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“Shame on You, New York Times!” Scientists Speak Out Over Media Disinformation on China

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/02/2021 - 4:36am in

ATexas teenager has been forced to use her entire college savings to prevent her single mother from being evicted after she lost her job amid a raging pandemic. Alondra Carmona of Houston made the appeal on crowdfunding site GoFundMe, noting that she had been accepted into prestigious New York university Barnard College, but that she used the money she had saved for tuition in order to save her mother.

Some of the world’s top scientists are condemning The New York Times for what they describe as a highly misleading hit job on their recent visit to Wuhan, China.

New York Times Wuhan

The Times latest hit piece on China | Feb 12, 2021

On Friday, the Times published a bombshell report titled “On WHO Trip, China Refused to Hand Over Important Data.” The article, subtitled, “The information could be key to determining how and when the outbreak started, and to learning how to prevent future pandemics,” claims that Chinese authorities put up “continuous resistance” to the group’s attempts to understand the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic that has now killed over 2.4 million people worldwide. China, it says, “stymied” their progress, “refusing to hand over raw data” that the Times implies would show that the outbreak began earlier than December 2019, a finding that “would leave China open to more criticism” and another example of a supposed Chinese “cover up” of the outbreak. China’s obstinance, it claimed, was so overwhelming that it led to shouting matches between the international team and local authorities.

Yet the report was immediately lambasted by many of the world’s leading scientists, including some who the Times spoke to and quoted in the article. “This was NOT my experience on the WHO mission,” said Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance in New York. “As the lead of the animal/environmental working group, I found trust and openness with my China counterparts. We DID get access to critical new data throughout. We DID increase our understanding of likely spillover pathways.” Daszak went on to explain that he was given a very wide range of data and his investigation was unvetted throughout.

Danish epidemiologist Thea Kølsen Fischer, another source on which the Times’ report was based, chimed in with a similar message:

This was NOT my experience either on the epidemiological side. We DID build up a good relationship in the Chinese/international epidemiology team! Allowing for heated arguments reflects a deep level of engagement in the room. Our quotes are intendedly twisted casting shadows over important scientific work.”

“Hear! Hear!,” replied Daszak. “It’s disappointing to spend time with journalists explaining key findings of our exhausting month-long work in China, to see our colleagues selectively misquoted to fit a narrative that was prescribed before the work began. Shame on you, New York Times!”

Dr. Hume Field, an epidemiologist and veterinarian who co-led a previous WHO investigation into the origins of the 2002-2004 SARS pandemic, also condemned the Times’ reporting. “Collaboration is all about mutual trust and respect. If you don’t have that, no one is going to share data with you,” he stated, “we urgently need to jettison the political crap. Hopefully there is enough enduring personal goodwill for us to effectively proceed.”


“Political crap”

Unfortunately, “political crap” has been getting in the way of an effective COVID-19 response since the outbreak began in late 2019. While most of the media, including The New York Times, has constantly claimed China intentionally covered up the coronavirus for political gain, the world’s medical and scientific community has been adamant that Beijing’s response was exemplary. A statement published in The Lancet, often considered the world’s most prestigious medical journal, commended China’s “remarkable” effort in “working diligently and effectively to rapidly identify the pathogen behind this outbreak, putting in place significant measures to reduce its impact, and sharing their results transparently with the global health community.”

It also condemned the “conspiracy theories” about a possible man-made COVID-19 origin, noting that the “overwhelming” evidence for this strain of the coronavirus originates in wildlife. Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, also lauded China’s actions, claiming he had “never seen the scale and commitment of an epidemic response.” “The challenge is great, but the response has been massive and the Chinese government deserve huge credit for that response and for the transparency in which they have dealt with this,” he added.

This is not how COVID-19 has been presented in Western media, with China overwhelmingly presented as having failed to contain its international spread. An October poll of 14 developed countries found that in every one, citizens believed their own government’s response was superior to that of China’s, even in countries with over 500 times the per capita deaths. The upshot of the coverage has been a surge in anti-Chinese sentiment worldwide and an increase in hate crimes against Asians. Amid growing tensions, both the Trump and Biden administrations have pushed forward with aggressive actions towards China, leading to what many have described as the beginning of a second Cold War.

The New York Times has spent much of 2020 covering and condemning COVID conspiracies and fake news. For their next article on coronavirus misinformation, perhaps they could look a little closer to home for inspiration.

Feature photo | Peter Ben Embarek, of the World Health Organization team, gives a thumbs up as he is led away after a WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference held at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan, China, Feb. 9, 2021. Ng Han Guan | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior 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, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post “Shame on You, New York Times!” Scientists Speak Out Over Media Disinformation on China appeared first on MintPress News.

This Is Yemen After Biden Declared an End To American Support for the War

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/02/2021 - 6:57am in

SANA’A, YEMEN — Seated next to his 13-year-old daughter Hakimah’s bed in al-Thawra Hospital, S. al-Hanishi watches a breaking news report on a small TV screen announcing that the president of the United States has announced an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war on his country.

But al-Hanishi took the news with skepticism. “[Biden] said he’ll end support to Mohammed Bin Salman but will help Saudi Arabia to defend her herself… Come on!” S. al-Hanishi, who asked that only his first initial and tribal surname be used for fear of reprisal, said in dismay.

Al-Hanishi now lives in Dubuea village in Yemen’s Nihm district about 25 miles east of Sana’a after living for years as an internally displaced person in the country’s capital. He remembers the moment that the war on his country was first announced from a podium in Washington D.C. by Adel al-Jubeir, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, and he believes just as it began in Washington, the war can only end from there.

Despite recent talk of the U.S. ending support for the war, the Saudi-led Coalition has only intensified military maneuvers in Yemen in recent weeks. Saudi warplanes are seen regularly above highly populated urban areas in the north of the country, dropping hundreds of tons of weapons, most supplied by the United States.

In the oil-rich Marib province, which lies adjacent to Yemen’s Houthi-led capital of Sana’a, Saudi warplanes are trying to prevent local militant groups and militias once allied with the Saudi-led coalition to yield territory to quickly advancing Houthi-led troops. Saudi warplanes now target not only Houthi troops but the retreating fighters that once faced them.

