All posts by Kim Petersen

BBC, Free Media, and Julian Assange

A video in which Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev is interviewed by Orla Guerin has resurfaced; the interview took place in November 2020. (The BBC version.)

Revealing is what is not seen in the BBC version. When Aliyev held up the mirror to Guerin’s “accusation” that there was no free media in Azerbaijan, the BBC responded by censoring Aliyev’s reference to Assange.

Tossing rocks from a glasshouse is a dangerous tactic, as BBC’s Guerin discovers first hand when she charges that there is no free media in Azerbaijan. Aliyev denies the “accusation” by Guerin and turns the table:

How do you assess what happened to Mr. Assange? Isn’t it the reflection of free media in your country?

Aliyev knows that the BBC reporter has been put on the defensive. Guerin is either ignorant of media censorship in her home country or hoping that Aliyev would be ignorant of such facts. Aliyev is not ignorant; he takes the UK and BBC to task for its participation in the grotesque violation of Julian Assange.

For the journalistic activity [of Assange], you kept that person hostage actually killing him morally and physically. You did it, not us. And now he is in prison. So you have no moral right to talk about free media when you do these things.

The egregious miscarriage of justice meted out to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange by the UK, US, Australian, and Swedish establishments, and the rest of the western establishments that refuse to stand up for human rights and oppose the torture of a publisher (and his source, Chelsea Manning who was also imprisoned and tortured) shouts in the loudest voice imaginable. Human rights, freedom of the media, and the moral right to lecture others are painfully in abeyance.

The video “Collateral Murder” released by WikiLeaks bears watching, rewatching, and making known to others. The criminals in the helicopter who gleefully gun down civilians in the Baghdadi street escaped any punishment, and the country that sent its killers to Iraq has eluded the hand of justice.

Despite the UK court denying the extradition of Assange to the United States, citing concerns over his mental health and risk of suicide, British authorities returned Assange to the maximum security facility of Belmarsh prison. This is rather astounding and logic defying given the court’s professed concern for Assange’s mental health in a US prison.

Despite being found guilty of no crime (except seeking asylum, being in fear of state persecution, amply proven by subsequent events), the man who brought to wider public knowledge the commission of war crimes by their governments has been in some form of incarceration since 2010.

What is abundantly clear from the case of Julian Assange is that to gain credibility and attain legitimacy, western states and their media must come clean on their own perfidy and repent before tossing rocks from the western glasshouse.

The post BBC, Free Media, and Julian Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Noam Chomsky: Something Rotten in the State of China?

The New York Times carries a transcript of Ezra Klein interviewing the venerable professor Noam Chomsky. The interview in its entirety is illuminating. However, the anarchist professor’s take on China gives one pause. It seems ill-informed and requires further elucidation.

*****

Ezra Klein: How do you think about China as an economic and geopolitical competitor? Should they be seen as a threat to us? Should we not think about them in that context? How would you like to see our relationship with China look?

Noam Chomsky: I mean, everyone talks about the threat. When everyone says the same thing about some complex topic, what should come to your mind is, wait a minute, nothing can be that simple. Something’s wrong. That’s the immediate light that should go off in your brain when you ever hear unanimity on some complex topic. So let’s ask, what’s the Chinese threat?

EK: I’ll give you the answer I’ve gotten because I have very complicated feelings about this. The answer I’ve gotten is that particularly, over the past decade, China’s moved in a much more authoritarian direction. They’ve become more expansionist, domestically, I’m talking about there. They’ve become more expansionist in the South China Sea really launched a horrifying domestic repression campaign against the Uyghurs. And so to the extent, you want there to be a mega economy that is setting international rules and structures that the direction China is going makes it scary for China or scarier for China to be that rule setter in the future. That is, I think, the argument I’ve been given.

Comment: One wonders where Klein got his answer. Why does Klein have complicated feelings about authoritarianism? Why complicated feelings about “a horrifying domestic repression campaign against the Uyghurs”? Is that what domestic expansionism means?

NC: China is becoming more authoritarian internally. I think that’s pretty bad. Is it a threat to us? No, it’s not a threat to us. Let’s take what’s happening with the Uyghur. Pretty hard to get good evidence, but there’s enough evidence to show that there’s very severe repression going on. Let me ask you a simple question. Is the situation of the Uyghurs, a million people who’ve been through education camps, is that worse than the situation of, say, two million and twice that many people in Gaza? I mean, are the Uyghur having their power plants destroyed, their sewage plants destroyed, subjected to regular bombing? Is it not happening to them? Not to my knowledge.

So yes, it shouldn’t be happening. We should protest it. It has one crucial difference from Gaza. Namely, in the Uyghur case, there’s not a lot that we can do about it, unfortunately. In the Gaza case, we can do everything about it since we were responsible for it, we can stop it tomorrow. That’s the difference. OK? So yes, that’s a very bad thing among other bad things in the world. But to say that it’s a threat to us is a little misleading.

Comment: Comment: First, let’s define authoritarian. From Webster:

1 : of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority

2 : of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people

Authoritarianism sounds pretty bad. But does definition number 1 relate to China? Definitely not. Definition number 2? Is Chomsky saying that chairman Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China do not adhere to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China? Xi Jinping is a student of Chinese history; he knows well that good governance depends on the support of the people. Said Xi, “Maintaining close ties with the people is essential to improving the Party’s conduct. Losing contact with the people would pose the gravest threat to the Party.”1

Chomsky states some skepticism to “good evidence” of repression of Uyghurs, but follows up by saying “there’s enough evidence to show that there’s very severe repression going on.” I wonder what Chomsky’s evidence is? It must be noted that Klein and Chomsky have taken a humongous step back from US, Canada, Australia, and British government claims of a genocide in Xinjiang against Uyghurs. The “severe repression” is identified as reeducation camps. CGTN reporter Wang Guan, who refuted the negative reports of education camps, would ask both Klein and Chomsky where they got their data.

Chomsky exposes here the hypocrisy of western countries criticizing the Chinese government for the fate of Uyghurs. While he might be misinformed about Xinjiang, he knows about Israeli repression, that the US supports, and calls it out.

NC: Well, let’s talk to the one case of expansionism, which is real. The South China Sea, that’s real. China is taking actions in violation of international law. It’s trying to take control of the South China Sea. Or to put it differently, it’s trying to do what we do in all of the oceans of the world, including the Western Pacific. They’re trying to do that in the South China Sea. And they shouldn’t be doing that. That’s for sure. It’s crucially important for their security. That’s where all their commercial traffic goes right through — South China Sea, Straits of Malacca, which are controlled by Chinese enemies or allies. So yeah, they’re doing the wrong thing there. That’s the thing that’s a little bit familiar to us because we do it all over the world, OK? And that’s the kind of threat that should be dealt with by diplomacy and negotiations.

Comment: Again Chomsky points out the hypocrisy of criticizing China for what the US is doing. However, the question remains as to whether China is expansionist in the South China Sea or does it have sovereignty? China is in talks with ASEAN members over the issue.

EK: … But I think that if you boil the conversation down to its core, the threat that the American government feels is that America is going to lose global preeminence. And they would prefer, and I think probably as an American, I would prefer, that America maintains more leadership of the international system than China does. I do think relatively I prefer American values as expressed by our government than Chinese. But I think this is a question I would pose to you, do you think America has a legitimate interest in trying to maintain geopolitical preeminence?

NC: I don’t think we can move that fast. Almost every phrase you us I think requires questions. So what American values do we impose when we run the world? …

So first of all, should any country have domination of the world? I don’t think so. Should it be a country that has a record of destruction, violence, and repression? No, it shouldn’t. Should it be China? No, certainly not. …

So I’m still asking, where’s the threat? I don’t like what happens in China. I think it’s rotten. That’s one of the most repressive governments anywhere. But I’m asking another question, we talk uniformly without exception about the Chinese threat, what are we talking about? In fact, just as a rule of thumb, if anything is discussed as if it’s just obvious, we don’t have to talk about it, everyone agrees, but we know it’s complicated. In any such situation, we should be asking, what’s going on? Nothing complicated can have that degree of uniformity about it. So some scam is underway.

Comment: China has eliminated extreme poverty. Ask Americans who can’t afford to see a doctor, who dumpster dive for food, who beg for spare change, who sleep under bridges or live in tent cities what “the most repressive government” is.

Ask the Chinese people if they feel repressed. Is Chomsky their spokesman?

In his excellent book, Why China Leads the World: Talent at the Top, Data in the Middle, Democracy at the Bottom, (2021) Godfree Roberts writes, “With unarmed police, two percent of America’s legal professionals, and one-fourth of its policing budget, the Chinese have the world’s lowest imprisonment and re-offense rates.” (p 198) Does this sound like repression by the state?

Speaking to BRICS, Xi pledged cooperation — a concept contrary to repression — with all countries:

Our development endeavor is a cooperative one, as we will work for common development, carry out economic and technological cooperation with all other countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, and promote our own development and the common development of all countries through cooperation.2

*****

Noam Chomsky has provided a valuable moral voice from the Left for many years. The longer he continues to carry a torch for humanity, the better.

But there are no gods. We are all fallible. It is granted that when it comes to studious analysis and synthesis of various fields of information, Chomsky must reign among the least fallible. Nevertheless, people must demand sources, evidence, and data and not rely solely upon the words of a personage. Practice open-minded skepticism and inform yourself. Study, discuss, cogitate, and reach your own conclusions.

  1. Xi Jinping, The Governance of China (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014); location 80%.
  2. Xi, location 72%.
The post Noam Chomsky: Something Rotten in the State of China? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Star Trek: Progressivism and Corporatism Don’t Mix

The television series Star Trek has appeared in several iterations with a few handfuls of movies thrown in that have fired the imaginations of viewers of all ages for nigh 55 years. In particular, Star Trek captured the viewership of many progressives because Star Trek was much more than science-fiction intrigues or the swashbuckling adventures of humans exploring outer space.

The flavor of the universe was now different. Star Trek: The Original Series (ST:TOS) was set in the 23rd century on a planet Earth where poverty and wars were atavistic remnants of an inglorious past.

The Star Trek series presented a future where humans had overcome so much of the negative baggage that had plagued humankind. The progressivist1 fancy is rooted in tales of morality where the galaxy provides a most interesting backdrop. Humanity’s strengths and foibles are explored. And there is the diversity of the cast of ST:TOS — a big deal for the 1960s. Included among the bridge complement is an African female communications officer, a Russian navigator, an Asian as senior helmsman, and an alien as the chief science officer. The crew regardless of origin, for the most part, were very collegial.

Not a Perfect Progressivism

There might be some druthers. For example, the Enterprise’s Dr McCoy occasionally engaged in irreverent banter with the Vulcan science officer, targeting his alien demeanor and green-bloodedness. And depending on how one defines sexism, the nubile women on TOS were invariably shown wearing tiny mini-skirts and skimpy attire, and frequently women found that captain James Kirk had glommed onto both their shoulders, ostensibly in an attempt to exude 1960’s machismo.

Exploiting sexuality would seem to apply to the skintight catsuit that Jeri Ryan had to wear as the character Seven of Nine. Ryan was fine with it: “I have no problem with the costume…. And it… got the desired effect.” A bevy of female characters appearing on Star Trek are considered beautiful. Is that objectification or is it a facet of the human condition? Ask yourself if you prefer seeing a physically attractive male actor versus a plain Jim with a beer belly or a physically attractive female actor versus a plain Jane with flaccid underarms. The ratings for ST:VOY spiked after the voluptuous Ryan joined the cast.

