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offsite link “People Aren’t Buying It” — Trum... Wed Oct 21, 2020 04:08 | Breitbart

offsite link Australia Forced Returning Citizens Into... Tue Oct 20, 2020 21:08 | Charlie Coe

offsite link Turkey Withdraws From Military Outpost i... Tue Oct 20, 2020 18:53 | Marko Marjanović

offsite link Navalny Changes the Story Again – Camp... Tue Oct 20, 2020 14:03 | John Helmer

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

Anti-Empire >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Armenian Forces Use Their Last Chance To Turn Tide Of War With Azerbaijan Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:37 | amarynth
South Front The Azerbaijani Armed Forces have been developing their advance on Armenian positions in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. On October 19, they captured 13 more villages in the Jabrayil

offsite link Moveable Feast Cafe 2020/10/21 ? Open Thread Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:30 | Herb Swanson
2020/10/21 10:30:02Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of

offsite link USA SITREP: FBI indicted Russian trombone player as a ?GRU hacker? Tue Oct 20, 2020 19:53 | The Saker
By Lilia Shumkova, a Moscow based independent journalist, for The Saker Blog A federal grand jury sitting in the Western District of the US state of Pennsylvania without citing any

offsite link What the Great Reset Architects Don?t Want You To Understand About Economics Tue Oct 20, 2020 18:41 | amarynth
By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog It shouldn?t come as a surprise that the Vice President of the World Bank Carmen Reinhardt recently warned on October 15 that a

offsite link Which ever ?Joker? wins, the US has no energy left for self-correction Tue Oct 20, 2020 18:35 | amarynth
By Ramin Mazaheri and cross posted with PressTV Watching the incredible bias of how the US media covers this presidential election assures the world of two things: 1. The largest

The Saker >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link A Woulfe in judges clothing

offsite link Sarah McInerney and political impartiality Anthony

offsite link Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein? Anthony

offsite link Irish Examiner bias Anthony

offsite link RTE: Propaganda ambush of Sinn Fein Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Spirit of Contradiction

offsite link The Party and the Ballot Box Sun Jul 14, 2019 22:24 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

offsite link On The Decline and Fall of The American Empire and Socialism Sat Jan 26, 2019 01:52 | S. Duncan

offsite link What is Dogmatism and Why Does It Matter? Wed Mar 21, 2018 08:10 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link The Case of Comrade Dallas Mon Mar 19, 2018 19:44 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link Review: Do Religions Evolve? Mon Aug 14, 2017 19:54 | Dara McHugh

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Breitbart - Wed Oct 21, 2020 04:08

Trump said that the American people were tired of hearing about the pandemic.

“You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover. ‘Covid, covid, pandemic. Covid, covid, covid,'” Trump said. “You know why? They’re trying to talk people out of voting.”

“People aren’t buying it, CNN, you dumb bastards,” Trump continued. “They’re not buying it.”

https://twitter.com/The_Real_Fly/status/1318290293066747904?ref_src=twsrc%5Et...

The president also mocked CNN’s Chris Cuomo, suggesting that the late-night anchor may have faked his coronavirus illness in March.

“I watch this guy, he’s got lousy ratings, you know Fredo?” Trump asked his supporters, referring to a frequent nickname used for Cuomo.

“He’s got horrible ratings, he’s talking about the pandemic. .. I don’t kno. He said he had it,” Trump said. “I’m not sure he had it. He went into the basement. It’s the only time his ratings were up. People wanted to see what was going to happen.”

Source: Breitbart

Trump said that the American people were tired of hearing about the pandemic. “You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover. ‘Covid, covid, pandemic. Covid, covid, covid,'” Trump said. “You know why? They’re trying to talk people out of voting.” “People aren’t buying it, CNN, you dumb bastards,” Trump continued. “They’re not buying it.” https://twitter.com/The_Real_Fly/status/1318290293066747904?ref_src=twsrc%5Et... The president also mocked CNN’s Chris Cuomo, suggesting that the late-night anchor may have faked his coronavirus illness in March. “I watch this guy, he’s got lousy ratings, you know Fredo?” Trump asked his supporters, referring to a frequent nickname used for Cuomo. “He’s got horrible ratings, he’s talking about the pandemic. .. I don’t kno. He said he had it,” Trump said. “I’m not sure he had it. He went into the basement. It’s the only time his ratings were up. People wanted to see what was going to happen.” Source: Breitbart
Charlie Coe - Tue Oct 20, 2020 21:08

Hundreds of people quarantined in Australia must be screened for HIV, hepatitis B and C after blood tests kits were mistakenly used on multiple people.

