MintPress News Independent, non-partisan journalism Mon, 07 Dec 2020 20:40:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 /wp-content/uploads/2018/02/cropped-MPN-Logo-32x32.jpg MintPress News 32 32 Corporate Media Silence Deafening as Former Clinton Aide Confirms Ties to Jeffrey Epstein /media-silence-deafening-former-clinton-aide-confirms-ties-jeffrey-epstein/273456/ /media-silence-deafening-former-clinton-aide-confirms-ties-jeffrey-epstein/273456/#comments Mon, 07 Dec 2020 18:54:25 +0000 /?p=273456 The bombshell that Clinton’s closest confidant confirmed the former president's many trips aboard the "lolita express" has been totally ignored by the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, MSNBC, CBS News, and CNN.

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A top Clinton insider has revealed that the former president visited the Caribbean 德扑之星安卓手机版下载home of notorious sex predator Jeffrey Epstein. In a long interview last week with Vanity Fair, longtime aide to Bill Clinton, Doug Band, noted that, contrary to the official line, his boss did indeed spend time on Little Saint James, the private island that the billionaire pedophile used as a base to traffick and rape women and children.

Neither Band nor his interviewer appeared to realize the gravity of what he was revealing, the subject being touched upon only briefly towards the end of a wide-ranging 7,000-word conversation in which he noted that in January 2003, Clinton flew on Epstein’s notorious “Lolita Express” private jet to the island. Band appeared to bring the incident up only as a way of distancing himself from the disgraced pedophile, who died under mysterious circumstances in a Manhattan prison in July last year. Band insisted that he knew nothing of Epstein’s misdeeds, but “got enough bad vibes that he advised Clinton to end the relationship,” refusing to travel aboard Epstein’s jet with his employer. Flight logs show Clinton made around two dozen trips on the infamous airplane.

Band is certainly a source in the know. For years he served as Clinton’s most trusted aide and confidant, traveling by his side and arranging his appointments for him. The former president famously did not carry even a cellphone, meaning that everyone from journalists to even Hillary and Chelsea Clinton would have had to go through Band to speak to him.

Band’s testimony adds weight to others who have already said they saw him on the island. Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre previously stated that Clinton “strolled into” Epstein’s private villa with “two lovely girls” in his arms. “There was no modesty between any of them,” she said. “I remember asking Jeffrey what’s Bill Clinton doing here,” Giuffre said in an interview earlier this year, “and he laughed it off and said ‘well he owes me a favor.’” Epstein’s former IT and maintenance contractor also said he saw the former president on the island, an assertion that Clinton has denied. The former president was also photographed receiving a massage from Epstein victim Chauntae Davies while at an airport, on route via the Lolita Express.

While the press might be forgiven for focussing more on the pandemic and the election, the virtual silence from corporate media has been deafening. The bombshell that Clinton’s closest confidant — whom friends describe as being like a “son” to him — has been totally ignored by the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, MSNBC, CBS News, and CNN, with no relevant results appearing in searches on their websites. ABC News, which for three years sat on information that could have resulted in an arrest, also did not cover the story.

It was therefore left to more Republican-aligned, anti-Democrat media to play it up, the news appearing in conservative outlets like the Daily Wire, Fox News, and the New York Post. Unfortunately, this reinforces a partisan understanding of the Epstein case. Earlier this year, a MintPress study of one year of Epstein coverage on MSNBC and Fox News found intensely partisan coverage of the predator’s ties to Presidents Trump and Clinton. While MSNBC stressed his connections to the Republicans and downplayed his links to their preferred president, Fox News did the opposite, overwhelmingly focusing on the Clinton connections while failing to inform viewers about his relationship with the sitting president.

Clinton has a long history of accusations of sexual misconduct against him. Arkansas nursing 德扑之星安卓手机版下载home administrator Juanita Broaddrick claimed that he raped her in 1978 while he was Attorney General of the state. Paula Jones accused Clinton of sexual assault and exposing himself to her in 1991, while Kathleen Willey accused Clinton of groping her without her consent in 1993. On the last charge, he reportedly proclaimed his innocence by arguing that Wiley’s breasts were not big enough for him to be interested. He was also infamously impeached for lying about his affair with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Trump, meanwhile, also has his own history of sexual misconduct, the Wikipedia page on the subject is nearly 10,000 words long.

Epstein was a convicted sex offender who was accused by dozens of women of trafficking, rape, or sexual assault, his crimes also involving a host of wealthy and well-connected individuals. His own enormous wealth appears to have come from his suspicious connection to Victoria’s Secret tycoon Leslie Wexner. For years, his links to the most influential figures and organizations seem to have kept him from justice, and, after his death, put the spotlight on them. Over the years, he built up a vast portfolio of connections to the rich and powerful all over the world, which included business magnates, heads of state, university professors, and some of the nation’s top journalists. Perhaps this explains why so few in the media are willing to touch the latest twist in this neverending story.

Feature photo | An undated photo shows Jeffrey Epstein, left, with Bill Clinton

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Chris Hedges: The Collective Suicide of the Liberal Class /chris-hedges-the-collective-suicide-of-the-liberal-class/273442/ /chris-hedges-the-collective-suicide-of-the-liberal-class/273442/#comments Mon, 07 Dec 2020 17:31:29 +0000 /?p=273442 No one can, or should, take them seriously. They stand for nothing. They fight for nothing.

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Princeton, New Jersey (Scheerpost) — Liberals who express dismay, or more bizarrely a fevered hope, about the corporatists and imperialists selected to fill the positions in the Biden administration are the court jesters of our political burlesque. They long ago sold their soul and abandoned their most basic principles to line up behind a bankrupt Democratic Party. They chant, with every election cycle, the mantra of the least worst and sit placidly on the sidelines as a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama and the Democratic Party leadership betray every issue they claim to support.

The only thing that mattered to liberals in the presidential race, once again, was removing a Republican, this time Donald Trump, from office. This, the liberals achieved. But their Faustian bargain, in election after election, has shredded their credibility. They are ridiculed, not only among right-wing Trump supporters but by the hierarchy of the Democratic Party that has been captured by corporate power. No one can, or should, take liberals seriously. They stand for nothing. They fight for nothing. The cost is too onerous. And so, the liberals do what they always do, chatter endlessly about political and moral positions they refuse to make any sacrifices to achieve.

Liberals, largely comprised of the professional managerial-class that dutifully recycles and shops for organic produce and is concentrated on the two coasts, have profited from the ravages of neoliberalism. They seek to endow it with a patina of civility. But their routine and public humiliation has ominous consequences. It not only exposes the liberal class as hollow and empty, it discredits the liberal democratic values they claim to uphold. Liberals should have abandoned the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton and political hacks such as Biden transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and launched a war on traditional liberal values and left-wing populism. They should have defected by the millions to support Ralph Nader and other Green Party candidates.

This defection, as Nader understood, was the only tactic that could force the Democrats to adopt parts of a liberal and left-wing agenda and save us from the slow-motion corporate coup d’état. Fear is the real force behind political change, not oily promises of mutual goodwill. Short of this pressure, this fear, especially with labor unions destroyed, there is no hope. Now we will reap the consequences of the liberal class’s moral and political cowardice.

The Democratic Party elites revel in taunting liberals as well as the left-wing populists who preach class warfare and supported Bernie Sanders. How are we supposed to interpret the appointment of Antony Blinken, one of the architects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and supporter of the apartheid state of Israel, as Secretary of State? Or John Kerry, who championed the massive expansion of domestic oil and gas production, largely through fracking, and, according to Barack Obama’s memoir, worked doggedly to convince those concerned about the climate crisis to “offer up concessions on subsidies for the nuclear power industry and the opening of additional U.S. coastlines to offshore oil drilling” as the new climate policy czar? Or Brian Deese, the executive who was in charge of the “climate portfolio” at BlackRock, which invests heavily in fossil fuels, including coal, and who served as a former Obama economic adviser who advocated austerity measures, to run the White House’s economic policy? Or Neera Tanden, for director of the Office of Management and Budget, who as president of the Center for American Progress raised millions in dark money from Silicon Valley and Wall Street while relentlessly ridiculing Bernie Sanders and his supporters on cable news and social media and who proposed a plank in the Democratic platform calling for bombing Iran?

