After Hiroshima and Nagasaki: U.S. and Australian Brutalisation of Women on the Japanese Mainland

August 24, 2020

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki: U.S. and Australian Brutalisation of Women on the Japanese Mainland

by A.B. Abrams for The Saker Blog

Over a year ago I published the book Power and Primacy: The History of Western Intervention in the Asia-Pacific, which was an attempt to fill what I saw as a gap in scholarship on the subject. I found that while several scholars had covered individual cases of Western powers intervening in the region, from David Easter and Geoffrey B. Robinson’s works on the Western-engineered coup and massacres in Indonesia of an estimated 500,000 to 3 million people[1] – to Bruce Cumings and Hugh Deane’s works on the Korean War, there were no major works assessing broader trends and consistencies in Western intervention. Power and Primacy was thus written to show the consistencies in Western designs towards the region and the means used to achieve them over a period of more than 70 years, from the Pacific War which began in 1941 to Western policies towards China and North Korea today.

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the dismantling of the Japanese Empire, and the famous declaration by General Douglas MacArthur that, with the region’s only non-Western military power and the world’s only non-Western naval power now defeated, ‘The Pacific is now an Anglo-Saxon lake.’ While the U.S. and its allies portrayed themselves as a benevolent and democratising force in the region, the darker aspects of East Asia’s time under the new hegemon, which starkly contradict this, have seen very little discussion or coverage. It is notable, for example, that after the Japanese Empire’s fall not only did living standards in southern Korea fall dramatically after it was placed under the rule of an American military government, but mass rapes, the use of comfort women, and serious human trafficking – the very things used by many to justify the American embargo on Japan which had started hostilities in 1941 – not only continued but were expanded under U.S. control. The government of Syngman Rhee, the Princeton-educated Christian radical the U.S. placed in power, killed 2% of its population at the most conservative estimate within five years, placing hundreds of thousands more in concentration camps and exercising a level of brutality not seen even under the Japanese Empire.

With Japan today having seen 75 uninterrupted years with tens of thousands of Western soldiers based on its territory, where they appear set to remain indefinitely, this is a suitable time to reflect on the nature of the relationship between the country and the West – which is very far from that of equal sovereign powers with shared goals and ideals. Evidence for this has ranged from massive involvement of American intelligence in the political process, including funding pro-Western political parties and supporting their election campaigns,[2] to the testimonies of multiple officials. Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, for example, noted regarding his country’s inability to reach a deal with Russia over the Kuril Islands due to an effective American veto over all major foreign policy decisions: “I think it represents a big problem that when making foreign policy decisions, Tokyo is always guided by the United States’ approach. Japan depends on America.” He further stated: “The Japanese media and government… always take America’s side. Tokyo is dependent on the US’ views … Japan will continue to side with America and the G7 countries.”[3] Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama, who in the 1950s had also sought to resolve the dispute with Moscow and sign a peace treaty on the basis that Japan would receive two of the four islands, was harshly threatened by the U.S. and was ultimately forced to concede to Washington’s demands not to go through with an agreement. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori came to a similar conclusion regarding the country’s lack of effective sovereignty in an interview with Russian state media in 2018. [4]

Beyond these political indicators, however, are more human indicators of the nature of America’s place in post-war Japan which cannot be overlooked, and which contrast very strongly with portrayals in the vast majority of Western media including both documentaries and popular media. An extract from the book Power and Primacy, pages 66-69, given below, recently reached over 3 million viewers on social media and highlighted the true consequences for Japan’s population of subjugation by the United States. The full references are provided in the book itself. Perhaps most importantly, this is not presented as an isolated set of cases of U.S. and Western conduct towards an East Asian population placed under their power – rather it is part of a much wider trend which if anything was considerably more extreme in Vietnam and in both South and North Korea – the latter of which was briefly occupied by U.S. forces in 1950. An understanding of the past is key to comprehending the nature of Western involvement in the Asia-Pacific region today, which is why I found that this project was particularly essential now in light of the ‘Pivot to Asia,’ the North Korean nuclear crisis, the Trump administration’s recent ‘Tech War’ on China and other key events which have increasingly placed the region at the centre of determining the future of world order.

Text Start:

There was a far darker side to the U.S. and allied occupation of Japan, one which is little mentioned in the vast majority of histories – American or otherwise. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, mass rapes by occupying forces were expected… [despite setting up of a comfort women system which recruited or otherwise trafficked desperate women to brothels] such crimes were still common and several of them were extremely brutal and resulted in the deaths of the victims. Political science professor Eiji Takemae wrote regarding the conduct of American soldiers occupying Japan:

‘U.S. troops comported themselves like conquerors, especially in the early weeks and months of occupation. Misbehavior ranged from black-marketeering, petty theft, reckless driving and disorderly conduct to vandalism, assault, arson, murder and rape. Much of the violence was directed against women, the first attacks beginning within hours after the landing of advanced units. In Yokohama, China and elsewhere, soldiers and sailors broke the law with impunity, and incidents of robbery, rape and occasionally murder were widely reported in the press [which had not yet been censored by the U.S. military government]. When U.S. paratroopers landed in Sapporo an orgy of looting, sexual violence and drunken brawling ensued. Gang rapes and other sex atrocities were not infrequent […] Military courts arrested relatively few soldiers for their offences and convicted even fewer, and restitution for the victims was rare. Japanese attempts at self-defense were punished severely. In the sole instance of self-help that General Eichberger records in his memoirs, when local residents formed a vigilante group and retaliated against off-duty GIs, the Eighth Army ordered armored vehicles in battle array into the streets and arrested the ringleaders, who received lengthy prison terms.

The U.S. and Australian militaries did not maintain rule of law when it came to violations of Japanese women by their own forces, neither were the Japanese population allowed to do so themselves. Occupation forces could loot and rape as they pleased and were effectively above the law.

An example of such an incident was in April 1946, when approximately U.S. personnel in three trucks attacked the Nakamura Hospital in Omori district. The soldiers raped over 40 patients and 37 female staff. One woman who had given birth just two days prior had her child thrown on the floor and killed, and she was then raped as well. Male patients trying to protect the women were also killed. The following week several dozen U.S. military personnel cut the phone lines to a housing block in Nagoya and raped all the women they could capture there – including girls as young as ten years old and women as old as fifty-five.

Such behavior was far from unique to American soldiers. Australian forces conducted themselves in much the same way during their own deployment in Japan. As one Japanese witness testified: ‘As soon as Australian troops arrived in Kure in early 1946, they ‘dragged young women into their jeeps, took them to the mountain, and then raped them. I heard them screaming for help nearly every night.’ Such behavior was commonplace, but news of criminal activity by Occupation forces was quickly suppressed.

Australian officer Allan Clifton recalled his own experience of the sexual violence committed in Japan:

‘I stood beside a bed in hospital. On it lay a girl, unconscious, her long, black hair in wild tumult on the pillow. A doctor and two nurses were working to revive her. An hour before she had been raped by twenty soldiers. We found her where they had left her, on a piece of waste land. The hospital was in Hiroshima. The girl was Japanese. The soldiers were Australians. The moaning and wailing had ceased and she was quiet now. The tortured tension on her face had slipped away, and the soft brown skin was smooth and unwrinkled, stained with tears like the face of a child that has cried herself to sleep.’

Australians committing such crimes in Japan were, when discovered, given very minor sentences. Even these were most often later mitigated or quashed by Australian courts. Clifton recounted one such event himself, when an Australian court quashed a sentence given by a military court martial citing ‘insufficient evidence,’ despite the incident having several witnesses. It was clear that courts overseeing Western occupation forces took measures to protect their own from crimes committed against the Japanese – crimes which were largely regarded as just access to ‘spoils of war’ at the time by the Western occupiers.

As had been the case during the war, underreporting of rapes in peace- time due to the associated shame in a traditional society and inaction on the part of authorities (rapes in both cases occurred when Western militaries were themselves in power) would lower the figures significantly. In order to prevent ill feeling towards their occupation from increasing, the United States military government implemented very strict censorship of the media. Mention of crimes committed by Western military personnel against Japanese civilians was strictly forbidden. The occupying forces ‘issued press and pre-censorship codes outlawing the publication of all reports and statistics “inimical to the objectives of the Occupation.”’ When a few weeks into the occupation Japanese press mentioned the rape and widespread looting by American soldiers, the occupying forces quickly responded by censoring all media and imposing a zero tolerance policy against the reporting of such crimes. It was not only the crimes committed by Western forces, but any criticism of the Western allied powers whatsoever which was strictly forbidden during the occupation period – for over six years. This left the U.S. military government, the supreme authority in the country, beyond accountability. Topics such as the establishment of comfort stations and encouragement of vulnerable women into the sex trade, critical analysis of the black market, the population’s starvation level calorie intakes and even references to the Great Depression’s impact on Western economies, anti-colonialism, pan-Asianism and emerging Cold War tensions were all off limits.

What was particularly notable about the censorship imposed under American occupation was that it was intended to conceal its own existence. This meant that not only were certain subjects strictly off limits, but the mention of censorship was also forbidden. As Columbia University Professor Donald Keene noted: ‘the Occupation censorship was even more exasperating than Japanese military censorship had been because it insisted that all traces of censorship be concealed. This meant that articles had to be rewritten in full, rather than merely submitting XXs for the offending phrases.’ For the U.S. military government it was essential not only to control information – but also to give the illusion of a free press when the press was in fact more restricted than it had been even in wartime under imperial rule.

By going one step further to censor even the mention of censorship itself, the United States could claim to stand for freedom of press and freedom of expression. By controlling the media the American military government could attempt to foster goodwill among the Japanese people while making crimes committed by their personnel and those of their allies appear as isolated incidents. While the brutality of American and Australian militaries against Japanese civilians was evident during the war and in its immediate aftermath, it did not end with occupation. The United States has maintained a significant military presence in Japan ever since and crimes including sexual violence and murder against Japanese civilians continue to occur.”

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For Full Manuscript of Power and Primacy

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For A. B. Abrams’ upcoming work, scheduled for publication in October 2018, titled Immovable Object: North Koreans 70 Years at War with American Power:

  1. ‘Indonesia’s killing fields,’ Al Jazeera, December 21, 2012. ‘Looking into the massacres of Indonesia’s past,’ BBC, June 2, 2016. 
  2. Weiner, Time, ‘C. I. A. Spent Millions to Support Japanese Right in 50’s and 60’s,’ New York Times, October 9, 1994. 
  3. ‘Stationing American troops in Japan will lead to bloody tragedy – ex-PM of Japan,’ RT, (televised interview), November 6, 2016. 
  4. ‘Ex-Japan FM: I Told Putin We Follow U.S. Policy as We’re Surrounded by Nuke States,’ Sputnik, May 22, 2018. 

Would Rudolf Steiner be a Vučić troll?

Would Rudolf Steiner be a Vučić troll?

By Saker´s Johnny-on-the-spot in Belgrade for The Saker Blog

Would Rudolf Steiner be a Vučić troll?

I doubt it. But it was good of Zoran to take time off his busy schedule to comment on my reporting from Belgrade. I am sorry that my dispatches fall short of Australian journalistic standards. Serbian political language is probably more robust than anything that Zoran experienced down under. I suspect that returning to Serbia must have been quite a culture shock. I cannot imagine that in Australia it would occur to anyone to refer to the Queen and her dysfunctional family in the robust terms that I routinely employ with reference to Vučić. There are, nevertheless, equally piquant descriptors that could be applied to some of the British royals who have been in the news lately. Some of the same attributes would also fit Vučić quite nicely.

Zoran is upset by the epithets that I use. There is visual evidence that Vučić is keenly aware of the disrepute in which he is generally held and of the trashy nicknames that, long before me, the Serbian people pinned on him:

He does not seem to be bothered by it, or at least he puts up a brave front and pretends not to be. If Vučić says he is OK with it, why should it perturb Zoran so much?

My descriptions of Vučić as a “tyrant” and “psychopath” are not complimentary but more relevantly I would suggest that they are accurate, just as it would be completely accurate, for example, to describe Prince Andrew as a pervert. In Black’s Law Dictionary, the term “tyrant” is defined thus: “The chief magistrate of the state, whether legitimate or otherwise, who violates the constitution to act arbitrarily contrary to justice”. The Cambridge dictionary defines “tyrant” as “a ruler who has unlimited power over other people, and uses it unfairly and cruelly,” a definition that is essentially identical. This is a precise description of Serbia’s form of government under Vučić. As President, formally he has limited and largely ceremonial powers, not unlike the President of Switzerland or the Queen of England (and Australia). However, it is he in fact who makes all important decisions in the country and micro-manages everything, as every person in Serbia who is not on cannabis is perfectly aware. To judge whether he perceives himself within the constitutional framework, watch his own ludicrous boasting of the things he has supposedly done which, whether actually done or not, constitutionally do not pertain at all to the office of the President:

More seriously, as everyone living in Serbia knows, major government institutions are empty shells, ministers, judges, and other officials are his puppets and party appointees, they sit at his pleasure, and do not make independent decisions. Arbitrary, personal rule is the salient feature of Serbia’s political system under Vučić. I submit that saying so publicly, far from being an insult or in bad taste, is simply a true statement within the legal and political definition of the term “tyrant,” as I use it. Nobody in Serbia today would seriously challenge that, not even trolls, in private at least.

As for my other uncomplimentary description of Vučić, that he is a “psychopath,” the impression that Vučić has serious mental health issues is widespread in Serbia. But I do not make that assertion lightly. As a layman, I defer to the diagnosis put forward by a competent professional, Prof. Mila Alečković, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Sorbonne and has taught and practiced in France for many years. In her considered professional judgment, without reference to what the common people might be whispering in the cafes, Alexander Vučić is in fact a psychopathic personality. Take a watch at what Prof. Alečković has to say on the subject:

The utility of Prof. Alečković’s exceedingly well-argued presentation is that even in layman’s terms it provides reasonable grounds to conclude that both of the descriptions of Vučić that Zoran objects to, not just that of “psychopath,” but based on the visual evidence that she provides also “tyrant,” are accurate. If so, that is very bad news indeed for the country that such an individual happens to be running.

It is a pity that other than regard for good journalistic practices, not much else seems to have rubbed off on Zoran in Australia. One of the things he might have learned there is to support the right of citizens to present their grievances and to voice their views publicly without getting their heads smashed. Minimizing the number of protesters and denigrating their concerns is a rather disingenuous strategy of avoidance to express human solidarity, even with those whose views we may not share. I wonder how Zoran would have reacted in Germany in 1942 if told of the students who were members of the White Rose Society and of what they had done. Would he have dismissed them as insignificant because they were just a handful? In retrospect, who does he think was morally superior and ultimately victorious in that controversy, the outnumbered students or the regime they were protesting against?

He should give the matter some deep thought for his own sake now that he is back in Serbia, as he observes the dominant trends. It is always useful to repeat Pastor Bonhoeffer’s admonition concerning the fate of the fence-sitter who refuses to speak up when morally he ought to. After silently watching those he wanted nothing to do with being taken away, when his turn comes will anyone be left to stand up in his defense?

I sympathise with commentators who are so defensive about their country that they confuse it with the ruling regime, though it is bringing ruin upon the country they cherish. Saint Paul speaks in the Gospel of that sort of phenomenon as “zeal not according to reason.” But no government should ever enjoy the immunity from criticism to which one’s country is properly entitled.

Free word | The US-China Conflict كلمة حرة | الصراع الأميركي الصيني

Panic and the Pandemic ‘Down Under’: The Ultimate Unseen Enemy

By Jeremy Salt

Source

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In the southeastern corner of Australia a State of Emergency has replaced what was known until recently only as the State of Victoria. The unseen enemy has been a fact of modern life since the 1950s but at least the red under the bed could be seen if found. COVID-19 is the ultimate unseen enemy, because it literally cannot be seen except through a microscope and noone knows where it is and when it will strike.

The panic generated by the spread of the virus is completely disproportionate to the risk of dying from it. Between late January and July 1, 2020, 2,505, 923 people were tested for COVID-19 in Australia. As updated by Worldometer on July 3, of the 8255 cases that tested positive, 7319 had recovered.  A further 832 cases were still active (99 percent in mild condition; of the 7423 ‘closed’ cases 99 percent of those infected had recovered and one percent (104) had died.

Figures issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that of the deaths associated with COVID-19, no-one below the age of 39 had died.  In the 40-49 age bracket, there had been one death; 50-59, two; 60-69, 13; 70-79, 31; 80-89, 35; over 90, 20. Thus, well over 80 of the 104 deaths were in the 70s-90s age bracket.

