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Discussion of Wikileaks or any “Hacked Information” Banned Under New YouTube Rules

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 4:39am in

Social media giant YouTube announced yesterday a host of new measures it says are aimed at preventing any interference in the upcoming presidential elections. Chief among the list it wrote on its blog, is “removing content that contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses.” An example it gives, would be deleting “videos that contain hacked information about a political candidate.”

It also promised to “raise up authoritative voices” when it comes to current events and politics by changing its algorithm to show users more credible channels and “reduce the spread of harmful misinformation and borderline content.” Example channels that produce authoritative content, it tells readers, includes Fox News and CNN. It also noted it would expand information panels underneath videos.

There are a number of reasons this new policy could concern users of its platform. Firstly, the great majority of leaked information — the lifeblood of investigative journalism — is anonymous. Often, like in the cases of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner, whistleblowers face serious consequences if their names become attached to documents exposing government or corporate malfeasance. But without a name to go with a document, the difference between leaked data and hacked data is impossible to define. Thus, powerful people and organizations could claim data was hacked, rather than leaked, and simply block all discussion of the matter on the platform. Hearing the news, some feared already existing content from investigative journalists would be subject to removal under the new guidelines.

YouTube’s choice of Fox News and CNN as reliable sources might also raise eyebrows in some quarters. According to the latest Reuters Institute Digital News Report, fewer than half of all Americans trust the two networks (Fox at 42 percent and CNN at 47 percent). And a new study from Gallup/Knight Foundation finds that fewer than a third of the country has a favorable view of the media more generally, including only 19 percent of those under thirty (YouTube’s prime demographic). Many go to the platform precisely because it offers alternative and more diverse opinions to corporate-dominated radio, print and television. But YouTube is now funneling them back towards those same sources.

The 2016 presidential election was colored by Wikileaks’ release of the Podesta emails, discussion of which would be banned under YouTube’s new rules. The Hillary Clinton campaign alleges the emails were hacked from Podesta’s computer. The published communications, the authenticity of which is not in doubt, informed the country of the machinations of the Democratic Party, how it tipped the electoral scales in favor of Clinton and against Bernie Sanders in the primary, how Clinton stated to Wall Street that she had a “public” and a “private” position on regulation, insinuating she was lying to the nation, how representatives of Qatar wanted to meet with her husband Bill for “five minutes” to present him with a $1 million check for his birthday, and how her own staff held her in contempt. The emails, Clinton contends, swung the election from her to Trump. If this is the case, the decision to ban all discussion of them would have fundamentally altered the democratic process.

If YouTube’s actions seem drastic, the Australian state of Queensland introduced laws yesterday that made it illegal to publish allegations of corruption against any politician during election season. Those found guilty would be punished with a six-month jail sentence and a fine of nearly U.S.$5,000. After a public outcry, the law was overturned after only 24 hours.

While misinformation online is a problem, there exist other, more serious threats to electoral integrity. President Trump, who said that Republicans would never get into power again if everybody voted, told Fox Business this week that he is actively withholding funds from the U.S. Postal Service in order to undermine the election to his benefit. “They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.” Add decades of gerrymandering and a campaign of voter suppression that has seen over 1,200 polling stations across the South, primarily in black neighborhoods, and Trump might be able to overcome his polling deficit and beat Biden.

YouTube’s decision to ban discussion of hacked information on its platform is unlikely to significantly improve political discourse or election integrity in the United States. It will, however, continue to tilt the balance in favor of established corporate-funded outlets, to the detriment of new, alternative voices.

Feature photo | Posters of Edward Snowden, left, and Julian Assange, right. MintPress via Shutterstock | 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 Discussion of Wikileaks or any “Hacked Information” Banned Under New YouTube Rules appeared first on MintPress News.

Julian Assange Court Case Delayed Again in Bizarre Circumstances

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 3:14am in

There were bizarre scenes at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London today, as the extradition process of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange (present via videophone from Belmarsh prison) was again delayed.

Proceedings were held up this morning so Assange could converse for the first time in five months with his legal team. The prosecution team failed to turn up at the hearing because they were told events started at 3:30 p.m. Only five members of the press were allowed to enter the courtroom to monitor proceedings. Other journalists, observers, and NGOs attempting to listen via telephone could not, as they were given the number to another courtroom. One journalist who did make it inside claimed that the judge, Vanessa Baraitser, was, “clearly reading from a pre-written ruling.”

Assange sat in a conference room used by the entire prison, without a mask, and was seen coughing a number of times. At one point, proceedings in the courtroom were interrupted by screaming coming from another booth in Belmarsh prison, loud enough to cause a delay. Present at the hearing, Assange’s mother, Christine, warned that he would not survive extradition to the United States.

Perhaps most bizarre, however, is that the United States Department of Justice dropped its original indictment in June, just two days after Assange’s defense team submitted their full and final evidence for the extradition hearing. Today was the first time Assange saw the charges against him. Yet they are almost identical to those previously issued, save for slightly broadening the scope to include some interactions with hacking groups in 2011. The U.S. D.O.J. itself admitted that their new indictment “does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019,” leading Wikileaks to allege that the U.S. is attempting to string the process along until after the November election, in order to avoid any negative consequences for the Trump administration. “This was the worst hearing so far,” said Kristinn Hrafnsson, the organization’s current editor-in-chief. “The U.S. government seems to want to change the indictment every time the court meets, but without the defence or Julian himself seeing the relevant documents.” If found guilty, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison.

