, PoliticsComments Off on Dilemma of the covid crash vultures

Russia unhappy at dialogue deep freeze between Pyongyang and Washington

Ambassador Alexander Matsegora spoke about why there is no reason to doubt north Korea’s claims that there are no coronavirus cases.

Proletarian writers

DPRK factory workers making masks for covid-19. Despite having no cases of the virus, north Korea continues to take a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach, remaining vigilant to protect the people’s safety.

This article has been translated from the Russian Interfax website and is reproduced here with thanks.

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Russian ambassador to the DPRK Alexander Matsegora explains why there is no reason to doubt Pyongyang’s statements about the absence of coronavirus cases, discusses the prospects for the resumption of dialogue between north Korea and the United States, and details the fraternal assistance provided to Pyongyang by Russia.

I: The DPRK has set a kind of deadline for the US, indicating to Washington the need to fulfil its part of the obligations to ease sanctions in exchange for the steps already taken by Pyongyang to disarm. No tangible action on the part of Washington has followed.

Do you see any signs that the north Koreans have turned their back on the negotiation process with the United States and the dialogue has once again reached an impasse?

AM: You do not accurately convey the meaning of the demands made by Pyongyang both previously and now. Let’s start with what happened in 2019. In his political speech at the April session of the north Korean supreme council, chairman of the state council Kim Jong Un named as the condition for resuming dialogue with the United States “a new way of counting”, which the Americans had to offer and begin to implement in practice before the end of 2019.

On the sidelines of the 30 June US-DPRK leaders’ meeting in Panmunjom, the Americans were given detailed explanations about what Pyongyang means by this ‘new way of counting’. Namely, if earlier they were ready for a kind of exchange, in which every step of the north Koreans towards denuclearisation was accompanied by appropriate actions on the part of Washington – the lifting of part of the sanctions, for example – then, after Hanoi, this scheme was categorically rejected by the leadership of the DPRK.

As they said: “There will be no more trade.” In short, the Americans now had not only once and for all to renounce hostility towards the DPRK, but also to prove it with concrete actions. Only then would Pyongyang be ready to sit down again at the negotiating table.

In fact, an ultimatum was put forward regarding the complete reformatting of the basic approaches to the settlement of the nuclear question. This was a very emotional decision, due, apparently, to a deep disappointment following the Vietnam talks.

The failure of the US-DPRK consultations held in Stockholm on 5 October clearly demonstrated, on the one hand, Washington’s unwillingness to accept this new forumla, and, on the other, Pyongyang’s determination to follow it at all costs.

Nevertheless, the Koreans kept their promise and maintained a pause until the very end of the year, without taking any serious actions, although the United States, apart from calls to resume dialogue and vague hints that they are ready to meet the north “in some ways”, did not send out any significant signals.

In the last days of 2019, the fifth plenum of the WPK’s seventh central committee convocation was held, which summed up the disappointing results of the Korean detente initiated by the DPRK leadership in 2018 and they came to the conclusion that the aggressive policy of the US and sanctions against the DPRK are an objective reality that will last forever.

In the official statement that followed on 11 January, the first official statement of the coming year, made by north Korean foreign ministry adviser Kim Kyo Hwang, there was a phrase that clearly reflects the position of Pyongyang: “The resumption of the Korean-American dialogue is possible only if Washington fully accepts our demands. However, we are well aware that they are not ready for this and, moreover, are not able to do it.”

This understanding of the situation formed the basis for the new political course adopted at the plenum, called the “frontal breakthrough”. Its essence is that the country must focus on its internal affairs and return to the so-called “parallel” option that was taken before 2018 (simultaneous development of the civil economy and strengthening of defence capability).

As for the dialogue with Washington, it seems to have been postponed at least until the US presidential election. And then we’ll see.

I: Earlier, the leader of the DPRK announced plans to present to the world a fundamentally new type of weapon that will change the status of north Korea. In addition, Pyongyang has changed the head of the foreign ministry.

All this was interpreted by experts as steps by the north Koreans to curtail dialogue with the United States. How does Moscow collectively perceive these signals from Pyongyang?

AM: In all that concerns north Korean issues, we must be very precise in quoting. At the December plenum of the WPK central committee, Kim Jong Un said: “The world will soon see a new strategic weapon that the DPRK will have.”

What we are talking about, we can only guess, but we are aware that any country has a sovereign right to strengthen its defence capability. And the fact that the DPRK has acquired a new strategic status was mentioned here after the test of a ballistic missile that took place on 29 November 2017, which foreign experts, based on those parameters of its flight that became known, classified as an intercontinental one.

As for the appointment of the new foreign minister, I would not link this directly with the adjustment of policy in the American direction. The head of the foreign ministry has never been a prominent character in the dialogue with representatives of Washington. The topic of relations with the United States, and the nuclear issue derived from it, has always been the first deputy foreign minister’s prerogative.

This position, as far as we know, remains with Choi Song Hee, who, of course, does not pursue her own policy in the American direction, but strictly follows the line determined by the head of state.

Moscow, of course, cannot be happy about the deep freeze in the US-DPRK dialogue, which is fraught with increasing tension in the region directly adjacent to our far-eastern border. We believe that sooner or later the talks will be resumed, and we are ready, as they say, to offer our shoulder to Pyongyang and Washington.

In this regard, we continue to promote our joint action plan with our Chinese colleagues for a comprehensive settlement of the situation on the Korean peninsula.

I: Is the issue of easing sanctions against the DPRK in connection with the pandemic on the agenda? Or does the consideration of this issue in the UN security council still rest on the US-principled position that Pyongyang’s steps are insufficient for any exceptions?

Do restrictions prevent the supply of medical equipment to the DPRK?

AM: The issue of easing sanctions in the context of a pandemic, and not only against the DPRK but also against other countries whose populations suffer from these restrictions, was raised by a group of states at the United Nations general assembly on 26 March, but the decision was blocked by the US and its allies, who are known to be the main promoters of ‘human rights’.