By comparison 3334 Australians died from influenza/pneumonia in 2016 (median age 88.8). In 2017 the figure was 4269 (median age 88.3): in 2018, 3102 (median age 89.3). In the same year, 2952 Australians died from accidental falls, their median age 87.3. A further 3046 Australians died from “intentional self-harm” and hundreds of others from traffic accidents or drowning.  This is not to underplay the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus but only to put it into perspective and the context of deaths from other causes.

The figures for influenza deaths in 2019 have not yet been published.  According to a report published on August 18, 2019, however, even before the influenza season (June-September) was over 430 people had already died (some deaths were attributed to other causes despite showing “flu-like symptoms).” Hospitals were said to be “overrun,” with nearly 217,000 people diagnosed with the illness and “experts” believing the final death toll could could be much higher. [1] The Queensland government’s Ministry of Health confirmed that 264 people in Queensland alone had died.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one billion people around the world get the flu every year, with a loose estimate of 290,000-650,000 deaths, compared to the number of people misleadingly listed by the WHO as dying ‘of’ the COVID-19 virus: 472, 541 by June 23, 2020, and more than half a million by the end of the month. Despite the comparatively high global death toll from influenza, only five pandemics have been declared in more than a century, the worst of them in 1918 and the most recent after the ‘swine flu’ outbreak of 2009.

While COVID-19 may be ‘a’ cause of the 104 deaths it is not generally ‘the’ cause.  Those who die are listed as having been infected with the virus and its significance in their deaths remains unknown. Most of those infected have other serious and possibly terminal diseases likely to end their lives anyway (only about four percent of those said to have been infected with the virus when they died had no preconditions) and statements that people have died ‘from’ the virus or ‘of’ the virus, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on its website, are misleading.

Doctors in the UK are authorized to list the virus as a cause of death on the clinical “balance of probabilities.” In Australia doctors are instructed that COVID-19 should be recorded on the death certificate when the disease caused “or is assumed to have caused or contributed” to the death. The doctors might be right but probabilities and assumptions are hardly scientific as a means of assessing the causes of death. Bearing this in mind, the veracity of the statistics has to be regarded with some caution.

A further issue in COVID-19 control is the reliability of the basic WHO-approved test for the virus, which two investigators have concluded after detailed research is “scientifically meaningless.”[2]  Many deaths associated with COVID-19 have occurred in nursing or aged care homes, where the Swiss Policy Research Institute estimates that up to 30 percent may ultimately have been caused not by the virus but by the consequences of the lockdown, including isolation, panic and fear.[3]

Australian politicians will insist that without the lockdown the figures would have been much higher. This will forever remain a moot point but other countries have come through well without adopting such restrictive measures as Australian governments, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan among them.

Sweden, on the other hand, the bad boy of the pandemic, took minimal measures and suffered a comparatively high death toll of 5280, 51.85 deaths per 100,000 or a 8.1 fatality rate per 100,000. Of the deaths, 1151 were in the 70-79 age bracket and 2191 in their 80s to 90s, a total of 3342 deaths, more than two-thirds of the total, suggesting that while Sweden was correct in thinking that no more than minimal restrictions were necessary for the general population, it failed to provide sufficient protection for the most vulnerable, the aged and seriously ill.

In the state of Victoria 20 people infected with COVID-19 had died by the end of June, 2020 (compared to 68 deaths from influenza in 2016 and 297 in 2017).  The battle to contain the virus is being led by the Premier, Daniel Andrews, an aspiring or professional politician since he left university, and his Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, a tax lawyer before she went into politics.  They have closed down schools and businesses.  Tens of thousands of people have been thrown out of work and the center of Melbourne turned into a dead zone.  In a city that is a magnet for young people, with hundreds of bars and other music ‘venues, the ‘hospitality’ sector has been severely affected.

While staff can claim unemployment benefits, restaurant and bar owners have been hung out to dry, with the government that closed their businesses offering nothing beyond small dollops of financial support and the suggestion that they take out bank loans. Many will go under (some already have) and others will be saddled with debt if/when they are able to reopen.  The easing of restrictions can mean little in practice, when owners of a ‘music venue’ have to apply a ‘density quotient’ of one person per four square meters.  This obviously rules out the numerous small bars where people like to meet because they ARE small and therefore cozy.

The politicians, the police, the health ‘experts’ and the media are all speaking with one voice.  There is no two-way conversation between the state and the people but a monologue, with the government and its ancillary forces telling the people what they have to do, what they have to understand, as the media frequently puts it.  In the name of suppressing the pandemic the dividing line between the authoritarian state and the liberal democracy is gradually being erased.

Expanded police powers include random home door-knocks to check that people are ‘self-isolating,’ with the police searching for anyone not at home.   A recent video showed police harassing a woman walking in the center of the city with a child in a pusher.  While one policeman wrestled her to the ground when she objected, another wheeled the child away. Groups of police are arriving unnannounced at restaurants to make sure social distancing guidelines are being observed and the names and contact phone numbers of all customers recorded on the official government form.  Police ‘enforcement patrols’ have been set up in viral ‘hot spots’, with traffic stopped across the city to check whether drivers have moved out of these suburbs.

Both the Federal (national) and state police have an arm called Protective Service Officers. In Victoria, they were created for the express purpose of providing security at suburban railway stations but are now being redeployed at shopping centers and in residential areas.   In the words of Police Minister Lisa Neville, “What we hadn’t predicted was that we would be given the opportunity to test how using them in shopping centers and other areas would go and we’ve had that opportunity.”   Assistant Police Commissioner Shane Patton concurs, as it had been a “real advantage” for the Victoria Police to be able to use the PSOs elsewhere during the pandemic.

Hundreds of people have been calling the “police assistance line,” set up for reports of “non-urgent” crime, to report breaches of the pandemic regulations: 61,000 in February, before the pandemic was declared; 71,000 in March and 102,000 in April, an average of  3500-11,500 day, mostly about the virus.  ‘Dobbing in’ – snitching – has always been regarded with the greatest contempt in Australia, along with contempt for the ‘scab,’ the worker who breaks the union picket line, but now the police see the snitch as a virtue, as doing “the right thing and holding others to account,” says Assistant Police Commisssioner Patton. “It’s about saving lives.”

Fines of up to $1652 are being imposed for people not doing the right thing, by failing to wear a face mask or not observing the correct social distance.   Apart from police surveillance and intervention, the phone app millions of Australians have been persuaded into downloading enables the government to track them down wherever they happen to be, in the name of ‘tracing’ contacts of those who might have been infected.   The fact that anyone with a smartphone can be tracked down anyway, can even be heard and photographed without their knowledge is no argument for taking the surveillance possibilities of the virus app lightly when there is no verifiable protection against its use for other purposes.

With the number of new cases on the rise, Andrews called in the army to give logistical support. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, talking as though this was Afghanistan, said the army was already “on the ground” in Victoria.  Discussions were continuing with Mr Andrews and the Minister of Defence.   The army had already been summoned “to assist with compliance” at the hotels where nationals returning from overseas are being quarantined in their rooms for 14 days (at least at the government’s expense: in Queensland overseas arrivals have to pay $2800 per person).

The quarantine hotels have been placed under the overall control of Corrections Victoria, which runs the state’s prisons.  Media images show up to a dozen police and soldiers in uniform with slouch hats surrounding travelers bussed in from the airport as they wheel their luggage into a hotel foyer.  In South Australia police armed with assault rifles have been patrolling “at risk” areas.

As the number of infections continued to rise in Victoria, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on anyone offering accommodation – hotels, hostels and Airbnb –  to turn away people from Victoria.  The NSW government then took a further step, closing its borders to Victorians from ‘hot spots’ and threatening those who ‘slip across’ with an $11,000 fine and six months in jail.  Queensland has closed its borders to all visitors from Victoria.  Cars crossing from Victoria into South Australia have been vandalized and the drivers abused, such is the hysteria that has been generated.

While travelers arriving in Melbourne are quarantined in hotels for 14 days at the government’s expense, those arriving in Brisbane on a flight from overseas have to pay $2800 per person.   No arrangement seems to have been made for travelers who need to be in Queensland and don’t have $2800 to spare.

With dire reports of death, new ‘hot spots’ and ‘spikes’ filling the papers every day, people have been wondering when and how it will all end, “when will I be able to hug my grandchildren again?” as the headline over one article read but “do the right thing”,  “do the decent thing”, “play it safe and stay at home” are the messages repeatedly being hammered home by politicians, police, bureaucrats,  health experts and the media, in and out of uniform, but all speaking with the same voice of authority.

Around the world ‘lockdowns’ have had profound economic and social consequences, including mass unemployment (about half the British workforce is now unemployed or underemployed), depression, domestic violence, eviction from homes, impoverishment, the denial of regular medical service even to people with serious and possibly terminal illnesses and ‘distance education,’ with parents expected to hold down jobs and simultaneously supervise the education of their children at home.

Health practitioners writing for the British medical journal the Lancet say the closure of schools in 107 countries around the world has been based on evidence and “assumptions” from influenza outbreaks.  About 862 million children and young people – “roughly half of the global student population” [4] – have been affected, apart from the impact on the lives of parents and other relatives.

The other consequences include the loss to society of parental productivity, the possibility of vulnerable grandparents called on to provide child care transmitting the virus to children (or children transmitting it to them), the loss of education, harm to the welfare of the child especially among the most vulnerable childen and nutritional problems caused to children for whom free school meals are “an important source of nutrition.”  Social isolation is listed as another negative byproduct.

The Lancet study notes the “remarkable dearth of policy-relevant data” on school distancing, including closures.  The authors question whether the closures were necessary and draw attention to the adverse effects, which include the economic harm to working parents, health-care workers and other workers “forced” from work to provide child-care.

İt finds that “the evidence to support national closure of schools to combat COVID-19 is very weak and that data from influenza outbreaks suggest that school closures could have relatively small effects on a virus with COVID-19’s high transmissibility and apparent low clinical effect on school children.”

Writing in the New York Times, David Katz, President of the True Health Initiative and founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre, proposed more targeted ways of dealing with the pandemic, based on preferential protection for the medical and those over 60 years of age while allowing ‘herd immunity’ to develop among the population at large.  Infection would spread but only in a mild form for the vast bulk of the population, with adequate medical resources then available to treat those who become seriously ill. [5]

Although contact-tracing phone apps have been introduced in many countries, including Australia, the WHO has recommended against their use in any circumstance, whether epidemic or pandemic.   Issues of privacy, increased government surveillance at a time when it has already reached an all-time high and the possible ‘repurposing’ of the apps are immediately raised.

These questions only add to a long list that need answers, including where the virus first surfaced.  The media fed the first assumption that it was transferred to humans from a ‘wet market’ in China but numerous other countries, including the US, have since been identified as an earlier possible source (according to a Spanish report, the COVID-19 virus was discovered in waste water in Barcelona in March 2019).

The supposedly ‘natural’ origin of the virus has been challenged by some eminent epidemiologists who say it can only have been developed in a laboratory.  If so, was its release accidental or deliberate? Given the intense security measures observed in biological research laboratories, especially when a virus can threaten human life, how could such a release have been accidental?

On October 18, 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation sponsored a pandemic exercise called ‘Event 201.’  According to the scenario as laid down, it would only be a matter of time before an epidemic turned into a pandemic with catastrophic global consequences, arising from the transmission of a virus to humans through bats and pigs.  The ‘matter of time’ turned out to be only two months later, when the first outbreak of COVID-19 was identified in China (subsequent reports had it appearing much earlier elsewhere).

Fortuitously, the virus surfaced at the precise point when US banks, trading houses and other financial institutions were about to plunge off the cliff, more disastrously than in 2007-09.  While the world was looking the other way, the Federal Reserve bailed Wall Sreet out to the tune of trillions of dollars: $6.6 trillion from September, 2019 – March, 2020, a total of $29 trillion since 2007.  When the root of the problem is systemic, however,  these trillions might end up as good money thrown away after bad.  Writing in the current issue of the Atlantic, Frank Partnoy warns that the US financial system could be on the cusp of calamity and “this time we might not be able to save it.” [6]

The enormity of this second bailout would surely have caused public fury if exposed to the light of day but the bigger story was what it represented, not just the collapse of financial houses but an epochal collapse of the global ‘free market’ capitalist order as it had operated since 1945.  Based on over-production and artificially-stimulated consumerism in a world of shrinking resources, the system had not been sustainable for a long time.  Astute observers had seen the end coming for years. Already in 2015 the UN Agenda 2030 had as its central theme “a sustainable world with income equality, gender equality and vaccines for all.”  But how was the changeover to be managed, how was the new world going to be built on the ruins of the old and how could the global capitalist order be preserved in these new circumstances?

At this point COVID-19 appeared like a genie out of the bottle. In the short term it provided cover for the trillions of dollars paid out in the US to faltering corporations and financial institutions.  Banks and corporations in the UK, Australia and other countries were also the prime beneficiaries of multiple billion dollar ‘stimulus’ packages.   Media-generated pandemic panic then enabled governments to lock down entire populations and prepare them for the post-COVID-19 world.

On June 3, 2020, the WEF announced ‘The Great Reset,’ the theme of its next global forum, in January 2021.  This ‘reset’ would be based on economic restructuring built around sustainable development. The ‘market’ would be steered towards new outcomes; investments would advance equality and sustainability; and a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ would be launched to address health and social issues.

The ‘reset’ has been endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the corporate world.  Goldman Sachs has developed “a framework for investing after Covid-19,’ which it regards as a “rule-changing” and an “existential event where capital needs to find new homes.”  Retooling, winners and losers, new learning, and filling empty spaces created by failed businesses are some of the key phrases in a research paper on how Goldman Sachs (which would have collapsed in 2007-9 but for the $12.9 billion it received in the ‘bailout’ of that time) plans to be part of ‘The Great Reset.’[7]

The ‘reset’ is top-down management by the same institutions and corporations that created and kept alive a failing economic order for as long as they could and only accepted change when the system was on the point of collapse. The First Industrial Revolution did not lead to social equity and balance but to children working in coal mines for ten hours a day or losing their fingers in the spinning jenny at the textile factory.

The notion now, that those who have exploited humanity in every age are about to become its benefactors, is amusing but not to be taken seriously. The promises of great health, social and environmental benefits made by the architects of the ‘great reset’ and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are no more than the sales pitch for the restructuring of the old economic order.

Just like the old order, the new one is destined to serve the money and power interests of governments, institutions and corporations stratospherically above the interests of the people. The economic and social debris of the old world, the collapsed businesses, the millions of jobs lost (almost half the working age population of the US is presently unemployed) and the countless lives destroyed will be cleared away, leaving the corporations, protected, refinanced, and coming through unscathed, to fill Goldman Sachs’ empty spaces.

There could not be a ‘great reset’ without the pandemic. With the consent of the people, fear bordering on hysteria has been used to turn ‘liberal democracies’ into working models of authoritarian states.  The world has been subjected to a training exercise for the balance between state and society once the world has been reset.  State intervention and micro- surveillance will be generally accepted as part of the ‘new normal.’ Consensual authoritarianism will prevail.  Rights and responsibilities will be reversed: even more than previously, it will be the right of the state to intervene and the responsibility of the individual to obey.

The leaders 

Finally, the background and personalities of the politicians who have locked down Australia raise questions of their own. Internationally, Scott Morrison, the prime minister, was last seen on holiday in Hawaii, a big smile on his face and frangipani wreathing his head, Nero-like, as large parts of Australia burnt down.  The folly of his behavior might have finished him off had not the virus given him the opportunity to renew himself as a national leader.

Politically, Morrison is an arch-conservative; religiously, he is a Christian fundamentalist, a Pentacostalist who regularly attends Sydney’s Horizon Church.  The Pentecostalists believe in the ‘inerrancy’ of the Bible and ‘prosperity theology,’ acording to which the rich are rich because they deserve to be rich.  They also believe in miracles, faith healing through the laying on of hands and the vocal gifts of ‘glossolalic’ utterances, otherwise known as speaking in tongues, and xenoglossia, which is speaking or writing in a language noone else can (yet) understand.

In Morrison’s political life there is little of the mercy, compassion and humility usually associated with Christianity.  As Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in 2014, he did his best to stop asylum seekers from reaching Australia and was accused by the Australian Human Rights Commission of falling down on his responsibilities under international law to protect children being kept in detention. He has denied that there was ever slavery in Australia, in complete ignorance of the 19th century ‘blackbirding’ of tens of thousands of Pacfic islanders, tricked into coming to Queensland to work on plantations as indentured laborers or the indigenous people exploited by church missions. He opposes gay marriage and has upheld the ‘right’ of religious schools under the Sex Discrimination Act to expel gay or lesbian students.

