Category Archives: EU

Russia:  Nord Stream 2 vs. Poisoning of Alexei Navalny

Wednesday, 2 September, all German TV channels, mainstream media were focused unilaterally on the alleged Novichok poisoning of Russian opposition critic, Alexei Navalny. This “breaking-news” poison discovery was made in Germany two weeks after he has been flown from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow, when he fell ill on the plane and the airliner had to return to Tomsk for an emergency landing.

Navalny was hospitalized in Tomsk, put in an artificial coma and closely observed. His family wanted him immediately to be flown out of Russia to Berlin, Germany, to get western attention and western treatment. So, the story goes. At first the medical staff at Tomsk hospital said that Navalny’s health was not stable enough for a transport of this kind. A few days later they gave the green light for flying him to Germany. Berlin sent a hospital plane – at German taxpayer’s cost – to fly the “poisoned” political patient to Berlin, where during the last 14 days he has been in an artificial coma in Berlin’s University Hospital “Charité”. At least that’s what the government reports.

After 11 days, finally “scientists” — supposedly military toxicologists — have discovered that Navalny was poisoned with military grade nerve gas Novichok.

Military grade!  It reminds vividly of the other bizarre Novichok case — Sergei and Yulia Skripal, father and daughter, who were found on March 12, 2018 on a park bench in Salisbury, Britain, unconscious. The location was about 12 km down the road from the British top-secret P-4 security military lab Porton Down in Wiltshire, one of the few labs in the world that still are capable to produce Novichok. The immediate reaction of Britain and the world was then, like today: Putin did it! Sergei Skripal was a Russian double agent, who was released from Russia more than a decade earlier and lived peacefully in England.

What interest would Mr. Putin have to poison him? However, the UK and Big Brother Washington had all the interest in the world to invent yet another reason to bash and slander Russia and President Putin. The same as today with Alexei Navalny.

Isn’t it strange that the Skripals as well as Navalny survived? And that after having been poisoned with what military experts claim to be the deadliest nerve agent ever? Although nobody has seen the Skripals after they were hospitalized 2 years ago, it seems they are still alive. Were they perhaps given US-British shelter under the guise of the so-called US-witness protection program – a full new identity, hiding in plain view?

The immediate question was then and is today, why would Mr. Putin poison his adversaries? That would be the most unwise thing to do. Everybody knows much too well that Mr. Putin is the world’s foremost perceptive, incisive and diplomatic statesman. Alexei Navalny wasn’t even a serious contender. His popularity was less than 5%. Compare this with Mr. Putin’s close to 80% approval rating by the Russian population. Navalny is known as a right wing activist and troublemaker. Anybody who suggests such an absurdity, that the Kremlin would poison Navalny, is outright crazy.

If there would have been a plot to get rid of Navalny – why would he be poisoned with the deadliest nerve gas there is – and, as he survives, being allowed to be flown out to the west, literally into the belly of the beast? That would be even more nonsensical.

Yet the mainstream media keep hammering it down without mercy, without even allowing for the slightest doubt, down into the brains of the suspected brainwashed Germans and world populations. But the German population is the least brainwashed of all Europe. In fact, Germans are the most awakened of the globe’s western populace. It clearly shows when they resist their government’s (and the 193 nations governments’ around the world) Covid tyranny with a peaceful Berlin protest of 1 August of 1.3 million people in the streets and a similar one on 29 August.

Nevertheless, Madame Merkel’s reaction was so ferocious on September 2 on TV and with the media, as well as talking to leaders from around the world on how to react to this latest Russian atrocity and how to punish and sanction President Putin, that even conservative politicians and some mainstream journalists started wondering – what’s going on?

It’s a debateless accusation of Russia. There is no shred of evidence and there are no alternatives being considered. The simplest and most immediate question one ought to ask in such circumstances is “cui bono” – who benefits?  But no. The answer to this question would clearly show that President Putin and Russia do not benefit from this alleged poisoning at all. So, who does?

The evolving situation is so absurd that not a single word coming out of the German Government can be believed. It all sounds like a flagrant lie; like an evil act of smearing Russia without a reason, and that exactly at the time when Europe, led by Germany, was about to improve relations with Russia. The gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 is a vivid testimony for closer relations between Germany, and by association Europe, with Russia – or is it?

One of Joseph Goebbels’ (Hitler’s propaganda Minister) famous sayings was, when a lie is repeated enough it becomes the truth.

Peculiarly enough, and without any transit-thought, the German right wing, the CDU-party, in particular, came immediately forward with recommending – no, demanding – an immediate halt of the Nord Stream 2 project – canceling the contract with Russia. The “biggest punishment” for Putin. “It will hurt Russia deep in their already miserable down-trodden economy”, were some comments. Those were angry anti-Russian voices. Another lie. The Russian economy is doing well, very well, as compared to most western economies, despite Covid.

What do Russian health and toxicology authorities say, especially those who treated Mr. Navalny in the hospital of Tomsk?

RT reports, according to Alexander Sabaev, the chief toxicologist who cared for him in Siberia, if Alexey Navalny’s condition were caused by a substance from the ‘Novichok’ group, the people accompanying him should also be suffering from the fallout. Instead, Dr. Sabaev believes that Navalny’s condition was caused by an “internal trigger mechanism.” Novichok is an organophosphorus compound, and, due to its high toxicity, it is not possible to poison just one person. He explained, “As a rule, other accompanying people will also be affected.”

Doctors in the Tomsk Emergency Hospital, where activist Navalny lay in a coma for almost two days, found no traces of toxic substances in his kidneys, liver, or lungs.  Alexander Sabaev, leading the investigation, concluded that Navalny was not poisoned.

So why was Dr. Alexander Sabaev not interviewed on German TV or by the western mainstream media?

Neither were members of other German parties interviewed, for example, Die Linke (the Left), or the SPD – the Social Democratic Party. None.  None of the medical doctors or “scientists” who were treating Alexei Navalny at Charité, and who allegedly discovered the deadly poison (but not deadly enough) in Navalny’s body, were interviewed.

Nor was the former Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder (Ms. Merkel’s predecessor, 1998-2005) interviewed about his opinion. Schroeder, a member of the SPD, is one of the master minds of Nord Stream 2 and is currently the chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG and of Rosneft. Would he think that Mr. Putin was as foolish as to kill this German-Russia unifying project by poisoning a right-wing activist, a non-adversary?

Of course not.

Therefore, who benefits?

The United States has for years been objecting vividly and voraciously against this pipeline. Trump: “Why should we pay for NATO to defend Germany, when Germany buys gas from Russia and makes herself dependent on Russia?” – He added, “We offer Germany and Europe all the gas and energy they need.” Yes, the US is offering “fracking gas” at much higher cost than the Russian gas. There are countries in Europe whose Constitution would not allow buying fracking gas, due to the environmentally damaging fracking process.

Is it possible that this was another one of those brilliant acts of the CIA or other US intelligence agencies?  Or a combination of CIA and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (German Federal Intelligence Service) or an EU-NATO trick? By now it’s no longer a secret that NATO runs Brussels, or at least calls the shots on issues of US interests concerning the European Union or its member states.

Is it possible that Angela Merkel was chosen by the deep-deep state to combat President Putin and Russia, this time by bashing and smearing them with lies – lies as gross as poisoning an opposition activist? To kill the pipeline? What will it be next time?

Today, the first time, official Germany through Mr. Heiko Haas, Foreign Minister, has questioned and threatened the Nord Stream 2 German-Russian joint venture – “if Moscow does not collaborate.” Mr. Haas knows very well there is nothing to collaborate, as Russia was not involved. It is the same argument, if Moscow does not collaborate (in the case of the Skripals) that was used by Theresa May, then British PM, to punish Russia with further sanctions.

Indeed, all is possible in today’s world, where the Washington empire is faltering by the day and the Powers that Be are desperate that their international fraud base – the US-dollar – may be disappearing. Because, not only are Nord Stream 1 and 2 delivering Russian gas to Germany and Europe, but the gas is traded in euros and rubles and not in US-dollars.

Think about it. Killing (or – so far – poisoning) a Russian opposition leader to demolish the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 project?  This is certainly a crime within the realm and “competence” of the US Government and its western allies.

* First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

The post Russia:  Nord Stream 2 vs. Poisoning of Alexei Navalny first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Current Impasse in Belarus and the Peace Alternative 

Back in the 1970s, the left and even many liberals were clear that Nixon’s dropping napalm on Vietnamese villages was an abomination. By the 1990s, some thought Bill Clinton’s bombing of Yugoslavia was, perhaps, humanitarian. Fast forward to the present, there is sentiment that the US has a global “responsibility to protect” the less enlightened lands in the name of “democracy.” Some on the liberal-left fail to recognize the fallacy of what Jean Bricmont exposes as “humanitarian imperialism – using human rights to sell war.”

In response to a peace organization advocating no foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Belarus, a US commentator protested: “[T]here has been no US intervention in the country. There’s nothing wrong, intrinsically, with external support of democracy. Your support for someone who seems like a bloody dictator is dismaying.” So, several inevitable questions arise. What is a dictator? Has there been foreign intervention in Belarus? Who has the right to intervene? And does advocating non-intervention implicitly support a presumptive dictator?

The Belarusian presidential election as a catalyst for regime change

Opposition elements in Belarus had long planned to use the September 9 presidential election as a catalyst for regime change. Their main base is with upwardly mobile white-collar professionals. However, they would have not been able to rally the tens of thousands of demonstrators had there not been broad and genuine discontent with President Alexander Lukashenko.

Elements of the opposition leadership in Belarus are partly financed by the European Union and the US and reflect those political interests. They have adopted the red and white flag, flown during the Nazi occupation. Their Resuscitation Reform Package, modeled after a nearly identical program for Ukraine, calls for the complete neoliberal privatization of the economy and an alignment with the NATO west.

Exit polls, conducted by the opposition, were cited to claim gross electoral fraud with Lukashenko garnering only 3% of the vote. Other observers accepted that Lukashenko won a majority but not by the official count of 80%. Golos, a pro-opposition election monitoring organization using data collected by US-backed youth organizations, reported Lukashenko winning with 61.7%.

BBC News laments that the election in Belarus had “no independent observers invited.” Yet there was an election observation delegation from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which reported the August 9 election “was open and competitive and ensured that Belarus citizens could freely express their will.” But the CIS report did not have the kind conclusion or “independence” sought by the BBC, itself a quasi-governmental corporation of the British state and funded by a mandatory state levy.

The voices of political tendencies and parties in Belarus and elsewhere in Europe that consider themselves socialist or communist, but are critical of their home governments, are excluded by western media. Even leftish outlets such as Democracy Now! follow the flag repeating the US/NATO regime change narrative, without providing alternative views. DN! laments the “massive crackdown on any kind of independent reporting” in Belarus, while serving as an information gatekeeper in the homeland of the empire.

Objectively, no one authoritatively knows the real outcome of the vote.

Convenient definitions of a dictator

Being unelected or fraudulently elected is not the only definition of a dictator. The functional definition for the US government is a leader disloyal to the empire.

Washington considers the democratically elected President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro a dictator. While Juan Guaidó, who proclaimed himself president of Venezuela on a Caracas street corner and was immediately recognized by the US government, is considered a legitimate head of state.

The monarch of Saudi Arabia is considered legitimate by Washington, even though the ruling House of Saud does not even bother to conduct sham elections. This is a country where women do not have basic rights, where slavery is practiced, and where those who run afoul with the law are routinely beheaded. But Saudi Arabia is the largest purchaser of US military equipment in the world, eclipsing the next contender by a factor of 2.6. So, the Saudi monarch is not on the official US list of dictators.