There is also a rigid hierarchy that can cause friction at times among crew. This is very apparent in the ST:VOY episode “The Omega Directive.” Starship Voyager captain Kathryn Janeway sees fit to keep the entire crew uninformed about the presence of Omega molecules because protocol forbids it. Of course, the entire crew is curious and speculating; an in-the-dark commander Chakotay tells Janeway that she is not always a reasonable woman; Seven of Nine is in conflict with Janeway’s order to destroy the Omega molecules; ensign Harry Kim is upset at Seven’s deployment of crew to set up a chamber to safely contain the Omega molecules; Seven and the doctor argue about access to a patient suffering from Omega particle exposure in sick bay; Seven upsets the patient.”

And although all may appear dandy on screen, what goes on behind cameras may be a stark departure from the Hollywood-created fiction.

The Demise and Rise of Star Trek

ST:TOS never properly found its ratings footing in the 1960s. Season 3 had a new man at the reins, producer Fred Freiberger. TOS was made on a sharply reduced budget, scheduled in a terrible time slot (Fridays at 10 PM, a “death slot” in those days), and it had experienced a dramatic turnover in the quality of the writers room. Thus, season 3 ratings were dismal (… or not). NBC would cancel TOS at the end of season 3, a move generally considered one of the biggest blunders in entertainment history.

Star Trek, however, went on to become a sensation in syndication. Reruns would spread domestically and internationally. An animated series ran for two seasons. The resurgent popularity eventually spawned movies with the TOS cast.

Next up: flash forward to the 24th century and ST: The Next Generation. The cast is still diverse; miniskirts are less common;2 sentience is accepted in whatever form; the Trekverse doesn’t use money; and replicators have eliminated scarcity.3 Three more series followed TNG in a similar progressivist vein: ST: Deep Space 9, ST: Voyager, and ST: Enterprise.

Then, after a four-year run, just as the series ST:ENT was seemingly finding its footing with engaging story lines, the plug was pulled. Star Trek producer Rick Berman pointed to “franchise fatigue” as the reason for a drop in viewership. Actor Connor Trinneer, who played the chief engineer Trip on the show, cited poor scheduling by the UPN network and the departure of a corporate supporter in 2001 as leading to the show’s eventual demise with the final episode airing in May 2005.

An attempt was made to resurrect the ST:TOS brand in 2009 — same characters but played by different actors. The movie Star Trek was highly successful at the box office. This can be attributed to pent-up demand from long-time Trekkies, interest from sci-fi aficionados, as well as good promotion that attracted younger, curious fans. However, the writers, director, and producers had not captured the essence of Star Trek, especially the progressivism.

Writer David Gerrold who worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation gave his thoughts about the first two JJ Abrams Star Trek films:

… a lot of the movies being produced by the studios have fallen into the blockbuster trap of we have to have big moments, big blockbuster, CGI, exciting moments. And so what gets sacrificed is the emotional growth of the characters. There is no emotional through line. For me that is the problem in the JJ pictures is that they [are] very exciting but they don’t get us back to the heart and soul of the original Star Trek which is that Kirk has an interesting problem to solve that forces him to deal with a moral dilemma of the prime directive, being a Starfleet captain, and following the rules. And if you look back there was a severe limit on what Kirk could do because he was a Starfleet captain.

Moreover, because of corporate intricacies, there was a stipulation that the movies had to differ at least 25 percent from the original source material. Based on the initial box office success, two more movies would follow. But the numbers of movie-goers would diminish, and a fourth movie could not muster sufficient corporate backing. Given that we now live in the age of COVID-19, cinemas regaining popularity might be a fraught proposition.

Fan Films

Franchise fatigue? Yet when considering the comics, paperbacks, magazines, memes, action figures, model ships, cosplay, the number of people attending ST conventions, cameos and mentions in other TV series (e.g., Stargate, Family Guy, Big Bang, etc), and the plethora of ST fan films produced over the years, one would surmise that ST has always been in vogue.

An article in the culture section of GQ, “This Is How Star Trek Invented Fandom,” posed two questions that point to a disconnect in Roddenberry’s progressivist Trekverse and the corporate world within which Star Trek finds itself immersed:

Star Trek Las Vegas is perhaps the largest meeting of pop culture’s most famous fandom and certainly its priciest. The questions hover above the convention like a cloud of Tachyon particles: to whom does Star Trek really belong? How much, exactly, is that worth?

Despite the unwavering popularity of ST conventions and the ongoing making of fan films, currently produced ST television series had mirrored the vacuity of outer space. The fans were out there and clamoring for ST, but the corporate number crunchers were wary about what the eventual bottom line would be.

The long on-air gap between production of new Star Trek episodes or series spurred some among its fan base to create new fan episodes. Among these fan films were ST: New Voyages and then the 11 episodes of ST: Continues, both of which told stories of the further adventures of Kirk and crew.

A novel fan film is Star Trek: Aurora, a two-episode CGI animation about the experiences of a Vulcan and a human who crew a cargo ship in the Trekverse.4 It was exceedingly well done, with appealing characters and fascinating storylines.

Then along came a documentary-style ST fan film, Prelude to Axanar, which drew a large audience on Youtube — over 5 million viewers. Subsequently, a Kickstarter to produce a Star Trek: Axanar movie raised over a million dollars. That was too much popularity for CBS. That corporation, apparently, feared dollars flowing into pockets not its own. CBS launched a lawsuit for copyright violations and issued “onerous” guidelines for fan-film productions based on the Star Trek brand. Is that any way to treat your fans? The strict guidelines raised quite a kerfuffle among fandom, and CBS felt compelled to trot out an official to offer explanation.

No film and the failure to reimburse all donors to ST: Axanar has placed creator Alec Peters at the center of controversy since.

NuTrek

The world of television continues, but it faces new challenges from streaming services, such as Netflix. This has caused a ripple through the marketplace. CBS introduced its own streaming service, CBS All Access,5 and sought to revive and profit from its dormant Star Trek brand. Thus, in September 2017, Star Trek would reappear with a new TV series, titled Star Trek: Discovery.

Following the disappointing 2009 Star Trek movie, I wrote of a hope that:

… any future TV series will preserve the dynamism but also engage its audience with episodes exploring, for example, the depths of humanity, moral dilemmas surrounding the Prime Directive and cherished principles of the Federation, and progress toward egalitarianism in the future. In this way, Star Trek might recapture the progressivist attraction of the earlier series and appeal to the sanguinity of many viewers.

Yet, the ST:Disco series has stirred up extreme consternation among many Star Trek fans, often called Trekkies.

Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on ST:TNG, opined about subsequent Star Trek series:

I actually think that Star Trek got it right in our show and in the original show because the shows were about something. They weren’t just entertainment… They were little morality plays and that is what Star Trek lost after we were done. And it ought to go back to that.

I will agree with Sirtis insofar as the new iterations of Star Trek — created by Alex Kurtzman — have spectacularly missed the mark on what drew so many devoted fans to Star Trek in the first place. Many Trekkies reject these newer iterations as being Star Trek and refer to it instead as NuTrek. Or sometimes the difference between pre-2009 and subsequent Trek as “Old Trek” versus “New Trek.”

To be fair, the musical scores in NuTrek are excellent, the special effects are first rate, exotic shooting locales are used, and the acting is professional. But the core progressivist tenets of the Trekverse established under Roddenberry have been obliterated under Kurtzman.

The half century of Star Trek canon, built up by six previous Star Trek TV series and 10 movies, was swept aside through intentionality and ignorance. Continuity between the ST iterations has been irrevocably ruptured.6 Right away, longtime fans would notice that a popular alien species, the Klingons, had completely morphed into what appeared to be an unrecognizable species. This is despite the physical differences between the TOS Klingons and later Klingons, who had developed prominent forehead ridges, having been satisfactorily and cleverly explained in ST:ENT — seemingly all for naught now.

At the time ST:Disco was about to be launched, fans of Star Trek were informed by executive producer Akiva Goldsman that ST:Disco would take place in the prime timeline, preserving the canon therein. Yet during season 3, ST:Disco had officially declared the Kelvin-timeline movies canon.

Wokism on Steroids

Another criticism of NuTrek is that wokism and identity politics were now being rammed down the throats of viewers, although Roddenberry’s Trekverse saw humanity as having evolved beyond this.

Wokism even claimed the “acclaimed” author Walter Mosley, a Black man, who was onboard as a writer for Star Trek: Discovery until he quit after he was “chastised” by human resources for using the N-word on the job.

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Mosley:

Mosley went on to explain that the individual in HR said that while he was free to use that word in a script, he “could not say it.” Mosley then clarified, “I hadn’t called anyone it. I just told a story about a cop who explained to me, on the streets of Los Angeles, that he stopped all n—ers in paddy neighborhoods and all paddies in n—er neighborhoods, because they were usually up to no good. I was telling a true story as I remembered it.”

Mosley wrote that he is unaware who complained about his use of the word. “There I was, a black man in America who shares with millions of others the history of racism. And more often than not, treated as subhuman,” he continued. “If addressed at all that history had to be rendered in words my employers regarded as acceptable.”

Contrast this approach with that in the ST:TOS episode “The Savage Curtain.” When the attractive lieutenant Uhura approaches, Abraham Lincoln is moved to exclaim, “What a charming Negress.”

Fearing that his wording may have been inappropriate, the former president apologizes: “Oh. Forgive me, my dear. I know that in my time, some used that term as a description of property.”

Uhura replies, “But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century, we’ve learned not to fear words.”

To this, Lincoln states, “The foolishness of my century had me apologizing when no offense was given.”

Too often missing from woke consideration is intentionality. It is necessary to discern what were the intentions of a person using a word that some people consider inappropriate. Thus, Walter Mosley found himself attacked despite not having sinister intentions. Uhura recognized the innocuous terminology of Lincoln and was not offended. It was just a word anyway. Lincoln was engaged by Uhura instead of attacked for what some might have deemed been inappropriate wording. A willingness to engage in respectful discussion along with the attempt to understand are required to change minds and improve the human vocabulary. To attack a person without attempting dialogue risks a backlash from a person who might otherwise have been found to be well-intentioned or, at least, not ill-intentioned.

Any Vulcan will inform you of the simple logic that, in human parlance, honey is far likelier to attract bees than vinegar.

*****

Robert Meyer Burnett, who is best known for directing, co-writing, and editing the feature film Free Enterprise, has also been extremely critical of the writing and storytelling in NuTrek. In his Robservations he asks, “What is Star Trek: Picard about and Who Really Created It?” and “What exactly is Star Trek Storytelling?” Yes, Burnett is extremely disappointed in the writing and storytelling of NuTrek. But he doesn’t just point out the flaws with writing, he also proposes how it could have been better written to appeal to viewers.

This is not to say everything was artful and hunky-dory in the pre-Bad Robot (read JJ Abrams) and pre-Secret Hideout (read Alex Kurtzman) ST. There are some clunker episodes such as “And the Children Shall Lead” in TOS, “Code of Honor” in TNG, and “These are the Voyages” in ENT. There are inconsistencies with canon, albeit usually not blatant and usually not intentional. And it is granted that in the TOS era, the special effects and technology to produce aliens and creatures was sorely lacking by today’s standards. For instance, in TOS’s “Arena,” captain Kirk fights the Gorn which is obviously a man in a lizard suit.

Nonetheless, NuTrek does have its fans. I appreciate that there are people who derive enjoyment from viewing NuTrek. One Youtube channel that is somewhat predisposed toward NuTrek but makes a reasoned case for its leaning is Ketwolski. Ketwolski acknowledged problems early on with ST:Disco. However, he contends that by the conclusion of season 3 that Disco has grown its beard; that “thematically, it was all very, very connected…”

In his review and breakdown of ST:Picard season 1, a NuTrek series based on the ST:TNG captain Jean Luc Picard a few decades hence, Ketwolski described parts of the finale as “frustrating,” “very weird,” and noted how the plot lines were disjointed. But he concludes, “Overall, I can say that Star Trek: Picard is the best first season of any Star Trek show to date, and that is quite the feat.”