The defense team, led by Edward Fitzgerald QC, was given a week to decide whether to ask for a hearing scheduled for September 7 to be postponed. However, they must do that without the input of their client, as Belmarsh prison denied them a post hearing video conference.

 

Assange’s kangaroo court

One consequence of the replacement indictment is the legality of even keeping the hacktivist publisher imprisoned. Baraitser stated that Assange has not even been arrested under the new indictment and is still being held under the old one that is now null and void.

Thus, to recap: the defendant (who is not even legally under arrest) had not even seen the “new” charges (which were the same as the old ones) or met with his defense team for five months, the judge was reportedly reading from a pre-written script, the prosecution did not turn up, journalists could not watch or listen to the proceedings, which were interrupted by screaming from the prison where Assange is being kept.

The farcical events were immediately denounced by onlookers. “I have never in my career faced so much difficulty attempting to trial monitor as in Julian Assange’s case. Whether in person or remotely, there are constant barriers to access. Completely unacceptable,” said Rebecca Vincent, Director of International Campaigns for Reporters Without Borders. Journalist Kevin Gosztola agreed: “Having covered Chelsea Manning’s court martial in a US military court, let me say this clearly: Julian Assange isn’t even being granted the same minimal rights and the same standards of press access that Chelsea had. It’s much, much worse,” he wrote on Twitter.

In 1925, Bohemian writer Frantz Kafka’s posthumous book, “The Trial,” was published, from where we derive the term “Kafkaesque.” “The Trial” tells the story of Josef K., a man arrested and prosecuted in a nightmarish kangaroo court while unable to properly defend himself. Nearly 100 years later, the Australian publisher is being tried in his own kangaroo court, and Kafka’s dystopian fantasies do not seem so unrelatable.

Feature photo | A demonstrator holds a banner outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Aug. 14, 2020. Kirsty Wigglesworth | 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 Julian Assange Court Case Delayed Again in Bizarre Circumstances appeared first on MintPress News.

Bolivia Headed for a Showdown as Mass Protests Erupt Against US-backed Anez Administration

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 2:20am in

Bolivia is heading for a showdown between the government and the people after nearly two weeks of continuous, nationwide protests have paralyzed the country. Demonstrations have grown day on day after the government — who came to power in a U.S.-baked coup last November — postponed the elections for the third time. Ollie Vargas, a journalist who witnessed the events firsthand, shared his experiences with MintPress:

We are in day 12 of Bolivia’s uprising and general strike called by the unions, and the crisis has reached a boiling point. All of the country is paralysed. The key roads in the country have been blocked by people erecting barriers. So it is up to the government to decide whether they want a peaceful route out, which is through elections as soon as possible, with guarantees to end the persecution against the left and the Movement to Socialism Party [MAS], or if they are going to go down the route of more conflict by rejecting that, at which point the movement will begin calling for the ousting of the government. The government will have to start attacking the protesters, in what would have to be basically a military invasion of the country, because this is across every region of Bolivia.”

Unfortunately, many observers predict that the coup government, led by Jeanine Añez, will choose the latter. MintPress also spoke with Benjamin Dangl, a lecturer at the University of Vermont and the author of the book, “The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia.” “The government and its right-wing and paramilitary allies in the streets meet protesters’ legitimate demands with racist violence and threats,” he said.

Since last November, the Áñez government has carried out grave human rights violations and massacres against political enemies and protesters. Its current handling of protests indicates it is not interested in a peaceful solution to the crisis it has created.”

Late last month, the government postponed elections for a third time, moving them back to October 18. Its justification was the rapidly worsening health situation in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also canceled school for the country’s two million children. No doubt holding an election would indeed be dangerous at the current moment. But many in Bolivia felt the move was a sign the self-declared “interim government” had little intention of ever giving up power.

In response, unions called a general strike, and after 12 days of protest that has seen the country shut down through a series of roadblocks, the movement has grown bolder, calling for an end to Añez’s rule. Dangl noted that the method of protest is a common one in Bolivia, being used extensively by the people during the early 2000s Water and Gas Wars against the privatization of the economy.

The rising number of protesters involved in road blockades across Bolivia speak to a long tradition of blockades as a form of protest in the country. Bolivian blockaders have toppled dictatorships, ushered in a return to democracy, and kicked out some of the most powerful corporations and banking institutions in the world. Now they are facing down the repressive and undemocratic Áñez government. The protests reflect the wide rejection of Áñez, and go beyond the MAS base and close supporters of Morales, pointing toward a massive grassroots uprising.”

“The roadblocks in Bolivia make it impossible for coup officials to escape by land, Vargas said. “If social movements surround the airports then Añez/ [Interior Minister Arturo] Murillo may not make it to Miami. The presidential helicopter can only go short distances.”

With the government feeling the heat, it has increasingly turned to violence as a response. It began by sending low flying aircraft over the protests to intimidate them, simulating attacking them as they did during the November massacres. Murillo himself appeared on CNN, arguing that firing on the protesters is the “politically correct thing to do.” Far-right paramilitaries began doing just that, shooting and wounding their enemies. The country’s Defense Minister, Fernando Lopez, expressed his support and gratitude to the Christian-fascist group Unión Juvenil Cruceñista who carried out many of the attacks. “They know what to do…they need to send a message,” he said on government broadcaster Bolivia TV.

Ousted president Evo Morales warned that the Añez government is planning what amounts to a second coup, to establish a military-civilian junta, not unlike the fascist regimes that dominated many South American nations in the 20th century.

The uprising and the government’s response to it have been given little attention in the Western press, who strongly supported the November coup. When discussed at all, media have described the paramilitaries carrying out government orders merely as “armed civilians,” and not as a key part of the apparatus of oppression.

