News Roundup 1/27/2022

News Roundup 1/27/2022

Covid

  • The Navy has now removed 45 sailors for failing to take the covid vaccine. [Link]
  • The US donates 900,000 Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Laos. [Link]
  • The US will send two million Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Kenya and Morocco. [Link]

US News

  • In the first half of 2021, Twitter received fewer requests from governments for information on users but complied with the requests more often. When US law enforcement made informal requests for information, Twitter gave the info 68% of the time. [Link]
  • The Pentagon wants to accelerate its development of hypersonic missiles. [Link]
  • The Army will begin testing anti-aircraft lasers on Strykers. [Link]

Latin America

  • One body was found and 38 people are missing after a migrant boat capsized off the Florida coast. [Link]
  • The Coast Guard intercepted nearly 200 Haitians attempting to sail to the US. [Link]
  • Cuba asks the US to restaff its embassy after a CIA report on ‘Havana Syndrome’ found no diplomats were attacked by a foreign power. [Link]

Russia

  • Some large US companies lobby the Biden administration and Congress for waivers to continue business in Russia if more sanctions are imposed. [Link]
  • Germany offers Ukraine 5,000 military helmets. Some Ukrainian politicians felt insulted by the German aid. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Americans should strongly consider leaving Ukraine. [Link]
  • Ukraine says the number of Russian troops near its border is insufficient for a large-scale invasion. [Link]
  • Ukraine and Russia agreed to uphold the ceasefire in the Donbas during ‘Normandy format’ talks that included Germany and France. [Link] 
  • State Department Spokesperson Ned Price says Nord Stream 2 will not move forward if Russia invades Ukraine. [Link]
  • The US delivers its written response to Russia’s security proposal. [Link]

China

  • China says it is dissatisfied that the US is allowing embassy staff to leave China because of strict lockdowns. [Link]

Korea

  • North Korea test-fires two short-range ballistic missiles. [Link]

Middle East

  • Jeff Flake became the US Ambassador to Turkey. [Link]
  • US special forces continue to have an active role in the fight against IS. [Link]
  • The SDF claims to have regained control of a prison that holds alleged IS members and 700 children after IS captured the facility six days ago. At least 70 were killed in the fighting. [Link]
  • The Houthi threaten to attack The Dubai Expo. [Link]

Africa

  • France leads a group of 15 countries demanding Mali allow Danish troops to remain in Mali. [Link]
  • At least 20 Congolese soldiers were killed in an attack by M-23. [Link]
News Roundup 1/27/2022

News Roundup 1/26/2022

US News

  • The Department of Labor drops the OSHA-enforced vaccine mandate. [Link]
  • As many as 500 criminal cases could be dropped because NYPD detective Joseph Franco was caught planting drugs. [Link]
  • Twitter says it removed nearly 45,000 accounts in the first half of 2021 for promoting violence or terrorism. Over the same time span, Twitter forced users to delete 4.7 million posts. [Link] Twitter also saw a record number of government requests to remove content. [Link]
  • Lockheed Martin is investing heavily in hypersonic missiles. [Link]

Venezuela

  • The US-recognized leader – although he holds no actual power – of Venezuela Juan Guadio offers the country’s true leader – Maduro –  talks in exchange for the possible reduction in some US sanctions. [Link]

Russia

  • US and Ukrainian officials are giving conflicting statements on the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. [Link]
  • The UK delivered thousands of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The US delivered 80 tonnes of Javelin missiles and launchers to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The House will vote on the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act as early as next week. The bill would impose sanctions on Russia and give Ukraine $500 million in military aid. [Link]

China

  • China and Russia conducted joint naval war games. Russia said it discussed conducting bilateral trade with China in national currencies. [Link]
  • The US flew operations with patrol and spy planes around Taiwan. [Link]

Korea

  • North Korea test-fired two cruise missiles. [Link]

Afghanistan

  • The accounts for the Afghan embassy in the US have been frozen. [Link]
  • Thousands of Afghans – many CIA-trained commandos – have been stranded in the UAE. [Link]

Middle East

  • A senior Human Rights Watch employee had their device hacked by the Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. [Link]
  • Talks between Israel and Russia could reduce Israeli airstrikes in Syria. [Link]
  • The US says it is ready for direct talks with Iran. [Link]
  • Ted Cruz introduces a bill that will put the Houthi on the terrorism list. [Link]
  • UAE-backed forces report making gains in Marib against the Houthi. [Link]

Africa

  • The Biden administration approves a $2.5 billion weapons sale to Egypt. [Link]
  • Senegal says two of its soldiers were killed and nine went missing while on operations in The Gambia. The Senegalese military said the Movement of Democratic Forces for Casamance was behind the attack. [Link]
COI #222: Cold War Served Hot, Hawks Cry For Russian Blood

COI #222: Cold War Served Hot, Hawks Cry For Russian Blood

On COI #222, Kyle Anzalone and Connor Freeman cover the hawks advocating the killing of Russians, the ongoing Cold War with China, and recent violence in Syria.

Connor reviews his latest column discussing the Washington imperial elite’s calls for Russian blood during the Ukraine crisis. The Biden administration, the CIA, Senators from both parties, and NATO officials have been promoting policies that will lead to war. Military aid to Kiev is skyrocketing. U.S. lawmakers seek to tie Biden’s hands and only continue increasing tensions with Moscow.

Kyle details military and political escalations with Beijing. In a move sure to anger the Chinese, Taipei’s Vice President is visiting the U.S. soon.  The Seventh Fleet is carrying out war drills with dual aircraft carrier strike groups in the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea. An F-35 recently crash-landed on the USS Carl Vinson’s deck during the provocative South China Sea exercise.  In response to a U.S. destroyer’s recent FONOP in the region, China’s military is demanding an end to these frequent hostile maneuvers.

