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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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China Tech Ban Mirrors 1980s Attempts To Destroy Japanese Competition

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

“Pivot to Asia”

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Feature photo | A woman takes a photo with a phone that has a United States flag themed cover outside the United States Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China’s Sichuan province on, July 26, 2020. Ng Han Guan | AP

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

The post China Tech Ban Mirrors 1980s Attempts To Destroy Japanese Competition appeared first on MintPress News.

Trump as Messiah

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 6:20am in

by Ivan Light*  How can they still back him? During the Trump presidency, this question arose again and again when, despite a relentless succession of failures, lies, outrages, and scandals, his voters loyally backed Trump. The question remains unanswered because, … Continue reading →

Lee Camp: America Condemns One Violent Mob While Celebrating Another

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 5:04am in

Washington DC (ScheerPost) — Most rational Americans have correctly criticized and denounced the violent insurrection in the Capitol last week. Those moments of attack by a racist, disgusting mob have not lacked for condemnation and denunciation. They were violent. They were reprehensible. They called for the killing of lawmakers, demanded the hanging of Congress members. The liberal media and even most of Fox News have not held their tongues when it comes to excoriating the morally bankrupt people who took part. And I agree with those thoughts. 

BUT – why don’t we see an equal amount of disgust and condemnation for the violence done by our ruling class, the courtesans of corporate destruction?

Is allowing people to die or fall ill due to lead pipes in Flint, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and hundreds of other cities not violence? 

Is allowing citizens to lose their lives to cancer from Teflon™ chemicals dumped in their water or preventable oil spills not violence? 

Is allowing tens of thousands to die of preventable illnesses from our garbage healthcare system not violence? 

Is allowing 15 million to lose their healthcare during a pandemic and therefore fear going to the hospital when they get sick not violence? 

 

Is imprisoning millions of people for years for non-violent crimes not violence?

Is locking up political prisoners like Steven DonzigerMumia Abu-JamalReverend Pinkney, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Leonard Peltier not violence?? 

Is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes on innocent people in countries thousands of miles away not violence?? 

Is allowing millions in this country to go hungry while we throw out 40% of all food not violence? 

Is arresting people who try to feed those who are starving not violence? 

Is allowing hundreds of thousands to go homeless, living under bridges or on benches or squatting in collapsing structures while this country has trillions of dollars and millions of empty houses —is that not violence?

Is arresting, beating, and persecuting those who try to give those people houses not violence? And bulldozing the homes — is that not violence?

Is causing the sixth great extinction, the mass death of half the world’s wildlife, in pursuit of corporate profit not violence? 

Is causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Venezuelans via economic warfare not violence?

Is creating an opioid epidemic by pushing pills on desperate people, ultimately leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands not violence?

 

And then arresting those who stand up and fight back against the pollutionagainst the pipelinesagainst the factory farmingagainst the war industry —IS—THAT—NOT—VIOLENCE?

Of course it is. 

It’s violence on a breathtaking scale, far greater than what was done at the Capitol and far greater than any of us will witness in person. And yet large scale corporate-endorsed violence, death and destruction is not only allowable, it’s celebrated, it’s furthered, and promoted. Oil company documents show that they tell cities that oil spills are good for the economy. Other documents show that fossil fuel companies have known about the harm climate change would do since the 1970’s, but they simply saw it as the price of doing business. Corporate sacrifice zones like “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana are well known to be deadly to those who live there, yet it doesn’t matter to the corporations because their money will be green nonetheless. It doesn’t matter to the politicians because the poor who live in these sacrifice zones have no political power. The 40% of food that’s thrown out is not a secret. The subsidies paid to factory farms encourage them to produce heaping mountains of food and dairy and meat even if they can’t sell it all in our market economy. So they throw it out or bury it. Giving it to those in need would take too much time and effort. 

Should the racist violent insurrectionists at the Capitol be punished? Absolutely. But so too should the bought-off politicians who do the bidding of our morally bankrupt corporate America. These politicians and the CEOs they serve are purveyors of violence. They trade in, produce, and reap violence. They sit on hordes of money—the obscene profit from feeding American lives into the death cult of unfettered capitalism. 

Our mainstream media are blanketing the airwaves with talk of how the violent insurrectionists must be punished, and while they are not wrong, the criminal behavior those same talking heads and “reporters” ignore speaks volumes. All violence is not equal. Some of it is profitable and protected. Some of it is the American way.

Feature photo | Trump supporters participate in a rally in Washington before marching on the U.S. Capitol while Congress convened to certify the election results, Jan. 6, 2021. John Minchillo | AP

Lee Camp is the host of the hit comedy news show “Redacted Tonight.” His new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” is available at LeeCampBook.com and his stand-up comedy special can be streamed for free at LeeCampAmerican.com.