Even as calls for their resignation have reached a crescendo, the government itself is upping the ante. Last week, it announced that it would charge Morales and a host of MAS leaders, including Luis Arce (the party’s presidential candidate in the oft-postponed election), with attempted genocide, on the grounds that the protesters had stopped ambulances and vehicles containing emergency medical equipment from reaching their destinations. “What is [being] done is a crime against humanity,” Murillo said at a press conference in the highland city of Cochabamba. Protest-friendly media like Kawsachun Coca strongly contest this claim, and released footage of protesters clearing roadblocks and helping ambulances through.

Polls show that Arce is, by a long way, the favorite for any election, with 42 percent of the public intending to vote for him. By contrast, Añez is likely to garner only 13 percent support in the first round of voting. Thus, the MAS would be on for an even bigger victory than they had in the October elections last year.

Añez came to power in a military coup in November, just three weeks after Morales won another election. A strongly conservative Christian, her party received only four percent of the vote. Handpicked by the military, Añez arrived at the presidential palace in La Paz clutching an oversized bible and declaring that Christ was returning to government. A relatively unknown senator before the coup, she sparked controversy when she claimed that Bolivia’s indigenous population, which polls show makes up a large majority of the country, was “Satanic.” Security forces loyal to Añez publicly removed and burned the indigenous Wiphala flag patches from their uniforms, a symbolic gesture showing their commitment to the re-establishment of a white supremacist state.

The Añez administration has spent the ensuing nine months silencing dissent, conducting what Murillo himself called a “hunting” down of political opponents. This included foreign and alternative media, which were taking off the air, with journalists attacked, arrested, or killed. “They’re drowning the Bolivian people in blood,” declared deposed vice-president Álvaro García Linera from Mexico, where he was granted asylum. Murillo also showed off a new masked, black-clad and armed “anti-terror” squad aimed at “foreigners” — understood as a direct threat to an Argentinian human rights group investigating the killing of a journalist. “We recommend these foreigners who are arriving…to be careful,”he said, “We are looking at you. We are following you,” warning them that there will be “zero tolerance” for any “terrorism” or “sedition” they enact. “At the first false move that they make, trying to commit terrorism and sedition, they will have to deal with the police,” he added. The supposedly “interim” government also went on a privatization drive, reorienting the country’s foreign policy towards the United States, pulling out of multiple international treaties.

The government has enjoyed the unwavering support of the United States and the Washington-based Organization of American States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “congratulated” Añez on the coup, what he described as, “leading her nation through this democratic transition.” The mainstream press followed suit. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called the coup a “democratic outbreak in Bolivia.” The New York Times’ board were relieved that the “increasingly dictatorial” Morales had “resigned.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post told its readers that, “there could be little doubt who was ultimately responsible for the chaos: newly resigned president Evo Morales.”

There was widespread but relatively disorganized opposition to the coup at the time, with many of the MAS leaders jailed or fleeing abroad to escape arrest, and the new government was able to effectively suppress dissent. However, over time, the opposition became more strident, especially as Añez proved to be incapable of stopping a COVID-19 pandemic ripping through the country.

When asked what people abroad should do, Vargas responded, “The message from people here would be that they want the international community and governments around the world to pressure the government to end the paramilitary attacks and to accept a peaceful way for them to leave power, and that is through elections. If the government refuses that then they are pushing the country into more violence.”

Feature photo | Miners wearing face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, protest against the postponement of the presidential election in El Alto, Bolivia, Aug. 11, 2020. Juan Karita | 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 Bolivia Headed for a Showdown as Mass Protests Erupt Against US-backed Anez Administration appeared first on MintPress News.

Don’t be Hoodwinked by Trump’s UAE-Israel “Peace Deal”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 12:36am in

HUGE breakthrough today,” crowed Donald Trump on Twitter as he announced the new peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The deal makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state and the third Arab nation, after Egypt and Jordan, to have diplomatic ties with Israel. But the new Israel-UAE partnership should fool no one. Though it will supposedly stave off Israeli annexation of the West Bank and encourage tourism and trade between both countries, in reality, it is nothing more than a scheme to give an Arab stamp of approval to Israel’s status quo of land theft, home demolitions, arbitrary extrajudicial killings, apartheid laws, and other abuses of Palestinian rights.

The deal should be seen in the context of over three years of Trump administration policies that have tightened Israel’s grip on the Palestinians: moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, and creating a so-called peace plan with no Palestinian participation or input. While no U.S. administration has successfully brokered a resolution to Israel’s now 53-year-long occupation, the Trump years have been especially detrimental to the Palestinian cause. Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter that with this deal, “Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation.” Indeed, with Donald Trump at the helm and son-in-law Jared Kushner as the primary strategist, even concessions for Palestinians have been done away with. To add insult to injury, while the deal had been couched in terms of a commitment by Israel to suspend annexation of Palestinian territories, in his Israeli press conference announcing the deal, Netanyahu said annexation was “still on the table” and that it was something he is “committed to.”

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Among the most brutal aspects of this period for Palestinians have been the loss of support for their cause in neighboring Arab states. The Arab political party in Israel, Balad, said that by signing this pact, “the UAE has officially joined Israel against Palestine, and placed itself in the camp of the enemies of the Palestinian people.”

The UAE has previously held a position consistent with public opinion in Gulf and Middle East countries that the acceptance of formal diplomatic relations with Israel should only take place in exchange for a just peace and in accordance with international law. Back in June, Emirati ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba penned an an op-ed in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, the Israeli equivalent to U.S.A Today, appealing directly in Hebrew for Israel not to annex the West Bank. However, by working out an agreement with Trump and Netanyahu to normalize relations, the country has now made itself Israel’s partner in cementing de facto annexation and ongoing apartheid.