Kyle updates the chaotic situation in Syria. An Islamic State attack on a prison in Kurdish territory reportedly holding ISIS suspects, including child detainees, has left scores dead and thousands displaced. The prison break in Hasakah began with two car bombs. Daesh prisoners overpowered prison guards, killing them and taking their weapons. Backing the Kurds, the U.S. has been committing airstrikes. On top of this, U.S. lawmakers are attempting to put a stop to Arab states’ efforts to normalize relations with Damascus.

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News Roundup 1/27/2022

News Roundup 1/25/2022

US News

  • The Massachusetts Department of Health reports that about half of people hospitalized with covid have incidental covid infections. [Link]
  • The US donated 150,000 doses of the Pfizer covid vaccine to Kyrgyzstan through Covax. [Link]
  • Seven sailors were injured during a landing accident on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson. [Link]
  • The US deploys two aircraft carrier strike groups to the South China Sea, including the USS Vinson. [Link] 

Russia

  • Cyber Partisans – a ‘pro-democracy’ hacker group – claims to have carried out a ransomware attack on Belarus’ rail system to prevent the transportation of Russian weapons. [Link]
  • Ukrainian separatists warn the government is planning to invade the breakaway Donbas region. [Link]
  • Ukraine is unhappy with the US withdrawing staff from its Kyiv embassy. [Link]
  • The Department of Homeland Security warns Russia could launch a cyberattack. [Link]
  • Without providing details, NATO announced it was moving additional aircraft and warships to Eastern Europe. [Link]
  • The US places 8,500 troops on heightened preparedness to deploy. [Link]

Iran

  • Iran rules out any preconditions – including releasing American prisoners –  for returning to compliance with the JCPOA. The US recently suggested Iran would have to release American prisoners to return to the nuclear deal. [Link]
  • Iran says it is willing to engage in direct talks with the US. [Link]
  • The Deputy Iran Envoy, Richard Nephew, leaves the nuclear deal negotiation team. [Link]

Middle East

  • Airstrikes in Iraq killed ten militants, and three soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb. [Link]
  • The US carried out airstrikes on a prison in northeastern Syria. The prison is run by the US-backed SDF but was taken over by IS. Fighting for control of the prison continues. [Link]
  • CENTCOM reports it used Patriot missile interceptors to defend the UAE. [Link]
  • The UAE-backed Giants Brigades say they have halted their offensive in Marib. [Link]

Africa

  • Mali calls on Denmark to withdraw its special forces. [Link]
  • Burkina Faso soldiers claim they have captured the country’s president. [Link]
  • Three protesters were killed by security forces in Sudan. [Link]
Cold War Served Hot

Cold War Served Hot

The hawks are openly discussing killing Russians again. The last time this happened Donald Trump was running for President against a largely despised, pantsuit sporting war criminal. Confronted with these two alternatives, assuming he was the lesser of two evils, the American people elected the wild card Trump. Although, by early 2018, the Donald was bombing Russian mercenaries in Syria and Americans hardly blinked an eye.

Almost four years later, the Biden administration, members of the Senate in both parties, the CIA, NATO’s Secretary General, at least two former NATO supreme allied commanders, and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense are now, in various ways, advocating that Washington begin killing Russians.

Senate Democrats—led by Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the jingoist chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—introduced a bill that contains measures which if implemented would virtually commence total economic war with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The bill would further impose sanctions to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and increase military aid to Ukraine by a whopping $500 million. The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act has already authorized $300 million in military aid to Kiev.

The Democrats’ military-industrial complex wish list includes “anti-armor weapon systems, mortars, crew-served weapons and ammunition, grenade launchers and ammunition, anti-tank weapons systems, anti-ship weapons systems, anti-aircraft weapons systems, and small arms and ammunition.”

The bill states that these policies can be triggered if President Joe Biden simply determines Moscow is “knowingly supporting” a “significant escalation” in “hostile action in or against Ukraine prior to December 1, 2021.”

Lacking evidence, the corporate press has already put out a story about the Russians planning a false flag to manufacture a justification to invade Ukraine, the claims have been repeated by the White House and the Pentagon. This is practically an invitation to anti-Russian forces and covert operators, including those backed by the U.S., to attack or start trouble that can be deemed “Russian aggression” and lead to war.

On Fox News, Republican Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) boasted about potential “military action” such as putting U.S. troops on the ground in Ukraine and always keeping “first use nuclear action” on the table. Additionally, he proposes having ships “stand off” in the Black Sea to “rain destruction on Russian military capability.”

With talks ongoing between the U.S. and Russia at the highest levels, there are reasons for both sides to deescalate and make concessions. There is reportedly an opportunity to restore the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, limit the scope of NATO as well as Russian military drills in Europe, limit the NATO troop presence on Russia’s borders, and prevent accidents occurring in the air and sea.

The Russians withdrew at least 10,000 troops away from the border with Ukraine. Moscow arrested and seized the assets of supposed members of a Russian ransomware group accused of being behind the Colonial pipeline hack. In a phone call with Putin, Biden quietly promised not to place offensive strike weapons in Ukraine. Biden also recently suggested that if Putin undertakes a small invasion, the U.S. might not react. The latter was framed, by the right, as the worst kind of weakness and appeasement.

Reflecting D.C. politics’ pro war bias, the White House immediately walked back the President’s statement. The Commander in Chief’s handlers clarified, “President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies.”

Alongside some fellow GOP senators from the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, Wicker recently insisted that it’s time, with enhanced U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine, to ensure “Vladimir Putin will get a bloody nose.

Multi-millionaire Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), was recently part of a delegation, including Wicker, visiting Kiev. Blumenthal pledged the U.S. would “impose crippling economic sanctions, but more importantly, we will give the people of Ukraine the arms, lethal arms they need to defend their lives and livelihoods.”

