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By ‘Force and Fraud’: Is This the End of the US Democracy Doctrine?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/01/2021 - 4:30am in

In an interview with the British newspaper, The Times, in 2015, former US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, vehemently denied that exporting democracy to Iraq was the main motive behind the US invasion of that Arab country 12 years earlier.

Rumsfeld further alleged that “the idea that we could fashion a democracy in Iraq seemed to me unrealistic.” But the US’ top military chief was being dishonest. Writing in Mother Jones, Miles E. Johnson responded to Rumsfeld’s claim by quoting some of his previous statements where he, repeatedly, cited democracy as the main reason behind the US invasion, a war that was one of the most destructive since Vietnam.

Certainly, it was not Rumsfeld alone who brazenly promoted the democracy pretense. Indeed, ‘democracy’ was the buzzword, parroted by thousands of Americans: in government, the military, mainstream media, and the numerous think-tanks that dotted the intellectual and political landscape of Washington.

One could not help but reflect on the subject when, on January 6, thousands of Americans stormed the Washington Plaza, climbing the walls of Capitol Hill and taking over the US Congress. A country that has assigned itself the role of the defender of democracy worldwide, now stands unable to defend its own democracy at home.

 

In the case of Iraq, as soon as US soldiers stormed into Baghdad, they hurriedly occupied all government buildings and every symbol of Iraqi sovereignty. Triumphant soldiers were filmed rampaging through the offices of former Iraqi ministers, smoking their cigars, while placing their dirty boots on top of their desks. Bizarrely, similar scenes were repeated in Washington 1

7 years later, this time in the offices of top US legislators, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

In Iraq, from March 2003, ministers were hunted down, as their photos and names were circulated through what the US military referred to as Iraq’s ‘most wanted deck of cards’. In the American scenario, US Congressmen and women were forced to cower under their desks or to run for their lives.

The violent events in Washington have been depicted by US mainstream media as if a temporary crisis, instigated by a president who refuses to concede power peacefully and democratically. The truth, however, is far more complex. There is nothing transitory about any of this and, while Donald Trump is largely to blame for the bloody events of this day, the man is a symptom of America’s rooted democracy crisis, which is likely to worsen in the future.

Famed American linguist and historian, Noam Chomsky, has long argued that the US is not a democracy but a plutocracy, a country that is governed by the interests of the powerful few. He also argued that, while the US does operate based on formal democratic structures, these are largely dysfunctional. In an interview with Global Policy Journal in 2019, Chomsky further asserted that the “US Constitution was framed to thwart the democratic aspirations of most of the public.”

This has been evident for many years. Long before Trump became President, the dichotomy of American democracy has expressed itself in the way that the American people interact with their supposedly democratic institutions. For example, merely 20% of US adults trust their government, according to a Pew Research Center poll published last September. This number has remained relatively unchanged under previous administrations.

With the US economy rapidly sinking due to various factors, including the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the people’s distrust in government is now manifesting itself in new ways, including mass violence. The fact that 77% of those who voted for Trump in the November elections believe that Joe Biden’s win was due to fraud, suggests that a sizable percentage of Americans have little faith in their country’s democracy. The consequences of this realization will surely be dire.

America’s constitutional crisis, which is unlikely to be resolved in the current atmosphere of polarization, is compounded by an external political crisis. Historically, the US has defined and redefined its mission in the world based on lofty spiritual, moral and political maxims, starting with ‘Manifest Destiny’, to fighting communism, to eventually serving as the defender of human rights and democracy around the world. The latter was merely a pretense used to provide a moral cover that would allow the US to reorder the world for the sake of expanding its market and ensuring its economic dominance.

Thomas Paine, whose influence on US ideals of liberty and democracy is arguably unmatched, warned, in ‘Common Sense’ in 1776, against the potential tyranny of those who “attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools.”

Alas, Paine’s warning went unheeded. Indeed, the democracy ‘fraud’ that Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, et al carried out in Iraq in 2003, was a mere repetition of numerous other fraudulent military campaigns carried out around the world. The ‘protectors of democracy’ became the very men responsible for its undoing.

Unquestionably, the storming of US Congress will have global repercussions, not least among them the weakening of US hegemonic and self-serving definition of what constitutes a democracy. Is it possible that the US democracy doctrine could soon cease to be relevant in the lexicon of US foreign policy conduct, one that is predicated, per Paine’s logic, on “force and fraud”?

Feature photo | An Afghan boy watches Cpt. Chris Esrey of Havelock, North Carolina, with India, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, First Marine Division, company, scan the area during a patrol in Sangin, south of Kabul, Afghanistan. Dusan Vranic | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post By ‘Force and Fraud’: Is This the End of the US Democracy Doctrine? appeared first on MintPress News.

China Tech Ban Mirrors 1980s Attempts To Destroy Japanese Competition

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 7:25am in

With just days left in office, the Trump administration has blacklisted an additional nine Chinese companies, adding them to a long list of firms on the U.S. military blacklist and escalating the trade war on Beijing as the U.S. attempts to suppress China’s economic rise. 

The Department of Defense claimed that those on its list are secretly owned or controlled by the Chinese military and that it was “determined to highlight and counter” threats that “appear to be civilian entities” but are not. Those companies are now likely partially blocked from the U.S. market and from doing business with American companies. 

Chief on the list is electronics giant Xiaomi, whose stocks plunged by 11% this morning and have not recovered. While still relatively unknown in the U.S., Xiaomi is a global giant, manufacturing televisions, smartwatches, tablets, and all manner of home appliances. They are surely best known, however, as makers of smartphones. In quarter three of last year, Xiaomi stormed past Apple to become the planet’s third-largest smartphone maker, behind only Samsung and fellow-sanctioned Chinese giant Huawei. Xiaomi sold 46.5 million units, a 42% increase on Q3 last year — an impressive jump, especially considering the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Airplane manufacturer Comac, oil giant CNOOOC and Chinese chipmaker SMIC were also added to the list.

Quickly developing a loyal base of customers, Xiaomi is increasingly seen across the planet as a major competitor to Apple, selling similarly specced units for a fraction of the price of an iPhone. By contrast, both Apple’s smartphone sales and market share have been falling dramatically, suggesting that, unlikely as it seems, Apple could go the way of Nokia or Motorola before them. 

 

The government’s move is the latest episode in the ever-intensifying trade war against Beijing. The Trump administration has previously sanctioned other Chinese tech giants like smartphone manufacturer and 5G provider Huawei and video-sharing social media app TikTok, claiming them to be dangerous appendages of the Red Army. In 2020, the president threatened to shut down TikTok, unless it was sold to an American corporation. Other pro-U.S. countries such as India went further, instituting an outright ban on the popular platform. 

 

“Pivot to Asia”

It is unclear who, apart from American tech firms, have been the beneficiary of this trade war. A recently-published study found that Trump’s decisions on China have cost close to a quarter of a million American jobs already and will likely lead to the loss of 145,000 more by 2025. 

The Trump administration has also built on President Obama’s military “Pivot to Asia,” attempting to encircle Russia and China with American military bases, and building alliances with Beijing’s neighbors in order to do so. U.S. warships and planes have been probing the Chinese coast for months, attempting to gain more knowledge about their defense systems. In July, the U.S.S. Rafael Peralta went within 41 nautical miles of the coastal megacity of Shanghai. Last month, the military also flew nuclear bombers over Chinese ships close to the province of Hainan Island. 

