Archive | July 9th, 2020

US Plans to Invade Venezuela Through Colombia

By Lucas Leiroz de Almeida

Colombia is under a pro-Washington government. The country’s current president, Iván Duque Márquez, has been noted for a series of policies of alignment with the United States, continuing the legacy of his predecessor, former president Juan Manuel Santos, who has made Colombia a NATO’s “global partner”, allowing the country to participate in joint military operations of the Western military alliance. In general, the long scenario of crises and tensions in Colombia, marked by drug trafficking and the conflict between criminal factions and rebel parties, has driven its governments towards a policy of alignment with Washington in exchange for security, which has increased in recent years.

However, not all Colombian politicians approve these measures. Recently, the leftist senator Iván Cepeda asked Colombian Congressional President Lidio García to convene a session to investigate and legally control the government in its collaboration with the constant arrival of American soldiers in the country. According to Cepeda, the presence of these military personnel is hostile to Colombia, deeply affecting the maintenance of national sovereignty.

Cepeda claims that the government should consult the National Congress before allowing the American military to arrive. A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Cundinamarca proved Cepeda right. According to the judges of the Court, the unilateral decision to allow the entry of foreign troops violates the Colombian National Constitution, and the Executive Branch must previously submit the matter to the Congress. For this reason, the Court asked the government to send information about the joint operations in progress, with the aim of clarifying the reason for the arrival of American troops. The deadline for sending the report was July 6 and was not met by the government – which claims it will appeal the decision. Due to the non-compliance, Cepeda filed a request for the establishment of a special congressional session.Bay of Pigs 2.0 – Armed Invasion of Venezuela?

The exact number of US military personnel in the country is uncertain, which further raises suspicions about the case. Some sources say there are more than 800 Americans, while others say they are between 50 and 60 military personnel. No official note was given by the government to explain the reasons and the exact number of soldiers. On the other hand, the American Embassy in Colombia, under pressure, commented on the case, giving an unsatisfactory answer. According to American diplomats, military personnel are arriving in Colombia to carry out joint operations to combat drug trafficking. Apparently, these operations would aim to carry out a siege against Venezuela and Nicolás Maduro, who, according to Donald Trump, has links with drug trafficking in the region. It is important to remember that Trump’s accusations against Maduro were never substantiated and any evidence was provided of such links between the Venezuelan president and drug trafficking.

Recently, Colombian mercenaries invaded Venezuela by sea in American vessels. Venezuelan security forces neutralized the attack, but since then it has become clear that Colombia is willing to collaborate with the US to overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro. Apparently, therefore, American troops arriving in the country are preparing for a next step in this old American project to occupy Venezuela.

The justification that the Venezuelan government has links with drug trafficking becomes even more curious when the American ally is precisely Colombia, a state that historically has structural links with the organized crime and the illegal drug trade in South America, being considered by experts in the whole world as a true narco-state. Likewise, the United States is not innocent of scandals involving international trafficking. The CIA has repeatedly been accused of collaborating with criminal networks worldwide. The American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 guaranteed to the US the complete control of opium production in the region. In Mexico, in exchange for information and resources, American intelligence has collaborated several times with the activities of the so-called Guadalajara Cartel. Still, for years, American intelligence collaborated with Panamanian general Manuel Noriega, who has been publicly involved in drug trafficking since the 1960s, in exchange for military support against guerrillas in Nicaragua.

In fact, we can see that drug trafficking is a flawed and inconsistent justification for an invasion against Venezuela. Colombia and the United States have much more credible and notorious evidence of drug trafficking and are precisely the countries articulating this operation. We can imagine the real reasons behind this: unable to maintain its global hegemony, Washington desperately tries to guarantee its power in Latin America, and, for that, it tries to overthrow Maduro; Colombia provides support to the US in exchange for a mask for its own criminal activities, carried out in collusion by the government and criminal networks of drug trafficking groups – such activities will be falsely attributed to Maduro.

Anyway, what seems clear now is that the US plans to invade Venezuela through Colombia.

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Venezolanos-ConBiden and MAGA-zuela: Two Sides of the Same Coin

By Leonardo Flores

The Biden campaign held an online event on Wednesday, July 8 pitched as the former Vice President’s “vision for Venezuela and Venezuelans in the U.S.” Spoiler alert: his vision for Venezuela barely differs from President Trump. This event, which didn’t merit an appearance from Biden himself, was aimed at getting Venezuelan-Americans to volunteer for “Uncle Joe”, as Representative Darren Soto (D-Fl) called him. It was an hour and a half of shilling for votes and influence, and it demonstrated that when it comes to Venezuela, policies of regime change, sanctions and a refusal to engage in dialogue unite VenezolanosConBiden (the group hosting the event) with MAGAzuela (the term for Trump-supporting Venezuelans).

There are only two policy differences in the Biden and Trump approaches to Venezuela. One is about TPS, or temporary protected status, which is an immigration policy that allows people from ten specific countries affected by disasters to live and work in the U.S. Biden supports TPS for Venezuelans, while Trump allies have blocked it in the Senate and Trump himself ended the program and has refused to issue it for Venezuelans. According to one of Biden’s surrogates, there are 150 thousand Venezuelans in the U.S. who are either undocumented or are here on expired visas.

The other difference is the border wall, which is now being built in part using Venezuelan funds. The Trump administration has diverted $601 million dollars in assets stolen from the Venezuelan people to build the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. This money was previously held in the Treasury Department’s “forfeiture fund”, which is typically used to finance law enforcement operations. It is part of the estimated $24 billion that the U.S. and its allies have frozen and looted from Venezuela in their regime change efforts. Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed interim president, has yet to comment on how the Trump administration is using these Venezuelan funds, but his “ambassador”, Carlos Vecchio, admitted to working with the Justice Department to “establish a formal agreement … to define the percentage” of how much of the seized Venezuelan funds will go to the United States. According to Guaidó and his associates, it is “normal” for the Trump administration to take a cut.

TPS and the wall are the only two points on which Biden and Trump differ. Biden’s surrogates claim he will grant TPS to Venezuelans on Day One of his administration and Biden says he will stop financing the wall. These differences are minimal though, especially considering that Biden will continue the policies that have led millions of Venezuelans to flee in the first place and he has given every indication that more funds will be frozen.

Biden’s vision is more of the same magical thinking that the Trump administration has engaged in for years. His campaign says the sanctions will continue and actually intensify. A Biden administration would seek “a huge increase in aid”, not just for Venezuela but for Colombia and other countries with Venezuelan migrants. They would build an “international coalition” to rebuild Venezuela. They would persecute key supporters of the Venezuelan government, regardless of where they are in the world. According to Juan González, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Obama and current advisor to Biden on Latin America, they will give the government of President Nicolás Maduro one option: elections observed by a respected (and unnamed) multilateral institution and he must leave office.

Biden’s surrogates warn that Venezuela is a national security issue for the U.S., that the country has been infiltrated by terrorist groups and everything must be done to end Russian, Chinese and Cuban influence. They responded to a question about the impact of sanctions by blaming the “humanitarian crisis” on chavismo. They say Biden will not negotiate with Maduro.The Biden campaign attacked Trump for suggesting he would meet with Maduro, forcing Trump to backtrack on the offer, and has been running ads in Miami accusing Trump of being soft on Maduro .

Biden’s policies are the same policies and exact rhetoric used by the Trump administration. Since 2017, the U.S. has imposed sanctions that have cost 100,000 Venezuelans their lives and led to economic losses of $130 billion. But according to Biden supporter Rep. Soto, “there hasn’t been enough of a crackdown” on the Maduro government. Trump has spent three years building an approximately 60-country anti-Maduro coalition and Secretary of State Pompeo has travelled the world seeking more aid allegedly for Venezuela, but that ends up in countries with Venezuelan migrants. They have sanctioned foreign companies doing business with Venezuela and sought to arrest Venezuelan businessmen overseas.

On the issue of military intervention, the Biden surrogates claimed Trump’s threats of a military option were empty and insisted other options must be explored and all other avenues of pressure exhausted (except, of course, dialogue) before considering military action. They did not say whether U.S. intervention should be “on the table”, and framed the discussion around the U.S. public’s alleged aversion to another war rather than on the catastrophic consequences this would have for the Venezuelan people, let alone the illegality of any sort of military intervention.

It is no secret that regime change in Venezuela is a bipartisan objective, and Trump’s tactic of pandering to right-wing latinx extremists in Florida has led the Democrats to do the same. The Biden campaign strategy is clear: mimic the administration’s Venezuela policy while offering TPS to draw votes away from Trump. The surrogates also repeatedly insisted that Biden is not a socialist – apparently a common misconception among the MAGAzuela crowd.

It should be no surprise that this is all about Florida and the 2020 election. Trump not only won the state in 2016, but his allies took the governorship and a Senate seat in 2018, albeit by small margins. Republican governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott both accused their opponents of being socialists who are soft on Venezuela. The Biden camp is doing its utmost to prevent those types of attacks from sticking against their candidate.

There is no reason to believe that Biden will change course on Venezuela if elected. There are too many votes in Florida at stake, as well as donations to be had from wealthy Venezuelan expats – who at this point are playing both sides and doing so very well. A Biden presidency, just like another four more years of Trump, looks to be disastrous for the Venezuelan people.

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COVID-19 Measures Unconstitutional: Legal Proceeding against Prime Minister Trudeau: Filed in Ontario Superior Court

Complete Text of

By Ted Kuntz

We are living in unprecedented times. The mass and indiscriminate containment of citizens, the restriction of access to parliament, the courts, medical and educational services, the destruction of local economies and livelihoods, and the requirement to physically distance, along with the forced use of non-medical masking are extraordinary measures that have never before been imposed on the citizens of Canada.

The impact of these aberrant measures on our physical, emotional, psychological, social and economic well-being is profoundly destructive and these actions are unsustainable, unwarranted, extreme and unconstitutional.

During times of emergency, Constitutional rights do not stop being important. They become even more important.

Vaccine Choice Canada has made numerous formal requests of the Government of Canada and various provincial governments to provide evidence that justifies the declaration of an emergency, the imposition of unscientific and unwarranted measures, and the violations of our Charter rights and freedoms, to no avail.

An over-hyped COVID-19 pandemic narrative is being utilized to create unnecessary panic and to justify the systemic violation of the rights and freedoms that form the basis of our society, including our Constitutional rights, sovereignty, privacy, rule of law, financial security, and even our very democracy.