GOP war hawks in the Senate want to send more anti-tanks missiles to Kiev. As Fox News reported, the “United Kingdom delivered short-range anti-tank missiles to Ukraine Tuesday—a move GOP lawmakers applauded and called on the Biden administration to increasingly emulate.”

Since 2014, the U.S. has supplied the Ukrainians with over $2.5 billion in military aid. American Special Forces have been training Kiev’s forces in the country for several years now and there are U.S. National Guard troops in Ukraine as well.

Reportedly, at a secret base in the southern U.S., the CIA is training Ukrainian paramilitaries to “kill Russians” and—in the event of Putin’s allegedly imminent invasion—even launch an “insurgency.”

According to a de facto Langley press release in the form of a Yahoo News report, the spooks have not only been overseeing this training program under our noses but also deployed ground unit advisors to Ukraine.

Since the Obama administration’s final years, the CIA has sent paramilitary elements to the Donbas region’s front where Kiev has been at war with Russian-backed separatists. This U.S.-supported war against Ukraine’s restive eastern provinces has seen neo Nazi militias, as well as the Islamic State’s “brothers,” unleash brutal violence against Kiev’s enemies. The neo-Nazis have proven quite useful to American-backed government in Ukraine. They were instrumental during America’s 2014 street putsch coup in Kiev. Some Nazi groups have since been incorporated into their National Guard.

The American people should now realize the foreign policy establishment and the Biden administration are warning Moscow that if they go through with their supposed plans to invade Ukraine, which Russia has denied all along, the killing of Russian forces will begin. One former supreme allied commander of NATO could hardly contain his blood lust.

As reported in the New York Times,

“If Putin invades Ukraine with a major military force, U.S. and NATO military assistance—intelligence, cyber, anti-armor and anti-air weapons, offensive naval missiles—would ratchet up significantly,” said James Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who was the supreme allied commander at NATO. “And if it turned into a Ukrainian insurgency, Putin should realize that after fighting insurgencies ourselves for two decades, we know how to arm, train and energize them.”

He pointed to American support for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion there in the late 1970s and 1980s, before the rise of the Taliban. “The level of military support” for a Ukrainian insurgence, Admiral Stavridis said, “would make our efforts in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union look puny by comparison.”

Both Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have warned their Russian counterparts in recent telephone calls that any swift Russian victory in Ukraine would probably be followed by a bloody insurgency similar to the one that drove the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. In discussions with allies, senior Biden officials have also made clear that the C.I.A. (covertly) and the Pentagon (overtly) would both seek to help any Ukrainian insurgency.

For a point of reference, it is estimated that at a million people were killed during “Operation Cyclone,” the CIA’s dirty war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Keeping with the Cyclone theme, Wesley Clark, former General and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, recently signed a letter encouraging the U.S. to arm Kiev with stinger missiles.

Reportedly, the U.S. has just green lit the NATO Baltic states’ transfer of weapons to Ukraine, including stinger anti-aircraft missiles. While Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Kiev, the U.S. announced another $200 million in military aid to Ukraine.

On the eve of the recent U.S.-Russia talks in Geneva, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia of “severe costs.” He told the Financial Times that if negotiations failed, NATO was prepared for “a new armed conflict in Europe.” Russia sent security proposals to Washington that precipitated bilateral talks with the U.S. and multilateral talks with NATO as well. The proposals include, perhaps most prominently, a demand that NATO officially rescind its promises of future alliance membership received by both Ukraine and Georgia at the 2008 Bucharest summit. Before the ink dries, brining either country into NATO would start a war that could end in planetary devastation and nuclear winter. NATO and the Americans flatly rejected the request.

Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia in the Obama administration, said in an interview that this time “the gloves should come off.” She warns of a time when “must use our military to roll back Russians—even at risk of direct combat.”

Such spokespeople for the merchants of death always claim to hold the moral high ground. But when reporters at Newsweek asked Farkas about the Nazi problem in Kiev’s security forces her response was shocking. “They have right now existential issues to deal with, and the far-right groups are helping defend Ukraine,” she explained. “So at this moment in time, the Ukrainian government needs all the help it can get from its citizens, regardless of their ideology.”

Farkas ominously declares the U.S. ”must not only condemn Russia’s illegal occupations of Ukraine and Georgia, but we must demand a withdrawal from both countries by a certain date and organize coalition forces willing to take action to enforce it.”

With this kind of rhetoric, Farkas will surely be there on the front lines, sword in hand, with a Braveheart speech prepared to rally the “coalition forces.”

This unhinged agitation for war is very much in the spirit of ultra-hawk Dick Cheney who as Vice President, during the brief August 2008 war in Georgia, wished to drop bombs on Russians.

Then Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili indisputably provoked that conflict by attacking Russian peacekeepers protecting the autonomy of the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Russian forces were there because of a European Union brokered deal.

As Scott Horton, Director of the Libertarian Institute, has explained, Saakashvili was “incentivized” by “vague security assurances the Bush government had given his government that spring.”

Andrew Cockburn elaborates, “[Saakashvili’s] confidence may have been buoyed by back-channel assurances from minions of Vice-President Richard Cheney that the U.S. would in the end come to his aid.”

It was only a few months earlier that NATO promised Tbilisi and Kiev their future alliance membership.

The Americans also installed Saakashvili in power during the 2003 “Rose Revolution” and had provided Georgia with military aid for years.

Saakashvili was keenly aware of how U.S.-styled democracy works. As Cockburn has written,

To bolster his standing in the American capital, Saakashvili hired Randy Scheunemann, a Republican lobbyist and the executive director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a neocon group formed in 2002 under the chairmanship of none other than Bruce Jackson, a senior Lockheed executive and president of the Committee to Expand NATO.