Since February 3, when the Biden administration announced it would end support for offensive Saudi military action against Yemen, the Saudi-led Coalition has also doubled down on its blockade of the country, preventing oil ships and even materials used to dispose of unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs, from entering the country.

In Sadaa, Hajjah, and the oil-rich Marib province, more than 150 airstrikes using the U.S- made bombs, including MK 81-82-83-84 cluster bombs, have been carried out according to the Yemeni Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC), an organization backed by the United Nations.

These attacks, according to the Houthi-led government in Sana’a, could not happen without a green light from the U.S. government, and all the talk about peace and an end to support for Riyadh are little more than talk for the sake of diplomatic consumption.

Last week, Hakimah al-Hanishi lost her left hand to an unexploded ordnance. She was playing with her younger brother when they came upon an unusual looking object they thought looked like a toy. But it was no toy, it was an unexploded cluster munition dropped by a Saudi jet.

Ali Safra, the director-general of the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) said that the civilian casualties from unexploded ordnances far exceed 1,000, most are women and children from agricultural and grazing areas. Safra says that Saudi-led Coalition has dropped 3,179 cluster bombs on Yemen, including the BLU 61-63-97 A/B, the M71, the BLO 108, and BLU 77. All U.S.-made cluster bombs. Safra says that European and Latin American cluster bombs, such as the British BMLT 1/2, the French ZP 39, and the Brazilian S-A-2, have also been used.

All together, YEMAC has identified at least 13 different types of cluster bombs, all dropped by warplanes, most often supplied by the United States, and often on hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, farms, factories, bridges, and power and water treatment plants.


Cautious optimism

“Over there, they are talking about peace, but here, we hear nothing but the roar of American-made warplanes over our heads and the sounds of explosions from their bombs,” one father told MintPress. His 13-year-old son Ra’ad and two other children, 13-year-old Raghad Salah al-Shawl and 10-year-old Najwa Ali Matari are being treated for serious injuries at al-Thawrah Hospital after they were struck by a cluster bomb as they were grazing their sheep in al-Gafrah in nearby Sana’a province. “We need an end to the airstrikes and a lifting of the blockade, not deceptive statements,” Ra’ad’s father added angrily.

The Houthi-led Ansar Allah movement and its allies initially welcomed Biden’s statements about bringing peace to Yemen with cautious optimism, promising to act as a good faith partner in any negotiated settlement to end the war. Yet that optimism has quickly waned in the face of continued Saudi violence, as did the overwhelming conviction of most Yemenis that the United States is not serious about peace nor that it will halt the sale of lethal weapons, intelligence sharing, or even training to Saudi Arabia.

There is an overwhelming sense among Houthi leadership that if a settlement will be reached, they will not have a seat at the table. Last Thursday, Houthi forces targeted a Saudi Air Base and the Kingdom’s Abha Airport near the Yemeni border with ballistic missiles and drones. And while a statement from the group claims that the attacks came in retaliation for Saudi airstrikes and to pressure Saudi Arabia to reopen Yemen’s airports and other ports of entry, Yemeni political analysts told MintPress that the attack was meant to send a message to the United States that a solution to the war could only be found in Sana’a, not in neighboring Tehran or Muscat.

The Houthi attacks coincided with a visit to Tehran by Martin Griffiths, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Yemen, and visits to Saudi Arabia and Oman by Timothy Lenderking, the new U.S. envoy to Yemen. Much to the Houthis’ dismay, neither Griffiths nor Lenderking met any Houthi officials in Sana’a.

Biden’s announcement to end support to Saudi Arabia did little to alleviate Yemenis’ concerns. It lacked clarity or specificity as to what policies would be introduced to effect that change. It did not mention the blockade on Yemen and it reiterated Washington’s support for Saudi Arabia’s right to defend itself. That statement left many Yemenis feeling that Biden was expressing sympathy towards Saudi Arabia and ignoring the plight of Yemenis, who have been much harder hit by the war.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement that Ansar Allah would be delisted as a terrorist organization did little to help, as it came with renewed efforts from Washington to apply pressure on the leadership of Yemen’s popular movement.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the highest-ranking Houthi official said “peace is not made with invitations but by signed agreements. And any sentiment that we do not see applied on the ground is an expression of feeling only. We will exchange practical steps with the stopping of aggression and lifting of the blockade with simultaneous steps if agreed upon and signed.”


The onslaught rages on

Doctors struggling to keep 13-year-old Hakimah alive say she must travel abroad for treatment as al-Thawra Hospital, like most in Yemen, is suffering from a shortage of medical equipment, medicine, and lack of fuel to run generators. ”I can not evacuate her, the airport is closed. What am I supposed to do?” Hakimah’s father asked MintPress.

The ongoing blockade on Sana’a International Airport imposed by the Saudi-led Coalition and supported by the United States has caused the deaths of more than 80,000 medical patients. More than 450,000 patients still need to travel abroad to receive treatment according to the Director General of the Sana’a International Airport, Khaled Al-Shayef as well as a number of civil society organizations that participated in a joint press conference last Sunday.

According to the Yemeni Ministry of Health, over 3,000 patients registered with the Ministry suffer from cardiac abnormalities and urgently need to travel abroad for treatment. Over 12,000 patients with kidney failure need urgent transplants, and more than 65 cases of cancer risk death if they are unable to get treatment outside of Yemen. He confirmed that the airport is completely safe and in complete technical readiness to receive flights, indicating that the only obstacle to reopening the airport and lifting the ban is the intransigence of the coalition countries and the complicity of the United Nations.

The United States has not only been complicit in supporting Saudi attacks which have killed more than a quarter of a million people, destroyed infrastructure, and left Yemen one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world, it has directly assisted in the enforcement of a blockade that has caused Yemen’s complete economic collapse.

Yemenis are now left with the stark reality that Biden’s statements have changed little on the ground. People are still suffering from cholera, malnutrition, and starvation; from horrific atrocities and indiscriminate bombing and shelling; from the destruction of infrastructure and the economy. Hundreds of thousands have perished, millions are displaced, and tens of millions have been left impoverished. The long-term effects of malnutrition and trauma on an entire generation of young Yemenis ensure the costs of this war will continue for decades to come.

Just as the war was announced from Washington, the only likely end to the war will be announced from Washington.

