All posts by Andre Vltchek

Guo Wengui:  So Anti-Chinese that even U.S. Establishment cannot stomach him

In some very rare cases, it is better to read British conservative, right-wing press, like The Economist or the Telegraph, instead of the mainstream liberal sheets like The Independent or The Guardian. That is if one wants to come somehow closer to the truth.

The Economist is extremely biased; it is pre-historically conservative, anti-Russian, anti-Chinese, and laughably cold-war-style, anti-Communist. But it has some breaks and limits, which the liberal mainstream media already lost many years ago. And it does not forgive what it considers ‘bad manners’ and ‘bad taste.’

Recently, an on-going saga which involves a notorious right-wing ‘couple’ – Guo Wengui and Steve Bannon – received unusually harsh but frank analyses from The Economist, while all big British liberal newspapers have been busy trashing, fanatically, everything Chinese and Russian.

In its recent edition [August 29 – September 4, 2020], The Economist pitilessly attacked Steve Bannon’s close ally and an arch-anti-Beijing ‘gladiator,’ Guo Wengui:

From his 152-foot yacht and his $67.5m penthouse overlooking Central Park, he spins tales of Chinese elite corruption and purges, styling himself a “CCP terminator.” (Mr. Bannon is given the same nickname). On June 4, Messrs. Guo and Bannon announced, aboard the yacht in New York harbor, the founding of “The New Federal State of China,” meant to supplant the People’s Republic.

Needless to say, no one in the PRC seemed to be impressed or inspired, especially considering the fact that Mr. Guo is wanted in China on various unsavory charges, ranging from sexual assault to bribery. China is doing extremely well, economically, socially, and even environmentally, and the majority of its people are content with the political system. But “The New Federal State of China” catchphrase is not for the Chinese citizens to admire; it is for the Western consumption, and especially for the Guo’s fundraising campaigns in the U.S. and Europe.

Before escaping from China, Mr. Guo rode high, many say, using corruption and extortion to amass his billion-plus dollars fortune. But ‘good times’ ended when President Xi came to power and began cracking on corruption. Mr. Guo escaped, shut the door behind him, and cursed CCP for spoiling his dark machinations. Since then, he has been involved in each and every attempt to attack and discredit Beijing and Chinese leadership.

For a long time, U.S. intelligence and diplomatic community had a great kick out of Mr. Guo and of his friend Mr. Ma Jian, who some time ago got also hit by a determined anti-corruption campaign in the PRC. But Guo and Ma were never fully trusted even in the West, when both of them used to live in China, or, especially, after Mr. Guo’s escape to the United States, where he asked for political asylum. Many have thought that Guo went grotesquely hyperbolic, in order to please his masters in Washington and secure favors.

On August 26, 2020, Foreign Policy warned against Mr. Guo and peope of his type:

Western policymakers should be wary of figures like Guo. Take Ahmed Chalabi, the Baghdad multimillionaire who fled Iraq after becoming wrapped up in a Jordanian financial scandal. Chalabi played a malignant role in the U.S. drive to the Iraq War, making a series of exaggerated claims that were taken seriously by political and military leaders. As U.S. relations degenerate with China, the space for those like Guo to operate will grow.

Mr. Guo teamed up with Steve Bannon. Soon after, these two right-wing extremists unleashed the most aggressive and ridiculous anti-Beijing and anti-CCP campaigns in modern history. They began dropping names to openly insult the most populous nation on earth, twisting history, and smear what even the deeply anti-Chinese Trump administration wouldn’t dare to touch. The problem for them was that they became too extreme even for some “respectful” right-wing politicians and the mass media outlets. In brief: they began behaving like two adolescent fools and in the most embarrassing manner.

Despite all that, the couple has not been without influence on the U.S. administration; it has been extremely active in Washington’s power annals. But those whom it has been persuading have been chiefly the individuals who already reached the point of no return, who would not stop at anything. They simply wanted a war, a military conflict with China. Full stop.

*****

Others are reluctant to take the renegade billionaire seriously. Guo’s style, or more precisely his lack of style, is not only embarrassing, but it is also extremely dangerous. China may be a patient nation, but now it is also indignant when facing insults from one of its citizens who should most likely be in jail for serious crimes, but who is instead sheltered by the United States system.

The Economist concluded, in its article about Mr. Guo:

…American intelligence is said to listen to his insights – but also to keep him at arm’s length… That may be wise. The day before Mr. Bannon’s arrest the ‘Journal’ had reported that a company he and Mr. Guo are involved in, GTV Media Group, was the subject of a federal investigation into its fundraising. Mr. Guo called the report a fabrication, part of the CCP’s plot to take Mr. Bannon down. But his antics have worn thin on his hosts. “There would be a lot of groans when his name came up,” says a former Trump administration official. In both Beijing and Washington, it seems.

For some time, it was thought that the anti-Chinese hysteria was supposed to help Mr. Trump to get reelected. That is when Messrs. Guo and Bannon were used. This cynical strategy failed to deliver results. Most American voters are scared. They are losing jobs, and many are now losing roofs over their heads. They know almost nothing about China, and they have very little time for learning.

President Trump is a pragmatic, and some would say, brutal businessman. He may now have very little use for Mr. Guo and Mr. Bannon. They may soon, literally, end up on the street. That would be good for both China and the world.

The luxury yacht of Mr. Guo, on which Steve Bannon was recently arrested, is already for sale. And so is the Manhattan apartment.

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook, a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The post Guo Wengui:  So Anti-Chinese that even U.S. Establishment cannot stomach him first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Now West should sit on its backside, shut up, and listen to “the others”!

We were always told what to think; what is correct and what is wrong. By the white dudes living in or coming from Europe and North America. They knew everything. They were the most qualified.

When I write “white,” I don’t mean just their race or color of their skin. To me, “white” is their culture, where they belong. Yes, their identity.

We Russians, Cubans, Venezuelans, Chinese, Iranians, Turks are not really “white,” even if our color of the skin is. Not that we are dying to be white, really! We have our own way of living and thinking, and most of us are on the side of the oppressed, of the ‘wretched of the world,’ intuitively. For centuries, our nations have been plundered and attacked. Millions of our people vanished during invasions, genocides, like those in Africa and all other parts of the ‘non-white’ world.

We have always been studied; we have been analyzed, we have been described by those confident scribes and reporters coming mainly from the U.K. and North America. They know the best who we are and what type of political systems and culture we deserve and should aim at. These people know how to speak. Their accents are so, so perfect, so “scientific.” If they say something, it must be pure veracity, simply because they are qualified, as they have been ruling the world for centuries.

We, the Others, are expected to shut up and to listen, to learn who we really are, from the masters of the universe. Because in their eyes we are nobody, just a little bit more than animals. And animals do not speak; they only listen, take orders, and serve. They also get obediently slaughtered, when ‘it is needed.’

White rulers of the world have been expected to know about us, much more then we know about our own people and our countries.

God forbid one of us, ‘non-white’ individuals, would dare to pass publicly some judgment, especially a negative one, about Europe, North America, or Australia!

Well, first of all, nobody would listen to us because we are not expected — we are not allowed to judge the West. We are here to sit politely, submissively, to listen and to take notes.

Have you often seen a Chinese person appearing on a British or U.S. television show, offering Communist analyses of the West? Have you seen an Iranian socialist or Venezuelan Chavista criticizing British or Canadian capitalism? That would be unthinkable, wouldn’t it?

And honestly, look at the so-called independent or ‘progressive’ media outlets in the United States or Canada. The situation there is basically the same as inside the mainstream newspapers and television stations, with some rare, very rare exceptions.

Once again, white, mainly Anglo-Saxon men “know the best”: be it regarding the recent anti-racist protests in the United States, or the very origin of the COVID-19. Even if they know damn nothing, absolutely nothing, they are still considered to be the best informed, the most qualified “experts.” Just because they have suitable names, looks, and pronunciation. Just because they are white, groomed a certain way, and able to lie in acceptable manners.

*****

A few hours ago, I watched a recording, a dialogue between two ‘experts,’ which was uploaded online by an “independent” North American media. They were discussing COVID-19.

What was striking was the arrogance, and those “we know everything, and you know nothing” little sarcastic smiles. Two men were clearly demonstrating degenerate spite for the world. Both were white. Again, not just by their color of skin, but by their attitude; by their culture.

In some 40 minutes during which they spoke, there were no references to the tremendous victory of China over the pandemic. No mention of Vietnam or Cuba. It was them speaking. It was about them, about their world, and definitely not about the objective truth.

The same publication basically kicked me out; it stopped reprinting my essays, immediately after our opinions began to differ, on all important topics like the uprising in the United States, COVID-19, and China. When I stopped behaving like a white, I was out.

It was not my place or my right to speak about the West in this crucial historical moment. After all, I was just some Russia/Chinese other. This was the moment for the rulers of the world to shine. They and they alone were qualified to define the crises in their own society. Their publications closed their doors to the Others. Not all, but most of them certainly did.

The Others were sometimes allowed to criticize their own countries. They were once in a while permitted to trash their fellow non-white nations. But never, ever were they tolerated as the prominent critics of the ruling West; of the whites!

They are also not allowed to make any important intellectual judgments: in the West, Chinese people are not trusted to decide whether their country is Communist or not! Such decisions are made for them in Montreal and London, and if you dare to contradict Western Trotskyists or anarcho-syndicalists, you will be silenced, censored and prevented from publishing. It means nothing that China has one of the oldest and greatest cultures on Earth. Whether Iran is a socialist country is decided in Paris or New York, not in Teheran. What happened in the Soviet Union between the two world wars is not up to Russians to decide.

All great non-Western nations are expected to learn about themselves from some British, Swiss, Canadian deletants, whose only claim to fame is that they are whites and part of the West.

Once, a taxi driver in Teheran was complaining to me:

White Westerners come to my country for the first time. They know nothing about Iran. But, 5 minutes into the ride, they begin lecturing me about my own nation.

It goes without saying that white Westerners are always allowed to criticize the entire world. It matters nothing how much or how little they know about it. Mostly they know nothing, absolutely nothing, but so what? Often, they even manage to infiltrate important media outlets and universities in independent countries and teach revolutionaries about their own revolution. Ridiculous? Bizarre? Yes, it is, but it is happening!

*****

Now, as the West is collapsing, there are conspiracy theories flying all around the place. Ridiculous, moronic inventions and speculations are printed, day after day. Even some serious international media outlets based in the non-Western world have been falling into the trap. They are hiring entire armies of the mainstream British, Irish, and North American writers, just in order to impress their readers in the West, those who have not been used to being ‘lectured’ by the people of other colors and cultures.

The West, intellectually and morally confused and corrupt, has not been able to analyze, to think rationally. It is thoroughly brainwashed. That applies to both writers and the readers. It needs, it cannot live without “familiar faces,” without familiar lines of thought.

Despite its confusion, it insists on talking. It demands to be listened to.

It is unable to learn from the others. It only knows how to dictate; how to preach.