Scheunemann was a “close advisor” to the mega hawk Republican Senator John McCain who supported the Ukraine coup as well as inducting Tbilisi and Kiev into NATO. Then-presidential candidate McCain announced he told Saakashvili—after he had already started the war in 2008—“…today, we are all Georgians.”

The authors of the recently published, and previously mentioned, New York Times article describe this “conversation” as having “revived the specter of a new Cold War and suddenly made real the prospect of the beginnings of a so-called great power conflict.”

But after the Red flag came down, the American sore winners’ economic “shock therapy” devastated Russia, lowered the life expectancy of the population by double digits, allowed gangsters and oligarchs to loot entire industries and liquidate everything. As Horton has said, “…it was an economic war against Russia. Larry Summers and the Harvard Boys, what they did was as bad as dropping a couple of nukes on them.”

Despite repeated Western promises to the precise contrary, NATO’s eastward expansion has been ongoing since the 1990s and the anachronistic time bomb itself has nearly doubled in size. The U.S. has launched a plethora of color-coded revolutions in Russia’s near abroad including overthrowing the Kiev government twice in ten years, installing a Nazi infested regime on Russia’s very border, and keeping the door open to its full NATO membership. NATO has been constantly deploying warships and bombers to the Black Sea. The warships are often participating in massive military war games. The U.S. has ships in the Baltic Sea carrying medium range missiles. Of course, myriad sanctions have been levied against Moscow. Critical arms treaties such as Open Skies, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the INF Treaty have been unilaterally killed by successive GOP presidents. In Poland and Romania, the U.S. has so-called anti-ballistic missile sites with MK-41 launchers able to fit hydrogen bomb-tipped Tomahawks. The two previous presidents created a severe crisis by conducting massive expulsions of Russian diplomats and the neocons’ vast political and media influence has criminalized any notion of détente. The very concept may as well be treasonous.

Maybe what flies most flagrantly in the face of the claim that we are witnessing the “the beginnings of a so-called great power conflict” is the 2018 National Security Strategy which plainly states the War Department’s policy is “great power competition” or put differently, conflict, with Moscow and Beijing.

To illustrate, the U.S. just held massive military exercises with Japan and an American aircraft carrier strike group just drilled for war in the South China Sea. Last year, Biden sailed air craft carrier strike groups in the South China Sea ten times, nearly doubling Trump’s 2020 numbers. In 2021, American warplanes and spy planes flew more than 2,000 sorties around China, including 94 in November, more than doubling Trump’s deployments during the previous year. These flights take place in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea. U.S. warships sail through the Taiwan Strait nearly every month. And the U.S. continues to further nuclearize the so called the Indo Pacific region.

As CNN just reported,

One of the most powerful weapons in the US Navy’s arsenal made a rare port call in Guam…

The USS Nevada, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine carrying 20 Trident ballistic missiles and dozens of nuclear warheads, pulled into the Navy base in the U.S. Pacific Island territory on Saturday. It’s the first visit of a ballistic missile submarine—sometimes called a “boomer”—to Guam since 2016 and only the second announced visit since the 1980s.

Since the end of the previous Cold War, Washington has rigidly adhered to a neoconservative ideology bent on world domination and endless wars. To this end, the U.S. maintains more than 800 military bases globally and has been morally and financially bankrupted. Across multiple continents, this century’s American mass murder campaigns have killed and displaced millions of people. In Iraq alone, more than a million people were killed. Yet the U.S. public has not held the ruling class war criminals to account, there has never been a reckoning.

Months after the withdrawal, Afghanistan’s children are deliberately being starved. Biden’s current policy, freezing billions of dollars in the Afghan government’s assets and maintaining sanctions on the Taliban, amounts to a macabre economic war. As with the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran, humanitarian exemptions mean nothing since few if any international banks, businesses, medical companies, or aid groups will risk the U.S. Treasury Department’s wrath. This lays bare 20 years of cynical humanitarian interventionist propaganda supporting a multi trillion dollar war which killed an estimated 241,000 people. Those same women and girls we used to hear so much about are being starved to death at the hands of the sore loser American hegemon.

In December, Dave DeCamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, reported,

In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal, Afghanistan is facing a dire humanitarian crisis, which is being exacerbated by U.S. economic pressure. Citing the UN’s World Food Program, The New York Times reported that about 22.8 million Afghans—more than half of the country’s population—are expected to face life-threatening hunger this winter, and 8.7 million Afghans are “nearing famine.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. wants to benefit the Afghan people without benefiting the Taliban. But whether the U.S. likes it or not, the Taliban is now the government of Afghanistan. And history shows that U.S. sanctions and economic pressure do little to change the targeted government and always hurt the civilian population.

Taliban leaders are still under U.S. and UN sanctions, which discourage international businesses and banks from doing business with the new Afghan government, something Psaki explained.

The U.S. military still occupies nearly a third of Syria. The CIA’s six-year dirty war—this time backing the al Qaeda led “insurgency”killed roughly half a million people. One of the more infamous byproducts of this policy was the Islamic State caliphate. The Pentagon controls Syria’s oil fields, Israel bombs the country nearly every week, and more than 60% of the population is close to starvation. About 80% of the country lives in poverty. Rebuilding the country will cost an estimated $250-400 billion. Blinken, America’s top diplomat, has asserted that the U.S. is absolutely committed “to oppose the reconstruction of Syria.” The American people have repeatedly expressed an opposition to this war, yet they remain criminally indifferent enough to permit its indefinite duration.

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, continues to be terror bombed and blockaded in a genocidal war ceaselessly waged by the American Empire and its Gulf dictatorship satellites. The U.N. conservatively estimates 377,000 people, mostly children, have been killed in this almost seven-year war. Trump vetoed war powers resolutions to end the war, Biden said he would stop it and has not. Less than a year into Biden’s term, investigative reporter Alan Macleod after studying the Pentagon’s sales records wrote “the Biden administration has already approved 20 separate weapons contracts, worth just shy of $1.2 billion, to Saudi Arabia alone.”