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As US Sanctions a Starving Yemen, Iran Asks Interpol to Arrest Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 5:50am in

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced yesterday that the United States will be designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels a terrorist organization and increasing sanctions on the already beleaguered nation. 

“The Department of State will notify Congress of my intent to designate Ansarallah – sometimes referred to as the Houthis – as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” read an official statement. 

Pompeo acknowledged that “these designations will have an impact on the humanitarian situation” but implied it was a price worth paying in “advancing efforts to achieve a peaceful, sovereign, and united Yemen that is both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbors.” In other words, he was signaling U.S. intent to quash the Houthi rebellion and win the Yemeni Civil War on behalf of Saudi-backed president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. 

The State Department’s decision was immediately condemned by humanitarian organizations. “The Trump administration’s decision to designate the Houthi movement in Yemen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is both reckless and destructive,” wrote Refugees International. “Coming just days before Trump leaves office, the designation will complicate diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yemen and will disrupt relief efforts for the world’s worst humanitarian crisis…it is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible decision,” they added.

 

The United States has played an oversized role in the conflict, supplying weapons to the Saudi-led coalition. In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it had signed a deal to sell $350 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia alone. In addition to the weaponry, the U.S. has trained much of the Saudi armed forces, providing essential military infrastructure and logistical support, and even refueling Saudi bombers in the air and supplying targeting guidance on the ground.

The Saudi coalition (which includes other Middle Eastern monarchies such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates) has targeted civilian buildings for years, with Oxfam calculating that 200 raids — equivalent to one every ten days for the duration of the war — have been carried out against medical and water infrastructure. 

Pompeo continued: “We have expressed our readiness to work with relevant officials at the United Nations, with international and non-governmental organizations, and other international donors to address these implications,” he wrote. Yet, in reality, the U.S. government spent the whole of last year pressuring international bodies like the United Nations to reduce their aid to Yemen in order to conduct a campaign to starve the Houthis into submission. As a result, international aid to the country fell to just 25 cents per person, per day, only about half of what it was in 2019. 

 

This is nowhere near enough. The country topped the list of the International Rescue Committee’s most pressing humanitarian crises of 2021. Around 80% of the population is in need of assistance, with 20.5 million people inside Yemen lacking access to clean water and sanitation. 

Among other reasons, Pompeo’s justification for the sanctions (although he had already been considering the idea for months) was the December 30 terrorist attack at Aden International Airport which left at least 27 people dead and dozens more injured. President Hadi and his new government had been returning from Saudi Arabia, where they had been sworn in, only to return to an airport resembling a war zone. Houthi spokespersons denied responsibility for the incident. They also condemned the State Department’s latest move. “The policy of the Trump administration and its behavior is terrorist,” movement leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said. “We reserve the right to respond to any designation issued by the Trump administration or any administration.”

 

While the Trump administration attempts to punish Yemen, Iran is also trying to appeal to international law to extradite American leaders. Last week, it put out a request to Interpol to arrest Trump and 47 other government officials for their role in the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in January last year. Unlike the attack in Aden, there is no doubt about the identities of Soleimani’s killers, the Trump administration seemingly proud of its work in “taking out the world’s number one bad guy” as CNBC described him. Interpol immediately denied Iran’s request. 

Another controversial target of Washington’s ire is International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. In retaliation to the Gambian lawyer looking into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, the Trump administration has levied sanctions against her. “The ICC is corrupt, politicized and incompetent. Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda abused her authority, engaged in corrupt acts for her personal benefit, and wasted millions with malicious prosecution of American personnel,” Pompeo tweeted on Saturday. 

While this response might seem an overreaction, the United States has an active law nicknamed “the Netherlands Invasion Act” which states that if the ICC ever tries to press charges against American officials, the U.S. will invade the Netherlands in retaliation. The legislation was passed by the Bush administration soon after the invasion of Afghanistan to protect himself and his associates from any international legal consequences. 

 

Back to the present, Pompeo concluded by stating that, “Progress in addressing Yemen’s instability can only be made when those responsible for obstructing peace are held accountable for their actions.” Presumably, he was not referring to his own efforts in prolonging and intensifying the conflict. 

Feature photo | A woman holds her malnourished boy at a feeding center at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | 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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“No Victory for Press Freedom” – Assange Wins Case but Judge Sets Worrying Precedent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 5:03am in

Wikileaks cofounder Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States, a London court decided this morning. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange would stay in the United Kingdom over fears for his psychological health. “I find that the mental condition of Mr Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” she said, noting that she did not believe the U.S. prison system had the capability to stop him killing himself. The Australian publisher had been facing up to 175 years in a supermax prison if taken to the U.S. The prosecution, representing the U.S. government, immediately announced that it would appeal the decision.

