Mother of Murdered Portland Anti-Fascist Activist Still Seeking Answers – by Alex Zielinski (The Portland Mercury) 10 Sept 2020

Laura Kealiher speaks to reporters in 2019, at the site of her sons death.Laura Kealiher speaks to reporters in 2019, at the site of her son’s death. Alex Zielinski
Laura Kealiher just wants closure.

In the early hours of October 12, 2019, Laura’s son Sean Kealiher was fatally hit by someone driving an SUV in Northeast Portland, spurring a homicide investigation by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). Now, nearly a year since Sean’s death, Laura has given up hope that local law enforcement will solve her son’s murder.

“Whatever trust I had in the judicial system is gone,” Laura told the Mercury in an interview Friday. “I have cooperated with the police investigation for months, I have followed their instruction to not talk with the press, I have kept quiet. But I think that has done more harm than good.”

After feeling misled by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office about Sean’s investigation, Laura said she’s done staying quiet.

“I’m ready to bring this to the streets,” she said.

Sean, who was 23 at the time of his death, was struck shortly after leaving the now-shuttered Cider Riot pub on NE Couch and 8th.

[Editor: Sean Kealiher was outside the club, on the street, arguing with the people in the vehicle. Someone yelled at the people in the car to leave, or “I’ll kill you.” Then Sean Kealiher was struck by the vehicle. His friends did not call an ambulance. They told him, ‘Walk man!” and carried him to a private car to take him to a hospital. Trained medical person urge civilians with no medical training to leave an individual who is hurt where they are. But anarchists don’t follow rules. Kealiher died.]

The driver fled the scene on foot after hitting Sean, leaving behind a black SUV. PPB arrived after being alerted to the sound of gunshot in the area, and later found evidence of gunfire on the car. Sean was driven to the hospital by a friend, where he died. Portland police told the public that officers were investigating Sean’s death as a homicide.

Sean’s murder shook the local anti-fascist anarchist activist community, which knew him by the nickname “Armenio,” and sparked immediate suspicions about the perpetrator who fled the scene.

[One might find who the driver of the vehicle was by noting the license plate of the vehicle that Kealiher tried to block and was struck by. Someone fire a number of shots at the driver and passengers who wisely fled on foot. So… who did the vehicle belong to?]

At the time of his death, Cider Riot was known as a hub for anti-fascist organizing, a feature that occasionally made it a target for right-wing activists. In May 2019, Cider Riot became the backdrop of a street brawl between members of the far-right group Patriot Prayer and anti-fascist pub patrons. That clash ended with several members of Patriot Prayer receiving criminal and civil charges—both of which are still being ironed out in court. Sean was killed near Cider Riot just two months after the Patriot Prayer activists were arrested.

For Sean’s friends in the activist community, the circumstances surrounding his murder were hard to ignore. Yet many who knew him well refused to speak with police, reluctant to trust an agency known to have offered special protections to Patriot Prayer members in the past.

This wasn’t the case for Laura.

“I cooperated with the police from day one,” she said. But, she added, she wasn’t “naive” about working with police.

According to Laura, Sean had been on PPB’s radar since he was 15, when he was arrested during an Occupy Portland demonstration. Court records show two citations (failure to follow pedestrian laws and failure to pay transit fare) and one arrest (interfering with a police officer) on Kealiher’s record between 2014 and 2015. Laura said she believed police knew and disliked her son because of his involvement in demonstrations.

After his death, Laura said she was suspicious of officers pressing her for information about Sean’s associates and groups he was involved in at the time of his death.

“But I continued to talk with them and check in,” she said.

Meanwhile, Laura’s house had become a target of right-wing vandalism, purportedly because of Sean’s association with anti-fascist activism. She says her house, where she lives with her two other children, was egged after his death, and people would occasionally drive by her home and yell offensive things about Sean from their cars. When she asked PPB what to do about the harassment, Laura said she was told to “expect it to get worse,” and offered information about counseling.

PPB has not returned the Mercury‘s request to confirm or clarify this anecdote.

Frustrated with waiting for answers, Laura began attending counter-protests held during Patriot Prayer events in town where she confronted members about Sean’s death. At one event in late February, Laura got in a physical fight with a right-wing activist, a scuffle she admits to. No arrests were made.

“I was hurting and I was angry,” Laura said.

But she had some hope. It was around this time that, according to Laura, staff from the Multnomah County District Attorney’s (MCDA) office reached out to tell her they believed they had found a suspect. They were presumably going to connect her with MCDA’s media staff to prepare for press interviews, following an upcoming grand jury trial.

That’s when COVID-19 shuttered the court system, a decisions that’s delayed countless in-person trials. There was no grand jury, there was no conviction, there were no media interviews. Laura didn’t hear from the MCDA until August, after a new district attorney, Mike Schmidt, took office. The staff Laura had been communicating with had left when former DA Rod Underhill retired in July, and the momentum she felt earlier in the year had all but evaporated.

“I haven’t spoken with anyone in the DA’s office who is familiar with Sean’s case,” Laura said. “It’s honestly flabbergasting. It’s like none of that talk about a suspect and an arrest ever happened.”

MCDA spokesperson Brent Weisberg said MCDA has “had several meetings with the family and their attorney.” Weisberg, who is MCDA’s sole media liaison, said he never spoke with Laura about preparing for media interviews. As for the current state of the case, Weisberg said his office cannot comment on any facts of an active investigation.

Laura isn’t sure if she will continue speaking with local law enforcement. “I have no faith left in the District Attorney’s office,” she said.

Invigorated by Portland’s recent protests against police brutality and racism, Laura said she’s now focused on working with Sean’s friends to spread awareness about her son’s death—through a rally or other event—in order to put pressure on the MCDA’s office to continue its investigation.

Her mission remains the same.

“I just want to know what happened,” she said. “That’s all.”

Source: The Portland Mercury

Is BLM the Mask Behind Which the Oligarchs Operate?- by Mike Whitney – 8 Sept 2020

Here’s your BLM Pop Quiz for the day: What do “Critical Race Theory”, “The 1619 Project”, and Homeland Security’s “White Supremacist” warning tell us about what’s going on in America today?

  1. They point to deeply-embedded racism that shapes the behavior of white people
  2. They suggest that systemic racism cannot be overcome by merely changing attitudes and laws
  3. They alert us to the fact that unresolved issues are pushing the country towards a destructive race war
  4. They indicate that powerful agents — operating from within the state– are inciting racial violence to crush the emerging “populist” majority that elected Trump to office in 2016 and which now represents an existential threat to the globalist plan to transform America into a tyrannical third-world “shithole”.

Which of these four statements best explains what’s going on in America today?

If you chose Number 4, you are right. We are not experiencing a sudden and explosive outbreak of racial violence and mayhem. We are experiencing a thoroughly-planned, insurgency-type operation that involves myriad logistical components including vast, nationwide riots, looting and arson, as well as an extremely impressive ideological campaign. “Critical Race Theory”, “The 1619 Project”, and Homeland Security’s “White Supremacist” warning are as much a part of the Oligarchic war on America as are the burning of our cities and the toppling of our statues. All three, fall under the heading of “ideology”, and all three are being used to shape public attitudes on matters related to our collective identity as “Americans”.

The plan is to overwhelm the population with a deluge of disinformation about their history, their founders, and the threats they face, so they will submissively accept a New Order imposed by technocrats and their political lackeys. This psychological war is perhaps more important than Operation BLM which merely provides the muscle for implementing the transformative “Reset” that elites want to impose on the country. The real challenge is to change the hearts and minds of a population that is unwaveringly patriotic and violently resistant to any subversive element that threatens to do harm to their country. So, while we can expect this propaganda saturation campaign to continue for the foreseeable future, we don’t expect the strategy will ultimately succeed. At the end of the day, America will still be America, unbroken, unflagging and unapologetic.

Let’s look more carefully at what is going on.

On September 4, the Department of Homeland Security issued a draft report stating that “White supremacists present the gravest terror threat to the United States”. According to an article in Politico:

…all three draft (versions of the document) describe the threat from white supremacists as the deadliest domestic terror threat facing the U.S., listed above the immediate danger from foreign terrorist groups…. John Cohen, who oversaw DHS’s counterterrorism portfolio from 2011 to 2014, said the drafts’ conclusion isn’t surprising.

“This draft document seems to be consistent with earlier intelligence reports from DHS, the FBI, and other law enforcement sources: that the most significant terror-related threat facing the US today comes from violent extremists who are motivated by white supremacy and other far-right ideological causes,” he said….

“Lone offenders and small cells of individuals motivated by a diverse array of social, ideological, and personal factors will pose the primary terrorist threat to the United States,” the draft reads. “Among these groups, we assess that white supremacist extremists …will pose the most persistent and lethal threat.”..(“DHS draft document: White supremacists are greatest terror threat” Politico)

This is nonsense. White supremacists do not pose the greatest danger to the country, that designation goes to the left-wing groups that have rampaged through more than 2,000 US cities for the last 100 days. Black Lives Matter and Antifa-generated riots have decimated hundreds of small businesses, destroyed the lives and livelihoods of thousands of merchants and their employees, and left entire cities in a shambles. The destruction in Kenosha alone far exceeds the damage attributable to the activities of all the white supremacist groups combined.

So why has Homeland Security made this ridiculous and unsupportable claim? Why have they chosen to prioritize white supremacists as “the most persistent and lethal threat” when it is clearly not true?

There’s only one answer: Politics.

The officials who concocted this scam are advancing the agenda of their real bosses, the oligarch puppet-masters who have their tentacles extended throughout the deep-state and use them to coerce their lackey bureaucrats to do their bidding. In this case, the honchos are invoking the race card (“white supremacists”) to divert attention from their sinister destabilization program, their looting of the US Treasury (for their crooked Wall Street friends), their demonizing of the mostly-white working class “America First” nationalists who handed Trump the 2016 election, and their scurrilous scheme to establish one-party rule by installing their addlepated meat-puppet candidate (Biden) as president so he can carry out their directives from the comfort of the Oval Office. That’s what’s really going on.

DHS’s announcement makes it possible for state agents to target legally-armed Americans who gather with other gun owners in groups that are protected under the second amendment. Now the white supremacist label will be applied more haphazardly to these same conservatives who pose no danger to public safety. The draft document should be seen as a warning to anyone whose beliefs do not jibe with the New Liberal Orthodoxy that white people are inherently racists who must ask forgiveness for a system they had no hand in creating (slavery) and which was abolished more than 150 years ago.

The 1619 Project” is another part of the ideological war that is being waged against the American people. The objective of the “Project” is to convince readers that America was founded by heinous white men who subjugated blacks to increase their wealth and power. According to the World Socialist Web Site:

“The essays featured in the magazine are organized around the central premise that all of American history is rooted in race hatred—specifically, the uncontrollable hatred of “black people” by “white people.” Hannah-Jones writes in the series’ introduction: “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.

This is a false and dangerous conception. DNA is a chemical molecule that contains the genetic code of living organisms and determines their physical characteristics and development….Hannah-Jones’s reference to DNA is part of a growing tendency to derive racial antagonisms from innate biological processes.where does this racism come from? It is embedded, claims Hannah-Jones, in the historical DNA of American “white people.” Thus, it must persist independently of any change in political or economic conditions….

…. No doubt, the authors of The Project 1619 essays would deny that they are predicting race war, let alone justifying fascism. But ideas have a logic; and authors bear responsibility for the political conclusions and consequences of their false and misguided arguments.” (“The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history”, World Socialist Web Site)

Clearly, Hannah-Jones was enlisted by big money patrons who needed an ideological foundation to justify the massive BLM riots they had already planned as part of their US color revolution. The author –perhaps unwittingly– provided the required text for vindicating widespread destruction and chaos carried out in the name of “social justice.”

As Hannah-Jones says, “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country”, which is to say that it cannot be mitigated or reformed, only eradicated by destroying the symbols of white patriarchy (Our icons, our customs, our traditions and our history.), toppling the existing government, and imposing a new system that better reflects the values of the burgeoning non-Caucasian majority. Simply put, The Project 1619 creates the rationale for sustained civil unrest, deepening political polarization and violent revolution.

All of these goals conveniently coincide with the aims of the NWO Oligarchs who seek to replace America’s Constitutional government with a corporate Superstate ruled by voracious Monopolists and their globalist allies. So, while Hannah-Jones treatise does nothing to improve conditions for black people in America, it does move the country closer to the dystopian dream of the parasite class; Corporate Valhalla.

Then there is “Critical Race Theory” which provides the ideological icing on the cake. The theory is part of the broader canon of anti-white dogma which is being used to indoctrinate workers. White employees are being subjected to “reeducation” programs that require their participation as a precondition for further employment . The first rebellion against critical race theory, took place at Sandia Labs which is a federally-funded research agency that designs America’s nuclear weapons. According to journalist Christopher F. Rufo:

“Senator @HawleyMO and @SecBrouillette have launched an inspector general investigation, but Sandia executives have only accelerated their purge against conservatives.”

Sandia executives have made it clear: they want to force critical race theory, race-segregated trainings, and white male reeducation camps on their employees—and all dissent will be severely punished. Progressive employees will be rewarded; conservative employees will be purged.” (“There is a civil war erupting at @SandiaLabs.” Christopher F Rufo)

It all sounds so Bolshevik. Here’s more info on how this toxic indoctrination program works:

“Treasury Department …

The Treasury Department held a training session telling employees that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” and demanding that white staff members “struggle to own their racism” and accept their “unconscious bias, White privilege, and White fragility.”

The National Credit Union Administration

The NCUA held a session for 8,900 employees arguing that America was “founded on racism” and “built on the blacks of people who were enslaved.” Twitter thread here and original source documents here.

Sandia National Laboratories

Last year, Sandia National Labs—which produces our nuclear arsenal—held a three-day reeducation camp for white males, teaching them how to deconstruct their “white male culture” and forcing them to write letters of apology to women and people of color. Whistleblowers from inside the labs tell me that critical race theory is now endangering our national security. Twitter thread here and original source documents here.

Argonne National Laboratories

Argonne National Labs hosts trainings calling on white lab employees to admit that they “benefit from racism” and atone for the “pain and anguish inflicted upon Black people.” Twitter thread here.

Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security hosted a Training on “microaggressions, microinequities, and microassaults” where white employees were told that they had been “socialized into oppressor roles.” Twitter thread here and original source documents here.” (“Summary of Critical Race Theory Investigations”, Christopher F Rufo)

On September 4, Donald Trump announced his administration “would prohibit federal agencies from subjecting government employees to “critical race theory” or “white privilege” seminar...

“It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda,” read a Friday memo from the Office of Budget and Management Director Russ Vought. “These types of ‘trainings’ not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce … The President has directed me to ensure that Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.”

The next day, September 5, Trump announced that the Department of Education was going to see whether the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project was being used in school curricula and– if it was– then those schools would be ineligible for federal funding. Conservative pundits applauded Trump’s action as a step forward in the “culture wars”, but it’s really much more than that. Trump is actually foiling an effort by the domestic saboteurs who continue look for ways to undermine democracy, reduce the masses of working-class people to grinding poverty and hopelessness, and turn the country into a despotic military outpost ruled by bloodsucking tycoons, mercenary autocrats and duplicitous elites. Alot of thought and effort went into this malign ideological project. Trump derailed it with a wave of the hand. That’s no small achievement.

Bottom line: “Critical Race Theory”, “The 1619 Project”, and Homeland Security’s “White Supremacist” warning represent the ideological foundation upon which the war on America is based. The “anti-white” dogma is the counterpart to the massive riots that have rocked the country. These phenomena are two spokes on the same wheel. They are designed to work together to achieve the same purpose. The goal is create a “racial” smokescreen that conceals the vast and willful destruction of the US economy, the $5 trillion dollar wealth-transfer that was provided to Wall Street, and the ferocious attack on the emerging, mainly-white working class “populist” movement that elected Trump and which rejects the globalist plan to transform the world into a borderless free trade zone ruled by cutthroat monopolists and their NWO allies.

This is a class war dolled-up to look like a race war. Americans will have to look beyond the smoke and mirrors to spot the elites lurking in the shadows. There lies the cancer that must be eradicated.

SF State University stands By Palestinian plane hijacker Leila Khaled speaking appearance (Forward) 3 Sept 2020

Announcement of speaking engagement with Leila Khaled by the Forward
Image by Twitter

San Francisco State University President Lynn Mahoney is standing behind the decision to allow a Palestinian terrorist to participate in a university event via Zoom.

Khaled came to public attention for her role in the TWA Flight 840 hijacking in 1969 and one of the four simultaneous Dawson’s Field hijackings the following year as part of the campaign of Black September in Jordan. The first woman to hijack an airplane, she was later released in a prisoner exchange for civilian hostages kidnapped by her fellow PFLP members

The hijacking of El Al Flight 219 from Amsterdam was foiled: hijacker Patrick Argüello was shot and killed, and his partner Leila Khaled was subdued and handed over to British authorities in London.

(Below: Youtube available movie from 2005 of Leila Khaled – 1:01:59 min)

A university official told the Forward that an e-mail in support of Leila Khaled speaking at a university event did in fact come from Mahoney.

In the e-mail, Mahoney wrote that “an invitation to a public figure to speak to a class should not be construed as an endorsement of point of view.”

“Higher education and the college experience are an opportunity to hear divergent ideas, viewpoints and accounts of life experiences” she continued. “An important outcome of the college experience is to learn to think critically and come to independent, personal conclusions about events of local and global importance,” continued the spokesperson. “A university is a marketplace of ideas, and San Francisco State University supports the rights of all individuals to express their viewpoints and other speech protected by law, even when those viewpoints may be controversial.”

On Friday, SFSU spokesperson Kent Bravo confirmed the e-mail was Mahoney’s.

A screenshot of a letter from SFSU President Lynn Mahoney posted on Twitter by Daniel Pipes by the Forward
A screenshot of a letter from SFSU President Lynn Mahoney posted on Twitter by Daniel Pipes

The Arab and Muslim Ethnicities Diaspora (AMED) at SFSU announced it is hosting Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group, who hijacked an Israel-bound plane in 1969 and the following year was arrested after failing to hijack an El Al flight. She was eventually released in a prisoner-for-hostage exchange.

According to an online announcement, Khaled will be speaking Sept. 23 along with Acting Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank Rula Abu Dahou, South African politician Ronnie Kasrils, former Black Liberation Army member Sekou Odinga and Jewish Voice for Peace member Laura Whitehorn. SFSU AMED professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who said Zionists were white nationalists in a 2019 UCLA guest lecture, and SFSU Women’s Studies professor Tomomi Kinukawa will moderate the panel.

This is not the California State University system’s first Khaled controversy. In May The Forward reported that the Women’s Resource Center at San Diego State University apologized for including a photo of Khaled in its weekly newsletter.

In 2014 Abdulhadi received more than $7,000 from SFSU to fly to meet with Khaled.

San Francisco State University president stands behind terrorist Leila Khaled speaking appearance by the Forward
Image by Getty Images

The photo featured Khaled holding a gun with the caption, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” It was featured alongside other photo.

Jewish groups strongly denounced Khaled’s planned appearance at SDSU.

“Is this supposed to be an acceptable free speech at your university?” StandWithUs founder Roz Rothstein tweeted to SFSU. “An address by Leila Khaled, someone who is affiliated with terrorism.”

The AMCHA Initiative, a Jewish campus education group, called for opponents of the decision to demand SFSU change its policy regarding permitted speakers.

“Help call on Cal State to institute safeguards against promoting anti-Zionist political advocacy, such as BDS in classrooms” the group tweeted. “Why is this necessary?”

But on social media, it wasn’t only Jewish organizations protesting a university-sanctioned appearance by Khaled who is 76.

“I was on El Al flight 219 that she hijacked in 1970,” wrote Twitter user Rodney Khazzam. “I’m an American born and raised. Shocked we are giving her the honor.”

(11 Sept 1970 Palestinians Blow Up Civilian Airlines After Hijacking)

In September 1970, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijacked four airliners bound for New York City and one for London. Three aircraft were forced to land at Dawson’s Field, a remote desert airstrip near Zarqa, Jordan, formerly Royal Air Force Station Zerqa, which then became PFLP’s “Revolutionary Airport”. By the end of the incident, one hijacker had been killed and one injury reported

https://forward.com/fast-forward/453867/san-francisco-state-university-president-stands-behind-terrorist-leila/

Activist Violence in Context – by Shane Taylor (Liberal Nomad) 20 Oct 2018

When activists resort to force, their tactics are commonly described as “mistaken,” “ineffective,” or “counterproductive.” But too often, such criticisms miss the point. Not every activist is trying to win over new adherents. Some are less interested in changing minds than in breaking wills. So to advance their cause, they employ the methods of coercion. (Examples of this fanaticism can be found here, here, and here.)

(Militants Arrested After Setting a Road Block and Throwing Bomb at Responding Police Officer)

Fear has its uses. If you listen to radicals on the left, they will tell you so. Consider a 2014 piece published by Salon that defended the physical harassment of Google employees. Direct action of this kind, Natasha Lennard argued, can get results:

Intimidation tactics targeting the employees of major corporations are nothing new and have a history of success: Indeed, animal rights activists achieved some major victories in securing the closure of animal testing facilities in the ’90s and early 2000s through the intimidation of key investors. This intimidation was deemed terrorism, but, hey, it worked.

Lennard was referring in part to the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences (for background, see here, here, and here). This campaign was dismissed by some at the time as an anomaly. But looking back now, its ethos of “by any means necessary” no longer seems so unusual.

(Militants Trash CNN Headquarters in Atalanta GA)

Abusive behavior by radicals should come as no surprise. Activists for social justice are not so different from other political actors. They test the limits of what they can get away with doing. And the more their transgressions are indulged and even celebrated, the bolder they will become. They will give us more of what we reward and less of what we punish.

Granted, there are risks to being less than peaceful. (A movement would do well to keep any goons at one remove from its spokespeople.) But Lennard had a point about diversified tactics. A bit of violence can do something for a movement. When it works, it adds a hint of menace to activist demands. It implies a penalty for obstructing their version of justice. It compels people to yield.

(Media Paints Widespread Arson by BLM Activists as ‘mostly peaceful’)

The real trouble with activist violence has less to do with efficacy than with democracy. This was ably explained by Sidney Hook, in his 1967 essay “Democracy and Social Protest: Neither Blind Obedience nor Uncivil Disobedience.” Citizens in a free society, Hook argued, should be “free to disagree with a law but that so long as it remains in force they have a prima facie obligation to obey it.” The burden should remain on protesters to justify their actions to their fellow citizens. There should be a presumption against illegal acts of coercion.

(Widespread looting encouraged by BLM leaders – “Looting is reparations for slavery, the stores have insurance)

This arrangement is necessary, Hook said, to “escape the twin evils of tyranny and anarchy. Tyranny is avoided by virtue of the freedom and power of dissent to win the uncoerced consent of the community. Anarchy is avoided by reliance on due process, the recognition that there is a right way to correct a wrong, and a wrong way to secure a right.” Activists must be denied the means of political extortion. Otherwise, liberal democracy would not be viable.

The freedom to protest is essential for democratic consent, and it must be protected from undue interference. Disobeying the law can also serve a legitimate purpose, if the act of defiance is both non-violent and has a principled justification. All of this Hook acknowledged. The problem is not honest and peaceful dissent. It is the tendency of some liberals to fixate on one evil to the exclusion of another. Hook criticized “ritualistic liberals,” not because they rejected “the absolutism of law,” but because they demanded “something very close to the absolutism of individual conscience.”

Properly rejecting the view that the law, no matter how unjust, must be obeyed in all circumstances, they have taken the view that the law is to be obeyed only when the individual deems it just or when it does not outrage his [or her] conscience. Fantastic comparisons are made between those who do not act on the dictates of their conscience and those who accepted and obeyed Hitler’s laws. These comparisons completely disregard the systems of law involved, the presence of alternatives of action, the differences in the behavior commanded, in degrees of complicity of guilt, in the moral costs and personal consequences of compliance, and other relevant matters.

It is commendable to recognize the primacy of morality to law, but unless we recognize the centrality of intelligence to morality we stumble with blind self-righteousness into moral disaster. Because, Kant to the contrary notwithstanding, it is not wrong sometimes to lie to save a human life, because it is not wrong sometimes to kill in defense to save many more from being killed, it does not follow that the moral principles: “Do not lie!” “Do not kill!” are invalid. When more than one valid principle bears on a problem of moral experience, the very fact of their conflict means that not all of them can hold unqualifiedly. One of them must be denied. The point is that such negation or violation entails upon us the obligation of justifying it, and moral justification is a matter of reasons not of conscience. The burden of proof rests on the person violating the rules. Normally, we don’t have to justify telling the truth. We do have to justify not telling the truth. Similarly, with respect to the moral obligation of a democrat who breaches his political obligation to obey the laws of a democratic community. The resort to conscience is not enough. There must always be reasonable justification.

Indignation is not enough, no matter how righteous it may seem. Activists who break the law owe the rest of us more than outrage. When one hears the voice of conscience, Hook said, one “is hearing not the voice of God, but the voice of a finite, limited” mortal. This inner voice “is neither a special nor an infallible organ of apprehending moral truth.” Conscience must “cap the process of critical reflective morality,” lest it become prejudice masquerading as a divine revelation.

(NYC – Two lawyers made molotov cocktails and bombed a police car)

In a liberal democracy, grievance is not license. It does not entitle an activist to get their way, by hook or by crook. But many activists on the left in the late 1960s chafed at this civic restraint. They viewed American society as fundamentally oppressive. They claimed to be fighting for real democracy, which could not be achieved by remaining peaceful. Democracy for them was only real when it granted their demands. Hook said of their conceit:

The rules of the game exist to enable them to win and if they lose that’s sufficient proof that the game is rigged and dishonest. The sincerity with which the position is held is no evidence whatsoever of its coherence. [….] The right of petition gives one a chance to persuade, and the persuasion must rest on the power of words, on the effective appeal to emotion, sympathy, reason, and logic. Petitions are weapons of criticism, and their failure does not justify appeal to the criticism of weapons. Some groups that have resorted both to civil and uncivil disobedience justify themselves by claiming that the authorities did not listen to their demands on the ground that their demands were not granted. This begs all questions about the legitimacy and the cogency of the demands.

The absurdity of this position is much easier to see when it is taken by one’s opponents. For example, most liberals condemn activist violence on the right without equivocation. Few of us indulge the self-proclaimed “patriot” militias who threaten to use any means necessary to achieve their ends. We are not eager to make excuses for violent mobs of white supremacists who march to intimidate their enemies. We do not pretend that activists who bomb abortion clinics are compelled to act by some intolerable pressure. Their counterparts on the left are no better, and they should not be held to a different standard.

