Category Archives: Mike Pompeo

Israel’s Friends at the RNC: “Christian Zionists” Dictate the Agenda of the Republican Party

It is difficult – and futile – to argue which American president has historically been more pro-Israel. While former President Barack Obama, for example, has pledged more money to Israel than any other US administration in history, Donald Trump has provided Israel with a blank check of seemingly endless political concessions.

Certainly, the unconditional backing and love declared for Israel is common among all US administrations. What they may differ on, however, is their overall motive, primarily their target audience during election time.

Both Republicans and Democrats head to the November elections with strong pro-Israel sentiments and outright support, completely ignoring the plight of occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

To win the support of the pro-Israeli constituencies, but especially the favor of the Israel lobby in Washington DC, Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have deviated even further from the low standards set by the Democratic Obama administration. Despite his generous financial support for Israel and full political backing, especially during Israel’s wars on the Gaza Strip, Obama dared, at times, to censure Israel over the expansion of its illegal Jewish settlements.

The Biden-Harris ticket, however, is offering Israel unconditional support.

“Joe Biden has made it clear,” Harris was quoted as saying in a telephone call on August 26, “he will not tie US security assistance to Israel to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn’t agree more.” The call was made to what the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, termed as “Jewish supporters.” The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel referred to this crucial constituency as “Jewish donors.”

The references above are sufficient to delineate the nature of the Democratic Party establishment’s current support for Israel. Although the view of the party’s rank and file has significantly shifted against Israel in recent years, the Democratic upper echelon still caters to the Israel lobby and their rich backers, even if this means molding US foreign policy in the entire Middle East region to serve Israeli interests.

For Republicans, however, it is a different story. The party’s establishment and the rank and file are united in their love and support for Israel. Though the Israel lobby plays an important role in harnessing and channeling this support, Republicans are not entirely motivated by pleasing the pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington DC.

The speeches made by Republican leaders at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in  Charlotte, North Carolina, between August 24-27 were all aimed at reassuring Christian Evangelicals – often referred to as ‘Christian Zionists’- who represent the most powerful pro-Israel constituency in the United States.

The once relatively marginal impact of Christian Zionists in directly shaping US foreign policy, has morphed over the years – particularly during the Trump presidency – to define the core values of the Republican Party.

“This is apocalyptic foreign policy in a nutshell,” tweeted Israeli commentator, Gershom Gorenberg, on August 24. In Republican thinking, “Israel is not as a real country but a fantasyland, backdrop for Christian myth.”

Gorenberg’s comments were tweeted hours before the controversial speech made by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, America’s top diplomat, who delivered his brief notes from “beautiful Jerusalem, looking out over the old city.” The location, and the reference to it, were clear messages regarding the religious centrality of Israel to US foreign policy, and the unmistakable target audience.

Trump was even more obvious during an August 17 speech in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “We moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem,” Trump announced to a cheering crowd, “and so the Evangelicals – you know, it’s amazing with that – the Evangelicals are more excited about that than Jewish people … It’s really, it’s incredible.”

Unsurprisingly, 22 percent of Wisconsin residents identify as “Evangelical Protestants.”

This was not the first time that Trump has derided US Jews for not being as supportive of him as they are of his Democrat rivals. A year ago, Trump called Jewish Democrats “disloyal” to Israel. “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” he said in August 2019.

This was not a simple case of Trump’s typical political insensitivity but, rather, the cognizance that the real Republican prize in the coming elections is not the Jewish vote but the Christian Zionists.

In his speech before the RNC on August 27, Trump recounted to this same audience his pro-Israeli accomplishments, including the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. “Unlike many presidents before me, I kept my promise, recognized Israel’s true capital and moved our embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump proclaimed.

The moving of the embassy, always a great opportunity to repeat the word “Jerusalem” before a jubilant crowd, was the buzzword at the RNC, repeated by all top Republicans, including former US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. “President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem — and when the UN tried to condemn us, I was proud to cast the American veto,” Haley announced proudly, which generated an approving cheer.

In all of their references to Israel at the RNC, Republican leaders adhered to specific talking points: Iran, the US embassy move, the recognition of the Occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories, the fight against anti-Semitism (silencing any criticism of Israel), and so on.

However, the Republican discourse seems to be detached from the traditional US foreign policy view that US support for Israel serves the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of Washington. This view, predominant among Democrats, seems to be almost entirely forsaken by Republicans, whose love for Israel is now dedicated to a purely religious mission.

In June 2015, when he was still a Congressman from Kansas, Secretary Pompeo once declared before a packed megachurch in Wichita, that the “battles” against evil is a “never-ending struggle,” one that will continue “until the Rapture,” a reference to what some Christians believe to be a sign of the end of times.

Addressing the RNC from Jerusalem on August 25, Pompeo must have felt that part of his spiritual mission has already been fulfilled.

The post Israel’s Friends at the RNC: "Christian Zionists" Dictate the Agenda of the Republican Party first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Send in the Clowns for the Circus is in Town

Don’t bother, they’re here, already performing in the center ring under the big top owned and operated by The Umbrella People.

Trump, Biden, Pence, Harris, and their clownish sidekicks, Pompeo, Michelle Obama, et al., are performing daily under the umbrella’s shadowy protection. For The Umbrella People run a three-ring circus, and although their clowns pop out of separate tiny cars and, acting like enemies, squirt each other with water hoses to the audience’s delight, raucous laughter, and serious attentiveness, they are all part of the same show, working for the same bosses.  Sadly, many people think this circus is the real world and that the clowns are not allied pimps serving the interests of their masters, but are real enemies.

The Umbrella People are the moguls who own the showtime studios – some call them the secret government, the deep-state, or the power elite. They run a protection racket, so I like to use a term that emphasizes their method of making sure the sunlight of truth never gets to those huddled under their umbrella. They produce and direct the daily circus that is the American Spectacle, the movie that is meant to entertain and distract the audience from the side show that continues outside the big top, the place where millions of vulnerable people are abused and killed.  And although the sideshow is the real main event, few pay attention since their eyes are fixed on the center ring were the spotlight directs their focus.

The French writer Guy Debord called this The Society of the Spectacle.

For many months now, all eyes have been directed to the Covid-19 propaganda show with Fauci and Gates, and their mainstream corporate media mouthpieces, striking thunderbolts in the storm to scare the unknowing audience into submission so the transformation of the Great Global Reset, led by the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund, can proceed smoothly.

Now hearts are aflutter with excitement to see the war-loving Joe Biden boldly coming forth like Lazarus from the grave to announce his choice of a masked vice-presidential running mate who will echo his pronouncements.

And the star of the big top, the softly coiffured reality television emcee Trump, around whom the spectacle swirls, elicits outraged responses as he plays the part of the comical bad guy.

Punch and Judy indeed.

All the while the corporate mainstream media warn of grim viral milestones, election warnings, storms ahead!  The world as you know it is coming to an end, they remind us daily.

The latter meme contains a hint of truth since not just the world as we know it may be coming to an end, but the world itself, including human life, as the clowns initiate a nuclear holocaust while everyone is being entertained.

Meanwhile, as the circus rolls along, far away and out of mind, shit happens:

With more than 400 military bases equipped with nuclear weapons surrounding China, the United States military continues its encirclement of China and China enters a “state of siege.

The U.S. conducts military exercises with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in the contested South China Sea. These U.S “maritime Air defense operation[s]” close to the Chinese mainland are a part of significantly increased U.S. military exercises in the area.

The U.S. Defense Secretary Esper announces that the U.S. is withdrawing troops from Germany but moving them closer to the Russian border to serve as a more effective deterrent against Russia.

Russia says it will regard any ballistic missile aimed at its territory as a nuclear attack and will respond in kind with nuclear weapons.