By the Deep State’s self-fulfilling prophecy, Russia and China must remain our perpetual enemies. Designedly, the American people have readily accepted this premise. Our fellow citizens seem to either despise China or Russia. While you are free to take your pick, the most obedient citizens are hawkish on both the Russians and the Chinese.

Those covered in Yemeni, Syrian, Afghani, Iraqi, Somali, and Libyan blood are merely feigning concern for the democracy, human rights and sovereignty of Ukrainians and the Taiwanese. It helps them sell weapons, increase the Pentagon budget, and boost their own power. If the military, Washington, NATO, and the DC foreign policy Blob cared at all about national sovereignty and human rights, our troops would no longer occupy Iraq in defiance of the parliament’s two year old unanimous demands for a complete withdrawal. If those crocodile tears over the unproven claims of a Uighur “genocide” in Xingang province were rooted in any concern for the plight of Muslims, the globally notorious Israeli apartheid regime would not be America’s top military aid recipient. Those are American weapons and warplanes being used to bomb Palestinian civilians confined in the Gaza concentration camp.

With the American public evidently bored with brutalizing Muslim countries, though unfortunately not bored enough to stop, we seamlessly move on to the next enemies, the next build ups, the next wars. Trillions of dollars are continually diverted from peaceful and productive use and poured into what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern refers to as MICIMATT (the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex). This money funds the consensus that Washington’s sphere of influence extends the world over. Moscow and Beijing’s red lines be damned. It is common now to hear discussion of an impending war with China over Taiwan. Likewise, agreeing not to bring Kiev into NATO is viewed as “appeasement.”

On Memorial Day 2021, the U.S. flew nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over all 30 NATO member states. This past Thanksgiving, the U.S. sailed a guided missile destroyer into the Black Sea. Just months into Biden’s presidency, throughout Eastern Europe including on Russia’s borders, the “dangerous dinosaur,” NATO held the largest military exercises since the previous Cold War era.

Americans will have to soon give up their favorite drugs of apathy, partisanship, and blissful ignorance. The fights and wars our ruling elite are now picking threaten to kill us too. Last November, the U.S. brazenly simulated a nuclear attack on Russia, flying strategic bombers less than 13 miles off its borders. Voting will not suffice, we must recognize this global hostage situation for what it is, and make difficult decisions about how to finally end the American Empire.

News Roundup 1/27/2022

News Roundup 1/24/2022

Covid

  • A federal judge in Texas blocks Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees. [Link]
  • The US donates three million covid vaccines to four African countries through covax. [Link]
  • The US donates nearly two million Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Egypt through Covax. [Link]

Haiti

  • The judge overseeing the investigation into the assassination of President Moise quits. [Link]

Russia

  • The Biden administration notified Congress of its plan to transfer Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The US delivers 90 tonnes of weapons – from a December aid package – to Ukraine. [Link]
  • The Baltic States’ arms transfers to Ukraine include Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. [Link]
  • Fewer than one in six Americans support sending US troops to Ukraine to prevent a Russian invasion. [Link]
  • The US will allow non-essential staff at the embassy in Ukraine to leave the country. The US ordered the family of staff to leave the country. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Vienna. The US agreed to give Russia a written response to its security proposal. The two diplomats will meet again next week. [Link]
  • Blinken asked Russia to release two US citizens who were convicted of crimes in Russia and serving prison sentences. [Link]
  • Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia will send political advisers to Paris for talks this week. [Link]
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined an invitation to speak with Biden about the Ukraine crisis. [Link]
  • The UK says Russia is planning to install a new government in Ukraine. [Link]
  • Blinken rejects calls to sanction Russia now. He explained that sanctions cannot work as a deterrent if they are already in place. [Link]
  • Biden is considering applying the ‘foreign direct product rule’ – cutting off semiconductors and related technology – to Russia in response to an invasion of Ukraine. [Link]
  • Biden is considering plans to deploy between 1,000 and 5,000 troops to Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. [Link]
  • Blinken says there are a number of areas for the US and Russia to work together. [Link]

China

  • Taiwan reports 39 Chinese military aircraft entered its Air Defense Identification Zone. [Link]

Afghanistan 

  • The Taliban will meet with officials from Western governments in Norway. [Link]
  • ISIS-K claims it is behind a bombing in Afghanistan that killed at least six. [Link]

Iran

  • Shipments of thinning agents from Iran have allowed Venezuela to double its oil exports over the past year. [Link]
  • US and European officials warn time is running out in Iran nuclear talks. [Link]
  • Iran and Russia are in talks to upgrade Iran’s nuclear power plant. [Link]
  • The US Envoy to Iran Robert Malley says it is unlikely the US will return to the nuclear deal if Iran continues to hold four American prisoners. [Link]

Yemen

  • Saudi Arabia bombed a Houthi-run prison in Yemen, killing at least 80 people. [Link]
  • Shards from an American-made bomb were found at the prison. [Link]
  • The US claims it intercepted a ship transporting Urea-based fertilizer in the Gulf of Oman. The US alleges it was headed to the Houthi in Yemen. [Link]

Middle East

  • Israel’s cabinet voted to launch an investigation into the “submarine affair” that could implicate former prime minister Netanyahu. [Link]
  • The UAE bans civilians from using drones. [Link]
  • The UAE says it intercepted two ballistic missiles. [Link]
  • Eleven Iraqi soldiers were killed in an IS attack. [Link]
  • Nearly 200 people have been killed in three days of fighting between the US-backed SDF and IS for control over a prison in Syria. [Link]

Africa

  • A top Ethiopian military official says his army will attempt to eliminate the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. [Link]
  • Aid groups warn the people of Mali will pay the price for the sanctions recently imposed on the country. [Link]
  • A French soldier was killed in Mali. [Link]
  • Reports from Burkina Faso say several soldiers have mutinied against the government and a possible coup is underway. [Link]

1/21/22 Richard Hanania on American Power, Public Choice Theory and the Rise of China

Scott interviews Richard Hanania of Defense Priorities. They discuss the reality of how the American military’s presence impacts global events. Hanania argues that, if it were true that the U.S. was out there defending its allies, you’d expect those countries to want U.S. troops present more than the U.S. wants to have troops stationed there. But in reality, we often find the opposite. Hanania also gives the reasons he thinks China is all but certain to become the dominant power in East Asia but that right-wing fears over a global Chinese takeover are overblown. 