Many recognized global health and research experts have offered their severe and valid criticism of government overreach and the draconian and unjustifiable measures taken in response to COVID-19. The warning bells are being rung about the dire consequences of these unwarranted, irresponsible, and extreme actions that are in violation of the rights and freedoms well established in Canadian and international law. All this continues to fall on the deaf ears of governments.

On Monday, July 6, 2020, Vaccine Choice Canada formally filed legal action in the Ontario Superior Court to hold multiple parties accountable for their actions with respect to COVID-19 measures. The defendants include: the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the Municipality of Toronto, various public health officers, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, among others. Vaccine Choice Canada has a long history and enviable reputation of advocating for and defending the rights and freedoms of Canadians when it comes to public and individual health.BREXIT: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights to Become “Civil Maybe’s”

A copy of the issued statement of claim will be available on our website: www.vaccinechoicecanada.com following the press conference. Any questions with respect to the claim are to be addressed to our legal counsel, Mr. Rocco Galati at 416-530-9684.

Statement of Claim

Click here to continue reading…

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Calls for Swift Action as Hundreds of Elephants Die in Botswana’s Okavango Delta

By Ed Holt

Nearly 400 elephants have died in Botswana’s Okavango Delta since March, in what wildlife experts say is one of the largest elephant mortality events ever recorded. Conservationists have criticized the government’s handling of the matter and are urging them to speed up investigations.

Botswana’s environment ministry registered the first of these unexplained elephant deaths in the Okavango in March, but the discovery of carcasses has accelerated since May.

Many of the dead elephants have been found near natural watering holes, while some have been found on trails. Some of the animals were found collapsed on their chests, suggesting their death had been fast and sudden.

The authorities said at the start of June that they were investigating just over 100 elephant deaths. Media reports said poaching, poisoning and anthrax had been ruled out as possible causes by the authorities.

Anthrax occurs naturally in the ground in parts of Botswana and has been known to kill wildlife in large numbers; wildlife disease experts have told Mongabay that this could only be ruled out as a cause by laboratory tests. The government said it was sending samples from the carcasses to South Africa for further testing, according to local media reports. However, officials said the process could be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But international and local wildlife groups have criticized the government’s handling of the investigation. They say private surveys carried out in mid-June by conservationists, the results of which Mongabay has seen — show that almost 400 elephants have died.

They also say authorities have ignored offers to help with testing and investigation.

“There is evidence that suggests the real number of dead elephants is 400 so far,” Mark Hiley, operations director at the conservation group National Park Rescue, told Mongabay. “This is one of the biggest elephant mortality events of its kind, certainly this century.

“What needs to be done in a situation like this is to immediately take samples for testing. The government has bungled [taking these] urgently needed samples and failed to send them to a qualified lab for months.”

Hiley and others say samples were not quickly sent to labs for analysis as the government claims, delaying efforts to understand what is taking place in the Okavango.Leading Scientists Conclude Elephant Poaching in Africa Has Not Decreased in Past Decade

“There is an urgent need to send in a professional, impartial team, with the proper resources and experience to carry out a full investigation,” Hiley added. “Offers have been made [by conservationists] but the government has failed to respond.”

Elephant carcass in the Okavango Delta.

Elephant carcass in the Okavango Delta.

There are more elephants in Botswana than in any other country. Measures to protect large wildlife, including hunting bans and “shoot-to-kill” policies to deter poachers, have seen the population grow from 80,000 in the late 1990s to an estimated 135,000 today.

But conservationists have raised the alarm over a rise in poaching since Mokgweetsi Masisi became president two years ago.

Having promised to reduce the number of elephants in the country amid rising human-wildlife conflicts as the human population grows, Masisi last year lifted a ban on hunting elephants. The ban had been introduced five years previously by his predecessor, Ian Khama.

Aerial surveys found a nearly six-fold rise in elephant poaching in the north of the country between 2014 and 2018. About 385 elephants were poached from 2017 to early October 2018, and 156 for the whole of 2018, including 90 identified in a single two-month period between July and September in a survey carried out with representatives of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Government officials later disputed the findings.

“Given the high volume of professional poaching in the Okavango area since the COVID-19 lockdowns began, poison remains a likely candidate,” Hiley said.

Poachers often lay poison traps to kill wildlife and remove what they want from the carcasses afterward. Local activists said they had found the remnants of an improvised camp near to where some elephants had died.

But no evidence of removal of dead elephants’ tusks has been reported.

“There is a worrying lack of urgency about this situation,” Mary Rice of the U.K.-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) told Mongabay. “This is symptomatic of the change in philosophy of this new regime and the U-turn which has been seen in the country with regard to the protection of key species.”

Government officials did not respond when contacted by Mongabay about their investigation into the elephant deaths.

There is an urgent need for comprehensive testing and investigation, Hiley said.

Elephant carcass, Okavango Delta

Hundreds of elephants have died in Botswana’s Okavango Delta; the cause is yet to be determined.

“Horrific scenes were reported to me of dying elephants running around in circles, suggesting something — potentially neurotoxins — impacting brain function. Some elephants reportedly had their rear quarters paralyzed,” he said.

“It is possible that the disaster has implications for people living in and around the Okavango Delta region, but until a proper team is sent in [to collect and test samples], this cannot be known,” he said.

“If it’s poison, something can be done about it, but if it’s a new disease it could be worse, especially as elephants can travel such huge distances. This is why it is so important to do tests as quickly as possible.”

One expert on disease among African wildlife, who spoke to Mongabay on condition of anonymity, said they had “never seen any elephant mortality on this scale before.” But they urged against jumping to any conclusions until advanced tests had been done.

“Theoretically, anthrax could be responsible,” the expert said. “It is also possible that a pathogen has emerged and is virulent in the high-density elephant population in that area.

“Or it could be something like the mass deaths of the saiga antelopes [in Kazakhstan in 2015] which turned out in the end to be down to a not uncommon pathogen.

“The only way to find out is to do proper tests.”

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Forced Vaccination Plan Unveiled

By Bill Sardi

Stanford University Legal & Medical Authorities Join Forces To Fashion An Indiscriminate Mandated Mass-Vaccination Plan That Would Frighten The Public, Disregard Lawful Protections Of Informed Consent And Result In Needless Deaths.

***

Our health overlords propose a dangerous infectious disease control plan that mandates indiscriminate immunization for all Americans, a plan that is far more dangerous than the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic itself.

Writing in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, Stanford Law School and Health Policy departments propose priority vaccination for high-risk groups that comprise the population that are least likely to benefit and most likely to experience side effects and hospitalization from COVID-19 coronavirus immunization, or from any vaccine for that matter.

Initially voluntary then mandated

The Stanford plan would initially roll out as a completely voluntary inoculation scheme to be followed by compulsory vaccination that would penalize refusers with employment suspensions and/or stay-at-home orders.

Prospect of benefiting from vaccination

Their plan calls for a future FDA-licensed vaccine, a vaccine whose side effects will not be completely known until it is widely used, that according to another Stanford University study, would benefit only a miniscule portion of the population.  That study showed, as validated by blood tests, the COVID-19 coronavirus only infects Americans at the rate of 1 in 3868 encounters (range 626 to 31,800) with others who are already infected and results in death in only 1 in 6,670,000 contacts among middle-age Americans (range 1.68 to 97.6 million).  Despite the fear generated by TV news reports, the risk of acquiring COVID-19 coronavirus infection is remote.

A perfectly safe vaccine may kill frail individuals

With presumption the vaccine is 100% effective, those numbers put a limit on the percent of vaccinated subjects who could possibly benefit from vaccination – –  19 million would be need to be vaccinated for 1 person to avoid death.

Even if only 1% experience side-effects that result in hospitalization, in a population of 328 million Americans, that would result in 3,280,000 vaccine-induced hospitalizations, which would overwhelm the 1-million bed healthcare system.

Using data from prior flu-vaccine studies, about 1% of those vaccinated may require hospitalization after vaccination and 1% of the hospitalized (1 in 200) would die, which would result in 32,800 needless deaths that would likely be blamed on the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The vaccine itself may be perfectly safe when received by healthy subjects.  But frail, elderly, malnourished (vitamin and mineral-deficient) individuals would be the most prone to suffer side effects and death when admitted to the hospital with its inherent problems of antibiotic resistance, medication errors, ventilator lung trauma and failure to check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies prior to admission.

High-risk individuals least likely to benefit from vaccination

While it may appear wise to vaccinate high-risk individuals (diabetics, hypertensives, obese, autoimmune), these are the very people whose immune systems do not respond well to vaccines and are subject to side effects.

For example, flu shots are not very effective for the very young and the very old.  Flu vaccines are 40-60% effective in the population at-large and as low as 23% effective for certain strains of the flu, says a CDC report.  As an aside, flu vaccination may actually increase the risk for coronavirus infection via a mechanism called viral interference (by 36% said one recently published study).

But despite the fact you can read that study for yourself, proponents of vaccination deny any such link between prior flu shots and subsequent COVID-19 coronavirus infections.  Viral interference is reported in other studies.  For example, those individuals who were vaccinated against the flu in the previous fall of 2010 were 1.4 to 2.5 times more likely to become ill from the H1N1 strain of the flu in the following year, which happens to be the predominant influenza strain in circulation this year 2020.)Video: The Well-Known Hazards of Coronavirus Vaccines. J. R. Kennedy Jr. Interviewed by Dr. J. Mercola

These high-risk groups have inherent problems activating antibodies against any infectious disease, which is why most vaccines require multiple inoculations and include toxic adjuvants to provoke an immune response.

Also on the priority list for forced vaccination are prisoners, people with prior respiratory problems, nursing home patients and healthcare workers.

Why current treatments are being rejected

The Stanford plan would require evidence that existing treatment or prevention of COVID-19 coronavirus is ineffective, which at the moment is solely comprised of archaic quarantine and lockdown measures and limiting contact with the virus itself by employing face masks and social distancing.

Obesity, further induced by lockdown, increases the risk for COVID-19 related deaths.  Indoor lockdown deprives people of sunshine vitamin D that impairs immunity and increases risk for death.  Quarantines and lockdowns are counterproductive.

Any prospective treatments, such as hydroxychloroquine and HCQ +zincnebulized hydrogen peroxide, as well as vitamin and mineral regimens (zincvitamin Dvitamin Cselenium) are ignored and dismissed outright by the CDC, categorized as unproven, even potentially dangerous.  There is sufficient evidence for nutrient therapy in the prevention and management of COVID-19 infections.