In foreign affairs he has further cemented Australia’s place as a camp follower of the US, whatever it decides to do. On Palestine, his government has recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has tried to block the prosecution of Israelis for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.  In late June only the Marshall Islands and Australia voted against resolutions tabled by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opposing Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

Morrison has signaled that if the US decides to go to war against Iran he will “seriously consider” Australia joining it.  Australia hosts a number of US military/communications bases, is fully inside the current US military-economic ‘pivot’ against China and Morrison has just announced a $270 billion ‘defense’ program for a “dangerous and disorderly post-COVID19 world” policy fashioned around the ‘threat’ from China.  Here the virus is again used as cover, this time to justify massive (in Australian terms”) ‘defence’ spending.

Both Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne have made numerous public statements that could only antagonize China.  In late June the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Organization (ASIO) raided the home and office of an NSW Labor Party MP, Shaoquette Mosolmane, on the basis of an allegation that the office had been infiltrated by a Chinese government agent. Although no evidence was presented and no charges laid, Mosolmane was immediately suspended from the Labor Party.  The raid would have had to have been authorized by Morrison. These developments plus the accusation that Wuhan was the source of the COVID-19 virus have directly fed public and media anti-Chinese sentiments.

In the private sector, Morrison was hired as the director of New Zealand’s Office of Tourism and Sport in 1998 but ‘let go’ in 2000 with a year of his contract still to run, after criticism of the board’s conduct and performance by the Auditor-General. In 2004 he was taken on as managing director of Tourism Australia by the Howard government and, again, ‘let go’ in 2006   a year before his contract ended, after complaints of $184 million being awarded in contracts without proper assessment that the organization was getting value for money. The fact that a federal Liberal Party government let Morrison go is a fair enough indication that what he did wrong was serious. In 2007 he entered federal parliament after a dirty election campaign which saw him collaborating with a Labor Party figure, Sam Dastyari, to do in a rival within his own party.

While Morrison presents himself as a man of the people, as an open, good-hearted suburban dad, he has a tainted background in business, has engaged in underhand behavior in politics, has shown no empathy with the wretched of the earth in line with the tenets of the Christian faith he professes and has played on public biases and fears to advance his own political interests.

Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, comes across as a far cleaner figure, if increasingly out of his depth in the handling of the pandemic.  He also has a religious background, as a Catholic, but a progressive one. He supports abortion on demand, has opened safe injection rooms for drug addicts and has legalized euthanasia for the terminally ill.   Nevertheless, his close daily control of the messages coming out of the government and increasingly authoritarian management style have earned him the nickname of “Chairman Dan.’

The consequences

So far the federal Australian government has spent $138 billion to support workers and businesses, but many – especially in the hospitality sector – have received little or no financial support and will either not be able to reopen their businesses or will reopen them saddled with years of debt.  In May unemployment had jumped in one month from 5.2 percent to 6.2 percent of the work force, with 600,000 people losing their jobs in April and a further 230,000 in May.   At 13.8 percent, youth unemployment was especially high.   The ABS statistics show that about 2.7 million workers – one in five of the work force – ‘left’ their employment in March-April or had their hours reduced.   According to current predictions, unemployment will reach 10 percent.

The financial costs incurred in the name of suppressing the virus are likely to set Australian economic development back for decades.  The social costs and medical costs are yet to come in.  These would cover the number of people whose medical needs have been disrupted by the single-minded focus on COVID-19, and those whose health has been worsened by isolation, loneliness and the inability to maintain businesses and provide for their families, leading in some cases, without any doubt, to suicide.

Victorians, and Australians more generally, need to do the right thing, the decent thing, and ask questions instead of docilely accepting what they are being told, much of it misleading and lacking context.  Overall, the question eventually to be asked may not be whether the cure was worse than the disease, but how much worse it was.

Waiter, I’ll have the soup of the day followed by the vaccine

Waiter, I’ll have the soup of the day followed by the vaccine

May 27, 2020

by Denis Conroy for The Saker Blog

Statistics suggest that one and a half billion day-labourers throughout the world need work to avoid starvation. This fact suggests that clarity of mind may only exist apropos of external conditions. This thought of itself suggests that man’s inhumanity to man is really a war on human rights. Clarity of mind may be the ace in the pack, but the problem is, the pack is rigged.

Watching Donald Trump respond to the Covid-19 enables us to observe just how myopic the American way of doing business is, especially when their idea of ‘progress’ is interrupted. When the twin prongs of capitalism, investment and expediency were curtailed by the novel Covid-19 virus, and the music faltered, the ‘establishment’ honchos quickly sought to place their fat arses on seats paid for by tax-payers’ money as the game of musical-chairs came to an abrupt halt. Under cover of institutional privilege, the wily controllers of external conditions were quick to consolidate their advantage.

Adherents of the house-of-cards economy, a system designed for elites to engorge themselves at the expense of main street took fright when the mechanics of their Ponzi scheme began to splutter under the pressure of the pandemic. Soon afterwards, a forlorn sense of angst began to pervade the zeitgeist. An unknown force was interfering with the ‘norm’.

What followed from this point onwards was a babble-fest conducted by inhouse-gurus of the institutional-stripe who quickly appeared at centre stage like marionettes competing for a Nobel Prize in atonal gibberish. Their pronouncements concerning the nature of something that would only be understood in hindsight or through ongoing research made little sense, but such is the role of the marionette.

In the heat of the Covid-19 moment, institutional bodies that normally underpin the status quo were seriously challenged by the social dimensions of the pandemic. Instead of a unified or clarified front we observed a host of snide internecine tensions emerge to fuel political division as well as giving crackpottery free rein. The burden of proof had become the meat in the political sandwich. For we (the masses) who had been relegated to the role of mere spectator, the deep-state was seen for what it really was, a collection of inept coterie-managed institutions now successfully privatised and without any real connection to the public domain. Authoritarianism was having a field day.

What the pandemic has taught me to date is that there is no deep state. Power, it would seem, needs spokespersons, and institutions meet this need by providing honchos to personalise the hobby horses that they have taken charge of ; think church, royalty, the ‘defence’ department, banks (Bank of International Settlements?), The New York Times, Disneyland, Donald Trump, Monarchy, etc. etc. etc…and one notices that the only thing they have in common is that they provide services that have surface value.

Therefore, the realization that surface values…known knowns…were being used as pugnacious tools when dealing with scientific facts relating to Covid-19 had me reaching for the whisky bottle.

What has kept Donald Trump’s quiff (well-stuck) from blowing in the wind is the institutional glue that keeps American mythology alive and unwell…a vapid narrative born of a need to keep the scales of injustice tilted toward protecting its own predatory appetites…a congenital aberration peculiar to unfettered capitalism perhaps?

Hence the myopic messages endlessly militating for more of the same for the purpose of keeping alternative flavours at bay… Trump declares churches ‘essential’ (Evangelical Christians et al?) and calls on them to reopen. But alas, open and reopen are merely extensions of Trump’s interpretation of what is ‘essential’. In his mind, ‘essential’, it would seem, means doing the sort of deals that keep the status quo buoyant for the privateers.

Nevertheless, when it comes to motivation, this great twit is not without a high degree of artistry. He has brought new meaning to the expression ‘out of sight, but not out of mind’, and he does it very well…embarrassingly well!

Bewitched by the voodoo of contemporary Neo-con economics, Trump’s essentiality can be best understood in terms of business motivation separated from conscience or science. He is a child of his time who tweets a story based on lies, cheating and widespread corruption which is frequently criminal as well. He has managed to ensconce himself as titular head of a business-as-usual culture that bailed out the corrupt banks in 2008 …$4.6 trillion have already been paid out…and the farce continues as structural change is blocked at every turn by means most queer! He is of a class of people who are there to prove that economics is not a science.

But stranger than strange, it could be the case that Covid-19 has the power to affect the national (or personal) psyche. As psychic reality ultimately possesses the power to temper thought, this phenomenon has the capacity to deal with the restructuring of systemic issues. That we have become used to accepting co-adjustments relating to our wellbeing per hefty amounts of bureaucratic verbiage, it does not exclude the fact that this pandemic has the potential for us to re-prioritize adjustments.

A more worrisome aspect…here in Australia…is the fact that the Covid-19 has become a ‘for-profit’ issue, and the best way of getting into the action is to get behind the guy with the biggest stick. Trump as world sheriff has deputised our lacklustre prime minister for the purpose of weaponizing the Covid-19 issue with the intention of whacking-a-mole (a yellow-peril mole as is the case down here) because it is becoming ever more proficient in ways that suggest the emergence of a culture that is capable of producing an improved world order…ScoMo, our great leader wants all us boy and girl scouts to get behind this ‘deal’ … I can almost hear his deft fingers knead the national psyche from my place in lockdown.

And while in lockdown, my thoughts now focus on what a nightmare might look like in the mind of Donald Trump…or for many Americans for that matter. Trump the child screaming his way out of a bad dream and his mother rushing in to comfort him. He, telling her that he had an awful dream. He, having dreamed that peace had broken-out across the world. He, saying to his mother, “But mum, no more weapons of mass destruction sales to Saudi Arabia or our other allies”, and she, his mother saying, while attempting to comfort him, “shush dear boy, America would never allow that to happen, now go back to sleep, everything will stay the same my dear child, the world outside is evil and it needs to be bombed. Bombing is how America sleepwalks through time.”

While the above reverie occurred in lockdown, another troubling thought quickly followed on its coattails. What is it in the American constitution (culture) or psyche that enables the general public to myopically sustain belief in their ‘democracy’ in spite of the fact that their use of excessive military force throughout the globe is there for all to see. Has horror been normalized?

As much of the world observes how America has become possessed of a pathology wherein sadism and paranoia define the inhumane hubris that MAGA lauds, a vulgar complacency now conceals what John Steinbeck’s Ethan felt in “The Winter of Our Discount”(published in 1961)…a parabolic reality wherein the main character Ethan is surrounded and influenced by family and friends who urge him to be less honest, abandon integrity, take bribes because anything else is futile in a corrupt society…restore the status of the family by any means!

And corruption breeds contradictions. Here in Australia one can still encounter the spirit of what the average Oz calls ‘a fair go’…but for how long will it last if American corruption continues to spill-over into Australia. Our Prime Minister ( ScoMo) is a political clone and devotee of Neo-con economics…a blinkered pallbearer dutifully shouldering the demise of colonial grandeur…a functionary on a mission to nowhere who finds it impossible to reimagine a genuinely independent Australia.

No doubt there are difficulties here as elsewhere, but until the spirit of young Australian awareness comes to the rescue, we are likely to continue to elect the usual idiomatic pageboys of last resort. After all, Australia is no longer a white-sliced-inbred Anglo culture strutting the stage with pin-striped aplomb to impress the natives. We have become a diverse society in spite of the White Australia Policy that once-was.

So, the times are a ’changing and the Covid-19 is a kind of mirror held up to reality. What we see when we peer into the mirror is a redundancy which makes us wonder at the ineptness of Western leadership. The Covid-19 itself being a mirror that discloses the fact that power in the hands of charlatans is power wasted.

So, when we hear people talk about a return to normalcy, we are left wondering whose interpretation of the norm is relevant. Clearly, the political honchos are marching to a different drum beat and the Pentagon is there to keep it that way.

Denis A. Conroy
Freelance Writer
Australia

Is there really a group ready to hang Erdogan out to dry?

May 01, 2020

Is there really a group ready to hang Erdogan out to dry?

by Intibah Kadi for the Saker Blog

Australian Investigator and Reporter, Chris Ray, has written an excellent piece [1]on Syrian born Imam Fedaa Al Majzoub, a graduate from the world’s most prestigious Muslim institution, Al-Azhar University, and who, until recently, enjoyed a privileged position in the Sunni Islamic community in Australia as a leader and academic and was presented as a “moderate”. Like many of his peers, he engaged with government and NGO’s in “interfaith” activities [2], reassuring the Australian government and public of unity, fraternity and equal regard for the law [3]and governance of Australia , glossing over, or in fact denying any contradictions vis-à-vis their hardline Takfiri agenda and where loyalties ultimately lie, also perhaps underplaying the decades-long role Saudi Arabia has played in the Muslim communities of Australia[4]. Some of the positions this Imam held in Australia were; Adjunct Lecturer at a public Australian university, Religious Advisor to the Islamic Council of NSW (the most populous state in Australia), Deputy Chairman of the NSW board of Imams, Member of the Fatwa Board on the Australian National Imams Council and Head of Muslim Chaplaincy within the NSW Government Department of Family and Community Services.

My interest in the subject of the Al Majzoub family began back in 2012 when they received media coverage and government sympathy in Australia. They were well known for their opposition to the Syrian government. Several people produced exposes of two brothers of the family including Fedaa Al Majzoub, and corporate media in Australia even repeated those allegations and defended the family. In closed forums the background was discussed and explored regarding the father of the family Hassan AlMajzoub, Syrian born, educated further in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and having lived and worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan where he came and went from Australia for a period of time. When allegations broke out in late 2014 in Australia about the academic and cleric, Imam Fedaa Majzoub, the subject of Chris Ray’s current article, government leaders and the major media rushed to defend him. The prestigious, conservative paper, a prominent newspaper,The Australian, published an article titled “The Respected Aussie imam smeared by Assad regime.” [5], referring with outrage to alleged Syrian Government allegations against him. One of the allegations was that Majzoub was implicated in massacres, one which Ghassan Kadi and I described in English from a Syrian, Arab language documentary.[6]

Notwithstanding Chris Ray’s excellent article on Al Majzoub and his alleged activities, including a previous piece on the two brothers written in 2014 [7], it appears that part of the sources he drew from, namely that of author Abdullah Bozkurt, could be problematic but, even if it does, it provides an interesting story in itself.

Bozkurt produces stunning exposés on Erdoğan, one after another. They are quite delightful to read. Many of his articles are excellent. Nevertheless, Bozkurt appears to have his own dubious agenda. The recent news regarding documents implicating Fedaa AlMajzoub, which Chris Ray has picked up on, seems to only originate from one source; Bozkurt [8]. Perusing Arabic, English and Turkish language media, there appears to be nothing about Fedaa AlMajzoub being in trouble with Turkish authorities. I stand to be corrected, but I will not accept to be corrected if there are reports or the subject is covered by any Gülenist media or supporters because of their history. This is because I believe Bozkurt is working with or sympathetic to the Gülenists. In Sweden, after evacuating from the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey where he was the Ankara bureau chief of the Gülen-friendly “Today’s Zaman Daily, Bozkurt established the media outlet https://www.nordicmonitor.com/. From Sweden, Bozkurt made his claims regarding connections between Al Majzoub and Erdoğan, replete with documents described as genuine.

Abdullah Bozkurt, professes to have recently come across or been furnished with leaked memos allegedly from Turkish police and intelligence compiled way back in 2012. They appear to not contain letter heads and, according to some observers, are not written in a style recognised as typical of Turkish officials. Of interest, the documents don’t implicate any Western powers despite it being well-known that the war on Syria and Libya was prosecuted primarily by the West and that with regard to Syria, Turkey was a crucial enabler for its NATO allies and terrorists’ to access Syria. Bozkurt, being an experienced media man, a former Bureau Chief of a large Turkish newspaper with many contacts, could well be telling the truth about the reliability of these documents, particularly if they have come from dissidents, including Gülenists, who have or still are deeply embedded into the Turkish apparatus, a weeding out task seemingly almost impossible for Erdoğan.Gülenists have been used by the CIA in intelligence operations and are referred to as Gladio B operators[9] and, naturally, they are not going to expose the dirt of the West and their allies in the going-ons regarding Syria or anywhere else. Gülenist articles on international or Turkish affairs may seem attractive, but they are yet another side of the coin when it comes to terrorism.

Bozkurt’s claim is that the classified intelligence documents he states he received, reveal a jihadist group called the Ben Ali Group, led by an Abdaladim Ali Mossa Ben Ali, a Libyan with close ties to Al Qaeda, having participated in transferring foreign fighters and weapons from Libya through to Turkey and that links existed between this group and Erdoğan who was Prime Minister at that time. The documents presented as genuine, show a close working relationship between Ben Ali and Fedaa Al Majzoub, which it alleges was in touch with Erdoğan’s then chief advisors, namely Ibrahim Kalin, now the Presidential spokesman, and Sefer Turan, now the chief Presidential advisor, during the process of arranging the transfer of foreign fighters and weapons. None of this news is new information to those up-to-date on the attempts to take down the sovereign state of Syria. The surprise lies in the total absence of Bozkurt implicating any role of Western forces behind the events he reports on and their close relationship, particularly at this period, with Erdoğan.

At the time of these documents which were claimed to have been created in 2012, any such concerns expressed within them by Turkish authorities would have been laughable as all the enemies of Syria worked together for as long as they were moving forward in achieving their individual aims.