Then there are the leaders chosen and installed by the US after coups, such as Ukraine in 2014. There, the US literally handpicked the post-coup leader for Ukraine from a rogue’s gallery of neo-Nazis.

Intervention in Belarus by the West

The US does not have boots on the ground in Belarus and, so far, has refrained from drone attacks on funerals or wedding parties. Despite this praiseworthy restraint by the world’s sole superpower, it would be wrong to assume that the US is not intervening in Belarus. A US hybrid warfare program has been in effect since at least 2004 when the US passed the Belarus Democracy Act creating anti-government NGOs in Belarus and prohibiting loans.

Belarus is under unilateral US sanctions, illegal under international law, but justified by a presidential declaration, which bogusly claims a “national emergency” because Belarus “constitute[s] an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The USAID, the above-ground face of the CIA, states in Orwellian language the US regime change plans for Belarus:

“[P]romote the emergence of a… market-oriented Belarus… USAID works… to stimulate the country’s transition to a market-based economy through programs that support… private business.”

Such is the imperial mindset that the US brazenly takes upon itself to “transition” a supposedly sovereign state into a neoliberal dependency.

The website of the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA cutout, lists some three dozen current projects in Belarus for what are euphemistically called strengthening “independent” online media, civil society, culture, and public discourse. NED’s years of hard work were on display in the media sophistication of the opposition in Belarus.

The runner-up in the Belarus presidential election with 10% of the official vote, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, fled to Lithuania, where she met with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun. Although self-described as apolitical with no prior political experience, she proclaimed herself ready to lead Belarus. Indeed the 37-year-old has all the qualifications for a puppet president, being photogenic and speaking English. On September 4, she addressed the UN Security Council calling for punishing sanctions on her own people.

The European Union is playing an even more overt role in promoting regime change in Belarus and is planning to extend sanctions. The openly anti-Semitic government of Poland, with which Belarus shares a border, has an irredentist interest in “recovering” portions of the country which were once part of a Polish empire.

The Russian legacy 

Belarus was a Soviet republic, which did not become a sovereign country until 1990 after the breakup of the USSR. Belarus has strong historical and cultural affinities with its Russian neighbor to the east. Some 70% of Belarusians speak Russian at home. In 2000, Belarus and Russia established the Union State, a supranational confederation for economic integration and common defense.

The US and the European Union yearn to use the color revolution in Belarus to complete the military occupation of Russia’s western border. Belarus is the last piece in that puzzle now that Latvia and Estonia are in the NATO camp and Ukraine is on its way.

Russia’s involvement has largely been in reaction to this hostile military encirclement. Escalation of tensions only motivates Russia to be more defensive. The best antidote to Russian intrusion is détente rather than a new cold war. Besides, the government that the US peace movement can best influence is its own.

The current impasse in Belarus

The color revolution in Belarus is now stalled and the opposing forces appear to be stalemated. Without getting into a debate over Lukashenko, the salient question is how the working people of Belarus can best determine their destiny.

The opposition claims Lukashenko’s 26-year rule of Belarus has degenerated with questionable elections, mismanagement, and corruption. But the cure could be worse than the disease, as in the case of Libya, especially if it is left up to the tender mercies of the US empire to dictate the new “democratic” leader and the form of government to follow.

Belarus has enjoyed a low level of unemployment, public housing, almost no homelessness, and accessible and affordable healthcare and education. These social welfare factors compare favorably to the harsh neoliberal austerity and civil disintegration of its neighbors, now drawn into the NATO bloc. The critical issue is how can the Belarusians defend their gains in a contentious international milieu.

Tony Kevin, the former Australian ambassador to Poland, sums up the current impasse:

Belarus is at risk, because in the Lukashenko political twilight there is confusion and fear: the people have lost their ideological moorings, and there is no coherent national vision as was recovered in Russia under Vladimir Putin starting in 2000.  Belarusians hopefully are coming to see the danger they will be in if they depose Lukashenko without knowing what comes after.

Regardless of what the security forces might do, Lukashenko could easily be deposed if the workers in the major industrial enterprises went on a wildcat strike. Some discontented workers have walked off their jobs, but a majority look to the cautionary examples of the turncoat Solidarity in Poland, the sellout Yeltsin in Russia, and the neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

In those and other examples, state enterprises were sold off at bargain basement prices to new oligarchs and western financiers. Factory equipment was ransacked, work forces drastically downsized, and labor rights abrogated. Absent the specter of another US-backed coup like in Ukraine with its severe neoliberal austerity, Lukashenko would likely have been history.

The peace alternative: no foreign intervention in Belarus

The principle of non-intervention is enshrined in the UN Charter. There is no unilateral right to intervene into the internal affairs of another sovereign state. The greatest violator of this fundamental international law is the world’s sole superpower. The consequence, according to the late Uruguayan political analyst Eduardo Galeano has been: “Every time the US ‘saves’ a country, it converts it into either an insane asylum or a cemetery.”

A non-interventionist stance should not be confused with an endorsement of Lukashenko. Opposing US/NATO interventionism is no more an endorsement of Lukashenko than opposing the invasion of Iraq was an endorsement of Saddam Hussein. Belarus needs more than the binary choice of Lukashenko and the failed Ukrainian option. To have that space requires no foreign intervention in Belarus.

For those of us in the US, that means keeping our own government from fishing in troubled waters and letting the people of Belarus decide. They have the power and don’t need to be told what democracy looks like by those of us who will choose between Trump or Biden in November.

The post The Current Impasse in Belarus and the Peace Alternative  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK?

The British government, regulators and global agrochemical corporations are colluding with each other and are thus engaging in criminal behaviour. That’s the message put forward in a new report written by environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason and sent to the UK Environment Agency. It follows her January 2019 open letter to Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer CropScience, where she made it clear to him that she considers Bayer CropScience and Monsanto criminal corporations.

Her letter to Baumann outlined a cocktail of corporate duplicity, cover-ups and criminality which the public and the environment are paying the price for, not least in terms of the effects of glyphosate. Later in 2019, Mason wrote to Bayer Crop Science shareholders, appealing to them to put human health and nature ahead of profit and to stop funding Bayer.

Mason outlined with supporting evidence how the gradual onset of the global extinction of many species is largely the result of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. She argued that Monsanto’s (now Bayer) glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and Bayer’s clothianidin are largely responsible for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and that the use of glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides are wiping out wildlife species across the globe.

In February 2020, Mason wrote the report ‘Bayer Crop Science rules Britain after Brexit – the public and the press are being poisoned by pesticides’. She noted that PM Boris Johnson plans to do a trade deal with the US that could see the gutting of food and environment standards. In a speech setting out his goals for trade after Brexit, Johnson talked up the prospect of an agreement with Washington and downplayed the need for one with Brussels – if the EU insists the UK must stick to its regulatory regime. In other words, he wants to ditch EU regulations.

Mason pondered just who could be pulling Johnson’s strings. A big clue came in February 2019 at a Brexit meeting on the UK chemicals sector where UK regulators and senior officials from government departments listened to the priorities of Bayer Crop Science. During the meeting (Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar: Priorities for UK chemicals sector – challenges, opportunities and the future for regulation post-Brexit), Janet Williams, head of regulatory science at Bayer Crop Science Division, made the priorities for agricultural chemical manufacturers known.

Dave Bench was also a speaker. Bench is a senior scientist at the UK Chemicals, Health and Safety Executive and director of the agency’s EU exit plan and has previously stated that the regulatory system for pesticides is robust and balances the risks of pesticides against the benefits to society.

In an open letter to Bench, Mason responded:

That statement is rubbish. It is for the benefit of the agrochemical industry. The industry (for it is the industry that does the testing, on behalf of regulators) only tests one pesticide at a time, whereas farmers spray a cocktail of pesticides, including over children and babies, without warning.

It seems that post-Brexit the UK could authorise the continued use of glyphosate. Of course, with a US trade deal in the pipeline, there are major concerns about glyphosate-resistant GMOs and the lowering of food standards across the board.

Mason says that glyphosate causes epigenetic changes in humans and animals: diseases skip a generation. Washington State University researchers found a variety of diseases and other health problems in the second- and third-generation offspring of rats exposed to glyphosate. In the first study of its kind, the researchers saw descendants of exposed rats developing prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, obesity and birth abnormalities.

Glyphosate has been the subject of numerous studies about its health effects. Robert F Kennedy Jr, one of the attorney’s fighting Bayer (which has bought Monsanto) in the US courts, has explained that for four decades Monsanto manoeuvred to conceal Roundup’s carcinogenicity by capturing regulatory agencies, corrupting public officials, bribing scientists and engaging in scientific fraud to delay its day of reckoning.

Kennedy says there is also cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts.

In her new document sent to the UK Environment Agency, Mason argues there is criminal collusion between the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Chemicals Regulation Division and Bayer over Brexit. She also claims the National Farmers Union has been lying about how much pesticides farmers use and have ignored the side effects of chlorpyrifos, chlorothalonil, glyphosate and neonicotinoids. The NFU says farmers couldn’t do without these inputs, even though they destroy human health and the environment.

Of course, farmers can and do go without using these chemicals. And the shift away from chemical-intensive agriculture is perfectly feasible. In a recent article on the AgWeb site, for instance, US farmer Adam Chappell describes how he made the shift on his 8,000-acre farm. Chappell was not some dyed-in-the-wool organic evangelist. He made the shift for financial and practical reasons and is glad he did. The article states:

He was on the brink of bankruptcy and facing a go broke or go green proposition. Drowning in a whirlpool of input costs, Chappell cut bait from conventional agriculture and dove headfirst into a bootstrap version of innovative farming. Roughly 10 years later, his operation is transformed, and the 41-year-old grower doesn’t mince words: It was all about the money.

Surely there is a lesson there for UK farmers who in 2016 used glyphosate on 2,634,573 ha of cropland. It is not just their bottom line that could improve but the health of the nation. Mason says that five peer-reviewed animal studies from the US and Argentina released in July 2020 have focused minds on the infertility crisis being caused by glyphosate-based herbicides. Researchers at The National University of Litoral in Sante Fe, Argentina, have published three concerning peer-reviewed papers including two studies on ewes and rats and one review. In one study, researchers concluded that glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides are endocrine disruptors. They also stated that glyphosate-based herbicides alter reproductive outcomes in females.

But such is the British government’s willingness to protect pesticide companies that it is handing agrochemical giants BASF and Bayer enormous pay-outs of Covid-19 support cash. The announcement came just weeks after Bayer shareholders voted to pay £2.75 billion in dividends. The fact that Bayer then went on to receive £600 million from the government speaks volumes of where the government’s priorities lie.

According to Mason, the new Agriculture Bill provides a real opportunity for the UK to adopt a paradigm shift which embraces non-chemical farming policy. However, Defra has stated that after Brexit Roundup Ready GA21 glyphosate tolerant crops could be introduced.

It is also concerning that a post-Brexit funding gap could further undermine the impartiality of university research. Mason refers to Greenpeace, which notes that Bayer and Syngenta, both sell neonicotinoid insecticides linked to harmful effects on bees, gave a combined total of £16.1m to 70 British universities over five years to fund a range of research. Such private funding could create a conflict of interest for academics and after Brexit a potential shortage of public money for science could force universities to seek more finance from the private sector.

Neonicotinoids were once thought to have little or no negative effects on the environment because they are used in low doses and as a seed coating, rather than being sprayed. But evidence has been mounting that the chemicals harm bees – important pollinators of food crops. As a result, neonicotinoids have been banned by the EU, although they can still be used under license.