The UAE’s change from supporting Palestinian dignity and freedom to supporting Israel’s never-ending occupation is a calculated move by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, a shrewd Middle East dictator who uses his country’s military and financial resources to thwart moves towards democracy and respect for human rights under the guise of fighting Islamic terrorism. His support for Israel cements his relationship with the Trump administration. Trump has already gone out of his way to push billions of dollars in arms sales to the UAE, despite opposition from Congress because of high number of civilian casualties associated with the use of those weapons in Yemen.

Secretary Pompeo has also defended the UAE from credible reports that U.S. weapons sold to the UAE have been transferred in Yemen to groups linked to Al Qaeda, hardline Salafi militias and Yemeni separatists. The UAE was also stung by revelations of secret prisons it had been operating in Yemen where prisoners were subjected to horrific forms of torture, including “the grill,” where victims were “tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire.” In Libya, the UAE has been criticized for violating a 2011 UN Security Council arms embargo by supplying combat equipment to the LAAF, the armed group commanded by General Khalifa Haftar with a well-established record of human right abuses. So this deal with Israel gives the UAE a much-needed veneer of respectability.

But it is impossible to understand the impetus for this deal without putting it in the context of the ongoing hostilities between all three countries and Iran. Following the old adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” in recent years Israel has been negotiating with various Gulf states, including the UAE, to push back against Iran’s growing influence in the region. As the communique announcing the Israeli-UAE deal asserted, the U.S., Israel and the UAE “share a similar outlook regarding threats in the region.” This dovetails with Trump’s anti-Iran obsession, which includes withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and his “maximum pressure” campaign designed to force Iran back to the negotiating table to make a “better deal.” In announcing the UAE-Israeli pact, Trump declared with ridiculous bravado that if he wins the elections, he’ll have a new deal with Iran within 30 days. Anyone who believes this must be almost as delusional as Trump.

The fact that this agreement between two Middle East countries was first announced thousands of miles away in Washington DC shows how it is more about shoring up Trump’s slumping electoral campaign and improving Netanyahu’s battered image in Israel than bringing peace to the Middle East. It also shows that Netanyahu and bin Zayed have a stake in seeing Trump win a second term in the White House. Instead of pointing out the hollowness of the pact, Joe Biden’s response was unfortunately to congratulate Israel and the UAE and try to take credit for the deal. “I personally spent time with leaders of both Israel and the U.A.E. during our administration, building the case for cooperation and broader engagement,” he said. “I am gratified by today’s announcement.”

The normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel, facilitated by the U.S., serves to prop up three repressive leaders — Trump, Netanyahu, and bin Zayed — and will cause further harm to Palestinians. It is both a shame and a sham.

Feature photo | A composite image shows from left to right, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo | MintPress News via 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.

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

The post Don’t be Hoodwinked by Trump’s UAE-Israel “Peace Deal” appeared first on MintPress News.

Anti-Laundering Bill Targeting Shell Companies Stalled in Senate as Big Banks Caught Cooking Books

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 7:36am in

Tags 

News, tax evasion

Money laundering and cooking the books are usually treated as separate things when discussing white collar crime, even though the latter is often the mechanism through which the former is carried out. In the world of corporate banking, hedge funds and the host of satellite market services that underpin the financialized economies of the U.S. and U.K., tax haven jurisdictions allow money flowing in from all sorts of highly profitable illicit activities, shell companies and brass plate trusts to become an asset on the books of massive institutions like JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC; all of which have been embroiled in massive money laundering scandals.

Real account holders’ names escape regulatory scrutiny thanks to the anonymity the current rules of the game allow them to enjoy. But, that might soon come to an end if a bill passed by the House of Representatives makes it past the Senate. The Anti-Money Laundering Act was tucked inside the House’s version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and mandates the creation of a “beneficial ownership” record which would force the public disclosure of any U.S.-based company’s ownership.

The thought of the real names behind the plethora of shell companies and other shady instruments of finance being exposed must have sent a shiver down the back of more than one Senator, because the bill has been excised from the Pentagon’s annual budget authorization by the upper chamber, placing the proposed legislation in a state of limbo for the time being.

A beneficial ownership record would seriously curtail tax haven entities from operating in complete darkness, as they do now. The U.K. created its register in 2016 and Europe has been directed by Brussels to have one up and running by 2020. The legislation, which has earlier iterations known as the Illicit Cash Act and Corporate Transparency Act, was passed by a large majority in the lower house and reportedly has widespread support in the Senate, as well.

 

Transparency is too risky

Despite the already semi-opaque structure of the current bill, members of the Senate still want more. Unlike the U.K. version, which makes the data publicly available, the U.S. version would be controlled by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and only be accessible to law enforcement agencies.

The Senate Banking Committee has, reportedly already agreed on the bill’s language and only the funding source is a question mark, at this point. It is clear that the legislation has accrued momentum and will likely pass at some point. 42 Attorney Generals have urged the federal government to pass it and in June, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter in support to the Banking Committee.

As usual, the words sound very nice and a lot of people seem to be doing the right thing. But, history does not show a promising outcome. The measures put in place after 2008 in order to restrain the impulses of the “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions are being manipulated and, in some cases, completely ignored. Banks like JP Morgan Chase and HSBC – two of the biggest money launderers on earth – all seem to have a gentlemen’s understanding with the Federal Reserve about how the new rules are applied.