Clearly until the break between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in 2017, memberships in terrorist groups largely were interchangeable and often based on who provided the best or most exciting opportunities. Ghassan Kadi explained to Sputnik in 2015 [10] that “…members walk in and out of these organizations all the time, and in effect, there is no difference between them at all”. Their relationships only fell apart when they failed to take down the Syrian government and scrambled to look for whom to blame for their own failures. Even well after this alleged police and intelligence report, numerous exposés appeared on Erdoğan’s own son and son-in-law’s business ventures with ISIS regarding Syrian oil.

Perusing many of Bozkurt’s articles in turkishminute.com, clearly a Gülenist mouthpiece or strong sympathiser media site, there is no evidence [11]of Bozkurt mentioning any Western players in bed with Turkey with regards to any of the mischief and mayhem going on with Syria and all the bands of terrorists involved. His Twitter account renders no satisfaction either on this deficit.

Had the Western enemies of Syria decided it was time to take down Erdoğan, surely this article and its contents, and maybe some others by Bozkurt, would suddenly have gained prominence, making it to “news flash” status. Fetullah Gülen is no longer a favourite tool of the Americans; some of his key people and enablers spend more time in court than doing anything else in the US. Or, perhaps it is early days and the news, if true, hasn’t been taken up by entities of America’s choosing. If the documents are genuine and have only recently come to the attention of Erdoğan, surely the paranoid megalomaniac would be on another purge within his government and all its apparatuses; that is unless it is being kept very quiet. However with opposition to Erdoğan around the world, keeping the lid on any purge might be difficult.

Investigations I carried out on Feeda AlMajzoub placed him clearly with the FSA and if the 2012 Turkish reports are true, he would have worked with all kinds of people and entities committed to taking down the Syrian government. It was publicly stated by AlMajzoub’s own people that he was the “only Australian “[12] on the Syrian National Council, the political wing of the FSA, at that time funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He was allegedly in the terrorist area when his brother was killed [13] and there are many photos of him with militants from all over the world.

However, once Saudi Arabia and Qatar fell out, the FSA and its affiliates were funded primarily by Qatar, with Turkey facilitating and allowing all the physical logistics such as training camps and, most importantly, access into Syria. Saudis no doubt from the beginning would have felt uncomfortable that they could not control all aspects of the war on Syria due to the longest border with Syria being that of Turkey. Whilst Saudi Arabia controls Jordan, Jordan’s long border with Syria could not provide in any way the logistics and attributes possessed by Turkey. It is common knowledge that Syria would never have been invaded without the key help of Turkey due to its geography[14].This reality was a boon for Turkey’s (Erdoğan’s) dream to gain world Sunni leadership [15].

So why, according to Bozkurt’s article, is Turkey turning on alleged assets such as this Imam, when the regime itself is and has for a long time been deeply involved in the actions described in Bozkurt’s exposé? If this is true, perhaps one explanation could be offered that such individuals have served Erdoğan’s purposes. If that is the case, Erdoğan would likely want to identify all who were loyal and co-operative with him on Syria but who also took money and orders from Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom Erdoğan wishes to wrestle the title of “Leader of the Sunni world” from and, who Erdoğan these days, along with Qatar, stands against. If these claims of Bozkurt are true, and if a Turkish “crackdown” on Al-Qaida has indeed been taking place, given that Al-Qaida, also identified as Al Nusra, which has been a crucial asset to Erdoğan, surely it would merely be a tokenistic action for Western consumption.

Boztkurt’s exposé intimates that the lid is about to blow off on the activities of Erdoğan in respect to this Ben Ali Group and associates. No evidence of such an impending event seems to exist, nor does potential collaboration by powerful entities or states seem to transpire around these allegations, let alone any sign of a developing action brewing in an attempt to set up Erdoğan for a fall. When the time for Erdoğan to take a tumble arrives, we may get a surprise as to who will be responsible.

References and Footnotes:

[1] Chris Ray. “Moderate” Australian Imam Named in Syria arms trafficking operation

[2] Footnote: Chris Ray’s article picks up an important point of a strategy used in Australia by the hidden radical leadership in the Sunni community, that being the activities of “Interfaith” meetings. Such meetings, encouraged initially by the Jewish B’nai B’rith movement, were embraced by Government and relevant NGO’s and educational facilities as a celebration and affirmation of a harmonious, diverse and culturally rich Australia. Concurrently this raised the profile of government “approved” and endorsed, mostly highly qualified, articulate Islamic leaders in the country, ignoring the fact that not all of the country’s Muslims were Sunni. Not only did they become the “show ponies”, trotted out each time Australian authorities or NGO’s wanted to express harmony, they were also used to quell the public anxieties after 9/11, subsequent attacks attributed to “Islamic terrorism” or any disharmony such as the Cronulla Riots in 2005. Fedaa Al Majzoub was up there with Prime Ministers and people of influence. Note the fifth last paragraph of the report below regarding a high level interfaith event; “Interfaith Dinner honouring His Grace Bishop Kevin Manning as the 2010 Champion of Cultural Inclusion”, 9 June 2010

https://islamicfriendshipevents.blogspot.com /2010/06/interfaith-dinner-honouring-his-grace.html

[3]Dinner Meeting between the Imams and the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Mr. Tony Negus 25 December 2010

https://islamicfriendshipevents.blogspot.com/2010/09/dinner-meeting-between-imams-and.html

[4] Footnote: Saudi Arabia’s role in strong business relationships with Australian government and companies and as a strong US ally, gave them a powerful inroad to radicalising Muslim communities, including emerging refugee communities. Saudi Arabian Wahhabi missionaries could easily enter Australia and go about their activities. Funding for Islamic based activities was substantial. This included funding universities, mosques, study groups, promoting to government particular Islamic leaders, inculcating Saudi Wahhabi culture into communities in place of their traditional cultures, just to mention some of their strategies to replace Sunni Islam with the Wahhabi version. Some links” “Revealed: the Saudis’ paymaster in Australia”, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September, 2005; https://www.smh.com.au/national/revealed-the-saudis-paymaster-in-australia-20050910-gdm1ko.html ,and “How to be a useful idiot: Saudi funding in Australia”, Mervyn Bendle, 13 October 2008, updated 29 September 2010; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-10-13/32626 and “NATIONAL SECURITY:Secret Saudi funding of Australian institutions”,Mervyn Bendle (reviewer) 21 February 2009 http://www.newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=3808. All this time, it appeared Australian authorities in general, possessed little of no capacity in appreciating the nefarious undercurrents to many of these events, culminating in recruitment opportunities for Wahhabis for the wars and conflicts that interested them.

[5] Respected Aussie Imam Smeared by the Assad Regime, The Australian, December 2014

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-respected-aussie-imam-smeared-by-the-assad-regime/news-story/01bafc012a5b37d65c626e82be829049

[6] OGARITE DANDACHE’S AUGUST 2013 DOCUMENTARY ON LATTAKIA MASSACRE

https://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2013/10/ogarite-dandaches-august-2013.html

[7] Blood Brothers; the Sydney Jihadists who took on Assad, Chris Ray, 9 January 2014
https://www.crikey.com.au/2014/01/09/blood-brothers-the-sydney-jihadists-who-took-on-assad/?wpmp_switcher=mobile?wpmp_switcher=mobile%20*http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/the-controversies-raging-inside-our-islamic-schools-%2020151012-gk790z.html

[8]Al-Qaeda group in Libya had close ties to Erdoğan, intelligence documents reveal, Adbullah Bozkurt, 20 January 2020

[9] The Origins of NATO’s Secret Islamic Terrorist Proxies. Tom Secker, 11 March 2013

[10] “Moderate Islamism” Washington, Brussels Playing with Fire in Syria, Iraq. Ghassan Kadi, Sputnik,12 December 2015

https://sptnkne.ws/x3Zy

[11] Search on Adbullah Bozkurt’s articles https://www.turkishminute.com/author/abozkurt/

[12] Popular Sydney Sheikh Mustapha Al Majzoub martyred in Syria, Muslim Village, 20 August 2012; https://muslimvillage.com/2012/08/20/27205/popular-sydney-sheikh-mustapha-al-majzoub-martyred-in-syria/

[13] Footnote: In 2012 the younger brother of Imam Fedaa AlMajzoub, Sheikh Mustapha AlMajzoub was killed in a terrorist held part of Syria. He was a “Sheikh”, a school teacher responsible for cultivating the minds of young Muslims in Australia and, on his Facebook page, boasted about the capture of 72 Syrian government loyalists. Under his post a friend asked if they had been “slaughtered” yet. The then Premier of NSW, Barry O’Farrell, allegedly, according to Arabic Newspaper, An-Nahar, published on 27 August 2012, offered his condolences for the “killing” of Sheikh Mustapha Al Majzoub. This is despite on the 22nd of August 2012, The Australian publishing that the Sheikh was ” … known to police and intelligence services because of his “extreme” views” https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/sydney-sheik-killed-in-syria-an-extremist/news-story/795ec65ea88ecf84f0622b84e08a6aa4. The grieving father Hassan AlMajzoub travelled to the terrorist held area where his son was killed to visit his grave.The headstone says “Al Shahid Mustapha Al Majzoub”. The father posted a video on his Facebook page of his visit https://www.facebook.com/hassan.almajzoub.31/videos/310864785734275/?__cft__%5B0%5D=AZUKkfhfK2lZeHTBMp5Z_JM9y_nmpWkOiHq6DUuo9B_uWgbB72S38q6xaXp9SUYvvQ7QrUza_-_cfDLMuT2ctlurWw-ElbqHXUQ2J4pUkPhPBSQMZBmXiPZwVfBMeCwee8cKigq-hiQCxN5nzxe6S_Ws&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-y-R

[14]The Gateway To Idlib Goes Via Cilica, Ghassan Kadi, The Saker,1 March, 2020 http://thesaker.is/the-gateway-to-idlib-goes-via-cilica/

[15] Erdogan’s Long-Coming Reality Check: Ghassan Kadi , The Saker, 14 February 2020

Australia: The “Building 7” of the COVID 19 Pandemic

By David Macilwain

Source

This article was first published on American Herald Tribune on April 26, 2020. A must read!

coronavirus australia 50ae5

Seven hours after the Twin Towers came down, and before the transfixed and terrified New Yorkers had any idea who or why jet liners had flown into them, the answer to this question appeared on TV screens to those lucky enough to notice it. Despite this vital clue as to how it was that a bunch of jihadis with box cutters could demolish those monoliths of the American Empire, the mayhem loosed upon the world by the Bush and Cheney regime soon stifled any dissenting opinions.

Subsequently the grim task of sorting through thousands of tonnes of rubble looking for clues and body parts focussed local attention exclusively on the “Ground Zero” into which the two towers had miraculously collapsed. No-one noticed what was happening just a block away, as the remains of WTC7 were – presumably – removed, just as they didn’t seem to have really noticed the 50 storey building when it was standing, or ever found out what went on in it.

Work on a new WTC7 began in 2002 and the replacement was opened in 2006, so there are no more reminders of the astonishing collapse of Building 7. The official investigation didn’t even examine the collapse till 2008, when it rapidly concluded that WTC7 was the first such building in the world to collapse due to fire. Following a four year computer study by Architects and Engineers for Truth however, this was shown to be false, though the report released only in March this year, found that fire could not have been responsible, without stating their clear conclusion and the only one possible – that someone pulled the plug on Building 7.

Long before this of course, “conspiracy theorists” had latched onto the freefall collapse of WTC7, for the simple reason that it was never hit by a plane. The significance of this “anomaly” was not so much on why Building 7 collapsed anyway, but in what it suggested about the Twin Towers. If WTC 7 was brought down by a controlled demolition – as it so clearly was, then could this also be the explanation for the sudden and unexpected collapse of the North Tower at a time when the fire started by the jet fuel in the upper sections showed some sign of abating? This then followed in timely fashion by the remarkably similar collapse of the South Tower.

Once this unthinkable possibility is entertained, and the collapse of the towers closely observed, the tell-tale signs of a controlled demolition are immediately apparent along with the apparent close monitoring of the operation – such that an initial list in one tower is corrected and it falls perfectly into its own footprint. As an illustration of what a well organized controlled demolition looks like, this example from Frankfurt is instructive.

While no doubt now remains amongst the cognoscenti that the demolition of the Three Towers was the mother of all false flag operations, enabling two decades of the Empire’s “War on Terror”, the consequences of recognizing this crime against humanity as an “inside job” are almost beyond belief; everything claimed by the NATO powers as a pretext for offensive or pre-emptive action against other states must be questioned, with the default response being disbelief until proven otherwise.

And with each subsequent suspect event that is exposed as a false flag or act of cyber-warfare, the true nature of past events is confirmed; this is their modus-operandi, and has been for decades.

The corollary of this chain of crimes, and the compounding chain of disinformation that sustains it, is that those who believe the first great lie – in most cases the 9/11 lie – have their false belief reinforced by every subsequent operation, and to the point where they are prepared to believe almost anything. Given that these operations are well planned by their perpetrators, whose understanding of human psychology and manipulation guides their presentation to the target audience, the dumbfounding of the population now enables whatever they deem necessary.

As a prime example of such manipulative operations, it’s hard not to come back to the so-called “Salisbury Poisoning” of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, where practically nothing the UK government claimed and that media broadcast was true or verifiable. All we know is that two Russian guys visited Salisbury twice that weekend, and that Dawn Sturgess died several months later; everything else is hearsay based on the statements of categorically untrustworthy agencies, agents and authorities.

Removing the Bench March 23 2018 03181

*(23 March 2018: army officers in protective suits remove the bench where Sergi and Yulia Skripal were found. Credit: Will Oliver/EPA)

It may take a while for this to sink in – because we were told so much about the Skripals and the GRU agents, and we saw the hundreds of PPE-wearing men “cleaning up” – and tearing up – Salisbury town center; they must have been doing something! And we all heard how the victims of the Russian Novichok nerve agent finally recovered thanks to the dedicated work of hospital staff, under instruction from advisors from nearby Porton Down.

Porton Down of course used to be the UK’s chemical and biological weapons development center, back in the ‘50s testing Sarin on human subjects who thought they were trialing a cure for the common – Coronavirus – cold. More recently Porton Down was closely involved in Britain’s operation to fight the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, coincidentally led by the now-renowned Colonel Alison McCourt. It is unwise to dismiss such coincidences.

As the Coronavirus 19 outbreak becomes increasingly politicized, with the US openly accusing China of allowing the virus to escape from the Wuhan facility, or even doing so intentionally, it’s worth remembering Porton Down’s history and questioning its current activities – if only because nobody does! Although as a class 4 lab it is now similarly involved in testing for the presence of COVID 19 in patient samples, its history suggests no information would ever be forthcoming, just as it wasn’t about Porton Down’s possession of Novichok samples in March 2018.

Besides, no-one is really questioning that there is a very serious outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the UK, even if death and case statistics are unreliable and dishonestly presented. Despite the overwhelming number of deaths being in the “old and sick” part of the population, the media constantly picks out the unrepresentative and unusual cases of younger and apparently healthy people who for some reason have succumbed to the virus.  The object of this disinformation initiative is to support the false idea that “we are all at risk” – and so must all follow the isolation guidelines.

But it is not on the UK’s trials that I want to focus. Rather it is on the “Building 7” of the COVID 19 Pandemic – Australia.

The actions taken by the Australian government on the pretext of preventing the spread and devastation of the novel Coronavirus mimic closely those taken by European countries fighting the outbreak – the unprecedented and massive public expenditure – $320 Billion, to support the beleaguered economy and some of those thrown out of work by the collapse of the “non-essential” hospitality and tourist related industries; the sudden and draconian measures to restrict social contacts and viral transmission involving a lockdown for an unspecified period of time, and the accompanying imposition of on-the-spot fines of thousands of dollars for “resisters”; and the suspension of normal Parliamentary process and any democratic oversight of these new laws.

What we have is tantamount to Martial law, with government by decree. All of which would arguably be justifiable in the face of escalating deaths and collapsing health systems, as has happened in Italy, France, Spain and the UK – and the US.

But just as there was no jet plane to blame for the sudden collapse of World Trade Center 7, there is no COVID 19 Pandemic to blame for the collapsing of the Australian economy, and all the excess deaths that will result from the millions of jobs lost, escalation of domestic violence and suicides, and deaths of people too afraid to go to the doctor or hospital for fear of catching the Virus.

In fact there isn’t even an epidemic of the Coronavirus in Australia, with a total death toll just one tenth of the daily deaths in New York or the UK or Italy. The daily addition to diagnosed cases of COVID 19 is now in single figures, with little if any evidence of community transmission unrelated to the initial surge in numbers that came with the debouchment to all states of Australia of infected passengers from the Ruby Princess, and the unregulated entry of Australians returning from the US and Italy before the borders were closed.