Although the U.S. is formally not at war with any African country, a new report reveals that the United States has special forces operating in 22 African countries with 29 bases and 6,000 troops, with a huge drone hub in Niger that cost 100 + million to build and is expected to have operating costs of more than $280 billion by 2024.

The U.S. continues its assault on Syria, aside from direct military operations, by building up Kurdish proxies in northeastern Syria to protect the oil fields that they are stealing from the Syrian government, a plan hatched long ago.  The U.S. says their strategy is to deny ISIS a valuable revenue stream.  The same ISIS they used to attack the Syrian government in a war of aggression.

A new document exposes the U.S. plan to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a traditional U.S. regime change and CIA front organization.

Meanwhile, in Belarus, a place most Americans can’t find on a map, there is another color “revolution” underway.

Continuing its war against Iran and Venezuela by other means, the Trump administration seizes Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.  “Something will happen with Venezuela.  That’s all I can tell you.  Something will be happening with Venezuela,” said Trump in a July interview with Noticias Telemundo.

And, of course, the Palestinians are left to suffer and die as Israel is supported in its despotic policies in the Middle East.

The list goes on and on as the U.S. under Trump continues to wage war by multiple means around the world. But his followers see him as peaceful president because these wars are waged through sanctions, special operations, drones, third parties, etc.

But back in the center ring, the two presidential clown candidates keep the audience entertained, as they shoot water at each other. Trump, who now presides over all the events just listed, and Biden, who enthusiastically supported the American wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc.

But then the followers of Obama/Biden also see their champions as peaceful leaders.  This is even more absurd.

Don’t you like farce?

Besides being a rabid advocate for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a senator, Biden, as Vice-President under Obama for eight years, seconded and promoted all of Obama’s wars that were wrapped in “humanitarian” propaganda to evade international law and keep his liberal supporters quiet. From Bush II, an outright cowboy war-wager who used America’s large military forces to invade Afghanistan and Iraq under false pretensions – i.e. lies, Obama and his sidekick Biden learned to arm and finance thousands of Islamic jihadists, run by the CIA and U.S. special forces, to do the job in more circumspect ways. They expanded and grew The United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) throughout Africa. They agreed to a $1 trillion upgrade of U.S nuclear weapons (that continues under Trump). They disarmed their followers, who, in any case, wished to look the other way. Out of sight and out of mind, Obama/Biden continued the “war on terror” with drones, private militias, color revolutions, etc. They waged war on six-seven – who knows how many – countries.

An exception to the more secretive wars was the Obama administration’s openly savage assault on Libya in 2011 under the lies of an imperial moral legitimacy. In order to save you, we will destroy you, which is what they did to Libya, a country still in ruins and chaos.  Their equally blood-thirsty Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let the cat out of the bag when she laughed and gleefully applauded the brutal murder of Libya’s leader Moammar Gaddafi with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.” Yippee!

After Libya was destroyed and so many killed in an illegal and immoral war financed with $2 billion dollars from the America treasury, Joseph Biden bragged that the U.S. didn’t lose a single life and such a war was a “prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward.”

Biden was Obama’s front man on Iraq, the war he voted for in 2003, and wrote an op ed article in 2006 calling for the breakup of the country into three parts, Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish.

When Obama launched 48 cruise missiles and more than ten thousand tons of bombs on Syria in 2016, killing over a hundred civilians, a third of them children, V.P. Biden stood proud and strong in support of the action.

When the U.S. launched the bloody coup in Ukraine in 2014, Biden was, of course, in agreement.

But we are told that Trump and Biden are arch-enemies.  One of them wants war and the other wants peace.

How many Americans will vote for these clowns this year?  They are really front men for The Umbrella People, the money people who use the CIA and other undercover forces to carry out their organized crime activities.

As C.S Lewis said in his preface to The Screwtape Letters:

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint . . .. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump received 129 million votes out of 157 million registered American voters eager to believe that this system is not built on imperial war-making by both parties.

Perhaps that’s a generous assessment. Maybe many of those voters believe in the U.S.A.’s “manifest destiny” to rule the world and wage war in God’s name.  I hope not.  But if so, you can expect a big turnout on November 3, 2020.

In any case, it’s quite a circus, but these clowns aren’t funny.  They are dangerous.

But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns
Don’t bother they’re here

Don’t you like farce?

Foiled in the Security Council: The United States, Extending Arms Embargoes and Iran

There are no official policing authorities as such when it comes to international relations.  Realists imagine a jungle of states, the preyed upon and the predators, a grim state of affairs moderated by alliances, agreements and understandings. But there is one body whose resolutions are recognised as having binding force: the Security Council, that most powerful of creatures in that jumble known as the United Nations.

To convince the permanent five on the Security Council to reach agreement is no easy feat.  There are the occasional humiliations in the failure to get resolutions passed, but whether it be the US, Russia, China, France or the UK, wise heads tend to prevail.  Best put forth resolutions with at least some chance of garnering support.  Rejection will be hard to take.

On August 14, a degree of humiliation was heaped upon the US delegation.  Washington seemed to have read the situation through fogged goggles, assuming that it would get the nine votes needed to extend arms restrictions on Iran due to expire in October under Resolution 2231.  Of the 15 members, only two – the United States and Dominican Republic – felt the need to vote for it.  Russia and China strongly opposed it; the rest were abstentions.  Previous warnings that any such quixotic effort was bound to fail had been ignored.

The body most shown up in all of this was the US State Department and, it followed, its indignant chief Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  “The UN Security Council failed today to hold Iran accountable,” he raged on Twitter.  “It enabled the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell deadly weapons and ignored the demands of countries in the Middle East.  America will continue to work to correct this mistake.”  He also called the position taken by Britain and France “unfortunate”, as it had only been the US view to “keep the same rules that have been in place since 2007.”

US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, took it personally, giving the impression that she saw it coming in the diplomatic tangle.  “The United States is sickened but not surprised by the outcome of today’s UNSC vote.  The Council’s failure to extend the Iran’s arm embargo is a devastating blow to the Council’s credibility.” She also promised that the US would “not abandon the region to Iranian terror and intimidation, and when we look for partners in that effort, we will look beyond the UN Security Council.”

The humiliation gave Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi much room to gloat.  “In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated,” he confidently asserted.  “Despite all the trips, pressure, and the hawking, the United States could only mobilize a small country [to vote] with them.”

There was much that sat oddly in this enterprise.  It showed a US effort strongly driven by the anti-Iranian Middle East coven of Arab Gulf states, along with Israel.  That said, the position amongst those states is not uniform either.  In the words of Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Settlement of Disputes, “Iran is a neighbouring country with which we have good neighbourly relations, and it has a position that we value in the State of Qatar, the government and the people, especially during the unjust blockade on Qatar.”

Absurdly, Pompeo has promised to see how the US might rely on a provision in the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action it unilaterally left in 2018, which permits a “snapback”.  Triggering it would entail a return to the full complement of UN sanctions against Iran.  This novel take was also given an airing by Craft.  “Under Resolution 2231, the United States has every right to initiate snapback of provisions of previous Security Council resolutions.”

In April, Reuters noted the view of a European diplomat that it was “very difficult to present yourself as a compliance watcher of a resolution you decided to pull out of.  Either you’re in or either you’re out.”  Samuel M. Hickey from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also warned in May that invoking the snapback provision, especially by a non-party, “would not only underscore US isolation on the global stage, it might also undermine the effectiveness of the UNSC by creating a dispute over the validity of a UNSC resolution.”  Russia and China expressed similar readings: it was a bit rich to trigger provisions in an agreement so publicly repudiated.

Iran, in turn, huffed at the very idea of a snapback through its UN ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi.  “Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited.”