It seems that the Americans themselves would not be able to formulate what they consider ‘sufficient steps’ that would remove their objections to easing restrictions. Meanwhile, they are seriously hindering the supply of medicines and medical equipment.

We are here on the spot and we get a lot of evidence of the extremely negative effect both of direct bans (on equipment necessary for the treatment of cancer, for example) and of the situation itself, in which the Americans literally persecute anyone who has any kind of trade contact with the DPRK – even if we are talking about the supply of totally harmless products.

I: According to the statements of the north Korean authorities, no cases of coronavirus have been registered in the country so far. How realistic do we think such statements are? Is Pyongyang informing us truthfully about the pandemic?

AM: I must say that the leadership of the DPRK has taken the most resolute and strict measures to prevent this infection from entering the country. And it did so before anyone else. Even China still kept its borders open, but here entry/exit restrictions were introduced at the end of January, and since the beginning of February, the outer borders were tightly closed with an iron lock.

Since then, it has become absolutely impossible to come here, even for north Korean citizens who are abroad – all of them still cannot get to their homeland (as you know, it is the compatriots returning from abroad who are the main distributors of infection for any country). The border provinces that have the most advanced ties with China were isolated from the rest of the country, as, by the way, was Pyongyang, where Chinese tourists came back in January.

As for those who entered here after the outbreak of the epidemic in China, all of them, including foreigners, were placed in an unconditional 30-day quarantine, followed by daily checks by visiting teams of doctors for another month.

Already in February, everyone here wore masks, and in every institution, in every entrance to residential buildings, their temperature was measured at the entrance and their hands and shoes were disinfected. School children and students were placed in complete isolation in mid-February, which began to weaken only in early May.

Now there has been further easing of the measures. We are able to visit the market and all major shopping centres and the country has gradually begun to import goods again, but there is no international passenger traffic, and masks and widespread disinfections remain.

I know that foreign experts doubt the accuracy of information about the lack of Covid-19 here, saying that if the DPRK did not have any cases, these conservation measures in a totally isolated country would be unnecessary. However, local infectious diseases experts have a different logic. They say that since that the coronavirus is so unpleasant, and since the distribution channels, pathogenicity and other properties are still not fully understood, it is better not to take risks but insure yourself.

By the way, I had a conversation with one of the European diplomats, who also doubted that the north Korean authorities were telling the whole truth. When I asked him to give at least one reason for hiding this information, he indicated two: the north Korean leadership, they say, does not want, first, to talk about their problems to an external audience (so as not to damage their image), and, secondly, they do not want to frighten their population (for fear of causing panic).

I strongly disagreed with him. Official Pyongyang does not hesitate to give World Health Organisation (WHO) and international humanitarian organisations comprehensive information about such diseases as tuberculosis or dysentery (and receives substantial assistance for their treatment). How does the coronavirus differ in this sense? As for panic, they are not afraid of it, because society here is monolithic and highly disciplined. It is, by the way, much more stress-resistant than any western society.

In general, given the circumstances, I am inclined to trust what is reported about the lack of infection in the DPRK. I have recently had several meetings with the leadership of the north Korean foreign ministry, including with the minister and his deputy. The topic of coronavirus was one of the main topics in our conversations.

I: It is known that China, Russia and international organisations have provided assistance to north Korea in the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Is the amount of assistance received sufficient? Does the DPRK need any other similar supplies against the background of the pandemic?

AM: According to the information available to us, the republic independently and fully provides itself with masks and disinfectants. I believe that things are not so good with medications and ventilators. The delivery of these items would be very appropriate and is in demand.

However, the main thing is to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country. The DPRK is coping with this very successfully.

I: Will Russia continue to supply north Korea with oil and petroleum products in the same volumes, despite the coronavirus pandemic, or will they be reduced?

AM: We do not supply oil to the DPRK, and after a short pause caused by antiviral measures, the export of petroleum products has already resumed in the amount of 2-3,000 tons per month. That is, approximately at the level of last year.

At the same time, we strictly comply with the requirements stipulated by the relevant UN security council resolutions, including in terms of regularly informing the sanctions committee about the volume of our shipments.

I: Earlier this year, you said that the issue of supplying north Korea with a large batch of wheat from Russia after the 2019 crop failure is being resolved. Is there an understanding of when such deliveries can take place and what volumes are being discussed? What other assistance do we plan to provide to Pyongyang in the foreseeable future?

AM: The first batch of Russian wheat of 25,000 tons as humanitarian aid was delivered to the DPRK in May this year. This is a very timely step, since the so-called ‘barley pass’ begins here in June – the most difficult period from the point of view of grain shortage when last year’s stocks are already coming to an end and the first harvest of a new crop (in the north of the Korean peninsula, winter barley is harvested in June) is still ahead.

We expect that we will soon be able to deliver another batch of our wheat. The DPRK greatly appreciates this selfless assistance, because, for a number of reasons, including the severe drought of last year, its own grain reserves were insufficient.

I: According to the Russian foreign ministry, at the end of January this year, about 1,000 former north Korean workers remained in Russia who should return to their homeland. Did the pandemic prevent their return? Do former Korean workers who have not yet been able to return home remain in Russia?

AM: As I have already said, due to the complete closure of borders, north Korean citizens who were abroad at the end of January have not yet been able to return to their homeland. This also applies to Korean workers who were in Russia.

I: The leader of the DPRK was invited to the Victory Parade in Moscow, which was scheduled for 9 May and which was postponed to a later date due to the pandemic. Did the Korean side inform us about the level at which it planned to be represented initially and whether Kim Jong Un was going to visit the Russian capital? Is there any understanding on what level north Korea will be represented at the celebrations after the new date of the parade is announced?

AM: I would like to ask you to address this question to the presidential administration of the Russian Federation.

I: Can I ask about the recent media coverage of the ‘disappearance’ of Kim Jong Un, who, as we know, has already reappeared in public? What do you think the constant discussions about the north Korean leader’s health status and various theories were aimed at? Was this an attempt to somehow destabilise the situation in the DPRK?