According to Bayer’s website, academics who reviewed 15 years of research found “no adverse effects to bee colonies were ever observed in field studies”. Between 2011 and 2016, the figures obtained from the 70 universities – about half the total in the UK – show Bayer gave £9m to fund research, including more than £345,000 on plant sciences. Syngenta spent nearly £7.1m, including just under £2.3m on plant sciences and stated that many years of independent monitoring prove that when used properly neonicotinoids do not damage the health of bee populations.

However, in 2016, Ben Stewart of Greenpeace UK’s Brexit response team, said that the decline in bee populations is a major environmental and food security concern – it’s causes need to be properly investigated.

He added:

But for this research to command public confidence, it needs to be independent and impartial, which is why public funding is so crucial. You wouldn’t want lung cancer studies to be heavily reliant on funds from tobacco firms, nor research on pesticides to be dependent on the companies making them.

Stewart concluded:

As Brexit threatens to cut off vital public funds for this scientific field, our universities need a cast-iron guarantee from our government that EU money will not be replaced by corporate cash.

But Mason notes that the government long ago showed its true colours by refusing to legislate on the EU Directive (2009/128/EC) on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides. The government merely stated that current statutory and voluntary controls related to pesticides and the protection of water, if followed, afford a high degree of protection and it would primarily seek to work with the pesticides industry to enhance voluntary measures.

Mason first questioned the government on this in January 2011. In an open letter to the Chemical Regulation Directorate. The government claimed that no compelling evidence was provided to justify further extending existing regulations and voluntary controls.

Lord Henley, the Under-Secretary of State for Defra, expanded further:

By making a small number of changes to our existing approach we can continue to help feed a growing global population with high-quality food that’s affordable – while minimising the risks of using pesticides.

In her numerous reports and open letters to officials, Mason has shown that far from having ‘high-quality food’, there is an ongoing public health crisis due to the pesticides being used.

She responded to Henley by stating:

… instead of strengthening the legislation, the responses of the UK government and the CRD have considerably weakened it. In the case of aerial spraying, you have opted for derogation.

Mason says that, recently, the day that Monsanto lost its appeal against Dewayne Lee Johnson the sprayers came around the Marina in Cardiff breaking all the rules that the EU had set for Roundup.

We can only wonder what could lie in store for the British public if a trade deal is done with the US. Despite the Conservative government pledging that it would not compromise on the UK’s food and environment standards, it now proposes that chlorine-washed chicken, beef treated with growth hormones, pork from animals treated with ractopamine and many other toxic foods produced in the US will be allowed into the UK. All for the bottom line of US agribusiness corporations. It is also worth mentioning at this point that there are around 2,000 untested chemicals in packaged foods in the US.

Ultimately, the situation comes down to a concentration of power played out within an interlocking directorate of state-corporate interests – in this case, global agrochemical conglomerates and the British government – and above the heads of ordinary people. It is clear that these institutions value the health of powerful corporations at the expense of the health of the population and the state of the environment.

Readers can access Mason’s new paper ‘Criminal collusion between Defra, the Chemicals Regulation Division and Bayer over Brexit Agenda’ via academia.edu website (which cites relevant sources), where all her other documents can also be found.

China’s International Solidarity Aid to the World During the Corona Pandemic

China’s worldwide assistance and medical aid to other countries to combat the coronavirus is barely covered in the corporate press. Instead, the US has ramped up its anti-China campaign to cover up its own incompetence in combating the virus. As John Pilger shows in his Obama era film The Coming War on China, this is no new campaign.

The US empire realizes that China is slowly putting the US out of business around the world. If the point comes where the US can no longer impose the dollar as the medium of international exchange – still a long way away — it would rapidly go the way of the old British empire. The rise of China also signifies the setting of the white man’s bloody 500-year world hegemony.

China displayed before the world its effective strategy in shutting down the coronavirus. In contrast, every day Washington shows the world it is incapable of effective response and cannot control of the situation. Back on March 13, when US coronavirus deaths were just 40, Trump declared a national health emergency. Now, after eight weeks of “emergency” measures, the official US death count surpasses 82,000.

Over 50 years ago the United States would have been leading the international battle to fight the pandemic, as it had done with polio. Today, there is a vacuum that China, and even Cuba, are filling.

“This Administration’s retreat from multilateralism has been a boon for Chinese soft power,” Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D) told Newsweek. The US has “historically been a leader in responding to global emergencies, but with President Donald Trump’s retreat from the world stage, we’re seeing the Chinese government, and its proxies, fill the void,” he added.

Even CNBC reports:

This is the first international crisis where China is actively taking a global leadership role and it stands in particular contrast to the US, which has disdained international cooperation and invested more political capital in criticizing China for its role in allowing the outbreak to spread,’ said analysts from the Eurasia Group in a report this week. On social and state media, China continues to promote its shipments of medical supplies to hard hit countries in Europe and Africa.

China’s leader Xi Jinping has sought to rally the world, declaring the two most powerful weapons against the disease were solidarity and cooperation, that the virus can only be defeated when the international community fights in unity. “It is imperative for the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response,” Xi said at the G20 summit on March 26. “We must comprehensively step up international cooperation and foster greater synergy so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease.” He proposed a four point program including a G20 joint action plan to lead the struggle to combat the virus and revive the world economy.

China has been supplying the world with medical supplies through donations and sales. The US, in contrast, has continued its bombings in Iraq, regime change attempts, and has blocked medical aid by the IMF and by other countries to Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. The US also capitalized on the pandemic to round up immigrants for deportation, ignoring advice from public health officials.

China Daily published an article “COVID-19 shows the demise of so-called American leadership,” which observed, “China has taken the lead to support the world during the crisis.” This was evident even in Europe as US-allied countries found themselves turning to China rather than Washington, and saw the Trump administration pirating supplies meant for other crisis-stricken countries, including Germany, Canada, Italy and France.

Cuba has also been a model of medical solidarity in face of the virus pandemic. By the end of March more than 850 Cuban health professionals have traveled abroad to help fight COVID-19. Washington has responded by retaliating, obstructing Cuba’s ability to combat the virus at home by blocking the sale of  Swiss respirators, blocking Cuba’s ability to import pharmaceutical raw materials, and even blocking a major coronavirus donation by Jack Ma from China. This led to over 25 U.S. lawmakers signing a letter to President Trump to allow Cuba access to medical supplies to fight the virus.

By early April over 100 Chinese public health experts, using their experience in Wuhan, had traveled to other countries to help in their efforts. At that time, 14 medical teams were working in 12 countries, which now include Iran, Iraq, Italy, Spain, Serbia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, Philippines, Nigeria and Algeria.  By mid-April, China had already sent medical donations to 140 countries. Moreover, as the US cut its funding to the World Health Organization, China compensated by donating an extra $30 million on top of a previous $20 million.

This information is rarely reported in the US corporate press, which then typically faults China for underhanded ulterior motives, for exporting substandard masks (and then for holding up exports to meet other nations’ standards), for covering up and lying to the world about their efforts to control the virus, and so on.

Here are examples of China’s international solidarity and other countries’ gratitude:

Chinese Donations to Canada and the US

Soon after Trump blocked 3M from shipping N95 masks to Canada, to prioritize US domestic needs, Huawei flew large quantities of medical supplies to Canadian provinces. Canada received over a million masks, 50,000 gloves and 30,000 goggles, with five million more masks to follow. Newsweek noted, “their generosity has been accepted and appreciated by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

CNN reported that Joe and Clara Tsai, owner of the Brooklyn Nets, donated from China  2.6 million masks, 170,000 goggles and 2,000 ventilators. Joe Tsai founded Alibaba, the giant Chinese e-commerce company, along with Jack Ma, and is its Executive Vice President. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo thanked them, “The Chinese government helped facilitate a donation of 1,000 ventilators that will arrive in JFK today. I thank the Chinese government, Jack Ma, Joe Tsai, the Jack Ma Foundation, the Tsai Foundation and [China’s New York] Consul General Huang.”

China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai in a New York Times op-ed, China and the U.S. Must Cooperate Against Coronavirus, wrote that “Huawei donated tens of thousands of personal protective items, including masks, gloves and goggles, to New York and Washington, D.C. In total, Chinese companies have donated 1.5 million masks, 200,000 test kits, 180,000 gloves and many other medical supplies to the United States.”

China also aided Oregon, sight of the initial US outbreak.  Oregon Governor Kate Brown thanked China for “The very generous donation of 50,000 much-needed masks for Oregonians,” on top of an earlier 12,000 masks.

Terry Branstad, the US Ambassador to China, also acknowledged Chinese assistance:

A few months later, we find our roles are reversed – China is now providing PPE for the US medical system, including donations from private Chinese entities. The United States has greatly appreciated the many contributions of PPE and medical supplies by Chinese companies and other organizations. These contributions have been both commercial exports and donations, both large and small, both immediate and long-term. But the American people are tremendously grateful for the support from the Chinese people, and our Mission has been touched by the many heartfelt offers to assist us in our time of need.

China’s Aid and Donations to Europe

China sent ten medical personnel to Russia in early April and a total of 150 million masks.  It sent medical aid to numerous European Union countries, including Poland, Belarus, Romania, Hungary, Greece, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Estonia, and Spain.

Chinese doctors arrived in Italy March 9 shortly after European Union nations turned down Italy’s requests for help with medical supplies. Maurizio Massari, Italy’s EU ambassador to the European Union, said “not a single EU country responded to the Commission’s call….Only China responded bilaterally. Certainly, this is not a good sign of European solidarity.” Besides doctors, China supplied Italy with desperately needed medical equipment, including contracts for 10,000 pulmonary ventilators, 2 million face masks and 20,000 protective suits.

Not just Italy experienced the EU cold shoulder and China’s generosity. Czech President Zeman noted, “I would therefore like to thank the People’s Republic of China, which was the only country that has helped us” when they appealed for aid. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded similarly: “We agreed with China and we are grateful to them, especially grateful to Jack Ma as he helped us by financing the $80 million.”

China’s offers of donations to the EU as a whole and to individual member states is “highly appreciated“, declared an EU spokesperson.  Both China and the EU regarded China’s help as reciprocating the aid Europe sent to China during its coronavirus crisis.

To Africa

In March, the  Chinese government and Chinese businessman Jack Ma donated 500 ventilators, 800,000 personal protective equipment, 6 million masks, and 1.1 million test kits to Ethiopia for distribution among African countries.  Each of the 54 African states would receive at least 20,000 test kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits.

“There is a desperate need for the medical protective equipment and gear to support public health workers in Africa and China’s donations fill a part of that need at a time when not many other people have been stepping up to help”, says Eric Olander, managing editor of The China Africa Project.

A 13-member Chinese medical team arrived in Algeria late March with $450,000 of respirators and other medical equipment, while a 15-member team came to Nigeria.

To Asia

Chinese medical personnel have served in Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. Chinese experts have visited Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines, arriving with medical donations. Medical aid from both the Chinese government and businesses have  reached Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Japan, South Korea, among other nations. Teams of experts have traveled to Asian countries for two or three weeks, visiting hospitals and laboratories, holding discussions with health professionals on measures that the host countries are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Twelve Chinese medical experts arrived in Manila on April 5 to help their Philippine counterparts manage the outbreak. The team again came with government donations of personal protective equipment, surgical masks, medical protective face shields and 30 ventilators.

The Palestinian Authority received an assistance package of 50,000 coronavirus testing kits. The Palestinian Health Minister, Mai Al-Kaila, told local reporters that aid was provided in cooperation with Jack Ma, e-commerce giant Alibaba’s co-founder.