A fortnight ago it was announced that from a total of 6335 cases of infection in the whole of Australia, 238 were in hospital, of whom 81 were in ICUs, and just 35 on ventilators. The 61 fatalities then has now risen to 80, with a typical age structure dominated by the over 70s with co-morbidities. 20 of these fatalities came from the cruise ship. New cases are now in single figures, while over 5000 are said to have recovered, most evidently without any treatment; unlike in some countries, Hydroxychloroquine has not been approved until very recently and has been reported only adversely, as something Donald Trump – bless his heart – is promoting.

Adding to the feeling that the Australian government has another agenda is its dogged pursuit of a surveillance app to enable contact tracing of COVID 19 – or any other infectious agent – which Australians are being encouraged to install on their mobile phones. Their natural reluctance and residual distrust of the government will be overcome by the carrot and stick, as we are told that if everyone installs the App, life will be able to return to the new normal sooner. Those who refuse to do so will be restricted, and pilloried by the compliant and fearful masses, who have already shown a worrying willingness to dob in lock-down resisters. Dobbing in is a very un-Australian thing to do, so this tradition is another thing turned upside down by the Virus response.

While there is now much talk of when the lock-down may be eased or finally lifted, Government ministers are unyielding and suggest that just one new case of infection that results from such loosening could explode into a whole new epidemic, and so we must wait longer while a manhunt continues for the secretive killer, or a vaccine is proven. (that the population has been prevented from acquiring any resistance to a second outbreak does give this claim some credibility however) So the social lock down remains, despite moves to lift it in countries really affected by the Pandemic, and despite the collapsing of our economy and society around our ears.

It looks rather as if this New Normal was part of the 2020 Vision, and something that even George Orwell could not have imagined. The threat of a “second wave” is now the basis for a complete cessation of flights into and out of Australia for at least another year. Those seeking to escape from this pleasant but stultifying and insular existence will be increasingly ostracised, like the poor Chinese Australians attacked by strangers on the street and told to “go home”.

These despicable and racist attacks are the natural result of the Government’s unjustified and incendiary attacks on China, and attempts to hold it responsible for the crisis they themselves have created. You may draw your own conclusions as to what lies behind this physical and verbal assault on our most important and vital trading partner, as well as on the true origins of SARS-CoV-2.

I’ve already drawn mine from the rubble of Building 7, and another event in New York last October which involved Australia’s Pandemic preparedness overseer Jane Halton. But just like WTC 7, Event 201 has now been covered over, reborn as “COVID 19”.

 

 

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’?

April 28, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’?

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

There must be SOME criteria where the proponents of the Great Lockdown could say, “In hindsight, this was wrong.”

It is obviously hysterical to insist that admitting a policy mistake is totally, completely impossible. German fascists are not wiping out Poland, after all.

I mean, what if a secret global doomsday machine in Poland gets triggered if global GNP falls below a certain threshold, wiping out humanity? Certainly then all would agree, “The Great Lockdown turned out to be a mistake,” right?

Absurd extremes aside, the coronavirus overreaction has turned into a major test case for today’s Western worship of both technocracy and scientific secularism. Since 1980 they have insisted that national cultures should not play any shaping role in public policy because Westerners have discovered a system of “universal values” which should guide all national governments.

(The Western system is – of course – actually based on aristocratic/bourgeois neoliberalism & neo-imperialism.)

A corollary is that a technocratic 10% should be implementing these values with zero lower-class input into public policy formation. A second corollary is that science is the one, true, rightly-guided, infallible way. In April 2020 the doctors and professors are always right, and US President Donald Trump is always wrong.

But… then how do we explain this written – not spoken – declaration from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, as reported by AP? This was published on April 24, during the truly fake-news controversy regarding Trump and injecting disinfectants.

“Given that countries currently in ‘summer’ climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed,” the researchers wrote earlier in April in response to questions from the White House Office of Science and Technology.”

But Iran is not in summer – they are in the northern hemisphere, so Iran is in spring.

Australia is in the southern hemisphere – it is in autumn.

In fact, due to the tilting of the earth, if the northern hemisphere is in spring then the southern hemisphere can only be in autumn, never in summer. Spring in the north and summer anywhere else is an impossibility.

Not only am I not a rightly-guided epidemiologist, I am not even a scientist and yet I know this. Heck, maybe even Trump knows this.

Associated Press, the largest news-gathering organisation in the world, obviously made the same elementary mistake as these scientists. It is very possible that in their rabid desire to discredit Trump the journalists cared more about over-exaggerating his clearly off-the-cuff science than fact-checking.

My point here is not to say “gotcha, you are dumb” – my point is to say that this is precisely why socialist democracy (which relies on consensus) is so much more valuable than Western technocratic individualism. You see: God, in His wisdom, made humans imperfect – and that includes epidemiologists and we journalists.

That is why the West’s choice to rely solely on epidemiologists, and also a mainstream media which is supposed to be always ever-skeptically vetting everyone’s declarations, is a fundamentally flawed approach to handling the corona response. Combine this with a Western system where politicians are forced to be always either in electioneering mode or fund-raising mode, and you get a system which uncritically bows to very mistake-prone earthly authorities.

I find it stunning that US polls have consistently pegged general support for the lockdowns to be at 80%, and that an unthinkable 95% of Democrats say the measures don’t go too far. Considering all the poverty, the refusals to loan to Main Street, the delays in government aid, the exponentially-increasing certainty of prolonged economic chaos – Americans are still not fed up? I can only theorise that the US people have been so propagandised by a lack of “contrarian voices” – contrarian because they dare to say that the needs of the lower classes must be voiced and implemented – that they have been terrified into submission by their media. Democrats are obviously the least open to different ideas – we see how fantastically total their groupthink is.

But back to my main point: what are the realistic criteria where people would say – as people must often do if we are to have a civilised society which progresses – “I was wrong”?

I can’t think of any which would be acceptable… and that shows the massive hysteria of the Western response

Please note that “I was misled” is certainly acceptable.

After all, just turn on your television and you are almost guaranteed to see a journalist nodding along to whatever an epidemiologist is saying – these two classes have been given the key to socioeconomic policy. In the corona hysteria these two have worked in tandem, and both must be judged according to the huge power they have been given.

As late as March 20th The New York Times fake-leftist bien-pensant Nicolas Kristof quoted “one of the best disease modellers in the world” declaring that the best-case scenario in the US was “about 1.1 million deaths”, with the worst-case being “2.2 million deaths”. They even put the latter in the sub-headline. Because he is such an awful, unreadable journalist Kristof does not make it clear if these two scenarios are the result of everyone doing absolutely nothing to combat coronavirus (an absurdity, which only an ivory tower academic would waste time studying) – I assume that is the case. However, many others may not make that assumption because Kristof leads the reader to believe (and maybe he believes this – he is not clear) that despite all the personal protective gear, ventilators, new hospital beds and everything else that US society could throw at corona, then we should still expect over 1 million deaths. Thus, both scientists and Kristof conclude: “If anything, we’re still underreacting.”

It turns out the epidemiologist’s numbers were indeed based on the idea that everyone did absolutely nothing. Well, thanks for getting dumb journalists all worked up over nothing! And I guess epidemiologists can’t write Kristof’s article for him but it’s certain that this power tandem failed at the top.

I’m not surprised, because I always doubted 2.2 million and here’s one reason why: MSM journalists seem to forget that recent history is not kind to US epidemiologists: In 2014 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted 1.4 million Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone alone. There were only 28,616 total cases. If this was Iran or China we could just accuse them of a cover-up, but alas…. And those are two countries with far, far less resources to throw at a virus. On April 3 satirical website The Onion re-ran Historians Politely Remind Nation To Check What’s Happened In Past Before Making Any Big Decisions – they are indeed more credible than The New York Times.

So what are the criteria for a fact-based backtracking?

Frankly, I don’t think the Great Lockdown supporters have thought about this at all, and that should cause them some worry.

This question has clearly been repeatedly shot down to the point where everyone self-censors, which is the most effective form of censorship. The question itself has been deemed to be proof of being a far-right neo-fascist: A Google search reveals What If the Pandemic Policymakers Are Wrong? Will health experts become the latest elite deemed “too big to fail”? That’s a great sub-headline – I’d nick it, but this article is almost completely written already. What’s too bad is that this article is from the website American Greatness, LOL.

So just asking “what if” puts me on the far-right? Well, I did just sign off on the cover to my latest book on socialism so, LOL, I could debate that rather at length. However, asking “but what if”, providing a modicum of contrarian views, being skeptical – this is what objective journalism is in any nation.

I am willing to question my faith: One article idea in my “to do” basket is, “What do socialists do if the bailouts actually work?” I am not so self-righteous, smug and smothering that I refuse to honestly ask and answer that question – it’s at least possible they will… because the question is not mathematical and because that history is not yet written.

Can Great Lockdown supporters question themselves? I doubt they can or even want to respond.

What I fear is this: that many Great Lockdown supporters are so self-righteous, out of touch and indoctrinated that they will genuinely believe that “even preventing one death made it worth it”. This is the view of a child, not an adult citizen who should know that any “War on Dying” is nothing but a joke. That is the exact view of a lowest-common denominator American politician – are REALLY trying to be like them? “Whatever you say” politicians are the third wheel on the tricycle which is steering Western, pro-upper-class corona policy.

To answer my own question: Because the virus was supposed to be so extraordinary, extraordinary measures have been taken. So it’s gone far beyond only total deaths – the accurate counting of which appears to be already hopelessly muddled.

If corona pricks the Western bubble economy (Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus) and “Great Depression 2” becomes a real thing – was it worth it?

If major aspects of the current drastic reduction in political rights get normalised – just as France prolonged a “temporary” state of emergency for two full years, and then Emmanuel Macron legalised it into common police practice – was it worth it?

If the US bows to Dr. Anthony Fauci, their nation’s leading technocrat on infectious diseases, and permanently “breaks that custom” of shaking hands to show warmth and friendship to strangers or if France ends the la bise hello kisses – was it worth it?

There are economic, political and cultural shockwaves stemming from the Great Lockdown – maybe their proponents didn’t foresee them, or maybe they were misled, but these things cannot be ignored because they, too, will cause death and pain.

You don’t want to talk about those things? No problem.

You don’t even have to answer the simple question the headline poses – too many people getting bossed around these days already.

***********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26, 2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Coronavirus Brings People to Consensus: We Do Not Trust The System

Coronavirus Brings People to Consensus: We Do Not Trust The System

By Nour Rida

Precautionary measure and quarantine are essential to slow the spreading of Coronavirus. Since its growth is exponential, it is directly related to the contact of the persons [quarantine, lockdown, social distancing] and the probability of infection [hand sanitizing, masks, gloves, etc]. It is also essential that governments take swift action to control the situation.

People across the world, for the first time in long decades suffer from the same calamity. They all have the same fear; facing an unknown virus that is taking away lives of people within days. Even though scientists and researchers have assured that 70 to 80 percent of those infected by the virus can recover by themselves, but a state of panic and alarm is prevailing. This state of panic and mistrust of the government is not in Iran, nor in countries like Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq or in African countries that have concerns over the humble health system. It is people at the heart of Europe, Australia and the Americas freaking out. To this concern, al-Ahed news interviewed people from different countries to see what things are like on the ground.

Starting with the UK, Nadine said that the UK is very slow in taking measures. “Students are still regularly going to their schools and public areas are packed with people. During the coming two weeks or even months we will witness a peak in COVID-19 spread. There was only one late step came as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a quarantine for people older than 70 years.”

Nadine has been to the supermarket multiple times now to buy some food, tissue paper and essential goods but all she finds is empty shelves and people quarreling.

“It is crazy at supermarkets, so much hoarding on goods and people are literally getting into fights over tissue paper and other goods. The prices doubled and the shelves are empty even though the government claimed there will be no shortage. Every time I go to the supermarket I do not find anything to buy.”

It does not seem that the health care system is trustworthy. Nadine adds, “And then if you get sick and call 999 or 111 they ask you to stay home, there is no place at the hospitals. There are no real measures to contain the situation. Here people talk a lot about Johnson’s plan of herd immunity, and about the greed of the government which aims at preventing the health system from paying tremendous amounts of money. So the old and sick with no immune system can die and the rest will survive.”

Moving to the US, from Apex, North Carolina, Nancy who is a software engineer told al-Ahed news “I feel really afraid, capitalist countries like our country takes the lives of human beings for granted. Governments here evaluate us as potential for making money and to lift the economy.”

She said that hospitals are not carrying out tests for the virus unless the case is very severe. The performance of the government is terrible and the health sector is not ready to face such an epidemic. It is also scary to see people rush to the stores to pile goods at their homes and buy guns too.

Coronavirus Brings People to Consensus: We Do Not Trust The System
North Carolina

From Canada, Jaden, a university student from Montreal told the news website “It feels weird. For the first time in my life I feel like the globe is facing an eminent danger including everyone. There is a lot of tension in the air, and unfortunately we see greed and selfishness.

Feeling sad that people are so selfish and acting inhumane, he added “It is like everyone here is only concerned with their own lives. We see that in the quarrels taking place in the supermarkets over goods and how suddenly all the shelves are empty.”

Coronavirus Brings People to Consensus: We Do Not Trust The System
Montreal
Coronavirus Brings People to Consensus: We Do Not Trust The System

Ahmed, from Australia’s Sydney said he witnessed a quarrel of a few women over tissue paper and canned food. “As much hilarious as it was, it was painful and scary.”

“I think it is all about feeling like you are in control and that is because of mistrust of the government and the system. People are scared but they do not realize how they are affecting the society. It is selfishness and inhumanity that I see in these scenes.”

Asma from Germany says hundreds stand at the doors of hypermarkets and supermarkets and rush in to hoard goods in what seems to be like a famine is hitting the planet. Born to a German mother and originally an Iranian father, she said that there is no mercy among people and it is so scary to see Germany in that state of chaos.

“Like I could never imagine my country, Germany as such. There is so much greed in the air. I understand that people are afraid but why not help one another survive this crisis. But again, people do not trust the system here, they fear for their lives.”

After a long period of slow response, suddenly, Switzerland found itself in the middle of 4 seriously hit countries, Italy, France, Germany and to a lesser extent, Austria. There are a lot of cross-border workers from these countries to Switzerland. Italy and France are severely hit and the pandemic epicenter is shifting to Western Europe. These cross-border transported the virus to Switzerland much faster than previously thought or expected and now the situation became critical.

Karina, a Swiss citizen told al-Ahed news “After a relative period of calm and feeling of security, suddenly, the general public is facing soaring numbers of cases, drastic measures reaching total lockdown, airports closure, shops closure, etc. Obviously, this is creating a panic situation especially that the public was not well aware of the extent of the situation.”

She added “The actions taken by the government were a bit late. The situation is already out of control and the growth rate is enormous. Since Switzerland is a federal state, each canton decided to take measures according to its own institutions.”

Karina explained that in principle, goods availability is insured by a very strong public security system, however, people are panicking and stockpiling essential goods and food at home. “Supermarkets started to be overwhelmed by the number of clients but the situation is still controllable. However, people are very collaborative and respect the orders given by the authorities.”

Emilio, a Mexican engineer said his country has not taken efficient measures on time. “There are panic shopping in the markets but still there is no chaos so far.”

Asked on whether he trusts the health and political systems, he said “Honestly no. I think the answer of our government is being slow and not appropriate.”

At the time when it is important to stock up on some things while waiting out Covid-19 and being ready for maybe compulsory quarantine for two weeks or a few, hoarding unnecessary items can deplete the supply for everyone else. Yes, being prepared for a possible quarantine is smart but also being caring about other members of the society is an essential characteristic of being a human being. It remains a wonder to see people of the so-called “developed countries” [ruled by governments that see themselves superior in this world] witness such a state of mistrust and chaos.

Yemeni Defense Minister: Much more Ready to Hit Back at US-Saudi Aggression, than before Our last Peace Initiative

The Minister of Defense, Major General Mohammed Al-Atefi, affirmed that the Yemeni Armed Forces have completed all needed preparations to launch a comprehensive strategic attack that cripples the enemies capabilities, indicating that the countries of aggression are not sincere regarding peace and if the aggression and the blockade continue, we will not stand idly by.

In an interview with Almasirah newspaper published on Sunday, Al-Atefi said, “we stand ready on the brink, of combat readiness much more better than before our political leadership has presented the initiative. It was put forth from the position of strength.”

He stressed that the initiative in the offensive battle is in our hands and not in their hands, explaining that it is in the interest of the enemy to accept the contents of the initiative if not they will regret not seizing the opportunity. He added that “there is no way for the enemy except to stop the aggression and lift the siege on Yemen.”