Burnett disagrees: “I’ve been a Star Trek fan pretty much all my life. It’s pretty much my favorite thing.” But he feels baffled and perplexed looking at ST:Picard.

Burnett posed a question to himself about ST:Picard: “What is the element that I cannot stand about this show?” To which he replied, “The callousness with which it approaches life, humanoid life specifically.” He pointed to an example in episode 4 that left him “gobsmacked,” that of Picard walking into a Romulan bar “to stir up shit” that resulted in a Romulan migrant being beheaded. The message being that it is okay to murder your enemy — which, he said, is “straight up antithetical to Star Trek.” To adduce that this iteration of ST is “painfully stupid on every level,” Burnett noted that the sign at the Romulan bar was written in English.

NuTrek’s Absence of Likeable Characters

Probably the biggest gripe about NuTrek is the inferior writing and storytelling. The creator, writers, and showrunners do not seem to have a handle on what ST has been about and why it attracted such a fervent fanbase. This is despite clinging to the species and characters that comprised previous Star Trek. Thus Klingons and Romulans are recycled. We are presented with a bastardized captain Picard and the iconic Spock, as first played by Leonard Nimoy, has been reduced to a caricature. Thus the contradiction that what is labeled NuTrek is relying on previous Star Trek without grasping the ethos of Star trek.

I do not complain about the actors or the acting in NuTrek. But I am thoroughly unimpressed with the writing and storytelling. It must be quite difficult for actors to perform in an appealing manner to viewers when the script they base their acting upon is one of inferior writing with poorly developed characters or on previously developed characters that have been pretzeled into incoherent aberrations. While the crew of the spaceship Discovery is still diverse, the characters are all so unlikeable.

This is particularly so with the lead character of Michael Burnham who is played by actor Sonequa Martin-Green. Much of the fandom concurs about disenchantment with this character. Michael Burnham is often referred to as a Mary Sue; which has come to mean something along the lines of a young woman too extraordinarily capable at everything. (The male equivalent has come to be called Marty Stu.)

A Youtube channel, Trekpertise, asked the question: “Is Michael Burnham a Mary Sue?Trekpertise concluded she wasn’t, and this conclusion was much pilloried in the comments section (albeit some especially devastating critiques seem to have been removed).

Many NuTrekkers dismissed complaints about the Michael Burnham protagonist as racism. This is an ad hominem argument, and it does not hold water. Racists are highly unlikely to be attracted to Star Trek because of its embrace of diversity. Then there are the facts that Uhura was a Black bridge officer in ST:TOS, Geordi La Forge was the Black chief engineer in ST:TNG, and Avery Brooks played the Black captain in ST:DS9. One excellent DS9 episode, in particular, “Far Beyond the Stars,” stirred abhorrence for the mental weakness and anti-humanism of racism.7

A comment by W PlasmaHam reads:

It seems as if the ultimate goal of this [Trekpertise] video was to defend Burnham by asserting that all criticism was motivated by race, gender, or dislike of a serialized format. I feel that such an argument is quite dismissive of legitimate criticism towards her. It appears that the majority of people in the comments agree that Burnham is a flat or unlikable character, even those who say that Mary Sue accusations are unfounded. Will you address those? Because it feels as if you took a quite easy approach to analyzing her character.

To which Trekpertise replied:

That wasn’t the purpose of this video. The purpose of this video is too illustrate that the Mary Sue criticism isn’t applicable to Michael Burnham, or indeed any other character in film and TV. It belongs to the fanzines of the 1970s. There is plenty else to discuss with Michael Burnham.

Even Ketwolski answered the question of whether Michael Burnham is a Mary Sue with a tempered: “Yes! kinda.”8

Early on there was the intriguing and mildly charismatic Saru, a Kelpian who represents a new species introduced by ST:Disco. However, the writers would later have Saru neutered (figuratively) by Michael Burnham. The writers also saw fit to promote ensign Tilly in one fell swoop to number one. A fan favorite character, Spock, was also diminished beside the perfection of his sister-through-adoption, Burnham.9

Is NuTrek a Copycat?

The writing is so egregious that several seeming instances of plagiarism are apparent in ST:Disco. For example, some scenes appear to have been lifted from the films Die Hard, Total Recall, and The Day After Tomorrow.

Is it Disco paying homage? But there is no acknowledgement of the idea emanating from elsewhere.

A comment by OneBagTravel opined that “… these similarities is that they’re not just ideas being borrowed, they’re visuals nearly shot for shot stolen. It’s far too blatant to just say it’s coincidental.”

The criticism of plagiarism by Disco, however, started right off the bat when a lawsuit was launched against CBS and ST:Disco over the alleged stealing of the idea of a mycelial network traversed by a giant tardigrade across space-time and other similarities from the game “Tardigrades” created by Anas Abdin. The lawsuit was dismissed because Abdin had to “prove” the idea theft by CBS.

This points to NuTrek sadly lacking creativity and imagination.

How Popular is NuTrek?

In 2009, J.J. Abrams directed the science fiction action film Star Trek, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 94% and fans 91%; it had a gross in the US of $257.7M.

The next film was titled Star Trek into Darkness. Again the ratings were favorable at Rotten Tomatoes: critics rated it 84% and fans 89%; it grossed $228.8M in the US.

The third film was Star Trek Beyond. Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 86% and fans 80%; the gross in USA had dropped to $158.8M — still a significant number.

The NuTrek TV series present a different picture. For ST:Disco there is a notable distinction between the ratings of critics and fans:

  1. ST:Disco Season 1; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 82% and fans 50%
  2. ST:Disco Season 2; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 81% and fans 36%
  3. ST:Disco Season 3; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 90% and fans 46%
  4. Short Treks: fans only at 37%

This notable distinction between the ratings of critics and fans also applies to ST:Picard:

  1. ST:Picard Season 1; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 87% and fans 56%

A NuTrek animation series also completed its first season:

  1. ST:Lower Decks Season 1; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 65% and fans 44%

Of interest is a series called The Orville that is contemporaneous with NuTrek. It was created by the Star Trek fan Seth MacFarlane who was enamored with ST’s morality, writing, and characters. Although campier than ST, The Orville has captured the essence of ST’s progressivism and crew camaraderie. Work on season 3 of The Orville is, reportedly, underway, having been disrupted by the pandemic. For The Orville, the fan and critic ratings are the obverse of that for NuTrek in season 1. It was loved by both fans and critics in season 2:

  1. The Orville Season 1; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 30% and fans 94%
  2. The Orville Season 2; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 100% and fans 94%

The numbers indicate that The Orville, obviously an homage to Star Trek, is quite popular with viewers.

Intellectual Property and the Rights of Fans

Intellectual property rights accord priority to the owner of an idea over the benefits that could accrue to the wider society from access to the idea. Intellectual property rights have been used to hamstring the greater good for humanity, as well a ST fan films.

Yet Jeff Macharyas argued,

There has been no other TV show in history that could be considered as “open source” as Star Trek. In true open source fashion, fans have used the universe originally created by Gene Roddenberry in 1964 as “the source code” for fan-made films, cartoons, games, etc. If one considers the characters, settings and general plots of Star Trek, then it’s easy to understand how Star Trek has been a true open source universe.

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, would seem to agree. He wrote in the foreword to Star Trek: The New Voyages (1976):

Television viewers by the millions began to take Star Trek to heart as their own personal optimistic view of the Human condition and future. They fought for the show, honored it, cherished it, wrote about it–and have continued to do their level best to make certain that it will live again.

…We were particularly amazed when thousands, then tens of thousands of people began creating their own personal Star Trek adventures. Stories, and paintings, and sculptures, and cookbooks. And songs, and poems, and fashions. And more. The list is still growing. It took some time for us to fully understand and appreciate what these people were saying. Eventually we realized that there is no more profound way in which people could express what Star Trek has meant to them than by creating their own very personal Star Trek things.

Ella von Holtum, affiliated with the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa, examined “Freedom of Expression and Intellectual Property in Fan Fiction of the early 1980s.” She summarized some learning points:

  1. Intellectual Property and Freedom of Expression exert very different forces upon cultural productions
  2. Intellectual Property applies economic principles to the realm of creative expression
  3. Freedom of Expression does not contribute to an oppressive power dynamic, and supports the work of all creators
  4. Intellectual Property should not be invoked in discussions about creative products – it simply doesn’t apply, and demonstrates deeply harmful effects

Gene Roddenberry passed away in 1991. Unfortunately, Roddenberry had sold the rights to Star Trek to Paramount for one-third of future profits.10

In the meantime, as far as Star Trek is concerned, the corporatocracy determines what will be produced and when it can be viewed. The only power of the fans is to tune in or not to tune in; in the end, this is a mighty power. It is the fans who will determine whether a show is profitable or not. The corporations may control what is made available for viewing, but the public decides what they will view.

Hope for a Star Trek Future?

The world is far from achieving the morality of 23rd or 24th century Star Trek.

Nonetheless, Star Trek is important because it presents a vision of what the future could be, something people could aspire to. Becoming an astrophysicist, astronaut, scientist, film industry writer, social justice campaigner, etc. To work toward the abolishment of poverty, racism, the penal system11 and war. However, we don’t need to wait for the 23rd century. We can start right now in the 21st century. It is a matter of will and determination. China didn’t wait for the 23rd century. It took action and demonstrated that absolute poverty can be eliminated now.

In the Star Trek future, Earth is united under one government. Humans of all ethnicities and nationalities are as one. That doesn’t mean Star Trek is free from propaganda. For instance, prominent human characters in the Trekverse tend to be American, although countries are a thing of the past. In the film Star Trek: First Contact, Zefram Cochrane invents the first warp drive spaceship in Montana, leading to first contact with Vulcans. Captain Kirk is from Iowa. Captain Pike who preceded Kirk is from California.

The TOS episode “The Omega Glory,” features the Yangs (Yankees) and Kohms (Communists), the Pledge of Allegiance, and the flag of the United States. This patriotic reverence for Americana takes place in a distant solar system on the planet Omega IV. However, this is not surprising for a series produced by an American TV network for an American audience.

Moreover, it is well known that Hollywood and US propaganda go hand-in-hand. And it is also well documented that the CIA influences Hollywood and the media in general.

*****

Twenty-first century Earth is a planet riven by militarism and violence, imperialism, hegemony, factionalism, classism, racism, prejudice, poverty, inequality and inequity. It is the moneyed classes that control the media. It is the moneyed classes that will determine what appears in mass media. Warring is normalized as patriotic, and that may well explain the militarism and warring among planetary factions that is so prevalent in NuTrek. The rich thus become richer by launching wars to be fought by the poor who are speciously told they fight for honor and country.

In NuTrek, the United Federation of Planets is no longer governing, and Earth, one of the founding members, is no longer a member. The principles of the Federation lie at the core of what Star Trek is about: “liberty, equality, peace, justice, and progress, with the purpose of furthering the universal rights of all sentient life. Federation members exchange knowledge and resources to facilitate peaceful cooperation, scientific development, space exploration, and mutual defense.” Yet NuTrek even goes as far as to depict the much more distant future as regressivist, factional, battle-scarred, wracked by poverty, and dealing with energy scarcity. This is what the crew of the USS Discovery encounter after exiting a time vortex to emerge in the 32nd century.

What is this message from NuTrek? Clearly, the 32nd century is not aspirational. This is why NuTrek is anathema to so many Trekkies.

Finally, midway through season 3 of Disco, I gave up on watching what I hoped would be Star Trek because I finally reached the inescapable conclusion that NuTrek up to now (i.e., Disco, Picard, and Lower Decks) was not Star Trek. I had watched (and rewatched) every episode of every ST production until this moment. Nonetheless, I will hope that future ST series will reconnect to serious grappling with moral dilemmas, the advancement of the human condition, the positivity of what is to come, and the writing of thoughtful scripts with developed characters (some of who are appealing) in line with previous ST series (i.e., before NuTrek).