 

Gaming the system

After the crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve instituted so-called “stress tests” on banks and other financial institutions that had then been deemed “too big to fail”. A formal list has been compiled since 2011 and they are now called by their official designation, Global Systemically Important Financial Institutions (G-SIFIs).

These banks and insurers must report their levels of exposure to the Fed, which then assesses the need for more or less control over the institution’s financial activity or penalties through the results of a stress test (simulations run on their balance sheets). An annual stress test report is published by the Fed, which includes the capital requirements of each institution. But, it has now come to light that virtually all of the G-SIFI banks – JP Morgan Chase, HSBC and Deutsche Bank among others – have been cooking the books to fool the stress test in order to reduce their capital requirements.

A “bombshell” report by the American central bank reveals that the Fed is aware of the pattern being followed by the big banks to game the stress test; which they do by magically dropping their over-the-counter derivatives exposure by Trillions of dollars every fourth quarter and just as magically having it restored by the end of the following first quarter of the next auditing period. The practice, which seems to be tolerated by the Fed “as a legitimate means of reducing its capital requirements” makes a mockery of the entire point for stress testing, which is to mitigate systemic risk.

Feature photo | An activist displays a newspaper headlining the ‘Panama Papers’ revelations during a banking managers meeting, in Paris, France. Francois Mori | AP

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

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Podcast: The Beirut Explosion, Economic Terror and the Drumbeat of War Against Hezbollah

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 7:16am in

Welcome to MintCast — an interview series featuring dissenting voices the establishment would rather silence– I’m your host Mnar Muhawesh Adley.

Lebanon is reeling from a blast that destroyed much of the capital Beirut on Tuesday, August 4. 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate in the city’s port is thought to have caught fire and exploded, killing at least 157 people and injuring thousands more. The blast, believed to be one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, destroyed much of the city and has left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

Exploiting this tragedy are the usual suspects within Western media and government including the United States and Israel who are beating the drums of war as they try to blame Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah for the massive explosion.

Joining us today to discuss this and what this means for the region and world are two independent journalists and analysts who lived through the blast, Laith Marouf, and Marwa Osman.

Laith Marouf is a journalist, geopolitical analyst, and activist who has served as Canadian National Chair of the group, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights. He was the Executive Director of Concordia University Television in Montreal and currently lives in Beirut where he saw first hand the devastation caused by the August 4 explosion.

Marwa Osman is a lecturer at the Lebanese International University and Maaref University. She’s also the host of the MidEaStream broadcasted on Al-Etejah English Channel. Her writing focuses primarily on Middle Eastern issues and can be found in a wide range of outlets, including Press TV.  Like Marouf, Osman is a resident of Beirut.

The explosion could barely have come at a worse time for Lebanon, which is suffering through an economic meltdown, with a collapsing currency, rampant inflation, employment difficult to come by, and food becoming increasingly scarce. Worse still, the country’s Economy Minister Raoul Nehme confirmed that grain silos at the port, containing around 15,000 tons of wheat, were destroyed. As a result, the country has barely a few weeks of food in reserve.

Hospitals, already feeling the strain due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak, have been overwhelmed, and have been forced to turn away many arriving for urgently needed medical care. With the city destroyed, roads closed and vehicles upended, most of Beirut’s residents have had little option other than to stay where they are, begin to clean up, even as clouds of toxic fumes engulf the area.

The blast occurred in a context of rapid economic decline, increasing public outrage over corruption — including from Washington — and Western economic sanctions that have squeezed the country dry.

This program is 100 percent listener supported! You can join the hundreds of financial sponsors who make this show possible by becoming a member on our Patreon page.

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Please leave us a review and share this segment.

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.

The post Podcast: The Beirut Explosion, Economic Terror and the Drumbeat of War Against Hezbollah appeared first on MintPress News.

The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 5:15am in

On August 4, hours before a massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital, Beirut, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued an ominous warning to Lebanon.

“We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. I suggest to all of them, including Hezbollah, to consider this,” Netanyahu said during an official tour of a military facility in central Israel.

Netanyahu’s warning did not bode well for Israel when, hours later, a Hiroshima-like blast devastated entire sectors of Beirut. Those who suspected Israeli involvement in the deadly explosion had one more reason to point fingers at Tel Aviv.

In politics and in war, truth is the first casualty. We may never know precisely what transpired in the moments preceding the Beirut blast. Somehow, it may not matter at all, because the narrative regarding Lebanon’s many tragedies is as splintered as the country’s political landscape.

Judging by statements and positions adopted by the country’s various parties and factions, many seem to be more concerned with exploiting the tragedy for trivial political gain than in the tragedy itself. Even if the explosion was the unfortunate outcome of an accident resulting from bureaucratic negligence, sadly, it is still inconsequential. In Lebanon, as in much of the Middle East, everything is political.

What is almost certain about the future, however, is that the political discourse will eventually lead back to Israel versus Hezbollah. The former is keen at undermining the group’s influence in Lebanon, while the latter is insistent on thwarting Israel’s plans.

But what is Israel’s plan anyway? After decades of trying to destroy the Lebanese group, the Israeli government is keenly aware that eradicating Hezbollah militarily is no longer feasible, certainly not in the foreseeable future. The Lebanese group has proven its prowess on the battlefield when it played a major role in ending the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in May 2000.

Subsequent Israeli attempts at reasserting its dominance on Lebanon’s southern border have, thus far, proven futile. The failed war of 2006 and the more recent conflagration of September 2019 are also two cases in point.

