A New US Air Force Video Game Lets You Drone Bomb Iraqis and Afghans

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The United States Air Force has a new recruitment tool: a realistic drone operator video game you can play on its website. Called the Airman Challenge, it features 16 missions to complete, interspersed with facts and recruitment information about how to become a drone operator yourself. In its latest attempts to market active service to young people, players move through missions escorting US vehicles through countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, serving up death from above to all those designated “insurgents” by the game. Players earn medals and achievements for most effectively destroying moving targets. All the while there is a prominent “apply now” button on screen if players would like to enlist and conduct real drone strikes all over the Middle East.

The game has failed to win over David Swanson, director of the anti-war movement World Beyond War, and the author of War is a Lie.

“It is truly disgusting, immoral, and arguably illegal in that it is recruitment or pre-recruitment of underage children to participate in murder. It is part of the normalization of murder that we have been living through,” he told MintPress News.

Tom Secker, a journalist and researcher into the influence of the military on popular culture was similarly unimpressed by the latest USA.F. recruitment strategy, telling us:
The drone game struck me as sick and demented… On the other hand, many drone pilots have described how piloting drones and killing random brown people is a lot like playing a video game, because you’re sat in a bunker in Nevada pushing buttons, detached from the consequences. So I guess it accurately reflects the miserable, traumatised, serial killing life of a drone pilot, we can’t accuse it of inaccuracy per se.”
Game Over 

Despite the fact that they are rarely, if ever in any physical danger, the military has considerable difficulty recruiting and retaining drone pilots. Nearly a quarter of Air Force staff who can fly the machines leave the service every year. A lack of respect, fatigue and mental anguish are the primary reasons cited. Stephen Lewis, a sensor operator between 2005 and 2010 said what he did “weighs on your conscience. It weighs on your soul. It weighs on your heart,” claiming that the post traumatic stress disorder he suffers from as a consequence of killing so many people has made it impossible for him to have relationships with other humans.

“People think it is a video game. But in a video game you have checkpoints, you have restart points. When you fire that missile there’s no restart,” he said. “The less they can get you to think of what you’re shooting at as human the easier it becomes to you to just follow through with these shots when they come down,” said Michael Haas, another former USAF sensor operator. The Airman Challenge game follows this path, using red dots on the screen to represent enemies, sanitizing the violence recruits will be meting out.

“We were very callous about any real collateral damage. Whenever that possibility came up most of the time it was a guilt by association or sometimes we didn’t even consider other people that were on screen,” Haas said, noting that he and his peers used terms like “fun sized terrorist” to describe children, employing euphemisms like “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” as justifications for their extermination. The constant violence, even from afar, takes a heavy toll on many drone operators, who complain of constant nightmares and having to drink themselves into a stupor every night to avoid them.

Others, with different personalities, revel in the bloodshed. Prince Harry, for example, was a helicopter gunner in Afghanistan and described firing missiles as a “joy.” “I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful,” he said. “If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game.”

A Nobel Cause

Drone bombing is a relatively new technology. Barack Obama came into office promising to end President Bush’s reckless aggression, even being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. While he slashed the number of American troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, he also greatly expanded US wars in the form of drone bombings, ordering ten times as many as Bush. In his last year in office, the US dropped at least 26,000 bombs – around one every twenty minutes on average. When he left office, the US was bombing seven countries simultaneously: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.

Up to 90 percent of reported drone casualties were “collateral damage,” i.e. innocent bystanders. Swanson is deeply concerned about the way in which the practice has become normalized: “If murder is acceptable as long as a military does it, anything else is acceptable,” he says, “We will reverse this trend, or we will perish.”

History did not exactly repeat itself with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, but it did rhyme. Trump came to power having made multiple statements perceived as anti-war, strongly criticizing Obama and the Democrats’ handling of the situation in the Middle East. Egged on even by so-called “resistance” media, Trump immediately expanded drone bombings, increasing the number of strikes by 432 percent in his first year in office. The president also used a drone attack to kill Iranian general and statesman Qassem Soleimani earlier this month.

Killing in the Game of

In 2018, the armed forces fell well short of their recruitment targets, despite offering a package of benefits very attractive to working-class Americans. As a result, it totally revamped its recruitment strategy, moving away from television and investing in micro-targeted online ads in an attempt to reach young people, particularly men below the age of thirty, who make up the bulk of the armed forces. One branding exercise was to create an Army e-sports team entering video game competitions under the military brand. As the gaming website, Kotaku wrote, “Positioning the Army as a game-friendly environment and institution is crucial, or even necessary, to reach the people the Army wants to reach.” The Army surpassed its recruitment goal for 2019.

Although the Airman Challenge game is a new attempt at recruitment, the armed forces have a long history being involved in the video game market, and the entertainment industry more generally. Secker’s work has uncovered the depths of collaboration between the military and the entertainment industry. Through Freedom of Information requests, he was able to find that the Department of Defense reviews, edits and writes hundreds of TV and movie scripts every year, subsidizing the entertainment world with free content and equipment in exchange for positive portrayals. “At this point, it’s difficult to effectively summarise the US military’s influence on the industry, because it’s so varied and all-encompassing,” he said.
The US Army spends tens of millions a year on the Institute for Creative Technologies, who develop advanced tech for the film and gaming industries, as well as in-house training games for the Army and – on occasion – the CIA. The Department Of Defense has supported a number of major game franchises (Call of Duty, Tom Clancy games, usually first or third-person shooters). Military-supported games are subject to the same rules of narrative and character as movies and TV, so they can be rejected or modified if they contain elements the Department Of Defense deems controversial.”
The video games industry is massive, with hyper-realistic first person shooters like Call of Duty being among the most popular genres. Call of Duty: WWII, for example, sold $500 million worth of copies in its opening weekend alone, more money generated than blockbuster movies “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Wonder Woman” combined. Many people spend hours a day playing. Captain Brian Stanley, a military recruiter in California said, “Kids know more about the army than we do… Between the weapons, vehicles, and tactics, and a lot of that knowledge comes from video games.”

Young people, therefore, spend huge amounts of time effectively being propagandized by the military. In Call of Duty Ghosts, for instance, you play as a US soldier fighting against a red-beret wearing anti-American Venezuelan dictator, clearly based on President Hugo Chavez, while in Call of Duty 4, you follow the US Army in Iraq, shooting hundreds of Arabs as you go. There’s even a mission where you operate a drone, which is distinctly similar to the Airman Challenge. US forces even control drones with Xbox controllers, blurring the lines between war games and war games even further.