(BLM protesters set church near White House on fire)

A free society requires peace. It requires a way of living and arguing with political rivals without kicking them in the teeth. Those who would undermine this arrangement should not be mistaken for heroes. They are not liberals in a hurry. They are pop-up tyrants who improvise for lack of a state.

Activist Violence in Context

Green Bay WI: “Commander Red” Matthew Banta 23 Arrested Going to Protest With A Bat, A Flamethrower, Military Smoke Grenades, Commercial Grade Fireworks (WBAY) 29 Aug 2020

Matthew Banta, 23, is charged with obstructing an officer and two counts of felony bail jumping.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – A Neenah man had a bat, a flamethrower, smoke grenades and commercial grade fireworks during a demonstration in Green Bay Saturday night, according to police and prosecutors.

The criminal complaint says Banta “is known to be a violent Antifa member who incites violence in otherwise relatively peaceful protests.” Police say he’s known as “Commander Red.”

Green Bay police say they were called for “a whole bunch of white people with sticks, baseball bats and helmets headed… towards the police” on Walnut St. near Webster Ave.

“I don’t know who comes to a protest with a baseball bat for anything other than criminal or illegal activity,” said Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith.

A responding officer says he saw four individuals walking towards a protest with baseball bats. One man was wearing a metal helmet with goggles and military-style gear with multiple pouches, and was carrying an Antifa flag. When the officer pulled his squad car in front of the group, they ran away. The officer caught Banta, who was carrying the flag, and says Banta “dropped into the fetal position and began crying.” He accused the officer of lying on him; the officer replied nobody was on him.

Banta acknowledged he was headed to the Green Bay protest but denied he was planning to incite a riot.

A Brown County Court Commissioner set a $2,500 cash bond during his initial appearance on Monday.

Three others were caught trying to get into a house on Walnut Street. The person inside wouldn’t let them in and told officers they didn’t know who the people were. The three dropped what was in their hands. One told an officer they were bringing them to the protest for self-defense.

Banta is accused in Waupaca County of pointing a loaded gun at a police officer and biting and kicking an officer during a protest earlier this month. He’s charged there with second-degree recklessly endangering safety and four other charges (see related story). He posted a $10,000 cash bond. A condition of his bond was that he can’t have a dangerous weapon, according to the Brown County district attorney’s office.

“It’s worrisome when people associated with Antifa come here to Green Bay from out of town for the purpose of protesting here or for the purposes of committing violent acts,” said Chief Smith.

Police arrested 15 individuals total on Saturday after a Black Lives Matter protest took a turn and police deemed it unlawful.

“An unlawful assembly is three or more people who gather in such a manner where property damage, or personal injury is likely to occur. We determined this was happening on Washington Street. What was happening was a large group of people had blocked traffic on the street had engaged in throwing a bottle at somebody, were pulling up manhole covers off the street and were blocking traffic,” said Chief Smith.

Police have helped facilitate a number of peaceful protests over the summer.

Action 2 News asked members of Black Lives United-Green Bay (BLU), a community group with a mission to unite folks of color and allies, if they are discouraged when others use otherwise peaceful protests as a way to incite violence.

“BLU is not discouraged by the way folks are grieving…we are in this together. We don’t see rioting as taking away from our message because it actually reinforces the state of emergency that we are in. Folks out in the streets screaming #BlackLivesMatter and their names – we see you and the risk you are taking on behalf of all of us. We honor the lives of Black people taken from us by law enforcement. We say their names and continue to hold our government, elected officials, allies and adversaries accountable to these murders and attempted murders until there are policies passed that uplift Black folks and invest in our communities. We will eradicate white supremacy. We will build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by state and vigilantes. It is our duty,” reads a statement from the group.

Black Lives United canceled a weekend march in Green Bay due to the overwhelming amount of events that took place since a man was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha Police Officer on August 23. The group is taking this time “to rest and make plans to mobilize around the continued police brutality happening to our brothers and sisters.”

https://www.wbay.com/2020/08/31/neenah-man-arrested-at-green-bay-protest-has-ties-to-antifa/

Sun Newspaper Account

MATTHEW Banta, 23, was charged Monday after he allegedly had smoke grenades and a flamethrower at a protest in Wisconsin.

The man, who is a member of Antifa, and known as “Commander Red,” has since been charged with obstruction following the alleged incident in Green Bay.

Who is Matthew Banta?

Matthew Banta, 23, was arrested this weekend after he was allegedly found to have smoke grenades and a flamethrower at a Wisconsin protest.

According to a criminal complaint shared by the Green Bay Press Gazette, Banta is known by the name “Commander Red.”

Cops said Banta is “a violent Antifa member who incites violence in otherwise peaceful protests.”

He was previously charged at the beginning of August for defying an officer’s orders during a different protest, WLUK reported.

Banta was charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors in relation to the early August incident – including second-degree of recklessly endangering safety with use of a dangerous weapon, court records show.

What is Antifa?

Antifa is an umbrella term for groups that oppose far-right ideologies.

They are strongly opposed to neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Antifa groups have been present at demonstrations in recent years, including the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

The group does not have any known leaders.

What happened at the Wisconsin protest?

Around 9pm on Saturday, a group of white people carrying baseball bats, sticks, and helmets reportedly went toward cops that were trying to break up an “unlawful assembly” in Green Bay, the Press Gazette reported.

Banta and three others were heading toward a rally, carrying an Antifa flag and bats, a criminal complaint said, per the Press Gazette.

The group ran when cops arrived – but police caught up to them.

A responding officer said as they caught up to Banta, he “dropped into the fetal position and began crying,” WBAY reported.

Banta had “military grade 5 minute” smoke grenades,a flamethrower, and firework rockets in his bag, the complaint said.

He also allegedly was found with Antifa stickers.

“Matthew stated that he was going to the protest, but denied that he was trying to incite a riot,” the complaint said, as reported by WULK.

The complaint added: “Matthew also denied knowing that the protest was declared an unlawful assembly.”

What has he been charged with?

Banta was charged with resisting or obstructing an officer – a misdemeanor – along with two felony counts of bail jumping, according to court records.

Banta’s bond was set at $2,500, WULK reported.

An attorney listed for Banta did not immediately respond to The Sun for comment.

When will he appear in court next?

Banta had his preliminary hearing on Monday, where he was charged with obstruction related to the weekend incident.

He is set to appear in court next on Thursday, September 11 at 9:00am, related to his initial appearance according to Wisconsin records.

Banta will appear in Brown County Circuit Court for his next hearing.

Berlin, Germany: New Normal Gleichschaltungor – The Storming of the Reichstag Building – 29 Aug 2020

On March 21, 1933, the Nazi-controlled Reichstag passed a law making it a crime to speak out against the government. The “Regulations of the Reich President for Defense from Treacherous Attacks against the Government of the National Uprising” made even the slightest expression of dissent from Nazi ideology a criminal offense. This new law, among other totalitarian measures, was part of a process known as Gleichschaltung … the process of achieving rigid and total ideological coordination and uniformity in politics, culture, and private communication by forcibly repressing (or eliminating) independence and freedom of thought and expression.

GloboCap hasn’t done anything that heavy-handed in the course of rolling out the New Normal totalitarianism, but that’s mainly because they do not have to. When you control the vast majority of the global corporate media, you don’t need to pass a lot of ham-fisted laws banning all dissent from your totalitarian ideology. This isn’t the 1930s, after all. Over the last ninety years, the arts of propaganda, disinformation, and perception management have advanced to a point that even Goebbels couldn’t have imagined.

The skill with which GloboCap and the corporate media delegitimized the anti-New Normal demonstrations in Berlin, London, and other cities last weekend is a perfect example of the state of those arts. I’ll focus on Berlin, as that’s where I live, and the so-called “Storming of the Reichstag” incident, but it works pretty much the same way everywhere. I believe there was a curious incident involving a person with a fascist flag in London, and that the UK media have now officially chosen David Icke to be the movement’s figurehead.

In Berlin, in the days leading up to the protests, government officials and corporate media propagandists did what officials and propagandists do … they relentlessly repeated their official narrative, namely, that anyone protesting the New Normal (or doubting the official Coronavirus narrative) is a “violent neo-Nazi extremist,” or “conspiracy theorist,” or some other form of existential “threat to democracy.”

This official narrative was originally disseminated following the August 1 protest in Berlin, the scale of which took the authorities by surprise. Tens or hundreds of thousands of people (depending on whose narrative you believe) gathered in the city to protest the New Normal and its increasingly absurd “emergency measures.” The German media, CNN, The New York Times, and other “respectable news outlets” uniformly condemned them as “neo-Nazis,” or insinuated that they were “neo-Nazi-sympathizers.”

Despite the finding of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution that only “individual members of far-right-groups” had taken part in the August 1 protest, and that “far-right extremists had no formative influence on the demos,” both the German and international corporate media pumped out story after story about the ultra-violent neo-Nazi hordes that were about to descend on Berlin, again!

Der Tagespiegel, a major German newspaper, reported that the demo was being “infiltrated by Nazis.” Die Tagesschau, the German BBC, shrieked that “neo-Nazis are mobilizing!” RBB, another public broadcaster, reported that the “traveling circus of Corona-deniers” was heading straight for the city! (N.B. Any reference to any kind of “deniers” in Germany evokes Holocaust deniers, i.e., Nazis). Ver.di, the German journalists union, warned their members that they were expecting reporters to suffer “double-digit physical attacks.” And these are just a few of countless examples.

The American and UK corporate media also did their Gleichschaltung duty, disseminating the official “Nazis are Coming!” narrative. (I don’t need to do the citations, do I?) And, of course, Antifa joined in the chorus.

On Wednesday, three days before the demo, having successfully whipped the New Normal masses up into a state of wide-eyed panic over the imminent neo-Nazi invasion, the Berlin government banned the protests. The New Normal masses celebrated. A few concerns about … you know, democracy, were perfunctorily voiced, but they were quickly silenced when Interior Senator Andreas Geisel explained that abrogating the people’s constitutional right to freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech, and to petition their government, was not in any way a totalitarian act, but was purely a matter of “protecting the public health.”

For good measure, Geisel also added:

“I’m not willing to accept a second time that Berlin is being abused as a stage for Corona deniers, Reichsbürger, and right-wing extremists.”

Then, in a particularly Orwellian twist, although the protest itself had now been banned, the Berlin government decided to approve a “counter-protest” against the banned protest. I’m not quite sure how that was supposed to work.

The night before the demo, an administrative court overturned the protest ban. It didn’t really matter, as the authorities knew they couldn’t stop the demo in any event. Banning the protest was just part of the show (and the Gleichschaltung process the show was part of), meant to emphasize the existential threat posed by the bloodthirsty Nazi legion that was on its way to sack the city.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of protesters (the overwhelming majority of whom were not neo-Nazis, or Nazi-sympathizers, or any other kind of monsters) poured into the streets of central Berlin. The police surrounded them, trapping them on the avenues, closed off the side streets so they couldn’t get out, and, once again, tried to ban the protest on the grounds that they weren’t “social distancing.” Everyone sat down in the street. Cops stalked around in their masks and body armor, sweating heavily, and occasionally pushing people. Lawyers made phone calls. It was very hot. This went on for quite a while.

Eventually, the court instructed the police to let the demonstration go ahead. And the rest is history … except that it isn’t. According to the official narrative, there were no hundreds of thousands of protesters. There were “tens of thousands,” and they were all “neo-Nazis,” and “Nazi-sympathizers,” and “Coronavirus deniers,” and “stark-raving mad conspiracy theorists.” (Full disclosure: I was there with them, and, yes, indeed, there were some neo-Nazis among the hundreds of thousands in the streets, but, just like at the August 1 protest, these far-right boneheads were a small minority and not at all welcomed by the majority of the participants, no more than the Trotskyists and anti-Semites were welcomed at the 2003 anti-war protests before the US invasion of Iraq, although, yes, they were definitely there.)

In any event, hundreds of thousands of protesters made their way down Unter den Linden, through the iconic Brandenburg Gate, and onward to the main demonstration, filling the Straße des 17. Juni from the Brandenburg Gate to the Siegessäule. By now, I assume you’ve seen the pictures. Or maybe you haven’t. It’s actually fairly hard to find any photos in the media that give you any real perspective.

And, finally, we have come to the main event … which, of course, was not this enormous gathering of totally non-violent, non-Nazi people peacefully protesting the New Normal totalitarianism, nor the speech of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. No, the “story,” the official main event, was the “Storming of the Reichstag building by Nazis.”

I’ll let Mathias Bröckers handle this part. Here’s an excerpt from his recent blog post:

Storming of Reichstag Averted – Democracy Saved!

How do you manage to delegitimize a peaceful mass protest against the corona measures in such a way that the media report not about a protest by hundreds of thousands, but about the “storming” of the Reichstag?

Quite simply: you approve an application by a group of Reichsbürger to assemble directly in front of the Reichstag (N.B. the official applicant for this assembly was Ex-NPD-member Rüdiger Hoffmann) and station only three policemen in front of the west entrance despite the large police presence everywhere in the area. Then you let a crazy Q-Anon-chick scream into the microphone that “Donald Trump has declared freedom,” that “the police have laid down their weapons,” and that “everyone should now occupy the steps of the Reichstag,” and, presto, you have the images you need to dominate the coverage … a mob of a few dozen people with Reichsbürger flags “storming the Reichstag.”

Never mind the fact that the massive demonstration at the Siegesäule (i.e., Victory Column) organized by Querdenken 711 had absolutely nothing to do with this incident, which was carried out by a right-wing-extremist splinter group. The demonstration had already been delegitimized as a protest staged by Reichsbürger extremists and tin-foil-hat lunatics in the days leading up to it, and now the visual confirmation was provided.

In a video of the lead-up to the “Reichstag storming” incident, Tamara K., a natural health practitioner, and pretty obviously a far-right wacko, is the “crazy Q-Anon-chick” in question. You can clearly hear her advising the crowd that “there are no more police here,” which the video confirms. Or rather, the few police that were there had left the building completely unguarded and pulled back to well behind this assembly of obviously far-right-extremist-type clowns (who, remember, had been granted official permission to stage their assembly at the steps of the Reichstag). This, despite the days and weeks of warnings of a “neo-Nazi invasion” from government officials and the corporate media.

Go ahead, call me a “conspiracy theorist.”

Anyway, once the Reichstag steps were thoroughly occupied by far-right loonies and the Reichsflagge were in the right positions (approximately four minutes into the video), the police finally arrived to mount their defense. It was touch-and-go there for a while, but at the end of the day, democracy triumphed. Naturally, there were plenty of journalists on hand to capture this historic drama and broadcast it all around the world.

And there you have it, the official narrative, which Saskia Esken, SPD co-leader, succinctly squeezed into a tweet:

“Tens of thousands of far-right radicals, Reichsbürger, QAnon followers, Holocaust deniers, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, and esoterics, who declare the media, science, and politicians ‘guilty’ and openly call for the storming of the Reichstag and a coup d’état. That is the 29 August Berlin demonstration.

Oh, and yesterday, as I was writing this column, I saw that the Berlin Senate had passed a new regulation requiring the participants of any future protests to all wear masks … so I take back what I wrote in the beginning. It looks like GloboCap, or at least its German branch, has some ham-fisted totalitarianism left in it.

I’ll keep you posted on the Gleichschaltung process, and the advance of the New Normal totalitarianism, generally. In the meantime, remember, this is just about a virus! And the Nazis really are coming this time! And looting is a powerful tool to bring about real, lasting change in society … oh, yeah, and the chocolate ration has been increased!#

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing and Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. His dystopian novel, Zone 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. Volume I of his Consent Factory Essays is published by Consent Factory Publishing, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amalgamated Content, Inc. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org.

Pro-Government Militias and Conflict – by Sabine C. Carey and Neil J. Mitchell (Oxford Research Encyclopedia)

Summary and Keywords

Pro-government militias are a prominent feature of civil wars. Governments in Colombia, Syria, and Sudan recruit irregular forces in their armed struggle against insurgents. The United States collaborated with Awakening groups to counter the insurgency in Iraq, just as colonizers used local armed groups to fight rebellions in their colonies. An emerging cross-disciplinary literature on pro-government non-state armed groups generates a variety of research questions for scholars interested in conflict, political violence, and political stability: Does the presence of such groups indicate a new type of conflict? What are the dynamics that drive governments to align with informal armed groups and that make armed groups choose to side with the government? Given the risks entailed in surrendering a monopoly of violence, is there a turning point in a conflict when governments enlist these groups? How successful are these groups? Why do governments use these non-state armed actors to shape foreign conflicts whether as insurgents or counterinsurgents abroad? Are these non-state armed actors always useful to governments or perhaps even an indicator for state failure?

We examine the demand for and supply of pro-government armed groups and the legacies that shape their role in civil wars. The enduring pattern of collaboration between governments and these armed non-state actors challenges conventional theory and the idea of an evolutionary process of the modern state consolidating the means of violence. Research on these groups and their consequences began with case studies, and these continue to yield valuable insights. More recently, survey work and cross-national quantitative research contribute to our knowledge. This mix of methods is opening new lines of inquiry for research on insurgencies and the delivery of the core public good of effective security.

Keywords: pro-government militias, civil war, vigilantes, counterinsurgency, non-state actors, violence, conflict, irregular forces, paramilitaries, empirical international relations theory

Introduction

Pro-government militias (PGMs) are a prominent feature of civil wars. In Iraq the United States sponsored the Sunni Awakening groups to fight against insurgents. Afghanistan formed militias to battle the Taliban. Over the course of the Syrian civil war, the number of militias fighting for Bashar al-Assad has increased and includes Shia militias supported by Iran and Hizbullah from Lebanon. While religious cleavages shape the supply of irregular armed groups in the Middle East, these groups can be found in counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns across the globe. In eastern Ukraine, pro-Ukraine militias fight against pro-Russia armed separatists, in northern Nigeria the Civilian Joint Task Force battled Boko Haram, and in Colombia rural defense groups assist the government against FARC. While gaining increasing attention in the media, using irregular forces against insurgents has a long history and was a common element of colonial security sectors (e.g., Anderson, 2005; Janowitz, 1977; Thompson, 1966). The British used Assyrian militias in Iraq to assert authority under the auspices of the League of Nations mandate for the territory (Ahram, 2011, p. 62). They used auxiliaries in Ireland, many of whom went on to serve in the Palestine in the 1920s, and they created Home Guards in Malaya and Kenya to defeat insurgencies in the 1950s (Anderson, 2005; Branch, 2009). In fact, many elements of COIN strategies “call for the use of local militias to extend armed presence or allow locals to have a stake in their own security” (Paul, Clarke, & Grill, 2010, p. 62).

Responding to rebel threats with this sort of public–private collaboration occurs across conflict types, rebel actors, and regime types. Assuming a unitary or “Weberian” state actor masks the creativity of governments in combatting insurgents. Across various research fields scholars are increasingly attentive to the activities of armed groups recruited or induced to side with the state (e.g., Blocq, 2014; Jentzsch, Kalyvas, & Schubiger, 2015; Kowalewski, 1992; Lyall, 2010; Stanton, 2015). Attention to these organizations mirrors the wider academic interest in non-state actors and in “not-entirely state” and “not entirely private” (Ostrom, 1990) solutions to policy problems. It is an analytically rich seam of questions and controversies.

We review research on the role of irregular pro-government armed groups in civil wars. After defining pro-government militias, we examine why governments use militias in counterinsurgency campaigns, despite the risks of outsourcing violence. To understand the use of these groups, both the demand and supply side require attention. Using descriptive statistics, we overlay PGM presence on various categories of civil war, building upon the literature on classifying civil wars. We focus the discussion on the effectiveness of militias in COIN campaigns and levels of violence against civilians. We conclude with some challenges for future research.

Pro-Government Militias in the Context of Armed Conflict

Some scholars enlarge the scope of militias to include non-state actors without specific links to government. In a special issue on militias, Jentzsch et al. (2015) use the term militia for an armed non-state actor that is “anti-rebel.” Militias sometimes also include rebel groups (e.g., Bates, 2008; Raleigh, 2016). Instead of focusing on the link to the government, other classifications claim that the link to political actors is analytically more useful than a link to government, as groups may fight for the opposition as well (Schuberth, 2015, p. 306). With changes of government, groups linked to political parties, for example, may no longer be pro-government. But the puzzle remains of why governments, with regular forces available, continue to rely on non-state armed groups. The relationship between the government and militias is diverse and very dynamic, ranging from incorporation to suppression (Staniland, 2015). This review of pro-government militias fits best Staniland’s typological category of “collusion.” We limit our review to armed groups that contribute to counterinsurgency campaigns and that have a link to the government beyond sharing an enemy. We exclude private armed groups of landlords or criminal gangs, unless there is a link to either subnational or national government under civil war conditions.

We define militias as armed groups linked to the government and separate from the regular forces but limit our focus to those operating within the context of counterinsurgency campaigns and civil wars (Carey, Mitchell, & Lowe, 2013, p. 250). The term “paramilitary” may include these groups, but is also often inclusive of regular professional units such as police forces and border guards (Dowdle, 2007). Similar to Jentzsch et al. (2015), we exclude private security firms due to their status as commercial contractors. To further distinguish private security firms from militias, these researchers add territorial conditions, noting that in contrast to military contractors, militias tend to operate at home rather than abroad. We relax the territorial condition and consider militias operating both within and across borders in the context of conflict. But the incentives for governments to contract with these firms (Avant, 2005) may be similar to those that motivate alignment with militias. Our definition also includes surrogate forces, which Hughes and Tripodi (2009) divide into home guards, militias, counter-gangs, and pseudo-gangs. According to their classification, pseudo-gangs are government-sponsored supposedly independent groups that target rebels or terrorists, while counter-gangs (a term for co-ethnic armed groups used in defeating Mau Mau in Kenya) are lightly armed, mobile gangs, often consisting of former rebels, fighting insurgencies. Militias are identified as larger, mobile forces aligned with the government, while they define home guards in terms of the “static defence of villages” (Hughes & Tripodi, 2009, p. 9). Similarly, Clayton and Thomson (2014) and Peic (2014) identify civil defense forces as armed groups that recruit civilians or former rebels, operate locally, and are defensive rather than offensive. This work highlights the significance of ties to the civilian population and whether these militias are local or community organizations (e.g., Daly, 2016; Jentzsch, 2014).

Why do governments create or align with irregular forces when fighting a rebel group? Why do governments not merely strengthen regular forces, which are likely to be better equipped, better trained, and more disciplined? Hughes and Tripodi (2009) point out the disadvantages of militias. They undermine the government’s authority and may not be fully under the government’s control. They are often characterized by internal strife and may lack discipline, accountability, and reliability. Their agendas or ideological preferences may differ from the government (Hughes & Tripodi, 2009). Yet despite these disadvantages, between 1981 and 2007 over 80% of country-years with armed conflict generating at least 25 battle-related deaths included pro-government militias (Carey et al., 2013, p. 255). They are not a phenomenon confined to the post–Cold War era or restricted to certain continents. In the following we review arguments offered to explain the use of pro-government militias in civil wars.

Why Use Militias to Fight Insurgents?

The persistence of irregular forces in counterinsurgency campaigns contradicts expectations of a “developmental” drive to monopolize violence. Without monopoly insecurity develops, which leads to weak and eventually failed states. Bates (2008) simply equates militias with failed states. Klare (2004) argues that paramilitaries accelerate the process of state failure, while Reno (1999) and Hills (2007) suggest that weak political institutions enable militias to form. These arguments see militias less as a deliberate government strategy and more as the outcome of a process over which governments have little influence. Yet the prevalence of pro-government militias in civil war contexts, and the range of regimes using them, suggests they are not only the result of governments being too weak to reign them in. But allowing groups outside the formal security apparatus to carry weapons poses a significant security risk and even the prospect of treason. So why take this risk? The literature suggests several reasons for why governments might purposefully collaborate with or even create these non-state armed forces to assist with COIN operations.

Government’s Demand for Irregular Armed Groups

Governments collaborate with private agencies across a wide range of areas to achieve specific policy goals. Examining policy areas such as education or the provision of parks, Donahue and Zeckhauser (2011, p. 122) argue that governments pursue public–private collaborations for three reasons. Collaboration may provide cheap force multipliers and specialized information, and it may help to maintain legitimacy. Outsourcing also allows for rapid adaptation to changing circumstances. While Donahue and Zeckhauser (2011, p. 20) exclude security tasks from their analysis given the risks entailed in delegating in this area, case evidence on civil war, rebel fragmentation, and on civil defense forces (Bakke, Cunningham, & Seymour, 2012; Clayton & Thomson 2014; Kalyvas, 2008; Peic, 2014; Staniland, 2012) suggests similar benefits from a government’s decision to collaborate with non-state armed actors. We outline four advantages that irregular forces bring for governments during civil war, which are crucial to COIN operations (e.g., Paul, Clarke, & Grill, 2010; Thompson, 1966): cheap force multiplier, local knowledge, legitimacy, and deniability. Outside of civil war contexts they might provide protection from crime or offer a “coup-proofing” counterweight to the regular military (Carey et al., forthcoming).

Carey, Colaresi, and Mitchell (2015) use the reasoning behind public–private collaboration to explain and predict the presence of paramilitary forces. The need for extra forces, local knowledge, and operational flexibility are particularly pressing when faced with an armed insurgency. Regular forces are often overstretched. Using irregular forces boosts capacity swiftly and at low cost. Collaborating with local defense forces, as the Peruvian government did with the Rondas Campesinas to combat the Sendero Luminoso, strengthens the forces fighting the insurgency and provides locals a means of signaling their loyalties (Schubiger, 2013). They receive little training, are usually only lightly armed and cheap to deploy, with the language skills to collect useful information (Peic, 2014, p. 165). Their flexibility and the “incomplete control” (Donahue & Zeckhauser, 2011, p. 32) exercised by government is an additional operational advantage of irregular forces. Militias may make their own decisions on the ground without directions or confirmations from the center.

Knowledge about local grievances, social dynamics, cultures, and histories, as well as information on the location and identity of rebels, are crucial to success in COIN operations (e.g., Kilcullen, 2006, pp. 123–124). Militias offer better local knowledge than regular forces (e.g., Hughes & Tripodi, 2009; Lyall & Wilson, 2009). Locally recruited militias made up of co-ethnics or former rebels (Kalyvas, 2008)—for example, in Kenya or Algeria in the 1950s, or in Iraq in the 2000s—produce intelligence that regular forces are much less able to provide. Clayton and Thomson (2014) argue that civil defense forces have particular value in identifying insurgents. This information is essential for effective operations, yet difficult to obtain for regular forces unfamiliar with the local context. Peic (2014) argues that information is the primary incentive for governments to use of local forces in COIN campaigns. Examining the Awakening groups in Iraq, Biddle, Friedman, and Shapiro (2012) emphasize the knowledge contributions of these groups, and in particular the importance of recruiting former insurgents. Eck (2015) finds further support for the information value of militias, showing that in Myanmar the government was more likely to use militias after military purges had interrupted the intelligence-gathering structures of the military. In asymmetric guerrilla warfare, before the superior resources of the state can be used on the insurgents, they have to find the insurgents. Rebel survival and success depends on avoiding discovery. Irregular forces promise substantial efficiency gains in finding the insurgents.