Al-Atefi stressed that the Yemeni Army and Popular Committees on the frontlines are standing on the outskirts of major cities and vital areas. He noted that we have new and developed armament capabilities that delight the Yemenis and what terrifies the aggression forces. He pointed out that the weapon that had shot down a number of the aggression aircraft will be announced soon, stressing that the weapon has capabilities to neutralize the hostile air force.
The Minister referred to the capabilities of Yemen in the field of Air Defense, saying: there will come a time when we announce that the airspace of Yemen has become prohibited to aggression’s planes, indicating that work is under way to neutralize hostile aircraft completely.

On behalf of the Yemeni navy, Maj. Gen. Al-Atefi affirmed that our naval forces have reached a stage that enables them to carry out their tasks with high efficiency and protect the regional waters and Yemeni coasts with distinction. He pointed out that our navy is at the highest levels of readiness and possesses weapons and systems, which makes it an effective marine force south of the Red Sea and the region in general.

The Minister affirmed that the Zionist entity participated and is still present from the first day of the aggression against our country, stressing that the revenge is coming undoubtedly. He explained that the Yemeni army possesses a bank of military, navy and wildly targets, for the Israeli enemy, and we will not hesitate one second to destroy them if the leadership makes the decision.

Al-Atefi pointed to the Emirati participation in the aggression against Yemen, stressing that the Armed Forces promises regarding the Emirati enemy still in effect, and we closely monitor his conspiracy activity. He considered that the countries of aggression are not sincere regarding peace and the initiatives and dialogues are to establish the argument, stressing that if the aggression and the siege continue, we will not stand idly by.

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Why countries are reluctant to join U.S.-led maritime coalition

TEHRAN – The U.S.-led naval coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf formally was launched in Bahrain on Thursday. But the notable point is that countries have not welcomed this plan. Only a few countries with ineffective naval power have joined the coalition.

*By Mohammad Ghaderi

On July 2019, the U.S. proposed a coalition plan to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf. Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, invited U.S. allies such as Britain, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Australia to join the coalition. Although the U.S. has persuaded its allies on various occasions and even applied pressure on them to join the coalition, it was not warmly welcomed. In August, Britain joined the U.S. military coalition in the wake of a conflict with Iran over oil tanker seizures first in Gibraltar and later in the Strait of Hormuz.

Later the Zionist regime and Australia joined the coalition.

Launch of the U.S.-led marine coalition

The coalition, which reportedly aims to “protect shipping in the Persian Gulf”, was launched on Thursday. The U.S. stated that through the coalition it intends to safeguard region’s oil supply against possible threats. Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has joined the coalition along with the UEA and Saudi Arabia.

James Malloy, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, has claimed that the goal of the coalition is defensive. Malloy said the coalition will last as long as necessary.

Some European countries, including France, has not joined the coalition to avoid escalating tensions in the region. Japan has decided to dispatch its naval forces to the Strait of Hormuz independently, rather than joining the coalition.  It is said that Japan made this decision because it has an amicable relationship with Iran and does not like to be seen as an important country and power in the U.S.-led coalition.

In this regard, the London-based Raialyoum wrote that the announcement of formal launch of the U.S.-led maritime coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf with the participation of only 6 countries reminds the old Arab proverb saying “the mountain was in labor but gave birth to a mouse”. Raialyoum added the limited number of countries joining the coalition reveals that the U.S. influence has been reducing not only in the Persian Gulf region but also all around the world. It seems that the current and former U.S. administrations cannot any longer form coalitions like the ones that launched wars in Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan with the participation of 30 or 60 countries.

The Arab world digital news and opinion website said that it is noteworthy that three Persian Gulf states namely Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar are absent in the coalition. They have refused to join the coalition not because they have taken a neutral stance toward U.S. controversial measures against Iran, but because they do not trust the U.S. and its current government. The source added that the U.S. government has adopted rash policies that can lead to regional and probably international war; furthermore, the coalition can be an element of “tension” not a guarantee for defense and stability.

Raialyoum stated that we do not believe these six countries – Britain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Australia, and Albania – will be able to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf because most of them, except the U.S. and Britain, do not have effective naval power.

However, the marine coalition is a dramatic and hypocritical show and the U.S. is trying to milk the three states of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain. By its presence, the U.S. only disturbs the region’s security. Washington only takes care of its interests.

The security in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf will only be achieved through the reconciliation between regional countries since they are neighbors and they cannot change their geography. The intervention of countries outside the region will only make the situation more complicated.

* Author: Mohammad Ghaderi , Tehran Times editor in chief 

His page on Twitter : @ghaderi62 – and Gmail address : m.ghaderi62@gmail.com

The RCEP train left the station, and India, behind

The RCEP train left the station, and India, behind

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi during the 16th ASEAN-India Summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, on November 3, 2019. Photo: AFP / Anton Raharjo / Anadolu Agency

Biggest story at ASEAN was convergence of moves toward Asia integration, leaving Delhi out for now

ByPEPE ESCOBAR

A pan-Asia high-speed train has left the station – and India – behind. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which would have been the largest free trade deal in the world, was not signed in Bangkok. It will probably be signed next year in Vietnam, assuming New Delhi goes beyond what ASEAN, with diplomatic finesse barely concealing frustration, described as “outstanding issues, which remain unresolved.”

The partnership uniting 16 nations – the ASEAN 10 plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and, in theory, India – would have congregated 3.56 billion people and 29% of world trade.

Predictably, it was billed as the big story among the slew of high-profile meetings linked to the 35th ASEAN summit in Thailand, as RCEP de facto further integrates Asian economies with China just as the Trump administration is engaged in a full spectrum battle against everything from the Belt and Road Initiative to Made in China 2025.

It’s not hard to figure out where the “problem” lies.

Mahathir ‘disappointed’

Diplomats confirmed that New Delhi came up with a string of last-minute demands in Thailand, forcing many to work deep into the night with no success. Thailand’s Commerce Minister, Jurin Laksanawisit, tried to put on a brave face: “The negotiation last night was conclusive.”

It was not. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad – whose facial expression in the family photo was priceless, as he shook hands with Aung San Suu Kyi on his left and nobody on his right – had already given away the game. “We’re very disappointed,” he said, adding: “One country is making demands we cannot accept.”

ASEAN, that elaborate monument to punctilious protocol and face-saving, insists the few outstanding issues “will be resolved by February 2020,” with the text of all 20 RCEP chapters complete “pending the resolution of one” member.

RCEP dwells across a large territory, covering trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property and dispute resolution. The Indian “problem” is extremely complex. India in fact already has a free trade agreement with ASEAN.

New Delhi insists it is defending farmers, dairy owners, the services industry, sectors of the automobile industry – especially hybrid and electric cars, and very popular three-wheelers – and mostly small businesses all across the nation, which would be devastated by an augmented tsunami of Chinese merchandise.

Agriculture, textile, steel and mining interests in India are totally against RCEP.

Yet New Delhi never mentions quality Japanese or South Korean products. It’s all about China. New Delhi argues that signing what is widely interpreted as a free trade agreement with China would explode its already significant US$57 billion a year trade deficit.

The barely disguised secret is that India’s economy, as the historical record shows, is inherently protectionist. There’s no way a possible removal of agricultural tariffs protecting farmers would not provoke a social cataclysm.

Modi, who is not exactly a bold statesman with a global vision, is between a heavy rock and a very hard place. President Xi Jinping offered him a “100-year plan” for China-India partnership at their last informal, bilateral summit.

India is a fellow BRICS member, it’s part of the Russia-India-China troika that is actually at the center of BRICS and is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Questions remain whether both players would be able to work that out before the Vietnam summit in 2020.

Putting it all together

India was only part of the story of the summit fest in Thailand. At the important East Asia Summit, everyone was actively discussing multiple paths towards multilateralism.

The Trump administration is touting what it calls the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy – which is yet another de facto China containment strategy, congregating the US, India, Japan and Australia. Indo-Pacific is very much on Modi’s mind. The problem is “Indo-Pacific,” as the US conceives of it, and RCEP are incompatible.

ASEAN, instead, came up with its own strategy: ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) – which incorporates all the usual transparency, good governance, sustainable development and rules-based tenets plus details on connectivity and maritime disputes.

All the ASEAN 10 are behind AOIP, which is, in fact, an original Indonesian idea. It’s fascinating to know that Bangkok and Jakarta worked together behind closed doors for no fewer than 18 months to reach a full consensus among the ASEAN 10.

South Korea’s Moon Jae-in jumped in extolling the merits of his Southern Policy, which is essentially northeast-southeast Asia integration. And don’t forget Russia.

At the ASEAN business and investment summit, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev put it all together; the blossoming of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, uniting the Eurasia Economic Union, ASEAN and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, not to mention, in his words, “other possible structures,” which is code for Belt and Road.

Belt and Road is powerfully advancing its links to RCEP, Eurasia Economic Union and even South America’s Mercosur – when Brazil finally kicks Jair Bolsonaro out of power.

Medvedev noted that this merging of interests was unanimously supported at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in 2016. Vietnam and Singapore have already clinched free trade deals with Eurasia Economic Union, and Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia are on their way.

Medvedev also noted that a trade and economic cooperation deal between China and Eurasia Economic Union was signed in late October. Next is India, and a preferential trade agreement between the union and Iran has also been signed.

In Thailand, the Chinese delegation did not directly address the United States’ Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy. But Medvedev did, forcefully: “We are in favor of maintaining the effective system of state-to-state relations which was formed on the basis of ASEAN and has shown a good track record over the years.

“In this regard, we believe the US initiative is a serious challenge for ASEAN countries, since it can weaken the association’s position and strip it of its status as a key player in addressing regional security problems.”

Summits come and go. But what just happened in Thailand will remain as another graphic illustration of myriad, concerted moves leading towards progressive, irreversible Asia – and Eurasia – integration. It’s up to Modi to decide when and if to hop on the train.

Pepe Escobar on Al-Mayadeen

New Zealand Massacre: The Hate That Australia Produced

Marco Polo is back in China – again

Source

March 10, 2019

Marco Polo is back in China – again

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Embattled Chinese technology giant Huawei is on a new commercial offensive in New Zealand, one that playfully conflates the nation’s passion for rugby with telecommunications infrastructure.

“5G without Huawei is like rugby without New Zealand,” one billboard said. Another reads: “New Zealanders wouldn’t accept second or third best on the rugby field, and they shouldn’t have to put up with it when it comes to 5G.”

Last November, New Zealand blocked the use of Huawei equipment and supplies in the roll out its new generation 5G network over national security concerns, one of the first indications that Wellington is taking a harder look at its largest trading partner.

The company is not banned outright in New Zealand, but is under a temporary ban via its local partner Spark, which has been prohibited from deploying Huawei’s technology over spying concerns shared by New Zealand’s “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partners, namely the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) said last year that it had “established links between the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) and a global campaign of cyber-enabled commercial intellectual property theft.”

“This long-running campaign targeted the intellectual property and commercial data of a number of global managed service providers, some operating in New Zealand,” Andrew Hampton, director general of the GCSB, said.

A Huawei advertising billboard in New Zealand. Photo: Huawei website screen grab

Concerns over Huawei’s alleged links to China’s ruling Communist Party are now global, but New Zealand’s stance on China is fast shifting, with Huawei’s ban just the latest in a growing list of concerns that have caused ripples in previously calm and mostly trade-centric relations.

Last month, headlines on both sides of The Ditch — the sea that separates Australia and New Zealand – were made after allegations surfaced that a New Zealand academic had been harassed by presumed Chinese agents.

New Zealand scholar and China expert Anne-Marie Brady recently alleged that her office at the University of Canterbury and then her personal residence were broken into by persons acting on behalf of the Chinese government.

Earlier, Chinese officials had appealed to her university as well as New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to stop funding her research, some of which has probed China’s military activities, including revelations that Beijing is building bases on territory that Australia claims in Antarctica. Brady was also the first to reveal that a sitting member of New Zealand’s parliament previously served as a Chinese security agent.

New Zealand’s newfound and rising China concerns are starting to mirror Australia’s. Canberra’s fears have centered on Beijing’s perceived interference in its domestic politics, resulting in new laws that without overtly naming China aim to curb its political influence.

Brady has testified to Australia’s parliament, which was recorded in the official Hansard ledger. Australian journalist Peter Hartcher noted last month that New Zealand had not done the same, though it has since faced strong pressure to do so, including via a 150-strong petition from academics.

Andrew Hastie, chair of the Australian parliament’s security and intelligence committee and noted China hawk, told the reporter that “it appears that she’s a target of interest for the Chinese Communist Party or apparatchiks of the Chinese state as a way of silencing her and intimidating her.”

“It’s very clear that my country’s government wants this story to go away. The Chinese Ministry of State Security operates in our societies unhindered and our governments just watch. It’s happening in Australia, too,” Brady told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

The shells of the Sydney Opera House are seen through a Chinese flag. Photo: AFP/Torsten Blackwood
The shells of the Sydney Opera House are seen through a Chinese flag. Photo: AFP/Torsten Blackwood

As the controversy spirals, Wellington is now waking to the issue. China’s targeting of Australia-based people of interest has until now been more overt.

In 2017, Chinese academic Chongyi Feng was detained in China and not allowed to board a flight to Australia, where he teaches at the University of Technology Sydney. Feng holds permanent residency in Australia but is not a citizen, meaning Canberra was limited in what it could do.

Unrelated but threatening moves have worried politicians, journalists and academics in Australia, with allegations and instances of spying, bribery, political donations, academic interference and pro-Beijing propaganda placements in Chinese language Australian newspapers.

While some claims have bordered on hysteria, others have been proved and grounded in fact. To be sure, New Zealand’s view of China has not been as tortured as in Australia, which has relied on Chinese demand and investment to keep its recession-proof economy afloat even as it balances ties with its close ally the US.

But China is also New Zealand’s largest trade partner. New Zealand’s exports of all goods and services to China were worth NZ$16.6 billion (US$11.8 billion) for the year ended September 2018, $2.6 billion (US$1.8 billion) more than Australia and almost double New Zealand’s sales to the US, a government website says.

New Zealand is not confronted with the same trade-versus-security dilemma as Australia, but recent Chinese moves in its backyard have clearly made Wellington uncomfortable. It’s view of China as a “strategic partner” is also changing, as Beijing increasingly challenges the “rules-based order” in global affairs New Zealand holds dear.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s left-leaning Labour government has started to raise those concerns, analysts note. Those were seen in a Strategic Defense Policy statement issued last year, the first by New Zealand to raise Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.

“[New Zealand] is navigating a more complex world” and will “face challenges not previously seen in our neighborhood… [its] security outlook may be shaped most powerfully by a combination of forces putting pressure on the international rules-based order which will play out in newly potent ways close to home.”

New Zealand Labour leader Jacinda Ardern speaks to the press in Wellington on October 19, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Charlotte Greenfield
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in an October 19, 2017, file photo. Photo: Reuters / Charlotte Greenfield

China “seeks to restore claimed historical levels of influence … [and] some actions in pursuit of these aims challenge the existing order.” “It has expanded its military and coast guard presence in disputed areas of maritime Asia. It has determined not to engage with an international tribunal ruling on the status of sovereignty claims,” the paper said.

In July, New Zealand announced it would spend NZ$2.35 billion (US$1.67 billion) on four Boeing P-8A Poseidon submarine-hunting maritime patrol aircraft that would offer more interoperability with the US and Australia in naval exercises.

Winston Peters, acting foreign minister with the minority New Zealand First party, traveled to Washington last December to seek US support and help in the Pacific, New Zealand’s backyard and a part of the world that feels significantly less safe for a small but independent nation than it did even two years ago.

“New Zealand is a small but well-functioning democracy located at the bottom of the world,” he said in an address. “While New Zealand and the United States work together on a range of global issues, our cooperation and like-mindedness is now coming into sharper relief in the Asia Pacific where the region is becoming more contested and its security is ever more fragile.”

In recent months, analysts and academics have noticed a perceptible shift away from China. “I can’t recall in recent years a more substantial and consolidated New Zealand official view of the behaviors that China is exhibiting in the South China Sea,” professor Robert Ayson of Victoria University told Asia Times.

“Jacinda Ardern’s coalition government has brought with it generally higher levels of concern about some of China’s goals and actions in the wider Asia-Pacific region and an increased willingness to put these concerns on the public record.”

“China’s more worrying behavior and the arrival of a more concerned government has meant that those parts of New Zealand’s official community which have been concerned about China have had a more receptive audience in Cabinet for their views.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) welcomes New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters at the Department of State in Washington DC on December 17, 2018. Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

“It’s no coincidence that these stronger indications of skepticism and concern about China have come when Winston Peters is foreign minister and his [New Zealand] First colleague Ron Mark is Defense Minister,” he said via email, pointing out the minority leader’s nationalist and more traditional realist credentials compared with the left-leaning and inclusive Ardern.