Cyber Warfare

Although the military industrial complex is keen to advertise opportunities for pilots, they go to great lengths to hide the reality of what happens to the victims of airstrikes. The most famous of these is likely the “Collateral Murder” video, leaked by Chelsea Manning to Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange. The video, which made worldwide news, laid bare the callousness towards civilian lives Haas described, where Air Force pilots laugh at shooting dead at least 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists. While those commanders ultimately in charge of military operations in the Middle East appear on television constantly, trying to sanitize their actions, Manning and Assange remain in prison for helping to expose the public to an alternative depiction of violence. Manning has spent the majority of the last decade incarcerated, while Assange awaits possible extradition to the United States in a London prison.

The Airman Challenge video game, for Secker, is merely “the latest in a long line of insidious and disturbing recruitment efforts by the US military.” “If they feel they have to do this just to recruit a few hundred thousand people to their cause, maybe their cause isn’t worth it,” he said.

Reprinted with permission from MintPress News.

Iraq to Neocons: Get the Hell Out of Our Country

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The Trump coterie of neocons is spinning the Iraq embassy attack to fit their agenda, namely that Iran is responsible for the rocket attack when it is obvious the people of Iraq are fed-up with the US occupation, designed to last indefinitely, and are now targeting the massive US embassy in Baghdad.
It’s apparent where this guy’s sentiment lies. He’s one of those exiled Iranians, a distinct minority, that pine for the old days under the Shah and his sadistic secret political police, SAVAK. 

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he’s one of those MEK zombies. There is a number of exiled Iranians lined up, hopeful they will take over after the neocons and Israel bomb the hell out of Iran and hang the mullahs like they did Saddam Hussein, through a proxy, of course. That’s the plan, essentially. It’s relatively easy to figure out what these Israel-firsters will do if you understand their criminal history.

The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) units in Iraq are integrated into the Iraqi government by a decree issued on behalf of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. it has played a decisive role in defeating the Islamic State, the terror organization supposedly established by Jordanian Salafi jihadist (in other words, Saudi Wahhabi) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Never mentioned is the fact al-Zarqawi was elevated to superhuman status under a Pentagon psychological operation. The Zarqawi myth was required to demonize the Iraqi resistance to USG occupation its and ongoing terror operations, for instance the destruction of Fallujah.

Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the PMF is a Shia militia that was incorporated into the Iraqi military structure and government. Kata’ib Hezbollah is an integral part of this coalition—at the forefront of resisting USG occupation. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the group’s commander, paid for this effort with his life when the USG assassinated him with a Hellfire missile along with Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. 

PMF commander Hashd al-Shaabi is at the front of the renewed effort to get the USG out of the country. He may be the next one to be blown to smithereens by a USG missile. 

In a sane, non-neocon influenced world, the US would heed the demands of the Iraqis and begin the process of leaving the country, as Trump promised (never believe the promises of a narcissist). Unfortunately, we don’t live in a sane and rational world. We live a world dominated by psychopaths, sadists, pedophiles, and control freaks.

Trump said recently the USG will not leave Iraq until it pays for the Balad military base, formerly the Al-Bakr Air Base. The largest airbase in Iraq, it was stolen during Bush’s illegal invasion. It was expanded by the USG and now has a movie theater, and a number of corporate operations, including Subway, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Burger King, Green Beans Coffee, a Turkish Cafe, and an Iraqi Bazaar. Balad has multiple gyms, dance lessons, an Olympic size swimming pool, and an indoor swimming pool. Balad also was where celebrities touched down when they entertained the occupiers. Charlie Daniels, Wayne Newton, Gary Sinise, Carrie Underwood, and others entertained USG troops in their off-time from the task of destroying Iraq and turning it into an airstrip for further operations in the Middle East. 

The Iraqi parliament voted to expel USG troops but the Pentagon said it’s not going anywhere, thus the response was predictable—rockets aimed at the USG embassy and striking the facility’s cafeteria, reportedly injuring a single person. Of course, like the Iranian ballistic missile attack on the Ayn al-Asad airbase in al-Anbar Governorate in Western Iraq, and an airbase in Erbil, located in Iraqi Kurdistan, we can expect the USG to lie about causalities. 
Iraqis have all the right in the world to attack foreign soldiers illegally occupying their country. No matter how hard the corporate war propaganda media spins the attack on the USG embassy, the conclusion is obvious—this is the beginning of a concerted effort to get the USG out of the country. It is, to say the least, a pernicious influence and the “exceptional nation” is responsible for the death of well over a million Iraqis, for which it has yet to be held to account. The war propaganda media may characterize this attack as Iranian hostility but in fact it is a justified response on the part of Iraqis. If the Iraqis invaded and occupied St. Louis, would we expect the response to be any different?

The USG was tipped off by the Iraqi government the attack on its illegal military bases was coming and I suspect the Trump neocons knew beforehand the embassy would be attacked. Instead of throwing up red flags and evacuating the embassy, they let it happen for the simple reason it would further demonize Iran. The idea here is to blame Iran for any attempt by the Iraqis to evict the USG. 
As for the embassy attack, which Kata’ib Hezbollah denies it is responsible for, is it too far out in left field to speculate this was covertly carried out by the USG to distract from mass demonstrations demanding USG departure. It also may be used to increase the presence of USG and “coalition “ troops now that the Iraqi people are mobilized—and paying with their lives, as the Iraqi government has no aversion to opening fire with live ammo on their own people when they protest against what is obviously meant to be a permanent stationing of troops.
Reprinted with permission from KurtNimmo.blog.

Paranoid Groundings and Technocratic States: Hillary Clinton versus Mark Zuckerberg

It is another one of those contests and disagreements where the contestants should all loose, or at the very least, be subjected to a torturous stalemate.  Hillary Clinton remains the nasty sprinkle on the Democratic Party in the United States, ever hopeful that some door might open to enable her to come sliding in, taking the reins to what she regards as her possession: the White House.

Not winning in 2016 against Donald Trump, a person considered less electable than most cartoon characters, requires more than sessions of therapy and good dozes of mind numbing medication.  Clinton’s therapy has been one of self-denial and accusation of others, strained through a device that gives her miraculous exoneration for her own failings.  That device lies in the realm of information, because this individual, renowned for her own sharp slant on it (remember those fictional sniper bullets she apparently dodged during a visit to Bosnia in 1996?), feels she has been terribly hard done by.  The US may have attempted to thrown off aristocracy in becoming a republic, but it has done a good job of finding sawdust substitutes.

The dish served up to interviewers and journalists regarding Clinton’s defeat is always the same: I would have won had I not encountered the roadblocks of that impossible James B. Comey and “Russian WikiLeaks”.  She remains obsessed by rites of self-purification that ignore the inner workings of the parasitic machine she and her husband created, marked by an inability to understand the blue collar revolt that fell into Trump’s lap.

