While We Were Social Distancing

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 5:23am in

For most of Donald Trump’s presidency, it seems that the news has come at us like a firehose, spraying information, disinformation and quotable tweets. And that was before the pandemic. Now with more than 100,000 dead, presidential spectacles and unemployment … Continue reading

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As Establishment Condemns China for Hong Kong Repression, Trump Tweets About “Shooting Looters”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 5:10am in

Republicans and Democrats alike have come together to condemn a new law proposed by the Chinese government that would likely stifle the year-long protests in Hong Kong. The State Department, headed by former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, published a press release yesterday presenting the city as a “bastion of freedom” amidst a repressive state, claiming Beijing was undermining the one country, two systems framework established at the end of British colonial rule in 1997. The framework has allowed Hong Kong a host of special economic and political privileges that the mainland lacks.

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was similarly forthright in her denunciation of China. “This excessive law brazenly accelerates Beijing’s years-long assault on Hong Kong’s political and economic freedoms… All freedom-loving people must come together to condemn this law,” she wrote, adding, “If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests,” then it would “lose all moral authority to speak out elsewhere.”

President Trump has been similarly condemnatory and is scheduled to speak about China at a press conference later today. This morning he attempted to shift attention away from Minneapolis by simply tweeting “CHINA!”

Yet even as Trump was denouncing oppression abroad, he hinted that the military should move into Minneapolis and fire on protestors. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank You!” he said, adding that he would not stand back and watch a “great city” be overrun by “thugs” and looters. The tweet was quickly hidden by Twitter moderators for breaking their terms of service with regards to encouraging violence. The White House’s official account, therefore, repeated Trump’s incitement. Earlier today, a team of CNN journalists, led by presenter Omar Jimenez, were arrested by state police live on air for supposedly not following law enforcement instructions.

Both terms – “thugs” and “looters” – have become deeply racialized codewords in American society, referring chiefly to lower class African-Americans. The former is overwhelmingly reserved for black people, even when it is barely applicable. Meanwhile, after being abandoned by the state after Hurricane Katrina, poor black Louisiana residents desperately trying to find enough food to eat amid the flooding were presented as “looters” and were treated as such by the authorities and racist vigilante groups alike, who shot them with impunity.

The protests in Minneapolis erupted earlier this week after images of police officer Derek Chauvin killing unarmed black man George Floyd went viral. In videos posted on social media, Chauvin can be seen kneeling on Floyd’s throat for over seven minutes, as onlookers and Floyd himself pleaded that he was being suffocated. The Minnesota police department described the incident on their website with the headline “man dies after medical incident during police interaction.” Chauvin, a police officer of 19 years, has a long history of shooting and killing civilians while in uniform. Anger turned to rage throughout the week, and much of the city is currently still burning as demonstrations turned violent. This afternoon Chauvin was finally taken into custody, although it is not clear whether it is for his own safety as much as for his actions.

As for Hong Kong, tensions flared up in March last year over a proposed extradition treaty between the island city, the mainland, and Taiwan, after a Hong Kong resident murdered his pregnant girlfriend while on vacation in Taiwan, fled back home, and authorities were unable to prosecute him due to no agreement between the nations. Many in Hong Kong felt that Beijing would use the new treaty to arrest or persecute opponents of the Chinese state currently residing there. The United States has offered its full support to the protesters, meeting and promoting many of their most notable representatives, including student leader Joshua Wong. While the conflict has been raging for over a year, authorities have not been responsible for any deaths.

China’s new law would ban sedition, secession, and other methods of subversion. The Chinese government argues that it is a necessary step for national security, given that much of the protests appear to be funded and supported from abroad. However, critics say it is aimed at stifling legitimate dissent and would effectively be the end of the one country two systems framework of governance.

While the United States establishment is united in condemning Beijing for its overreach, with Trump encouraging the National Guard to open fire on any “thugs” or “looters” they might find, it may be time to turn the gaze closer to home to find examples of state repression.

