The Highest Degree Of Certainty: The New Evidence In The Downing Of Flight MH17

On September 17 the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation held a briefing for members of the press to present documented new evidence that the Ukrainian armed forces helped to bring down the Malaysian airliner that was flying over the Donbass in July 2014.

According to information that was preserved on the wreckage of the missile that was found at the crash site and exhibited by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on May 24, 2018, Russian military investigators were able to read the unique, identifying numbers printed on the missile’s nozzle and engine. It was determined that the missile had been made in the Soviet Union in 1986. Documents were presented at the briefing from the manufacturer’s archives, as well as a log book that was classified as Top Secret, which registered the missile’s arrival at a warehouse belonging to a military unit near the city of Ternopil in what was at that time the Soviet Republic of Ukraine.

A part of the BUK-TELAR missile that was fired on the MH17 flight is shown during the persconference of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on May 24, 2018

“The missile, which bore the imprint of military serial number 886 847379 and was manufactured for use in a Buk anti-aircraft missile system on December 29, 1986, was shipped by rail to military unit 20152. It was not returned to Russian territory after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but was instead added to the arsenal of the Ukrainian armed forces. It is worth mentioning that since 2014, that unit has often been used as part of what has been called the anti-terror operation inside the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine,” claimed Nikolai Parshin, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Missile and Artillery Directorate.

A 2016 audio recording was also released, in which a discussion between members of the Ukrainian military can be heard. The voices of two men are clearly audible on the tape, one of whom was addressed as “Grinchak.” Their conversation is about Ukraine’s Malachite radar station and the closure of the airspace. The man named Grinchak is speaking emotionally and has harsh words to say about his fellow servicemen who are failing to carry out their official duties as they should. Grinchak is urging the other man to crack down on his colleagues and force them to follow the correct procedures, otherwise as he put it “… we’ll … [a synonym of the verb ‘shoot down’] another Malaysian Boeing.”

Ruslan Grinchak

The man in the recording says, “But what’s the difference, I’m telling you. Don’t you get it? Sailors can’t be fired just to make our Malachite station operate properly. The infantry? What do they know, ***? Should they take on the ‘відповідальність’ [‘responsibility’ in Ukrainian] and write up some kind of report or statement? … That’s just not realistic, ***. Go up to them and say, you little punks, *** if it’s going to be like that, *** then we’ll … [a synonym of the verb ‘shoot down’] another Malaysian Boeing, and everything will be ***.”

The man who can be heard speaking on the tape has been identified. He is Ruslan Grinchak, a colonel in Ukraine’s armed forces, who in 2014 was the head of the 164th radio engineering brigade that controlled the airspace over the Donbass.

Experts from Russia also examined the Joint Investigation Team’s videos, which illustrate the supposed route taken by the Buk air-defense system through Ukrainian territory. Those videos showed signs of having been tampered with, as indicated by the numerous violations of the laws of linear perspective and the way light is projected, in addition to signs of the use of some techniques that are commonly used in computer animation.

Violations of the laws of linear perspective on the video

Now that these materials have been made public, it is imperative to — at the very least — closely reexamine the events that they affect. Will the JIT agree to take a serious look at them? The commission has previously rejected any offer of cooperation coming from the Russians.

In 2015, the Russian company Almaz-Antey conducted an experiment that used the information about the damage to the airliner’s hull to accurately calculate its location in the skies with respect to the missile at the time the warhead exploded. That made it possible to determine the trajectory of the missile’s flight and to establish the area from which it had been launched. Those calculations pointed to somewhere in the vicinity of the village of Zaroshchenskoye, which was at that time under the control of the Ukrainian military.

The persconference of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on My 24, 2018

The JIT did not examine these materials as part of its work. The commission operated under the control of British intelligence forces and it was not allowed to deviate from the prescribed anti-Russian line of the investigation. Not even the recordings from the black boxes (the most important piece of evidence) have been released. After spending several years being “decrypted” by British experts at the military base in Farnborough, the JIT shrugged them off with a brief message that they “revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation” inside the Boeing 777’s cockpit. And yet those voice recorders might contain information that would shed light on the circumstances surrounding the disaster.