Hezbollah is uninterested in inviting another Israeli war on Lebanon, either. The country is on the verge of economic collapse, if it has not already collapsed.

While Lebanon has always been in the throes of political division and factionalism, the divisiveness of the current political mood in the country is more destructive than it has ever been. Losing hope in all political actors, the Lebanese people have taken to the street demanding basic rights and services, an end to the endemic corruption and a whole new social and political contract – unsuccessfully.

While stalemates in politics are somewhat ordinary occurrences, political deadlocks can be calamitous in a country on the brink of starvation. The Hiroshima-like cloud of explosives that shocked the world was a perfect metaphor for Lebanon’s seemingly endless woes.

Former Israeli Knesset member, Moshe Feiglin, was among many jubilant Israelis who celebrated the near-demise of the Arab city. Feiglin described the horrendous explosion as a ‘day of joy’, giving a ‘huge thank you to God. “If it was us,” meaning Israel being involved in the deadly explosion, “then we should be proud of it, and with that we will create a balance of terror.”

Regardless of whether Feiglin is speaking from a position of knowledge or not, his reference to ‘balance of terror’ remains the basic premise in all of Israel’s dealings with Lebanon, and Hezbollah, in particular.

The convoluted war in Syria has expanded Israel’s war of attrition, but has also given Israel the opportunity to target Hezbollah’s interests without registering yet another aggression on Lebanese territories. It is much easier to target war-torn Syria and escape unscathed rather than to target Lebanon and pay a price.

For years, Israel has bombed many targets in Syria. Initially, it was unforthcoming about its role. Only in the last year or so, it has begun to openly brag about its military conquests, but for a reason.   The embattled Netanyahu is desperate to gain political credits, as he is dogged by multiple corruption charges, which have tarnished his image. By bombing Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria, the Israeli leader hopes to garner the approval of the military elite, a critical constituency in Israeli politics.

Netanyahu’s comments before the Beirut explosion were in reference to a series of incidents that began on July 21, when Israel bombed an area adjacent to the Damascus International Airport, killing, among others, a senior Hezbollah member, Ali Kamel Mohsen.

This incident placed Israel’s northern borders on alert. The state of emergency was coupled with massive political and media hype, which helped Netanyahu by distracting ordinary Israelis from his ongoing corruption trial.

But Israel’s strategic interests in the Syria conflict go beyond Netanyahu’s need for a cheap victory. The outcome of the Syria war has the potential of yielding a nightmare scenario for Israel.

For decades, Israel has argued that an ‘axis of terror’ – Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – had to be dismantled, for it represented Israel’s greatest security threat. That was long before pro-Iran forces and militias began operating overtly in Syria, as a result of the ongoing war.

While Israel argues that its recurring bombardment of Syria is aimed largely at Hezbollah targets – the group’s military cache and Iranian missiles on their way to Lebanon via Syrian territories – Israel’s war in Syria is largely political. As per Israeli logic, the more bombs Israel drops over Syria, the more relevant a player it will become when the conflicting parties engage in future negotiations to sort out the fate of that country.

However, by doing so, Israel also risks igniting a costly military conflict with Lebanon, one that neither Tel Aviv nor Hezbollah can afford at the moment.

Israeli policymakers and military planners must be busy trying to analyze the situation in Lebanon, to understand the best way to exploit Lebanon’s tragedy in order to advance Israel’s strategic interests.

The future of Lebanon is, once more, in the hands of war generals.

Feature photo | Israeli soldiers drive military vehicles during an exercise in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, Aug. 4, 2020. Ariel Schalit | 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, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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Former McCain Advisor and Iraq War Advocate Niall Ferguson Warns TikTok Is a Chinese Imperial Plot

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 4:45am in

Writing in Bloomberg, Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, warned that TikTok was not simply a popular Chinese-owned video app, but “Xi Jinping’s imperial panopticon,” and a “superweapon” for Chinese domination of the world. Ferguson applauded the Trump administration’s decision to force the company to sell up to an American corporation or face a complete ban within 45 days.

“TikTok is not just China’s revenge for the century of humiliation between the Opium Wars and Mao’s revolution. It is the opium — a digital fentanyl, to get our kids stoked for the coming Chinese imperium,” he claimed. Even more questionably, he argued that the service was already brainwashing the 100 million mostly Generation Z Americans who use the platform into becoming soldiers of Beijing’s new revolution. Unable to decide on a drug, Ferguson said that “like crack, TikTok is dangerous, adding that during the Chinese cultural revolution (1966-1976), “Chinese children denounced their parents for rightist deviance. In 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown and the Black Lives Matter protests, American teenagers posted videos of themselves berating their parents for racism. And they did it on TikTok.”

“If you doubt that China is seeking to take over empire 1.0 and turn it into empire 2.0, based on China’s illiberal civilization,” he concluded, “then you are not paying attention to all the ways this strategy is being executed.”

 

Mere deaths in “marginal countries

For somebody so apparently concerned with the threat of (Chinese) empire, Ferguson appears strangely supportive of American power. Indeed, in his biography of the U.S. the war planner, Henry Kissinger was called “The Idealist,” wherein he defended him against accusations of genocide, brushing the millions of Latin Americans and Asians killed as mere deaths in “marginal countries.” Thus, the former Oxford, Harvard and New York University professor is far from a principled anarchist or anti-war libertarian. Indeed, Ferguson has devoted his entire life to defending Western power. In “Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World,” he describes the British as “the world’s first liberal empire,” arguing that their empire was, “clearly was a force for good,” exporting “superior” forms of governance around the world. Western Africa, he contends, “clearly” benefited from French rule.


