Archive | July 12th, 2020

Hey Congress, Move the Money

by DAVID SWANSON

The past month’s activism has changed a great deal. One thing it’s helped with is brushing aside the tired old argument over whether government should be big or small. In its place we have the much more useful argument over whether government should prioritize force and punishment, or focus on services and assistance.

If we want local and state governments that provide experts in de-escalating conflict, professionals to assist those with drug addictions or mental illness, and skilled experts at handling traffic or responding to various sorts of emergencies, the funding is easily and logically found. It’s sitting in the oversized budgets for armed policing and incarceration.

At the level of the federal government, an even bigger opportunity exists to move money from institutionalized deadly force to all variety of human and environmental needs. While police and prisons are a small percentage of local and state spending, the U.S. government is expected to spend, in its discretionary budget in 2021, $740 billion on the military and $660 billion on absolutely everything else: environmental protections, energy, education, transportation, diplomacy, housing, agriculture, science, disease pandemics, parks, foreign (non-weapons) aid, etc.

No other nation spends even half what the United States does on militarism. Russia spends less than 9 percent and Iran a bit over 1 percent (comparing 2019 budgets). China’s military budget is roughly on the scale of U.S. police and prison spending — nothing like U.S. military spending.

U.S. military spending has soared during the past 20 years, and the wars it has generated have proved counter-productive and extremely difficult to end. This focus seems to have done very little to protect anyone from COVID-19, from environmental disaster, from the risk of nuclear disaster, from unsafe workplaces, from all the suffering inflicted by poverty, or from the lack of comprehensive healthcare.

In both houses of Congress right now amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act are gathering support that would reduce next year’s $740 billion budget for militarism by 10 percent for the purpose of redirecting those funds to wiser purposes. Moving $74 billion would result in a budget of $666 billion for militarism and $734 billion for everything else.

Where could the money come from, specifically? Well, the Pentagon is the one department that has never passed an audit, but we do have some idea of where some of the money goes. For example, simply ending the war on Afghanistan that candidate Donald Trump promised to end four years ago would save a large percentage of that $74 billion. Or you could save almost $69 billion by eliminating the off-the-books slush fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account (because the word “wars” didn’t test as well in focus groups).

There’s $150 billion per year in overseas bases, many of them bitterly resented, some of them propping up brutal dictatorships. For that matter there’s the military training and funding of oppressive foreign militaries by the U.S. government. There’s also such out-of-control weapons buying that unwanted weapons are unloaded onto local police departments.

Where could the money go? It could have a major impact on the United States or the world. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2016, it would take $69.4 billion per year to lift all U.S. families with children up to the poverty line. According to the United Nations, $30 billion per year could end starvation on earth, and about $11 billion could provide the world, including the United States, with clean drinking water.

Does knowing those figures, even if they’re slightly or wildly off, throw any doubt on the idea that spending $740 billion on weapons and troops is a security measure? Some 95% of suicide terrorist attacks are directed against foreign military occupations, while 0% are motivated by anger over the provision of food or clean water. Are there perhaps things a country can do to protect itself that don’t involve weapons?

Moving money from militarism to other investments can be economically beneficial, and certainly all necessary steps to assist people in the transition would cost a small fraction of the money involved.

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Obamacare Vulnerable

by RICHARD C. GROSS

Photograph Source: Pete Souza – Public Domain

And now something else wicked this way comes in the midst of a pandemic that has killed upwards of 125,000 Americans: Donald Trump and his cohort of loyal Republicans has asked the Supreme Court to terminate the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Trump and his allies have spat in the face of all those who have signed up for Obamacare and those who are considering applying for it merely four months before voters go to the polls.

There’s something new and unexpected nearly every day with this mercurial, vindictive president, and it usually portends something bad. It’s exhausting. He’s apparently determined to do everything he can to undo what President Barack Obama accomplished, perhaps concerned this may be his last chance.

Republicans have tried to get rid of the decade-old Obamacare many times because they just won’t let go of their ideological determination to get government out of people’s lives, regardless of the cost. Their timing now, with a surge in coronavirus cases, raises questions of how much more despicable can they get.

Elimination of Obamacare would mean 23 million Americans would lose their health insurance, says the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington policy organization. Thousands of people switched to Obamacare in the past few months because of their loss of insurance as a result of being dismissed or furloughed from their jobs due to COVID-19, which is caused by the virus. Trump and his Republicans went about as low as they can go by striking when people are down, their lives at risk.

It’s not enough that Americans have been dealing with a deadly disease that has meant job and income losses for millions of people; widespread lockdowns that have closed schools, precipitating concerns that many children, chiefly in low income areas, are not learning properly and may be stuck with online classes again in the fall; and getting involved as never before in a fight for police reform and justice for African Americans.

“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement.

Consider cruelty: Merriam-Webster defines it as someone “disposed to inflict pain or suffering: devoid of human feelings.” Sounds like someone we all know.

It’s worth noting that cruelty was a player in Trump’s “The Apprentice” TV reality show because the upshot of the game was someone getting fired, which is a sad ending for the one getting tossed. Getting fired is a last resort any employer with a sense of decency would want to inflict on an employee. But it’s easy to see, watching Trump in real life for nearly four years and witnessing all of the people he has dismissed, how he must delight in saying “You’re fired.”

It may happen to him come November 3.

The first sign of his meanness surfaced early in his presidency when the bully in him stood at a lectern and mocked the heartrending physical disability of a handicapped New York Times reporter. Most people would flinch inwardly in empathy for the newsman.

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA near midnight Thursday when most everyone east of the Mississippi was asleep or in bed watching late night TV comedy shows or reading. They didn’t wake in the morning to good news.

Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco asked the Supreme Court to strike down the ACA because the individual mandate became unconstitutional when it was deleted from the law in 2017. Therefore, he argued, the entire law is invalid, The Washington Post reported.

What it means, in the Republican view, is that protection in the law for those with preexisting conditions also should be invalidated.

The court probably won’t consider the case until the fall term, when COVID-19 still will be around, if the current huge spikes in incidents of the disease are any guide.

Should the court side with the Republicans and eliminate the ACA, the GOP does not have an alternative with which to replace it. If Democrats win the White House in November, it will be up to them to enact a new health insurance law next year. But they would have to capture the Senate as well as retain the House.

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“Into the World of Bad Spirits”: Slavery and Plantation Culture

by MICHAEL WELTON

Between 1500 and 1880 ten to eleven million Africans were moved by force and terror into “new worlds.” Sir Philip Sherlock and Hazel Bennett write of the immensity of the “physical suffering, anguish of spirit and unbearable cruelty” of their lot “from the time of … capture” (The Story of the Jamaican People [1997, p. 122]). Chained together in the “floating tombs,” Africans were bound for a strange land and doomed to serve a strange owner of another race for life. Gordon Lewis, author of the monumental Main Currents in Caribbean Thought: the historical evolution of Caribbean society in its ideological aspects, 1492-1900 [1983, p. 5], comments: “Caribbean society thus became a society of masters and slaves. It constituted open and systematic exploitation of chattel labour, therefore, based, in the final resort on the psychology of terror.”