But what it says is nothing more than incomprehensible rubbish. It is just a racist, phantasmagoric, irrational drivel.

Western political talk, academic chatter, Hollywood mental hallucinogenic degeneracy, Disney brain damage since early childhood, mass media surreal narratives – these are all reducing our human race to nothing, to intellectual zero.

Chaos and pathological lack of logic are upholding the status quo. Under such conditions, no progressive ideology could survive. Therefore, this is the most suitable milieu for the white Western boys and their global dictatorship.

It is time to shut up most of the Western speakers, stop listening, and, if possible, to lock up some of the most deranged orators in a mental institution!

Easier said than done! But there is no other way.

*****

Frankly, I had enough of this situation. I am working all over the world, and I can compare. It is clear to me that most of the white Westerners lost their creative edge. Their thinkers, their writers, and filmmakers are mostly producing garbage. With some exceptions, the same can be said about their academia and investigative journalism.

A Russian, Chinese, Venezuelan journalist could see the collapse of Western societies with much greater clarity than the Westerners themselves. He or she would be, in general, much more qualified and educated, able to describe reality and to criticize objectively.

In the West, the level of ignorance is truly striking. Knowledge is not a requirement. Only pieces of papers, diplomas, and stamps supplied by the regime, are.

The world desperately needs to hear from The Others. As it needs The Others to get involved, to be themselves, to stop white Western boys from murdering millions and millions of innocent people in all corners of the world, as they have been doing for several centuries without interruption. As it needs the Others to erect new concepts, new ideologies, and new moral principles.

Colonialist, imperialist, racist concepts of North America and Europe are simply not good enough for the world.

In a panic, white Westerners are lately shouting (after Mr. Floyd was murdered by sadistic police, and rebellion erupted all over the world): “It is not about race!”

But notice one thing: it is them, telling us, again, telling the world what it is and what it is not! You would never hear such statements in Africa, the Middle East, or Asia. There, people know perfectly well what it really is all about, whether it is about race or not!

I have just spent two weeks in the United States, analyzing the profound crises of U.S. society. I visited Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, New York, and Boston. I spoke to many people in all those places. What I witnessed was confusion and total ignorance about the rest of the world. The United States, a country which has been brutalizing our Planet for decades, is absolutely unable to see itself in the context of the entire world. People, including those from the media, are outrageously ignorant and provincial.

And they are selfish.

I asked many times: “Do black lives matter all over the world? Do they matter in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and do they matter in West Papua?” I swear, I received no coherent answer.

Somebody has to tell them… Somebody has to force them to open their eyes.

A few years ago, I was invited to Southern California to show my documentary work from Africa (my feature documentary film Rwanda Gambit, about West-triggered genocides in both Rwanda and later in the Democratic Republic of Congo), where millions of black people are dying, in order for the vast majority of the U.S. whites to live in piggish opulence.

But before I was allowed to present, I was warned:

Remember, people here are sensitive… Do not show too much of brutal reality, as it could disturb them…

Hearing that, I almost left the event. Only my respect for the organizer made me stay.

Now I am convinced: it is time to force them to watch; to see rivers of blood, which their laziness, selfishness, and greed have triggered. It is time to force them to hear shouts of the agony of the others.

We can do it: “non-white” reporters from Russia, China, Latin America, and elsewhere. We have images and sounds! It is our people, our brothers and sisters in all parts of the world who are going through unimaginable suffering. And we will do it. And we are beginning doing it already. To hell with the sensitivities of the remote killers who are disguising themselves as fellow victims of capitalism, just because they have to pay student loans and mortgages, or work two jobs! They know absolutely nothing about true horrors and real misery. One day, soon, they will be forced to see and to comprehend.

Western Intellectual Incest

For centuries, Western intellectuals, media people, and propagandists were listening to each other, recycling thoughts of each other, “marrying” each other in a stale, incestuous way. Then they were pushing their discourses, often forcefully, down the throats of all Africans, Asians, in short, “the Others.”

They created a horrid narrative which is predominantly bombastic, self-righteous, false, even out-rightly deceitful.

For years and decades, I have been writing detailed books, giving examples from all corners of the Planet, uncovering this atrocious design. The most complete of them is called Exposing Lies of the Empire and counts with over 800 pages. The second installment is coming in 2021.

At some point, by operating within extremely narrow intellectual margins, white Western culture simply ran out of ideas and out of creativity. It became impotent, self-serving, and unable to offer anything progressive and optimistic to humanity.

But it kept lecturing the world, ‘educating’ or, more precisely, brainwashing all other races and nationalities.

The world has been conditioned the way that without the white Western seals of approval, nothing could move, or succeed, or be taken seriously.

But by now, Western, white culture totally collapsed. It abruptly stopped giving birth to great writers, filmmakers, or thinkers. Asia, Russia, and even parts of Africa like Nigeria and South Africa are now producing much better authors, while Iran, China, and Argentina are giving birth to doubtlessly superior filmmakers.

But it is the West that is distributing awards to its own people and foreign traitors, pretending that it still has the mandate to judge, educate and inspire the world. Its awards, as well as its diplomas, are nothing more than seals of approval given to collaborators; rewards for servitude.

By now, white Western boys know very little. They are in absolute denial. They are ridiculously overrated. In fact, they are finished. They are empty, cynical, over-masturbated, and lazy. They demand all sorts of rights and privileges but know nothing about responsibilities, hard work, and enthusiasm.

White North America and Europe expect the rest of the world to be obedient, submissive, to work hard, supporting the West’s unreasonably high standards of living. This is true for their right-wing as well as for the so-called “progressives” (that is all there really is – as there is virtually no true internationalist Left remaining in the Western countries).

But even the pseudo “left,” which is pathetic, defunct, and actually in love with being obsolete, still dares to judge and scorn those great countries, in which the Communist Parties and internationalist governments are now proudly holding power!

The only reason for such grotesque arrogance is (yes, you are guessing right) the fact that the members of the pseudo-left are white, and they come from Western countries. Which is obviously good enough (for them) to aliment their grandiloquent complexes of superiority.

If it all feels perverse and incestuous, be assured that it actually is.

Of course, this monstrous arrangement of the world has to end soon, very soon. And it will! We will make certain that it will.

*****

For decades and centuries, white Western boys were judging us, the others. They were analyzing us, telling us what to do, how to think, and how to live.

This led to absolute disaster: to genocides, plunder, and slavery; to intellectual and environmental collapses.

The bottom line is: White West has actually absolutely no right to control the world. This fact is becoming more and more obvious.

It is not qualified to lead the world. There are much better political systems then the Western one, as there are much greater cultures.

The only reason why the West is still in control of the Planet is because of its violence, brutality, as well as deceptions.

Violence can be confronted. From now on, it will be. By Russia, Iran, China, Venezuela, and other brave countries.

Deceptions have to be challenged, too. We have our media outlets now. And we are using them.

We should not listen to lies anymore. They have been damaging our countries for decades and centuries.

We have to speak. We are obliged to speak! Louder and louder. About our nations, about the world, and the madness of the West.

Now, the West should be forced to listen to our voices.

Our people ought not to be suffering in silence anymore.

Frankly, in the white West, they know nothing or very little about us. While we know a lot, or should I say too much about the West. Actually, we were forced to know but mostly lies. The truth we discovered, but discovered on our own, and often the very hard way.

The oppressed world is waking up. Increasingly, it demands its own people to write and to speak. About our own countries, and also about the West.

We don’t care what the white West thinks about us. We don’t care anymore. More and more of us are spitting on their invitations and on encouragements to betray. We do not need their certificates and their degrees.

We don’t need their money: we have our own media outlets that are beginning to pay for hard and excellent work; in Russia, China, and elsewhere. We have our publishing houses and television stations. Our words are spread all over the internet and airwaves.

This is a new world and a big awakening.

Now we will tell them, straight to the face, about their failed fight against COVID-19 and their botched democracy. We will shame their imperialism, colonialism, empty consumerism, and endemic racism. And we will analyze their uprisings, their oppression, emotional emptiness, and braindead consumerism, using our own reporters, poets, and thinkers.

We will talk about socialism and Communism from our own perspectives, our own way, and whenever we want to! We don’t need their permission.

We don’t need West’s little sarcastic smiles. We are not “whites.” And even if the color of our skin may be, in some cases, pale, we are fighting determinately alongside the oppressed nations, against the sinister ‘club’ of those who have been murdering hundreds of millions of people, as well as all enthusiasm, kindness, and hope on this Planet.

Things are changing rapidly. The Others are rising. The big battle against modern-day slavery and colonialism is on.

Our message is clear: Imperialists, colonialists, settlers, and Western supremacists; shut up, stand back, and listen; we had to listen to you for centuries! Your narrative is empty. And you cannot fool us anymore. We will build our own new world soon: those billions who were nobody in yours will become everything in ours.

Now we are speaking, and for the first time in modern history, there is nothing you can do about it. You will simply have to get used to the sound of our voices!

• First published by UWIDATA

The post Now West should sit on its backside, shut up, and listen to “the others”! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Warrior” Steve Bannon arrested as Trump’s America is Crumbling

It often happens this way: extreme right-wingers, or call them ‘ultra-conservatives,’ either in the United States or Europe, suddenly fall from grace, after committing the most heinous crimes. Sometimes it is child abuse or sexual harassment, but most of the time, it is a corruption of tremendous proportions.

In theory, in their own theory, it is not supposed to be this way. Listen to the conservatives, and they will tell you that they are there in order to uphold law and order, as well as the traditional culture of their countries.

But the reality is often very far from the theory.

Steve Bannon has fallen. He has fallen hard, flat on his face. But definitely not as hard, as others would fall, would they commit crimes of similar magnitude.

Steve Bannon was actually not caught and charged with trying to ignite the WWIII or conspiring to overthrow the left-wing governments all over the world. He was not charged with an attempt to destroy China.

He was arrested ‘only’ on charges of ‘defrauding investors,’ together with his cohort Brian Kolfage.

On 28 August, CNN reported:

Kolfage was arrested last week, along with Bannon and two others, and charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York with defrauding investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars a project pledging to construct a wall along the southern U.S. border. He is due to be arraigned on the charges on Monday in a video court appearance.

In February 2020, I wrote for this magazine [NEO}:

Steve Bannon, a former White House strategist and Breitbart editor, was finally kicked out of an Italian monastery, which even Newsweek wittily described as a “far-right boot camp.

Or, as even some of the Western mainstream media outlets defined it – a modern ‘gladiator’s school.’ The monastery was supposed to offer “classes,” which Bannon described as “the kind of underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West.”

That, for already quite some time, means ‘insulting and antagonizing China,’ as well as several other nations which the Western extremist and often openly racist ideologues have been depicting as hostile to the U.S. and European hegemonic interests.

Some of those who oppose Bannon’s radical political stands are now bringing vast charges against him, both legal and moral, and such charges are ranging from pushing the United States towards the war with the People’s Republic of China to interfering with internal affairs of other countries, including those in Europe. There are other, unsavory accusations against the former White House strategist and a close ally of President Donald Trump: child abuse and enormous corruption.