The version of the incident proposed by the Almaz-Antey company suggests the possible existence of two terrorist perpetrators, who were being used to ensure the guaranteed destruction of the Boeing 777. If the first attempt to shoot down the plane was unsuccessful, or not entirely successful, then the pilots’ reaction that was recorded by the black boxes would explain quite a lot. The two-perpetrator version of the event speculates that the airliner was fired upon by a Ukrainian SU-25 ground-attack aircraft under the command of Captain Vladislav Voloshin. The fact that that officer was presented with the Order of Courage the very next day, before becoming deeply depressed and committing suicide in March 2018, makes this version look much more plausible.

Perhaps there was indeed some kind of “emergency situation” onboard the Boeing 777, and this is why the black box recordings have not been duly released?

The JIT dutifully followed its British orders until January 22, 2016, when the news broke about the speech made by Harm Brouwer, the chairman of CTIVD (the Dutch Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services), in the Dutch parliament. Brouwer offered an account, according to which on the day flight MH17 was downed there were no missiles present in the area of the disaster, except for Ukraine’s Buk systems.

The Dutch media initially “overlooked” this bombshell and it would have remained buried forever, had it not been for a tweet by MP Pieter Omtzigt.  To prove his point, Omtzigt attached a photograph from one page of Harm Brouwer’s report.

Pieter Omtzigt

Afterward many Dutch media outlets proclaimed their willingness to take their own government to court in order to be allowed to see all of the investigation materials. The JIT was faced with a choice: to follow the instructions of the British intelligence services, which would eventually push them into a very unpleasant corner or to choose to take a different stance. Another motivating factor was that the primary injured party — Malaysia — was beginning to press much harder on the JIT to conduct an objective investigation. Last May, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke described the accusation that Russia had shot down flight MH17 as unproven, and this was not the first statement of this type by Malaysian officials.

And then something happened that very few people had expected: the JIT agreed to take a look at Russia’s materials! Although they did add the proviso that the examination would take time.

At that point, Poroshenko’s behavior proved how concerned Ukrainian officials were, now that they felt threatened by exposure as the investigation into the tragedy of flight MH17 progressed. That crime could not have been committed without his consent, and literally two days after the briefing conducted by the Russian Ministry of Defense, a decree by Poroshenko took effect that severed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership with the Russian Federation. And to top it off, at the very same time the former head of Ukraine’s Security Service, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, suddenly announced his candidacy for the office of the president of Ukraine. This event offers a compelling reason to believe that Washington decided to abruptly speed up the preparations for Poroshenko’s replacement, should he not do well in the upcoming elections.

Given these developments, one question remains. If the true picture of the events surrounding the downing of the Malaysian Boeing 777 in the skies over Ukraine is emerging with such clarity that even the primary actors understand the futility of further attempts to conceal it, then what will Europe do about Kiev? Under certain circumstances, support and recognition are equivalent to complicity.

The Suppression of Truth in the Land of Lies: An Oxymoron

If you are interested in reading the definitive book that demolishes the official lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001 – 9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation by David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth – then Amazon has a great deal for you.  While they conveniently do not offer new copies of this book that was published on September 11th, having reported it “out of print” and currently “out of stock,” after never having had it in stock, they allegedly offer 3 used paperback copies from other sellers for sale prices that are quite affordable: $917.04, $1060.20, and $1,500.

If that 4 or 20 cents would bring you over budget, I would be glad to provide either amount.

Don’t these sound like great deals for a book that proves that the justification for the “war on terror” and the slaughter of millions of people is one of the biggest propaganda operations in modern history?  It’s always good to know you have a friend who can conveniently provide you with access to the truth at a fair price.

I must say, however, that Amazon offers a slightly better deal for another book they also never directly sold for some odd reason – Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News by Dr. Udo Ulfkotte – a book that exposes the CIA infiltration of the major media throughout the world.  You can allegedly pick that one up through Amazon’s kind medium services for either $900 or $997.09, but that’s for a hardcover.

One person reports having seen a used copy of 9/11 Unmasked appear at amazon.co. uk one week after its official publication date of September 11 (an odd fact in itself), and when he ordered it, the book never arrived.  When he contacted the seller, he received a message from Amazon saying that the order had been cancelled, but no reason was given.  When the person tried to post a negative review of the seller, Amazon refused to publish it.

