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offsite link Russia’s Dialogue With the EU Is Comin... Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:00 | Fyodor Lukyanov

offsite link Gretchen Whitmer Goes Boogaloo Catfishin... Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:00 | Nicky Reid

offsite link Lesson Learned? This Time Around Russia ... Tue Oct 20, 2020 09:00 | Daria Litvinova

offsite link US-Backed Coup Gov’t Concedes Electora... Tue Oct 20, 2020 08:00 | Alan Macleod

offsite link After 13 Years, Iran’s Arms Embargo Is... Tue Oct 20, 2020 06:30 | Jason Ditz

Anti-Empire >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Intermediate Results And Prospects Of Armenian-Azerbaijani War Tue Oct 20, 2020 09:28 | amarynth
South Front The Armenian-Azerbaijani war, which started on September 27, continues in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region despite international diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the conflict. Offensive operations of Azerbaijani forces continue

offsite link ?My name is Nancy Pelosi, and I?m currently holding on? Mon Oct 19, 2020 20:56 | The Saker
by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog Note: This internal Democratic Party letter was leaked to me, Ramin Mazaheri. I initially planned to not publish it, and for the very

offsite link Why the FBI and CIA Are the Real Threats to ?National Security? Mon Oct 19, 2020 20:20 | amarynth
By Cynthia Chung for the Saker Blog Today we see the continuation of the over seven decade?s long ruse, the targeting of individuals as Russian agents without any basis, in

offsite link The Great Reset. Our way. Mon Oct 19, 2020 14:29 | amarynth
By Katerina for the Saker Blog In this one, which I promise to be the very LAST of my essays, I would like, first of all, to do a short

offsite link Bolivia ? The people won, against all the odds, the people still won Mon Oct 19, 2020 09:00 | amarynth
By Chris Faure for the Saker Blog Bolivia went to the polls yesterday for the first election since the coup d’tat in November 2019, that removed Evo Morales from the

The Saker >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link A Woulfe in judges clothing

offsite link Sarah McInerney and political impartiality Anthony

offsite link Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein? Anthony

offsite link Irish Examiner bias Anthony

offsite link RTE: Propaganda ambush of Sinn Fein Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Fyodor Lukyanov - Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:00

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, warning that Russia might halt all dialogue with the European Union. Mr. Lavrov offered no explanation for what was probably the most severe public statement on the EU of his career. Perhaps he was reacting to extended talks he recently held with EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell — talks that, by all appearances, did not go well.

Naturally, the EU will respond to his statement with great displeasure and indignation, but Lavrov’s comment was actually rooted in a process that began long before the current crisis, all the way back to when Russian-EU relations looked positively upbeat and promising.

Common, but shaky ground

The modern Russian state and the EU came into existence at practically the same time — the former in late December 1991 and the latter in February 1992 — and they soon laid the groundwork for their mutual relations.  The two parties signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in 1994 — and ratified it in 1997 — that made their relations so close as to be considered “strategic” at one point.

This differs significantly from the slogan of a “Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok” that former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev coined in 1989 to connote a common European homeland that, in reality, had no document or agreement to back it up.

By contrast, the Russian-EU partnership was based firmly on the idea of integration. While Brussels never offered Russia full EU membership, it offered general, though indefinite assurances that its eastern neighbor would play a suitably substantial role in the “Greater Europe” that was then being built.

At the core of this “Greater Europe,” as it was then envisioned, was a rapidly expanding European Union that wound up more than doubling in size from 1992 to 2007 — and which, it was expected, would eventually include Russia as well as other Soviet republics. A sort of pan-European space was created, although Russia’s status in that new entity was never described or even discussed. Both sides simply assumed that Russia would be part of Europe.

In hindsight, it seems that Russia and the EU understood that partnership differently.

However, they agreed at the time that everything from the structure of the state to economic regulation should be based on the legal and regulatory framework of the EU — which they both considered clearly superior. Ideally, every country that was included in that European space would have adopted European rules and regulations, after which they would either become EU members — some, strictly due to their size — or else, as in the case of Russia and Ukraine, associate members. Every newcomer was expected to bring its laws and regulations into line with the European standard.

And in this regard, it differed fundamentally from Gorbachev’s idea of a “Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” Although the Soviet leader did not offer any details regarding the pan-European homeland, he clearly anticipated a partnership of equals.

The Soviet leader looked to a coming convergence, a mutual rapprochement in which each player — the Soviet Union, the European Community and the West as a whole — would contribute their strongest qualities, each somehow coming together in a whole that was more than the sum of its parts. In was, in a word, utopia, but not a tenable plan.

Significantly, it was not former President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s who made the greatest efforts to achieve Russia’s integration into the European space based on European principles, but President Vladimir Putin during his first term in the early 2000s.

Yeltsin had to overcome Russia’s internal crisis before there could be any talk of integrating with Europe. By the 2000s, when the state and its apparatus had stabilized and oil revenues filled government coffers, Putin searched diligently for an opportunity to implement the partnership with the EU and to further rapprochement. This continued from 2001 until as late as 2006.

The honeymoon had ended

Russia’s potential had grown significantly by that time, as had its expectations for the role it would play in a partnership with the EU.

Russia rejected as illegitimate the expectation that it comply unquestionably with European norms and felt that any partnership must be based, if not on strictly equal terms, then at least on special conditions. However, the EU never even considered Russia a special case, arguing that any reconsideration of its rules violated the very principles of European integration.

For this reason, the very idea of a strategic and integration partnership between Russia and the EU began eroding around the mid-2000s. This erosion occurred very gradually, not only because Russia’s domestic and foreign policy had begun to change significantly, but also because the EU unexpectedly faced a crisis, one that reached full force in the early 2010s.

By that time, although the partnership agreement first drawn up in the early 1990s remained unchanged — as it does today — the reality of Russia’s relationship with Europe increasingly diverged from its original configuration. Both sides’ objectives and, more importantly, their self-perceptions, grew further and further apart.

The most striking illustration of this was the obvious disconnect between the words spoken at the final Russia-EU Summit, held in Brussels in late January 2014, and the reality on the ground.

The Maidan protests were raging in Kiev, only three weeks remained before Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych would flee and new authorities would come to power, and relations between Russia and the EU — that stood on opposite sides of those barricades in Kiev — could not have been worse.

While President Putin and EU Commission President Manuel Barroso stood before the cameras and repeated the very same mantras they had been uttering for years, even decades, about partnership, a common space, road maps and so on, their faces betrayed what they were really thinking — namely, that nothing of the sort was going to happen.

But they had no other options on the table. Pure inertia from the process begun in the early 1990s compelled them to repeat the same tired calls for a close future partnership.

Then came the game-changing events in Ukraine, and much more besides. The long-standing framework for Russian-EU relations turned into an anachronism overnight, giving way to heated antagonism and competitiveness. Nevertheless, both sides continued paying lip service to partnership, dialogue and, in general, a state of affairs that had last existed 25 years earlier.

Fast forward to the present, and we have Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indirectly acknowledging how bad things have actually become. In effect, he has simply stated what everyone already knew — namely, that the old framework for Russian-EU relations no longer exists.

This does not mean an end to all relations, only an end to relations as they were.

The same, only different

A new framework is needed now, but it will probably be a long time in coming. And the framework Russia might want for its relations with Europe will not materialize for the very reasons mentioned above: present circumstances are simply too unfavorable.

Of course, no new Iron Curtain between Russia and the EU will fall from the sky. Their mutual humanitarian and economic relations remain very strong, despite some damage from sanctions, and cultural and even political ties remain intact. However, these are strictly utilitarian relations, without any pretense of common goals, and they take a backseat to Moscow’s bilateral relations with individual European countries. Russia and Europe are devolving into coolly polite neighbors that have no real interest in each other, but who are forced to interact simply because they live next door to each other.

In fact, Russia must now focus more on its main neighbor, China. Although Russia’s quarrel with the West plays some role in this pivot eastward, it is the enormously long Russian-Chinese border and the fact that China is rapidly becoming, if not a world hegemon, then at least one of the two pillars of the new world order that compels Moscow to devote far more attention to this neighbor than it is accustomed to.

More importantly, and what will cause fundamental change to Russia’s relations with Europe, is the fact that, for better or worse, the global balance is shifting towards Asia.

As a result, the focus that Russia has had on Europe and West for the past 300 years no longer corresponds to the global reality. Russia cannot afford to treat Asia as a secondary priority, although it often still does. If Moscow continues in this way, Russia could find itself facing a creeping expansionism from the east.

In any case, Russia’s former model of relations with the European Union has clearly ceased to function, and one way or another, the two sides have started to acknowledge this openly.

Source: The Moscow Times

[caption id="attachment_37003" align="alignnone" width="1360"] "The focus that Russia has had on Europe and West for the past 300 years no longer corresponds to the global reality"[/caption] Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, warning that Russia might halt all dialogue with the European Union. Mr. Lavrov offered no explanation for what was probably the most severe public statement on the EU of his career. Perhaps he was reacting to extended talks he recently held with EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell — talks that, by all appearances, did not go well. Naturally, the EU will respond to his statement with great displeasure and indignation, but Lavrov’s comment was actually rooted in a process that began long before the current crisis, all the way back to when Russian-EU relations looked positively upbeat and promising.

Common, but shaky ground

The modern Russian state and the EU came into existence at practically the same time — the former in late December 1991 and the latter in February 1992 — and they soon laid the groundwork for their mutual relations.  The two parties signed a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in 1994 — and ratified it in 1997 — that made their relations so close as to be considered “strategic” at one point. This differs significantly from the slogan of a “Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok” that former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev coined in 1989 to connote a common European homeland that, in reality, had no document or agreement to back it up. By contrast, the Russian-EU partnership was based firmly on the idea of integration. While Brussels never offered Russia full EU membership, it offered general, though indefinite assurances that its eastern neighbor would play a suitably substantial role in the “Greater Europe” that was then being built. At the core of this “Greater Europe,” as it was then envisioned, was a rapidly expanding European Union that wound up more than doubling in size from 1992 to 2007 — and which, it was expected, would eventually include Russia as well as other Soviet republics. A sort of pan-European space was created, although Russia’s status in that new entity was never described or even discussed. Both sides simply assumed that Russia would be part of Europe. In hindsight, it seems that Russia and the EU understood that partnership differently. However, they agreed at the time that everything from the structure of the state to economic regulation should be based on the legal and regulatory framework of the EU — which they both considered clearly superior. Ideally, every country that was included in that European space would have adopted European rules and regulations, after which they would either become EU members — some, strictly due to their size — or else, as in the case of Russia and Ukraine, associate members. Every newcomer was expected to bring its laws and regulations into line with the European standard. And in this regard, it differed fundamentally from Gorbachev’s idea of a “Europe stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” Although the Soviet leader did not offer any details regarding the pan-European homeland, he clearly anticipated a partnership of equals. The Soviet leader looked to a coming convergence, a mutual rapprochement in which each player — the Soviet Union, the European Community and the West as a whole — would contribute their strongest qualities, each somehow coming together in a whole that was more than the sum of its parts. In was, in a word, utopia, but not a tenable plan. Significantly, it was not former President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s who made the greatest efforts to achieve Russia’s integration into the European space based on European principles, but President Vladimir Putin during his first term in the early 2000s. Yeltsin had to overcome Russia’s internal crisis before there could be any talk of integrating with Europe. By the 2000s, when the state and its apparatus had stabilized and oil revenues filled government coffers, Putin searched diligently for an opportunity to implement the partnership with the EU and to further rapprochement. This continued from 2001 until as late as 2006.

The honeymoon had ended

Russia’s potential had grown significantly by that time, as had its expectations for the role it would play in a partnership with the EU. Russia rejected as illegitimate the expectation that it comply unquestionably with European norms and felt that any partnership must be based, if not on strictly equal terms, then at least on special conditions. However, the EU never even considered Russia a special case, arguing that any reconsideration of its rules violated the very principles of European integration. For this reason, the very idea of a strategic and integration partnership between Russia and the EU began eroding around the mid-2000s. This erosion occurred very gradually, not only because Russia’s domestic and foreign policy had begun to change significantly, but also because the EU unexpectedly faced a crisis, one that reached full force in the early 2010s. By that time, although the partnership agreement first drawn up in the early 1990s remained unchanged — as it does today — the reality of Russia’s relationship with Europe increasingly diverged from its original configuration. Both sides’ objectives and, more importantly, their self-perceptions, grew further and further apart. The most striking illustration of this was the obvious disconnect between the words spoken at the final Russia-EU Summit, held in Brussels in late January 2014, and the reality on the ground. The Maidan protests were raging in Kiev, only three weeks remained before Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych would flee and new authorities would come to power, and relations between Russia and the EU — that stood on opposite sides of those barricades in Kiev — could not have been worse. While President Putin and EU Commission President Manuel Barroso stood before the cameras and repeated the very same mantras they had been uttering for years, even decades, about partnership, a common space, road maps and so on, their faces betrayed what they were really thinking — namely, that nothing of the sort was going to happen. But they had no other options on the table. Pure inertia from the process begun in the early 1990s compelled them to repeat the same tired calls for a close future partnership. Then came the game-changing events in Ukraine, and much more besides. The long-standing framework for Russian-EU relations turned into an anachronism overnight, giving way to heated antagonism and competitiveness. Nevertheless, both sides continued paying lip service to partnership, dialogue and, in general, a state of affairs that had last existed 25 years earlier. Fast forward to the present, and we have Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indirectly acknowledging how bad things have actually become. In effect, he has simply stated what everyone already knew — namely, that the old framework for Russian-EU relations no longer exists. This does not mean an end to all relations, only an end to relations as they were.