AM: I must say that I consider it inappropriate to discuss the state of health of the leader of the DPRK. To put it mildly, the wild insinuations that accompanied the whole story arouse very negative feelings.

I do not think that we are dealing here with a targeted campaign to destabilise the situation in the republic. Inside the country, few people knew what American newspapers wrote or what south Korean lawmakers were saying.

Most likely, we are talking about the fantasies of unscrupulous individuals who sought in any way to become ‘caliphs for an hour’, whose fabrications were picked up by the media, which was greedy for sensationalism but extremely unscrupulous in their medium.

Posted in USA, North Korea, RussiaComments Off on Russia unhappy at dialogue deep freeze between Pyongyang and Washington

US burning as working-class communities rise up against police brutality

As Irish republicans used to say: when the law makers are the law breakers, there is no law.

Proletarian writers

The militarisation of the USA’s police force has accompanied the descent into poverty of half the US population. While the poorest are more likely to die of Covid-19, and black workers are more likely to be poor, they face this reality without access to basic healthcare and in the face of brutal state repression. This is the stark reality of capitalist dictatorship in the ‘land of the free’.

As our latest paper went to press, working-class anger was spilling onto streets across the United States, as mass uprisings and nationwide protests followed the brutal murder of George Floyd, a black working-class man.

On the afternoon of 25 May, an employee at a delicatessen in Minneapolis accused Mr Floyd of using a counterfeit banknote to buy cigarettes and called the police. Just seventeen minutes after they arrived, Mr Floyd was dead.

Bystanders documented the state execution on mobile phones, and it was not long before the shameful behaviour of his murder squad had been witnessed by millions more on social media. Writing for Sputnik news, Tommy Sheridan described the scene:

“George Floyd called out for his mother as he gasped for air in the final minutes of his life.

“Lying face down on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind him, George posed no threat to anyone, but was restrained by three Minneapolis police officers kneeling on him, and one of those brutes placed his knee deliberately and sadistically onto George’s neck.

“George Floyd’s muffled and fear-laden cries of ‘I can’t breathe’ were ignored by the four police officers who surrounded him.” (America 2020 – where anti-racists are terrorists and racists are president, 1 June 2020)

So blatant was the murder of Mr Floyd that, the day after his death, the Minneapolis police department fired all four of the officers involved in the episode (an almost unprecedented event), and, on Friday, the Hennepin County attorney, Mike Freeman, announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who can be seen most clearly in witness videos pinning Mr Floyd to the ground.

Officer Chauvin kept his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Particularly shocking for the millions who have seen the video of his crime is the calm manner in which it was carried out. With his hands in his pockets, Chauvin coolly and calculatingly took his victim’s life. The video also shows that Chauvin did not remove his knee even after George Floyd lost consciousness, or for a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene.

In an attempt to cover up the murder, a preliminary autopsy by the state found the cause of death to be the “combined effects of Mr Floyd’s being restrained by police, underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system”.

The suggestion that Mr Floyd was partly responsible for his own death only inflamed the situation on America’s streets, and barely a week later an independent autopsy declared what everyone knew – that his death was straightforward murder.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has been pouring oil on troubled waters by declaring that the thousands of angry workers who have taken to the streets in protest are criminal anarchist gangs and calling for extreme retribution against them, and by resuscitating a racist slogan/threat from the civil rights era on Twitter: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Not an isolated event

The murder of George Floyd was not an isolated event. Working-class people in the USA know from their daily experience that the police who are supposed to “protect and serve” them are in fact little more than an armed gang, rampaging through the streets with total immunity, free to commit any crime as they protect the private property of the rich – and that their violence is disproportionately aimed at black workers.

Racism has a long and bloody history in the USA, whose very founding took place on the backs of black African slaves and via the genocide of America’s native peoples. This historic racism has not gone away for the simple reason that every modern imperialist society needs racism to survive.

Our rulers need it to justify their unjustifiable wars, to justify the heinous inequality in the world they have created, and to preserve their rule at home by keeping workers divided and weak.

This latest murder, however, was not only more cold-blooded and better documented than most, but it took place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen millions of Americans forced even deeper into unemployment and poverty, with little or no support from the government, even as they have found that a lifetime of the poor nutrition and chronic stress that accompany poverty and institutional racism has left black Americans disproportionately vulnerable.

Into the simmering rage of a brutalised, marginalised and impoverished community, the video of George Floyd’s murder dropped like a petrol bomb into a hay barn, sparking a conflagration that quickly spread across the country and all the way to the White House front lawn, forcing President Trump to take shelter in a bunker underneath the White House.

While Trump has been quick to push for the use of extreme and brutal force against protestors, the fact that in one or two places police officers have refused to follow these orders will be giving America’s rulers serious pause for thought.

British workers in solidarity

At a meeting organised by the Workers Party of Britain on Tuesday 2 June, George Galloway gave a damning condemnation of state racism in the USA, whilst members of the WPB pledged to support protests called across Britain in solidarity with black workers on both sides of the Atlantic.

As we go to press, the situation shows little sign of de-escalating. Violent conflict across America is demonstrating to all the brutal realities of life for working-class people, especially working-class black people in the USA.

These events have shown once again what poor working-class communities know full well: that the police are not a neutral or benign body dedicated to serving the community and helping old ladies across the street, but a hired force dedicated to violently upholding the rule of the super-rich.

To put it in Marxist terms, they are a special body of armed men, whose job is to enforce the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Without a trusted revolutionary party of the entire working class, it will be extremely difficult for the American masses to achieve a decisive victory over their enemy, US imperialismBlack workers and white workers must unite in common cause against a common enemy. There can be no victory in a race war; only through a united class struggle for socialism can racism be finished off once and for all.

No matter the things which hold them back, the anger of the working people, their brave spirit of resistance, and their instinctive desire to live in peace and at liberty may prove to be sufficient to fatally weaken US imperialism, which is now at war at home as well as abroad.