To Latin America

From the Southern Cone to Central America, governments have received a wide range of donations, from testing kits to ventilators. Venezuela was one of the first to receive Chinese medical supplies, which came shortly after the International Monetary Fund rejected President Maduro’s request for a $5 billion loan to strengthen his country’s fight against the virus. “We want to thank President Xi Jinping, his government and his people from the bottom of our Bolivarian heart,” said Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez.

Reuters reported, “China has won praise among Latin American governments that have accepted its help. The Chinese government said it has supplied test kits, protective suits and other forms of medical aid to more than 80 countries and international organizations.”

“Thank you China for cooperation and solidarity with Ecuador!” the hard hit country’s Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner wrote.

Not only did Cuba receive aid from the Chinese government and Jack Ma (which was reshipped through Chinese channels to avoid the US blockade), but Chinese students also delivered humanitarian aid. More than 280 Chinese students, who had previously studied in Cuba under a scholarship provided by the island authorities, collected about 140,000 yuan ($19,823). This money was used to purchase 420 sets of protective medical equipment as well as 38,750 medical masks.

President Xi Jinping stressed how, since the beginning of the epidemic, Cuban authorities have expressed their support for China, an attitude that demonstrates “the deep traditional friendship shared by the two countries.”

Conclusion

China has responded to the present US anti-China disinformation campaign by presenting a timeline of what they knew and how they responded. (here, here, here) As US coronavirus deaths continued to mount, almost one third of the world total, and as the US economy nose-dived, Trump tried to deflect blame for the disastrous handling of the coronavirus on to China. Before this, Trump had praised China’s effort.

The US has long been underfunding the community health centers and programs which could have played a valuable role in combating the spread of the virus. State public health departments have lost more than 55,000 staff since 2008. That our trust in the US government to protect our welfare is at historic lows also contributes to the ineffectual US “shelter in place” programs, which hardly compare with those in China, touched on in this short video.

From the responses to the coronavirus pandemic, the world has seen the model of public health efficiency China presented in controlling the problem at home. It has seen China’s world leadership in offering international aid and care. It has seen the abdication of leadership by the US and even its obstruction in working to find solutions. Now the US still cannot control the virus, and remains mired in economic crisis, while China is rebounding. In sum, the pandemic has made the world look at both China and the US in a new light. And it has dealt a serious blow to the US rulers’ two decade long effort to counter the rise of China.

Patriotic Vaccines: The Divided Coronavirus Cause

When it comes to the politics of medicine and disease, the United States has always attempted to steal the limelight, while adding the now faded colouring of universal human welfare.  In 1965, Washington pledged financial and technical support to the international effort to eradicate smallpox, though the initiative had initially been spurred by the Soviet Union at the behest of virologist and deputy health minister Victor Zhdanov in 1958.  At that point in time, the World Health Organisation was not so much a punch bag as vehicle for US foreign policy, to be cultivated rather than rebuked.

As with the eradication of smallpox, a forced language of solidarity is coming into being with efforts to find a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.  But behind it, there is backbiting and hostility, suspicion and paranoia.  Like putting the first person on the moon, the matter is one of divided political endeavours.

One such effort of solidarity, and a not very convincing one at that, was made at this month’s Coronavirus Global Response Pledging Conference.  The European Commission gave it a deceptively united title: “Joining forces to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics – on-line pledging event.” Representatives from 43 countries, a range of non-profit entities and scientific groups also added to the number.

Like fund drives that are common in the United States for public broadcasting, the efforts were billed as magisterial when they were, for the most part, modest.  7.4 million euros seems rather small fare when compared to the weighty global loss in life, limb and economy, though it looks a dream to coalface researchers.  There was also a certain niggling anomaly in the event that took away some of its lustre.  EU officials had permitted the pledging of money already spent on COVID-19 relief since January 30, making the raised amount more generous than it otherwise would have been.  The United Kingdom was a case in point, having pledged £388 million toward a total as part of a prior pledge for £744 million.  The EU bureaucrats for their part, have not been forthcoming how much in terms of new funding was pledged, making it difficult to spot the double-counters.

The language from the donors, however, was high sounding in hope. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen was flashily presuming in her rhetoric.  “Today we can truly say the world is united against the coronavirus, and the world will win.”  The world, she claimed grandly, had “showed extraordinary unity for the common good … With such commitment, we are on track for developing, producing and deploying a vaccine for all.”

The British Prime Minister and COVID-19 survivor Boris Johnson was also unduly optimistic in his assessment of such a worldly effort.  “The race to discover the vaccine to defeat this virus is not a competition between countries but the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes.”

To ensure that this does take place will take more than pooled pledges with vague lines of distribution.  The entire effort to find a vaccine would need to be decentralised.  An aide to French President Emmanuel Macron described the problem to Politico as ensuring “that the production of the vaccine does not end up taking place only in the US or in a specific place, because the companies that produce vaccines are from a certain nationality”.

But a full-blooded competition this is, spiked with considerations of self-interest.  Former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb saw it in terms of a sporting race with a lucrative prize at the end.  There is nothing of the cooperative or sharing spirit here, with Gottlieb seeing countries inoculating their own citizens first before sharing any supply with generous heart.  “The first country to the finish line will be the first to restore its economy and global influence.  America risks being second.”  Given that Gottlieb is himself a board member of Pfizer and the biotech company Ilumina, a bit of hearty pandemic capitalism is bound to figure in his assessments.

The Trump administration had already signalled its intention to avoid any show of unity in the vaccine effort, which may suggest an unintentional expression of blunt honesty.  It has frozen funding to the WHO and refused to send any representatives to a meeting organised by the organisation at a meeting, conducted virtually, last month.  A spokesman for the US mission in Geneva told Reuters at the time that Washington “looked forward to learning more about this initiative in support of international cooperation to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 as soon as possible” but would not be participating in any official way.  The response was much the same to the European Commission’s pledging conference.

For the Trump administration, finding a COVID-19 vaccine will, contrary to Johnson’s belief, be a predatory exercise in self-interest because other countries will, given the chance, treat it the same way.  A neat, if vulgar example of this was given in March, when Die Welt reported that “large sums of money” had been offered by the administration for the German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, though former CEO Dan Menichella seemed to suggest that no definite offer was made in a meeting he had with the US president.  Within that same month, Menichella had been replaced by the same man he replaced: founder Ingmar Hoerr.

In the messy rumble, billionaire Dietmar Hopp, who has an 80 percent shareholding in CureVac via his biotech company Dievini has dismissed such ideas of exclusivity.  No German company would entrust themselves with the task of creating such a vaccine that would be merely for exclusive US use.  German health minister Jens Spahn was of like mind: any such vaccine would “not be for individual countries” but “for the whole world”.

This is stern and admirable stuff but not particularly convincing.  The global patent system is marked by vicious rivalries rather than tea-ceremony tranquillity.  The behaviour of its participants, according to the University of Hong Kong’s Bryan Mercurio, tends towards a winner takes all approach. “The rest of the efforts will go unrewarded.”

The fractious scramble for appropriate vaccines and viral drugs, as with other scrambles of history, serves to highlight the crude, even cruel reality of power politics, which proves stubborn even in the face of the existential and costly.  This is pure Donald Trump, unilateral, instinctive and unromantic, with a reaction in keeping with previous thinking when it comes to international efforts of solidarity.  Look more closely at them and see the sham; it’s every state for itself.

Economic Epidemic

Dynamic duo:  Same bat virus, same fat profits

From Havana to Helmstedt

The major reason for Cuba’s travel restrictions — always used as grounds for slandering the Cuban state — is the extreme difficulty Cuba has maintaining foreign exchange reserves essential for international trade,  especially since the end of trade-in-kind with the COMECON. Every traveller from Cuba spends pesos that have to be covered by Cuba’s USD or EUR reserves. Since there are already more than enough obstacles imposed by the US embargo, every forex transaction is critical for Cuba’s balance of payments — for its ability to buy what it cannot produce. In fact, those who can still recall crossing from West Berlin to East Berlin will also remember that it was necessary to exchange DM 30 for M 30 for every day one spent in the GDR. This was heavily criticised in the West, especially by travellers who would complain that it was impossible to spend the M 30 in a day since everything was so inexpensive. Of course, the GDR was trying to compensate for the discriminatory exchange rates that made trade with the West a drain on its foreign currency reserves.

While many ordinary visitors complained and the Western media encouraged Germans in the East to complain about the buying power of the GDR mark, the fact is that throughout the world national economies only survived the Bretton Woods regime as long as they maintained currency controls. A major element in the economic warfare waged by the US Empire since 1945 has been to abolish fixed exchange rates. Having rigged the post-war international monetary regime to replace the British pound with the US dollar as the benchmark currency, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were deployed to stabilise the US dollar with advantage over the old European currencies.

Although officially these were international institutions, they were organised like private corporations. The decisions were to be made by the majority of shares held in the IMF or World Bank. Since the US held the majority of capital in both, it was endowed with the most votes over any Fund or Bank decision. The quasi-currency of the Fund and the Bank was called special drawing rights (SDR). These units of account were based on a weighted value of the underlying “reserve” currencies, mainly the USD. SDRs could be used to resolve balance of payments discrepancies. Members of the IMF were extended SDRs according to the relative strengths of their economy. Based on the SDRs allocated to a country it could draw dollars or another reserve currency in amounts sufficient to pay temporary imbalances between imports and exports, transactions that after WWII were almost all USD business.

As the late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley once pointed out — when the Bretton Woods agreements were signed most of the countries, like Jamaica, were still colonies or protectorates of some European or North American power. Hence no provision was made for them to even have independent economies or national currencies. As a result most of the world’s population and any of the newly independent countries that did not adopt a version of a Euro-American currency had no way to monetize their economic activity in international trade. They were left entirely dependent upon the USD, GBP, and FF for foreign trade of any kind. In order to limit USD hegemony in Africa, the French invented the CFA-Franc. This African franc tied its former African colonies to France by giving the CFA-franc a favourable exchange rate with French franc, although not parity. Overall, however, the post-war independence movements were all faced with the inherent dependence of their currency systems from the machinations of US and European banks with their control over the two major foreign exchange markets, the City and Wall Street. The exceptions to this regime were the Soviet Union and COMECON as and after 1959 Cuba.

When the US economy faced possible financial collapse toward the end of its war in Vietnam (it had been fairly successful in transferring the costs of the Korean War to the “United Nations”), secret negotiations by the Nixon administration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had, through their offices within OPEC, saved the USD by abolishing the gold fixing and establishing the USD as the sole currency for the world oil trade. At one fell swoop any country that did not have domestic oil supplies or had to trade oil on the world market was forced to use US dollars. To prove the point the US regime has never hesitated to wage war against any OPEC member that does not comply with this iron rule. Of course, the US is the only country which can issue US dollars and its banks are the only ones who can sell USD denominated debt, directly or indirectly, hence the central role of the Federal Reserve System — the private banking cartel chartered to issue dollars and control US monetary policy. The US regime has also pursued rigorous policies, even if not always entirely successful, to draw all those dollars back into US assets or to permit US entities to acquire foreign assets through the unlimited capacity to generate USD and to monetize private business (while on the other hand prohibiting the monetizing of public debt for social services, infrastructure etc.)

This is the context in which the current economic war with China and to a lesser extent with Russia has to be seen. This economic war entered a new phase with the Wuhan attack.

Lucrative lockdown

Fast-forward: European and US authorities order various degrees of “lockdown” and international travel, even within the EU itself, comes to a virtual halt. Airlines, hotels, and the rest of the travel sector have practically no more than essential business. The transport sector is also substantially restricted. The everyday economy is almost in coronary arrest.