Many of Assange’s allies hailed the decision as a decisive victory for freedom of speech. Greek-Australian economist and former Greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis expressed his delight. “A ray of hope seems to have pierced a long, dark shadow over human decency and press freedom,” he tweeted.

Yet many others appeared deeply concerned with the verdict.” This wasn’t a victory for press freedom,” said Glenn Greenwald, a journalist known for publishing leaked documents. “Quite the contrary: the judge made clear she believed there are grounds to prosecute Assange in connection with the 2010 publication.” Other reporters that have covered the case closely agreed. “Brilliant news, but be in no doubt. This ruling is utterly chilling for investigative journalism,” wrote Matt Kennard. “Baraitser sided with U.S. prosecutors on pretty much all of their arguments. It was the barbaric nature of the U.S. penal system that saved Assange.” Meanwhile, John McEvoy suggested that it was only “the integrity of a human’s mental health, and not the right to a free press, was protected today.”

Judge Baraitser made her decision only after dismissing each and every argument made by Assange’s defense team, led by Edward Fitzgerald QC. Sending him to the United States would not breach any laws against extradition for political offenses, she ruled, claiming that she had no doubts that “the usual constitutional and procedural protections” would be in place for him if he were to go there. “This court trusts that a US court will properly consider Mr Assange’s right to free speech” she added. The full decision can be read here. Thus, it was purely on the grounds of Mr. Assange’s potential to commit suicide that she ruled in his favor. Australian journalist John Pilger described the decision as a “face-saving cover” for their “disgraceful” treatment of the 49-year-old.

Others warned that the ruling sent a message to others in the political or media sphere not to challenge the United States. “The full fury and power of empire has been brought down on Julian Assange to demonstrate to the world what happens when you dare to expose the crimes of that empire and its allies. It is terrorism by example so we all think twice,” wrote Rania Khalek of The Grayzone.

Britain Assange

Assange supporters celebrate after a ruling that he cannot be extradited to the US, outside the Old Bailey in London, Jan. 4, 2021. Frank Augstein | AP

Journalists covering the trial have faced constant hostility and intimidation from authorities at every turn. This morning, Reporters Without Borders’ Director of International Campaigns Rebecca Vincent said she had been harassed or questioned by at least 10 different police officers while trying to attend the hearing.

Conditions in American prisons are notorious. Despite having only four percent of the world’s population, the United States accounts for nearly a quarter of the prisoners on the planet. With a sprawling network of over 7,000 detention centers, the U.S. has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world, locking its citizens up at over ten times the rate of European countries like Denmark or Sweden, and over seventeen times that of Japan. Solitary confinement is also commonplace, despite the practice being widely condemned as akin to torture. Authorities were unable to prevent whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who leaked many of the most explosive files to Assange in the first place, from attempting to take her own life while she was incarcerated and in solitary confinement. Baraitser referenced Manning’s case in her decision. “That means the further brutality committed against WikiLeaks’ source played a key part in the U.S. losing their case,” reacted investigative journalist Kevin Gosztola.

Chief among those files was the “Collateral Murder” murder video, images from an American attack helicopter attack on central Baghdad from July 2007. The video shows American personnel massacring at least a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in cold blood. Going viral on social media, the images showed the occupation in a completely different light to that of the carefully curated, sanitized one Americans had seen on corporate media. Since then, those who brought it to public attention have been persecuted.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador today announced that his country would offer political asylum to the Australian, citing its long history of protecting whistleblowers and those suffering political persecution. However, Assange will certainly not be going there immediately. Despite ruling against the United States in the hearing, Baraitser sent him back to Belmarsh Prison. On Wednesday the court will decide if he is granted bail. “I had hoped that today would be the day that Julian would come home. Today is not that day. But that day will come soon,” Assange’s partner, Stella Morris, told reporters outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court this morning. “We cannot celebrate today…We will celebrate the day he comes home.”

Feature photo | John Rees from the ‘Free Julian Assange’ campaign speaking outside the Old Bailey after a ruling that Assange cannot be extradited to the United States, in London, Jan. 4, 2021. 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.

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I Observed Venezuela’s Elections Firsthand: Here’s What the US Media Got Wrong

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 2:51am in

In early December, I traveled to Venezuela to serve as an election observer during the country’s national assembly election. I was part of a group of eight people from Canada and the United States organized by CodePink. There were about two hundred international observers in total, including the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts. I have served as an official election observer in Honduras and was an unofficial observer during Venezuela’s 2015 national assembly election.