Having isolated the cause of defeat as mind controlling “fake news” and “misinformation”, a seedy strategy that ignores the information that was discomfortingly accurate in a populist election (in bed with Wall Street profiteers, the problems with free trade, foreign interventions), she sees the enemy as those who dish out information she does not like.  Those who provide such material must be motivated.  They must have an agenda against her, however mummified she seems to be.  More to the point, having such an agenda miraculously dispenses with the need to confront the details.

This leads to her latest splenetic spray.  Her claim made in an interview with The Atlantic sounds like a lingering old home rant, somewhat demented, totally resentful.  Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are in Trump’s pocket, she claims.  This is far from a useful designation, because the only pocket Zuckerberg has ever been in is his own, and, my, does it go deep!  She claims to have a ring side seat to reading his mind, suggesting “that it’s to his and Facebook’s advantage not to cross Trump.  That’s what I believe.  And it just gives me a pit in my stomach.”

The approach is very much in the mould of Clinton, and builds upon the idea that facts are supposedly immutable, accept when they apply to you.  But the failed candidate insists that she has found this one fact: that Facebook is “not just going to re-elect Trump, but intend[s] to re-elect Trump.”  The Atlantic is thrilled to suggest a scoop on the Zuckerberg view on this.  Senator Elizabeth Warren, for instance, is not favoured because she nurses notions of regulating Facebook.  What a stunner of a revelation!

The tech behemoths have been besieged by opponents who insist they are anti-democratic and authoritarian.  There are neither, being shallow information streams that merely reflect the corrugated perversions of their users, the voyagers on the Internet who do not seek to be enlightened so much as reassured.  More importantly, much of that material is generated by users themselves.  “Facebook is, in a sense, the world’s first technocratic nation-state,” argues Adrienne LaFrance.  Missing here is the understanding that it is more akin to a city-state of information, having monetised it for use and encouraged citizen users to participate.  It is of little concern to FB where such material goes; the quality of merchandise might be shonky, yet still find a buyer or user.

What Zuckerberg’s opponents never supply is a way of circumventing the tendency inherent in such companies: that they feed instinct, desire and interest.  In doing so, a confusion arises; entertainment is muddled with political sensibility; information that is merely opinion serving as engagement.  It has nothing to do with reasoned debate, whatever the utopians might have thought.

What is popular is what is extreme; what ranks in searches and information is what is controversial not necessarily what is accurate.  Facebook merely performs a role Roman emperors were familiar with and what the dark lord of the press world Rupert Murdoch always practised: give the people what they want, because their self-respect only rises as far as the next supplement will take them.  Do readers of trashy but election turning paper The Sun wish for a critical debate format on political candidates?  Does the consumer of the Facebook “feed” desire counter-narratives and a range of sources to reach a decision?  The answer to both is a resounding no.  The decisions are already made, prejudices merely re-enforced.

Zuckerberg, like Clinton, has his own confusions about democratic practice.  He is only to be trusted the way a press mogul should be.  “In general, in a democracy, I think people should be able to hear for themselves what politicians are saying,” suggests the billionaire sociopath.  The principle, for all that wimpy enthusiasm, is a hard one to dismiss.  But he confuses how his platform, through its algorithmic bazaar, has become the means to merely reassure people about their set views rather than change them. Facts have nothing do with it.

There are others, of course, that also exercise Clinton’s concerns.  This is a person filled with vengeful regret, and it shows.  She has taken against Democratic Presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard, accusing her, in the very counterfeit news she despises, of being a “Russian asset”.  Gabbard has returned the serve in the way that public figures in the US love: through the courts.  A defamation suit has been filed.  Clinton also keeps the dagger sharp for Bernie Sanders, suggesting that “nobody likes him” (old habits die hard for Clinton) for being something she knows all too well: a career politician.

Such ruminations are not helpful for either Clinton or the Democrats.  They are, however, most useful for Trump, who has, better than his opponents, found the means to deploy the mechanisms of information, accurate or otherwise, in his favour.  The issue is not Zuckerberg, however attractive he seems as a target.  What social media has done is provide the mass dissemination tool that makes distraction the norm and correction impossible.  There is no dialogue in such a debate, because the debate has changed within a matter of hours, if not minutes.  Either ban Facebook and its emissaries, or let it be.  The path to regulation is already proving hopelessly messy and will, in time, prove dangerous.

Charter Schools Are Part of Private Law, Not Public Law

Public law and private law are separate spheres of law that operate according to different standards and relationships.1

Private law governs relations between private citizens, whereas public law governs relations between individuals and the state. This distinction is critical. Private law does not concern society as a whole; public law does.

Private law includes tort law, contract law, commercial law, and property law. Public law encompasses constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law, tax law, and municipal law.

Public schools fall under public law and are considered to be government enterprises, i.e., agencies of the state, also known as political subdivisions of the state. Public schools serve a public purpose, have elected school boards, accept all students, do not charge tuition, and have taxing powers. Charter schools, on the other hand, are contract schools that fall under private law. They are not public schools in the proper sense of the word; they are private non-profit or for-profit organizations that do not accept all students and cannot levy taxes. Charter schools are not governmental entities or political subdivisions of the state. To call them public schools is incorrect.

A contract is a legally binding voluntary agreement — not just a promise — between two or more parties to do or not do something during a specified period of time, with associated rewards and punishments. Contracts are formed through mutual consent and rest on the ideologies of individualism, consumerism, voluntarism, choice, and the free market. Contracts are central to markets and commerce. Indeed, contracts make markets (buying and selling) possible. A typical example of a contract is when one voluntarily enters into an agreement with a carpenter to renovate their kitchen. For example, if I hire a contractor to remodel my kitchen, the contractor and I voluntarily sign a contract (an agreement) stipulating all the things that will be done, when they will be done, how much money will be exchanged, when it will be exchanged, and what damages must be paid when one party or another breaches a provision of the contract.

A charter school contract is essentially a performance-based contract between those who create the school (private actors) and an entity empowered by a state legislature to review, approve, and revoke charter school contracts.2 Performance is usually based on punitive high-stakes standardized tests produced by major corporations fixated on maximizing profit as fast possible. The contract stipulates how the school will be funded, how “achievement” will be “measured,” how teachers will be recruited, which grades will be offered, how facilities will be secured, how many students will be enrolled, what happens if goals are not met, and many other things that go into creating and running a school. In most states, contracts for non-profit and for-profit charter schools are five years long. Charter school legislation exists in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam.