The central role of this discovery process is illustrated in Nigeria. Failing to manage the threat presented by Boko Haram and subjected to harsh international exposure following the mass kidnapping of schoolgirls, the Nigerian security forces encouraged the formation of vigilante groups. The Civilian Joint Task Force was lightly armed with bows and arrows but supported by the military, who wanted to offload the casualty burden and to access their local knowledge (some of the “civilians” being former rebels)—the state government supplied these irregulars with training, payment, and uniforms (Smith, 2015).

While former rebels organized in militias are not members of the regular forces, neither are they civilians in an ordinary sense. They are likely to have military training and experience, and they also are likely to have a qualitatively distinct level of information, which makes them highly valuable for a government’s counterinsurgency campaign. Kalyvas (2008) provides detailed treatment of pro-government groups formed from “ethnic defection,” where governments value the contribution of those willing to switch loyalty in ethnicity-based insurgencies. States set up “collaborationist structures” that may be populated by civilians—for example, the Turkish government–created “loyal” Kurdish village militias or the German occupier–created militias labeled Security Battalions in Greece in 1944. Kalyvas (2008) notes that these Security Battalions recruited local members as late as 1944, despite Germany’s military reversals. Clayton and Thomson (2014) also include former rebels among their civil defense forces.

Including former rebels in pro-government militias can bolster the legitimacy of the government’s campaign against the insurgents. Militias allow governments to demonstrate local or ethnic support for their cause (Anderson, 2005; Hughes & Tripodi, 2009; Lyall, 2010). The early COIN literature emphasizes the importance of having the support of the local population in order to win counterinsurgency campaigns (e.g., Thompson, 1966). Particularly in foreign power COIN operations, using indigenous forces plays an important role in winning the “hearts and minds” of the population (Enterline, Stull, & Magagnoli, 2013, p. 188). It is easier to undermine the rebels’ cause if the people fighting on behalf of the government are recruited from the population that is supposed to form the basis of the rebel organization.

Finally, governments might turn to irregular armed forces to avoid accountability for violence and establish plausible deniability (Campbell & Brenner, 2002; Carey, Colaresi, & Mitchell, 2015; Mitchell, Carey, & Butler, 2014; Thomson, 1994). International pressure to conform to human rights standards, the threat of international legal action, cuts in economic or military assistance, or simply fear of opprobrium may create an incentive for governments to delegate violence to militias. Using case studies from Africa, Kirschke (2000) and Roessler (2005) link the need for foreign aid to the incentive to outsource the use of violence. Delegating violence to irregular forces provides the government with plausible deniability. Carey et al. (2015) show with a global analysis that governments that might benefit from deniability are most likely to have links to irregular armed groups. Mitchell et al. (2014) find that pro-government militias are linked to more severe forms of repression, suggesting that governments either can’t or won’t control their violence. While COIN strategies are generally characterized by use of violence, governments often use irregular forces for the most egregious forms such as genocide (Ahram, 2014; Alvarez, 2006), not only to avoid accountability but also because members of the military may refuse such orders. In 1982 in Lebanon, Israel used the Lebanese Christian Phalange militia in Beirut. Some regular soldiers in the Israeli Defense Force had warned of the likelihood of civilian casualties if they went into Beirut (see Mitchell, 2004; Schiff & Ya’ari, 1984, pp. 215–216). Biberman (2016) claims that governments might forgo deniability and instead publicly collaborate with irregular armed forces if the war effort is generally supported by the population.

While the lack of complete control over irregular forces is an important asset for a government trying to root out an insurgency, delegation also offers an advantage when trying to influence the power balance abroad. Supporting rebel proxies reduces the cost incurred by engaging in conflict directly (Salehyan, 2010). Avant (2005) identifies similar incentives in her analysis of private military contractors. Contracted from abroad, they may encourage more “adventurous” foreign policies, and for democracies they may permit operations that might otherwise lack public support (Avant, 2005, p. 259). She argues that strong states should be in a better position to control contractors to avoid the negative externalities of outsourcing the use of violence. Applying a two-level game, Bapat (2012) suggests that leaders systematically take advantage of the limited control they have over irregular forces when trying to influence an armed conflict abroad. Sponsoring militias in a foreign conflict amounts to costly signaling and “increases the probability of both bargaining failure and of a negotiated settlement favorable to the sponsor” (Bapat, 2012, p. 1). These calculations might also be behind Russia’s involvement in Ukraine in 2015. Although it is generally recognized that Russia actively supports pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine, Putin insists that these groups act independently of the Russian government, and it is not clear that Russia can be held accountable.1 The same strategy was used with respect to the “Little Green Men” that occupied the Crimea in 2014. Using irregular forces has allowed Russia to influence politics in neighboring regions while denying any responsibility and potentially strengthening its bargaining position, since any deal will have to be acceptable to the pro-Russian militias. Not without regular forces, Russia aligned with militias in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, in Georgia, and in Ukraine. It is not the only country working with irregular forces to shape the power balance in other countries. The United States and the United Kingdom relied on militias in Iraq and Afghanistan (Ledwidge, 2011). Prior to 2003, Saddam Hussein used militias both for counterinsurgency and during the conflict with Iran.

The Supply Side

Despite the range of benefits PGMs provide to governments, the logic of collective action (Olson, 1965) tells us that the supply of groups cannot be taken for granted. Such organizations may form independently, or they may be formed by the state. Individual differences in beliefs, interests, and circumstances and, where violence is involved, a propensity to let others take the risks of exposing themselves to danger makes spontaneous solutions to the “massive coordination dilemma” unlikely. Some suggest solutions will only develop with elite participation (Weingast, 1997, p. 246). But there are examples of decentralized solutions where groups form to address some common security threat, perhaps instigated by local elites and on the basis of some established social, economic, religious, or political cleavage, and which then may have some incentive to collaborate with the government (e.g., Wood, 2008).

In Mozambique, Jentzsch (2014) argues that the strategic context and stalemate between rebels and government forces led to the formation of community-initiated militias. In Peru in the 1970s, peasant communities formed self-defense groups initially to protect themselves against cattle thieves. In the 1990s these rondas campesinas were organized against the Maoist insurgency and received support from the government, mostly in the form of weapons. In 1991 President Fujimori gave these groups a legal status as self-defense committees (Fumerton, 2001; Schubiger, 2013). In South Sudan, at the instigation of tribal leaders, and after civilian authorities and the police reportedly refused help, tribal militias formed to protect themselves from, and wreak vengeance upon, neighboring tribes (Blocq, 2014). They formed independently, but then collaborated informally with army commanders and received material support, including tanks (Blocq, 2014, p. 717).

Some groups turn to governments to supplement their resources. In Iraq, the pro-government Awakening militias were born out of a struggle between rival militias. Alliance with the government and U.S. forces gave access to arms. Former rebels in Sri Lanka or Kashmir reorganized on the government side and contributed to the counterinsurgency campaigns. Staniland (2014, p. 174) argues that the Karuna Group that split from the Tamil Tigers was a development that the government made the most of rather than created.

If no groups exist to ally with, governments provide the necessary material and ideological incentives, or the coercive pressure, to create these groups. While the government has coercive and material resources to solve the coordination dilemma, there may be a political benefit in presenting the militia as a spontaneous grassroots initiative. It serves as an indication of popular support for the regime rather than the insurgents. India provides an example of this dynamic and the importance of the narrative behind delegation and alliances with irregular groups.

Responding to the Maoist insurgency in India in 2005, the government encouraged the formation of a village militia, the Salwa Judum. The Salwa Judum was “touted by the government as a spontaneous people’s movement” (Sundar, 2006, p. 3187). The government fostered the belief that it was a popular response to the Maoist threat, but used a mix of coercion and inducement to create the militia. After all, recruits “feel immensely vulnerable to retaliatory action by the Maoists” (Sundar, 2006, p. 3187). Members of Salwa Judum were given the status of Special Police Officer. Some members “signed up for the money on offer, and the shiny new bicycles and motorbikes still wrapped in plastic at the Dornapal police station” (Economist, August 16, 2006). With this organization, villagers were being “pitted against each other on a scale unparalleled in the history of Indian counter-insurgency” (Economist, 2006). But the Indian government has repeatedly “pitted” villagers against each other when faced with insurgent threats. In 1950 in Hyderabad, the government created Home Guards or Village Defense Squads. These organizations were led by local Congress Party politicians or landlords, “forcibly recruited by the police,” and allowed to operate with impunity and incentivized to kill insurgents (Kennedy & Purushotham, 2012, p. 843). Impunity also characterized the operation of the Salwa Judum. Impunity is an incentive for violent collective and individual action that only the government can offer. For the militia and its members, the grant of sovereign authority lowers the expected costs of its private violence. Researchers investigating the life cycles of these groups face the challenge of evaluating the government’s description of these groups as spontaneous or grassroots. Weingast’s (1997) intuition that elites, local or central, solve the coordination dilemma requires investigation.

Moving from the government and group incentives to the individual level, we know little about what motivates anyone to join a PGM. Material incentives reportedly played a role with the Salwa Judum, and Hughes and Tripodi (2009) argue that individuals join if they expect to receive financial incentives or bribes, to carry out (preemptive) revenge, or because they have been threatened. Using survey data from the Colombian civil war, Arjona and Kalyvas (2011) compare individual and group-level reasons for joining a rebel or paramilitary group. They find that compared to former FARC members, former members of the paramilitary forces seem to be more materially motivated. They also show that whoever controls a locality is likely to recruit members to its organization. Gutiérrez-Sanín (2008) contrasts the mobilization and recruitment of rebels and militia organizations in Colombia. Research on Algerians who sided with the French and Greeks who collaborated with the Germans suggests the motivations for ethnic defection include revenge, pressure, and coercion, in addition to material resources (Evans, 2011; Kalyvas, 2008). In Chechnya, some pro-government groups recruited individuals involved in blood feuds and who had nowhere else to turn and could not return to their own communities (Šmíd & Mareš, 2015).

Types of Civil Wars and PGMs

If general incentives drive demand for these groups, and if the government subsidizes the creation of them, then militias will not be restricted to states at a particular point on the path to development or to a particular region of the world. We note that some theoretical arguments point to the importance of specific historical trajectories (Ahram, 2011), but if we accept that militias can appear anywhere, we need to explain why PGMs might be more likely to be used in some types of conflicts compared to others, since they are not present in all conflicts and not at all times.

The UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset (Gleditsch, Strand, Eriksson, Sollenberg, & Wallensteen, 2002; Themnér & Wallensteen, 2014) distinguishes between two types of civil wars depending on the driving factor behind the conflict. Governmental conflicts are about the government, e.g., the political system or the replacement of the central government; territorial conflicts are about the insurgents’ demands for territory. Figure 1 shows the percentages of governmental conflicts per year that had at least one PGM, using information from the Pro-Government Militias Database (PGMD) (Mitchell & Carey, 2013). The graph differentiates between informal PGMs, which have only a loose link to the government, and semi-official PGMs, which are officially recognized and often formally included within the structure of the security forces, while being separate from regular military or police (Carey et al., 2013).

Pro-Government Militias and Conflict

Figure 1. Pro-government militias in governmental conflicts.

While the proportion of governmental conflicts with informal PGMs increased from a low of 20% in 1983 to 75% in 2003, the proportion of such conflicts with the semi-official PGMs declined. In 2006 half of all governmental conflicts had both informal and semi-official PGMs. The increase in the proportion of conflicts with informal PGMs might reflect an artifact of the data and increasing media coverage of such forces over time. Alternatively, it might reflect the increasing benefit of denying responsibility for violence since the end of the Cold War, which makes outsourcing to informal PGMs particularly attractive. With the rise of human rights on the international agenda, for example, the EU’s Copenhagen Criteria of 1993 and political conditionality for foreign aid, governments have an increasing incentive to distance themselves from repression.

Figure 2 plots the proportion of territorial conflicts with PGMs between 1981 and 2007. Again, the percentage of conflicts with informal PGMs sharply increases in the mid-1990s. But throughout the period more conflicts feature semi-official PGMs compared to informal militias, suggesting that governments are less willing to rely on irregular forces that pose the most severe delegation and control problems. Additionally, semi-official PGMs allow the government to publicly demonstrate a local or ethnic component to counterinsurgency that can be useful in tackling the secessionist struggle.

Pro-Government Militias and Conflict

Figure 2. Pro-government militias in territorial conflicts.

For an alternative classification, Kalyvas (2005) uses the type of warfare between government and rebels. Conventional civil wars are conflicts with resource parity between the two actors at a high level of resources. Symmetrical non-conventional (SNC) civil wars also have parity between the actors but at a low level of resources. Finally, irregular civil wars have high incumbent resources but low rebel resources. Figures 3 and 4 combine data on these different types of civil wars based on Balcells and Kalyvas (2014) with the PGMD.

Pro-Government Militias and Conflict

Figure 3. Different types of warfare and prevalence of PGMs

For each type of civil war—conventional, irregular, and symmetrical non-conventional —Figure 3 plots the percentage of the respective conflict type with PGMs. The unit of analysis is the conflict. The dark blue columns are the percentage of civil wars that had at least one PGM in the first year of that type of conflict, while the light blue columns represent the percentages with at least one PGM in the final year of the conflict. The data range from 1981 to 2007. Conflicts ongoing in 2007 were excluded. The figure differentiates between informal and semi-official PGMs, although the patterns are very similar. A larger percentage of conventional civil wars have PGMs at the beginning rather than the end of the conflict. This trend is slightly more pronounced for informal PGMs, and raises the question of how PGMS merge, die, or “fade away,” which has received little attention in the research literature (but see Staniland, 2015, for a discussion of the strategic choices of incorporation and suppression). Informal PGMs are most likely found when an irregular civil war comes to an end. Governments that did not have links to irregular forces at the onset of the irregular conflict did so when the conflict ended. This appears consistent with the finding that militias are usually not present at the beginning of the conflict but on average appear four years into the conflict (Peic, 2014, p. 175).

In irregular and particular SNC conflicts, the proportion of conflicts with informal PGMs is higher at the end than at the start of the conflict. The sharp increase in informal PGMs across SNC civil wars when these types of conflict end could reflect the multiplication of irregular forces in weak states. During conflicts in weak states, armed groups might “bandwagon” to benefit from being aligned with the government, for example, with weapons, payment, or immunity. If the conflict is ethnic, then Kalyvas suggests that ethnic defection increases as conflicts reach the “latter stages” (2008, p. 1051).

Pro-Government Militias and Conflict

Figure 4. Different types of warfare and number of PGMs

Figure 4 plots the number of PGMs found in the different types of civil war, at conflict start and conflict end. While the share of irregular conflicts with PGMs increases over the conflict cycle, the actual number of PGMs drops. What explains these patterns? Do governments actively merge or reduce the number of PGMs when fighting a guerrilla war, or do governments only get involved in or dragged into irregular warfare if they have distributed their authority to use violence across a large number of irregular forces? Future research has important questions to tackle on the life cycle of PGMs and the dynamics of civil war.

How Effective Are Militias, and What Price Do Civilians Pay?

While many conflicts feature pro-government militias, do they provide an advantage to governments and prevent an outright loss to the rebels, or can they turn a conflict into a government victory? What price do civilians have to pay when PGMs are involved? The literature provides a mixed picture of PGM violence against civilians. Analyzing the conflict in Chechnya, Lyall (2010) shows the tactical effectiveness of using co-ethnic, locally informed militias in comparison to regular Russian troops. He uses Geographic Information System mapping (GIS) and news sources to collect data on the location and number of militia and on regular force operations and insurgent attacks in the Chechen conflict and a matching technique for the regression analyses. His findings suggest that these groups contributed to regime security. It is less clear how to assess the comparative harm done to the local population by the different types of forces. While Lyall finds Russian forces killed and disappeared more individuals, the militias kidnapped greater numbers (2010, p. 14). He quotes a local non-governmental organization (NGO) representative: “The kadyrovtsy are much more dangerous for local residents in terms of persecuting entire families or kidnapping individual relatives … The federal [Russian] troops simply don’t have such complete information about the local residents” (Lyall, 2010, p. 15). Šmíd and Mareš’s (2015, p. 15) qualitative case study of the Chechen conflict also finds that Putin’s policy of “Chechenizing” the conflict was successful. Russia enlisted Chechen clans as paramilitary forces, but according to their account at the price of violent excesses.

Using micro-level data from the Philippines between 2001 and 2004, Felter (2007) compares the military effectiveness of elite forces, regular forces, and civil defense forces. He evaluates effectiveness along four dimensions: striking targets effectively with minimum collateral damage, central monitoring with decentralized execution, access to local information, and signaling credibility in victory. He shows that the civilian defense forces, the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units, perform worse than the other types of forces across all categories. Local knowledge appears to lead to feuds and vendettas and makes them targets for rebel violence. As a result, they suffer much higher casualties than regular or elite forces, even controlling for their smaller size and possible differences in deployment strategies.

Additionally, Felter (2007) shows that the proportion of firearms that were lost is much higher among the indigenous forces compared to regular and elite forces. This finding highlights the risks of yielding a monopoly of violence. Felter explains these failures with poor leadership and supervision. When elite forces lead the indigenous forces, they become far more effective than either the elite forces or the regular forces (Felter, 2007, p. 26). Similarly, in Algeria, using local forces to find the guerrillas and French paratroopers to kill them was effective: “within months the ALN had lost half of its soldiers killed, captured, or converted to the French cause” (Evans, 2011, p. 245). These findings suggest that the qualities that irregular forces bring to COIN can be more fully exploited when problems of delegation are reduced by leading them with highly trained and specialized forces. But the wider evidence on civilian violence is mixed.

The collaboration between the Awakening militias in Iraq and U.S. forces provides another example where highly professional forces benefit from the knowledge and the skills of local irregular forces. In their analysis of the success of the Iraq Surge, Biddle et al. (2012) argue that neither the irregular forces nor the American troop surge on its own was sufficient to reduce the violence in Iraq in 2007. They identify the intelligence on the insurgency collected from the Awakening groups, the fact that they were no longer fighting against the coalition, and the consequences this alliance had for Shiite militias as their principal contributions to the success of the surge, noting again rising levels of violence against civilians (Clayton & Thomson, 2014). Biddle et al. (2012) contrast the forces in Iraq with those in Afghanistan. They argue that the militia forces the coalition created in that theater, the Afghan local police, was unable to recruit former rebels—which prevented a similarly successful outcome. Algeria under the French, Kenya under the British, or more recently in Kashmir, Sri Lanka, and Chechnya all saw former rebels organized to fight alongside regular forces to reverse rebel gains.

With some nuance depending on the type of militia involved, a body of research suggests that these militia forces put civilians at risk. In defeating the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya, these local forces inflicted significant harm on civilians: “The Home Guard thus represented state-sanctioned and sponsored terror intended to bring the population of Central Kenya under the control of the incumbent regime” (Branch, 2009, p. 87). The British government also recruited “counter-gangs” or “pseudo-gangs” of former insurgents to operate alongside the Home Guard and regular forces. “Security Forces had better weapons … but they had firmly fastened one of their hands behind their back with a cord of legal difficulties which was not the case with the irregular forces” (Kitson, 1960, pp. 44–46). In Mexico in the 1990s, ruling party–based militias are reported to have been responsible for 15,000 murders in the wake of the Zapatista rebellion (Mazzei, 2009, p. 25). With cross-national conflict data, Cohen and Nordås (2015) suggest that militias that recruit children are linked to higher levels of sexual violence. Stanton (2015) argues that if militias and insurgents come from the same constituency, then militias are less likely to attack civilians. Comparing different types of militias in East Timor, Barter (2013) concludes that militias that were created by the government were more likely to attack civilians, while those that developed in self-defense against powerful rebels were more likely to behave defensively.

Using irregular forces thus carries significant risks. Kowalewski (1992) contrasts the “benevolent” with the “critical” perspective of using irregular forces. While the benevolent perspective emphasizes “the exercise of popular sovereignty” (Kowalewski, 1992, p. 72) by using private citizens to fight rebel groups, the critical view highlights limited accountability of such irregular forces, as well as their pliability by a (foreign) elite minority and their questionable, and sometimes forced, recruitment of fanatics (Kowalewski, 1992, p. 72). He analyzes five daily newspapers from the two largest cities in the Philippines during the late 1980s to evaluate whether paramilitary groups in the Philippines corresponded more closely to the benevolent or the critical perspective. Across a large range of specific indicators, Kowalewski finds support for the critical view of paramilitaries (1992, pp. 79–80). Other work suggests that pro-government militias increase the likelihood of “agent-centered violations” such as extrajudicial killings, torture, and disappearances, which are violations that fall within the capacity of individual agents and from which there might be a plausible private benefit, be it revenge, extortion, or some gratification from the violence itself (Mitchell et al., 2014). Irregular armed groups are likely to be less well equipped to train recruits and inculcate codes of conduct. Furthermore, governments might be tempted to use these groups to shift blame and alleviate legal difficulties for controversial violence (Carey et al., 2015). In contrast, some recent research challenges the usefulness of a principal-agent approach for understanding the violence committed by militias, arguing that social cohesion and diffusion (Cohen & Nordås, 2015) and strategic decisions (Stanton, 2015) provide better explanations. As empirical measures improve, we expect to have a clearer picture of levels of “agent-centered” violence attributable to different types of armed group organizations and how well these fit with the implications of a principal-agent approach.

Some studies suggest that civil defense forces contribute to effectiveness. Analyzing irregular civil wars between 1944 and 2006, Peic (2014, p. 171) finds that governments that used civil defense forces (CDFs) were defeated more rarely than those that did not use CDFs. The multivariate analyses suggest that using CDFs substantially improves governments’ chances of defeating an insurgency. Analyzing 30 counterinsurgencies, Paul et al. (2010, p. 63) show that 25 used militias or “community policing.” While 19 resulted in COIN losses, the authors caution that the use of militias cannot alone account for the losses. In 15 of these 25 COIN operations, militias were at cross-purposes, and 13 of those 15 ended in COIN losses (Paul et al., 2010, p. 63). These insights point at the core problems associated with delegation. Multiple agents complicate monitoring and likely increases discretion. Discretion can be an advantage to the principal in allowing agents to respond effectively to local conditions—what Donahue and Zeckhauser term “production discretion” (2011, p. 50)—but it becomes a disadvantage when discretion permits opportunism and shirking. We expect militias are more likely than regular forces to pursue private interests within the governments’ COIN operations. This might result in the use of excessive violence, which some studies suggest is counterproductive in fighting insurgents (e.g., Daxecker, forthcoming; Lafree, Dugan, & Korte, 2009). Paul et al. caution governments to ensure that militias do not resort to “disproportionate or illegitimate uses of force” (2010, p. xxiv). The divergent literature on the impact of government militias on human rights and civilian welfare, on COIN success, or state failure suggests that investigating the consequences of these groups is an important component of the research agenda.

PGMs in the Aftermath of Conflict

Figure 3 shows that pro-government militias are present in over 60% of irregular civil wars at the point when these conflicts end. So what happens to these groups? How do they affect post-conflict stability and security? Mueller (2003) argues that particularly in weak states, armed groups often engage in criminal activities during civil wars—even more so when irregular armed groups such as mercenary forces or death squads are used. Focusing on the disarmament and demobilization of militias in Afghanistan, Giustozzi (2008) points out how difficult it is to effectively disarm and delegitimize militias. PGMs may become the private armed forces of warlords (Marten, 2006). Wehrey (2012) describes in Foreign Affairs the conundrum posed by militias in Libya. After the elections in June 2012, militias were used as hired guns while disarmament processes were underway. The failure to disarm these forces seriously affected the stability not just of that country, but of the whole region. Mueller suggests “the key to controlling the remnants of war is the establishment of competent domestic military and policing forces” (2003, p. 511). This might be particularly difficult at the end of a civil war fought by a diversified security sector.

Civil war may provide these groups with opportunities for private gain (Hughes & Tripodi, 2009), while peace limits opportunity. Furthermore, we know that some militias have an ethnic membership and the ethnic basis of conflict is a theoretically important dimension for the duration of a conflict (Wucherpfennig et al., 2012). Ethnically defined militias may polarize ethnic groups, which creates long-term mistrust that further complicates post-conflict reconciliation. As we know from the literature on rebel groups, having multiple actors likely makes it harder to achieve a peace agreement and end the fighting (Bakke et al., 2012). If they benefit from ongoing conflict, militias might act as spoilers to peace agreements. In short, there are reasons to expect that the presence of pro-government militias will make a conflict last longer, produce increased levels of violence and abuse, and make the post-conflict period more volatile. Putting civilian defense under the leadership of regular forces might provide a way of harnessing the advantages of irregular armed forces while reducing the risk associated with them. But even in circumstances where militias act in concert with highly professional regular forces, they may bring substantial harm to the civilian population, as with the Israeli army’s use of the Lebanese Phalange militia in Lebanon in 1982, or the use of these forces by the Americans in Iraq or the British in Kenya.

Open Questions

Research focusing on the actors involved in conflict, instead of simply the structural conditions, and abandoning the assumption of unified forces on either side provides us with a richer understanding of the dynamics of civil war. Initial insights into the role of irregular forces aligned with the government, piecing together evidence from a disparate case literature and some quantitative cross-national studies, opens up new questions for future research. As in other research fields, an important first step is to sort out meaningful dimensions for classifying these organizations. While militias are found in conflicts around the world, they vary in their ties to governments or particular leaders, in their visible or clandestine activities, in their recruitment and connections to other societal, political, or economic organizations, in their size, and in national or local presence. What explains these different characteristics of PGMs, and how do these characteristics influence the effectiveness and long-term consequences of these groups on stability and peace? Also, in what types of conflicts are militias likely to develop over the course of fighting, and when are PGMs likely to escalate a conflictual situation to civil war? While case studies have provided us with important insights into these topics, more research using different approaches and covering different areas across time and space is needed for a deeper understanding of the roles of PGMs in conflict.