Officials in Victoria have contacted 243 guests ["guests"?] who went through the state's hotel quarantine system and had a finger-prick glucose level check between March 29 and August 20.

Used by diabetes sufferers, the devices should not be used by more than one person and Safer Care Victoria has admitted that it has put people at a 'low risk' of contracting several deadly viruses. 

'The health of past quarantine residents is our immediate concern, so arranging screening for them is our absolute priority,' Safer Care Victoria CEO Ann Maree Keenan said.

'Blood glucose level testing devices intended for use by one person were used across multiple residents,' Safer Care Victoria said in a statement.

'This presents a low clinical risk of cross-contamination and blood borne viruses – Hepatitis B and C, and HIV.'

The scare comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wages a bitter war of words with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over the state's COVID-19 restrictions.

There were just four new cases and one death in Victoria recorded on Monday, bringing the state toll from the virus to 817 and the national figure to 905.

Mr Andrews has allowed Melburnians to get a haircut, renovate their properties and wash their cars but retail businesses, pubs, restaurants and cafes must wait until November 2 to reopen.

Mr Frydenberg on Monday morning vented his fury at the Victorian premier for his ongoing refusal to reopen the state.

'More than 1000 jobs are being lost every day on this premier's watch,' Mr Frydenberg said in Canberra on Monday.

'The bloody-mindedness is unforgivable. The stubbornness is unforgivable. He's making it up as he goes.'

The Victorian leader angrily hit back later in the day, claiming Mr Frydenberg was playing politics.

'It's all about the politics with this bloke, isn't it? That's all he does. He is not a leader, he is just a Liberal,' Mr Andrews said.

The stoush threatens to make Friday's national cabinet meeting more politically charged than usual, having not met for the past five weeks.

The Victorian government is meanwhile considering partly replacing its hotel quarantine program with electronic monitoring devices, The Age reported.

State health department sources are reportedly discussing whether to implement electronic bracelets ["guests" of electronic bracelets?] fitted with GPS technology so travellers could isolate at home.

Source: The Daily Mail

Hundreds of people quarantined in Australia must be screened for HIV, hepatitis B and C after blood tests kits were mistakenly used on multiple people.

Officials in Victoria have contacted 243 guests ["guests"?] who went through the state's hotel quarantine system and had a finger-prick glucose level check between March 29 and August 20.

Used by diabetes sufferers, the devices should not be used by more than one person and Safer Care Victoria has admitted that it has put people at a 'low risk' of contracting several deadly viruses. 

'The health of past quarantine residents is our immediate concern, so arranging screening for them is our absolute priority,' Safer Care Victoria CEO Ann Maree Keenan said.

'Blood glucose level testing devices intended for use by one person were used across multiple residents,' Safer Care Victoria said in a statement.

'This presents a low clinical risk of cross-contamination and blood borne viruses – Hepatitis B and C, and HIV.'

The scare comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wages a bitter war of words with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over the state's COVID-19 restrictions.

There were just four new cases and one death in Victoria recorded on Monday, bringing the state toll from the virus to 817 and the national figure to 905.

Mr Andrews has allowed Melburnians to get a haircut, renovate their properties and wash their cars but retail businesses, pubs, restaurants and cafes must wait until November 2 to reopen.

Mr Frydenberg on Monday morning vented his fury at the Victorian premier for his ongoing refusal to reopen the state.

'More than 1000 jobs are being lost every day on this premier's watch,' Mr Frydenberg said in Canberra on Monday.

'The bloody-mindedness is unforgivable. The stubbornness is unforgivable. He's making it up as he goes.'

The Victorian leader angrily hit back later in the day, claiming Mr Frydenberg was playing politics.

'It's all about the politics with this bloke, isn't it? That's all he does. He is not a leader, he is just a Liberal,' Mr Andrews said.