These days truth is temporarily out of stock.  No reason given.  People and books just disappear in this land of make-believe.

If it bothers you a bit that Amazon, through its Amazon Web Services, provides the CIA and other intelligence agencies with a “Secret Region” cloud service that complements Jeff Bezos’s other business, The Washington Post, don’t be alarmed.  I have conveyed a question through a certain medium’s mediumship to the deceased Frank Wisner, who is presumably beyond the clouds. He was the CIA’s architect of what he called his “mighty Wurlitzer,” on which he could play any propaganda tune he wanted through the CIA’s penetration through a covert action campaign of the mass media, journalists, student groups, women’s groups, and more.  I have asked him if there is anything untoward about any of these strange arrangements that so many readers of my review of 9/11 Unmasked have complained about: that for some strange reason they have been unable to get the book through Amazon.

As I hopefully await the medium’s response from Wisner, you may get impatient.  In that case you can immediately purchase the book through the publisher, Interlink Publishing, for $20.  It should save you quite a bit of time waiting.

But I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

Resisting Illegitimate Authority in the Era of Trump

In the current era of Trump, much of American society finds itself frustrated, angry, and traumatized by an authoritarian president whose leadership is being perceived increasingly as illegitimate. Oddly, a large reason for Trump’s success in getting elected in the first place as well as his continued seemingly inconceivable support is largely due to the illusion that he is anti-authoritarian and will shake things up and create change.

Trump, of course, is no anti-authoritarian. Rather, he is an authoritarian who resists power only when he doesn’t have it. Anti-authoritarians challenge and resist all forms of illegitimate authority. Bruce E. Levine, in his newly released book, Resisting Illegitimate Authority: A Thinking Person’s Guide to Being an Anti-Authoritarian, tells us that the traits of an anti-authoritarian include a compulsion to speak out against cruelty and illegitimate authority no matter what the political cost, a willingness to sacrifice one’s own freedom for the cause of freedom, a compulsion for truth-telling, and a repulsion with hypocrisy. In his profiles of several U.S. anti-authoritarians, Levine details how, from Thomas Paine to Ralph Nader, many of them experienced great rejection, marginalization, and suffering for their views.

Trump so often lies, doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and has engaged in so many cruel and hypocritical acts that not only is there an anti-Trump resistance, but Trump may actually be the greatest contributor to this movement. Those anti-authoritarians who are already part of this resistance may find direction, comradery, and support in Levine’s profiles of anti-authoritarians who suffered before us, fighting so many of the same battles.

Levine makes clear that his book is not about Left versus Right or Democrats versus Republicans, but, rather, it is about challenging oppression, coercion, blind submission, and hypocrisy. Such a trove in a time when these factors are rampant is refreshing, indeed.

For quite some time, a powerful allegiance between politicians, Wall Street, and the military industrial complex along with clergy have often provided a means through which dissent in the United States has been silenced. In recent times, mental health professionals have become the new clergy. As Levine states, “By pathologizing and thus depoliticizing malaise, psychiatry helps maintain the status quo, meeting the needs of the ruling power structure” in the same way that police and clergy have controlled the population in times past.

Many who would likely oppose illegitimate authority are increasingly being drugged and outcast as mentally ill at a young age. A label of mental illness and the powerful tranquilizing drugs that tend to accompany these labels, now commonplace among American youth, are powerful means of delegitimizing dissent.

Doctors, along with politicians and military personnel, are historically among the most authoritarian of professionals. They have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and assuring that resistance and opposition be silenced. A perfect example of this can be seen in the recent expulsion of Peter C Gøtzsche, MD, an internationally respected founder of the Nordic Cochrane Center, a purported independent evaluator of medical research. Gøtzsche, because of his years of opposition and non-compliance, was voted out after his very vocal criticism of the corruption in pharmaceutical company funded research and the falsehoods being spread to the public. His stance not only threatened a lucrative and powerful partnership, he dared to actively challenge the status quo and break rules. Doctors, particularly psychiatrists and psychologists, have also been a central force in genocide, as defined by the United Nations, both during Nazi Germany as well as within the United States, especially with respect to Native Americans, past and present.

Levine notes: “Today, a potentially huge army of young anti-authoritarians are being depoliticized by mental illness diagnoses and by the attributions that their inattention, anxiety, depression, and disruptiveness are caused by defective biochemistry—and not by their alienation from a dehumanizing society and their resistance to illegitimate authorities.”