Accepting that there is some debate about the usefulness of a principal-agent approach (see Cohen & Nordås, 2015; Stanton, 2015), we need to know more about the details of the “contract” between these groups and their respective governments. For political scientists the structure of the relationship between the state and its armed non-state actors, the presence or absence of monitoring mechanisms and sanctions, suggests the likelihood of “adventurous” policy and the willingness of a government to evade accountability. We need to know the lines of communication between groups and government. Is there a functional equivalent of the chain of command found in regular forces? When are militia members most likely to shirk? These questions are important to research on global accountability, the state’s responsibility to protect, and to compliance and accountability issues for the international community (Grant & Keohane, 2005). Thomson (1994) describes the 1856 Paris Declaration by which the major powers agreed to end their use of letters of marque authorizing pirates to fight and loot on behalf of the state. There appears to be little progress in that direction for state authorization of irregular forces that fight on land. A ruling by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) involving Arkan’s Tigers suggests that state officials, even if they train and arm these groups, may be freed of responsibility for their criminal conduct.

A better understanding of when these groups enter and exit a conflict is highly relevant for policymakers. Given the risks entailed, the expectation is that these groups are a desperate measure (Downes, 2006) or last resort (Peic, 2014). When do governments turn to these groups? What role does loyalty, ideology, revenge, material gain, desperation, and coercion play in their recruitment and type of membership (Staniland, 2014; Weinstein, 2007)? Furthermore, the contract is likely to entail some post-conflict expectations on all sides. As parties are added to a conflict, the conflict may become more difficult to settle. The impact of these groups on conflict duration, and more specifically on the outcome of negotiations where these groups have been involved, requires investigation. Do additional actors on the government side have the same impact on the conflict as increasing actors on the rebel side? If larger numbers on the side of the rebels results from “fragmentation” (Bakke et al., 2012) and the internal division of rebel forces, “force multiplication” or adding new forces is more likely to reflect the process of increasing the number of actors on the government side. And what does the exit of these groups entail? Are they re-integrated? Does their violence shift to criminality? What is their legacy? An innovative subnational study of post-conflict violence in Guatemala suggests these groups live on long after their wartime organization (Bateson, 2013). Survey and interview evidence from Colombia suggests that the local or community-based nature of these groups contributes to their longevity (Daly, 2016). Ties to a community, which from a principal-agent perspective may make monitoring and control easier, can help us understand their behavior during and after conflicts.

Irregular forces fighting on the side of governments may evoke images of a bygone era, of Lawrence of Arabia. Our theories of the state suggest they are a thing of the past and that security is a sovereign task. But sovereign tasks are less preciously held than anticipated. On ill-defined battlegrounds around the world, these groups continue to offer services to governments. They cheapen the material and political costs of conflict. While the short-term advantages to a particular government may be apparent, researchers need to gather the data and develop our theoretical and empirical understanding of how public–private collaboration in the security area contributes to core public goods.

Acknowledgments

We are very grateful to Anna-Lena Hönig and Anita Gohdes for their excellent research assistance and Adam Scharpf for his invaluable comments. Sabine Carey has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement n° 336019. Neil Mitchell and Sabine Carey received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UK, RES-062-23-0363.

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Notes:

(1.) For a brief discussion of the difficulties holding Russia accountable for Ukraine rebels, see the BBC News website.

 

Book Review: ‘The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare’ by Christian Brose

The Kill Chain cover

by Jonathan P. Wong

July 2, 2020

 

Between 1996 and 2011, the U.S. military spent $6 billion to develop and field a new tactical radio. Even in the context of U.S. military spending, $6 billion is a big chunk of change. By comparison, the Air Force spent approximately $3 billion to develop (PDF) and procure (PDF) the pathbreaking MQ-1 Predator. The Predator ushered in a new era of drone warfare, whereas the tactica

An Airman with the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron prepares for a close air support exercise during Southern Strike 2020 at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, MS,  February 3, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Izabella Workman/U.S. Air Force

l radio project was cancelled before it could produce a single radio.

Harris Communications was one of the companies that hoped to win the contract for this program. The leaders at Harris foresaw the enormous technological and program management challenges that awaited the winner. Harris didn’t win the contract, but that didn’t stop the company from taking advantage of the opportunity. It invested $200 million of its own research and development dollars to develop a radio system with less ambitious performance goals and that would be unencumbered by unwieldy Pentagon acquisition regulations. Harris succeeded in 2008 with the PRC-117G radio (PDF), which could support a modest tactical voice and data network that has since become the workhorse standard for the Army and Marine Corps.

Harris’ radio has many of the hallmarks in which proponents of greater commercial technology in the U.S. military believe. Namely, nimble commercial firms can be more effective if they are less constrained by the Pentagon’s cumbersome acquisition bureaucracy. Although Harris is not a Silicon Valley start-up, the success of its radio when compared to the more ambitious radio-that-never-was illustrates the problems of the acquisition system and highlights the attractiveness of letting technologists have more freedom to work.

The discourse about emerging technology in the Department of Defense today is centered around the military potential of commercially developed information technology. If anything, the role of commercial technology is clearer today than it was in in 1996. Pivotal, a software company, worked with the Air Force’s Kessel Run program to transform tanker refueling schedules with easy-to-use software. Artificial intelligence-driven drones have the potential to overwhelm defenses while quantum sensors can detect even stealthy submarines beneath the waves by their minute gravitational signatures on the wavetops. The military potential for these and other commercially developed technologies is substantial.

Satelites around the eardh

(Computer Generated Illustration of Satellites Around the Earth)

For many technologists eager to help the U.S. military though, the conversation is often tinged with a sense of frustration that the military does not adopt commercial technology more readily than they believe it should. This frustration often focuses on the role of the Department of Defense’s acquisition bureaucracy. Congress, for instance, has asked pointed questions to the Army about why it was reluctant to adopt the commercially developed Palantirintelligence analysis software system. And, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt once proclaimed to the head of U.S. Special Operations Command that “If I got under your tent for a day, I could solve most of your problems.” Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confidently stated earlier this year that a manned F-35 would be no match against a semi-autonomous drone in air-to-air combat. There is a strong sense among interested technologists that breakthroughs in the commercial sector will be critical to warfare in the future and that the overly restrictive Pentagon processes and stodgy culture are impediments to that future.

The frustrations of commercial technologists should concern the Department of Defense. The under secretary of defense for research and engineering’s modernization priorities include artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and other technologies where the commercial sector is leading development efforts. It is clear that commercial technology companies will be an important part of an expanded defense industrial base, giving weight to technologists’ concerns. Some firms may find the defense sector to be an economically challenging market; a reputation for frustrating red tape may make it even less attractive. Most concerning, though, is that simple frustrations about Pentagon bureaucracy are an easy conclusion to draw that offers little hope about whether the situation will improve. Such a conclusion obscures deeper exploration into the reasons why commercial technology is not more readily adopted by the military.

Is “The System” the Only Obstacle?

There is no shortage of criticism of the defense acquisition bureaucracy, but is that the only reason why troops aren’t calling in air strikes from iPhones and using artificial intelligence to control drone swarms? Two other reasons might also be considered: first, adapting commercial technology for military purposes is harder than it seems; and second, the military might not be fully convinced that available commercial technologies are what it wants.

Christian Brose’s new book, The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare, is an insightful analysis of the bureaucratic obstacles to the adoption of commercial technologies by the U.S. military. His years of experience on Capitol Hill imbue his book with a sense of context that moves the conversation past the frustrations that technologists have expressed. He deftly describes the bureaucratic and political power structures and incentives that keep the U.S. military from more readily integrating commercial technology. It is a powerful contribution to the conversation about technology and defense.

Brose’s critiques are more nuanced than those of many frustrated technologists. However, he still confines his arguments to issues about the political incentive structure and acquisition bureaucracy. To keep advancing the conversation, we should consider these two possible obstacles along with Brose’s critique of the bureaucracy.

The Bureaucracy Is Imposing Obstacles  

In his book, Brose argues that the Pentagon’s organization, process, and incentives are preventing commercial technology from taking root in the military. He argues that commercial information technologies such as artificial intelligence will define the future of conflict and that the United States is underinvesting — both financially and organizationally — in those technologies. Meanwhile, Brose argues, America’s adversaries have watched, learned, and stolen a march on new technologies, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, and space systems.

Brose offers a well-thought-out diagnosis of why this underinvestment exists, even though the United States correctly envisioned the role that commercial information technologies would play as far back as the early 1990s. America’s hubris about its supremacy made it slow to act, he argues, as did a two-decade counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism odyssey that distracted the United Statesfrom making progress. Brose further argues that the Pentagon is incentivized to value stakeholder consensus over decisiveness, with a budgeting process that favors incumbent programs over new ones and an acquisition system that favors process compliance over effective outcomes. The result, he believes, is a defense establishment that is unable to change course until it is too late.

Brose’s observations and arguments about the organizational hurdles to greater commercial technology adoption by the U.S. military force us to reflect on the values for which the acquisition bureaucracy strives. For instance, his analysis of the acquisition system’s prodigious regulatory burdens, which exist to ensure fair competition and save money, forces readers to question the purpose of all the red tape: Is saving pennies worth the trouble when the future of U.S. national security is at stake? Brose believes that, when it comes to confronting “emerging great powers with chips on their shoulders and serious military technology ambitions,” the United States has done what it did during the Cold War when it “pick[ed] winners … the people who could succeed where others could not, and the industrialists who could quickly build amazing technology that worked. Other concerns, such as fairness and efficiency, were of secondary importance.”

However, there is something to be said for fairness and efficiency. Done right, fair competition yields a diversity of approaches that is more likely to prepare United States to endure the shocks and surprises of clever and adaptive adversaries. Even ballistic missile pioneer Bernard Schriever — one of Brose’s picked “winners” — hedged his bets by pursuing multiple approachesthat yielded the Atlas and Titan missiles. Cost-effectiveness is also underrated. America’s national resources are finite. And, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemicis only one example that should encourage reflection on budget priorities. Brose correctly diagnoses the ills of the defense acquisition bureaucracy, but its goals are still worthwhile. Brose is right that mindless adherence to acquisition rules without considering the wider context wastes time and effort. One might be better served by continuing the hard work ofreforming the bureaucracy — not sidestepping it.

Defense Technology Is Harder Than It Looks  

Another reason why emerging commercial technologies may not be more readily adopted by the Pentagon is that adapting such technology for military use may be harder than it seems. This chance is a distinct possibility. Maaike Verbruggenargues that military expectations for artificial intelligence should be tempered. Artificial intelligence is not yet capable of performing subjective tasks where judgment is required; for instance, it still struggles to accurately flag disinformation. Recent strides in autonomous vehicles are encouraging, but technical challenges remain. And, making themcost effectiveenough for widespread military use will be a significant hurdle. Building a single, robust tactical network to link platforms also remains a much more difficult challenge than it seems. Commercial technologies being adapted for military use might be less technically risky since they are perfected in commercial settings. But, while military performance requirements are often more demanding than commercial ones, the fundamental challenge of being pitted against an actively plotting adversary remains. Brose does not seem to address these issues either.

Technology May Not Even Be the Answer

Finally, we must consider the possibility that the role of commercial technology within the U.S. military may not be desirable in the first place. Brose offers a very specific vision of how artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and networked systems should be wielded by the United States. He paints a detailed picture of sensors that locate adversaries with impunity, a battlefield cluttered with disposable unmanned systems, and networks that will accelerate the tempo of operations to new highs.

This optimistic vision is enthralling, but should it be the goal for which the U.S. military strives? A battlefield network that seamlessly links together sensors and shooters will accelerate the operational tempo — when it works. How will an adaptive adversary seek to disrupt that network and turn its advantage into a liability? How will commanders leverage such connectivity? What role should artificial intelligence play? Will technology enhance initiative and decision-making, further enable micromanagement, or something else?

Brose tangentially examines these issues but only as they concern artificial intelligence and the ethics of armed conflict. He offers a refreshingly nuanced vision of an artificial intelligence that would enhance the abilities of human decision-makers and refrain from making the decisions itself. He forthrightly acknowledges the technological challenges of achieving that ideal. He considers the role of trust and artificial intelligence in military decision-making.

But, Brose never really questions the role of commercial technology and its effect on war in the first place. He admits that the fog of war will never truly lift but still walks readers through a vision of networked warfare where he believes that it does. Some within the defense community urge greater caution about the enthralling vision of networked warfare.Laura Schousboe, B. A. Friedman, and Olivia Garardhave argued that the ultimate role of emerging technologies is still unclear. The interaction of humans — both friendly and enemy — and systems should be deliberately considered. Commercial technology is likely to play a significant role in future conflict, but the Pentagon should guard against too much optimism.

Navy Jet

A US jet flies over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan [Credit: US Navy]

No Plan Survives First Contact With the Enemy

Brose has made an important contribution to the debate about commercial technology and the military. He sees the throughline between technologies, their military and political uses, and the domestic organizational and political landscapes. He understands that warfare is an inherently chaotic human endeavor that can defy the expectations of optimistic technologists. As Kill Chain pulls it all together in an admirable way, I hope Brose uses his deep knowledge of defense technology issues to explore the obstacles outlined here as well other ones.

However, technologists and those who share their views should be cautious about how the future of armed conflict will play out. The vision of future war that Brose and others imagine is compelling, but the United States won’t truly know how this situation will play out until a crisis arrives. The same is true for U.S. adversaries. Emerging commercial technologies will play a role, but the military may wish to consider additional steps to make their adoption more effective in the face of such uncertainty.

For instance, the military might consider reforming the requirementsprocess to address the issues of desirability and implementation. Reforming requirements might help the Pentagon fully leverage the flexibility offered by the updated acquisition regulation. This sort of reform can bringclarity to the most useful intersections between emerging technologies and the military, which can also keep cost, schedule, and performance expectations in line with reality.

The Department of Defense can also prepare for inevitable surprises. Richard Danzigobserved that predictions about the future of war are consistently wrong. It is better to be circumspect about the nature of future conflicts and prepare for predictive failures. The continued attention to rapid acquisition processes is an encouraging sign.Past experienceswith quick responses to unforeseen adversary capabilities also offer lessons to learn.

The radio that Harris Communications built was neither perfect nor the best radio that people could imagine at the time. However, it provided capabilities that were sorely lacking. Its designers accomplished this achievement by combining an understanding of what was technologically possible with a clear grasp of the performance requirements that were most important to users. As the Pentagon and commercial technologists continue to explore the potential of commercial technologies for the military and work towards greater adoption, they may wish to focus not only on lowering bureaucratic barriers but also on managing expectations about what technologies will be most beneficial and how they will be used.

 

Jonathan Wong is an associate policy researcher at the non-profit, non-partisan RAND Corporation and a non-resident fellow at Marine Corps University’s Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity. He can be found on Twitter @jonpwong.

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Second Reviewhttps://redd.it/ikmwik

29 August 2020

The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare by Christian Brose is a book with an intended audience within the Pentagon and the arms industry, “Ringing the alarm” for US imperialism’s need to make a rapid and qualitative development of its military in order to achieve its ambition of global hegemony.

Brose, a former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee, begins his book describing a conversation he had with the late Republican Senator John McCain on the form that an increasingly likely war between the United States and China would take:

America’s forward bases in places like Japan and Guam would be inundated with waves of precise ballistic and cruise missiles.

[United States] carriers and their escort ships might shoot down some of the missiles, but there would be so many that some could get through and knock the carriers out of the fight by cratering their flight decks, damaging their control towers, or destroying their aircraft before they even got airborne. It is also possible that a hit could be fatal, sending five thousand Americans and a $13 billion ship to the bottom of the ocean…

McCain and I paused and considered the potential scale of this disaster. Thousands of Americans lost in action. American ships sunk. Bases reduced to smoking holes in the ground. Aircraft and satellites shot out of the sky. A war that could be lost in a matter of hours or days even as the United States planned to spend weeks and months moving into position to fight.

Why would such a war break out? Brose writes:

China is becoming America’s peer, and it could become more than that. It is integrated into the global economy and developing its own domestic sources of technological development, not just copycat industries but increasingly innovative and world-leading companies. China has already surpassed the United States in purchasing power parity, and it is projected to have the world’s largest gross domestic product by as early as 2030. The last time the United States faced a competitor, or even a group of competitors, with greater economic power than its own was in the nineteenth century, before our own rise to global predominance. And when it comes to China’s potential to generate even greater power, the United States has never faced a challenge of that scale in its entire history…

The Chinese Communist Party aims to become the dominant power in Asia and in the world, and it believes that for China to win, America must lose. We have to lose the race for advanced technology. We have to lose jobs and influence in the global economy. We have to lose partners who share our interests and values. We have to lose the ability to stand in the way of the Chinese Communist Party’s desire to make more of the world safe for its model of high-tech authoritarianism. And as the balance of power continues to shift out of America’s favor, the Chinese Communist Party will likely become more expansive in its ambitions, more assertive in its pursuit of them, and more capable of getting its way, no matter how much that harms Americans.

Increasingly concerned over China’s economic development and terrified by its rapid technological advances, which put a question mark on the Washington’s “overwhelming” military superiority, Brose and McCain wrote a letter in October 2017 to then-Secretary of Defense James “Mad-Dog” Mattis on the topic of the National Defense Strategy:

“We no longer enjoy the wide margins of power we once had,” the letter argued, because America’s military advantage had “declined precipitously” as great-power competitors, primarily China, were modernizing their forces and eroding America’s military dominance. “We cannot do everything we want everywhere,” it stated. “We must choose. We must prioritize.” And though money was vital, we could not “‘buy our way out’ of our current predicament.” The new defense strategy, McCain wrote Mattis, was “perhaps the last opportunity to develop an effective approach” to China before it was too late.

Brose’s staff met regularly with Mattis’ staff, and the emphasis on preparing and executing a massive overhaul of the US military, with focus on integrating the latest developments in information technology, was a cornerstone of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which built on the National Security Strategy announced by the Trump Administration in December 2017. The document clearly announced the revival of “Great-Power Conflict,” i.e., preparation for a Third World War, with particular focus on China.

The Defense Strategy calls for building a more lethal force, with emphasis on modernizing key capabilities of nuclear forces, space and cyberspace, missile defense, and in particular, command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR), as well as autonomous systems.

Brose reveals in his book that, over the past several decades, the United States military machine, serviced through a network of defense contractors, lobbyists and Congressmen, has gobbled up trillions of dollars, accumulating an excess of fat rather than muscle. Vast sums were directed into money-pits like the F-35 and incremental hardware upgrades to outdated systems, whereas rival militaries like that of China were utilizing the developments in data-technology to create a “smarter” military, one which can close the “kill chain” at lightning speed.

According to Brose, the kill chain is a military term linked to the “Information Revolution” starting in the 1980s; it means the process of analysis, planning, and execution. Prior to the Information Revolution, the kill chain was localized to single military platforms, for example “the process of understanding where an enemy aircraft was, deciding what to do about it, and then acting against it all occurred within one fighter jet or air defense system.” The Information Revolution, which had as its foundation the development of the integrated circuit, has led to further world-historic developments—primarily the development of the internet and artificial intelligence. What these technologies allow for is “networked warfare”; a network of nuclear missiles, for example, can all be directed under one system, some under autonomous control.

Brose is now the head of strategy for Andruil Industries, which states that it is a tech company composed of “a team of experts from Oculus, Palantir, General Atomics, SpaceX, Tesla and Google exploiting breakthroughs in consumer and commercial technology” specifically for military purposes. While the US military has been slow to integrate the latest developments in data technology and AI, Silicon Valley-based tech firms have been pioneers in this field. Having achieved a high level of centralization, they are moving closer and closer towards the state.

Brose in large part has written the book in order “bring home” the prodigal son; help return Silicon Valley to the US military from which it traces its origins. As historian Margaret O’Mara has observed, “Defense contracts during and after World War II turned Silicon Valley from a somnolent landscape of fruit orchards into a hub of electronics production and innovations ranging from mainframes to microprocessors to the internet.”

Arguing for the military potential of consumer technology, Brose writes:

Many American homes are now fitted with a network of low-cost sensors made by companies such as Nest (owned by Google) and Ring (owned by Amazon) that give one person with a mobile device real-time situational awareness of their most important places, whereas the average US military base is still defended by large numbers of people either standing watch or staring at rows of video surveillance monitors, stacked up like Hollywood Squares. Similarly, many Americans drive vehicles equipped with sensors that tell them everything that is going on around the vehicle at all times, whereas most American military vehicles do not have the same capabilities.

He further notes the increasing monopolization of Silicon Valley:

Over the past fifteen years, major technology companies have bought dozens of technology start-ups: Facebook, for example, has bought Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus VR, among others, while Google has bought far more, including Android, YouTube, Waze, Nest, and DeepMind.

This process has been accompanied by the tech giants’ rapid integration with the US military and intelligence apparatus. Research published on July 7, 2020 by the technology accountability nonprofit Tech Inquiry revealed that the Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, have secured thousands of deals with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Facebook, among others.

Microsoft is currently the leader in gobbling up government contracts and has also seemingly won the battle for the $10 billion JEDI contract with the Pentagon, which will overhaul the military’s internet infrastructure. However, this is currently in dispute, as its rival Amazon has obtained a federal court order halting the contract for review. Amazon recently announced the establishment of a space unit called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, led by former US Air Force Major General Clint Crosier. The unit is responsible for the development of rocket launches, human spaceflight support, robotic systems, mission control operations, space stations, satellite networks and more. Bezos’ space company Blue Origin also has a NASA contract worth $579 million.

The US military has also encouraged smaller startups to get in on the action. The US Air Force has selected 54 smaller companies to “develop, test and integrate new capabilities for the Advanced Battle Management Systems (ABMS).” The ABMS aims to develop an “internet of things” where systems in all domains (air, land, sea, space, cyber, and electromagnetic spectrum) can connect to disseminate information to personnel.

The startup SpaceX, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, recently launched NASA astronauts into space, marking a new era of public-private partnerships. On May 20, SpaceX signed a three-year deal with the US military to test the company’s “Starlink” program, which aims to “build a constellation of small satellites in low-earth orbit that can deliver high-speed communications and data networks to every part of the planet at all times.”

Over the past several years, private US companies have sent numerous satellites into space, with plans to launch tens of thousands more.

Brose writes:

From hundreds of miles away, commercial satellites can see objects on Earth in minute detail, and they may soon be able to identify individual faces. The number of these satellites grows by the hundreds every year. Silicon Valley is largely responsible for soon-to-be thousands of small satellites that will create an unblinking eye over the entire Earth, resulting in more real-time surveillance of the planet than ever before. Indeed, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a US intelligence agency that currently has a total of 14,500 personnel, recently estimated that it would need more than 8 million people just to analyze all of the imagery of the globe that will be generated in the next twenty years.

Computer generated image of total satellites in space [Credit: James Yoder, http://stuffin.space/]

The data gathered by the sharp mechanical eyes of satellites in space is being increasingly used to surveil the world for the primary purpose of repression and war; the capitalist class has wrapped the Earth in “The Kill Chain.”

The threat of a Third World War

The US military’s plans for “Great-Power Conflict,” primarily with China, have reached an extremely high level. The US ruling class is aware of its inadequacies and, while masses of American workers confront poverty, is spending trillions to prepare for the eruption of World War III.

A simulation called “Plan A” by researchers at Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, shows how the use of one so-called tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon could lead to a global nuclear war which would result in over 90 million deaths and injuries within three hours. At our current stage, the outbreak of war will quickly become a world catastrophe. The development of “battle networks” and long range missiles means that weapons capable of leveling entire cities and countries will be deployed in practically a flash.

War will take place on all fronts, from the seas, the earth, and the heavens. With the use of nuclear weapons, over 7.5 billion human beings, themselves the product of billions of years of historical development, could be destroyed in a matter of days.

The true implication of war is never uttered in Brose’s book. He, alongside the capitalist class which he represents, is driven by the imperative of securing US profit interests. They see war as a means to stop China’s economic expansion, exemplified by the “Belt and Road Initiative,” thus removing its main rival and conquering the world market. Meanwhile the Chinese capitalists cannot halt their aims for expansion because they too are driven by the need to accumulate profit. Thus they have resorted to building up their military arsenal to “defend” themselves from the US. However, in the era of nuclear weapons, there is no such thing as defense, simply Mutually Assured Destruction.

The great revolutionary Leon Trotsky delivered a speech in 1926 to the First All-Union Congress of the Society of Friends of Radio, explaining why capitalism is incompatible with the needs of humanity:

I remember a time when men wrote that the development of aircraft would put an end to war, because it would draw the whole population into military operations, would bring to ruin the economic and cultural life of entire countries, etc. In fact, however, the invention of a flying machine heavier than air opened a new and crueler chapter in the history of militarism. There is no doubt that now, too, we are approaching the beginning of a still more frightful and bloody chapter. Technique and science have their own logic—the logic of the cognition of nature and the mastering of it in the interests of man. But technique and science develop not in a vacuum but in human society, which consists of classes. The ruling class, the possessing class, controls technique and through it controls nature. Technique in itself cannot be called either militaristic or pacifistic. In a society in which the ruling class is militaristic, technique is in the service of militarism.

Within little more than a decade, the most terrible bloodbath in history, World War II, began, destroying over 70 million lives. Humanity is now threatened with a war of incomparably greater magnitude.

The National Security Strategy document states, “The Internet is an American invention, and it should reflect our values as it continues to transform the future for all nations and all generations.”

The reality is that the internet and technology in general are a collective product of human labor, which transcends all nations, races, and ethnicities. While the capitalist class advances the politics of nationalism and division, of which war is the most extreme form, the working class must advance the politics of unity, breaking down all national divisions, uniting workers of every country in a common struggle to put an end to capitalism and create a world where science is developed not in service of war, but to ensure peace and prosperity for all.

Tipping Point? Man Shot-Dead in Portland for Backing Trump – by Mike Whitney • 30 Aug 2020

Portland OR: Michael Reinoehl – Militant Street Activist – Wanted for Assassinating Trump Supporter – 29 Aug 2020

Man under investigation in fatal shooting after pro-Trump rally allegedly took loaded gun to earlier Portland protest

shooter 2

A 48-year-old man who was accused of carrying a loaded gun at an earlier downtown Portland protest is under investigation in the fatal shooting Saturday night of a Trump supporter. 

Shooter 4

(Trump Supporter Shot Dead – Aaron Danielson AKA Byron Bishop)

Michael Forest Reinoehl calls himself an anti-fascist and has posted videos and photos of demonstrations he attended since late June, accompanied by the hashtags #blacklivesmatter, #anewnation and #breonnataylor.

Reinoehl was raised in Sandy, Oregon, and has had recent addresses in Northeast Portland, Gresham and Clackamas. He described himself on social media and in a video interview with Bloomberg QuickTake News as a professional snowboarder and contractor who has former military experience but “hated” his time in the army.