 

The China tech ban mirrors the moves in the 1980s to destroy the Japanese semiconductor industry, which had rapidly risen and overtaken its American competitor. If nothing was done, Japan would have easily overtaken Silicon Valley to become the world’s electronics and communications capital. The U.S. imposed a 100% tariff on virtually all Japanese electronics and forced Tokyo to sign a one-sided trade deal that reserved much of its domestic semiconductor sector for American companies and opened the country up for American agribusiness. In no small part due to U.S. actions, much of the high-tech sector collapsed, and Japan has suffered over 30 years of economic recession since. Xiaomi also makes semiconductors. 

China’s response to the news was to point the finger at the U.S. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the United States has a long history of civilian-military tech partnerships and accused the Trump administration of double-standards and bullying. 

Lijian is not incorrect; virtually every big American tech firm has close links with the government or the military. In November, for instance, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, IBM, and Amazon Web Services all signed a 15-year deal to provide the CIA and 16 other intelligence agencies with cloud computing and other digital services. In their book titled, “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business,” Eric Schmidt and fellow Google executive Jared Cohen wrote, “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century…technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first,” suggesting that they saw big tech’s role as the tip of the American spear. 

 

During the presidential debates, Trump and Biden appeared to be trying to outcompete each other on their hawkishness towards China, each presenting the other as a puppet of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. While Biden might not have opted for a ban on Chinese companies like Trump has, analysts suggest that he is unlikely to reverse this decision, nor to change the direction of American policy. Thus, the Xiaomi restrictions are unlikely to be the last shots fired in the growing trade war against Beijing.

Feature photo | A woman takes a photo with a phone that has a United States flag themed cover outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China’s Sichuan province on, July 26, 2020. Ng Han Guan | 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 China Tech Ban Mirrors 1980s Attempts To Destroy Japanese Competition appeared first on MintPress News.

Social Media Giants Ban Trump, but the Real Censorship is of Palestinians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 4:09am in

In the wake of the Capitol Hill insurrection, Facebook and Twitter finally took a principled stand against President Donald Trump by suspending his accounts. While Trump lashed out at the tech giants, media analysts condoned the move—noting stronger moderation of his and other inflammatory posts are long overdue.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media behemoths have faced criticism over the years for allowing misinformation and dangerous incitement to run rampant on their platforms. Yet while these companies seem to fail at controlling right-wing propaganda, they’ve had no problem suppressing content on Palestine.

 

Palestinian Facebook pages see 50% drop in reach

According to Palestinian non-governmental organization Sada Social Center, Palestinian Facebook pages saw their content’s reach dip by more than 50%, and in some cases, by more than 80%. Sada Social attributes the steep decline to coverage of Arab countries’ normalization agreements with Israel.

“Most of the pages that brought complaints to us are followed by millions of users through Facebook,” Sada Social wrote in their report. “These pages actively participated in covering the issue of Arab normalization with the Israeli occupation recently.”

 

The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine and Muslim Scholars were just two of the numerous Facebook pages to have their content blocked or restricted in the last month.

When pressed for an explanation about the recent removals, a Facebook company spokesperson told MintPress News:

We do our utmost to ensure that only content in violation of our Community Standards is removed. Where mistakes are made, due to human or technical error, the content is restored. The Global Campaign for Return to Palestine page was unfortunately removed due to an error – it has now been restored. We were not trying to limit anyone’s ability to post or express themselves.”

In response to the increasing censorship, The Palestinian Content Protection Initiative—a group of media outlets, activists, and journalists working to defend Palestinian content online—called for a two-hour boycott of Facebook on Jan. 9.

“The administrations of social media websites have been pursuing, targeting, and restricting the publishing and access of Palestinian pages and accounts, and in full coordination with the Israeli occupation government,” the Initiative said in a statement. “As a result, Palestinian media have been restricted, and were unable to convey their national message.”

 

Facebook working with Israel to suppress content

Facebook’s targeting of Palestinian content isn’t new. The social media titan has a long history of working with Israeli authorities to remove Palestinian information.

Under the guise of hate speech, Facebook cracks down on content often related to certain keywords such as “Hamas” or “Zionism,” Alison Ramer, International Relations Manager at 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, explained.

“A lot of times this is done through artificial intelligence, which the companies are really being pushed to use under increasing pressure from governments and the public to respond to hate speech,” Ramer said.

But it’s not just automatic processes that are determining what’s permitted on social media. According to a 2020 7amleh report, the Israeli government has orchestrated a systematic campaign through Facebook to ensure content related to the Palestinian cause is removed.

“The Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked stated that ‘Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israel’s requests to delete content that the Israeli government says incites Palestinian violence.’ This shows a significant focus on Palestinian content and efforts to label Palestinian political speech as incitement to violence,” 7amleh wrote.   

These requests are done through the Ministry of Justice’s Cyber Unit, which was established in 2015. Even Facebook’s own personnel appear to be in bed with Israel. Currently, Emi Palmor, Israel’s former Justice Ministry director-general, sits on Facebook and Instagram’s Oversight Board — a committee responsible for content moderation.

 

Additionally, governmental and non-governmental organizations are urging citizens to report Palestinian content. “Several of these organizations — dubbed “GONGOs” (government-operated NGOs) — are working to conflate criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and hate speech and have designed strategies to manipulate social media algorithms with the support of online trolls,” 7amleh wrote.

These efforts not only remove Palestinian content but elevate smear campaigns against Palestinians. As Facebook works diligently to remove white supremacist content, Ramer acknowledged that it leaves hate speech directed toward Palestinians on its site.

“7amleh has documented hate speech directed toward Palestinians in Hebrew, which we have seen left online for many years, while legitimate political speech critical of Israel is being flagged as hate speech and censored,” Ramer said. “We know that the Israeli government and government-supporting NGOs are pushing for tech companies to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which is leading to increasing censorship of Palestinians and human rights defenders.”

According to Ramer, pressure from the Israeli Lobby is the motivating factor in restricting Palestinian content.  

“There’s pressure on Facebook to expand the definition of anti-Semitism, and we know that the intention of this is to censor those critical of Israel, Palestinians and human rights supporters. And this, obviously, can have a large impact on the development of many other tech companies’ policies,” Ramer said.

 

Not just Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media platform for Palestinians, but it’s not the only one restricting their content.

TikTok recently removed the account belonging to Palestinian news organization, Quds News Network (QNN). The account manager, Hamzah al-Shobaki, said it was deleted after sharing 1,200 posts about Arab countries’ normalization with Israel. TikTok has since reinstated the account, claiming a violation error led to the account’s removal.

This isn’t QNN’s first experience with social media censorship, however. In 2019, the news outlet had four of its Twitter accounts deactivated without warning. QNN editors also had their personal Facebook accounts suspended in 2016, reportedly by mistake. Other Palestinian media sources have also had their Twitter and Facebook accounts removed over the years.

YouTube has been accused of violating Palestinian digital rights as well. Research from 7amleh details that the video-sharing platform uses hyper-surveillance tactics referred to as “locative discrimination” to monitor content coming from Palestine.

According to their findings, Palestinian YouTube user Ahmad conducted an online experiment to see if the removal of his content was due to his location:

“I sent the same video which has been deleted from my YouTube account to my friend’s YouTube account in Europe…and YouTube was fine with the video being published from a European country.”