The same, only different

A new framework is needed now, but it will probably be a long time in coming. And the framework Russia might want for its relations with Europe will not materialize for the very reasons mentioned above: present circumstances are simply too unfavorable. Of course, no new Iron Curtain between Russia and the EU will fall from the sky. Their mutual humanitarian and economic relations remain very strong, despite some damage from sanctions, and cultural and even political ties remain intact. However, these are strictly utilitarian relations, without any pretense of common goals, and they take a backseat to Moscow’s bilateral relations with individual European countries. Russia and Europe are devolving into coolly polite neighbors that have no real interest in each other, but who are forced to interact simply because they live next door to each other. In fact, Russia must now focus more on its main neighbor, China. Although Russia’s quarrel with the West plays some role in this pivot eastward, it is the enormously long Russian-Chinese border and the fact that China is rapidly becoming, if not a world hegemon, then at least one of the two pillars of the new world order that compels Moscow to devote far more attention to this neighbor than it is accustomed to. More importantly, and what will cause fundamental change to Russia’s relations with Europe, is the fact that, for better or worse, the global balance is shifting towards Asia. As a result, the focus that Russia has had on Europe and West for the past 300 years no longer corresponds to the global reality. Russia cannot afford to treat Asia as a secondary priority, although it often still does. If Moscow continues in this way, Russia could find itself facing a creeping expansionism from the east. In any case, Russia’s former model of relations with the European Union has clearly ceased to function, and one way or another, the two sides have started to acknowledge this openly. Source: The Moscow Times
Nicky Reid - Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:00

The news broke like something straight out of a cheesy 90s blockbuster. Whisked away to an undisclosed location, we were greeted in primetime by the Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, like a heavily Botoxed Bill Pullman commanding the troops. With the shades drawn and the lights low, she carefully but forcefully wove us a harrowing narrative. She and her family, now in hiding, were the unwitting victims of an elaborate plot by crazed neo-Nazi militiamen to kidnap the brave governor and try her for crimes against liberty before an armed civilian court.

At least a dozen men were in on the plot and it was all Donald Trump's fault for inspiring them to "Liberate Michigan" with his saucy social media banter and his blasé "Stand by and stand down" public demeanor. The bad men had been wrestled into submission for now by the selfless deeds of the brave men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. But for how long? How long would it be before more came to attack the figureheads of our precious democratic institutions? How long before the dreaded Boogaloo?

As at it turns out, as compelling as this carefully constructed network TV narrative was, there were more than a few things wrong with it that haven't been brought to the cable news watching public's attention. The primary one being that it was largely bullshit. Madame Whitmer's command performance as a humble public servant addressing a nation under fire was as badly scripted as the daytime soaps she interrupted. The governor was never in any real danger and she had been kept abreast of the details of the investigation for weeks if not months, being secretly shuttled about by the feds from secure location to secure location accordingly.

The men allegedly hunting her had been the subjects of a carefully arranged sting operation. No fewer than four FBI agents and/or informants had taken part in the dastardly plot from its earliest stage as chatroom heavy breathing on social media. It had all the markings of a classic FBI entrapment scheme. A dozen good old boys were picked out, infiltrated, and egged on by agent provocateurs to take their macho locker room talk to the next level. The Feds had been coaxing these bitter gun nuts for months, since the beginning of the year. God only knows how much of the plot was constructed by the feds themselves but I'm fairly confident that it probably never would have made it past the bullshitting stage if it wasn't for the hard work of our heroes in the FBI, the one gang in blue that the liberals agree matters.

I'm smugly confident in this theory because it conforms so perfectly to that crooked organization's well established modus operandi. The FBI has maintained it's questionable relevance for decades by establishing itself as a veritable cottage industry for entrapping wannabe radicals of every plausible stripe of the rainbow. We've seen it over and over again. They find themselves a weak link in the radical chain, usually some emotionally unstable blowhard, then they introduce him to one of their readymade radical informants who pushes, prods, and encourages this hapless sap into taking their heavy breathing to lengths they never would have even been capable of achieving on their own, often providing all the weapons and technological expertise themselves. Then a massive bust is launched and the compliant town criers of the mass media are fed the juicy details of an elaborate plot that the heroic feds wrote themselves before saving us all from its satanic powers.

The feds have been at this for years with the primary purpose of justifying their own bloated tax funded budgets by creating stories that they can write themselves in as the heroes of. They've done this with isolated disenfranchised Muslims whom they've sold down the river to Gitmo. They've done this with tree-hugging environmentalists whom they've coaxed from minor monkeywrenching to full blown arson. They did this with a couple of starry-eyed leftists named Bradley Crowder and David McKay back during the 2008 Republican National Convention when a motormouthed FBI crowd exciter named Bradley Michael Darby talked the two hapless Occupiers into turning their protest into a Molotov cocktail party.

The far left is fully aware of this history but they routinely choose to look the other way when these same twisted techniques are used to railroad right-wing hillbillies like the backwoods fruit loops in the Hutaree Militia, who were ultimately acquitted on all major charges and even had their guns and property returned to them well after the media had lost interest in their own sensationalized narrative. Or Randy Weaver and his two young daughters who won a lawsuit of $3.1 million after one of these stupid fucking schemes got Randy's wife, dog, and 14-year-old son murdered in cold blood. The FBI has been stoking the militia movement for decades, and why not? Personal differences aside, they are essentially anarchists, aren't they? Anything to keep a stateless motherfucker down.

And just who were these 13 men arrested for plotting against Governor Whitmer? According to that Helter Skelter eyed gubernatorial batfucker, they were a bunch of white trash Nazi lunatics answering to the commands of their fearless orange leader. But the available facts paint a far more complicated picture. Sure you had your sundry connections to Infowars conspiracy theories and Vaxxer hoopla, but these were not MAGA supporters and there remains zero evidence of any kind of neo-Nazi or Alt-Right affiliation. They were members of a pretty basic libertarian constitutionalist militia, one of many in rural Michigan, called the Wolverine Watchmen, and amongst the ranks of this assorted lot were self-proclaimed anarchists who openly denounced Furher Trump as a tyrant for his savage law and order police state, and at least one intersectionalist who attended both anti-lockdown protests and handed out bottled water during Black Lives Matter marches.

Perhaps more importantly, these were working class schmucks, many of them left unemployed and deeply in debt by Governor Whitmer's often arbitrary and downright unconstitutional lockdown that made peaceful assembly, in public or private, an arrestable offense. At least one of them was literally homeless. Another thing many of them shared was a history of military service and the PTSD that came with it. Much like Timothy McVeigh, they were given a hands-on education in how the American Government approaches conflict resolution. Is it really that shocking that these vets would fall back on this training when they found their livelihoods at risk by a runaway police state that thinks nothing of murdering its own citizens in cold blood?

These weren't just garden variety gun nuts, they were Boogaloo Bois. A new subculture in the American Militia Movement that takes a decidedly millennial approach to liberty. The ones I know support Black Lives Matter and defunding the police. I can tell you for a fact that the feds wouldn't have a hard time catching us joking about revolutionary action. It's how we shoot the shit, some pun intended, and it would be very easy for one of those feds to jump in on one of these irreverent conversations and push us to take things from blowing off steam to blowing up bridges. I imagine me and my friends would likely laugh them offline for such reactionary hyperbole. But I'm not a homeless vet with battle worn PTSD. Gore Vidal once described his pen-pal Timothy McVeigh as a man with an "Overdeveloped sense of justice." He was deeply saddened that this pathological burden went to waste on more bloodshed. I feel the same way about these federally catfished Boogaloo trout. A heartless crook like Gretchen Whitmer isn't worth it.

Source: Exile in Happy Valley

The news broke like something straight out of a cheesy 90s blockbuster. Whisked away to an undisclosed location, we were greeted in primetime by the Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, like a heavily Botoxed Bill Pullman commanding the troops. With the shades drawn and the lights low, she carefully but forcefully wove us a harrowing narrative. She and her family, now in hiding, were the unwitting victims of an elaborate plot by crazed neo-Nazi militiamen to kidnap the brave governor and try her for crimes against liberty before an armed civilian court. At least a dozen men were in on the plot and it was all Donald Trump's fault for inspiring them to "Liberate Michigan" with his saucy social media banter and his blasé "Stand by and stand down" public demeanor. The bad men had been wrestled into submission for now by the selfless deeds of the brave men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. But for how long? How long would it be before more came to attack the figureheads of our precious democratic institutions? How long before the dreaded Boogaloo? As at it turns out, as compelling as this carefully constructed network TV narrative was, there were more than a few things wrong with it that haven't been brought to the cable news watching public's attention. The primary one being that it was largely bullshit. Madame Whitmer's command performance as a humble public servant addressing a nation under fire was as badly scripted as the daytime soaps she interrupted. The governor was never in any real danger and she had been kept abreast of the details of the investigation for weeks if not months, being secretly shuttled about by the feds from secure location to secure location accordingly. The men allegedly hunting her had been the subjects of a carefully arranged sting operation. No fewer than four FBI agents and/or informants had taken part in the dastardly plot from its earliest stage as chatroom heavy breathing on social media. It had all the markings of a classic FBI entrapment scheme. A dozen good old boys were picked out, infiltrated, and egged on by agent provocateurs to take their macho locker room talk to the next level. The Feds had been coaxing these bitter gun nuts for months, since the beginning of the year. God only knows how much of the plot was constructed by the feds themselves but I'm fairly confident that it probably never would have made it past the bullshitting stage if it wasn't for the hard work of our heroes in the FBI, the one gang in blue that the liberals agree matters. I'm smugly confident in this theory because it conforms so perfectly to that crooked organization's well established modus operandi. The FBI has maintained it's questionable relevance for decades by establishing itself as a veritable cottage industry for entrapping wannabe radicals of every plausible stripe of the rainbow. We've seen it over and over again. They find themselves a weak link in the radical chain, usually some emotionally unstable blowhard, then they introduce him to one of their readymade radical informants who pushes, prods, and encourages this hapless sap into taking their heavy breathing to lengths they never would have even been capable of achieving on their own, often providing all the weapons and technological expertise themselves. Then a massive bust is launched and the compliant town criers of the mass media are fed the juicy details of an elaborate plot that the heroic feds wrote themselves before saving us all from its satanic powers. The feds have been at this for years with the primary purpose of justifying their own bloated tax funded budgets by creating stories that they can write themselves in as the heroes of. They've done this with isolated disenfranchised Muslims whom they've sold down the river to Gitmo. They've done this with tree-hugging environmentalists whom they've coaxed from minor monkeywrenching to full blown arson. They did this with a couple of starry-eyed leftists named Bradley Crowder and David McKay back during the 2008 Republican National Convention when a motormouthed FBI crowd exciter named Bradley Michael Darby talked the two hapless Occupiers into turning their protest into a Molotov cocktail party. The far left is fully aware of this history but they routinely choose to look the other way when these same twisted techniques are used to railroad right-wing hillbillies like the backwoods fruit loops in the Hutaree Militia, who were ultimately acquitted on all major charges and even had their guns and property returned to them well after the media had lost interest in their own sensationalized narrative. Or Randy Weaver and his two young daughters who won a lawsuit of $3.1 million after one of these stupid fucking schemes got Randy's wife, dog, and 14-year-old son murdered in cold blood. The FBI has been stoking the militia movement for decades, and why not? Personal differences aside, they are essentially anarchists, aren't they? Anything to keep a stateless motherfucker down. And just who were these 13 men arrested for plotting against Governor Whitmer? According to that Helter Skelter eyed gubernatorial batfucker, they were a bunch of white trash Nazi lunatics answering to the commands of their fearless orange leader. But the available facts paint a far more complicated picture. Sure you had your sundry connections to Infowars conspiracy theories and Vaxxer hoopla, but these were not MAGA supporters and there remains zero evidence of any kind of neo-Nazi or Alt-Right affiliation. They were members of a pretty basic libertarian constitutionalist militia, one of many in rural Michigan, called the Wolverine Watchmen, and amongst the ranks of this assorted lot were self-proclaimed anarchists who openly denounced Furher Trump as a tyrant for his savage law and order police state, and at least one intersectionalist who attended both anti-lockdown protests and handed out bottled water during Black Lives Matter marches. Perhaps more importantly, these were working class schmucks, many of them left unemployed and deeply in debt by Governor Whitmer's often arbitrary and downright unconstitutional lockdown that made peaceful assembly, in public or private, an arrestable offense. At least one of them was literally homeless. Another thing many of them shared was a history of military service and the PTSD that came with it. Much like Timothy McVeigh, they were given a hands-on education in how the American Government approaches conflict resolution. Is it really that shocking that these vets would fall back on this training when they found their livelihoods at risk by a runaway police state that thinks nothing of murdering its own citizens in cold blood? These weren't just garden variety gun nuts, they were Boogaloo Bois. A new subculture in the American Militia Movement that takes a decidedly millennial approach to liberty. The ones I know support Black Lives Matter and defunding the police. I can tell you for a fact that the feds wouldn't have a hard time catching us joking about revolutionary action. It's how we shoot the shit, some pun intended, and it would be very easy for one of those feds to jump in on one of these irreverent conversations and push us to take things from blowing off steam to blowing up bridges. I imagine me and my friends would likely laugh them offline for such reactionary hyperbole. But I'm not a homeless vet with battle worn PTSD. Gore Vidal once described his pen-pal Timothy McVeigh as a man with an "Overdeveloped sense of justice." He was deeply saddened that this pathological burden went to waste on more bloodshed. I feel the same way about these federally catfished Boogaloo trout. A heartless crook like Gretchen Whitmer isn't worth it. Source: Exile in Happy Valley
Daria Litvinova - Tue Oct 20, 2020 09:00

It’s Friday night in Moscow, and popular bars and restaurants in the city center are packed. No one except the staff is wearing a mask or bothers to keep their distance. There is little indication at all that Russia is being swept by a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

“I believe that everyone will have the disease eventually,” says Dr. Alexandra Yerofeyeva, an internal medicine specialist at an insurance company, while sipping a cocktail at The Bix bar in Moscow. She adds cheerfully: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

The outbreak in Russia this month is breaking the records set in the spring, when a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus was put in place. But, as governments across Europe move to reimpose restrictions to counter rising cases, authorities in Russia are resisting shutting down businesses again. Some regions have closed nightclubs or limited the hours of bars and restaurants, but few measures have been implemented in Moscow, which is once again the epicenter of the surge.

