Doctors “Strongly Condemn” UK Decision to Keep Assange Imprisoned During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Alan Macleod

Source

Doctors4Assange, a group of 195 medical professionals from 30 countries, released a statement today “strongly condemning” a British court decision to keep Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange incarcerated, despite a possible outbreak of COVID-19 at Belmarsh Prison in London where Assange is being held. The group argued that, due to his history of medical neglect, extremely fragile health, and his chronic lung condition, he was at particular risk of both contracting and dying from the virus.

Despite acknowledging he was at increased risk, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied him bail because she considered him a flight risk. “There are substantial grounds to believe if I released him today he would not return to face his extradition hearing,” Baraitser said. Assange previously sought refuge in the embassy of Ecuador in London.

The Australian publisher’s hearing played out in bizarre circumstances on Wednesday. The court, like the rest of the United Kingdom, was on lockdown, meaning only 15 people were in attendance. One of his lawyers, Edward Fitzgerald QC, wore a large facemask, while the other, Mark Summers QC, participated remotely via audio, as did the American government attorneys seeking his extradition. Not only was Assange not physically present, but his video connection was also terminated early meaning he was not even able to follow proceedings, let alone participate in them. He was also unable to communicate with his legal team.

Mrs Christine Assange@MrsC_Assange

ASSANGE DEATH RISK RISES in US/UK political persecution

*2 UK prisoners now dead from

*19 inmates/4 prison officers/3 staff test positive

*100 staff/ Belmarsh Prison in isolation

My ill son detained w/out charge in Belmarsh

Doctors warn he’ll die https://twitter.com/DEAcampaign/status/1242844608289099776 

Don’t Extradite Assange@DEAcampaign

@wikileaks editor-in-chief @khrafnsson condemns the decision not to release Julian #Assange on bail in light of the #Coronavirus crisis. More than 100 staff from Belmarsh are off sick.

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Baraitser also claimed that Belmarsh Prison was a safe place for Assange to be kept, as no one had yet tested positive for COVID-19. But testing kits are notoriously hard to come by in the United Kingdom, with only 113,777 people tested across the entire country by Friday (less than 0.2 percent of the population). Worse still, over 100 Belmarsh employees are currently off work after self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms or coming into contact with a confirmed case. Two British prisoners have already died from the virus, with 19 more testing positive.

Thus, Doctors4Assange argues, it is more a question of when, rather than if, Belmarsh is infected. “Julian Assange is just such an unsentenced prisoner with significant health vulnerability. He is being held on remand, with no custodial sentence or UK charge in place, let alone conviction,” they wrote, pointing to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s pronouncement on prison clemency.

“With outbreaks of the disease, and an increasing number of deaths, already reported in prisons and other institutions in an expanding number of countries, authorities should act now to prevent further loss of life among detainees and staff,” UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said. “Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views,” she added.

All prisons in England are now indefinitely closed to visitors. Iran, in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus, has released tens of thousands of prisoners from its jails. Poland is expected to follow suit and send up 12,000 prisoners home early. Yet the United Kingdom has yet to follow suit, despite the pleas, even from its own prison governors. Andrea Albutt, the head of the Prison Governors Association, warned of an “unprecedented risk” to the overcrowded prison system, recommending the immediate release of many inmates. Meanwhile, in the U.S., there is growing concern that “a storm is coming” – that prisons will be hotbeds of contagion. Disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein has already contracted COVID–19 while in Rikers Island jail.

Assange’s extradition trial began in late February. He faces 18 U.S. charges of hacking and breaches of the Espionage Act, specifically for the publication of evidence leaked by Pvt. Chelsea Manning that detailed evidence of American war crimes in the Middle East. If found guilty, he faces up to 175 years in prison. He had been granted asylum by the progressive Ecuadorian administration of Rafael Correa. However, after Correa was replaced by the pro-American administration of Lenin Moreno in 2017, his welcome in the Ecuadorian embassy in London waned.  ince his removal from the building in 2019 he has been held at Belmarsh Prison, a high-security penitentiary, often in solitary confinement. His treatment was so poor that convicted murderers and other high-security inmates staged a mass protest, managing to secure his transfer to the hospital wing.

