Archive | August 26th, 2020

Trump and Biden, Two Ignoble Minds Here O’erthrown

by ANDREW LEVINE


At the presidential level and perhaps down-ticket too, this year’s electoral circus will be a spectacle well calculated to cause disgust and despair – thanks mainly to Donald Trump’s unprecedented machinations, but also because, at least in the presidential contest, the main contenders, both of them, are embarrassingly unfit to serve.

For kindness sake, one of them, Joe Biden, should be put back out to pasture; for the sake of justice, the other, Trump, should be put behind bars.

Biden at least means well; meaning well is beyond Trump’s ken. The man has no moral compass and no capacity for empathy; he is a vile, narcissistic ignoramus. Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson, his first Secretary of State, got it right: Trump is a “fucking moron.”

Worse, he is a dangerous sociopath (in the colloquial sense certainly, in the technical sense, very likely).

He is a loser who, thanks to his father’s money and political juice, feckless bankruptcy laws, clever lawyers, venal bankers, and assorted miscreants, failed his way to the top.

Biden, by far the lesser evil, has been a fixture of mainstream Democratic politics from what seems like time immemorial. Through all that time, however, he has seldom gotten anything right. I challenge anyone who disagrees to produce a counter-example.

The Republican and Democratic Parties are of one mind on the usual foci of political contestation. However, they draw on different constituencies, and they disagree on apolitical cultural matters. This has sufficed to make the enmity that divides them ferocious. Nevertheless, this time around, they are in total accord on at least one point — putting their worst foot forward.

And, as if that weren’t bad enough, they both find themselves fielding candidates for president who are on the verge of senescence or are perhaps already there.

***

There is no need to argue that point in Trump’s case; it is clear as can be to all but the willfully blind. Willful blindness, however, is alarmingly widespread.

In part, this is because, as H.L. Mencken put it, “no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”

Blatantly undemocratic electoral institutions and practices — the Electoral College and gerrymandering head the list – along with mind-numbing rightwing propaganda outlets like Fox News, and a deeply entrenched duopoly party system in which, for both historical and systemic reasons, each party can count on support from roughly forty percent of the population are also partly to blame.

Forty percent, plus or minus a tad, is where support for Trump has been hovering since Day One.

But now, thanks to his glaringly inept handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and its immediate economic consequences, it could well be that, come November, Trump will secure an even smaller share of the popular vote than even the most unpopular major party candidates have garnered in the past.

As he puts his supporters, along with their families and friends, in mortal jeopardy, some light seems finally to be shining through. Many of his supporters are sublimely stubborn in their stupidity but, even so, over the next three months, as conditions worsen, or even just if they don’t improve, there could be substantial defections from their ranks.

This is a reason to be hopeful about the future; it is also a reason to be more than usually afraid. With his back against the wall, who knows what crimes against the peace, against humanity, and against the letter and spirit of Constitutional government, Trump will go on to commit.

Therefore, Trump’s malevolence could and probably will worsen between now and November in ways that could have consequences monumentally dire.

Assuming, though, that nothing irreversibly awful transpires, or that any trouble that Trump and his minions cause is easily and rapidly overcome, I would suggest that the justice systems at both the national and state – New York state – levels start preparing now for a move on Trump’s part that, as far as I know, no one is yet talking about, but that is nevertheless unfolding, not very subtly, in plain sight.

Trump is and always has been a dunderhead; and his mind, such as it is, is plainly in decline. But there still is a “very big and stable” brain lodged somewhere inside his skull that is capable, at the very least, of cunning.

William Blake long ago declared that “the weak in courage are strong in cunning.” Perhaps we should add that, as the minds of the weak in courage deteriorate, their cunning is the last to go.

To be sure, Trump blabbers on about “Yo-semites” and “Thighland,” and his tweets, never more than semi-literate, have lately become more infantile and incoherent than usual.

Were he not also still skillfully dominating the news cycle, undermining confidence that mail ballots will be counted, and stoking up racist and nativist animosities – directed nowadays as much against “the yellow peril” as “Mexican rapists” and “gang-bangers” and Muslim “terrorists” – in ways calculated to keep his electoral prospects alive, it would be painfully obvious that the man is just not all there upstairs. Period; end of story.

But because he still is doing all that and more, that answer doesn’t entirely cut it.

This is why prosecutors should at least consider the possibility that he is following the lead of the “Oddfather,” Vincent Gigante, for many years the boss of the Genovese crime family. Towards the end, Gigante, “the Chin,” would appear in public in his pajamas and bathrobe, and otherwise do all he could to maintain the fiction that he was insane and therefore not competent to stand trial for anything.

Trump is not a good enough actor for that and, unlike real mob bosses, banksters, corporate honchos, and politicians flirting with trouble, when he does something he would like to hide, he lacks the skills to make a case for “plausible deniability.”

Instead, he commits “high crimes and misdemeanors” in full public view, along with plainly actionable, criminal offenses. He leaves any covering up that needs to be done to his accountants, lawyers and assorted flunkies.

Even so, there is a cell at Club Fed and another in New York, with his name on it. He knows it too and will do anything he can to avoid going to either one.

Barack Obama and Eric Holder, no doubt with Biden’s input and help, gave Bush-Cheney era war criminals, and Bush and Cheney themselves, get-out-of-jail-free cards, ostensibly so that the country could “move forward,” but also so that the Obama administration could more easily continue and even intensify what Bush and Cheney started.

I have no doubt that Biden would like to repeat that mistake, this time with Trump and his underlings. But, with the public so far out ahead of mainstream politicians this time around, that won’t be easy for him to do. And, in any case, New York state is still there, whether or not Biden somehow manages to weasel out of doing the right thing.