The stoush threatens to make Friday's national cabinet meeting more politically charged than usual, having not met for the past five weeks.

The Victorian government is meanwhile considering partly replacing its hotel quarantine program with electronic monitoring devices, The Age reported.

State health department sources are reportedly discussing whether to implement electronic bracelets ["guests" of electronic bracelets?] fitted with GPS technology so travellers could isolate at home.

Source: The Daily Mail
Marko Marjanović - Tue Oct 20, 2020 18:53

Turkey has evacuated an observation station in Syria's northwestern Hama province that had been encircled by Syrian government forces.

The outpost in Morek had been Turkey's largest in the province, which is now under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad's troops encircled it last year after an offensive on the province of Idlib, which is the last opposition stronghold in the country.

"After midnight Turkish forces began to evacuate Morek, and this morning a large convoy left" the area, an Ankara-backed Syrian rebel commander told AFP.

He said the troops would be redeployed to Turkish outposts in Idlib.

Morek is just one of around eight or so Turkish military outposts in Syria surrounded by the Syrian army. Morek being the southernmost outpost, that had been surrounded for the longest.

Turkey established these outposts on the front lines between the Syrian army and the Islamist rebels, just behind the rebel positions, as a way to try and obstruct Syrian army advances, but this did not happen. Instead, the Syrian army with Russian backing went around the Turkish bases and pushed the rebels back anyway, thus encircling the Turks in many places.

The Syrians did not attack the vulnerable, surrounded bases even when Turkey openly entered the war on the jihadi side in February and March of this year.

Erdogan meanwhile refused to withdraw from them, even though it was clear that fully surrounded the bases were of no military value, but were merely providing Syrians with potential hostages. Instead, he made a deal with the Russians where they could continue to be resupplied over Syrian territory, under Russian escort.

https://twitter.com/dannymakkisyria/status/1229180335780454402

Now the most vulnerable of the bases is being evacuated possibly as an overture into a withdrawal from a number more:

Two people familiar with the decision told MEE on Monday that the Turkish military would be withdrawing from four observation stations and two military sites that were surrounded by Syrian government forces.

“The observation stations are in the areas that are hard to defend in the current predicament, such as Morek and Shir Maghar,” one of the people said.

“The military sites are near Saraqeb.”

https://twitter.com/mohmad_rasheed/status/1318221305964072960?s=21

Initially, Erdogan likely did not want to withdraw because of the optics at home. However, since then the Turks have managed to turn the tide of the war in Libya against Haftar, and are contributing to an Azeri offensive in Karabakh that is making gains, so he has some prestige to spend. Besides eyes in Turkey are more focused on the Armenian-Azeri fighting in Karabakh now.

Another factor may be that with Turkey and Erdogan fanning the flames of war in Karabakh and destabilizing the Caucusus on the Russian southern border, the Russians had become less interested in guaranteeing the Turks' safety and logistics in northwestern Syria:

MEE's sources said the Turkish military had decided to withdraw following a series of developments.

First, they said, Russia either blocked or severely impeded Turkey's ability to resupply its positions.

“The regime also brought so-called civilians in buses to near the military stations, pushing them to attack the Turkish soldiers. These were regime provocations,” one said.

https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.beeley/posts/10161042172938868?__cft__[0]=AZ...