On Friday, Russian authorities reported over 15,000 new infections, the highest daily spike so far in the pandemic. Moscow — with less than 10% of the population — accounts for up to 30% of new infections each day. The health minister says 90% of hospital beds for coronavirus patients have been filled. Three times this week, Russia’s daily death toll exceeded the spring record of 232.

Even these soaring virus tolls are likely undercounts; experts have cautioned that official figures around the world understate the true toll, but critics have taken particular issue with Russia’s death tolls, alleging authorities might be playing down the scale of the outbreak.

Right now, situation is “difficult” but “no restrictive measures for the economy are required,” Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The spring lockdown hurt the country’s already weakened economy and compounded Russians’ frustration with plummeting incomes and worsening living conditions, driving Putin’s approval rating to a historic low of 59% in April, according to the Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster. Analysts say his government doesn’t want to return to those darks days.

“They know that people have just come to the end of their tolerance of the lockdown measures that would be hugely unpopular if they got imposed again,” said Judy Twigg, a professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in global health.

In fact, Putin’s government appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Russian officials announced this week that air traffic would resume with three more countries. All international air traffic was stopped in the spring.

The announcement reminded people “about the necessity to take care of their health as much as possible” — a reflection of Russian authorities’ new effort to shift much of the responsibility for how the outbreak unfolds onto the people.

Moscow has taken the necessary measures, “but without the people responding to these measures, helping themselves and the people around them, nothing will work,” warned Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of the Russian capital of 12.7 million.

During the summer, authorities lifted most virus-related restrictions, and life in Russia started getting back to normal. Perhaps too quickly, some critics said, noting that the government was eager to ensure that people voted on constitutional amendments extending Putin’s rule.

Even as health officials still report several thousand new infections every day, restaurants and cinemas reopened, vacationers flocked to Black Sea resorts, and 17,000 took part in the Moscow Half Marathon in August. Russia’s Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said the race “marked this victory” over the pandemic.

That same month, Putin announced regulatory approval of the first vaccine against coronavirus — although many scientists have cast doubt on the shot — and it is now being tested in a larger study. Authorities are offering it to doctors and teachers, but it’s not widely available.

With Putin’s approval ratings on the rise again, the government appears reluctant to do anything that might further weaken the economy and anger the public.

The authorities understand that “the economic virus is worse than the biological one,” Boris Titov, Russia’s business ombudsman, told entrepreneurs this week. Nearly 70% of the country’s businesses “will not survive the second wave” and the accompanying restrictions, he said.

But doctors and experts are sounding the alarm that Russia’s health system is being stretched. Just like in the spring, media report hourslong waits for ambulances and long lines for CT scans. People who have virus symptoms — who are supposed to call a visiting doctor service — report waiting days for anyone to arrive.

“When it comes to the regions (beyond Moscow), we see that they are already choking,” said Vasily Vlassov, public health expert with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Moscow hospitals, so far, appear to be coping.

“The hospital is full, but there are free beds for now, and we haven’t yet used all of the reserve beds,” said Dr. Alexander Vanyukov of the Moscow Hospital No. 52.

Life outside hospitals remains largely normal. Moscow officials have recommended the elderly and those with chronic illnesses stay home. They ordered employers to make 30% of their staff work from home, extended the fall school vacation by a week and moved middle and high school students to online classes.

As at the national level, officials have focused on personal responsibility, at one point sending inspectors to theaters to look for retirees who are not self-isolating.

Officials said they considered shutting bars and nightclubs, but on Thursday Moscow’s mayor proposed “an experiment” instead: Employees and customers at establishments open between midnight and 6 a.m. must register for contact tracing purposes.

Margo Lankina, manager of The Bix bar, says operating during the pandemic isn’t easy. Her staff must wear gloves and masks and their health is monitored. The venue is regularly cleaned.

“But on the other hand, it’s good that they allow us to work,” Lankina says.

“Our guests? Well, the distance is not being observed, that’s true, what can I say?” Lankina admits. “But somehow we keep on living.”

Source: Associated Press

It’s Friday night in Moscow, and popular bars and restaurants in the city center are packed. No one except the staff is wearing a mask or bothers to keep their distance. There is little indication at all that Russia is being swept by a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

“I believe that everyone will have the disease eventually,” says Dr. Alexandra Yerofeyeva, an internal medicine specialist at an insurance company, while sipping a cocktail at The Bix bar in Moscow. She adds cheerfully: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

The outbreak in Russia this month is breaking the records set in the spring, when a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus was put in place. But, as governments across Europe move to reimpose restrictions to counter rising cases, authorities in Russia are resisting shutting down businesses again. Some regions have closed nightclubs or limited the hours of bars and restaurants, but few measures have been implemented in Moscow, which is once again the epicenter of the surge.

On Friday, Russian authorities reported over 15,000 new infections, the highest daily spike so far in the pandemic. Moscow — with less than 10% of the population — accounts for up to 30% of new infections each day. The health minister says 90% of hospital beds for coronavirus patients have been filled. Three times this week, Russia’s daily death toll exceeded the spring record of 232.

Even these soaring virus tolls are likely undercounts; experts have cautioned that official figures around the world understate the true toll, but critics have taken particular issue with Russia’s death tolls, alleging authorities might be playing down the scale of the outbreak.

Right now, situation is “difficult” but “no restrictive measures for the economy are required,” Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The spring lockdown hurt the country’s already weakened economy and compounded Russians’ frustration with plummeting incomes and worsening living conditions, driving Putin’s approval rating to a historic low of 59% in April, according to the Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster. Analysts say his government doesn’t want to return to those darks days.

“They know that people have just come to the end of their tolerance of the lockdown measures that would be hugely unpopular if they got imposed again,” said Judy Twigg, a professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in global health.

In fact, Putin’s government appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Russian officials announced this week that air traffic would resume with three more countries. All international air traffic was stopped in the spring.

The announcement reminded people “about the necessity to take care of their health as much as possible” — a reflection of Russian authorities’ new effort to shift much of the responsibility for how the outbreak unfolds onto the people.

Moscow has taken the necessary measures, “but without the people responding to these measures, helping themselves and the people around them, nothing will work,” warned Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of the Russian capital of 12.7 million.

During the summer, authorities lifted most virus-related restrictions, and life in Russia started getting back to normal. Perhaps too quickly, some critics said, noting that the government was eager to ensure that people voted on constitutional amendments extending Putin’s rule.

Even as health officials still report several thousand new infections every day, restaurants and cinemas reopened, vacationers flocked to Black Sea resorts, and 17,000 took part in the Moscow Half Marathon in August. Russia’s Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said the race “marked this victory” over the pandemic.

That same month, Putin announced regulatory approval of the first vaccine against coronavirus — although many scientists have cast doubt on the shot — and it is now being tested in a larger study. Authorities are offering it to doctors and teachers, but it’s not widely available.

With Putin’s approval ratings on the rise again, the government appears reluctant to do anything that might further weaken the economy and anger the public.

The authorities understand that “the economic virus is worse than the biological one,” Boris Titov, Russia’s business ombudsman, told entrepreneurs this week. Nearly 70% of the country’s businesses “will not survive the second wave” and the accompanying restrictions, he said.

But doctors and experts are sounding the alarm that Russia’s health system is being stretched. Just like in the spring, media report hourslong waits for ambulances and long lines for CT scans. People who have virus symptoms — who are supposed to call a visiting doctor service — report waiting days for anyone to arrive.

“When it comes to the regions (beyond Moscow), we see that they are already choking,” said Vasily Vlassov, public health expert with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

Moscow hospitals, so far, appear to be coping.

“The hospital is full, but there are free beds for now, and we haven’t yet used all of the reserve beds,” said Dr. Alexander Vanyukov of the Moscow Hospital No. 52.

Life outside hospitals remains largely normal. Moscow officials have recommended the elderly and those with chronic illnesses stay home. They ordered employers to make 30% of their staff work from home, extended the fall school vacation by a week and moved middle and high school students to online classes.

As at the national level, officials have focused on personal responsibility, at one point sending inspectors to theaters to look for retirees who are not self-isolating.

Officials said they considered shutting bars and nightclubs, but on Thursday Moscow’s mayor proposed “an experiment” instead: Employees and customers at establishments open between midnight and 6 a.m. must register for contact tracing purposes.

Margo Lankina, manager of The Bix bar, says operating during the pandemic isn’t easy. Her staff must wear gloves and masks and their health is monitored. The venue is regularly cleaned.

“But on the other hand, it’s good that they allow us to work,” Lankina says.

“Our guests? Well, the distance is not being observed, that’s true, what can I say?” Lankina admits. “But somehow we keep on living.”

Source: Associated Press
Alan Macleod - Tue Oct 20, 2020 08:00

Bolivia’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party is celebrating what appears to be a crushing, landslide victory in Sunday’s elections. Although official vote counting is far from over, exit polls show an overwhelming triumph for the socialists, and a repudiation of the right-wing military government of Jeanine Añez, who has ruled since the coup last November. At the same time, the corporate press appears less than pleased about the return to democracy for the Andean country.

In order to win outright in the first round, the top candidate needs at least 40 percent of the popular vote and a lead of 10 points over their nearest rival, and multiple polls have indicated that the MAS ticket of Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca has won more than 50 percent, and have achieved a lead of over 20 points on their nearest challenger, Carlos Mesa (president between 2003 and 2005) — quite a feat in a five-way election. The MAS is also expected to have won a large majority in the senate.

https://twitter.com/OVargas52/status/1318040824916152322?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%...

Añez, who came to power in a coup overthrowing President Evo Morales last November, and whose government has constantly postponed the election throughout the year, knew the game was up and lauded the MAS on their remarkable achievement. “We do not yet have an official count, but from the data we have, Mr. Arce and Mr. Choquehuanca have won the election. I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind,” she wrote. Añez decided to drop out of the election herself last month in an attempt to boost Mesa’s chances of stopping Arce. However, today Mesa accepted defeat as well. “The result is overwhelming and clear. The difference is wide,” he lamented.

Media disappointment at return of democracy

Across the spectrum, corporate media endorsed the events of November, refusing to label them a coup. The New York Times editorial board claimed that the “increasingly autocratic” tyrant Morales had actually “resigned,” after “protests” over a “highly fishy vote.” The Washington Post did the same. “There can be little doubt who was responsible for the chaos: newly resigned president Evo Morales,” their editorial board wrote, as they expressed their relief that Bolivia was finally in the hands of “more responsible leaders” like Añez, (who, at the time, was giving security forces orders to shoot her opponents in the streets). Despite this, The Wall Street Journal’s board decided the events of November constituted “a democratic outbreak in Bolivia.”

Today, therefore, the corporate press is in a very tough spot, as they have to explain to their readers why the Bolivian people have just handed an overwhelming, landslide victory to a party they have been presenting as an authoritarian dictatorship who were overthrown by popular protests last year.

A number of outlets solved this by simply fastidiously avoiding reporting on the events of November or using the word “coup” to describe them. NPR’s Philip Reeves, for example, claimed Morales “resigned” amid an annulled election after “allegations of fraud,” leading to an “interim government” (Añez’s own public relations-minded phrase for her administration). The word “coup” only appears in the mouth of Morales, someone whose credibility the outlet has spent months undermining. Other organizations like Deutsche Welt and Bloomberg failed to use the word at all in their reporting.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, referenced the coup, but did not use the word, instead describing it as when “police and military leaders suggested he [Morales] leave.” It takes great linguistic skill to refrain from using by far the most appropriate word to describe events in Bolivia for what they are: a coup. Indeed, the linguistic gymnastics necessary to avoid using the word would be genuinely impressive were not an exercise in deceit and manufacturing consent for regime change.