This entire act of gross miscalculation did its fair share of harm, though not in the sense understood by Pompeo and his officials.  It spoke to a clumsy unilateralism masquerading as credible support; to great power obstinacy misguided in attaining a goal.  It was not the UN Security Council that had failed, but the US that had failed it, an effort that many at the UN are reading as directed at torching the remnants of the Iran nuclear deal.  The assessment of the US effort by former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was sharp and relevant.  “You got the Dominican Republic on board (how much did that cost the US taxpayer?)  Not a single other nation voted with you!  The shining city on the hill has been reduced to a glow, like the embers of a dying fire.”

Belarus:  A Color Revolution of a Different Shade?

Belarus is in turmoil, after an election where the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko – 25 years already in power (in office since 1994) – has won with 80% of the popular vote. That’s what the official stats and media say. True or false? Does it matter?  The margin is large enough that it cannot be contested or questioned by “recounters”. So, people take to the streets. First police reaction against protesters is violent.

Washington reprimands Belarus – to calm the police violence – at the surface protecting the protesters. Overall western reaction towards the election is negative. Unilaterally they say “elections were unfair and rigged”. This may be true – or not. The west has been critical for years about Lukashenko’s human rights records. Isn’t it kind of ironic, every time the west has a criticism for which they don’t have a real foundation, they claim “human rights abuses”? That flies just about with everybody. Russia, China and all those associated with these two evil countries have horrible human rights records. Hardly a substance the west brings forward, or if it does, because pressed, they invent the “substance”. China is a case in point.

Just on a sideline, did anybody ever question or even criticize western Human Rights records? Let’s just think of all the western initiated wars and ‘sanctions’ in the Middle East – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine via proxy Israel, Somalia; aggressions against Iran, Lebanon; depriving Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea of vital and essential medication, food – and spare parts that could keep their economy running – let alone the smearing and sanctions and aggressions on China and Russia. No one in the west dares say beep. The Anglo-American controlled media are silent. Where are the real human rights abusers, in giant proportions more severe than those in Russia, China and the rest of the world combined?  Food for thought.

Let’s stay with Belarus. Belarus is also an ‘ally’ of Russia. Or let’s put it another way: Belarus is a buffer zone between Russia and NATO. So, Belarus’s alliance with Russia is important. It is also important for the west to break it. To get a step closer to the Kremlin’s doorstep.

And that’s precisely what’s happening. The fact is that Pompeo went to visit Lukashenko at the beginning of 2020 shaking hands and smiling and pledging friendship and “democratic assistance”. Despite the Human Rights critique, most western sanctions have been lifted on Belarus, because Lukashenko has freed some political prisoners. Pompeo’s discourse is that Washington supports Belarus’s independence, while they are aware of Minsk’s close links to Russia.

Pompeo said (a Reuters quote): “There’s a long history with Russia. It’s not about picking us between the two. We want to be here.” How wise. The “picking” will be done by Washington’s arm-twisting, or worse, if necessary.

Just coincidentally, when Russia and Belarus had a disagreement over oil deliveries and contract extension in late 2019 and early 2020, Washington immediately offered alternative supplies. Pompeo again: “The United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country. Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100% of the oil you need at competitive prices.”  And, “Your nation should not be forced to be dependent on any one partner for your prosperity or for your security.”

But an oil contract agreement was reached with Moscow, and deliveries resumed on January 4, 2020.

In anticipation of Pompeo’s visit to Minsk earlier this year, the Trump Administration intimated,  “this [Belarus] is an era of great power competition and an opportunity to compete for influence.”

There you have it. Elections are often strategic moments to hit a country when you want to dominate it. Who knows whether the US was behind the election results, directly or by proxy manipulating them, knowing quite well, that Lukashenko’s popularity has shrunk to a low. Lukashenko has run his country like a police state. Another Lukashenko win could (and should  wished by the west) cause civil unrest that, like in other places of the universe – like Hong Kong, to mention just an ongoing one – can be provoked by Washington and its minions and extended as long as it takes to bring about regime change which is what Washington dreams of in Belarus.

Belarus without natural resources to speak off, except its strategic location – buffer zone for Russia – depends economically on Russia. Russia has not failed her support to Belarus. It is very unlikely that Russia would interfere in Belarus’s election, despite what Washington says about political and election interference by Russia,  It’s not Russia’s style, but it clearly is Washington’s style to interfere in elections around the world. There has been not one “free” election, “free” meaning without interference, directly or indirectly, of the United Sates, in the last few decades. Not one.

Contrary to the Ukraine, in Belarus there is no visible EU / IMF interference at this point. Just the US at the fringes, by Pompeo’s visit to Minsk on February 1, 2020. But we don’t really know what went on behind closed doors, what agreements were signed “verbally”.

However, whatever secrets the Pompeo visit may have entailed, this looks like a new kind of Color Revolution in the making. One where the instigators are not visibly Washington and/or their NATO-controlled allies, the European Union. But rather a “third party” close ally of the US, one whose survival depends on the United States, like Ukraine. It is possible that Ukraine, directed by Washington, infiltrated their secret service people and other trouble-makers (possibly with Russian passports) into Belarus, mainly Minsk, before the elections, to orchestrate Lukashenko’s landslide win, as well as the subsequent civil unrest, which as of this day has not abated.

It may not be coincidence that Lukashenko’s only real opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (who got only 10% of the vote) fled to Lithuania, where she was “safe”, as Lithuanians Foreign Minister said.

Though the US officially condemns Lukashenko’s police brutality, in secret they want Lukashenko to remain in power until the appropriate moment, when the control is sufficiently advanced, as was the case with Ukraine. In the meantime, they may groom Svetlana to eventually take over from Lukashenko when the time is ripe for another “Maidan” Belarus style.

No doubt, President Putin is aware of this – and probably of other likely scenarios. Learning from the Ukraine experience, he may opt to ‘replace’ Lukashenko before it’s too late. Because if Belarus falls and with Ukraine at the southern doorstep, Moscow would be in real danger

The United States, Diego Garcia, and International Law

There are few more righteous sights than the paunchy US Secretary of State savaging the People’s Republic of China with his next volley on Chinese territorial aspirations. In July, Mike Pompeo released a statement putting any uncertain minds at ease on where Washington stood on the matter. “We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”

International politics, for all that confidence, rides on the stead of hypocrisy. The more vehement a condemnation regarding a course of conduct, the more likely the stead is about to turn. For all the promises of freedom of navigation and repudiation of Chinese claims to the South China Sea, the United States nurses its own questionable readings of international law. The term “rule based order” is a lovely one seemingly shorn of realpolitik (nothing of the sort), but collapses on closer inspection.

When it comes to the matter of alleged Chinese violations of maritime law in the South China Sea, odd messages bubble from the mouths of US officials on, for instance, violations of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Pompeo speaks of preserving “peace and stability”, upholding “freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law, maintain the unimpeded flow of commerce” and opposing “any attempt to use coercion or force to settle disputes.” He also refers to UNCLOS, a document the United States has not ratified despite President Barack Obama’s previous plea that the Senate, were it to do so, “should help strengthen our case [against China’s actions in the South China Sea].” Smugly, Pompeo cites the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal constituted in accordance with UNCLOS, as its finding on July 12, 2016 rejecting “the PRC’s maritime claims as having no basis in international law.”

The same can be said of the enormous air base known as Diego Garcia, located in the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It is worth noting that predatory behaviour was very much part of the policy towards the indigenous populace of the island, which had been a dependency of the British colony of Mauritius. In 1965, the Chagos Islands was separated from Mauritius in exchange for an “indemnity” of £3 million. What was created in its place was a legal misnomer of some nastiness: the British Indian Ocean Territory.

In 1966, the US was promised a strategic tenancy on Diego Garcia for five decades. The UK Permanent Under-Secretary promised to be “tough about this. The object of the exercise was to get some rocks which will remain ours; there will be no indigenous population except seagulls who have not yet got a Committee (the Status of Women does not cover the rights of Birds).” Very droll.