 

Meeting opposition leaders

Before the election, our small group met with eight leaders from the Democratic Alliance, a major opposition coalition. Pedro Jose Rojas of Accion Democratica told us that U.S. sanctions were not doing what they claimed. Instead, he said, they are hurting average citizens. Bruno Gallo of Avanca Progressista proclaimed Venezuela needs negotiation, not confrontation. Juan Carlos Alvarado of the Christian Democratic Party said that Venezuelans have been “victims of politics,” and that dialogue and flexibility are needed.

Several leaders spoke about the importance of the national assembly and emphasized that the road to change is through voting, not violence. They expressed a desire for better relations with the U.S but said that Venezuelan sovereignty needs to be respected.  The common request was to end U.S. sanctions and interference in Venezuelan politics.

We visited a factory where voting machines were assembled, tested, and certified. The staff was openly proud of their work. Last March, nearly all pre-existing voting machines were destroyed in a massive fire at the main election warehouse, sparking calls to delay the December election. But in six months, forty thousand new computers were ordered, built, assembled, tested, and certified in time for the December election.

 

The process

On election day, Sunday, December 6, we began a tour of election sites. Typically, the voting takes place at a school, with five to ten classrooms designated as “mesas,” and each voter goes to his or her designated mesa.”

The voting process was quick and efficient, with bio-safety sanitation at each step. Voters first showed their identity cards and confirmed their identity with fingerprint recognition. Step two was to cast a ballot on a touchscreen computer and receive a paper receipt. Step three was to verify that the receipt matches the voting choice and deposit the receipt in a ballot box. Finally, voters would sign and put their fingerprints on the voting registry. The entire process took about three minutes.

As election day closed, we observed the process of tabulating the votes. At each mesa, (with observers from other parties present) paper receipts were recorded one by one, and at the end, the results were compared to the digital count and then transmitted to the headquarters for overall tabulation.

Election results were announced by the Council for National Election (CNE) which manages the entire process.  CNE leaders are not permitted to be members of any party and the CNE leadership was recently changed at the request of the opposition. In our discussion with leading opposition members, we did hear complaints about incumbent party advantages but it was acknowledged the election process is free, fair and honest.

 

A PBS Newshour special

After having experienced Venezuela’s election firsthand, on December 29 I watched a PBS Newshour segment about that election and the overall situation in Venezuela. PBS reporter Marcia Biggs told how “Maduro’s party essentially ran unopposed in this month’s election.” This, despite my personal meetings with the very opposition parties that were participating in those same elections.

In fact, there were 107 parties and over 14,000 individuals competing in the December 6 election for 277 national assembly seats. While eight parties were in alliance with the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), there were over 90 opposition parties. The strongest opposition coalition was the Democratic Alliance comprising seven opposition parties and winning 1.1 million votes (18% of the vote). The LEFT opposition to the PSUV, under the banner of the Communist Party of Venezuela, received just 168,000 votes.

Reporter Marcia Biggs claimed that “politics permeates everything in Venezuela and can determine whether you support Maduro and eat or go hungry.” This claim is based on a campaign statement by PSUV Vice President Diosdado Cabello encouraging people to vote. Cabello facetiously said that women are in the forefront, and can say to their family, “No vote, no food.” His statement has been distorted out of all meaning and context.

The PBS report showed video of a fistfight in the national assembly, implying that it was the Venezuelan government. But, as the GrayZone reported in “Juan Guaido surreal regime change reality show,” the fight was actually between competing factions of the Venezuelan opposition.

When PBS showed Guaido climbing over a fence, they failed to mention that he was pulling off a publicity stunt to distract from the embarrassing news that Luis Parra was elected Speaker of the national assembly following Guaido’s own claim to be “interim president” was based on him being Speaker.

Election turnout was indeed lower than usual at 31%, yet this is likely due to the election taking place amid the pandemic and the fact that millions of registered voters have had to leave the country due to economic hardship. Transportation in Venezuela is also difficult due to gasoline scarcity. This was also a national assembly election, equivalent to a U.S. mid-term election, which typically generates a lower turnout. Still, 95% of voting-eligible Venezuelans are registered voters compared to just 67% in the U.S. Thus a turnout of 50% of registered voters in the U.S. equates to only 33% of eligible voters.

 

Election meddling in Venezuela

The star of PBS’s seven-minute report is Roberto Patino, the Venezuelan director of a food distribution charity. The report neglects to mention that Patino is associated with a major U.S. foreign policy institution. He is a Millennium Leadership fellow and so-called expert at the neoliberal Atlantic Council where the regime change goals in Venezuela are clear. His food charity “Alimenta la Solidaridad” is allied with Rescue Venezuela, funded by the U.S. with the apparent goal of undermining the Venezuelan government and promoting “interim president Juan Guaido.”

Patino says the Venezuelan government is “very paranoid and they see conspiracies all over.” Paranoia is defined as a mental condition wherein there is fear of imaginary threats. But U.S. threats and aggression against Venezuela are not imaginary; they are very real.