What are the benefits of the general lockdown in the West? Is it really possible that the corona virus was so shocking that the economy as a whole was only an afterthought? Are we to believe that it was merely an oversight on the part of government to contemplate contingencies for epidemics but not for economics? It would be nice to think that Western governments care so much about the health of their citizens but that is rubbish. What is really very important — in fact, it is the only important issue for those who own our governments is MONEY and, of course, the power that goes with it.

What are the immediate consequences of the lockdown in economic terms?

  1. a) restriction of travel by masses of a generally mobile and consuming population (at least in the EU)
  2. b) restriction — soon to reach extinction of a substantial percentage of SMEs
  3. c) obstruction of supply chain transactions, not least of which with China
  4. d) increased unemployment beyond the already deliberately understated figures
  5. e) inevitable price increases, whether scarcity induced or because of added “safety” costs
  6. f) the creation of potential for a layer of corruption and contraband traffic that will not only raise the prices of everyday life but partly criminalise it.

At the same time we have heard more than a few reports of new QE (aka giving trillions to so-called banks). *

In the Western media one finds accusations that China caused the “corona crisis” to benefit from a fall in asset prices (not only stock markets but also for businesses damaged by the lockdown) to buy them up on the cheap. Personally I follow a golden rule when reading Western official statements, whether directly from regime mouthpieces or through their Great Wurlitzer: what they accuse is what they are hiding. It is like that classic scene in many a classroom: the bully slaps another pupil. Pupil slaps back and bully screams. The teacher only sees the return slap and never the first strike. The slapped pupil is punished and the bully rewarded.

If we ask critically what the new QE is supposed to do — is it to protect all these banks from another 2008 failure? No, not really. Instead it is to fill the “banks” with cash for pre-emptive buying following the price crashes so that China can be blocked out of any further investment in the West’s critical sectors.

It is also survival money so that all the defaults and bankruptcies in the SME sector can be written off without damaging the overall profit line.

In other words a) and b) can be directly linked not only to strategic population control objectives, linked also to the now infamous universal vaccination programme, but also to the imposition of currency controls. In Europe, fewer euros will flow to China and in the US obviously the USD flows will be reduced.

  1. c) The disruption of supply chains is mainly an organisational measure. This will reduce the number of channels by which China can trade in the West. In the first stage it will also facilitate the consolidation of the economy in fewer hands so that those supply chains can be better managed from the top.
  2. d) As argued elsewhere, purchasing power has declined steadily over the past thirty to forty years for most of the working population on both sides of the Atlantic. There is a need for a fundamental demographic adjustment. Germany, for instance, has used imported labour since its reestablishment in 1949. First it was a substitution for labour shortages immediately after its defeat by the Soviet Union.  The so-called Economic Miracle — the reconstruction period — in large part funded by orders from the US war machine in Korea — quickly absorbed its available German labour force. Hence it started to suck workers from impoverished Italy and Greece. If the German government is to be believed, then the domestic labour force is too old or too small to meet current demands, hence while domestic workers are under house arrest, the flow of persons displaced by NATO wars; e.g., in Syria, continues uninterrupted. Thus the new generation of industrial and technical labourers at the bottom of the German social hierarchy will not be Turkish but Arabic speaking. There is no reason that they will be able to return to their homes any time soon since NATO is not finished destroying them.

At the same time the crushing of the domestic small and medium-sized sector will — as it always has — have a positive effect by forcing wages down even more. If the virus is really as effective as some claim at killing people aged 60 and above, then the state pension funds will be able to declare surpluses soon, net revenues from immigrants and a sudden decline in beneficiaries. This sounds cynical but the insurance model for social security installed under Bismarck anticipated much shorter lifespans and fewer eligible retirees than today. The government’s plan to raise the retirement age to 70 cannot solve the problem because there are no jobs for these 65+ citizens. Hence they have to live from savings or the dole. Better just let them die.

If there is an economic meltdown in the West, then these assets have to remain denominated in USD/EUR in order to prop up these currencies and preserve the fortunes of dollar/euro/or sterling billionaires.

Now add to this the lockdown and recall the case of CUBA.

The lockdown makes good economic sense from the commanding heights of the Western economy! By more or less crushing the SME sector with its increasing exposure to China; e.g., import of components and finished goods for resale, a substantial foreign exchange gap is closed. China is deprived of these payments. Thus foreign trade with China becomes ever more concentrated in the few cartels that share control over the monetary policies of the FED, Bank of England and ECB.

For normal mortals this is insane.  Why would the West want to crush the lower third of its economy? For years people have been whining about the 1% but otherwise not doing very much about it. In fact, the 1% can live very well without most of the normal economy as long as they have currency stability for their stores of wealth in the world.

Not only travellers, like for Cuba, but much of the real economy, constitute a genuine risk to the monetary system the great Western private banks created in the BoE, in 1913 with the FED, and later with the ECB. The ECB and the euro can be sacrificed as long as the USD and GBP remain world standards.

  1. e) One of the virtues of the system which could emerge as a short-term or medium-term result of the lockdown and its associated policies and practices is the creation of a new class of criminal activity — the real economy. Since it is unlikely that the West can suborn China and together with Russia impossible, the West has an obvious potential as far as I can see that has hardly been mentioned. Perhaps it is worth recalling from mainstream history the narrative of feudalism: the peasants were tied to the land. The aristocracy and royalty fought over land plus the chattel (the people occupying and working the land). Movement from the land was forbidden without permission by the feudal lord (a prohibition also enforced by the Churc; e.g., through the Inquisition). Pursuing a craft or trade was almost only possible in cities, which may or may not have been “free”. The details can be found in most standard history books about this period.

Casino royale and camino real

However, we have almost no peasantry left — something that can be detected in the abysmal quality of food found in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain. Instead there are only “free labourers” some of whom imagine they own their homes. Immediately after the collapse of the GDR any traveller could see an explosion in the number of hairdressers and small restaurants or similar personal service enterprises. Much of this business was the desperate attempt to recover earning capacity after West German government and business closed GDR factories and other employing institutions causing an explosion in unemployment that is still vastly understated and concealed by half-hearted social policies. These businesses are vulnerable to taxation and other cost-intensive regulations that are characteristic of modern bureaucratic states like Germany. It is also no wonder that they offer little more than a marginal income that often has to be compensated by some other job or social benefit.

At present that is all very exhausting and frustrating for the vast majority of people in this low-income sector. Yet it is still legal. The first step toward terrorizing the bulk of the soon to be even more under- or unemployed is to restrict or effectively prohibit the personal service sector — for health reasons. Now it is almost impossible to get a haircut or a manicure anywhere because these businesses have been forced to close as part of the policy of “social distancing”. Reality, however, knows no such prohibitions. Those people who have no other means of earning a living except personal services and those who need those services will find a way to meet and transact business.

This is where the spirit of Mr Gates is especially pernicious — but not simply because of some billions more that he may steal. What Mr Gates, as the poster boy, and the whole public health paramilitary/civil affairs regime that is nascent as I write offer us — or may well force upon us — is spiritually and socially akin to the Prohibition regime created by the Volstead Act in the US. Prohibition was introduced ostensibly to control alcohol abuse. However, it failed to get substantial legislative support until people like Henry Ford — then along with Rockefeller one of the world’s richest men — insisted that Prohibition would give them the power to destroy the meeting places of immigrants, especially those from Eastern and Southern Europe where beer and wine were integral to social life. Forbidding alcohol to people who for centuries considered wine and beer part of their diets was a serious attack on their private and family lives. However, since this was a “health” issue the Volstead Act did not violate any constitutional rights. Any place could be closed for serving alcohol of any kind. The meeting venues for almost all immigrants could be shut by armed police wholly within the law.

Although this was a draconian law, it was not really enforceable. In fact, the famous Kennedy political dynasty was only one family whose wealth came from breaking the law. At no time during the period of Prohibition in the US was the ruling class deprived of intoxicating drink. Moreover the covert sale of alcohol, the bribery of police and other officials, the payment of protection money to gangsters, created an entire corporate structure, which survives today although its product range is based mainly on opiates. The illegal and legal drug businesses constitute one of the main pillars of USD supremacy, along with oil and weapons, but that is just a detail here.

The important point here is that the culture of prohibition has clearly mutated into the field of “communicable disease”; i.e., highly infectious viruses. Whether or not Mr Gates and his friends will succeed in their ID2020 scheme — vaccine or subcutaneous identity chips — is certainly a very serious question. But even if this particular model does not get forced under our skin, the struggle in the lower half or third of the population to survive through personal services and hospitality will become a target for the same kind of parasitical class that developed and enriched itself under the Prohibition regime, and in the environment of permanent war (which was what 1984 most nauseatingly described) scarcity and corruption are designer processes — intended to punish and discipline the majority of the population while extracting every bit of surplus from their already meagre incomes. This artificially created illegality will empower a class of people who profit from serving it and have no interest whatsoever in return to normal human relations. The already immanent price increases and due to increased unemployment parallel decline in wages — with the risk that one can be excluded from work or income for “health” reasons — will further enrich those at the top while undermining solidarity downward as people become caught in the net of this policing regime.

Therefore, it is absolutely essential to resist any further imposition of this state of siege. In this matter, I cannot help paraphrasing some otherwise noxious colonial from the 18th century: we must all be sick together, or each of us will be sick separately — in isolation.

There are some people who read George Orwell’s books as prescriptions; after all he spent his last years working for an office in the British “Ministry of Truth”. Then there are those who completely misread his books as attacks on the Soviet Union and communism. However, those who read his books carefully will see that he understood the spirit and actions of his employers very well. Orwell’s fiction is ambivalent, like his entire career and his nonfiction works as well. Perhaps the best way to understand them is as the diaries of a colonial police officer, who knew his duty and no matter how disagreeable did it. That duty was to hold down the hands and feet of the ruled while the rulers emptied their pockets. Orwell knew he was working for gangsters, but he needed the job. That was the price he paid.

AND yes, if Madeleine Albright was ready to see half a million Iraqi children dead for the policies she was appointed to represent, you can bet that some 60 million, dead or enslaved, is also a price the 1%  find worth paying to keep their privilege on this planet intact.

*QE = quantitative easing: a term of financial jargon used by the US Federal Reserve System to denote privileged financial support to the top tier “banks” to prevent them from suffering (or collapsing) under the weight of their own elaborate extractive operations; e.g., debt siphons and gambling rackets. The mechanism involves the quasi-governmental (but actually privately owned and managed) Federal Reserve System purchasing the “bad” or uncollectible debts or gambling chits of these top tier “banks” by issuing Treasury obligations (e.g. so-called T-notes), basically certified claims that these “banks” may then assert against the US government to siphon tax receipts and other public income into their coffers. These claims are negotiable too, meaning they are traded on financial markets and can be used like money to buy non-financial assets.

Solidarity in the Age of Coronavirus: What the Arabs Must Do

While the Coronavirus continues to ravage almost every nation on earth, Arab countries remain unable, or unwilling, to formulate a collective strategy to help the poorest and most vulnerable Arabs survive the deadly virus and its economic fallout.

Worse, amid growing international solidarity, we are yet to see a pan-Arab initiative that aims to provide material support to countries and regions that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 disease.

The lack of collective Arab responsiveness is not unique as it mirrors Europe’s own systematic failure, exhibiting ‘solidarity’ when it is financially convenient, and turning its back, sometimes at its own brethren, when there are no economic incentives.

For example, when Greece defaulted on its debt to international donors in 2015, Germany, and other European Union countries, pounced on the opportunity to dismantle the country’s major financial institutions and to profit from Athens’ mounting miseries.