This brutal endeavour was done as part of Britain’s continued need to feel relevant in the post-colonial power game, a supposedly sagacious proxy for the projection of US power. It was also done against the spirit of decolonisation stressed in UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), which noted that “[a]ny attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The British authorities were true to their word: the indigenous population between 1967 and 1973 was forcibly relocated to Mauritius and the Seychelles, with the US paying $14 million for the effort. The way for the establishment of a military base was cleared but only after pockets of Chagossian resistance were crushed through threats and intimidation.

Analysts from the US perspective look at this situation as one forced upon the United States and find China, as tends to be the pattern these days, the catalyst of encouragement. “The policy trigger,” writes retired Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, “was the 1962 Sino-Indian war, when Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had pressed Washington for military assistance to India.” The Kennedy administration obliged by sending the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier with the express purpose of deterring China in the event of any push towards Calcutta. The analysis by McDevitt is bloodless, mechanical, and makes no mention of the Chagossians. Absent are US methods of terroristic pummelling. What he does describe is the indispensable nature of the base, “perfect … for US Navy maritime patrol aircraft and especially US Air Force heavy bombers.”

These were not views shared by many members of the UN General Assembly. In June 2017, the General Assembly, in resolution 71/292, requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on whether the decolonisation of Mauritius had been lawfully completed with regards the separation of the Chagos Archipelago. A second question also arose on the legal consequences of the UK’s “continued administration … of the Chagos Archipelago including with respect to the inability to implement a programme for the resettlement on the Chagos Archipelago of its nationals, in particular those of Chagossian origin”.

In its February 25, 2019 opinion, the ICJ found that “the process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence”. The UK was “under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.” The judges acknowledged resolution 1514 (XV) as “a defining moment in the consolidation of State practice on decolonisation” and that “[b]oth State practice and opinio juris at the relevant time confirm the customary law character of the right to territorial integrity of a non-self-governing territory as a corollary of the right to self-determination.” No evidence of approval of the practice of an administering power’s detachment of part of a non-self-governing territory, certainly for the purposes of maintaining colonial rule over it, was shown. “States have consistently emphasised that respect for the territorial integrity of a non-self-governing territory is a key element in the exercise of the right to self-determination under international law.”

The UN affirmed the 13-1 opinion in May 2019, calling upon Britain to “withdraw its colonial administration” within six months and duly acknowledge Chagos as forming “an integral part” of Mauritius. Eviction orders received that month were ignored by the British, showing that the Anglo-American reverence for the sacred “rules-based international order” can be selectively profane when it needs to be. “The United Kingdom is not in doubt about our sovereignty over the British Ocean Territory,” insisted Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce. The territory had never been part of Mauritius and it had “freely entered into an agreement” covering fishing rights and marine resources. The question left begging here was how the entity could lawfully enter into any arrangements with Britain over Chagos if the territory had never formed the basis of Mauritian control. The spirit of Neville Chamberlain, one approving the ceding and dividing of territory not his own, is still very much alive.

It is worth nothing that the approval of the ICJ findings, along with international law bodies in general, is very much dependent on favourability towards the great power. Playground bullies are always bound to ignore them; small states, less likely to. Just as China refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of international judicial rulings on its maritime claims, the US and Britain refuse to acknowledge determinations regarding the status of Diego Garcia and the Chagossians. That’s the rules-based order in international relations for you.

  • See related article: “Sovereignty in the South China Sea.”
  • Our Planet’s Missed Opportunity to unite and fight Side by Side against the Pandemic

    It is time to stop irresponsible finger-pointing.

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

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

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

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

    The Telegraph reported on 5 July 2020:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    *****

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

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

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

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

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

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

    *****

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

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

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

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

     *****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     U.S. Cold War China Policy will isolate the U.S. not China

    CODEPINK (Credit)

    Tensions between the United States and China are rising as the U.S. election nears, with tit-for-tat consulate closures, new U.S. sanctions and no less than three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups prowling the seas around China. But it is the United States that has initiated each new escalation in U.S.-China relations. China’s responses have been careful and proportionate, with Chinese officials such as Foreign Minister Wang Yi publicly asking the U.S. to step back from its brinkmanship to find common ground for diplomacy.

    Most of the U.S. complaints about China are long-standing, from the treatment of the Uighur minority and disputes over islands and maritime borders in the South China Sea to accusations of unfair trade practices and support for protests in Hong Kong. But the answer to the “Why now?” question seems obvious: the approaching U.S. election.

    Danny Russel, who was Obama’s top East Asia expert in the National Security Council and then at the State Department, told the BBC that the new tensions with China are partly an effort to divert attention from Trump’s bungled response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his tanking poll numbers, and that this “has a wag the dog feel to it.”

    Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has been going toe-to-toe with Trump and Secretary Pompeo in a potentially dangerous “tough on China” contest, which could prove difficult for the winner to walk back after the election.

    Elections aside, there are two underlying forces at play in the current escalation of tensions, one economic and the other military. China’s economic miracle has lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty, and, until recently, Western corporations were glad to make the most of its huge pool of cheap labor, weak workplace and environmental protections, and growing consumer market. Western leaders welcomed China into their club of wealthy, powerful countries with little fuss about human and civil rights or China’s domestic politics.

    So what has changed? U.S.high-tech companies like Apple, which were once only too glad to outsource American jobs and train Chinese contractors and engineers to manufacture their products, are finally confronting the reality that they have not just outsourced jobs, but also skills and technology. Chinese companies and highly skilled workers are now leading some of the world’s latest technological advances.

    The global rollout of 5G cellular technology has become a flashpoint, not because the increase and higher frequency of EMF radiation it involves may be dangerous to human health, which is a real concern, but because Chinese firms like Huawei and ZTE have developed and patented much of the critical infrastructure involved, leaving Silicon Valley in the unfamiliar position of having to play catch-up.

    Also, if the U.S.’s 5G infrastructure is built by Huawei and ZTE instead of AT&T and Verizon, the U.S. government will no longer be able to require “back doors” that the NSA can use to spy on us all, so it is instead stoking fears that China could insert its own back doors in Chinese equipment to spy on us instead. Left out of the discussion is the real solution: repeal the Patriot Act and make sure that all the technology we use in our daily lives is secure from the prying eyes of both the U.S. and foreign governments.

    China is investing in infrastructure all over the world. As of March 2020, a staggering 138 countries have joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive plan to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks. China’s international influence will only be enhanced by its success, and the U.S.’s failure, in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

    On the military front, the Obama and Trump administrations have both tried to “pivot to Asia” to confront China, even as the U.S. military remains bogged down in the Middle East.  With a war-weary public demanding an end to the endless wars that have served to justify record military spending for nearly 20 years, the U.S. military-industrial complex has to find more substantial enemies to justify its continued existence and budget-busting costs. Lockheed Martin is not ready to switch from building billion-dollar warplanes on cost-plus contracts to making wind turbines and solar panels.

    The only targets the U.S. can find to justify a $740-billion military budget and 800 overseas military bases are its familiar old Cold War enemies: Russia and China. They both expanded their modest military budgets after 2011, when the U.S. and its allies hi-jacked the Arab Spring to launch covert and proxy wars in Libya, where China had substantial oil interests, and Syria, a long-term Russian ally. But their increases in military spending were only relative. In 2019, China’s military budget was only $261 billion compared to the U.S.’s $732 billion, according to SIPRI. The U.S. still spends more on its military than the ten next largest military powers combined, including Russia and China.

    Russian and Chinese military forces are almost entirely defensive, with an emphasis on advanced and effective anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems. Neither Russia nor China has invested in carrier strike groups to sail the seven seas or U.S.-style expeditionary forces to attack or invade countries on the other side of the planet. But they do have the forces and weapons they need to defend themselves and their people from any U.S. attack and both are nuclear powers, making a major war against either of them a more serious prospect than the U.S. military has faced anywhere since the Second World War.