In 2002 the U.S. supported the kidnapping and coup against the popular and elected President Hugo Chavez. The years have gone by, but U.S. hostility persists.

* In August 2018 there was a drone assassination attempt on the Venezuelan President.

* In January 2019, the U.S. declared that it would not recognize the elected President Maduro and instead recognized Juan Guaido as “interim president.”  His background is described in the article “The Making of Juan Guaido: How the U.S. regime-change laboratory created Venezuela’s coup leader”

* In February 2019, President Trump threatened military intervention against Venezuela.

* In March 2019, there was a massive power blackout caused by sabotage of the electrical grid, with probable U.S. involvement.

*In May 2020, two former U.S. Special Forces soldiers and other mercenaries were arrested in a failed attempt to overthrow President Maduro.

* In June 2020, the U.S. Navy warship Nitze began provocative “freedom of navigation” patrols along the Venezuelan coast.

* In August 2020, the U.S. seized four ships carrying much-needed gasoline to Venezuela.

* In September 2020, in an attempt to undermine the Venezuelan election, the U.S. imposed sanctions on political leaders who planned to participate.

* The U.S. 2021 stimulus bill includes $33 million for “democracy programs for Venezuela.”

Based on the past twenty years, Venezuela’s government has good reason to be on guard against U.S. threats, meddling, and intervention. The PBS program ignores this history.

Another hero of the report is exiled politician Leopoldo Lopez. He was imprisoned in 2014 for instigating street violence known as guarimbas, which led to the deaths of 43 people.

Like Patino, Lopez is from the Venezuelan elite, studied in the U.S., and has major public relations support in the U.S. Like Guaido, Lopez is more popular in Washington than in his home country.

 

Will the US respect Venezuela’s sovereignty?

If the PBS Newshour reporters sought objectivity, members of the moderate opposition in Venezuela would have been interviewed. Viewers could have heard Democratic Alliance leaders explain why they participated in the election and why they are critical of U.S. economic sanctions and U.S. interference in their domestic affairs. That would have been educational for viewers.

On January 5, the newly elected national assembly will commence in Venezuela. The fig leaf pretense of Juan Guaido as “interim president” of Venezuela will be removed because he is no longer in the national assembly.  In fact, he was removed as speaker of the national assembly one year ago.

But viewers of the PBS special did not learn this. Instead, they received a biased report ignoring the moderate opposition and promoting a few U.S.-backed elites. PBS ignored and denigrated the efforts of millions of Venezuelans who carried out and participated in an election that compares favorably with the election process in the U.S. You would never know it from PBS, and you might not believe it unless you saw it with your own eyes, as I did.

Feature photo | A voter casts her ballot during elections to choose members of the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 6, 2020. Matias Delacroix | AP

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist based in the San Fransico Bay Area of California. He can be contacted at rsterling1@protonmail.com

The post I Observed Venezuela’s Elections Firsthand: Here’s What the US Media Got Wrong appeared first on MintPress News.

The American Money Tree: The Untold Story of US Aid to Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 7:37am in

On December 21, the United States Congress passed the COVID-19 Relief Package, as part of a larger $2.3 trillion bill meant to cover spending for the rest of the fiscal year. As usual, US representatives allocated a massive sum of money for Israel.

While unemployment, thus poverty, in the US is skyrocketing as a result of repeated lockdowns, the US found it essential to provide Israel with $3.3 billion in ‘security assistance’ and $500 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation.

Although a meager $600 dollar payment to help struggling American families was the subject of several months of intense debate, there was little discussion among American politicians over the large funds handed out to Israel, for which there are no returns.

Support for Israel is considered a bipartisan priority and has, for decades, been perceived as the most stable item in the US foreign policy agenda.  The mere questioning of how Israel uses the funds – whether the military aid is being actively used to sustain Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, finance Jewish settlements, fund annexation of Palestinian land or violate Palestinian human rights – is a major taboo.

One of the few members of Congress to demand that aid to Israel be conditioned on the latter’s respect for human rights is Democratic Senator, Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, who was also a leading presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. “We cannot give it carte blanche to the Israeli government … We have the right to demand respect for human rights and democracy”, Sanders had said in October 2019.

His Democratic rival, now President-elect, Joe Biden, soon countered: “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre,” he said.

It is no secret that Israel is the world’s leading recipient of US aid since World War II.  According to data provided by the US Congressional Research Service, Israel has received  $146 billion of US taxpayers’ money as of November 2020.

From 1971 up to 2007, a bulk of these funds proved fundamental in helping Israel establish a strong economic base. Since then, most of the money has been allotted for military purposes, including the security of Israel’s illegal Jewish settlement enterprise.