Feature photo | A protester confronts National Guard soldiers deployed against protesters in Minneapolis, May 29, 2020. Carlos Barria | Reuters

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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U.S. Declares a Vaccine War on the World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/05/2020 - 5:31pm in

The U.S. fumbled its coronavirus response. Its intent to hoard vaccine profits only isolates it from other countries working on remedies.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Calls for Rapprochement with Russia and End of “American-led System”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/05/2020 - 5:23am in

A significant change in the global balance of power may be in the offing if we are to believe declarations made by EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell while addressing a group of German ambassadors on Monday in Brussels. Borell reportedly “created a diplomatic headache” when he called for the end of the “American-led system” and made the case for ushering in an “Asian century” centered around stabilizing European relations with Russia.

Borell ruffled more feathers earlier in the week when he publicly opposed “any Israeli initiative toward the annexation of parts of the West Bank,” but stopped short of articulating any concrete steps the EU might take to curb Israeli abuses in the region, stating that the EU would limit itself to “diplomatic action in order to avoid any unilateral action” by Israel in Gaza, despite support by several European nations for punitive actions against the apartheid state.

Nevertheless, Borell’s most recent comments before the German ambassadors are noteworthy for the simple fact that Germany is set to take over the presidency of the EU, as well as the UN Security Council in July, giving the EU’s chief diplomat’s words particular resonance and may point to a new phase in the broader Atlanticist geopolitical playbook.


Playing both sides

Borell, a Spanish politician who took over the EU’s top diplomat spot in December of 2019, has straddled the fine line Europe has taken between siding with American insistence on maligning the Asian superpower with claims of trying to block an investigation into the origins of the Coronavirus earlier this month and calling China a “partner country” in a recent article he penned in several European newspapers.

Ultimately, the European Union’s role in advancing Atlanticist designs in Asia hinges on its ability to play mediator in the tense relationship between the other world superpower – the United States, together with its proxy state, Israel – and China. To this end, Borell calls for the EU to “maintain the necessary collective discipline” against the threat of Chinese economic hegemony in their natural sphere of influence, which includes nations like India, Japan, Indonesia, and Russia.

For this reason, Borell’s message to the German ambassadors revolved around mending relationships with Putin’s Russia and strengthening ties “with the rest of democratic Asia,” suggesting that the EU should put their full support behind the Russian port of Vladivostok and Trans-Siberian transportation routes in order to skirt China’s One Belt One Road Initiative and thus weaken its position throughout Asia.

Germany’s close commercial ties to Russia have been a recurring bone of contention against the American-led intransigence against Putin in recent years, and as the Teuton nation prepares to assume a leading role in the 27-nation bloc government and the UN it looks as though the Atlanticist playbook is being tweaked as they discover that the strategies applied so far are only bringing its enemies closer together.


Filling the powder keg

As the geopolitical chess match continues to unfold amidst this pandemic-induced global economic reset, the real purpose of Israel as the linchpin of the entire Atlanticist project might soon be revealed to the world.

Should the EU’s rapprochement with Russia bear the desired fruit and the Kremlin indeed begins to forge closer ties with Europe instead of China, the balance of power will shift away from the U.S.-Israeli axis, at least momentarily. But, it will also set the stage for what Borell – perhaps only intuitively – expressed as the “pressure to choose sides.”

The EU is Israel’s biggest trading partner and Borell himself underlined that it was important for Europe to have “the best relationship with Israel” as a new coalition government between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz finally begins to take shape in the Middle Eastern state. Borell’s rhetoric about supporting Palestinian sovereignty might be nothing more than a bone thrown to the more conscientious EU members so that the aforementioned “collective discipline” might be achieved and Russia may be successfully lured into the fold and halt any further nurturing of Sino-Russian relations.

The American position on Israel is unambiguous and, in addition to the scandalous and continued subsidizing of the Israeli state, completely backs its most ambitious annexation plans in Gaza and beyond in complete contradiction to the position several European countries are currently taking.