Turkey has evacuated an observation station in Syria's northwestern Hama province that had been encircled by Syrian government forces. The outpost in Morek had been Turkey's largest in the province, which is now under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Assad's troops encircled it last year after an offensive on the province of Idlib, which is the last opposition stronghold in the country. "After midnight Turkish forces began to evacuate Morek, and this morning a large convoy left" the area, an Ankara-backed Syrian rebel commander told AFP. He said the troops would be redeployed to Turkish outposts in Idlib.
Morek is just one of around eight or so Turkish military outposts in Syria surrounded by the Syrian army. Morek being the southernmost outpost, that had been surrounded for the longest. Turkey established these outposts on the front lines between the Syrian army and the Islamist rebels, just behind the rebel positions, as a way to try and obstruct Syrian army advances, but this did not happen. Instead, the Syrian army with Russian backing went around the Turkish bases and pushed the rebels back anyway, thus encircling the Turks in many places. The Syrians did not attack the vulnerable, surrounded bases even when Turkey openly entered the war on the jihadi side in February and March of this year. Erdogan meanwhile refused to withdraw from them, even though it was clear that fully surrounded the bases were of no military value, but were merely providing Syrians with potential hostages. Instead, he made a deal with the Russians where they could continue to be resupplied over Syrian territory, under Russian escort. https://twitter.com/dannymakkisyria/status/1229180335780454402 Now the most vulnerable of the bases is being evacuated possibly as an overture into a withdrawal from a number more:
Two people familiar with the decision told MEE on Monday that the Turkish military would be withdrawing from four observation stations and two military sites that were surrounded by Syrian government forces. “The observation stations are in the areas that are hard to defend in the current predicament, such as Morek and Shir Maghar,” one of the people said. “The military sites are near Saraqeb.”
https://twitter.com/mohmad_rasheed/status/1318221305964072960?s=21 Initially, Erdogan likely did not want to withdraw because of the optics at home. However, since then the Turks have managed to turn the tide of the war in Libya against Haftar, and are contributing to an Azeri offensive in Karabakh that is making gains, so he has some prestige to spend. Besides eyes in Turkey are more focused on the Armenian-Azeri fighting in Karabakh now. Another factor may be that with Turkey and Erdogan fanning the flames of war in Karabakh and destabilizing the Caucusus on the Russian southern border, the Russians had become less interested in guaranteeing the Turks' safety and logistics in northwestern Syria:
MEE's sources said the Turkish military had decided to withdraw following a series of developments. First, they said, Russia either blocked or severely impeded Turkey's ability to resupply its positions. “The regime also brought so-called civilians in buses to near the military stations, pushing them to attack the Turkish soldiers. These were regime provocations,” one said.
https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.beeley/posts/10161042172938868?__cft__[0]=AZ...
John Helmer - Tue Oct 20, 2020 14:03

Alexei Navalny has opened his US media campaign on Sunday with interviews on CBS Television and the New Yorker magazine. Wearing a new white shirt, he has also opened a new version of the attempted assassination.

In Navalny’s fresh plot, he now says he was poisoned when he was putting on clothes in his hotel room in Tomsk, and then touched a water bottle. “We know that I was poisoned in the hotel because I — well, again, it’s just a pure speculation because no one knows what happened exactly —  but I think that when I was, er, maybe put some clothes with this poison on me, I touched it with the hand [left hand], and then I sipped from the bottle [right hand]. So this nerve agent was not inside of the bottle but on the bottle.”

The evidence for the poisoning, Navalny insisted to CBS, can be found in the reports of the French and Swedish military laboratories. According to a partial release of the official report by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), “two blood samples were collected from the patient [Navalny] on the 5th of September 2020”.

Litigation in a Stockholm court by Mats Nilsson is underway to compel publication of the full FOI report. The laboratory confirms it did not test Navalny’s urine, skin samples, clothing, or the water bottle.

Navalny now claims to the New Yorker that the evidence of his poisoning can be found in the classified report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), although it too has announced that it did not test the water bottle and did not identify Novichok. “I was poisoned with a different kind of Novichok. Even the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons classifies its reports, because no one wants to publish the formula.”

According to the report of the OPCW, “the mission was restricted to the collection of biomedical samples from Mr Navalny. No other information was shared by the German authorities. On 6 September 2020, the TAV [technical assistance visit] team visited the Charité Hospital in Berlin… In line with OPCW procedures, blood and urine sampling was conducted by the hospital staff.”

The only laboratory which did test the bottle, the German Army laboratory IPTB in Munich, has not been identified by Navalny in his new US media claims as a source of what happened to him. No testing of the clothes which Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, brought with the bottle to Berlin has been reported by any source. According to Navalnaya, she wrestled a suitcase of Navalny’s clothes away from local police at Omsk airport to take it onboard the charter flight to Berlin.

For the first time, Navalny has revealed a diagnosis he says was discussed with his wife at the Omsk Hospital. “There were all these doctors at the hospital in Omsk wearing their white coats,” he told New Yorker, “saying, ‘Of course, he wasn’t poisoned, of course, it’s a case of pancreatitis.’ It’s hard to argue with that. They are doctors! And we are not. And Yulia and [assistant Leonid] Volkov both told me that even as they were making arrangements to have me airlifted to Germany, they were thinking, What if it is pancreatitis and tomorrow he comes to in Germany, furious?”