    China and Russia are both deadly serious about defending themselves, but we should not misinterpret that as enthusiasm for a new arms race or a sign of aggressive intentions on their part. It is U.S. imperialism and militarism that are driving the escalating tensions. The sad truth is that 30 years after the supposed end of the Cold War, the U.S. military-industrial complex has failed to reimagine itself in anything but Cold War terms, and its “New” Cold War is just a revival of the old Cold War that it spent the last three decades telling us it already won.

    “China Is Not an Enemy”

    The U.S. and China do not have to be enemies. Just a year ago, a hundred U.S. business, political and military leaders signed a public letter to President Trump in the Washington Post entitled “China Is Not an Enemy.” They wrote that China is not “an economic enemy or an existential national security threat,” and U.S opposition “will not prevent the continued expansion of the Chinese economy, a greater global market share for Chinese companies and an increase in China’s role in world affairs.”

    They concluded that, “U.S. efforts to treat China as an enemy and decouple it from the global economy will damage the United States’ international role and reputation and undermine the economic interests of all nations,” and that the U.S. “could end up isolating itself rather than Beijing.”

    That is precisely what is happening. Governments all over the world are collaborating with China to stop the spread of coronavirus and share the solutions with all who need them. The U.S. must stop pursuing its counterproductive effort to undermine China, and instead work with all our neighbors on this small planet. Only by cooperating with other nations and international organizations can we stop the pandemic—and address the coronavirus-sparked economic meltdown gripping the world economy and the many challenges we must all face together if we are to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

    Venezuela And Iran Show Solidarity Can Overcome US Empire

    Commemorating 100,000 COVID-19 Deaths

    The official milestone of 100,000 dead in the United States from COVID-19 is near. This figure is certainly an undercount as thousands of deaths from COVID-19 are not being recorded. Before our weekly news analysis, we pause to commemorate those deaths.

    The US, with 4 percent of the world’s population, has 28 percent of the COVID19 deaths, disproportionately impacting black and brown people. Why is the US doing so poorly? President Trump surely deserves a great deal of blame. He continues to make major errors and critical mistakes were made in the first few months when Trump said on January 22: “It’s just one person coming in from China. We have it totally under control” and, on February 26: “When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days will be down to zero.” The Trump Death Clock reports 58,614 deaths could have been prevented if the US had acted more quickly.

    But the problems are deeper than Trump. The US healthcare system is the most expensive in the world yet it is out of reach for tens of millions of people. The nation has never adequately invested in public health and does not have a community-based healthcare system that would have allowed immediate tracking of the virus. No state has met the requirements for reopening its economy, yet many are doing so. The nation has not put in place the testing and tracing needed to monitor and eliminate the virus.

    This weekend, images of people at beaches and in malls without taking safety precautions compound the errors. In the next month, the impact of this recklessness will be widespread illness and death. We see nothing in US public policy coming from either party that will prevent that likely reality. Rather than fixing obvious errors in policy, the bipartisans are compounding them. We need to keep pushing for more. Our next General Strike call is May 28 at 7 pm EST. Our speaker is Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson and People’s Strike. Register at bit.ly/MayDayMeeting.

    Iranian oil tanker, Fortune, arrives in Venezuelan waters and is escorted by  the Venezuelan navy (photo from TELSUR)

    A Victory For Sovereignty, Independence, And Peace

    This week, Venezuela and Iran faced up to threats made by the United States and defied the illegal US sanctions by sending five oil tankers from Iran to Venezuela. The US’ long term unilateral coercive measures have prevented the two countries with the largest oil reserves from selling their oil. This economic terrorism has caused tens of thousands of deaths in each country. Despite this economic warfare and constant threats of military attack, the two nations joined together in solidarity and broke through the US blockade to deliver much-needed oil and supplies to Venezuela.

    This was a victory for sovereignty, independence, and peace. It was an act of dignity for both countries to take this successful stand against the United States. They have shown the world that illegal US economic sanctions, which impact 39 countries and one-third of the world’s population, can be defeated. They set an example that other nations can refuse the US’ unlawful demands. Acting together, the world can end the abusive unilateral coercive measures, end dollar domination, and create a multi-polar world where nations large and small have sovereignty and independence from hegemony.

    US navy ships in the Caribbean (photo from Military.com)

    US Threats And Show Of Force Dissipate

    Last week, President Trump told a conservative audience that the US has Venezuela surrounded. Earlier this year, Trump ordered a US armada to the Caribbean to target Venezuela, including destroyers, littoral combat ships, Poseidon maritime planes, AWAC surveillance aircraft, and on-ground special forces units. This is the largest US military presence in the region since the 1989 invasion of Panama.

    Anonymous White House officials told Reuters the US has been “looking at measures that can be taken” to stop the “unwelcome”  impending delivery. The Washington Post quoted an unnamed high-level Trump official saying the administration “would not abide” Iran’s support of Maduro and “The president has made clear the United States will not tolerate continued meddling by supporters of an illegitimate regime.”

    These threats are occurring just weeks after the failed May 3-4 mercenary invasion of Venezuela organized and led by ex-US special forces troops. The Bay of Pigs-like attempt to enter Venezuela by sea with 80 mercenaries was stopped by the Venezuelan government with the assistance of fishermen in the civilian militia. Two former US special forces and some Venezuelan military defectors are under arrest. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has promised to use all means at the disposal of the United States to free the US citizens.

    This week, US courts allowed the seizure of Venezuela’s largest foreign asset, CITGO, worth an estimated $8 billion. A federal judge approved the sale of the  CITGO refineries after the US Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling. Foreign Minister Arreaza denounced the sale as an act of piracy and said, “There are 12 children waiting for a bone marrow transplant” that was going to be paid for by CITGO profits.  On May 14, Venezuela filed suit in a London commercial court that seeks to force the UK Central Bank to return an estimated US $1 billion worth of Venezuelan gold. Venezuela plans to use the gold to buy food, medicines, and healthcare equipment to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic reports Reuters.

    The ultimate corporate media source, the Wall Street Journal, urged military action to halt the Iranian tankers, warning of the “risk to U.S. interests in doing nothing.” They claimed “President Trump has the legal power to declare an emergency and interdict the tankers.”  It warned the US needs to be prepared to respond to Iran in the Persian Gulf if they do so.

    Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity published a memorandum to the President warning that taking action would result in serious blowback from the world against the US. Further, such an action would be illegal and an act of war that would have unpredictable consequences, not just in Latin America but in the Middle East where there are many US targets. They urged the administration to stop “saber-rattling” as “huffing and puffing hasn’t blown Maduro’s house down.”

    The five supertankers – Fortune, Forest, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel – carrying around 1.5 million barrels of fuel have to pass the belligerent US armada. Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said, “They will be escorted by Bolivarian National Armed Forces boats and planes to welcome them in and thank the Iranian people for their solidarity and cooperation.”

    The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi accused the US of threatening piracy and vowed a decisive response.”  Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami warned the United States “Iran will not tolerate obstacles [to its oil ships]. Both the United States and other countries know that we will not hesitate. If the obstacles continue or increase, Iran’s response will be forceful.”

    Both Iran and Venezuela warned the United Nations that any action by the United States to stop the oil tankers would be illegal. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif wrote UN Secretary Antonio Guterres. Venezuela’s UN ambassador, Samuel Moncada, alerted the agency to the “threat of imminent use of military force by the United States.” The letter warned: “Ships with British, Dutch, French and American flags are bordering the coasts of our country, with a hostile and aggressive attitude . . . threatening the imposition illegal of a naval blockade.” He urged the UN Security Council to take immediate action to end the “warmongering and criminal policies,” of the US, which threaten the peace, security, and stability of the region.

    Earlier in the week, the US blocked the Security Council resolution denouncing the attempted mercenary invasion of Venezuela. Ambassador Moncada thanked the countries that stood up for international law in the Security Council. Maduro said, “We have had a great victory in the UN Security Council” by exposing the US to criticism from the world.