All the talk of European solidarity, fraternity and community floundered at the altar of greed and unhindered profits.

That was not the first – nor will it be the last – occasion when the opportunistic EU showed its true colors. In truth, Europe is united, not by common history or unbreakable social bonds, but rather by the shared belief that a united Europe is a stronger economic unit.

The same sordid scenario was recently repeated. As Italy began buckling down under the unbearable burdens of the deadly Coronavirus, it immediately, and naturally, sought the help of its European sister states. To no avail.

Despite its sizable debt, Italy is a major player in the economic arena of Europe and, in fact, the world. Indeed, Italy is the world’s 8th largest economy. But the country’s economy is now experiencing a rare freefall, especially in the poorer regions of the South, where people are literally going hungry.

The first country to come to Italy’s aid was neither France, nor, unsurprisingly, Germany, but China, followed by Russia, then Cuba, and others.

This palpable lack of solidarity among European countries has further empowered the ethnocentric view already prevailing in Europe, and championed by far-right movements like Italy’s League Party of Matteo Salvini. For years, the latter has advocated against European integration.

It will take months, if not years, for the political fallout of the Coronavirus to be fully assessed. But what is already clear is that international and regional economic hubs are actively hedging their bets to consolidate their geopolitical positions in the post-Coronavirus world.

Despite bashful American attempts to join the politically-motivated international solidarity, US President Donald Trump’s humble moves arrived too little, too late. In fact, a sign of the times is that Chinese and Russian aid is pouring in to help the United States, which now has the world’s largest number of COVID-19 cases.

A compelling question, however, is where are the Arabs in all of this?

Italy and Spain, in particular, share historical and cultural bonds, and broad political interests, with many Arab countries, interests that will remain long after the Coronavirus is eradicated. Failing to register on the radar of international solidarity with Italy and Spain will prove a strategic miscalculation.

Israel, on the other hand, is activating its aid agency, IsraAID, which has previously worked in Italy between 2016 and 2019, after a major earthquake killed nearly 300 people and left behind massive infrastructural damage.

Israel uses ‘humanitarian aid’ as a political and propaganda tool. Israeli missions are often under-funded and short-lasting, but their impact is greatly amplified by a powerful, official media machine that tries to project Israel as a ‘peace-maker’, not a war-monger.

The truth is, some Arab governments do, in fact, provide badly needed funds and aid to countries that are devastated by wars or natural disasters; alas, these efforts are often disorganized and self-centered — and frankly, not at all motivated by true solidarity.

That said, the absence of Arab initiatives in the field of international humanitarian solidarity dwarf in comparison to the lack of Arab solidarity within the Arab world itself.

According to United Nation estimates, there are “101.4 million (people) in the region who already live in poverty, according to official criteria, and around 52 million undernourished.”

A new policy brief issued on April 1 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), projects that an additional 8.3 million people are set to join the poor and undernourished masses throughout the Arab world.

Aside from empty rhetoric and useless press releases, we are yet to witness a major collective Arab initiative, championed by, for example, the Arab League, to provide an Arab equivalent to the many economic stimulus plans that have been set into motion in many other countries and regions around the world.

Late March, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, issued a ‘global ceasefire appeal’, pleading to the world, especially to warring Middle Eastern nations, to cease fire and to unite all efforts in one single war against the Coronvirus.

Sadly, that call has so far gone unheeded. The war in Libya is escalating, not subsiding; Israeli killing of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank continues unabated; the flood of refugees out of Syria, Turkey, and other Middle Eastern countries is yet to slow down.

Times of crisis, especially the kind that targets all of us regardless of race, religion, or geography, often constitute a wake-up call, present an opportunity for a new beginning, a new social contract so that we may resurrect from the ashes of our collective pain to build a better world.

Let COVID-19 be that opportunity that will allow all nations, especially in the Middle East, to take a stance against war, hunger and disease, to share their wealth and to extend the hand of solidarity to Africa and our historic allies throughout the world.

Death at the Greek Border

In a surprising move, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced on February 29 that he will be re-opening his country’s border to Europe, thus allowing tens of thousands of mostly Syrian refugees into Greece and other European countries.

Expectedly, over 100,000 people rushed to the Ipsala border point in the Edirne province separating Turkey from Greece, hoping to make it through the once-porous border.

Even though, initially, the sea route was not opened for the refugees, many attempted to brave the sea, anyway, using small fishing boats and dinghies. A few have reportedly reached the Greek Islands.

What transpired was one of the most tragic, heart-rendering episodes of the Syrian war and the subsequent refugee crisis saga.

This time around, Greece, with tacit political support from the rest of the European Union, was determined not to allow any of the refugees into its territories.

The prevailing understanding in Europe is that the Turkish government was purposely engineering a refugee crisis to press the EU into supporting Turkish military operations in Idlib in northern Syria.

“They didn’t come here on their own,” the Greek Public Order Minister, Michalis Chrysohoidis, told reporters on February 29, with reference to the flood of refugees at his country’s border. “They are being sent away and being used by (our) neighbor, Turkey,” he added.

While the media focused mostly on Erdogan’s decision within the context of the Idlib conflict, little mention was made of the fact that Syrian and other refugees in Turkey have been the focal point of an internal crisis within the country itself.

The Istanbul mayoral election (held on March 31 and, again, on June 23) underscored the anti-refugee sentiment among ordinary Turks, one that is compounded by the fact that Turkey itself has been subjected to a protracted economic recession.

Unsurprisingly, the over 3.5 million Syrian refugees who had fled the war in their country over the last decade are being scapegoated by opportunistic politicians, the likes of Istanbul’s new Mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu.

“Imamoglu was … able to tap into simmering discontent with the large number of Syrian refugees in Istanbul in the context of his general complaints about the high level of unemployment in the city,” wrote Bulent Aliriza and Zeynep Ekeler on the Center for Strategic and International Studies website.

The Turkish government is now fully aware of the obvious correlation in the minds of many Turkish voters between the oppressive economic crisis and the Syrian refugee population in Turkey.

In fact, a recurring argument made by the Turkish government is that its military campaign in northern Syria is ultimately motivated by its desire to create a safe zone that would allow for the resettlement of many Syrian refugees.

With its NATO alliance faltering, and with growing difficulties at the northern Syrian front, Turkey’s strategy quickly fell apart. However, the scenes of naked, shivering refugees running back to the Turkish side, after being pushed away by Greek military and police was not only indicative of Turkey’s growing political dilemma, but of Europe’s betrayal of Syrian refugees and its utter incompetence in fashioning long-term solutions to a crisis that has been brewing for years.

On March 18, 2016, Turkey and EU countries signed the statement of cooperation, which resulted in a short-lived barter. According to the deal, Turkey agreed to stem the flow of refugees into Europe in exchange for economic incentives to help Ankara cope with the economic burden, partly resulting from the refugee crisis.

Aside from the fact that Turkey has claimed that the EU failed to fulfill its part of the deal, the agreement did not offer a long-term solution, let alone a political vision that would ultimately end the suffering of millions of Syrians.

What makes the Syrian refugee crisis within the Turkish-EU context particularly complex is the fact that the refugees are finding themselves hostage to selfish, political calculations that view them as a burden or a pawn.

This unfortunate reality has left Syrian refugees in Turkey with three options, all of which are dismal: returning to a war zone in Syria, coping with unemployment and an increasingly hostile political environment in Turkey or making a run for the Greek border.

When Ahmed Abu Emad, a young Syrian refugee from Aleppo, opted for the third and final option on March 2, he was shot in the throat by Greek border police. His fellow refugees rushed his gaunt body back to Turkey, where he was laid to rest.

Considering their limited options, however, neither death, injury nor torture will end the quest of Syrian refugees, who are desperately trying, as they have for years, to find a safe space and badly needed respite.

Perhaps only Palestinian refugees can relate to the dilemma of their Syrian brethren. It is one thing to be pushed out of your homeland, but it is a whole different thing to be refused, dehumanized and subjugated everywhere else.

The Syrian refugee crisis is a political, not a humanitarian crisis – despite the palpable humanitarian component of it. Therefore, it can only be resolved based on a comprehensive political solution that keeps the interest of millions of Syrian refugees — in fact, the Syrian people as a whole — as a top priority.

Several ‘solutions’ have been devised in the past but they have all failed, simply because various governments in the Middle East and Europe have tried to exploit the refugees for their own political, economic, and ‘security’ interests.

The time has come for a more considerate and thoughtful political strategy that is predicated on respect for international and humanitarian laws, one that adheres to the Geneva Conventions regarding the rights of war refugees.

Syrian refugees do not deserve such inhumane treatment. They have a country, a glorious history and a deeply-rooted culture that has profoundly influenced ancient and modern civilizations. They deserve respect, rights and safety. Equally important, they should not be used as pawns in a costly and dirty political game in which they have no interest or choice.

 Viruses, Real and Virtual

It takes only a cursory scanning of what counts as journalistic product in the significant mass media to see that whereas it may be impossible to keep public hospitals sterile, what passes for news and public debate is beyond normal standards of sterility—it is clearly a vacuum. We can largely discount the alternative media—including where I have been able to post—because this is NOT what feeds the public debate or motivates public action, whether official or unofficial. At the risk of incurring wrath among readers and some sympathetic friends I have insisted that first climate hysteria and now virus hysteria have banned serious discussion IN PUBLIC about the overall context, historical and current, the factual basis or the relationships between events and responses. What we conventionally call “journalism” does not challenge the concocted underlying premises—instead it promotes circular debate about how and whether based on these unanalysed assumptions the proposals and measures of government and non-governmental powers are to be imposed.

We will search in vain for a “patient zero” or a direct causal explanation for the emergence of the corona virus (COVID-2019) in December as a contagion. Nor will any of the conventionally organised mass media contribute to either an analysis of the current situation nor introduce what might be needed for ordinary people to decide what policies and actions are most appropriate—for their interests.

Given the developments in the European peninsula and acts by the US Government suggestive that there are now infections from this virus in the probable country of origin, it seems to me that the most important issue remains the viral mass media and the underlying infrastructure, which perpetuate fear instead of consciousness.

Mass deception and destruction: the virus as a weapons system

Instead we get meaningless detail on one hand and insufficient explanation on the other. In some alternative speculation lurks the suspicion that this virus emerged from the laboratories of biological weapons developers. We will never know if and how this happened. Yet it is clear that one country in the world has been using biological weapons since the discovery of cowpox as a smallpox inoculation by Edward Jenner in 1796.

To understand the context and implications of a biological weapon, it is really necessary to examine the development of industrial-strength ABC weapons systems since World War I. However, to summarise the key questions confronting the aggressor: lethal or disabling? Delivery and dispersion? Collateral damage? And finally exploitation of the result. The US military had to march battalions through atomic wasteland created at its testing grounds to see if and when it could occupy and exploit territory “won” by atomic bombardment. It had to know whether the gas it deployed only killed sheep. In WWI the British—who, in fact, were the first to deploy gas—needed to deal with “blowback”, the risk that gas would be blown back from enemy lines and injure or kill their own unprotected troops. Of course, logistical questions were no less important: how to transport lethal agents without risk of fatal accidents. This led to so-called “binary weapons”.