But Ardern may also take a more traditional view that China can still be a part of rules-based-order, including in regard to climate change mitigation efforts. The basis for that is a “comprehensive strategic partnership” signed under former prime minister John Key and President Xi Jinping.

David Capie, a professor at the University of Wellington, told Asia Times that “those actions [of China’s] threaten New Zealand’s interests, so it’s not surprising that there would be a shift in policy. I’m sure it is a welcomed by our closest partners, but this is a New Zealand decision.”

There is speculation that Wellington has been pushed into a harder line vis-à-vis Beijing by both Canberra and Washington and that the Labour government — despite being far more left-leaning than the previous center-right Key government — was correcting a perceived laxity on China by its predecessors.

“It sometimes takes the election of a new government for officials to be able to take a look at policy settings and to work out if they need adjusting,” Capie said. “I think that’s what’s happened to New Zealand.”

Still, Wellington must keep intact its crucial economic ties with China, even as it changes the way it looks at Beijing’s place in the world and region. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Ardern on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in November, where the two leaders discussed upgrading their ten-year-old free trade agreement (FTA), according to Chinese media.

Chinese tourists taking pictures in New Zealand. Photo: Facebook

New Zealand has also signed on to the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade pact. At the same time, domestic anti-China tensions have flared with Chinese buyers often blamed for inflating property prices. That backlash has recently motivated foreign property ownership law changes.

Adding to the economic drama, a plane bound for Shanghai to promote China-New Zealand tourism under the “Land of the Long White Cloud” promotion campaign was recently inexplicably turned back. The campaign aims to lure more Chinese to New Zealand, especially to lesser visited areas.

Much of New Zealand’s trade with China centers on dairy and agricultural exports, with the Chinese keen for goods and foods they see as clean, safe and high-quality. New Zealand has been using that clean image as a drawcard for tourism promotions. One entrepreneur even started selling bottled New Zealand air to China, with each bottle enough for 180 breaths.

“I wouldn’t overstate the shift that’s taken place. The government has expressed a desire to keep working with China and sees it as an especially important partner on issues like climate change and trade,” Capie said.

But the harassment of New Zealand nationals who reveal China’s hidden moves in the region and a block on Huawei’s involvement in its telecom infrastructure development shows the relationship is shifting from what was once a friendly, warm and trusted place.

Australia’s Shameful Gift to Netanyahu

By Jeremy Salt
Source

Scott_Morrison_Netanyahu_fb7d8.jpg

Australia and Israel are white settler states, established violently over the heads of the indigenous people, without the benefit of any treaty arrangement. ‘A land without people for a people without land’ was the Zionist lie. ‘Terra nullius’ was the Australian white settler equivalent.

Australian aboriginal ownership was collective and traditional. Palestinian ownership was collective, traditional and individual but in both cases, the land was stolen. How can the foundations of any state established on stolen land be said to be legal? What will white Australians say if someone comes along and takes ‘their’ country from them? ‘You can’t do this to us’?

The essential differences between Israel and Australia are numbers and hinterland. The land the white settlers called Australia was inhabited in the late 18th century by about half a million people. They had lived in this island continent and its small heart-shaped island off the southern coast, Tasmania, for more than 60,000 years, making the oldest recorded civilizations in the Near East look like newborns. They had their own languages, traditions, art, and oral history, the ‘dreaming,’ which is the most wondrous telling of the experiences of their ancestors.

But they were not numerous. They had no written laws and – most importantly – no modern weaponry. Killed, driven off their land and stricken by the diseases the white settlers brought with them, they were soon decimated. There was no-one to whom they could turn for help, no sympathetic similar civilization living nearby that could spring to their assistance. They were all on their own.

Contrast this with the Palestinians. Their land was also taken from them but they lived according to written laws and contracts which Europeans could understand even if they violated them. They were not sufficiently well-armed to defend themselves against a colonial-settler minority backed by outside governments but they were far more numerous than the settlers, 90 percent of the population in 1920, even after 40 years of Zionist colonization, and still two-thirds of the population at the time of the war of conquest in 1948.

By 2018 the Israeli population stood at 8.4 million, of which number 6.1 million (about 75 percent) is Jewish and mostly Zionist. The Palestinian world population of about 12 million includes about 4.4 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Gaza and about 1.4 million within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Within a few years, the Palestinian population between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan is expected to surpass the Jewish population.

These numbers aside, as part of an Arab-Islamic civilization with a rich history, the Palestinians also have the support of a vast hinterland. The population of the Arab world stands at about 420 million. The world Muslim population is about 1.8 billion. Corrupt and undemocratic Arab governments may collaborate with Israel but the people are behind the Palestinians, as are Muslims everywhere as well as Christians and those of no particular religious or ideological affiliation who know right from wrong and, as a matter of conscience, must support the Palestinians.

In the face of these demographics, Israel’s continuing war against the Palestinians would seem to be suicidal. Palestine as an issue is not going to go away. In the long term, this is a war Israel cannot win.  It holds Palestine by force, not by right, law or morality. All three are on the side of the Palestinians and not on the side of an Israeli state which continues the illegal settlement of their land.

No plan, no UN resolution gave Israel any right to drive the Palestinians from their homes and out of their homeland.  No resolution gave the Zionists any sovereign right to Jerusalem.  It was a Palestinian city which, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, should have remained the property of the Palestinian people, overwhelmingly Muslim and Christian, in their own state or as part of a Syrian state.  Instead, their land and the right to choose their future was taken from them.

Here are some relevant land ownership figures, compiled in 1945 by the British mandatory authorities (one dunam is the equivalent of 1000 sq. meters or about 0.245 of an acre):

Jerusalem district (Hebron, Jerusalem, Ramallah):

Arab ownership – 3,3993,001 dunums.

Jewish ownership – 39, 679 acres.

In the Jerusalem region, the ‘Arabs’ (mainly Palestinian Muslims and Christians) owned 1,326, 571 dunums against 33,401 dunums owned by Jews.   In 1946 the UN produced a map showing that 62 percent of the Jerusalem district was ‘Arab’ and only 38 percent Jewish, despite the heavy Zionist settlement.

While the demographics of Jerusalem city showed a Jewish majority, as many incoming Jews preferred to live in cities rather than work on the land, most properties even in West Jerusalem (about 70 percent) were Palestinian-owned in 1948.

Almost all of the east – the old city – was. The fine stone buildings, the walls, the cobbled streets and the arches were designed and built over the centuries by Muslim and Christian Palestinians. They were part of the booty that fell to the Zionists when the city was taken over, first installment 1948 and second 1967, with the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population continuing until the present day.

In law, all Jerusalem – not just the eastern sector – is an occupied city. It is an Israeli city, Israel’s ‘capital’, only according to the occupier’s law, which in fact is not a law at all but a gross violation of international law.

Yet, with two of the world’s most populous Muslim countries, Indonesia and Malaysia, not far away and objecting loudly, the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has announced his government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its recognition of East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital when the time comes.  He was speaking in Sydney at the Zionist think tank, the Lowy Institute, started by, and named after, Frank Lowy, a billionaire businessman of Czech origin who, as a member of the Haganah, helped to ethnically cleanse Palestine in the war of 1948 before migrating to another ethnically cleansed country, Australia, in the early 1950s.

Of course, Zionism never had any intention of sharing Palestine, let alone sharing Jerusalem as the capital of two states.  Morrison has pledged to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state when the time comes.  He must know that Israel is determined to make sure the time will never come.  Israel, of course, is only partly happy because Australia is only-half recognizing its claim to Jerusalem.

Had the indigenous Australian people been more numerous, had they had the weapons to defend themselves and had they the support of a hinterland willing to support their resistance to white settlement, Australia could well have been driven openly in the direction of Israel or apartheid South Africa.  Israel is now pursuing the same goal that white settler Australia managed to achieve, the reduction of the indigenous population to an insignificant minority, whose rights are covered up with tokenism, as exemplified in the ‘sorry’ movement and the verbal acknowledgment of traditional land ownership at every conference or workshop, at a time rural aboriginal communities are treated with the same neglect as before. Out of sight, out of mind.

Why did Morrison do this? Out of his Christian religious convictions?  (He worships at a Pentecostal church in Sydney, which boasts of its adherents speaking in tongues when being baptized. Morrison has denied ever speaking in tongues himself, even though it would clearly be good practice for anyone planning a political career).

Does Morrison have some idea that the ‘Jewish vote’ will swing the next federal election his way? Did not the Wentworth byelection in 2018, lost by his government, show him that while there is a strong and influential Zionist lobby in Australia, there is no such thing as a Jewish vote, but individual Jewish voters, who may support Israel, but not Netanyahu’s Israel, and might see the Morrison decision as inflammatory and not helpful in the long term to anyone, including Israeli Jews.

Like Israel, Australia began life as a colonial settler state.   Its Foreign Minister, H.V. Evatt, played a significant role in imposing Israel on Palestine in 1948.  There have been exceptions, but by and large, all Australian governments have given open-ended support to Israel ever since.  Their criticisms of its frequently vicious behavior never amount to more than a mild slap on the wrist, delivered for propaganda purposes.

It is no wonder that in Malaysia and Indonesia, Australia is widely regarded as a post-colonial remnant, still dependent on distant countries, first Britain and now the US, and still unable to pluck up the courage to carve out a genuinely independent future.

When Israel refuses to abide by international law, on Jerusalem, on the West Bank, on Gaza, on the occupied Golan Heights, on the return of the Palestinian people to their homeland and on the laws of war, why give Netanyahu the gift of recognizing even the western half of an occupied city as his capital?

Almost everyone writing on Australian politics seems to believe that Morrison will be out of government after the federal elections in 2019.  Bill Shorten, an ALP (Australian Labor Party) machine man all his political life, has criticized Morrison over Jerusalem, but is he just playing politics, scoring points, or when he takes over as Prime Minister, will he rescind this unnecessary and provocative decision?

Bahraini FM Defends Australia’s Decision on Al-Quds, Slams AL Statement

December 16, 2018

Bahrain FM Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa

The foreign minister of Bahrain has defended Australia’s formal recognition of the so-called “West Al-Quds” (Jerusalem) as Israeli capital, saying the move would not affect a future Palestinian state with “East Al-Quds” as its capital.

Australia’s government announced the decision on Saturday, reversing decades of Middle East policy, but said it would not immediately move its embassy there.

The United States in May opened its embassy in Al-Quds.

The Arab League (AL) had issued a statement criticizing the Australian decision as “blatantly biased towards the positions and policies of the Israeli occupation”.

But Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa described the statement as “mere rhetoric and irresponsible”.

“Australia’s stance does not impact the legitimate Palestinian demands, first among them being East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and it does not contradict the Arab Peace Initiative,” he tweeted on Saturday.

Source: Reuters

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“RIC”: BRICS after Bolsonaro

November 08, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

BRICS is the acronym of the “alliance” that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

In reality, and with all due respect to Brazil and South Africa, BRICS is about RIC.

With Russia, India and China, in any order, there lies the future of Eurasia; the virtually unchartered quarter that houses over one third of the entire world population; a huge chunk of landmass, rich in resources, not only human resources, and just waiting for the right moment to make its mark in history.

The so-called “Silk Road”, or in reality silk roads, was historically the network of caravan paths that ancient traders took on their journeys from east to west, linking worlds largely unknown to each other, long before Vasco da Gama’s highly documented trips.

And whilst the ancient cultures of India and China flourished in their own right, apart from Alexander’s conquest, the Muslim and subsequent Mongol conquests, there was little historic geopolitical interaction between that far Far East and the Middle East; let alone Europe. The long icy and hard terrain made it very difficult, even for the brave at heart, to take the journey from Beijing to Vienna. The temptations to make that trip did not match the hardship of the journey for the averagely motivated traveler.

But this is all about to change. The new “Silk Road”, the network of super highways that the “RIC” nations are intent to build is going to change this status quo and shorten land distances.

The Trans-Siberian railway is a Russian route and constructing it linked Vladivostok with Moscow, but it was not intended to link China with Europe. If anything, it helped bolster the isolation of the USSR. But the new “Silk Road” project will change the transportation map of the world upside down once and for ever.

The determination to build this massive road network does not need either Brazil or South Africa; again with all due respect to both nations.

By taking many considerations into account, we must be realistic and say that the electoral win of Brazilian candidate Bolsonaro will not affect the prospect of the “Silk Road” one way or the other. The repercussions of his election will affect Brazil more than any other country. Purportedly, his policies will affect global climate, but this is another issue. His fiscal and international policy making decisions may put Brazil under the American sphere of influence, and this unfortunately can and will affect Brazil very adversely, but the damage is likely to be restricted to Brazil only.

With or without Brazil, BRICS can survive, but for it to survive and make a difference, it will need to become more serious about conducting its business.

The first step towards becoming more proactive is best done by establishing proper trust and conciliation between the three major players; Russia, China and India.

The love-hate relationship that marred the Soviet-Maoist era took a while to heal. The Russians and the Chinese seem to have gone many steps ahead towards establishing trust and confidence in each other. But China and India continue to have serious problems, and for as long as they have border and sovereignty disputes, this hinders them from becoming effective partners in every way.

Furthermore, BRICS needs a preamble and a Statement of Purpose. At the moment, it doesn’t have one. With all of its hypocrisies, the Western alliance camouflages itself behind the veil of Christian values, democracy and the “free world” slogans. Thus far, the only undeclared statement of purpose for BRICS seems to be that of defiance to the Western alliance.

The BRICS alliance will face a struggle founding an attractive preamble. Orthodox Christian Russia, predominantly Hindu India and Communist/Taoist/Buddhist China have little in common religiously speaking. Perhaps the BRICS leaders should be using common political grounds instead. They certainly cannot use democracy; not only because such an adoption would make them look as copycats, but also because they have different ideas about democracy, and Russia and China definitely do not endorse Western-style democracy.

In reality however, BRICS can use abstract lofty principles as their preamble; principles such as morality, honesty, and if they want to be less “theological” as it were, they could use principles such as “International law”, “International equality” and the like.

Apart from accumulating gold, building bridges and super road networks, planning fiscal measures to cushion the effects of a possible collapse of the Western economy on their own economies, developing state-of-the-art hypersonic weaponry and giving a clear message announcing that the world is no longer unipolar, the BRICS alliance ought to make clear statements about what kind of alternative world it envisions.

This is very important, because a significant percentage of the world population does not know what to expect if the BRICS alliance becomes the new dominant financial and military power. They have special concerns about China because they don’t know much about China, and they worry not only about whether or not China will be a new colonial super power, but they also worry about one day waking up and seeing traffic signals in Mandarin; so to speak.

To many people across the globe, the Chinese culture, language and modus operandi look like something from another planet.

The Cyrillic Russian and the Devanagari Indian scripts are no less daunting than the Mandarin script, but many Indians and Russians speak English and the West has had much more cultural interaction with both Russia and India than it ever did with China.

Furthermore, for the BRICS alliance to become more viable, it will need to develop a military alliance akin to that of NATO. When and if such an alliance is forged, then members will be protected as any attack on one will be considered as an attack on the whole coalition. Such an alliance will not increase the chances of war. Quite the contrary in fact, as it can lead to much needed stability. If for argument sake North Korea were a member, it would not be in a situation where it can claim that it needs nuclear weapons for self-defense, and secondly, the West would not be threatening to attack for fear of a major global escalation. The Cold-War, costly and potentially disastrous as it was, presents a successful model of nuclear deterrence. And in retrospect, had Vietnam been a member of the Warsaw Pact (or a similar one that included the USSR), it is possible that America’s war on Vietnam would have been averted. A more realistically plausible scenario is the case of former Yugoslavia. Had the Warsaw Pact been still standing, NATO would have never attacked Serbia back in 1999.

To be able to afford a more effective military deterrent, be a viable stand-alone economic power and to be attractive to the rest of the world, the BRICS coalition will ultimately need more member nations. Ideally, it would be of huge significance if Japan could be convinced to join it. The inclusion of Japan will not only add a huge financial power to the group, but it will also generate an in-house regional security to the China Sea region. Baby steps have been recently made between China and Japan towards conciliation, and much more needs to be done. It will take a lot of work and good intentions on both sides to undo a long history of hostilities and distrust.

Other nations that can and arguably should enter the coalition are; Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and post Erdogan Turkey. Why post Erdogan? Because Erdogan’s Turkey can turn BRICS into a bag of TRICS.

Resource-rich Australia has much to gain in joining such an alliance as this will not only bolster its own security, but it will also secure economic stability and on-going trade.

Thus far, all the official visits that the RIC leaders have exchanged, all the business deals they made, all the projects they are embarking on, huge as they are, are only baby steps towards turning their alliance into one that can lead the world and establish the necessary moral, financial and security foundations that are capable of underpinning it.