Natural immunity, T-cells and nutrients

But without a vaccine or an approved treatment, vitamins and minerals have vanished from retail store shelves without widespread reports of any side effects.  Zinc therapy alone is authoritatively cited as a remedy or preventive for COVID-19 coronavirus infection.  Zinc lozenges are included in the hospital protocol for treatment of COVID-19.

What researchers have discovered during this outbreak of a newly mutated coronavirus that the population is said to have no antibodies against, is that it is not antibodies but rather zinc-dependent T-cells generated in the thymus gland that produce memory immunity against this viral pathogen.  The effectiveness of vaccines is commonly determined by antibodies, which some health authorities now question.

Public demand for a vaccine

According to the Stanford report, only about half of the U.S. population plans to be vaccinated against COVID-19 coronavirus.  This is why hospitals are over-stating the deaths attributed to COVID-19 and why news agencies create continued fear over a common-cold virus that results in few if any symptoms upon infection and only kills a very few.  Our modern healthcare system is over-committed to vaccination.  The prospect of a vaccine is dimmed by the fact 90% of vaccines that enter human trials fail to make it to market.  Given the remote possibility a safe and effective vaccine ever materializes, the nation may await an imagined vaccine at the expense of finding an effective treatment.

Mortality rate is far lower than quoted

Despite the horridness of COVID-19 induced death (drowning in lung fluid), the accumulated mortality rate as of early July 2020 is still only 131,065 deaths, or 0.00039% deaths in the entire population.  Very few of these reported deaths are attribute to COVID-19 coronavirus alone.

Most COVID-19 related deaths occur among high-risk groups who already have life-threatening conditions.  Data from the U.S. and other foreign countries estimate ~80+% of COVID-19-related deaths are caused by co-morbid conditions.  Subtract 80% of those 131,065 U.S. COVID-19-related deaths and you come up with only 26,213 COVID-19-only deaths

Many COVID-19 cases are believed to be miscoded cases of tuberculosis.  (The CDC is not reporting TB-related deaths which produces similar symptoms as COVID-19.)  The BCG TB-vaccine reduces the risk for death from COVID-19 by 3-fold and drugs used to treat TB (azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine) are successfully used to treat COVID-19, leading some analysts to conclude many of COVID-19-reported deaths are really tuberculosis.  Geographically, COVID-19 hot-spots, such as Wuhan, China; Modena, Italy and New York City, have been battling TB outbreaks in recent times.

Is COVID-19 really TB?

The world is focusing on a viral disease that produces mild to no-symptoms in most cases and a very low mortality rate with no approved treatments or vaccine, overshadowing tuberculosis which affects 2 billion and kills over 1.3 million a year, and has an approved vaccine and successful antibiotic treatment.   The infectious disease control industry has gone mad.  The currently misdirection is to prioritize a threat that kills in six figures over a threat that kills in seven figures.

The U.S. doesn’t inoculate for TB because it believes there is a low rate of infection.  But an estimated 13 million Americans have latent (dormant) tuberculosis (a majority of these are immigrants from foreign lands).  It could be many of the reported cases of COVID-19 are actually TB.

Rights of informed consent

The Stanford report that calls for mandated vaccination overlooks certain rights to informed consent that are required by Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations for persons who receive newly licensed vaccines in a clinical study.  Since all vaccinated Americans will be enrolled in a surveillance study (stage 4) in order to gain full FDA approval, informed consent will be legally required.

Informed consent consists of the right to reject vaccination, disclosure of alternatives to vaccination (in this instance, natural antibodies), and confidentiality (privacy of the vaccination record).

Furthermore, doctors should individually assess the chances a person has of benefiting from vaccination.  And patients have the right to reject hold-harmless clauses that would then make health practitioners legally liable should they proceed to vaccinate an individual who has little chance of benefiting from immunization.

A model INFORMED CONSENT/REFUSAL form has been written and published for the public to present to their doctors when and if a vaccine is licensed and available in the U.S. at covid19consent.com

This is not what the vaccine industry or the Centers for Disease Control, that latter a co-holder of COVID-19 related patents, wants to be known.

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Deep Recession and Contraction of Global Economy: “Second Wave” Covid Economic Impact?

By Dr. Jack Rasmus

The reopening of the US economy in June—and some states as early as May—has produced a modest economic ‘rebound’. But rebound is not to be confused with economic recovery.

The current rebound is the natural result of the US economy collapsing 40% between March and June 2020. In the first quarter, January-March 2020, the US economy contracted 5%, virtually all of that in March. While the final data for the 2nd quarter is yet to be announced, the US Federal Reserve Bank’s forecasts of US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) show a much greater collapse, ranging from -30.5% (NY Fed district) to -41.7% (Atlanta Fed district).  No economy can continue to collapse at that steep a rate quarter after quarter.

Economies experiencing deep and rapid contractions—which is typical of both great recessions and economic depressions—inevitably experience periods of leveling off for a time, or even a slight bounce back—i.e. a rebound. But that’s not a recovery. ‘Recovery’ means a sustained, quarter to subsequent quarter economic growth that a continues more or less unabated until the lost economic ground is ‘recovered’. But a rebound is typically temporary, followed by subsequent economic relapses in the form of stagnant growth or even second or third dip recessions.

Look at the Great Recession 1.0 that began in December 2007. The decline began that month subsequently declined more rapidly in the first quarter 2008, but then bounced back slightly in the 2nd quarter 2008. It then took a deep dive in the second half of 2008 through the first half of 2009, contracting every quarter for an entire year. A short, shallow recovery followed into 2010. But the economy relapsed again in 2011, contracting once more for two quarters in 2011. Another small rebound followed in early 2012 and was followed by stagnation in the second half of 2012.

The reported GDP numbers after 2008 were even weaker, and the relapses more pronounced, before the US Commerce Dept. changed the way it defined US GDP and boosted the totals by $500 billion a year after 2013, retroactive to 2008 and before.

All Great Recessions with an initial deep economic contraction, are typically followed by brief shallow recoveries, cut short by subsequent double dips or quarters of no growth stagnation.

That was true of the Great Recession of 2008-09, which didn’t really end in June 2009, but bounced along the bottom economically for several more years. A similar trajectory will almost certainly follow today’s 2020 Great Recession 2.0 now concluding its Phase One initial deep collapse.

The Phase One deep collapse is now giving way to its Phase Two and what will prove a brief and quite modest ‘rebound’. But that’s not a recovery.

Further economic relapses are inevitable after ‘short, shallow rebounds’ that characterize all Great Recessions. That trajectory—i.e. short, shallow rebounds followed by relapses also brief and moderate can go on for years.

What it means is there will be no V-shape and true recovery in the US economy in the second half of 2020. What there will be is an extended ‘W-shape’ period, the next two years 2020-2022 at minimum. And it may continue for perhaps even longer.

The 1929-30 Great Recession: Anteroom to 1930s Depression

A similar scenario occurs prior to bona fide economic depressions, like that which occurred in the 1930s.  The great depression began initially as a Great Recession. US policy makers failed to contain it and it slipped into the Great Depression of that decade as we know it. What precipitates Great Recessions collapsing into bona fide Depressions is the collapse of the financial and banking system.

The Great Depression of the 1930s did not begin with the stock market crash of October 1929, however. The real economy was already slipping into recession in manufacturing and construction sectors in 1929, well before the October 1929 stock market financial crash.  The economy contracted in 1930 by -8.5% and continued to contract every year thereafter through mid-1933 as the US economy experienced a series of four banking crashes, one each year from 1930 through 1933. The banking crashes drove the real, non-financial economy ever deeper every year, in a ratchet like effect.

Rebound and growth followed 1934-36. However, that weakened significantly in late 1937 as a conservative Republican Congress and Supreme Court together began dismantling Roosevelt’s 1935-37 New Deal social spending fiscal stimulus programs. As a result, in 1938 the US economy fell back into depression once again. A partial reversing of the dismantling in 1939 produced a return to positive GDP growth that year. But it wasn’t really until 1941-42 that the economy really exited the Great Depression, as US GDP rose 17.7% in 1941 and then 18.9% in 1942. Recovery—not rebound—was clearly underway after m id-1940—i.e. the result of government spending on both social programs and defense that amounted to more than 40% of GDP those years. That was fiscal stimulus. That was recovery.

In other words, the lesson of the Great Depression of the 1930s is in order to end a depression, or stop a Great Recession from becoming a Depression, the government must step in and spend at a rate of 40% GDP.

Prior to the onset of the current 2020 Great Recession 2.0, the US government’s spending and share of US GDP was about 20%.  It needs to double to 40% to engineer a true recovery from the current crisis.  5.5% is no stimulus in fact; just a partial ‘mitigation’ of the severe collapse that just occurred. That is, a temporary floor under the deep 30%-40% collapse that would have been even greater.

The 2008-09 Great Recession: The 5.5% Failed Stimulus

In January 2009 the incoming Obama administration proposed a fiscal stimulus recovery package amounting to roughly $787 billion and 5.5% of GDP. Economists advocated double that. Even Democrat party leaders in the US House proposed another $120 billion in consumer tax cuts. But Obama’s economic advisers, mostly former bankers and pro-banker academics like Larry Summers, argued the US could not spend that much. Obama listened to Summers and reduced the amount to the $787 billion.  It proved grossly insufficient. The real economy continued to lag and job losses continued to mount. Supplemental programs like ‘cash for clunkers’ and ‘first time homebuyers’ had to be added.

Even with these post-January program supplemental spending Obama’s fiscal stimulus proved insufficient to generate a robust recovery, as the historical record shows. The US recession under Obama ‘recovered’ at its weakest rate compared to all the prior ten US post-recession recoveries since 1947. The Obama recovery was only 60% of normal for recession recoveries.

The problem with the Obama 5.5% was not only the insufficient magnitude of the stimulus. Its composition was deficient as well. It called for almost $300 billion of the $787 billion in mostly business tax cuts, which were then hoarded by business and not invested to expand output, hire more workers, and generate thereby more income for consumption.  Nearly $300 more was in the form of grants given to the states to spend. They too hoarded most of it and failed to rehire the unemployed as was intended. The remainder of the $787 billion was composed mostly of long term infrastructure investment and spending that had little initial effect on the economy’s recovery. As a result of the insufficient magnitude and poor composition of the Obama 2009 stimulus, the US economy fell into a ‘stop-go, W-shape economic recovery for the next six years. US jobs lost in 2008-09 were not recovered until as late as 2015, and the average wages paid for the new jobs was significantly less than wages paid for the jobs that were lost.