Navalny’s interview with the Sixty Minutes programme of CBS was recorded in Berlin, before he and his wife left for the Black Forest resort of Ibach in Bavaria last week. CBS broadcast the interview on Sunday. Read a partial text and the full 13-minute video clip here.

CBS invited Navalny to take a shot at President Donald Trump. “Angela Merkel of Germany and Emmanuel Macron of France have persuaded the European Union to impose sanctions over this,” the CBS reporter Lesley Stahl said. “Well, all these leaders have signed on, except Donald Trump. And— Alexey Navalny: Yes, I– I have noticed it. (LAUGH). Lesley Stahl: Is it important to you that he condemn this action? Alexey Navalny: So, I think it’s extremely important that everyone, of course, including and maybe in the first of all, president of United States, to be very against using chemical weapons in the 21st Century.”

The studio interview was interrupted by an excursion CBS filmed of Navalny walking hand in hand with his wife in front of the Brandenburg Gate, symbol of the line where the Soviet and US armies divided Berlin at the end of the World War. The display of armed German police and security agents surrounding Navalny in front of the Gate was intended to show German force backing what CBS described as “the leader of the opposition in Russia”. According to Stahl, he is “under the protection of the German Government because there is concern he could be the target of another poisoning. And yet he says he is determined to return to Moscow in a couple of months…and resume his work where he left off, campaigning against Vladimir Putin.”

In Navalny’s interview with New Yorker he was confused in his recounting of what his first symptoms were on board his flight from Tomsk. He describes full consciousness but mental disorientation; no difficulty with breathing, no nausea, no foaming at the mouth, no paralysis, no pain. Navalny’s self-reported symptoms correspond to no reported case of organophosphate or Novichok poisoning.

“The moment I knew that I’d been poisoned was the moment I realized my life was ending. What I was experiencing up until then was a kind of incomprehension. We can understand a heart attack or a stroke, but we cannot understand the effects of cholinesterase inhibitors—evolution does not prepare us for this. You are in this strange state of losing focus, and the strangeness keeps growing.”

“On the airplane, I went to the bathroom and I realized that I would not be able to leave the bathroom on my own, and this was when I knew I’d been poisoned. It was so difficult to open the door. I could see the door, I could understand everything, and I was plenty physically strong enough—I would have been able to do pushups, if only, at that moment, I had been able to grasp the concept of pushups. I guess if I’d had sudden heart pain or abdominal pain, I would have realized even faster that I was dying, because this physical experience would have been familiar to me. But this was worse than pain.”

The magazine interview was recorded by Zoom on October 8, when Navalny was in an apartment in Berlin.