Over and above establishing a new world reserve currency, setting up an alternative to the US-based Internet and WWW, SWIFT, etc, the brave new world will need hope, trust, morality and concrete assurances for a long-awaited change for the better. These are the real challenges facing the BRICS alliance now; not the Bolsonaro win.

Supporters of Apartheid Israel Abuse Sydney Anti-War Student

Jay_Tharappel_b8aa5

Media, parliamentary, academic and other supporters of apartheid Israel have abused University of Sydney doctoral student Jay Tharappel for his outspoken support of Yemen, opposition to Israel and his consistent stance against the long wars on Syria and Korea.

Much of the western media falsely pretend that the massively internationalized war on Syria is a “civil war”. Most also refuse to recognize the simple fact that, over the past 65 years, the USA has never agreed to a peace agreement with North Korea.

The personal attacks on Jay reveal a shallow recognition of free speech in Australia. It is extraordinary that so much abuse has been heaped on one dissident voice. Demands for censorship of his political comments have come from various sources, but many of them supporters of the apartheid state of Israel.

First came the bully and smear media, from Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph, and from Channel Seven. The Murdoch tabloid, in a torrent of personal abuse, attacked Jay for rejecting the false chemical weapons claims against Syria, in April 2017. It then falsely claimed that Jay’s criticism of Murdoch journalist Kylar Loussikian was a racist attack.

In August 2018 Channel Seven manufactured another scandal about Jay, falsely claiming that a Yemeni badge he wore in China was ‘anti-semitic’. One part of that badge, seen on Jay’s shirt in one of my social media posts, said ‘death to Israel’.

The photo was simply one of the friends at lunch. Channel Seven, using the false translation “death to Israeli”, claiming it was a racist incitement. I posted in response that the Channel Seven piece ‘promotes ignorance, apartheid, and war’.

In fact ‘death to Israel’ is a political statement by the Yemeni group Ansarallah, which calls for an end to apartheid Israel, the regime that is reported to have killed a Palestinian child every three days for the past 18 years. The Australian government sells arms to the Saudis to bomb Yemen, as they ignore that terrible war and try to suppress any news about Yemen.

Later, the University of Sydney told the Sydney Morning Herald that I was “under investigation” for refusing to take down that photo of Jay and friends at lunch. After a Sydney Morning Herald against me, I made a social media statement explaining my position.

For Channel Seven’s principal sources journalist, Bryan Seymour used (to represent “many in the Jewish and Muslim community”) two people. First was a well-known supporter of Israel, Vic Alhadeff. Vic was previously a chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission but resigned in 2014 after posting in support of Israel’s bloody reign of terror in Gaza.

The other was Jordanian-Australian Jamal Daoud, who claimed to represent a Palestinian group but is best known for his repeated attacks on those who support Syria. He has abused many supporters of Syria as ‘spies’ and ‘prostitutes’. In 2017 he took an Israeli propagandist to Syria, and since then has been wanted for questioning in Syria. Earlier, in 2015, he began an online petition to challenge a security ban on him entering Lebanon.

The corporate media came back to abuse Jay after he wrote a thoughtful piece on his visit to North Korea (DPRK) in the student newspaper Honi Soit. The article defended independent Korea while it described in some detail what he had seen there. On social media pages, many appreciated the unusual article, while others responded with censorial outrage.

The Daily Telegraph added another abusive piece, which copied much of Jay’s article while adding invective. Even the state-owned ABC wrote in support of the demand that the article be taken down, simply because it was seen as too favorable to North Korea.

Why the hysteria over criticism of Israel? Well, both the Murdoch media and Channel Seven have deep business links with Israel’s occupation forces, including those who regularly demolish Palestinian homes in their ethnic cleansing purges.

Pro-Israel figures and some Jewish media in Australia predictably and falsely tried to conflate Jay’s and my opposition to Israel with anti-Jewish racism. I have made my position on Israel and racism very clear on many occasions, most recently in an article called The Future of Palestine.

A selection of pro-Israel types jumped on the bandwagon. They included federal Labor MP Tim Watts, who attacked Jay’s article and Honi Soit, saying ‘everyone associated with this article ought to be ashamed’.

When he was criticized for picking on a student newspaper he said, by way of justification, that he was trying to get at me (‘the professor’).

In fact, Tim Watts is yet another supporter of apartheid Israel. In late 2015 he went on an Israeli-government paid junket to Israel, in a group led by conservative minister Christopher Pyne. The group seemed to toe the Israeli line because Palestinian minister Dr. Sabri Saidam described them as “rude” and “not well educated” on Palestine.

Subsequently, Tim Watts took his Israel connection seriously. He strongly recommended the book ‘My Promised Land’ by Ari Shavit, which explains how Israel created “something unique and quite endearing” in a tough neighborhood.

This “unique and quite endearing” creation was described by an authoritative 2017 report to the United Nations as an ‘apartheid state’ and therefore ‘a crime against humanity’. US academic lawyers Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley wrote that “the situation in Israel-Palestine constitutes an unmet obligation of the organized international community to resolve a conflict, partially generated by its own actions”.

Professor Ariadne Vromen, a professor in Government at the University of Sydney, and opponent of the BDS campaign against Israel, jumped in, inexplicably, attacking the former Syrian Ambassador to Australia Tammam Sulayman. Ambassador Sulayman is now Syria’s envoy to North Korea, and it was he who invited us to visit that country.

Ariadne claimed that Ambassador Tammam had failed her research design course, 15 years ago. “He didn’t pass first year”, she said. After some criticism, she removed her post.

Of course, it is inappropriate for academics to abuse students or former students, or to humiliate them for their grades or results. In this case, Ariadne’s comments were also false. When I enquired, Ambassador Sulayman spelled out to me the reason why he had left Ariadne’s class and his doctoral studies at the University:

“Of course I didn’t complete at that time with Ariadne because [his supervisor, another academic] started the war on me and I complained against her to the university. So I stopped everything … in my [thesis] preface I stated there is no linkage between the secular Baath party and al Qaeda … but she said ‘that does not exclude links between Saddam and al Qaeda’, and I said but we are talking about the Baath party … Then she started returning every paper I sent her … she is a clear Zionist … It is silly for [Ariadne] to say that I didn’t finish even one year without mentioning the reason.”

Professor Vromen’s abuse of a former student and ambassador is strange. Why would an academic jump into abuse a former student, in the context of an abusive media campaign against another student? What is wrong with honest discussion?

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. The University of Sydney is well known for harboring pro-apartheid-Israel academics. It hosts a research project backed by US Government-funded agencies, called ‘The Electoral Integrity Project’. That project rates the electoral democracyof many countries. As it happens, they rate Israel’s ‘democracy’ very highly (17/127), even though the Jewish state is notorious for its institutionalized racism.

In 2007-08 the University of Sydney accepted a large grant from the American Australian Association, to establish a ‘United States Studies Centre’. This was mostly Australian Government money but came at the suggestion of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The idea of the Centre came from a desire to repair the damage done to the image of the USA in the wake of its 2003 invasion of Iraq. I wrote an article about this scandal, back in 2010.

Washington remains the major funder and arms provider to apartheid Israel, providing the racist state with more than three billion dollars every year, mostly in military subsidies.

By Tim Anderson
Source

Is the next US aggression on Syria already scheduled?

The Saker

August 31, 2018

[This article was written for the Unz Review]

The things that please are those that are asked for again and again
Horace

Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran
John McCain

President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…
Donald Trump

It is difficult to have a dialogue with people who confuse Austria and Australia
Vladimir Putin

Bis repetita

It appears that we are coming back full circle: the AngloZionists are again, apparently, preparing to use the very same White Helmets (aka “good terrorists”) to execute yet another chemical false flag attack in Syria and againblame the government forces for it. The Russians are, againwarning the world in advance and, just as last time, (almost) nobody gives a damn.  And there are even reports that the US is, yet again, considering imposing a (totally illegal) no-fly zone over Syria (I have not heard this once since Hillary’s presidential campaign).  And just like last time, it appears that the goal of the US is  to save the “good terrorists” from a major governmental victory.

It appears that my prediction that each “click” brings us one step closer to the “bang!” is, unfortunately, coming true and while the Empire seems to have given up on the notion of a full-scale reconquest of Syria, the Neocons are clearly pushing for what might turn out to be a major missile strike on Syria.  The fact that firing a large number of missiles near/over/at Russian forces might result in Russian counter-attack which, in turn, could lead to an major, possibly nuclear, war does not seem to factor at all in the calculations of the Neocons.  True, the Neocons are mostly rather stupid (as in “short-term focused”) people, with a strong sense of superiority and a messianic outlook on our world.  However, it baffles me that so few people in the USA and the EU are worried about this.  Somehow, a nuclear war has become so unthinkable that many have concluded that it can never happen.

The other thing which the Neocons seem to be oblivious to is that the situation on the ground in Syria cannot be changed by means of missile strikes or bombs.  For one thing, the last US attack has conclusively shown that US Tomahawks are an easy target for the Syrian (mostly antiquated) air defenses.  Of course, the US could rely on more AGM-158 JASSM which are much harder to intercept, but no matter what missiles are used, they will not effectively degrade the Syrian military capabilities simply because there are so few lucrative targets for cruise missile strikes in Syria to begin with.  Considering that the US knows full well that no chemical attack will take place (or even couldtake place, for that matter, since even the USA have declared Syria chemical weapons free in 2013) the White House might decide to blow up a few empty buildings and declare that “the animal Assad” has been punished I suppose.  But even if completely unopposed a US missile attack will make no military sense whatsoever.  So this begs the question of what would be the point of any attack on Syria?  Sadly, the rather evident answer to that is that the upcoming missile strike has less to do with the war in Syria and much more to do with internal US politics.

Russian and Syrian options

There are a few differences too.  The biggest difference is that this time around the Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean is much bigger than last time: 15 ships including two advanced frigates, the Admiral Grigorovich and the Admiral Essen (see a detailed report here: https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/russia-sends-largest-naval-fleet-ever-to-syrian-waters/) and two 636.3-class advanced diesel-attack submarines.  That is a lot of anti-ship, anti-air and anti-submarine firepower and, even more crucially, a lot of advanced early warning capabilities.  Since the Russian and Syria air defense networks have been integrated by single automated fire system this means that the Syrians will very accurately “see” what is taking place in and around the Syrian airspace (this is especially true with the Russians keeping their A-50U AWACs on 24/7 patrol).

What has me most worried are the various reports (such as this one) which says that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week that “Moscow would be held responsible” if any chemical attack occurs.  If by “Moscow will be responsible” the crazies in Washington DC mean “morally responsible”, then this is just the usual nonsense.  But I am afraid that with certified nutcases like Bolton and Pompeo in charge, the US might be considering attacking Russian personnel in Syria (not necessarily at the well defended Khmeimin or Tartus bases).  These guys could easily target various installations or Syrian military units where Russian personnel are known to be deployed and declare that they were not deliberately targeting Russians and that the Russians hit were “clearly involved” with the Syrian chemical weapon forces.  The US has already targeted Russian nationals for kidnapping and detention, they might start killing Russian nationals next and then place the responsibility for these deaths on the Kremlin.  You don’t think so? Just think “Skripal” and you will see that this notion is no so far fetched.

The Russians do have options, by the way.  One thing they could do is place 6 (modernized) MiG-31s on quick alert in southern Russia (or, even better, in Iran) and keep a pair of them on combat air patrol over Syria (or over Iran).  Combined with the “eyes” of the A-50U, these MiG-31s could provide the Russians with a formidable capability, especially against the US B-1B deployed in Qatar or Diego Garcia.  So far, the MiG-31s have not seen action in Syria, but if intercepting a large number of cruise missiles becomes the mission then they would offer a much more flexible and capable force than the very small amount of Su-35 and Su-30 currently based in Khmeimim.

But the key to protecting Syria is to beef-up the Syrian air defenses and early warning capabilities, especially with advanced mobile air defense systems, especially many short-to-medium range systems like the Tor-M2 and the Pantsir-S2.  Until this goal is achieved, the USA and Russia will remain in a most dangerous “Mexican standoff” in which both parties are engaged in what I call a “nuclear game of chicken” with each party threatening the other side while counting on its own nuclear capability to deter a meaningful counter-attack or retaliation.  This is extremely dangerous but there is very little Russia can do to stop the US leaders from coming back to that same strategy over and over again.  So far the Russians have shown a truly remarkable level of restraint, but if pushed too far, they next step for them will be to retaliate against the US in a manner which would provide them with what the CIA calls “plausible deniability” (I discussed this option over a year ago in this article).  If attacked directly and openly the Russians will, of course, have no other option left than to hit back.  And while it is true that the Russian forces in and near Syria are vastly outnumbered by US/NATO/CENTOM forces, the Russians have a massive advantage over the USA in terms of long range cruise missiles (see Andrei Martyanov’s analysis “Russia’s Stand-Off Capability: The 800 Pound Gorilla in Syria” for a detailed discussion of this topic).

None of the above is new, the world has been been stuck in this situation for well over a year now and there still appears to be no end in sight.  Unfortunately, I can only agree with Ruslan Ostashko: only a massive military defeat or a no less massive economic collapse will stop the folks who “who confuse Austria and Australia” to give up their insane quest for world hegemony by violence.

The Saker

Sanctioned Abuse: The Australian Government’s Abhorrent Treatment Of Refugee Children

Sanctioned Abuse: The Australian Government’s Abhorrent Treatment Of Refugee Children

Australia. Where the gritty ambition of vivacious travelers fashioned this nation upon its bewitching red dirt, has delivered dishonor to its deepest roots. When we smother refugees with hate, we smother ourselves and everything that we are with it as well. Australian culture is as broad, varied and enriched with color as its landscape. As this nation of immigrants is nothing without its embedded relentless acceptance, as we sing with hearts in hands “for those who come across the sea, we’ve boundless plains to share.” The current state of Australian immigration should horrify us; we should be emotionally moved and rigorously seek to challenge its ugliness.

Manus and Nauru, are both facilities of offshore detention orchestrated and affiliated with the Australian government, for the purpose of processing asylum seekers attempting seek refuge within the country. Irregular entrants began being transferred to Nauru on 14 September 2012 and to Papua New Guinea (Manus Island) on 21 November 2012.

The contents of these ‘processing’ procedures is extensively questionable.

The Australian Border Force Act 2015 was established by the Australian Border Force (ABF) — the government agency which controls immigration and border protection responsibilities. The ABF Act frames the command structure of the ABF as well as describes restrictions on its workers. The Act entails the prosecution of anyone who gains “protected information” during their employment or service for the Border Force, barring them from revealing any information to the media or the Australian public. The question is, what does the Australian government desperately seek to hide so aggressively that they are willing to implement legislation?

In all Australian states, it is illegal for teachers, doctors, nurses and other social professionals to with-hold information upon learning of suspected physical, mental and sexual abuse of children. However, this act does apply to immigrant children, and it is in fact illegal to approach law enforcement or the media about the recorded abuse of children within Australian detention centers. The penalty for doing so is two years imprisonment. The fact that the Australian government created a law silencing people, directly contradicts their rights of free expression in democracy.

Prior to the implementation of the act, a cache of 2,000 leaked reports revealed the abuse of children in Australian offshore detention. The Nauru files revealed reports of assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian government, depicting the true nature of Australian detention.

Analysis of the files reveal that children are vastly over-represented in the reports. More than half of the 2,116 reports, 51.3% involve children, despite children making up only about 18% of those in detention on Nauru during the time of the reports. The discoveries came just weeks after the uncovering of the emotionally destroying treatment of young indigenous children, including images of 17-year-old Dylan Voller in a mechanical restrain chair and spit hood, in juvenile detention facilities in the Northern Territory. The reports range from requests of shower time being accepted on condition of sexual favors to children drinking pesticide in attempt of taking their own lives.


Currently, even though the Manus centre has been closed since October 31st 2017, there is still 600 refugee detainees on the island. The center is now without electricity and water supplies as guards destroyed water tanks on a 31 degree day. The detainees fear for their security and safety, and have no trust in the alternatives given to them by Australian officials. These individuals need help, and no one can blame them for losing trust in their abusers.

The insufferable degrees of hatred being thrown at any Australian of non- Anglo-Celtic ancestry that dares attempt to enter Australia is perturbing and seemingly contradictory to the country’s history. Australian history is littered with wave after wave of immigration, and with a population of twenty-three million, over one-quarter were born overseas. How is it, that with such a large immigrant population, a persistently xenophobic rhetoric still continues?

Sources: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/3412.0Media%20Release12015-16https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/nauru-fileshttp://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F2060960%22http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F1914303%22

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