Discussed on the show:

Richard Hanania is a research fellow at Defense Priorities and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. His work focuses on political psychology, the causes of civil war, and the effects of interest groups on U.S. foreign policy. Follow him on Twitter @RichardHanania

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: The War State and Why The Vietnam War?, by Mike Swanson; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; EasyShip; Free Range Feeder; Thc Hemp Spot; Green Mill Supercritical; Bug-A-Salt and Listen and Think Audio.

Shop Libertarian Institute merch or donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal or Bitcoin: 1DZBZNJrxUhQhEzgDh7k8JXHXRjYu5tZiG.

News Roundup 1/27/2022

News Roundup 1/21/2022

Covid

  • New Mexico is requesting National Guard soldiers and state employees to fill in as substitute teachers. [Link]
  • The US donated over 300,000 Johnson & Johnson covid vaccines to Bangladesh. [Link]
  • The US donated over 600,000 Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Ukraine. [Link]
  • At least 2.8 million covid vaccine doses donated to Africa have expired. [Link]

Russia

  • The US charged four Belarusians with air piracy. [Link]
  • The US announces sanctions on four Ukrainians for assisting an alleged Russian influence campaign in Ukraine. [Link]
  • A bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill that would give the president more power to arm Ukraine. [Link]
  • Germany rejects a request to send weapons to Ukraine. [Link]
  • CIA Director William Burns traveled to Germany and Ukraine. [Link]
  • Spain will deploy warships to the Black Sea. [Link]
  • Russia will carry out a series of naval war games over the next six weeks. [Link]

China

  • Taiwan’s vice president will visit the US on his trip to Honduras. [Link]
  • The US is looking for ways to accelerate the delivery of F-16s to Taiwan. [Link]
  • The USS Benfold – a guided-missile destroyer – sailed near the Chinese-claimed Paracel and Spratly Islands to challenge the Chinese territorial claim. [Link]
  • China responds to the USS Benfold maneuvers by calling on the US to stop violating Chinese territorial claims. [Link]

Middle East

  • Israel calls for Iranian proxy forces to be an issue at Vienna talks. [Link]
  • China, Russia, and Iran hold joint naval drills in the Gulf of Oman. [Link]
  • The Islamic State carried out an attack on a prison run by the US-backed Syrian Kurds. Some IS fighters were able to escape. [Link]
  • The US bombed the Tabqa Dam in 2017. [Link]
  • Saudi airstrikes led to a nationwide internet outage in Yemen. [Link]
  • Saudi Arabia bombed a Yemeni youth soccer game causing casualties. [Link]

Sudan

  • The US says it will withhold aid from Sudan until civilian rule is restored. [Link]
The ‘Zero COVID’ Strategy Was a Losing Bet From the Start

The ‘Zero COVID’ Strategy Was a Losing Bet From the Start

The Chinese regime is doubling down in its “zero COVID” strategy. In recent weeks, new covid cases have been detected in several cities. In a world of the more-contagious omicron variant, this is to be expected.

But what has been the Chinese state’s response? It’s more of the same. Lockdowns, travel suspensions, and more. NBC reports:

Tianjin, which detected China’s first community spread of Omicron on Saturday, is rolling out a second round of mass testing on its 14 million residents on Wednesday…The outbreak has already spread to Anyang, a city in Henan province some 300 miles (482 kilometers) away, prompting a full lockdown…Tianjin officials said at a news conference Tuesday that all bus services to Beijing had been suspended…On Wednesday, 425 flights were canceled at Tianjin Binhai International Airport, accounting for 95% of all scheduled flights…Tianjin authorities on Sunday ordered citizens not to leave the city unless absolutely necessary. Those who want to leave must present a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours…

It’s hard to believe that anyone still believes that covid will go away if government authorities just “lock down harder.” But China is hardly the only example of how this delusion can win many adherents among the technocrats and the expert class.

After all, let it not be forgotten that much of the world had adopted a zero covid policy early on, and this absurd policy endured for months. In Europe, of course, millions upon millions of people were virtually locked in their homes for months on end. As Philipp Bagus reported from Spain in spring of 2020, one wasn’t allowed to go outside without facing the wrath of state enforcers.

In America, the “experts” frequently spoke out in favor of zero covid, stating that lockdowns could eradicate the disease and that people would have to stay on lockdown until that time. For example, on April 2 of 2020, Anthony Fauci endorsed this idea, stating that social distancing requirements could not be relaxed until there are “essentially no new cases, no deaths for a period of time.” Hawaii explicitly embraced zero covid, and adopted a policy in 2020 based on the idea that public schools would never reopen until there was no longer any “community spread” and “no new cases” were detected over a period of four weeks.

Needless to say, those were totally unrealistic goals. They reflected only the plans of technocrats who were more concerned with living out their bizarre fetishes for lockdowns and border closures that with gaining a better grasp of the situation or with respecting basic human rights. Even Australia—an island nation that could perhaps plausibly hope to actually close its borders—has given up on the idea.