The antisocial restructuring of public education is part of the neoliberal wrecking that has wreaked havoc at home and abroad since the late 1970s. The outsourcing of public services and functions performed by public actors to the private sector is a main form of privatization. Contract schools represent the outsourcing of education to the private sector, which is subject to the chaos, anarchy, and violence of the free market. Non-profit and for-profit charter schools are part of the ethos of the “survival of the fittest” and reinforce neoliberal ideas and practices. This is a main reason why charter schools open and close frequently, thereby increasing instability in education, society, and the economy. It is also a main reason why charter schools exclude many students, are run by unelected individuals, and are exempt from dozens, even hundreds, of laws, rules, and regulations that apply to public schools. Some courts have even ruled that charter schools are not public schools, while others have ruled that charter schools do not have to do certain things public schools must do. Charter schools are able to act the way they act because they are not subject to the standards and relations of public law. Charter schools operate outside the purview of public authority.

Just a few short years ago, some people still believed charter school advocates when they repeated ad nauseum that non-profit and for-profit charter schools are public schools. Today, however, the privatized and marketized nature of non-profit and for-profit charter schools is clear to more people than ever before. Few people today blindly assume that charter schools are public schools. And given the explosion in the number of articles and books exposing the many problems caused by charter schools, we are now seeing more diverse forms of opposition to charter schools. Thus, for example, several dozen superintendents from school districts in the greater Philadelphia area recently joined forces to oppose charter schools and the damage they are causing to public schools and the public interest.3

Charter school disinformation is losing its grip on more people with each passing day. Blind acceptance of charter schools is a thing of the past. People do not want public schools privatized. They do not want schools to become pay-the-rich schemes.

  1. Public and private, it should be noted, are antonyms.
  2. Such entities are usually not public in any meaningful sense of the word.
  3. See: Ravina, R.  “LEARN coalition calls for charter school reform across region“, The Reporter, January 28, 2020.

Chinese Resilience and Silent, Simple and Steady Resistance:  a Model for Mankind

In a positive appeal to the Chinese people last Saturday, President Xi Jinping has called on the nation’s courage to defeat the deadly epidemic which has already claimed more than 80 lives and more than 2,000 infected worldwide, the vast majority in China. These figures are changing fast, as the spread of the epidemic is accelerating. President Xi warned that the situation was serious, but not unsurmountable.

“As long as we have steadfast confidence, work together, [rely on] scientific prevention and cures, and precise policies, we will definitely be able to win the battle,” President Xi told a politburo meeting, according to Xinhua.

It is thought that the deadly coronavirus, 2019-nCoV has originated from wild animals, such as bats, but science is still out to confirm the details.

In short, the Government of China deserves high-flying congratulations for the efficient, rapid sanitary measures it has taken to avoid further infection – putting about 50 million people in a state of quarantine, blocking potentially dangerous travel routes and checking travelers for possible symptoms.

The timing of the outbreak has an additional dimension of pain and suffering as it affects and hinders people’s celebration of the New Chinese Lunar Year’s joy of visiting families and of togetherness. On a tertiary plan, it also affects the retail economy.

Chinese doctors and nurses have already healed several dozen cases. Chinese scientists in collaboration with Russian scientists are accelerating their research into developing a vaccine against the virus. Indeed, there is no country in the world that has ever achieved with such ardor, efficiency and love for the people, progress towards isolation of a potentially highly infectable and deadly disease, preventing millions from infection and providing them with protective as well as curative measures, and by setting up a countrywide impenetrable health surveillance mechanism.

There could not be a clearer sign that the Government of China is making every effort for the betterment and the well-being of its population. This is also reflected in the high esteem and credibility the Chinese people entrust in their government, something not heard of in the west – not by far.

Rather to the contrary: in the west disease means foremost business and that (business) model of health care is steadily increasing, treating sick people like a “market”,  and those not yet sick, as a potential market. The medical industry is one of the most ferocious money-making apparatuses, next to the war industry.

It’s more. The big western bought and manipulative media have immediately put the blame on China. They are demonizing and slandering China, for insufficient hygiene, for medical negligence. It is one more accusation of the “yellow peril” causing worldwide danger.  A horror of western attitude and injustice.

Aside from such lies and false propaganda, let’s look at the context. In the USA alone, the regular influenza causes every year several thousand deaths, and that despite country-wide carpet vaccination, and in some states forced vaccination.  The 2019/20 flu-season has already claimed more than 7000 reported deaths and uncounted cases of serious flu infections; and that only in the United States. We are talking about a country of some 350 million people. The statistics of this flu-epidemic could be expanded to a much larger dimension throughout Europe and the rest of the western world and the order of magnitude would be even more overwhelming.

Yet, China, with a population of some 1.4 billion people, an outbreak, where up to this writing less than 3000 people have been infected with the new 2019-nCoV virus, and the death toll stands at below 100, the country is being badgered non-stop for being at the origin of this new disease.

Let me be clear, China does not need or want to compare herself to the west, nor does she want to measure her degree of efficiency in mastering the disease and dealing with the disease’s consequences against the west.  Not at all. It’s not part of the Chinese philosophy.  However, WHO immediately calls the outbreak a potential pandemic, thereby frightening the public at large with yet another danger coming from the east, from China.

The Chinese Government and the Chinese scientists work for the people, to contain the outbreak to the extent possible. And they will ‘win’; their determination like with most everything China engages in overcomes almost all obstacles. What China has already achieved in stopping the disease from seriously spreading within China and to other countries is simply remarkable. It is what no other country in the world would have achieved in this short period.

China does all this quietly, no bragging. It is simply an endless flow of creation for the well-being of her population and for harmony, and eventually for a peaceful, trustful cohabitation of the people with their government. People willingly participate in this mammoth effort to contain and cure the disease, willingly, despite the suffering of many for not being able to visit their families during that highly revered Chinese New Year, the New Lunar Year celebration which in magnitude and importance would be the western equivalent of Christmas.

Having said this, it should also be noted that this case of 2019-nCoV is curiously similar to other CoronoVirus diseases, like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – MERS,  first found in Saudi Arabia (2012) and then it spread to other Middle Eastern and Sub-Saharan African countries; and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), first discovered in China in 2002, spread around the world but was quickly contained and caused no known infections after 2004. Both are coronaviruses, suspected having been laboratory-made, with animal trials, and the viruses’ transfer to humans was only possible with human assistance. Then the viruses mutated to make human-to-human infection possible. Both SARS and the new 2019-nCoV virus also have the particularity of affecting primarily people of the Chinese race.

There are some 100-plus CIA / Pentagon sponsored clandestine and semi-known laboratories spread throughout the world – laboratories to fabricate and test agents for biological warfare. A few years ago, one such laboratory was discovered and reported on in Ukraine. They were working on a virus affecting the “Russian Race”. Since there is no homogenous Russian Race – their initial trials supposedly failed. Since the empire never gives up in its evil attempts to dominate the world, we can assume that research on race directed bio-agents continues.