The question is: how could the individual against whom so many accusative fingers are pointed, survive at the top of the establishment for so many years, in so many different roles and positions?

Yes, he gets kicked out from places: first from the White House, then from the “gladiator boot camp,” and finally from the luxury yacht belonging to an anti-Beijing apostate. But somehow, he always manages to bounce back. Until now. Hopefully, for not much longer.

*****

Alarms should have been ringing for so many years. But were they? If yes, no one has been paying much attention. As early as in 2016, even an extreme right-wing FOX News picked up Associated Press report which was accusing Bannon of anti-Semitism:

In a sworn court declaration following their divorce, Piccard said her ex-husband had objected to sending their twin daughters to an elite Los Angeles academy because he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”

He said he doesn’t like Jews…

In August 2019, Mail Online raised an alarming issue, connecting Mr. Bannon with an accused child sex trafficker George Nader:

A convicted pedophile visited Donald Trump’s White House on at least 13 different occasions in 2017 to meet with then-chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to leaked visitor logs.

George Nader, who has been convicted of sexually abusing young boys and is now in federal prison awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges, first visited Bannon in the White House in February 2017, the month after Trump’s inauguration, the Washington Examiner reported.

After that, he kept visiting Bannon, who had a West Wing office yards from the Oval Office, the leaked visitor logs revealed, but it isn’t clear if he entertained Nader in his office or somewhere else in the White House.

The revelation raises serious questions about how a convicted pedophile could be allowed entry repeatedly to the White House. The Secret Service is responsible for carrying out background checks of all visitors.

The “revelation” also raises questions about whether there have been two tiers of justice: one for the common U.S. citizens, and another one for those who are levitating in the highest spheres of mainly right-wing power.

Steve Bannon was also apparently giving false testimonies under oath, related to the Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

And if one would think that Steve Bannon is ‘only’ anti-Semitic, then what about his deep allergy towards the Muslims; and the support for the Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” and keeping out from the United States all those “bad people” (meaning non-whites and non-Christians)? His obsession with the wall between the U.S. and Mexico is, of course, related to the “topic.”

*****

But who would be Steve Bannon without China? He is hatred impersonated against China.

As for his fellow right-wing crusaders, like Peter Navarro, Marco Rubio, and Mike Pompeo, China is always ‘there,’ in the middle of vile speeches, dragged through the dirt, belittled.

Steeper and faster is a decline of the American Eagle, more confident is an ascend of the Chinese Dragon, louder, more desperate, and bizarre is the anti-Chinese rhetoric of the pro-Western warriors, led by Steve Bannon and his mates.

On 08 June 2020, AntiWar.com described something that would be unimaginable just several years ago, but what is turning into a norm, under the present White House administration:

New Yorkers looked to the sky in puzzlement the night of 03 June as a fleet of airplanes circled New York Harbor with banners that read “Congratulations New Federal State of China.” Behind the bizarre stunt was exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. The duo deemed the Chinese Communist Party illegitimate and declared a new state of China from a boat floating in front of the Statue of Liberty.

In a live stream, Guo and Bannon read the Chinese and English versions of “A Declaration of the New Federal State of China,” a document that lays out their fantastical plan to take out the CCP and form a Western-style democracy in China. The live stream aired in China on 04 June, which marked the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests and crackdown in Beijing. “The Chinese Communist Party is a terrorist organization funded by the Communist International which has subverted the legitimate Chinese government in the past,” the document declares.

Would this be done the other way around, like if the People’s Republic of China declared the United States of America a terrorist genocidal and illegitimate state, because it exterminated most of its native population, forced slaves from Africa onto its territory, and then massacred tens of millions of people on all continents of the world, that would be surely considered a declaration of war. But obviously, the U.S. and its leadership are truly ‘spoiled’; they are used to getting away, literally, with a murder. Or with a war.

Steve Bannon has been twisting the narrative on basically everything that is related to China, from Xinjiang to the South China Sea, an extremist religious cult such as Falun Gong, recent historical events, Chinese Revolution, and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He and his cohorts are fanatically anti-Communist, as they are outrageously racist.

The danger of Bannon lies in the fact that he is an integral part of the extreme right-wing network, which is now spreading from Europe to India, from North and South America to Asia. He is its product, as well as its maker.

Whoever is confronting China is his ally: from India’s Modi to Donald Trump.

Or all those West-backed rioters and the anti-Beijing individuals like Elmer Yuen Gong Yi. In fact, the Hong Kong riots are direct results of the activities of Steve Bannon and his mates.

If they are not stopped, there really may be a war. But that does not frighten Steve Bannon. He has nothing against a war. He desired a war. He is igniting it. Like the crusaders of the middle ages, he thrives on expansions and the conflicts.

Forbes reported, somehow sarcastically, on 20 August 2020:

The yacht former white house senior advisor Steve Bannon was arrested on recently is the 152-foot-long Feadship Lady May that’s reportedly owned by Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire who has business ties with Bannon. And it’s for sale.

It is all very symbolic. It is shocking.

But at least the man who did so much harm to the world, and who has been pushing his country towards direct confrontation with the most populous nation on earth, is under arrest, although presently released on $5 million bail.

Associated Press reported on 24 August 2020:

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres said President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist can appear in her court along with three co-defendants on a video screen because of the health threat posed by the coronavirus.

A lenient treatment. But logical; shockingly, Mr. Bannon is not seen as a delinquent by the U.S. establishment. To many, he is just a pro-Western, pro-Christian, pro-right-wing warrior. As he himself so proudly declares he is.

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian academy of Sciences)

The post “Warrior” Steve Bannon arrested as Trump’s America is Crumbling first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Madrid:  One of the real but “polemic” ways to defeat the COVID-19

What a joy to travel again!

COVID-19 is not just a disease; it is also a state of mind, a psychosis, a fear. It is an event that, all over the world, unleashed irrational behavior by the governments, individuals, and media. It triggered speculations, bizarre analyses, and selective ‘cut-and-paste science.’

Result: while there are, undeniably, few optimistic success stories, including the Russian vaccine, China’s and Vietnam’s ability to contain the pandemic without ruining the economy and livelihood of the citizens, the great majority of the world is undoubtedly in disarray. Hundreds of millions of people are literally tossed into a gutter. Other billions, all over Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and to some extent, the United States and the U.K. are locked in, unable to travel abroad, and unwilling to accept visitors from other countries.

All this is pure insanity. Families are divided, broken apart. People are locked out of their homes in other countries. Lovers are told they cannot see each other, perhaps for years.

Extreme right-wing governments that are ripe to fall, like those in Thailand or Chile, are hiding behind the COVID-19, not allowing anyone to enter and face their downfall.

International life patterns of billions of people are ruined. Which leads to suicides, deep depressions, violence, as well as COVID-19 unrelated but lockdowns-related health issues.

In brief: The world is screwed! Most likely, billions of human lives are.

Apart from my work in several parts of the United States after the murder of George Floyd, and then in Aruba, from where the NATO is threatening Venezuela, I spent almost five months in a brutal lockdown in Chile. Truly brutal, because I arrived there after covering several conflict zones in Asia, with the COVID-19 at my heels. One airport after another was closing behind me after my departure. A journey took eight days: Hong Kong to Bangkok, then Seoul, Amsterdam, Suriname, Brazilian Belem, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, and finally, Santiago.

At the conflict zones, including when I was filming in devastated Borneo, my guts and eyes got attacked by some vicious parasites (or was it COVID-19, after all?), and something happened to my feet; I could hardly walk. Well, once in a while, I have this tendency to run myself to the ground, after the excessive doses of Afghanistan, Syria, Indonesia, Iraq, DR Congo, Kashmir, Gaza… I never stop until it is too late, or more precisely, until I fall on my face.

But then, after I do, after I find myself flattened on the ground, I know precisely what to do. Which is: a few months of rest, rigorous exercises, foot massages, sea, diet, sun. Until I can move again, and return to performing duties I have towards humanity.

But this time it was different. With a single digit of popularity, Chilean Pinochet-style regime utilized COVID-19 in order to stay in power, to crack on the opposition and to rob indigenous people of that little they still had left. Result: bizarre, total lockdowns with tanks on the streets, with the meaningless curfews, with even a small park at the back of my building out of reach to the tenants.

My only ‘walks’ were inside the apartment. I needed to get to my place in Bangkok; small, but with a gym and pool and with a garden. But Thailand’s rulers made sure to keep the foreigners out, too. Clearly, for political reasons.

And so, I was forced to spend the longest time in my life in one place. The longest since I was 15 years old if I remember correctly.

And instead of improving, my health deteriorated in that monstrous lockdown where I was facing bare, depressing winter Andes, and the 160-average pollution levels (US AQI). When I was finally departing, I could hardly walk and had to use a cane.

*****

I ran away on one of the first re-introduced non-stop Iberia flights to Madrid. I was lucky that I could as one of my passports was that of the EU.

It had to be Madrid or Italy. I would also happily run to Russia, but in August, it was still closed.

When I was very young, I used to escape to Madrid in order to be as far away as possible from New York. I despised my life in the United States. I couldn’t write there. In Italy and Madrid, I could easily. For months I would be saving, and then disappear from the United States for 5-6 weeks. My plan was to travel all over Spain, but Madrid was so absorbing, so fascinating that in the end I lost all my desire to leave it. Cafes on Plaza de Olavide were where I used to write my fiction.

And now, beaten, hardly able to move, I returned. Before my interviews in Turkey and Serbia, and before at least some parts of Asia would be re-opening, Madrid became my logical destination.

*****

I anticipated what would be waiting for me here. And all of my expectations came through.

In Madrid, life didn’t stop. It slowed down, to some extent, yes. Some visible and invisible barriers were erected. Many precautions have been taken. But there was no ‘full stop.’ Unlike in New York and Santiago, colors were everywhere, and so was beauty, elegance, and harsh Castellan sense of humor.

In anticipation of music in old Botanical gardens

First of all, Madrid was clearly demonstrating that life is much stronger then death, but only if life is pitched against death, and lived with unwavering strength and passion.

In Prado Museum, I rediscovered one of the greatest and most frightening artworks of all times: Pieter Bruegel’s the Elder: “The Triumph of Death.” I searched for it, and I found it in one of the main halls.

Here, in this surreal, powerful, and highly perverse artwork, it was depicted all. Yes, Death is frightening. Yes, it has tremendous strength, and it has its own ‘army of skeletons.’ And, yes, in the end, it always wins.

But you look out through the windows of Prado and you see the ancient, green, and beautiful trees, you see the splendid architecture, and lovers holding hands. Death may have the last word for all human beings, but life goes on too. It never gets defeated, and it never surrenders. There is time to live and time to die.

Bruegel, who painted his macabre masterpiece c. 1562, wanted us to live in constant fear of death.

Today’s Madrid, with its passion, wants us to forget about death, at least for that short but brilliant moment which is called life.