And so, at the same time that Trump is working hard to delegitimize the electoral defeat that is staring him in the face, he is following in the Chin’s footsteps, not so much by pretending to be batshit crazy, but, even better, profoundly senescent.

Is he not then contradicting himself? Of course, he is. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” A strategic inconsistency sometimes can be as well.

***

As for Biden, how much better the world would be had Nancy Pelosi and the other Democratic Party House leaders, the gang of four – Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn, Ben Ray Luján, and Hakeem Jeffries – just let him remain ensconced in a comfortable retirement.

Life was good for him. A former poor boy, he has a house in the swanky part of northern Delaware and another, recently acquired, by the sea in the southern part of the state. After leaving office, he kept busy raking in money from speaking engagements and who knows what else.

Better still, all over the state, he had a lot named after him already, including the Amtrak station in Wilmington, one of the seediest and most decrepit in the northeast corridor.

He even had a legend associated with it – about how, when his two sons were young, he would commute daily from there to his day job in the Senate. Perhaps he really did, though anyone who rode those rails, especially back then, would have a hard time believing it, inasmuch as the commute would have left him barely enough time in Washington to grab a bite and utilize the facility.

Did he really need to trade all that for what is bound to be a difficult and protracted process of de-Trumpification? And did Pelosi and the others really need him for them to serve their donors and keep their power?

Granted, the pillars of their party had no time for Bernie Sanders or even Elizabeth Warren. But they had other, more capable, less goofy “moderates,” still in their prime, that they could have turned to. Why him?

It is practically axiomatic, in the liberal corporate media view, that Nancy knows best. But if Biden is the best that she and her colleagues could come up with, then that is one axiom that has gone seriously wrong.

It doesn’t matter for defeating Trump; Trump is doing a fine job of that on his own. It does matter, though, for what will come after the Trumpian nightmare has subsided. On that score, Pelosi et. al. have much to answer for.

To be sure, what goes on outside official Washington, in the larger society, matters as much or more than who is holding court at the White House. But at some point, it comes to nothing if victories won in the larger society do not register in laws and in their implementation.

Biden nowadays is beginning to talk the talk, at least to some extent. More important, he does seem susceptible to being moved leftward in practice as well, should circumstances compel him. At least, he is not, like Trump, in thrall to his own delusions and to the wishes of plutocrats who have figured out how to use money and flattery to bend his will to theirs.

It is worth noting that, at first, FDR was considered a flyweight too. And yet, through his good offices, we got the New Deal.

If Biden makes it through the next four years with his mental and physical capacities more or less intact, it is not inconceivable that he would end up following a similar trajectory, but only if an insurgent citizenry and a Democratic Party beginning at last to reconstruct itself from the bottom up gives him no choice.

In any case, no matter what happens, no one should expect a Second Coming of FDR. Even if Roosevelt was the flyweight some thought him to be, his leftward trajectory started out from a far higher plateau.

But Biden may not be quite as hopeless as he seems, or as one would expect, given his past; and should alternative centers of executive power assert themselves even with him still in office, the chances of some good, not just less bad, coming out of Washington over the next few years would be much improved.

This is why the choice of a running mate matters a lot more this election cycle than it usually does or than it has at any time since 1944, when the nod went to Harry Truman instead of the incumbent, Henry Wallace.

Partly thanks to that unfortunate choice, we got the Cold War, the core institutions of the national security state, and the demise of the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union, the country that had done more than any other, including our own, to defeat the fascist menace. Who can say how much better off we would have been, and would still be, had Wallace, not Truman, been calling the shots.

In a saner world than our own, a candidate’s politics would matter a lot more than her ascribed or chosen “identities.” By that metric, of all the candidates said to be in contention, Elizabeth Warren is by far the best.

If we could be sure that Biden wouldn’t last more than a year or two in office, it would therefore make sense to urge that she be his choice. He wouldn’t listen, of course, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

But, we cannot be sure that he won’t make it through the next four years; and if events go the way that now seems most likely, Warren could probably do more good outside the immediate Biden fold – in the Senate or perhaps as Secretary of Commerce – than waiting in the wings, helping the doddering doofus out, the way Vice Presidents must.

Moreover, as matters now stand, it actually would make sense to give up on some measure of political rectitude in order to put an African American woman on the ticket.

Were Biden to weasel out of doing that, he could indeed face an “enthusiasm” problem that, added on to GOP voter suppression efforts and other Trumpian machinations, actually could bring him to the brink of defeat.

As of now, that prospect is little more than a nightmare scenario conjured up by Democratic Party operatives and worrywarts on the cable news channels — in order to solicit contributions and fill airtime.

There is always the possibility, though, that Biden might just be inept enough to render it plausible. Clinton managed to lose, after all, and Biden is even worse than she.

By my lights, while each and every one of the African American women Biden is said to be considering would be an improvement on him, there are only two who, at this point, actually seem cut out for the job. They are the two supposedly at the top of Biden’s list: Susan Rice and Kamala Harris.

Rice is a liberal imperialist of the Clinton-Obama, foreign policy establishment type. If Biden chooses her, it would signal his determination to “make America a no longer risible global hegemon again.” No surprise there, but it would still be bad news.

Were Biden more insightful and more inclined to think outside the box, it might even occur to him that Susan’s namesake and Bush era counterpart, Condoleezza, would be a better choice.

She surely would be insofar as she is still interested, as she was in the past, in winding down, not stirring up, potentially catastrophic anti-Russian animosities, and in fostering cooperation, not conflict, with China.

In marked contrast, the Rice that Biden seems interested in empowering would, more likely than not, exacerbate a glaringly debilitating problem with the actually existing Democratic Party — the extent to which so many of its leading figures and rank-and-file members suffer from Clyburn’s Complaint.