Poor audience ratings and criticisms have plagued NuTrek from the start. Surely those criticisms have been heard by the corporate suits, but will they respond to what the fans want? Netflix didn’t pick up ST:Picard for international distribution. ST:LD went without an international distributor well into its season. Clearly streaming services weren’t fighting each other for NuTrek.

The financial markets became bearish for ViacomCBS in late March, as the stock began to precipitously plummet.

Yet, NuTrek is filming a fourth season of the much reviled ST:Disco and a second season of the already tired retread ST:Picard, which tries to slip in many cameos for Patrick Stewart’s former colleagues with mixed results; e.g., Data, the android who doesn’t age, has appreciably aged. NuTrek didn’t even bother in a few cases to hire actors who previously had played the ST characters, so viewers were expected to overlook the incongruencies.

Haters

Knowing that there is a hardcore Trekkie fanbase seems to have jaundiced some in the NuTrekverse to a possibly negative reaction. Did Jason Isaacs who played captain Lorca in season 1 of Disco take this fanbase for granted when he said:

I don’t mean to sound irreverent when I say I don’t care about the die-hard Trek fans. I only ‘don’t care’ about them in the sense that I know they’re all going to watch anyway. I look forward to having the fun of them being outraged, so they can sit up all night and talk about it with each other.

An antipathy has arisen among a section of NuTrekkers toward those who do not share their appreciation for NuTrek. They frequently call critics of NuTrek “haters.” While some of these people probably would admit to hating NuTrek, most people do not respond well to be called a hater.

What I hate is ad hominem, so I am unimpressed when people resort to the tactic of disparaging other people through name-calling. Calling others “haters” is illogical, regressivist, and antithetical to the Trekverse as conceived by Roddenberry.

A glimmer of hope?

Season 2 of Disco saw captain Pike of the USS Enterprise injected into that series for one season. Afterwards, fans clamored for more of Pike and the Enterprise, and such a series is, reportedly, in the works. It offers a ray of hope for the fans. But given the NuTrek track record, don’t hold your breath.

Next: In Part 2, B.J. Sabri will discuss Star Trek from an expanded political viewpoint.

  • First published at Axis of Logic.
    1. To define: “What Is Progressivism?
    2. This is definitely not to imply that wearing a miniskirt is negative; it would just seem to indicate that the gams of female characters were now being downplayed in favor of their other attributes.
    3. Manu Saadia, Star Trek fan and contributing writer for Fusion.net, has written a book that delves into the utopian economics of the Trek universe: Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek. Review.
    4. The second episode is titled “Mudd in Your I.”
    5. Subsequent to a corporate merger, it has now been renamed Paramount+.
    6. Why didn’t Secret Hideout (Kurtzmann’s production company) hire a super knowledgeable Trekkie or two to check the scripts for canon and continuity errors? If Secret Hideout did do this, then it has a bad HR department. But I suspect that Secret Hideout intended to rip up ST canon and continuity.
    7. Having added an adjective denoting preponderent skin pigmentation in this essay was very frustrating, and so some level offensive, to this writer because fans of ST do not see race; they just see humans. And it is hoped that all humans would recognize that we all are that: humans.
    8. For additional argumentation for Michael Burnham being a Mary Sue, view “Michael Burnham is The Best at Everything (Part 1),” “Michael Burnham is The Best at Everything (Part 2),” and “Michael Burnham is The Best at Everything (Part 3).”
    9. Spock’s sister having suddenly appeared out of the NuTrek ether — canon be damned again.
    10. James van Hise, The Man Who Created Star Trek: Gene Roddenberry (Pioneer Books: 1992): 58. Via https://archive.org/
    11. They still have the brig on starships, but the dignified treatment of internees is light years beyond the gulags of Abu Ghraib, Alcatraz, Attica, and Guantanamo.
    The post Star Trek: Progressivism and Corporatism Don’t Mix first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Pseudonymity and Genocide

    Nearly 10,000 residents dance in local Dolan Maxrap folk style in Awat county in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on 9 October 2018. Photo: China News Service

    In February, I asked, “Does the West Repeating Claims of China Committing Genocide in Xinjiang Reify It?” China is continually being raked over the coals by western governments and state/corporate media on whatever charge or pretext can be thrown in the hopes that something sticks to incriminate China. China’s economic ascendancy, socialism with Chinese characteristics, has thrown the capitalists of the world into a tizzy. However, to allege something so heinous as a genocide is beyond the bounds of bizarre.

    If an identifiable group were being destroyed, especially a group that in 2018 constituted 12.7184 million people, that would surely be impossible to hide — even in a region as large as the autonomous province of Xinjiang. Furthermore, if one is going to allege such a horrific crime, one should not do so without irrefutable evidence.

    One French journalist based in China, writing under the byline of Laurene Beaumond, criticized western media for alleging genocide1 against Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.2

    She asks,

    So what is this parody of a process against China from a distance, without any concrete proof, without any valid testimony, by individuals who have never set foot in this region of the world?3

    Concrete evidence should be demanded of all accusers.

    This genocide is alleged to have occurred although the population of Uyghurs is vastly increasing in Xinjiang. Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily, cites statistical data from 2010 to 2018 that show:

    the Uygur population increased from 10.1715 million to 12.7184 million, an increase of 2.5469 million, or 25.04%; the population of Han ethnic group increased from 8.8299 million to 9.0068 million, an increase of 176,900 people, or 2.0%.

    Data source: Fifty Years in Xinjiang (China Statistics Press, 2005,) table 2-3, The Statistical Yearbook of Xinjiang 2019. N.B., 万人=10,000 people

    If factually accurate (and I have seen no refutation of the statistics), then this is an utter refutation of a genocide taking place! The only other conclusion is that the modern Chinese are absolutely incompetent genocidaires.

    Western media accusations are relying, for the greatest part, on a thoroughly discredited German “academic”: Adrian Zenz.

    Le Monde does not seek to buttress the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang. Instead it questions the bona fides of Laurene Beaumond. Le Monde says this person does not exist.

    Global Times says she exists, but the name is a pseudonym.

    This is problematic. It can be taken for granted that if one wants to work in western media then previous writings highly critical of the western Establishment and its media would shut the door quite tightly for any writing gigs in the West. But writing under a pseudonym poses ethical considerations. The monopoly media is often criticized by independent media and free thinking readers for trotting out anonymous sources. When a source is anonymous, when substantiation is lacking for what is said or written, then that source and its claims deserve to be met with skepticism.

    In my mind, CGTN or any scrupulous media, should only allow persons to write under a pseudonym under stringent conditions, for example, if the writer’s life would be endangered. Also, the media would have to vouch, up front, for the bona fides of the writer or story source. This is especially so given the seriousness of a genocide allegation.

    There is a solution, and it will require a bold step by “Laurene Beaumond.” She must come forward, declare her genuine identity, and present her credentials to clear all this up. CGTN needs to develop a transparent policy on the use of pseudonyms, and I’d suggest an apology might be in order for publishing this under a pseudonym.4

    The heinous allegation of genocide demands a forthrightness to dispel it as disinformation. The insidiousness of disinformation is such that it has been held to be a crime against humanity and a crime against peace. Professor Anthony J. Hall made this clear:

    Disinformation originates in the deliberate and systemic effort to break down social cohesion and to deprive humanity of perceptive consciousness of our conditions. Disinformation seeks to isolate and divide human beings; to alienate us from our ability to use our senses, our intellect, and our communicative powers in order to identity truth and act on this knowledge. Disinformation is deeply implicated in the history of imperialism, Eurocentric racism, American Manifest Destiny, Nazi propaganda, the psychological warfare of the Cold War, and capitalist globalization. Disinformation seeks to erode and destroy the basis of individual and collective memory, the basis of those inheritances from history which give humanity our richness of diverse languages, cultures, nationalities, peoplehoods, and means of self-determination. The reach and intensity of disinformation tends to increase with the concentration of ownership and control of the media of mass communications.

    Practice open-minded skepticism; demand evidence; demand to know who the people involved are; scrutinize the history and backgrounds of the people, media, and places. In other words don’t allow yourself to easily be lied to.

    1. Several media speak of “allegations” or “accusations” of genocide in Xinjiang. E.g., CNN, BBC, Frankfurter Allegemeine, Al Jazeera, Berlinske, CTV, CBC, Forbes, etc. Japan is more cautious. It is highly recommended for those seeking insight to read the report compiled by the Qiao Collective, an all-volunteer group comprised of ethnic Chinese people living abroad, on Xinjiang that warned of “politically motivated” western disinformation.
    2. The linked article carries an editor’s note: “Freelance journalist based in France, with a double degree in art history and archeology at the University of Sorbonne-IV and holder of a master’s degree in journalism, Laurène Beaumond has worked in various editorial offices Parisians before settling down in Beijing where she lived for almost 7 years.
      The article reflects the views of the author, and not necessarily those of CGTN Français.”
    3. “Qu’est-ce donc cette parodie de procès que l’on fait à la Chine à distance, sans aucune preuve concrète, sans aucun témoignage valable, par des individus qui n’ont jamais mis le pied dans cette région du monde…?”
    4. After all, Global Times demanded an apology from Le Monde for doubting the existence of “Laurene Beaumond.” No writer exists under this name, so, in fact, Le Monde was accurate on this account.
    The post Pseudonymity and Genocide first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    China and Iran: A Natural Anti-imperialist Alliance

    On 15 July 2015 — the day after the United States agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; also called the Iran nuclear deal) along with China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, plus Germany — then US president Barack Obama said in an interview that Iran was “a great civilization.” Without listing any of the great attributes of Iran, Obama then proceeded to criticize Iran, saying, “but, it also has an authoritarian theocracy in charge that is anti-American, anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, sponsors terrorism, and there are a whole host of real profound differences…”

    That is American exceptionalism. The US is a country whose sense of diplomacy deems it appropriate to openly criticize other nations. And because of this self-bestowed exceptionalism, it need not substantiate any criticisms it makes, and, of course, no such accusations could be leveled against the US.

    However, soon after Donald Trump won the electoral college vote to become the US president, the days of the US abiding by the JCPOA were numbered. The US State Department said that the JCPOA “is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document.”

    Apparently, US and international definitions on what constitutes a treaty differ. Since the JCPOA had not received the consent of the US Senate, as per domestic US law, it was not considered a treaty. Another instance of US exceptionalism — how the US legally separates itself from the international sphere.

    On 8 May 2018, the US pulled out from the Iran nuclear deal.

    Even though the US had withdrawn, Iran made it known that it would continue to comply with its commitments to the JCPOA if Europe also complied with its commitments. One important condition was that Europe must maintain business relations with Iranian banks and purchase Iranian oil despite US sanctions. Europe, however, failed to uphold its commitments.

    China stood steadfast with the JCPOA. Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, called upon the US to quickly and unconditionally return to the Iran nuclear deal. Wang also called on the US to remove sanctions on Iran and third-parties.

    Wang also urged Iran to restore full compliance with the JCPOA. China, though, has made it clear that the US “holds the key to breaking the deadlock” by returning to the JCPOA and lifting sanctions on Iran.

    *****

    When the Trump administration slapped sanctions on Iran, a devastating result was expected.

    The effects of sanctions are lethal. Americans professors John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote in their Foreign Affairs article:

    economic sanctions … may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.

    The lethality has been borne out. A large-scale human suffering was part of the plan to topple the government in Iran, which secretary of state Mike Pompeo admitted to. Not even the serious outbreak of COVID-19 would stir mercy in the hearts of American politicians. Included in the sanctions were medicines and food.

    *****

    When targeted by a hegemonic military superpower, the importance of powerful friends cannot be underestimated. China seems like a natural ally for Iran.