This new and hopefully short-lived era of COVID-19 terror is throwing us, human beings, back to the middle ages, where continuous anxieties and images of horrors were masterfully manufactured, even mass-produced, in order to poison our existence and strip us of dreams, of power, and joy.

Throughout the middle ages, at least in Europe, suffering and fear were habitually glorified. Joy and desires were suppressed, often chastised.

In the middle ages, Christianity reached perfection in scaring humans to death, in stripping life of almost all delights, and in administering brutal, grotesque punishments. And this is when the Muslim armies arrived, liberating a large part of Spain from the religious fundamentalism. Glorious Caliphate of Cordoba was erected, synonymous with the Golden Age of Islam; Caliphate admired for knowledge, poetry, playfulness, eroticism, the quest for freedom and beauty.

Used to be Grand Mosque of Cordoba

There, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together; they freely mingled together, building one mighty, tolerant, and creative society. It was a society without fear, society full of hope.

Caliphate of Cordoba also defeated Death, at least from one’s birth till demise. Great Pakistani thinker, Tariq Ali, wrote beautifully about that era many years before COVID-19 appeared on the horizon.

I took Talgo, highspeed train, to Cordoba. I had to revisit the old mosque where the fight for tolerance began. All this was now relevant. It was not just the medicine, not just the science, which had to be mobilized.

The battle against COVID-19 has to be also fought by thinkers, by artists, by all those who can make life meaningful, or at least bearable.

*****

Spain and its capital Madrid can easily ‘go either way.’ The city can be oppressive and harsh when it goes through the ‘bad wave.’ It can ruin millions of lives, as it did when it embarked on the horrid colonialist expeditions, religious fundamentalism, or fascist dictatorship.

But Madrid can also be highly enlightened, creative, and forward-looking. It can be light and reasonable, embracing life.

In the age of COVID-19, Madrid decisively refused to lock up millions of people in the proverbial cages.  Few weeks of confusion and enough! The government tried, half-heartedly, but failed to impose full oppressive order.

By the middle of August 2020, the number of Covid-19 cases was higher in Spain than in many other EU countries. Madrid made it to the ‘red list’ in such countries as Germany and the U.K.

Madrid still life

But walk through the streets of the city, sit in its cafes, look at children playing in the elegant parks, and then compare all this with terrible stress in those societies full of rules and regulations, such as Germany or Macron’s France.

Brueghel’s skeletons are clearly depicting destruction and death. Scenes are full of nihilism. They fit perfectly well into the devastated landscapes of the excessively locked down, terrified cities.

Some cities with a relatively small number of infections, like Bangkok, already died. How come? They lost, they handed victory to Death. They threw up their hands without the battle. They surrendered, offering to Death precisely what she has been demanding: Voluntarily, they stopped living.

In the United States or such places like Southeast Asia, Facebook, Amazon, Apple have been making fortunes. Bookstores, museums, theatres all surrendered; they closed down.

Madrid introduced social distancing, imposed masks regulations, a limited number of visitors, but rapidly reopened cinemas, gardens, galleries. Cafes are functioning, too, and so are the restaurants. Soon, after the summer holidays end, the city’s theatres and concert halls will reopen.

It is not because the city is reckless. Not at all. Disinfectants are everywhere, and when walking or in public places, people are wearing masks. The streets of Madrid are meticulously clean. Various safety regulations are imposed. But life goes on. Airplanes are taking off towards many parts of the world. Madrid is an open city. Not yet to all, but at least to many.

And as a reward, there are smiles. There are politeness and kindness. People do not look suicidal. They do not explode at the slightest conflict. No honking, no shouting. No animalistic, all-consuming fear.

Madrid understands that there is a certain degree of danger. But it deals with this state of siege with admirable dignity and courage.

After the panic and ugly behavioral patterns that I observed in the United States and Chile, Madrid impressed me enormously. COVID pandemic brought economic and social hardship to some, but there was no national agony so clearly noticeable in New York, Washington D.C., or Santiago.

Even if they struggled, people made sure to put on their best, to behave with dignity, and confront danger with both strength and heart.

When my still weak feet let go on the third day, when I stumbled and fell on an ancient sidewalk, several people immediately ran to my rescue. They fought for me. In my own way, I came here in order to fight for them, too.

*****

Madrid is not a perfect city. Actually, I keep repeating it again and again: there are no ‘perfect cities’ in this world.

And Madrid’s way is not the only example of how to fight and defeat the latest deadly pandemic.

Plaza de Olavide

But perhaps it is the most agreeable one: full of smiles, support from friends and families, with the exposure to the sun, to excellent food, nature, culture, and arts.

It is the Latin spirit, joie de vivre, which is put to work here, in order to overpower Brueghel and his army of skeletons, together with the excessive religious asceticism of El Greco.

We still don’t know how to defeat COVID-19, scientifically, but in such places as Madrid, we are learning how to prevent it from defeating us.

Nine days in Madrid did not fully ‘cure me,’ but it gave back the optimism to my scarred soul. It gave me the strength to fight again. As well as the desire to walk forward!

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook  (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

• Photos by Andre Vltchek

Anti-racist Uprising in Minneapolis infiltrated by Extreme-right Holligans

Reportage from Minneapolis — The city of Minneapolis is where it all began. It is where the last drop fell on the surface of a proverbial overflowing lake, causing the dam to burst, consequently starting to destroy the foundations of the empire.

A death of just one single man can, under certain dreadful circumstances, put into motion the entire avalanche of events. It can smash the whole regime into pieces. It can fully rewrite history, and even change the identity of a nation. It can… although it not always does.

George Floyd’s death became a spark. The city of Minneapolis is where the murder occurred, and where the ethnic minorities rose in rage.

But it is also where white extreme right-wing criminals, and some even say, entire regime, perpetrated the uprising, kidnapped what could have become a true revolution and began choking legitimate rebellion by a stained duvet of nihilism and confusion.

Here, we will not speculate. We will not point fingers at “deep state” or some multi-billionaire families, and to what extent they have been involved. Let others do this if they know details. But this time, I simply came to listen. And to pass to the world what I discovered first hand and what I was told.

This time I simply went to Franklin Avenue and Lake Street, both in Minneapolis.

I spoke to Native American people there. To those who joined forces with the African-American community during those dangerous days after May 25, 2020. To people who dared to defend their neighborhoods against brutality, against  white gangs, which came to loot, infiltrate, and derail the most powerful uprising in the United States in modern history.

*****

Bob Rice is a Native American owner of Pow Wow Grounds, a local entrepreneur, and a ‘community protection organizer.’ His legendary café is located on Franklin Avenue. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been reduced, for the time being, to a takeaway business, but even as such, it is enormously popular among the Native Americans, as well as others.

At the back of the cafe is huge storage, full of food. Everyone hungry, in need of help, can simply come here and take whatever he or she needs.

We grab some freshly brewed coffee from the shop and take it to the public benches outside.

Author with Bob Rice on Franklin Avenue

Bob Rice then begins his story:

There has been police brutality for a very long time, against people of color. Not only talking about Minneapolis but in all these other places, since the 1991 Rodney King incident. Things were boiling and building up – leading to a big blow up.

And all this discrimination did not start here; it came centuries ago from Europe.

After the George Floyd murder, I wanted to show solidarity. Native Americans were experiencing an even higher degree of persecution than Black people. We had to stand together. I went down to the site of the murder of George Floyd, in order to support protests.

For a while, we talked about the mass media in the United States, an official and even some ‘independent one,’ and how it quickly and violently turned against the left, as well as against those who have been daring to expose endemic racism in the United States.

But soon, we returned to the events that took place here, in May and June.

I noticed the presence of strange elements right from the start. I was watching guys breaking windows. At about 6 am, the morning after, I traveled down to South Minneapolis.  There were piles of rocks in front of the rioters.  Flash hand grenades.  I kept on moving around the areas and kept on seeing rocks. I noticed the Minneapolis Umbrella Man, dressed all in black, with mask and black umbrella and black hammer smashing things – at the end being stopped by black guys. People were walking out of the store with car parts, and I thought, “why stealing those things”? These guys didn’t seem to be as part of the protest. I started moving and going away from the area, thinking that these guys would burn down stores and places soon. I even called up my insurance company the following morning to see if my policy covers civil unrest. That night they burned a lot of stores – auto stores, liquor stores, all types of businesses. I thought that if we do not do something ourselves to protect our neighborhoods, they will burn down all of our areas, too.

From what I saw, I couldn’t tell you who these guys were, but they were not from here.

So, we put up our protection zone calling out people on Facebook. We became the Headquarters of protection of Native American businesses and nonprofit organizations, as well as banks, shops, investment properties, etc. all belonging to the Native American community around here.

I noticed there were Caucasian people, driving cars very slowly with no license plates, yelling racial slurs out of the windows. We formed a human shield, chain, along Franklin Avenue, to protect ourselves and our people.

At a high point, about 300 people were protecting the area all night long for about eight days in a row. It had to be done, because here we had people from all over, including Wisconsin, descending on us — we had white supremacist group Proud Boys here. They arrived wearing masks. We had young white kids – 16 and 17 years old — coming from Wisconsin, looting liquor stores.  We caught them. Obviously, they came out here because they thought it was an exciting thing to do.  They didn’t even know where they were – this area is very dangerous with drug dealing and gang violence at night. Lucky, they got caught by us.

And the coverage? I wanted to know whether these events, in the heart of Native American neighborhoods, were described in depth by media reports.

Bob Rice replied readily:

There was no media reporting on these matters – mass media blamed everything on the Black Lives Matter movement.  When liquor stores and tobacco shops were on fire, no police or fire trucks were around. Then the National Guard took over – using tear gas.

 Mr. Rice sighed, still in disbelief:

 Just incredible how our so-called President has done all the mess going and even made it worse!

*****

Robert Pilot, Native Roots Radio host, drove me for days all around the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, explaining what really took place on both Franklin Avenue and Lake Street.

George Floyd Murder Site

But before, we visited an provisory, impromptu monument where the murder of George Floyd took place. There were flowers, graffiti, works of art; there was grief, and there was solidarity. Native American people clearly supported the plight of the African-Americans.

The area was safe; it was well organized. People of all races came here to pay tribute to the murdered man, and centuries of atrocious history of the United States.

As we drove, Robert Pilot explained:

Native American neighborhoods armed themselves after the Floyd murder. But not only that: economic hardships ensued after the murder; food banks have come up.  The Pow Wow Grounds used to be a food distribution deport but ended up becoming a food bank for anyone to donate and get what they need.

Protesters were everywhere; the young generation got fed up.  So different from other murders. The last straw was the murder of George Floyd. Four years earlier, in 2016, Philando Castile, an African American man, got murdered by police. He had worked in a school cafeteria. His murder was broadcast live on Facebook. It was a buildup. 10,000 people protested on 38th Street and Chicago in Minneapolis – the site of the murder of George Floyd. Combination of racial and overall frustration.

 We drove by burned stores, services, gas stations. Everything was resembling a war zone, and in a way, it was.