Another major contributing factor to the weak economic recovery under Obama was the agreement between Obama, US House Democrats and the Republican Senate in August 2011 to reduce spending on education and other programs by $1.5 trillion. Thus the $787B stimulus of 2009 was reversed by more than twice, as austerity was introduced in late 2011. More than twice what was injected into the economy in 2009 was taken out again starting in 2012. The inadequate less than $1trillion fiscal stimulus was over in just two years!

The point is: apart from the matter of austerity in 2011, if 5.5% was insufficient to generate sustained recovery in 2009, today in 2020 the 5.5% fiscal spending produced by the CARES ACT in March 2020 will prove even less successful.

The US economy’s economic collapse today is five times deeper than in 2008-09 and has occurred in one-fifth the time of the 2008-09 event. If a second more aggressive government spending program does not follow in the second half of 2020, then the current tepid economic ‘rebound’ underway due to the reopening of the US economy will certainly fail at generating a sustained recovery. Here’s why the CARES ACT—the main and only stimulus program to date—is only 5.5% and will fail to generate a sustained recovery as the economy reopens with a modest ‘rebound’.

The March 2020 CARES ACT: Failed Stimulus Déjà vu

As of mid-year 2020 the US government spending to date is summed up in the various provisions of the CARES ACT passed by Congress in March 2020, plus several smaller measures passed before and after it as supplements. Its actual spending as of late June 2020 amounts to only approximately a 5.5% contribution to US GDP.

The CARES ACT on paper called for $1.45 trillion in loans and grants to small, medium and large businesses. $500 billion is allocated as loans to large corporations. Another $600 billion to medium sized plus some other measures. And $350 billion in loans, convertible to grants, to small businesses called the Payroll Protection Program, or PPP.

Another $310 billion was added to the PPP small business loan program as banks quickly misdirected hundreds of billions of dollars to many of their ineligible bigger business prime customers which scooped up much of the original $350 billion for small business.

The three business programs combined thus allocated $1.76 trillion in loans and grants.

Another $500 billion was allocated to workers and US households in the form of supplemental income checks of $1200 per adult plus an extra $600 in federal unemployment benefits available through July 31, 2020.

A couple hundred billion dollars more went to hospitals and health care providers in emergency reimbursements before and after the March CARES ACT passage.

That brought the total March CARES ACT fiscal stimulus to roughly $2.3 trillion. However, not discussed much in the media is another $650 billion CARES ACT provided business and investor tax cuts. The tax cuts include a temporary suspension of business payments to the payroll tax; more generous net operating loss (NOL) corporate tax averaging that allows business to use current losses to get tax refunds on prior year taxes paid; faster depreciation write-offs ( de facto tax cut); and more generous business expense deductions.  Less than 3% of the $650 billion tax cuts in the CARES ACT went to families earning less than $100,000 per year in annual income.The Myth of V-Shape US Economic Recovery

On paper, the roughly $2.3 trillion CARES ACT amounted to roughly 11% of GDP. But only half of that 11%–or just 5.5—has actually hit the US economy. This contrasts with Germany and other European and Asian countries that boosted fiscal spending stimulus by as much as 15%-20%.

Another 5.5% Stimulus Means Another Failed Sustained Recovery

The 5.5% to not enough to kick start the rebound into a sustained recovery. Much of the 5.5% is already spent to mitigate the 2nd quarter deep contraction and is no longer available as a stimulus in the upcoming 3rd quarter.

All the $1200 checks have been spent already and most of the $600 unemployment benefit boost has entered the economy. The latter expires on July 31. Furthermore, the majority of the $1.7 trillion allocated to businesses large and small has yet to get into the US economy as well.

Of the $660 billion in the small business PPP program, about $520 billion has been spent. Less than $100 billion of the $500 allocated to large businesses, like airlines and defense companies, has actually been ‘borrowed’ by big business. And as mid-June 2020, none of the $600 billion for medium size businesses had yet been ‘taken up’ by those businesses. The program was only fully launched late June, more than three months after it was first announced in March.

Thus far little interest appears on the part of medium and large businesses in the more than $1 trillion loans allocated to them.  And as far as the $650 billion in tax cuts is concerned, its effects can be delayed until December 31, 2020, if even then. Given the weak US economy and consumer demand, many businesses will take the tax cuts and hoard them.

In short, more than half the roughly $3 trillion total of government spending, loans, grants and tax cuts provided by the CARES ACT is yet to be committed to the US economy. The official 11% is really only half that at best.

This fact leads to the interesting question: Why have medium and large businesses not take up more of the $1.1 trillion business loans allocated to them?

The $3+ Trillion Uncommitted Business Cash Hoard

The answer is they haven’t because they are already bloated with cash and don’t need or want it. That cash hoard has resulted from several sources in recent months: Large corporations saw the writing on the wall with regard to the virus as early as January-February 2020. They quickly began loading up on cash by drawing down their generous loan credit lines with their banks. That produced a couple hundred billion dollars in cash by March. Then they issued record levels of new corporate bonds to raise still more cash. From March to end of May more than $1.3 trillion in new corporate investment grade bonds was raised by the Fortune 500 US businesses—i.e. more than in all 2019. A couple hundred billion dollars more was raised in junk grade corporate bonds.

Still another cash source was raised by businesses suspending dividend payments and stock buybacks to shareholders. In 2019 they distributed $1.3 trillion in buybacks and dividend payouts

($3.4 trillion total under Trump’s first three years in office). So buybacks and dividends suspensions saved at least another $500 billion in cash.  Companies also began selling off and cashing in their minority stock interests in other companies.  Furloughing workers to work from home also saved still more cash in reduced facilities, benefits and related costs for many corporations. Tech companies especially benefited from this.

Bloated with trillions of dollars of cash, large and medium sized corporations had little interest in borrowing from the CARES ACT, since the latter came with conditions like the provision that 70% of the loans be spent on keeping workers on their payrolls.  They preferred to lay off their workers, and borrow from the credit markets, issue new bonds, and otherwise conserve cash.

A good example was Boeing Corporation. Congress allocated more than $50 billion to Boeing as part of the $500 billion loan program earmarked for large corporations. Instead of borrowing that, Boeing raised $25 billion issuing new bonds and announced layoffs of 16,000 of its workers! Less than $100 billion has been used to date by large corporations under the CARES ACT big corporations’ $500 billion loan allocation. And virtually nothing of the $600 billion to date allocated under the medium size business loan program called the ‘Main St.’ lending facility.

7 More Reasons Why ‘Rebound’ Won’t Mean Recovery

Here are some seven other reasons—apart from the US current insufficient fiscal stimulus—why the US economy will not experience a sustained ‘recovery’ in the next six months, and why instead the US will follow a W-Shape trajectory of weak un-sustained growth followed by economic relapses through 2020-21 (and perhaps even longer):

 1) 2nd Covid-19 Wave Economic Impact:

It is inevitable a number of states will reinstate shutdowns—in significant part if not totally—as the infection, hospitalization, and death rates rise over the summer due to premature reopening of the economy and a growing breakdown of social discipline in adhering to basic precautions like social distancing and mask wearing.  The partial shutdowns will. To varying degrees, reduce consumer spending, business investment, and result in re-layoffs of workers. Second wave layoffs in services like leisure & hospitality, bars, restaurants, travel, public entertainment, and even education and health care services will emerge—all negatively impacting household consumption demand.  It is estimated that at least half of the states, 40% of the reopened economy, will reinstate some degree of re-closures of business activity in coming weeks and months as a resurgence of Covid 19 impacts the US economy in the second half of 2020 and beyond.

The official US June employment report on July 3, 2020 showed 4.8 million jobs were reinstated. But no less than 3 million of that 4.8 million were recalls in leisure & hospitality, hotels, bars, restaurants, and retail industries. These are the same industries that will be affected most by states reinstituting shutdowns. They are also industries where businesses that have been able to reopen only partially thus far in most cases operate on very thin margins. They are likely to fail in Phase Two of the crisis now beginning, and many closing completely in the second half of 2020 as a result of operating only at half capacity.

The scope of the possible closures is revealed by the recent Yelp survey of 175,000 of its customer business base. During the 2ndquarter, Yelp’s survey found that in May-June only 30,000 of its 175,000 had reopened. More important, its survey showed that 40,000 of its 145,000 that hadn’t yet opened had already closed permanently. The wave of permanent business closures in the second half of 2020—especially in the leisure & hospitality and retail industries—should not be underestimated. The permanent shutdowns will occur not only due to reduced consumer demand, but to a resurgence of Covid-19 and a second wave of layoffs.

2) Deeply Entrenched Business & Consumer Negative Expectations

The US economy has been deeply wounded by the deep contraction of the past four months. Both businesses and consumers have negative expectations as to the direction of the economy in the short to intermediate run. Businesses don’t see the conditions for returning to expanding investment, or even returning to prior levels of production and output. With consumer demand clearly in retreat, business expectations of future sales and profits are dampened. Reducing the cost of investing by lowering business taxes or interest rates have little effect on generating more investment, when expectations of profitability—which is what really drives investment—are so low. This is the fundamental reason why business across the board is hoarding its accumulated cash.  The same applies to consumers and households. They too are hoarding what cash they have available, spending mostly on necessities only.  The evidence is the sharp rise in the household savings rate and bank deposit rates. As much cash is saved and deposited as a precaution that economic conditions may worsen, instead of actually spent. The result is only minimal increase in spending occurs, just as minimal investment.  Until negative expectations are somehow reversed, both business investment and household consumption do not rise to levels that result in sustained ‘recovery’.

It will take a major event to again shift business and consumer negative expectations, like a vaccine for the virus or a major fiscal stimulus or a program of mass hiring of the unemployed by government. However, none of the above is on the immediate horizon. Therefore negative expectations will continue to dampen any sustained recovery and limit whatever insufficient government fiscal stimulus to generating a modest ‘rebound’ at best.

3) Business Cost Cutting & Permanent Layoffs

The deep and rapid rate of contraction of the economy over the past four months, and the business expectation of weak recovery, has convinced many businesses to make many of the cost cutting moves of recent months permanent. An example is how some industries and businesses moved their workforces to work from home. It has saved them significant costs of operation—on facilities, maintenance, and some employee benefits. In recessions businesses always find new ways to cut costs that often result in more layoffs and lower wages. Another phenomenon is rehiring and recalling workers back to work temporarily laid off does not occur en masse and all at once. The typical business practice is to recall only part of their workforce and to recall workers more on a part time basis. Not least, the cost cutting and the part time recalls typically results in businesses leaving part of their furloughed work force behind, whose unemployment then becomes permanent.