This western, especially American (CIA, Pentagon, NATO) project to develop bio-chemical weapons to kill people by disease rather than bullets and bombs – it is much cheaper and less obvious – does exist. You may draw your own conclusion on whether SARS and the new 2019-nCoV fits that pattern. The timing of the appearance was especially curious. It was first reported on 31 December 2019 in Wuhan (the center of China) – and then expanded rapidly, so that it interfered with China’s most important Holiday, the Lunar New Year. It could, of course, be just coincidence.

One of Washington’s “low-grade” warfare models is destabilizing China (and Russia for that matter) with any means. With the objective of destabilization, China is constantly being harassed and aggressed – see Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Tibet, the tariff wars – and why not with a contagious virus, a trial for a potential pandemic?

What can be observed and even the west must notice to their chagrin and frustration is China’s extreme resilience and capacity to adapt and resist, to resist with powerful minds and ingenuity that saves her people. And that without counter-aggression, without even an accusation and never a threat. This is China’s way forward: a steady flow of endless creation, avoiding conflict, no dominance, but seeking harmony by building bridges between people and among countries and cultures, creating understanding and wellbeing towards a multi-polar world. A model for mankind? If only the west would open its eyes and wake up.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

To Keep the Rohingya Alive

The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.
— Article 1. The Genocide Convention

On November 11, 2019 The Gambia filed at the International Court of Justice an Application of proceedings against Myanmar, which alleged violations of the Genocide Convention committed by Myanmar against the Rohingya people.1 January 23, 2020, the International Court of Justice in a unanimous ruling rejected Myanmar’s attempts to dismiss the case and granted The Gambia’s request for provisional measures to protect the Rohingya people, demanding the Government of Myanmar cease its acts of atrocity against the Rohingya.2

The Court, whose rulings are irrevocable, found that the Rohingya qualified as a protected group under the Genocide Convention. The ruling supports the finding of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission which in September 2019 realized that the Rohingya people were “at a serious risk of genocide.”3 The Fact Finding Mission also found the “inference of genocidal intent.”4 The Court’s Judges unanimously ordered Myanmar to comply with the Convention on Genocide and in four months to report to the Court on the government’s compliance.5

The Court and media’s reluctance to simply call Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya “genocide” is possibly muted in order to move ahead immediately with protecting the Rohingya from further genocidal acts. It’s officially recognized that the entire group is at risk of genocide and the few means of protecting vulnerable groups from genocide are now to be tested.6 Canada has a particular interest in this since Parliament has declared Myanmar’s actions toward the Rohingya, genocide, and has supported The Gambia’s case at the International Court of Justice.

The corporate global media reporting of Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense of Myanmar is, like Myanmar’s military reports of its own innocence, surreal when challenged with evidence of what has happened in the Rakhine since 2012.7

My Night’s Lantern genocide warning8 of August 27, 2012:

Myanmar (Burma): Buddhist persecution of Muslim groups which have lived in Burma for generations broke into rioting and killing in June; reports continue of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslim peoples; 20 mosques are burnt; tens of thousands have fled; Bangladesh has at points closed its borders to more Muslim refugees. In response to protest by Saudi Arabia, the U.S. State Department denies that Myanmar’s armed forces, primarily Buddhist, are trying to ethnically cleanse Muslims. The Rohingya minority is at risk. Myanmar does not permit the Rohingya, citizenship. Rohingya women require government permits to wed (a marriage license is also required in North America but without a bribe). Genocide warning. This year’s flooding in the South, extreme with a hundred thousand recent refugees, may increase the demand for food and shelter nationally. Military commands and private companies have confiscated tens of thousands of acres of farmland belonging to traditional farmers. Natural disasters of global warming may be a factor of ethnic cleansing and genocides. Historically the correlation between failure of a country’s agricultural base and subsequent genocide was evidenced in the Cambodian genocide under Pol Pot. Partial sources online:9

Individual news accounts as well as organizational reports through the years since give evidence of an ongoing intention to wipe out the Rohingya by genocide. While it’s stated that genocide can only be declared by the courts, common sense and understanding precede this; the case at international court was a result of unavoidable evidence. When referring to Myanmar’s genocide of the Rohingya many legal authorities use the words “alleged genocide.” The phrase is an insult to the victims. Knowing of the atrocities is it humane to still use the word “alleged”? The need for legal accuracy is complicated by the large amounts of money involved which have impeded recognizing this crime of genocide.

For example: from my Night’s Lantern entry of November 2, 2012:

An article by Tony Cartalucci (October 29, 2012 Alternative Thai News Network) explains the strategic importance of Kyaukpyu where the violence has occurred, as the starting point of an oil pipeline to China; de-stabilization of the local population impedes the progress of China / Myanmar economic cooperation. His article notes longstanding links between the ‘Pro-Democracy’ Movement supporting Aung San Suu Kyi, and anti-Muslim sentiment in Burma. To further democracy and ‘human rights’ in Burma the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy in 2011 gave grants of over $275,000 apiece to the following organizations: American Center for International Labor Solidarity, International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a half million to unnamed organizations supporting “ethnic language short wave radio and satellite television broadcasts…” and somewhat smaller grants to about fifty other causes building contemporary Burma.

Not to ignore the obvious, the Myanmar military required arms for its expanded operations. To quote at length from the July 1, 2019 Night’s Lantern record of the genocide’s development:

The following may help to understand the world community’s inability to demand accountability from Myanmar: the World Bank is proceeding with a large investment in businesses in the Rakhine as the area cleared of its Rohingya inhabitants opens to new settlers. This may explain ongoing acts of violence against Rohingya which discourage their return. Aung San Suu Kyi is reported attempting to raise European investment in the country by strumming the commonality of ‘problems with Muslims’ to Czech and Hungarian State leaders as Europe slides to the right. With Myanmar’s human rights violations the West has slowed investment as Asian investment increases. The ratio of investment from the West and from the Asian countries is about 1 to 5. Of the world’s silence and inaction the problem is nakedly money and particularly Asian investment. With Myanmar under arms embargoes by the EU and US, Israel is said to be the only power supplying arms to Myanmar with sales of 11 million dollars of weapons in 2017, despite efforts against the arms trade within Israel (Buzz), but the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute extends the list of those recently supplying Myanmar with arms – to China, Russia, the Ukraine, and India (Asia Times). AOAV (Action on Armed Violence of the UK) finds that in 2016-2017 Great Britain sold 537 thousand pounds sterling of weapons to Myanmar; a large portion of this was security-related equipment. Arms sales by nations on the UN Security Council and Beijing (where Muslims and Christians are under pressure) which provides substantial support for Myanmar’s government makes it unlikely that the Security Council will take any action to counter the genocide in Myanmar (these countries could become vulnerable to charges of complicity). Myanmar’s tactics in avoiding accountability for its alleged genocide against the Rohingya and other minority groups provide a warning to the UN Convention on Genocide itself, as international organizations become corrupted to the service of economic interests. Partial sources online:10