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro shake hands at Wyndham Concorde hotel in Magarita, Venezeula, on September 16, 2016 (from Reuters)

    The First Iranian Supertanker Enters Venezuelan Waters

    While the world waited for military conflict, on Saturday night after 7 pm local time, the first supertanker entered Venezuelan waters and is currently being escorted by the Bolivarian Republics’ military to port. The US did not intercept the tanker. Hopefully, this will continue for the remaining four tankers and the US will end the economic war against Iran, Venezuela, and other countries.

    The arrival of these tankers from Iran marks a historic milestone as it is the first time that the Middle Eastern country exported fuel to Latin America. This is one example of many of US sanctions bringing nations together in solidarity against the United States. The US is caught in a paradox — the more it exercises force, the more power it loses as nations unite against US domination.

    Venezuela’s strategic ties to Iran date back almost two decades, when President Hugo Chávez, the founder of its socialist state, struck a flurry of economic and financial deals with the president of Iran. The two nation’s were co-founders of OPEC in 1960. In 2008, Venezuela shipped gasoline to Iran when US sanctions were crippling its industry. Maduro has continued to build bilateral relations with Iran resulting in economic and other trade deals as well as through OPEC and the Non-Aligned Movement.

    On Friday night, a group of Venezuelan youths raised the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran in front of the mountain barracks where Commander Hugo Chavez rests as a token of appreciation for the shipment of fuels. People in both Venezuela and Iran celebrated the victory over the US blockade.

    Now is the time to build on that success to grow the movement against the US’ illegal coercive measures. The Sanctions Kill coalition is holding a series of webinars to educate and organize toward that goal. The first was on May 9 and featured representatives from six countries. Speakers included Ana Silvia Rodriguez Abascal, Charge des Affaires of the Cuban Mission to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Francisco O Campbell, Nicaraguan Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Bashar Ja’afari, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations and Carlos J. Ron Martinez, Venezuelan Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    The next webinar will be on Sunday, May 31 at 1:00 pm EST and will feature representatives from Gaza, Venezuela, and other nations. It is taking place during an international week of action against imperialism from May 25 to 31.

    The Non-Aligned Movement, a decades-old coalition of 120 nations representing 55 percent of the world’s population, has become reactivated. They met in Azerbaijan in October 2019 and in Venezuela in August 2019.  Both meetings denounced US sanctions and US military threats around the world. Nations are starting to provide assistance to sanctioned countries. In April, Britain, France and Germany used a new trade mechanism that bypasses US sanctions called Instex to send medical aid to Iran. These are positive signs.

    While the victory of Iran and Venezuela is significant, it does not end the US economic war against the two countries. The US is persistent in its foreign policy goals and both countries need to be prepared for US escalation as a result of the Iranian supertankers going to Venezuela. Both countries cherish their independence and sovereignty. They will not give in. And they are building international solidarity. We in the US must demand that our government cease its hostilities and become a cooperative member of that global community.

    Why Israel Fears the Nakba: How Memory Became Palestine’s Greatest Weapon

    On May 15, thousands of Palestinians in Occupied Palestine and throughout the ‘shatat’, or diaspora, participated in the commemoration of Nakba Day, the one event that unites all Palestinians, regardless of their political differences or backgrounds.

    For years, social media has added a whole new stratum to this process of commemoration. #Nakba72, along with #NakbaDay and #Nakba, have all trended on Twitter for days. Facebook was inundated with countless stories, videos, images, and statements, written by Palestinians, or in global support of the Palestinian people.

    The dominant Nakba narrative remains — 72 years following the destruction of historic Palestine at the hands of Zionist militias — an opportunity to reassert the centrality of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Over 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Palestine in 1947-48. The surviving refugees and their descendants are now estimated at over five million.

    As thousands of Palestinians rallied on the streets and as the Nakba hashtag was generating massive interest on social media, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, paid an eight-hour visit to Israel to discuss the seemingly imminent Israeli government annexation, or theft, of nearly 30% of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

    “The Israeli government will decide on the matter, on exactly when and how to do it,” Pompeo said in an interview with Israeli radio, Kan Bet, the Jerusalem Post reported.

    Clearly, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has American blessing to further its colonization of occupied Palestine, to entrench its existing Apartheid regime, and to act as if the Palestinians simply do not exist.

    The Nakba commemoration and Pompeo’s visit to Israel are a stark representation of Palestine’s political reality today.

    Considering the massive US political sway, why do Palestinians then insist on making demands which, according to the pervading realpolitik of the so-called Palestinian-Israeli conflict, seem unattainable?

    Since the start of the peace process in Oslo in the early 1990s, the Palestinian leadership has engaged with Israel and its western benefactors in a useless political exercise that has, ultimately, worsened an already terrible situation. After over 25 years of haggling over bits and pieces of what remained of historic Palestine, Israel and the US are now plotting the endgame, while demonizing the very Palestinian leaders that participated in their joint and futile political charade.

    Strangely, the rise and demise of the so-called ‘peace process’ did not seem to affect the collective narrative of the Palestinian people, who still see the Nakba, not the Israeli occupation of 1967, and certainly not the Oslo accords, as the core point in their struggle against Israeli colonialism.

    This is because the collective Palestinian memory remains completely independent from Oslo and its many misgivings. For Palestinians, memory is an active process. It is not a docile, passive mechanism of grief and self-pity that can easily be manipulated, but a generator of new meanings.

    In their seminal book “Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory”, Ahmad Sa’di and Lila Abu-Lughod wrote that “Palestinian memory is, at its heart, political.”

    This means that the powerful and emotive commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba is essentially a collective political act, and, even if partly unconscious, a people’s retort and rejection of Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’, of Pompeo’s politicking, and of Netanyahu’s annexation drive.

    Despite the numerous unilateral measures taken by Israel to determine the fate of the Palestinian people, the blind and unconditional US support of Israel, and the unmitigated failure of the Palestinian Authority to mount any meaningful resistance, Palestinians continue to remember their history and understand their reality based on their own priorities.

    For many years, Palestinians have been accused of being unrealistic, of “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” and even of extremism, for simply insisting on their historical rights in Palestine, as enshrined in international law.

    These critical voices are either supporters of Israel, or simply unable to understand how Palestinian memory factors in shaping the politics of ordinary people, independent of the quisling Palestinian leadership or the seemingly impossible-to-overturn status quo. True, both trajectories, that of the stifling political reality and people’s priorities seem to be in constant divergence, with little or no overlapping.

    However, a closer look is revealing: the more belligerent Israel becomes, the more stubbornly Palestinians hold on to their past. There is a reason for this.

    Occupied, oppressed and refugee camps-confined Palestinians have little control over many of the realities that directly impact their lives. There is little that a refugee from Gaza can do to dissuade Pompeo from assigning the West Bank to Israel, or a Palestinian refugee from Ein El-Helweh in Lebanon to compel the international community to enforce the long-delayed Right of Return.

    But there is a single element that Palestinians, regardless of where they are, can indeed control: their collective memory, which remains the main motivator of their legendary steadfastness.

    Hannah Arendt wrote in 1951 that totalitarianism is a system that, among other things, forbids grief and remembrance, in an attempt to sever the individual’s or group’s relation to the continuous past.

    For decades, Israel has done just that, in a desperate attempt to stifle the memory of the Palestinians, so that they are only left with a single option, the self-defeating peace process.

    In March 2011, the Israeli parliament introduced the ‘Nakba Law’, which authorized the Israeli Finance Ministry to carry out financial measures against any institution that commemorates Nakba Day.

    Israel is afraid of Palestinian memory, since it is the only facet of its war against the Palestinian people that it cannot fully control; the more Israel labors to erase the collective memory of the Palestinian people, the more Palestinians hold tighter to the keys of their homes and to the title deed of their land back in their lost homeland.