“This simple test showed that content that’s being uploaded in the Palestinian Territories is being treated differently than the content uploaded by Western countries,” 7amleh’s Ramer said. “These policies are discriminatory and overly surveying and censoring Palestinians.”

Ramer emphasized that tech companies should not be the decision-makers regarding freedom of expression. Yet because they control these communication channels, they are ultimately tasked with monitoring what is shared—and Israel is taking full advantage of that.

“Israel is using this for its political aim to silence Palestinians. They’re using hate speech as a political tool,” Ramer said, clarifying that what’s happening not only blacks out Palestinian issues but the global conversation on human rights as a whole.

“This won’t just silence Palestinians, but it’ll silence human rights defenders, and it will show other governments how to use hate speech to silence and censor people.”

Feature photo | In this undated photo, a young Mark Zuckerberg meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo | Magnum

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist covering Palestine, Israel and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf New

The post Social Media Giants Ban Trump, but the Real Censorship is of Palestinians appeared first on MintPress News.

Court Rules Palestinian Filmmaker Must Pay Damages To Israeli Soldier Who Took Part in Massacre

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 2:59am in

In a particularly draconian decision, an Israeli court has ruled that the documentary film “Jenin, Jenin” will be banned from screening in Israel. Additionally, all copies of the film must be collected and destroyed. The court went even further and ordered producer, director, and actor Mohammad Bakri, the man behind the film which documents the Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp, must pay damages to an Israeli officer who participated in the massacre and appears in the film for about five seconds. 

Israel’s military invasion of the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin and the slaughter which followed took place in March of 2002. The army entered the camp with tanks, special forces, commando units, and several reservist brigades. The camp was bombarded from the air and from the ground. Several hundred Palestinian fighters fought heroically, armed with nothing but semiautomatic rifles and rudimentary guerrilla warfare skills. Twenty-five Israeli soldiers lost their lives in the camp and countless Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed.

 

Silencing the survivors’ point of view

Jenin, Jenin” includes testimony from people of all ages who lived through the Israeli assault on the camp. There is no question that hearing the descriptions and experiences of the survivors of that awful trauma is heart-wrenching. But Bakri himself never makes any direct accusations in the film. He shows footage of Israeli soldiers, tanks, and armored personnel carriers, and of Palestinians being arrested, but at no point in the movie is an actual accusation made and it is clear that the only perspectives offered in the film are from those who live in the camp.

Protests erupted in Israel as soon as the movie was shown. Bakri was called a Nazi and slandered by the press and the public for daring to show what Palestinians had experienced at the hands of the Israeli soldiers who entered the camp. Soldiers who had participated in what is known as “The Battle of Jenin” demanded that Israeli authorities censor the movie and not allow theaters to show it, and they eventually got their way.

The film was banned by the Israeli Film Ratings Board on the premise that it was libelous and might offend the public. Bakri appealed the decision and the case went all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ultimately overturned the board’s decision. Since then, those who have participated in the assault have been looking for ways to challenge the film. 

In November 2016, Nissim Meghnagi, a reserve officer who took part in Operation Defensive Shield, also known as the massacre at the Jenin refugee camp, sued Bakri for 2.6 million shekels, the equivalent of around 745,000 U.S. dollars. In his suit, Meghnagi claimed that he appears in, and was named in the film and that it libeled Israeli soldiers by presenting them as war criminals. 

Bakri argued, correctly, that the purpose of the lawsuit was persecution and political silencing, and that the movie makes no accusation against Meghnagi specifically. It only shows, Bakri continuously yet fruitlessly claimed, the point of view of the Palestinians who experienced the onslaught on the camp. Still, the District Court in the Israeli-occupied city of Lyd ruled in Meghnagi’s favor and ordered Bakri to pay Meghnagi the equivalent of $55,000. Now the case is expected to go back to the Supreme Court.

 

A History of War Crimes

Israeli forces did not allow the Red Cross or any other international observers to enter the camp for many days after the assault was over. This allowed them to clean up the camp before anyone from the outside was able to witness what had been done.

Israeli authorities, courts, media, and public opinion tend to view Palestinian claims regarding human rights abuses, violence, and massacres committed by military units as lies. Internal investigations by the military and other Israeli government agencies rarely find Israeli forces guilty of any crimes.

The reason that “Jenin, Jenin” created such a strong reaction in Israel is that the people involved, and even those who were not directly involved, know that Israel has a history of atrocities and war crimes. Israel claims that the IDF is the “most moral army in the world,” yet almost every single Israeli has either been witness to or knows someone who has witnessed – or even committed – atrocities. 

 

Committing war crimes of all kinds is a deeply rooted tradition in the Israeli military. It goes back to the earliest days of the pre-state era when Zionist militias operated before an actual Israeli Army was formed. These militias were turned into an organized army in the middle of the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign of Palestine. They were in the midst of committing a horrendous crime for which no one has yet been brought to justice when they became an official army and when Jewish Zionist settlers in Palestine became citizens of a newly established Apartheid State, a state whose very establishment was a war crime.

This is why there is such opposition to the movie and to Mohammad Bakri himself amongst Israelis. Bakri touched an open nerve and because as a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, he also happens to be a household name among Israelis, Israelis are furious at him. Bakri dared to enter the camp and to talk to its residents without showing what is commonly known as “the other side.”  Furthermore, as is made very clear throughout the movie, the spirit of the people in the camp remains undefeated. 

Over and over again throughout the movie, we hear survivors of the assault, even as they sit on the rubble of their own homes, repeat that they will rebuild the camp house by house and that they will never surrender. This is hardly the message that Israelis – who only a short time before had voted for the notorious Ariel Sharon to be their prime minister – want to hear.

 

The Driver of a D9

On May 31, 2002, Israeli journalist Tsadok Yehazkeli, working for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, published an article in Hebrew about the driver of a D9 bulldozer who went by the moniker, “Bear the Kurd.” “Bear” made a name for himself during the assault on the Jenin refugee camp, when for 72 hours straight he drove his bulldozer into countess houses and destroyed everything in his path, ramming into homes regardless of whether or not they were inhabited. 

He was quoted as saying “I made them a football stadium,” and “I have no regrets. I’m proud of my work,” and, “I never gave the people a chance to run out of the houses before I ran over them and ruined the houses with my bulldozer.” None of this is shown or mentioned in Bakri’s film yet it provides a picture of the atmosphere among the Israeli troops that entered the camp.

The army unit in which the D9 driver operated went on to receive a medal for its actions during the assault, and the man known as “Bear the Kurd” became a hero to the troops. Because so many were buried under the rubble, to this day no one knows how many Palestinians were killed in 2002 at the Jenin refugee camp.

It is hard to anticipate what the Israeli Supreme Court will rule when it hears the Bakri case. However, in a state that was built on war crimes and atrocities, one may expect that all branches of government will work together to keep the truth from coming out. Either way, few Israeli war crimes are as documented as this one, and so “Jenin, Jenin” must be viewed and shared widely.