Niall Ferguson, far right, meets with Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, left, at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid Jan. 31, 2011. Paul White | AP

Meanwhile, in “Civilization: The West and the Rest,” he defends the Israeli occupation of Palestine on the grounds that Israelis are the superior civilization due to the greater number of patents registered in Israel. Ferguson, who served as an advisor to 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain, also continues to support the Iraq War and advocates for more intervention, claiming that, “if the effect of that is to bring people in that country economic and political freedom, to raise their standard of living, to increase their life expectancy, then don’t rule it out.”

 

“If you are ahead I will ban you”

Ferguson’s warnings echo those of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told Fox News that using the app would send Americans’ data straight to the Chinese Communist Party. (TikTok has strenuously denied that it works with the Chinese government, claiming that American users’ data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access). The Trump administration has also been pressurizing other countries to reject Huawei — another Chinese tech company — and its 5G infrastructure. This has produced mixed results; Boris Johnson’s U.K. government, moving increasingly closer to Trump, announced it would phase out Huawei by 2027. But Malaysian prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad rejected Washington’s orders out of hand, characterizing Trump as a bully: “If you are ahead I will ban you, I will send warships to your country…That is not competition, that is threatening people,” he said.

The U.S. government also funds a network of think-tanks that advise big media companies like Facebook and Twitter on how to spot and control the tide of fake news from fake accounts. Unsurprisingly, it is usually Washington’s enemies who get targeted. For instance, in June, a U.S.-backed think tank advised and ultimately succeeded in convincing Twitter to delete over 170,000 Chinese accounts on its platform.

While it is perfectly possible to be genuinely concerned about the motives of the Chinese state, particularly those in Kashmir, Tibet, Hong Kong or Xinjiang, the loudest voices in the public sphere not only don’t share the same concerns when it comes to the United States or its allies, they are very often directly in the service of empire itself. This suggests that the higher-ups in the State Department and academics like Ferguson may not be sounding the alarm about China’s rise out of a genuine concern for the freedom of the peoples of the world, but rather because they are worried about losing some degree of control over it.

Photo | Shutterstock

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

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Yemen: State Department Clears Bomb Peddler Pompeo of Wrongdoing in Civilian Deaths Investigation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 4:21am in

It looks like the United States government is ready to move on from the internal squabble that erupted over an $8.1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other client Arab states embroiled in the war on Yemen and continue the policy of arming and funding the Saudi-led coalition of anti-Houthi forces propping up the “internationally-recognized” government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

In a final report issued by the U.S. State Department’s Inspector General on the investigation into the arms deal that Congress requested in May of last year, Secretary of State Miko Pompeo was cleared of any wrongdoing for executing the multi-billion-dollar transaction, which according to the same unreleased report, “heightened the risk of civilian casualties” in a war that has claimed the lives of close to a quarter-million people, nearly half of them civilians.

Pompeo, who yesterday kicked off a five-day tour of Central Europe in the Czech Republic, washed his hands of the whole matter during a press conference in Prague. “We did everything by the book,” Pompeo told reporters and boasted about the “really good outcome” he claims resulted from flooding the war-torn country with more bombs before directly contradicting the Inspector General’s findings by asserting that the weapons deal had, in fact, “prevented the loss of lives.”

The arms deal, which Trump forced via executive privilege, has been at the center of the speculation over the recent firing of Inspector General Steve Linick, who had been conducting the inquiry into the arms sale in addition to other, direct allegations of abuse of power and corruption against Pompeo and his wife. With Linick gone and the IG’s final report admitting the obvious, yet failing to hold officials accountable, the State Department resumes destabilization efforts in the region by selling more war materiel to fuel the conflict in Yemen despite evidence that the guns and ammo aren’t going to the parties stipulated in the contract.

 

Lip service to peace

The war in Yemen began in the middle of Barack Obama’s second term in office as the administration was in the midst of negotiating the Iran nuclear deal. The price of getting the Saudis to “begrudgingly” go along with the Iran deal was to have the gulf state coalition’s back against the Yemeni insurgents, who had toppled the puppet regime of their country.

Since then, Obama-era aides and appointees like Middle East “point man,” Robert Malley, have lobbed some after-the-fact mea culpas and generally decried the escalating tensions in Yemen. But, like the Inspector General’s report, they are rhetorical tools designed for the extension of political careers and of little use to the suffering hordes of Yemenis who continue to be the victims of war crimes and are undergoing one of the worst refugee crises in history, with 3.6 million internally displaced and hundreds of thousands abroad.

The plight of the regular Yemeni citizen is captured in the sentiments of Labib Nasher, who was granted political asylum in the U.S. back in February. “It’s a horrible thing,” Nasher said of his situation. “You’re not a human being anymore,” he reflected, “Nobody wants you.” He, of course, is one of the lucky ones who had the means to escape. But for a large majority of people in Yemen, the U.S.-backed war has led to the verge of starvation.

 

Projected profits

The impasse between the Saudi-led coalition and their uncomfortable allies in Yemen – the Southern Transitional Council (STC) – appears to have been smoothed out as well. The pivotal separatist group “rescinded” a declaration of self-rule and allowed for some of the terms of the stalled “Riyadh agreement” to be implemented, such as the appointment of a new governor and police chief in the disputed territory of Aden.

Saudi Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman was pleased by the development, tweeting out that the move by the STC “reflects the serious desire for dialogue”; while the UAE also called for a renewed purpose among coalition members. On Monday, the internationally-recognized government of Yemen practically channeled Pompeo by demanding that the UN extend the arms embargo against Iran.