    Like Iran, China has historically been targeted by brutish American imperialism. China, like Iran finds itself ringed by American militarism. China also has US sanctions levied against it. Western governments and their mass media bombard readers and viewers with disinformation to demonize China. US warships ply the South China Sea as they ply the waters of the Persian Gulf. Both China and Iran deal with domestic terrorism (undoubtedly abetted by western foes).

    Thus, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), designated as a terrorist group by the US in 1997, would be dropped from the US terrorist list in 2012. Later, the “cult-like” MEK would be embraced by right-wing Americans such as Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, and Mike Pompeo, in hopes of furthering US aims of “regime change.” In a similar move, the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Xinjiang, China was removed from the US terrorist list.

    US machinations have only served to hasten closer relations between China and Iran.

    On March 27, Iran and China signed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, a $400 billion 25-year agreement that includes oil and mining, promoting industrial activity in Iran, and collaborating in transportation and agriculture.

    It’s a win-win. Iran gets a market for its commodities and investment. China gets access to needed resources and a partner for its Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme to encompass Eurasia and abroad.

    Iran also has economic and technology agreements with another US-sanctioned country that is a close ally of China, Russia. In February 2021, there was the important symbolism of the Iran-China-Russia collaboration on naval maneuvers in the Indian Ocean.

    Iran does not have nukes, but it has powerful friends.

  • First published at Press TV.
  • The post China and Iran: A Natural Anti-imperialist Alliance first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Justice in China and the West

    To begin, it must be emphatically stated that the arrest of any person on knowingly false charges is a grave abnegation of morality and a despicable travesty of justice by whichever governmental, law enforcement, or judicial body involved.

    The Canadian government has upped its diplomatic pressure to secure the release of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested in China more than 2 years ago for allegedly spying for a foreign entity and illegally procuring state secrets.

    The CBC pointed to a “show of solidarity, 28 diplomats from 26 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Czech Republic” — i.e., western support — for the Canadians outside the Chinese court.

    *****

    Canada portrays the detention of Spavor and Kovrig as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou who, on 1 December 2018, was transferring planes at Vancouver International Airport en route to Mexico from Hong Kong.

    The complaints and criticisms in Canadian state media, the CBC, would seem to apply equally or more so to Meng.

    1. “‘It’s not been a transparent process,’ says Canadian diplomat after trial”

    On 10 December 2020, Reuters reported, “A Canadian border official on Thursday admitted to giving “incomplete” testimony in court the previous day and having breached a judge’s instruction not to discuss the case as witness cross examination in Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s U.S. extradition hearing resumed.”

    Further to transparency, the Canadian government has also claimed that it can’t release certain documents in the Meng case citing national security.

    1. “it’s been ‘an emotional time’ for Spavor, his family and Canadians in general”

    And what kind of time is it presumed to be for Meng, her family, Chinese in general, and people who demand transparency and justice? Do their emotions not count?

    1. “It’s been more than two years that he has been held arbitrarily in detention here in China.”

    It has been a little bit longer since Meng was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

    The CBC detailed the extradition charges against Meng: “fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker about her company’s control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.” The Canadian government does not apply those US sanctions.

    The Washington Post writes,

    International and bilateral treaties required that China provide Canadian diplomats access to the trial, but the court said Chinese law regarding trials on state security charges overrode such obligations…

    Zhao Lijian [– the deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department –] said that since the case involves state secrets, it is not heard in open court and no one is allowed to sit in on the trial.

    While the western media criticizes secrecy in the two Michael’s case in China, Canada invokes its own secrecy in the Meng case. Robert Frater, a lawyer representing Canada’s attorney general, argued that Meng’s defense team’s “application calls for proper arguments that can only be made in hearings closed to the public because of the sensitivity of the documents.”

    Meng’s lawyers complained at the extradition hearing that Canadian officials colluded with the US to arrest their client. Defense attorney Tony Paisana stated Canadian Border Services Agency officers took Meng’s phones, obtained their passwords, and turned everything over to Canadian police who made the data available to the FBI.

    Quid pro quo?

    Global News quotes US secretary-of-state Anthony Blinken: “We join our partners in calling on Beijing to immediately release the two arbitrarily detained Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.”

    Blinken posited (and rightly so): “Human beings are not bargaining chips.”

    Previous US president Donald Trump seems not to agree, as he spoke to becoming involved in the extradition case against Meng: “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

    PM Trudeau has said the two Michaels are detained on “trumped up” charges.

    Western media impugns China’s justice system

    Canadian news network CTV states, “Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99%.”

    This is corroborated by China Justice Observer: “In China, the conviction rate was 99.965% in 2019 and 99.969% in 2018.”

    The reported rates of conviction are sky high, and one wonders how a justice system could be so adept at legitimately achieving such rates. Skepticism seems fair enough. But what do the conviction rates indicate about justice in China overall? Might China be casting a large-mesh net to convict alleged criminals, allowing some suspects with insufficient evidence against them to slip through? Much more information is required to assess these conviction rates.

    For instance, if China has illegitimate sky high conviction rates, then in comparison to the US and Canada, one might well expect that Chinese jails are overflowing with prisoners?

    Looking at incarceration rates is just one means to put a different lens on what lies behind China’s extremely high conviction rates.

    The Institute for Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck College, University of London compiles an online database providing free access to information on prison systems around the world: the World Prison Brief at PrisonStudies.org. I used this database to construct the below table.

    Rates of Incarceration

    In Canada, China, Taiwan, and the United States

    State Number incarcerated per 100,000 Total number incarcerated
    Canada 104 38,570
    China (PRC) 121 1,710,000
    Taiwan (ROC) 258 60,956
    United States 639 2,094,000

    The table reveals that the incarceration rate in Canada is only a little lower than in China. The rate of incarceration is much higher in the USA than in other compared states. The ROC, supported at a distance by many western governments, provides a useful comparable context to the PRC. In Taiwan: “The conviction rate of those that go to trial is more than 90 percent.”

    The sky high incarceration rates have a pecuniary purpose in the US: prison labor.

    Prison labor has been a part of the U.S. economy since at least the late 19th century. And today it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry with incarcerated people doing everything from building office furniture and making military equipment to staffing call centers and doing 3D modeling.

    Kevin Rashid Johnson, who was convicted of murder in 1990 when he was 18 years old, calls it slave labor. In 2018, Johnson supported a nationwide boycott of the commissary. Said he:

    I see prison labor as slave labor that still exists in the United States in 2018. In fact, slavery never ended in this country.”

    At the end of the civil war in 1865 the 13th amendment of the US constitution was introduced. Under its terms, slavery was not abolished, it was merely reformed.

    However, neither Canada nor China get a free pass when it comes to prison labor.

    The Rule of Law

    Antony Blinken, seemingly without embarrassment, speaks of the United States as upholding “the rule of law globally” in the self-deception or the belief that such is the case. In fact, Washington has always expected other countries to support the international rule of law — although exempting good friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia.
    Graham E. Fuller

    Law is written morality, while morality is conscious law. We should integrate the rule of law with rule by virtue, pay more attention to the rule of virtue in citizens’ conduct, and encourage citizens to protect their legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law while conscientiously fulfilling their duties prescribed by law, which means enjoying rights while performing duties.
    — Xi Jinping, The Governance of China (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014): location 2237

    Placing the focus solely on conviction rates is casting an aspersion on the rule of law in China.

    I have concerns about, not so much the rule of law in China, but the application of sentencing to convicted persons. In particular, I am opposed to the death penalty for a variety of reasons outside the scope of this article.

    Nonetheless, insofar as advancing the rule of law in China, it is identified as a cornerstone in the further development of the Chinese nation.

    Meanwhile, in Canada, adherence to the rule of lawn is revealed especially when it comes to the state’s strong-arm tactics toward First Nations with its weaponized RCMP.

    The ad nauseam allegations of a genocide in Xinjiang

    Seemingly separate to the two Michaels in China, but given the close timing suspect, Trudeau allowed a free vote in Canada’s House of Commons on 22 February. Without dissent the parliament declared that a genocide (based on sham allegations) is taking place against China’s Uyghurs. Trudeau and his cabinet, it must be noted, abstained from the vote.

    Western countries, led by the United States, the European Union, Britain, and Canada — notably those involved in warring against Muslim majority countries1 — points to crocodile tears over the alleged genocide in Xinjiang.

    In the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee (on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues), 39 countries called on China to “respect human rights, particularly the rights of persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet.” (Of note is the wording to “respect human rights” and not condemn China for human rights abuses).

    Cuba’s UN Representative Ana Silvia Rodríguez Abascal countered with a statement on behalf of 45 countries in defense of China’s treatment of Uyghurs in China.

    This is not a matter to be decided by numbers, but 64 countries came out in solidarity with China in Xinjiang. And no Muslim countries are criticizing China over Xinjiang.

    It is curious upon what moral basis Canada derives the right to pronounce on genocides elsewhere given that Canada exists as a state founded on a genocide of its Indigenous nations.2 Canada is profiting from Saudi Arabia’s genocide/humanitarian disaster waged against its southern neighbor Yemen. Further demonstrating the Canadian government’s hypocrisy is its solidarity with Israeli apartheid and failure to condemn Israel’s slow-motion genocide of the predominantly Muslim Palestinians .

    China’s Great Crime is to be successful

    China has committed the unpardonable crime of being a Communist government and practicing socialism with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese economy is far outstripping western capitalist economies.3 China ended extreme poverty (and that includes Xinjiang, weird to pull a people out of poverty and be accused of killing them) — something difficult to achieve in Canada and the US.4

    China recovered relatively quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its economy maintained positive growth while western economies floundered, and many western health systems still struggle with the pandemic.

    The particularly hard-hit US has lashed out at China, with president Donald Trump blaming it for the “China virus.”

    The president Joe Biden administration continues the anti-China rhetoric. White House press secretary Jen Psaki even expressed concern about “Russia and China using vaccines to engage with countries in a way where they’re not holding them at times to the same standard the United States and a number of other countries would hold them to on human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even freedom of media.”

    What standard might that be? That China, unlike the West, provides the COVID-19 vaccine as a “global public good” rather than something to reap a windfall profit from?

    If the US, UK, and Canada and western media are so concerned about human rights, justice, freedom of speech, and even freedom of media, then what about their imprisoning and subjecting publisher Julian Assange to what is, essentially, a slow-motion assassination. And for what? For reporting the war crimes of the West. Chinese officials are subdued on the issue. But China Daily published an op-ed that stated, “There’s no doubt that Assange is being persecuted by the US government for fulfilling his role as an independent journalist by publishing leaked documents that are in the public interest.”

    1. As detailed by Gideon Polya in his book US-Imposed Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide.
    2. See Bruce Clark, Ongoing Genocide caused by Judicial Suppression of the “Existing” Aboriginal Rights (2018). Review; Bruce Clark, Justice in Paradise (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999); Splitting the Sky with She Keeps the Door, The Autobiography of Dacajeweiah, Splitting the Sky, John Boncore Hill: From Attica to Gustafsen Lake (John Pasquale Boncore, 2001). Tamara Starblanket, Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State (Clarity Press, 2018). Review; Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance(Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). Review; James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press, 2013); Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada (Black Rose, 1973).
    3. Granted, to what extent a country’s economy is capitalist or socialist is usually not an all-or-nothing practice.
    4. Beate Trankmann, the resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme in China congratulated China on the achievement. Voice of America disputes the achievement.
    The post Justice in China and the West first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Bizarre RT Framing

    you have to include the important information first.

    News Writing for Television and Radio, University of Florida

    RT America begins a newscast with anchor Rick Sanchez standing by a map of Iraq, informing viewers: “Seven rockets hit a US military base just north of Baghdad. It houses US troops.”1

    Sanchez continues, “But here is what I want you to understand about this story. This is not just a story about Iraq and the United States. This is a story about Iraq and Iran and the United States and China.”