Although there are clearly enough weapons makers who just enjoy making machines for death and destruction for their own sake. A weapons system is best understood in the context of the strategic and political objectives in which it is designed and produced. The creation of so-called “weapons of mass destruction” is historically Euro-American not only for philosophical-religious reasons but also because of demography. “Whites” have always been a tiny portion of the world’s population, who could only impose their will by massive violence beyond the means of individual or massed soldiery. Whether it was the conquest of the Americas or the African slave trade, European weaponry had to be more systematic and lethal to compensate for the minute numbers of pirates and brigands in these bands of explorers and adventurers.1

Just to hazard a guess: if the corona virus were introduced as a weapon, like the smallpox contaminated blanket used in North America, then what were its essential characteristics? I think the attention should be given to the rate of dispersion as opposed to the supposed and probably exaggerated lethality. Psychologically the influenza wave each year is expected and it kills lots of people—usually the aged and those suffering from some other illness. A certain resistance has been acquired over the years and this impedes both the severity and the extent of these infection waves. The “new virus” catches people by surprise and the rapidity of contagion is crucial for its psychological impact. The time frame is also important from a logistical point of view. A rapidly acting agent could expose the attacker to “blowback” or reveal that an attack is in progress. A disease that actually causes mass death is risky for the same reason. However, if the purpose is disruption then even a short and critical time-frame is sufficient—hence Spring Festival, Chinese New Year. However, as I have mentioned in other articles, it is a cardinal rule of covert action not that it remain secret (since absolute and unlimited secrecy is impossible) but that it remain deniable! This is why the real virus is not the biological pathogen but the Western mass media in which it is embedded and which masks the actions the biological agent is intended to produce.

Europeans and Americans, despite the wealth they have amassed through five centuries of theft and murder, do not have organisations capable of protecting or saving life– only of taking it. What appear to be health actions (quarantines) are merely police actions and have no real capacity for improving or controlling the public health situation in those countries. These actions — mass closures etc. — are primarily propaganda since they have no facilities capable of taking the steps needed were there a real intent to act for public health benefit.

That said, it cannot be an accident that the countries with the most aggressive conditions are those which have initiated or participate in the Chinese “Belt and Road” project; e.g., Italy. It is also entirely plausible as a working hypothesis, that the deaths of high officials in Iran were not due to the virus but under cover of viral infection. This is simply analogous to the familiar tactic of inducing heart failure with agents that are undetectable in autopsies. The very insistence that corona virus is “deadly”- contradicts the epidemiological statistics published to date. BUT the illusion that this virus is more deadly than classic influenza does provide cover for activities that can be attributed to the new virus– wholly deniable.

The conspicuous absence of any comparisons in data, of any open medical or public health historical debate in the prelude to measures ordered in Europe and the US is really evidence, like the actions taken in the course of the destruction of the NY World Trade Center (and adoption of the drafted and waiting USA Patriot Act), that this is staged (both in the sense of theatrical and planned) action.

Why? How? And for whom?

As I already argued in numerous previous articles, the Anglo-American Empire was created essentially through a piratical seizure of control over American precious metal (gold and silver) traffic with Asia and then the imposition of tributary status upon China through the opium trade in the 19th century.2 This tributary status ended abruptly in 1949. However, the wars to recover control over China as a tributary and Asia (in the US the ultimate target of manifest destiny) have not stopped, any more than the battle to restore control over Russian finance lost through the October Revolution, but partially recovered under Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.

It is important to recall that the “drug industry” is one cartel with a legal component, pharmaceuticals, and an illegal component, primarily the opium/ heroin trade. They work together and are managed together by the so-called drug enforcement agencies of Western governments (mainly the CIA and its subordinated DEA).3 The US military is just as much a part of this operation as can be seen in Colombia and Afghanistan. Whether in the exclusive marketing of patented “medicine” or the criminal control of heroin and cocaine distribution, this was all part of what made Shanghai so lucrative to the West. 1949 led to the establishment of the notorious “China Lobby” aimed at restoring this Western control after the KMT was banished to Formosa.4

The “banking” sector is inseparable from this configuration and it is no accident that the leading banks in the US and EU are those historically linked to the opium trade either in Britain or in the US. These banks control the flow of funds for virtually the entire world through control of physical and electronic banking infrastructure (e.g. SWIFT) and by imposition of the currencies that can be used for international transactions. Unfortunately the ideology of “free enterprise” and even “social capitalism” is so pervasive that the private ownership of all financial infrastructure in the West is taken for granted.5 The idea that this private ownership means that the most routine public activities are dependent entirely upon the management of money and financial transactions by people and organisations accountable to no one but their owners escapes even critical observers. The Western antipathy to the State is a cultivated fetish, cultivated to conceal that the State is an agent of property owners rather than citizens who are mere consumers.

Of course, any reader here may justifiably observe or even object that this is either obvious or such a level of abstraction that it is practically useless. I admit that this level of description does not suggest an immediate course of action. However, I believe it does provide the necessary perspective for interpreting the course of activities and events of the past years to date — independent of trivial questions like who is POTUS or prime minister somewhere else.

Any new contagion is a marketing opportunity for the international drug cartels who derive income from patents and illegal drug sales (of licit and illicit drugs). The lethality of the contagion or the effectiveness of the marketed cure is irrelevant — it is the income stream that counts. The only way to counter such profit taking is thorough an effective public health policy. One speaks of monetizing national debt. The equivalent should be done with public health expense. That, of course, would be counter to the public policy of every Western government since about 1972.6

The mass media worldwide — including especially the Internet (the commercialisation of the US emergency communications network designed as part of its unilateral atomic warfare strategy) — is dominated by the West, especially the US, where all the world’s servers are apparently located, as even Mr Putin had to admit. Basically no one has serious and equivalent access to any information or opinion, however critical or educated, that does not originate through US/ UK controlled mass media. Without what was advocated decades ago in the McBride Report — a new international information order — the capacity of the present technology will only propagate electronic viruses, comparable to the biological ones. This is not a matter of alternative media but strong parallel and independent media infrastructure! We simply do not have that today.7

There is a cultural-psychological component that is also important, essential and needs to be enhanced. Unfortunately the West is dominated by death cults. Repeatedly the greatest authors of the West have shown this, whether Leo Tolstoy or William Faulkner. That is why military and corporate organizations in the West focus on killing and conquest. They also propagate a view of the world that makes all opponents merely the mirror image of their own bloodlust. This is simply anti-historical. The violence of the Western regimes is not the mirror image of some supposed tribal bloodlust in Africa, among indigenous Americans, or even the great Asian civilizations. Although it might sound trite, if it were, I could be writing in Chinese or Xhosa.

Everything that is done to resist the militarisation of our societies and to concentrate on the care and nurture of natural life, with respect for our youth and our ancestors, helps preserve the peace and enhance the consciousness of ordinary humans who desire a healthy and natural life and death.

• Read Part One here

  1. Although the Christian establishment would reject the comparison, the merchant-adventurers of the 15th century were the original “holy warrior/ terrorists”. Today this description is only applied to non-Christians.
  2. See Andre Gunder Frank, ReOrient; Nick Robins, The Corporation that Changed the World
  3. See Douglas Valentine’s The Strength of the Pack, and the Strength of the Wolf, The CIA as Organised Crime, and his classic The Phoenix Program.
  4. See Bruce Cumings, Dominion from Sea to Shining Sea and The Origins of the Korean War (2 volumes).
  5. It cannot be stressed enough that the leading “central banks”: Bank of England, Federal Reserve, Bank of International Settlements, are all privately owned with charters or licenses to perform fiscal functions formally vested in elected governments. The multilateral “Bretton Woods” institutions: World Bank and IMF are governed by managers designated by the majority shareholders—those same leading “central banks” in the US and UK. The creation or recreation of continental central banks after 1949; e.g., the German Bundesbank and the European Central Bank, are restricted and essentially forced to function in the same way as the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve. This private ownership of national economic and fiscal policy is sold to the public as “scientific” management, in contrast to partisan (popular) interest). There is a tacit rule not to examine the interests of the private banks that control the central banks. Hence the Press never discusses central bank policy as a means by which oligarchical interests of those in the City of London or on Wall Street are pursued with government connivance and protection.
  6. During the government of British prime minister Sir Edward Heath, among other things the so-called “oil crisis” led to the first serious attacks on Britain’s National Health Service, one of the few Western attempts to nationalise public health infrastructure and provide universal care. It was also during the term of Richard Nixon as POTUS that the petrodollar would be introduced subsidising the US economy (to this day) and undermining the post-war development objectives of virtually all the newly independent countries after WWII. That this oil crisis was the result of cartel manipulation and not any real shortage has been documented e.g. John Blair, The Control of Oil.
  7. UNESCO, Many Voices, One World, aka McBride Report (1980), Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations (2007) discusses the extent of the Third World/ Non-aligned project. However, he pays no attention to the New International Information Order. In fact, this demand that all nations had a right to just capacity to participate in the communication of their interests and views was rather quickly suppressed by US arguments that mass media was essentially private property and as such inalienable.

SYRIZA’s Betrayal of Greece is a Spectre haunting the Left

‘Super Tuesday’ in the 2020 presidential election season is over and Senator Bernie Sanders’s time as the unlikely frontrunner for the Democratic nomination may have stopped just as quick as it began. Despite an unprecedented smear campaign coordinated by the party leadership and corporate media against him, the self-described “democratic socialist” not only managed to single-handedly de-stigmatize the latter as a dirty word in U.S. politics but at one point seemed like he had improbably overtaken former Vice President Joe Biden as the favorite to be the party nominee. Suddenly, the scenario of a brokered convention with a repeat of the ‘superdelegate’ scheme determining the outcome seems more likely. Regardless of whether he beats the odds, no one can deny the significance of Sanders’s movement in taking the relatively progressive first step of returning “socialism” from exile to everyday U.S. politics which was once an inconceivable prospect. Unfortunately, a consequence is that now his idea of an ‘alternative’ to capitalism has been made synonymous with the word in the minds of Americans, regardless of its qualifications.

So far, Bernie has purposefully avoided discussing socialism in broader conceptual terms or as a social philosophy while persistently narrowing the discussion to issues of economic disparity, free higher education or a national healthcare system. In fact, Sanders’s own supporters are the ones who often push the acceptable parameters of the dialogue to bigger questions and take his movement to places he is unwilling, likely because his candidacy filled the void of the political space left vacant following the suppression of the Occupy Wall Street phenomena. For example, some of his devotees may define socialism as the ‘equal distribution of wealth’ or even the ‘collective ownership of the means of production.’ However, Bernie and his followers both equally avoid providing any philosophical basis to their ideas and usually reduce it to abstractions of moral principles or human rights.

The most vigorous elucidation of socialism and its historical development from material conditions rather than ideals can be found in Karl Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program, a letter written in 1875 by the German philosopher to the early incarnation of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in which he scathingly attacked the SPD for drafting a more moderate platform at its congress. Just four years earlier, the short-lived Paris Commune in France had been brutally repressed and the German counterparts of the Communards appeared to be making concessions in the wake of its failure. In the address, Marx contends that socialism is an  atransitional phase between capitalism and communism where vestigial elements of the free market are mixed with state ownership of the productive forces. According to Marx, socialism does not develop on its own but “emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.”

While socialism might be an improvement, it still bears the stigma of capitalism because it is based on the idea that people will receive equal compensation determined by their individual contribution to the economy. Marx argues that even though profiting from the exploitation of the labor of others through private ownership of the means of production may decline, the exchange of labor itself as a commodity replicates the logic of the free market in that it still leaves workers under the dominion of what they produce if their earnings are equivalent to their labor. Since workers inherently have varying degrees of mental and physical ability, the primary source of economic inequality is left in place. Hence, Marx’s conclusion that human liberation can only be achieved once labor is transformed from a means of subsistence to freedom from necessity in a communist society, or “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.” In the same document, it is made clear what role the state must play in this post-revolutionary but intermediary stage:

Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

Many on the left today, particularly social democrats, try to separate Marx’s words about the role of the state from the Bolsheviks who later expanded upon the working class seizure of power by revolutionary means and put it into practice in the Russian Revolution of 1917. However, Marx did consider the United States one of a handful of countries where a peaceful transition to socialism was a remote possibility, at least during his own lifetime.