Current Wikileaks boss Kristinn Hrafnsson also “condemned in the strongest possible terms” Judge Baraitser’s decision. “COVID-19 is bringing forth the best in people and the worst in people. Today’s decision by the judge was an example of the latter,” he said.

صراع القيَم حول العالم

سعادة مصطفى أرشيد

تعرّضت بلادنا منذ عقد من الزمن لحرب ضروس بيننا وبين الإرهاب المعولم والمؤدلج بـ «قيم» الفوضى الخلاقة للشر متخذاً من الدين وقيم الحرية والعدالة والديمقراطية قناعاً يخفي وراءه قباحته وشروره. هدفت الحرب إلى إعادة إنتاج الاتفاق الانجلو – الفرنسي (سايكس – بيكو) باتجاه ما هو أدهى وأمرّ بمزيد من التفتيت والشرذمة، وكان آخر ما حرّرته الجهات المعادية في دفترنا هو صفقة ترامب الأميركية (صفقة القرن). في غمرة تلك الأحداث المزدحمة داهمنا وباء كورونا سالباً منا الطمأنينة والصحة والسلامة وحاصداً آلاف الأرواح ومحاصراً ما يزيد عن مليار شخص في معازل صحية او منزلية، وكثير منهم من الذين لا يجد قوت يومه إلا بيوم عمله.

وإذا كان هذا الوباء يصيب الجهاز التنفسي للإنسان ويدمّره ويؤدّي إلى وفاته، فإنّ هذه الأزمة قد كشفت أنه يصيب بأعراضه النظم السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية أيضاً، ويكشف ماهو منها زائف ومخادع وما هو منها يملك قيماً إنسانية راقية وأخلاقاً نبيلة. فقد تعرّت عورات أنظمة عديدة لطالما تغنّت بالديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان، بالحريات والعدالة الاجتماعية، لا بل وزادت بأن أبدت اهتمامات بالطيور وهجراتها وقردة الباندا وإمكانيات انقراضها، وإذا بها تتهاوى وتتكشف على حقيقتها أمام هذا الوباء فأبدت لنا وجهها القبيح معلنة بصريح القول والعبارة درجة انحطاطها القيمي والأخلاقي بشكل غير مسبوق.

الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب لا يجد في موت آلاف البشر والذين من المرشح أن تتزايد أعدادهم بأصفار عديدة إلى يمين تلك الآلاف، إلا فرصة لتعزيز وضعه الانتخابي أمام الاستحقاق المقبل في تشرين الأول المقبل، ثم لتحقيق أرباح ومكاسب مادية من تجارة الأمصال والعلاجات المداوية له، لم يتوانَ أن يتخلى عن أصدقائه وحلفائه في الناتو من الأوروبيين، تاركاً لهم مهمة نزع أشواكهم بأيديهم. الأمر الذي دعا صحافية إيطالية شجاعة لأن تقدّم هدية لوزير خارجيته بومبيو وهي عبارة عن علبة طعام كلاب ليأكل منها هو ورئيسه وطاقم إدارته علهم يتعلمون من الكلاب بعض الوفاء، فيما نظيره وصديقه بوريس جونسون، أخذ ومستشاره الطبي بنظريات إسبارطية وبعض الأفكار الداروينية والتي ترى أنّ البقاء للأقوى أو فكرة مناعة القطيع، وبمعنى أوضح ليمت من يموت من كبار السن والضعفاء والمرضى بأمراض مزمنة ويرتاح جونسون من مصاريف رعايتهم الصحية والاجتماعية المرتفعة وليبقى الأصحاء فقط، ولم يعد عن ذلك إلا بعد تصاعد الاحتجاجات الشعبية والبرلمانية إثر التقارير الصادرة عن الامبيرال كولدج ذات المصداقية العالية ومركز الأوبئة التابع لها، الأمر الذي دعا جونسون ليخفف من صفاقة أقواله وليعود عن تجاهله لضرورات التصدي للوباء.