This second wave of jobless is already beginning to emerge, as businesses downsize in employment after the initial shock to the economy that has already occurred. Airlines are announcing tens of thousands of layoffs. Several other industries are experiencing growing defaults on debt payments and bankruptcies that will result in mass layoffs as well. For example, the oil & energy sector which was a major source of new job creation during the fracking boom of the past five years. More than 200 defaults of companies are in progress. Layoffs are beginning, of a permanent nature not just temporary furloughs or layoffs.

Cost cutting and layoffs translate into less household income for consumption and therefore for generating a sustained recovery.

4) Deeper Global Recession & Global Trade Crisis

The collapse of the US economy in the first half of 2020 has been accompanied by a synchronized contraction of the global economy.  Global economic contraction means US production for export does not recover much in the short run. Offshore demand for US goods & services remains weak. That in turn dampens domestic US investment, employment, and therefore business-consumer spending. Although the US economy is relatively less dependent on exports to stimulate economic growth, exports are not an insignificant contributing factor to US growth and recovery.

More than 90% of the world economy has also experienced deep recession in the first half of 2020. That compares with the first Great Recession of 2008-09 when a fewer 60% of countries were in recession along with the US. Foreign demand for US exports is thus even weaker this time around. Post 2009 China and emerging market economies boomed after 2010 and put a partial floor under US economic contraction by stimulating demand for US product exports; that China-Emerging Market economies stimulus effect on the US economy no longer exists in 2020.

5) Intensifying US Political Instability

One should not underestimate the potential growing political instability in the USA in the second half of 2020.  This instability will occur on two ‘fronts’. One is at the level of political institutions. It is likely the upcoming national elections on November 3, 2020 will be challenged and not accepted by either Trump or the Democratic Party nominee. The growing social instability in the USA and Covid 19 effects on voter turnout, combined with the already widespread voter suppression in various states, makes for ripe conditions for post-electoral crisis should the election be narrowly decided by voters in November.  Evidence is growing, moreover, that Trump is prepared to declare voting by mail as fraud and use that as an excuse to throw the election into the Supreme Court—as occurred in the US in 2000.  Today Trump, unlike George W. Bush in 2000, enjoys an even firmer majority in the US Supreme Court.

The instability at the level of political institutions in the USA today is accompanied by what appears as growing grass roots civilian conflicts. Street level confrontations between Trump supporters and rising popular movements and demonstrations are not beyond the realm of possibility, perhaps even likelihood.

The political instability has significant potential to negatively impact both consumer and business expectations and therefore dampen both business investment and household consumption even further in addition to causes already noted.

6) Wild Card #1: Financial Crisis 2021

Intermediate term, in 2021 likely more than in 2020, is the wild card of a financial system crisis emerging that would exacerbate the real economy’s faltering recovery still further. This channel by which a financial crisis might emerge is a growing wave of corporate and state & local government defaults. Massive excess debt has built up over the past decade in business sectors in the US.  More than $10 trillion in corporate bond debt exists at present. At least $5 trillion in corporate junk bonds and virtual junk like BBB investment grade. Still more for corporate ‘junk’ leveraged loans. A protracted period of recession and weak recovery will generate a major potential for corporate defaults and bankruptcies. If the magnitude and rate of defaults is too great, or comes too fast, the banking system could very well experience a major credit crash once again.

Industries highly unstable with high cost unaffordable debt, and with insufficient revenues with which to service that debt, include: oil fracking and coal, big box retail, smaller regional airlines, rental car and other travel related companies, hotels and resorts, malls, commercial property in general, and hundreds of thousands of small restaurants and regional restaurant chains. Defaults have already begun rising rapidly in many.  Household debt and state and local government debt finds itself in much of a similar situation—highly leveraged with debt amidst collapsing incomes to service the debt as unemployment and wage incomes continue to decline and as tax revenues remain depressed long term due to the weak economic recovery.

The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, is in the midst of an historic experiment to pre-bail out non-bank corporations to forestall the defaults and to flood, at the same time, the US banking system with massive excess liquidity with which to manage the defaults should they come excessively and too rapidly.  It remains to be seen whether the Fed’s massive liquidity injections thus far ($3 trillion), and promised (unlimited), will prove sufficient to manage the defaults.  If not, the US banking system will freeze up as financial institutions begin to crash as well with the transfer of defaulted corporate debt on to their own bank balance sheets.

In 2008-09 it was the banking system that collapsed first and in turn precipitated a deeper and faster contraction of the real economy in the US. Today it is quite possible the reverse causation may occur in the Great Recession of 2020. But it matters not in a Great Recession which precipitates which first—i.e. the banking system the real economy or vice-versa. The key point is that both cycles—financial and real—feed back on the other in a Great Recession and amplify the downturn in both.

7) Wild Card #2: Artificial Intelligence Faster Rollout

Another wild card that may emerge with fuller force longer term is the penetration of Artificial Intelligence in business operations.  McKinsey Consultants estimated that by 2025 AI would accelerate in its penetration of business practices. By the latter half of the 2020s decade it would have deep and widespread impact on employment and wages, as AI led to deep cost cutting by business. As much as 30% of occupations would be seriously impacted. The essence of AI is to eliminate simple decision making jobs, in services as well as manufacturing.

But it is highly possible that AI will now penetrate even faster, accelerated by business cost cutting and productivity enhancing drives, as a consequence of the current deep economic crisis.  The deeper and more protracted the current recession, the more likely business will engage in multiple ways to reduce costs as a means to weather the crisis. AI offers businesses a prime opportunity to do just that. But AI also means a significant reduction in net jobs, especially simple low paid service and retail work. And with the net jobs and wage loss come reduced consumer household demand, consumption, and therefore sustainable economic recovery.

The Case for 40% Government Share of GDP

As previously noted, recoveries from great recessions and depressions require at least a 40% US government spending share of total GDP. Obama’s raised the US government share of GDP to barely 25%, not 40%. The economy accordingly struggled after 2009.

The current 2nd Great Recession 2020, the first phase of which has just concluded in June, is following the same rough trajectory and scenario as the 2008-09. There has been only token fiscal stimulus to the economy thus far from the CARES ACT. Indeed, Congress never considered, at least in the House of Representatives, the CARES ACT was a stimulus bill. It was called a ‘mitigation’ bill, designed to put a partial floor under the collapse of the economy going on at the time in the 2nd quarter 2020. A true stimulus bill was to follow. That’s the HEROES ACT now blocked in Congress by Republican Senate and Trump. What the latter want is to end the unemployment benefits and provide no further income supplement payments. They want to exchange further unemployment benefits for direct wage subsidies to businesses. They want even more tax cuts for business—permanent payroll tax cuts, more capital gains tax cuts, and more business expense deductions. And they are reluctant to provide funding support for state and local governments with accelerating deficits as a result of tax revenue collapse. Should support for state and local governments not occur soon, it is likely mass layoffs will emerge in states and local governments soon.

However, it does not appear so far that anything resembling a real stimulus will get passed with the HEROES Act. The unemployment benefits extension will likely be eliminated. More business tax cuts, should they be added to the $650 billion provided by the CARES ACT, will be hoarded in large part. As will corporate income that would have been otherwise used to pay wages, as the government pays the wages of their workers instead.

An insufficient fiscal stimulus from an eventual HEROES Act, should it occur, will ensure the current tepid ‘rebound’ of the US economy will fail to evolve into a sustained recovery of the US economy. The seven other, additional factors noted above will further prevent a sustained recovery—and indeed may precipitate a subsequent further serious economic contraction. The summer of 2020 is thus a critical juncture period for the US economy.

The US is currently experiencing what might be called a ‘triple crisis’. A health crisis that shows little sign of abating. A deep economic crisis that is still in its early phases. And a ripening political crisis. Never before in its history have three such major events converged. The one of the three that is potentially most manageable is the economic. Health crisis depends heavily on the development of a vaccine. Not much can be done to prevent a deepening political crisis. It will run its course, whatever that may be. But a government fiscal stimulus equivalent to about 40% of US GDP would very likely stabilize the economy and set it on a path to sustained recovery.  However, it is highly unlikely that in the current political climate of instability, deep splits within the US political elites, growing grass roots social confrontations, and failure to mount an effective strategy to address the Covid-19 health crisis that the capitalists and their political representatives will be capable of introducing the necessary 40% war time economic stimulus.

Posted in Health, Politics, WorldComments Off on Deep Recession and Contraction of Global Economy: “Second Wave” Covid Economic Impact?

JCPOA: The Iran Nuclear Deal that Wasn’t

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

July 14th, 2020, marks the fifth anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Agreement, often referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal (or simply the Deal) – the Deal that wasn’t.   It was yet another attempt at regime change.

Of all the plans to control Iran beginning from Operation Ajax to Operation JCPOA and everything in between, the Iran Nuclear Deal was by far the most devious attempt at undermining the sovereignty of Iran – one way or another. The Greek’s Trojan Horse pales compared to this dastardly scheme.  Years in the making, the crafty plan even prompted Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) to nominate John Kerry and Javad Zarif to recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. 

As such, it is high time that the Deal’s planners, their motivations and their associations were discussed in order to grasp the depth of the deception.

Iran, due to its geopolitical position, has always been considered a jewel in the crown of the colonial powers.   Attempts to conquer Iran through a proxy which started with Operation Ajax in August 1953, at the behest of the British and carried out by the CIA were not abandoned even with the ousting of America’s man, the Shah.    Although the Islamic Revolution reclaimed Iran’s sovereignty,  America was not ready to abandon its plans of domination over Iran, and by extension, the Persian Gulf.

The Persian Gulf has been the lynchpin of US foreign policy. “To all intents and purposes,” a former senior Defense Department official observed, “‘Gulf waters’ now extend from the Straits of Malacca to the South Atlantic.” Nevertheless, bases nearer the [Persian] Gulf had a special importance, and Pentagon planners urged “as substantial a land presence in the as can be managed.” (Anthony H. Cordesman, “The Gulf and the Search for Strategic Stability”, Boulder: Westview, 1984).

Having failed in numerous attempts including the Nojeh coup at the nascent stages of the IR Iran’s newly formed government, war, sanctions, terrorism,  and a failed color revolution,  the United States needed other alternatives to reach its goal.  Unlike the illegal war against Iraq, war with Iran was not a feasible option.  The United States was aware of its inability to wage a successful war against Iran without serious damage to itself and its allies.