The Biden administration resembles the ineffectual German government formed by Franz von Papen in 1932 that sought to recreate the ancien régime, a utopian conservatism that ensured Germany’s drift into fascism. Biden, bereft like von Papen of new ideas and programs, will eventually be forced to employ the brutal tools Biden as a senator was so prominent in creating to maintain social control – wholesale surveillance, a corrupt judicial system, the world’s largest prison system and police that have been transformed into lethal paramilitary units of internal occupation. Those that resist as social unrest mounts will be attacked as agents of a foreign power and censored, as many already are being censored, including through algorithms and deplatforming on social media. The most ardent and successful dissidents, such as Julian Assange, will be criminalized.

The shock troops of the state, already ideologically bonded with the neofascists on the right, will hunt down and wipe out an enfeebled and often phantom left, as we saw in the chilling state assassination by U.S. Marshals of the antifa activist Michael Reinoehl, who was unarmed and standing outside an apartment complex in Lacey, Washington, in September when he was shot multiple times. I witnessed this kind of routine state terror during the war in El Salvador. Reinoehl allegedly killed Aaron Danielson, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer during a pro-Trump rally in Portland, Oregon in August.

Compare the gunning down of Reinoehl by federal agents to the coddling of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of killing two protesters and injuring a third on August 25 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Police officers, moments before the shooting, are seen on video thanking Rittenhouse and other armed right-wing militia member for coming to the city and handing them bottles of water. Rittenhouse is also seen in a video walking toward police with his hands up after his shooting spree as protesters yell that he had shot several people. Police, nevertheless, allow him to leave. Rittenhouse’s killings have been defended by the right, including Trump. Rittenhouse, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for his legal fees, has been released on $2 million bail.

We stand on the cusp of a frightening itarianism. Social unrest, given a continuation of neoliberalism, the climate crisis, the siphoning off of diminishing resources to the bloated war machine, political stagnation and the failure to contain the pandemic and its economic fallout, is almost certain. Absent a left-wing populism, a disenfranchised working class will line up, as it did with Trump, behind its counterfeit, a right-wing populism. The liberal elites will, if history is any guide, justify state repression as a response to social chaos in the name of law and order. That they, too, are on the Christian Right and the corporate state’s long list of groups to be neutralized will become evident to them when it is too late.

It was Friedrich Ebert and the Social Democratic Party of Germany, siding with the conservatives and nationalists, that created the Freikorps, private paramilitary groups composed of demobilized soldiers and malcontents. The Freikorps ruthlessly crushed left-wing uprisings in Berlin, Bremen, Brunswick, Hamburg, Halle, Leipzig, Silesia, Thuringia and the Ruhr. When the Freikorps was not gunning down left-wing populists in the streets and carrying out hundreds of political assassinations, including the murder of Walther Rathenau, the foreign minister, it was terrorizing civilians, looting and pillaging. The Freikorps became the antecedent of the Nazi Brownshirts, led by Ernst Röhm, a former Freikorps commander.

All the pieces are in place for our own descent into what I suspect will be a militarized Christianized fascism. Political dysfunction, a bankrupt and discredited liberal class, massive and growing social inequality, a grotesquely rich and tone-deaf oligarchic elite, the fragmentation of the public into warring tribes, widespread food insecurity and hunger, chronic underemployment and unemployment and misery, all exacerbated by the failure of the state to cope with the crisis of the pandemic, combine with the rot of civil and political life to create a familiar cocktail leading to itarianism and fascism.

Trump and the Republican Party, along with the shrill incendiary voices on right-wing media, play the role the antisemitic parties played in Europe during the late 19th and early 20th century. The infusion of anti-Semitism into the political debate in Europe destroyed the political decorum and civility that is vital to maintaining a democracy. Racist tropes and hate speech, as in Weimar Germany, now poison our political discourse. Ridicule and cruel taunts are hurled back and forth. Lies are interchangeable with fact. Those who oppose us are demonized as human embodiments of evil.

This poisonous discourse is only going to get worse, especially with millions of Trump supporters convinced the election was rigged and stolen. The German Social Democrat Kurt Schumacher in the 1930s said that fascism “is a constant appeal to the inner swine in human beings” and succeeds by “mobilizing human stupidity.” This mobilized stupidity, accompanied by what Rainer Maria Rilke called “the evil effluvium from the human swamp,” is being amplified and intensified in the siloed media chambers of the right. This hate-filled rhetoric eschews reality to cater to the desperate desire for emotional catharsis, for renewed glory and prosperity and for acts of savage vengeance against the phantom enemies blamed for our national debacle.

The constant barrage of vitriol and fabulist conspiracy theories will, I fear, embolden extremists to carry out political murder, not only of mainstream Democrats, Republicans Trump has accused of betrayal such as Georgia governor Brian Kemp and those targeted as part of the deep state, but also those at media outlets such as CNN or The New York Times that serve as propaganda arms of the Democratic Party. Once the Pandora’s box of violence is opened it is almost impossible to close. Martyrs on one side of the divide demand martyrs on the other side. Violence becomes the primary form of communication. And, as Sabastian Haffner wrote, “once the violence and readiness to kill that lies beneath the surface of human nature has been awakened and turned against other humans, and even made into a duty, it is a simple matter to change the target.”

This, I suspect, is what is coming. The blame lies not only with the goons and racists on the right, the corporatists who pillage the country and the corrupt ruling elite that does their bidding, but a feckless liberal class that found standing up for its beliefs too costly. The liberals will pay for their timidity and cowardice, but so will we.

Feature photo | Art by Mr. Fish | Original to Scheerpost

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

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US Media, Pols Rage After Venezuelans Defy US Empire to Re-elect Socialists /us-media-pols-bias-venezuela-national-assembly-elections/273431/ /us-media-pols-bias-venezuela-national-assembly-elections/273431/#comments Mon, 07 Dec 2020 17:15:16 +0000 /?p=273431 Despite the fact that the election was overseen by over 4,500 international observers, US pols and media pundits alike labeled it a sham before it even took place.

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President Nicolas Maduro and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) are celebrating today, after a clear victory in yesterday’s National Assembly elections. The elections, boycotted by many major right-wing opposition groups, but still participated in by over 100 political parties, ended with the PSUV and its allies receiving an estimated 67.6% of the votes cast, meaning they will control a two-thirds supermajority of the 277-seat National Assembly, the only major body that was controlled by anti-government forces.

“We have recovered the national assembly with the majority vote of the Venezuelan people,” Maduro said in his victory speech. “It’s a great victory without a doubt for democracy,” he added, also announcing that the government had delivered the 3.3 million houses for the needy that it promised when it launched the Great Venezuelan Housing Mission program in 2011.

Self-declared opposition president Juan Guaidó, a former leader of the National Assembly himself, did not see the result in the same way, seemingly calling for another coup on Saturday. “The rejection of the regime and its fraud united us, now we must respond in the street. December 12 will mobilize us like the immense majority of us who want to choose their future,” he announced on social media. 

Yet even his backers in the Western press fear the result has neutralized him. The Guardian, for example, wrote that yesterday’s events “deal a further blow to Guaidó’s flagging crusade,” quoting bitterly anti-Maduro figure Phil Gunson, who said that “the coalition around Guaidó is really crumbling.”

Media Bias Venezuela

Corporate press cast a noticeably despondent tone in their coverage of the election

Turnout in the election — 31% — was considerably lower than the PSUV was hoping for, although perhaps understandable, given the continued boycott of much of the opposition (meaning the outcome was barely in doubt), the COVID-19 pandemic, the crippling U.S. sanctions — which included those imposed on opposition figures that defied U.S. instructions not to participate in the election. Nevertheless, pro-government figures will be disappointed with the figure.

What is not in doubt is the veracity of the election itself, which was overseen by 4,500 international observers, including many former heads of states, including Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Jose Luís Zapatero of Spain. “Here in Venezuela nobody can doubt the electoral system,” said former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who agreed with former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya’s assessment that the process was “transparent and peaceful.” Other official observers included MintPress contributors Professor Adrienne Pine and Dr. Margaret Flowers.