Despite the US financial crisis of 2008, American money continued to be channeled to Israel, whose economy survived the global recession, largely unscathed.

In 2016, the US promised even more money. The Democratic Barack Obama Administration, which is often – although mistakenly – seen as hostile to Israel, increased US funding to Israel by a significant margin. In a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding, Washington and Tel Aviv reached a deal whereby the US agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid covering the financial years 2019-2028. This is a whopping increase of $8 billion compared with the previous 10-year agreement, which concluded at the end of 2018.

The new American funds are divided into two categories: $33 billion in foreign military grants and an additional $5 billion in missile defense.

American generosity has long been attributed to the unmatched influence of pro-Israeli groups, lead among them American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The last four years, however, required little lobbying by these groups, as powerful agents within the administration itself became Israel’s top advocates.

Aside from the seemingly endless ‘political freebies’ that the Donald Trump Administration has given Israel in recent years, it is now considering ways to accelerate the timetable of delivering the remainder of US funds as determined by the last MOU, an amount that currently stands at $26.4 billion. According to official congressional documents, the US “also may approve additional sales of the F-35 to Israel and accelerate the delivery of KC-46A refueling and transport aircraft to Israel.”

These are not all the funds and perks that Israel receives. Much more goes unreported, as it is channeled either indirectly or simply promoted under the flexible title of ‘cooperation’.

For example, between 1973 and 1991, a massive sum of $460 million of US funds was allocated to resettling Jews in Israel. Many of these new immigrants are now the very Israeli militants that occupy the West Bank illegal settlements. In this particular case, the money is paid to a private charity known as the United Israel Appeal which, in turn, gives the money to the Jewish Agency. The latter has played a central role in the founding of Israel on top of the ruins of Palestinian towns and villages in 1948.

Under the guise of charitable donations, tens of millions of dollars are regularly sent to Israel in the form of “tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” the New York Times reported. Much of the money, falsely promoted as donations for educational and religious purposes, often finds its way to funding and purchasing housing for illegal settlers, “as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure (illegal Jewish) outposts deep in occupied (Palestinian) areas.”

Quite often, US money ends up in the Israeli government’s coffers under deceptive pretenses. For example, the latest Stimulus Package includes $50 million to fund the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Funds, supposedly to provide investments in “people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation … between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of supporting a negotiated and sustainable two-state solution.”

Actually, such money serves no particular purpose, since Washington and Tel Aviv endeavor to ensure the demise of a negotiated peace agreement and work hand-in-hand to kill the now defunct two-state solution.

The list is endless, though most of this money is not included in the official US aid packages to Israel, therefore receives little scrutiny, let alone media coverage.

As of February 2019, the US has withheld all funds to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, in addition to cutting aid to the UN Palestinian Refugees agency (UNRWA), the last lifeline of support needed to provide basic education and health services to millions of Palestinian refugees.

Judging by its legacy of continued support of the Israeli military machine and the ongoing colonial expansion in the West Bank, Washington insists on serving as Israel’s main benefactor – if not direct partner – while shunning Palestinians altogether. Expecting the US to play a constructive role in achieving a just peace in Palestine does not only reflect indefensible naivety but willful ignorance as well.

Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement at the Israeli Knesset, Dec. 22, 2020. Yonatan Sindel | Pool via AP

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

The post The American Money Tree: The Untold Story of US Aid to Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Fingers Point to US-Backed Gov’t in Colombia’s Ninetieth Massacre of the Year

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 7:13am in

It is the festive season in Colombia, but not everyone is celebrating. Sunday brought news of the ninetieth massacre of the year. Five people were found dead in Bolívar Department in the north of the country, among them former leftist guerilla Rosa Amalia Mendoza and her infant child. Meanwhile, just hours earlier in the southwestern department of Cauca, the brutally tortured body of 55-year-old Manuel Alonso Villegas was found on a roadside close to his hometown of Miranda.

Both Mendoza and Villegas had been members of the leftist guerilla group the FARC until 2016 when they and many others agreed to permanently lay down their weapons in a historic peace deal that promised to end the country’s decades-long civil war. Mendoza, 25, had reportedly become involved in local activism, founding the South Bolívar Agricultural and Environmental Housing Association. Meanwhile, Villegas had turned his hand to handicrafts, making custom shirts and other items. He was also active in a number of local community agricultural development projects.

His body was found only 200 meters from the gate of his community’s collective farm, something which locals perceive as a calculated “message.” “The community is really scared,” one local said, in a recording shared with MintPress. This was not the first time the town had experienced such terror. Last year, two brothers had also been murdered. Their mother died of a heart attack at their funeral.