The structure of plantation society

The entire system of slavery could not have been sustained over so many centuries without the prevalent European belief in their racial superiority. It wasn’t just the crude and ignorant planter class who were racists. The great white philosophers Kant and Hegel ascribed to the myth of European superiority. In Culture and Imperialism [1993], Edward Said observes, too, that great English novelists like Jane Austen simply took-for-granted the plantation system. Her stories, set within England’s “great houses,” assume the exploitative plantation system as backdrop. In an article, “The measuring rod of history” (Daily Observer, November 28, 1996, p. 6), Sherlock quotes Basil Davidson, the celebrated Africanist.

Davidson claims that the doctrine of black inferiority “was not a mistake, a misunderstanding of a grievous deviation from the proper norms of behaviours. It was not an accident of human error. It was not unthinking reversion to barbarism. On the contrary this racism was conceived as the moral justification, the necessary justification for doing to black people what church and state no longer thought it permissible to do to white people; the justification for enslaving black people, that is, when it was no longer permissible to enslave white people…a growing number of scholars have accepted that the study of Africa’s past is not only possible, but is also useful and even indispensable to any understanding of the general condition of humanity, whether Africa or not.”

The Atlantic slave trade (mercantile capitalism) was very lucrative for Europe. “King sugar” ruled. Sherlock and Bennett observe that the “West Indian sugar-and-slave plantation brought into existence a special kind of society created for sugar; Jamaican customs and culture were fashioned by sugar; sugar for two hundred years, was the only reason behind Jamaica’s existence as a centre for human habitation” (The story, p. 157). In this society of exiles, there was hardly any “genuine community, with common interests binding all members into a coherent civic whole, with common values and common aspirations” (Lewis, Main currents, p. 6). Sherlock and Bennet note conflicts between black/white slave maser; slaver quarters/great house; provision ground and plantation; outlaw religion/established church; justice for whites/legally instituted injustice for blacks; chattel status/civil rights for whites; restricted/freedom of movement; bongo/busha image; yard-talk/English; slave-freeman” (The story, p. 151).

The plantations developed their own internal hierarchies. By around 1830, 36% of Jamaican slaves lived on fairly large plantations. Hope, Papine and Mona Estates were more than 1000 acres each. The white planters created various divisions amongst the slave population (in the great house, in the fields, between skilled artisans and unskilled labourers, etc.). Most scholars argue that Caribbean colonial society was an “anti-intellectual society. In Pere Labat’s lament, everything was imported into the West Indies except books” (Lewis, Main currents, p. 26). Lewis describes the Cuban plantocracy as flagrantly ostentatious, dissolute and snobbish. And Sherlock speaks of the moral bankruptcy of the white planter society. At the time of emancipation, 80% of the sugar estates were owned by absentees. The sugar planters would eventually be destroyed by the industrial revolution in Britain and Europe.

The plantation as a learning system

The sugar plantation was consciously designed to keep the slaves ignorant. The system placed radical constraints on adult learning and development. The planters tried to control the slaves’ bodies and minds. The horsewhip was their dominant pedagogical instrument. They wanted to keep the slaves so busy that they wouldn’t have any time to think. But the planters knew that the slaves could learn to do various tasks and functions on the plantation. Some of them also sensed that Christian teaching was potentially disruptive. In 1657, one Richard Ligon, a planter, commented that “being once a Christian, he [the planter] could no more account him a slave, and so lose the hold they had on them as slaves, …”. This is a very interesting quotation because Ligon actually recognizes that, indeed, both whites and blacks could transform the way they see each other.

In “The literate few: an historical sketch of the slavery origins of black elites in the English West Indies,” Caribbean Journal of Education, 11(1), January 1984, Hilary Beckles suggests that during the slavery period, some blacks in the West Indies were able to acquire literacy of both a basic and advanced kind. The extent of the acquisition of this cognitive skill was directly related to changes within the plantation economy, characterized by the growth of occupation stratification and social elitism within the slave communities. As the plantation social formation became increasingly complex and creolized, many slaves were able to obtain high levels of occupational mobility. Until 1670, West Indian sugar planters gave little thought to the notion of developing their slaves as artisans or other skilled professionals on the plantations. The dominant and operational conception of European colonists in the West Indies was that Africans were savages who had no contribution to make to the region’s economy beyond field labour. In addition, there was a general hostility to the use of blacks in occupations which involved any form of intellectual or creative assertion. The planters feared that the slaves’ intellect, once mobilized and developed by occupational demands, would be employed in the politics of rebellion.

Beckles goes on to argue that falling productivity in the 1680s-90s forced the planters to turn to slaves for certain skilled jobs. But planters like the Barbadian Peter Colleton argued that any form of re-education or training of slaves would have the following adverse effects: firstly, it would ‘impair their value and inure…the planters,’ since such ‘uplifted Africans’ were prone to scorn arduous labour; secondly, the specialist knowledge and skills would ‘endanger the island, in as much as converted negroes grow more perverse and intractable than the others.’ The rise of non-white professional elites subsequently became more associated with much fear amongst the whites that they would inevitably attempt, by rebellious politics, to “turn the world upside down.” This logic runs throughout West Indian history (pp. 21-22). Many black slaves became very successful, particularly in their mastery of the role of boiler. These skilled artisanal slaves became “elite slaves” with privileges not permitted the “field slaves.” Beckles also observes that the elite slaves in the Barbados were the “relentless revolutionary element in the slave community” (p. 29).

The African slaves did not arrive in the West Indies as empty slates, but with “cultural baggage” (specialist knowledge, cognitive orientations). They carried with them basic assumptions about social relations, the way the world works, the spirit-world and attitudes towards change. Sherlock observes that the African diaspora “revealed the extraordinary capacity of the African people to respond to the challenge of radical change, of total uprooting, of life-threatening penalisations” (The story, p. 126). While we understand what Sherlock means by “total uprooting,” it is inaccurate to think that African cultures were erased in the course of adapting to the new world. African cultures were carried orally into the Caribbean, and obeahism (divination) and myalism (spirit possession), present hundreds of years ago in Africa, still persist to this day in various expressions. So do speech and story, music and song.

Autonomous learning spaces

The slaves created “their own spaces” where they could learn and express themselves free from the master’s panoptical gaze. We can identify two important learning spaces: provision grounds and Sunday markets. Here, free from backra’s eye, the slaves functioned as “free peasants.” In these small-scale attempts to command their life situations, the slaves learned to act autonomously. These activities “promoted the survival and development of precisely those intellectual capacities which the slave system was intended to destroy: curiosity about the world and determination to exert control over life” (Mary Turner, Slaves and Missionaries: the disintegration of Jamaican slave society, 1787-1834 [1998, p. 47). Their subjection as chattels in the plantation system was contradicted by their small actions as human beings capable of exercising control.