الثالث في حلقة الأصدقاء هو بن يامين نتنياهو، فحسب ما ذكرت القناة الثالثة عشرة العبرية أنّ خلافاً قد حصل بين وزير الصحة (الإسرائيلي) ونائبه وهو بروفيسور في علم الأوبئة وذلك في حضور نتنياهو، حيث قدّر البروفيسور أنّ عدد المصابين بالوباء يتجاوز عددهم خمسين ألفاً فيما التقارير الرسمية والإخبارية تتحدث عن إلفين، فيما قال الوزير إنّ الأرقام الحقيقية للمصابين أكبر من الأرقام المعلنة، ولكنها لا تصل إلى الرقم الذي ادّعاه البروفيسور، مع ذلك فما يشغل بال ووقت نتنياهو هو كيفية التهرّب من المحكمة وقضايا الفساد التي تلاحقه، كيف يستطيع البقاء في مقعد رئاسة الوزراء؟ كيف يستطيع أن يستغلّ الانشغال العالمي بالوباء لتنفيذ مخططاته الرامية لضمّ المستوطنات والأغوار ومناطق أخرى من الضفة الغربية؟

مقابل هذه البشاعة وهذا الانحطاط الذي يمارسه هؤلاء لا بحقّ الإنسانية فحسب، وإنما بحق شعوبهم وأهلهم وذويهم، نرى في الجانب المقابل لهذه الصورة البشعة أنّ الصين وهي أول من أصيب بالوباء، وأول من تصدّى له، ومع أنّ شعبها البالغ تعداده مليار ونصف مليار إنسان وأنّ اقتصادها عانى من التراجع أكثر من أيّ اقتصاد آخر، حيث توقفت كثير من صناعاتها عن الإنتاج وتجارتها وسلعها من التداول، مع ذلك كله نراها تحقق نجاحات نسبية في محاصرة الوباء ومكافحته، وتقدّم في الوقت ذاته أفضل ما لديها لخدمة شعبها وتمدّ يد العون والمساعدة لغيرها في مجالات الخبرة والمساعدة العينية، في حين دولة التشيك الصديقة الحميمة لدولة الاحتلال والولايات المتحدة تسرق ما يمرّ عبرها من مساعدات صينية كانت في طريقها إلى إيطاليا. إنه موقف أخلاقي يعبّر عن نبل الشرق وأخلاقة وفلسفاته الإنسانية ويعاكس المواقف والأفكار النيوليبرالية والرأسمالية المتوحشة والمتمثلة في الأميركان وتوابعهم. في المقام ذاته نرى كوبا برغم فقرها وهوانها على الناس في وقت تراجعت فيه قيم الحرية والكرامة والثورة، ها هي تقف بكلّ شجاعة بأطبائها ومعداتهم وأدويتهم، تطوّعاً لا مأجورة لإنقاذ من يفوقها قوة وثراء، ولكنه دونها كرماً وعطاء.

عودة إلى عالمنا العربي الذي يبدو عصياً عن سماع الأخبار (بالطبع بعضه لا كله)، غير مستجيب للمتغيّرات التي أحدثها الوباء، حيث يتحالف السياسي المفرط في قضايا شعبه وأهله مع رجل المال الفاسد والجشع في ثنائية شيطانيّة، الأول يريد أن يبقى جالساً على كرسيه وبالتالي الاستمرار في خدمة مشاريع أعداء بلده ويجد في هذا الوباء دثاراً له والثاني يجد في الوباء فرصة لتحقيق أرباح ومكاسب. لا يوجد ما يشير إلى أنّ تغيّراً في أخلاق وعقول ومسلكيات هؤلاء قد طرأ عليه أيّ تغيّر او تبديل، برغم انّ الموت يترصّد بالجميع حاكماً ومحكوماً، غنيّاً وفقيراً، وهو لا يجد فرقاً في مذاق رئتي الأمير تشارلز ورئتي أيّ مواطن صيني او إيطالي أو غيره، لا فرق أبداً في الطعم والمذاق.