    There can never be a just peace in Palestine until the priorities of the Palestinian people —  their memories, and their aspirations — become the foundation of any political process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Everything that operates outside this paradigm is null and void, for it will never herald peace or instill true justice. This is why Palestinians remember; for, over the years, their memory has proven to be their greatest weapon.

    Why is Sam Husseini Channeling Neocon Conspiracy Theories on Covid-19?

    Journalist Sam Husseini, was once known for challenging the Neocon warmongers on the Iraq War in a former lifetime. He now seems to have joined them, becoming a promoter of anti-China Neo-con conspiracy theories on the origins of Covid-19.

    Husseini recently wrote a series of articles that recycle a large amount of right wing disinformation–alt-right fecal matter–and smeared them inside a juicy little hamburger of truth: the fact that the US engages in dangerous biowarfare research.

    It is certainly true, if not really hot news, that the US has at least 2 dozen known biowarfare labs, many in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine. It’s unknown to what extent they comply with the regulations and oversight of the international bioweapons convention to which the US is a signatory.

    It’s also true that the US has a long history of biowarfare and biowarfare research, going back at least to the Korean war. The use of biowarfare–Anthrax, Bubonic Plague, Cholera, Encephalitis–in Korea was such an international scandal that an entire mythology of communist “brainwashing” was invented to discredit the captured American pilots that confessed to these very real crimes against humanity.

    It’s also true that accidental releases have happened from US biowarfare labs. For example, USAMRIID (Army biolab facility) at Fort Detrick was shut down in July, 2019 for leakage of contaminated waste.

    But that said, Husseini is mistaken–or deeply dishonest–in suggesting that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was doing biowarfare research and thus possibly linked to the release of Covid-19 virus. It’s unclear why he is saying this, but In doing so, he is recycling the thoroughly discredited rumors of Rush Limbaugh, Josh Rogin, Steve Bannon, Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo, and other rightwing hawks and loons. In other words, a journalist, who in another life, made a modest reputation for challenging neocon propaganda and disinformation, is now functioning as one of its key shills.

    This propaganda relies on four thinking errors or deceits.

    Failure of common sense: the language con

    Husseini first pulls off this canard by arguing that there is no meaningful difference between biowarfare and biodefense. This is hardly true. Although there is always some overlap between basic science, medicine, preventive research, and warfare, there are also serious differences in emphasis, approach, practice, and funding that he glosses over. Husseini has to assert this tenuous proposition in order to implicate the Wuhan lab in suspected biowarfare malfeasance (or error), and to claim that there is a global biowarfare arms race between China and the US (rather than by the US against its opponents). That linguistic sleight of hand, in particular, the equivalence of biowarfare and biodefense is factually not true, and is certainly not true in one very obvious way regarding the Wuhan lab: if there were a biowarfare arms race happening around the world, the countries putatively at war with each other–the US and China–would not share or allow access to their labs to a competitor state, collaborate, or exchange their research and researchers. But the fact is the US was given wide access to the Wuhan Labs–not just scientists but also US State Department functionaries–as were French scientists. The Wuhan lab solicited US aid and funding. (Husseini seems to believe that biowarfare labs openly solicit funding from other countries). Scientists in the US and China collaborated and worked together collegially, trained each other, shared information, published papers, and still maintain some relations.

    As a point of contrast, no one, not a single Chinese national has ever set foot in Fort Dietrick, the key US biowarfare research lab. No Chinese university has ever collaborated with them. No Chinese funding has been directed to it. No one knows exactly what they are researching. This is not the case with Wuhan—there is knowledge which viruses they had, and published papers on what they were researching, how they were being researched, as well as what safety protocols were in place. If we take into consideration the fact that Chinese researchers are no longer welcome to do even basic research in the US at this point in time, it’s inconceivable that the US would have been assisting the Chinese with weaponizing viruses that could potentially be used against them, or funding such work when even basic scientific research–and now graduate study in the sciences–is being obstructed in the US for the Chinese.

    Until Husseini can refute this basic logic, it’s not possible to give his claim about the Wuhan labs any credence, never mind the fact that he offers no proof whatsoever, only the conflating of science with weapons development, “coincidence”, innuendo, and 3 degrees-removed-guilt-by-association.

    Misinterpreting Research: The Science Con

    Husseini has also misread the article in Nature Medicine. This is one of several key articles that has refuted the “bioweapon” theory that he argues for. He misunderstands what the specifics of the RBD (receptor binding domain) and the furin cleavage site entail from an evolutionary perspective. This misunderstanding may be due to a lack of scientific literacy on his part, for which one can’t fault him, except that he subjects this illiteracy onto others who are already confused or ignorant about the science. The Nature Medicine article argues–convincingly, if not conclusively–that natural selection, either in humans, or in an animal host is responsible for the very unique features of this novel virus: it demonstrates convincingly the fact that the virus could not have been engineered: a) it has no “backbone” that would correspond to or indicate that there is anything sequenced from existing components–it is truly novel b) the furin cleavage site of the spike protein–the part that makes the virus dangerous to humans–doesn’t correspond to any existing known virus (it has no close homologues in the Bat CoV RatG13, or the Pangolin CoV). It also does not to correspond to any samples held in Wuhan. That means it could not have been lab-engineered.

    The “Gain of Function” Con: Weasels, Ferrets, Monkeys, and Evolution

    Husseini, however, is not one to gainsay his rigid views, and along with other far-right operatives, tries to misdirect further. Although the refutation of the lab-created-bioweapon theory is a well-accepted conclusion in the scientific community and among medical and epidemiological professionals, Husseini argues that “gain of function” (weaponization of a virus) could have been induced by natural means (by inducing passage through animals). He’s trying to argue that SARS-CoV-2 could have been produced, by inducing natural evolution in the Wuhan lab in such a way that it would not show signs of engineering, and in a way that would weaponize it.

    The Nature Medicine article refutes the possibility not just of genetic engineering, but also argues against naturally induced passage. Husseini is either misreading this conclusion, or is simply dishonest on this.

    In this, he misunderstands the nature of gain of function through animal passage–he seems to confound engineering zoonotic transfer with gain of function within animal-restricted viruses or viruses that are already known to infect humans. (The example of the H5N1 is such an example). This also disregards the fact that the closest existing known virus is Bat CoV RatG13, which has a 96% similarity with SARS CoV-2. That differential, although seemingly close, is comparable to 20-50 years of natural evolution, and not something that can be bred through short animal passage (“ten passages through ferrets”) as Husseini implies in weasel prose. It’s as if someone were arguing that the proverbial monkey typing randomly on a typewriter would come up with a Shakespeare monologue; or plunking away at a piano, would come up with a Beethoven Sonata after a few tries. It’s possible mathematically/theoretically, and completely improbable in the time frames he imagines: yet another overlooked detail is that the BSL4 lab in the Wuhan institute of Virology has been operational for only 2 years.

    Failure of Logic: The Leak Con

    As even the intelligence community itself has debunked the “engineered” lie, Husseini and his cohort merchants of mendacity (Josh Rogin, Mike Pompeo), then shift down to another back up lie: even if it wasn’t lab-engineered, and even if there wasn’t a lab-induced “natural” “gain of function”, it’s possible that the Wuhan lab had collected samples of this dangerous virus–captured in nature (from bats), and leaked it by accident. In his words, “The virus could have been found in the wild, studied in a lab and then released.” (Proponents of this lie often append some kind of “horror” story about researchers getting crapped on by bats, or that the researchers cooked and ate the lab animals or eggs, or sold them to the Wuhan market for pocket money).

    Apart from the sheer absurdity of these cooked up assertions, this is an irrational, illogical argument: if it was captured from the wild, then it exists already in nature, and it’s much more likely that the tens of millions of people around the world who routinely interact with or are exposed to bats would be vectors of zoonotic transfer, rather than a half dozen highly trained scientists who are trained in and mandated to adhere to the strictest biohazard safety standards and protocols—protocols which they themselves, as consummate professionals, helped pioneer.