In his searching discussion of the legacy of slavery and plantation culture in Jamaica, the late Rex Nettleford, an esteemed choreographer, social critic and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, insists that today “there must be the liberation of the Jamaican black, whether he be peasant, proletarian or struggling middle class, from the chains of self-contempt, self-doubt and cynicism” (Mirror mirror, p 211). If Nettleford is right, then we can show how the plantation system miseducated the slaves by coercing them to internalize the oppressor’s image of them as inferior being. As Paulo Freire puts it, the oppressor comes to reside within the oppressed’s psyches. Emancipatory learning processes, in this dreadful situation, must assist learners to expel the oppressor from the inside. Then the oppressed could begin to live as fully human and free persons.

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UK’s Labour Leader Sacks the Most Left-Wing Member of His Shadow Cabinet

by KENNETH SURIN

Photograph Source: Chris McAndrew – CC BY 3.0

As a Labour party member, it is unavoidable that I should have an opinion on the party leader Keir Starmer’s sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey.

RLB was shadow education secretary until her dismissal, as well as being Starmer’s primary opponent for the party leadership when Jeremy Corbyn resigned after Labour lost to the Tories in December’s general election.

In the leadership election I voted for Long-Bailey, with the current shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy as my second choice, and Starmer was last of the 3 candidates I could vote for.

RLB made a mistake in retweeting the actor Maxine Peake’s accusation that US police forces are taught the neck restraint technique by the Israelis. Peake subsequently apologized for tweet.

Granted, the officer who murdered George Floyd was trained by the Israelis, who commonly use the technique on Palestinians. But it does not follow that he was taught it during his training by Israeli “security experts”.

There is a more or less strong likelihood that the officer in question was, but, to state the obvious, the likelihood of X is not an actual X. After all, there are dozens of clips showing the neck restraint technique being deployed on Palestinians, some of them children, and the killer cop could have acquired the technique from watching these videos.

Moreover, at least 100 Minnesota police officers attended a 2012 conference—the second such conference to be held– hosted by the Israeli consulate in Chicago, with the FBI as its joint host (as if we need anymore evidence that the militarization of American police forces is state-sanctioned).

At these conferences Minnesota police were instructed in the brutal techniques used by Israeli forces as they coerce and terrorize Palestinians living in the occupied territories under the pretense of security operations.

That said, the assertion that RLB and Peake made, even though not substantiated, hardly amounts to an “antisemitic conspiracy theory”. It was directed at a state regarded by many as a rogue state, or at any rate, a state where consistent violations of human rights are integral to its functioning.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has adopted the following “working definition” of “antisemitism”:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

In its elaboration of this definition IHRA continues:

“Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

It has also to be noted that IHRA says explicitly that this definition is not legally binding. Which is just as well, since many jurists, including the UK’s Lord Justice Stephen Sedley (who is himself Jewish), have said that the definition would not stand up in a court of law.

At least two problems arise for Starmer and his Zionist supporters with regard to the sacking of Long-Bailey.

Firstly, the IHRA’s clause that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic” shows unequivocally that criticizing Israel for teaching its police, and the police forces of other countries, techniques of arrest which inflict serious injury or death on a person already under restraint, is not antisemitic as such.

After all, the apartheid regime in South Africa provided training, including crowd and riot control, for police forces in Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, (the then) Rhodesia, and (the then) Zaire under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. South Africa’s police during this time was basically an unaccountable paramilitary organization, with the uniformed branch tasked with patrolling the black townships widely regarded as thugs dressed up in uniforms.

Apartheid South Africa’s police was criticized for its racist policing methods, with parallels for the way Israel is criticized today for its policing in Palestinian areas. Many of the abuses documented where the apartheid South African police were concerned, parallel equally well-documented violations by Israeli security, police and military officials.

Since the criticism made of Israel’s police is on a par with that levelled at the police of apartheid South Africa, Israel is therefore being subjected to a form criticism that is levelled at other countries, and so this criticism of Israel cannot be considered “antisemitic”, even according to the IHRA’s stipulations.

Secondly, to say that criticism of Israel as a state, such as Peake’s and Long-Bailey’s, is “antisemitic” is tantamount to saying that, e.g., criticism of Zaire (as a state), under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko (a fan of routine torture), even if not substantiated in the one instance, is “racist” because the population of Zaire is overwhelmingly black. A palpable absurdity obviously.

But, some may object, the Israeli authorities say they do not teach the neck restraint technique to foreign police forces, nor even to their own forces, because it is not in their police-training manuals. This, surely, is a poor attempt at humour—one only has to go to Google Images and enter a search for “Israeli forces kneeling on the necks on Palestinians” to find numerous still shots of Israeli forces using the knee-on-neck technique. Just because something isn’t in someone’s manual doesn’t mean that….

Starmer should have asked RLB to issue a clarification after she refused to retract her tweet, e.g. by allowing her to say that the policy of having police officers (of any country) trained by Israeli police forces is highly problematic, given the propensity of those forces to engage in human rights violations, and this in the course of enforcing an occupation that is illegal according to international law.

According to Amnesty International, hundreds of US police officers from Baltimore, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Washington state, and the DC Capitol police have traveled to Israel for training. Thousands of others have been trained by Israeli representatives here in the US.

Amnesty International has made numerous criticisms of Israel’s human rights violations. By Starmer’s logic, he should stand up in parliament and acknowledge that the rationale he used for sacking RLD behooves him to say that Amnesty is likewise antisemitic.

Alas, I am more likely to encounter a unicorn on my daily walk than see him do this! Labour has several anti-Zionist MPs—perhaps one of them can raise this issue at the appropriate time in the House?

Before his election as party leader Starmer received a donation of £50,000 from the UK’s Zionist lobby. He did not disclose this donation until after he was made party leader. This may or may not have been inadvertent, just as it may or may not have anything to do with the ditching of RLB.

At the same time, I suspect RLB’s anti-Zionism was not the only consideration involved in her sacking. As education secretary RLB was forthright in her support of the teachers’ unions in their opposition to the Tory drive to get them (and pupils) back to schools in unsafe conditions.

We have to remember that Starmer is a Blairite, and Blair and his followers were no friends of any union.

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Then as Farce: the Commodification of Black Lives Matter

by RUTH FOWLER

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Martin Luther King was arrested in April 1963 for publicly protesting, an act deemed illegal in Alabama at the time. While in jail, eight white clergy figures publicly admonished King, judging his actions “unwise and untimely”. It was this which prompted King to respond with his little-shared letter about the “white moderate”, a comment that is most often elided whenever progressive liberals feel the need to throw out some a cute meme on an auspicious “I’m not a Racist” occasion, like MLK Day.

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice […]

As black authors dominate the bestseller lists, Etsy and Postmates feature a “black owned business” section on their sites, the enrollment numbers of White People 4 Black SURJ and other national and state level anti-racist organizations soar, as we enter week 4 of Black Lives Matter protests, all I can think is – My God. Progressive Liberals have managed to commodify anti-racism.