Once the economic corridors have been ironed out and Russia comes on board to serve as the Atlanticists’ Silk Road into all of Asia – not to mention Russia’s own “huge investment potential,” in “natural resources, fisheries, and tourism,” a more isolated China could become fatally vulnerable to a manufactured war sparked by Israel and Washington, which the EU – at that point – might have no choice but to support.

Feature photo | Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell on Feb. 7, 2020, to meet with media at the State Department in Washington. Kevin Wolf | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

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Three New Reads – May

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/05/2020 - 10:05pm in

As I had last month, I’d wanted in my three reads this month to start addressing the alarming bellicosity of Washington in respect of several nations, but most frighteningly with China. For all those with some inkling of the material factors placing the West and Eurasia on a collision course, such beating of war dreams – aided as ever by the ‘liberal’ Guardian – is wholly to be expected, but its predictability makes the warmongering no less worrying.

The Power of Propaganda: Americans Think Trump’s COVID-19 Performance Better than China’s

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 23/05/2020 - 1:26am in

A new poll published yesterday by the Pew Research Center found that Americans rate their government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as better than China’s. This is despite the United States having 20 times the number of infections and deaths as the Asian nation, the epicenter of the outbreak. Unlike Chinese authorities, the Trump administration had months of notice to formulate a response. Overall, 47 percent of Americans judged the Trump administration’s reaction as either good or excellent, compared to 33 percent for China’s.

While China is reopening safely, there is no end in sight for the United States, where the virus is still running rampant. There were 28,179 confirmed new U.S. cases of COVID-19 yesterday, more than the worst week of the outbreak across China, a country with well over four times the population. Despite this, Americans appear to believe this could be the end for China as a power; 50 percent claimed that it would have less power on the world stage after the outbreak, compared to just 17 percent who said they would have more.

The poll also found a great deal of public mistrust or resentment towards Beijing, with 84 percent of respondents saying that Beijing’s poor response has led them to question any information about the virus from the Chinese government. Yet by December 31, Beijing had already warned the world about a new outbreak, an alarm some countries chose to heed, but Trump dismissed as a liberal “hoax,” promising in February that coronavirus would be gone from the U.S. by April.

The poll also found that Americans hold some questionable views about other countries’ responses. For example, a plurality (49 percent) felt that the United Kingdom had done a good or excellent job in their response (the U.K. has the second highest fatality totals in the world), and respondents also rated Italy’s handling of the situation as better than China’s. Both the U.K. and Italy have a death rate of almost double the U.S., and nearly 200 times that of China, per capita.

Pew Poll ChinaChina has been the subject of an intense propaganda campaign of late, with politicians and corporate media alike blaming Beijing for the U.S.’ woes. Conservative figures, in particular, insist on calling COVID-19 the “Chinese Wuhan Virus,” not-so-subtly reminding those listening who is supposed to be at fault. Only three years ago, the Pew Research Center found that Americans had a neutral view of China (and nine years ago it was strongly favorable). Today, 66 percent of Americans dislike China, with only a quarter holding a positive opinion of the country.

President Trump has also escalated Obama’s aggressive posturing towards Beijing, suggesting last week that he might “cut off” all trade with China. “Now, if you did, what would happen? You’d save $500 billion,” he told Fox Business, referring to the United States’ trade deficit with the Asian nation. The Pentagon’s 2021 war budget is also specifically directed at China, arguing for a massive realignment of forces from the Middle to the Far East. Military planners are advising on conducting a huge psychological war, similar to the Cold War against the U.S.S.R. In 2017, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon said the U.S. would, without a doubt, be at war in the South China Sea within ten years. Signs are increasingly pointing in that direction.

The Pew poll also found that U.S. exceptionalism is still alive and well, with a plurality of 42 percent of Americans thinking that the country spends too much time and effort “helping solve the world’s problems.” It is far from clear whether the rest of the world sees what the U.S. does to it as “helping.” Indeed, a 2014 WIN/Gallup global poll found that the United States was overwhelmingly considered the greatest threat to world peace. Pakistan was a distant second, with only a third of the votes the U.S. got (a result almost certainly buoyed by a large Indian sampling). In December, Pew found that a majority of Mexicans view the United States as the greatest threat to their country when asked to pick from the 195 countries in the world.