Feature photo | A unidentified Palestinian boy holds up a sign blaming the Israelis for the damage in the Jenin refugee camp in 2002. Real World Photographs | Shutterstock

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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A Record of Hawkish Intervention: Biden Picks Samantha Power to Head USAID

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 6:53am in

President-elect Joe Biden has selected longtime Democratic insider Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “There is simply no one better to ensure our development agenda is a core pillar of our foreign policy,” the 78-year-old Delawarean said in a video statement, claiming that, under previous Democratic administrations Power, “fought tirelessly to prioritize human rights.”

USAID styles itself as a human rights organization, a Washington-sponsored group promoting democracy and development around the world. But if one delves deeper than merely the surface level, the organization has been crucial in financing a number of regime change operations across the globe. USAID money has been used to back opposition insurrections in Venezuela and Nicaragua, for example, while it continues to use its grants to provide leadership training for its preferred political candidates worldwide. Allen Weinstein, a co-founder of the National Endowment for Democracy, an organization USAID funds, told the Washington Post, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Power’s appointment was warmly endorsed by Biden’s vice-president, Kamala Harris. “One of the most pressing challenges facing our nation is restoring and strengthening America’s global leadership as a champion of democracy, human rights, and the dignity of all people,” she said, adding that, “Few Americans are better equipped to help lead that work” than the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 

Others were not so sure. Journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote,

“This is a good choice in the sense that as the head of USAID, an agency *ostensibly* devoted to assisting other countries, Samantha Power can work to repair the damage to all the countries she helped destroy the last time she was in government with her unhinged militarism.”

 

“A Problem from Hell”

Power came to national attention with the publication of her book, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.” The book was published in 2002, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan and in the run up to the Iraq War. Unlike other critics of U.S. foreign policy, Power castigated Washington for not intervening enough in other countries, arguing the U.S. has a responsibility to protect the weak in the world. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her work. 

In general, Power supported the Iraq War, stating on television that, “An American intervention likely will improve the lives of the Iraqis. Their lives could not get worse, I think it’s quite safe to say,” although she criticized the Bush administration harshly for not effectively managing the conflict. 

 

She got her chance in government once Bush’s years were over, being appointed to a number of positions in President Obama’s State Department and National Security Council, before being appointed Ambassador to the U.N. in 2013. Power presents herself as someone who stopped genocide in Central Africa and was strongly in favor of military interventions in Libya and Syria for the same reasons. Yet in her roles in the Obama administration, Power was a key promoter of some of the worst violence of the twenty-first century. 

 

Power goes to bat for human rights abusers

Yemen is the clear standout example. Described for years by the U.N. as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” the Saudi-led onslaught on the country has led to 80% of the country needing humanitarian assistance, including some 20.5 million lacking access to clean water and sanitation, as Saudi planes target medical, water and sewage facilities. As Ambassador, Power defended Saudi Arabia from criticism and helped block international efforts to respond, even focusing the blame for the violence on Houthi rebel groups. Millions of Yemenis have died or been displaced due to the violence. 

Power also strongly defended Israel from criticism at the U.N., despite the country’s bombing campaigns against the civilian population of Gaza. She excoriated the institution for their “unequal treatment” of the Jewish state and for their, “indefensible silence in response to terrorist attacks on Israelis.” 

In her latest memoir, “The Education of an Idealist,” there is no mention of Yemen, Israeli attacks on Gaza, or drone warfare, subjects she seemingly edited out of history for convenience. Her “education” already appeared complete by 2014, however, when she attended a baseball game with Henry Kissinger, one of the world’s worst human rights abusers and a man she had previously harshly criticized.

Two years later, she accepted the Henry A. Kissinger Prize from the man himself, a sign that she had earned his respect and admiration. 

 

In a sense, Power could be seen as the perfect pick for the Biden administration; a woman who continues to use the language of human rights, but completely committed to the U.S. imperial project and is every bit as hawkish as her Republican counterparts. With groups close to the president already advising him to push for increasing tensions with Russia and China, Biden might have found the right person for the job. 

Feature photo | Samantha Power, center, walks with U.S. soldiers away from the military demarcation line during a visit to the south side of the Joint Security Area at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone which separates North and South Korea, Oct. 9, 2016. Ed Jones | Pool Photo via 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 A Record of Hawkish Intervention: Biden Picks Samantha Power to Head USAID appeared first on MintPress News.

Covid-19 under Apartheid: How Israel Manipulates Suffering of Palestinians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 3:30am in

Israel’s decision to exclude Palestinians from its COVID-19 vaccination campaign may have surprised many. Even by Israel’s poor humanitarian standards, denying Palestinians access to life-saving medication seems extremely callous.

Amnesty International, among many organizations, condemned the Israeli government’s decision to bar Palestinians from receiving the vaccine. The rights group described the Israeli action as evidence of the “institutionalized discrimination that defines the Israeli government’s policy towards Palestinians.”

The Palestinian Authority was not expecting Israel to supply Palestinian hospitals with millions of vaccines as it hopes to receive two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in February. Instead, the request made by PA official, Hussein al-Sheikh, Coordinator of Palestinian affairs with Israel, was a meager 10,000 doses to help protect Palestinian frontline workers. Still, the Israeli Health Ministry rejected the request.

According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, 1,629 Palestinians died and a total of 160,043 were infected with the deadly COVID-19 disease as of January 4. While such dismal numbers can also be found in many parts of the world, the Palestinian coronavirus crisis is compounded by the fact that Palestinians live under an Israeli military occupation, a state of apartheid and, as in the case of Gaza, an unrelenting siege.

Worse still, starting early last year, the Israeli military conducted several operations in various parts of the occupied territories to crack down on Palestinian initiatives to provide free COVID-19 testing. According to the Palestinian rights group, Al Haq, as early as March 2020, several field clinics were shut down and medical equipment confiscated in the Palestinian town of Khirbet Ibziq in the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank. This pattern was repeated in East Jerusalem, Hebron and elsewhere in the following months.

There is no legal or moral justification for Israel’s action. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 asserts that an Occupying Power has the “duty of ensuring and maintaining … the medical and hospital establishments and services” with “particular reference” on taking the “preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”

Even the Oslo Accords, despite their failure to address many crucial topics pertaining to the freedom of the Palestinian people, oblige both sides “to cooperate in combating epidemics and to assist each other in times of emergency,” the New York Times reported.

Not all Israeli officials deny that Israel is legally compelled to provide Palestinians with the help required to contain the rapid spread of the pandemic. This admission, however, comes with conditions. Former Israeli Ambassador, Alan Baker, told NYT that, while international law does “place an obligation on Israel” to help in the provision of vaccines to Palestinians, Palestinians must first release several Israeli soldiers who were captured in Gaza during and after the 2014 war.

The irony in Baker’s logic is that Israel holds over 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, including women and children, hundreds of whom are imprisoned without trial or due process.

 

The captured Israelis are held in Gaza as a bargaining chip, to be exchanged for the easing of Israel’s hermetic blockade on the densely populated Strip. One of the Palestinians’ main demands for the release of the soldiers is that Israel allows for the transfer of medical equipment and life-saving medication to the two million people of the Gaza Strip. International and Palestinian human rights groups have long reported on many unnecessary deaths among Palestinians in Gaza because Israel deliberately prevents Gazan hospitals from acquiring cancer medications.

Long before the onset of the coronavirus, Israel has weaponized medicine, and Gaza’s dilapidated health sector is a standing testimony to this injustice.