CNN at least included the phrase “claims of a coup,” but presents it beside apparently equally justified “allegations of fraud among contested national elections.” But these two things are nothing like the same. One is a statement of fact while another is a debunked, discredited talking point used to overthrow a legitimate government.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s article on the election had an entire section called “why is the country so divided” which did not mention the massacres, the firesale of the country’s economy, the repression of media or activists, the persecution of the MAS or the U.S. role in overthrowing the elected government. Instead, it presented Morales himself as the prime agent of polarization, a common tactic among media discussing enemy states.

The New York Times also published a long, in-depth article on the election, yet it appeared that the only MAS “supporters” it was willing to quote were ones who constantly badmouthed Morales, the article also suggesting that MAS’ figures might be inflated, despite the fact they have now been accepted by Añez and Mesa as essentially accurate.

As such the corporate press refused to cover the incredible story of nationwide nonviolent resistance to authoritarian rule, forcing a government into accepting its own defeat, reminiscent of Gandhi’s campaign against the British in India.

https://twitter.com/existentialcoms/status/1318107640950517764?ref_src=twsrc%...

A year of political turbulence

Last October, Morales won an unprecedented and not uncontentious fourth term. Yet the U.S.-backed opposition refused to accept the results, claiming that they had been rigged. The Organization of American States immediately backed them up, producing a flawed report on election meddling, something that was almost immediately disproven. Nevertheless, the right-wing mobilized and began a widespread campaign of terror, targeting, attacking, and kidnapping MAS politicians. On November 10, police and military commanders joined the coup, demanding Morales resign or else they would take matters into their own hands. Morales decided to flee to Mexico but made clear he was only leaving to prevent a bloodbath.

The military picked Añez, a little known senator from a party who gained only four percent of the public vote, to become president. She immediately granted security forces total pre-immunity for all crimes committed during the “re-establishment of order.” Her new interior minister, Arturo Murillo, oversaw the creation of masked, black-clad paramilitary units specifically aimed at political subversives, foreigners, and human rights groups. Journalists were attacked and, in one case, beaten to death, while foreign and alternative media were shut down completely. Murillo promised to “hunt down” his opponents like dogs. Morales himself was charged with crimes against humanity and faces spending the rest of his life in prison if he returns to his home country. Other MAS leaders on yesterday’s ballot also face long prison terms on dubious charges.

https://twitter.com/AliMortell/status/1318221632306089985?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw...

Añez pushed through the privatization of natural resources and state-owned businesses while in office, accepting loans from predatory organizations like the International Monetary Fund. She also reorientated her country’s foreign policy away from an independent path towards one completely in line with U.S. foreign policy aims, pulling out of multiple regional alliances and entering new ones. Under Morales, for example, Bolivia had declared Israel a ‘terrorist state.” Yet less than a month after the coup, Añez and Murillo were inviting IDF troops to the country to train their police forces in dealing with “leftist terrorism.”

The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has also taken on a decidedly right-wing tone. Cuts to health provisions and the expulsion of hundreds of Cuban doctors (whom the government labeled as “terrorists”) caused the public health system to crash just before the pandemic became worldwide news. As a result, Bolivia has the third-highest COVID-19 death per capita rate in the world, comfortably surpassing the United States in severity. Añez herself contracted the virus in July.

Añez used the intensity of the pandemic as justification to continually suspend the elections she claimed she would hold, calling herself merely an “interim president.” Yet many inside the country felt the coronavirus was being used as an excuse to keep herself in power indefinitely. Throughout the year, Bolivia was engulfed in near continual protests, shutting the country down. As a result, the summer was marked by the rise of the virus and by a weeks-long peaceful general strike calling for elections. Fearing a potential revolution, Añez conceded and agreed to hold them in October.

After months of organized popular struggle in the face of a coup government that had been massacring them, Sunday’s result has been widely interpreted as a repudiation of the coup and a vote for socialism. MintPress’ Ollie Vargas, who has never made a secret of his political persuasions, said in the wake of the results:

On a personal level, I can’t believe this is finally happening, but it’s what we’ve always known. Despite the massacres, despite the persecution, despite U.S. intervention, the MAS is back and even more powerful. They can’t put a lid on the majority of the people.”

Morales celebrated the ascension of his former minister of finance to Bolivia’s top job. “We’ve received our democracy” he declared. “Sisters and brothers: the will of the people has been imposed. There has been a resounding victory for the MAS. Our political movement will have a majority in both houses. We have returned millions, now we are going to restore dignity and freedom to the people,” he added on Twitter.

Arce himself was in an equally joyous mood, telling Vargas last night that, “It seems that a great part of the Bolivian people have recovered their soul.” “I think the Bolivian people want to retake the path we were on,” he added. MAS supporters took to the streets to celebrate their victory, made all the more unlikely given the repression they have been subject to under Añez’s military regime.

Fears of violence and vote rigging against the MAS were rife, especially as the government had blocked foreign election observers from overseeing events, threatening to jail them. On Saturday, Argentinian congressman Federico Fagioli, an official observer representing his government, was arrested by police at El Alto airport. Video of the incident shows Fagioli shouting “I am being kidnapped” as multiple officers pick him up and forcefully carry him away.

What’s Next?

If Añez’s government does indeed step down, it will represent only the second time in Latin American history that a U.S.-backed coup against a progressive administration has been overturned. However, in Venezuela in 2002, the countercoup took less than 48 hours. In Bolivia, people have organized for nearly a year to achieve the same ends, giving the government far more time to embed and establish itself. The Bolivian people have a long history of organized struggle bringing down governments. In the early 2000s, nationwide protests against gas and water privatizations rocked the country, toppling unrepresentative regimes (including that of Mesa’s in 2005), setting the stage for Morales to become the most influential figure in Bolivian politics of the last 15 years.

The first indigenous president in the majority indigenous country’s history, Morales ran on the idea of 21st-century socialism, using his country’s considerable mineral wealth to fund social programs that cut poverty by half and extreme poverty by three-quarters, halving unemployment and increasing the country’s GDP by 50 percent. Yet his nationalization program and his outspoken criticism of capitalism and American imperialism on the world stage made him a prime target for regime change in Washington, who strongly supported the events of November, immediately recognizing and supporting Añez’s legitimacy.

Despite the fact that the MAS’ electoral victory looks certain, it is far from clear what sort of resistance they will face from other sources of power. “The next few days will be key for consolidating democracy in Bolivia. The MAS will need to embrace the patriotic elements within the police and military, to ensure the U.S./Murillo don’t launch a second coup against the majority of Bolivians,” Vargas warned. And how will the MAS deal with the coup plotters themselves, clearly guilty of serious human rights abuses. Are they really in any position to exert authority over the situation?

https://twitter.com/OVargas52/status/1318070831080235009?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%...

Of late, wherever there are governments critical of U.S. power (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Iran, etc.) they are met with crushing sanctions in an attempt to destroy their ability to oppose Washington. Bolivia under Morales had already been labeled by some in the U.S. as a “narco-dictatorship.” If Arce does indeed come to rule his country, will he receive the Nicolas Maduro treatment?

For MAS supporters, however, those are questions for a different day. Today, they are celebrating a stunning and historic victory cheered by progressives the world over but angering Washington and corporate journalists in equal measure.

Source: MintPress News

Bolivia’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party is celebrating what appears to be a crushing, landslide victory in Sunday’s elections. Although official vote counting is far from over, exit polls show an overwhelming triumph for the socialists, and a repudiation of the right-wing military government of Jeanine Añez, who has ruled since the coup last November. At the same time, the corporate press appears less than pleased about the return to democracy for the Andean country. In order to win outright in the first round, the top candidate needs at least 40 percent of the popular vote and a lead of 10 points over their nearest rival, and multiple polls have indicated that the MAS ticket of Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca has won more than 50 percent, and have achieved a lead of over 20 points on their nearest challenger, Carlos Mesa (president between 2003 and 2005) — quite a feat in a five-way election. The MAS is also expected to have won a large majority in the senate. https://twitter.com/OVargas52/status/1318040824916152322?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%... Añez, who came to power in a coup overthrowing President Evo Morales last November, and whose government has constantly postponed the election throughout the year, knew the game was up and lauded the MAS on their remarkable achievement. “We do not yet have an official count, but from the data we have, Mr. Arce and Mr. Choquehuanca have won the election. I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind,” she wrote. Añez decided to drop out of the election herself last month in an attempt to boost Mesa’s chances of stopping Arce. However, today Mesa accepted defeat as well. “The result is overwhelming and clear. The difference is wide,” he lamented. Media disappointment at return of democracy Across the spectrum, corporate media endorsed the events of November, refusing to label them a coup. The New York Times editorial board claimed that the “increasingly autocratic” tyrant Morales had actually “resigned,” after “protests” over a “highly fishy vote.” The Washington Post did the same. “There can be little doubt who was responsible for the chaos: newly resigned president Evo Morales,” their editorial board wrote, as they expressed their relief that Bolivia was finally in the hands of “more responsible leaders” like Añez, (who, at the time, was giving security forces orders to shoot her opponents in the streets). Despite this, The Wall Street Journal’s board decided the events of November constituted “a democratic outbreak in Bolivia.” Today, therefore, the corporate press is in a very tough spot, as they have to explain to their readers why the Bolivian people have just handed an overwhelming, landslide victory to a party they have been presenting as an authoritarian dictatorship who were overthrown by popular protests last year. A number of outlets solved this by simply fastidiously avoiding reporting on the events of November or using the word “coup” to describe them. NPR’s Philip Reeves, for example, claimed Morales “resigned” amid an annulled election after “allegations of fraud,” leading to an “interim government” (Añez’s own public relations-minded phrase for her administration). The word “coup” only appears in the mouth of Morales, someone whose credibility the outlet has spent months undermining. Other organizations like Deutsche Welt and Bloomberg failed to use the word at all in their reporting. The Associated Press, meanwhile, referenced the coup, but did not use the word, instead describing it as when “police and military leaders suggested he [Morales] leave.” It takes great linguistic skill to refrain from using by far the most appropriate word to describe events in Bolivia for what they are: a coup. Indeed, the linguistic gymnastics necessary to avoid using the word would be genuinely impressive were not an exercise in deceit and manufacturing consent for regime change. CNN at least included the phrase “claims of a coup,” but presents it beside apparently equally justified “allegations of fraud among contested national elections.” But these two things are nothing like the same. One is a statement of fact while another is a debunked, discredited talking point used to overthrow a legitimate government. Meanwhile, the BBC’s article on the election had an entire section called “why is the country so divided” which did not mention the massacres, the firesale of the country’s economy, the repression of media or activists, the persecution of the MAS or the U.S. role in overthrowing the elected government. Instead, it presented Morales himself as the prime agent of polarization, a common tactic among media discussing enemy states. The New York Times also published a long, in-depth article on the election, yet it appeared that the only MAS “supporters” it was willing to quote were ones who constantly badmouthed Morales, the article also suggesting that MAS’ figures might be inflated, despite the fact they have now been accepted by Añez and Mesa as essentially accurate. As such the corporate press refused to cover the incredible story of nationwide nonviolent resistance to authoritarian rule, forcing a government into accepting its own defeat, reminiscent of Gandhi’s campaign against the British in India. https://twitter.com/existentialcoms/status/1318107640950517764?ref_src=twsrc%... A year of political turbulence Last October, Morales won an unprecedented and not uncontentious fourth term. Yet the U.S.-backed opposition refused to accept the results, claiming that they had been rigged. The Organization of American States immediately backed them up, producing a flawed report on election meddling, something that was almost immediately disproven. Nevertheless, the right-wing mobilized and began a widespread campaign of terror, targeting, attacking, and kidnapping MAS politicians. On November 10, police and military commanders joined the coup, demanding Morales resign or else they would take matters into their own hands. Morales decided to flee to Mexico but made clear he was only leaving to prevent a bloodbath. The military picked Añez, a little known senator from a party who gained only four percent of the public vote, to become president. She immediately granted security forces total pre-immunity for all crimes committed during the “re-establishment of order.” Her new interior minister, Arturo Murillo, oversaw the creation of masked, black-clad paramilitary units specifically aimed at political subversives, foreigners, and human rights groups. Journalists were attacked and, in one case, beaten to death, while foreign and alternative media were shut down completely. Murillo promised to “hunt down” his opponents like dogs. Morales himself was charged with crimes against humanity and faces spending the rest of his life in prison if he returns to his home country. Other MAS leaders on yesterday’s ballot also face long prison terms on dubious charges. https://twitter.com/AliMortell/status/1318221632306089985?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw... Añez pushed through the privatization of natural resources and state-owned businesses while in office, accepting loans from predatory organizations like the International Monetary Fund. She also reorientated her country’s foreign policy away from an independent path towards one completely in line with U.S. foreign policy aims, pulling out of multiple regional alliances and entering new ones. Under Morales, for example, Bolivia had declared Israel a ‘terrorist state.” Yet less than a month after the coup, Añez and Murillo were inviting IDF troops to the country to train their police forces in dealing with “leftist terrorism.” The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has also taken on a decidedly right-wing tone. Cuts to health provisions and the expulsion of hundreds of Cuban doctors (whom the government labeled as “terrorists”) caused the public health system to crash just before the pandemic became worldwide news. As a result, Bolivia has the third-highest COVID-19 death per capita rate in the world, comfortably surpassing the United States in severity. Añez herself contracted the virus in July. Añez used the intensity of the pandemic as justification to continually suspend the elections she claimed she would hold, calling herself merely an “interim president.” Yet many inside the country felt the coronavirus was being used as an excuse to keep herself in power indefinitely. Throughout the year, Bolivia was engulfed in near continual protests, shutting the country down. As a result, the summer was marked by the rise of the virus and by a weeks-long peaceful general strike calling for elections. Fearing a potential revolution, Añez conceded and agreed to hold them in October. After months of organized popular struggle in the face of a coup government that had been massacring them, Sunday’s result has been widely interpreted as a repudiation of the coup and a vote for socialism. MintPress’ Ollie Vargas, who has never made a secret of his political persuasions, said in the wake of the results:
On a personal level, I can’t believe this is finally happening, but it’s what we’ve always known. Despite the massacres, despite the persecution, despite U.S. intervention, the MAS is back and even more powerful. They can’t put a lid on the majority of the people.”
Morales celebrated the ascension of his former minister of finance to Bolivia’s top job. “We’ve received our democracy” he declared. “Sisters and brothers: the will of the people has been imposed. There has been a resounding victory for the MAS. Our political movement will have a majority in both houses. We have returned millions, now we are going to restore dignity and freedom to the people,” he added on Twitter. Arce himself was in an equally joyous mood, telling Vargas last night that, “It seems that a great part of the Bolivian people have recovered their soul.” “I think the Bolivian people want to retake the path we were on,” he added. MAS supporters took to the streets to celebrate their victory, made all the more unlikely given the repression they have been subject to under Añez’s military regime. Fears of violence and vote rigging against the MAS were rife, especially as the government had blocked foreign election observers from overseeing events, threatening to jail them. On Saturday, Argentinian congressman Federico Fagioli, an official observer representing his government, was arrested by police at El Alto airport. Video of the incident shows Fagioli shouting “I am being kidnapped” as multiple officers pick him up and forcefully carry him away. What’s Next? If Añez’s government does indeed step down, it will represent only the second time in Latin American history that a U.S.-backed coup against a progressive administration has been overturned. However, in Venezuela in 2002, the countercoup took less than 48 hours. In Bolivia, people have organized for nearly a year to achieve the same ends, giving the government far more time to embed and establish itself. The Bolivian people have a long history of organized struggle bringing down governments. In the early 2000s, nationwide protests against gas and water privatizations rocked the country, toppling unrepresentative regimes (including that of Mesa’s in 2005), setting the stage for Morales to become the most influential figure in Bolivian politics of the last 15 years. The first indigenous president in the majority indigenous country’s history, Morales ran on the idea of 21st-century socialism, using his country’s considerable mineral wealth to fund social programs that cut poverty by half and extreme poverty by three-quarters, halving unemployment and increasing the country’s GDP by 50 percent. Yet his nationalization program and his outspoken criticism of capitalism and American imperialism on the world stage made him a prime target for regime change in Washington, who strongly supported the events of November, immediately recognizing and supporting Añez’s legitimacy. Despite the fact that the MAS’ electoral victory looks certain, it is far from clear what sort of resistance they will face from other sources of power. “The next few days will be key for consolidating democracy in Bolivia. The MAS will need to embrace the patriotic elements within the police and military, to ensure the U.S./Murillo don’t launch a second coup against the majority of Bolivians,” Vargas warned. And how will the MAS deal with the coup plotters themselves, clearly guilty of serious human rights abuses. Are they really in any position to exert authority over the situation? https://twitter.com/OVargas52/status/1318070831080235009?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%... Of late, wherever there are governments critical of U.S. power (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Iran, etc.) they are met with crushing sanctions in an attempt to destroy their ability to oppose Washington. Bolivia under Morales had already been labeled by some in the U.S. as a “narco-dictatorship.” If Arce does indeed come to rule his country, will he receive the Nicolas Maduro treatment? For MAS supporters, however, those are questions for a different day. Today, they are celebrating a stunning and historic victory cheered by progressives the world over but angering Washington and corporate journalists in equal measure. Source: MintPress News
Jason Ditz - Tue Oct 20, 2020 06:30