Pew’s research highlights the gulf between perception and reality in the United States, and underlines the power of the media and other powerful groups to rapidly shape public opinion, inculcating citizens with ideas not necessarily congruent with reality.

As of Friday, there have been 5.23 million confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and 335,631 reported deaths worldwide, including 1.61 million positive tests and 95,087 fatalities in the United States.

Feature photo | President Donald Trump speaks as he tours Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant that has been converted to making personal protection and medical equipment, May 21, 2020, in Ypsilanti, Mich. Alex Brandon | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post The Power of Propaganda: Americans Think Trump’s COVID-19 Performance Better than China’s appeared first on MintPress News.

The Second Cold War?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/05/2020 - 1:56am in

By Brian Snyder

Over the past two months, there has been a great deal of talk about the environmental implications of the pandemic. Some have looked for glimmers of hope, others have predicted that we will shortly return to the status quo. I fear that the biggest outcome of the pandemic will not be its death toll nor its effects on the climate, but its impacts on geopolitics. Specifically, the deteriorating relationship between China and the USA may lead to a Second Cold War. If this cold war leads to an all-out GDP race as the original one did, the consequences for humanity will far outweigh the direct human health impacts of the pandemic.

A Second Cold War

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world may have already been spiraling toward another cold war between the USA and China. The rivalry between the USA and China for economic control of Asia far predates the Trump administration, and the reasons for it are both complex and poorly defined, much as they were as when the iron curtain fell over Eastern Europe. And as in the Cold War between the USA and Soviet Union, historians will eventually find reason to blame both sides for the Second Cold War. Despite these complexities, I fear that future historians looking back at the Second Cold War will note the COVID-19 pandemic as the turning point from economic rivalry to enmity. That is, COVID-19 or, more accurately, Chinese and American leaders’ willingness to blame each other for the pandemic to deflect their own mismanagement, may be the last straw.

Trump and China

A downward spiral: Tensions between the USA and China have significantly increased since the emergence of COVID-19. Could these tensions lead to a full-on Second Cold War, with the score kept in GDP? (Image: CC0, Credit: The White House)

Since the emergence of the pandemic, tensions between China and the USA have increased significantly. Members of the Chinese government have alleged that U.S. service members brought the virus to Wuhan. Simultaneously, the president of the USA has called the virus “Chinese,” refused to accept the academic consensus that the virus likely spread from a wild animal at the wet market in Wuhan, dispatched American intelligence apparatus to prove the unprovable accusation that COVID-19 began in a Chinese lab, and blamed the Chinese government’s secrecy for the severity of the U.S. pandemic.

The original Cold War nearly ended with nuclear annihilation, yet that is not what concerns me about the Second Cold War. The first Cold War ended only after decades of historically unprecedented economic growth in the West was leveraged toward military and technological superiority. This Western growth was nearly matched by the Soviets. If this coming Cold War involves the same growth race, there will be dire consequences for the future of human life on Earth. China and the USA are the two largest economies on Earth, closely followed by the U.S.’s NATO allies, and neither country has anything approaching a sustainable energy supply. If their rivalry ends in the continuing growth of their economies, especially via fossil fuels, the effects will be catastrophic.

This Isn’t (Entirely) Trump’s Fault

While it may be tempting to blame Trump for the looming Cold War with China, it is not entirely Trump’s fault. While Trump’s recent China policy has not helped, tensions with China have been rising for a decade or more. Trump’s confrontational attitude toward China—as seen through the trade war and the pandemic blame—is a product of these tensions, either as a cynical appeal to his base or heartfelt xenophobia.

China industry jobs

Many politicians have been claiming for decades that China has been our economic rival. Yet, these same politicians were promoting the globalization of the manufacturing industry for the sake of economic growth. (Image: CC BY 2.0, Robert Scoble)

Trump may indeed be biased against China, and his lack of strategic thinking may be the ultimate blunder that leads us into another Cold War, but there is a reason for his attitude toward China: us. Over the past seven decades, Americans became accustomed to thinking of Beijing as “The Other.” They may not have been the enemy, but Americans have been comfortable viewing them warily, as well as comfortable with politicians telling us the Chinese are an economic rival and a threat to our jobs.