Source: Dances With Bear

Alexei Navalny has opened his US media campaign on Sunday with interviews on CBS Television and the New Yorker magazine. Wearing a new white shirt, he has also opened a new version of the attempted assassination. In Navalny’s fresh plot, he now says he was poisoned when he was putting on clothes in his hotel room in Tomsk, and then touched a water bottle. “We know that I was poisoned in the hotel because I — well, again, it’s just a pure speculation because no one knows what happened exactly —  but I think that when I was, er, maybe put some clothes with this poison on me, I touched it with the hand [left hand], and then I sipped from the bottle [right hand]. So this nerve agent was not inside of the bottle but on the bottle.” The evidence for the poisoning, Navalny insisted to CBS, can be found in the reports of the French and Swedish military laboratories. According to a partial release of the official report by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), “two blood samples were collected from the patient [Navalny] on the 5th of September 2020”. Litigation in a Stockholm court by Mats Nilsson is underway to compel publication of the full FOI report. The laboratory confirms it did not test Navalny’s urine, skin samples, clothing, or the water bottle. Navalny now claims to the New Yorker that the evidence of his poisoning can be found in the classified report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), although it too has announced that it did not test the water bottle and did not identify Novichok. “I was poisoned with a different kind of Novichok. Even the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons classifies its reports, because no one wants to publish the formula.” According to the report of the OPCW, “the mission was restricted to the collection of biomedical samples from Mr Navalny. No other information was shared by the German authorities. On 6 September 2020, the TAV [technical assistance visit] team visited the Charité Hospital in Berlin… In line with OPCW procedures, blood and urine sampling was conducted by the hospital staff.” The only laboratory which did test the bottle, the German Army laboratory IPTB in Munich, has not been identified by Navalny in his new US media claims as a source of what happened to him. No testing of the clothes which Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, brought with the bottle to Berlin has been reported by any source. According to Navalnaya, she wrestled a suitcase of Navalny’s clothes away from local police at Omsk airport to take it onboard the charter flight to Berlin. For the first time, Navalny has revealed a diagnosis he says was discussed with his wife at the Omsk Hospital. “There were all these doctors at the hospital in Omsk wearing their white coats,” he told New Yorker, “saying, ‘Of course, he wasn’t poisoned, of course, it’s a case of pancreatitis.’ It’s hard to argue with that. They are doctors! And we are not. And Yulia and [assistant Leonid] Volkov both told me that even as they were making arrangements to have me airlifted to Germany, they were thinking, What if it is pancreatitis and tomorrow he comes to in Germany, furious?” Navalny’s interview with the Sixty Minutes programme of CBS was recorded in Berlin, before he and his wife left for the Black Forest resort of Ibach in Bavaria last week. CBS broadcast the interview on Sunday. Read a partial text and the full 13-minute video clip here. CBS invited Navalny to take a shot at President Donald Trump. “Angela Merkel of Germany and Emmanuel Macron of France have persuaded the European Union to impose sanctions over this,” the CBS reporter Lesley Stahl said. “Well, all these leaders have signed on, except Donald Trump. And— Alexey Navalny: Yes, I– I have noticed it. (LAUGH). Lesley Stahl: Is it important to you that he condemn this action? Alexey Navalny: So, I think it’s extremely important that everyone, of course, including and maybe in the first of all, president of United States, to be very against using chemical weapons in the 21st Century.” The studio interview was interrupted by an excursion CBS filmed of Navalny walking hand in hand with his wife in front of the Brandenburg Gate, symbol of the line where the Soviet and US armies divided Berlin at the end of the World War. The display of armed German police and security agents surrounding Navalny in front of the Gate was intended to show German force backing what CBS described as “the leader of the opposition in Russia”. According to Stahl, he is “under the protection of the German Government because there is concern he could be the target of another poisoning. And yet he says he is determined to return to Moscow in a couple of months…and resume his work where he left off, campaigning against Vladimir Putin.” In Navalny’s interview with New Yorker he was confused in his recounting of what his first symptoms were on board his flight from Tomsk. He describes full consciousness but mental disorientation; no difficulty with breathing, no nausea, no foaming at the mouth, no paralysis, no pain. Navalny’s self-reported symptoms correspond to no reported case of organophosphate or Novichok poisoning. “The moment I knew that I’d been poisoned was the moment I realized my life was ending. What I was experiencing up until then was a kind of incomprehension. We can understand a heart attack or a stroke, but we cannot understand the effects of cholinesterase inhibitors—evolution does not prepare us for this. You are in this strange state of losing focus, and the strangeness keeps growing.” “On the airplane, I went to the bathroom and I realized that I would not be able to leave the bathroom on my own, and this was when I knew I’d been poisoned. It was so difficult to open the door. I could see the door, I could understand everything, and I was plenty physically strong enough—I would have been able to do pushups, if only, at that moment, I had been able to grasp the concept of pushups. I guess if I’d had sudden heart pain or abdominal pain, I would have realized even faster that I was dying, because this physical experience would have been familiar to me. But this was worse than pain.” The magazine interview was recorded by Zoom on October 8, when Navalny was in an apartment in Berlin. Source: Dances With Bear
Fyodor Lukyanov - Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:00

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

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

Common, but shaky ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The honeymoon had ended

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same, only different

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: The Moscow Times

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

Common, but shaky ground

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

The honeymoon had ended

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

The same, only different

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Exile in Happy Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moscow hospitals, so far, appear to be coping.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moscow hospitals, so far, appear to be coping.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media disappointment at return of democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A year of political turbulence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: MintPress News

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Antiwar.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Spiked

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

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