In addition, children are being indoctrinated through the school system to blindly obey and never think independently, lest one be labeled a troublemaker or worse. Levine describes how the educational system has directly contributed to our difficulty in assembling and effectively being able to fight back against an authoritarian regime.

A century ago, when only 6% of Americans graduated high school, Populists had power to form cooperatives and politically astute organized resistance, effectively challenging corporations and politicians. Now that 85% of Americans graduate high school, little organized resistance exists beyond symbolic marches that affect little to no change whatsoever. People who don’t eventually conform and submit are considered “behavioral problems” or “oppositional,” and few are willing to embrace such accusations, even as children.

As Paul Krugman notes in “Why it Can Happen Here,” the death of democracy is a very real possibility in America. And, our education and mental health systems are almost guaranteeing it, as the more we drug, diagnose, and indoctrinate our children, the less likely anybody will have the will, capacity, or awareness to resist authority.

In examining the history of those who have sacrificed much in the name of justice, Levine provides us all many warnings, while also imbibing hope. He highlights both the ways in which anti-authoritarians can basically ruin it for us all (i.e., The Ted Kaczynski/Unabomber) as well as providing examples of ways anti-authoritarians foster compassion and peaceful resistance while honing one’s rage into getting things done.

From Malcom X’s rebellion against the oppression of capitalism to Edward Snowden’s exposing how the U.S. government is spying on its people, anti-authoritarians have paved the way for many to have the advantages and civil rights that currently exist. Levine’s Resisting Illegitimate Authority is an anti-authoritarian handbook of sorts. We all need anti-authoritarians who will challenge and overcome illegitimate authority—without them, we will never be the Land of the Free and certainly not the Home of the Brave.

The White House Has A Step-By-Step ‘Program Of Escalation’ For Venezuela

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The White House has prepared an intelligence blueprint for regime change in Venezuela, according to a bombshell Monday evening report in Axios.

According to the report, which follows a New York Times story from early this month that confirmed the administration had previously established a "clandestine channel" involving covert meetings with Venezuelan military coup plotters targeting President Nicolás Maduro, the White House has prepared for multiple scenarios involving dramatic military escalation that could trigger US invasion of the small Latin American country.

Per Axios:
The White House National Security Council drafted a step-by-step “program of escalation” for Venezuela after President Trump took office, including the grounds for military intervention, a former senior official said today.
The plans were revealed by Fernando Cutz, who was a top adviser to former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and the top National Security Council official on South America, while speaking at an event at the Wilson Center.

Cutz said he was part of a working group to lay out potential scenarios of escalating crises in Venezuela and corresponding options detailing the US reaction to events.

Among the scenarios Cutz outlined included the potential for a Venezuelan military assault and takeover of the US embassy in Caracas, or a massacre of 1,000 civilians which could trigger an America military response on humanitarian grounds.

However Cutz voiced skepticism over the success of many of the plans, questioning what would come the day after if a coup d'état or even complete regime collapse were to occur.

According to Axios:
He said other steps the White House “had ready” included a full oil embargo, which would severely restrict Venezuela's cashflow but presented the question: “If we destroy Venezuela, and we make the situation worse for the people of Venezuela, what comes next?” They didn't have a satisfactory answer.
Concerning prior reports that Trump White House officials had previously met with Venezuelan military coup plotters to discuss potential support for fomenting regime change:
Cutz was asked about the meetings and said the White House “never debated supporting a coup” or offered support or tacit approval to coup plotters, but was “open to listening” to “any significant players.” He also said he had “no idea” why Trump had mentioned military action, adding that it “wasn’t in the script.”
Several secret meetings between the Trump administration and Venezuelan military officers reportedly took place to talk about potential coup plans, but according to administration sources "the coup plans stalled". The meetings were said to have been spearheaded by someone simply described as a "career diplomat".

According to the New York Times reporting in early September, "American officials did not provide material support, and the plans unraveled after a recent crackdown that led to the arrest of dozens of the plotters." The secret talks were reportedly dropped and the mutinous officers on their own.