In First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, Zizek deftly outlines the absurd cycle between Capitalism’s casualties (poverty, war, the ‘third world’, colonialism etc) and Capitalism’s desire to redeem itself by participating in a logic where “the very act of of egotist consumption already includes the price of its opposite”. By purchasing the books we will never read (excepting White Fragility, which is this month’s pick at Book Club and thankfully on Audible), the hoodie we will never wear, the meal from a restaurant we will soon forget, the selfie at a BLM march, white liberals are participating in the erasure of their own guilt and complicity. They are offering a comfortable alternative to the destruction of systemic racism, an alternative which posits that the system can still exist in the same form if we just be a bit kinder, a bit nicer, a bit more inclusive, a bit more ‘woke’.

Videos of police brutality have been around for years, though it was the particular brutality of George Floyd’s murder which seemed to catalyze the public into action behind Black Lives Matter, who have been toiling away doggedly for years with only brief periods of public support. They have certainly propelled the issue to the forefront of the national consciousness, though I wonder if the current level of attention would be so focused if we didn’t have a worldwide pandemic inciting fear, outrage, frustration and anger in the majority of the world’s population. Floyd’s death, it seems, provided a necessary distraction for many apolitical folk and an outlet for the seething unrest which is bubbling just beneath the surface of a lockdown world.

But with that distraction has come the price of its opposite. I recently attended a White People 4 Black Lives meeting – the LA based branch of AWARE, part of a national collective of antiracist groups under Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ). Around 500 white people attended, the majority of whom had not been politically active before the most recent Black Lives Matter marches. When the organizers asked them what “Defund the Police” meant to them, the answers were optimistically reformist: “Divert money from the police budget to other services”, “reform the police department”, “raise awareness”. With admirable restraint, WP4BL delicately posited the idea that Black Lives Matter is actually calling for complete divestment of the police from society, and then sensing, perhaps, that they were about to lose the audience, moved on to talk about things white people enjoy: how to use their privilege to do good, like anti-racist white superheroes, complete with black-owned business bought t-shirts bearing logos such as ‘White Silence is Violence’.

Liberals “support Black Lives” and calls to “defund the police” but “defund the police” doesn’t actually mean defund the police completely, it just means divert some of their funding to social services and anti-racism training, and really “Defund the Police” is kind of a crappy slogan, BLM should have come up with something better like “Partially Defund the Police” or “Lower the Budget for the Police”, or maybe rename them. Just have police but rename them! That would be a fabulous idea. And the violence. Well, Martin Luther King was very against violence. Blowing up police cars, trashcans and looting stores – that’s not something Liberals can get behind. Sure, it drew laser sharp focus to the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement and some very rapid responses from city officials hastily redrawing budgets, but it’s much better now the protests are peaceful and family-friendly and mainly focused around petitions circulating on change.org and attractive people wearing all-white and bringing flowers to the beach. Those petitions are truly the litmus test for a true democratic society and are often very effective at “raising awareness”, which as we all now, precedes every broken systems failure.

“The white man will try to satisfy us with symbolic victories rather than economic equity and real justice” said Malcolm X, clearly well acquainted with the white liberal love of Book Club and change.org petitions. I’ve written previously for CounterPunch on the persistent trend of progressive liberals to appropriate, domesticate and commodify and its devastating effect in maintaining a system which is clearly broken. They do this to black bodies, to revolution, to justified outrage, and they are doing it now.

“We believe that current moderates sincerely want to condemn racism and to see an end to its effects. The problem is that this desire is outweighed by the comfort of their current circumstances and a perception of themselves as above some of the messy implications of fighting for liberation.” wrote four pastors in a New York Times Op-Ed back in 2015. These pastors, including Michael McBride, Traci Blackman, Frank Reid and Barbara Williams Skinner, ended their piece with a plea for Progressive Liberals, or “moderates”, to abandon their ideas of what a “perfect protest” should look like, and get into the streets and, simply join the fuck in.

Little did they know that five years later the moderates would do just that, albeit with their usual set of caveats and demands, positing themselves as the experts on issues of systemic racism and debates circulating around abolishing the police as if they, too, had been considering these questions as life-or-death issues their entire lives, rather than just reading a headline on Facebook two hours ago. I recently approached a black writer and producer in my guild with the intent to introduce him to BLD PWR, and get some kind of traction going in an industry which is still dominated by white males, racism and sexism. He listened to me talk for a few minutes, and then broke in. “I just want to say this thing about no police on sets – I don’t agree with that. That’s some white person shit. I’ve been on sets in the Hood and you need police around. It’s just not safe.”

A day later, I posted an article in a WGA group by a prominent black director who was denouncing racism in the industry, while failing to acknowledge his own complicity in it. He was well known for mistreating his employees, in particular black women, and had recently fired every single black woman writer on his upcoming TV series on Black Britain, instead hiring a white male to write four of the episodes. I was shot down and ejected from the group, denounced as racist and ignorant by newly woke people who are more concerned with the concept that order remains, and the right kind of voices are heard. Inevitably the right kind of voices are the voices of the moderates, the respectable BIPOC, the Obamas in our midst. Instead of seeking out justice, we participate in symbolic denouncements of individual acts – the crackhead caught on camera screaming the N word, the woman at the store being belted in the mouth for her racist comments to a Native-American woman she mistook for latinx, the insipid white lady walking her dog in Central Park and hyperventilating down the phone after a run-in with an unbearably righteous bird-watcher. By honing in on these blatant, overt individual acts which we can share, post, repost, comment on, obsess over and follow up on (DID YOU HEAR THAT KAREN GOT THE DOG BACK?!!) we persist in allowing this system, bloated and groaning with hate, to get stoked with the fuel of our rabid outrage, leaving little left to tear this shit down.

We are distracted by the wrong fucking crap.

I still participate in protests. I still persist in sharing information, and encouraging my progressive friends to read books about racism, to shop at black stores, to speak up about inequality, racism, other things. I still do these things because despite everything, I can see some change. In the ten years since I became politicized by a bunch of rag-tag activists on the streets of LA who handed me books by Mike Davis and George Jackson, and hosted debates long into the night in smoke-filled tents slung up on skidrow as we waited for the LAPD to descend, the conversation has shifted. But back then raising awareness wasn’t enough, and it’s not enough now. Black people are still surviving on incremental concessions made to appease white souls, and those concessions are not enough to deny the reality that moderates, progressive liberals and white people do not want to reform the police. They do not want to end systemic racism. Yes, they will now reference racist policing and express the oft-cited statistic that a black male is twice as likely to be shot dead by a cop than his white counterpart, and in this sense, “awareness” – oh Hallelujah! has been “raised”, usually accompanied by a selfie and a cute info-graphic which speaks to our relief that a photo opportunity and some hallmark captions might erase centuries of inequality and murder. Yet the system creaks on, panic mode is over, order is restored, more people are shot, more inequities discovered, more snappy slogans painted on amazon boxes.