If you are there, things are extremely raw, emotional. It is not like analyzing things from a distance from the comfort of one’s home.

Robert continued explaining, as we drove by block after block of the Middle East-style combat destruction:

There is a small percentage of African American people as compared to White Americans.  We need allies, too. We have to support each other. Signs everywhere in my neighborhood, ‘Black Lives Matter.’

Some young white people have woken up. They see the truth. The opinion of the masses is moving to the left; they are feeling fed up with what is happening around them and what it is that the country is doing to the world because of oil.

What is interesting is that there is a protest every single day, which is something new and mind-blowing. The media is misreporting, minimizing the enormity and magnitude of protests, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

Robert Pilot is not only a radio host, but he is also a teacher:

White teachers are still teaching history; they are teaching it to black and Native American kids! Political standing of my students – a few are engaged, but definitely not all. Perhaps 10 percent of people are engaged and doing the work for 90 percent.

The white guilt now and then… But many of us feel: You should stand behind us and with us but not in front of us. Revolution is happening in that sense. Everything is changing since protests are happening.

Not everyone likes the changes; definitely not everyone. The establishment is fighting back, trying to survive, in its existing, horrid form.

Robert Pilot concludes:

Generally, Black and Native Americans are together, supportive of each other.

It is symbolic that the Native American movement started on Franklin Avenue, where protests began in 1968. We would never burn down our own stores like grocery stores and hospitals. Why should we?

But we had to mobilize and stop members of the KKK and Proud Boys type of guys.

 *****

We drive some 100 miles north, in order to meet Ms. Emma Needham – a young Native American activist. Emma was kind enough to bring traditional medicine from her area. We met halfway at the Sand Prairie Wildlife Management Area.

Before our encounter, along the highway, we are surrounded by true ‘Americana’: endless open spaces, half-empty highways, more than 100 car-long cargo train pulled by two monstrous engines, while pushed by yet another one. We pass by St. Cloud Correctional Facility – an ancient-looking prison that bears the resemblance of some massive medieval English mansion surrounded by an elaborate system of barbed wires and watchtowers.

Trump Shop in the sticks

In one of the towns along the road, there is a big makeshift market selling posters, T-shirts, and other memorabilia, all related to the current President. It is called Trump Shop. Big banners are shouting at passing cars: “Trump, Make America Great Again,” “Trump 2020 – No More Bullshit,” and “God, Guns & Guts Made America. Let’s Keep All Three”.

Ms Emma Needham, young activist and write

Emma is a storyteller, a writer. She is an intelligent, outspoken, sincere, and passionate person:

Where we were, we did not see a lot of white men with masks attacking, but what we did see were two young white kids, around 16, from Wisconsin, looting a liquor store which was run by Native Americans.

I stayed over Friday and Saturday nights around the Indian American Cultural Center in Minneapolis. On Friday night, within half a mile to a mile in all directors, we could see and hear the riots and looting. There were gunshots, helicopters hovering all around us. But nobody came to rescue us.

On Saturday night, we could see white people on Jeeps, waving flags, cruising around the neighborhood. “The white kids from Wisconsin were there, it appeared to me, opportunistic grabbing whatever was available.

Majority of those who came to protest and loot were outsiders, not from the neighborhoods. It does not make sense for people in Minneapolis to burn down and loot stores they rely on.

I wanted to know whether the Native Americans and African-Americans were helping each other in that difficult hour?

Emma did not hesitate:

There was big solidarity between Black people and Native American people; there was empathy.

It has been lifelong degradation for many of us growing up poor and severely marginalized in reservations, but we had never seen anything like this, so close to what resembled a war.

Those of us who were down in North Minneapolis those nights – Friday and Saturday – could not find words to describe what was happening. But we had a strong sense that what has been happening to us Native Americans was happening to Black Americans, too – 400 years of surviving in a system of oppression. Enough is enough! Shared horrors – same for both groups!

I asked whether everything changed, and this is a new beginning for the nation? As many, Emma did not sound overly optimistic:

A black American female artist once said, ‘I love my white friends, but I don’t trust you because I know when the time comes, you need to choose your skin color. You count on the freedom and safety which you have. Whether you make that conscious decision or not, it will be there for you.

*****

On my behalf, Robert Pilot asked Brett Buckner, his fellow radio host, and an African American activist, whether he could confirm that the majority of rioters were whites and not from the community. He replied:

I would say so. Based on police reports and accounts from the community members, most of the damage was done by outsiders. Unfortunately, their actions will cause our community pain for years and even decades to come.

*****

Before I finished writing this report, “Umbrella man” got ‘identified.’

On July 29, 2020, Daily Mail wrote:

Masked “Umbrella Man” who was seen smashing windows of Minneapolis AutoZone that was later burned to the ground during George Floyd protests is identified as ‘Hells Angels gang member with ties to white supremacist group’… The Star Tribune reported the 32-year-old man has links to Aryan Cowboy Brotherhood, a white supremacist gang based in Minnesota and Kentucky.

He was one of many, but the most notorious one. Looking at his photos when in action, he was bearing a striking resemblance to ‘ninja’ looking rioters — right-wing hooligans – who were unleashed in order to bring chaos to Hong Kong, people who have been supported and financed by Western governments. I know, because I work in Hong Kong, since the beginning of the riots. Coincidence? And if not: who really ‘inspired’ whom?

*****

Before I left Minneapolis, Robert Pilot and his wife Wendy interviewed me on their Native Roots Radio. What was supposed to be just 30 minutes appearance ended up being a one-hour event.

They showed me their city and their state, sharing sincere feelings and hopes, unveiling suffering of both African American and Native American communities.

This time, I traveled to the United States in order to listen. But I was also asked to talk, and so I did.

During the interview, I took them to several parts of the world, where black people still suffer enormously, due to Western imperialism and corporate greed. The world where Native people of Latin America, Canada, as well as other parts of the Planet, are brutally humiliated, robbed of everything, even murdered by millions.

We were complimenting each other. Our knowledge was.

I am glad I came to Minnesota. I am thankful that I could witness history in the making.

I am also delighted that I observed solidarity between the African American and Native American people. For centuries, both went through hell, through agony. Now, they were awakening.

Minnesota is where the latest and very important chapter of American history began. But I also went to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, New York City, Massachusetts. I witnessed protests, anger, despair. But there was also hope. Hope, despite tear gas and riot police, lockdowns, despite mismanaged COVID-19 and increasing poverty rates. Something was ending, something unsavory and brutal. Whether this could be considered a new beginning was still too early to tell.

In Minnesota, I chose to see events through the eyes of Native Americans, people who were here ‘forever,’ to whom this land used to belong. People who were exterminated by the “new America,” by European migrants, in a genocide that claimed roughly 90% of the native lives. These were people who were robbed of their culture and their riches. I am glad; I am proud that I chose this angle.

True peace, true reconciliation can only come after history as well as reality are fully understood, never through denial.

Now, both African Americans and Native Americans are speaking, and the world is listening. It has to listen. At least this is already progress. These two groups are forming a powerful alliance of victims. But also, an alliance of those who are determined to make sure that history never repeats itself.

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

Hong Kong Elections Postponed: And where aren’t they?

Today, the Western press went absolutely mental again, radically schizophrenic.

Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, declared that the September 6 elections in SAR would be postponed by one year. Right away, she offered a rational explanation:

“We have 3 million voters going out in one day across Hong Kong, such flow of people would cause a high risk of infection.”

Fair enough. But while COVID-19 can justify just about any action taken by the West and also by countries that are closely associated with the West, it is constantly used against Mainland China and SAR.

Irrational double standards are continually used.

*****

Whether elections were to be held or not, attacks against Ms. Lam and Beijing were planned to continue. They were clearly ordered by the Western establishment, “no matter what happens.”

We will return later to ‘criticism of postponement of the elections,’ but first, let us see what was written just a few hours earlier when all major Western media outlets still thought that the elections would take place as scheduled.

On July 31, 2020, CNN published bizarre comments:

Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the city’s de facto constitution, prospective legislators must swear to “uphold” the constitution, a declaration that has been largely procedural in the past. 

But citing a court case in 2016 barring a pro-independence candidate, the government said in a statement that vowing to “uphold” Basic Law “denotes not just compliance with it, but also an intention to support, promote, and embrace it.

First of all, “upholding the constitution” is a fundamental and essential condition for any prospective legislator in any democracy in the world. And not only  a legislator.  As we all know, in the United States, the president of the nation, when sworn in, puts his hand on the Bible (isn’t that “a bit too extreme” and “exclusive,” especially for those citizens who are not Christian?) and solemnly swears that he will be upholding and defending the Constitution of his country.

Second: some readers can probably overlook certain parts of the text, but this time they should come back to them and read carefully: “barring a pro-independence candidate.” CNN is obviously criticizing SAR for not allowing participation of separatists in the elections! It is hard to believe, difficult not to call it hypocrisy, given the fact that almost anywhere in North America and Europe, separatism is not tolerated, and, in fact, harshly punishable. Just think about Spain (Catalunya) or France (Corsica). Strive for separatism, which is ignited, and then supported and financed by foreign interests and foreign powers, would be considered treason and punished extremely harshly. As, let us not forget, each Western country has its own national security law.

But bashing China and its territories, by all means available, became such a norm in Western mass media, that almost nobody is scrutinizing details of such “analyses,” anymore. Baseless or thoroughly exaggerated criticism of everything Chinese became synonymous with a fast-track to career advancement, at least in the fields of journalism and academia. Thousands of scribes are now involved. It is a career. There is something ‘religious,’ even ‘fundamentalist’ in the anti-Beijing writing style. Logic is not required anymore. It is actually discouraged.

The title of the CNN article, which I am quoting, is, actually: “Hong Kong is setting up an election without a real opposition.” Real means what? In the new Western propaganda lexicon, ‘real’ means hard-core separatism, fundamentalist anti-Communism, and radical anti-Mainland stand.

*****

Now back to the postponement of the elections.

Even The New York Times, known for (at least stylistically) more ‘elegant coverage,’ produced a hawkish headline on July 31, 2020: “Hong Kong Delays Election, Citing Coronavirus. The Opposition Isn’t Buying It.”

 So, first, the way elections were to be conducted was wrong; and now postponement of them became wicked. Western “analysts” reacted very, very fast.

Nothing new, of course. Suspicion is omnipresent when it comes to news coverage of SAR and Mainland China by Western media outlets. Nothing short of total surrender would be accepted or praised.

It is essential to confront Western propaganda with the facts, again and again. It is a tiring, monotonous process, but there is no other way around it. Otherwise, all rationale will collapse. Therefore, let us continue with our labor:

This essay is written and sent from the Western Hemisphere, part of the world which is most damaged by COVID-19. Elections here are either outrightly postponed, or postponement is at least discussed, considered as an option. Even Donald Trump, ‘arch hero’ of the Hong Kong rioters, is going back and forth on the issue. Chilean referendum on Constitution changes was postponed, without much debate, due to COVID-19. Elections in Bolivia have been delayed again and again. And there, actually, the elections are crucial, as last year there was a U.S.-backed coup which out-seated enormously popular and successful indigenous President Evo Morales. Of course, you would not read much about all this in the West.