The Rice who was practically George W’s nanny would likely have a more salutary effect.

And, at a time when “bipartisanship” is said to be a virtue – an odd claim inasmuch as the worst of our duopoly parties merits nothing better than total and complete contempt – and in which, to their everlasting shame, liberal commentators and politicians seem more inclined to venerate than to derogate the Bush-Cheney regime, Condoleezza might actually look better than her namesake to the liberal commentariat.

Needless to say, however, if there is a Rice in our future, it will be Susan, not Condee, and if we have any luck at all, the Rice Question will soon be forgotten, out of sight and out of mind.

If our luck holds, Kamala Harris will be Biden’s choice.

It could be a lot worse. It could be a lot better too, however; and it would be, but for Pelosi and the others.

However, there is some consolation in the fact that, if Harris is chosen, we will be able to see her reduce Mike Pence, Trump’s godly sycophant, to tears when the vice presidential candidates debate. Better yet, she is just the one to get Trump’s goat, as she surely will repeatedly in the weeks and months ahead, if she is the nominee.

She is a good choice for just the reason that Democratic Party honchos and donors are said to have doubts: because she is ambitious and defiant. She wiped the floor with Biden when she debated him last winter. Hooray to her for that.

In straits as dire as ours now are, and in a political universe as impoverished, a lively anti-Biden figure on the ticket, and then in the vice presidential role, is precisely what is needed most – first, to vanquish Trump and the Trumpians, and then, in due course, to move beyond the Trumpian nightmare, the better to smash the Democratic Party as we know it, replacing it with a radically reconstructed political formation that really can move us closer to a better – more just, more peaceful, more prosperous, and, most important of all, healthier and less ecologically deleterious — possible world.

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Biden’s Ukrainegate Problem

by GERALD SUSSMAN

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

In Danny Boyle’s 2019 movie comedy “Yesterday,” after a global blackout causes the near worldwide memory loss of the existence of the Beatles, an amateur musician from an English coastal town takes advantage of the situation to steal their songs and achieve instant global stardom. In this scenario, it is an accident that causes Beatles amnesia.

In the case of the Democrats’ obsession with Russiagate, a propaganda narrative delivered to and amplified by willing accessories in the mainstream media (MSM) through the initiative of the Central Intelligence Agency, there is a massive memory shutdown of just who the CIA actually is. This is the agency that has run US foreign policy for more than 70 years with a program of political destabilization, assassinations, lying to Congress about their illegal operations throughout the world, including the fabrication of Iraq’s supposed WMD program, spying on members of the Senate, and regularly dishing out black propaganda and disinformation for MSM distribution.

The leadership of the Democrats in hopes of flipping the White House to their party control have partnered with the CIA and the likes of its former director John Brennan (2013-2017), who introduced the Russia “hacking” story to the MSM in 2016. The Russian state, he claimed, had provided WikiLeaks with emails from the Democratic National Committee server that damaged the Clinton campaign and helped Trump win the election. The leaks included emails that exposed Clinton activities in securing quid pro quo deals with reactionary Middle East leaders in exchange for their large financial contributions to her and her husband’s private foundation.

They also exposed her collusion with the DNC for the purpose of undermining the presidential primary campaign of her rival Bernie Sanders and emails that showed that a longtime ally of Clinton and the DNC vice chair Donna Brazile had fed Clinton topics beforehand to be used in CNN “town halls”; that Clinton had a cozy relationship with Wall Street financial houses; that she in camera admitted that her public political statements contradicted her private beliefs; that she planned to invade and confront Russia in Syria; and that as a principle of foreign policy, she favored covert intervention in other countries’ affairs.

What the hawkish Clinton could not achieve, the less strident imperialist Joe Biden hopes to carry on. He comes from the same neoliberal and neoconservative mindset as the former first lady and secretary of state. As part of his campaign fundraising efforts to secure big bucks from big pocket corporations and billionaires, Biden recently assured the tycoon class that changing corporate behavior “is not going to require legislation – [and] I’m not proposing any.” As a senator, he always played ball with Republicans and conservative Democrats, and that’s how he hopes to win over independents and anti-Trump conservatives to his side.

The Maidan coup in Ukraine in 2014, fomented by efforts to purge the government of its Russia-leaning leadership, has its roots in the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2004, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) teamed up with the State Department, USAID, Freedom House, George Soros’s Open Society Institute, Britain’s Westminster Institute, the political consultant Dick Morris, and other government groups, including the CIA, to block Viktor Yanukovych from taking office as president following an election in 2004, which the US and domestic enemies of Yanukovych branded as rigged. That year alone, according to the State Department, the US spent about $34 million on regime change initiatives in Ukraine, while Soros pitched in about $1.6 million in support of a local “Freedom of Choice” NGO coalition and Ukraine’s “New Choice 2004.”

NED activists and Soros’s OSI employed a broad public relations strategy to aid a youth protest movement, bus paid out-of-town protesters into Kiev, create an online TV protest station, create agitation paraphernalia, and provide offshore training to the anti-Yanukovych student leadership based on a template “revolutionary” strategy and the writings of Gene Sharp they had previously successfully employed in Serbia with a youth group called “Otpor.” They also paid local pollsters to do exit polls in favor of the US backed candidate, Viktor Yushchenko. One of the paid polling groups had USAID, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the U.S. State Department, and Coca-Cola among its former clients.

The US involvement in the so-called “color revolutions” in former Soviet-allied states is discussed in extensive detail in my 2010 book, Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe and in a shorter version published in the UK.