Feature photo | A nurse holds a malnourished girl at a malnutrition treatment ward of the al-Sabeen hospital in Sana’a, Yemen, October 27, 2020. Khaled Abdullah | Reuters

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post This Is Yemen After Biden Declared an End To American Support for the War appeared first on MintPress News.

CNN Declares BBC ‘Banned’ but CGTN ‘Withdrawn’ as UK and China Fire off in Propaganda Battle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/02/2021 - 6:27am in

Chinese regulators announced yesterday that they are banning British government-funded media outlet the BBC from broadcasting to its population of 1.4 billion people. The decision to block the 98-year-old corporation entirely elicited a storm of condemnation in the West. “China’s decision…is an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom. China has some of the most severe restrictions on media and internet freedoms across the globe, and this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world,” said U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S. government was of a similar opinion. “We absolutely condemn the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) decision to ban BBC World News,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “The PRC maintains one of the most controlled, most oppressive, least free information spaces in the world.”

The news should hardly have come as a surprise, however, as last week the United Kingdom banned Chinese state-owned channel CGTN from its airwaves, claiming that the outlet was ultimately under the control of the Communist Party, something which disqualified it from broadcasting inside the U.K. Why British regulators appeared to realize this only after 23 years of CGTN broadcasts is unclear.

While this was clearly a tit-for-tat decision, Western media still managed to frame it as a chilling blow for free speech in China. “BBC News banned in China, one week after CGTN’s license withdrawn in the UK,” ran CNN’s headline (emphasis added), the story using the harsher word “ban” five times in relation to China’s actions, but referring to the British decision as merely “withdrawing” or “pulling” a license.

The United States has long attempted to make it as difficult as possible for journalists from outlets owned by adversarial nations to work inside America. Reporters from CGTN (China), RT (Russia) and Al-Jazeera (Qatar) must, by law, register as “foreign agents” under a resuscitated 1938 law designed to help fight the Nazis. And while other countries can sanction American outlets (Russia has just levied a fine of $150,000 upon U.S.-owned Radio Free Europe), the fight is an uneven one, as the White House holds considerable control over social media which reaches a worldwide audience.

Organizations such as TeleSUR, owned by progressive Latin American nations including Venezuela, are frequently suspended from Facebook and Twitter with little reason given. Meanwhile, Google removed Iranian-owned Press TV from YouTube. And at the same time as Voice of America or PBS are considered reliable and trustworthy sources by Silicon Valley algorithms, TeleSUR, Press TV, CGTN, and others are demoted and deranked, consigning them to the margins of the Internet.

Going further back, there was something close to hysteria when Al-Jazeera America began broadcasting in the United States. Conservative pundit Glenn Beck described the network as being “as close to being an enemy of the state as any media can get” and insisted it would be used to spread Sharia law across the country. Partially as a result of the bad press, Al-Jazeera spent much of its time in court, fighting a great number of legal battles just to be allowed to broadcast.


The growing war on China

The latest media spat between the West and China is part of a broader conflict emerging both on and offline. The Trump administration went to great lengths to impede the growth of Chinese tech company Huawei and its 5G network. It also blacklisted a number of other Chinese entities, including Xiaomi, who had recently been outcompeting Apple in the global cell phone market. On Wednesday, the Biden administration signaled that it was backing down on Trump’s attempts to force Chinese-owned video platform TikTok to sell to an American bidder or be banned from the United States.

The U.S. has also increased its military presence in eastern Asia, going so far as to conduct provocative war games in the region and probe China’s coastline defenses with warships and bombers. Last week, Admiral Charles A. Richard, head of Strategic Command, advised that the U.S. must prepare for the “real possibility” of nuclear war with either China or Russia.

NATO-aligned think tank the Atlantic Council also requested that Biden turn up the heat on Beijing, advising him to draw a number of “red lines” around the country. If China were to cross these boundaries, which include interference in its neighbors’ politics or cyberattacks on the U.S., the response should be a military one. Anything less would result in national “humiliation,” it insisted.

The Conservative government of Boris Johnson, recently divorced from the European Union, has been courting the Biden administration, suggesting that it could work closely with it on matters regarding China. The E.U. has taken a more skeptical stance on American efforts to increase tensions with Beijing. French President Emmanuel Macron has been leading the calls for a friendlier Sino-European relationship. “I think we have to engage China in a bold and efficient climate agenda,” he told a no doubt disappointed Atlantic Council last week. “A situation to join all together against China, this is a scenario of the highest possible conflictuality. This one, for me, is counterproductive,” he added. If Macron’s words are anything to go by, don’t expect any petty Chinese media bans from Europe in the near future.

Feature photo | A pedestrian enters the BBC’s Bush House in London. Photo | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior 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, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post CNN Declares BBC ‘Banned’ but CGTN ‘Withdrawn’ as UK and China Fire off in Propaganda Battle appeared first on MintPress News.

American Tech Giants Are Partnering with India’s Strongman Leader to Crackdown on Dissent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/02/2021 - 4:25am in

The far-right government of Narendra Modi is attempting to silence dissent online amid enormous national farmers’ protests — and it is finding willing partners in Silicon Valley social media giants.

Earlier this week, the Indian government successfully lobbied YouTube to remove a number of videos, including a popular Punjabi song that had become an anthem to the protest movement. Indians trying to access the song “Ailaan” by Kanwar Grewal, a video amassing over six million views in just four months, are met with the message: “This content is not available on this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government.”

The Modi administration has also sought the removal of over 1,100 Twitter accounts it claims were spreading disinformation. Twitter has largely complied with the request, permanently deleting at least 500 accounts and blocking an unspecified number of others from view inside India. It also announced that it had agreed to suppress certain hashtags and search terms associated with the protest movement that it deemed to be “harmful,” although it did not specify which ones or what its criteria was for making the decision. However, it claims it did not take action against the many journalists Modi had ordered removed from social media.

This is quite the departure from Twitter’s actions amid protests in Iran in 2019. There, the service was set to temporarily shut down for a network upgrade. However, at the behest of the U.S. government, it delayed its upgrade in order that Iranians could continue using the service to organize and coordinate anti-government demonstrations.