Western mass media takes COVID-19 ‘argument’ for postponing elections in the Americas as something fundamentally legitimate. Because this fits the interests of Washington. There, yes, but what is taken as a norm elsewhere is never acceptable when it happens in China.

Why it is this way,is clear: again, it is not at all about logic or rationale. China has to be wrong, no matter what it does. Even when what it does is in line with the rest of the world. It is Kafkaesque, it is unfair, but it is part of a new normal constructed by the U.S. leaders like Trump, Rubio, Pompeo, Bolton, and Navarro.

Ms. Carrie Lam and Beijing know perfectly well how to govern their territory and the entire country. They do not need Western boys and girls to tell them. China is doing well, much better than the West, and it is clear and obvious. Everyone who “commutes” between PRC and U.S. is well aware of it. And China, including SAR, would be doing even better if it would be left alone, stop being antagonized every day and night, and allowed to concentrate on what it is doing best: which is improving the lives of its people and the world.

• Originally published by China Daily Hong Kong

Our Planet’s Missed Opportunity to unite and fight Side by Side against the Pandemic

It is time to stop irresponsible finger-pointing.

All over the world, as this essay is being written, well over 17 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, and 676,000 people died. And instead of concentrating on serious research, trying to save human lives and attempting to stop the global calamity, ‘residents’ of the White House are spending all their energy on their own political survival, as well as on the survival of the regime.

In the U.S., both the establishment and opposition are buzzing with phantasmagoric conspiracy theories. Everyone is shouting, and no one is listening.

COVID-19 has been dangerously politicized. In order to ‘save its skin,’ the White House has been relentlessly blaming China for the origin and handling of the pandemic. Various U.S. government officials have been pointing fingers, irresponsibly, at Beijing. Some have been going as far as claiming that the pandemic was manufactured in one of the laboratories in the city of Wuhan. A bit like a ‘Frankenstein theory,’ fit for a comic book or a horror movie, but not for any serious analysis.

Serious analyses are, however, often neglected by mainstream media. Although they do get picked up by those who are interested and unbiased.

The Telegraph reported on 5 July 2020:

Senior CEBM tutor Dr. Tom Jefferson believes many viruses lie dormant throughout the globe and emerge when conditions are favourable.

Coronavirus may have lain dormant across the world and emerged when the environmental conditions were right for it to thrive rather than starting in China, an Oxford University expert believes.

Dr. Tom Jefferson, senior associate tutor at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), at Oxford and a visiting professor at Newcastle University, argues there is growing evidence that the virus was elsewhere before it emerged in Asia.

Last week, Spanish virologists announced that they had found traces of the disease in samples of waste water collected in March 2019, nine months before coronavirus was seen in China.

Italian scientists have also found evidence of coronavirus in sewage samples in Milan and Turin in mid-December, many weeks before the first case was detected, while experts have found evidence of traces in Brazil in November 2019.

It appears that several countries in Europe had actually been suffering from the novel coronavirus cases long before they emerged in China. Europeans just did not know that they were dealing with ‘the new and deadly type of flu.’ Or they did not have the capacity or willingness to detect and define the new pandemic as fast as the Chinese doctors and scientists did.

On 20 June 2020, The Independent addressed precisely this issue:

The novel coronavirus – Sars-Cov-2 – may have been in Europe for longer than previously thought. Recent studies have suggested that it was circulating in Italy as early as December 2019. More surprisingly, researchers at the University of Barcelona found traces of the virus when testing untreated wastewater samples dated 12 March 2019.

The study was recently published on a preprint server, medRxiv. The paper is currently being subject to critical review by outside experts in preparation for publication in a scientific journal. Until this process of peer review has been completed, though, the evidence needs to be treated with caution.

So, how was the experiment conducted and what exactly did the scientists find?

One of the early findings about Sars-Cov-2 is that it is found in the faeces of infected people. As the virus makes its way through the gut – where it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms – it loses its outer protein layer, but bits of genetic material called RNA survive the journey intact and are “shed” in faeces. At this oint, it is no longer infectious – as far as current evidence tells us.

In May 2020, the BBC simply reported, without drawing any ‘political conclusions’:

A patient treated in a hospital near Paris on 27 December for suspected pneumonia actually had the coronavirus, his doctor has said.

This means the virus may have arrived in Europe almost a month earlier than previously thought.

Dr. Yves Cohen said a swab taken at the time was recently tested, and came back positive for Covid-19.

The patient, who has since recovered, said he had no idea where he caught the virus as he had not travelled abroad.

Knowing who was the first case is key to understanding how the virus spread.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is possible more early cases will come to light, and spokesman Christian Lindmeier urged countries to check records for similar cases in order to gain a clearer picture of the outbreak.

France is not the only country where subsequent testing points to earlier cases. Two weeks ago, a post-mortem examination carried out in California revealed that the first coronavirus-related death in the U.S. was almost a month earlier than previously thought.

These are only three examples, carried by three separate reports.

There is more and more evidence suggesting that China was actually not the country where the COVID-19 originated, but the country where novel coronavirus was first and decisively identified, confronted, and to a great extent, defeated. Quite amazing, considering that China, at least for some time, stood totally alone against this dangerous pandemic, which since then managed to, fundamentally, change the world!

But the more all this appears to be the case, the louder is cacophony coming from Washington; more vitriolic becomes the anti-Chinese propaganda.

It is clearly done in order to cover up the ineptness of the U.S. government’s response to the calamity. If the system in a grotesquely turbo-capitalist country like the United States collapses, just blame it hypocritically on the Communists, or go racist and start insulting Asians. Or if you run out of earthly enemies, just blame it on extra-terrestrials.

*****

Predictably, President Trump does not enjoy much support from the ranks of the scientific community. Some even poke fun, openly, at him and his deputies. Others are trying to argue with him, presenting facts.

After Washington’s COVID-19-related anti-Chinese attacks intensified in April 2020, Professor Edward Holmes, an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a Fellow of the Royal Society in London, decided to speak up, disputing with scientific arguments the propaganda theories:

There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 are commonly found in wildlife species and frequently jump to new hosts. This is also the most likely explanation for the origin of SARS-CoV-2.

But Washington is brutal and vindictive. When it is caught lying, when the simple, even primitive plans and designs get confronted, it retaliates disproportionally and swiftly. That is precisely what happened to the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. WHO was seen by Trump and his hawkish lieutenants as being “too close to China,” and that is an arch ‘crime’ in this time and age! On top of it, Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was pressing for global cooperation instead of confrontation. But the United States is simply unable to cooperate anymore. It only knows how to dictate.

Rapidly and wickedly, the U.S. ejected itself from the WHO, right in the middle of the global pandemic, leaving huge unpaid bills. This, most likely, cost tens of thousands of human lives, particularly in the poorest parts of the world. Not that Washington cares!

*****

Attacks against China by Trump, Rubio, Bannon, Pompeo, Navarro, and others in the U.S. government and establishment, are thoroughly ludicrous and get regularly strongly rebutted in the United States itself, but also its satellites.

White House accusations regularly degenerate to extremely low levels of discourse.

As mentioned above, U.S. officials, including President Trump, himself, frequently insinuate that the pandemic originated, or was even manufactured, in one of Wuhan’s labs.

Such insults get confronted by counter-insults, like those shot by Peter Davidson, who recently declared that: “Covid19 originated in CIA Fort Detrick lab, brought to Wuhan to blame it on China!”

 *****

Once again, the United States refused to cooperate with the rest of the world. Instead, it is spoiling all efforts to create a united front against the pandemic, which is frightening the Planet, killing tens of thousands of human beings, and destroying the lives of billions.

Since the beginning of this unpredictable and still largely unresearched virus, I have been monitoring, first hand, all fears and frustration of the people: in Asia, North and South Americas, as well as Europe. I have been observing how COVID-19 brought the Planet to a standstill. This fear is real. The consequences of the pandemic are awful, and they include misery, unemployment, even hunger, and homelessness.

This terrible attack of new illness was an opportunity for our civilization to unite, to show that we, as human beings, are able to cooperate, fight for the survival of all, and smash this dreadful enemy. Together, all of us, side by side, regardless of race, nationality, or culture.

The opportunity was missed. And the result is not only bitterness. The result is counted in hundreds of millions of newly poor.

China actually tried to forge a global alliance against COVID-19, and so did Russia. Also, Cuba, as always. Hundreds of heavy lift aircrafts were heading from Moscow, Beijing, and Havana, to help people who were in dire need, in all corners of the world. Hands were extended.

We all know how these efforts ended: with insults, and unprecedented propaganda coming from Washington. Not one heartfelt “Thank you!”. Not one. And then, even foreign aid directed towards dozens of countries, coming from China, got literally stolen from the tarmacs, by the United States government.

The countries which were suffering the most, from embargos and sanctions and needed resources to manage the COVID-19, countries such as Iran and Venezuela, got brutalized even further, sadistically and shamelessly.

This does not look like a good world. And the ‘mightiest country on earth’ does not look like a good leader, either. In fact, it does not look like a leader at all. And with this attitude towards the Planet, it should never again be allowed to lead.

COVID-19 ruined countless lives. But at least now it is clear, who is who, what is the gangrenous essence of corporatism and imperialism.

While China, Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, Iran, and others are fighting for human lives, Washington is struggling to preserve the global status quo for its own unsavory purposes. It does not want to save or improve the world. It wants to control it. And it wants to own it. Nothing else. Full stop.

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

Beirut goes up in smoke

WhatsApp Image 2020-08-04 at 12.19.47

To see Beirut and its port area with a huge mushroom cloud hanging above is a truly surreal sight. But what is not surreal in battered Lebanese capital?

A big part of the downtown looks flattened, thoroughly ruined.

One of my Japanese friends based in Beirut exclaimed:

It looks like Hiroshima!

It does.

Who is behind the carnage? What really happened? Nobody is claiming responsibility. Was it sabotage, a direct attack against Lebanon, or a politically motivated terrorist act?

What is certain is that the “earth moved.” One of the explosions, equivalent to a 4.5-magnitude earthquake, ruined everything in its proximity. Blasts were heard all the way across the sea in Cyprus, while some 20 kilometers away, window panels at Rafik Hariri International Airport, got shattered.

*****

 

Apartment where I spent five years

For five years, I have been observing from my window and terrace this magnificent sight: tall, often snow-covered mountains, huge bay, and vast port area with cranes, tankers, and mighty container cargo ships.

Once there was a small fire in the port, and I could see each and every detail of it. But now, everything changed. Two explosions, one relatively small and one enormous, turned the entire port area of Beirut into a war zone, a target of carpet bombing. Or the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

People running away, in horror. Women and children shouting, crying, clinging to each other. The number of casualties is still unknown. Preliminary reports speak of at least 73 persons killed, but there are most likely hundreds of those who lost their lives. There are those still buried under the rubble, burned beyond recognition. One entire fire brigade just ‘vanished.’ Red Cross reported at least 2,200 people injured. Soon after, the number shut up to 4,000. Several crew members on the UNIFIL vessel, which was docked in the Beirut port, injured. The horrible count goes up and up.