I have tried very, very hard, in the last few years, to become a moderate, to talk about safe spaces and act like an appropriate white ally and vote when required, but the truth is, I just want to burn this shit down. And I’m tired of waiting for y’all to finish Book Club.

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on Then as Farce: the Commodification of Black Lives Matter

De-Militarizing the United States

by MELVIN GOODMAN

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

More than a half-century ago, exactly one year before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr. brilliantly identified the keys to the American political, economic, and social crisis that has worsened over the years.  At the Riverside Church in New York City, King linked the militarism of the Vietnam War; the racism of American society; and the inequality and materialism of the American economy to demand a movement toward social justice that we seek today.  The central civil rights leaders of the time, including Ralph Bunch, asked King to radically alter the speech and to dissociate racism from the Vietnam War.  The central newspapers of the time, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, maligned the speech, terming it an “oversimplification” that would hurt both the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement. Fifty-three years later, we are still trying to solve the ills of racism, militarism, and materialism that beg for social justice.

King courageously referred to the United States as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” and today we face two decades of permanent war that have cost blood and treasure.  King believed the resources spent on the Vietnam War should have been devoted to social welfare at home.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his Cross of Iron speech in 1953, argued similarly that “every gun that is made, every warship launched” is “theft from those who hunger and are not fed—those who are cold and are not clothed.”  Eisenhower gave the speech several weeks after the death of Joseph Stalin, warning of the tremendous costs associated with the rivalry with the Soviet Union.  We continue to exaggerate the threats from overseas (see China) to justify bloated defense budgets that restrict economic and social investment.

The reliance on military instruments of power to implement foreign policy has expanded the role of the Department of Defense at the expense of the Department of State.  The State Department’s budget is less than one-tenth of the defense budget, and smaller than the budget of the intelligence community.  There are more soldiers and sailors in military marching bands than there are Foreign Service Officers.  The decline of the Agency for International Development, and President Bill Clinton’s dissolution of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the United States Information Service have contributed to the overall decline of civilian influence in national security policy.  John Quincy Adams warned against going abroad “in search of monsters to destroy,” which is exactly what we have done in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Ironically, the increased militarization of U.S. policy began in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which should have inspired a debate on the need for a new national security strategy.  Instead, the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama  catered to the military, appointed too many general and flag officers to positions that should be in the hands of civilians, and failed to control spending on weapons of war.  Donald Trump went further than his predecessors in this regard, although it turned out that his generals became the “adults in the room,” and were replaced by such civilian “Chicken Hawks” as John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  Trump’s hands-off style toward the military has been worsened by his “war cabinet.”

Pompeo and former national security adviser Bolton killed arms control and disarmament and thus provided a tremendous boost to militarization of national security policy.  They successfully lobbied for the destruction of the Iran nuclear accord, the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty; they dragged their heels on renewing the New START Treaty, which expires in January 2021.  Their legacy may eventually include the death of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in view of Trump’s interest in conducting the first U.S. nuclear test since 1992, when Washington followed Moscow’s lead and joined a moratorium on nuclear-weapons testing.  A U.S. resumption of testing would be the death knell for the Nonproliferation Treaty, which finds the non-nuclear signers impatient with the failure of nuclear powers to disarm.

The militarization of the intelligence community, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency, has contributed to the misuse of force.  The CIA helped to make a specious case for war against Iraq, citing nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and nonexistent links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.  The CIA cherry-picked intelligence to support the use of force and  corrupted the intelligence process to convince Congress and the American people of the need for war. No senior CIA official protested, let alone resigned, in the wake of the misuse of intelligence or in response to the sadistic torture and abuse program of the war on terror.  Meanwhile, the CIA has become a paramilitary organization, and has stepped up its recruitment of military veterans.  The hiring of military veterans by the police is similarly noteworthy.

When the Pentagon ended up with weapons of war that were no longer needed, the Clinton administration found a way to distribute armored personnel carriers, submachine guns, and even grenade launchers to urban police departments, which began to look like forces of occupation and not community support. The use of tear gas, which was developed by the U.S. Army for riot control in 1919 and is prohibited by various international treaties, was widely used against protestors in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. National Guard helicopters were used in Washington to rout peaceful protestors by using low flying techniques to create dangerous downdrafts, a technique developed to rout insurgents in such places as Iraq. Recent studies indicate that police departments, which were given sophisticated military equipment in the 1990s, were more likely to have violent encounters with the public, regardless of local crime rates.  Militarized police units, moreover, were more frequently deployed to African-American communities, even after controlling for local crime rates.

In addition to the use of military weapons and techniques to implement domestic security, there has been police misuse of intelligence surveillance at home.  In January 2020, an African-American man in Detroit became the first U.S. citizen to be arrested as a result of a false facial recognition match.  Police departments have used facial recognition systems for the past two decades, but recent studies have demonstrated that the technology is not accurate for people of color due to a lack of diversity in the images used to develop the underlying databases.  The case in Detroit involved a combination of flawed technology and poor police work.  Fortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union is working to end the use of invasive surveillance technologies as the Congress grapples awkwardly with police reform in the wake of mindless police killings in Minnesota, Colorado, and Kentucky.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the New York police department hired a former deputy director for operations at the CIA, David Cohen, as a deputy police commissioner for intelligence.  Cohen immediately initiated police surveillance of public events, and declared that the police department was not required to have a “specific indication” of a crime before investigating.  In granting the city’s surveillance requests, a federal judge ruled that the dangers of terrorism “outweigh any First Amendment cost.”  As a result, the police department was authorized to conduct investigations of political, social, and religious groups. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security orchestrated the use of drones in fifteen cities to collect intelligence against peaceful protests after the Floyd murder.  In a violation of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, this information was passed to the FBI for law enforcement purposes.

King’s voice was prescient in linking the costs of overseas military adventurism; social and economic inequality; and institutional racism.  His voice had support over the past century.  When Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed the presidency in 1933, he told advisors that the United States needed a new vision of domestic security, that we were “trapped in the ice of our own indifference.”  When Eisenhower left the presidency in 1961, he warned about the dangers of unchecked and unmonitored congressional support for defense spending, intelligence spending, and homeland security.  And in 1999, George F. Kennan, the author of our Cold War containment strategy against the Soviet Union, warned about over-reliance on the military in U.S. decision making. The sooner we grapple with the militarization of our society at home and abroad, the sooner we will be able to address the ills that militarism has wrought.

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Reelection of President Duda: Poland’s Future Remains Bright, But The Glow Is Dimming

By Andrew Korybko

The narrow re-election of Polish President Duda saved the country from returning under Brussels’ Euro-Liberal yoke, yet the electorate’s clear-cut age and locality divides bode ominously for the country’s future since they suggest that the opposition might inevitably return to power if voting trends remain constant.

A Close Call

Poland narrowly avoided returning under Brussels’ Euro-Liberal yoke with President Duda’s re-election, which for all intents and purposes ensures that the country will de-facto remain a one-party state at least until the next parliamentary elections in three years’ time. Sputnik explained why this is the case by pointing out how the ruling Euro-Realist conservatives control the lower house of parliament and the presidency, and that while the opposition holds the upper house, any veto that it makes can easily be overruled by a simple majority vote from its lower counterpart before being signed into law by the president.