13 years after implementation, the UN Security Council arms embargo against Iran has expired, and is finally lifted. This ends UN legal obstacles to Iran buying conventional weapons and services related to those arms.

The embargo’s end comes despite US and Israeli opposition, and with threats from both to attempt to keep enforcing the no longer in place embargo. This only applies to UN restrictions, as EU embargoes on Iran remain in place through at least 2023.

The most likely sellers to Iran are Russia and China. The two nations have no legal obstacles any longer, probably won’t be cowed by US threats, and Russia has repeatedly said they intend to make offers of defensive equipment to Iran once this embargo ended.

Iranian officials say that they don’t have any intention of engaging in any major arms acquisitions right now. Iranian leaders are emphasizing this as a diplomatic victory, with the embargo expiration coming as part of the P5+1 nuclear deal.

That’s likely a big part of why this is so galling for the US, as they’ve been trying to undermine that nuclear deal for years, and having thwarted most of the sanctions relief the deal was meant to ensure, have proven incapable of stopping the arms embargo’s lifting.

Source: Antiwar.com

[caption id="attachment_36990" align="alignnone" width="700"] No obstacle for Russia and China to arm the Persians[/caption] 13 years after implementation, the UN Security Council arms embargo against Iran has expired, and is finally lifted. This ends UN legal obstacles to Iran buying conventional weapons and services related to those arms. The embargo’s end comes despite US and Israeli opposition, and with threats from both to attempt to keep enforcing the no longer in place embargo. This only applies to UN restrictions, as EU embargoes on Iran remain in place through at least 2023. The most likely sellers to Iran are Russia and China. The two nations have no legal obstacles any longer, probably won’t be cowed by US threats, and Russia has repeatedly said they intend to make offers of defensive equipment to Iran once this embargo ended. Iranian officials say that they don’t have any intention of engaging in any major arms acquisitions right now. Iranian leaders are emphasizing this as a diplomatic victory, with the embargo expiration coming as part of the P5+1 nuclear deal. That’s likely a big part of why this is so galling for the US, as they’ve been trying to undermine that nuclear deal for years, and having thwarted most of the sanctions relief the deal was meant to ensure, have proven incapable of stopping the arms embargo’s lifting. Source: Antiwar.com
Alex Cameron - Tue Oct 20, 2020 05:00

In the days before Spain’s October national holiday, Fiesta Nacional de España, tensions between the national and regional governments over new lockdown measures came to a head. This time around, the conflict was largely played out between Socialist Party prime minister Pedro Sánchez and Isabel Díaz Ayuso, Madrid’s regional premier from the conservative Popular Party.

In the weeks before the October fiesta, negotiations took place between the central government and the regions to establish new lockdown strategies. An agreement was reached to impose a new series of lockdown measures for regions and municipalities with infection rates above 1,000 per 100,000 people (although this is not the only indicator that can lead to lockdown). Despite this agreement, Ayuso rejected the imposition of the new measures on Madrid, warning that a Madrid-wide lockdown would be an economic ‘disaster’. Lockdown this year had already cost the local economy over €6 billion. She said that Madrileños were being held hostage, holding ‘the engine’ of the Spanish economy back from recovery. That said, she agreed to uphold the measures in spirit, while contesting their legality through Madrid’s high court.

The court returned its verdict at noon last Thursday. It seemed to vindicate Ayuso. While the court supported the need for measures, it rejected the legal framework used to apply them. Restrictions on mobility, the judges found, affect fundamental rights that can only be curtailed with legislation backed by parliament.

Following the verdict, Sánchez told Ayuso that unless her government put forward its own lockdown restrictions for Madrid, he would impose a new state of alarm on the region. Ayuso promised to propose new ‘sensible, fair and balanced’ measures.

Sánchez issued a high noon-style deadline for a ‘detailed plan of restrictions’ from the Madrid government. He was keen to find a resolution to the conflict before the holiday weekend, fearing a three-day mass migration from Madrid to the rest of the country if no restrictions were in place. The hours passed and the silence from Madrid was deafening. The deadline came and went without a peep from Ayuso and a new state of alarm was imposed by Sánchez at 5pm on Friday 9 October.

While there are certainly tensions between regional and local governments over the handling of the pandemic, what disagreements exist are merely technical in substance. All the parties in congress have proven their commitment to the elite’s lockdown ideology. Lockdown has not been challenged in principle and no one has proposed an alternative vision or strategy. What divisions exist between the national and regional governments are largely questions of party politics.

However heightened this episode between Sánchez and Ayuso may appear, this is no assault on local democracy by the central government. It is an assault on the public and national democracy by both. The public disagreement between Sánchez and Ayuso is more analogous to a boardroom spat between people who fundamentally agree. It is a ‘blip’ in an otherwise consensual pact.

Nevertheless, even Ayuso’s minor dissent from lockdown orthodoxy was met with outrage. An editorial in Spain’s biggest-selling daily newspaper, El País, was quick to stomp on anything that even had a whiff of opposition to the lockdown consensus. ‘Failure to apply these measures means giving the virus new opportunities for transmission, which means more infections, more hospital admissions and more deaths’, it declared. Taking the central government to court was ‘obstructionist… irresponsible and reckless’. Health minister Salvador Illa of the PSOE added, ‘We do not want people in the intensive care unit’. Ayuso’s opposition was over mere technicalities, but it was still enough to invite the wrath of the elite.

Meanwhile, the government’s authoritarian Covid strategy shows no signs of softening. While we may not be locked down in our houses for 24 hours a day like in March, we are certainly locked in to never-ending restrictions that are having disastrous consequences.

The daily ‘death-o-meter’ count, which was broadcast every day during the height of the pandemic, has been superseded by a daily tally of those infected. It is presented in exactly the same ghoulish manner, so one could be forgiven for not knowing that there is a world of difference between a case and a death. Hysteria remains a constant. Our political elite is increasingly succumbing to Covid psychosis. Every day politicians make barely concealed threats. If you don’t behave and do as we say, goes the message, you will be locked down and you will pay the price.

The only debate allowed is between continuing regional lockdowns and a full national lockdown. The national lockdown may be over, but we have leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire. Total lockdown (national economic hibernation, as it was called) has morphed into an economic, democratic and social crisis of epic proportions. Both are equally unsustainable and both have devastating consequences. The health consequences alone are likely to eclipse the disaster of Covid in the long term. Worse still, neither strategy will rid Spain of the virus.

The current dead-end ‘whack-a-mole’ strategy, and the constant looming threat of another national lockdown, guarantees a long, hard and debilitating year ahead, with only a recession to look forward to. The public deserves so much better. In the absence of established political leadership, Spain needs real dissenting voices.