On Tuesday, authorities raided the offices and homes of senior journalists at NewsClick, a progressive independent media outlet in Delhi that had taken the lead in covering the monthslong farmers’ rebellion. A number of other reporters are still in custody, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

India is almost universally described as the world’s largest democracy. However, the increasing restraints on a free press have put that title in question. The country dropped to 142nd (of 180 states) on Reporters Without Borders’ index of media freedom last year. Eight journalists have been charged with crimes (including sedition) for their actions while covering the protests. Four have been killed in the past 12 months. And while online censorship is often associated with states such as China, India leads the world in Internet shutdowns, with more than all other nations combined. Many, including in conflict regions like Jammu and Kashmir, last for hundreds of days at a time. There were 83 shutdowns across India in 2020 and 469 since 2012. Last week, the capital Delhi had its Internet temporarily suspended.


Money talks

Prime Minister Modi boasts an enormous online presence. He has over 65 million followers on Twitter, more than any political figure except Barack Obama. He also has over 51 million Instagram followers and owns the seventy-eighth most “liked” Facebook page. Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP party have used their online empire to directly reach hundreds of millions of Indians through their smartphones, encouraging them to develop a “personal connection” with their prime minister.

As such, he is a massive money spinner for Silicon Valley, his presence being a primary factor in the growth of the gigantic Indian market. The fact that Modi is not only the source of huge profits for social media but also ultimately in charge of the bodies that regulate them makes it particularly difficult for them to reject his requests. As such, this highlights the conflict in interests between making money and providing a service that aids the free flow of vital information.

The farmers’ protests were sparked in the fall after the government’s attempts to change the way in which the country’s food producers sold their crops. For decades, government buyers had guaranteed a minimum price on 23 essential commodities. However, the Modi administration is attempting to change the laws to allow private buyers into the market. Farmers fear that this will allow the government to retreat, leaving India’s small farmers at the mercy of international finance and agribusiness corporations. The government has refused to pass laws forcing new private buyers to offer a minimum price. It is also proposing removing some of the crops from the essential commodity list, an action that opens the door to speculation and hoarding.

In late November, an estimated 250 million people joined a general strike organized by farmers, regarded as the largest industrial action event in world history. The Biden administration, however, has backed the pro-free-market, pro-corporate changes Modi is proposing. “The United States welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater private sector investment,” a State Department official said.

With Biden in his corner, it is doubtful that the big social media companies will provide a great deal of resistance to Modi’s censorship demands, meaning that India’s fragile democracy might join its farmers in being the big loser out of this situation.

Feature photo | A policeman pushes a pedestrian during a protest by student activists during a protest in Kolkata, India, Feb. 11, 2021. Bikas Das | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior 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, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post American Tech Giants Are Partnering with India’s Strongman Leader to Crackdown on Dissent appeared first on MintPress News.

Queen of Chicken Hawks: Victoria Nuland Had A Hand in Every US Intervention in the Past 30 Years

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 4:59am in

President Joe Biden’s nomination of Victoria Nuland for Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the third-highest position at the State Department, is a dangerous sign. Nuland exemplifies the neoconservatives who have led American foreign policy from one disaster to another for the past 30 years, all while evading any shred of accountability.

As a top-level appointee, Nuland must still be confirmed by the Senate. And while pro-peace groups have waged a campaign to stop her confirmation, reflecting on her career in public service makes clear why she is incompetent, highly dangerous, and should not be confirmed.


Afghanistan and Iraq

From 2000 to 2003, when the Bush administration attacked and then invaded Afghanistan, Nuland was serving as Bush’s permanent representative to NATO. The Afghan government offered to work with the Americans to remove al-Qaeda, but the offer was rejected. After al-Qaeda was defeated, the U.S. could have left Afghanistan but instead stayed, established semi-permanent bases, splintered the country, and is still fighting there two decades later.

From 2003 to 2005, Nuland was principal foreign policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney who “helped plan and manage the war that toppled [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein, including making [the] Bush administration’s case for preemptive military action based on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.” The foreign policy establishment, including Nuland, insisted that removing Saddam Hussein and installing a U.S. “ally” would be simple.

The invasion and continuing occupation have resulted in over a million dead Iraqis, many thousands of dead Americans, hundreds of thousands with PTSD, and a bill for American taxpayers of 2 to 6 trillion dollars.

From 2005 to 2008, Nuland served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO where her role was to “strengthen Allied support” for the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Victoria Nuland

Victoria Nuland is sworn in as NATO ambassador by Dick Cheney in 2005. Photo | White House

When Nuland was asked about the lessons learned on the tenth anniversary of the invasion, she responded:

Compared to where we were in the Saddam era, we now have a bilateral security agreement … We have deep economic interests and ties. We have a security relationship. We have a political relationship.”

Nuland’s response makes clear that she is oblivious to the costs, and that her loyalties are to the elite who are still benefiting from the tragedy. Indeed, “one of the top profiteers from the Iraq War was oil field services corporation, Halliburton.” Halliburton gained $39.5 billion in ‘federal contracts related to the Iraq war.’ Nuland’s boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, was its former CEO.

In January 2020, seventeen years after the U.S. invasion, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution demanding U.S. troops and contractors withdraw from their country. Now, over one year later, they still have not left.



In the spring of 2011, Nuland became State Department spokesperson under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she ramped up the “regime change” assault on longtime U.S.-ally, Moammar Ghaddafi of Libya. UN Security Council resolution 1973 authorized a “No Fly Zone” for the protection of civilians but not an air assault on Libyan government forces. Yet that summer, as the U.S. and her NATO allies bombed and attacked Libyan forces, Nuland dismissed the option of a peaceful transition in Libya and suggested falsely that the UN Security Council required the removal of Ghaddafi.

The bombing campaign led to the toppling of the Libyan government and the brutal public murder of Ghaddafi at the hands of anti-government rebels. Commenting on the murder (and bayonet sodomizing of Ghaddafi) Nuland’s boss Hillary Clinton now famously chortled:

We came, we saw, he died.”

Before Ghaddafi’s overthrow, Libya had the highest standard of living in all of Africa. Since the U.S.-led assault though it has become a failed state with competing warlords, huge inflation, huge unemployment, and exploding extremism and violence that has spread to neighboring countries. Most of the migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, or drowned trying to, are coming from Libya. By any measure, the goal of “protecting” Libyan civilians has failed spectacularly.