The US found a second chance, starting in 2013, to rid the country of then president Yanukovych and played an active role in a coup against his government. This time around, apart from its other standard tactics, the US supported a much more violent section of the protest movement, involving neofascist organizations such as Svoboda and the Right Sector, which strongly identified with the pro-Nazi nationalist movement in that country during World War II. Vice President Biden’s relationship with Ukraine intensified at that time when he played a key role in the “Maidan” uprising and the coup that overthrew Yanukovych.

This opened up the opportunity for State Department to install their anti-Russia choices for the new president and prime minister, respectively Viktor Poroshenko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) showed up in the Maidan (square), where they shared the stage with the neo-Nazi Ukrainian leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, to cheer on the protesters. Once the neo-Nazi elements entered the Maidan and began to shoot police and throw gasoline bombs at government buildings, Yanukovych was forced to flee the country.

The assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in the Obama administration, Victoria Nuland, a neocon, blatantly engaged in the protest, handing out cookies (let them eat cookies) to the demonstrators. This form of foreign intervention by public officials is unheard of. Nuland worked closely with the US ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, to handpick Yanukovych’s successors.

Nuland’s husband, the neocon Robert Kagan, had earlier been one of the architects of the plan (with Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Abrams, Richard Perle and other hawks and chicken hawks) under the Project for a New American Century to invade Iraq. Nuland and Kagan must have had intense pillow talk on the tactics of regime change.

While the Maidan protest was underway, in December 2013 Nuland spoke before the International Business Conference, a group sponsored by the US-Ukrainian Foundation, where she bragged that Washington had “invested” more than $5 billion over the years in support of opposition forces, routed through NGOs, and in backing Ukraine’s “European aspirations.” A couple of months later she would be caught on tape with the US ambassador in Kiev arrogantly raging that the US should “fuck the EU.” The US doesn’t influence foreign elections, it runs them.

Biden’s role in the Ukraine regime change, as Nuland put it, was to “midwife” the new government into existence and thereby incorporate another eastern European satellite into America’s orbit. This is what the neocons call “democracy promotion.” His efforts in Ukraine, however, proved disastrous.

Two years after the coup, Yatsenyuk, caught up in a corruption scandal and about to receive a vote of no-confidence, was forced to resign as prime minister. Later in 2016, after Poroshenko’s name was listed as one of the businessmen with offshore accounts hidden in the Panama tax haven, his trust rating sank to 13.7%, according to a poll by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology. Biden’s boys were busted. One can only imagine his reaction if Vladimir Putin had been involved in such a financial scandal and with such a low approval rating.

Poroshenko was well-known within the State Department for corruption as well as being a regular informant to the US embassy in Kiev years before he was put up for president. His dirty reputation didn’t trouble Biden at all, as the vice president had his own family business deals to sow, with Poroshenko as an accomplice. Two months after the Maidan coup and his anointment as president, Poroshenko’s repayment was to shepherd Biden’s son, Hunter, onto the board and as head of legal affairs at Ukraine’s largest gas producer, Burisma Holdings, run by the oligarch and former head of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Mykola Zlochevsky.

Just two months after being booted out of the US Navy for cocaine use, Hunter was deemed fit to operate in Ukraine’s political culture, which for many Ukrainians must have been a grave insult. It is more to Joe Biden’s discredit, however, that he encouraged his son to be part of a regime that was ranked in 2015 the most corrupt country in Europe, and, according to Ernst & Young, has the highest level of fraud of 41 countries they surveyed (2017) and ranked second in the world in bribery and corruption (2017).

Burisma’s owner was notorious for using his high political position to convert privatized state assets into his personal coffers. The year and month young Biden was hired, April 2014, Zlochevsky came under the investigation of the government’s Serious Fraud Office for money laundering, tax evasion, embezzlement, and corruption, including his stashing of $23.5 million in his London companies and money laundering operations in Cyprus and Latvia.

Zlochevsky was also investigated for handing out oil and gas licenses during his time as minister to companies that he then owned. According to a Reuters report, while acting as legal advisor to the company, Hunter Biden failed to give any legal help to Zlochevsky during the shakeup. Zlochevsky fled the country and was last known to be living in the Riviera.

Biden used his position as vice president to coerce Poroshenko into firing his prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, as a condition for a US underwriting of an IMF $1 billion loan to Ukraine, in addition to assuring Biden that Ukraine was putting through the unnamed political and economic reforms demanded by the US and the IMF, including raising tariffs on Russian gas imports. This was captured in series of leaked phone calls between the then vice president and Poroshenko.

During a visit to Ukraine in December 2015, Biden told the Ukraine president, “I’m going to be leaving here in six hours. If the prosecutor’s [Shokin] not fired, you’re not getting the money.” Poroshenko, who owed his position to the Obama administration, followed orders. Biden later said triumphantly, “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired.” It was the height of imperial swagger.

Biden’s defenders claim that the demand for Shokin’s sacking was simply to clean up the Ukraine government. However, a French documentary produced by the anti-corruption blog Les Crises indicates through extensive interviews with Ukrainian political leaders that Shokin, an experienced lawyer and respected by many within the country’s political circles for honesty, was the only state prosecutor who had actively investigated high-level corruption. Two months before he was fired, Shokin had the house of Zlochevsky raided and confiscated.

Biden and Zlochevsky desperately wanted him out not for incompetence, as Biden claimed, but because of the embarrassing details Shokin was discovering about Burisma’s bribery and financial chicanery until Poroshenko ordered him to shut down the investigation. Shokin’s replacement was Yuri Lutsenko, who prior to his appointment had been sentenced in 2012 to 4 years (serving 3) in prison for forgery and abuse of office.