Despite this, the United States government had already decided that the process was a fiction. “Venezuela’s electoral fraud has already been committed,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “The results announced by the illegitimate Maduro regime will not reflect the will of the Venezuelan people. What’s happening today is a fraud and a sham, not an election.” Zelaya — who was overthrown in a coup supported Pompeo’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton — fired back, claiming that the U.S. had “no moral high ground” to criticize events in Venezuela. “They ought to be here as observers,” he added.

Corporate media, who reflexively take the U.S. government’s side on Venezuela, did their level best to undermine confidence in the process when reporting on it. “Maduro consolidates power in Venezuela, dominating election boycotted by opposition,” ran the Washington Post’s headline. “Venezuela’s Maduro tightens grip as opposition boycotts elections,” wrote the Wall Street Journal. Human Rights Watch’s Ken Roth, who rejected the election as “a theater piece meant to lend a veneer of legitimacy to the government of Nicolas Maduro.”

Media was also not above simply printing demonstrably fake news, either. Local opposition outlets insisted that turnout was below 20%, a canard reprinted in major Western sources. One-upping them, Geoff Ramsay of the pro-coup Washington Office on Latin America, perhaps Western media’s most quoted “expert” on Venezuela, claimed that turnout was only 15%. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Venezuela Bureau Chief Patricia Laya went furthest of all, insisting that participation stood at only 10%. A similar phenomenon of attempting to wish something into being by lowballing turnout occurred in the 2018 elections, also boycotted by much of the opposition.

Concern over low participation rates appeared not to extend to U.S. ally and NATO member Romania, however, the Eastern European state also held elections yesterday, finishing with a turnout of 30%. Unlike with Venezuela, there was no outcry from the White House, nor any condemnation from corporate media, suggesting that the response had more to do with who was winning the elections, rather than what turnout figures say about the quality of democracy.

Ultimately, however, while turnout was relatively low, the ruling socialist party has gained a supermajority in the one body the opposition-controlled, handing them a clear victory and the U.S. government a defeat. Added to the return of democracy to Bolivia in October and a leftist election victory in Guyana earlier this year, 2020 has not been a good year for Washington in Latin America.

Feature photo | Government supporters chant for parliamentary candidates representing the Great Patriotic Pole party at a closing campaign rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 3, 2020. Ariana Cubillos | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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With Rent Freezes About to Expire, Mnuchin Lobbies for More Wall Street Bailouts /shell-games-at-the-treasury-department-and-a-financial-system-on-life-support/273419/ /shell-games-at-the-treasury-department-and-a-financial-system-on-life-support/273419/#comments Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:43:46 +0000 /?p=273419 As millions of Americans stand on the brink of economic annihilation, the money keeps flowing to Wall Street thanks to carefully contrived mechanisms to maintain a dying financial system afloat.

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Many prophetic scenes depicted in a series of Mayan codices written in the early days of the Spanish colony, and translated and compiled in El Libro de los Libros del Chilam Balam, describe a world foreign to its original s. But, one which was barreling down on them and their civilization even as the Mayan high priests recorded their visions for each stop on their cyclical calendar system.

The metaphors they leaned on to describe these new Western values and systems were accurate, despite having nothing comparable in their own cosmology or parallels in their relationship with the earth. In one of the most striking prophecies, the interpreting shaman warns of the days of “the golden club,” subtly alluding to the new paradigm of wealth and commercial imperatives being imposed on their world.

Over six centuries later, the golden club era has become an epoch. The United States holds the biggest gold stick of them all and today, the descendants of the Maya and other ancestral victims of its inexorable advance find themselves at a potential tipping point, which may finally bring this historical aberration we now call capitalism to its natural end.

With human labor being swapped out for robots and algorithms in our modern-day world, the empire of commerce built over the last five centuries is quickly reaching complete self-sufficiency and discarding any excess human component. This includes the banking and financial sectors, which in some ways, is far ahead of the game.

Money or wealth no longer exclusively requires human labor to generate. The art of creating money out of nothing has been perfected by the financial sector, which has innumerable tools at its disposal to produce enormous wealth in a blink of an eye. An illusion that is kept alive only because they have a limitless pool of taxpayer money to hedge their often risky bets.

The United States Treasury Department keeps a stash of that taxpayer money and uses it for currency speculation. The massive profits from the secret market activities can be used for things like funding foreign governments and many other applications at the discretion of the presiding administration. This slush fund was the central funding vehicle for the multiple economic relief facilities enacted in the CARES Act and is operated by the Federal Reserve on behalf of the U.S. Treasury Department.

The spigot from the money machine was opened briefly for the general public through the emergency legislation. But, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is getting ready to cut it off even as he opens it even further for Wall Street.

 

The 德扑之星安卓手机版下载homeless armies

By January 2021, renters in America will owe $34 billion to their landlords, according to global investment bank and advisory firm, Stout. More than half of the eviction moratoriums enacted to avoid an upsurge in 德扑之星安卓手机版下载homelessness during Covid lockdowns have been rescinded, including a federal moratorium that expired in July.

Rent and landlord relief programs across the country take up the lion’s share of CARES Act funding allocations, with states like Virginia having already spent over 38% of the money reserved for renters by early November. As the money runs out and the December 31 CARES Act cutoff date approaches, states are fumbling to keep enough cash in their coffers to stem the tidal wave evictions that are at the doorstep and leaking through profusely.

Cases like that of Ricky Johnson, as reported by The Virginian-Pilot, are happening nationwide and show how landlords are getting around moratorium rules and successfully evicting tenants over technicalities and dubious legal maneuvers. It was only through the efforts of a staunch group of friends and housing advocates, that Johnson was able to avoid ending up on the streets with his brother.

With their help, the Johnson brothers convinced a judge to vacate a previous order awarding possession of the property to a management company and managed to extend their stay of execution a paltry few weeks into next year. But, in the rapacious economic climate that characterizes the American real estate market, three months rent free can feel like a gift from the gods.

The gods, in this scenario, is the Department of the Treasury and its current head, Steve Mnuchin, who has formally asked that all but four credit facility programs created by the department to disburse CARES Act funds return any unused monies by the end of 2020 so they can be integrated into the regular federal pipeline, including the $429 billion supposedly leftover from CARES Act. Mnuchin was deliberately misleading about where that money actually goes since it lays bare a massive slush fund called the exchange stabilization fund (ESF) at the heart of these enormous giveaways to the biggest, richest, and most ruthless banks.

Of the total 13 facilities created by Treasury, Secretary Mnuchin had asked to spare only those which pertain to financial institutions like Citigroup and a handful of usual suspects. In a formal letter to Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell in late November, Mnuchin instructed the Fed to extend four programs directed at helping Wall Street beyond December, while drawing the curtain down on the remaining facilities and preening about programs like the Main Street Lending Program and their supposed “success” in abating an economic downturn during the pandemic.

Mnuchin’s declaration of victory is at odds with the reality of people like Dana Imus, who lost her job as a forklift operator in March and hasn’t been able to get a job since. Her landlord simply refused to recognize the federal eviction moratorium issued by the CDC in October. Similar problems occur throughout the country as property owners circumvent the laws through intimidation and legislative loopholes to force tenants out.

Tawanda Mormon from Cleveland, Ohio, was thrust into a couch-surfing lifestyle when the 46-year old was hospitalized in August and fell behind on her $500-dollar rent. Despite the CDC moratorium, Mormon was evicted in October and has been staying with friends and family. In Missouri and North Carolina, judges refused to abide by the CDC’s notice and landlords across the nation have been fighting the order in court.

Among the loopholes being used to put people out of their 德扑之星安卓手机版下载homes that the CDC’s order only applies to nonpayment of rent, which allows landlords to bring an eviction case on virtually any other grounds, such as excessive noise or trash. In addition, the CDC made the process more onerous for tenants seeking to avail themselves of moratorium protections by giving landlords the “right to challenge the veracity” of their claims.

 

Where’s the ball?

Mnuchin’s request that four credit facilities for the financial sector be spared the December 31 deadline, while pulling the cord on all the relief programs for small businesses and regular Americans included in the CARES Act, feels like politics as an incoming Biden administration is set to use the coming housing crisis a springboard for sweeping legislative action as potentially millions of people start to fall through the cracks come January.