الكورونا تفتك بالعالم، ولكن الحرب على اليمن وقد دخلت عامها السادس لا تزال تستعر وتزداد ضراوة ولا نية على ما يبدو لإيقافها، برغم انّ أكلافها قد تجاوزت نصف تريليون دولار، فهل مَن تحمّل هذه الأكلاف في هذه الحرب القذرة والظالمة يرغب او يقبل أن يدفع جزءاً ولو بسيط منها لإغاثة المليار محاصر في معزله الصحي أو بيته؟ أو لإنتاج أدوية ولقاحات لمعالجة المصابين؟ واليمن ليس إلا مثالاً لما يجري في فلسطين المحتلة وغزة المحاصرة وسورية وليبيا التي لا يزال الإنفاق على تدميرهما على أشدّه.

وإذا كان ما تقدّم عن أهل السياسة فماذا عن حلفائهم وشركائهم من وحوش المال؟ يتداول الناس مقارنة بين هؤلاء وبين مصمّم أزياء إيطالي تبرّع بمعظم ثروته لحكومته لإنقاذ أهله وشعبه فيما مواطنته ممثلة الأفلام الإباحية تتبرّع بستين مليون يورو للسبب ذاته. أثرياؤنا لم يتبرّعوا إلا بالفتات ولذرّ الرماد بالعيون، فكلّ ما سمعناه عن كرمهم وعطائهم في هذه الأزمة يقلّ كثيراً عما تبرّعت به مومس إيطالية تفوقهم شرفاً وعفة وكرماً وعطاء وانتماء لبلدها ولشعبها. لا يفكر هذا النوع إلا بكيفية الاستفادة من الأزمة ولتحقيق مزيد من الربح، ولنضرب مثلا أنّ إحدى شركات الخلوي في بلادنا والتي تحقق سنوياً أرباحاً خرافية، فبدل أن تقدّم يد العون أخذت ترسل رسائل sms لزبائنها للاشتراك في تطبيق مدفوع الثمن: اعرف آخر أخبار الكورونا.

هكذا يبدو العالم من حولنا… إفلاس وانكشاف أنظمة لطالما تغنّت بالقيم والمبادئ السامية، نراها بأمّ العين تتمرّغ قيمها المزعومة في أوحال الوباء بشكليه الفيروسي والقيمي، وفيما أنظمة لطالما اتهمت من قبل الفريق الأول بشموليتها وعدم احترامها للإنسان، نراها ترتقي وتسمو على آلامها وجراحها وتقدّم لشعوبها وللعالم خدماتها. وهكذا يبدو شرقنا الذي لم تصل إلى أسماع بعض قادته أخبار الوباء، فواصلوا حروبهم العبثية لقتل أهل فلسطين وسورية واليمن وليبيا تاركين للوباء مهمة قتل مَن لم يقتلوه بأيديهم وأسلحتهم.

*سياسيّ فلسطينيّ مقيم في الضفة الغربية.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

March 22, 2020

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

by Ramin Mazaheri, exclusive for the Saker Blog

In the UK an average of just 600 people die from influenza every year, a testament to the major socialist concept the incredibly rich island has tolerated – the National Health Service.

In the US, where the biggest socialist concept they have tolerated is Social Security – to prevent mass elder-class starvation – the lack of health care annually kills 11 times more people than in the UK (proportionally). “It’s fine,” they say in the US – the price of freedom. Freedom of expression above all.

However, all of a sudden everyone across the West cares about preventing mostly-preventable flu deaths. Really?

In fact, apparently the West cares more than anybody: South Korea quarantined some neighborhoods, China one major city, Iran encouraged a national quarantine, but the West wants two entire continents to stay at home.

What overreaction? The West just has a huge heart – haven’t their capitalist and Christian evangelists been saying that for four centuries?

In fact, how dare you possible micro-trigger a Westerner by suggesting an overblown macro-triggering? The vastly, vastly, VASTLY greater reaction of the West than of China, South Korea and Iran is entirely merited, and this cannot be questioned. Or so they keep shouting.

The problem in the West is that those in power during the corona crisis should not be in power.

Firstly, whereas in China it is as hard to get into the vanguard Communist Party as the Ivy League, in the West all one needs is rich friends or friends with clout. So of course the quality of the West’s public service response to corona could have been predicted to be comparatively inferior.