In one of their phone calls, Poroshenko is heard asking permission from Biden to put Lutsenko in the prosecutor’s office. Biden tells him he wants to “huddle with my team” before giving approval. Three months into office, Lutsenko dropped the case against Zlochevsky.

Meanwhile, Poroshenko was making deals with Zlochevsky through an intermediary to end the prosecution against him in exchange for a major share of the profits from Burisma’s companies. Poroshenko’s method was to threaten oligarchs whose properties he coveted with prosecution and then demand payoffs or cut profit-sharing deals with them. During his 5 years in power, Poroshenko never put in prison any of the oligarchs accused of corruption.

Along with his confectionary companies, “Chocolate King” Poroshenko, as he is known in Ukraine, had investments in car manufacturing, shipbuilding, armaments, and TV stations, controlling some 20-30% of the country’s media market. The “Chocolate King’s” estimated worth is currently $1.4 billion.

Ousted from the presidency in 2019, his successor Volodymyr Zelensky is said to be under the patronage of another oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky, who is worth a trifling $1 billion.

While his son was ensconced at a very high salary in one of the most corrupt industries in Ukraine, Biden was busy lecturing the Ukraine parliament (Rada) in December 2015 that “senior elected officials have to remove all conflicts between their business interest and their government responsibilities.” Adding to such sanctimonious malarkey, he said: “I never tell another man or another nation or another woman what’s in their interest.”

The US does not regard its constant interventions in other countries’ affairs as “interference” when it has to do with US hegemonic power demands. Personal manipulation of foreign governments and their leaders is not at all considered illegitimate. Biden’s personal interest in Ukraine was that the prosecutor general Viktor Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings and its owner Mykola Zlochevsky too studiously. Zlochevsky hired Biden’s son, Hunter, in 2014 to be a “ceremonial figure” on the board of directors of his energy company, with a monthly stipend of $83,000, according to Fox News ($50,000/month according to the Wall Street Journal).

Neither Biden nor anyone else in the State Department at the time saw any conflict of interest between a vice president acting as a proconsul to another country on behalf of US interests, while his own son, who had no previous experience in the energy field, was making hay at the expense of the Ukrainian people and American taxpayers funding US assistance to one of the most corrupt regimes on the planet.

During his time on the Burisma board and as its legal advisor (2014-2019), Hunter Biden never bothered to visit Ukraine.

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Nazi Forces Detain 15 Palestinians from West Bank

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) reported that the Nazi forces, Monday night until Tuesday at dawn, detained four Palestinians from Tulkarem, in the northern occupied West Bank; Wajdi Tawfiq Jayyousi, 35, Imad Akram Balawi, 26, Ahmed Darwish Abu Dhiab, 22, and Rifaat Rabhi al-Saleh, 35.

From Jenin in the north, soldiers detained Mahmoud Nasser Zakarneh and Shadi Sami Zakarneh, and from the town of Marah Rabah in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, the Israeli army detained Ahmed Saleh Abdel Karim, Ahmed Muhammad Thawabeh, and Hamza Khalil Taqatqa.

Meanwhile, from the central West Bank city of Ramallah, from the town of Silwad, Muhammad Yasin Hamed, a former prisoner who was released about one month ago, was detained.

Late Monday night, the Nazi occupation forces detained four young men from occupied Jerusalem; Omar Odeh, Ibrahim Al-Natsheh, Youssef Al-Shawish, and Adel Al-Ajlouni.

From Al-Samou’ town in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, the youth, Jihad Hassan Awad Abu Obeid was detained by Nazi troops.

The Palestinian Information Center reported that dozens of Palestinian youths attempted to stop the military invasion into their neighborhood in Tulkarem. The youths threw stones, while the army fired tear-gas canisters and stun grenades towards the protestors.

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Abdul Fattah Al-Sharif’s Execution by Nazi Soldier

Abdul Fattah Al-Sharif’s Execution by an Israeli Soldier

By Ramzy Baroud for Palestine Chronicle: As illegal settlers increase their attacks on Palestinian civilians in the occupied city of Al-Khalil (Hebron), the people of the Palestinian city continue to mount a campaign of popular resistance.

One of the channels of resistance is Human Rights Defenders (HRD), “a grassroots, non-partisan Palestinian organization, working to support nonviolent popular resistance through popular direct action and documentation of human rights violations committed by the occupation.”

To understand the situation in Hebron better, I spoke to Badee Dwaik, head of Human Rights Defenders; Raghad Neiroukh, a journalist, and Flora Thomas, a British solidarity activist.

The conversation included another member of HRD, Imad Abu Shamsiyah, the courageous activist who filmed the murder of a young Palestinian man, Abdul Fattah Al-Sharif.

On March 24, 2016, Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, killed Al-Sharif in cold blood in Hebron. The Israeli army later claimed that Al-Sharif, and another Palestinian, tried to stab an Israeli soldier.

The murder was rightly dubbed an “extrajudicial execution” by human rights organisations. Under international pressure, Israel tried Azaria in court, sentencing him to 18 months’ imprisonment, but eventually released him 14 months later, to be received as a hero by many Israeli politicians, his family and ordinary people.

I asked Abu Shamsiyah about the events that took place on that day, when he had personally witnessed and filmed the execution of the young Palestinian man.

“It was about 8 o’clock in the morning and I was having coffee with my wife. I heard the sound of shooting outside, very close to my house,” Abu Shamsiyah began.

“I immediately went out to see what was going on, and my wife followed me. She brought the camera with her.”

“I found out that a person was lying in the street. He was wearing a black t-shirt and trousers.”

“I saw that there was also another person on the ground. I moved my camera to capture him on film and noticed that he was bleeding from his face.”