Posted in USA, C.I.A, Human RightsComments Off on US burning as working-class communities rise up against police brutality

Human COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Are Unnecessary, Uninformative, and Unethical

By William A. Haseltine

Deliberately infecting healthy human volunteers with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in order to test the efficacy of potential COVID-19 vaccines is unnecessary, uninformative, and unethical. And it risks destroying trust in the integrity of science and medicine for generations to come.

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I was recently stunned to learn of the serious consideration being given to deliberately infecting human volunteers with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in order to assess the effectiveness of potential COVID-19 vaccines.

My first reaction was that the advocates of such “human challenge studies” had gone so mad with panic that they had forgotten the history and horrors of medical experimentation on humans. But on closer inspection, I saw that they included some of the world’s most respected vaccine researchers and medical ethicists, and even the World Health Organization.

As far as I can tell, their principal argument is that waiting for an answer from naturally occurring infections will take too long. The new coronavirus has already infected 6.5 million people worldwide and killed more than 386,000, including 107,000 in the United States alone. And in the absence of safe, effective vaccines and treatments, measures aimed at controlling the virus’s spread are ruining economies around the world. The WHO’s recent white paper on the use of human subjects for vaccine research makes it clear that such trials are a desperate last resort.

Vaccines are indeed the most effective medications we have. Some have conferred long-term immunity against great scourges such as smallpox, polio, typhoid, diphtheria, typhus, and tetanus. But there are just as many diseases for which no truly effective vaccine exists, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. And some vaccines can do more harm than good, as attempts to develop a dengue vaccine have demonstrated.

Caveats notwithstanding, the rush to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that will definitively end the loss of life and stop the economic devastation has already produced more than 100 candidates, all in very early stages of development. With so many pharmaceutical companies and governments scrambling to get some skin in the game, each day seems to bring announcements of new programs, most of them unaccompanied by supporting data.

But deliberately infecting volunteers with SARS-CoV-2 to test the efficacy of vaccine candidates is unnecessary, uninformative, and unethical.

Why unnecessary?

Most vaccines are developed in the context of active epidemics. But one prominent British researcher recently opined that there is only a 50% chance that enough people in the United Kingdom will be infected with the virus for the University of Oxford vaccine field trial (as currently designed) to yield a statistically significant result. What a curious statement. Does it mean that the trial is too small, or too short, or that the Oxford team expects their vaccine to be only partly effective – or all three?

After all, there is no shortage of new infections. On an average day, close to 100,000 newly confirmed cases are reported worldwide, and I cannot recall another disease for which such a number was insufficient for a field trial of a drug or vaccine. Surely, with more time and patience, a real test is possible.

Moreover, the major departure from the norm entailed by human challenge studies presupposes a lack of alternative means to control the pandemic. But many East Asian countries, as well as some Nordic states, New Zealand, and Australia, have so far successfully controlled the virus in the absence of highly effective drugs or vaccines. And Wuhan, the Chinese city where it originated, is now essentially free of COVID-19, save for minor, containable flare-ups.

In each case, the relevant authorities have executed well-known, proven public-health measures: clear messaging, strong stay-at-home orders, vigorous disease detection, contact tracing, and mandatory supervised controlled isolation for all those exposed to the virus.

Although not every country is capable of implementing what works, all should try their best to control the pandemic through proven methods, rather than pinning their hopes on a vaccine that either will be slow in coming or may not work at all. In addition, medical ethicists should consider governments’ moral obligations to protect citizens through proper use of public-health measures, rather than by opening a Pandora’s box of unnecessary human experimentation.

Challenge studies are also uninformative. To the best of my knowledge, all current protocols for vaccine trials envisage enrolling only young, healthy adults. This is understandable from a recruitment perspective, but COVID-19 morbidity and mortality are highest among the elderly, who have a plethora of underlying chronic diseases.

Numerous studies have shown that vaccines that are effective among the young can fail in older populations – sometimes completely. Our bodies’ ability to respond to most, if not all, vaccines declines precipitously with age. Are today’s COVID-19 vaccine developers seriously entertaining the idea of trials that use a live virus in this vulnerable population?

Furthermore, preliminary studies using non-human primates have already shown that potential vaccines may not provide complete protection; when confronted with the virus, the vaccinated animals were spared serious infection of the lungs, but not of the nasal passages. The same was true of the wide variety of vaccine candidates previously developed for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), also coronaviruses. And the implications of partial protection for both community spread and human disease are not well understood.

Finally, human challenge trials are unethical. SARS-CoV-2 causes multi-system disease in about 20% of those infected, and the incidence may be even higher in challenge studies, given the large virus doses likely to be used. Infection may permanently damage the heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys, in the young as well as the old. Moreover, once someone is infected, there is no known drug that completely cures or even ameliorates COVID-19, much less reverses serious damage. And because it is extremely unlikely that all vaccine candidates will work in all trials, a number of volunteers will be permanently harmed.

If such trials are unnecessary, uninformative, and dangerous, then they are by definition unethical. I fear that in the rush to find a “medical miracle” to end the pandemic’s toll in human lives and livelihoods, we will jeopardize the centuries-old moral imperative to do no harm, possibly destroying trust in the integrity of science and medicine for generations to come. In that case, the losses we will face will be far greater.

Posted in HealthComments Off on Human COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Are Unnecessary, Uninformative, and Unethical

5G, the New Track of the Arms Race

By Manlio Dinucci

At Nellis air base in Nevada – the Pentagon announced – the construction of an experimental 5G network which will begin in July, the network will be fully operational in January of next year.

In this base, Red Flag, the most important air exercise in the United States, was held last March, attended by German, Spanish and Italian forces. Italian forces were also composed of F-35 fighters which – Air Force communicated – were «integrated with the best assets of American aviation» so as to «make the most out of the aircraft potential and weapon systems supplied», certainly nuclear weapons included.