The fourth estate and unofficial branch of government, the media, is similarly compromised: I can’t read Chinese to verify if they are calming a panic instead of inflaming it, but I can read the dire warnings broadcast 24/7 by the Western MSM, whose ratings are surely through the roof. Very over-dramatic, indeed. Personally, I have encouraged anyone who will listen to heed my professional media opinion regarding this corona crisis: the less time you spend watching the Western MSM the saner and more stable you will be during this crisis. Your family will thank you.

In the West technocrats are in power: thus, in an epidemic we must all listen to doctors and statistical-modelling specialists. Both are quite well-paid jobs. Western technocratism means that the West absolutely cannot have policy even partially dictated by the needs or experiences of their legion of middle-aged, single-mother waitresses; or any of the 40% of Americans who don’t have $500 to cover an emergency; or any part of the Yellow Vest-supporting Europeans who have had their social safety net slashed by unending banker bailouts and austerity measures.

The interpretation of statistics, and the public policy such statistics should influence – these things surely cannot be influenced by ideology, can they? I agree though – better to listen to nerds than to not get a second medical opinion.

Let’s not act like they are Cuban: US doctors are perfectly at ease with you being homeless over unpaid medical bills, and they don’t want you forcing them to go work on the front lines to cover this flu crisis. Cynical? Well, I am a daily-hack journalist, but is it such a taboo thought to think when you see yet another doctor handing down a life-and-death proclamation with smug certainty, yet again? Doctors are never wrong… yet the third-largest cause of death in the US is malpractice.

Given this undoubted difference in terms of public policy servants and public policy explainers, why on earth should we assume that the West’s public servants are going to outshine Eastern ones? However, what can and cannot be achieved in these countries is also very different.

On a social level China, South Korea and Iran are Asian societies which are fundamentally more patriarchal and social, whereas Western societies are more matriarchal and individualist. This means that in the West many overworked single mothers are being inflamed into OCD-level sanitizings, while non-deadbeat divorced Dads are proving their all-conquering filial love by fist-fighting over toilet paper for Junior.

As stay at home orders – which vary from suggestions to promises of fines – proliferate across the West I will go out on a limb and say that many Westerners will go far further and treat the orders as if they were martial law. Yes, Westerners insist that they are more freedom-loving and unable to tie down than any Muslim nomad, but I recall a quite compliant response during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent lockdown. American libertarianism is only for good times, it seems.

Contrarily, it is rather amusing that on the first day of spring – a day celebrated as Nowruz in Iran – some regions reported that holiday traffic was 98% as high as in 2019 despite official pleas to stay at home. That is very European of Iranians – nothing stops an Iranian’s vacation, too. Of course, their vacations are not to go and cheaply break anti-nudity laws in Tunisia but to visit relative after relative after relative. But the point is made: with warmth, happiness and in a group, all of the Islamic Republic of Iran simply must celebrate this pagan holiday. What a bunch of fundamentalist Muslims, indeed. As regards to the “Great McDonald’s Satan”: Nothing starts their vacations: worker instability and workaholism incredibly translates into half their workforce with paid vacations being too unwilling to use their paltry number of vacation days; half of all US workers overall work in “low-wage” jobs, meaning they can’t afford vacations period.

But the incredibly elevated conscience of the West is indicated by their incredibly more drastic response that that of the East’s: they are apparently willing to trash their already weak, corruption-rotted, unsuccessful austerity/QE economies to prevent flu deaths among the elderly with significant existing medical conditions.

Bottom line: the West is choosing to avoid flu deaths among the sick elderly now but may wind up with far more deaths due to the mass unemployment and economic chaos they view as the only solution to corona. But bad economics kills, too.

Whatever it takes… not to the save the Eurozone, but to end it?

But economics can’t be discussed in the West: TINA – there is no solution to “capitalism with American characteristics”. Those are “global values”.

Anyway, bad economic policies don’t kill – the market does. And the market cannot be stopped or regulated.

Sure, markets can crash, and ruin the 401k retirement plans (i.e. the US “pension system” – ugh! Terrible… but it makes NYC bankers and stockbrokers happy), of the elderly class, but the US can’t close or control the markets. Sorry Gramps! You survived corona but you’re 30% more busted.