    In other words, if it’s already out in nature, it can’t be leaked out to nature.

    Also, according to American researchers who have worked there and trained staff, the lab itself, whenever it works with viruses–any virus–,deactivates them, so only inactive viruses are worked with. Reserve samples are stored in liquid nitrogen, making it unlikely that they could ever become virulent.

    Last but not least, the virus researcher herself, Shi Zheng Li has stated categorically that the lab did not have any such samples, and therefore could not have leaked them. In other words, we have consensus among the expert scientific community, eye witness testimony, scientific analysis, logic, probability, and common sense on one hand all arguing against the “lab leak” conspiracy theory. On the other hand, there is innuendo, lies, conflation, misdirection, and wishful/magical thinking seemingly ungrounded in anything but racism and the need to demonize and divert blame.

    Prosecutorial Misconduct: The “Journalism” Con

    It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s clear that Husseini is no longer doing journalism here, but acting as a corrupt prosecutor would: the way thousands of innocent “suspects” are accused and railroaded in the American courts. This is especially clear when he cherry picks and weaponizes the statement of scientist Shi Zheng Li at Wuhan. Shi recalls asking herself, “If coronaviruses were the culprit… could they have come from our lab?” This might ordinarily be considered a statement of the conscientiousness and care of a researcher to exclude every conceivable possibility, the desire to leave no stone unturned—as a good scientist should. Husseini cherry picks this statement as implication of guilt both of the lab and the researcher, and then dismisses further and careful refutation by her:

    “Why should the world take her word? As Ebright…[says] “A denial is not a refutation.”

    Shi is considered an impeccable professional academic, honored by the French government (“Chevalier des Ordres Palmares Academiques”) for her contributions to science. That Husseini resorts to tarring a researcher who has dedicated her life to saving lives and advancing science in this sarcastic manner reveals much about him and his values.

    Now, it’s well known that Fort Detrick is a biowarfare institution, and that it was recently temporarily closed for certain violations. That fact is well established. It’s also known that the US is doing biowarfare research in many other institutions.

    If Husseini was simply arguing that dangerous biowarfare research is happening around the world, or in the US, he could have made that argument, and made it easily. It’s easy fare to highlight the known dangers, the known failures, as well as the history of biowarfare by the US. Even if he wanted to capitalize or sensationalize off the existing news cycle, he could have simply asserted, “although the Wuhan leak theory has been effectively discredited by the intelligence and scientific communities, we still have ample reason to be worried about other potential leaks and bioweapons research.” There was no reason to bring the Wuhan lab into the biowarfare scare story, except that it feeds the conspiracies and the trolls, draws sensationalist, conspiratorial attention to his work, and gives support and succor to the endless bastinado of China-bashing.

    What is to be made of someone who echoes extreme, debunked right wing lies while pretending to be critiquing them in generic terms?

    These are some basic, commonsense questions that Husseini—and anyone implicating the Wuhan lab has to answer–even if we disregard all the science:

    1. If there were a biowarfare arms race happening between the US and China–why would the Chinese government share or allow access to their labs to a competitor state, collaborate, or exchange their research and researchers?

    2. If there were a biowarfare arms race happening between the US and China–why would the Chinese lab be [reduced to] soliciting funds from the US government?

    3. Researchers of Chinese origin, or with Chinese ties, are hounded, surveilled, and practically banished from doing even basic research in the US at this point in time. They were terminated from MD Anderson’s cancer research, for example. In this witch hunt environment, why would the US be assisting the Chinese with weaponizing viruses that might theoretically be used against them?

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. They also require a modicum of logic.

    Until Husseini (and his co-conspiracy-truthers) can coherently answer these questions, they are trafficking in contradiction, conspiracy, and absurdities.

    From Absurdities to Atrocities:

    The right-wing corporate media, the MSM, members of the administration, the Secretary of State, the President, key senators, right-wing think tanks and institutions, GOP talking points, Steve Bannon, the Committee on the Present Danger, Falun Gong, right-wing fascists around the world, extreme far right crackpots–all have been touting and stoking the lie that China is responsible one way or another for the virus. This propaganda has been echoed across the political spectrum, and “catapulted” 24-hrs a day, across all media—highbrow, low brow, broadsheet, tabloid, at the center and on the margins, we have been swimming in a morass of lies and deceit.

    Nevertheless, every single one of these lies has been carefully shown to be without merit. As this has happened there has been a continually retrenchment, recycling, and refurbishing of the lies. First, there was the allegation that Covid was strictly a “communist” virus–something that could only arise in a depraved communist state—hundreds of thousands of dead put paid to that statement, showing the danger when ideology supersedes science. Then there was the allegation that there was some sort of cover up. As the facts came out, the duration of this coverup shrank from months, weeks, to days and looks likely be reduced to hours or minutes. There was also the allegation that it was spread deliberately by planes (full of infectious people) that flew out of Wuhan. That was easily debunked with actual flight schedules. Then the lie that the Chinese hid and hoarded PPE and masks (as if 4 Billion masks exported in a few weeks were hoarding). Virus “made in China”, and the virus “leaked by China” are the ugly, exhausted faggot ends of these absurd libels and lies.

    By spreading the lies and errors behind this lie, Husseini is aligning with, or at least feeding those extreme, hate-filled politics and ideas.

    Why would Husseini cast his lot with these crackpots? Only Husseini can answer this.

    This type of propaganda should be very familiar to him. It fits a readily recognizable pattern: it’s simply a recycling of the WMD template during the run up to the Iraq War that he once opposed. That war, too, had its own WMD biowarfare labs: “mobile weapons labs” and other “dodgy dossiers” and “satellite pictures” that were shown to be false, as they have also been concocted for Wuhan. (The “labs” in question, were hydrogen generation units for weather balloons). Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Tony Blair, and other powerful purveyors of systemic mendacity argued up and down the court that these were dangerous to the world–until they slinked off in infamy. Yet some people still believe these lies to be true.

    We know that Covid-19 is raging throughout the world, creating untold suffering and pain, causing needless deaths, and ravaging entire countries and economies. As it does so, it is fundamentally revealing and delegitimating the existing structures of power that have brought us to the edge of this catastrophe, in particular, the US-imposed, neoliberal, imperialist-capitalist structures of the global economy. China, outside of that circuit of control, looks to have successfully controlled the virus for the moment, and is regrouping and restarting. At the current moment, China seems to offer one alternative model: a better, people-centered approach to public health, governance, and development. As the jubilant Schadenfreude against China suddenly turned suddenly to jealous rage for its successes in containment, the desire to re-direct confusion and outrage outward against the Chinese became evident: it ties to the current global moment where the US is losing its global “leadership” status, during a election season that needs to distract and redirect blame, and in a historical moment where the US has declared China an enemy, waged hybrid warfare, and is rooting around for reasons to further escalate hostilities against it. This is the reason for the ceaseless propaganda war–the absurdities pronounced daily and relentlessly, the absurdities, as Voltaire put it, that prepare you for atrocities: the atrocity of kinetic war.

    Are Husseini and other hack “journalists” the “good Germans” in this war? Time will tell.

    But in the meantime, no self-respecting human–with a smidgen of scientific knowledge or good sense–should give any space to these ideas.

    *****

    Here are some articles and presentations debunking the theory:

    1. The Lancet editor-in-chief: U.S. has wasted time
    2. American Researcher Who Worked In Wuhan Virology Lab Says It’s Unlikely Coronavirus Escaped From There
    3. Nature Medicine article
    4. Nature Medicine article, explained
    5. The Lancet Statement
    6. Vox explainer 1, 2
    7. Moon of Alabama debunks the theory and shows the media circuit.