When George W. Bush took office, he commissioned a war exercise to gage the feasibility of an attack against Iran. The  2002 Millennium Challenge,  was a major war game exercise conducted by the United States Armed Forces in mid-2002. The exercise, which ran from July 24 to August 15 and cost $250 million,  proved that the US would not defeat Iran.   The US  even restarted the war games changing rules to ensure an American victory, in reality, cheating itself.  This led to accusations that the war game had turned from an honest, open, playtest of U.S. war-fighting capabilities into a controlled and scripted exercise intended to end in a U.S. victory to promote a false narrative of US invincibility.

For this reason, the United States continued its attempts at undermining Iran’s sovereignty by means of sanctions, terror, and creating divisions among the Iranians. The JCPOA would be its master plan.

A simple observation of Iran clearly suggests simple ideological divisions among the Iranian people (pro-West, anti-West, minorities, religious, secular) which have all been amply exploited by the United States and allies. None of the exploits delivered the prize the US was seeking.  And so it was that it was decided to exploit the one factor which united Iranians of ALL persuasion.  Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

In an interview with National Public Radio (25 November 2004), Ray Takyeh (Council on Foreign Relations CFR and husband to Iran expert Suzanne Maloney  of Brookings) stated that according to polls 75-80% of the Iranians rallied behind the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of its nuclear program, including the full fuel cycle.   In other words, the overwhelming uniting factor among the Iranians for the Islamic Republic was the nuclear program.  (USIA poll conducted in 2007 found that 64% of those questioned said that US legislation repealing regime change in Iran would not be incentive enough to give up the nuclear program and full fuel-cycle).    The next phase was to cause disunity on an issue that united Iranians of all stripes:  negotiate away the nuclear program.

The first round of nuclear negotiations 2003-2005 dubbed the Paris Agreement between Iran and the EU3 proved to be futile, and as  one European diplomat put it: “We gave them a beautiful box of chocolate that was, however, empty.”  As West’s fortune would have it, the same Iranian officials who had participated in the 2003-2005 negotiations would negotiate the JCPOA.

Around the time of the end of the first round of negotiations, another Brookings Fellow, Flynt Leverett , senior advisor for National Security Center, published a book “Inheriting Syria, Bashar’s Trial by Fire” (Brookings book publication, April 2005).  In his book, Leverett argued that instead of conflict, George W. Bush should seek to cooperate with Syria as Assad was popular, but instead seek to weaken Assad’s position among his people by targeting the Golan (induce him to give it up) so that he would lose popularity among the Syrians.   The JCPOA was designed in part along the same line of thinking.   And more.  His wife Hillary Leverett had a prominent role in ‘selling’ the Deal.

Secret negotiations between the Americans and ‘reform-minded’ Iranians never ceased, bypassing both Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, and the President at the time – Mahmood Ahmadinejad.  In a 2012 meeting at the University of Southern California, present members of the Iran Project team had no reservations about suggesting that it was more beneficial to engage Iran rather than attack.  They went as far as stating in the Q&A session to this writer that “they had been engaged with the “Green” (the opposition movement in the failed 2009 color revolution) for years, but Ahmadinejad won” (referring to the 2009 elections).  But Ahmadinejad would soon leave office and be replaced by Rohani – a more amenable player.

Why Negotiate?

Fully appreciating the challenge of attacking Iran, in 2004, the pro-Israel  Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), presented its policy paper “The Challenges of U.S. Preventive Military Action” authored by Michael Eisenstadt.   It was opined that the ideal situation was (and continues to be) to have a compliant ‘regime’ in Tehran.   Eisenstadt was of the opinion that unlike the Osiraq nuclear power plant which was bombed and destroyed, Isarel/US would not be able to bomb Iran’s Bushehr reactor with the same ease.  In particular, Eisenstadt claimed that Israel may have benefited from French aid in destroying Osiraq. French intelligence reportedly emplaced a homing beacon at Osiraq to help Israeli pilots locate the facility or target a critical underground structure there.U.S.-Israeli Threats against Iran: U.S. Imperialist Agenda Behind the Iran “Nuclear Negotiations”

In this light, it was recommended that the principal goal of U.S. action should be to delay Iran’s nuclear program long enough to allow for the possible emergence of new leadership in Tehran.  Failing that, war would have been facilitated.

It was thought the Paris Agreement talks would fail (as the JCPOA was designed to fail) and as such, the following were some of the suggestions made:

  • harassment or murder of key Iranian scientists or technicians;
  • introduction of fatal design flaws into critical reactor, centrifuge, or weapons components during their production, to ensure catastrophic failure during use;
  • disruption or interdiction of key technology or material transfers through sabotage or covert military actions on land, in the air, or at sea;
  • sabotage of critical facilities by U.S. intelligence assets, including third country nationals or Iranian agents with access to key facilities;
  • introduction of destructive viruses into Iranian computer systems controlling the production of components or the operation of facilities;
  • damage or destruction of critical facilities through sabotage or direct action by U.S. special forces.

As with the murder and terror of the nuclear scientists, and the Stuxnet virus into the reactor, the JCPOA enabled personnel on the ground in Iran to carry out extensive sabotage as has been recently observed in recent days and weeks.  Rohani’s visa free travel opened the flood gates to spies and saboteurs – dual citizens,  who easily traveled with passports other than American, British, and Australian.  Iran even managed to prevent an IAEA inspector who triggered an alarm at Iran’s nuclear facility.  But it would seem, Iran has not been able to stop other intruders and terrorists – not yet.

Other Motivational Factors for Negotiating

According to studies, as of 2008 Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor had 82 tons of enriched uranium (U235) loaded into it, according to Israeli and Chinese reports.  This amount was significantly higher pre and during negotiations.  History has not witnessed the bombing of a nuclear power plant with an operational nuclear enrichment facility.  Deliberate bombing of such facilities would result breach containment and radioactive elements released.  The death toll horrifying.  The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated 3 million deaths would result in 3 weeks from bombing the nuclear enrichment facilities near Esfahan, and the contamination would cover Afghanistan, Pakistan, all the way to India.

The JCPOA significantly reduced the amount of enriched uranium reducing the potential casualty deaths in the event that a strike is carried out.

The Deal buys time –  Iran’s strength has been its ability to retaliate to any attack by closing down the Strait of Hormuz. Given that 17 million barrels of oil a day, or 35% of the world’s seaborne oil exports go through the Strait of Hormuz, incidents in the Strait would be fatal for the world economy. Enter Nigeria (West Africa) and Yemen.

In 1998, Clinton’s national security agenda made it clear that unhampered access to Nigerian oil and other vital resources was a key US policy. In early 2000s, Chatham House was one of the publications that determined African oil would be a good alternate to Persian Gulf oil in case of oil disruption. This followed a strategy paper for US to move toward African oil. Push for African oil was on Dick Cheney’s desk on May 31, 2000. In 2002, the Israeli based IASPS suggested America push toward African oil. In the same year Boko Haram was ‘founded’.

In 2007, AFRICOM helped consolidate this push into the region. The 2011, a publication titled: “Globalizing West African Oil: US ‘energy security’ and the global economy” outlined ‘US positioning itself to use military force to ensure African oil continued to flow to the United States’. This was but one strategy to supply oil in addition to or as an alternate to the passage of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.  (See HERE for full article)

JCPOA as a starting point

It has now been made abundantly clear that the Deal was simply JCPOA1.  Other Deals were to follow to disarm Iran even further, to stop Iran’s defensive missile program, and to stop Iran helping its allies in the region.   This would have been relatively easy to achieve had Hillary Clinton been elected – as had been the hope.  The plan was to allow trade and neoliberal polices which the Rohani administration readily embraced, a sharp increase in imports (harming domestic production and self-reliance) while building hope – or as Maloney called it ‘crisis of expectation’.   It was thought that with a semblance of ‘normalcy’ in international relations and free of sanctions, Iranians would want to continue abandoning their sovereignty, their defenses, and rally around the pro-West/America politicians at the expense of the core ideology of the Islamic Revolution, the conservatives and the IRGC.   In other words, regime change.  (several meetings speak to this; see for example, and here).

The players

The most prominent, one could argue, was President Obama.  Obama was not about peace.   The biggest threat to an empire is peace.  Obama had chosen feigned diplomacy as his weapon.   But before picking up the mantle of diplomacy, he had proposed terrorism – sanctioned terrorism.  Obama, while a junior senator introduced S. 1430 in 2007  and had “crippling sanctions” in mind for the Iranian people.   As president, his executive orders assured this.

Addressing AIPAC as a candidate, he said: “Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to mobilize others to join our cause. If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States it will be clear to the people of Iran and to the world that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation and that will strengthen our hand with Russia and China as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council. And we should work with Europe, Japan, and the Gulf States to find every avenue outside the United Nations to isolate the Iranian regime from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran to boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard whose Kuds forces have rightly been labeled a terrorist organization.”

No wonder he was dubbed ‘the first Jewish president’!

Not to be left unmentioned was the darling of the theatrics of this Deal – Federica Mogherini.  So enamored were some of the Iranian parliamentarians with her that to the embarrassment of Iran, the internet was abuzz with these MPs taking pictures with her.   Perhaps they looked at her and not her years as a German Marshall Fund Fellow.

The German Marshall Fund (GMF) sounds harmless enough, but perhaps Russia many not view it that way.  And Iran shouldn’t.  The GMF pushed for bringing Ukraine into NATO’s fold. Furthermore, the GMF gives funding to American Abroad Media.    AMA boasts of some of the most dangerous anti-Iran neoconservatives who have shaped America’s policies such as Dennis Ross, James Woolsey, Martin Indyk (responsible for the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act later to  become ISA and still in place after the JCPOA), Tom Pickering (one of the main proponents of the Iran Deal and member of the Iran Project). Supporters are not limited to the GMF. Others include Rockerfeller, Ford Foundation, and NED.

And a most active proponent of the JCPOA was none other than NED recipient, Trita Parsi/NIAC. Trita Parsi was personally thanked for his role in pushing the JCPOA through.  Job well done for a 3 time recipient of NED funds. No wonder the George Soros – Koch foundation Quincy Institute selected him as their Executive Vice President.

And last but not least, Hillary Mann Leverett (wife of aforementioned Flynn Leverett) who persuaded her audiences that the JCPOA was akin to “Nixon going to China”. While some in Iran naively believed this to be the case, and even defended her, they failed to realize that when Nixon went to China it was to bring China on board against Russia. And Israel was not a player. It was not an opening to befriend Iran any more than Nixon’s trip had altruist motivations.

Russia and China’s role

The Russians and the Chinese were so eager to embrace a long-awaited peace after all the calamity caused by the United States that they fully embraced this Deal, even though it was detrimental to their interests in so doing.