Say goodbye to the Bernie Sanders campaign – in a crisis US (fake) leftists will fall in line for stability, pragmatism and personal safety, just like in 2008. The US is a dog-eat-dog capitalist-imperialist society and in a global crisis the US dog has to make sure they can keep eating the foreign dogs, after all. International solidarity is for socialist suckers; Western sanctions on corona medicine must remain to try and implode Iran, Cuba, etc.

But, as I have written about for years: the Eurozone remains the largest macro-economy and yet also the weakest link in the macro-economy. They have, few want to admit, already had a Lost Decade. Quantitative Easing and Zero Interest Rate Policies have only re-inflated the 1%er bubbles in the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) markets. It’s incredible: the Western economy is so kindly shutting down for weeks even though they are even more over-leveraged in 2020 than in the 2008 economic crisis, which was sparked by over-leveraging. Don’t the doctors, epidemiologists and helicopter moms know that?

Contrarily, China has had recent decades of spectacular growth, as has South Korea. So has Iran, from the end of the Iraq War until 2012, when the inhuman triple sanctions (EU, UN, US) were levied, and then successes were further delayed by the 2014 oil price collapse.

Incredibly crucially for the ambitions of the corona virus, those three nations have ideologies, histories and cultures which have given their governments far, far more control over their economies. Certainly, in a time of crisis they have more levers to pull to help their nations as well as the willingness to pull them (unlike, say US Republicans/Libertarians).

Some smart journalists have pointed out to Westerners that corona is showing what life is like under Western sanctions. Nations like Iran, Venezuela, China (sanctioned for over two decades post-1949) are quite used to such a life, but: welcome to the party – you appear quite awkward and nervous.

I understand your concern: the US is proudly dog-eat-dog, and the neoliberal, post-1989-inspired structure adopted by the European Union is the dog-eat-dog model the US wishes their Founding Fathers had been dumb enough to implement.

Corona is bad, certainly, but bad economics kills too. Are we trading fewer corona deaths now for even more regular flu deaths in 6 months, caused by all the people pushed into poverty by the Great Recession tipping into the Great Depression 2? This is a vital question, and not a heartless one at all.

We are all in this together, and that’s yet another affirmation of post-1917 socialist worldviews, but at the end of the corona crisis we can all only reap what we have nationally sown.

China eats dogs, and they will pick up the pieces of those whose sowings compounded the corona crisis; whose overreactions – provoked by a lack of economic stability, physical security and emotional trust in many social areas – threaten to pop Everything Bubble 2, which is a verifiable economic reality and not journalistic hyperbole. Russia and Iran will likely be forced to play custodian, too. This is the same century-old story that we have seen in fascist Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, etc.

I hope wherever you are that you and your family are healthy, and that you have faith in the goodness and capability of your nation’s leaders. You’re going to need them, and me as well. (Joe Biden, really?)

Me, I’m going out. I’m a journalist, the most despised – and by a huge margin – of all the first-responders, LOL. However, watching many of my Mainstream Media colleagues during the corona crisis reminds me why this is the case.

If the West’s response does prove to have been an overreaction – if China’s shut down of Wuhan and a few smaller cities was not supposed to replicated on a multi-continental level, in large part because the West does not have the socialist-inspired policy tools to take such extreme preventative measures – then resentment towards mainstream journalists will, and should, only increase.

So that would be something good from corona. In fact, here will be a lot of positives from Corona, but many of them left-handed.

The new year just began; it’s the second day of spring; the world will not end in the next 30 days – I find it hard to be hysterical, negative and over-dramatic, personally. Enjoy being home alone, if that’s what you insist on.

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’.

WORLD IS IN CRISIS TO WHICH RUSSIA HAD BEEN PREPARING

The states that invested in their independence and national economies despite the foreign pressure reap the benefit of their efforts. At the same time, the states that sold their independence and became puppets of the global elites faced expected consequences.

World Is In Crisis To Which Russia Had Been Preparing

South Front

In early, 2020 the world entered a new global crisis. The new round of economic turbulence coincided with the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which started in China and rapidly expanded across the globe. So, mainstream media outlets rushed to explain the crisis developments with the pandemic impact. However, in fact, the global economic crisis has been forecasted by experts for a long time and has reasonable grounds: from the disbalance of the global economy and contradictions among key oil producers to the growing tensions between influential players in the key regions around the world. Saudi Arabia’s ongoing offensive on the oil market is a logical result of these developments.