Lebanese medical system, mostly privatized and in terrible shape, cannot cope with the carnage.

Red smoke is levitating above the coast. What is it, really?

Speculations and preliminary analyses are the most alarming.

The Canadian Embassy began headcount of its staff. That fact has been confirmed.

What has been clearly a hoax is that the Embassy sent scientific/medical warnings, which are now circulating all over the social media, such as:

It’s a dropped bomb with depleted uranium (red color). Tell all your loved ones to get away and don’t inhale. Try to go in the opposite direction of the wind.

Truth is getting mixed with the fake news. Whether it was a bomb is a very legitimate question. But the Canadian Embassy definitely did not claim on its social media, that it was.

There is an “urgent message” from AUBMC (American University of Beirut Medical Center), the most prestigious medical facility in the Middle East. It even carries its logo at the top of the page. But when I contacted AUBMC, the staff strongly denied sending such messages:

Everyone in Lebanon needs to stay indoor… From the look of the flame, the explosion looks nitric acid-based. PLEASE STAY INSIDE!!!

There is a long message from AUB president, however, which begins with:

Dear members of the AUB community, I hope you and your loved-ones are safe and starting to recover from the catastrophic explosion which occurred earlier this evening in the Port of Beirut. We already know of thousands of injured and more than 67 dead. Property has been destroyed over an area of many square kilometers, including at AUB and AUBMC. Our hearts and our prayers are with all those injured or lost in this awful tragedy. We must do all we can, and some measure beyond that, to care for those injured and heal the terrible unseen wounds this has created. The AUBMC Emergency Department, our medical faculty, nurses and staff are all responding to hundreds of trauma cases, including a number of serious and critical cases, with great skill and professionalism…

Why are rumors being spread? Who is benefiting? What are the plans?

Each and every piece of information has to be now verified. Scrutinized. Double and triple checked.

Each piece of ‘fake news’ or outright fabrication may lead to yet another “explosion,’ to the worsening of the political violence. Lebanon is at the edge. And always when it is; when it feels this way, thousands of innocent people die. Everybody who has been living here, everyone who understands its history, knows that it is exactly this way here.

It is obvious that there are certain groups in the country, who are interested in spreading chaos in this long-suffering, deeply injured land.

But there are also very legitimate sources that believe that this is an attack by hostile foreign states.

Some trustworthy security sources that I approached are brief in their analyses, and their preliminary conclusions are chilling:

Nuke hit ballistic missile warehouse. The red smoke is fuel.

But I don’t know, yet; nobody knows.

The situation is incredibly confusing. Everybody is still in shock and mourning.

Some fingers are pointing at Israel. Israel denies its involvement and is offering help instead. Trump claims it was a bomb, but does not elaborate.

RT reported earlier on the day of the blasts:

The secretary-general of Lebanon’s Christian Kataeb Party, or Phalange, Nizar Najarian, has been killed.

Kataeb Party is an extremist, violent right-wing Christian party, which is in alliance with the pro-Saudi faction of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Welcome to Lebanon-style political labyrinth!

*****

Meanwhile, Beirut inhabitants are frightened. Lebanon has been faced with enormous problems, for at least one entire year. From huge anti-establishment riots which began in 2019, to the outbreak of COVID-19 followed by lockdowns, severe economic crises, and financial collapse. Eventually, the controlled exchange rate between the Lebanese pound and the U.S. dollar got abandoned, and the local currency went nose-diving; it got sharply devalued. For some time, people could withdraw only a small amount of their savings from the local banks.

Political confrontations have always been pounding Lebanon, but recently they have been on the rise. The country is home to countless political and religious parties and movements, as well as shaky and temporary coalitions. What is on the surface does not necessarily correspond with what is forming the foundations.

For instance, Hezbollah, which is an arch-enemy of Israel and which is now on the U.S. terrorist list, has been actually the most effective social organization, providing de facto social security net for both Muslims and Christians. But it is also a determined and powerful force, always ready to defend Lebanon against the Israeli invasions, therefore constantly on someone’s ‘hit list.’

Extreme right-wing Christians could always swing either way; from antagonizing mistreated Palestinians and siding with Israel, to forming coalitions with Hezbollah. For an outsider, all this makes no sense. But, somehow, it does (often in a perverse way), at least for the Lebanese, and for those of us who have spent a long time in the country.

The explosions took place just a few days before the U.N. court of justice was going to read the verdict, in absentia, against four Hezbollah members, who were allegedly involved in the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon. Some believe there is a link, but I strongly disagree, knowing Hezbollah and its political goals. This attack is definitely not Hezbollah’s ‘style,’ nor would it be in the group’s interests.

Lebanon has always been a timebomb, with dozens of real terrorist organizations forming so-called ‘dormant cells’; all over the country, and naturally all over the city of Beirut. Their proximity to each other, their antagonistic nature, could lead to a catastrophe at any moment.

*****

Al Mayadeen, a left-leaning television channel which is close to both Hezbollah and South American TeleSur, reported in its Arabic service:

Major General Abbas Ibrahim told Al-Mayadeen that it is possible that the explosion came from the highly explosive materials that had been confiscated some time ago, adding that course of investigations cannot be anticipated and when they are finished we will circulate confirmed information.

For his part, the Director-General of Customs announced that nitrate is the cause of the huge explosion in the port of Beirut.

As for the Minister of the Interior, Mohamed Fahmy, during his inspection of the Beirut port, he said, “Investigations must be awaited to find out the cause of the explosion.”

The latest by Al-Mayadeen restated that what exploded was “Ammonium Nitrate.” And Al-Mayadeen is closely connected to Hezbollah. 

*****

Maki, a Japanese aid worker, based in Beirut, commented:

Hope it’s not nuclear. This Mushroom shape of the smoke is very worrying.

Rana, a Lebanese U.N. staff in Beirut, shared her thoughts:

A lot of speculations are going around: an accident in the fireworks storage, an Israeli attack on Hezbollah or army weapons. Nothing is certain right now, except that there are tremendous damage and destruction.

Before the explosions, apparently, there was a drone circling above the area of the disaster.  The footage is clearly depicting its presence in the sky. People are demanding an explanation.

As no one is claiming responsibility, it appears that for at least some time, there will be many more questions than answers. But that is much better than rushed conclusions.

The tragedy is enormous. The entire country is in shock. Emotions are running high. One wrong move and this entire part of the world could go up in flames. Again.

Right now, the most important is to tend to thousands of wounded, bury the victims, and investigate thoroughly and coolheadedly.

This may be the most difficult, the most dangerous moment for Lebanon since the end of the civil war. No time for sectarianism. The country has to unite, grind its teeth, and stoically fight for its very survival.

Those of us who love and miss Lebanon, despite everything, will be suporting it, as much as we can.

UPDATES:

The same day as this essay went to print, three heavy-lift Russian transport planes landed in Beirut, bringing an operation theatre, medical staff, medicine, and other equipment essential for saving lives.

President Trump retracted his statement that the explosion was caused by a missile.

President Emmanuel Macron of France arrived in Beirut, promising support, but raising fears that he may try to force Lebanon back to Western orbit. On 6 August, according to Reuters, he gave a speech in Beirut, declaring: “French aid would not go to “corrupt hands” and he would seek a new deal with political authorities, Reuters reports.”

In the latest update by RT: “The source of the explosion is believed to be almost 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that was stored at a port warehouse. The blast has taken the lives of at least 135 people, while 5,000 have been injured.”

• Originally published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

Beirut goes up in smoke

To see Beirut and its port area with a huge mushroom cloud hanging above is a truly surreal sight. But what is not surreal in battered Lebanese capital?

A big part of the downtown looks flattened, thoroughly ruined.

One of my Japanese friends based in Beirut exclaimed:

It looks like Hiroshima!

It does.

Who is behind the carnage? What really happened? Nobody is claiming responsibility. Was it sabotage, a direct attack against Lebanon, or a politically motivated terrorist act?

What is certain is that the “earth moved.” One of the explosions, equivalent to a 4.5-magnitude earthquake, ruined everything in its proximity. Blasts were heard all the way across the sea in Cyprus, while some 20 kilometers away, window panels at Rafik Hariri International Airport, got shattered.

*****

For five years, I have been observing from my window and terrace this magnificent sight: tall, often snow-covered mountains, huge bay, and vast port area with cranes, tankers, and mighty container cargo ships.

Once there was a small fire in the port, and I could see each and every detail of it. But now, everything changed. Two explosions, one relatively small and one enormous, turned the entire port area of Beirut into a war zone, a target of carpet bombing. Or the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

People running away, in horror. Women and children shouting, crying, clinging to each other. The number of casualties is still unknown. Preliminary reports speak of at least 73 persons killed, but there are most likely hundreds of those who lost their lives. There are those still buried under the rubble, burned beyond recognition. One entire fire brigade just ‘vanished.’ Red Cross reported at least 2,200 people injured. Soon after, the number shut up to 4,000. Several crew members on the UNIFIL vessel, which was docked in the Beirut port, injured. The horrible count goes up and up.

Lebanese medical system, mostly privatized and in terrible shape, cannot cope with the carnage.

Red smoke is levitating above the coast. What is it, really?

Speculations and preliminary analyses are the most alarming.

The Canadian Embassy began headcount of its staff. That fact has been confirmed.

What has been clearly a hoax is that the Embassy sent scientific/medical warnings, which are now circulating all over the social media, such as:

It’s a dropped bomb with depleted uranium (red color). Tell all your loved ones to get away and don’t inhale. Try to go in the opposite direction of the wind.

Truth is getting mixed with the fake news. Whether it was a bomb is a very legitimate question. But the Canadian Embassy definitely did not claim on its social media, that it was.

There is an “urgent message” from AUBMC (American University of Beirut Medical Center), the most prestigious medical facility in the Middle East. It even carries its logo at the top of the page. But when I contacted AUBMC, the staff strongly denied sending such messages:

Everyone in Lebanon needs to stay indoor… From the look of the flame, the explosion looks nitric acid-based. PLEASE STAY INSIDE!!!

There is a long message from AUB president, however, which begins with:

Dear members of the AUB community, I hope you and your loved-ones are safe and starting to recover from the catastrophic explosion which occurred earlier this evening in the Port of Beirut. We already know of thousands of injured and more than 67 dead. Property has been destroyed over an area of many square kilometers, including at AUB and AUBMC. Our hearts and our prayers are with all those injured or lost in this awful tragedy. We must do all we can, and some measure beyond that, to care for those injured and heal the terrible unseen wounds this has created. The AUBMC Emergency Department, our medical faculty, nurses and staff are all responding to hundreds of trauma cases, including a number of serious and critical cases, with great skill and professionalism…

Why are rumors being spread? Who is benefiting? What are the plans?