Political Implications

This is extremely important to keep in mind since it means that the Law & Justice Party’s (PiS) legal and socio-economic reforms will continue. These are mostly related to regaining national sovereignty over its judicial system, and continuing its generous welfare programs, respectively. Had the opposition won the presidency, then Poland would have remained in domestic political deadlock until the next parliamentary elections.

While PiS supporters and many well-wishers abroad are breathing a collective sigh of relief after Duda’s approximately 2% win (less than half a million votes), they also shouldn’t rest on their laurels since the same earlier mentioned Sputnik piece reports how the electorate is clearly split along age and locality. Younger voters and those in urban areas voted for the opposition, while older ones and those in rural areas voted for the ruling party. The implication is obvious, and it’s that the opposition will inevitably return to power if voting trends remain constant. This means that the next three years are the most important ever for PiS.

The ruling party must not only do all that they can to solidify all of their forms into law, but they must also ensure that they can’t be reversed should the opposition eventually win both the lower house and the presidency (possibly regaining at least the former in three years and then the latter two years after that). Not only that, but PiS must urgently work on winning the hearts and minds of the youth and other city folk. This will be extremely difficult to pull off, however, since the country is literally split in two — not only politically, but even geographically.

Poland’s Electoral Geography

Three maps that were shared by the “Notes From Poland” Facebook page illustrate just how sharp Poland’s partisan divide presently is. As the page admins wrote under their relevant post, “Despite losing the election overall, Rafał Trzaskowski got the most votes in the majority of Poland’s 16 provinces (first map). However, looking at who won in smaller districts (second map), President Duda’s overall advantage becomes clearer. The third map shows by how large a margin a candidate won in each district.”

The Identity Crisis

Euro-Liberals tend to reside in the partition-era regions of Poland that were controlled by Germany, whereas Euro-Realists happen to live in the Austrian and Russian ones. While the first-mentioned tend to be politically aligned with modern-day Germany by virtue of Berlin being the continental leader of Euro-Liberalism, the second don’t have any particular affinity for modern-day Austria and most Poles in general regardless of political disposition fear and/or hate modern-day Russia for “historical reasons” (whether rightly or wrongly, and whether they arrived at those views on their own or as a result of domestic political manipulation).

It might be interesting for the reader to peruse the author’s prior work on this topic, which is too extensive to summarize in this particular analysis. The pertinent pieces are “Polarized Poland: The Identity Crisis Goes International” (2016), “Polish-Russian Relations: Russian Guilt & Polish Exceptionalism” (2017), and “Germany Wants To Replace The Patriotic Polish Government With Europhile Puppets” (2020). Politico’s recent piece about how “Poland’s Duda Goes To War Against Foreign Media” is also somewhat insightful in showing why he’s so concerned about the influence of German-owned media, though it’s predictably biased against PiS.

The Political Battleground

PiS’ struggle is therefore to convince the German-influenced Euro-Liberal voters in the former part of Poland that Berlin controlled during the partition era to support the party’s socio-conservative and pro-sovereignty agendas, a tough task if there ever was one since they’re naturally inclined towards liberalism and the surrendering of their country’s rights to supranational EU institutions that are de-facto controlled by Germany. As the last of the three maps that was shared earlier shows, that part of the country is where both parties generally showed the narrowest sign of victory in the respective localities that they won.

Some were solidly Euro-Liberal, but many of them were as neck-and-neck as parts of the Midwest were in the US’ 2016 election. These “swing” localities were just as responsible for President Duda’s re-election as America’s were for Trump’s original election, and they’ll likely remain some of the most important political parts of their countries for the coming future. It’s these battlegrounds where PiS will have to work its hardest if it wants to retain its control of the lower house during the next parliamentary elections three years from now. With this in mind, a few policy recommendations can be made.

The Path To Polish Greatness

Cracking down on German-controlled media as some expect might soon happen would be a very powerful step in the direction of weakening the pernicious anti-Polish influence that the country’s neighbor exerts over the most politically important part of the population. Germany does indeed pursue anti-Polish policies in both the social and political realms. Its aggressive promotion of Euro-Liberalism is intended to destroy Poland’s traditional conservative society just like its similarly aggressive pressure upon the country to surrender more of its sovereignty to Berlin’s proxies in Brussels is meant to de-facto eliminate Poland’s hard-earned statehood.

In parallel with this, Poland must make tangible progress on strengthening integration within the “Three Seas Initiative” (TSI) that it leads. While this American-backed geopolitical project is admittedly anti-Russian to the core, it is the only means for Poland to rise as a Great Power (however long that takes in practice) and at least superficially present itself as Germany’s peer in the long term, after which they might be able to eventually renegotiate their relationship (with American mediation of course) in order to make it more equitable. This vision won’t enter into force anytime soon and is dangerously conditional on the outcome of the US’ elections.

Trump’s victory would guarantee that the TSI becomes the focal point of European geopolitics in the coming future, while Biden’s would probably relegate it to the periphery as the Democrats seek to reconcile American-EU relations at Poland’s expense, just as Obama sought to do vis-a-vis Russia when it came to scaling back the Bush-era “missile defense system” there (though at that time Poland’s “expense” was only perceived as such and that decision wasn’t truly to its detriment). Germany, not Russia, is the greatest threat to Polish statehood, and Biden’s victory would force Warsaw to either submit to Washington-Brussels-Berlin or risk isolation.

Concluding Thoughts

As the article’s title clearly stated, “Poland’s Future Remains Bright, But The Glow Is Dimming”, and it might even disappear as soon as the end of the year in spite of PiS’ recent victory in the event that Biden beats Trump in November. Even in that scenario, however, Poland would do well to continue with its pro-sovereignty agenda irrespective of whether its top ally dumps it for the sake of “reconciling” Trans-Atlantic relations with the EU’s de-facto German leader. All that must matter to the ruling party from here on out is winning the hearts and minds of the voters from formerly German-controlled Poland in order to ensure that their victory wasn’t in vain.

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NY Times Takes Anti-Russian Hysteria to New Level

New York Times Takes Anti-Russian Hysteria to New Level with Report on Russian ‘Bounty’ for US Troops in Afghanistan

By Scott RitterGlobal

The New York Times published an article claiming that Russia was paying out monetary bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan. There’s just one problem — none of what they reported was true.

As news reporting goes, the New York Times article alleging that a top-secret unit within Russian military intelligence, or GRU, had offered a bounty to the Taliban for every US soldier killed in Afghanistan, was dynamite. The story was quickly “confirmed” by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers, and went on to take social media by storm. Twitter was on fire with angry pundits, former officials, and anti-Trump politicians (and their respective armies of followers) denouncing President Trump as a “traitor” and demanding immediate action against Russia.