Meanwhile, big banks continue to receive their billion-dollar stipends from Uncle Sam without interruption. Two of the four programs Mnuchin wanted off the chopping block are zombies from the 2008 financial collapse.

The Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF), which targets large banking institutions and back then extended $8.95 trillion in secret, below-market-rate loans to three trading houses, constituting two-thirds of the original program’s total disbursements and The Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF), which makes the Fed the buyer of last resort for loans in the broader economy, thereby providing liquidity in short term funding markets like small business loans. The Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (MMFL), directed at hedge funds and non-bank financial entities, and the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility, which protects PPP loan originators from borrower default, round out the rest.

Financial data for these programs are kept secret by the Fed with the exception of the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility. According to Mnuchin’s letter, two programs whose data is verboten use “core” EFS funding. In other words, the money comes from a slush fund operated by the Fed on behalf of the Treasury Department and is where the aforementioned $429 billion Mnuchin is disingenuously requesting “back” from the Fed actually is.

The shell game between the Treasury and the Fed keeps the money flowing on Wall Street year-round. In September of 2019, the Fed moved $9 trillion cumulatively into Wall Street’s trading houses via repo loans, whose recipients are hidden from the public by Fed policy on its open market operations, which fund the loans.

By using the ESF to fund the federal relief facilities contained in the CARES Act, the Treasury avails itself of the Fed’s secrecy policy on open market operations, which don’t have to be made public until one year after the facility is terminated at the earliest, as stipulated in section 1103 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010.

Requesting an extension for the four Wall Street-geared facilities until March 2021 also extends the time it will take for such records to see the light of day. According to Wall Street on Parade, it is likely that once disclosed, the financial data for these secret market operations will include the names of long-standing beneficiaries of government largesse.

The point of the game is to prop up America’s predatory financial sector, which has been going full throttle since the 2008 financial crisis when these types of facilities were created to prevent the country’s biggest financial firms from going into a liquidity crisis as they scour the globe for more markets to squeeze.

 

Politicking

Mnuchin’s letter came two weeks after Democratic senators delivered a message of their own to the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, in which they called for two facilities in the CARES Act meant for the regular citizen– specifically the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) and the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) – to be kept on and reformed.

Signed by Senators Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Mark Warner, and Sherrod Brown, the letter makes a case for the expansion of these financial assistance programs citing statistics, which reflect the permanent closure of thousands of small businesses and declining revenue across the service economy.

The reality of crashing GDP numbers amid the pandemic tells the story, which includes a 41% decrease in the number of self-employed Black business owners between February and April and a litany of cases that show the “disproportionate economic impacts on minorities and women” caused by the pandemic and related restrictions.

The senators shed light on some of the major problems regarding these facilities and how they are set up to bypass the most economically vulnerable populations by requiring applicants to meet an income threshold that leaves out the vast majority of working-class Americans. In addition, they point to the billions of dollars left unused in the relief effort, which Mnuchin wants to keep in the ESF.

Fed Chairman Powell is quoted in the letter acknowledging that the MSLP currently targets “larger [businesses]” rather “than a lot of minority businesses.” The senators called for reforms that would change this by lowering the application threshold from $100,000 to $50,000 and expanding eligibility criteria to open the funds to more than the paltry 250 businesses currently eligible for the MSLP facility.

The fact that Mnuchin ignored the informed pleas of the Democratic senators is immediately chalked up to partisan politics. But, a gesture of goodwill by the outgoing administration does not help cement the division both parties exploit to achieve the aims of the interests that ultimately control them. A Biden administration will most certainly pounce on the morsels left behind by the outgoing Trump show to generate support for sweeping changes to the social contract as defined and imposed by the government through emergency response measures.

 

End of the katún

A desperate population facing evictions, food shortages, and falling income opportunities will find it difficult to resist any offers of federal help that come their way. It is, however, more important than ever as Americans are sheep herded into a “dark winter,” that they keep their eyes open.

Diane Yentel, president of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, is sure that a Biden administration will have a historic opportunity to expand government assistance programs in the very first days of his presidency, like the $100 billion emergency fund proposed by advocates to cover renters, landlords, and 德扑之星安卓手机版下载homeless people. The question is whether there will be real justice behind any new programs or legislation brought forward to deal with a crisis that has been looming for a while.

The Maya prophets saw the unscrupulous nature of their new Western European rulers and the temporary nature of their enterprises, built up only to steal and cheat. Those of the “two-day banks” and “rats” figure prominently in their descriptions of the world they saw unfolding before them. Their advice was patience. The days of the golden club are numbered and will disappear soon enough when the next series of ‘katuns’ rolls around.

Feature photo | Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell fist bumps Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin after a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 2, 2020. Jim Lo Scalzo | Pool via AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

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Podcast: The Assassination of a Nuclear Scientist and the War against Iran’s COVID-19 Vaccine /assassination-of-mohsin-fakhrezadeh-war-against-iran-covid-19-vaccine/273399/ /assassination-of-mohsin-fakhrezadeh-war-against-iran-covid-19-vaccine/273399/#comments Thu, 03 Dec 2020 20:40:40 +0000 /?p=273399 After Iran’s most senior nuclear scientist Mohsin Fakhrezadeh was assassinated last week the media has been abuzz about a non-existent nuclear weapons program, justifying a killing that masks a broader campaign to target Iran’s COVID vaccine program led by Fakhrezadeh.

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Welcome to MintCast — an interview series featuring dissenting voices the establishment would rather silence– I’m your host Mnar Muhawesh Adley.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, one of Iran’s most senior nuclear scientists, was assassinated in his car last week on the outskirts of Tehran. State sources in the Islamic Republic are claiming he was killed with a remote-controlled machine gun.

While no party has taken responsibility, the Iranian government has already pointed the finger at a number of suspects, chiefly Israel, the United States, and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (commonly known as the MEK) a Washington-funded organization with the goal of overthrowing the Iranian government. Yet no party has claimed responsibility for the attack. At Fakhrizadeh’s funeral, Defense Minister Amir Hatami vowed that no crime as great as this would go unpunished and that the killing would not hinder Iran’s nuclear program.

Joining us today to discuss the assassination, its geopolitical context, and consequences, and what it means going forward for the U.S. and Iran, is Seyed Mohammad Marandi, an Iranian-American academic and political analyst. Seyed is a Professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran and a frequent guest on a wide range of news and political channels.

Dr. Marandi argues that not only was this assassination an act of war, but a direct attack against Iran’s COVID-19 vaccine program. Fakhrezadeh was not only Iran’s top nuclear scientist, he was also leading the research program for the Islamic Republic’s COVID vaccine. Because of crippling U.S. sanctions, Iran has been barred from importing masks, ventilators, and medical supplies to support the country in its fight against the virus.

COVID-19, Marandi argues, has been weaponized against Iran’s nearly 90 million citizens to destabilize the country to a degree that no other sanctions could have accomplished.

Both the US and Israel have a history of interfering in Iranian affairs. Ten months ago, Donald Trump personally gave the order to assassinate Iranian military leader and statesman, Qassem Soleimani while he was in Iraq for regional peace talks. Trump has also increased and expanded existing sanctions against the Islamic Republic and pulled the United States out of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

With only weeks until Joe Biden is set to take up office in the White House, analysts are predicting that the assassination of Fakhrezadeh put the nail in the coffin for any worthwhile agreement between the two nations.

Fakhrizadeh’s death may have shocked Iranians, but it is unlikely to have surprised them, as his killing is the latest in a long line of political assassinations of high-ranking atomic scientists, at least five of whom have been murdered in the previous ten years. Some of them, like Masoud Ali Mohammadi and Majid Shahriar – both killed in separate car bombings in 2010- were Fakhrizadeh’s peers and coworkers.

This program is 100 percent listener supported! You can join the hundreds of financial sponsors who make this show possible by becoming a member on our Patreon page.

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud. Please leave us a review and share this segment.

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.