The coronavirus crisis worked as a trigger revealing the truth behind the lies and propaganda of the mainstream media and the global establishment. The reality broke into pieces the myth about the so-called ‘Euro-Atlantic solidarity’, demonstrated the almost zero-level effectiveness of the European Union bureaucracy and once again showcased that countries selling their sovereignty for some theoretical financial and diplomatic support of the Big Brother should not expect something good during crises.

The world sole superpower, the United States, appeared to be prepared for the economic turbulence, mostly thanks to actions of the Trump administration. At the same time, the U.S. faced significant problems with containing the COVID-19 pandemic and its readiness for such threats are much lower than those of China and even Russia. The United Kingdom revealed itself as another country surprisingly unprepared for the global meltdown. The situation in Italy, Spain and other southern and eastern European states needs no comments. They experience a lack of food and drugs supplies, while their governments failed to prepare and adopt the needed anti-epidemic measures before it became too late. Germany is probably among a few European states that has been prepared for the crisis at least on the level of Russia.

The irony of the situation is that Russia’s stability (in comparison with other states) has become a result of the actions of the so-called collective West. Just 10 years ago, it was importing grain, a large part of food products. It lacked some key technologies in the production of medical supplies. For Russian companies, it was just cheaper and easier to act this way than develop own capabilities in the field. However, the increasing sanction pressure forced the Russians to invest into own national industry and economy thus preparing the state to the upcoming crisis.

If one takes a look at the current situation in Russia in the medical sphere and with food supplies, he would find that the country is passing through crisis without any notable problems. Even the short panic amid the collapse of the European healthcare and the creation of the COVID-19 crisis zone in Italy and a Western-run fake news campaign in Russian social media did not lead to even a short and slight crisis in big cities.

Click to see the full-size image

As of March 20, Russia’s National Wealth Fund (NWF) had assets worth US$151.35 billion, or about 9 percent of Russia’s gross domestic product. The NWF allows Russia to have a security zone of 5-6 years even with oil prices at the level of ~$20 a barrel. It’s hard to imagine that Saudi Arabia, which caused the oil prices crisis by own actions, could pass the same period without a large-scale crisis with such prices. Furthermore, the NWF is operated by the Russian government, not by private persons with own interests. Even taking into account some level of management issues and corruption, the NWF would give the Kremlin to protect key economic spheres and keep the social stability in the country.

The crisis also fueled the ongoing structural economic changes around the world. Economic activities are becoming more and more digitalized. People are forced to work remotely. The importance of the modern IT and media technologies are growing even further. Corporations and governments already started exploiting these trends. Some experts even suggest that in many cases the coronavirus crisis is being fueled artificially in order to push the world in a right direction. Others argue that this is a logical succession of events.

In any case, the ongoing crisis became an important turning point for the current international system revealing the truth behind the global myths, lies and whitewashing. The states that invested in their independence and national economies despite the foreign pressure reap the benefit of their efforts. At the same time, the states that sold their independence and became puppets of the global elites faced expected consequences.

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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.

‘Idlib is inside Syria, not California’: Jaafari to UN Security Council

By News Desk -2020-02-29

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:00 A.M.) – Syria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Dr. Bashar Al-Ja’afari, told the United Nations Security Council on Friday that the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) operation in Idlib is a response to Turkey’s violation of the September 17th, 2018 Sochi Agreement, which called on the withdrawal of all extremist groups from the deescalation zone in northwestern Syria.

During the emergency meeting at the UNSC, Dr. Ja’afari justified the Syrian military operations in Idlib, as he accused Turkey of harboring Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) inside the governorate.

The Syrian delegate said the reason for Turkey’s opposition is because it goes against their military presence inside the country.Dr. Ja’afari discussed U.N. Article 51, which the Mexican delegation brought, pointing out that Turkey was the only country to oppose it.

He criticized the western nations at the Security Council by pointing out that Idlib is Syrian territory and not part of their countries.

“Idlib is inside of Syria, not California or any foreign territory,” Dr. Ja’afari said.