Screenshot from The New York Times

There was just one problem — nothing in the New York Times could be corroborated. Indeed, there is no difference between the original reporting conducted by the New York Timesand the “confirming” reports published by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. All of the reports contain caveats such as “if confirmed” and “if true,” while providing no analysis into the potential veracity of the information used to sustain the report — alleged debriefs of Afghan criminals and militants — or the underpinning logic, or lack thereof, of the information itself.

For its part, the Russian government has vociferously denied the allegations, noting that the report “clearly demonstrates low intellectual abilities of US intelligence propagandists who have to invent such nonsense instead of devising something more credible.” The Taliban have likewise denied receiving any bounties from the Russians for targeting American soldiers, noting that with the current peace deal, “their lives are secure and we don’t attack them.”

Even more telling is the fact that the current Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has come out to contradict a key element of the New York Times’ report—that the president was briefed on the intelligence in question. “I have confirmed that neither the president nor the vice president were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting yesterday,” Ratcliffe said in a statement. “The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate.”

And one more tiny problem: Trump confirmed there was no such briefing, too.

Perhaps the biggest clue concerning the fragility of the New York Times’ report is contained in the one sentence it provides about sourcing — “The intelligence assessment is said to be based at least in part on interrogations of captured Afghan militants and criminals.” That sentence contains almost everything one needs to know about the intelligence in question, including the fact that the source of the information is most likely the Afghan government as reported through CIA channels.

There was a time when the US military handled the bulk of detainee debriefings in Afghanistan. This changed in 2014, with the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement. This agreement prohibits the US military from arresting or detaining Afghans, or to operate detention facilities in Afghanistan. As a result, the ability of the US military to interface with detainees has been virtually eliminated, making the Pentagon an unlikely source of the information used by the New York Times in its reporting.

The CIA, however, was not covered by this agreement. Indeed, the CIA, through its extensive relationship with the National Directorate of Security (NDS), is uniquely positioned to interface with the NDS through every phase of detainee operations, from initial capture to systemic debriefing.

Like any bureaucracy, the CIA is a creature of habit. Henry ‘Hank’ Crumpton, who in the aftermath of 9/11 headed up the CIA’s operations in Afghanistan, wrote that

“[t]he Directorate of Operations (DO) should not be in the business of running prisons or temporary detention facilities. The DO should focus on its core mission: clandestine intelligence operations. Accordingly, the DO should continue to hunt, capture, and render targets, and then exploit them for intelligence and ops leads once in custody. The management of their incarceration and interrogation, however, should be conducted by appropriately experienced US law enforcement officers because that is their charter and they have the training and experience.”

After 2014, the term “US law enforcement officers” is effectively replaced by “Afghan intelligence officers”— the NDS. But the CIA mission remained the same — to exploit captives for intelligence and operational leads.

The Trump administration has lobbied for an expanded mission for the CIA-backed NDS and other militia forces to serve as a counterterrorism force that would keep Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Qaeda from gaining a foothold in Afghanistan once US and foreign troops completed their planned withdrawal in 2021. But the CIA has raised objections to such a plan, noting that the NDS and other CIA-controlled assets were completely dependent upon US military air power and other combat service support resources, and that any attempt to expand the CIA’s covert army in Afghanistan following a US military withdrawal would end in disaster. Having the NDS fabricate or exaggerate detainee reports to keep the US engaged in Afghanistan is not beyond the pale.

Which brings up the issue of Russian involvement. In September 2015, the Taliban captured the northern Afghan city of Konduz, and held it for 15 days. This sent a shockwave throughout Russia, prompting Moscow to reconsider its approach toward dealing with the Afghan insurgency. Russia began reaching out to the Taliban, engaging in talks designed to bring the conflict in Afghanistan to an end. Russia was driven by other interests as well. According to Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative for Afghanistan, “the Taliban interest objectively coincides with ours” in the fight against Islamic State, which in the summer of 2014 had captured huge tracts of land in Syria and Iraq, including the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest.

By 2017, Afghan and US intelligence services had assembled a narrative of Russian assistance to the Taliban which included the provision of advanced weaponry, training, and financial support. While Russia denied providing any direct military support to the Taliban, it maintained that the Taliban were the best way to deal with the growing threat of Islamic State. But even if the US reports were correct, and Russia was angling for a Taliban victory in Afghanistan, the last policy Russia would logically pursue would be one that had the US remain in Afghanistan, especially after pushing so hard for a negotiated peace. Russia’s interests in Afghanistan were — and are — best served by Afghan stability, the antithesis of the Afghan reality while the US and NATO remain engaged. Getting the US out of Afghanistan — not keeping the US in Afghanistan — is the Russian position, and any CIA officer worth his or her salt knows this.

It does not take a rocket scientist to read between the lines of the New York Times’ thinly sourced report. The NDS, with or without CIA knowledge or consent, generated detainee-based intelligence reports designed to create and sustain a narrative that would be supportive of US military forces remaining in Afghanistan past 2021. The CIA case officer(s) handling these reports dutifully submit cables back to CIA Headquarters which provide the gist of the allegations — that Russia has placed a bounty on US soldiers. But there is no corroboration, nothing that would allow this raw “intelligence”to be turned into a product worthy of the name.

This doesn’t mean that someone in the bowels of the CIA with an axe to grind against Trump’s plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, or who was opposed to Trump’s efforts to normalize relations with Russia, didn’t try to breathe life into these detainee reports. Indeed, a finished “product” may have made its way to the National Security Council staff — and elsewhere — where it would have been given the treatment it deserved, quickly discarded as unsubstantiated rumor unworthy of presidential attention.

At this point in time, frustrated by the inattention the “system” gave to the “intelligence,” some anonymous official contacted the New York Times and leaked the information, spinning it in as nefarious a way as possible. The New York Times blended the detainee reports and its own previous reporting on the GRU to produce a completely fabricated tale of Russian malfeasance designed to denigrate President Trump in the midst of a hotly contested reelection bid.

Too far-fetched? This assessment is far more fleshed out with fact and logic than anything the New York Times or its mainstream media mimics have proffered. And lest one thinks the GrayLady is above manufacturing news to sustain support for a war, the name Judith Miller, and the topic of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, should put that to rest. The reporting by the New York Times alleging the existence of a Russian bounty on the lives of US troops in Afghanistan is cut from the same piece of cloth as its pre-war Iraq drivel. As was the case with Iraq, the chattering class is pushing these new lies on an American audience pre-programmed to accept at face value any negative reporting on Russia. This is the state of what passes for journalism in America today, and it’s not a pretty sight.

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Сriminal Roots of Kosovo Further Exposed by Thaçi’s Indictment in The Hague

By Paul Antonopoulos

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić was due to meet Kosovo leader Hashim Thaçi on Saturday at the White House. This was at the behest of US envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell, after his much-publicized success in organizing the meeting. However, his success was short lived after Thaçi became indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity on June 24 by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office.