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From Myth to Reality: Zionist Archeologists Are Using the Bible to Rewrite History /myth-reality-israeli-archeologists-using-bible-to-rewrite-history/273374/ /myth-reality-israeli-archeologists-using-bible-to-rewrite-history/273374/#comments Thu, 03 Dec 2020 17:23:29 +0000 /?p=273374 The history of Palestine, a glorious tradition of culture and religion, politics, commerce, and unmatched art and architecture, has all but been lost so that Zionists can claim that they are the true successors of Joshua and King David.

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One of the many gems that exist in the city of London is a unique bookstore by the name of Jarndyce Booksellers. Jarndyce specializes in first editions, rare books, and wonderful collectors’ editions of the complete works of Shakespeare, Dickens, and countless others. Also displayed in the store are enormous antique illustrated copies of the Bible. These mammoth books are beautifully adorned with illustrations that bring Biblical characters and stories to life.

I remember sitting as a child, leafing through an old, illustrated copy of a Bible that was part of my father’s book collection. It too had wonderful illustrations, and I would sit there and look at the pictures of the great men and women, and experience the great moments that are described in the Bible. The angel who stopped Abraham as he was about to sacrifice his son; Moses coming down from Mount Sinai; the young David slaying the giant Goliath, and so many more. They all came alive in front of my very eyes and it was as clear to me as a child as it is today and to so many others, that those stories describe real historic events.

These lovely renditions were intended to create the impression that the Bible tells stories that are historically true. They lead readers and even those who do not read but hear the stories and look at the illustrations, to believe that these were real people and real events that took place.

Israel Silwan Feature photo

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks at the opening of an “ancient road” that cuts into the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. Tsafrir Abayov | AP

It is easy enough to point to an ancient city in Palestine, say Bethlehem or Jerusalem or some corner of the desert near Bi’r Saba, and claim that a particular Biblical event took place there. This literal reading of the Bible, and particularly of the Old Testament, has given and continues to give Zionism enormous impetus.

Zionists rely on millions of people across the world who have been misled to believe that there is historical truth to the Bible, who think that today’s Israel is the true and rightful successor of Biblical Israel and who allow Zionists to claim the Bible as their actual history book.

 

Mythology religion and history

The Greeks and the Nordic people replaced their ancient indigenous mythologies with Christianity, retaining their mythology as a part of their cultural history. In India, ancient mythology is very much alive and ancient gods are still worshiped in temples throughout the country, yet that is never confused with India’s actual history. Vishnu is never confused with Ashoka or Buddha with Akbar. Each has its respective place within the rich Indian culture.

Neither the people of Greece, the Nordic people, or even those who practice various faiths in India regard their mythology as history. You will not find Greek archeologists digging to find the 德扑之星安卓手机版下载home of Zeus. There are no signs that the Nordic people are searching for the ancient city where Odin and Thor resided, and even in India, where the ancient gods are very much part of life, there is no expectation that the city of Shiva will be dug up by archeologists.

This is because the separation between myth and religion and history is clear, except in the case of Zionism. Zionists, both Christian and Jewish, firmly hold to their demand that the Bible is history. Archeologists working in the name of Zionists have been digging up Palestine for two centuries, often ignoring or even destroying valuable artifacts that do not serve their purpose.

This is because Zionist archeologists are motivated not by scientific curiosity, but by a political agenda. They ignore the wealth of history and archeology that exist in Palestine and search for proof of their own theories.

 

Destruction of monuments

The need to validate Zionist claims that connect current day Israel with the ancient Hebrews and the glorified mythology as it is presented in parts of the Old Testament often comes at the expense of important historical sites and monuments. In fact, is not uncommon to see invaluable historical sites destroyed by design at the hands of Zionist institutions.

The Mamilla Cemetery is one such example. It is an ancient Muslim burial ground and holy site in the center of Jerusalem believed to date back to the seventh century. Numerous saints of the Sufi faith and thousands of officials, scholars, notables, and Jerusalem families have been buried in the cemetery over the past 1,000 years.

Companions of the Prophet Muhammad were said to be buried there, but since the Zionist conquest of West Jerusalem, the cemetery has fallen into disrepair, with ancient tombstones destroyed and desecrated. Over the last decade, a significant portion of the cemetery has been razed and human remains have been desecrated so that the Simon Wiesenthal Center can build a facility, shamelessly called the Museum of Tolerance.

Mamilla Cemetery 1951

The Mamilla Cemetery, shown here in a 1951 aerial photo, sat undistributed for centuries until the Israeli government paved the way for the construction of the Museum of Tolerance atop its historic ruins

Since 2010, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Campaign to Preserve Mamilla Cemetery have worked to halt the construction of the new facility and preserve what remains of the ancient site. To this end, petitions have been filed with various UN bodies, including UNESCO, to protect the sacred site.

The “Museum of Tolerance,” as it is called, has resulted in the disinterment of hundreds of graves, and the whereabouts of the countless human remains that have been disposed of are unknown. Recognized as one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries in the world, where seventy thousand warriors of Saladin’s armies are interred, is now all but gone.

Bab al-Rahmeh is yet another famous Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem. It extends from Lions Gate to the end of the wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque near the Umayyad palaces in the south. The Israeli government is in the process of confiscating parts of the cemetery to implement a settlement project. Plans include creating, “paths of biblical gardens,” once again erasing historical sites in order to build monuments to commemorate a history that never was.

Another classic example of the destruction of real history for the sake of mythology is the opening of the so-called “Temple’s Baptism station” on the historic land of the Umayyad palaces in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Temple in question is the Jewish Temple and the Umayyad palaces on which it is to be built date back nearly 1,400 years, built in the early stage of the Islamic period, and used to house the Islamic Caliphs and institutions that managed the affairs of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

 

Monuments in disrepair

Zionist ities have not only destroyed precious historical sites in search of mythical ones, they have also allowed invaluable historical sites to fall into disrepair. There are countless such sites throughout Palestine, such as the mosque of Dhaher Al-Umar in Tabariya, which now stands alone, in ruins, a solitary witness to the glorious Arab past of the city.

Daher al-Umar was a Palestinian leader who ruled most of Palestine and shaped its history throughout the entire 18th century. Not only has his memory been erased, but the monuments that carry his name and still exist now lay in ruins.

The mythology of the Old Testament was turned into history through a successful attempt to make the stories and the figures in these stories, mythical as they may have been, into actual historical events and figures. At the same time, the real history of Palestine, a glorious history of culture and religion, politics, commerce, and unmatched art and architecture, has all but been lost so that Zionists can claim that they are the true successors of Joshua and King David.

There is no harm in enjoying the wonderful illustrations that adorn the Bible, the likes of which one finds at Jarndyce Bookseller. In fact, I intend to continue to visit that store whenever I can and enjoy those wonderful renditions of Old and the New Testament stories. However, we must be careful not to confuse those stories and the illustrations with the actual history of Palestine.

’s note | Readers in search of an accurate history of Palestine can check out Nur Maslaha’s book, “Palestine, A Four Thousand Year History.

Feature photo | An Israel Antiquities ity archaeologist walks through what Israeli ities say is a 2,000-year-old drainage tunnel leading to Jerusalem’s Old City. Dan Balilty | AP

Miko Peled is an and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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France’s New Security Law May Have Just Sparked a “George Floyd” Moment /france-security-law-may-have-just-sparked-george-floyd-moment/273357/ /france-security-law-may-have-just-sparked-george-floyd-moment/273357/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2020 18:56:08 +0000 /?p=273357 Sparked by a new bill that would make publishing photos of police illegal and a viral video soon after that shows French police brutally beating a black man, it appears that France may be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment.

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Award-winning Syrian photographer Ameer Alhalbi lies dazed on the ground. His head is heavily bruised and bandaged, blood covers his face, arms, and much of his body. Lengths of cotton wool have been stuffed up his broken nose, giving him an almost comical appearance. Alhalbi has been badly beaten by police. But this is not Syria, it is Paris, where he was covering — ironically — huge, nationwide protests against police brutality this weekend.

Perhaps even more concerning is that new laws pushed through by the government of Emmanuel Macron and passed by France’s National Assembly (akin to the U.S. House of Representatives) mean that sharing images of Alhalbi or other victims of police brutality might soon be considered illegal.