Meanwhile Cutz suggested that if things got bad enough in Venezuela, citing a refugee crisis that could possibly swell to 5 million displaced, or a coup scenario or mass uprising, Trump could take steps to intervene: "the least bloody of those is probably going to be a foreign military intervention,” he said, echoing the usual pro-regime change Washington calculus.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

“Living above our means”: Macri, the IMF, and Other Victims of Austerity

Argentinian president Mauricio Macri speaking on September 3rd, 2018 (Youtube screenshot).

After a hectic weekend with speculation aplenty, Argentina woke up on September 3rd waiting for the announcements of president Mauricio Macri. After accomplishing the feat of being late in delivering a recorded video, the message of more than 20 minutes was finally broadcast, with Macri announcing new austerity measures to try and get an earlier disbursement of the funds contemplated in the agreement with the IMF that was signed in May.

*****

Argentina’s current context is one of economic contraction, inflation, an increase in interest rates and a strong devaluation of the currency, which has lost 50% of its value with respect to the US dollar so far in 2018. For all these woes the Argentinian president found the solution in resorting to the IMF. But he did manage to find a multitude of parties responsible for the current situation: the rise of oil prices, drought, the commercial “war” between the United States and China, troubles in Turkey and Brazil, and above all the corruption and bad policies of previous governments.

But while the Argentinian president did his best to assign blame to his enemies, near and far, the explanation for the crisis – the failure of neoliberalism – was right in the middle of the screen, since nobody embodies noeliberalism better than Mauricio Macri himself.

Finance minister Nicolás Dujovne later presented more details of the measures that the government wishes to implement, before departing to meet the IMF in order to secure an early release of funds. These measures include a tax on exports and a promise to reduce the 2019 deficit to 0. In the agreement with the IMF the goal was 1.3%, so this reduction will hinge on bigger cuts to public spending and hikes in energy and transportation prices.

It should be stressed that these measures do not represent a shift, but rather a doubling-down on the policies that have been implemented since the Cambiemos coalition took power. The past two years have seen brutal increases in electricity and gas prices, a pension reform, massive layoffs in the public sector, major cuts in areas such as science, education or healthcare, attacks against labour rights, etc., with disastrous consequences for the population.

The Argentinian government, who was represented by Dujovne in the US, hopes that this latest round of sacrifices to the almighty markets will slow down the currency devaluation and secure the blessing of the high priests of the IMF and Wall Street. Nevertheless, prophecies about market uncertainties do have a tendency to self-fulfil. Not only that, the Argentinian executive, now slashed in less than half, is a team of businessmen that will know which interests to protect when push comes to shove.1

Macri and Dujovne meeting with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on March 16, 2018 (Photo: Casa Rosada)

Discursive platitudes

Macri’s speech was littered with elements that would have sounded extremely familiar to anyone who followed the austerity programmes that were implemented since 2010 in countries like Portugal or Greece. When the Argentinian president said that “we have been living above our means”, any Portuguese person could have recalled listening to their own president in 2011 – Cavaco Silva – say exactly the same thing.

Along the same lines, this was also the verdict reached by the Greek prime minister – Georgios Papandreou – who signed the first bailout agreement, and the all-powerful German finance minister – Wolfgang Schäuble – has always harped on this string to justify the austerity imposed on Greece. In truth the sanctimonious discourse of “living within our means” is no modern invention, but rather something that has always closely followed the neoliberal doctrine, even going back to Thatcher.

Another common element was the admission, with dishonest concern, that these measures will result in increased poverty. In 2011, the Portuguese prime minister went even further, saying that only by getting poorer would the crisis be overcome. In exchange, there is always a pledge that “the most vulnerable will be looked after”, and that those with more resources will be called upon to make bigger sacrifices, when it is well known that, almost by definition, the purpose is quite the opposite.

The cases of Greece and Portugal

Keeping in mind the distances between the examples we discuss, the similarities in the official discourse demand that we at least examine what took place in Greece and Portugal. In these cases the IMF was not the only creditor institution: it was joined by the European Central Bank and the European Union to form the fearsome “troika”. These were perhaps the most extreme cases of the austerity that was imposed throughout the continent in response to the crisis that broke out in 2008.