One reason that Clinton and hawks like Nuland wanted to overthrow Ghaddafi was ostensibly to gain access to Libya’s military arsenal. Doing so would allow them to funnel arms to insurgents seeking to overthrow the Syrian government and any other enemy of the United States or her allies in the region.

This was confirmed in secret DOD documents which stated:

During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the ((Qaddafi)) regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria.

In January of 2012, Nuland claimed that the United States was “on the side of those wanting peaceful change in Syria.” At the same time, the U.S. was supplying sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and 125 mm and 155 mm howitzer missiles to the purportedly “peaceful” anti-government protestors in the country,

The U.S. “regime change” strategy for Syria followed the pattern of Libya. First, claim that the protestors are peaceful. Then claim the government’s response is disproportionate. Put pressure on the target government to paralyze it, while increasing proxy support for protesters and subversive anti-government groups. As documented, there were violent protesters in Syria from the start. During the first days of protest in Deraa in mid-March of 2011, seven police officers were killed. As a spokesperson for the State Department, Nuland was a major figure promoting that narrative in order to justify the “regime change” campaign.



In September of 2013, Nuland was appointed to the post of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. The uprising in Ukraine’s Maidan central plaza began soon after her arrival. To underscore American support for the protests, Nuland and Senator John McCain passed out bread and cookies to a crowd of anti-government protesters.

The protests continued into January of 2014. The issue at hand was a loan from the International Monetary Fund which would require a 40% increase in natural gas bills, or to accept a loan from Russia with the inclusion of cheap oil and gas. The opposition, wary of Russia and in favor of Ukraine’s alignment with “western” powers, wanted the Yanukovych government to accept the IMF loan. That opposition was comprised of different factions, including the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and Right Sector.

In early February of 2014, an audio recording of Nuland talking to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, was leaked to the public. The four-minute-long conversation was a media sensation as it included Nuland saying, “F**k the EU,” in reference to the European Union’s interests in Ukraine.

MintPress News · Victoria Nuland Leaked Call on Ukraine

But Nuland’s cursing was a distraction from what was truly significant of the recording. It showed the extent to which Nuland was meddling in domestic Ukrainian affairs, had direct contacts with key opposition leaders and was managing the protests to the extent she was deciding who would – and would not – have a seat at the table in the post-coup government. In the recording, Nuland says:

I don’t think Klitsch [Vitaly Klitschko] should go into government…… I think Yats [Arseniy Yatseniuk] is the guy… “

The reason she wanted to “F**k the EU” was that she did not approve of the EU’s preferred method of negotiation and compromise. Nuland and Pyatt wanted to “midwife” and “glue” the toppling of the Yanukovych government despite it being in power after an election that was observed and substantially approved by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

Over the next few weeks, the protests escalated. The president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kyiv, Bernard Casey, described what happened next.

On February 18-20, snipers massacred about 100 people [both protestors and police] on the Maidan …. Although the US Ambassador and the opposition blamed the Yanukovych Administration, the evidence points to the shots coming from a hotel controlled by the ultranationalists, and the ballistics revealed that the protestors and the police were all shot with the same weapons.”

The Estonian foreign minister would later echo those claims: “behind the  snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new (opposition) coalition.”

Casey continues:

On February 20, 2014 an EU delegation moderated negotiations between President Yanukovych and the protestors, agreeing to early elections – in May 2014 instead of February 2015…. Despite the signing of an agreement … the ultranationalist protestors, and their American sponsors, rejected it, and stepped up their campaign of violence.”

The coup was finalized in the following days. Yanukovych fled for his life and, as planned, Yatsenyuk became president.

Victoria Nuland Ukraine

Nuland, right, offers cookies to pro-EU protesters in Independence Square in Kiev, Dec. 11, 2013. Andrew Kravchenko | AP

One of the first acts of the coup leadership was to remove Russian, the first language of millions of Ukrainians, as an official state language. Over the coming period, the “birth” of the coup government, violence by ultranationalists and neo-Nazis were prevalent.

In Odessa, those peacefully protesting the coup were violently attacked. One video published online shows an especially vicious attack on peaceful protesters followed by the fire-bombing of the building where protestors had retreated. Fire trucks were prevented from reaching the building to put out the fire and rescue the citizens inside. Forty-two people died and 100 were injured. In another incident, a convoy of buses heading to Crimea was attacked and the anti-coup passengers beaten and some killed, and in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, protests against the coup were met with deadly force.

Nuland claims to be a “victim” because her conversation was leaked publicly. The real victims are the many thousands of Ukrainians who died and the hundreds of thousands who were made refugees because of Nuland’s crusade to bring Ukraine into the NATO fold.

The audio recording confirms that Nuland was managing the protests at a top-level and that the result (Yats is the guy) was as planned. If Nuland was willing to go to such lengths, it’s possible that she also approved the decision to both deploy snipers in order to escalate the crisis and to overturn the mediated agreement by the EU which would have forced elections in three months time and effectively undermined the protest movement.

Why were snipers deployed on February 18? No one can say for sure, but time was running out, the Russian leadership was distracted by the Sochi Olympics and perhaps the coup managers were in a hurry to “glue” it in advance.



During the 1990s, Nuland worked for the State Department on Russia related issues, including a stint as deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs. During that time, the U.S. interfered in Russian internal affairs in myriad ways. Time magazine proudly proclaimed, “Yanks to the rescue: the secret story of how American advisors helped Yeltsin win.”

Yet Yeltsin’s leadership and the policies pushed by the United States had disastrous consequences. Between 1991 and 1999, Russia’s gross domestic product decreased by nearly 50% as social safety nets were removed. The Russian economy collapsed, oligarchs, and lawlessness arose. Nuland was part of the U.S. team leading the efforts in Russia, deploying economic “shock therapy” and causing widespread social despair.

Meanwhile, the United States reneged on promises to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “one inch” eastward. Instead, NATO became an offensive pact, bombing Yugoslavia in violation of international law and then absorbing Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Albania, Croatia, and more.

Coming into power in 2000, Putin clamped down on the oligarchs, restored order, and began rebuilding the economy. Oligarchs were forced to pay taxes and start investing in productive enterprises. The economy and confidence were restored. Over seven years, GDP went from 1.3 billion (U.S. dollars) to 2.3 billion. That is why Putin’s public approval rating has been consistently high, ranging between 85% and a “low” approval rating of 60%.