Sources familiar with the case but not authorized to speak said police are investigating Reinoehl. A family member also identified him as a man captured in photos and video seen leaving the shooting scene shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday.

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Reinoehl’s posts indicate he attended many protests in Portland, Oregon over the last three months.

On July 5 at one of the demonstrations, Reinoehl was cited at 2:10 a.m. in the 700 block of Southwest Main Street on allegations of possessing a loaded gun in a public place, resisting arrest and interfering with police. 

The Portland mayor has shown a tolerant attitude towards anti-police protesters and sent signals that street militants arrested should be let go without charges. 

Reinoehl was given a date to appear in court later that month, but the charges were dropped on July 30 with a “no complaint,” according to court records. The documents don’t indicate why prosecutors decided not to pursue the accusations. Reinoehl spent no time behind bars.

Brent Weisberg, a spokesman for Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, said the office is still reviewing that July case involving Reinoehl.  The mayor of Portland blames President Trump for the violence. 

Schmidt earlier Sunday decried the deadly violence. He took office on Aug. 1 and quickly announced that he wouldn’t pursue low-level charges against demonstrators, such as interfering with police or resisting arrest. He wasn’t district attorney when the office handled Reinoehl’s gun case.

hand cuffs prints

Video images of the fatal shooting captured a tall, thin white man in a hat and white tube socks running from the scene at Southwest Third Avenue and Alder Street around 8:45 p.m. Screenshots zeroed in a tattoo of a fist on the man’s neck.

The grainy video and other photos, together with witness statements from live streamer Justin Dunlap,  show someone shouting, “There’s a Trumper,” and a bang and a cloud of smoke. 

Reinoehl’s 36-year-old sister said she was awakened just before 8 a.m. Sunday by a threatening phone call from someone who told her that “our whole family was in danger unless we turned him over.”

“That’s how I found out,” that her brother was allegedly involved, she told The Oregonian/OregonLive.

She called Sandy police to report the threat, she said. Once she looked online and saw screenshots of her brother’s photo, she said she called Portland detectives.

“We reached out to police and confirmed that we recognized Michael in the screenshots,” she said. She asked that her name not be used because of the threats.

shooter or

Michael Reinoehl has been estranged from the family – including her, their parents and a younger brother – for at least three years, his sister said.

“On the one hand, this whole thing surprises the daylights out of us, because we always thought he is a lot of bark, not a lot of bite,” she said. “But he’s also been very impulsive and irrational.”

Reinoehl has stolen their mother’s seizure medication and owes a lot of debt, often giving his relatives’ addresses as his own to avoid responsibility, she said.

He has a son and daughter and is split from their mother, she said.

shooter oregon

 

“I have friends, family and loved ones on both sides of the conflict,” Reinoehl’s sister said. “Violence begets violence and hatred begets hatred. This is not the solution. My heart goes out to the victim. It always has, before I even knew my brother was involved.”

Reinoehl is also wanted on a failure to appear warrant in a June 8 speed racing case in Baker County in eastern Oregon. He and his 17-year-old son were racing in two different cars at speeds of up to 111 mph heading east on Interstate 84 after midnight near North Powder, according to state police.

Michael Reinoehl faces allegations including driving under the influence of a controlled substance, recklessly endangering another, unlawful possession of a gun and driving while suspended and uninsured.

He was stopped driving a 2005 Cadillac STS with his 11-year-old daughter as a passenger, police said. Inside the car, police said they found marijuana, “unidentified prescription pills” and a loaded Glock pistol for which Reinoehl didn’t have a concealed handgun license.

shooter car

Shortly after that, Reinoehl began posting about the protests in Portland.

On June 16, he wrote, “Every Revolution needs people that are willing and ready to fight. There are so many of us protesters that are just protesting without a clue of where that will lead. That’s just the beginning that’s that where the fight starts. If that’s as far as you can take it thank you for your participation but please stand aside and support the ones that are willing to fight. I am 100 % ANTIFA all the way! I am willing to fight for my brothers and sisters! … We do not want violence but we will not run from it either! … Today’s protesters and antifa are my brothers in arms.”

On the Bloomberg video posted July 27, Reinoehl said he had been shot and turns to the camera to show a bloody bandage on his right arm. He claimed he intervened in an earlier fight between a man with a gun and Black youths.

He said on the video that he’d been “working security and trying to keep protected” someone in the crowd when he got shot as he tried to wrestle a gun away from the man harassing the kids. He didn’t say where that it happened. The account couldn’t be immediately confirmed.

shooter in or

On July 2, Reinoehl wrote on Instagram, “We will not stop until there is change. Now more than ever we need to join together. Join the cause support the people that are willing to take a rubber bullet. Give them supplies food water Medical anything that can help. Bring balloons and paint for paint balloons. #blaklivesmatter #breonnataylor.”

Portland OR: Antifa Gunman Who Shot Trump Supporter Dead Bragged of Being In Hong Kong Protests – Is He Brian Patrick Kern? – 30 Aug 2020

Update – 31 Aug 2020 – 1:30pm Eastern US Daylight Savings Time

Shooter has been identified by some as Michael Reinoehl, 48, of Portland, Oregon.

shooter 2

Antifa militant eeeeAntifa Militant

At a rally earlier on Saturday 29, August 2020, a man who has the same clothing on as the man who seems to have shot a Trump supporter dead on Saturday night bragged that he had been at protests in Hong Kong, China.

Assassin 1

An American man who has been at protests in Hong Kong and pretended to be Chinese in an online blog looks similar to the shooter.

Brain Patrick Kern grew up in Minnesota and completed his PhD in Comparative Literature at Brown University in 1996. In 1998, he began teaching at the Red Cross Nordic United World College (UWCRCN) in Norway, where he met his wife, Yatman Cheng.

(See:  Western media’s favorite Hong Kong ‘freedom struggle writer’ is American ex-Amnesty staffer in yellowface – by Max Blumenthal (Greyzone) 8 Aug 2020

https://xenagoguevicene.wordpress.com/2020/08/15/western-medias-favorite-hong-kong-freedom-struggle-writer-is-american-ex-amnesty-staffer-in-yellowface-by-max-blumenthal-grey-zone-8-aug-2020/ ) 

Brian Patrick Kern is an American with ties to Amnesty International and key Hong Kong separatist figures has been posing online as a Hong Kong native named Kong Tsung-gan. Routinely cited as a grassroots activist and writer by major media organizations and published in English-language media, the fictitious character Kong appears to have been concocted to disseminate anti-China propaganda.

brian patrick kern

(Brian Patrick Kern)

Through Kong Tsung-gan’s prolific digital presence and uninterrogated reputation in mainstream Western media, he disseminates a constant stream of content hyping up the Hong Kong “freedom struggle” while clamoring for the US to turn up the heat on China.

Whispers about Kong’s true identity have been circulating on social media among Hong Kong residents, and was even mentioned in a brief account last December by The Standard.

The Grayzone spoke to several locals outraged by a deceptive stunt they considered not only unethical, but racist. They said they have kept their views to themselves due to the atmosphere of intimidation looming over the city, where self-styled “freedom fighters” harass and target seemingly anyone who speaks out publicly against them.

In this investigation, The Grayzone connected the dots between Kong and the American man who has become a major presence in Western media and at protests around Hong Kong. Our research indicates that Kong’s editors and prominent protest cheerleaders were likely aware of the deceptive ploy.

Brian Patrick Kern, a one-time PhD candidate in the USA, has been identified as a CIA asset directing violent protests in Hong Kong (HK). He has a long history of giving courses around the world, but especially in China since 1989. His specialty is teaching students about “human rights,” which is code for brainwashing them into loving the USA’s corporate neoliberal system & hating the Chinese gov’t, which still serves public interests. He’s known to have taught subversive courses to Kurds in Turkey, Tibetans in India, at an international Red Cross college in Norway, in South Sudan (location of another “color revolution”) & other countries. He’s instigated unrest in a number of countries, most recently in HK. Among the CIA’s cover non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for which he’s worked are Amnesty International and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations.

Whoever the gunman was, he killed Trump supporter Byron Bishop on the streets of Portland Oregon late Saturday night, 29 August 2020. 

Assassin 2

( Aaron Danielson AKA Byron Bishop)

Black Lives Matter and Antifa militants celebrated the shooting of the Trump supporter and called him a ‘fascist.’  What goes around…. comes around.

antifa militants

Things that can’t go on forever… don’t.

 

https://archive.vn/ACq5w

 

‘Safe’ vs ‘unsafe’ gatherings? In Dems’ Covid HYPOCRISY land, it all depends on whether they think the event will help get Biden elected – by Tony Cox – 29 Aug 2020

‘Safe’ v. ‘unsafe’ gatherings? In Dems’ Covid HYPOCRISY land, it all depends on whether the event will help get Joe Biden elected
Democrat hypocrisy over which large gatherings are deemed dangerous in the era of Covid-19 reached new heights when a US senator went berserk over Thursday’s Republican National Convention festivities at the White House.

“Can we take the gloves off and tell the truth?” Senator Chris Murphy said Saturday on Twitter. “Trump is deliberately killing people. He holds rallies where people get infected.” The Connecticut Democrat added: “His plan is to kill people. Let’s just say it.”

I wasn’t aware that the Democrats had been leaving the gloves on in their nearly four years of conspiracy theories and coup efforts against President Donald Trump. Nor have they demonstrated any interest in telling the truth, so this may be a new wrinkle.

But the insanity and inanity of Murphy’s statement are something to behold. He thinks he’s cracked the code on the Trump campaign strategy: killing people. One of many problems with this theory is that Trump would first be killing his most enthusiasticsupporters if his scheme were to infect people at his rallies with the virus, which hardly seems like a good way to get more votes.

US burns

Nevertheless, Murphy is not alone in wearing a tin foil hat. Followers agreed with his theory and added their insights to the plot. One Twitter user suggested that a pandemic simulation done in 2019 might have been a “trial run” for the current murder scheme. Another suggested that Trump knows he will lose the November election, so spreading Covid-19 is his way of “paying back” Americans for abandoning him. A netizen who apparently overlooked the fact that Trump is already president said the pandemic is saving him the trouble of a military coup.

Strangely, though, neither Murphy nor any other Democrat leader expressed concern over the large mob of protesters who were gathered outside the White House as Trump capped the convention with his speech accepting the party’s presidential nomination. It couldn’t be that Murphy is only concerned about Republican lives because neither he nor any other Democrat leader condemned the mob for surrounding and threatening people trying to walk back to their hotels from the White House after the speech. The woke brigades certainly weren’t following social-distancing guidelines when they accosted Republican Senator Rand Paul, Paul’s wife and other White House guests.

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Looters smashing a window of a store front on School street after the Black Lives Matter rally at the Massachusetts State House.

Nor were there any Democrat rebukes of Friday’s massive March on Washington, where crowds jammed the National Mall to hear civil rights leaders decry police violence against black people. In fact, we’ve heard not a peep from the left about safety concerns arising from the massive Black Lives Matter protests and riots that have embroiled the nation’s cities for the past three months.

nyt-propaganda

Media outlets an establishment-friendly researchers have told us that the gigantic gatherings didn’t cause an increase in Covid-19 cases. Some even went so far as to say the protests slowed the virus’ spread. A University of Colorado

Denver professor theorized that while the protests brought large groups of people together, they caused even more folks to stay home.

Yes, the protests are only to be revered, no matter the number of buildings torched, stores looted, people beaten or police pelted with rocks. Former First Lady Michelle Obama said Friday that when she sees “theswift and powerful protests that have risen up around the country,” her hope for positive change is revived.

Even when the BLM gatherings gravitate from noble marches for racial justice to block parties with music and dancing, Senator Murphy and his kind will not accuse anyone of murder. That’s because they see the BLM movement boosting voter motivation to help elect their enthusiasm-lacking presidential candidate, Joe Biden, in November.

Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, is among Democrats who have encouraged violent protest. She said the protests won’t ever stop – and shouldn’t stop — and encouraged supporters to donate money to bail out people arrested during protests in Minneapolis. Obama said this month in her Democratic National Convention speech that electing Biden is the only hope of “ending this chaos.”

Michelle Obama hails ‘swift & powerful’ protests, decries racism but stays silent on riots in comment on Kenosha shootings

Michelle Obama hailed ‘swift & powerful’ protests, decries racism but stays silent on riots in comment on Kenosha shootings

The Covid hypocrisy all goes back to power and control. If your activity helps advance the establishment agenda, it’s safe. If it doesn’t, it’s not. Going to church, school or the gym is unsafe. Keeping the abortion clinics and Lottery outlets open is absolutely essential. A biker rally in South Dakota is a “superspreading event.” Protesting lockdown restrictions at the state capitol is verboten. A BLM mural-painting party in New York is so important that Mayor Bill de Blasio said it transcendsall normal realities.”

love in the buildings

Reality is not where the party operates. With the 77-year-old Biden mostly hidden away in his basement to avoid any unscripted moments in public, Democrats have decided that campaign events are especially murderous. If hosting 1,500 people at the White House is bad, holding Trump rallies at 15,000-seat arenas around the country will be downright genocidal.

Murphy seems to have left little room for the rhetoric to get even more crazy, but give him time. Calling Trump a premeditated killer may seem tame by November.

By Tony Cox, a US journalist who has written or edited for Bloomberg and several major daily newspapers.

Trump goes scorched earth in RNC 2020 acceptance speech – by Michael Goodwin (NY Post) 28 Aug 2020

Trump Plywood

And on Day 4, there was no more Mr. Nice Guy!

Republicans spent the better part of three nights in their convention presenting softer and gentler sides of President Trump, but the president gets the final words and he came out Thursday in a fighting mood.

His acceptance speech detailed his successes and offered promises aplenty for a second term, but the emphasis and energy were committed to a scorched-earth attack on Joe Biden and the Democrats. Trump threw so many punches at his opponent that, had it been a real heavyweight boxing match, the referee would have stopped it in the middle rounds out of mercy.

Some samples: “This election will decide whether we save the American Dream, or whether we allow a socialist agenda to demolish our cherished destiny.”

Then later: “How can the Democrat Party ask to lead our country when it spends so much time tearing down our country?”

After saying Biden had buckled to the demands of the socialists in his party, Trump asked: “If he can’t stand up to them, how is he going to stand up for you.”

Many of the lines echoed Ronald Reagan, and the two men share key traits, perhaps the most important being a willingness to take on Washington from the inside without ever losing their outsider’s perspective. If there was any doubt, Thursday night settled the question of whether four years in the White House have warmed Trump’s heart to the Beltway.

No, no, a thousand times no.

Instead, he detailed numerous examples of where he believed he was fighting the entire establishment to get things done for the American people, including standing up against China’s theft of jobs and intellectual property and stopping illegal immigration. In his mind, he is often a lonely warrior

While Reagan’s folksy charm belied a core of steely conviction, Trump generally prefers to dispense with the niceties and get down to business.

And make no mistake: Thursday’s speech was all business. He came not to debate Joe Biden, but to bury him.

On the merits, it was an effective argument on every front, from the economy to foreign policy to law and order. The routine was for Trump to cite his own first-term accomplishments as more than Biden had done in his 47 years in Washington.

The only question was whether the pounding was too brutal for those swing voters in the swing states the president is courting.

Some are disaffected Trump supporters and some are undecideds, often because, polls show, they don’t approve of the president’s bull-in-a-china-shop conduct.

The issue is so important that Ivanka Trump, in introducing her father, casually noted that his communications “are not to everyone’s tastes,” and added that his tweets can feel “unfiltered.” Of course, the acknowledgment was aimed at giving people permission to support the president despite their misgivings.

Moreover, the campaign long ago learned that Trump will be Trump and made its bet that the public will put results over any qualms about style, taste and personality.

And while the speech on the White House lawn had a rally feel about it, the attacks on Biden were substantive and policy-based.

While Democrats want the election to be about the president’s handling of the virus, another key issue has emerged that could prove more decisive. The riots, looting and crime surges in the nation’s cities have become a political flashpoint.

One reason is that nearly all the cities are run by Democratic mayors. Another is that Biden and the party didn’t say a single word about the destruction at their convention, instead embracing Black Lives Matter and treating the protesters as new-age heroes.

Trump and the GOP have been jumping on the error ever since, and it became a major focus of the convention. The president cited it numerous times last night as another disqualifying action, or inaction, by his opponent.

Already, the polls have started to reflect public unease with the chaos, and while Dems had hoped they could use it as a reason to turn the tide against the president, they seem to realize they made a serious miscalculation.

Biden has spoken out twice in recent days about the violence, a clear sign that he sees the danger. Still, his words have been more pleading than the president’s, who is eager to send in federal troops if local governments and police can’t gain control of the streets.

The spreading violence is scaring Americans everywhere, with the situation in Kenosha, Wis., perhaps more frightening than what’s been happening in Portland, Seattle and elsewhere.

Kenosha is a city of only 100,000 people, and the violence there is all the more shocking than what is happening in much larger cities. In effect, Kenosha is something of an Everytown, and the riots, arson and murder could cause more people to identify with it and wonder if their town is next.

The issue is undercutting a key feature of the Dems’ plan. They used their convention to portray Biden as empathic, someone who feels the pains of others because he has suffered enormous personal tragedies.

But Trump is trying to recast that quality as a weakness, saying that Biden is not tough enough to combat the current wave of lawlessness.

In effect, the Trump team is asking: Who would you rather have on your side in a street fight — a tough puncher like Trump, or a guy like a Biden who feels the opponent’s pain?

Before the conventions, Biden had a significant lead in most polls.

It’s likely the race has tightened, but this is a heavyweight match with many more rounds to go.

https://nypost.com/2020/08/28/trump-goes-scorched-earth-in-rnc-2020-acceptance-speech-goodwin/

Kenosha WI: Teen Shows Up At Protests to Help Defend Local Businesses – Attacked For Opposing Arson – Shoots Two Dead – 26 Aug 2020

Kenosha shooter

Kenosha: The confrontation that lead to the shooting seems to have begun when a group wanting to protect businesses put out a dumpster fire set by Black Lives Matter protesters.  The enraged BLM protesters confronted the armed civilians who were openly carrying long guns which is legal in the state of Wisconsin.  The shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, was among the group of people protecting areas the police had been ordered to abandon.  In video a 36yo protester who had earlier taunted the armed group is running after Rittenhouse as he escapes across a parking lot.  The 36yo threw a flaming object at Rittenhouse and tried to wrestle his rifle on a strap around Rittenhouse’s neck.  36yo Joseph Rosenbaum was shot in the head and soon died.

Below: A video with a number of clips of Kyle Rittenhouse and the shootings.  Uploaded with a cryptic title to avoid censorship.

Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old former police cadet from Antioch, Illinois, located less than 20 miles from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was arrested and charged with first degree homicide on Wednesday morning, 26 August 2020,  in connection with the fatal shootings of two men and wounding of a third.

Kyle Rittenhouse 5

Media reports indicate that Kyle Rittenhouse was a Trump supporter and went to a Trump rally in January 2020.

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    Kyle Rittenhouse at January 2020 Trump rally. 

The shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse is a white youth who supports President Trump and law enforcement. He is 17 and carried a long rifle that he was licensed to carry in his home state of Illinois. In January 2020, Rittenhouse tried to enlist in the US Marines, but was turned down.

Armed Libertarians, who were on the streets of the city openly carrying long guns, said they did not oppose the BLM protesters attacking government buildings or confronting police, but they opposed looting and arson of businesses and private homes.  Most of the libertarians were white as are BLM protesters who are at least 75% white in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Ken 2

(Kyle Rittenhouse helps clean the exterior of Reuther Central High School in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.)

In another recorded interaction, Rittenhouse, AR-15 in hand, is seen with several older members of the militia outside of a boarded-up business. Police drive up and through their loudspeaker offer their “appreciation” to the heavily armed militia members.We really appreciate you guys,” one cop says over the loudspeaker, while another asks “if you guys need any water.”

Kyle Rittenhouse

“People are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business, and part of my job is to also help people,” he said. “If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle, because I have to protect myself, obviously, but I also have my med kit.”  His social media pages feature support for police and “Blue Lives Matter.”  He also indicates support for President Donald Trump.  Liberal media are trying to connect him with white nationalist militias, but there does not seem to be any connection at this time. Mainstream media leaves out the attacks on him that led to him shooting back.

Kenosha Shooting 22

(Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, chased Rittenhouse and threw molotov cocktail at him – shot in the head and died)

At the car dealership where the first shooting occurred the Kyle Rittenhouse can be seen being chased by a man who throws a lighted molotov cocktail at him.  Kyle Rittenhouse fired a shot and hit the man in the head.  A few minutes earlier  The arsonist taunted the armed opponents of looting “shoot me, n*%#@” twice The shooter fired one shot at his attacker and hit him in the head. The molotov cocktail thrower is now dead, those were his last words. The shooter called someone to report the shooting.

Kenosha Dealership

People began to chase and hit him as he ran down the street. The shooter fell. Someone rushed up and gave a flying kick to his head. A man with a skate board swung at the shooter and tried to grab his long rifle. The shooter shot him in the stomach. He died. A man with ‘medic’ on his hat approached.

Kyle Rittenhouse 2

He put his hands up and the shooter lowered his rifle. The ‘medic’ pulled out a hand gun. The shooter shot him in through the elbow as he continued to hold the sidearm. The shooter got up and moved backwards as the crowd backed away. People shouted, “Call the police.” The shooter moved down towards police with his hands up and approached several police vehicles.

Medic with a gun

(Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, was wearing a ‘medic’ hat when he feign surrender with his hands up and then pulled out a pistol and was shot – the pistol is in his right hand)

Ken 23s

ken 222

 

 

Grosskreutz is a member of the People’s Revolution Movement of Milwaukee.  As a convicted felon he is not allowed to carry the glock pistol he had in his hand when he was shot.  
Police did not seemed interested in a youth with a rifle around his neck saying, “I am the shooter.” Police vehicles passed by as the shooter said loudly, “I’m the shooter.”

Shooter ignored

Apparently the shooter decided to leave after the police ignored him and went back to Illinois. He has been arrested and charged with First Degree Murder, which would mean that he planned to kill the two people he shot, and the ‘medic’ who pulled a gun on him after fainting surrender. Pretending to surrender and then pulling a weapon out is a violation of the Geneva War Convention and is a ‘war crime.’

Police have yet to publicly identify the victims. However, at a Wednesday press conference police confirmed that all of the victims were from Wisconsin, including the two who died—a 26-year-old Silver Lake resident and a 36-year-old Kenosha man—and the injured individual, a 36-year-old man from West Allis.

Posts on social media identify one of the killed protesters as Anthony Huber of Silver Lake.  He is shown in videos running up to Kyle after he had fallen on the street and hitting him with a skate board while trying to take his rifle.  Huber was shot in the chest and died. 

Anthony Huber

(Anthony Huber, 26, ran up to Rittenhouse and hit him with a skateboard – shot in the stomach and died)

A GoFundMe page established to help pay for funeral expenses for Huber exceeded its $25,000 goal in less than eight hours.

Anthony Huber 2

A friend of Huber told the local CBS television affiliate he believed Anthony was a hero because he tried to stop the shooter. “He is a peaceful person,” said the friend. “He didn’t go out looking to beat people up. He’s more of a defender. And he put his life on the line for others. That’s what he did.”  Anthony Huber attacked a man with a long gun and hit him with a skateboard while trying to take the rifle.  Huber brought a skateboard to a gunfight. 

Ken 9

Ken 8

In one video, an unidentified militiaman is seen talking with protesters after the shootings.Ya know what the cops told us today?” he asks, and then says the police told him they were going “to push them down by you, ‘cause you can deal with them, and then we are going to leave.”

In the first press conference held by Kenosha authorities, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth acknowledged that he had been approached regarding the prospect of deputizing armed civilians. Beth said he discouraged this primarily because of the “liability” it would entail.

At the press conference, Police Chief Daniel Miskinis denied that he had interacted with the militia group or had any knowledge pertaining to it.

The day prior, in a public Facebook post that has since been taken down, the militia group sent a message to Miskinis signed by the “Kenosha Guard Commander.” The message implored the police chief, “Do NOT have your officers tell us to go home under threat of arrest as you have in the past. We are willing to talk to KPD and open a discussion. It is evident that no matter how many Officers, deputies and other law enforcement officers that are here, you will still be outnumbered.”

Asked during Wednesday’s press conference why the police allowed Rittenhouse to simply walk away after the shootings since he was walking up to police vehicles with his hands up saying “I’m the shooter.”  Sheriff Beth cited screaming, sirens, and radio-traffic, which, according to Beth, can cause “tunnel vision.”

There were no arson attacks or looting on the next night, Wednesday 26 August 2020.

Ken 3

(Protesters march past a burned out building damaged in protests in Kenosha, Wis., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. )

There were no groups patrolling Kenosha’s streets with long guns Wednesday night and protesters stayed away from a courthouse that had been the site of standoffs with law enforcement. Unlike the previous two nights, when dozens of fires were set and businesses were ransacked and destroyed, there was no widespread unrest.

 

Ken 1

Protesters marched past the intersection where two people were killed Tuesday night, stopping to pray and lay flowers.

ken 5

Update: 29 Aug 2020

Kyle Rittenhouse remains in custody in Illinois after the judge ruled Friday morning to delay his extradition request hearing in order to allow him to retain a private attorney.

He has been charged with five felonies including first-degree intentional homicide for the death of 26-year-old Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber, who rushed at him after he fell and hit Rittenhouse on the head with a skateboard, first-degree reckless homicide for the death of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, who chased after Rittenhouse threw a flaming object at him and tried to seize his rifle, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide for the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, of West Allis, who was wearing a medic hat and pretended to surrender before pulling out a handgun, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety.

attorney Lin Wood

 

Currently Rittenhouse is being represented by a public defender and by private attorney Lin Wood, who represented the Covington Catholic youth who was libeled by numerous media outlets for smiling while being taunted by opponents in Washington, DC after an anti-abortion rally.