The US meeting has been put on hold until further notice, but as Vučić revealed, the EU will take over discussions between Belgrade and Pristina at a later date. It appears that France and Germany specifically will spearhead these meeting with the French Embassy in Kosovo saying on Thursday that “France and Germany expect Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia to resume soon. Together with Chancellor Merkel, President Macron remains ready to host a Summit in Paris.” German Ambassador to Kosovo Christian Heldt tweeted:

“Our governments stand ready to be helpful with [a] proposed meeting in July.”

Due to prosecutors in The Hague indicting Thaçi’s alleged war crimes during the 1998-99 Kosovo war, Kosovo’s new prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, said he could not travel to Washington to conduct talks with Serbia.

“Thank you, Prime Minister Hoti. We understand your decision and we look forward to rescheduling the meeting soon,” Grenell wrote on Twitter.

US President Donald Trump was hoping for a foreign policy victory just before the upcoming elections, but rather, the Kosovo experiment created by Bill Clinton in the 1990’s is beginning to crack. Thaçi in 1993 became a prominent member of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) and became responsible for the finances and armaments of the terrorist organization. The KLA financed its activities by turning Kosovo into a drug smuggling hub to distribute heroin and cocaine throughout Europe.Can Serbia Trust Washington’s Assurances in Upcoming Meeting with Kosovo?

A 2008 report by German intelligence service BND accuses Thaçi of having deep involvement in organized crime, saying that

“The key players (including Thaçi) are intimately involved in inter-linkages between politics, business, and organised crime structures in Kosovo,” and that Thaçi is leading a “criminal network operating throughout Kosovo.”

The charges laid against him by the prosecutor’s office in The Hague include murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture. He has also been accused of organ harvesting and drug trafficking by other reports and institutions. Although he has not been found guilty, it is well established that the KLA engaged in such activities, putting a mockery to the Albanian and Serbian Caucuses of US Congress suggestion in 2014 that Thaçi be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Geneva School of Diplomacy giving him a Doctor Honoris Causa degree as a Doctor of International Relations, and the Montenegrin town of Ulcinj giving him the title of Honorary Citizen of Ulcinj.

Before the scheduled meeting, Vučić said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed him about worrying information concerning various Western plans and ideas regarding the solution to the Kosovo crisis. Vučić pointed out that he exchanged opinions with Lavrov on a number of issues but that the key topic was the relationship between the two countries and Russia’s support for the integrity of Serbia and the situation in Kosovo.

“We received certain assessments from the Russian Federation […] which worried me. They concern various plans and ideas regarding the solution to the Kosovo crisis. I do not want to deceive anyone and hide from the public: obviously we are facing a difficult period, in which we will face great pressure to realize some plans that we did not officially or unofficially get, but based on the assessments of our Russian friends, it seems that we will have to be very careful in following every idea that is presented to us,” Vučić said at the press conference after their meeting.

Thanking Russia for supporting Serbia in the United Nations and in all international forums, Vučić said that it had been agreed that Serbia would consult with Russia on an almost daily basis, emphasizing that one thing was clear:

“If at any time and in any place a solution is reached, any solution requires the consent of Russia. We do not want everyone else to be consulted without anyone asking Russia anything.”

He added that Russia supported the dialogue under the auspices of the EU, while Serbia is ready to listen to all other political actors and their ideas. He emphasized that Serbia will be able to protect its vital national interests, regardless of the price it will have to pay.

It begs the question whether the Trump administration now has the willingness to come up with a solution for Kosovo, especially as it is evident that the Albanians are connected with the Democrats in the U.S. and the criminal roots of Kosovo’s independence are being further exposed. The indictment against Thaçi is a major embarrassment for Washington as they have been the main backers of the illegal separation of Kosovo from Serbia. If Thaçi’s allegations are proven true by The Hague, it would mean Washington would have always known about the criminal activities of the KLA and the ongoing criminality in Kosovo’s government, but chose to ignore them to carve out a pro-US state from a pro-Russia Serbia.

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NATO at the Helm of Italian Foreign Policy

By Manlio Dinucci

NATO Defense Ministers (Lorenzo Guerini, Pd representing Italy) gathered by videoconference on June17/18, and made a series of “decisions to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence.” However, nobody in Italy talks about it, neither the media (including social media) nor the political world, where an absolute multipartisan silence reigns over all this. Yet these decisions, basically dictated by Washington and signed by Minister Guerini for Italy, not only trace the guidelines of our military policy, but also our foreign policy.

First of all – announces Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg – “NATO is preparing for a possible second wave of Covid-19,” against which NATO has already mobilized over half a million soldiers in Europe. Stoltenberg does not clarify how NATO can predict a possible second virus pandemic with a new lockdown.

On one point, however, he is clear: this “does not mean that other challenges disappeared.” The major problem – Defense Ministers underlined – comes from Russia’s “destabilizing and dangerous behavior,” in particular from its “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, aimed at intimidating and threatening NATO allies.”

In this way they overturn reality, erasing the fact that it was NATO that extended its nuclear forces and bases close to Russia, especially the United States after the end of the Cold War. A strategy aimed at creating growing tensions with Russia in Europe has been methodically implemented with Washington’s direction.

Defense Ministers met in the Nuclear Planning Group, chaired by the United States, to decide on new military measures against Russia.Ukraine – That’s where NATO’s eastward expansion led

It is unknown what decisions on nuclear matters Minister Guerini signed on behalf of Italy. However, it is clear that by participating in the Group and hosting US nuclear weapons (which can also be used by our Air Force), Italy violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty and rejects the UN Treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Stoltenberg merely said, “Today we have decided on further steps to keep NATO nuclear deterrent in Europe safe and efficient.” Among these steps there is certainly the next arrival of the new US B61-12 nuclear bombs also in Italy.

Defense Ministers spoke of another growing “challenge” which is that of China for the first time “at the top of NATO’s agenda.” China is a trading partner of many allies, but at the same time “heavily invests in new missile systems that can reach all NATO countries,” said Stoltenberg. Thus, NATO begins to present China as a military threat.

At the same time, they present Chinese investments in the countries of the Alliance as dangerous. Based on this premise, Defense Ministers updated the guidelines for “national resilience,” aimed at preventing energy, transport and telecommunications, 5G in particular, from ending up under “foreign ownership and control” (read “Chinese Ownership and Control”).

These are the decisions signed by Italy at the Defense Ministers NATO meeting. They bind our country to a strategy of growing hostility, especially towards Russia and China, exposing us to increasingly serious risks and making our arrangements on which the same economic agreements rest unstable.

It is a long-term strategy, as evidenced by the (Born) NATO 2030″ project launch made by Secretary General Stoltenberg on June 8 to “strengthen the Alliance militarily and politically” by including countries like Australia (already invited to the Defense Ministers meeting), New Zealand, Japan and other Asians, in clear anti-Chinese function.

A group of 10 advisors was formed for the Great Global (Born) NATO 2030 project, including Prof. Marta Dassù, former foreign policy adviser in the D’Alema government before and during NATO’s war on Yugoslavia, in which Italy participated in 1999 with its bases and bombers, under US command.

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