Article 24 of the country’s new national security bill, which now only needs to be ratified by the Senate, specifically outlaws the publishing and dissemination of images of police that undermine their physical or psychological “integrity,” and is punishable with a fine of up to €45,000 and up to one year in jail. The bill specifically states that filming police in such a manner would be against the law, but questions have been raised about how liberally ities would interpret the nebulous language of the new edict. Media unions and human rights groups warn that it could prevent journalists from documenting police abuses.

The National Assembly’s decision to approve the law last week sparked large protests in many major cities around France, including Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier, and Nantes. However, an incident caught on camera on Saturday threw large amounts of fuel on the fire of resentment, drastically increasing the demonstrations’ size and intensity.

Images from mobile phones and closed-circuit television showed an unprovoked police attack on a young black music producer at his place of work. A group of four officers can be seen chasing after Michel Zecler, following him from outside into his studio, where they kick, punch and beat him with truncheons. Zecler also alleges they shouted racial abuse while they assailed him.

Before the videos went viral on social media, the officers testified that Zecler had, in fact, attacked them, and was resisting arrest. The officers have now been charged with “deliberate violence” and with “falsifying statements.” Two of the gang of four, including a 44-year-old senior officer with the rank of brigadier, remain in custody, while two others have been released.

The viral images provoked a storm of condemnation across the country this weekend, and propelled as many as 500,000 people into the streets, with demonstrations in dozens of cities. Protestors marched through the streets, setting light to cars, damaging buildings, and clashing with police, of whom a reported 98 were injured nationwide. Many of Paris’ iconic boulevards resembled a war zone as thousands of demonstrators pitched battle with lines of police in riot gear.

President Macron said he was “very shocked” by the footage of the police attack on Zecler, yet continues to be a driving force behind the new security law, under which many have noted that the images might never have come to light, given as they essentially identify the Parisien officers and clearly undermine their integrity or ity. Without the footage, it is possible that Zecler would have been facing prosecution himself.

Although the bill and the protests against it are dominating French politics, the story has been covered sparsely in the American corporate press, with no coverage whatsoever in MSNBC, CBS News, or CNBC. Fox News, meanwhile, reprinted one Associated Press article, featuring an egregious, uncorrected error in its subheadline, asserting that protestors were shooting tear gas at themselves.

While foreign desks have been seriously cut in recent years, huge demonstrations in central Paris should not have been too difficult to cover. Lebanese political commentator Sarah Abdallah suggested that if the rallies had been happening in countries antagonistic to the United States, they would have been front-page news. Certainly, similar protests in Iran and Hong Kong dominated the news cycles last year, prompting constant reaction from Mike Pompeo. The Secretary of State is yet to comment on the events in France, suggesting that they are not at the front and center of his thoughts.

President Macron came to power in 2017, winning in the final round of the election against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. A strong believer in neoliberalism and an admirer of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he has insisted that France must not merely be reformed, but transformed, and has attempted to radically alter the shape of French society, away from a social democratic model to one more resembling the United States. Almost immediately after gaining the presidency, however, his average approval rating tumbled and has not risen above 40% since.

Indeed, the 42-year-old former investment banker has faced almost constant resistance to his agenda from the general public. His attempts to increase the cost of fuel in 2018 sparked the Yellow Vest movement across the country. Meanwhile, his plans to raise the age of retirement and reform France’s pension system was met with a months-long general strike that paralyzed the country last winter. Despite losing over 50,000 people to the coronavirus pandemic, he has seen his popularity increase this year due to the government’s financial response to the virus, which included aid to small businesses and paying employees to stay 德扑之星安卓手机版下载home. Despite this, it appears possible that France might be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment, where its racial injustices are finally reckoned with.

Feature photo | Assa Traore, center, sister of Adama Traore attends a demonstration against a security law that would restrict sharing images of police, Nov. 28, 2020 in Paris. Francois Mori | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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A “Fringe Member” of the Jewish Community: How Hasbara Trolls Reacted to My Campus Appearance /how-hasbara-trolls-reacted-to-my-campus-appearance/273348/ /how-hasbara-trolls-reacted-to-my-campus-appearance/273348/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2020 18:08:49 +0000 /?p=273348 Hasbara groups represent a racist, supremacist, and violent ideology. They defend a state that is engaged in the worst type of violence against the Palestinian people, yet they feel that they are in a position to question the motives of organizers, speakers, and activists who call for justice and tolerance.

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As another year closes and Palestine remains as far from liberation as ever, it would be wise to admit, once again, that there is no clear, unified strategy to defeat Zionism and liberate Palestine. One place where some change can perhaps be made, however, is in relation to the Zionist organizations around the world whose sole purpose is to disrupt pro-Palestinian activism.

Peaceful activism for Palestinian rights on college campuses and elsewhere has long been targeted heavily by nationalist groups like Hasbara Fellowships, Hillel, and others who present Israel as a fun, wonder-filled beacon of democracy and haven for Jewish people while feeding into islamophobic and anti-Arab sentiments.

We see this in the continued attempts to brand Muslim and Arab students as inherently “violent” or supporting terrorism. Students who support Israel are presented as fearful of attacks and vulnerable while in fact, those who highlight Palestinian rights face harassment and defamation campaigns that follow them for the rest of their academic and professional careers.

Most, if not all, speakers who are invited to speak on campus on the issue of Palestine have experienced the hateful, vicious attacks by Zionist groups who campaign to silence the Palestinian voice. Granted, some experience this more and some less, but the Zionist reach seems to have no boundaries and they are more vigilant and hateful than ever before.

This is true everywhere, but perhaps nowhere more than on university campuses. As an event is planned, and sometimes immediately after an event, Zionist organizations express their displeasure to university ities in an attempt to either cancel an event altogether or, if the event had already taken place, to demand an apology or urge ities to reprimand the organizers for allowing what they refer to as an “anti-semitic” voice to be heard on campus.

The time has come to change this dynamic. Rather than wait for the attacks by Zionist groups and then explain and apologize, those who stand for justice in Palestine would do well to expose Zionist groups and the hateful racism which they represent.

 

Hasbara

Zionist groups represent a racist, supremacist, and violent ideology. They defend a state that is engaged in the worst type of violence against the Palestinian people, yet they feel that they are in a position to question the motives of organizers, speakers, and activists who call for justice and tolerance.

Hillel, for example, writes on its website, that “Israel is at the heart of Hillel’s work.” They fully admit that their goal is “to inspire every Jewish college student to develop a meaningful and enduring relationship to Israel.” They want every Jewish student to have a “meaningful” relationship with Israel, which has from its very inception destroyed, stolen, killed, and imposed a violent racist regime in Palestine.

Hillel further says that “Engaged and educated students can become committed Jewish adults who are passionate supporters of Israel.” One has to wonder what kind of hate-filled indoctrination must be used in order to cultivate “passionate” support for an apartheid state.

My most recent experience was with a Candian Zionist organization called Hasbara Fellowships. On their website, Hasbara Fellowships write, “We envision North American college campuses to be a place where Zionists feel empowered to openly celebrate the Jewish State without fear or exclusion.” How is one empowered to celebrate a state that keeps millions of people under its control, deprived of water and food, and determines who has access to medical care based on whether or not they are Jewish?

As for the misleading use of the name “Jewish State,” the majority of Jewish people around the world choose not to live in Israel. The majority of the population governed by the State of Israel are not Jewish, but Palestinian Muslims and Christians who are subjected to systemic racism and violence. How then is Israel a “Jewish” state?

Furthermore, this so-called Jewish State has been denounced by Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis and secular Jews alike for over 100 years. Zionism never represented Jews or Jewish identity, or for that matter, Jewish self-determination.

Hasbara Fellowships further states that it is, “a leading pro-Israel campus activism organization.” On the face of it, to some readers, this may seem benign, but to anyone familiar with the history of the Middle East, and that of Palestine in particular, this is indeed sinister. “Pro-Israel” means pro-violence and pro-apartheid. It means being pro a regime which has taken Palestine, and like wildfire, destroyed everything in its path.

Zionism embraces (and various Zionist groups promote) a racist, supremacist ideology that has brought death, 德扑之星安卓手机版下载homelessness, and destruction to millions of Palestinians. And yet, it is the wonderful, selfless work being done by student groups like PSC and SPHR in Canada, SJP, and SUPER in the United States, that is being attacked and defamed.