“I observed a few Israeli soldiers approaching one of the people on the ground; they were very close to me.”

“I realised that Abdul Fattah Al-Sharif was a Palestinian only when I saw an Israeli soldier kicking him.”

“When the Israeli soldier kicked him, Al-Sharif moved both of his legs and his hands. I captured this with my camera.”

“At that moment, my wife started shouting, saying: ‘Haram, haram,’ and tried to help the wounded young man.”

“When the soldiers heard her screams, they noticed our presence in the street. So they forced us to leave the street; they chased us away.”

“I went home but I began to think of another way to continue filming. I climbed on to the roof of a neighbour’s house and resumed filming the execution.”

“I saw an Israeli ambulance arriving in the area, but it didn’t go towards Al-Sharif; instead, it went towards the other person who was still lying on the ground. Only then, I realised that the other person was, in fact, an Israeli soldier.”

“So I zoomed in the camera to capture a better image of the soldier, who [looked as if he was] slightly injured. The ambulance gave him first aid and treated him, while they denied any treatment to Al-Sharif and the other wounded Palestinian.”

“They carried the Israeli soldier into the ambulance; I zoomed in again, and he was already standing; as I said before, he was [clearly] only slightly injured.”

“The ambulance began to turn around to leave the area. It was then that I heard the sound of one of the soldiers loading his gun. He got closer and closer to where Al-Sharif was [still lying down]. When he was about one metre away, he pointed the gun at Al-Sharif’s head.”

“Al-Sharif did not pose any threat to the soldier, whose name was revealed later in the media to be Elor Azaria. It was Azaria who shot the wounded Palestinian in the head.”

“I was still filming, and one of the Jewish settlers, who noticed me, told the soldiers about me. One of the soldiers turned towards me and ordered me to leave the area, but I was already leaving because I had filmed the entire scene.”

“I immediately went to the Human Rights Defenders, where I uploaded the video and many people watched it.”

“Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians in cold blood, while accusing Palestinians of trying to stab soldiers.”

Following the incident and, throughout Azaria’s trial, Abu Shamsiyah and his family experienced a lot of harassment by the Israeli army for revealing the truth that Israel wishes to keep hidden: the brutality of its soldiers, and the intrinsic relationship between the occupation army and the illegal settlers.

Speaking to Abu Shamsiyah four years after the tragic death of Al-Sharif, the Palestinian activist remains steadfast in his belief that the ongoing Israeli human rights violations must be exposed. His voice conveys determination, not hesitation or fear.

Human Rights Defenders, like many other Palestinian groups, continues to channel and guide the popular resistance of the Palestinian people in Hebron and many towns and villages across Palestine. They are a testament to the resolve of Palestinian society – brave, steadfast and unbroken.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. He has authored a number of books on the Palestinian struggle including ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’. Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Abdul Fattah Al-Sharif’s Execution by Nazi Soldier

Why Besieged Gaza is a Ticking Time Bomb

By Yousef Alhelou for Middle East Monitor

Gaza’s two million residents have become accustomed for the past 20 years to Israeli air strikes, ground incursions and naval attacks. In fact, the besieged coastal enclave has become an experimental field where Israel’s latest technology and military arsenal including deadly drones are used. Fear and panic have become the norm as the sound of explosions and blasts rock the 40-kilometre Strip.

For the past seven days, aerial strikes targeted different military training sites and security observation posts in the Gaza Strip, which has been under Hamas’ control since 2007. Tanks and navy warships take part in the frequent offensives, which also give new soldiers a chance to put what they learnt into action in a real battlefield, targeting the “enemy”.

To put things into perspective, the latest military escalation in Gaza, according to Israel, is “in response” to incendiary balloons released by Palestinian civilian activists (with the help of the sea breeze blowing from west to east toward the Israeli controlled areas) which cause fires when they land on crops and in agricultural fields. Kites were originally used with fuel doused sponges which had been set alight attached to them, but the use of balloons took over as they are cheaper and take no time to make. The balloons normally lead to bush fires, requiring fire engines and even aircraft to extinguish them. It’s a nightmare that costs millions of shekels in damages and losses to Israeli farmers.

This is “popular resistance” or “non-violent resistance” according to Palestinians who are working to pressure Israel to lift its ongoing siege. The blockade – a form of collective punishment – was imposed in response to Hamas winning the parliamentary elections in January 2006 and the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the summer of the same year. Shalit was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid via tunnels near the Israeli fence. When Hamas took control of Gaza from Fatah, as a result of its success in the election, the siege tightened.

“Nightly confusion” is another technique used by activists, with tyres being burnt and fireworks and explosives being set off along the fence separating Israel from the enclave. This “noise confusion” aims to disrupt the daily lives of Israeli soldiers positioned along the fence, as well as Israelis living near Gaza. The fires trigger powerful blasts and fill the sky with acrid smoke. These two popular resistance activities had ceased functioning in recent months as both Israel and Hamas reached an unofficial ceasefire agreement, but resumed over the past eight days to send a message to Israel that the cost of calm and tranquillity along the fence is the full lifting of the prolonged suffocating strangling siege, which has transformed Gaza into the world’s largest open air prison and brought life and economic activities to a standstill.

In the past, drone attacks were used against those activists to deter them, but it seems the army of jobless youths feel they have nothing lose; life has no taste for them. The majority have never left Gaza, been on a plane or train or experienced other cultures. Even the occupied West Bank isn’t within reach for them, neither are their ancestral lands in historic Palestine and Jerusalem. Alleviating the endless suffering of Palestinians in Gaza who have been subjected to three devastating Israeli wars in late 2008, late 2012 and mid-2014 is necessary in order to restore calm and hope.