Escape from LA – C’Est Sexy Le Ciel De Californie – Mylene Farmer

Aéroport, aérogare

mais pour tout l’or m’en aller

c’est le blues, l’ coup d’cafard

le check out assuré

vienne la nuit et sonne l’heure

et moi je meurs

entre apathie et pesanteur

où je demeure

changer d’optique, prendre l’exit

et m’envoyer en Amérique

sex appeal, c’est Sunset

c’est Marlboro qui me sourit

mon amour, mon moi, je

sais qu’il existe

la chaleur de l’abandon

c’est comme une symphonie

c’est sexy le ciel de Californie

sous ma peau j’ai L.A. en overdose

so sexy le spleen d’un road movie

dans l’ rétro ma vie qui s’anamorphose

j’ai plus d’I.D, mais bien l’idée

de me payer le freeway

c’est l’osmose, on the road

de l’asphalte sous les pieds

vienne la nuit, c’est le jet lag

qui me décale

L.A.P.D me donne un blâme

c’est pas le drame

se faire un trip, s’offrir un streap

sous le soleil en plein midi

six a.m, j’suis offset

j’suis l’ice dans l’eau, j’suis mélo, dis

mon amour, mon Wesson

mon artifice

la chaleur du canon

c’est comme une symphonie

c’est sexy le ciel de Californie

sous ma peau j’ai L.A. en overdose

so sexy le spleen d’un road movie

dans l’ rétro ma vie qui s’anamorphose

Google Translate —

Airport, terminal

but for all the gold go away

it’s the blues, the cockroach

check out guaranteed

come at night and strike the hour

and I am dying

between apathy and heaviness

where i stay

change optics, take the exit

and send me to America

sex appeal, it’s Sunset

Marlboro is smiling at me

my love, my me, I

know there is

the heat of abandonment

it’s like a symphony

california sky is sexy

under my skin I have L.A. in overdose

so sexy the spleen of a road movie

in the retro my life which anamorphoses

I have more I.D, but the idea

to pay me the freeway

it’s osmosis, on the road

asphalt underfoot

come at night, it’s jet lag

which shifts me

L.A.P.D give me a blame

it’s not the drama

have a trip, treat yourself to a streap

under the sun at midday

six a.m, I’m offset

I’m the ice in the water, I’m melodramatic, say

my love, my Wesson

my artifice

the heat of the cannon

it’s like a symphony

california sky is sexy

under my skin I have L.A. in overdose

so sexy the spleen of a road movie

in the retro my life which anamorphoses

Video Revue – Democrat Zoom Convention – A Chaotic Night of Mixed Messages – by Daniel D’Addario (Variety) 17 Aug 2020

Meg Whitman spoke for only a fleeting segment of Monday night’s opening of the Democratic National Convention. And yet the failing Quibi video company corporate leader and Republican politician’s presence seemed emblematic of the night, in at least two ways: One, she is not in fact a Democrat, and yet was given a chunk of the evening, however small — much like peers in the GOP, including former Ohio Governor John Kasich, with anti-abortion rights and anti-labor union views, spoke more expansively. AOC, in contrast, was given sixty seconds to speak. The night wasn’t fully given over to Republicans, but it was significantly given over to randomness, unfolding with a sort of anti-logic that caused Whitman’s Opposite Day booking to make a sort of backwards sense. What better convention to bring out Whitman than the one comprised entirely of Quick Bites?

For most of its run, the opening night of the DNC — intended to have been held in Milwaukee before, now, being held in a format not unlike Zoom — evinced a skittering lack of confidence that seemed perhaps surprising. The evening brought together a mix of elected officials and “real Americans,” giving neither the chance to consistently make their case. Until the evening’s closing minutes, with complimentary speeches by Bernie Sanders and a pre-recorded video by Michelle Obama, the broadcast hopped from person to person and theme to theme, not giving the time or space to any speaker to allow their thoughts to blossom into anything more than a sort of unfortunate randomness.

This is not to discount the travails of the citizens brought into the proceedings by emcee Eva Longoria Bastón. But it is, a bit, to discount whomever among the party brass had the bright idea to give the proceedings a celebrity host with the unfortunate task of keeping this train barreling through a new stop every three minutes, creating the appearance of a celebrity talking significantly more, and perhaps talking over, the people whose challenges she’s meant to be hearing out. (Subsequent nights will see Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus attempt to surmount this role; Longoria could not.) These bits, early in the show’s two-hour run, rubbed up against video pieces that seemed to make hazy, unfocused arguments about the fundamental goodness and kindness of Americans — ones whose fundamental optimism raised the question of why the Democrats are trying to install a new president at all, given how sunny things seem in the America they depicted — as well as music performances, including by Maggie Rogers on the coast of Maine, introduced by that state’s Senate candidate.

All this and Meg Whitman too! It was indeed an evening whose sheer willingness to reinvent every few minutes lent a sense of dynamism. But simply because the night literally could shift in the ways that it did — that there were some production errors but no massive crises, that quite so many speakers fit into two hours — does not mean that doing so made for a success. While everyone, including and especially members of the media, has seemed bored of the conventions’, well, conventionality in the past several cycles (that’s rather the point of the norm-shattering

Trump ascendancy), the events’ big staging can often tend to elevate somewhat small ideas. The Democrats’ giving most speakers a minimum of time and the barest connective tissue from moment to moment did not foster the sense that this was a party with a coherent line of attack on Trump. Even those speakers given a bit more time to make their case — Kasich with an anti-Trump Republican case that didn’t work in 2016, Andrew Cuomo with a fragmentary and somewhat distasteful COVID-as-metaphor line of thought — jarred for the way they felt plopped into the evening without much in the way of situating.

None of this disorientation would be surprising, really, coming from the Republican National Convention, given that that party has less to prove and less of a case to make to its true believers, and that it presently thrives on disorientation besides. That after four years out of power, the best Democrats could do was to try everything all at once was disheartening, though there was hope towards the evening’s end, with a speech by Bernie Sanders making a full-throated, detailed, compelling argument for Biden, and a speech by Michelle Obama making a similarly earnest argument for the concept of voting.

The former First Lady, a scarce presence on the national scene outside settings she can control (like her memoir, book tour, documentary, and podcast) replaced her connection with live audiences with an impassioned plea to camera. Even those who feel somewhat saturated by her promotion of the cause of Obama Awareness might have been compelled by her speech, despite her mentioning Biden only glancingly and Trump less frequently still. Obama’s argument, for turning out the vote in order to shift the direction of America’s soul, derived an elemental power from her delivery that the uncharitable might suggest stood in for urgency about the specifics of this case. (CNN has reported that Kamala Harris went unmentioned in Obama’s speech because the vice-presidential nominee was chosen after Obama recorded it, a deeply strange detail.)

But in some ways, the floating nature of the Michelle Obama speech felt like a comfort. Pressed for time and trying to distinguish themselves in an environment that did them no favors, most of the evening’s speakers tried to do multiple things in a single Quibi. Obama had a crystalline idea of the speech she wanted to give, one rooted in her sense of Donald Trump both as barely worthy of mention and so self-evidently worthy of defeat that his opponent didn’t merit much, either.

This was “going high,” the virtue she once again shouted out in her speech after first broaching it before a rapturous live audience at the last DNC in 2016 — a happier time, and not merely because people could gather together in real life. Then, as now, the concept went over huge, then as a novel way of addressing an unfamiliar threat to democracy, now as a manner of approach that has the air of being time-tested despite the inconvenient fact of not in fact having worked the first time. It, a dispatch from a time when disruptions seemed best addressed by rising above them, was the best an evening that elsewhere couldn’t help but indulging in chaos had to offer, though, and would have to suffice.

https://redd.it/ibz1js

NY Post cover

https://variety.com/2020/tv/columns/chaotic-democratic-national-convention-1234738294/

CODENAME: Operation Virus Identification 2019; the Elitist Plan to Remake Society – by Mike Whitney • 16 Aug 2020

Everything we were originally told about the Coronavirus has turned out to be wrong. In fact, it’s not a “novel” one-of-a-kind infection at all, but a member of a larger family of which there have been many iterations in the recent past. It’s also not the most contagious or most lethal virus we’ve ever seen, but a fairly-mild infection that has no impact on the majority of people and that only kills somewhere between 1 in every 200 to 1 in every 1,000 people. (CDC-IFR- 0.26%) Also, there was no real danger that our public health system was going to collapse, because the projected number of potential deaths (1 to 2 million in the US) never approached the estimates of the flawed computer models that were used to decide the policy. In short, just about everything we were told from the very beginning turned out to be demonstrably wrong. Why is that? Why do you think that the people who provided us with the information –many of them supposedly “experts” in their field– were so wrong about everything? And why haven’t they made any effort to publicly correct their mistakes when they realize how much confusion they’ve caused?

It’s politics, right? What other explanation could there be? Our leaders and their behind-the-scenes puppet-masters are using science as a vehicle for achieving their own narrow political objectives. In broader terms, COVID–19 or, should we say, CODENAME: Operation Virus Identification 2019, is the plan to manipulate virus-hysteria “to drastically and irrevocably” change the “fundamental structure of society” to establish a totalitarian world order. (Quote: from CJ Hopkins) That’s what’s happening, and the Democrats, the media and the many infectious disease experts are playing key roles in this operation that’s bound to continue until its objectives are achieved.

But let’s forgo the political analysis for now and review what we actually know about the virus itself. This, of course, would not be necessary if the media had been doing its job by providing accurate information rather than fueling public hysteria. Sadly, the majority of people are just as misinformed now as they were 6 months ago when the outbreak began. How could that be if the media was actually doing its job? It couldn’t.

What we know for certain is that the doomsday scenarios never materialized. 2 million Americans did not die and the world did not come to an abrupt end. We also know that the computer model predictions from the Imperial College were bogus just as we know that the countries that ignored those absurd models did better than the others. As Nobel prize winner Michael Levitt points out in an article at Haaretz:

The same type of models predicted that in Sweden, the number of deaths from COVID-19 would reach about 100,000 by June, if the Swedish government continues to refuse to impose lockdown measures. Sweden rejected these models and bravely adopted… a democratic policy that broadly enabled normal life to continue. Despite the large nursing homes in Sweden...the number of deaths turned out to be 6% of the one predicted, about 6,000 people, at an average age of 81. Half of the victims were nursing home residents who, in Sweden, have a median life expectancy of 9 months after admission.” (“Countering the Second Wave with Facts, not Misconceptions” Haaretz)

Repeat: Sweden’s death toll turned out to be just 6% of the original estimate. By comparison, the US death toll (167,000) is not quite 10% of the original (Imperial College) estimate. Both estimates were catastrophically wrong, and yet, we shut down the economy, drove unemployment up to levels not seen since the Great Depression, and condemned the country to years of agonizing restructuring. And for what??

Well, to promote a ghastly, authoritarian political agenda, that’s why. And this just helps to underscore what Covid-19 is really all about. It’s politics masquerading as science.

The Haaretz article also sheds light on the issue of “herd immunity” which is routinely mischaracterized in the media as the point at which 60% (or more) of the population have been infected and therefore have developed antibodies to the virus. This is wrong, in fact, the threshold for herd immunity is much lower than that, perhaps 5 to 15% of the population.

But, how can that be, after all, we were told that this was an entirely new “novel” virus that our species had never before experienced and for which we had no built-up immunity?

That was another lie. Here’s Michael Levitt again:

“Widespread infection is not required for stopping the epidemic. The argument that 60% of the population must be infected and becomes immune before the infection spread is halted is based on an incorrect mathematical calculation….The most significant evidence – decidedly refuting the need for 60% infection rate – is pre-immunity. For example, COVID-19 has several relatives (other coronaviruses) to which the population had been exposed, and such prior exposure can provide immunity to a significant segment of the population. Back in April, two of us wrote an article about the postulated nature of this immunity and the statistical evidence that pointed to its existence. We noted that in several closed communities that underwent testing, the infection rate was always capped at 20%, which statistically aligns with maximal infection rate in these communities rather than recurring coincidences. About a month later, a group of researchers published corroborating evidence in Cell, one of the most prestigious journals in the life sciences. About 60% of people in California who had never been exposed to COVID-19, had immune memory cells that recognized the virus and are therefore likely to provide immunity.

Moreover, a study in Germany showed that such immunity could reach a level as high as 81% of the population. …This rate of pre-immunity to COVID-19 is also evident in the global rates of infection. The virus began infecting humans more than eight months ago, and the epidemic has already spread to most of the world. Yet in all countries, the infection rate remains below 20 percent of the general population. This limited rate of infection has remained unchanged regardless of social distancing measures (if any),such as quarantines, local or country-wide lockdown, mask-wearing, and so on. In Sweden, for example, the infection rate did not exceed 20% and the percentage of people who survived the epidemic exceeds 99.9% (!) of the population. Such is the case in Belgium as well, the country with the highest population mortality rate, where less than 20% were infected, and more than 99.9% of the population has survived the epidemic…The implications of these findings are of utmost importance. They call for immediate removal of most restrictions on the economy, immediate return to normal life of low-risk population while helping high-risk groups reduce the rate of social contacts.” (Countering the Second Wave with Facts, not Misconceptions” Haaretz)

This is not some minor point. Our policy and the policies adopted by countries around the world are based on assumptions that are both unscientific and false. Do you really think the people responsible for implementing these policies don’t know the science or don’t know about “pre-immunity” or that that “prior exposure can provide immunity” or that ” the infection rate was always capped at 20% in all countries” (which means that only 1 in every 5 people will contract the infection regardless of their exposure.) or that in all cases and all countries “more than 99.9% of the population has survived the epidemic”?

Admit it, most readers don’t know anything about any of this because none of it has appeared in the MSM. Why is that? What malicious, evil forces are at work here? Why do our leaders and our media want to keep us in the dark about issues that are critical to our decision-making, critical to our livelihoods, and critical to our very survival? Why?

Again, do you really think our leaders and infectious disease experts– like the affable Anthony Fauci– are unaware of these facts? Do you think they have dismissed them as too trivial or too superficial to tell the public or do you think they are deliberately withholding any information that might mitigate the prevailing atmosphere of hysteria that is keeping the American people afraid, isolated and abjectly submissive to the manipulations of their paymasters?

That’s what you call a “no-brainer”. We have entered a period in which wealthy, globalist oligarchs are using fake science, amplified through their assets in the media and Democrat party, to fundamentally restructure society in a way that enhances their material interests while strengthening their grip on power. It’s as plain as the nose on your face.

And there’s more too, because censorship, manipulation and politics have real costs, and the costs can be calculated in terms of the lives that are lost due to the imposition of a ruthless and thoroughly-counterproductive policy: Lockdown. Here’s Levitt again:

“The third argument – removing restrictions will result in a higher mortality than a policy of lockdowns and restrictions – is also incorrect. A virus spreads in the population until enough people become infected and immune, or until a vaccine is found. Lockdowns and restrictions may only slow down its spread (“flatten the curve”) but they do not lower the total number of infections or overall mortality. If there is a risk of overwhelming hospitals, there might be a need to slow the spread of the infection. Otherwise, flattening the curve can only be harmful since the infection returns once the restrictions are removed. Moreover, efficient protection of high-risk groups is possible only for a limited period of time: The longer the time, the harder it is to prevent their exposure to the virus. Therefore, paradoxically, it is precisely lockdowns and restrictions that slow the building of herd immunity, which in turn is needed to stop the epidemic and protect high-risk groups. In the long run, such policy can lead to excessive mortality.” (Countering the Second Wave with Facts, not Misconceptions” Haaretz)

In other words, lockdowns can postpone infections but cannot prevent them. A virus is going to do what a virus does. Period. Imposing lockdowns is as bound to fail as standing at the water’s edge and ordering the tide to stop coming in. It’s empty posturing that achieves nothing. As Levitt says, lockdowns are, in fact, a threat to older and vulnerable people because the longer they are in place, “the harder it is to prevent their exposure to the virus.” In short, the lockdowns actually kill the people they are supposed to save.

Do you think our leaders know this? Of course, they know it. Levitt is not the only scientist who’s able to think clearly and rationally. The others have merely shaped thier approach to the demands of their employers. Does the name “Bill Gates” ring a bell?

Here’s Levitt again:

“In Sweden…there is no “second wave” because there was no lockdown. Thus, the policy of imposing and easing restrictions only prolongs the crisis, destroys the economy, and eventually leads to a larger number of victims. It may even continue for years as long as a vaccine is not available. The alternative to lockdowns and restrictions must be seriously considered.” (“Countering the Second Wave with Facts, not Misconceptions” Haaretz)

Indeed, lockdowns cost lives, lockdowns cost money, and lockdowns are the wrong policy. Here’s Levitt one last time:

“It can be assumed that the handling of the COVID-19 crisis will be scrutinized – both in terms of health aspects, but also in light of public outrage over the state of the economy. So many people all over the world have lost their sources of income, livelihood, dignity and future. Poverty is a much more severe mortality risk factor than COVID-19, and it affects children as much as adults. One of the key questions that will surely be asked is whether the leadership in each country has ever seriously considered a worthy alternative to resolving the crisis, which will not cost so many human lives or destroy the economy. Countries such as Norway, Ireland, and Belgium have already declared that they will not impose further lockdowns as the obvious damage outweighs the doubtful benefit by a wide margin.” (“Countering the Second Wave with Facts, not Misconceptions” Haaretz)

By any measure, the United States is in worse condition than ever before. We have destroyed our economy, closed our schools, obliterated our small and medium-sized businesses, increased suicides, depression, domestic abuse, poverty, homelessness, alienation and destitution. The American people have been plunged into a strange world of persistent fear and relentless manipulation by scheming elites who are resolutely committed to remaking society from the ground-up. COVID-19 is merely the vehicle they have chosen to achieve their nefarious objectives.

………………..

Does Hydroxychloroquine work? You decide?

Note–All excerpts taken from (“Countering the Second Wave with Facts, not Misconceptions” Haaretz) Udi Qimron, Uri Gavish, Eyal Shahar, Michael Levitt”
https://www.dropbox.com/s/72hi9jfcqfct1n9/Haaretz-20Jul20_ENGLISH%2012082020%20v3.pdf

1– Prof. Udi Qimron is the (elected) Head of Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University
2– Dr. Uri Gavish is a Physicist, an expert in Algorithm Analysis and a Bio-medical consultant
3– Prof. (Emeritus) Eyal Shahar is an Epidemiologist, University of Arizona
4– Prof. Michael Levitt is a Nobel Prize-winning (Chemistry, 2013) Structural Biology professor, Stanford UniversityThe original article was published in Ha’aretz in Hebrew on July 20, 2020. The English text contains minor revisions.

How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy – by Jonathan Cook • 10 Aug 2020

It is simply astonishing that the first attempt by the Guardian – the only major British newspaper styling itself as on the liberal-left – to properly examine the contents of a devastating internal Labour party report leaked in April is taking place nearly four months after the 860-page report first came to light.

If you are a Labour party member, the Guardian is the only “serious”, big-circulation paper claiming to represent your values and concerns.

One might therefore have assumed that anything that touches deeply on Labour party affairs – on issues of transparency and probity, on the subversion of the party’s democratic structures, on abuses or fraud by its officials – would be of endless interest to the paper. One might have assumed it would wish both to dedicate significant resources to investigating such matters for itself and to air all sides of the ensuing debate to weigh their respective merits.

Not a bit of it. For months, the leaked report and its implications have barely registered in the Guardian’s pages. When they have, the coverage has been superficial and largely one-sided – the side that is deeply hostile to its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

That very much fits a pattern of coverage of the Corbyn years by the paper, as I have tried to document. It echoes the paper’s treatment of an earlier scandal, back in early 2017, when an undercover Al-Jazeera reporter filmed pro-Israel Labour activists working with the Israeli embassy to damage Corbyn from within. A series of shocking reports by Al-Jazeera merited minimal coverage from the Guardian at the time they were aired and then immediately sank without trace, as though they were of no relevance to later developments – most especially, of course, the claims by these same groups of a supposed “antisemitism crisis” in Labour.

Sadly, the latest reports by the Guardian on the leaked report –presented as an “exclusive” – do not fundamentally change its long-running approach.

Kicked into the long grass

In fact, what the paper means by an “exclusive” is that it has seen documents responding to the leaked report that were submitted by Corbyn and his team to the Forde inquiry – Labour’s official investigation into that report and the circumstances of its leaking. The deadline for submissions to Martin Forde QC arrived last week.

Setting up the Forde inquiry was the method by which Corbyn’s successor, Keir Starmer, hoped to kick the leaked report into the long grass till next year. Doubtless Starmer believes that by then the report will be stale news and that he will have had time to purge from the party, or at least intimidate into silence, the most outspoken remnants of Corbyn’s supporters.

Corbyn’s submission on the leaked report is an “exclusive” for the Guardian only because no one in the corporate media bothered till now to cover the debates raging in Labour since the leak four months ago. The arguments made by Corbyn and his supporters, so prominent on social media, have been entirely absent from the so-called “mainstream”.

When Corbyn finally got a chance to air the issues raised by the leaked report in a series of articles on the Middle East Eye website, its coverage went viral, underscoring how much interest there is in this matter among Labour members.

Nonetheless, despite desperately needing clicks and revenue in this especially difficult time for the corporate media, the Guardian is still spurning revelatory accounts of Corbyn’s time in office by his former team.

One published last week – disclosing that, after winning the leadership election, Corbyn arrived to find the leader’s offices gutted, that Labour HQ staff refused to approve the hiring of even basic staff for him, and that disinformation was constantly leaked to the media – was relegated to the OpenDemocracy website.

That Joe Ryle, a Corbyn team insider, either could not find a home for his insights in the Guardian or didn’t even try says it all – because much of the disinformation he laments being peddled to the media ended up in the Guardian, which was only too happy to amplify it as long as it was harming Corbyn.

A political coup

Meanwhile, everything in the Guardian’s latest “exclusive” confirms what has long been in the public realm, via the leaked report.

Through its extensive documentation of WhatsApp messages and emails, the report shows conclusively that senior Labour officials who had dominated the party machine since the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown eras – and were still loyal to the party’s centre-right incarnation as New Labour – worked at every turn to oust Corbyn from the leadership. They even tried to invent ways to bar him from standing in a rerun leadership election a year later, in 2016, after Owen Smith, the Labour right’s preferred candidate, challenged him.

Corbyn and his supporters were viewed as dangerous “Trots” – to use a derisive term that dominates those exchanges.

The messages show these same officials did their level best to sabotage Labour’s 2017 general election campaign – an election that Corbyn was less than 3,000 votes from winning. Party officials starved marginal seats Corbyn hoped to win of money and instead focused resources on MPs hostile to Corbyn. It seems they preferred a Tory win if it gave momentum to their efforts to rid the party of Corbyn.

Or, as the submission notes: “It’s not impossible that Jeremy Corbyn might now be in his third year as a Labour prime minister were it not for the unauthorised, unilateral action taken by a handful of senior party officials.”

The exchanges in the report also show that these officials on the party’s right privately gave voice to horrifying racism towards other party members, especially black members of the party loyal to Corbyn.

And the leaked report confirms the long-running claims of Corbyn and his team that the impression of “institutional antisemitism” in Labour – a narrative promoted in the corporate media without any actual evidence beyond the anecdotal – had been stoked by the party’s rightwing, Blairite officials.

They appear to have delayed and obstructed the handling of the small number of antisemitism complaints – usually found by trawling through old social media posts – to embarrass Corbyn and make the “antisemitism crisis” narrative appear more credible.

Corbyn’s team have pointed out that these officials – whose salaries were paid by the membership, which elected Corbyn as party leader – cheated those members of their dues and their rights, as well as, of course, subverting the entire democratic process. The submission rightly asks the inquiry to consider whether the money spent by Labour officials to undermine Corbyn “constituted fraudulent activity”.

One might go even further and argue that what they did amounted to a political coup.

The bogus ‘whistleblower’ narrative

Even now, as the Guardian reports on Corbyn’s submission to the Forde inquiry, it has downplayed the evidence underpinning his case, especially on the antisemitism issue – which the Guardian played such a key role in weaponising in the first place.

The paper’s latest coverage treats the Corbyn “claims” sceptically, as though the leaked report exists in a political vacuum and there are no other yardsticks by which the truth of its evidence or the plausibility of its claims can be measured.

Let’s start with one illustrative matter. The Guardian, as with the rest of the corporate media, even now avoids drawing the most obvious conclusion from the leaked report.

Racism was endemic in the language and behaviours of Labour’s senior, rightwing officials, as shown time and again in the WhatsApp messages and emails.

And yet it is these very same officials – those who oversaw the complaints procedure as well as the organisation of party headquarters – who, according to the corporate media narrative, were so troubled by one specific kind of racism, antisemitism, that they turned it into the biggest, most enduring crisis facing Corbyn during his five-year tenure as leader.

To accept the corporate media narrative on this supposed “antisemitism crisis”, we must ignore several things:

  • the lack of any statistical evidence of a specific antisemitism problem in Labour;
  • the vehement racism expressed by Labour officials, as well as their overt and abiding hostility to Corbyn;
  • moves by party officials forcing Corbyn to accept a new definition of antisemitism that shifted the focus from a hatred of Jews to criticism of Israel;
  • and the fact that the handling of antisemitism complaints dramatically improved once these rightwing officials were removed from their positions.

And yet in its latest reporting, as with its earlier coverage, the Guardian simply ignores all this confirmatory evidence.

There are several reasons for this, as I have documented before, but one very obvious one is this: the Guardian, like the rest of the British media, had worked hard to present former officials on the right of the party as brave “whistleblowers” long before they were exposed by the leaked report.

Like the BBC’s much-criticised Panorama “investigation” last year into Labour’s alleged “antisemitism crisis”, the Guardian took the claims of these former staff – of their supposed selfless sacrifice to save the party from anti-Jewish bigots – at face value.

In fact, it was likely even worse than that. The Guardian and BBC weren’t just passive, neutral recipients of the disinformation offered by these supposed “whistleblowers”. They shared the Labour right’s deep antipathy to Corbyn and everything he stood for, and as a result almost certainly served as willing, even enthusiastic channels for that disinformation.

The Guardian hardly bothers to conceal where its sympathies lie. It continues to laud Blair from beyond the political grave and, while Corbyn was leader, gave him slots in its pages to regularly lambast Corbyn and scaremonger about Labour’s “takeover” by the supposedly “extreme” and “hard” left. The paper did so despite the fact that Blair had grown ever more discredited as evidence amassed that his actions in invading Iraq in 2003 were crimes against humanity.

Were the Guardian to now question the narrative it promoted about Corbyn – a narrative demolished by the leaked report – the paper would have to admit several uncomfortable things:

  • that for years it was either gulled by, or cooperated with, the Blairites’ campaign of disinformation;
  • that it took no serious steps to investigate the Labour right’s claims or to find out for itself what was really going on in Labour HQ;
  • that it avoided cultivating a relationship with Corbyn’s team while he was in office that would have helped it to ascertain more effectively what was happening inside the party;
  • or that, if it did cultivate such a relationship (and, after all, Seumas Milne took up his post as Corbyn’s chief adviser immediately after leaving the Guardian), it consistently and intentionally excluded the Corbyn team’s account of events in its reporting.

To now question the narrative it invested so much energy in crafting would risk Guardian readers drawing the most plausible conclusion for their paper’s consistent reporting failures: that the Guardian was profoundly opposed to Corbyn becoming prime minister and allowed itself, along with the rest of the corporate media, to be used as channel for the Labour right’s disinformation.