Each and every piece of information has to be now verified. Scrutinized. Double and triple checked.

Each piece of ‘fake news’ or outright fabrication may lead to yet another “explosion,’ to the worsening of the political violence. Lebanon is at the edge. And always when it is; when it feels this way, thousands of innocent people die. Everybody who has been living here, everyone who understands its history, knows that it is exactly this way here.

It is obvious that there are certain groups in the country, who are interested in spreading chaos in this long-suffering, deeply injured land.

But there are also very legitimate sources that believe that this is an attack by hostile foreign states.

Some trustworthy security sources that I approached are brief in their analyses, and their preliminary conclusions are chilling:

Nuke hit ballistic missile warehouse. The red smoke is fuel.

But I don’t know, yet; nobody knows.

The situation is incredibly confusing. Everybody is still in shock and mourning.

Some fingers are pointing at Israel. Israel denies its involvement and is offering help instead. Trump claims it was a bomb, but does not elaborate.

RT reported earlier on the day of the blasts:

The secretary-general of Lebanon’s Christian Kataeb Party, or Phalange, Nizar Najarian, has been killed.

Kataeb Party is an extremist, violent right-wing Christian party, which is in alliance with the pro-Saudi faction of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Welcome to Lebanon-style political labyrinth!

*****

Meanwhile, Beirut inhabitants are frightened. Lebanon has been faced with enormous problems, for at least one entire year. From huge anti-establishment riots which began in 2019, to the outbreak of COVID-19 followed by lockdowns, severe economic crises, and financial collapse. Eventually, the controlled exchange rate between the Lebanese pound and the U.S. dollar got abandoned, and the local currency went nose-diving; it got sharply devalued. For some time, people could withdraw only a small amount of their savings from the local banks.

Political confrontations have always been pounding Lebanon, but recently they have been on the rise. The country is home to countless political and religious parties and movements, as well as shaky and temporary coalitions. What is on the surface does not necessarily correspond with what is forming the foundations.

For instance, Hezbollah, which is an arch-enemy of Israel and which is now on the U.S. terrorist list, has been actually the most effective social organization, providing de facto social security net for both Muslims and Christians. But it is also a determined and powerful force, always ready to defend Lebanon against the Israeli invasions, therefore constantly on someone’s ‘hit list.’

Extreme right-wing Christians could always swing either way; from antagonizing mistreated Palestinians and siding with Israel, to forming coalitions with Hezbollah. For an outsider, all this makes no sense. But, somehow, it does (often in a perverse way), at least for the Lebanese, and for those of us who have spent a long time in the country.

The explosions took place just a few days before the U.N. court of justice was going to read the verdict, in absentia, against four Hezbollah members, who were allegedly involved in the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon. Some believe there is a link, but I strongly disagree, knowing Hezbollah and its political goals. This attack is definitely not Hezbollah’s ‘style,’ nor would it be in the group’s interests.

Lebanon has always been a timebomb, with dozens of real terrorist organizations forming so-called ‘dormant cells’; all over the country, and naturally all over the city of Beirut. Their proximity to each other, their antagonistic nature, could lead to a catastrophe at any moment.

*****

Al Mayadeen, a left-leaning television channel which is close to both Hezbollah and South American TeleSur, reported in its Arabic service:

“Major General Abbas Ibrahim told Al-Mayadeen that it is possible that the explosion came from the highly explosive materials that had been confiscated some time ago, adding that course of investigations cannot be anticipated and when they are finished we will circulate confirmed information.

For his part, the Director-General of Customs announced that nitrate is the cause of the huge explosion in the port of Beirut.

As for the Minister of the Interior, Mohamed Fahmy, during his inspection of the Beirut port, he said, “Investigations must be awaited to find out the cause of the explosion.”

The latest by Al-Mayadeen restated that what exploded was “Ammonium Nitrate.” And Al-Mayadeen is closely connected to Hezbollah. 

*****

Maki, a Japanese aid worker, based in Beirut, commented:

“Hope it’s not nuclear. This Mushroom shape of the smoke is very worrying.

Rana, a Lebanese U.N. staff in Beirut, shared her thoughts:

A lot of speculations are going around: an accident in the fireworks storage, an Israeli attack on Hezbollah or army weapons. Nothing is certain right now, except that there are tremendous damage and destruction.

Before the explosions, apparently, there was a drone circling above the area of the disaster.  The footage is clearly depicting its presence in the sky. People are demanding an explanation.

As no one is claiming responsibility, it appears that for at least some time, there will be many more questions than answers. But that is much better than rushed conclusions.

The tragedy is enormous. The entire country is in shock. Emotions are running high. One wrong move and this entire part of the world could go up in flames. Again.

Right now, the most important is to tend to thousands of wounded, bury the victims, and investigate thoroughly and coolheadedly.

This may be the most difficult, the most dangerous moment for Lebanon since the end of the civil war. No time for sectarianism. The country has to unite, grind its teeth, and stoically fight for its very survival.

Those of us who love and miss Lebanon, despite everything, will be suporting it, as much as we can.

*****

UPDATES:

The same day as this essay went to print, three heavy-lift Russian transport planes landed in Beirut, bringing an operation theatre, medical staff, medicine, and other equipment essential for saving lives.

President Trump retracted his statement that the explosion was caused by a missile.

President Emmanuel Macron of France arrived in Beirut, promising support, but raising fears that he may try to force Lebanon back to Western orbit. On 6 August, according to Reuters, he gave a speech in Beirut, declaring: “French aid would not go to “corrupt hands” and he would seek a new deal with political authorities, Reuters reports.”

In the latest update by RT: “The source of the explosion is believed to be almost 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that was stored at a port warehouse. The blast has taken the lives of at least 135 people, while 5,000 have been injured.”

• Originally published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

Honestly, Americans couldn’t care less about Hong Kong

Hong Kong skyline taken from Kowloon site (Andre Vltchek)

I just spent two weeks in the United States, investigating, analyzing the situation there.

I worked in Washington D.C., Minneapolis, where Mr. George Floyd was murdered by deranged cops, in New York City and Boston. COVID-19 was at my tail, as the states kept opening and closing, frantically. Demonstrations were shaking the country, protests against endemic racism and discrimination have been erupting in hundreds of cities and towns.

In several of my reports, I described confusion and deep contradictions, which have been devastating this, still the most powerful nation in the Western world.

While feverishly working in the United States, I was often thinking about Hong Kong.

The deeper the crisis in the United States, the more aggressive Trump’s administration was attacking Beijing, often via Hong Kong. As if desperately searching for a culprit, for an excuse, for justification, why North America has been shaking so violently, why it has been cracking and collapsing. Unwilling to take responsibility, the regime needed a foreign ‘element’ which it could accuse, to blame for broken pavement all over Manhattan, for tents erected by homeless people at many corners of the District of Colombia, for once modern and proud metro-rail of the capital city which was lately beginning to resemble a transportation system in some poor developing country. The regime needed to blame someone else for so much dissatisfaction, indignation, and confusion. And it was determined to produce an ideological enemy whom it could insult on a daily basis while escaping liability for scandalously inept management of the COVID-19 tragedy.

China! Trump’s index finger kept pointing towards the mighty dragon of the east. Embargo after embargo, sanctions after sanctions were imposed. China’s Communist Party members were banned from entering the United States. Trade restriction walls have been growing higher and higher. U.S. Navy ships were sailing, provoking China, right next to its shores. Millions of dollars were dispersed among the brutal rioters in SAR, just in order to provoke authorities and spread chaos.

Hong Kong, particularly its new national security law, has been sitting on the front pages of U.S. newspapers and magazines. The law, which this author and many of his colleagues described on several occasions as an absolutely normal, logical and necessary piece of legislation, was selected by Washington as its rallying cry, as a symbol of the anti-Chinese policy.

Most Hong Kong residents, both those who support their government and those who are critical of it, are well aware of the obsession of President Trump and his lieutenants Pompeo, Rubio, and others, with their SAR. They clearly understand that the government of the United States is behind the 2019/2020 riots.

What they don’t know is that this fascination with Hong Kong comes exclusively from the top of the U.S. establishment. It has absolutely nothing to do with ordinary citizens.

During my latest journey to the United States, I interacted with many people, people who are residing in several states. I listened to them; to their grievances, hopes, outrage. I was also interviewed in the city of Minneapolis. At the end of my visit, I concluded: right now, the situation in the United States is so bad, that vast majority of its citizens is deeply preoccupied with their basic existential problems: how to keep their jobs, how to survive, to pay mortgages, student loans, and medical bills.

They have near-zero interest in a faraway city, Hong Kong, which, anyway, enjoys the reputation of having a much higher quality of life than, for instance, New York, and which sits on the so-called ‘freedom index’ well above the U.S.A. itself.

Ask those common American folks about Hong Kong, and if they know anything about it at all, it will be an abstract vision of a shiny skyline of a super-rich Asian city, plus the Cantonese food. Even the very concept of SAR is only for the intellectuals, particularly for those who are interested in international politics, meaning just a tiny minority.

However, antagonizing foreign countries, as well as the United Nations, is always cheap, one could say vulgar, but very effective political ‘move’ before the elections. Many U.S. presidents were using it in the past. Some even went to wars or overthrew foreign governments, killed thousands of innocent people.

All this has nothing to do with the principles or ethics. Do not search for logic, either.

Freedom, liberty, democracy – all these are abstract terms in today’s America. At closer examination, most of Americans are not free at all. They are scared, very scared, and they are shackled financially but also through the toughest laws imaginable, much more than the citizens of other countries.

Antagonizing, provoking China, has nothing to do with some ‘fight for democracy and freedom.’ Most Americans have no idea about whether China is democratic or not. To comprehend Chinese democracy and socialism with Chinese characteristics would require at least some basic knowledge of Chinese culture and history. Such knowledge is desperately lacking in the United States, among the general public, and even at the ‘top,’ among such people like Steve Bannon, an extreme right-wing maniac, or Peter Navarro, a top Trump advisor, who writes about China, who is bashing China, but knows close to nothing about it.

In turn, deciding whether Hong Kong is free and democratic would at least require an understanding of the concept of SAR.

The recent events clearly indicated how brutal, how undemocratic is the United States.

The situation at home should be the main preoccupation of the U.S. citizens. And, frankly, it actually has been lately.

Hong Kong citizens should realize that their territory has been converted into a political football by both Washington, London, and Brussels.

But a big city, an important territory, and especially the lives of its citizens, should never be reduced to a game.

Elections in the U.S. will take place, and they will pass. Soon after, American voters will forget about Hong Kong. They don’t care about it even now. In a few months, they will want to know absolutely nothing about it, except, as before, cliché photographs, and great food.

But the damage to Hong Kong and its people who are being sacrificed for political gains in Washington, would not be easy to undo.

It is now, and it will be then: Beijing is the one which has been genuinely concerned, and which will always be ready to defend its citizens.

• First published by China Daily Hong Kong