James Jordan, National Co-Coordinator of the Alliance for Global Justice and a friend of Villegas’, spoke to MintPress about the incident. “Manuel was a master woodworker and had a room full of items he was selling, all the way from little stands to put your cell phone on to really nice beds and rocking chairs and cabinets,” he said.

One encounters news of all these killings and atrocities and massacres by the armed forces, paramilitaries and other armed groups. But when you get to know a community and see how eagerly they are working for peace, how enthusiastically they have handed over their guns for plows and sewing machines and woodworking tools, when you visit with these people where they live, share meals together, dance, play soccer, together, the depravity and cruelty of the enemies of the peace becomes visceral. I can still see Manuel’s face and to think of how his life and dreams have been extinguished so brutally is just not acceptable. Not only must we demand his murderers be apprehended and punished, but if we would see justice, we have to make Manuel’s dreams and hopes and spirit of peace our own.”

 

A secret campaign of targeted assassinations

The 2016 peace deal saw the FARC disband, ending armed struggle and taking up electoral politics under the name of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force. Then-president Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering the agreement.

However, the violence has only stopped in one direction as precious few of the government-aligned far-right paramilitaries have demobilized. Villegas and Mendoza are the 248th and 249th signatories of the 2016 deal to be murdered to date, suggesting a secret campaign of targeted assassinations. The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force condemned the violence, complaining that Colombia “does not give guarantees to those who [have] bet on peace.”

Colombia FARC

Relatives of Astrid Conde, a former FARC rebel, at her funeral in Bogota after she was gunned down near her home, March 8, 2020. Ivan Valenciaa | AP

The government has half-heartedly suggested drug trafficking as an explanation for many of the massacres, but few appear convinced. “If drug trafficking were a determining factor in homicides, it would be expected that this phenomenon would occur mostly in the coca-growing municipalities. However, the evidence indicates the opposite,” stated Giovanni Álvarez, Director of the Colombian Investigation and Accusation Unit.

While the homicide rate in Colombia has fallen this year, massacres have, by contrast, greatly increased, as has their bloodiness throughout 2020. Altogether, 375 people have now been murdered in mass killings this year, according to local human rights group Indepaz. “Every massacre is a message,” Manuel Rozental, a physician and longtime activist living in Cauca, not far from Villegas’ home, told MintPress earlier this year. “The massacres are methodic, systematic. It is a job being done as planned.”

Earlier this month, United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the government to take “stronger and much more effective action to protect the population” from “appalling and pervasive violence.” “It is the state’s duty to be present throughout the country, implementing a whole range of comprehensive public policies, not only to clamp down on those responsible for the violence, but also to provide basic services and safeguard the fundamental rights of the population,” she added.

Few, however, seem to be expecting a radically different 2021. Colombia has long been the most dangerous place in the world to be an activist. Since 1989, according to human rights group Justice For Colombia, over 3,000 trade unionists have been assassinated, more than in the rest of the world combined. “In almost 100% of these killings, the perpetrators act with impunity,” Jordan said. This afternoon, Norbey Antonio Rivera from Cauca, became the latest social leader to be assassinated.

 

“Violence fueled by US policies”

Current president Ivan Duque is a strong conservative and a protege of the country’s former leader Álvaro Uribe, a figure who has dominated Colombian politics for most of the twenty-first century. Both Duque and Uribe bitterly opposed the 2016 peace deal, beseeching the public not to back it. Since assuming office in 2018, Duque has attempted to roll back parts of the agreement.

Uribe has an extremely close relationship with both the far-right paramilitary groups and organized drug cartels. While president from 2002 to 2010, he oversaw a years-long wave of murders of peasant, union, and indigenous leaders that resulted in over 10,000 deaths. Dubbed the “False Positives Scandal,” government-controlled forces would kill anyone they wished, later framing their victims as members of the FARC, both clearing their own name and justifying even more security spending. This allowed Uribe to impose his rule on the country, intimidating opponents into silence. His own political campaigns came financed, in turn, with money directly from the notorious Medellin drug cartel.

President George W. Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

George W. Bush presents the Medal of Freedom to Alvaro Uribe, Jan. 13, 2009, during a White House ceremony

Paramilitary groups continue to hold considerable influence inside the country to this day. The COVID-induced lockdown has made it even easier for the death squads who still terrorize the country to operate freely, knowing precisely where their targets will be and meeting little organized resistance. Over 1.6 million Colombians have tested positive for coronavirus, with 42,620 deaths reported as of Wednesday — a similar per capita rate to the United States.

Who is to blame for this violence, and can it ever end? Jordan was clear that, while Colombians might be paying in blood, this was not a purely internal affair, and the source of the violence laid closer to home.