No doubt internal differences and division between the two major political factions Fatah and Hamas, fuelled by Israel, contribute to this acute, complicated problem and it is indeed shameful.

Palestinian lands have been occupied by Israel for decades now even before the founding of those factions, and in fact they were established to resist the occupation. They have tried all available means of resistance in the hope that Israel ends its occupation but to no avail.

Israel is known for its policy of buying time and chooses when to open or close the tap, allowing and banning goods as well as “duel usage items” such as cement, balloons and tyres. In response to the two means of non-violent tactics, Tel Aviv has decided to stop the delivery of industrial diesel needed for Gaza’s only electricity generating company. According to Palestinian officials this led to the power plant shutting down today, with health officials warning of disastrous consequences on the health sector, especially chronically ill patients, in ICU and newborn babies in incubators. Moreover, Tel Aviv decided to close off the fishing zone along Gaza.

In an attempt to defuse the tension and avoid a possible major escalation that normally involves firing of long range home-made projectiles and missiles from Gaza into Israel, an Egyptian delegation has been shuttling to meet officials in the besieged Strip to convey their demands to Tel Aviv, namely lifting the siege, allow Qatari grant funds to reach Gaza, increase the fishing zone, open Karm Abu Salem commercial crossing located on the Gaza-Israel-Egypt border, improve the electricity and water services and increase the number of permits for Gazan traders and merchants entering the West Bank and Israel via the Israeli controlled Erez crossing.

Egypt’s role stems from the fact that it wants to maintain its position as mediator since it shares its border with Gaza and as a result of it being the first Arab country to strike a peace deal with Israel in 1979, but also to emphasise that it is an important key player in the region especially after the UAE and Israel signed a normalisation deal last week.

The “resistance balloons” continue to be sent across the fence, and Israeli officials, including Defence Minister Benny Gantz, have renewed their threats to “protect Israeli security sovereignty without any concessions”.

But Gantz, Netanyahu and others know for sure that Gazans have nothing to lose as life is unbearable under the ongoing 14-year siege, while peace on Israeli terms is a mirage.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Why Besieged Gaza is a Ticking Time Bomb

Hebron: Stop Nazi Jewish Settlers Set up Caravan

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

The Nazi regime delivered, Monday, a number of stop work orders to Palestinians in the southern West Bank village of Birin, east of Hebron City, according to the Palestinian WAFA News Agency.

Coordinator of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Committees Rateb al-Jabour, said the Nazi forces stormed Birin village Birin and handed five Palestinian residents notices ordering them to stop working on their lands.

Al-Jabour added that these measures by the Nazi occupation, are intended to intimidate and force Palestinians to abandon their land. The result of which would be the forced displacement of Palestinians, and expropriation of occupied territories for the expansion of nearby illegal Nazi Jewish settlements.

Meanwhile, Nazi Jewish settlers, Monday, erected a new illegal outpost in the village of Birin, signalling their intent to build another illegal settlement, local sources said.

Al-Jabour told WAFA that illegal settlers set up a caravan on lands owned by Palestinians, with legal deeds proving ownership of the land.

The Committee of Protection and Resilience said the outpost would connect the illegal Nazi Jewish settlements of Kiryat Arba, Bani Hefer, Karma’il, and Ma’on.

In related news, groups of illegal Nazi Jewish settlers, on Sunday evening, stormed Tel Rumedia neighborhood in the city of Hebron, and attacked Palestinian civilians, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

Eyewitnesses stated that a large number of extremist colonialist Nazi Jewish settlers, under the full protection of armed Nazi Jewish soldiers, attacked Palestinians in Tel Rumeida.

Sources said that local residents confronted the Nazi colonists and forced them to withdraw from the town. No injuries were reported.~

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Hebron: Stop Nazi Jewish Settlers Set up Caravan

Gaza Strip: Snapshot

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

July 2020

July Highlights

  • No casualties reported as a result of hostilities in Gaza for the second month in a row.
  • Exit arrangements for treatment in Israel and East Jerusalem, via the Erez Crossing, continues to be
    affected due to the halt of coordination between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities.
  • A male patient died after his exit to undergo urgent surgery in Israel was delayed due to the halt of
    coordination, the third in this context since 21 May.
  • The Egyptian and Palestinian authorities kept the Rafah Crossing with Egypt closed between 15 May and 10 August to control the spread of COVID-19.

Protection of Civilians and Casualties

  • Three rockets were fired by a Palestinian armed group from Gaza towards Israel in July, causing no injuries or damage to property. Following the incident, Israeli forces targeted several, reportedly military, sites in Gaza. This resulted in no injuries. Three houses and a livelihood structure, adjacent to the sites, sustained damage.
  • On at least 50 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire near its perimeter fence with Gaza and off the Gaza coast, presumably to enforce access restrictions, about 40 per cent below the number of such incidents reported in June.
  • On three occasions, Israeli bulldozers entered Gaza and levelled land near the perimeter fence.

Access

  • 325 people holding permits crossed the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing, a 27 per cent increase compared to June, but two per cent of the 2019 monthly average. Eighty per cent of the exits were patients and their companions, whose permits were exceptionally coordinated by NGOs and international agencies, due to the halt in coordination.
  • 305 people entered Gaza via Erez, a slight increase compared to June. All were sent to mandatory quarantine by the local authorities.
  • Some 9,556 truckloads of goods entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Israel, almost the same as the previous month, and 17 per cent above the monthly average in the first half of the year. Another 348 truckloads entered via the Rafah Crossing from Egypt, a 17 per cent decrease from the previous month.
  • Some 197 truckloads carrying mostly agricultural produce, exited Gaza through Israel to the West Bank (157 truckloads); Israel (39 truckloads); and markets abroad (1 truckload); a 19 per cent decrease compared to June (244 truckloads).