Stabbed in the back

None of that has changed in the latest coverage of Corbyn’s submission to Forde concerning the leaked report.

The Guardian could not realistically ignore that submission by the party’s former leader and his team. But the paper could – and does – strip out the context on which the submission was based so as not to undermine or discredit its previous reporting against Corbyn.

Its main article on the Corbyn team’s submission becomes a claim and counter-claim story, with an emphasis on an unnamed former official arguing that criticism of him and other former staff at Labour HQ is nothing more than a “mythical ‘stab in the back’ conspiracy theory”.

The problem is that there are acres of evidence in the leaked report that these officials did stab Corbyn and his team in the back – and, helpfully for the rest of us, recorded some of their subversive, anti-democratic activities in private internal correspondence between themselves. Anyone examining those message chains would find it hard not to conclude that these officials were actively plotting against Corbyn.

To discredit the Corbyn team’s submission, the Labour right would need to show that these messages were invented. They don’t try to do that because those messages are very obviously only too real.

Instead they have tried two different, inconsistent strategies. First, they have argued that their messages were presented in a way that was misleading or misrepresented what they said. This claim does not hold water, given that the leaked report includes very lengthy, back-and-forth exchanges between senior staff. The context of those exchanges is included – context the officials themselves provided in their messages to each other.

Second, the self-styled “whistleblowers” now claim that publication of their messages – documenting efforts to undermine Corbyn – violates their right to privacy and breaches data protection laws. They can apparently see no public interest in publishing information that exposes their attempts to subvert the party’s internal democratic processes.

It seems that these “whistleblowers” are more committed to data concealment than exposure – despite the title they have bestowed on themselves. This is a strange breed of whistleblower indeed, one that seeks to prevent transparency and accountability.

In a telling move, despite claiming that their messages have been misrepresented, these former officials want the Forde inquiry to be shut down rather than given the chance to investigate their claims and, assuming they are right, exonerate them.

Further, they are trying to intimidate the party into abandoning the investigation by threatening to bankrupt it through legal actions for breaching their privacy. The last thing they appear to want is openness and a proper accounting of the Corbyn era.

Shrugging its shoulders

In its latest reporting, the Guardian frames the leaked report as “clearly intended to present a pro-Corbyn narrative for posterity” – as though the antisemitism narrative the Guardian and the rest of the corporate media spent nearly five years crafting and promoting was not clearly intended to do the precise opposite: to present an anti-Corbyn narrative for posterity.

Peter Walker, the paper’s political correspondent, describes the messages of former, rightwing Labour officials as “straying” into “apparent” racism and misogyny, as though the relentless efforts revealed in these exchanges to damage and undermine prominent black MPs like Diane Abbott are open to a different interpretation.

According to Walker, the report’s evidence of election-scuppering in 2017 is “circumstantial” and “there is seemingly no proof of active obstruction”. Even assuming that were true, such a deficiency could easily be remedied had the Guardian, with all its staff and resources, made even the most cursory effort to investigate the leaked report’s claims since April – or in the years before, when the Corbyn team were trying to counter the disinformation spread by the Labour right.

The Guardian largely shrugs its shoulders, repeatedly insinuating that all this constitutes little more than Labour playground bickering. Starmer is presented as school principal – the one responsible adult in the party – who, we are told, is “no stranger to managing Labour factions”.

The Guardian ignores the enormous stakes in play both for Labour members who expected to be able to shape the party’s future using its supposedly democratic processes and for the very functioning of British democracy itself. Because if the leaked report is right, the British political system looks deeply rigged: there to ensure that only the establishment-loving right and centre-right ever get to hold power.

The Guardian’s approach suggests that the paper has abdicated all responsibility for either doing real journalism on its Westminster doorstep or for acting as a watchdog on the British political system.

Guardian hypocrisy

Typifying the hypocrisy of the Guardian and its continuing efforts to present itself a hapless bystander rather than active participant in efforts to disrupt the Labour party’s internal democratic processes and sabotage the 2017 and 2019 elections is its lead columnist Jonathan Freedland.

Outside of the Guardian’s editorials, Freedland’s columns represent the closest we have to a window on the ideological soul of the paper. He is a barometer of the political mood there.

Freedland was among the loudest and most hostile opponents of Corbyn throughout his time as leader. Freedland was also one of the chief purveyors and justifiers of the fabled antisemitism narrative against Corbyn.

He, and the rightwing Jewish Chronicle he also writes for, gave these claims an official Jewish seal of approval. They trumpeted the narrow, self-serving perspective of Jewish organisations like the Board of Deputies, whose leaders are nowadays closely allied with the Conservative party.

They amplified the bogus claims of the Jewish Labour Movement, a tiny, pro-Israel organisation inside Labour that was exposed – though the Guardian, of course, never mentions it – as effectively an entryist group, and one working closely with the Israeli embassy, in that detailed undercover investigation filmed by Al-Jazeera.

Freedland and the Chronicle endlessly derided Jewish groups that supported Corbyn, such as Jewish Voice for Labour, Just Jews and Jewdas, with antisemitic insinuations that they were the “wrong kind of Jews”. Freedland argued that strenuous criticism of Israel was antisemitic by definition because Israel lay at the heart of any proper Jew’s identity.

It did not therefore matter whether critics could show that Israel was constitutionally racist – a state similar to apartheid South Africa – as many scholars have done. Freedland argued that Jews and Israel were all but indistinguishable, and to call Israel racist was to malign Jews who identified with it. (Apparently unaware of the Pandora’s box such a conflation opened up, he rightly – if inconsistently – claimed that it was antisemitic for anyone to make the same argument in reverse: blaming Jews for Israel’s actions.)

Freedland pushed hard for Labour to be forced to adopt that new, troubling definition of antisemitism, produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, that shifted the focus away from hatred of Jews to criticism of Israel. Under this new definition, claims that Israel was “a racist endeavour” – a view shared by some prominent Israeli scholars – was treated as definitive proof of antisemitism.

One-party politics

If anyone gave the weaponisation of antisemitism against Corbyn an air of bipartisan respectability it was Freedland and his newspaper, the Guardian. They made sure Corbyn was hounded by the antisemitism claims while he was Labour leader, overshadowing everything else he did. That confected narrative neutralised his lifelong activism as an anti-racist, it polluted his claims to be a principled politician fighting for the underdog.

Freedland and the Guardian not only helped to breathe life into the antisemitism allegations but they made them sound credible to large sections of the Labour membership too.

The rightwing media presented the Corbyn project as a traitorous, hard-left move, in cahoots with Putin’s Russia, to undermine Britain. Meanwhile, Freedland and the Guardian destroyed Corbyn from his liberal-left flank by portraying him and his supporters as a mob of leftwing Nazis-in-waiting.

Corbynism, in Freedland’s telling, became a “sect”, a cult of dangerous leftists divorced from political realities. And then, with astonishing chutzpah, Freedland blamed Corbyn’s failure at the ballot box – a failure Freedland and the Guardian had helped to engineer – as a betrayal of the poor and the vulnerable.

Remember, Corbyn lost by less than 3,000 votes in a handful of Labour marginals in 2017. Despite all this, Freedland and the Guardian now pretend that they played no role in destroying Corbyn, they behave as if their hands are clean.

But Freedland’s actions, like those of his newspaper, had one inevitable outcome. They ushered in the only alternative to Corbyn: a government of the hard right led by Boris Johnson.

Freedland’s choice to assist Johnson by undermining Corbyn – and, worse, to do so on the basis of a disinformation campaign – makes him culpable, as it does the Guardian, in everything that flowed from his decision. But Freedland, like the Guardian, still pontificates on the horrors of the Johnson government, as if they share no blame for helping Johnson win power.

In his latest column, Freedland writes: “The guiding principle [of the Johnson government] seems to be brazen cronyism, coupled with the arrogance of those who believe they are untouchable and that rules are for little people.”

Why should the Tories under Johnson be so “arrogant”, so sure they are “untouchable”, that “rules are for little people”, and that there is no political price to be paid for “cronyism”?

Might it not have much to do with seeing Freedland and the Guardian assist so willingly in the corporate media’s efforts to destroy the only political alternative to “rule by the rich” Toryism? Might the Johnson government have grown more confident knowing that the ostensibly liberal-left media were just as determined as the rightwing media to undermine the only politician on offer who stood for precisely the opposite political values they did?

Might it not reflect an understanding by Johnson and his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, that Freedland and the Guardian have played a hugely significant part in ensuring that Britain effectively has a one-party state – and that when it returns to being a formal two-party state, as it seems to be doing once again now that Starmer is running the Labour party, both those parties will offer the same establishment-worshipping agenda, even if in two mildly different flavours?

The Guardian, like the rest of the corporate media, has derided and vilified as “populism” the emergence of any real political alternative.

The leaked report offered a brief peek behind the curtain at how politics in Britain – and elsewhere – really works. It showed that, during Corbyn’s time as leader, the political battle lines became intensely real. They were no longer the charade of a phoney fight between left and right, between Labour and Conservative.

Instead, the battle shifted to where it mattered, to where it might finally make change possible: for control of the Labour party so that it might really represent the poor and vulnerable against rule by the rich. Labour became the battleground, and the Guardian made all too clear where its true loyalties lie.

 

If China Does It, It’s Spying. If the US Does It, It’s Research – by Larry Romanoff • 10 Aug 2020

In the late 1950s and early 1960s there was an American TV series called “The Naked City”, set in NYC. The opening for each episode began with the intoned words, “There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This is one of them.” Well, there are probably 8 million American spy stories that have taken place in China during the past few decades. Here are two of them.

Introduction

Several years ago it was reported that the Pentagon was building an international spy network that might become even larger than that of the CIA, planning to have at least 1,600 “collectors of information” spread around the world. In addition to military attaches and others who do not work undercover, more clandestine operatives would be trained by the CIA and deployed overseas to undertake tasks the CIA was unwilling to pursue. It was duly confirmed that China was among the Pentagon’s top intelligence priorities, reflecting the American affinity for espionage and covert action, evidence of which we no longer need. Americans are frequently conscripted by the CIA or the US military into espionage service in China, operating with the assistance of the US State Department.

Foreign individuals in China, ostensibly acting independently, are regularly apprehended by Chinese authorities for carrying out illegal surveys and mapping, marking the location of key military and other facilities. Almost 40 illegal surveying and mapping cases were detected in China in the past several years alone, mostly surrounding some of China’s military bases and installations, and in sensitive border areas such as Xinjiang and Tibet, the data almost certainly used in planning the foreign-sponsored unrest that occurred in those provinces.

In one recent case, an American citizen was found using two professional surveying and mapping GPS receivers on which he had recorded more than 90,000 coordinates, 50,000 of those near military installations. He travelled to XinJiang on a pretext of registering a travel agency to offer outdoor tours to foreigners in Urumqi, and clearly was there on assignment from the US government when he was caught. This is the reason Google’s mapping service was killed in China. Google was busy collecting high-resolution intelligence for the CIA, again images of sensitive military areas.

It is widely-known in China that literally thousands of the staff of the US Embassy in Beijing and its various Consulates are engaged in activities which are clearly espionage. This was the reason the Chinese government selected the closure of the US Consulate in Chengdu. Chinese authorities had repeatedly objected to the US Embassy and the US Government that the staff in Chengdu were engaged in activities “not commensurate with their diplomatic designations”. That’s Chinese understatement.

The American media are fond of accusing the Chinese of “seeing a conspiracy around every corner”, but these events are sufficient in number to justify China’s concern, these same media neglecting to note that anyone collecting hundreds of thousands of GPS coordinates near American military bases, would have a very short future.

Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola Company has always been involved in espionage for the US military and the State Department.[1] Oddly, neither the Coca-Cola company website nor Google have any knowledge of this, and the State Department had no one available to discuss this with me. Since at least the 1940s, when the company established bottling plants in a new country, OSS or CIA spies were automatically sent in as part of the staff. It wasn’t even much of a secret: when the US Senate held their famous Iran-Contra hearings in 1987, the link between the CIA and Coca-Cola was fully exposed.

And it isn’t only Coca-Cola, but let’s look at this company first. In March of 2013, Laurie Burkitt of the WSJ wrote a pleasantly uninformed article[2] about Coca-Cola having been charged with espionage in Western China, her curious but typically American media spin being that this highlighted “the perils of doing business in China”. Let’s look at the facts.

On 21 separate occasions, 21 different Coca-Cola trucks were apprehended while conducting what the Western media called ‘surveying’ or ‘mapping’ of some of China’s more politically-sensitive areas that included borders and military bases. The first question coming to mind is why drivers of Coca-Cola delivery trucks would be conducting “mapping operations” or “surveying” anywhere in the world, much less in Yunnan and other politically-sensitive areas of China, and especially of border areas and those surrounding military bases. Even more to the point, why would Coca-Cola drivers doing this ‘mapping’ be as much as 600 kilometers off their normal delivery routes?

Coca-Cola said the GPS units its employees used were “digital map and customer logistic systems commercially available in China”, a claim that was an outright lie. It is true that many truck fleets around the world install GPS devices in their vehicles to help track locations and improve their logistics efficiency, but these GPS units are permanently mounted and are generally ‘dumb’ units able to do no more than record and transmit their location to a central source, and indeed that is their only use. But in the case of the Coca-Cola trucks, the GPS devices were not mounted but were hand-held units of military grade and were so sophisticated in their programming that Chinese military officials at first had considerable difficulty in precisely determining all their functions. Many of those units contained nearly 90,000 coordinates of military bases and other sensitive areas. In her article, Burkitt ignored all of this with the foolish claim that the GPS units were “only being used to improve fuel efficiency and customer service”, her claim immediately picked up by the US media to paint Coca-Cola as the victim and portray China as sensitive to the point of paranoia.[3]

An official government statement was as follows:

“What we can say for now is that many subsidiaries of Coca-Cola are involved and this happens in many provinces. Due to the sheer scale of the case, the complexity of the technology involved and the implication to our national security, we are working with the Ministry of State Security on this.”

If the Ministry of State Security is involved, you can be sure this is a damned serious matter, and it was due to the use of what were called “devices with ultra high sensitivity” and GPS units containing “mapping technology with military-level algorithms” that got them involved.[4] The reason of course is that such geographical data is primarily used by cruise missiles directed against sensitive military facilities. These data must be obtained on the ground because, while observation satellites can provide very high resolution, their photos have no frame of reference and cannot provide sufficiently accurate location targeting data – no matter what the New York Times tells you. At the time, Han Qixiang, director of the administration’s law enforcement department, claimed that Coca-Cola was doing more than just improving its supply chain, and was using mapping technology so sophisticated that the administration had difficulty adequately analysing the company’s system. And, while it wasn’t widely reported at the time, these same “Coca-Cola drivers” were simultaneously conducting aerial photography of military bases with drones.

No further information was released, but it was clear from government statements that this Coca-Cola espionage event was much more serious than portrayed in the Western media. And, with due apologies to Laurie Burkitt, none of this was about “the perils of doing business in China”.

Another item may provide some insight into Coca-Cola’s involvement. One is that the Chinese media published stories at around the same time that appeared unconnected but that were almost certainly part of this same process. The stories involved Coca-Cola employees who had been arrested for accepting bribes. One such individual surnamed Zhu who worked in Coca-Cola’s Shenmei marketing department had apparently accepted more than 10 million RMB, about US$1.5 million, with several others having been accused and detained for the same offense.[5][6] It is true that employees of Coca-Cola and other American firms in China often demand bribes, but these are usually small-scale extortion attempts from company suppliers where the individual has authority to grant business contracts, and the police are generally uninterested in these matters unless the company itself requests a police investigation. But these payments were two orders of magnitude above the commercial extortion level, leaving the more logical conclusion that these additional Coca-Cola employees had received their payments from the same source as the truck drivers performing the GPS ‘mapping’, in other words, from some agency of the US government, with the money dispensed in cash through the Coca-Cola company from the US Embassy, but were caught before they could execute their espionage duties.

This is a good place to note that in a typical year (at least until recently) the American consulates in China were receiving about 800,000 visa applications per year from Chinese citizens, mostly for studying or tourism. The US Embassy and consulates charged a fee of 1,000 RMB for each application, with a stipulation that the fee be paid only in cash. To save you the math, that’s about 800 million RMB per year, or about US$130 million that by-passed the banking system and was available for black ops. A more recent but undated website page claims application fees can be paid by Visa or Master Card, American Express, Discover and Diners Club, of course every Chinese citizen carrying these American credit cards to the same extent that every American carries Bank of China credit cards.

The Interesting Case of Xue Feng

In 2010, a Chinese Court charged Chinese-American geologist Xue Feng with attempting to obtain and traffic in state secrets and sentenced him to eight years in prison with a 200,000 RMB fine, for his attempts at purchasing data on the Chinese oil industry. Naturally, the US government reacted with “dismay and puzzlement” at the prison sentence imposed and, just as naturally, the American media presented a distorted description of the surrounding events while withholding most of the crucial information. Let’s look at the facts.

From various sources, Feng had collected documents and proprietary data on the geological conditions of China’s on-shore oil wells, as well as a database providing the GPS co-ordinates of more than 30,000 oil and gas wells belonging to CNOOC and PetroChina. The information was then sold (or about to be sold) to US-based IHS Energy for US$350,000.

The primary issue is that without oil, a country has no military capability. Without a consistent supply of oil, ships cannot sail, aircraft cannot fly, tanks cannot move, and troops cannot be transported. The US, being one of only two nations in the world always looking for yet another war, is the only country that amasses data on the petroleum supply capability of all other nations. It does so because, in the event of an armed conflict, it wants to know the enemy’s military fuel capacity. This includes not only tanker supply routes but the production capability of all producing wells, the duration of maximum production and, perhaps most importantly, the precise GPS coordinates for launching missiles to destroy this capability. This is why information on China’s oil wells is of great interest to the US military, and of course why the information is considered by the Chinese government to be sensitive and confidential. It could be crucial to China’s survival.

Let’s look at Feng’s supposed employer, the mysterious IHS Energy, identified in the US media as an “information-services company” providing data on worldwide petroleum production to customers around the world. Not quite true. IHS is a secretive company primarily engaged full-time in espionage for the US military, and in fact IHS was born in the US military although neither Google nor Bing seem aware of this. This company was originally created to serve the US aerospace weapons manufacturing industry and to coordinate purchases from weapons contractors. The company publishes many books and military trade magazines that are used by Western governments as a prime source of military intelligence and information on defense and warfare. One company owned by IHS is Jane’s Information Group[7][8], perhaps the prime source of global aerospace and defense industry information and intelligence to all Western government agencies. IHS also owns a company named Cambridge Energy Research Associates[9], which is a military intelligence-gathering firm that advises the US and other Western governments on military strategy and what we might call ‘geopolitics’, related to the energy availability of foreign militaries, certainly including China.

More to the point is that one of IHS’s most critical assets is a massive database that contains all the production and technical information on the vast majority of oil and gas wells in the entire world[10], an asset collected exclusively for use by the US military, the CIA and the State Department. This information is a critical part of American war-planning since a prime objective in an armed conflict would be to neutralise or destroy an opponent’s energy supplies. And, since the US has for years been planning war scenarios involving China, this is why IHS was so interested in obtaining all that information.

From this, you can understand why IHS had Feng collecting information on such an enormous and detailed scale. For its war planning, the US military needs to know the precise production capacity of all China’s oil wells and whether their yields are increasing or declining, in order to estimate the ability of China’s military to function during a conflict if the US navy cuts off imported supplies of tanker petroleum to China through the South China Sea. IHS was tasked with obtaining this information, including the precise GPS coordinates of all producing wells of any consequence so the US military could target and destroy them with cruise missiles. And that’s why the information was worth $350,000 to IHS; they would have re-worked and resold it for millions to various departments of the US military and other government agencies.

Feng was not an employee of IHS. He was a freelancer who had been hired and trained by the CIA in espionage and data collection in China, then turned over to IHS under contract to collect the necessary information. The WSJ made a coy statement that Feng “had switched jobs shortly before he was detained for his work for IHS.” This was the reason.[11] Feng was not doing ‘research’ in any sense in which we use that word, nor was he collecting information that was already in the public domain as the Western media tried to portray him. Instead, he was engaged in an important program of espionage for the US military in an area crucial to China’s defense, and should have been executed for his actions. I cannot understand why he was not.

The information Feng attempted to collect was neither commercially available nor in ‘the public domain’ as the Western media suggested. Other media reports stated this information is publicly available in the US, a claim that may be true, but irrelevant. The US is not in danger of military attack and nobody is collecting GPS coordinates on American oil wells so as to direct cruise missiles in their direction. In any case, I could hardly escape arrest or imprisonment in the US by claiming that my ‘market research’ on their military assets was legal in some other country and therefore the US had no right to detain me, though Feng attempted this defense in the Chinese courts.

In one of its articles on this issue, the WSJ made this observation: “Mr. Xue was born in China, a reminder that ethnic Chinese may be more vulnerable to pitfalls of the country’s legal system than other foreigners. Like IHS, many multinationals have come to rely on people like Xue to run their China operations.” IHS had no “China operations” nor any presence in China, but the above comment is true in the sense that in such circumstances the Chinese authorities have tended to be more lenient with foreigners than with ethnic Chinese whom they deem traitors to their homeland.

The US invests considerable effort to locate and indoctrinate Chinese-born Americans who can be sufficiently “turned” to betray their own country. Feng was undoubtedly one of these, his attraction to the CIA based on the assumption that, being ethnic Chinese, he would attract less attention than other foreigners and might better understand how to fit into the cultural environment without drawing attention to himself.

The US government took a very strong interest in Feng’s case, and mounted a prolonged diplomatic campaign to have him released on “humanitarian” grounds. Former US ambassador Jon Huntsman visited Feng in prison, and even President Obama met with China’s President to beg for Feng’s release, while many other US government officials raised the issue privately. Just so you know, when the US government exhibits such keen interest in the fate of one such individual, it is only because those same officials were actively involved in placing the person in that situation, and feel some responsibility to save their “asset”. It was interesting that this case must have involved more than merely oil well production and location data because anyone from the US government was barred from the hearing[12], which would indicate there were additional and serious classified matters involved.

For your reading entertainment, here are some of the Western distortions:

The UK Independent carried a headline screaming, “US geologist jailed for eight years in China for oil research”[13], in a case that “highlights the government’s use of vague secrets laws to restrict business information”. The Wall Street Journal told us that “Mr. Xue’s case is the latest to highlight stark questions about the legality in China of conducting market research”, claiming “Mr. Xue’s case stems purely from his attempt to purchase commercially available data on the oil industry”. Notice the choice of words. Feng was imprisoned for conducting ‘market research’, in which capacity he attempted to purchase ‘commercially available data’, leaving an impression that was quite different from the facts. The UK Guardian[14] and the Telegraph[15] chimed in as well, and Fox News told us that “Chinese officials have wide authority to classify information as state secrets.” Unlike the Americans.[16] The US government played its part in the media circus, claiming Feng simply “received” information that “should be in the public domain”, and “was just doing his job”.

More amusingly, the WSJ claimed that China’s court announcing its verdict during an American holiday weekend, “appeared to be a calculated act of defiance” against the US[17], meaning that China should conduct its internal affairs with one eye on a calendar of US holidays to ensure Americans are properly informed. A Jewish-American law professor in New York, Jerome A. Cohen, who purports to be “an authority on China’s legal system”, claimed that this was a case of China’s “thumbing its nose at the US government” – apparently an unforgivable act of defiance against the Imperial Master. And the act of sending Feng to conduct espionage in China would be the US government’s ‘thumbing their nose’ at whom?

Notes

[1] https://cocacolaunited.com/blog/2012/11/12/supporting-u-s-military-and-veterans-since-1941/

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323826704578357131413767460

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/china-accuses-coca-cola-of-misusing-gps-equipment/

[4] http://www.3snews.net/startup/246000023519.html

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/business/global/14coke.html

[6] http://www.china.org.cn/china/news/2009-09/17/content_18543520.htm

[7] https://janes.ihs.com/

[8] https://www.janes.com/defence-equipment-intelligence/

[9] https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/company/376925Z:US

[10] https://ihsmarkit.com/products/international-well-data.html

[11] https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704594804575649722313164714

[12] https://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/01/world/asia/01beijing.html

[13] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/us-geologist-jailed-for-eight-years-in-china-for-oil-research-2019192.html

[14] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jul/05/us-geologist-china-prison

[15] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/7871740/American-geologist-Xue-Feng-jailed-in-China-for-eight-years.html

[16] https://www.foxnews.com/world/chinese-court-sentences-us-geologist-abused-by-state-security-agents-to-8-years-in-jail

[17] https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704738404575347901204454976

Western media’s favorite Hong Kong ‘freedom struggle writer’ is American ex-Amnesty staffer in yellowface – by Max Blumenthal (Greyzone) 8 Aug 2020

A prominent Hong Kong pundit and anti-China activist named Kong Tsung-gan has become a go-to source for Western media. An investigation by The Grayzone confirms Kong as a fake identity employed by an American teacher who’s a ubiquitous figure at local protests.

By Max Blumenthal

An American man with ties to Amnesty International and key Hong Kong separatist figures has been posing online as a Hong Kong native named Kong Tsung-gan. Routinely cited as a grassroots activist and writer by major media organizations and published in English-language media, the fictitious character Kong appears to have been concocted to disseminate anti-China propaganda behind the cover of yellowface.

Through Kong Tsung-gan’s prolific digital presence and uninterrogated reputation in mainstream Western media, he disseminates a constant stream of content hyping up the Hong Kong “freedom struggle” while clamoring for the US to turn up the heat on China.

Whispers about Kong’s true identity have been circulating on social media among Hong Kong residents, and was even mentioned in a brief account last December by The Standard.

The Grayzone spoke to several locals outraged by a deceptive stunt they considered not only unethical, but racist. They said they have kept their views to themselves due to the atmosphere of intimidation looming over the city, where self-styled “freedom fighters” harass and target seemingly anyone who speaks out publicly against them.

In this investigation, The Grayzone connected the dots between Kong and an American man who has become a major presence in Western media and at protests around Hong Kong. Our research indicates that Kong’s editors and prominent protest cheerleaders were likely aware of the deceptive ploy.

Kong Tsung-gan bursts onto Hong Kong Twitter scene, becomes go-to source for anti-China content

The Twitter user Kong Tsung-gan (@KongTsungGan) first appeared in March 2015. Kong Tsung-gan’s earliest tweets featured commentary about Tibet and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement.

At some point, Kong changed his Twitter avatar to a black-and-white headshot of an unknown Asian person. A search of the Wayback Machine internet archive shows that this photo remained up until sometime in late 2019.