    Sanchez says we should ask: why China? Sanchez answers, “Because this week we learned that China has increased its purchases of Iranian oil by 129%!”

    “Now does this mean that China is partnering with Iran?” Sanchez answers his own question: “Yes, and no.”

    When the buyer has the chance to snap up a regularly purchased commodity at a discount price, usually the buyer will make a large purchase. That is a normal behavior in business transactions. Sanchez recognizes that China may just be agreeing to a good deal.

    But, says Sanchez, “China is ignoring US sanctions, getting tons of oil at a discount and supplying Iran with a much needed revenue source which Iran is in turn using against US troops.”

    Here, his tenuous logic that China is indirectly, and presumably knowingly, funding attacks against the US is so off-putting. And why should China which also finds itself under US sanctions (including new sanctions over alleging Chinese “interfering in Hong Kong’s freedoms.”2 ) want to abide by US sanctions?

    To state the connections proffered is bizarre is putting it mildly. “Question more,” RT advises. Is Sanchez suggesting that when one country conducts trade with another country — for instance, an exchange of cash for goods — that the buyer is responsible for what the buyer does with the cash it receives? Is an employer responsible should an employee use his pay check to drink himself silly and go home and abuse his family? Such is the logical connection that Sanchez proposes.

    Sanchez continues, “So Iran, fueled by its oil revenues, is trying to force the US out of Iraq. And you know what?” Sanchez leans forward and hold his arm out, as if pointing to the viewer: “Seems to be working.”

    Why would Iran want the US — which declared Iran to be part of an “axis of evil” along with Iraq (then under the rule of Saddam Hussein) — next door in Iraq? Who would want a neighbor like that?

    Sanchez got the year wrong,3 in subsequently stating that the Iraqi parliament is “essentially asking the United States troops to leave, to get out of their country.” [emphasis added]

    Most news organizations referred to Iraq expelling US troops; for example, the first page of an internet search on the terms “iraq parliament us troops 2020” listed NPR, Al Jazeera, France24, DW, Rand, Boston Herald, and VOX using some form of the word expel.

    To be fair, the parliament’s resolution did not target only the US: “The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.” [emphasis added]

    Sanchez carries on:

    … we have China, Iran, two of the countries most targeted by the United Sates when it comes to sanctions and trade wars in recent years, right?, partnering in a deal that is ostensibly funding attacks against the United States, so what does the United States do at this point? Does it leave Iraq once and for all? Or does it attack China with more sanctions?

    Sanchez is proposing the questions. “Question more” is the RT slogan — a slogan that RT selectively adheres to. There are several more questions that should spring to mind: What are sanctions; i.e, what purpose do they serve? Are sanctions legal? Why is the US military still in Iraq and how did it get to be stationed there in the first place? Why are the purportedly “Iran-backed” militias attacking US bases in Iraq?

    Economic sanctions outside the parameters of a United Nations Security Council resolution or national self-defense are held to constitute an illicit intervention into the sovereign affairs of other nations. More egregiously, sanctions are widely regarded as a declaration of war. And why not? Sanctions kill! Professors John Mueller and Karl Mueller in their article, “Sanctions of Mass Destruction,” made clear the devastating lethality of sanctions:

    economic sanctions … may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.

    Speaking of killing, Sanchez does not mention the extremely pertinent assassination of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani by a US drone strike on 3 January 2020 at Baghdad International Airport. Five Iraqi nationals and four other Iranian nationals were killed alongside Soleimani, including the deputy chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces. This led to the Iraqi resolution to remove foreign troops for its territory.

    When someone commits an unprovoked attack against you, you have a choice to respond or not. What message is sent to the aggressor when you do not respond? Might not the aggressor think she can now attack freely knowing that retaliation is unlikely? For instance, consider how the lack of response to Israeli bombing in Syria has resulted in repeated bombing by Israel of targets in Syria and compare it to Israel’s reluctance to bomb the Hizbollah resistance knowing that there will likely be retaliation.

    There is much dark history regarding the US vis-à-vis Iraq (that includes the western backers of the US, such as the UK, Australia, Canada, etc). There are the deaths of half-a-million children resulting from US-backed UN sanctions on Iraq — a price worth the US sanctions policy, according to Madeleine Albright, then US secretary-of-state. The devastation of a war launched by US president George Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair in which “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of removing Iraq’s president Saddam Hussein. Abdul Haq al-Ani and Tarik al-Ani noted the UN complicity, and wrote a book titled Genocide in Iraq: The Case against the UN Security Council and Member States (Clarity Press)4 .

    Sanchez asks if China even cares about sanctions. “These are serious questions that too few of us are even asking in the media these days.”

    Question more Mr Sanchez: The US is sanctioning Iran. Why? Even though Iran was abiding by the terms of the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal), president Donald Trump (most certainly at the behest of Israel) wanted further capitulations by Iran, all this while the US was not in compliance with the deal. Then the US withdrew (so much for fidelity to a signed agreement by the US, but there are scads of such examples), and kept insisting that Iran comply, all while the Europeans partners were also in non-compliance.

    Sanchez presents as the top news question of the day: “Is there an alliance building between China [and Iran] and how will it affect the US?”

    Does Sanchez imply that trade between two countries constitutes “an alliance”? Sanchez’s intonation makes it seem as if the word alliance has some sinister connotations. The US trades with China, so do they have an alliance? Do two countries trading with each other constitute a provocative act against a third country? What does Sanchez wish to denote positing that “an alliance” between China and Iran? Wouldn’t it be nice it all countries were in alliance with each other — like a meaningful United Nations where each member country steadfastly abides by the UN Charter?

    Why not question US alliances, such as with Israel? Israel is a country in violation of dozens of UN resolutions, in violation of several Geneva Conventions, and is engaged in a slow-motion genocide against Palestinians. Indeed, Israeli media pointed out yesterday (16 March) that “Israel’s Theft Business Against the Palestinians Is as Thriving as Ever.”

    How does the US even get portrayed as the aggrieved party in this news reportage? It was the US which did not abide by the JCPOA. It is the US sanctioning Iran, inflicting damage to its economy, and killing Iranian people. It is the US which assassinated a high-ranking Iranian general. It is the US (plus Israel) behind the sabotage caused by the Stuxnet virus and the assassinations of Iranian scientists.

    All Rick Sanchez needs do, to get a good overview of the geo-strategic situation, is eyeball a map bigger than the one he used on air. Then question more: Are Iranian military situated near American shores? Are Iranians in the Florida Strait? Yet, US US warships commonly ply the waters of the Persian Gulf. Should US warships be sailing near Iranian shores? Moreover, when the US sanctions another country, assassinates that country’s citizens, and surrounds it with military hardware, then who is the threat? Also noteworthy is that US warships provocatively sail in the South China Sea, allegedly protecting freedom of navigation there, although never has the US provided any evidence that freedom of navigation has been blocked or threatened by China.

    So why then frame the opening segment by casting aspersions against Iran and China?

    The RT segment improved drastically when Sanchez interviewed former British MP George Galloway, but sadly, the opening segment set a terrible tone. That tone needs to be questioned more because RT is so much better than western mass media, and it needs to keep to that standard.

    1. The opening segment report ends at 16:47.
    2. Imagine if China were to sanction the US for interfering in BLM protestors’ or Capitol Hill protestors’ freedoms?
    3. He stated “Earlier this year,” but it was early 2020 — in January.
    4. Review.
    The post Bizarre RT Framing first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    North Korea Steadfastly Resisting US Hegemony

    I learned a while back to be especially skeptical of western mass media and their governments.1 My experience of life in China is nothing like how western demonization portrays it to be. Therefore, I looked forward to the chance to experience North Korea first hand. I traveled there with a Chinese group departing China. Starting out from Dandong, China, we crossed the Yalu River to Sinuiju, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). From Sinuiji we took a train to Pyongyang and explored other areas of the DPRK in 2017. I wrote about this in “There Are Human Beings in North Korea. Neither Wealthy Nor Poor.” My impression of North Korea was extremely positive, and I look very forward to returning there one day.

    A.B. Abrams has written a comprehensive book, Immovable Object: North Korea’s 70 Years at War with American Power,2 that is extensively footnoted and details how American imperialism works. Abrams does this by focusing on a United States-designated enemy state: the DPRK.

    Abrams begins with the history. He writes about the role of Lyuh Woon Hyung (aka Yo Un Hyung)3 and the seldom-mentioned grassroots formation of the People’s Republic of Korea at the end of World War II, a republic that was successfully functioning before the arrival of the Americans in Korea. However, the “independence and nationalist character of the People’s Republic was seen as a threat to American designs for the Korean nation…” and the republic was deposed and outlawed. (p 14)

    The US split the peninsula into northern and southern states. The United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) ruled the southern half of the Korean Peninsula using the despised former Japanese occupiers to aid in ruling. Later the US brought in an Americanized Korean, Sygnmann Rhee, to be a dictator. The US staunchly opposed reunification fearing a democratic result that would bring about socialism in the entire peninsula. North Koreans formed their own government and at the outset outperformed the Republic of Korea (ROK, i.e., South Korea) economically.

    To maintain a grip, the Americans and Rhee government brutally suppressed socialism in South Korea, committing many massacres. (ch 6) This helped set the stage for war on the peninsula.

    Abrams casts serious doubt on the notion that the war in Korean was started by the North. Several South Korean attacks on North Korean communities “confirmed by U.S. and British intelligence” and the seizure of the small North Korean city of Haeju initially confirmed by South Korean sources. (p 68)

    Regardless of whichever side fired the first shots, Abrams posits this may be inconsequential to the actual casus belli. He points to

    … the forceful abolishment of the Korean People’s Republic and later extremely brutal suppression of its remnants by the United States Army Military Government with the assistance of youth groups–described as terrorists even by their American allies–and with the backing of the Rhee government itself. (p 59)

    After the onset of war, the DPRK almost achieved a quick military victory, but after the US landing at Inchon, the forces and military equipment of the US were too much for the small republic to withstand. In addition, the DPRK was facing a United Nations coalition arranged to back the US. The US pushed back and carried out a scorched earth campaign. General Douglas MacArthur of the UN Forces in Korea referred to the devastation as “a slaughter never heard of in the history of mankind.” (p 65)

    Chapters 3 to 8 in Immovable Object are a must read to grasp the magnitude of the extreme brutality and gore fomented by US warfare; the killing of civilians (including South Korean political prisoners);4 widespread rapes and sexual violence; torture by US forces; its willfulness to lie for imperial ends; the obliteration of agriculture (to create famine), industry, cities, towns, and buildings; firebombing and the use of chemical and biological weapons along with the demands by the US military brass to use nuclear bombs.

    *****
    US wars are not only a function of its government and military. It is important to realize that the US carries out it warring and provocations against foreign countries often with overwhelming approval of the American populace. Abrams writes that the majority of American citizens supported using nukes against North Korea. (p 131) American public support for warring was also evident by support for intensified bombing by the US during armistice negotiations. (p 224) That this American public support for militarism was not an anomaly was revealed during the US attacks on Muslim nations following 9-11, with 70% of Americans indicating a belief in Saddam Hussein being connected to Al Qaeda. (p 390)

    *****

    Massacres and gore were a staple of US-inflicted violence in Korea. Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and My Lai are just more recent accounts of the cornucopia of American war crimes. WARNING: The following accounts are graphic!