Source: Spiked

In the days before Spain’s October national holiday, Fiesta Nacional de España, tensions between the national and regional governments over new lockdown measures came to a head. This time around, the conflict was largely played out between Socialist Party prime minister Pedro Sánchez and Isabel Díaz Ayuso, Madrid’s regional premier from the conservative Popular Party. In the weeks before the October fiesta, negotiations took place between the central government and the regions to establish new lockdown strategies. An agreement was reached to impose a new series of lockdown measures for regions and municipalities with infection rates above 1,000 per 100,000 people (although this is not the only indicator that can lead to lockdown). Despite this agreement, Ayuso rejected the imposition of the new measures on Madrid, warning that a Madrid-wide lockdown would be an economic ‘disaster’. Lockdown this year had already cost the local economy over €6 billion. She said that Madrileños were being held hostage, holding ‘the engine’ of the Spanish economy back from recovery. That said, she agreed to uphold the measures in spirit, while contesting their legality through Madrid’s high court. The court returned its verdict at noon last Thursday. It seemed to vindicate Ayuso. While the court supported the need for measures, it rejected the legal framework used to apply them. Restrictions on mobility, the judges found, affect fundamental rights that can only be curtailed with legislation backed by parliament. Following the verdict, Sánchez told Ayuso that unless her government put forward its own lockdown restrictions for Madrid, he would impose a new state of alarm on the region. Ayuso promised to propose new ‘sensible, fair and balanced’ measures. Sánchez issued a high noon-style deadline for a ‘detailed plan of restrictions’ from the Madrid government. He was keen to find a resolution to the conflict before the holiday weekend, fearing a three-day mass migration from Madrid to the rest of the country if no restrictions were in place. The hours passed and the silence from Madrid was deafening. The deadline came and went without a peep from Ayuso and a new state of alarm was imposed by Sánchez at 5pm on Friday 9 October. While there are certainly tensions between regional and local governments over the handling of the pandemic, what disagreements exist are merely technical in substance. All the parties in congress have proven their commitment to the elite’s lockdown ideology. Lockdown has not been challenged in principle and no one has proposed an alternative vision or strategy. What divisions exist between the national and regional governments are largely questions of party politics. However heightened this episode between Sánchez and Ayuso may appear, this is no assault on local democracy by the central government. It is an assault on the public and national democracy by both. The public disagreement between Sánchez and Ayuso is more analogous to a boardroom spat between people who fundamentally agree. It is a ‘blip’ in an otherwise consensual pact. Nevertheless, even Ayuso’s minor dissent from lockdown orthodoxy was met with outrage. An editorial in Spain’s biggest-selling daily newspaper, El País, was quick to stomp on anything that even had a whiff of opposition to the lockdown consensus. ‘Failure to apply these measures means giving the virus new opportunities for transmission, which means more infections, more hospital admissions and more deaths’, it declared. Taking the central government to court was ‘obstructionist… irresponsible and reckless’. Health minister Salvador Illa of the PSOE added, ‘We do not want people in the intensive care unit’. Ayuso’s opposition was over mere technicalities, but it was still enough to invite the wrath of the elite. Meanwhile, the government’s authoritarian Covid strategy shows no signs of softening. While we may not be locked down in our houses for 24 hours a day like in March, we are certainly locked in to never-ending restrictions that are having disastrous consequences. The daily ‘death-o-meter’ count, which was broadcast every day during the height of the pandemic, has been superseded by a daily tally of those infected. It is presented in exactly the same ghoulish manner, so one could be forgiven for not knowing that there is a world of difference between a case and a death. Hysteria remains a constant. Our political elite is increasingly succumbing to Covid psychosis. Every day politicians make barely concealed threats. If you don’t behave and do as we say, goes the message, you will be locked down and you will pay the price. The only debate allowed is between continuing regional lockdowns and a full national lockdown. The national lockdown may be over, but we have leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire. Total lockdown (national economic hibernation, as it was called) has morphed into an economic, democratic and social crisis of epic proportions. Both are equally unsustainable and both have devastating consequences. The health consequences alone are likely to eclipse the disaster of Covid in the long term. Worse still, neither strategy will rid Spain of the virus. The current dead-end ‘whack-a-mole’ strategy, and the constant looming threat of another national lockdown, guarantees a long, hard and debilitating year ahead, with only a recession to look forward to. The public deserves so much better. In the absence of established political leadership, Spain needs real dissenting voices. Source: Spiked
Geoff Earle - Tue Oct 20, 2020 03:18

 

President Donald Trump disparaged infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on a call with campaign staff, tearing into experts as 'idiots' and saying Americans are 'tired of COVID.'

In an election upended by the coronavirus, the president vented about lockdowns and Fauci in particular, after the expert has expressed increasing frustration with the lack of direction on social distancing and mask wearing that Fauci says could save thousands of lives.

The foul-mouthed tirade came as U.S. coronavirus infections appeared to be experiencing another spike, with 220000 Americans dead of the disease already.

'People are tired of Covid,' Trump said on the leaked call. 

'People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,' he said, going further than in public comments where he has undermined current health directives by pointing to indecision from experts early in the pandemic.

https://twitter.com/The_Real_Fly/status/1318290293066747904

Trump called Fauci a 'disaster,' but revealed he believes he cannot fire him.

'Every time he goes on television, there's always a bomb, but there's a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy's a disaster,' Trump vented.

'Fauci is a nice guy,' Trump said of the career civil servant, who has spent months cautioning Americans about avoiding large gatherings and indoor spaces through TV appearances. But complained: 'He's been here for 500 years.'

Fauci, 79, has spent decades advising U.S. presidents on disease outbreaks, and became a known public figure during the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic.

'If I listened to him, we'd have 500,000 deaths,' Trump fumed about Fauci, without offering evidence.

'People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone,' said the president, in the midst of a cross-country campaign tour that has featured a series of large rallies where attendees are not socially distanced and many eschew masks.

His attacks come amid dangerous trends for infections, deaths, and test positivity rates. The U.S. has been logging more than 50,000 infections a day, with numbers approaching mid-summer highs.

A host of reporters were on the call – a matter that Trump appeared to anticipate and brush off.

'If there's a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn't care less,' he said.

The New York Times and CNN were among those listening.

Trump predicted victory but said he wouldn't have said that a few weeks ago

'We’re going to win. I wouldn’t have told you that maybe two or three weeks ago,' he said.

Democrats have been running up an advantage in early voting, and have built up a big fundraising advantage in recent months, but might turn out in large numbers on Election Day.

Trump says he will hold as many as five rallies a day in the home stretch of the election, where polls show him trailing Joe Biden but Trump said he now views himself as likely to win.

''Don't feel sorry for me, don't say, 'How the hell does he do it?'' Trump said.

He briefly jumped off the trail after being hospitalized for the coronavirus, but now says he is cured.

Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – a group Fauci revealed has drastically scaled back its meetings even as the pandemic rages on.

The U.S. death toll has topped 220,000.

Trump's call-in to his staff featured some of the same grievances as his rallies and public comments, although with sharper language. He vented that the New York Times doesn't call him for comment, although he spoke to one of its reporters at length around the GOP convention.

'But our people don't read the New York Times. They couldn't give a s*** about it,' Trump said.

Source: The Daily Mail

[caption id="attachment_36946" align="alignnone" width="634"] Trump predicted victory but said he wouldn't have said that a few weeks ago[/caption]  

President Donald Trump disparaged infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on a call with campaign staff, tearing into experts as 'idiots' and saying Americans are 'tired of COVID.'

In an election upended by the coronavirus, the president vented about lockdowns and Fauci in particular, after the expert has expressed increasing frustration with the lack of direction on social distancing and mask wearing that Fauci says could save thousands of lives.

The foul-mouthed tirade came as U.S. coronavirus infections appeared to be experiencing another spike, with 220000 Americans dead of the disease already.

'People are tired of Covid,' Trump said on the leaked call. 

'People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,' he said, going further than in public comments where he has undermined current health directives by pointing to indecision from experts early in the pandemic.

https://twitter.com/The_Real_Fly/status/1318290293066747904

Trump called Fauci a 'disaster,' but revealed he believes he cannot fire him.

'Every time he goes on television, there's always a bomb, but there's a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy's a disaster,' Trump vented.

'Fauci is a nice guy,' Trump said of the career civil servant, who has spent months cautioning Americans about avoiding large gatherings and indoor spaces through TV appearances. But complained: 'He's been here for 500 years.'

Fauci, 79, has spent decades advising U.S. presidents on disease outbreaks, and became a known public figure during the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic.

'If I listened to him, we'd have 500,000 deaths,' Trump fumed about Fauci, without offering evidence.

'People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone,' said the president, in the midst of a cross-country campaign tour that has featured a series of large rallies where attendees are not socially distanced and many eschew masks.

His attacks come amid dangerous trends for infections, deaths, and test positivity rates. The U.S. has been logging more than 50,000 infections a day, with numbers approaching mid-summer highs.

A host of reporters were on the call – a matter that Trump appeared to anticipate and brush off.

'If there's a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn't care less,' he said.

The New York Times and CNN were among those listening.

Trump predicted victory but said he wouldn't have said that a few weeks ago

'We’re going to win. I wouldn’t have told you that maybe two or three weeks ago,' he said.

Democrats have been running up an advantage in early voting, and have built up a big fundraising advantage in recent months, but might turn out in large numbers on Election Day.

Trump says he will hold as many as five rallies a day in the home stretch of the election, where polls show him trailing Joe Biden but Trump said he now views himself as likely to win.

''Don't feel sorry for me, don't say, 'How the hell does he do it?'' Trump said.

He briefly jumped off the trail after being hospitalized for the coronavirus, but now says he is cured.

Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – a group Fauci revealed has drastically scaled back its meetings even as the pandemic rages on.

The U.S. death toll has topped 220,000.

Trump's call-in to his staff featured some of the same grievances as his rallies and public comments, although with sharper language. He vented that the New York Times doesn't call him for comment, although he spoke to one of its reporters at length around the GOP convention.

'But our people don't read the New York Times. They couldn't give a s*** about it,' Trump said.

Source: The Daily Mail
Finance Twitter - Mon Oct 19, 2020 18:35

Australia’s economy officially plunged into recession in September after it registered two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Its GDP (gross domestic product) shrank 7% in the April-to-June quarter compared to the previous three months. Not only this is Australia’s first recession in nearly 30 years (since 1991), but also the deepest since the Great Depression of the early 1930s.

The previous worst quarterly contraction was minus 2% in June 1974, hence this is by far the biggest collapse since the Australian Bureau of Statistics began compiling records in 1959. But it was just the beginning. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told a parliament house press conference that the June quarter (June-to-August) is going to be 3 times worse – a staggering 20% plunge.

If not for the A$100 billion of support measures called “JobKeeper and JobSeeker”, which expired in September, it could be worse. Thanks to Coronavirus, Australia lost its famous nickname as “The Lucky Country” – the only major economy to avoid a recession during the 2008 global financial crisis, also known as the Great Recession due to the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis

However, the main reason Australia managed to enjoy a remarkable 29-year of economic growth is none other than China. The Chinese’s voracious appetite for its commodities, such as iron ore and coal, not to mention tourism, had driven Australia’s economy to unbelievable growth. While the Covid-19 pandemic was an unavoidable factor, there’s one huge mistake that Australia did.

Canberra picked a fight with Beijing, Australia’s biggest trading partner. As the U.S.’ “deputy sheriff” in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has strongly, deliberately campaigned for an international inquiry into the origins of the Coronavirus in April which infuriated the Chinese government. Beijing has mocked Canberra of parroting the U.S. in its call for the inquiry.

In May, China began what appeared to be its attacks against Australia by suspending imports from four major Australian beef suppliers for 30 days, allegedly over labelling issues. Then, the Chinese slapped an 80.5% tariff on all Australian barley grain. Later, Beijing moved on to escalate the trade tensions by imposing new customs inspection procedures on Australian iron ore imports.

Obviously, it was a declaration of trade war against the Aussie. In fact, Global Times, a mouthpiece for Beijing, warned that China has the power to hurt the Australian economy, but won’t fire the first shot in a trade war. Yet, Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud played down the tension, insisting that his country would not seek a tit-for-tat retaliation against China.

It’s not hard to understand why Australia dared not and could not retaliate. China is its biggest trading partner – about one-third of “the land Down Under” total exports go to the Chinese, contributing A$135 billion annually and providing thousands of jobs. The Aussie’s iron ore export to China in 2018-19 was worth a jaw-dropping A$63 billion, not to mention A$17 billion of natural gas and A$14 billion of coal.

As the world’s biggest consumer of beer, China is the largest export market for Australian barley. The Chinese imported over 2.5 million tonnes of Australian barley in 2018-19 – more than half of Australian total barley exports. Hence, the 80.5% tariff on all Australian barley grain would cost the industry a whopping A$500 million per annum. That’s A$2.5 billion over the next 5 years as imposed by Beijing.

To make matters worse, some Australian farmers are addicted to China because it pays high prices for specially-bred types of barley especially for the Chinese market. That dependency means the farmers are at the mercy of the Chinese. Australia also earned A$9.5 billion alone in beef export, followed by non-beef meat (A$5.2 billion), wool (A$3.8 billion) and wheat (A$3.7 billion).

But China was not done in punishing Australia. The next month (June), Beijing targeted the country’s tourism and education sectors. Chinese tourists were advised to stay away from Australia. The travel warning might seem harmless because Australian borders remained closed to visitors since the Covid-19 outbreak. However, the pain could be excruciating.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, 1.4-million (1,458,500) Chinese tourists visited Australia in the 12 months between December 2018 and November 2019, generating a cool A$12 billion a year in revenue. In essence, a ban would hit Australia’s hotels, restaurants, tourism operator and popular attractions to the tune of A$1 billion – every month.

In the same month, armed with “racist attacks against Asians” mantra, Beijing warned its students to reconsider plans to study in the country. The threat would punch a hole in the Australian’s A$37.6 billion education business. That is on top of a new modelling revealed by the Australian university sector that showed it will lose up to A$16 billion by 2023 due to the impact of Coronavirus.

Canberra’s refusal to retaliate has emboldened Beijing to continue its onslaught on the country. In August, China began a second investigation into imports of Australian wine, just after announcing a separate “anti-dumping” inquiry into its wine industry 2 weeks earlier. Beijing wanted to impose an anti-dumping tariff of 202.70%, which would triple the price of Australian wine.

China does not need Australia’s wine, but the same cannot be said about Australian wine growers. The move could result in tariffs, potentially crippling Australian wine exports to China which are worth A$1.2 billion a year. This time, Beijing wanted to punish Australia for criticizing the new Hong Kong security law. Still, Beijing wasn’t done with Canberra – far from it.

On Friday (Oct 16), Australian producers said China has started targeting its cotton industry, which is worth more than A$2 billion. Cotton Australia and the Australian Cotton Shippers Association said they were disappointed to learn of the latest Chinese action – “Our industry’s relationship with China is of importance to us and is a relationship we have long valued and respected.”

Australia has been exporting cotton to China for decades and the commodity is one of Australia’s top agricultural exports to China. In good seasonal conditions Australian cotton exports can be as high as A$2.5 billion a year, with most of the earnings coming from China. Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said – “About 65% of our crop goes to China, so they’re very important to us and we’ve built that relationship up.”