At Red Flag 2021, 5G relocatable cell towers, that can be set up and taken down in less than an hour, will be probably already operating to be tested in a real environment. Nellis base is the fifth base selected by the Pentagon to test the military use of 5G: the others are located in Utah, Georgia, California and Washington State.

A document from the Congress Research Service (National Security Implications of Fifth Generation 5G Mobile Technologies, 22 May 2020) explained that this fifth generation mobile data transmission technology could have “numerous military applications”.

One of these applications concerns “autonomous military vehicles”, that is robotic aerial, land and naval vehicles capable of autonomously carrying out attack missions without being remotely piloted. This procedure requires the storage and processing of a huge amount of data that cannot be carried out only onboard the autonomous vehicle. 5G will allow this type of vehicle to use an external data storage and processing system, similar to today’s Cloud for personal file storage.

Such a system can make possible “new military operational concepts”, such as that of “swarm” in which each vehicle automatically connects to the others to carry out its mission (for example, an aerial attack on a city or a naval attack on a port).

5G will allow the entire command and control system of the United States armed forces to be strengthened worldwide: currently – the document explained – they use satellite communications, but due to distance, the signal takes some time to arrive, causing delay in the execution of military operations. This delay will be virtually eliminated by 5G.
5G will play a decisive role particularly in the use of hypersonic weapons which travel at speeds exceeding 10 times that of sound also equipped with nuclear warheads.

5G will also be extremely important for secret services, making control and intelligence systems much more effective than those currently used.

“5G is vital to maintaining America’s military and economic benefits,” the Pentagon stressed. Particularly advantageous is the fact that “emerging 5G technology, commercially available, offers the Department of Defense the opportunity to use this system at lower cost for its operational needs”. In other words, the 5G commercial network, made by private companies, is used by the US military with a much lower cost than what would be necessary if the network was built solely for military purposes.

This also happens in other countries. It is therefore clear that the 5G dispute, especially between United States and China, is not only part of the trade war. 5G creates a new field for the arms race, which takes place not so much quantitatively but qualitatively.

This is silenced by media and largely ignored even by critics of this technology, who focus their attention on possible harmful effects on health. This very important commitment should however be combined with the commitment against military use of this technology. unknowingly financed by ordinary fifth-generation cell phone users.

Posted in USA, Europe, NATO, RussiaComments Off on 5G, the New Track of the Arms Race

Extraordinary Disconnect Between Stock Prices and Economic Collapse

By Stephen Lendman

Wall street

US equity prices are near or at all-time highs at a time of unprecedented economic collapse, a festering main street Depression, unemployment way higher than in the 1930s, with no prospect for a V-shaped recovery, only its illusion.

The Wall Street owned and controlled Fed is responsible for the extraordinary melt-up in stock valuations, money printing madness to blame — saving the stock market at the expense of the economy and welfare of ordinary Americans.

For the first time in US history, the Fed’s balance sheet exceeds $7 trillion.

It’s up from around $250 billion in the late 1980s and $750 billion in late December 2007, the onset of the 2008-09 financial crisis — a colossal example of mismanagement, an eventual price to pay for what’s going on.

Wall Street on Parade (WSOP) noted a disconnect between the Fed’s balance sheet and economic collapse.

At yearend 2019, WSOP explained that the Fed “was already deep into a debt crisis,” reflected by its minutes.

From mid-September 2019 to late January, the Fed already “had made $6.6 trillion cumulatively in emergency revolving repo loans to Wall Street” — even though the first US COVID-19 death didn’t occur until February 28.

Flooding the market with liquidity at near-zero percent interest is a virtual open sesame to unrestrained speculation for easy profits — no matter the extraordinary divergence between equity valuations and intrinsic value.

While highly indebted US households pay double-digit interest on outstanding credit card balances, banks and investors have access to near-free money, because of unprecedented Fed policy, changing the rules on how it operates.

As the saying goes, there’s something rotten in Denmark — courtesy of the US ruling class in Washington, at the Fed, and in corporate suites.

From 2008 to now with no end of it in prospect, the White House and Congress let the Fed (aka Wall Street) artificially manipulate markets and interest rates for maximum speculative profit-making.

It’s operating like never before as “both the lender and buyer of last resort,” WSOP explained, breaching its Federal Reserve Act (1913) statutory obligations.

The greater the Fed-produced equity and bond bubble, the louder the bang when it bursts beyond repai.

At the same time, protracted main street Depression conditions have festered for over a decade, conditions today worse than at any previous time in US history.

On June 3, economist John Williams warned that the entire economic expansion since 2009 “is at risk of collapse,” adding:

“Exploding federal deficit and debt shows (a) historic low ability of the US economy to cover (its) government obligations.”

The state of the US economy is the most dismal in its history by virtually all key metrics — notably GDP, retail sales, industrial production, durable goods orders, and unemployment at around 40%, not the phony low-ball Labor Department number.

Annualized Q II contraction is estimated to be about 50%, far exceeding all previous downturns.

And yet the Trump regime and Congress are doing little to nothing to create jobs and stimulate economic recovery — their focus almost entirely on serving corporate America and high-net-worth households.

US policy comes at the expense of ordinary Americans — hung out to dry by ruling class indifference to their health, welfare, and other fundamental rights.

Over a decade ago, noted investor Scott Minerd said “(t)he Fed will never be able to end quantitative easing. It’s here forever” — artificially manipulating markets, adding:

“This policy blunder will have long-term implications for our society.”

“The Fed and Treasury have essentially created a new moral hazard by socializing credit risk.”

“The United States will never be able to return to free market capitalism as we knew it before these policies were put in place.”

Minerd and others believe it’ll take years for the US economy to recover to its 2019 level.

Countless millions of ordinary Americans and others abroad may never recover, including hundreds of thousands of small, medium-sized, and some large enterprises gone forever — millions of lost jobs with them.

Boston-based philosopher king of Wall Street Jeremy Grantham warned of an unsustainable divergence between “depressionary” economic conditions and melt up in equity valuations.