    Kim Sun Ok, 37, the mother of four children [who had been] killed by a bomb, stated that she was evacuated in the village by Americans…. The Americans led her naked through the streets and later killed her by pushing a red-hot iron bar into her vagina. Her small son was buried alive. (p 175)

    Kim Sen Ai, another 11-year-old girl…, said she was in the fourth class in school when American soldiers entered her village and apprehended her and her parents. Her mother was a member of the Korean Workers’ Party, and so earned special treatment–her breasts were cut off. Her father was tortured and thrown in a river, and her four-year-old sister was then buried alive. (p 177)

    Jo Ok Hi, chairman [sic] of the Haeju women’s organization, was imprisoned and submitted to slow torture. Her eyes were pulled out, and after some time her nose and breasts were cut off. (p 178)

    The Commission of the Association of Democratic Lawyers issued a report that concluded:

    Taking the view that excessive murders are not the result of individual excesses, but indicate a pattern of behaviour by the U.S. forces throughout the areas occupied by them… the Commission is of the opinion that the American forces are guilty of the crime of Genocide as defined by the Geneva Convention of 1948. (p 183)

    With the US military approaching the Yalu River despite warnings from China to steer clear, China entered the war and together China and the DRRK pushed the US-ROK-UN forces back to the middle ground of the peninsula. China had recently emerged from a civil war, and the war on the peninsula was a costly proposition for China.

    The middle ground represented a return, more-or-less, to the geopolitical border prior to the outbreak of war. Here was a seeming stalemate, perhaps a result that war-weary combatants could accept without loss of face.

    But Americans threw a wrench in talks to end the war by

    … what can only be described as gross violations of the law and serious war crimes. These pertained to the brutal mistreatment of prisoners including killings, medical experimentation, torture and coercion of the most extreme kind to force them to remain behind enemy lines after the war’s end. (p 230)

    China has trumpeted the end of the warring 70 years later as a victory for itself and North Korea. Abrams is more circumspect: “Which party, if any, ‘won’ the Korean War5 remains open to interpretation.” (p 240)

    The results reverberate through to today as the clean-up for unexploded American ordnance is estimated to endanger North Koreans for another century. (p 66, 242)

    An armistice has been signed but no peace treaty; therefore, the foes remain technically at war. The DPRK has learned from its experience and has made itself militarily adept at defending itself. North Korea has become a leader in underground fortifications, and has placed much of its armaments and materials deep beyond easy reach of missiles. Northerners have also become technically proficient and have developed an intercontinental ballistic missile capability of striking anywhere in the continental US, including submarine-launched ICBMs. These missiles can be topped with miniaturized nuclear devices and pose a most credible deterrent. And a deterrent it is, as the DPRK has pledged no first use of nukes — unlike the US. As well, it is well known that the DPRK will not hesitate to respond to provocation. The DPRK’s nuclearization has prevented any attack against it by a rational actor, as both sides would be extremely bloodied and damaged by such a conflict.

    It is an important lesson that Iran ought to closely consider: the effectiveness of military strength, including nuclearization, as deterrence. In fact, much of Iran’s missile capability and fortification resulted from cooperation with the DPRK. (p 289-295)

    Libya paid the price for

    … having ignored direct warnings from both Tehran and Pyongyang not to pursue such a course [of unilaterally disarming], Libya’s leadership would later admit that disarmament, neglected military modernisation, and trust in Western good will proved to be their greatest mistake–leaving their country near defenceless when Western powers launched their offensive in 2011. (p 296)

    Has South Korea Not Also Paid a Price for Trusting Western Goodwill?

    Abrams examines how the ROK has fared as an independent and sovereign state. Is South Korea independent and sovereign?6 Asked Abrams, “Could America claim to ‘liberate’ southern Korea while at the same time occupying it, forcefully dismantling its existing government and threatening those Koreans who did not abide by its will with death?” (p 310)

    Abrams describes the “apparently sadistic pleasure [American] personnel took in tormenting the [South] Korean people…,” (p 312) the objectification of “servile Korean women,” (p 313) and the massive expansion of the Japanese system of comfort stations. (p 314) “Methods used to recruit comfort women to serve American soldiers involved rape and violence to disorient and break women in. They would afterwards have little choice but to ‘consent’ to sex work for the U.S. Military.” (p 327)

    In contrast,

    Pyongyang not only abolished the comfort women system from 1945, but strictly enforced the outlawing of prostitution entirely and establishing formal legal equality for women…. [Thus] the nation’s dignity, pride and right to self-determination were never violated–neither were its women. (p 330)

    DPRK Resilience

    In the 1990s, the North Koreans were hit hard by weather calamities, crop failures, while the western sanctions continued to be applied, but the DPRK pulled through what they call the Arduous March.

    How did the North Koreans resist? Early on, the war-ravaged homefront on the Korean peninsula ably put up a staunch defense, abetted by a Chinese peasant fighting force. North Koreans practice Juche (self-reliance) and Songun, a military first posture that “is firmly rooted in resistance to external pressure as a means of safeguarding Korea independence.” (p 553) To this end, the DPRK has emphasized modernization, advanced technologies, and providing for economic needs.

    Pyongyang Photo: kim

    The DPRK has a no first use of nukes policy, but any strike against the DPRK will result in a lethal counter attack. It must be emphasized that the DPRK military’s orientation is: “among the most defensively oriented in the world, with its power projection capabilities negligible to non-existent–in stark contrast to the U.S. Military which is heavily oriented towards overseas power projection.” (p 437) Along with having achieved a self-sustaining economy that provides the basics for the people, it would appear that the DPRK has withstood, and some would say triumphed, against US machinations aimed at the country and its system of governance.

    To be fair, it is not just US warring against the DPRK. Every country that participates in the warring and sanctions against the DPRK, arguably, has sullied itself. Take Canada, for example; Canadian peace activist James Endicott was harassed by his government for verifying American biological weapon use in the war, in which Canada was also a belligerent against the DPRK. (p 141) Reporter George Barrett wrote that Canadian troops along with US troops committed “widespread and regular rapes.” (p 168, 184) Egregiously, Canada was also a destination for human trafficking of young girls and women from South Korea. (p 330)

    It must also be pointed out that in stark contrast to western forces committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Korea, the Chinese and North Korean troops were highly disciplined in their conduct toward civilians and adversaries. (p 152)

    A Highly Recommended Read

    Abram has irrefutably laid bare the intentions of US imperialism. Immovable Object leaves no stone unturned. The sordid history of the US toward Koreans, in the north and south, is scrutinized, detailed, and substantiated. It is a battle of ideologies that drives Americans to pursue information warfare (actually a disinformation war) and economic warfare (sabotaging the economies of designated enemy states through sanctions, “a weapon of mass destruction,” and hence the well-being and lives of the people in targeted countries). In the case of imposing US hegemony to Korea, it appears that while the US is succeeding in the ROK, it has suffered ignominious failure against the DPRK.

    Immovable Object: North Korea’s 70 Years at War with American Power is a superb book that I most highly recommend. There is so much more information and narrative to be gleaned from Abrams’s book that a review (even as lengthy as this) can touch on. Abrams goes into western media disinformation and propaganda campaigns against the DPRK. He answers why the DPRK state secrecy, media censorship, and why North Korean defector accounts should be regarded with deep skepticism. Read the impeccably substantiated Immovable Object and find out for yourself what undergirds the DPRK’s resistance to US hegemony.

    1. This can also hold for the purportedly progressivist media. Paul Jay, then with the Real News, interviewed the former United States state department employee Lawrence Wilkerson and received a jaundiced opinion on North Korea. The Real News presented an account that the DPRK had fired a missile that sank the ROK navy ship Cheonan without definitive evidence. Abrams questions placing blame on the DPRK, (p 411-415) noting, “Pyongyang has historically never shied away from claiming credit for previous strikes.” (p 414)
    2. I submit that a more accurately worded subtitle would be American Power’s 70 Years at War with North Korea.
    3. Lee Wha Rang, “Who was Yo Un-hyung? (Part 2),” Association for Asian Research, 1 March 2004.
    4. “South Korean authorities have logged reports of 61 separate massacres of civilians carried out by U.S. forces…” (p 162)
    5. I submit that this is a misnomer; more accurately it should be depicted as a US war on Korea since as Abrams makes clear, South Koreans had no heart for battling their northern kin.
    6. It is a question I have posed previously.
    The post North Korea Steadfastly Resisting US Hegemony first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Does the West Repeating Claims of China Committing Genocide in Xinjiang Reify It?

    The Jewish Virtual Library quotes Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels as having said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

    Yet that could be called a lie, or more kindly put, a misattribution. Wikiquotes provides the accurate quotation, albeit not as a Nazi stratagem: “The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” It is sourced as: “Aus Churchills Lügenfabrik” (“Churchill’s Lie Factory”), 12 January 1941, Die Zeit ohne Beispiel (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1941), p. 364-369.

    There is an allegation that is being repeated ad nauseam about internment camps for Muslims in Xinjiang, China or even worse that a genocide is being perpetrated by Han Chinese against Uyghurs. The allegation has been denied and refuted over and over, the sources of the allegation have been discredited, but the allegation still has legs.

    Canadian Members of Parliament are preparing to vote on today Monday, 22 February, on a motion to declare China to be committing a genocide that was brought forward by far-right Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said the matter requires more study. Others are less clear about the need for study.

    In an interview with CBC, Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, stated: “There is no question that there is aspects of what the Chinese are doing that fits into the definition of a genocide in the Genocide Convention.” Rae immediately followed by saying, “But that requires you to go through the process of gathering information and of making sure that we got the evidence that would support that kind of an allegation.

    This is confused and contorted speak. Rae began by stating that unquestionably a genocide is occurring in Xinjiang. Then the diplomat admitted information hasn’t been gathered yet to provide evidence of “that kind of allegation.” An allegation refers to a claim typically without proof. If there were proof, then it would be a fact. Yet, the Canadian diplomat stated, “There is no question… of a genocide.” Ergo, he claims to be stating a certainty — a seeming certainty since Rae acknowledges a requirement for evidence, which Rae says is in the process of being gathered.

    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian hit back hard; he called Rae’s comments “ridiculous,” adding that Canada itself better fits the description of having perpetrated a genocide.1

    CTV wrote, “Zhao on Monday used a number of select statistics that suggest China’s Uighur population is growing at a faster rate than Canada’s population to mock Rae’s suggestions that the Uighurs are being persecuted.”

    That the CTV reporting is disingenuous is obvious from the moving of the goalposts with the substitution of “persecution” for “genocide.” Clearly persecuting someone, however unpleasant, is absolutely and qualitatively different from killing someone. And since genocide refers to the destruction of a population, a rapidly growing population would seem to belie claims of one side committing a genocide. Moreover, what statistic is better to “select” to refute assertions of a genocide being perpetrated?

    Still, to claim one group is being persecuted requires evidence.

    A more pressing priority for the politicians throwing rocks from the Canadian greenhouse ought to be awareness of how rife Canada is with racism. One report reveals systemic anti-Black racism in Canada. In 2006, Canada apologized for the racist imposition of a Chinese Head Tax, but the COVID-19 pandemic hysteria has exposed lingering racism toward ethnic Chinese people. In Un-Canadian: Islamophobia in the True North, author Graeme Truelove details the discrimination and the racist attitudes held against Muslims by the federal government and Canadian monopoly media.2 Canada is also a partner in the US-Imposed Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide, as substantiated by Gideon Polya.3 First Nations fare no better in Canada, as adumbrated in a report issued by the United Nations on severe discrimination against Indigenous peoples.

    Despite this festering racism within Canada, foreign affairs minister Francois-Philippe Champagne saw fit for Canada to join 38 other countries in calling for the admission of experts to Xinjiang “to assess the situation and to report back.” As a rule, basic decency would require that one clean up one’s own yard (except in Canada’s case, the yard was stolen from its Indigenous peoples) before criticizing someone else’s yard.

    Nonetheless, the world must not be silent in the face of crimes against humanity, especially genocide. And China welcomes outside observers to Xinjiang. China has invited the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Xinjiang as well as representatives of the EU.

    Chinese media, Global Times, writes,

    China welcomes foreigners to visit Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and learn about the real Xinjiang, given that some anti-China politicians in the West are spreading lies about Xinjiang.