Of course, we were too dim to notice that the movement of manufacturing jobs to Asia could only occur via a globalized world, or that our politicians had built that globalized world to foster domestic economic growth. Thus, politicians have told us out of one side of their mouths that globalization is good for the economy and will make us all the more prosperous, while telling us from the other side of their mouths that our jobs are all moving to China. Remarkably, neither is correct. Globalization will make us poorer in the long term because it leads to unsustainable economic growth, and, until recently, we had more jobs than at any time in our history. The fact that we were near full employment prior to the pandemic somehow failed to alert people of the lie that the Chinese were stealing our livelihoods.

Note that this is not to imply that the blame for this new Cold War, if it develops, is one sided. Certainly, the Chinese government will share in the fault. However, something about logs in eyes should encourage us to focus on our own culpability.

The Cost of a Cold War

But why does it matter if we enter another Cold War? Why would a Cold War with China, if it results from this pandemic, be the most consequential result of COVID-19?

Between 1950 and the Soviet Union’s economic peak in 1989, U.S. real per capita GDP more than doubled, while the Soviet Union’s per capita GDP nearly tripled, according to data from the Maddison Project. If similar growth occurs again over the next 40 years, by 2060 the U.S. GDP would exceed $100,000 per person (in 2011 dollars), while China’s per capita GDP might be $40,000, approaching contemporary U.S. standards.

Such economic growth would require similar increases in energy demand, and this demand would occur both in the USA and China, as well as in their trading partners. These trading partners would export goods to the USA and China and would require increased energy consumption to produce these goods. In some cases, this increased global energy demand may be met with renewables, while in others it may be met with fossil fuels. In either case, it would not be sustainable for two main reasons.

First, renewables, while far less damaging to the earth’s systems than fossil fuels, have environmental impacts. Those impacts may be mitigated with future technology and should not dissuade us from moving away from fossil fuels, but nor should we pretend that they are environmentally benign.

Second, if increased energy demand occurs, it will slow the transition away from fossil fuels. If the USA and China feel the need to grow their economy, they may delay the decommissioning of coal and natural gas-fired power. They may also defer investment in carbon-negative systems, which will be required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In addition to these changes in energy demand, a second cold war might also lead to rapid technological development which would further stimulate the economy and lead to further energy use. Consider the technologies that emerged largely from investments in the U.S. military industrial complex of the first Cold War: the internet, satellites, GPS, cell phones, computers, and robotics. Consider how much of our economic growth over the last five decades is the result of these technologies. Consider how much of our energy growth and climate emissions result from that economic growth. And consider what will happen if we use our considerable ability to innovate in the service of more economic and energy growth.

Figure 1. Real Per Capita GDP Growth in the US and USSR, 1950-1989


(Credit: Brian Snyder)

Systems Theory   

One of the underappreciated advancements of mid-20th century science was systems theory. Applied in numerous disciplines, including in H.T. Odum’s ecology, systems theory rejected the reductionist approaches foundational to then-modern science and argued that the system as a whole had to be understood. Because complex systems are non-linear and emergent, they tend to have properties and behaviors that can’t be anticipated from a view of one isolated sub-system.

Today we are confronted with an extraordinarily complex system. A pandemic presents health and economic challenges; politicians use disinformation to escape blame; and long-simmering rivalries begin to boil. These geopolitical changes incentivize economic growth, and through a bit of chemistry and the second law of thermodynamics, a long-warming planet begins to swelter.

As in the mid-20th century, it should be clear that understanding this system requires a transdisciplinary approach. Issues of climate and energy are also economic, sociological, and geopolitical issues, and we will not avoid our slide toward cold war unless we view all ecological and economic components as a system. Reductionism and retreating into disciplinary silos will lead nowhere.