Perhaps, the overcrowded Israeli prisons remain the glaring testimony of Israel’s mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations and, particularly, the World Health Organization, that states should take immediate measures to help ease the crisis in their prison systems, Israel has done little for Palestinian prisoners. Al Haq reported that Israel “has taken no adequate measures to improve provision of healthcare and hygiene for Palestinian prisoners” in line with the WHO “guidance for preventing COVID-19 outbreak in prisons.” The consequences were dire, as the spread of COVID among Palestinian prisoners continues to claim new victims at a much higher ratio compared with Israeli prisoners.

Israel’s intentional hampering of Palestinian efforts to fight COVID is consistent with a trajectory of racism, where colonized Palestinians are exploited for their land, water and cheap labor, while never factoring as a priority on Israel’s checklist, even during the time of a deadly pandemic.  Israel is an Occupying Power that refuses to acknowledge or respect any of its basic obligations as an Occupying Power under international law.

The Israeli attempt at manipulating Palestinian suffering as a result of the pandemic should also challenge our view of the fundamental relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. Frequently we speak of Israel’s apartheid in Palestine, often illustrating that assertion referring to giant walls, fences and military checkpoints that cage in Palestinian communities and segregate them from one another.

This, however, is merely the physical manifestation of Israeli colonialism and apartheid. In Israel, apartheid runs much deeper as it reaches almost every facet of society where Israeli Jews, including settlers, are treated as superior, while Palestinian Arabs, whether Christian or Muslims, are denied their most basic rights, including those guaranteed under international law.

While Israel’s behavior is not entirely surprising, it being consistent with the sordid reality of military occupation and institutional racism, it is also self-defeating. Despite the obvious imbalance in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians, they are in constant contact, not as equals but as occupier and occupied. Since the coronavirus does not respect Israel’s matrix of control in Palestine, it will travel across all of the physical divides that Israel has created to ensure permanent oppression of Palestinians. Hence, there can be no containing of COVID-19 in Israel if it continues to spread among Palestinians.

Long after the deadly pandemic is contained, the tragedy of occupied Palestine will, sadly, continue unhindered, until the day that Israel is forced to end its military occupation of Palestine and the Palestinians.

Feature photo | Israeli forces crack down on Palestinians during a protest against the expansion of Jewish-only settlements near the West Bank town of Salfit. Majdi Mohammed | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post Covid-19 under Apartheid: How Israel Manipulates Suffering of Palestinians appeared first on MintPress News.

Saint Anthony Fauci: The Hidden History

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 2:45am in

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top scientist on the Coronavirus taskforce, is being reproached after it was revealed last month that he was “moving the goalposts” on coronavirus herd immunity. But his long history of misleading the American public, or getting things completely wrong, remains unscrutinized — until now.

Before I get started on Dr. Fauci’s handling of the coronavirus and his handling of the HIV/AIDS crisis and other major outbreaks of infectious diseases, I want to be clear that the point of this article is not to push covid-denialism. I can already envision some mainstream media hack, foaming at the mouth, gesturing wildly towards this article, and earning his paycheck with some snippy line about how conspiracy theories spread at a rate rivaling the deadly pandemic. 

As of the writing of this article, 375,000-plus Americans have died because of the coronavirus. While the fault for this has been overwhelmingly blamed on Donald Trump, by his side throughout the entirety of the crisis has been Dr. Anthony Fauci, who, it seems, was given some kind of criticism vaccine generations ago, immunizing him for the kind of scrutiny one might expect for a career politician who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 37 years. 

Instead, Fauci has attained a cult leader-like status in the minds of many Americans. A Change.org petition to have People Magazine name Fauci the “Sexiest Man Alive” is nearing 30,000 signatures. On the web, you can buy Dr. Fauci blankets and prayer candles. One erotic fiction author has come forward to claim that Fauci was the inspiration for the male love interest in her 1991 book called “Happy Endings.”

The point of this article is to show that, far from his portrayal in the media as Saint Anthony Fauci, his analysis on major issues in his field: AIDS, Cholera, and Coronavirus, has been disastrously off the mark on numerous occasions, with potentially deadly consequences. If Dr. Fauci’s record had been scrutinized by the media, it is entirely possible that we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today, with as many as 4,000 of our fellow citizens succumbing to this disease every day. 

 

The Times Dr. Fauci Went ‘Mask Off’ With Haitians

On February 1, 2010, less than a month after the devastating earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti, Anthony Fauci went on the National Institute of Health’s radio program to talk about health concerns in Haiti following the quake.

The audio of the interview sits unlisted on YouTube with only six views at the time of the writing of this article. In it, Fauci says “We often hear people say, mistakenly, but understandably, they’re concerned about an outbreak of cholera. There is no cholera in Haiti, so it would be extremely unlikely that there would be an outbreak of cholera in Haiti.”

Fauci was dead wrong. According to the United Nations, the cholera outbreak that followed in the next months eventually infected 800,000 Haitians, killing more than 9,000. But since the source of the outbreak was the United Nations itself, they tried to cover up its origins. 

As rumours were mounting that it was the UN that caused the outbreak, Fauci placed the blame elsewhere. “If there is no problem with sanitation it just lurks there and lives in the water, not as a disease,” Fauci told CNN. “But the microbe was there somewhere in the water in Haiti. In situations where you have natural disasters like floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, if you don’t have the microbe lurking there, then you don’t get an outbreak.”

Poor sanitation, Fauci said, helped trigger the outbreak.

The same day as CNN’s report, the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti put out a press release supposedly meant to “shed light” on the “rumours,” but ultimately denyied any culpability by citing its compliance with international waste management standards. This was, of course, a lie.

As Haitian activist and Twitter user  Madame Boukman has tweeted, “I remember after the UN’s cholera attack against Haiti, Anthony Fauci blamed ‘unsanitary’ Haitians, just like he blamed us for HIV.”

During the height of Fauci’s research on HIV/AIDS, much of which he served as a main public face of government AIDS policy, he was a major proponent of the “Four H’s.” The four H’s referred to governmental designations of “risk groups” and included homosexuals, heroin addicts, hemophiliacs, and Haitians.

As Fauci explained in a 1984 video lecture, “Now, the Haitian situation has created some controversy in this country, and the reason is that we have, public health officials have designated the Haitians as a separate risk group. Now, the objection to that, and it’s a reasonable objection, is that it discriminates against Haitians. Why should you call the Haitians a separate risk group? We call them a separate risk group because only a very small percentage of the Haitian population, their AIDS can be explained by homosexual activity or IV drug use, so there’s something else going on there.”

Despite Fauci’s acknowledgement of discrimination against Haitians, he continued to present them as a separate risk group in public comments and medical journals.

As one Haitian-American writer, Èzili Dantò, commented, “I remember when Dr. Anthony Fauci gave disease a Black face.” She goes on to claim that Africans and Haitians were painted as “diseased.”

“I remember how back then, Haiti workers working at nursing homes, hospitals, hotels, cafeterias, driving taxi cabs, and in private homes as housekeepers and cooks were stigmatized and forced to ‘social distance’ – (i.e. got laid off, fired!) from the general population,” Dantò wrote.

One theory as to why AIDS spread more rapidly in Haiti than other places is that predatory blood plasma centers such as Hemo-Caribbean set up shop in Haiti to target poor people who would be willing to sell their blood, and didn’t use proper sanitary precautions, such as changing needles. Nonetheless, the idea that Haitians constituted a separate risk group for AIDS is now widely rejected.