    So much for a cover-up.

    What is the real situation in Xinjiang? I will refer again to the extensive must-read report compiled by the Qiao Collective, an all-volunteer group comprised of ethnic Chinese people living abroad, on Xinjiang that warned of “politically motivated” western disinformation:

    The effectiveness of Western propaganda lies in its ability to render unthinkable any critique or alternative—to monopolize the production of knowledge and truth itself. In this context, it is important to note that the U.S. and its allies are in the minority when it comes to its critiques of Chinese policy in Xinjiang. At two separate convenings of the UN Human Rights Council in 2019 and 2020, letters condemning Chinese conduct in Xinjiang were outvoted, 22-50 and 27-46. Many of those standing in support of Chinese policy in Xinjiang are Muslim-majority nations and/or nations that have waged campaigns against extremism on their own soil, including Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, and Nigeria. On the issue of Xinjiang, the clear break in consensus between the Global South and the U.S. bloc suggests that Western critiques of Xinjiang are primarily politically motivated.4

    Are the ramblings of the self-confessed liar Mike Pompeo to be taken seriously about a Chinese-perpetrated genocide in Xinjiang (which has also been accepted by the Biden administration)? Are American administration words to be believed without severe scrutiny considering the myriad lies; for example, about phantom torpedo attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, Viet Nam; about yellow cake and WMD in Iraq; about soldiers being supplied with Viagra in Libya to facilitate mass rapes; about Syrian chemical weapon attacks, etc, etc.

    In all my years in China, I never once encountered any expression of Islamophobia. The following video by an ex pat living in China expresses a similar sentiment. Consider when hearing stories from sources living outside China, especially those with a penchant for twisting the truth, what such a source has to gain from repeating allegations without ironclad proof.

    1. The evidence for genocide committed by the Canadian state, is voluminous. See Bruce Clark, Ongoing Genocide caused by Judicial Suppression of the “Existing” Aboriginal Rights (2018). Review; Bruce Clark, Justice in Paradise (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999); Splitting the Sky with She Keeps the Door, The Autobiography of Dacajeweiah, Splitting the Sky, John Boncore Hill: From Attica to Gustafsen Lake (John Pasquale Boncore, 2001). Tamara Starblanket, Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State (Clarity Press, 2018). Review; Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance(Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). Review; James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press, 2013); Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada (Black Rose, 1973).
    2. Read review.
    3. See review.
    4. Cited in my refutation of Islamophobia in China: “A Comparison of Respect for the Sanctity of Mosques in France, the US, and China.”
    The post Does the West Repeating Claims of China Committing Genocide in Xinjiang Reify It? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Why are Effective and Inexpensive Chinese and Russian Vaccines Unavailable in Much of the West?

    In 2016, I attended an information session about First Nations in Lax Kxeen (colonial designation Prince Rupert),1 “BC.” During a break, I conversed with some fellow attendees. They expressed skepticism to colonial provincial authorities being behind the intentional spreading of smallpox among First Nations people2 and that a vaccine was withheld from infected Indigenous individuals. The attendees insisted that there was no vaccine at that time for smallpox.

    Yet, the English doctor Edward Jenner is celebrated for having discovered the smallpox vaccine in 1796. This is the predominant western account on the origin of the smallpox vaccination.

    It is also recorded that inoculation against smallpox was already being practiced in Sichuan province by Taoist alchemists in the 10th century CE.3 The Chinese inoculators administered dead or attenuated smallpox collected from less virulent scabs, which were inserted into the nose on a plug of cotton. Inoculation may also have been practiced much earlier by the Chinese — some sources cite dates as early as 200 BCE.

    China obviously has a historical background in strengthening the immune response of people. Yet, in the western media, one seldom reads or hears about the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines. Neither were we well informed about the effectiveness of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine — that was until recently, when some western nations have been coming up short on vaccine supplies. The Canadian government has been scrambling to meet the demand for vaccines since Pfizer shipments were held up. The focus of western state and corporate media seemed clearly on procuring supplies of the Pfizer (US), Moderna (US), and AstraZeneca (UK-Sweden) vaccines. This is despite effective, but less heralded, Russian and Chinese vaccines being available and at a more affordable price. South Korea’s Arirang News reported Russian test results that “its second COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective.” CBC.ca found this success problematic; it depicted a political quandary in considering a Russian vaccine: “At first dismissed and ridiculed by Western countries, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has not only been rehabilitated; it’s emerging as a powerful tool of influence abroad for President Vladimir Putin.” France 24 concurred, hailing it as “a scientific and political victory for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

    Would Canada refuse to consider securing vaccines from Russia to safeguard the health of Canadians to avoid granting Putin, derided by Canadian magazine Macleans as a “new Stalin,” a political victory? Why shouldn’t Russia be lauded for coming up first with a working and effective vaccine? What does it matter if the leader of that country receives recognition? Shouldn’t the national priority be obtaining the best vaccine to protect the health of citizens?

    Medical data aside, western mass media has, apparently, been effective in stirring up a distrust of COVID-19 vaccines from China and Russia in comparison to western vaccines, as revealed in a YouGov poll of almost 19,000 people worldwide.

    Hungary has been mildly criticized for going its own way in ordering the Russian vaccine. Hungary’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, had no qualms and defended Budapest’s decision to buy two million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

    The Czech Republic is also considering following Hungary in using Russian and Chinese vaccines that are still pending approval by the European Union.

    Huge Potential Profits in Vaccines

    Investigative journalist Matt Tabibi pointed out,

    What Americans need to understand about the race to find vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 is that in the U.S., … the production of pharmaceutical drugs is still a nearly riskless, subsidy-laden scam.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus strongly criticized big pharma for profiteering and vaccine inequalities. Adhanom charged that younger, healthier adults in wealthy countries were being prioritized for vaccination against COVID-19 before older people or health care workers in poorer countries and that markets were sought to maximize profitability.

    In chapter VII of the e-book The 2020 Worldwide Corona Crisis: Destroying Civil Society, Engineered Economic Depression, Global Coup d’État and the “Great Reset” (December 2020, revised January 2021), professor Michel Chossudovsky writes:

    The plan to develop the Covid-19 vaccine is profit driven.

    The US government had already ordered 100 million doses back in July 2020 and the EU is to purchase 300 million doses. It’s Big Money for Big Pharma, generous payoffs to corrupt politicians, at the expense of tax payers.

    The objective is ultimately to make money, by vaccinating the entire planet of 7.8 billion people for SARS-CoV-2….

    The Covid vaccine is a multibillion dollar Big Pharma operation which will contribute to increasing the public debt of more than 150 national governments.

    Imagine, if those thousands of people stay home, reduce contact with others, they may have survived the pandemic.4

    Chossudovsky also questions the safety of the rushed testing and the need for a vaccine given that the WHO and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both confirmed that Covid-19 is “similar to seasonal influenza.”5

    Some Safety Concerns about Vaccines

    A report raised alarm about at least 36 people who developed a rare, lethal blood disorder, called thrombocytopenia, after receiving either of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines in the US. A Miami obstetrician, Gregory Michael, just 56, died of a brain hemorrhage just 16 days after receiving a Pfizer vaccination. His thrombocytopenia had caused his platelets to drop to virtually zero.

    A Johns Hopkins University expert on blood disorders, Jerry L. Spivak, who was uninvolved in Michael’s care, said that based on Michael’s wife’s description: “I think it is a medical certainty that the vaccine was related [to Michael’s death].”

    In Israel, at least three people suffered Bell’s palsy, facial paralysis, after receiving the vaccine. Data from Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials revealed seven COVID-19 participants had experienced Bell’s palsy in the weeks following vaccination.

    In Norway, at least 23 people who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine died. According to authorities, thirteen of the fatalities were associated to the vaccine’s side effects. In addition, 10 deaths shortly following vaccination were being probed in Germany.

    Pfizer and Moderna use a novel vaccine based on mRNA. Following the deaths in Norway, Chinese health experts called for caution and the suspension of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, especially for elderly people.

    Regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC reported the administration of over 41 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the US from 14 December 2020 through 7 February 2021. During this time, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System received 1,170 reports of death (0.003%) among people vaccinated for COVID-19. Based on the extremely low figure, the CDC advised people that “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective” and “to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible.”

    Yet, it seems some Europeans distrust their own government-approved Covid-19 vaccines. A black market has arisen; two doses of unapproved Chinese vaccines have reportedly sold for as high as 7,000 yuan (£800) — almost 20 times the reported usual price.

    Vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac, cautioned the public not to buy the vaccines online.

    Chinese Vaccines and Profit-seeking

    Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been magnanimous with what could be an extremely profitable property. Said Xi, “China is willing to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the research and development, production, and distribution of vaccines,”

    “We will fulfill our commitments, offer help and support to other developing countries, and work hard to make vaccines a public good that citizens of all countries can use and can afford.”

    Imagine that: making an in-demand product available as a “pubic good” instead of taking advantage of a seemingly dire situation to rake in huge profits. Africa, for one, is benefiting.

    Back in October 2020, Fortune.com proclaimed in its headline: “World’s vaccine testing ground deems Chinese COVID candidate ‘the safest, most promising.’” The tests conducted in Brazil were large, human trials of the COVID-19 vaccines that included Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm.

    São Paulo Governor João Doria said,

    The first results of the clinical study conducted in Brazil prove that among all the vaccines tested in the country, CoronaVac from Chinese developer Sinovacis the safest, the one with the best and most promising rates.

    On 3 February 2021, the peer-review medical journal, The Lancet, published a study by Wu et al. who spoke to the urgent need for a vaccine against COVID-19 for the elderly. Their study found that the Chinese CoronaVac, containing inactivated SARS-CoV-2, is safe and well tolerated by the elderly.

    Journalist Wei Ling Chua, who follows closely how events involving China are portrayed and perceived elsewhere, asked in an email on 12 February 2021:

    1) till this date, there is no report of a single death or hospitalisation after taking China vaccine

    2) unlike the capitalist west, China vaccine companies did not require nations to excuse them from legal liability from side effects.

    Despite, western nations acknowledging many having died soon after taking the vaccine, they all claim that after investigation the cause of death not related to vaccine. But, why does death happen so soon after taking the vaccine?

    Why following administration of a Chinese vaccine are there no reports of people dying soon afterwards?

    Closing Comments

    This essay does not explore the necessity for vaccination against COVID-19. Indeed, there are grounds to be skeptical of the necessity for all people to be vaccinated. However, if COVID-19 is genuinely an urgent health issue,6 then why would governments play politics with the health of their populace?

    1. The city’s name is an eponym for Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a European elitist who never set foot on the Pacific coast. For the Ts’msyen: “Place names are usually rooted in the natural world and the land they refer to.” See Kenneth Campbell, Persistence and Change: A History of the Ts’msyen Nation (Prince Rupert, [sic] BC: First Nation Educational Council, 2005): 10. Author Kenneth Campbell commented, “By writing and saying the name name in [Sm’algyax, the Ts’msyen language], both the language and the people are honored.” (p. 10)
    2. Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance (Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). See also an interview with Tom Swanky.
    3. Robert Temple, The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery and Invention (London: Prion Books, 2002): 135-137.
    4. Click on the following link to access the complete E-book consisting of a Preface, Highlights and Nine Chapters.
    5. For more on “the absolute and relative ‘flu-like’ risk of death from a SARS-CoV-2 infection” see “Review of calculated SARS-CoV-2 infection fatality rates: Good CDC science versus dubious CDC science, the actual risk that does not justify the ‘cure’ – By Prof Joseph Audie,” ResearchGate.
    6. Even about this be skeptical; research and inform yourself; and draw your own conclusions.
    The post Why are Effective and Inexpensive Chinese and Russian Vaccines Unavailable in Much of the West? first appeared on Dissident Voice.