Most Americans are unaware of these facts. Instead, Putin and Russia are persistently demonized. This has been convenient for the Democratic Party establishment as it served as a distraction for their efforts against Bernie Sanders, efforts which ultimately led to their loss to Donald Trump. The demonization of Russia is also especially useful and profitable for the military-industrial complex.

Victoria Nuland

Nuland speaks to lawmakers after testifying on ‘Policy Response” to Russian election Interference, June 20, 2018. Andrew Harnik | AP

Nuland boosted the “Steele Dossier” which alleged collaboration between Russia and Trump among other salacious claims. The allegations filled the media and poisoned American attitudes towards Russia. Belatedly, the truth about the “Steele Dossier” is coming out. Last summer the Wall Street Journal reported “the bureau (FBI) knew the Russia info was phony in 2017” and that “there was no factual basis to the dossier’s claims.”

While promoting disinformation, Nuland is pushing for a more aggressive U.S. foreign policy. In an article titled “Pinning Down Putin.” she insists that “Russia’s threat to the liberal world has grown,” that Washington should “deter and roll back dangerous behavior by the Kremlin,” and “rebuff Russian encroachments in hot spots around the world.”

The major “hot spots” are some of the same conflicts that Nuland herself promoted, especially Syria and Ukraine. In Syria, the U.S. and its allies have spent billions promoting the overthrow of the Assad government. So far, they have failed, but have not given up. The facts are clear: American troops and military bases in Syria do not have the authorization of the Syrian government. They are actively stealing the precious oil resources of the Syrian state. It is the United States, not Russia, that is “encroaching.”


The queen of chicken hawks

Victoria Nuland has promoted a foreign policy of intervention, coups, proxy wars, aggression, and occupation and that policy has been implemented with bloody and disastrous results in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine.

With consummate hypocrisy, she accuses Russia of spreading disinformation in the United States, while she openly seeks to put “stress on Putin where he is vulnerable, including among his own citizens.” She wants to “establish permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border and increase the pace and visibility of joint training exercises.”

Nuland is the queen of chicken hawks, the Lady Macbeth of perpetual war. There are hundreds of thousands of victims from the policies she has promoted.  Yet she has not received a scratch. On the contrary, she has profited from a stock portfolio likely filled with military contractors.

Now Nuland wants to provoke, threaten, and “rollback” Russia. Yet a quick look at any map of U.S. military bases shows who is threatening whom.

Victoria Nuland is highly dangerous and should not be confirmed.

Feature photo | Victoria Nuland listens to questions during a press conference after talks with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic in Belgrade, July 13, 2014. Darko Vojinovic | AP

Rick Sterling is a journalist and member of the Syria Solidarity Movement based in the San Fransico Bay area. He can be reached at

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New US Military Base in Northeast Syria Latest of Biden’s Warlike Moves 

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/02/2021 - 6:54am in

The U.S.-government funded outlet Voice of America has confirmed rumors that a new military base is being built in northeastern Syria. A convoy of 40 troop carriers and other vehicles arrived and began setting up shop in the city of Hasakah near the Turkish and Iraqi borders over the weekend. “The U.S. flag is now raised over a building,” said journalist Jindar Berekat, a native of the city, “it is not clear how many American soldiers will be stationed at this location, but their armored military vehicles are here and it looks like they are still constructing parts of it.”

“Many here believe that the building of a U.S. base inside Hasakah could be a response to the growing Russian presence in the city,” a local reporter told Voice of America, “this new center [is being built] with the aim of observing Russian forces in Hasakah.” Russian military units have been present in Syria since 2015, intervening on behalf of the government of Bashar al-Assad.

The two foreign superpowers have come close to armed confrontation in Syria many times, including in 2017, when President Trump ordered the bombing of a Russian airbase near the Lebanese border. Already, the American presence has prevented the Russian military from carrying out patrols in northeastern Syria.

While the United States has presented its role in Syria as a counter terrorism operation, Assad’s government has accused it of plundering its resources, “condemn[ing] in the strongest terms the agreement signed between al-Qasd militia (SDF) and an American oil company to steal Syria’s oil under the sponsorship and support of the American administration.” Around 500 American troops have been guarding the country’s oilfields for months, and last summer, Senator Lindsay Graham confirmed that the U.S. had indeed signed a deal with the SDF to “modernize” the country’s oil industry. Damascus considers the agreement “null and void.”

The new base at Hasakah is the latest in a string of actions that suggest the United States wishes to bolster or expand its presence in the war-torn country. Last month, American forces reinforced another base along the M4 highway, which runs from the city of Aleppo through the north of the country and towards the Iraqi border in the east. At the same time, its ally Israel was conducting a series of major airstrikes across the east of the country, reportedly targeting Iranian or pro-Iranian forces.

Increasing hostilities against Iran appears to be a chief concern of the U.S. in the Middle East. 12 months ago, the government announced the construction of three further military bases along the Iran-Iraq border. This was despite a recent unanimous vote (with some abstentions) in the Iraqi parliament demanding the United States military leave the country. This was followed by huge demonstrations in Baghdad demanding the withdrawal of U.S. troops Some estimates put the number of those attending as high as 2.5 million people. President Biden has also ruled out lifting deadly sanctions on the country until it complies with the 2015 nuclear deal — an agreement that the U.S. left unilaterally.

The Biden administration has distanced itself from Trump somewhat on the question of Yemen. The new president received a great deal of praise for his announcement that he was suspending military support to Saudi Arabia. However, as Yemen-born academic Shireen Al-Adeimi noted, he included a number of qualifiers to his statement, including that the U.S. would only stop supporting “offensive operations” and block “relevant” arms sales. “We are going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people,” Biden said in a speech at the State Department. Almost immediately, the State Department began condemning Yemen’s Houthi rebels for supposedly attacking civilian targets inside Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps the Saudis’ defense of their own territory will start to look like Israel’s self-defense against Lebanon and Palestine. On Israel, Biden has countersigned Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, effectively endorsing the Israeli occupation of Palestine’s largest city. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, reports suggest he might go back on the decision to remove U.S. troops from the country.

With the arrival of every new president, hope springs eternal that they will conduct a less aggressive strategy in the Middle East. However, many of Biden’s first moves, including the building of a new base in Syria, suggest his term will be more of the same rather than a break with the old.