China actually had a “first come, first serve” annual quota of about 890,000 tonnes of imported cotton, which Australia and other nations competed to supply. However, the latest instruction from Beijing to “discourage” its spinning mills from using Australian cotton would mean competitors India, Brazil and even the U.S. will be given the privilege to take up the entire quota.

As China accounted for about two-thirds of Australian cotton exports, they might have no choice but to sell at a lower price elsewhere – if they can find new buyers. The latest attack on Australian cotton came less than a week (Oct 12) after China’s customs authorities told local steelmakers and power plants to stop importing Australian coal, dealing a blow to the A$14 billion industry.

Under pressure, Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said his country wants dialogue with China to resolve their trade dispute and clear up any misunderstandings with its largest trading partner – suggesting that Australia is in serious trouble. Not many were impressed with how Prime Minister Scott Morrison tackles the China-Australia disputes.

Sir Angus Houston, the former Australian defence chief, declared that China was Australia’s partner – not an enemy – as he accused some politicians of engaging in “loose talk” that had helped drive the relationship between Canberra and Beijing to “a very low point”. Houston appeared to be lecturing the Morrison administration when he said Australia needed China to aid its economic recovery from the Covid-19 recession.

Houston, blaming PM Scott Morrison, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, said – “I think our relationship at the moment is at a very low point. We need to take a hard look at our relationship with China, I think we need a reset, we need a circuit breaker, because really if we’re going to come out of this recession that we have at the moment because of Covid-19, we need China.

Source: Finance Twitter

Australia’s economy officially plunged into recession in September after it registered two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Its GDP (gross domestic product) shrank 7% in the April-to-June quarter compared to the previous three months. Not only this is Australia’s first recession in nearly 30 years (since 1991), but also the deepest since the Great Depression of the early 1930s. The previous worst quarterly contraction was minus 2% in June 1974, hence this is by far the biggest collapse since the Australian Bureau of Statistics began compiling records in 1959. But it was just the beginning. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told a parliament house press conference that the June quarter (June-to-August) is going to be 3 times worse – a staggering 20% plunge. If not for the A$100 billion of support measures called “JobKeeper and JobSeeker”, which expired in September, it could be worse. Thanks to Coronavirus, Australia lost its famous nickname as “The Lucky Country” – the only major economy to avoid a recession during the 2008 global financial crisis, also known as the Great Recession due to the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis However, the main reason Australia managed to enjoy a remarkable 29-year of economic growth is none other than China. The Chinese’s voracious appetite for its commodities, such as iron ore and coal, not to mention tourism, had driven Australia’s economy to unbelievable growth. While the Covid-19 pandemic was an unavoidable factor, there’s one huge mistake that Australia did. Canberra picked a fight with Beijing, Australia’s biggest trading partner. As the U.S.’ “deputy sheriff” in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia has strongly, deliberately campaigned for an international inquiry into the origins of the Coronavirus in April which infuriated the Chinese government. Beijing has mocked Canberra of parroting the U.S. in its call for the inquiry. In May, China began what appeared to be its attacks against Australia by suspending imports from four major Australian beef suppliers for 30 days, allegedly over labelling issues. Then, the Chinese slapped an 80.5% tariff on all Australian barley grain. Later, Beijing moved on to escalate the trade tensions by imposing new customs inspection procedures on Australian iron ore imports. Obviously, it was a declaration of trade war against the Aussie. In fact, Global Times, a mouthpiece for Beijing, warned that China has the power to hurt the Australian economy, but won’t fire the first shot in a trade war. Yet, Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud played down the tension, insisting that his country would not seek a tit-for-tat retaliation against China. It’s not hard to understand why Australia dared not and could not retaliate. China is its biggest trading partner – about one-third of “the land Down Under” total exports go to the Chinese, contributing A$135 billion annually and providing thousands of jobs. The Aussie’s iron ore export to China in 2018-19 was worth a jaw-dropping A$63 billion, not to mention A$17 billion of natural gas and A$14 billion of coal. As the world’s biggest consumer of beer, China is the largest export market for Australian barley. The Chinese imported over 2.5 million tonnes of Australian barley in 2018-19 – more than half of Australian total barley exports. Hence, the 80.5% tariff on all Australian barley grain would cost the industry a whopping A$500 million per annum. That’s A$2.5 billion over the next 5 years as imposed by Beijing. To make matters worse, some Australian farmers are addicted to China because it pays high prices for specially-bred types of barley especially for the Chinese market. That dependency means the farmers are at the mercy of the Chinese. Australia also earned A$9.5 billion alone in beef export, followed by non-beef meat (A$5.2 billion), wool (A$3.8 billion) and wheat (A$3.7 billion). But China was not done in punishing Australia. The next month (June), Beijing targeted the country’s tourism and education sectors. Chinese tourists were advised to stay away from Australia. The travel warning might seem harmless because Australian borders remained closed to visitors since the Covid-19 outbreak. However, the pain could be excruciating. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, 1.4-million (1,458,500) Chinese tourists visited Australia in the 12 months between December 2018 and November 2019, generating a cool A$12 billion a year in revenue. In essence, a ban would hit Australia’s hotels, restaurants, tourism operator and popular attractions to the tune of A$1 billion – every month. In the same month, armed with “racist attacks against Asians” mantra, Beijing warned its students to reconsider plans to study in the country. The threat would punch a hole in the Australian’s A$37.6 billion education business. That is on top of a new modelling revealed by the Australian university sector that showed it will lose up to A$16 billion by 2023 due to the impact of Coronavirus. Canberra’s refusal to retaliate has emboldened Beijing to continue its onslaught on the country. In August, China began a second investigation into imports of Australian wine, just after announcing a separate “anti-dumping” inquiry into its wine industry 2 weeks earlier. Beijing wanted to impose an anti-dumping tariff of 202.70%, which would triple the price of Australian wine. China does not need Australia’s wine, but the same cannot be said about Australian wine growers. The move could result in tariffs, potentially crippling Australian wine exports to China which are worth A$1.2 billion a year. This time, Beijing wanted to punish Australia for criticizing the new Hong Kong security law. Still, Beijing wasn’t done with Canberra – far from it. On Friday (Oct 16), Australian producers said China has started targeting its cotton industry, which is worth more than A$2 billion. Cotton Australia and the Australian Cotton Shippers Association said they were disappointed to learn of the latest Chinese action – “Our industry’s relationship with China is of importance to us and is a relationship we have long valued and respected.” Australia has been exporting cotton to China for decades and the commodity is one of Australia’s top agricultural exports to China. In good seasonal conditions Australian cotton exports can be as high as A$2.5 billion a year, with most of the earnings coming from China. Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said – “About 65% of our crop goes to China, so they’re very important to us and we’ve built that relationship up.” China actually had a “first come, first serve” annual quota of about 890,000 tonnes of imported cotton, which Australia and other nations competed to supply. However, the latest instruction from Beijing to “discourage” its spinning mills from using Australian cotton would mean competitors India, Brazil and even the U.S. will be given the privilege to take up the entire quota. As China accounted for about two-thirds of Australian cotton exports, they might have no choice but to sell at a lower price elsewhere – if they can find new buyers. The latest attack on Australian cotton came less than a week (Oct 12) after China’s customs authorities told local steelmakers and power plants to stop importing Australian coal, dealing a blow to the A$14 billion industry. Under pressure, Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said his country wants dialogue with China to resolve their trade dispute and clear up any misunderstandings with its largest trading partner – suggesting that Australia is in serious trouble. Not many were impressed with how Prime Minister Scott Morrison tackles the China-Australia disputes. Sir Angus Houston, the former Australian defence chief, declared that China was Australia’s partner – not an enemy – as he accused some politicians of engaging in “loose talk” that had helped drive the relationship between Canberra and Beijing to “a very low point”. Houston appeared to be lecturing the Morrison administration when he said Australia needed China to aid its economic recovery from the Covid-19 recession. Houston, blaming PM Scott Morrison, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, said – “I think our relationship at the moment is at a very low point. We need to take a hard look at our relationship with China, I think we need a reset, we need a circuit breaker, because really if we’re going to come out of this recession that we have at the moment because of Covid-19, we need China. Source: Finance Twitter
James George Jatras - Mon Oct 19, 2020 15:34

Today many people remember Iraq, some have a clue about Ukraine. But Serbia, which preceded them, is off the radar screen of most Americans. To recap:

As a Senator in the 1990s, Joe Biden was one of the most militant advocates of U.S. military action against Serbs during the breakup of the Yugoslav federation, first in Croatia (1991-95), then in Bosnia (1992-95), and then in Serbia’s province of Kosovo (1998- 1999). (As has been said about others like Hillary Clinton and the late John McCain, Biden evidently has never met a war he didn’t like. Along with Hillary, in 2003 Biden helped to whip Senate Democrat votes for the Bush-Cheney Iraq war.) Channeling his inner John McCain, Biden continually called for the U.S. to bomb, bomb, bomb bomb the Serbs while (in a foreshadowing of the Obama-Biden administration’s support for jihad terrorists in Libya and Syria, which ultimately resulted in the appearance of ISIS) pushed successfully for sending weapons to the Islamist regime in Bosnia and then for the U.S. to arm the Islamo-narco-terrorist group known as the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA).

Joe Biden was the primary sponsor of the March 1999 Kosovo war authorization for military action against Serbia and Montenegro, S. Con. Res. 21. (As a little remembered historical note, Biden’s resolution might be seen as the last nail in the coffin of Congress’s constitutional war power. While S. Con. Res 21 passed the Senate, it failed in the House on a 213-213 tie vote, with Republicans overwhelmingly voting Nay. It didn’t matter. Bill Clinton, reeling from the Lewinsky scandal, went ahead with the bombing campaign anyway.) The ensuing 78-day NATO air operation had little impact on Serbia’s military but devastated the country’s infrastructure and took hundreds of civilian lives. (Even now, more than 20 years later, Serbia suffers from elevated cancer levels attributed to depleted uranium munitions.) But for Jihad Joe even that wasn’t punishment enough for people he collectively demonized as “illiterate degenerates, baby killers, butchers, and rapists.” In May 1999, at the height of the NATO air assault, he called for the introduction of U.S. ground troops (“we should announce there’s going to be American casualties”) followed by “a Japanese-German style occupation.”

Eventually the bombing stopped in June 1999 when then-Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević acceded to temporary international occupation of Kosovo on the condition that the province would remain part of Serbia, as codified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. It was a promise the U.S. and NATO, not to mention their European Union (EU) concubine, had no intention of keeping. Under the nose of the NATO occupation, ostensibly demobilized KLA thugs were given virtually free rein to terrorize the Serbian population, two-thirds of whom were driven out along with Jews and Roma, the rest sheltering in enclaves where they remain to this day. Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries, many of them centuries old, were particular targets for destruction and desecration. KLA commanders – who were also kingpins in the Kosovo Albanian mafia dealing in sex slaves, drugs, weapons, and even human organs – were handed local administration.

In 2007 Senator Biden praised the new order as a “victory for Muslim democracy” and “a much-needed example of a successful U.S.-Muslim partnership.” [In other words, the US would compensate for support of Israelis by wars on the side of Muslims elsewhere.] A year later, the Bush administration sought to complete the job by ramming through Kosovo’s independence in barefaced violation of UNSCR 1244 and despite strong Russian objections. But instead of resolving anything the result was a frozen conflict that persists today, with about half of the United Nations’ member states recognizing Kosovo and half not. Touting itself as the most pro-American “country” [sic] in the world, the Kosovo pseudo-state became a prime recruiting ground for ISIS.

But hey, business was good! Just as in Iraq, the politically well-connected, including former officials instrumental in the attack on Serbia and occupying Kosovo, flocked to the province fueled by lavish aid subsidies from the U.S. and the EU, which for a while made Kosovo one of the biggest per capita foreign assistance recipient “countries” in the world. One such vulture – sorry, entrepreneur – was former Secretary of State Madeleine we-think-a-half-million-dead-Iraqi-children-is-worth-it Albright, a prominent driver of the Clinton administration’s hostile policy on top of her personal Serb-hatred. Albright sought to cash in to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars on sale of the mobile telephone company PTK, originally a Yugoslav state-owned firm that was “privatized” (i.e., stolen) in 2005 as a joint stock company, but who later dropped her bid when it attracted unwanted publicity. Also in the hunt for Kosovo riches was former NATO Supreme Commander and operational chief of the Kosovo war General Wesley Clark, who reportedly cornered a major share of the occupied province’s coal resources under a sweetheart deal that seems to have vanished from public scrutiny since first reported in 2016.

At the moment there seems to be no smoking gun of a direct Biden family payout, à la Ukraine, but there is a possible trail via Hunter’s Burisma-buddy Devon Archer and Archer’s fellow-defendant John “Yanni” Galanis, who in turn is connected to top Kosovo Albanian politicians. In any case, the Biden clan seems to have paid a lot of attention to Kosovo for not having skin in the game. Joe’s late son and Delaware Attorney General, Beau, worked in Kosovo following the war to train local prosecutors as part of an OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) “rule of law” mission (admittedly a big task in a mafia-run pseudo-state), for which a road was named after him near the massive U.S. base Camp Bondsteel. With Hunter on hand for the naming ceremony, Joe Biden took the opportunity to express his “condolences” to Serbian families who lost loved ones in the NATO air assault – of which he was a primary advocate.