The news, no doubt, will also buoy the mood in the boardrooms of General Dynamics, Boeing, and Raytheon who all have profited to the tune of hundreds of millions from the war and have seen their stock soar since the start of the conflict. “Most of the weapons that we have found and been able to identify in strikes that appear unlawful have been U.S. weapons,” said Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher, Priyanka Motaparthy. “Factories have been hit. Farmlands have been hit with cluster bombs. Not only have they killed civilians, but they have also destroyed livelihoods and contributed to a dire humanitarian situation.”

Despite the ‘positive’ signals for the interests of America and its partners in the region, signs are emerging that the dire humanitarian situation is beginning to trickle up. Just this morning, the Middle East Monitor reported that Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi will be traveling to the U.S. for a week-long medical treatment. Yesterday, the director of Yemeni PM Maeen Abdul Malik’s office, was arrested in Egypt, the country that brokered the rapprochement between the STC and the coalition. The high-ranking Yemeni official was trying to smuggle $1 million dollars through the diplomatic cover.

Feature photo | US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to board a plane at the King Khalid International Airport in the Saudi capital Riyadh, before his departure on Feb. 21, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | Pool via AP

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

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Democratic Establishment Commits to Status Quo with Kamala Harris VP Pick

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/08/2020 - 3:04am in

There were mixed reactions to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate last night. Many at the top of the party hailed the pick as a strong choice. “I’m thrilled to welcome Kamala Harris to a historic Democratic ticket,” said Biden’s predecessor Hillary Clinton, who described her as “an incredible public servant and leader, “I know she’ll be a strong partner to Joe Biden. Please join me in having her back and getting her elected.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Trump campaign opposed the move, a newly-released advertisement describing her as a “phony” controlled by “the radical left.” “Voters rejected Harris,” the ad says, referring to her failed campaign for the presidential nomination. “They smartly spotted a phony. But not Joe Biden. He’s not that smart.”

Yet the Harris pick appears not to have gone down at all well with those on the left. Political commentator and co-founder of the leftist group Justice Democrats Kyle Kulinski reacted by claiming Biden was “going with the strategically brilliant move of picking somebody for VP who is despised by both the right and the left.” Journalist Elizabeth Lea Vos wrote that the DNC has chosen to “run an alleged rapist and a corrupt prosecutor… against Trump in the age of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. In other words, the Democrats are the Republicans and everything is business as usual.” Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders’ National Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray could not contain her dismay at the pick. “We are in the midst of the largest protest movement in American history, the subject of which is excessive policing, and the Democratic Party chose a ‘top cop’ and the author of the Joe Biden crime bill to save us from Trump. The contempt for the base is, wow,” she said.

A memo from the Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins described the announcement as Biden “doubling down” on his “long history of excessive law enforcement and support for the war on drugs.”

While the left might think Harris’ past role as a California prosecutor is a negative, business executives felt it added to her campaign. “Her experience as a prosecutor makes her uniquely qualified to deliver the case against Trump,” marketing executive Mike Kempner told CNBC.

 

A “lock them up” mentality

Harris certainly has a controversial professional past. Although presenting herself as a “progressive prosecutor,” her record more closely resembles a tough on crime, “lock them up” mentality commonly seen among Republican lawmakers. Over the protestations of her own team, she pushed forward on her plan to jail parents for their children’s truancy, later publicly laughing about imprisoning them. She also has a long history of ethically questionable practices, including withholding evidence that would have freed innocent people from prison. As The New York Times wrote, “Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.” In 2014, Harris’ legal team argued in court that if minimum-custody inmates were released early, the state of California would “lose an important labor pool.” These inmates included firefighters, who are paid $1 an hour to confront the state’s deadly blazes. She later claimed she did not know her own office argued in favor of keeping parolees in jail so they could serve as cheap labor.

Kamala Harris Israel

Harris speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference in Washington. Jose Luis Magana | AP

During her short and unsuccessful shot at the party’s presidential nomination, Harris received more funding from billionaires than any other candidate. In 2017, she also broke ranks to side with Trump against outgoing president Barack Obama over the latter’s position on Israel, leading Grayzone journalist Max Blumenthal to describe her as a “political algorithm programmed by the Israel lobby.”

 

The establishment’s warm embrace

Her competitors for the vice-presidential nomination, however, appeared happier, at least publicly, about the decision. “My warmest congratulations to ⁦Kamala Harris. I am confident Biden-Harris will prove to be a winning ticket. I will do my utmost to help them win and govern,” wrote Obama national security advisor Susan Rice, tipped by many to be Biden’s choice.

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, who was considered the favorite for the job by some until MintPress revealed that, while state prosecutor, George Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin also killed another black man, tweeted that she was “filled with joy” at yesterday’s announcement. “This is a historic moment,” she said, adding that “her leadership, experience and character will help move our country forward when she and Joe Biden take back the White House!” Other organizations like Greenpeace offered more qualified praise.

Support for President Trump has been sliding over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests. While Biden leads in polls, he still suffers from an enthusiasm gap, with most Republicans fully behind the president. In contrast, Democratic voters are less passionate about Biden, the majority seeing their vote primarily as one against Trump. Nina Turner, co-chair of the Sanders campaign described the choice leftists face in choosing between Biden and Trump as, “like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still shit.” If Biden is to win in November, he may need the enthusiasm and volunteers Sanders was able to draw upon. But judging from their response, his Kamala Harris VP pick is unlikely to secure it.

Feature photo | Then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., reacts as she speaks at a town hall in Las Vegas, Nov. 8, 2019. John Locher | AP

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

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