To return to the global media’s role in downplaying the suffering and attempted destruction of an entire people it helps to simply understand that the media are protecting the sitting governments of their respective countries. The governments are protecting the corporate interests and industries. These corporate interests are requiring genocide for increased profits; links between investments and genocide are deeply suppressed by the media. Nor are these a focus of U.N. attention. By its nature any corporately based reporting of genocide is bound to be corrupt; U.N. reports at this point in history have a greater chance for credibility; a U.N. report has to be transparent as well as stand up to serious vetting by opposing groups. Material presented in court cases is also more likely to be verifiably true.

The situation of the Rohingya is currently under court review in at least three venues. The Gambia’s case at the International Court of Justice is discussed here. Concurrently Myanmar’s acts against the Rohingya are also under investigation at the International Criminal Court which has power to bring individuals to trial and punish violations of the Genocide Convention. The ICC has given its Chief Prosecutor the go-ahead for a thorough investigation of Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya. Charges can be made without approval of the Security Council. A difficulty arises in a separate issue; the ICC Chief Prosecutor has decided there is grounds to pursue war crimes committed in Israel and awaits the Court’s sureness that it has the jurisdiction to do so. Israel objects. The Palestine Authority has subscribed to the Court. Israel has not. Israel’s Netanyahu has urged the world’s Christian Evangelicals to stand against the World Court11, (i.e., against international law). While this might protect Israel from charges of genocidal acts against Palestinians, it would also deprive the world’s peoples an ability to counter and correct Myanmar for its crimes against the Rohingya.

As noted on Night’s Lantern, November 22nd:

On November 20th the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) filed a case in Buenos Aires Argentina against Aung San Suu Kyi, the former president of Myanmar Thein Sein, the former president Htin Kyaw, and several military authorities, for their efforts to exterminate the Rohingya. The prosecution would rely on the principle of universal jurisdiction.

The leading prosecutor was UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar 2008 to 2014, Tomás Ojea, who has told Agence France Presse:

This complaint seeks the criminal sanction of the perpetrators, accomplices and cover-ups of the genocide. We are doing it through Argentina because they have no other possibility of filing the criminal complaint anywhere else.”12

Filing of complaints against state genocide or official protagonists is rendered next to impossible within the legal systems of the United States and Canada, in the U.S. by tacit agreement of the judicial system and the American Bar, as well as legislation which buffers those in office from attack, and in Canada by the same but also the requirement that a case would require permission of Canada’s Minister of Justice. These are gray areas which could be readjusted under political pressure from the people and this may be why the issue of genocide is kept subject to government controls.

North American countries are subject to the lobbying as well as covert actions by forces committing genocide. But also, the application of the Convention has to rely on initiating attorneys. In the U.S. particularly, this area of the law wasn’t featured in law school curriculum of those currently practicing. It’s possibly a condition of practicing law in the U.S. to avoid any attempt by war protesters and anti-nuclear activists to lay charges under domestic law against the country’s leaders for violating the Genocide Convention. Curiously the refrain of “never again” finds justice placed in the hands of lawyers. This is not altogether good. In court the business of lawyers is less to discover truth than to represent the client. But if you consider the Genocide Convention without the lawyers and as a sample of the people’s resistance, and insistence on humanity and decency, it becomes a revolutionary document.

If it’s clear that Myanmar has committed genocide against the Rohingya, it’s up to those party to the Convention to prevent and punish the genocide. The International Court of Justice has taken the first and huge step of ordering prevention. If Myanmar ignores the Order, the world’s nations are bound to enforce the prevention. Countries who don’t would then be violating the Treaty and under legal systems reflecting justice the officials responsible could be charged with complicity in genocide. Governments insisting on genocide have to be replaced.

• First posted: Gerald and Maas Night’s Lantern

  1. “Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar) – Verbatim Record.” December 10, 2019. Public Sitting. The International Court of Justice.
  2. “Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar),” Press Release, January 23, 2020, The International Court of Justice.
  3. Ibid.
  4. p. 18. #55, “Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar) Order,” January 23, 2020, International Court of Justice.
  5. While The Gambia was able to successfully base its claim of the Court’s jurisdiction on the Genocide Convention‘s Article IX, the Peoples Republic of China has not acceded to Article IX. As a principle economic backer of Myanmar and within its own commitments to the Convention, The People’s Republic of China may under law be reluctant to support the Court’s “Order.”
  6. Of close to a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh refusing to return, there are problems with a government of Bangladesh relocation program of 100,000 to ‘Bhasan Char’  (floating island). The island, 34 kilometers offshore, is periodically entirely submerged in water.
  7. Night’s Lantern Genocide Warnings
  8. My original entries noted here appear on the “Suppressed news” pages of Night’s Lantern. “Archives: genocide related materials”
  9. “US Denies Ethnic Cleansing Campaign against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,” Gianluca Mezzofiore, August 9, 2012, International Business Times; “Saudi Arabia Accuses Myanmar of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Muslim Rohingya,” Gianluca Mezzofiore, August 7, 2012, International Business Times; “US rewarding Myanmar for massacring Muslims,” Kevin Barrett, August 26, 2012, Press TV; “The Global War on Islam,” August 25, 2012, strategyworld.com; “Letter from America: Myanmar Government is lying,” Dr. Habib Siddiqui, August 28, 2012, Asian Times; “Burma: President must forbid unfair seizing of farmland,” Zin Linn, August 26, 2012, Asian Tribune.”
  10. “Aung San Suu Kyi meets with Hungary’s Orbán to lament their “growing Muslim populations,” Alex Ward, June 7, 2019, Vox; “The World Bank is rewarding ethnic cleansing in Myanmar,” Azeem Ibrahim, May 30, 2019, The Washington Post; “Czech PM Backs Investment in Myanmar as State Counselor Visits Prague,” Nan Lwin, June 4, 2019, The Irrawaddy; “Asia Investors Split With West Over Myanmar’s Rohingya Crackdown,” Livia Yap and Tom Redmond, March 6, 2019, Bloomberg; “Up in Arms About Israeli Arms Exports,” Adi Pick, Feb. 15, 2019, Buzz; “Burma’s Suu Kyi joins Hungary’s Orbán in promoting anti-Muslim chauvinism,” Peter Symonds, June 12, 2019, World Socialist Web Site; “UK arms exports to Myanmar,” AOAV, November 15, 2018, Action on Armed Violence (UK); “Myanmar arms trade 1990-2016: Who sold what?” Shakeeb Asrar, September 16, 2017, Al Jazeera.
  11. “Netanyahu Drumming Up Opposition to ICC as World Leaders Descend on Israel,” MEE staff, January 21, 2020, Middle East Eye; “Netanyah equates Iran’s nuclear program to the Nazi genocide,” January 22, 2020, Jewish News Syndicate.
  12. “Aung San Suu Kyi named in local lawsuit over crimes against Rohingya,  November.13, 2019, Buenos Aires Times.