Source: Strategic Culture

Today many people remember Iraq, some have a clue about Ukraine. But Serbia, which preceded them, is off the radar screen of most Americans. To recap: As a Senator in the 1990s, Joe Biden was one of the most militant advocates of U.S. military action against Serbs during the breakup of the Yugoslav federation, first in Croatia (1991-95), then in Bosnia (1992-95), and then in Serbia’s province of Kosovo (1998- 1999). (As has been said about others like Hillary Clinton and the late John McCain, Biden evidently has never met a war he didn’t like. Along with Hillary, in 2003 Biden helped to whip Senate Democrat votes for the Bush-Cheney Iraq war.) Channeling his inner John McCain, Biden continually called for the U.S. to bomb, bomb, bomb bomb the Serbs while (in a foreshadowing of the Obama-Biden administration’s support for jihad terrorists in Libya and Syria, which ultimately resulted in the appearance of ISIS) pushed successfully for sending weapons to the Islamist regime in Bosnia and then for the U.S. to arm the Islamo-narco-terrorist group known as the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA). Joe Biden was the primary sponsor of the March 1999 Kosovo war authorization for military action against Serbia and Montenegro, S. Con. Res. 21. (As a little remembered historical note, Biden’s resolution might be seen as the last nail in the coffin of Congress’s constitutional war power. While S. Con. Res 21 passed the Senate, it failed in the House on a 213-213 tie vote, with Republicans overwhelmingly voting Nay. It didn’t matter. Bill Clinton, reeling from the Lewinsky scandal, went ahead with the bombing campaign anyway.) The ensuing 78-day NATO air operation had little impact on Serbia’s military but devastated the country’s infrastructure and took hundreds of civilian lives. (Even now, more than 20 years later, Serbia suffers from elevated cancer levels attributed to depleted uranium munitions.) But for Jihad Joe even that wasn’t punishment enough for people he collectively demonized as “illiterate degenerates, baby killers, butchers, and rapists.” In May 1999, at the height of the NATO air assault, he called for the introduction of U.S. ground troops (“we should announce there’s going to be American casualties”) followed by “a Japanese-German style occupation.” Eventually the bombing stopped in June 1999 when then-Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević acceded to temporary international occupation of Kosovo on the condition that the province would remain part of Serbia, as codified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. It was a promise the U.S. and NATO, not to mention their European Union (EU) concubine, had no intention of keeping. Under the nose of the NATO occupation, ostensibly demobilized KLA thugs were given virtually free rein to terrorize the Serbian population, two-thirds of whom were driven out along with Jews and Roma, the rest sheltering in enclaves where they remain to this day. Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries, many of them centuries old, were particular targets for destruction and desecration. KLA commanders – who were also kingpins in the Kosovo Albanian mafia dealing in sex slaves, drugs, weapons, and even human organs – were handed local administration. In 2007 Senator Biden praised the new order as a “victory for Muslim democracy” and “a much-needed example of a successful U.S.-Muslim partnership.” [In other words, the US would compensate for support of Israelis by wars on the side of Muslims elsewhere.] A year later, the Bush administration sought to complete the job by ramming through Kosovo’s independence in barefaced violation of UNSCR 1244 and despite strong Russian objections. But instead of resolving anything the result was a frozen conflict that persists today, with about half of the United Nations’ member states recognizing Kosovo and half not. Touting itself as the most pro-American “country” [sic] in the world, the Kosovo pseudo-state became a prime recruiting ground for ISIS. But hey, business was good! Just as in Iraq, the politically well-connected, including former officials instrumental in the attack on Serbia and occupying Kosovo, flocked to the province fueled by lavish aid subsidies from the U.S. and the EU, which for a while made Kosovo one of the biggest per capita foreign assistance recipient “countries” in the world. One such vulture – sorry, entrepreneur – was former Secretary of State Madeleine we-think-a-half-million-dead-Iraqi-children-is-worth-it Albright, a prominent driver of the Clinton administration’s hostile policy on top of her personal Serb-hatred. Albright sought to cash in to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars on sale of the mobile telephone company PTK, originally a Yugoslav state-owned firm that was “privatized” (i.e., stolen) in 2005 as a joint stock company, but who later dropped her bid when it attracted unwanted publicity. Also in the hunt for Kosovo riches was former NATO Supreme Commander and operational chief of the Kosovo war General Wesley Clark, who reportedly cornered a major share of the occupied province’s coal resources under a sweetheart deal that seems to have vanished from public scrutiny since first reported in 2016. At the moment there seems to be no smoking gun of a direct Biden family payout, à la Ukraine, but there is a possible trail via Hunter’s Burisma-buddy Devon Archer and Archer’s fellow-defendant John “Yanni” Galanis, who in turn is connected to top Kosovo Albanian politicians. In any case, the Biden clan seems to have paid a lot of attention to Kosovo for not having skin in the game. Joe’s late son and Delaware Attorney General, Beau, worked in Kosovo following the war to train local prosecutors as part of an OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) “rule of law” mission (admittedly a big task in a mafia-run pseudo-state), for which a road was named after him near the massive U.S. base Camp Bondsteel. With Hunter on hand for the naming ceremony, Joe Biden took the opportunity to express his “condolences” to Serbian families who lost loved ones in the NATO air assault – of which he was a primary advocate. Source: Strategic Culture
Daniel Hannan - Mon Oct 19, 2020 14:17

No country has been harder hit by Covid than my native Peru. Officially, the virus has
claimed 33,600 lives from a total population of 32 million – the worst fatality rate in the world. But the real figure is far higher. Peru has a rickety public health system, and relied on Chinese antibody tests rather than PCR tests, so many coronavirus casualties went undiagnosed. I spoke to half a dozen Peruvians this week, including a doctor and a government official. All of them thought the true number of Covid deaths was closer to 80,000.

What has turned the ancient seat of Spain’s Viceroyalty into such a global outlier? You might think the answer is obvious, namely that Peru is a poor, sprawling place, with shantytowns, crowded minibuses and teeming markets. But you’d be wrong. Well aware of its situation, Peru decreed what must surely count as the toughest and, relative to infection rates, earliest lockdown on the planet.

On March 16, when there were only 28 confirmed cases, Peru closed its borders and imposed an eye-watering curfew. Men and women were allowed to leave home on alternate days, and only for essential purposes. The restrictions were enforced by the army and, by and large, they were obeyed. Google images showed a massive reduction in the number of people outdoors.

The economic consequences were catastrophic. Even in a wealthy country such as Britain, closures hit folk with cash-in-hand jobs much harder than people who can work from home. In Peru, where around two thirds of the economy is informal, things ground to a halt. Yet it did not slow the virus. Peru’s excess deaths – the number of people who have died in 2020 as against what would normally be expected – are the highest in the world.

Yes, Peru’s healthcare system is poor, but no more so than those in many Latin American countries, let alone most of Africa, where the virus has not been nearly so lethal. Peruvians themselves, naturally, blame their government. Human beings will generally judge a policy less by its intrinsic merits than by whether they like the person proposing it. Thus, in Britain, where there is a Conservative government, Leftists argue that we should have locked down earlier. In Spain, where there is a socialist government, it is the other way around, and Rightists have convinced themselves that the epidemic was far worse because big events to mark International Women’s Day on March 8 were allowed to go ahead.

In both cases, we are giving in to bogus anthropocentrism, imagining that there must somehow be a human hand in big events. Our ancestors blamed plagues on witches or religious minorities. We blame them on politicians.

What is actually going on in Peru? Yes, it has a poor water supply, crowded slums and the rest, but no more so than many countries that have come through with few deaths. Vietnam, for example, faces many of the same challenges, yet it has suffered only 35 fatalities from a population of 96 million.

Perhaps there are differing levels of pre-existing immunity, or at least of resistance. Peru’s worst outbreak was in Iquitos, the largest settlement in the world that cannot be reached by road or rail. To get a sense of quite how remote that jungle city is, you have to imagine a map of South America, with Peru on the left and the vast expanse of Brazil to its east. Although Iquitos is 600 miles from Lima as the crow flies, the only way to get there, before air travel, was to paddle nearly 2000 miles down the Amazon to Brazil’s Atlantic coast, and then sail all the way back round to the Pacific. I can remember, as a boy, when elderly Iquiteños spoke English with a Scouse accent, because Liverpool had been a more accessible city than Lima to complete their studies.

Could that extraordinary isolation have made local people more susceptible? The Brazilian city of Manaus, further down the Amazon, was also peculiarly badly hit. Maybe the peoples or those remote towns had had less exposure to previous coronaviruses – just as the Vietnamese, after SARS, had had more. Or perhaps, as Hitoshi Oshitani from Japan’s National COVID-19 Cluster Taskforce says, there is a dollop of luck involved, in the sense that the coronavirus is overdispersed, meaning that a small number of superspreaders are responsible for most cases.

We don’t know for sure. But, looking at Peru, with the harshest restrictions in the world and the worst outcome, it seems clear that lockdowns are not the key factor. Sadly, though, the desire to attribute human agency, to find someone to blame, is embedded deep in our DNA. We would rather demand crackdowns than accept that we are dealing with something outside our control. And, alas, we keep getting our wish.

Source: The Telegraph

No country has been harder hit by Covid than my native Peru. Officially, the virus has claimed 33,600 lives from a total population of 32 million – the worst fatality rate in the world. But the real figure is far higher. Peru has a rickety public health system, and relied on Chinese antibody tests rather than PCR tests, so many coronavirus casualties went undiagnosed. I spoke to half a dozen Peruvians this week, including a doctor and a government official. All of them thought the true number of Covid deaths was closer to 80,000. What has turned the ancient seat of Spain’s Viceroyalty into such a global outlier? You might think the answer is obvious, namely that Peru is a poor, sprawling place, with shantytowns, crowded minibuses and teeming markets. But you’d be wrong. Well aware of its situation, Peru decreed what must surely count as the toughest and, relative to infection rates, earliest lockdown on the planet. On March 16, when there were only 28 confirmed cases, Peru closed its borders and imposed an eye-watering curfew. Men and women were allowed to leave home on alternate days, and only for essential purposes. The restrictions were enforced by the army and, by and large, they were obeyed. Google images showed a massive reduction in the number of people outdoors. The economic consequences were catastrophic. Even in a wealthy country such as Britain, closures hit folk with cash-in-hand jobs much harder than people who can work from home. In Peru, where around two thirds of the economy is informal, things ground to a halt. Yet it did not slow the virus. Peru’s excess deaths – the number of people who have died in 2020 as against what would normally be expected – are the highest in the world. Yes, Peru’s healthcare system is poor, but no more so than those in many Latin American countries, let alone most of Africa, where the virus has not been nearly so lethal. Peruvians themselves, naturally, blame their government. Human beings will generally judge a policy less by its intrinsic merits than by whether they like the person proposing it. Thus, in Britain, where there is a Conservative government, Leftists argue that we should have locked down earlier. In Spain, where there is a socialist government, it is the other way around, and Rightists have convinced themselves that the epidemic was far worse because big events to mark International Women’s Day on March 8 were allowed to go ahead. In both cases, we are giving in to bogus anthropocentrism, imagining that there must somehow be a human hand in big events. Our ancestors blamed plagues on witches or religious minorities. We blame them on politicians. What is actually going on in Peru? Yes, it has a poor water supply, crowded slums and the rest, but no more so than many countries that have come through with few deaths. Vietnam, for example, faces many of the same challenges, yet it has suffered only 35 fatalities from a population of 96 million. Perhaps there are differing levels of pre-existing immunity, or at least of resistance. Peru’s worst outbreak was in Iquitos, the largest settlement in the world that cannot be reached by road or rail. To get a sense of quite how remote that jungle city is, you have to imagine a map of South America, with Peru on the left and the vast expanse of Brazil to its east. Although Iquitos is 600 miles from Lima as the crow flies, the only way to get there, before air travel, was to paddle nearly 2000 miles down the Amazon to Brazil’s Atlantic coast, and then sail all the way back round to the Pacific. I can remember, as a boy, when elderly Iquiteños spoke English with a Scouse accent, because Liverpool had been a more accessible city than Lima to complete their studies. Could that extraordinary isolation have made local people more susceptible? The Brazilian city of Manaus, further down the Amazon, was also peculiarly badly hit. Maybe the peoples or those remote towns had had less exposure to previous coronaviruses – just as the Vietnamese, after SARS, had had more. Or perhaps, as Hitoshi Oshitani from Japan’s National COVID-19 Cluster Taskforce says, there is a dollop of luck involved, in the sense that the coronavirus is overdispersed, meaning that a small number of superspreaders are responsible for most cases. We don’t know for sure. But, looking at Peru, with the harshest restrictions in the world and the worst outcome, it seems clear that lockdowns are not the key factor. Sadly, though, the desire to attribute human agency, to find someone to blame, is embedded deep in our DNA. We would rather demand crackdowns than accept that we are dealing with something outside our control. And, alas, we keep getting our wish. Source: The Telegraph

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