America’s animosity and never-ending schemes encouraged cooperation between Russia, China, and Iran. Although the lifting of sanctions post JCPOA would have facilitated trade and enhanced diplomacy between Iran and the West, at a cost to China and Russia, they  stood steadfast by the Deal. Peace was more valuable.  But far more importantly, the two powerful nations allowed the United States to be the arbitrator of an international treaty – the NPT.

During the Shah’s reign, President Ford had signed onto a National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM 292, 1975) allowing and encouraging Iran to not only enrich uranium, but sell it to neighboring countries to profit America. The United States then decided that since the Islamic Republic of Iran did not serve the interests of the United States, the United States would determine how the NPT should apply to Iran.

But their efforts at peace and the West’s efforts at regime change all came to naught. What is important to bear in mind is that America’s efforts at war, sabotage, and terrorism have not ended. Imposing unilateral sanctions – terrorism against the Iranian people, has not ceased. Although the Iranian people and their selected representative in the new Iranian parliament are far more aware of, and have an aversion to America’s ploys and the Deal, China and Russia must do their part not only as guarantors of peace, but also to maintain their integrity in a world where both aspire to live in multilateralism. The world already has a super power without morals and integrity; it does not need other great powers that act similarly.

Iran has fended off another assault on its sovereignty. However,  saboteurs and terrorists are soliciting war with their recent string of terrorism in Iran. As the fifth anniversary of this trap approaches, the world needs to understand and step up in order to defend peace, international law and social justice. The future of all depends on it.

And to American compatriots: Make sure Trump understands war will not get him re-elected.

Posted in USA, Europe, IranComments Off on JCPOA: The Iran Nuclear Deal that Wasn’t

China’s Growing Influence in Central Asia and the Middle East Will Lead to Further US Decline

By Shane Quinn

China’s increasing presence on the international scene is an undeniable threat to the US-led world order. Critical to China’s emergence as a major power this century, has been its widening influence in the Central Asian states. Central Asia, rich in mineral reserves, is among the earth’s most strategically important regions. Control over Central Asia ensures access to raw materials such as oil or gas, while it stands as a “guardpost” against US hegemony over the Persian Gulf further south.

Considerably bigger in size than India, Central Asia consists of five nations, by far the largest is Kazakhstan followed by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Central Asia remains sparsely populated with just over 70 million people in total; this is mainly because 60% of its land mass comprises of desert terrain; yet it is studded also with little known, towering peaks and vast, treeless steppes. Central Asia is bordered by Russia and China to the north and east; to the west lies the Caucasus and Caspian Sea; while the energy laden Middle East is not far to the south-west.

Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell had said as early as February 2002,

“America will have a continuing interest and presence in Central Asia of a kind that we could not have dreamed of before [9/11]”.

Indeed, 9/11 was an ideal pretext to be exploited in order to further Washington’s aims for global supremacy. However, the dream that Powell spoke of regarding Central Asia ended six years ago. In July 2014, the Pentagon was compelled to leave its last remaining Central Asian base in Kyrgyzstan – which US forces were utilising for over 12 years – after the Kyrgyz parliament voted in favour of evicting US forces.

In December 2001 the American military had taken over the Manas Air Base in northern Kyrgyzstan, located near the capital Bishkek, in order to assist operations in the illegal war it was waging in Afghanistan a few hundreds miles south (1). The Kyrgyzstani government preferred instead pursuing closer relations with Russia and China. Much of the thinking behind the US presence in Kyrgyzstan, was to provide a platform for commanding oil or gas reserves in surrounding areas, along with curbing Chinese and Russian designs in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is strategically situated; it shares a 660 mile frontier with Xinjiang, China’s crucially significant north-western province.

Contrary to what was often claimed, the October 2001 US-run invasion of Afghanistan had been planned months before the 9/11 attacks. In mid-July 2001 American officials told Pakistan’s former Foreign Secretary, Niaz Naik, that the Pentagon was preparing an attack on Afghanistan, scheduled to be launched in October of that year (2). It takes longer than four weeks to prepare an invasion of a sizeable country, let alone one on the other side of the world. Afghanistan, which lies adjacent to the Middle East, was viewed by Western politicians and their corporate executive bosses as a major pipeline route; through which natural resources could be sent originating from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. Among the real reasons for the “war on terror” was to reinforce US hegemony over crucial territories, along with command over the raw materials of the Middle East, Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

American dominance of Central Asia and the South Caucasus, both formerly part of the USSR, further weakened Russia and was seen moreover as important to the “success” of the war in Afghanistan. The South Caucasus states, Georgia and Azerbaijan, were pawns in the transport of heavy US weaponry and NATO troops bound for Afghanistan. Azerbaijan, bordering Iran, could be used also as a launchpad for US forces should they get the green light to invade Iran.

The prominent Polish-American diplomat, Zbigniew Brzezinski, recognised that mastery over Central Asia is pivotal to holding sway over encompassing areas (3). China’s pre-eminence today in Central Asia would therefore have caused considerable concern for Brzezinski. Beijing is gradually constructing a 21st century Silk Road, with the intent not only to increasingly draw Central Asia under Chinese influence, but of extending its clout to the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean. China is already the largest investor in Central Asia and now the Middle East.

This latter region, the Middle East, contains 48% of the planet’s known oil reserves and 43% of all natural gas sources (4). It has long been highly prized. In April 1941, British prime minister Winston Churchill outlined in a directive to the war cabinet that “the loss of Egypt and the Middle East would be a disaster of the first magnitude for Great Britain, second only to successful invasion and final conquest [of the UK]” (5). US planners believed that ascendancy over the Middle East would grant a nation “substantial control of the world”, as noted in May 1951 by Adolf Berle, president Franklin Roosevelt’s former close adviser; Berle’s opinion was supported by General Dwight Eisenhower, soon to be president, who called the Middle East “the most strategically important area in the world”. (6)

The US State Department previously identified Saudi Arabia and its oil as “one of the greatest material prizes in world history” (7). In February 1944, Roosevelt himself informed the British ambassador to the US, Lord Halifax, that the oil of Iran “is yours. We share the oil of Iraq and Kuwait. As for Saudi Arabian oil, it’s ours”.US Plans to Break Up China: CIA Funding for Terrorists, Narco-trafficking and Proxies

Nearby resource rich Iran, of similar importance to Saudi Arabia, has remained outside of US domination since 1979 and consequently is classed as a menace; despite the fact that Saudi human rights abuses are much worse in comparison to Iran. China has been Iran’s largest trading partner for years. In 2019 for example, Iranian investments with China amounted to at least $20 billion and Beijing is the top purchaser of crude oil from Iran. At the root of the ongoing shrill criticisms by the West pertaining to Chinese policies, is down to Beijing’s growing challenge to US power which is under pressure across the globe.

Over the past decade Beijing has completed expansive infrastructure in Central Asia, such as the Central Asia-China gas pipeline, that is over 2,200 miles long. It stretches across Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before reaching its destination in China’s Xinjiang province. Turkmenistan contains the fourth biggest natural gas reserves in the world, and is the greatest supplier of that resource to China. Turkmenistan’s largest investor by far is China, and last year almost 90% of her exports were sold to Beijing (8). While Washington was wielding its sledgehammer this century, China has engineered ambitious financial projects and the development of alliances on a grand scale.

Beijing is aware of the historical and strategic importance of Central Asia to its neighbour Russia, and has treaded carefully. Since the Soviet Union’s demise in 1991, Chinese strategies in Central Asia have largely been complimentary and cooperative with Moscow (9). Successful early efforts to overcome border disputes was a factor behind Beijing founding the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 1996 alongside Russia – with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan likewise joining this association at its outset, in their stated goals of tackling terrorism and separatism. The CIA and Pentagon were already supporting covert operations by extremist networks with links to Osama bin Laden in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans; Washington was in addition using foreign operatives to promote instability in Central Asia. (10)

For one of the major powers, it is striking that China has very little history of committing armed aggression, i.e., attacks on other countries, proxy wars, and so on. This stands in contrast to its Western rivals such as the United States, which initiated a number of destructive invasions within the past 60 years: In Vietnam and Indochina, along with the more recent assaults on Iraq (twice), Afghanistan and Libya. China’s refusal to engage in large-scale military offensives has been such that the prominent US strategic analysts, John Steinbruner and Nancy Gallagher, early this century called on an alliance of peace-loving nations – led by China – to be formed so as to counter American militarism. (11)

A generation ago, Washington could scarcely believe its luck as the Soviet Union disintegrated without a single shot fired. Soviet Russia’s economy had been stagnating since the 1970s, partly because of efforts in matching the vast arms expenditure of the wealthier US. For Western policy makers, the Soviet Union’s existence had blocked the way to the tantalising mineral resources of the Caucasus, Caspian Sea and Central Asia. President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Energy, Bill Richardson, said frankly in 1998 that the one-time Soviet republics were “all about America’s energy security. We would like to see them reliant on Western commercial and political investment in the Caspian, and it’s very important to us that the pipeline map and the politics come out right”. (12)

In September 1997, the Pentagon dispatched hundreds of its troops by parachute to the deserts of Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s most influential country. It was a provocative move and statement of intent, reputed to be the longest airborne operation in military history at the time. By February 2002, Washington had established military bases in all of the Central Asian countries, and at that stage controlled the region. The US was seeking also to undermine and destabilise China, as it is today, by fostering separatist movements who wish to detach territories like Xinjiang from the rest of China. This would leave China a fractured nation but it is highly unlikely to occur.

Xinjiang, China’s biggest province, is pivotal to Beijing’s aspirations. Throughout this century, Xinjiang has been the second largest oil producing area of China, behind Heilongjiang province. Xinjiang furthermore is China’s main entry point into Central Asia, while there are long-held plans by Beijing to connect the city of Kashgar, in western Xinjiang, over a thousand miles south towards the Arabian Sea, at Pakistan’s port of Gwadar. The proposed Gwadar-Kashgar oil pipeline is currently undergoing assessment, and expected to receive approval for a length of 2,414 kilometres, equivalent to 1,400 miles (13). The Chinese government desires its commencement as quickly as possible, and construction may start by the year 2023. Gwadar lies a short distance from the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf, some of the most vital oil shipping lanes. Yet logistics for the Gwadar-Kashgar pipeline will be arduous, as it must bypass rocky areas and high mountain passes.