Feature photo | A US soldier stands guard at an undisclosed location in Syria, Oct. 27, 2020. Jensen Guillory | DVIDS

Alan MacLeod is Senior 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, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

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A Pro-Cairo Lobby is Spending Big to Make Sure Biden Doesn’t Cut Aid to Egypt’s Dictatorship

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/02/2021 - 3:14am in

Under Donald Trump’s presidency, Egypt, as well as Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE, and other repressive regimes, had virtually free reign to commit unchecked human rights abuses without worry that they might be chastised or lose U.S. diplomatic and financial support. But when Joe Biden won the 2020 election, President Sisi of Egypt started to worry. That’s when he contracted lobbying powerhouse Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck for $65,000 a month.

The pro-Cairo lobby team includes a number of former politicians, including former Republican congressman Ed Royce, who chaired the influential Foreign Affairs Committee from 2013-2018. The most shocking PR agent for the Egyptian regime, however, is Nadeam Elshami, former chief of staff for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “It’s inconceivable that a man who spent his younger years in Egypt, comes from a Muslim family that supported the 2011 Arab Spring and was a key Democratic staffer in the U.S. Congress would end up lobbying for a regime that jails, tortures and murders tens of thousands of Egyptians,” says Mohamed Ismail of  Egyptians Abroad for Democracy Worldwide.

Brownstein boasts many accomplishments, including pushing Congress to obtain compensation on behalf of the hostages held in Iran in 1979, recovering artifacts plundered during the Armenian Genocide, securing compensation for housing developers who had to mitigate asbestos from former U.S. military sites, and securing increased funding for cancer research. Representing Egypt under President Sisi is unlikely to be something Brownstein Hyatt Schreck will brag about.

In July 2013, Sisi seized control of Egypt in a military coup that removed Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected leader. The following month, on August 14, his military massacred approximately 1,000 civilians engaging in peaceful protest at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth called the Rabaa massacre, “one of the worst killing of demonstrators in a single day in recent history,” pointing out that the violence was “intentionally planned at the highest levels of Egyptian society.” Between July 2013 and May 2014, Egyptian authorities detained, charged, or sentenced over 40,000 people. Many of the detainees — demonstrators, dissenters, and journalists — were held without trial. Others were tried without due process and sentenced to death.

In 2015, President Sisi governed without an elected parliament, giving himself almost total impunity for the attacks he carried out against civil and political rights. Effectively, all of the human rights gains that had been achieved during the 2011 Arab Spring that ousted longtime Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak were lost when Sisi took over. Sisi’s reign of power has continued in this fashion with Egyptians experiencing surging human rights abuses and a large-scale breakdown of civil society.

In April 2019, Sisi’s government passed constitutional amendments allowing the leader to remain in power until 2030. In the fall of 2019, Egyptian authorities launched their biggest crackdown since Sisi seized power in 2013. According to Amnesty International, over 2,300 people, including more than 111 children, were taken into custody in sweeping and targeted arrests of peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights attorneys, politicians, and political activists. On January 13, 2020, Egyptian-born American citizen Mustafa Kassem died following more than six years of incarceration in Egypt. Kassem had been arrested in August 2013 in Cairo on claims that he had participated in protests against Sisi’s military regime. He suffered from beatings and was held in pretrial detention for over five years before finally, without due process, receiving a sentence of 15 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the already abysmal prison conditions in Egypt and Sisi’s government has used the crisis as a pretext to even further silence critics and make use of pretrial detention without judicial review.

Egypt’s North Sinai, a sparsely populated area bordering Israel and the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, is a particularly egregious example of the country’s human rights abuses. Attacks by armed groups, including ISIS affiliates, on Egyptian government installations, began to rise after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising but increased dramatically following Sisi’s 2013 coup. Instead of protecting Sinai residents in their fight against militants, the Egyption military has “shown utter contempt for residents’ lives, turning their daily life into a nonstop nightmare of abuses,” said Michael Page, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The Egyptian military in the Sinai has been engaging in torture, disappearances (including of children as young as 12), mass arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, home demolitions, severe curfews resulting in food shortages, and air and ground attacks against civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, these actions amount to war crimes and, according to a 2020 report by the U.S. Department of State, Egypt has repeatedly refused U.S. requests to observe how its military equipment is being used in the Sinai.

The history of U.S. financial support for Egypt dates back to the 1978 Camp David Accords and 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty when the U.S. began to provide Egypt with aid in a 2:3 ratio in accordance with U.S. aid to Israel. According to the U.S. Department of State, since 1978, Egypt has received over $50 billion in military and $30 billion in economic assistance. Currently, the U.S. gives Egypt $1.3 billion per year ($3.56 million per day) in military aid, making Egypt the second-largest recipient of U.S. military assistance after Israel.

This largesse flowed during the reign of Hosni Mubarak and continues today, despite Sisi’s massive human rights abuses. Following the horrific 2014 Rabaa Square massacre, President Obama halted the delivery of U.S. tanks, missiles, fighter jets, and attack helicopters to Egypt. However, by 2015, he relented and lifted the arms hold, citing the need “to address the shared challenges to U.S. and Egyptian interests in an unstable region.” President Trump famously referred to Sisi as his “favorite dictator,” and praised Sisi for doing a  “fantastic job.” In August of 2017, the Trump administration did cut $96 million and delayed $195 million in military assistance to Egypt over the country’s failure to reduce its human rights abuses, a new law Sisi approved to restrict the activities of non-governmental organizations, and Egypt’s relationship with North Korea. But these actions were not as tough on Egypt as they appeared to be. According to The New York Times: “by pausing the provision of $195 million in military funding, the Trump administration saved the money from expiring entirely on Sept. 30. This way, Egypt could eventually get the money if its record on human rights improves.” Indeed, the funding was later released without any change in Egypt’s policies.

Some members of Congress have tried to take action. In October 2020, 56 representatives — 55 Democrats and one independent — released a letter urging Sisi to release prisoners “unjustly detained for exercising their fundamental human rights.” The call was echoed by over 220 European lawmakers. In 2014, Congress began implementing the Leahy Laws on a portion of aid money to Egypt. The law prevents U.S. security assistance to a foreign security force unit when there is credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.