In other words, the “experts” in America wanted to recreate Chinese despotism in America. They adopted a lockdown policy that had already long been rejected. Lockdowns were already expected to bring long term side effects, such as surges in mental health problems—some of the worst of it among the young—now being reported by hospitals. The WHO even concluded that lockdowns ought to be rejected because “there is no obvious rationale for this measure.”

But perhaps the media and government officials were so successful at sowing panic in the general population in the spring of 2020 that the health technocrats saw their chance to try a new experiment in social engineering that they had previously considered unfeasible.

Fortunately, though, by the middle of 2020, it became clear that lockdowns simply weren’t going to be tolerated by much of the general public. Most state and local governments in the US abandoned zero covid rapidly, although the usual totalitarians in the media bemoaned the end of the policy, insisting that the abandonment of lockdowns would drench the non-lockdown jurisdictions in blood. This was predicted for US states like Georgia, and for countries like Sweden—where lockdowns were quickly jettisoned or not imposed at all.

As time went on, it became obvious that the non-lockdown jurisdictions did not fare significantly worse than the locked down ones. Some areas—Sweden, for instance—fared better. Some of the world’s harshest lockdown regimes—such as those in Peru, Argentina, the UK, and New York—also had some of the worst rates of deaths per million.

For the zero-covid crowd, reality got in the way.

Neo-Zero COVID: The Pivot to Vaccines

The zero covid mentality endures, however. The second wave of the zero covid mentality came with the idea that with universal vaccination, covid would disappear.

And, of course, once vaccines began to appear, it was hailed as a magic bullet that would ensure that the vaccinated would be unable to spread the disease. This ideology was expressed in a rant by Rachel Maddow who back in March 2020 harangued her viewers with the “fact” that “virus stops with every vaccinated person.” She continued: “A vaccinated person gets exposed to the virus, the virus does not infect them, the virus cannot then use that person to go anywhere else.”

This was all a complete fabrication. The vaccine never stopped the spread, and with the advent of the omicron variant, it’s now apparently the case that the vaccine doesn’t even slow the spread. The virus is quickly spreading among vaccinated.

It’s no longer possible to even pretend that vaccination prevents transmission. The only argument left to supporters of the vaccine mandate is that vaccines help against serious disease and death. That’s excellent, but it has nothing to do with public health because it’s clear the unvaccinated aren’t the reason the disease has not been eradicated.

And then there is the fact that vaccination has, in part, likely contributed to new covid mutations. This isn’t new with covid. The idea that treatments can lead to new mutations is not new, of course, and it’s long been known that under a variety of situations, leaky vaccines can produce vaccine resistant mutations.

This is also known to occur in the case of covid. For example, in an article for the Journal of Physical Chemistry (December 2021), the authors note “vaccine-breakthrough or antibody-resistant mutations provide a new mechanism of viral evolution.” And specifically on covid, they write how mutations are often more common in places with higher vaccination rates:

we reveal that the occurrence and frequency of vaccine-resistant mutations correlate strongly with the vaccination rates in Europe and America. We anticipate that as a complementary transmission pathway, vaccine-breakthrough or antibody-resistant mutations, like those in Omicron, will become a dominating mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 evolution when most of the world’s population is either vaccinated or infected.

This can make things even worse when coupled with other covid mitigation measures. As Vivek Ramaswamy and Apoorva Ramaswamy explained in the Wall Street Journal last week it’s simply not realistic to think vaccines can be constantly adjusted to keep up with new variants. And,

Meanwhile, mask mandates and social-distancing measures will have created fertile ground for new variants that evade vaccination even more effectively. Significant antigenic shifts may create new strains that are increasingly difficult to target with vaccines at all. There are no vaccines for many viruses, despite decades of effort to develop them.

That is, vaccination isn’t making covid go away. The politically correct version of the narrative also completely denies that the failure of vaccines to prevent the spread is even a significant factor in the spread of new mutations. The purveyors of the narrative still insist that only the unvaccinated have any responsibility in the continued existence of the disease. Consider, for example, a recent mainstream media report quoting a doctor who dutifully repeated the political orthodoxy that “Without a large percentage of people being vaccinated, the virus has been allowed to mutate.” Specifically, he further claimed that if “roughly 70% of the population” were vaccinated or naturally infected, this would bring the spread of the disease to a halt through “herd immunity.” But—as the doctor now intones in a forlorn voice—that can’t be achieved because there hasn’t been enough vaccination.

But given his criteria, we should expect places with at least 70% vaccination rates to have halted the spread of disease, right? Not surprisingly, this has not happened. In Portugal, for instance, the fully vaccinated rate—is at 90 percent. In Chile, it’s at 87 percent. It’s 75 percent in France. So, surely the spread of covid has been stopped in all these places? The answer is no. New cases are raging in Portugal, Chile, and France, with all these countries hitting new highs in recent days.

Whether we’re talking about vaccine mandates or lockdowns, it’s clear the zero covid strategy has been an abject failure. They’re still trying it in some places like China where government propaganda is largely unquestioned and where people practice unquestioning obedience to the regime at a scale that makes the all-too-complacent West look downright rebellious by comparison.