Services, Livelihoods and Shelter

  • The daily supply of electricity during July declined to 11 hours, compared to 14 hours in June, due to the increased demand triggered by summer temperatures.
  • The pollution level of the wastewater discharged into the sea increased by 13 per cent in July compared to June, due to repair works at the Gaza wastewater treatment plant.
  • The percentage of essential drugs at zero-stock was 46 per cent in July, almost the same as in June.
  • The Government of Qatar distributed $10,000,000 in financial aid to 100,000 impoverished Palestinian families in Gaza.
  • Three UNRWA health centres received support through a EUR1.79 million donation from the Government of Italy.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Gaza Strip: Snapshot

Gazans Face ‘Double Crisis’, Need International Support

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

The 2 million Palestinians in Gaza face a “double crisis” as they struggle with an acute electricity shortage just as the coronavirus has spread into the community among the vulnerable population, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

“The population of Gaza is under terrible strain,” said Ignacio Casares Garcia, head of the ICRC’s Gaza Sub-delegation. “People are stressed: not only are they coping with just four hours of electricity a day; their worries over the virus have been hugely compounded and they are now under lockdown.”

“We want to reaffirm our commitment to doing all we can to support the Gaza population as they face the virus,” said Casares Garcia. “They can’t do this alone. They need all the international assistance they can get to make sure they are equipped to deal with the crisis.”

The Nazi occupation has launched a number of offensives in several areas of the densely populated Strip in acts of retaliation. As a means of collective punishment, the occupation has tightened the 13 year old siege on the Palestinian population in Gaza, closed the fishing zone, and blocked the necessary fuel for sustained electricity production.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human Rights, PoliticsComments Off on Gazans Face ‘Double Crisis’, Need International Support

Gaza: Nazi Navy Attacks Fishermen

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

The Nazi navy, on Sunday, attacked Palestinian fishermen and their boats as they sailed within one nautical mile off the Gaza shore, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

Local Coordinator of the fishermen’s union, Zakariya Bakr said the Nazi regime total closure of the Gaza sea, which has continued for the seventh consecutive day, deprives Gaza fishermen of their daily sustenance and increases their families’ suffering.

Even prior to the recent escalations in Gaza, the Nazi navy was attacking and harassing fishermen on a daily basis, for no specific reason.

The 1993 Oslo accords allowed fishing up to 20 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza, but the Nazi regime have reduced the fishing zone to between three and six nautical miles.

The Nazi army, on Saturday morning, opened machine-gun fire towards cultivated land and shepherds in the besieged Gaza Strip, PIC further reported.

According to local media sources, Nazi soldiers opened fire at a group of shepherds in the east of al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, which forced them to leave their work.

Farmlands to the east of al-Qarara town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, also came under similar gunfire attack by Nazi soldiers.

No casualties were reported.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Gaza: Nazi Navy Attacks Fishermen

Keir Starmer hints at Labour retreat on ‘Israel’ sanctions

Asa Winstanley Lobby Watch 

“The Labour Party is under new management,” UK opposition leader Keir Starmer told Boris Johnson, the prime minister in Parliament on Wednesday.

It was the regular political sparring match officially known as Prime Minister’s Question Time and the discussion that day centered around Russian TV channel RT.

In a pretty blatant swipe at his left-wing predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, Starmer stated that “no Front Bencher of this party has appeared on Russia Today since I have been leading this party.”

The very same day, Starmer also met with Labour Friends of Israel, a front group financed and directed by the Israeli embassy in London.

Starmer’s jibe that the party “is under new management” could have been just as much a reference to Labour’s increasingly right-wing approach towards Israel as much as it was about Russia.

According to Labour Friends of Israel, Starmer thanked them “for the crucial role they play in the Labour Party” and for “contributing to a balanced debate on the Middle East.”

They also discussed the BDS movement, the Palestinian-led global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in support of human rights.

The group did not explain exactly what they discussed about BDS, but it is clear that the pro-Israel lobby group opposes it.

Their chairperson Steve McCabe said, “I made it clear that in relation to Labour’s current policy position the LFI does not support any form of boycott or sanctions against the Jewish state.”

Neither Starmer nor the Labour press office replied to requests for comment, asking if he supported current Labour policy on sanctions against Israel.

Human rights abuses

Current Labour Party policy, inherited from the Corbyn years, is that a Labour government would implement sanctions against Israel in the form of an end to the two countries’ arms trade.

In party conference motions almost unanimously passed in 2018 and again in 2019, members voted to “freeze” arms sales to Israel due to its human right abuses.

Sanctions were also incorporated into Labour’s December general election pledges.

The 2019 manifesto said that there would be an immediate suspension of sales to Saudi Arabia of arms “for use in Yemen and to Israel for arms used in violation of the human rights of Palestinian civilians.”

Labour Friends of Israel has habitually defended Israeli killings of Palestinians.

In 2018 it posted an infamous tweet in which appeared to blame Palestinians for killings of protestors in Gaza who had in fact been shot by Israel.

“Hamas must accept responsibility for the events,” they tweeted, before deleting the posting after a wave of criticism.

At Labour’s 2016 party conference, the group’s then chairperson Joan Ryan was caught fabricating anti-Semitism claims.

In undercover footage shot for Al Jazeera’s 2017 film The Lobby, member of Parliament Joan Ryan reported a Palestine Solidarity Campaign activist to the Labour Party, falsely claiming she had invoked “classic anti-Semitic tropes.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Keir Starmer hints at Labour retreat on ‘Israel’ sanctions


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