Greek GDP contracted by more than 40% since 2008. After the implementation of the memoranda of agreement with the troika, unemployment has consistently topped 20%, and youth unemployment has been around 40%. More than that, 4 out of 10 children are at risk of poverty. These are but a few indicators, among many others, that showcase the devastation that was unleashed upon the Greek people, while billions of euros of bailout money ended up directly in the hands of foreign banks.

As for the stated goal of the austerity packages, Greek public debt grew from 146% of GDP at the time of the first “structural reform” programme (2010) to 180% of GDP in 2018. Although officially Greece has exited the bailout programmes, the debt remains absolutely unpayable, and the idea that Greece can go on for decades balancing budgets under this weight is an illusion.

The Portuguese case is slightly less tragic. The 2015 elections resulted in a defeat for the right-wing coalition – which had implemented the deal signed with the troika in 2011 – and the emergence of a new government solution, which from afar might seem like it is on the left. The new government put an end to austerity and managed to revert the economic tendency and register economic growth once more.

The mere action of putting an end to austerity, while slowly reverting salaries and pensions to their 2011 levels, was a demonstration that the path of harsh budget cuts and tax increases was not the only choice. However, Portuguese public debt remains unpayable and an obstacle, among others, which will have to be confronted sooner or later.

Carlos Latuff depicts austerity in Greece

Where austerity leads to

This small transatlantic detour is useful to illustrate that, despite some declaring them as successful, the bailout plans did not manage to bring debt under control in Europe’s peripheral countries. But that goal, as well as the sacred budgetary targets, are simply argumentative artefacts.

Austerity packages, which are often more eloquently branded as “structural reforms”, are nothing but mechanisms to transfer wealth from labour to capital, with an underlying logic that profits are private and losses are socialised. When salaries and pensions are cut, when healthcare and education budgets are shrunk, when public services are dismantled, when thousands of workers are laid off, in order to pay back creditors, the people are being sacrificed to safeguard the interests of a handful of shareholders, be they national or foreign.

This transfer of wealth also occurs under the form of privatisations. These can be blatant or hidden under the pretext of the inefficiency of public management, but bailouts and structural adjustment plans have always been tremendous opportunities for capitalists. In the Greek case, important state assets, such as airports or the port of Piraeus, one of the biggest in the Mediterranean, ended up in private hands.

In truth, the Macri government has already made its position quite clear on the issue of privatizations; for example, in the energy sector, where the state is looking to sell its stake in several projects. In addition, the Argentinian company that produced satellites, ARSAT, was sold to an American company. The agreement with the IMF, and especially the version on steroids that will allow for an early release of funds, is sure to bring a new wave of privatisations, much to the delight of investors, and reviving ghosts of a not-so-distant past in Argentina.2

But it is not just through privatisation that room is opened up for private companies, especially multinational corporations, to flourish. The mere reduction of the reach of the state and public services leaves an open space to be filled by the whims of the market. In this context, the suppression of the health ministry, now reduced to a secretariat in the new ministry for health and social development, is quite symbolic. That this happened at a time when the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Coverage (CUS), a programme with a mercantile view of healthcare, is being discussed, is not a good omen for public healthcare in Argentina.

At this point we should go back to the issue of “living within our means”. The evolution of capitalism, even in times of crisis, has seen an ever growing concentration of wealth. It is estimated that 8 men own about as much wealth as the poorest half of the planet’s population. Therefore there are people living above what should be their means. But these are not pensioners, or public workers, or trade unionists, etc., as some would have us believe.

Resistance and repression

The Cambiemos government offensive, which will be intensified in the coming months, has been met with resistance from the Argentinian people in the streets. For example, a faculty strike in the university system, in protest against cutbacks in higher education and reforms in the pension system, was joined in August by a strong student mobilization in support, with several universities throughout the country temporarily occupied.

Trade unions, contradictions notwithstanding, also look to resist, and have called a general strike which is taking place on September 24-25. And perhaps there has been nothing more surprising and inspiring than the mobilisation of several hundred thousand people to defend the legalisation of abortion. Despite the goal not having been achieved for now, the awakening of consciences and the scale of the street mobilisations are building blocks for the upcoming struggles. The challenge is to turn all these struggles into attractor poles of a single, unified battle front.