All around the world, students toil day in and day out to get the truth regarding Palestine out into the open. Yet, the Zionist organizations which promote hatred, racism, and violence are being given the ear of university administrations and the intentions of the Palestine solidarity student groups are brought into question.

 

Set the record straight

In their demands to reprimand the organizers of a recent event in which I participated, albeit remotely, Hasbara Fellowships called me a “fringe member” of the Jewish community. Never mind that this ignores my upbringing in Israeli society, which gave me an invaluable intimate insight, it undermines the opinions of countless Jews around the world who similarly do not subscribe to a nationalist ideology.

These Jewish groups range from the large-scale ultraorthodox Hassidic communities (a great many of whom are the descendants of Holocaust survivors) who put religious observance before nationalism and flat-out reject the State of Israel, to the many secular Jews who have a long tradition of peaceful activism resisting oppressive regimes. Quite often inspired by their own experiences of oppression, these Jewish groups, individuals, and communities stand up for the human rights of others. Nationalist groups such as Hillel and Hasbara Fellowships do not speak for these Jewish people, as they demand to feel “empowered” to spew hate and racism.

The state of Israel became rich as a result of the pillaging and looting of Palestinian property, both private and collective. This theft took place after countless Palestinians were forcibly exiled from their 德扑之星安卓手机版下载homes and their land. The Israeli economy is strong and Israel is not a state that is in need of foreign aid, or any aid for that matter. It is, however, in need of a great deal of public relations, and that is where these groups come in.

Israel peddles weapons and sells to the darkest dictatorships around the world, and Israel’s arms industry profits are in the billions. Historically, Israel supported Apartheid in South Africa, Mobuto in the Congo, Idi Amin in Uganda, the Shah of Iran, the genocidal attacks against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and military dictators in Latin America.

Still, university administrators have decided to bow their heads to racist, hate-filled Zionist groups rather than support the courageous students who stand for justice and freedom from bigotry everywhere. One hopes that the administrations of universities around the world will not let these attempts at defamation leveled by Israeli nationalist groups deter them from protecting freedom of speech and peaceful human rights advocacy at their universities.

However, rather than wait for others to do the right thing, we who support the causes of justice and liberation in Palestine need to act. We would do well to move from defense to offense, and clearly, there is a lot of material to work with.

Feature photo | Israeli peace activist and Miko Peled speaks at the 2014 FOSNA conference. Photo | graceandsalaam | Flickr

Miko Peled is an and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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Yemen: Trump is Showering Saudi Arabia with Last-Minute Gifts /yemen-trumps-last-minute-gifts-to-saudi-arabia-may-be-backfiring/273336/ /yemen-trumps-last-minute-gifts-to-saudi-arabia-may-be-backfiring/273336/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2020 16:57:58 +0000 /?p=273336 Saudi Arabia’s use of American diplomatic cover and weapons alike has taken on a fevered pace as the Kingdom deepens the tragedy it has afflicted upon Yemen.

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SANA’A -YEMEN — While the administration of Donald Trump readies its exit from the White House and the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s use of American diplomatic cover and weapons alike has taken on a fevered pace as the Kingdom deepens the tragedy it has afflicted upon Yemen, where millions of forgotten people are struggling against a cold winter, starvation, epidemics, and the worst blockade in the modern era.

Since November 3, 2020, when the fifty-ninth quadrennial presidential election began followed by the widespread controversy, lawsuits, and recounts across several states, the oil-riched Kingdom has waged a scorched-earth campaign against the Yemeni districts of Marib and Al-Jawf, as well as border areas in Sana’a, Sadaa, Hajjah, Amran, and Hodeida.

On Friday, Saudi warplanes struck populated neighborhoods in Sana’a with at least 20 airstrikes One person was killed and dozens were injured and a number of purebred Arabian horses were killed in strikes that hit a military college near Suq Al-Rwada. Seven airstrikes hit government buildings located near water pumps.

Thousands of tons of western weapons, particularly from the United States, were also dropped on multiple directorates across the provinces of Sadaa, Marib, and al-Jawf as well as districts and provinces across the country.

The unjustified escalation, which came on the back of a brief period of hope that briefly preceded the U.S. pre-election, was not only a last-minute gift to Saudi Arabia from the Trump administration before he leaves the White House in January, but also served to prevent the advance of the Yemeni army supported by Ansar Allah (Houthis) and tribal fighters in the oil-rich province of Marib.

On the Yemen-Saudi border, an intense Saudi bombing campaign aims to force the remaining residents in the area to flee. Saudi Arabia seeks to establish buffer zones on the border inside Yemeni territory in anticipation of any developments made by the incoming U.S. administration after Riyadh failed to achieve that goal through indirect negotiations with Sana’a, sources told MintPress.

 

Yemen strikes back

In retaliation for Saudi escalation, the Yemeni army, and Ansar Allah targeted Saudi Arabia’s vital oil sector, striking an oil facility in the Kingdom’s Red Sea city of Jeddah. The facility was targeted by the high precision Quds-2 winged missile, a new generation of locally-made winged missiles that recently entered service after successful tests. In the wake attack, videos circulated on social media show a column of smoke rising from burning flames at the facility as sirens of emergency vehicles can be heard in the background.

The move just days before news was leaked that the British government secretly sent British soldiers to protect Saudi oil facilities in the wake of a similar attack in 2009 and occurred the day after the kingdom hosted a virtual summit of G20 nations.

The spokesman for Yemen’s Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said in a statement in the wake of the attack that the Saudi oil facility was targeted in response to ongoing Saudi military operations and blockade. He warned foreign companies operating in Saudi Arabia “to avoid vital installations” which could be involved in ongoing operations.

The strike was meant to send a signal to both Saudi Arabia and Israel, according to officials in Sana’a. The strike against the Aramco facility, located more than 390 miles from Yemen’s border, underscores Yemen’s increasing ability to hit targets deeper inside Saudi Arabia with cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as drones. A high-ranking source in Sana’a told MintPress that “the consequences of any insane recklessness by Saudi Arabia, Israel, or the current U.S. administration in the lost time of Trump’s term will be dire to Riyadh, Tel Aviv, and the interests of their allies in the region.” When pressed, he gave no additional details.

“An explosion took place as a result of a terrorist attack by a projectile, causing a fire in a fuel tank at the petroleum products distribution terminal in the north of Jeddah,” the Saudi energy ministry said in a statement. On Tuesday, Abdullah al-Ghamdi, the manager of the North Jeddah Bulk Plant, told reporters during a tour of the facility that one of the 13 tanks used for diesel oil, gasoline, and jet fuel at the facility had been damaged and was out of service, adding “ the attack had been “similar to what happened at Khurais and Abqaiq.”

As the kingdom’s policy since 2015, when its war began, Saudi Arabia sold the attack to the world as targeting international interests. The Kingdom went further and accused Ansar Allah of attacking an oil tanker in the Red Sea. A Maltese-flagged oil tanker managed by Greece was damaged due to an explosion near Shuqaiq in southwestern Saudi Arabia but Ansar Allah has not yet claimed responsibility for the incident. Prior to that, the Saudi-led coalition claimed on Tuesday that it had removed and destroyed five naval mines in the southern Red Sea.

On Sunday, 15 Saudi troops, including officers, were killed or injured in another retaliatory attack, this one marketing the Saudi-led coalition’s Tadawain Camp in Ma’rib, 20 kilometers east Sana’a, according to Brigadier Yahya Saree, the spokesman of the Yemeni Army. Saree said in a statement on Sunday that missile forces hit the Joint Operations Room of a coalition camp in Marib, killing eight Saudi troops and injuring seven. He added that Yemeni forces are observing enemy movements, and will target them wherever they are. In the wake of Saree’s announcement, Saudi state media announced that Saudi troops were killed in battle with no mention of where or when they were killed.

For his part, Muhammad Abd al-Salam, a spokesman for Ansar Allah, said that Saudi wailing following every painful retaliation is what is required. He added, “the international community has to pressure Saudi Arabia to stop the aggression and [the] blockade because the Yemeni people deserve to voice their suffering too.”