 

Turning the Dial Back on AIDS Awareness

Fauci was an early researcher on the AIDS epidemic. Archival photos show him examining AIDS patients in the early 1980’s. In 1986, the Washington Post was reprinting comments from Fauci’s colleagues in glowing profiles saying the distinguished doctor was “about as close as you could find” to “Superman.” In interviews and news reports, Fauci’s heroics in the early days included his innovative efforts to find a cure. For example, Fauci experimented with an “innovative procedure involving bone-marrow transplants from a healthy identical twin to a twin brother with AIDS.” The Washington Post and Fauci himself avoided mentioning when recounting this dramatic event that the procedure ended the patient going blind and dying. At the time, newspapers across the country touted the unorthodox method as a possible lead to an AIDS cure, waiting until the end of their articles to mention this important outcome of the procedure.

When we talk about the HIV/AIDS crisis, it’s easy to shrug off the mistakes of leaders at the time: there was a good deal of confusion in the early days about how the virus was spread. It also appears to be true that Fauci fought for more funding of HIV/AIDS research.

Since Fauci was well-known to AIDS activists prior to his role in handling the coronavirus, a number stories popped up in the media discussing how he was a hero of the calamity and how he was the target of protests from the most prominent AIDS activist group ACT UP. Peter Staley, a leader of the organization, and Larry Kramer, another leader of the group, began speaking up in defense of Fauci at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Back in the day, they called Fauci a murderer. But before his death in May of 2020, Kramer told the New Yorker in a profile of Fauci that he was “‘the only true and great hero’ among government officials in the AIDS crisis.”

Today, when he is not fawning over Hillary Clinton or hyping up the threat to the United States posed by Vladimir Putin, Staley himself interviews Dr. Fauci. He also recruited Barbra Streisand “for [a] surprise Fauci birthday party on Zoom,” mainstream media has reported.

However, certain facts of how Fauci handled the AIDS crisis have been omitted from profiles on Fauci that have come out since the coronavirus pandemic.

The book “And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic” by Randy Shilts devotes a good amount of attention to one incident in which Fauci single-handedly turned back the page on progress in the social milieu around AIDS that the scientific community had worked so hard to improve.

Liberal influencers have recommended the book as Fauci “has a starring, and heroic, role.” Yet the book only contains 15 references to Fauci, and they are not particularly flattering.

In 1982, it was already well-established how AIDS was transmitted: semen, blood, and “blood products.” Nonetheless, media and medical journals at the time had the same inherent flaw they do today — the profit motive. As always, sensationalism carried more weight than fact.

In 1983, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) was publishing research on children with HIV/AIDS. There were two competing lines of thought from the data they were working with. The first was that children with AIDS had gotten it from their mothers’ blood while still in the uterus, which was promoted by Dr. Arye Rubinstein (no relation.) JAMA had initially drawn a line through the section of Rubinstein’s research paper that showed that, though they eventually published the entire thing at his insistence. 

Then, Dr. James Oleske published a paper in JAMA claiming AIDS “was originally described in homosexual men and subsequently in intravenous drug abusers, Haitians, and hemophiliacs… Recently, we and others have encountered a group of children with an otherwise unexplained immune deficiency syndrome and infections of the type found in adults with AIDS… Our experience suggests that children living in high-risk households are susceptible to AIDS and that sexual contact, drug abuse, or exposure to blood products is not necessary for disease transmission.”

Oleske’s paper totally ignored Rubinstein’s research. And Dr. Fauci did too. He reportedly never read Rubinstein’s paper and instead wrote an editorial on Oleske’s. 

“In the current issue of The Journal, Oleske et al present data that are of potentially great  importance in the continually evolving saga of AIDS,” Fauci wrote. “This is much different from the situation with the male homosexual, IV drug user, adult Haitian, or hemophiliac who was otherwise well for decades and in whom an unexplained, devastating immune deficiency then developed.”

“The implications of AIDS in this patient population are several. It took some time for people to believe that AIDS was indeed transmissible,” he continued. “The finding of AIDS in infants and children who are household contacts of patients with AIDS or persons with risks for AIDS has enormous implications with regard to ultimate transmissibility of this syndrome. First, it is possible that AIDS can be vertically transmitted. Perhaps even more important is the possibility that routine close contact, as within a family household, can spread the disease. If, indeed, the latter is true, then AIDS takes on an entirely new dimension.”

“If we add to this the possibility that nonsexual, non-blood-borne transmission is possible, the scope of the syndrome may be enormous,” Fauci wrote.

Fauci’s editorial unleashed a wave of hysteria around AIDS. First, the American Medical Association put out a press release on Oleske’s study and Fauci’s interpretation. Then, the Associated Press ran a story under the headline “AIDS Disease Could Endanger General Population.” The AP story was then followed by The New York Times and USA Today.

Fauci blamed the media for sensationalizing his comments “out of context.” He pointed out that nothing he said was conclusive; he was only saying that household contact spreading AIDS was a possibility. 

According to Shilts’ book, “The report created a lasting impression on the public that would raise the hysteria level around AIDS for years to come. Scientists just aren’t sure how AIDS is spread, the thinking went.” He continues, “the report of routine household contact lent scientific credibility to ungrounded fears; the social damage would linger for years. The fear inspired by this one story defined the context within which AIDS was discussed for the next crucial months.”

Later that year, anti-gay columnist Patrick Buchanan used Fauci’s editorial to call on the mayors of San Francisco and New York to cancel their gay pride parades, and two doctors held a press conference calling for not just the parades to be cancelled. The doctors also held that all gay bars should be closed, food handlers should be screened for AIDS, and deceased aids patients should be buried in airtight coffins, according to Shilts.

Despite Fauci remarks, which essentially cried fire in a crowded theater, he was promoted to director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases the following year. 

 

Pandemic Pandemonium and Propaganda

You should be forgiven for having missed the most recent example of Fauci lying, as the New York Times dropped the bombshell of a piece on Christmas Eve. The paper of record reported that Dr. Fauci was “quietly shifting” his estimate on the percent of the population that needs to be resistant to the coronavirus in order for it to die out:

“In the pandemic’s early days, Dr. Fauci tended to cite the same 60 to 70 percent estimate that most experts did. About a month ago, he began saying ‘70, 75 percent’ in television interviews. And last week, in an interview with CNBC News, he said ‘75, 80, s

In a telephone interview the next day, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that he had slowly but deliberately been moving the goal posts.”

Fauci explained himself: “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent.”

“Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85,” he said, adding “I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I’m not going to say 90 percent.”

In other words, the man who has become the most trusted voice on the coronavirus in the United States, has tailored his public statements — presented to us as scientific assessments — to fit nicely with public opinion.

But it’s far from the first time, or even the most egregious example, of Fauci either misleading or being dead wrong on the coronavirus or other viruses and infectious diseases, which, it probably need not be pointed out, is supposed to be his area of expertise.

Marc Thiessen, who likely knows a thing or two about lying to the American public given that he was a speechwriter for George W. Bush, published in September a pretty succinct chronology of Fauci’s false statements on the coronavirus. While he was careful to equivocate often times, I’ll briefly rehash what he has said which has been, basically, the complete opposite of what happened:

January 21, 2020: Fauci said the virus “is not a major threat for the people of the United States, and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.”