Demonstration in Buenos Aires during a National Day of Protest, September 12 (Photo: Resumen Latinoamericano)

While it is fair to say that the rapid development of the crisis has caught the Argentinian government by surprise, the fact is that preparations to contain and repress any resistance to austerity had long been on the march. The decree which allows the armed forces to intervene in internal security matters, something which had not happened since end of the dictatorship, is particularly significant, not to mention the installation of US military bases in Argentinian territory.

The government and its talking heads have put forward a fallacious argument; namely, that with a tremendous sense of duty, those in charge are doing what needs to be done with no concern for upcoming elections. In reality what they are doing is ensuring that the interests of capitalists are shielded for decades, way beyond next year’s elections. It is the purest defence of class interests. Because at the end of the day power is not confined to the presidential palace or to legislative chambers.

An important difference with respect to cases such as Portugal or Greece is that in Argentina, thanks to the hegemony of media conglomerates such as the Clarín group, a scapegoat to which attention can be diverted has been put in place. This is the (alleged) corruption of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and members of her government, which is presented as the root of all evils that befall Argentina. Similarly to what has happened in cases such as Lula’s in Brazil, the goal is to have the trial in the media for short-term political gain.3

The cases of Portugal and Greece, alongside many other recent examples of “rescue plans”, give an idea of what is to come. Under the excuse of “having lived above our means”, different mechanisms to transfer wealth to capital, brazen or hidden, will be implemented. And faced with the difficulty of meeting unrealistic budgetary targets that are imposed from the outside there will be no solution other than imposing more and more sacrifices on the majority of the people.

After its failure and exhaustion as a political project, neoliberalism resurfaced in Latin America essentially leaning on the media and on the (politicisation of the) judicial system. It now looks to contain any alternative, in the case of Argentina, by mortgaging the country’s future and reactivating repression mechanisms. All of this places Argentina in the front line of a battle that is not just about next year’s presidential elections. The task ahead is to resist, every day and in every way, against this renewed offensive, and at the same time to construct a true, and radical, alternative.

• Thanks to Luciana Daffra for her comments and corrections.

• First published in Investig’Action

  1. On September 17 Dujovne presented the 2019 budget before the Argentinian Congress. It is, in his words, an “austere budget”, with a 7% cut on public spending, a prediction of economic contraction of 2.4%, and a zero deficit goal.
  2. It is worth recalling that this is no pure ideological matter for Macri, since the Macri Group is one of the largest business conglomerates in Argentina, with activities over a range of sectors, and having directly benefited from privatisation of state assets in the past.
  3. Our goal is not to vouch for anyone’s innocence, rather to point out the clear manipulation of justice for political ends and the double standards (or lack of standards) of the media. In Argentina, for example, a large circus has been set up surrounding the famous “notebooks” which detail the corruption of a former official during the Kirchner governments. The notebooks came from a remorseful driver, but up until now only photocopies of the smoking gun have been presented. In exchange, Macri featuring in the Panama Papers did not seem to merit the same level of scrutiny from the media, and the same can be said about the “fake contributions” and money laundering in the campaign of Maria Eugenia Vidal, governor of the province of Buenos Aires and one of the main figures of Cambiemos.

Remarks by Donald Trump to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, by Donald Trump

Madam President, Mr. Secretary-General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates: One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity. Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we've made. In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in (...)

Introduction of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, by María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Ministers, Excellencies, Mr. Secretary-General, Madam Deputy Secretary-General, It is an honour to welcome you to the seventy-third session of the United Nations General Assembly. I welcome you to the only place where a meeting such as this is possible. Only this Assembly, as the main deliberative and representative body of the United Nations, offers an opportunity to all the world's peoples and leaders to listen and to be heard on an equal (...)

Hirano’s Hedge: Kavanaugh Not Entitled To Presumption Of Innocence Due To His Ideological Views

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With the addition of a second woman alleging sexual misconduct of Brett Kavanaugh, it is still not clear what factual disputes will have to be addressed before a final confirmation vote occurs in the Senate. Putting aside questions over late timing of the allegations, there is agreement that the Senate will have to consider both the allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and the new allegations of Deborah Ramirez. What is far more troubling is the continued disagreement on the standard that Senators should use in considering the allegations. While objecting that their Republican colleagues are not prepared to give the women an “impartial hearing,” various Democratic senators have declared (before any testimony is heard) that they believe Dr. Ford – and thus do not believe Judge Kavanaugh. That is troubling enough, but Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., HI) has introduced a far more troubling element in suggesting that she may decide the factual question on the basis of Kavanaugh’s jurisprudential views.