Figure 2. A systems diagram of the earth’s economy, one of the many concepts that developed indirectly from systems theory. 

Herman Daly Figure

(Image: CC0, Credit: Herman Daly)

How to Dismantle a Cold War

What is especially concerning about this new Cold War is that it will occur in a post-fact, social media-dominated world. Of course, the Soviets in the first Cold War lived in a propaganda-driven, post-fact world, but the West largely did not. Certainly, Western news media in the mid-20th century had a Westernized view of the world, and American politicians tried to spin the news to their advantage, but, in general, Western leaders did not actively and purposefully spread disinformation.

Today information is very different. Like the Soviets, China controls its citizens’ access to information, although their methods are not as effective. But the major difference is in the West, where leaders actively spread disinformation and conspiracy theories. These are then amplified on Twitter and other social media. We have already seen this occur in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in which alt-right voices on Twitter have spread a variety of false and/or anti-Chinese messages.

This disinformation system—i.e., social media, talk radio, and cable news—is the ultimate cause of our slide toward the Second Cold War. In a circular, symbiotic relationship, American politicians manipulate their traditional and social media followers to spread anti-Chinese messages and conspiracy theories. This makes a significant segment of the public believe that China is a threat to Americans, and it also makes these voters more likely to support leaders who are “tough” on China. Of course, the tough-on-China leaders are the same ones spreading the anti-Chinese messages in the first place. The same sort of relationship occurs with other topics (e.g., climate change), but it is a particular problem in the case of China because nationalism and xenophobia motivate and scare people in a way that climate policy does not.

Thus, to avoid cold war we need to return to a system in which factual journalism is created and disseminated and replaces the current system of disinformation and propaganda. Until that occurs, a change in political leadership will not halt our slide toward the Second Cold War nor prevent destructive economic growth.

Brian F. Snyder is an assistant professor of environmental science at Louisiana State University and CASSE’s LSU Chapter director.

The post The Second Cold War? appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.

Scotty From Marketing Says Cook A Curry Not A Stir Fry For Your Country

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/05/2020 - 6:00am in


Politics, China

ScoMo Curry

Australian Prime Minister Scotty from Marketing has called on Australians to get together and cook a curry (not a stir fry) for the country, in a move deemed by foreign affairs pundits as a slight on China.

“Times are tough – you don’t need to tell me that,” said Prime Minister ScoMo. ”So, I call on my fellow Australians to get your family and friends (well at least ten of them) together for a curry.”

”Yes, knocking up a stir fry is a lot easier than a curry, but a curry is far better than a stir fry for our country.”

When asked if promoting curries over stir fry was a reflection of the Government’s cooling relationship with China, the Prime Minister said: ”What?! No! I love Chinese food! It’s right up there with Engadine Maccas as one my favourite post footy snacks.”

”Just at the moment, I think it’s in Australia’s best interests to have a curry.”

”In fact, I’m so enthused to cook up a curry, I’m inviting ten of my Cabinet over for a nice potato curry. I hope Dutton  joins us.””

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook

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Christensen Calls For A Ban On Chinese Born Sex Workers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 7:00am in

George Christensen

The Government’s member for Manila George Christensen has called for a ban on Chinese born sex workers working in Australia in response to the current diplomatic spat between the two countries.

”If China is going to go after our meat and barley, then we need strike back,” said the Member for Manila. ”In my travels, I’ve discovered that a lot of Chinese born women are employed by Australian brothels as sex workers.”

”So, why don’t we stand them all down until China comes to it’s senses and replace them with … oh, I don’t know … women from the Philippines?”

When asked why he was so knowledgeable about the comings and goings of the Australian sex worker scene, Mr Christensen replied: ”Well. the borders have been shut for a few months now, so I decided to do a bit of research. Call it a passion project of mine.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to lobby the Foreign Minister about opening up a few borders.”

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook

We’re also on Patreon:

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

US Military Planners Advise Expanded Online Psychological Warfare against China

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 2:32am in

As the U.S. military turns its attention from the Middle East to conflict with Russia and China, American war planners are advising that the United States greatly expand its own online “psychological operations” against Beijing.