January 26, 2020: “The American people should not be worried or frightened by this. It’s a very, very low risk to the United States, but it’s something that we, as public health officials, need to take very seriously.” 

January 31, 2020: “We still have a low risk to the American public, but we want to keep it at a low risk.”

February 03, 2020: “I think you are going to see a dampening down.”

February 17, 2020: “I don’t think people should be frightened. The risk right now, today, currently, is really relatively low… right now, don’t worry about it. Be more concerned about influenza.” He added that the “danger” of the virus was “just minuscule” and you should “skip the masks unless you are contagious.”

February 28, 2020: “I don’t think it’s gonna be [bad], because I think we’d be able to do the kind of mitigation. It could be mild.”

February 29, 2020: “Right now, at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.”

March 10, 2020: “As a nation, the risk is relatively low.”

As YouTuber and comedian Jimmy Dore has repeatedly hammered, Dr. Fauci, on March 8, told 60 Minutes that there was no reason for most Americans to wear masks.

“When you see people, and look at the films in China, South Korea, whatever, everybody’s wearing a mask. Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” he said.

“You’re sure of it, because people are listening really closely to this,” Dr. Jon LaPook, the 60 Minutes host, pressed.

Fauci doubled down.

I should pause here to note that China has only seen 4,634 deaths due to the coronavirus. In South Korea, there have been only 1,140.

On June 12, journalist Katherine Ross questioned Fauci: “Why were we told later in the Spring to wear them [masks], when we were initially told not to?”

Fauci responded: “The reason for that is that we were concerned — the public health community, and many people were saying this — were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment… were in very short supply.” 

Fauci said that his reason for misleading the American public was that they wanted to make sure the healthcare workers had priority access to personal protective equipment. While a lie is a lie, this rationale is reasonable. Yet in that very same interview with 60 Minutes, Fauci had already warned that everyone wearing masks could lead to shortages.

In short, Fauci, in June, justified his lie about the importance of wearing masks with the same justification he had already coupled with his lie a few months prior. The story went from everyone wearing masks not being an effective prevention and potentially causing shortages to masks being effective but there’s no longer the threat of a shortage.

These are the maneuvers of a politician, not a scientist. And as a politician, Fauci has also done his patriotic duty to malign Russia, warning NBC’s Today Show that he was “skeptical” of the “safety” of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine. 

The Sputnik V vaccine is 91.4 percent effective according to the official website. Early reports claimed it was 95 percent effect, a figure experts agreed with. In comparison, the Pfizer vaccine is said to be 95 percent effect and the Moderna vaccine 94.1 percent effective, however those two have been available for far less time than Russia’s, so those figures may change.

So why was Fauci so adamant against the Russian vaccine? And why was he initially critical of the United Kingdom’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, claiming they “ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile?” For somebody who has railed against vaccine skepticism, he has spread his fair share of it.

Was he just echoing the anti-Russian rhetoric of everybody else that appears on national televised news? It could be worse. The National Institute of Health, which Fauci has longstanding ties to, has joint ownership of the Moderna vaccine. 

The web of connections between Fauci, the National Institute of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and major industry players like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has used poor Africans as “guinea pigs for drug experiments” are myriad. A simple Google search combining the aforementioned keywords turns up a dizzying number of results which have not surfaced in coverage of US coronavirus policy.

While the media has blamed the Trump Administration for the failures of the coronavirus response in the United States, its own failure to critically examine the record of the country’s coronavirus czar is likely not to change on January 20 alongside the White House transition. Joe Biden will keep Dr. Fauci on his coronavirus taskforce, and the media will keep its uncritical promotion of Saint Anthony Fauci.

Read more of Alexander Rubinstein’s work at Substack where this article first appreared.

Feature photo | Dr. Anthony Fauci listens during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 Capitol Hill, Sept. 23, 2020. Graeme Jennings | Pool via AP

Alexander Rubinstein is a former staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He writes about police, prisons, and protests in the United States. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.

The post Saint Anthony Fauci: The Hidden History appeared first on MintPress News.

Oak Flat: Trump’s Final Middle Finger to the Environment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 7:59am in

Buried deep in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2015, section 3003 calls for the expeditious facilitation of a land exchange agreement between Resolution Copper Mining, LLC and the United States government to create one of the largest and deepest copper mines in the country, spanning nearly 11,000 square miles of national forest terrain and penetrating 7,000 miles into beneath the surface of the earth.

The land swap specifically targets approximately 2,500 acres that are not already owned by the mining concern and which rest inside Apache hallowed ground known as Oak Flat in the Tonto National Forest in central Arizona. Considered sacred by the Apache and other First Nation peoples who still use the land they call Chich’il Bildagoteel for important ceremonies, food, and a vital link to their heritage, Oak Flat has been at the center of a decades-long battle between the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Resolution Copper, comprised of extraction industry behemoths Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

 

Closed to mining activities by President Eisenhower in 1955, Oak Flat has since flourished as a significant habitat for wildlife, including several endangered species of fish, snakes, and birds, as well as a popular campground and world-renowned rock climbing destination. Reaffirmed in the early ‘70s the protective regulations have nevertheless been incessantly targeted by UK-based Rio Tinto, whose lobbying efforts to obtain burrowing rights to the land have been rebuffed 13 times since.

In 2014, John McCain – the largest recipient of Rio Tinto political contributions in Congress that year ­– inserted the aforementioned rider in the 2015 NDAA, effectively reversing 66 years of environmental protection law and betraying his own history of advocating for indigenous rights as a ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs in 1989, when he led a Republican minority in the fight for the religious freedom of First Nations and the protection of sacred lands.

More than 30 years later, as President Trump leaves office, his administration looks to finish this act of duplicity initiated by his biggest political enemy in yet another demonstration of the hypocrisy that runs through the American political system and pervasive history of broken treaties and disenfranchisement of Native peoples.

 

Rushing into destruction 

The U.S. Forest Service will release the final version of the environmental analysis for the Resolution Copper Project and Land Exchange in three days’ time and a full year ahead of schedule as a result of pressure from the Trump administration, according to local officials.

Members of the San Carlos Apache Nation have been camping out at Oak Flat since January 2020 as part of their continued effort to halt the mining project. Tribal member Wendsler Nosie Sr, interviewed by The Guardian in November described the urgency of their plight as the “fourth quarter with two minutes left in the game,” adding that Trump’s move to push the approval process forward by a year meant they now only “have one minute left.”

Oak Flat is just one of several large-scale mining and energy projects the outgoing administration is looking to approve before the proper assessments and consultations with affected populations are made. Other projects include a lithium mine in Nevada; a helium extraction project in Utah and an oil and gas drilling venture in Alaska, among others.

Oak Flat Trump

An Apache activist takes part in a rally to save Oak Flat near Superior, Ariz. Molly Riley | AP

Virtually every one of these projects is facing opposition from Native tribes, whose very survival is threatened by the relentless advance of the extraction industry. That industry not only represents a catastrophic menace to their sources of clean water and food but also poses a direct risk to their safety as the proliferation of so-called “man-camps” or the temporary labor sites, plays a central role in the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women.

In the case of Oak Flat, Native communities have found an unlikely ally in their fight against Rio Tinto and BHP. A British government pension fund group with a stake in both companies has requested more information from their subsidiary, Resolution Copper, as to the potential impacts the proposed mine would have on Native American cultural and religious sites.