The same SPD that Marx convinced to abandon its reformist platform for a more radical line would turn their backs on the working class decades later when it endorsed the imperialist carnage of World War I and collaborated with proto-fascists. In 1912, the SPD rose to prominence after it was elected to the majority of seats in the Reichstag, but once in power its duplicitous leadership voted to support the war effort despite the Second International’s vehement opposition to militarism and imperialism. Those within the SPD who protested the party’s pro-war stance were expelled which brought an end to the Second International, most notably Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemberg who would go on to found the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). After the war’s conclusion which resulted in a German defeat and the abolition of its imperial monarchy, mass social unrest and general strikes led to the Spartacist Uprising in the unsuccessful German Revolution of 1918–1919 which was violently crushed by the right-wing Freikorps paramilitary units under orders from SPD leader and German President, Friedrich Ebert. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were summarily executed in the crackdown and became forever revered martyrs in the international socialist movement.

The SPD would once again betray the German people during the Weimar Republic in the lead-up to the Second World War, rebuffing the KPD’s efforts to organize a coalition against fascism which sealed Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, as Michael Parenti described in Blackshirts and Reds:

True to form, the Social Democrat leaders refused the Communist party’s proposal to form an eleventh-hour coalition against Nazism. As in many other countries past and present, so in Germany, the Social Democrats would sooner ally themselves with the reactionary Right than make common cause with the Reds. Meanwhile, a number of right-wing parties coalesced behind the Nazis and in January 1933, just weeks after the election, Hindenburg invited Hitler to become chancellor.

Social democracy’s consistent impediment of the seizure of power by the working class led to its branding as the “moderate wing of fascism” by the Comintern. By the time the Third International and the social democratic Labor and Socialist International (LSI) finally cooperated to form a Popular Front in the Spanish Civil War, it was undermined by the disruptions of Trotskyists and anarchists which cleared the way for Franco’s victory. Today, social democrats who are embarrassed by these unpleasant facts try to sweep their own tainted history under the rug, ironically the same ideologues who are always eager to cite the ‘purges’ of the Stalin era to discredit communism. A 2017 article exonerating the SPD in Jacobin Magazine, the flagship publication of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), is a perfect example of such lies by omission.

Bernie Sanders is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history, but a significant amount of the grassroots basis for his recent success has come from his backing by the DSA whose own rank-and-file increased by the tens of thousands during his 2016 candidacy and continued following Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton. This culminated in the election of two DSA members to Congress, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Rashida Tlaib (MI), in the 2018 mid-terms. The DSA has historical roots in the Socialist Party of America (SPA), having been established by former chairman Michael Harrington, best known as the author of the classic 1962 study, The Other America: Poverty in the United States, which is widely credited as an inspiration for the welfare state legislation of the Great Society under the Lyndon B. Johnson administrationHowever, in stark contrast with the SPA and its founder, Eugene V. Debswhom Sanders idolizes and even once made a film aboutHarrington advocated for reforming the Democratic Party from within over building a third party.

Sanders might style himself as a “socialist”, but many have noted his actual campaign policies are closer to the New Deal reforms of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression. A more accurate comparison than Eugene Debs would be with the appointed Vice President during Roosevelt’s third term, Henry A. Wallace, who has been written out of history ever since the Southern reactionary wing of the Democratic Party convinced FDR to replace him on the 1944 ticket with Harry S. Truman. The progressive Wallace had been Secretary of Agriculture during Roosevelt’s first two terms and was a big supporter of his domestic program. After his one-term removal, Wallace served as commerce secretary until Truman succeeded Roosevelt and fired him in 1946 for giving a speech advocating peace and cooperation with the Soviet Union which contradicted Truman’s foreign policy that kick-started the Cold War. Wallace ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948 but his campaign was sunk by red-baiting, reminiscent of the recent bogus claims of “Russian meddling” to assist Sanders’s presidential bid. Yet even Wallace was much further to the left than Bernie is today, particularly on foreign policy. As Congressman of Vermont in 1999, Sanders notably voted to authorize the use of military force against Serbia, resulting in one of his campaign staffers quitting in protest and an end to his friendship with the previously cited Parenti.

As for his socialist credentials, all one has to do is look at the model Bernie consistently invokes as an example whenever pressed to define “democratic socialism” in the Nordic model which today scarcely resembles what it once was prior to the mysterious assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986. Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark may have high taxes on the wealthy and a strong social safety net while a large percentage of the workforce is unionized and employed in the public sector — a more “humane” form of capitalism — but these gains came from class struggle, not from the top down. Similarly in the U.S., the financial regulations and public programs during the Roosevelt administration were not enacted out of the goodness of FDR’s heart but because he was a pragmatic politician and member of the ruling class who understood that it was the only way to save American capitalism from itself and prevent workers, then well organized in a strong coalition of labor unions with socialists and communists, from becoming militant. Reforms such as those under the New Deal were enacted so they could be repealed later, as we see now with Social Security and Medicare increasingly under threat. If Sanders were to be elected but his policies obstructed, it would be because no such alliance behind him yet exists.

On the other hand, recent history shows that not even a united front and mass organization can ensure the democratic wishes of workers as Greece learned in 2015 after the electoral victory of the inappropriately named ‘Coalition of the Radical Left ’ — abbreviated SYRIZA — which completely double-crossed its constituency and the Greek working class once in power. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, Greece was impacted more than any other country in the Eurozone during the economic downturn and underwent a decline which exceeded that of the Great Depression in the United States as the longest of any modern capitalist country. However, like all debt run up by capitalist governments, Greece’s bankruptcy was created by the irreconcilable contradiction of the state being torn between its constituents in the masses of people and the rich and corporations who both want to pay as low in taxes as possible, an incompatibility which forces elected political leaders to borrow excessively instead of taxing the former which give them votes or the latter which gives them money.

Like the United States, many European countries saw their productive power slowly outsourced to the developing world in recent decades where bigger profits could be made and labor was cheaper while wages and living standards in the imperial core stagnated, though the process was slower in Europe because of social democracy. For the financial sector and predatory creditors, this made for a whole new market of consumer debt to invest in and a bonanza of speculative trading. That is, until 2008 when the speculations finally crashed after consumer credit reached its limit. On the brink of failure, the so-called leaders of industry and champions of private enterprise in the banking sector begged European governments to save them from collapse. Unfortunately for Greece, its small, poor economy was already heavily in debt and unattractive to lenders, therefore unable to borrow without paying high interest rates.

At the time of Greece’s debt crisis, European governments were already besieged by their respective banks in the form of bailouts. When the German and French banks turned out to be the biggest creditors of the Greek government, the prospect of Greece defaulting meant that the German and French governments could not provide financial assistance to their corresponding banks a second time without then-President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, committing political suicide. Therefore, the European Union’s political “solution” was to make Greece the whipping boy for the financial crisis by using the pooled collective money of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund— widely referred to as the ‘troika’ — to make a series of bailout loans to Greece so it could pay off the French and German banks, but which imposed draconian austerity measures and neoliberal ‘shock therapy’ onto its economy.

The troika’s ‘structural adjustment programs’ resulted in hundreds of thousands of state sector jobs lost and the minimum wage reduced by more than 20% while much of the energy, utilities and transit sectors underwent mass privatization. Greek workers saw their taxes raised just as pensions and benefits were cut, bonuses capped, and salaries frozen at the same time government spending on health and education was slashed. As many economists predicted, the spending reductions during the downturn only worsened the crisis. However, just as we have seen throughout the EU and the U.S. since the global financial meltdown, a silver lining to the crisis in Greece was an expansion of the political spectrum and Overton Window. By 2014, the far right Golden Dawn party suddenly became the third largest group from Greece in the European Parliament, but still far behind the first-place SYRIZA, founded in 2004 as a broad alliance of the country’s left-wing parties, sans the Greek Communist Party (KKE).

In the beginning of 2015, SYRIZA rode into office in a snap election, picking up half of the Hellenic Parliament seats on its campaign promise of rejecting austerity. After failing to reach an agreement with the troika, a referendum was held to decide on whether the country should accept the bailout terms and the result was a solid 61% pulling the lever against the country’s colonization by the EU and ‘reforms’ of the international creditors, a vote which also effectively signaled that the Greek people were willing to exit the Eurozone. Despite pledging to let the electorate decide the country’s future, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA stabbed the Greek working class in the back and ignored the outcome of the referendum, totally capitulating to the demands of the private banking corporatocracy. Much of the pseudo-left had pinned their naive hopes on SYRIZA, but the truth is that the warning signs were there from the very beginning, starting with Tsipras’s questionable decision to appoint economist Yanis Varoufakis as Finance Minister, a figure who had several conflicts of interest with the institutions he was assigned to stand up to.

Varoufakis was tapped to negotiate with the troika in spite of his open ties to the neoliberal Brookings Institute, a D.C. establishment think tank funded by a cabal of billionaires and the Qatari government, as well as his previous work as an advisor to the centre-left PASOK government of George Papandreou which preceded SYRIZA and initially ushered in the austerity. The “rock star economist” jumped ship after less than six months from his ministerial post on the stated reason it was evident the SYRIZA-led government was caving in to the troika, yet Varoufakis himself had already sold Greece down the river when he led the negotiations to extend its loan agreement with the IMF that was due to expire in his first month in office. Varoufakis could have used the prospect of a potential Grexit from the Eurozone as leverage and refused to negotiate, but instead fully surrendered to the troika’s bribery. When SYRIZA later fully embraced austerity, it was only a continuation of the process he set in motion while his resignation was motivated by self-interest in maintaining his radical facade.

Allowing the IMF to make a killing off Greece’s debt was just the first breach of faith. By the time Tsipras was voted out four years later, the SYRIZA-led government had made military deals with Israel, sold arms to Saudi Arabia during its genocidal war on Yemen, provided NATO with its territory for the use of military bases and naval presence, and paved the way for the latter to accede the renamed North Macedonia as a member state. Meanwhile, Varoufakis has since been busy lending his ‘expertise’ to left candidates in other countries. After the UK Labour Party’s resounding defeat in the 2019 general elections, many rightly faulted Jeremy Corbyn’s reversal of his decision to support the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum after he was convinced by the party establishment to change his longtime Euroskepticism. Unsurprisingly, another figure who had advised him to do the same was none other than the former Greek finance minister, who has also since partnered with Bernie Sanders to launch a “Progressive International.”

The 2019 UK general election was really a second Brexit referendum, where the electorate justifiably expressed their disgust at the Labour Party’s contempt for democracy and neutering of Corbyn. Once upon a time it was Labour who stood against the de-industrialization foisted onto Britain by the neoliberal imperialist EU and the offshoring of its manufacturing jobs to Germany and the global south. Corbyn should have listened to the words of past Labour leaders like Tony Benn, who opposed the European project and its unelected bureaucracy as a violation of British sovereignty and democracy, not charlatans like Mr. Varoufakis. Worst of all is that the “left” is now disparaging the entirety of the working class as bigots and reducing the Leave vote to a reaction against the migrant crisis, as if Greece’s bailout referendum never occurred. Like the Yellow Vest protests in France, Corbyn’s loss was a sign that the opposition to globalization by the working class is still in good condition but has no authentic left to represent it. If Bernie meets the same fate, a real vanguard should be prepared to take the reins.