A new report from the Financial Times details how top brass in Washington are strategizing a new Cold War with China, describing it less as World War III and more as “kicking each other under the table.” Last week, General Richard Clarke, head of Special Operations Command, said that the “kill-capture missions” the military conducted in Afghanistan were inappropriate for this new conflict, and Special Operations must move towards cyber influence campaigns instead.

Military analyst David Maxwell, a former Special Ops soldier himself, advocated for a widespread culture war, which would include the Pentagon commissioning what he called “Taiwanese Tom Clancy” novels, intended to demonize China and demoralize its citizens, arguing that Washington should “weaponize” China’s one-child policy by bombarding Chinese people with stories of the wartime deaths of their only children, and therefore, their bloodline.

A not dissimilar tactic was used during the first Cold War against the Soviet Union, where the CIA sponsored a huge network of artists, writers and thinkers to promote liberal and social-democratic critiques of the U.S.S.R., unbeknownst to the public, and, sometimes, even the artists themselves.


Manufacturing consent

In the space of only a few months, the Trump administration has gone from praising China’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to blaming them for the outbreak, even suggesting they pay reparations for their alleged negligence. Just three years ago, Americans had a neutral view of China (and nine years ago it was strongly favorable). Today, the same polls show that 66 percent of Americans dislike China, with only 26 percent holding a positive opinion of the country. Over four-in-five people essentially support a full-scale economic war with Beijing, something the president threatened to enact last week.

The corporate press is certainly doing their part as well, constantly framing China as an authoritarian threat to the United States, rather than a neutral force or even a potential ally, leading to a surge in anti-Chinese racist attacks at home.


Retooling for an intercontinental war

Although analysts have long warned that the United States gets its “ass handed to it” in hot war simulations with China or even Russia, it is not clear whether this is a sober assessment or a self-serving attempt to increase military spending. In 2002, the U.S. conducted a war game trial invasion of Iraq, where it was catastrophically defeated by Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, commanding Iraqi forces, leading to the whole experiment being nixed halfway through. Yet the subsequent invasion was carried out without massive loss of American lives.

The recently published Pentagon budget request for 2021 makes clear that the United States is retooling for a potential intercontinental war with China and/or Russia. It asks for $705 billion to “shift focus from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a greater emphasis on the types of weapons that could be used to confront nuclear giants like Russia and China,” noting that it requires “more advanced high-end weapon systems, which provide increased standoff, enhanced lethality and autonomous targeting for employment against near-peer threats in a more contested environment.” The military has recently received the first batch of low-yield nuclear warheads that experts agree blurs the line between conventional and nuclear conflict, making an all out example of the latter far more likely.


A bipartisan affair

There has been no meaningful pushback from the Democrats. Indeed, Joe Biden’s team has suggested that the United States’ entire industrial policy should revolve around “competing with China” and that their “top priority” is dealing with the supposed threat Beijing poses. The former vice-president has also attacked Trump from the right on China, trying to present him as a tool of Beijing, bringing to mind how Clinton portrayed him in 2016 as a Kremlin asset. (Green Party presidential frontrunner Howie Hawkins has promised to cut the military budget by 75 percent and to unilaterally disarm).

Nevertheless, voices raising concern about a new arms race are few and far between. Veteran deproliferation activist Andrew Feinstein is one exception, saying:

“Our governments spend over 1.75 trillion dollars every year on wars, on weapons, on conflict…If we could deploy that sort of resource to address the coronavirus crisis that we’re currently living through, imagine what else we could be doing. Imagine how we could be fighting the climate crisis, how we could be addressing global poverty, inequality. Our priority should never be war; our priorities need to be public health, the environment, and human well being.”

However, if the government is going to launch a new psychological war against China, it is unlikely antiwar voices like Feinstein’s will feature much in the mainstream press.

Feature photo | Pictures of U.S. national flag and Chinese President Xi Jinping with mask, made by protestors are displayed in central district of Hong Kong’s business district, Oct. 14, 2019. Kin Cheung | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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