 

Ally or cover? 

Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) Chairman, Doug McMurdo, has voiced his opposition to the mining method Resolution Copper is expected to use in Oak Flat, should the project move forward. The head of the £300 Billion pension investment fund echoes the concerns of the indigenous communities who oppose the “block caving” method planned, which consists of blasting beneath the surface to extract the copper ore through tunnels and inevitably cause the collapse of the rock above, taking ancient burial grounds, petroglyphs, and medicinal plants with it.

LAPFF has advocated for communities affected by Rio Tinto’s irresponsible mining practices in other parts of the world as well. Last year, Rio Tinto faced an official inquiry from the Australian government after the company blew up 46,000-year old caves in Western Australia that were part of the country’s Aboriginal heritage. McMurdo participated in the parliamentary inquiry that found Rio Tinto culpable of knowingly destroying the Aboriginal cultural heritage site. The LAPFF Chair pointed to the conclusions as the reason why the fund “has increased its call for companies to engage meaningfully with affected communities. The fact that Rio Tinto’s senior management had not reviewed a critical report about the site itself calls into question the company’s governance and oversight processes.”

But, at the end of the day, the question arises whether such remonstrations are enough to curtail the irreparable damage the extraction industries have done and continue to do to the environment and to the indigenous communities who are not only fighting for their own survival but the survival of the entire planet.

 

The legend of Oak Flat 

One of the most significant areas of Oak Flat threatened by Resolution Copper’s project is a place called Apache Leap. The 400 foot-high cliff is the site of a historic incident of Native American resistance, from which 75 Apache warriors leaped to their death rather than be captured by the U.S. troops that surrounded them after a sneak attack that took the lives of 50 Apache warriors within minutes.

 

The Legend of Apache Tears is an enduring account of defiance against an enemy that keeps coming. When the wives and children discovered the bodies of their brave men at the bottom of the precipice, the legend states that their tears turned the white earth at their feet into black stones (obsidian) and, henceforth, anyone who acquired any such stones would never have to cry again since so many tears had already been shed by the Apache women on that tragic occasion.

If we stand with our Native American brothers and sisters against the destruction of their sacred sites, we might realize that they are sacred to us as well and then we might be able to arm ourselves with obsidian to begin the hard road back to living in harmony with nature and avert the creation of the Legend of Oak Flat.

Feature photo | A protest camp belonging to protesters in the Oak Flat area of Superior, Ariz. Ross D. Franklin | AP

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

The post Oak Flat: Trump’s Final Middle Finger to the Environment appeared first on MintPress News.

The Trump Administration’s Parting Outrage Against Cuba

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 3:18am in

On January 11, in his final days before leaving office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added one parting blow to the series of bludgeons his administration has inflicted on Cuba for four years: putting the island on the list of “state sponsors of terror” that includes only Iran, North Korea and Syria. The designation drew swift condemnation from policymakers and humanitarian groups as a decision widely characterized as “politically motivated.” It comes six years after the Obama administration had removed Cuba from the same list as part of his policy of rapprochement. 

In the six years since, Trump’s State Department could not point to a single act of terror sponsored by Cuba. Instead, Secretary Pompeo based his decision on Cuba’s alleged support for the ELN (National Liberation Army – Colombia’s second-largest guerilla group) and the harboring of a handful of U.S. fugitives wanted for crimes committed in the 1970s, including renowned Black revolutionary Assata Shakur. Lacking more specific accusations, the State Department criticized Cuba for its supposed “malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

 

These claims don’t stand up to scrutiny. Regarding the ELN, the gist of the story is that the Trump administration is punishing Cuba for its role in attempting to bring peace to the long-simmering conflict in Colombia. ELN negotiators arrived in Cuba in 2018 for peace talks with the Colombian government. As part of the protocols for these meetings, ELN negotiators were allowed entry into Cuba and promised safe passage back into Colombia after their conclusion. Guarantor countries, including Cuba and Norway, assumed responsibility for their safe return. The talks collapsed in January 2019 following an ELN car bombing in Bogotá that killed 22 people. Colombia requested the extradition of the negotiators, but Cuba refused because the Colombia government will not honor the previous government’s commitment to guaranteeing the negotiators’ freedom upon returning home.

Regarding Secretary Pompeo’s other arguments, Cuba’s main influence in the Western Hemisphere has been the opposite of “malign”: it has deployed its doctors throughout the region and the world, saving thousands of lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. And when it comes to harboring terrorists, it’s worth noting that for decades the United States harbored Luis Posada Carriles, mastermind of a 1973 bombing that killed 73 people on a Cuban commercial airliner. 

Cubans MAGA

Members of the Cuban Los 3 de La Habana, sing during a MAGA event with Ivanka Trump in Miami, Oct. 27, 2020. Wilfredo Lee | AP

Cuba’s placement on the state sponsors of terror list is meant to be a thorn in any plan by the Biden administration for rapprochement. Taking Cuba off the list will require a review process that could take months, delaying any new initiatives to roll back Trump-era policies. It will also cause further pain to Cuba’s economy, already battered by tightened sanctions and the pandemic that has devastated the island’s tourism industry. The new terrorism label will likely scare off many businesses that import to Cuba, banks that finance transactions with Cuba and foreign investors. 

 
“Stunning but not surprising.” 

A week before the designation, nine U.S. Senators wrote to Secretary Pompeo and warned that such a step “will politicize our national security.” It has drawn strong condemnation from Senator Patrick Leahy, who said it made a “mockery of what had been a credible, objective measure,” and House Foreign Affairs Chairman, Representative Gregory Meeks who said the hypocrisy from President Trump less than a week after he incited a domestic terror attack was “stunning but not surprising.” 

Faith group Pastors For Peace was one of many organizations to condemn the designation: “We know that this latest act, in the waning days of the Trump administration, is not only an aggressive act against Cuba, but aggression against the incoming administration who have pledged to return to a policy leading to peace and civilized relations with our island neighbor.”

Policy group ACERE (which CODEPINK is a part of) drew a connection between the designation and recent events at home: “Perpetuating the myth that Cuba is a threat to the American people – while minimizing the threat posed by far-right extremists at home – is an embarrassment to our country on the world stage.”

The real motive behind this move is to offer a parting gift to the Cuban exile community and its allies that have been loyal supporters of the Trump administration and helped oust several Democratic members of Congress in the last election. This is par for the course for an administration that has repeatedly used sanctions for political gain with no regard for the Cuban people who, for four years, have borne the brunt of sanctions affecting everything from energy, tourism, medicines, remittances and flights. Just like millions of U.S. citizens, Cubans are counting the days until the Trump administration becomes history and hoping the next administration will offer some relief.

Feature photo | Wearing a face mask amid the new coronavirus pandemic, a woman carries egg cartons in Old Havana, Cuba, Oct. 27, 2020. Ramon Espinosa | AP

The post The Trump Administration’s Parting Outrage Against Cuba appeared first on MintPress News.

The Hour of the Barbarian

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 9:18am in


What happened on January 6 was profoundly American, emerging as it did from our long and very specific history. No one did this to us. But despite the geographic confusion, George W. Bush, Jake Tapper, and Meghan McCain correctly identified that nothing like this has happened here for a long time.

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