Don’t expect the “experts” in any country to give up on their slogans any time soon. But it is clear that reality will eventually catch up with them. Whether or not any respect for human rights remains at the end of it all is another matter.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

News Roundup 1/27/2022

News Roundup 1/20/2022

US News

  • The police officers who restrained Cedric Lofton at a Kansas juvenile facility until he died will not face charges. [Link]
  • The city of Baltimore settles with two men – who police officers planted drugs on  – for $200,000. The officers were members of the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force. [Link]
  • An interim CIA report has concluded it is unlikely that ‘Havana Syndrome’ is caused by an adversary or weapon. [Link]
  • The Pentagon will spend over $52 million in 2022 on 18 blimps to surveil the southern border. [Link]
  • Rodolphe Jaar – wanted for his role in the assassination of Haitian President Moise – was extradited to the US from the Dominican Republic. [Link]

Russia

  • Mark Brzezinski, son of former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, has been sworn in as US ambassador to Poland. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Ukraine and pledges an additional $200 million in military aid. [Link]
  • The US approved US-made weapons to be transferred from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to Ukraine. [Link]
  • Russia calls on the US to stop arming and training Ukrainians. [Link]
  • Biden says there is room to work with Russia on Ukraine. [Link]

China

  • Biden says it is too soon to consider easing tariffs on China. [Link]

North Korea

  • North Korea threatens to resume suspended activities. North Korea is likely referencing its pause on nuclear and ICBM tests. [Link]

Middle East

  • Biden says there is some progress being made in the Iran nuclear deal talks. [Link]
  • Biden says he is considering redesignating the Houthi are a terrorist organization. [Link]
  • The UAE claims the Houthi launched cruise and ballistic missiles along with drones in the recent attack on a fuel depot and international airport. The UAE says some of the missiles were intercepted. [Link]

Africa

  • US soldiers deployed to Niger for several days to help the country design a basic training program for its military. [Link]
  • Chad began releasing some rebel prisoners ahead of peace talks next month. [Link]
News Roundup 1/27/2022

1/19/2022

Covid

  • SCOTUS rejects an emergency appeal challenging the mask mandate on airplanes. [Link]
  • Wisconsin will deploy over 200 National Guard soldiers to nursing homes over the next two months. [Link]
  • The US gives seven million Pfizer covid vaccine doses to Bangladesh through Covax. [Link]

US News

  • A grand jury recommended charges against three police officers that opened fire on two teens and killed an 8-year-old girl. Initially, the state charged the two teens with Fanta Bility’s murder, even though prosecutors knew it was one of the cops that fired the shot that killed her. [Link]
  • Police in California and Kansas have seized over $1 million from three armored trucks that service the legal marijuana industry. [Link]
  • The Washington National Guard will deploy 100 troops to Poland. First, the soldiers will train at Fort Bliss. [Link]
  • Tennessee will deploy 25 members of its National Guard to Kuwait. [Link]

Russia

  • NATO says it will treat an attack on any of its members’ space assets as an attack on the alliance. [Link]
  • NATO signs an agreement with Ukraine to boost cyber cooperation. [Link]
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy. [Link]
  • The US is concerned about Russia moving troops to Belarus for war games. [Link]
  • The US says Russia could invade Ukraine at any time. [Link]

China

  • Taiwan will pay Ballard Partners $900,000 to lobby on behalf of Guatemala to US officials. [Link]
  • The US increased its number of aircraft carrier deployments to the South China Sea to ten in 2021, up from six in 2020. The warships engaged in more unpredictable routes and maneuvers. [Link]

Afghanistan

  • The Taliban are attempting to place their officials in Afghan embassies. [Link]

Israel

  • The US and Israel claim to have successfully tested the Arrow-3 missile interceptor system. The Arrow-3 is designed to intercept missiles outside the atmosphere. The system could be used to hit satellites. [Link]
  • A report says Israel targeted its citizens with Pegasus spyware. [Link]
  • Women rights activists in Jordan and Bahrain had their phones targeted with the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. [Link]
  • Israel offers security and intelligence support to the UAE in response to the Houthi drone attack. [Link]

Middle East

  • South Korea will sell the UAE $3.4 billion in anti-aircraft missile systems. [Link]
  • The US sanctioned three Lebanese men over alleged ties to Hezbollah. [Link]

Africa

  • Four people were killed by an al-Shabaab suicide bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia. [Link]
  • An IED in Burkina Faso wounded four French soldiers. [Link]
COI #218: Biden Team Blames Trump for Iran Nuclear Deal Failure

COI #218: Biden Team Blames Trump for Iran Nuclear Deal Failure

On COI #218, Kyle Anzalone and Connor Freeman update the Iran talks, the new Cold War with China, and the genocidal war in Yemen.

Connor discusses the ongoing indirect negotiations in Vienna to restore the JCPOA. There are troubling signs that the Biden administration may be preparing for the talks to fail. House Republicans are demanding President Biden’s team immediately end the talks. Whatever happens, a decision is coming soon, and Biden’s team plans to continue scapegoating Trump. Although there are still positive statements coming from the EU foreign policy chief, the Chinese, and the Iranians themselves.

Connor covers China’s growing Middle East influence. Beijing and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are working toward building a free trade area and a strategic partnership. China is the GCC’s top trading partner and the region forms a centerpiece in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China recently invited Syria to join the BRI as well. Additionally, last year’s Tehran-Beijing comprehensive cooperation agreement is now entering its implementation stage.

Kyle and Connor talk about the U.S. military carrying out massive military exercises with Japan. Tokyo also sailed warships near Chinese-controlled islands twice in the last ten months. The U.S. just wrapped up war drills in the South China Sea including with an aircraft carrier strike group. Washington sent an Ohio class nuclear submarine to Guam, it carries dozens of nuclear warheads and 20 Trident ballistic missiles.

Kyle reports on the war in Yemen where the Saudis announced they will be increasing the bombings of the long battered country. Massive strikes, killing civilians, are being carried out including in the capital city. The Houthis have retaliated, they conducted a high-profile drone attack on Abu Dhabi that destroyed three oil tankers and killed three people. The UAE wants the U.S. to redeclare the Houthis a terrorist group. Such a move would make it even more difficult for aid to enter the blockaded and starving country. Most of Yemen’s civilians live in the northern territory held by the Houthis, the threat of U.S. sanctions would designedly deter most any humanitarian assistance.

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