In December 2020, Congress made $75 million (a small portion of the total $1.3 billion) conditional on human rights improvements, without the U.S. State Department being able to waive the conditions by citing U.S. national security interests.

Unlike Trump, Joe Biden has been quite critical of Sisi. Commenting on the release of an Egypt-American medical student, then-candidate Biden wrote on Twitter: “Mohamed Amasha is finally at home, after 486 days in an Egyptian prison, for raising a protest banner. The arrest, torture, and exile of activists like Sarah Hegazy and Mohamed Soltan or threatening their families is unacceptable. No more blank cheques for Trump’s favorite dictator.”

Shortly after it became apparent that Biden had won the 2020 U.S. election, Egypt began releasing some political prisoners, including three directors of the well-respected Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights—Gasser Abdel-Razek, Kareem Ennarah and Mohamed Basheer. On February 6, 2021, they released Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein, who had been in prison since December 2016 for  “publishing false information and belonging to a banned group.” After Hussein was arrested, Sisi banned Al Jazeera and other news outlets critical of his rule. Reporters Without Borders has called Egypt one of the world’s biggest and worst jailers of journalists.

Certainly, President al-Sisi is afraid that his days of free rein to commit human rights abuses are over now that Trump is out of office. That’s why he is so desperate for the help of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to whitewash his image and keep U.S. military assistance flowing. But the Biden administration and Congress must not be swayed by Egypt’s release of a few select prisoners or the lobbying efforts of well-compensated Brownstein employees such as Pelosi’s former chief of staff Nadeam Elshami. They should put a “stop payment” on the U.S. taxpayer-funded check that has enabled Sisi to operate with impunity.

Feature photo | Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi watches an honor guard marching in Bucharest, Romania, June 19, 2019. Vadim Ghirda | AP

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, and author of several books, including Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2014 she was arrested at the Cairo airport, beaten and deported.

Ariel Gold is the national co-director and Senior Middle East Policy Analyst with CODEPINK for Peace.

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Argument Without Argument

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/02/2021 - 6:57am in

The more time one spends in Gates’s head, the more one is struck by the increasingly nihilistic quality of the American exceptionalist creed. Gates and his ilk remain committed to the idea that when there are problems in the world, the United States must “do something.” What is that something? It usually doesn’t matter much.

Biden Puts Trump’s Foreign Policy in Reverse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/02/2021 - 5:25am in

In a speech at the State Department, President Biden argued that foreign policy is an integral part of domestic policy. It requires that the government address the needs of ordinary Americans. Continue reading

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Ecuador: US-Backed Gov’t Scrambles to Privatize the Central Bank Before Elections

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 06/02/2021 - 2:32am in

This article was written and researched for MintPress by a talented new collective of journalists that call themselves Ecuador On Q. You can find more of their work on Twitter at @Ecuador_On_Q, or visit them on Patreon.

With just days until Ecuador’s February 7 presidential election and four months remaining on President Lenin Moreno’s mandate, the Ecuadorian government and right-wing elites are still scrambling to privatize the country’s central bank.

The process involves fast-tracking an emergency law dubbed the Humanitarian Support Organic Law, which will “lockdown” the central bank, siphon it from the public sector, and place Ecuador’s financial sovereignty at the whims of private interests.

According to right-wing figures and the country’s mainstream media apparatus that protects and serves its interest, the unconstitutional move is being touted as a necessity. Both parties have claimed that the measure would “safeguard” the country’s dollarization. In 2000, the U.S. dollar was implemented as part of the country’s national monetary system during the neoliberal administration of Jamil Mahuad. Sixteen financial institutions were bailed out by his government at a whopping cost of $2.6 billion.

Ecuador’s dollarization occurred just months after the infamous “bank holiday,” in which 70% of all banking institutions declared bankruptcy, hurling the Andean Republic into its worst economic crisis in a century. Millions of people lost their life savings during the chaos and the former national currency, the sucre, plummeted in value by 195%.

A migrant crisis accompanied the economic downturn. More than 267,000 Ecuadorians fled the country during a two year period (1999 and 2000), eventually leading to a total of 2.2 million Ecuadorians migrating, a figure that at the time represented nearly 20% of the country’s population. Even more lost their life savings. The middle class was obliterated and inequality worsened.

The current claim that the country’s dollarization needs to be “safeguarded,” a claim repeated by the political and economic elites, local media, and the bulk-some of the 15 presidential hopefuls, is rooted in the work of the leading presidential candidate, Andrés Arauz.

Since the end of Rafael Correa’s term in office, Arauz has been in charge of the Dollarization Observatory. This organization informs the public on economic matters, often focusing on the ways in which neoliberal interests threaten Ecuador’s economy. The myth claiming that Arauz wants to forcibly remove the dollar as the national currency comes from an article he wrote last April in which he gave examples of “good and bad” de-dollarization processes. Opponents of the front-running presidential candidate seized on the chance to criticize the piece, claiming that Arauz intends to withdraw all U.S. dollars from circulation. Though the dollarization of the economy was, indeed, a bad idea “at the time,” Arauz has not expressed nor has any intentions of de-dollarizing the economy.

The privatization of the central bank, however, will put a dollarized economy at risk, as it would open the floodgates for billions of dollars to be transferred to places like Panama and other tax havens. It would, in effect, force an already crumbling public sector to subsidize the capital flight.

The emergency law would also prohibit the central bank from issuing bonds to the government, forcing authorities to increase the foreign debt during the current economic and health crisis.

The law would also completely disassociate Ecuador’s principal financial institution from any government oversight. Consequently, a board of directors named by Moreno, a president with a 7% approval rating and who has co-governed alongside powerful economic groups, will be charged with this responsibility. Uncontested authority over the central bank and its economic policies will be wielded by the board and private interests.

A requirement to fulfill an International Monetary Fund financial package, the emergency law would institutionalize current austerity measures and solidify the inequalities that were aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis.

With a recent Comunizaliza poll showing Arauz not only in the lead but commanding a decisive first-round victory, Ecuador’s right-wing minority are trying to pre-emptively cripple a progressive government no matter who bears the brunt.

Feature photo | A demonstrator holds a banner against International Monetary Fund during a protest in Quito, Ecuador, May 18, 2020. Photo | Dolores Ochoa | Editing by MintPress News

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