Ruminations of a Libertarian/Liberal

Michael Shermer’s Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist1 is a very special book written for people that actually spend time “thinking.” Geez, come to think of it, that’s kinda special in and of itself, “people thinking about things.” It’s especially true because nowadays society is geared to the opposite of deep thinking. Rather, in today’s world quick reflexes atuned to electrical whims rule the day. People increasingly react to impulses, not deep thought, as buttons/apps are pushed to communicate across the room as well as across the world. Presto! So much for deep thought!

Dr. Shermer (PhD, Claremont Graduate University), a multiple New York Times bestselling author, provides an outlet for those looking for something more than personally “reacting to impulses, pressing buttons, staring at small screens.” He satiates the innate deep-seated human need to connect with the intellectual intensity of the world, its colors, its odors, its thinkers, its societal norms, and its cultural roots with his crystal clear words. These are themes of the life experience in an increasingly whacky world. Giving the Devil His Due is a book for people that have a thirst for understanding the crucial uppermost levels of knowledge of today’s world.

As for what Shermer personally thinks and believes, in addition to his interesting political hybrid libertarianism/liberalism, he is a science advocate, par excellence:

 I hold that science is the best tool ever devised for understanding the world and changing it for the better. (p. 135)

And, in that regard, he adheres to the science:

In light of the accumulation of evidence, the position of denying global warming is no longer tenable.2

Shermer’s intellectual cachet comes from a broad, extraordinary experience as the Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine for 25 years and as a monthly columnist for Scientific American for 18 years. From that broad eclectic base of acquaintances, guests, and interviews, he offers a collection of essays and articles, mostly by himself, supplemented by respected worldly scholars, scientists, the deepest of thinkers, and even the crazies of society.

Shermer’s book is five parts: (1) Free Thought and Free Speech, (2) God and Religion, (3) Politics and Society, (4) Scientific Humanism, and (5) Controversial Intellectuals.

Along the way, Shermer introduces a collection of people from wildly diverse backgrounds, for example: (1) Michele Bachmann (House of Representatives, 2007-2015) (2) Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1997 Pulitzer Prize winner (3) biologist Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene, a classic, Oxford University Press) (4) American/British intellectual extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens (Shermer’s chocolate lab is named “Hitch” in honor of Hitchens) (5) Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species) and (6) Thomas Jefferson (President, 1801-09 — Shermer’s favorite president) and (7) Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, 1957).

He takes the reader on splendid journeys that pry open the mysterious, for example: from a scientific perspective, he gives consideration to “the two biggest questions of all” (1) Does the universe have a purpose? (2) why is there something rather than nothing?” (p. 103)

Those two high intensity brainy subjects alone are worth a serious read of this finely written tome that also tackles the push and pull of today’s political bickering, Left/Right or is classical liberalism the proper course?

And, speaking of the proper course of a properly run government, he goes so far as to tackle how Mars should be governed when colonists first set up a new outer space society, which will be in sharp contrast to the political beginnings of Jamestown Erectus, circa 1607. Keeping in mind: “The 1967 Outer Space Treaty that the USA signed prohibits anyone from ‘owning’ Mars.” (p. 150)

Fortunately, Edinburgh astrophysicist Charles S. Cockell, in a series of meetings, already addressed Mars’s governance issues with scholars and scientists from varied fields in two conferences. Cockell personally informed Shermer: “Space is an inherently tyranny-prone environment.” (p. 151)

And, fascinatingly enough, there is a reasonable answer to prevention of a tyranny-prone Mars by establishing “modularity.” Which means, “literally incorporating liberty via architecture.” Whoever controls production of oxygen is key. It could be tyrannically authoritative (monopolistic ownership) or it could be fair and democratic (individual ownership units), depending upon configurations and design of all-important oxygen, as architectural engineering holds the key to Mars’ future political structure.

Giving the Devil His Due is a treasure trove for lovers of the humanities and society at large as viewed thru the perspective of scholarly minds, treatises, and essays. It’s marvelously ripened and full of wonderful tales about people, like Jordan Peterson, arguably the most controversial intellectual of the 21st century and one of the most polarizing figures in intellectual life since Noam Chomsky.

Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life succeeds in “launching its author into the cultural stratosphere.” (p. 299) By way of an outside subjective opinion re the Peterson personality type hitting the world stage, according to Caitlin Flanagan, “Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson”, The Atlantic, August 9, 2019: “The left has an obvious and pressing need to unperson him; what he and the other members of the so-called ‘intellectual dark web’ are offering is kryptonite to identity politics.”3

It’s these stories that offer the reader insight into true intellectual grit, as every printed word by Shermer carefully conveys meaning.

Postscript: “It is obvious that God was made in our likeness and not the reverse.” (Michael Shermer, Editor-in-Chief, Skeptic)

  1. Cambridge University Press, 2020.
  2. Scientific American, June 2006.
  3. For an unafraid leftist dissection of Peterson’s book 12 Rules, read “The Utility of Jordan Peterson’s Digressions,” Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5, and Part 6.

‘If I Have To Fight For Recognition, I Will’: Paul and Roberts On Collision Course Over Whistleblower Questions

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Yesterday’s question and answer period was a largely choreographed exercise with legal teams spontaneously responding to questions with preset video clips and visual displays. However, there was one major but largely overlooked moment that raises some serious issues over the authority of the presiding officer vis-a-vis the Senate. In the midst of the questions, Roberts spiked a question from Sen. Rand Paul (R, Ky). It concerned the whistleblower and the underlying legal premise for barring the question could prove controversial today. UPDATE: Roberts again refused to read the question of Sen. Paul.

Sen. Paul appears to have delivered a question to Roberts that would have named the alleged whistleblower. Roberts had indicated that he was going to disallow questions on the whistleblowers but he was reportedly deterred from that course by the threat of being overruled by the Senate. He allowed general questions about the whistleblower by preventing Paul from asking his question. Paul reportedly pledged to revisit the issue today and was overheard by reporter Niels Lesniewski in saying “I don’t want to have to stand up to try and fight for recognition . . . If I have to fight for recognition, I will.”