“(B)oth can’t be right,” he stressed. Dismal economic data are worse than during the 1930s Great Depression.

Unprecedented US unemployment makes near-term economic recovery virtually impossible.

In his quarterly letter to investors, Grantham said the following:

“The current P/E on the US market is in the top 10% of its history.”

“The US economy in contrast is in its worst 10%, perhaps even the worst 1%.”

“In addition, everything is uncertain, perhaps to a unique degree.”

Economic and market data reflect “one of the most (extreme) mismatches in history.”

What’s new in the current environment “is the meaningful possibility of a disastrous economic outcome combined with a substantially overvalued stock market.”

What’s going on today in the US economy and markets is unprecedented.

“(T)his event is unlike all” earlier disturbing times.

“It is totally new, and there can be no near certainties, merely strong possibilities” — why he’s “nervous” as “should be” all investors.

US and global economic weakness preceded current conditions.

Supply and demand shocks alone are “generating a much faster economic contraction than that (during) the Great Depression.”

“The (US) drop in GDP and rise in unemployment in four weeks have equaled what took one to four years to reach in the Great Depression and were never reached in the other events.”

Grantham believes it’ll take “at least 5 years to regain 2019 levels of activity…Nearly certain is that a V-shaped recovery looks like a lost hope.”

He added that the notion of a magical vaccine in the coming months to make coronavirus outbreaks go away would be the equivalent in poker of “drawing successfully to several inside straights in a row.”

Statistically the odds against drawing it once are over ten to one.

“(W)e have never lived in a period where the future was so uncertain…perhaps to a unique degree,” Grantham stressed.

Current economic conditions and equity valuations are entirely disconnected from each other.

Markets eventually return to their mean valuations, no exceptions in modern financial history.

Is this time different? Will the sun one day rise in the West and set in the East?

Posted in Literature, Politics, WorldComments Off on Extraordinary Disconnect Between Stock Prices and Economic Collapse

Obama’s Essay on Protests: Maintaining the Status Quo

By Robert Fantina

Former President Barack Obama has weighed in on the current civil unrest and ongoing racial injustice. While most people recognize his intelligence, especially when compared to the irrational blustering of his successor, his calm, measured opinion on how the nation should move forward only perpetuates the current injustices.

We will look at the most troubling aspects of his essay in some detail.

  • “The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

“On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause.”

This is overlooking the base issues, and blaming the victim. As this writer has noted elsewhere (see this), many of the people protesting, especially in the inner cities, have been marginalized and disenfranchised for generations. They see what others have, and know that such things are beyond their reach simply because they are Black. If their anger lashes out in violence and looting, they cannot be blamed. The racial injustices in the United States do not only manifest themselves in the murders of innocent people like George Floyd. They impact every aspect of the lives of people of color who are disproportionally poor in the U.S. Education and employment opportunities for them are far more limited than for whites. The ability to escape poverty is extremely difficult for anyone in the United States, but for people of color, there are more barriers than for whites. Police in the inner cities constantly harass Black and brown people in an apparent belief, at least ostensibly, that doing so will keep them from any criminal activity. As a result, ‘crimes’ for which whites will never be accused (selling ‘loosies’ – individual cigarettes), or seldom be accused (possession of small amounts of marijuana or cocaine) will result in anything from jail time to execution for people of color. And once there is a criminal record, opportunities for employment and higher education are limited.

  • “Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobediencethat the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.”

Obama encourages citizens to vote, an activity from which he certainly benefited, but makes no mention of the ongoing voter suppression targeted mainly at the poor and people of color, the very same people who take to the streets when blatant, murderous injustices occur. He also doesn’t mention the fact that lobbies contribute large amounts of money to candidates, thus thwarting the will of the voters.

Survey after survey indicate that people want sensible gun laws; student debt relief; affordable medical care and many other rights and protections, yet these are not offered because they do not benefit large corporations. Who does Obama suggest that people vote for to bring about these changes?

  • “But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

“It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct.”

The problem of racism exists in every corner of U.S. society, but the murders of innocent, defenseless Black men, women and children seem to occur mostly in the cities. Is Obama suggesting that the mayors of the nation’s major cities aren’t every bit as beholden to their corporate backers as are senators and members of the House of Representatives? Does he believe that a dedicated minority attorney can go door-to-door and be nominated for district attorney or state attorney without the backing of powerful party leaders and interest groups? And it is no secret that in order to secure that backing, candidates must sell their souls, leaving behind the people who need them most.

  • “Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low….” Yes, it is, and that is the result of people voting and seeing nothing change, and voter suppression, as mentioned above. Voter suppression takes many forms including limiting the number of polling places; making them more difficult to access by only having them in cities, leaving rural citizens without transportation out of luck; demanding photo identification which is often a driver’s license, which not everyone has, and many others. This is done in the name of preventing voter fraud, of which there is no evidence of being a serious problem.
  • “Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away.”

This does nothing to address systemic racism in the nation. Laws can be passed at the local level, just as civil rights laws were passed five decades ago; they are barely a step above meaningless. What must be done is clear:

  • Enforcement of laws. For example, when a child (Tamir Rice) is playing with a toy gun and he is shot and killed by a police officer, that officer must be charged with murder. When a man (Philandro Castile) is stopped because his taillight has a burned-out bulb and is summarily executed, the police officer who killed him must be charged with murder. How will the election of local and state officials impact this?
  • Racial profiling must stop. This writer cannot imagine how many times he has driven with a taillight out, or some other small infraction, and yet he has never been stopped for it. Why not? He is white, so is not subject to harassment. All the elections in the world will not change this. It must be made completely unacceptable. Police officers who have a disproportionate number of arrests of people of color must be fired.
  • Police harassment of people of color must stop. There are enough problems in inner cities without complicating people’s lives with constant harassment. In the George Floyd case, it is alleged that he passed a counterfeit bill. He may have done so, but he may have had no idea that it was counterfeit. But regardless of that, even if he’d printed it in his basement an hour earlier, the penalty is not being tortured to death. Nothing in Obama’s pretty words would impact this issue.
  • The criminal ‘war on drugs’ must end. This is a trillion-dollar boondoggle that has had no impact on drug use in the United States. All it has accomplished is the incarceration of millions of people, mostly Black, thus leaving families and communities without needed citizens. But the for-profit prison system is booming. Obama’s suggestions do nothing to address this problem.