Lastly, the Syrian delegate lashed out at the United Kingdom’s delegation, accusing them of killing more than one million people in Iraq, while also plundering their oil.

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Highlights from the Assange Trial Thus Far

Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

February 26, 2020

Here are the most informative excerpts that I have noted from the best news-reporting from journalists who have been attending at the trial:

CRAIG MURRAY, “Day 2”:

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.

Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning

Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk

Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. …

This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights. …

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. …

After a brief break, Baraitser [the judge] came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. …

The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. … Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book, Wikileaks, published in February 2011. …

Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison [both of Wikileaks] had attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.

CNN, Day 2:

Julian Assange tried to warn the US government that sensitive documents were to be leaked “imminently,” but was told to call back in a few hours, according to his lawyers during the second day of the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition hearing in London.

Assange personally warned the State Department that an encrypted database of 250,000 unredacted US diplomatic cables was about to be leaked in 2011, his lawyer Mark Summers told Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday.

The cables included the identities of people — some deemed high risk — who had been in communication with the US.

Assange contacted officials after it became known that German newspaper Der Freitag had discovered the password to a database containing the unredacted files, Summers said.

The 48-year-old Australian, along with WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison, telephoned then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s emergency line to sound the alarm about the unredacted material, the court heard.

Assange personally warned: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency in this… people’s lives are at risk,” according to Summers.

But he was told to call back in a few hours, said the lawyer.

CNN reached out to the State Department for a response, but had not received one at time of publishing.

BBC, Day 2:

Mark Summers QC, representing Mr Assange, told the hearing in London that Wikileaks had begun redacting a tranche of 250,000 leaked cables in November 2010, working with media partners around the world as well as the US government.

He said that in February 2011 the Guardian published a book about Wikileaks which contained a password to the unredacted documents.

He said it wasn’t until months later that it was discovered the password could be used to access the unredacted database, which was revealed by German news outlet Der Freitag on 25 August 2011.

On that day, Mr Assange called the White House and asked to speak to then secretary of state Hillary Clinton “as a matter of urgency” over fears the documents were about to be dumped online by third parties who had gained access, Mr Summers told the court. He was told to ring back in a few hours.

Mr Summers said Mr Assange had warned: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency of this.

“Unless we do something, then people’s lives are put at risk.” …

Prosecutors argued on Monday that Mr Assange knowingly put hundreds of sources around the world at risk of torture and death by publishing the unredacted documents containing names or other identifying details.

But Mr Summers told the court that the US extradition request “boldly and brazenly” misrepresented the facts.

He said the US government, which was involved in the redaction process, knows “what actually occurred” which was “far from being a reckless, unredacted release”.

In response, James Lewis QC, representing the US government, told the court that Mr Assange “didn’t have to publish the unredacted cables”.

“He decided to do so on a widely followed and easily searchable website, knowing that it was dangerous to do so,” he added.

MY CLOSING NOTE:

I hope that subsequently will be revealed whether or not the U.S. Government’s statement that Wikileaks “didn’t have to publish the unredacted cables” is true. After Wikileaks gave the files to the media in the U.S. Government-accepted redacted version, a sequence of events occurred in which, it appears according to the Wilileaks allegations, the Guardian’s Luke Harding (who is a prominent neoconservative journalist) caused “security being compromised when the book was published in February 2011” as the Guardian’s book about Wikileaks was being published. Then Der Freitag took the next step, and used that key to open the lock, and obtain access to the unredacted file. Is the U.S. Government ignoring Assange’s intensive efforts to prohibit such a thing from happening? Is the U.S. Government ignoring Hillary Clinton’s role in this? Is Donald Trump protecting Ms. Clinton? Why would he be protecting her and trying to frame and destroy Assange? Why is the Government of UK, throughout this nearly ten-year-long matter, serving as the U.S. Government’s errand-boy? Is UK a democracy? Is U.S. a democracy?

Craig Murray’s report on the trial’s first day provides shocking evidence that Judge Baraitser is extremely prejudiced against Assange and for the Trump Administration. I strongly recommend his blog, as the best site covering this trial (and as one of the really great one-person blogs on international matters, along with the “Moon of Alabama”).

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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