This creates a fascinating conflict. Federal law does not guarantee anonymity of such whistleblowers in Congress — only protection from retaliation. Conversely, the presiding officer rarely stands in the path of senators seeking clarification or information from the legal teams. Paul could name the whistleblower on the floor without violation federal law. Moreover, the Justice Department offered a compelling analysis that the whistleblower complaint was not in fact covered by the intelligence law (the reason for the delay in reporting the matter to Congress). The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel found that the complaint did not meet the legal definition of “urgent” because it treated the call between Trump and a head of state was if the president were an employee of the intelligence community. The OLC found that the call “does not relate to ‘the funding administration, or operation of an intelligence activity’ under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence . . . As a result, the statute does not require the Director to transmit the complaint to the congressional intelligence committees.” The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency Council strongly disagree with that reading.

Regardless of the merits of this dispute, Roberts felt that his position allows him to curtail such questions and answers as a matter of general decorum and conduct. It is certainly true that all judges are given some leeway in maintaining basic rules concerning the conduct and comments of participants in such “courts.”

This could lead to a confrontation over the right of senators to seek answers to lawful questions and the authority of the presiding office to maintain basic rules of fairness and decorum. It is not clear what the basis of the Chief Justice’s ruling would be in barring references to the name of the whistleblower if his status as a whistleblower is contested and federal law does not protect his name. Yet, there are many things that are not prohibited by law but still proscribed by courts. This issue however goes to the fact-finding interests of a senator who must cast a vote on impeachment. Unless Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can defuse the situation, this afternoon could force Roberts into a formal decision with considerable importance for this and future trials.

Reprinted with permission from JonathanTurley.org.

How is Washington “Liberating” Free Countries

There are obviously some serious linguistic issues and disagreements between the West and the rest of the world. Essential terms like “freedom”, “democracy”, “liberation”, even “terrorism”, are all mixed up and confused; they mean something absolutely different in New York, London, Berlin, and in the rest of the world.

Before we begin analyzing, let us recall that countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States, as well as other Western nations, have been spreading colonialist terror to basically all corners of the world. And in the process, they developed effective terminology and propaganda which has been justifying, even glorifying, acts such as looting, torture, rape and genocides. Basically, first Europe, and later North America literally “got away with everything, including mass murder”. The native people of Americas, Africa and Asia have been massacred, their voices silenced. Slaves were imported from Africa. Great Asian nations, such as China, what is now “India” and Indonesia, got occupied, divided and thoroughly plundered.

And all was done in the name of spreading religion, “liberating” people from themselves, as well as “civilizing them”.

Nothing has really changed.

To date, people of great nations with thousands of years of culture, are treated like infants; humiliated, and as if they were still in kindergarten, told how to behave, and how to think.

Sometimes if they “misbehave”, they get slapped. Periodically they get slapped so hard, that it takes them decades, even centuries, to get back to their feet. It took China decades to recover from the period of “humiliation”. India and Indonesia are presently trying to recuperate from the colonial barbarity, and from, in the case of Indonesia, the 1965 U.S.-administered fascist coup.

But if you go back to the archives in London, Brussels or Berlin, all the monstrous acts of colonialism, are justified by lofty terms. Western powers are always “fighting for justice”; they are “enlightening” and “liberating”. No regrets, no shame and no second thoughts. They are always correct!

Like now — precisely as it is these days.

Presently, the West is trying to overthrow governments in several independent countries on different continents. From Bolivia (the country has been already destroyed) to Venezuela, from Iraq to Iran, to China and Russia. The more successful these countries get, the better they serve their people, the more vicious the attacks from abroad are, the tougher the embargos and sanctions imposed on them are. The happier the citizens are, the more grotesque the propaganda disseminated from the West gets.

*****

In Hong Kong, some young people, out of financial interest, or out of ignorance, keep shouting: “President Trump, Please Liberate Us!” Or similar, but equally treasonous slogans. They are waving U.S., U.K. and German flags. They beat up people who try to argue with them, including their own Police Force.

So, let us see, how the United States really “liberates” countries in various pockets of the world.

Let us visit Iran, a country which (you’d never guess it if consuming only Western mass media) is, despite the vicious embargos and sanctions, on the verge of the “highest human development index bracket” (UNDP). How is it possible? Simple. Because Iran is a socialist country (socialism with the Iranian characteristics). It is also an internationalist nation which is fighting against Western imperialism. It helps many occupied and attacked states on our planet, including Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia (before), Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq, to name just a few.

So, what is the West doing? It is trying to ruin it, by all means; ruin all good will and progress. It is starving Iran through sanctions, it finances and encourages its “opposition”, as it does in China, Russia and Latin America. It is trying to destroy it.

Then, it just bombs their convoy in neighboring Iraq, killing its brave commander, General Soleimani. And, as if it was not horrid enough, it turns the tables around, and starts threatening Teheran with more sanctions, more attacks, and even with the destruction of its cultural sites.

Iran, under attack, confused, shot down, by mistake, a Ukrainian passenger jet. It immediately apologized, in horror, offering compensation. The U.S. straightway began digging into the wound. It started to provoke (like in Hong Kong) young people. The British ambassador, too, got involved!

As if Iran and the rest of the world should suddenly forget that during its attack on Iraq, more than 3 decades ago, Washington actually shot down an Iranian wide-body passenger plane (Iran Air flight 655, an Airbus-300), on a routine flight from Bandar Abbas to Dubai. In an “accident”, 290 people, among them 66 children, lost their lives. That was considered “war collateral”.

Iranian leaders then did not demand “regime change” in Washington. They were not paying for riots in New York or Chicago.

As China is not doing anything of that nature, now.

The “Liberation” of Iraq (in fact, brutal sanctions, bombing, invasion and occupation) took more than a million Iraqi lives, most of them, those of women and children. Presently, Iraq has been plundered, broken into pieces, and on its knees.

Is this the kind of “liberation” that some of the Hong Kong youngsters really want?

No? But if not, is there any other performed by the West, in modern history?

*****

Washington is getting more and more aggressive in all parts of the world.

It also pays more and more for collaboration.

And it is not shy to inject terrorist tactics into allied troops, organizations and non-governmental organizations. Hong Kong is no exception.

Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia, China, Venezuela, but also many other countries, should be carefully watching and analyzing each and every move made by the United States. The West is perfecting tactics on how to liquidate all opposition to its dictates.

It is not called a “war”, yet. But it is. People are dying. The lives of millions are being ruined.

• First published by China Daily – Hong Kong