Hirono has previously declared that she believes Ford even before hearing either in testimony before the Committee. She also told all men everywhere to “shut up” and just stand with Ford. In her latest interview, Hirono was pressed on whether Kavanaugh has “the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?” For most people, the question would be an easy one to answer in the affirmative, Hirono demurred and declined to say that she would afford Kavanaugh this core presumption of the rule of law. She said that she would “put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases.” She said that she would consider his “ideological agenda” and her view that “he very much is against women’s reproductive choice.”

Hirono’s mixing of factual with ideological considerations further degrades a process that is already deeply undermined by last minute allegations and partisan bickering. It is also curious to see a senator tie credibility on sexual misconduct to one’s view of Roe v. Wade. Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Al Franken and others were all reportedly pro-choice but also labeled as abusers.

Such a reference to an accused’s political or ideological views by a judge would be viewed as the basis for a mandatory recusal for bias. It is entirely immaterial how one views constitutional rights in whether they should be believed in denying the commission of a crime.

There was, of course, a time when such a presumption of guilt on the basis for religion or nationality or other characteristics was an accepted (even celebrated) practice. During the Spanish Inquisition, who you were would determine whether you would be believed. It was not just suspected Jews but others like foreigners who faced an effective presumption of guilt. When Pedro Ginesta, an elderly man from France was arrested in 1635 for eating bacon on a day of abstinence, the indictment declared “The said prisoner being of a nation infected with heresy [France], it is presumed” that he is lying and part of “the sect of Luther.”

France for its part had the same difficulty with separating politics from law. During the French Revolution, the Law of Suspects was passed in 1793 relieving tribunals of the burden of minimal evidence in ordering arrests and any perceived counter-revolutionary views was enough to be indicted. Jacobins saw law and politics as inextricably linked. Of course, the desire to use legal or legislative means to punish political opponents becomes an insatiable appetite. One year later, the tribunals passed the Law of 22 Prairial, which stripped away remaining protections for the accused and allowed juries to convict on the ambiguous basis of “moral certainty.”

Hirono’s description of her approach comes dangerously close to the Jacobin use of “moral certainty” in judging facts. If Kavanaugh’s opposition to Roe can be used to subject him to a higher burden, would Weinstein’s support of Roe afford him a lower burden of proof?

It is not enough for Democratic Senators to simply say that they are not judges and therefore entitled to any standard of review no matter how pre-determined or unfair. Members of Congress do not have license to mete out punishments and judgments without due process to citizens. The Framers expressly barred Congress from passing “bills of attainder” – legislation that effectively singles out individuals or groups for special punishment for perceived offenses. Likewise, committees are subject to individual constitutional rights including the right against self-incrimination and other constitutional protections. In other words, there are rules.

More importantly, there are principles. When a member swears to uphold the Constitution, they agree to respect our defining values and protections. One of the most central protections is to be allowed a fair hearing. This is particularly the case when someone is accused of a heinous criminal act.

Unfortunately, “moral certainty” appears to be the growing standard for members who are rushing to assure voters on both sides that they are respective locks for either Ford or Kavanaugh. Proof then becomes a simple political head count. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has even declared that he expects that, if Kavanaugh is confirmed, a Democratic majority would launch an immediate investigation and possible impeachment against him as an associate justice.

Thus, as Ella Wheeler Wilcox said, “no question is ever settled until it is settled right.” Yet, what is “right” increasingly appears like a simple question of math rather than principle in the United States Senate.

It is doubtful that Kavanaugh could be impeached absent clear proof of perjury before Congress. Thus, what happens next year may be less important than what happens this week. Senators on both sides must decide if they will act to further their constitutional institution or just their political instincts.

Reprinted with permission from JonathanTurley.org.

Opening of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, by António Guterres

Your Excellency Madam President of the General Assembly, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Our world is suffering from a bad case of “Trust Deficit Disorder”. People are feeling troubled and insecure. Trust is at a breaking point. Trust in national institutions. Trust among states. Trust in the rules-based global order. Within countries, people are losing faith in political establishments, polarization is on the rise and populism is on the (...)