Painfully, I have to repeat what so many have said before, that political violence in Colombia is fueled by U.S. government policies. The United States continues to provide weapons and direction for the Colombian armed forces, police, and jails, and it has all too often directly encouraged and even funded the leaders of private death squads. The Trump administration also waged a full scale campaign to undermine Colombia’s peace accords. We must not waste our time hoping the Biden administration might reverse course, we must demand it,” he told MintPress.

Feature photo | Ex-combatants of the disbanded FARC and social activists march to demand the government guarantee their right to life and compliance with the 2016 peace agreement, in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 1, 2020. Fernando Vergara | 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 Fingers Point to US-Backed Gov’t in Colombia’s Ninetieth Massacre of the Year appeared first on MintPress News.

Killer Cops: Police Killed Over 1,000 Americans in 2020

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/12/2020 - 5:42am in

American law enforcement officers have killed well over 1,000 people in 2020. Between January 1 and December 15 of this year, the Mapping Police Violence project has recorded 1,066 people nationwide killed at the hands of the police, an average of around three killings per day. Despite the fact that 2020 has brought with it a pandemic forcing Americans to stay off the streets (and, presumably, out of trouble) as much as possible, there have only been 17 days recorded this year where the police did not kill someone.

The project also compiled statistics on the racial backgrounds of the victims. Black people are three times more likely than white people to be slain by police, and more likely to be unarmed when it does happen. Eight of the 100 largest city police departments kill black men at a higher clip than the U.S. murder rate. Those eight are Reno, NV, Oklahoma City, Santa Ana, CA, Anaheim, CA, St Louis, MO, Scottsdale, AZ, Hialeah (Miami), FL, and Madison, WI. “Death by cop” is a leading cause of death for black males in the U.S., killing around one in 1,000.

U.S. police violence is off the charts in comparison to other developed countries, with homicides occurring at a per capita rate almost 70 times that of the United Kingdom, or nearly 170 times more than Japan. This puts it closer to many Latin American nations, notorious for their corrupt and militarized police departments’ heavy-handed response to drug smuggling and organized crime.

Police have killed 1,066 people so far in 2020. Source | Mapping Police Violence

May 3 was the deadliest day this year, with police killing nine men in California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina and Texas. Perhaps the most infamous day came three weeks later, however, when police killed seven men, among them 46-year-old African American George Floyd.

Floyd would likely have been as anonymous as the other 1,065 names on the list had the incident not been caught on camera and gone viral on social media, causing a worldwide uproar. Video showed Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes until he suffocated to death, even as onlookers pleaded with him not to kill him. Floyd’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry, sparking hundreds of large demonstrations nationwide. Between 15 and 26 million Americans are estimated to have attended at least one related protest in the subsequent weeks.

As a response to the demonstrations, Chauvin was arrested and charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was released on bail in October. However, his situation is unusual. Mapping Police Violence’s numbers show that only 1.7% of killer cops are ever charged with a felony, and far fewer are actually convicted, meaning there are very rarely any serious negative consequences for those that do kill while in uniform.

The protests sparked a nationwide debate about the role of the police in society, with polls showing that up to 39% of the country approved of the measure to defund the police. Even more popular were actual policy proposals of removing police responsibility for situations like mental health crises and homelessness, measures that would make up the backbone of any police defunding agenda.

Despite being responsible for hundreds of brutality incidents during the subsequent protests, and hundreds more attacks on journalists, police themselves claimed to be under assault. After a police officer was killed in Washington State in July, the institution’s defenders suggested that the Black Lives Matter protests were morally responsible. “Any time the anti-police rhetoric heats up, it sends a message that it’s open season on law enforcement. We saw it in 2016 and we’re seeing it now,” a retired senior Secret Service agent told ABC News.

Yet the government’s own data does not back this up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, law enforcement is not a particularly dangerous profession. Virtually any other job performed mostly outside, from construction work and gardening to agriculture, fishing, and forestry all carry far more risk of death than being a police officer. Also more dangerous are professions where driving a vehicle, such as garbage collection, delivery driving, or trucking, is a key component of the job.

The 2020 presidential election was colored by the debate around police violence, with the incumbent Trump accusing Joe Biden of being in the pockets of radical anti-police leftists. In reality, however, Biden appeared hesitant to criticize the police at all, initially suggesting only that they shoot suspects in the leg, rather than in the torso. The 78-year-old Delawarean also chose former prosecutor Kamala Harris, who described herself as “California’s top cop” as his running mate, all of which suggests that it is unlikely we will see a massive drop in police violence figures come 2021.

Feature photo | In this May 31, 2020 file photo, visitors make silent visits to organic memorial featuring a mural of George Floyd, near the spot where he was killed by police in Minneapolis. Bebeto Matthews | 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 Killer Cops: Police Killed Over 1,000 Americans in 2020 appeared first on MintPress News.

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