Yemen suffers from the world’s worst humanitarian sparked by five years of Saudi bombing and blockade. The humanitarian crisis has worsened this year as international donations have dried up and the Trump administration has suspended aid to the north of Yemen where most of the country’s population lives. The U.N. The Secretary-General warned last week that Yemen faces the worst famine in decades, saying that the country is in imminent danger and that without immediate action, millions of lives may be lost.

 

Trump’s parting gift

As the Trump administration gets ready to depart the White House, the Saudi-led Coalition is scrambling to get the last-moment boon by pushing the U.S. to designate Yemen’s most powerful resistance force, Ansar Allah, as a terrorist organization in a move that would not harm the “Houthis,” but would punish millions of innocent Yemenis already suffering from widespread malnutrition, starvation, and disease. ِ

According to media reports, the Trump administration is preparing to designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization before leaving office in January. U.S. policy in Yemen has been a disgrace for the past five years, drawing ire on U.S. soil and from abroad, and few Yemenis were surprised that the Trump administration would enact such a policy on its way out the door after having already suspended aid to 80% of the population residing in the north of the country.

Designating Ansar Allah as a terrorist organization will make an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis even worse and impede the work of the many NGOs providing lifesaving assistance in the country. Almost certainly, the unexpected designation would prevent the critical delivery of food, medical supplies, and other items necessary to combat both COVID-19 and famine, according to international organizations.

“The lives of millions of vulnerable children in Yemen are already at risk—this policy will only deepen their suffering by further restricting humanitarian access to vulnerable communities. Recent evidence continues to point to a worsening malnutrition crisis for children,” said Janti Soeripto, the president and CEO of Save the Children. “Even if a humanitarian exemption is permitted, this designation will likely make reaching children and families more difficult and could also heighten security risks for our staff and hinder the fragile peace process.”

The designation will not only make it more difficult to reach a negotiated settlement to end the war but will put the whole region, particularly in the Red Sea, on the edge. For their part, Ansar Allah will not remain idle by while, as a number of Ansar Allah decision-makers told MintPress, “they see their relatives dying of starvation at a time when others, those who made the country to the worst place on the earth, are blessed with oil and freedom of navigation at sea.” That message, it seems, was delivered to Jeddah on the back of Ansar Allah’s newly minted Quds-2.

Feature photo | A Saudi man holds the daily Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper fronted by a picture of President Donald Trump, at a coffee shop in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 29, 2020. Amr Nabil | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

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A Trojan Horse? PathCheck’s Contact Tracing App Coming to Minnesota and the World /pathcheck-contact-tracing-app-coming-minnesota-world/273322/ /pathcheck-contact-tracing-app-coming-minnesota-world/273322/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2020 21:44:18 +0000 /?p=273322 Another contact tracing app is being rolled out in the state of Minnesota. This brought to you by  MIT Media Lab spinoff PathCheck, who intends to be the global leader of "precision medicine" for minorities.

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Almost as soon as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic in March, contact tracing apps seem to have sprouted everywhere. Last May, MintPress News reported on a Bluetooth-enabled sports fans tracking app, which was later repurposed to push COVID-19 contact tracing methods. The app, called Care19, was one of the first publicly known implementations of a device-neutral, Android-iOS framework made possible by a noteworthy partnership between Apple and Google.

That same Apple-Google framework underpins another virtually identical app that had managed to fly under the radar of privacy advocates despite being the very first contact tracing app released, predating North Dakota’s Care19 by two months and developed by an MIT Media Lab spinoff called the PathCheck Foundation.

PathCheck is set to be rolled out to the public in Minnesota through the COVIDaware MN program, which will look to bring adoption of the “exposure notification solution” to critical mass, in line with the goal set by PathCheck’s makers since the app was first released in early March 2020. High adoption rates would be “pretty much the only way this app will be able to make a surmountable difference,” according to researchers interviewed by Popular Mechanics in a March piece on PathCheck.

The foundation claims to have already deployed its app in several countries worldwide and many U.S. states and territories, including Guam. The campaign underway in Minnesota will test newer approaches to overcome the failures of Care19 in North Dakota, which only managed to rake together a paltry 5% adoption rate due to heavy public resistance surrounding privacy concerns.

One of the ways PathCheck intends to close the gap in public trust is by anonymizing the data being transferred through novel encryption features. “COVIDaware neither collects nor distributes personal identification,” according to the Star Tribune. But other aspects could make the data privacy issue a moot point.

For instance, the app will be tethered to local and state health institutions, which will send “codes” to users in order to “prevent false reports” and keep contact tracing entities abreast of a user’s COVID-19 status. Privacy, in this case, only means that you won’t know which of your friends, acquaintances, or enemies, stuck the health patrol on you.

 

The Path from here

PathCheck’s plan “is to build on the technology, programs, and standards we’re developing today for pandemic response to create a global system for public health,” per its website, which describes the “wide array” of technologies being lined up to “enable the development of new diagnostics and treatments that result in a healthier world.”

The app is open-source offering full transparency for developers and others to verify the processes and PathCheck has positioned itself as a champion of privacy from its inception. In a paper called Apps Gone Rouge, PathCheck calls on experts to offer advice on how to overcome the public’s hesitance when it comes to contact tracing apps. The foundation has also been pushing for a “national coordination” program to bring all contact tracing apps under a single roof within the federal government.

PathCheck Contact Tracing

PathCheck brings 1984-esque levels of tracking and surveillance only possible in a post-Covid era

The marketing slush that pervades PathCheck’s site includes terms like “customers” for potential hospital patients or banal promises of “driving innovation for a better world” to describe their products and services, as well as grandiose pronouncements and predictions such as asserting it “will be the global leader in advancing public health with technology,” while practically gushing over the idea that COVID-19 has “forever change[d] the role of public health.”

If anything has changed, it might be the intensity with which mass self-surveillance technologies have been coming at us since March. Leveraging the pandemic to come out on top in the “new normal” is just another market opportunity for the majority of startups venturing into the space. As a nonprofit, PathCheck assumes the role of benevolent steward for the multiple contact tracing apps, which like the Apple-Google framework tested at that same MIT Media Lab where PathCheck was born, augurs a Trojan horse for the eventual consolidation of all digital pipelines.

 

A digital malaise

Ramesh Raskar, founder and chairman of PathCheck, has been working with Apple, Facebook, and Google on computational privacy and health for years in so-called “Special Projects” as posted on his Linked In page. One such project commissioned by Facebook centered around “digital health,” which Wikipedia defines as “the convergence of digital technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery.”

It was as part of this project that Raskar co-wrote a paper for the Bluetooth tracking technology used in the PathCheck app and others. In the study’s executive summary, the s describe the potential application of the technology in epidemics “such as COVID-19 through improved contact-tracing, better privacy and verification for sensitive data sharing in the numerous Bluetooth and GPS based mobile applications.”

Apart from sitting as chairman of PathCheck Foundation, Raskar is an Associate Professor at MIT Media Lab and counts a three-year stint at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a member of its Information Science and Technology (ISAT) study group.

He also sits on the commission of a Swiss AI healthcare foundation, which “champions the use of AI and digital technology to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people” (marketing speak for an encroaching global surveillance state) that funds and scales up AI projects in the healthcare space under the guise of “health equity”.

Sponsored by major U.S. technology contractor Cisco, the PathCheck team includes many people who have been involved in the collecting of health data for years. PathCheck CEO Adam Barrey founded a company that developed management systems for human genomic data, as well as AI technologies to interpret such data in order to deliver “precision medicine.”

But at the head of their “global implementation” strategy is Khahlil Louisy, a very recent graduate student of MIT whose previous background in digital media and minority groups mentorship programs make him the perfect face for the worldwide rollout of a 24/7 surveillance/tracking standard to go hand in hand with a COVID-19 vaccine that is slated to target people that look more like him than his CEO.

PathCheck’s ‘vision’ includes building “a new generation of digital solutions for public health [to drive] mass adoption of a foundational… platform that includes mobile touch points on every smartphone in the world.” The organization also suggests that “population scale health strategies” will become the norm in the post-COVID world – a proposition that should scare every oppressed minority group anywhere.

Feature photo | A woman wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, holds a smart phone as she leaves a subway in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 19, 2020. Alexander Zemlianichenko | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

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