The entire problem, Obama says, can be resolved through voting in people at the local and state levels who are receptive to what is needed. He conveniently overlooks the fact that doing so is next to impossible. Interference by outside donors and other special interests prevents people of integrity from getting too far in the electoral process. The ‘war on drugs’ and the for-profit prisons for which it supplies prisoners make too much money for too many people to ever see it change due to an election. And institutional racism is inherent at all levels of governance, and within too many corporations, and is all just considered ‘business as usual’.

Trump has suggested that states use the military to ‘dominate’ the protesters, something one would expect any dictator to demand. But what must be done is the reverse; the protesters must dominate the cities and the military must join the protesters. Otherwise, Obama’s words notwithstanding, it is only a matter of time, and probably a very short amount of time, before we are all once again carrying signs with the name of another Black victim of police violence spelled out across it.

Posted in USA, C.I.A, Human RightsComments Off on Obama’s Essay on Protests: Maintaining the Status Quo

Military Occupation of America Begins

Police-soldiers regard both the guilty and innocent alike as enemy combatants.

By: Kurt Nimmo

It now seems certain the social lockdown imposed during the COVID scare will be extended with a “second wave” blamed in part on people protesting the police execution of George Floyd. 

WLWT@WLWT

Packed crowds protesting George Floyd’s death have health officials worried about possible COVID-19 outbreak https://www.wlwt.com/article/packed-crowds-protesting-george-floyds-death-have-health-officials-worried-about-possible-covid-19-outbreak/32746331 …Packed crowds protesting George Floyd’s death have health officials worried about possible COVID-19…Protester: ‘We’re just looking for equal justice right now. There ain’t nobody paying attention to COVID-19’wlwt.com110:30 PM – Jun 2, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacySee WLWT’s other Tweets

As it now stands, there is no way the massive protests in America will come to end anytime soon. The yellow vest protests in France went on for months, only to be sidelined by COVID. Make no mistake. Macron and the neoliberals were seriously freaked out by week after week of yellow vest protests and riots. The elite considered it a serious threat to the French state and its corrupt establishment.

Trump has absolutely no viable options. He has threatened to send federal troops into states in violation of what remains of Posse Comitatus. It was mostly destroyed by the national security state logic of the neocon John Yoo and the Bush administration. 

Trump has threatened to use the Insurrection Act to go after rioters and looters. It should be mentioned that police (now embedded with federalized National Guard soldiers) are exploiting the violence to attack peaceful demonstrators, for instance, the following chemical attack in Philadelphia.

nyc law grrrl@nyclawgrrrl

Former Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw oversaw a police force that violently policed protests. Now she is the Police Commissioner of Philly and her cops are deploying tear gas on protesters during the COVID-19 pandemic. 1,0274:04 AM – Jun 2, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy636 people are talking about this

The Chicago Police are notorious for use of over-the-top violence in reaction to dissent in the Windy City. Apparently little if nothing has changed since 1968 and the savage beatdown of protesters, media, and bystanders by Mayor Daley’s police during the Democratic Convention. 

Few deny George Floyd was sadistically executed, but what’s missing here is the fact his murder is part of a far larger issue that is not being addressed. 

The paramilitarization of state and local law enforcement by the federal government has resulted in heavily armed police-soldiers that regard both the guilty and innocent alike as enemy combatants. Since the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the onset of the disastrous war on drugs, the Pentagon has fed a steady stream of hardware designed for war and mass murder into police agencies from sea to shining sea. 

Tim Robbins@TimRobbins1

For the last 19 yrs in the guise of fighting terrorism both political parties have funded militarized police forces throughout the country. Billions of dollars for tanks, tactical weapons, tear gas & training has created this bullshit.Are we now the enemy? 6,0598:08 PM – Jun 2, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy2,448 people are talking about this

This is not incidental. The state has prepared for war in America over a period of several decades. During the Iran-Contra testimony of Col. Oliver North we learned the government planned to rendition and imprison thousands of American dissidents during a war in Central America against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. North was involved in the illegal CIA war against Nicaragua and its support of the Contra mercenaries. 

As I write this, federal military occupations of downtowns, neighborhoods, critical infrastructure, etc., are underway. The severity of the riots has provided cover for a super-charged move to fully implement a military police state. It won’t be realized as such by many if not most Americans. 

The rioters and looters piggybacking on race and police brutality protests are providing a perfect excuse for the state to militarily control the larger blue or liberal metropolitan areas of the United States, possibly for some time to come. 

Johnny Akzam@JohnnyAkzam

Take a look at Hollywood Blvd. #LAProtests

We’re seeing a #PoliceState turn into a #MilitaryState.1,3339:58 PM – Jun 2, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy858 people are talking about this

No doubt this “civil war” will run through summer and land square in the lap of both parties during the conventions.

Due to the riots and protests, the Democrats have pushed their convention back to August from July, probably in the hope, there will be some kind of resolution that will settle the dust by the end of summer. It’s not going to happen, even though, as of Wednesday, the rioting and violence have ratcheted down a notch or two. 

Likewise and undoubtedly more violently during the RNC convention the following week in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Late note: North Carolina rejected convention taking place in NC, no doubt realizing and dreading the consequences). 

Expect militarized national conventions, unlike anything in the past. 

Posted in USA, C.I.A, Human RightsComments Off on Military Occupation of America Begins

Caliphate in Miniature: Rift Between Turkey and Al-Qaeda in Idlib

By South Front

In the second half of April and early May, the Syrian province of Idlib became the epicenter of a military political drama developing between Turkish forces and their al-Qaeda-linked allies.