China’s maritime deliveries, which account for about 80% of its oil imports, travel over round-about distances of up to 10,000 miles. These shipments take between eight to 12 weeks to arrive at the port of Shanghai in eastern China. A Chinese pipeline to Gwadar would reduce this distance to less than 2,000 miles, and allow Beijing to avoid waters patrolled by US destroyers. Most significantly, the Gwadar-Kashgar pipeline would assist China in continuing to broaden its scope in the Middle East. Were this to be achieved, further US global decline could only unfold. American power in the Middle East has regressed this century, in large part self-inflicted because of its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Middle East is central to the progress of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese have advanced again here through non-military means, and with caution, outlining to their war weary Middle East counterparts that they wish to pursue policies of dialogue and financial investments. Beijing has steered clear of regional hostilities in the Middle East, in order not to stoke more unrest in a land greatly destabilised by the US-led wars and spawning of terrorist organisations. In January 2020 Yasser Elnaggar, an experienced Egyptian diplomat and scholar, noted that, “the economies of the Middle East are shifting away from their longstanding ties with the US toward economically powerful China – a move that may have long-term implications for the economic and political dynamics of the region” (14). Elnaggar discerned that the Middle East and North African nations “welcomed China and its financing models with open arms”.

Various leaders in the Middle East have visited Beijing on more than one occasion since 2014. Many of the trips involved the ratification of significant economic agreements, connected to the Belt and Road Initiative. The Americans have been notable in their absence from these deals. A number of the contracts signed relate to clean energy projects, as the Middle East and North African states align their development plans with the Belt and Road, exploring alternatives to fossil fuels. Elnaggar writes that, “China, and not the US, is emerging as a leader in this field and is actively seeking to promote green development” while “China has become the largest investor” in the Middle East “and the most sought after”.

US involvement in the Middle East has of course primarily been concerned with oil. This was one of the reasons, often conveniently forgotten, that Washington had previously supported Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator; that is, when Saddam was amenable to their interests. That relationship had changed by the beginning of the 21st century.

Moniz Bandeira, the Brazilian historian and intellectual, wrote that,

“Iraq didn’t threaten the United States or any other country of the West. Instead, it threatened American and British oil companies. Saddam Hussein had signed contracts with the large Russian company Lukoil, was in negotiations with Total from France, and had begun to replace the dollar by the euro as the currency for oil transactions. His removal would make room for the entry of British and American firms such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and British Petroleum”. (15)

This received scant mention, and pro-war mainstream press coverage was an important factor in the US invasion going ahead on 20 March 2003. Moniz Bandeira recalled how “a massive disinformation campaign to tie Saddam Hussein to the September 11 attacks” ensued, while “the invasion of Iraq was sold to the public through a complicit media”.

Secret documents from March 2001 – which the US Department of Commerce was forced to declassify in the summer of 2003 – reveals that an “energy task force” headed by Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, had developed two extensive maps pertaining to Iraq: Sketching the oil fields, pipelines, refineries and terminals they would oversee there (16). Cheney had close ties to the oil industry, and two other maps were drawn up by his task force, detailing the projects and companies that wanted to manage the oil in Iraq. This was planned two years before the actual invasion of that country and, it can be added, prior also to 9/11.

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Notes

1 Casey Michel, “US power on the wane in Central Asia”, Al Jazeera, 17 July 2014

2 John Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World (Verso Books, 20 Feb. 2003), p. 109

3 Pilger, The New Rulers Of The World, p. 116

4 Henry K. H. Wang, Energy Markets in Emerging Economies: Strategies for growth (Routledge; 1 edition, 1 August 2016), p. 232

5 Donald J. Goodspeed, The German Wars (Random House Value Publishing, 3 April 1985), p. 381

6 Noam Chomsky, Who Rules The World? (Metropolitan Books, Penguin Books Ltd, Hamish Hamilton, 5 May 2016), pp. 44/45

7 Office Of The Historian, Foreign Relations Of The United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1945, The Near East And Africa, Volume VIII, 9 October 1945

8 Daniel Workman, “Turkmenistan’s Top 10 Exports”, World’s Top Exports, 1 June 2020

9 Ian J. Lynch, “What Are The Implications Of China’s Growing Security Role In Central Asia?” The Diplomat, 3 June 2020

10 Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira, The Second Cold War: Geopolitics and the Strategic Dimensions of the USA, (Springer 1st ed., 23 June 2017), pp. 67 & 69

11 Noam Chomsky, Optimism Over Despair (Penguin; 01 edition, 27 July 2017), p. 12

12 Aleksandar Jokic, Burleigh Wilkins, Lessons of Kosovo: The Dangers of Humanitarian Intervention (Broadview Press, 26 Feb. 2003), p. 126

13 Hellenic Shipping News, “Asia and Middle East set to contribute 30% of global new-build crude oil trunk pipeline length additions by 2023, says GlobalData”, 14 January 2020

14 Yasser Elnaggar, “China’s growing role in the Middle East”, Middle East Institute, 9 January 2020

15 Moniz Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 81

16 Ibid.

Posted in Middle East, China, South AsiaComments Off on China’s Growing Influence in Central Asia and the Middle East Will Lead to Further US Decline

The Dogs of Empire!

By Philip A Farruggio

All Americans of any persuasion need to search the archives of both the Nazi Holocaust and the 1950- 1960s Civil Rights movement. One will see, quite vividly, the use of trained, tough and violent dogs on unarmed civilians. In Germany it was Jews and political rivals (Communists and Social Democrats) that were set upon by men with sticks and whips leading those vicious dogs. In the south, circa the 50s and 60s, the same scenario held true. Well, under this current far right wing, Neo Fascist (Neo Nazi?) administration, private companies have secured ‘Blackwater type’ goons, replete with their weapons and trained dogs (read Jeremy Scahill’s brilliant 2007 book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army).

Case in point is what happened in September of 2016 in North Dakota at the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site. Indigenous tribal members, along with other peaceful protestors, concerned with the damage to their lands and clean water, raised hell in a protracted struggle to stop the pipeline. The hired thugs and their dogs, along with lots of pepper spray, attacked  the unarmed, peaceful , but vehement group. All in a day’s work, yes?

You Don’t Own Me?

My title seems to refer to dogs. In reality, who are the dogs in question? Man’s best friend was NOT born mean, rather had to be taught so. I guess you can say the same for the goons that are always available to do the bidding of the empire. Sometimes the goons are from the same race and class as those they attack. One can study India, before independence, to see how the low level indigenous police were used by the Brits to ‘Keep the rabble in line’. The Brits were shrewder than we here in Amerika. Here it became, for God knows how long (still?), whereupon whites did the policing everywhere, including in the minority sections of towns. If one looks at the footage of that North Dakota 2016 pipeline protest, you won’t see any non whites shooting the pepper spray as they sicced their dogs.

It seems our empire always has a full supply of ‘Dogs’ to do their bidding. Sadly, if one could study the US grunts, our ‘Boots on the ground’, from Iraq (phony wars) 1 and 2 and Afghanistan, one sees the race and class of the overwhelming majority of them.

In my recent interview with Dr. TP Wilkinson on his history of policing in Amerika, we learn that these original ‘Dogs’ were called the Slave Patrols in the south. They were hired by the plantation owners to go and find runaway slaves and bring them back… for a bounty.

After the Civil War local police in All parts of Amerika were used primarily to ‘Keep watch’ on the factories and businesses of the super rich, to, well, ‘Keep the rabble (unions and striking workers) in line’. This has continued throughout the decades, from the coal mining areas, the agricultural fields, factory assembly lines… anywhere that the super rich employ lower paid drones to punch out products for their enormous profits.

It never changes. Why? Well, when you have a ‘Bought and paid for’ Two Party/One Party con job, there is little or NO representation for working stiffs. Never was. One hopes that someday, as in the great John Sayles 1987 film classic Matawan, about the 1920 Mingo County, West Virginia coal miners’ strike, those who are supposed to ‘ Serve and Protect’ do so for working stiffs FIRST!

Don’t just blame the dogs of empire… blame those who enticed them to do those evil deeds also.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Dogs of Empire!

Iran to Support Syria with Air Defense to Repel US, Nazi Attacks

By South Front

Iran will help to strengthen Syrian air defense capabilities as part of a wider military security agreement between the two countries, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said on July 8. The statement was made after the signing of a new military cooperation agreement in Damascus.

The agreement provides for the expansion of military and security cooperation and the continuation of coordination between the Armed Forces of the two countries. Major General Baqeri said that the signed deal “increases our will to work together in the face of US pressure.”

“If the American administrations had been able to subjugate Syria, Iran and the axis of resistance, they would not have hesitated for a moment,” he said.

The major general emphasized that Israel is a “powerful partner” of the US in the war against Syria, claiming that terrorist groups constituted part of the Israeli aggression.

In their turn, the United States and Israel insist that Iran and Hezbollah are responsible for the destabilization of Syria and prepare what they call ‘terrorist attacks’ against the US and Israel. In the framework of this approach, Israel, with direct and indirect help from the US, regularly conducts strikes on various supposedly ‘Iranian targets’ across Syria. Often these strikes concur with large-scale attacks of al-Qaeda-linked groups and ISIS on positions of the Syrian Army and its allies. One of the main points of Israeli concern is the growing military infrastructure of pro-Iranian forces near al-Bukamal, on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Therefore, the announced move by Iran to boost Syrian air defenses, including possible deployment of additional air defense systems, is a logical step for them to take to protect their own interests.Video: Israeli Military Continues Strikes on SyriaVideo Player00:0003:45

Clashes between the Syrian Army and Turkish-backed militants were ongoing in western Aleppo late on July 8 and early on July 9. According to pro-militant sources, the army destroyed at least one bulldozer and killed 2 members of the National Front for Liberation. Turkish proxies insist that their mortar strikes on army positions also led to casualties.

In southern Idlib, the Syrian Army shelled positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham near Ruwaihah after the terrorist group sent additional reinforcements there under the cover of the ceasefire regime. On the morning of July 9th, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham units continued their deployment in the area. Since the signing of the March 5 ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Russia, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has been openly working to strengthen its positions in southern Idlib. Despite the successes in the conducting of joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the M4 highway, which even reached Jisr al-Shughur, the highway itself and the agreed security zone area along it in fact remain in the hands of Idlib militants.

Pro-ISIS sources claimed that the terrorist group’s cells have ambushed a unit of pro-government forces in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert destroying at least one vehicle. These claims have yet to be confirmed. However, the situation in central Syria has recently deteriorated due to the increase in ISIS attacks and government forces are now conducting active security operations there.

Posted in Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, Iran, SyriaComments Off on Iran to Support Syria with Air Defense to Repel US, Nazi Attacks

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