The escalated tensions even led to a military incident on the M4 highway, near the town of Nayrab, when the Turkish Army and militant groups directly controlled by Ankara clashed with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its supporters. At least 11 members and supporters of the al-Qaeda-linked group were killed by live fire from Turkish troops and strikes by Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicles.

This incident happened during a failed attempt to remove the camp of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham supporters, which had been established to block the highway and prevent the movement of joint Russian-Turkish patrols in the area. The creation of a security zone along the M4 highway, the withdrawal of radical militant groups from the zone and joint patrols in the area were among the key provisions of the Idlib ceasefire deal reached by the Turkish and Russian presidents in Moscow on March 5. Since the start of the implementation of the deal, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Turkistan Islamic Party and other radical groups have been working to sabotage them. Seven joint Russian-Turkish patrols took place in a small area between Saraqib and Nayrab, as the situation in southeastern Idlib was moving closer to conditions in which the resumption of full-scale open military hostilities there would become inevitable. The number of ceasefire violations increased and both the Syrian Army and Idlib radicals were blaming each other for the apparent collapse of the de-escalation deal.Video Player00:0008:50

However, by May 5, the situation had changed. The protest camp near Nayrab disappeared. The Russian Military Police and the Turkish Army held their first extended joint patrol along the M4 highway passing the location of the former camp. On May 7, the sides held their second extended patrol, which became the longest one since the signing of the ceasefire deal in March. For the first time, the Russian Military Police reached the eastern entrance to the town of Ariha. These extended patrols became an important breakthrough in Turkish-Russian cooperation over the situation in southeastern Idlib despite the fact that the security zone agreement was still far from its full implementation.

The interesting fact is that this step forward was not due to Ankara’s anti-terrorist efforts in Greater Idlib, but came as a result of a deal reached by Turkey and the leadership of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The terrorist group de-blocked the M4 near Nayrab. In turn, Turkey reportedly agreed not to oppose Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s decision to open a commercial crossing between the militant-held part of Idlib in western Aleppo near Maaret Elnaasan. Earlier, Ankara and militant groups directly controlled by it had sabotaged this initiative. Turkey seeks to control all economic and social life in northwestern Syria. Meanwhile, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham sees the commercial activity between Greater Idlib and the rest of Syria as an important source of income through various fees and trafficking of goods.Video: Greater Idlib: Is Syrian Army Advance Inevitable?

Neither Turkey nor Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are interested in military operations by Syria, Russia and Iran in Idlib. Therefore, in face of the threat of the new Syrian Army advance and the resumption of the Russian air bombing campaign, they reached a tactical agreement to prevent this scenario. However, this did not annihilate their mid- and long-term contradictions.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham enjoys the direct protection of the Turkish Armed Forces and indirectly receives financial support from Ankara. But the group is too large and too influential to be an ordinary Turkish puppet. In fact, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leadership and its close allies are working to turn Greater Idlib into their own ISIS-style emirate. While publicly they make loud statements about the goals of the so-called Syrian revolution and the need to ‘liberate’ Damascus from the ‘bloody Assad regime’, in fact, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has long since abandoned any plans of major expansion through direct attacks on the Syrian Army. They have been tightening their military, security and political grip over the militant-held part of Greater Idlib. If the situation develops in this direction, Idlib will have every chance of becoming a foothold for international terrorist groups operating all around the world, primarily in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. A network of training camps, weapon trafficking and financial flows for terrorist organizations recruiting new members and planning terrorist operations will all contribute to the growing influence and wealth of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Some global and regional players would be happy to use this opportunity to pursue their own geopolitical goals.

Turkey, which controls the border and is a key regional player keeping ties with Idlib militant groups, may become one of the main beneficiaries of this scenario and the Erdogan government could have agreed on this if the world were the same as it was back in 2011. However it is not.

The weakening of US influence in the Middle East, the shrinking global economy, the fragmentation of global markets and the collapse of the remote chance of Turkey joining the European Union as well as Turkey’s own diplomatic and political pretensions towards regional leadership turned Moscow into its key economic, diplomatic and security partner. Therefore, Ankara is forced to consult the interests of Moscow in its policy because without the military technological, diplomatic and economic cooperation with Russia Turkey has no chances to turn its own geopolitical ambitions into reality.

The current agreement between Turkey and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is rather a result of the tactical convergence of interests rather than a solid alliance. Even if they are able to prevent the resumption of the Syrian Army advance on Idlib, the tensions between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Turkey will increase because they have different strategic interests. It is likely that within the next half year, Ankara will increase pressure on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and their allies in order to undermine their influence and bring most of the political, administrative and military influence in the Greater Idlib region to ethnic Turks and representatives of groups directly controlled by Ankara.

All of this would be done under the pretext of restoring peace and stability as well as securing democratic elections to form the ‘legitimate’ local authorities. In the event of success, Turkey will consolidate control over northwestern Syria and form a controlled group of persons that will represent the militant-held area in negotiations with the Damascus government. This group must have no links to radicals. The goals of these possible negotiations are to reach a peace agreement and guarantee a wide autonomy for the militant-held part of northwestern Syria in the framework of the comprehensive agreement between Ankara and Damascus. The characteristics of this autonomy will depend on the military political situation in the country at that moment. However there is no doubt that control of the Syrian-Turkish border will be among the key points of contradictions.

On the other hand, Ankara and Damascus may reach no comprehensive agreement because of the complicated military political situation in Syria. This could happen if the security situation deteriorates in the government-controlled part of Syria and Damascus starts losing control over particular regions; for example, due to the increasing activity of ISIS. In these conditions, Ankara will return to the idea of a direct annexation of the northwestern part of Syria. It will justify this move by the need to protect civilians and claiming that Damascus is not able to effectively battle the international terrorism.

Posted in Syria, TurkeyComments Off on Caliphate in Miniature: Rift Between Turkey and Al-Qaeda in Idlib

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