Kong Tsung-gan Twitter yellowface photo Brian Kern

Later, Kong changed his Twitter avatar to an image depicting Liu Xia, the wife of the late Nobel Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiaobo was a right-wing ideologue who celebrated the US wars on Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and was rewarded with the 2014 Democracy Award by the National Endowment for Democracy – the favorite meddling machine of the US government.

As of August 2020, Kong Tsung-gan’s Twitter account boasts more than 32,000 followers. He live-tweets during protests, posts incendiary commentary about the Communist Party of China (CPC), likens the Hong Kong “struggle” to Tibet and Xinjiang, begs the United States to ram through sanction bills like the Hong Kong Safe Harbor and Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Acts, urges NBA star Lebron James to “find out about our freedom struggle,” retweets Nancy Pelosi and other US politicians, promotes his books, maintains an ongoing tally of arrests in his regular “#HK CRACKDOWN WATCH UPDATE,” and disseminates images of protest posters.

At around the time he created his Twitter account, Kong Tsung-gan published his first Medium post. He has since filled his Medium feed with protest timelines, lists of recommended human rights books and journalism (including a link to the questionable China “expert” Adrian Zenz), and “first-hand accounts” of his protest experiences on the ground. In one account, Kong Tsung-gan claimed he attended a Band 1 government school, implying he was a native Hong Kong resident.

Kong’s work has been amplified by Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong protest poster-boy who has enjoyed photo-ops with neoconservative Republican senators like Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton.

Thanks to his continual stream of content on Twitter and Medium, and his platform on the website Hong Kong Free Press, Kong Tsung-gan has become one of mainstream Western media’s go-to sources for soundbites.

Kong Tsung-gan: Darling of the Western press

Since bursting onto the Hong Kong Twitter scene, Kong Tsung-gan has been quoted by a who’s who of Western corporate media outlets. He has been described as an “author” (CNN, Globe and Mail, Time), “writer and activist” (New York Times, Washington Post), “activist and author” (LA Times),“activist” (AFP, Al Jazeera), “writer, educator and activist” (Guardian), “political writer” (Foreign Policy), “writer” (Vice), and “Hong Kong writer and activist” in an op-ed posted by the Nikkei Asian Review.

Kong has also been cited as a “Hong Kong journalist and rights activist” by Radio Free Asia and as a “rights activist and author” by Voice of America, two subsidiaries of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Tasked with a mission to “be consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States,” the USAGM budgeted around $2 million to support protests in Hong Kong in 2020.

When he is not churning out commentary on Twitter and Medium accounts, Kong Tsung-gan is a columnist at Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) and publishes books about the Hong Kong “freedom struggle,” whose proceeds go directly to HKFP.

Hong Kong Free Press describes itself as an “impartial non-profit media outlet” and “completely independent.” The outlet also boasted that it “gets full marks” from a supposed journalism ethics verification initiative called News Guard, which happens to be overseen by a collection of former US government national security and law enforcement officials.

HKFP editor-in-chief Tom Grundy has boasted of rejecting article pitches from deceptive figures operating behind false identities. At the same time, Grundy has provided a regular home for Kong’s commentary.

The Grayzone emailed HKFP to request a comment on Kong’s identity, but received no reply.

The distinctly American voice of Kong Tsung-gan

To burnish his reputation as a reliable source, Kong Tsung-gan has furnished audio interviews to Western outlets. In July 2019, Kong Tsung-gan was featured on Louisa Lim’s Little Red Podcast alongside National Endowment for Democracy fellow Johnson Yeung, lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-Dick, and former Hong Kong Chief Secretary Anson Chan.

Around the same time, an American man in Hong Kong named Brian Kern spoke to RTHK at a march commemorating the Tiananmen anniversary.

A close listen to both audio clips, along with an interview Kong furnished to an Italian interviewer, demonstrates that Kong Tsung-gan and Brian Kern are the same person.

Listen for yourself here, or in the video embedded at the top of this article:

Indeed, the distinctively American voices of Kong Tsung-gan and Brian Kern are the same.

So why have news outlets like Hong Kong Free Press failed to disclose that Kong Tsung-gan is a pen name for an American man? Who is Brian Kern? And why is he yellowfacing as Kong Tsung-gan?

In plain sight: American teacher coordinating with Hong Kong protesters

Brian Patrick Kern has been a fixture at the Hong Kong protests since they erupted in 2019. He has been profiled by the Chinese press, photographed cleaning egg stains off the walls of the police headquarters and escorting his children to demonstrations.

Kern has even been filmed coordinating with protesters and rioters in videos circulating on social media.

Brian Kern conferring with Hong Kong protesters

In another video that went viral on social media, Kern was filmed screaming at the police: “You’re a communist puppet! … Kill us all!… With your bug gun, shoot me! I’m so violent! I’m a violent rioter! Shoot me! Your communist masters will love you!”

Brian Kern also writes for the HKFP as a guest contributor under his own name.

Clearly, Kern enjoys the spotlight, and has no apparent fear of local authorities.

But few people know that Brian Kern also hides behind the persona of Kong Tsung-gan, furnishing quotes to media outlets across the West as an expert native source on the Hong Kong “freedom struggle.”

Brian Kern publishes anti-China books under at least two pseudonyms

Not only does Brian Patrick Kern write as Kong Tsung-gan, which he romanized to seem like a Hong Kong native; he also writes under the pen name Xun Yuezang, romanized to appear as a Chinese mainlander. Writings under both aliases are filled with warnings of the “creeping control of the Chinese Communist Party.”

As Kong Tsung-gan, Brian Kern has published three books: Umbrella: A Political Tale from Hong Kong (Pema Press), As long as there is resistance, there is hope: Essays on the Hong Kong freedom struggle in the post-Umbrella Movement era, 2014-2018 (Pema Press), and Liberate Hong Kong: Stories from the Freedom Struggle (Mekong Review).

As Xun Yuezang, Brian Kern has published Liberationists (Pema Press), which “tells the story of a human rights worker who disappears while crossing the border between Hong Kong and mainland China.” One reviewer wrote, “like many debut novels, [Liberationists] a work weighed down by its own good intentions.” In the book, “Xun Yuezang” discloses that it was published under a pseudonym.

No matter which alias he is employing, Brian Kern’s mission is clear: To portray the CPC as one of the world’s most dangerous evildoers.

Kern’s books also are filled with clues exposing him as the man behind both Xun Yuezang and Kong Tsung-gan. Xun Yuezang dedicated the book Liberationists to Mayren “who struggled so long to be free.” Brian Kern’s mother is named Mayren.

liberationists dedication mayren
Xun Yuezang dedicated the book Liberationists to Mayren, the name of Brian Kern’s mother

Liberationists was also dedicated to someone referred to simply as “Y.” Similarly, Kong Tsung-gan dedicated Liberate Hong Kong: Stories from the Freedom Struggle to “Y, for the shared struggle.” The name of Brian Kern’s wife, Yatman, begins with the letter Y.

Kong Tsung Gan Liberate Hong Kong dedication Y Yatman
Kong Tsung-gan dedicated the book “Liberate Hong Kong” to “Y, for the shared struggle,” a reference to Brian Kern’s wife, Yatman.

Pema Press is the publisher for the work by Xun and Kong. Brian Kern’s daughter happens to be named Pema – the same name as the publisher. (It is possible Kern named both his publishing house and his daughter after Jetsun Pema, sister of the Dalai Lama, with whom he and his wife worked in the Tibetan Children’s Villages charity.)

Kong Tsung gan Umbrella hong kong pema press
Kong Tsung-gan and Xun Yuezang both published books under pseudonyms with Pema Press, named after Brian Kern’s daughter

Kern’s Orientalist stunt could be compared to that of Michael Derrick Hudson, a white middle-aged poet from Indiana who struggled to get his work published until he began submitting it to journals under the pseudonym Yi-Fen Chou.

Unlike Hudson’s fake Chinese persona, however, Kern is a political actor posing as a native grassroots activist to spread propaganda. His ploy is therefore more reminiscent of the “Gay Girl in Damascus” hoax, in which Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old American graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, posed as a Damascus-based lesbian activist named “Amina Arraf” to gin up left-liberal support for regime change in Syria throughout 2011.

Kern’s personal profile is similar to MacMaster’s as well. Both are activist-minded liberal internationalist types with PhDs in literature. But unlike MacMaster, who forged a career in academia, Kern also has a record of work in the human rights industry.

Amnesty and US regime change links

Brain Kern grew up in Minnesota and completed his PhD in Comparative Literature at Brown University in 1996. In 1998, he began teaching at the Red Cross Nordic United World College (UWCRCN) in Norway, where he met his wife, Yatman Cheng.

Cheng graduated from UWCRCN in 2002 and received a Jardine Foundation scholarship to attend Oxford. In 2003 or 2004, as a university student, she volunteered with the Tibetan Children’s Villages in India on a trip organized by her college and led by Brian Kern.

In 2004, Cheng became a summer intern at the Hong Kong think tank Civic Exchange, which has received funding from the National Democratic Institute, a subsidiary of the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy. Cheng and Kern lived in London in 2007, where Kern worked for Amnesty International as a member of their education team.

In 2008, they moved to Hong Kong, where Kern began teaching at the Chinese International School and established its human rights club.

A few of Kern’s former students appear to work with him behind the cover of his false Asian identity. Several have translated work by Joshua Wong for Kong Tsung-gan’s Medium blog, and one designed the cover for one of Kong Tsung-gan’s books.

Where is Brian Kern now?

Brian Patrick Kern was last seen in public on May 24, 2020, marching with lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-Dick in a demonstration against China’s National Security Law.

Weeks later, Kong Tsung-gan published his next book, Liberate Hong Kong: Stories From The Freedom Struggle. Hong Kong’s last British colonial governor Chris Patten praised the tract as “a fascinating insider’s look at what has happened, which will be a defining issue for China’s place in the twenty-first century.”

Did Chris Patten know Kong Tsung-gan was a made-up person?

And how about Tom Grundy, the editor-in-chief of Hong Kong Free Press? Did he know that his columnist, Kong, was actually an American named Brian Kern?

Below, Kern can be seen warmly greeting Grundy during the June 2019 Wan Chai Police station siege:

This August, Kong Tsung-gan published a long-winded diatribe against China’s National Security Law in the Mekong Review, clamoring for harsh US sanctions on Beijing. While acknowledging in small print at the end of the essay that Kong was a pen name, Kern continued to insinuate that he was a Hong Kong native.

“An indication of just how draconian the CCP edict is, is that I could be arrested, charged with ‘colluding with foreign forces’, and face up to life in prison just for calling for sanctions on CCP and HK officials,” he wrote.

In reality, the author was not colluding with foreign forces. He was the foreign force.

According to Hong Kong locals contacted by The Grayzone, Kern is rumored to have left the city.

………………

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/08/08/hong-kong-western-media-yellowfacing-amnesty/

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican GomorrahGoliath, The Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

Islamic Republic of Iran: Metal Band Condemned To 15 Years In Prison – Escapes (Loudwire) 12 Aug 2020

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The Islamic Republic of Iran has a history of suppressing creative freedom, famously sentencing Confess to over 14 years in prison and 74 lashes.  Islam prohibits singing and music in general. Metal is viewed as a Satanic form of music in Iran, which violates the country’s strict Islamic blasphemy laws and could result in execution.

In a statement to Loudwire, Arsames wrote that they’re not a Satanic band. “Our music is about our past culture, history… that they think when we growl and play fast music we are into Satanism! The skulls on our t-shirts means the same for them as satanic musicians.”

Arsames continue, “We [were] arrested in 2017 when we were in our studio during rehearsal. They moved us to jail that day and [did] not [tell] our family about where we [were] for a week. Finally after nearly a month later we paid bail to come out of prison and they told us you should not work, release [or sell] your merch until your final court … and do not talk with media! Our Instagram page, official website … banned and they shot down all for a year, but we built a new Instagram again and [started] to be active until few weeks ago [when] the court called us again and they gave us 15 years [in] prison. So we had to escape from Iran.”

The metal band recently posted a video to their official YouTube channel explaining their sentence, which was handed down by the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, in further detail.

Iran Metal

“Is it a crime that we are playing metal music!?” they begin. “Is it [a] crime that we are talking about Persian history?! Is it a crime that you think we are into Satanism when we have songs about Cyrus the Great and monotheism!? Is it a crime that we love music and our country?!”
Arsames’ current location is not yet public knowledge. Throughout the band’s 18-year history, Arsames have played alongside acts like Amon Amarth, Kreator, Napalm Death, Arch Enemy and Sepultura.

arsames 3

To support Arsames, you can visit their Facebook and Instagram pages and check out their music via Bandcamp.

Read More: Arsames Escape Iran After Being Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison | https://loudwire.com/arsames-escape-iran-sentenced-15-years-prison/?fireglass_rsn=true&utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

Invasion of the New Normals – by C.J. Hopkins • 9 Aug 2020

They’re here! No, not the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. We’re not being colonized by giant alien fruit. I’m afraid it is a little more serious than that. People’s minds are being taken over by a much more destructive and less otherworldly force … a force that transforms them overnight into aggressively paranoid, order-following, propaganda-parroting totalitarians.

You know the people I’m talking about. Some of them are probably your friends and family, people you have known for years, and who had always seemed completely rational, but who are now convinced that we need to radically alter the fabric of human society to protect ourselves from a virus that causes mild to moderate flu-like symptoms (or absolutely no symptoms at all) in over 95% of those infected, and that over 99.6% survive, which, it goes without saying, is totally insane.

I’ve been calling them “corona-totalitarians,” but I’m going to call them the “New Normals” from now on, as that more accurately evokes the pathologized-totalitarian ideology they are systematically spreading. At this point, I think it is important to do that, because, clearly, their ideological program has nothing to do with any actual virus, or any other actual public health threat. As is glaringly obvious to anyone whose mind has not been taken over yet, the “apocalyptic coronavirus pandemic” was always just a Trojan horse, a means of introducing the “New Normal,” which they’ve been doing since the very beginning.

The official propaganda started in March, and it reached full intensity in early April. Suddenly, references to the “New Normal” were everywhere, not only in the leading corporate media (e.g., CNN, NPR, CNBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Forbes, et al.), the IMF and the World Bank Group, the WEF, UN, WHO, CDC (and the list goes on), but also on the blogs of athletic organizations, global management consulting firms, charter school websites, and random YouTube videos.

The slogan has been relentlessly repeated (in a textbook totalitarian “big lie” fashion) for going on the past six months. We have heard it repeated so many times that many of us have forgotten how insane it is, the idea that the fundamental structure of society needs to be drastically and irrevocably altered on account of a virus that poses no threat to the vast majority of the human species.

And, make no mistake, that is exactly what the “New Normal” movement intends to do. “New Normalism” is a classic totalitarian movement (albeit with a pathological twist), and it is the goal of every totalitarian movement to radically, utterly transform society, to remake the world in its monstrous image.

That is what totalitarianism is, this desire to establish complete control over everything and everyone, every thought, emotion, and human interaction. The character of its ideology changes (i.e., Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc.), but this desire for complete control over people, over society, and ultimately life itself, is the essence of totalitarianism … and what has taken over the minds of the New Normals.

In the New Normal society they want to establish, as in every totalitarian society, fear and conformity will be pervasive. Their ideology is a pathologized ideology (as opposed to, say, the racialized ideology of the Nazis), so its symbology will be pathological. Fear of disease, infection, and death, and obsessive attention to matters of health will dominate every aspect of life. Paranoid propaganda and ideological conditioning will be ubiquitous and constant.

Everyone will be forced to wear medical masks to maintain a constant level of fear and an omnipresent atmosphere of sickness and death, as if the world were one big infectious disease ward. Everyone will wear these masks at all times, at work, at home, in their cars, everywhere. Anyone who fails or refuses to do so will be deemed “a threat to public health,” and beaten and arrested by the police or the military, or swarmed by mobs of New Normal vigilantes.

Cities, regions, and entire countries will be subjected to random police-state lockdowns, which will be justified by the threat of “infection.” People will be confined to their homes for up to 23-hours a day, and allowed out only for “essential reasons.” Police and soldiers will patrol the streets, stopping people, checking their papers, and beating and arresting anyone out in public without the proper documents, or walking or standing too close to other people, like they are doing in Melbourne, Australia, currently.

The threat of “infection” will be used to justify increasingly insane and authoritarian edicts, compulsory demonstration-of-fealty rituals, and eventually the elimination of all forms of dissent. Just as the Nazis believed they were waging a war against the “subhuman races,” the New Normals will be waging a war on “disease,” and on anyone who “endangers the public health” by challenging their ideological narrative. Like every other totalitarian movement, in the end, they will do whatever is necessary to purify society of “degenerate influences” (i.e., anyone who questions or disagrees with them, or who refuses to obey their every command). They are already aggressively censoring the Internet and banning their opponents’ political protests, and political leaders and the corporate media are systematically stigmatizing those of us who dare to challenge their official narrative asextremists,” “Nazis,” “conspiracy theorists,” “covidiots,” “coronavirus deniers,” “anti-vaxxers,” and “esoteric” freaks. One German official even went so far as to demand that dissidents be deportedpresumably on trains to somewhere in the East.

Despite this increasing totalitarianization and pathologization of virtually everything, the New Normals will carry on with their lives as if everything were … well, completely normal. They will go out to restaurants and the movies in their masks. They will work, eat, and sleep in their masks. Families will go on holiday in their masks, or in theirPersonal Protective Upper-Body Bubble-Wear.” They will arrive at the airport eight hours early, stand in their little color-coded boxes, and then follow the arrows on the floor to the “health officials” in the hazmat suits, who will take their temperature through their foreheads and shove ten-inch swabs into their sinus cavities. Parents who wish to forego this experience will have the option to preventatively vaccinate themselves and their children with the latest experimental vaccine (after signing a liability waiver, of course) within a week or so before their flights, and then present the officials with proof of vaccination (and of their compliance with various other “health guidelines”) on their digital Identity and Public Health Passports, or subdermal biometric chips.

Children, as always, will suffer the worst of it. They will be terrorized and confused from the moment they are born, by their parents, their teachers, and by the society at large. They will be subjected to ideological conditioning and paranoid behavioral modification at every stage of their socialization … with fanciful reusable corporate plague masks branded with loveable cartoon characters, paranoia-inducing picture books for toddlers, and paranoid “social distancing” rituals, among other forms of psychological torture. This conditioning (or torture) will take place at home, as there will be no more schools, or rather, no public schools. The children of the wealthy will attend private schools, where they can be cost-effectively “socially-distanced.” Working class children will sit at home, alone, staring into screens, wearing their masks, their hyperactivity and anxiety disorders stabilized with anti-depressant medications.

And so on … I think you get the picture. I hope so, because I don’t have the heart to go on.

I pray this glimpse into the New Normal future has terrified and angered you enough to rise up against it before it is too late. This isn’t a joke, folks. The New Normals are serious. If you cannot see where their movement is headed, you do not understand totalitarianism. Once it starts, and reaches this stage, it does not stop, not without a fight. It continues to its logical conclusion. The way that usually happens is, people tell themselves it isn’t happening, it can’t be happening, not to us. They tell themselves this as the totalitarian program is implemented, step by step, one seemingly harmless step at a time. They conform, because, at first, the stakes aren’t so high, and their conformity leads to more conformity, and the next thing they know they’re telling their grandchildren that they had no idea where the trains were going.

If you have made it through to the end of this essay, your mind hasn’t been taken over yet … the New Normals clicked off around paragraph 2. What that means is that it is your responsibility to speak up, and to do whatever else you can, to stop the New Normal future from becoming a reality. You will not be rewarded for it. You will be ridiculed and castigated for it. Your New Normal friends will hate you for it. Your New Normal family will forsake you for it. The New Normal police might arrest you for it. It is your responsibility to do it anyway … as, of course, it is also mine.#

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing and Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. His dystopian novel, Zone 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. Volume I of his Consent Factory Essays is published by Consent Factory Publishing, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amalgamated Content, Inc. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org.

 

Bolerium Books – The San Francisco Bookstore Where the Revolution Ends up – By Lucy Schiller (The New Yorker) 20 Sept 2018

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A worker at Bolerium Books.

At last count, the store contained 67,385 single titles in stock. Estimates of the time that has elapsed since the last deep cleaning ranged from a jokey “twenty years ago” to a hemming “define ‘clean.’ ” “Nature abhors a vacuum,” Durham quickly noted. A store map gestures at the sheer amount of stuff, with sections labelled as “Reef of Flotsam” or “Onset of Confusion” (right by the entrance), or, in one cramped corner, “Hell.”

The semi-barbed humor protects something serious and deeply essential. Few people walk in (“the door is locked to keep out the unworthy,” Durham wrote in response to a negative Yelp review, though he made sure to mention the password, “swordfish”). Those who do manage to enter find, three floors above one of the Mission District’s busiest intersections, a vast and quiet space populated by seven staff members, thousands of books about and from social movements, densely packed rows of pamphlets and ephemera, and, in the adjacent storage room, great snowbanks of paper. These snowbanks, or “midden heaps,” as Durham calls them, are from attics, basements, personal archives, and libraries across the country. They have all been sold or donated to Bolerium. In them, evidence of the past is to be found, possibly reckoned with, and then, hopefully, sold.

Bolerium 23

From Bolerium’s snowbanks have come copies of On Our Backs (a lesbian erotic magazine put out in response to the anti-pornography publication Off Our Backs), century-old postcards of pacifist Doukhobors protesting in the nude, intricate Black Panther posters and handbills, an issue of Lumberjack (“with appendix on musical saw”), and the famous inter-commune Kaliflower newsletters from early-nineteen-seventies San Francisco. But with a staff so expert that they can translate a Mongolian treatise on traditional Oirat law using a handmade cheat sheet, classifications like “famous” and “obscure” begin to blur. So do “past” and “present.” Rather than a platypus, maybe the store is more like an estuary: the disparate holdings mingle, rolling in and out according to murky tides. (If you visit the Web site and browse the digital catalog by date, the tides begin to feel more explicable; one week, for example, carries a huge wave of Alan Watts-related material. The next week brings a crush of gay romance novels.) At Bolerium, for better and worse, you can wade around in what Durham calls “the primary source material for history.”

Bolerium 4

Here is an 1838 publication by the American Anti-Slavery Society and a brochure arguing for the Equal Rights Amendment. A pamphlet from a 1928 speech by Marcus Garvey sits not far from a publication on “incidents in the Life of Eugene V. Debs” written by his brother, Theodore (once, before an important speech, a piece of barbed wire tore “a great rent in [Debs’s] trousers . . . the flap of which hung down like the ear of a Missouri houn’ pup”). Among many other small, sheeny pins is a button from the 1990 AIDS Walk in San Francisco. Here are fliers that passed from hand to hand at protests, meant to convince, assuage, and inflame, and here’s a lump of coal from a miners’ strike in Alabama with tiny chicken-scratch wording: “never forget.” Notably, this year of serious American protest has been the store’s best sales year ever.

bolerium 55

Not marked on the map is that other part of American history that has, this year and every other, raged—a section that Durham loosely calls “the White Problem” and keeps behind the locked door of a different room altogether. Accessible to scholars and those who know to ask, the spindly bookcases contain titles like “Gun Control Means People Control” and “Fluoridation & Truth Decay,” as well as several publications by the John Birch Society. “You can’t understand American history without understanding the far right,” Durham told me. “What it’s done, its justifications, its tropes and idiocies.”

It was to the deepest corner of the storeroom that the archivist Lisbet Tellefsen was drawn one afternoon. (Tellefsen visits Bolerium as a “treasure hunter,” and has amassed the largest collection of Angela Davis-related material in the world.) One time, she idly tugged out an issue of The Bayviewer, a magazine that once served the historic black neighborhood that James Baldwin characterized as “the San Francisco America pretends does not exist.”

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The magazine fell open to a page bearing the face of Tellefsen’s father, whom she had not seen since she was two, in an advertisement for his Oldsmobile dealership. That led to an ongoing saga of tracking down half-siblings and cousins found on Ancestry.com. “There is so much history there,” Tellefsen told me. She visits Bolerium once a month, wary of buying back her own consigned material. “It’s so rich with connections. We have an understanding of history, but places like that hold so much.” Bolerium’s official motto, “Fighting Commodity Fetishism with Commodity Fetishism since 1981,” does not quite distill the feeling of holding some of these discoveries between your fingers, or explain the way that ephemera can work to vivify history, very often through its ordinariness. A bit of light browsing recently unearthed a flier from a class reunion of Florida’s first accredited African-American high school, as well as an Electrolux manual from 1933 listing Pope Pius XI as a famous customer.

But history is ongoing, and the present moment needs its collectors. During the Occupy Movement, the store paid a dollar for each flyer or poster that people brought in, then put together a sweeping collection for the British Library. Holdings from contemporary social movements are fairly small, since so much planning, discussing, and arguing takes place on Facebook and Twitter. “Occupy was the last one to have lots of leaflets,” Akin told me, somewhat sadly. Currently, he is collecting material from what he calls the “shock-and-disbelief period” following the 2016 Presidential election. Only from “marinating in the sauce of time” do these things begin to accrue both value and interest.

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Recently, in one snowbank, Akin found a sketch done in creamy pastel of a basalt mountain and drifting clouds. Tiny guard towers dotted the background. It was a drawing of the view from Tule Lake Segregation Center, the largest of the incarceration camps that held Japanese-Americans during the Second World War, and the one which held those people deemed by the government to be “disloyal.” The artist was a man named Tomokazu, surname unknown, who resided for over thirty-five years in Plumas County, California, before being imprisoned at Tule Lake. The piece of paper sat among countless others all bearing dispatches of one kind or another from the past, which is not a foreign country, really, but a place hovering just under our present, and made of paper and ink, buttons, and voices.

Evidence of puberty, store of fatty goodness or construct of the patriarchy? Scientists probe why men are SO obsessed with breasts – by Peter Andrews – 21 January 2020

Male preference for women’s permanently swollen globular breasts is somewhat anomalous, but to date, no widely accepted evolutionary explanation has been offered. What is the latest in this titillating area of research?

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Science has always been concerned with the big questions. How did we get here? How did the universe begin? What is the nature of reality? And now, the scientific method has turned its dispassionate gaze towards that eternal and pressing question: Why do men like women’s breasts?

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‘’Because they do’’ or ‘’because they’re nice’’ are not acceptable answers here. Neither, for that matter, is ‘’because media portrayals brainwash them into liking breasts’’ (if you believe this, have a conversation with any straight man). In science we must seek always to be disinterested and unbiased, and to apply the principles of discovery as rigorously as we can. That is how a recent column in Psychology Today by Robert D. Martin, a distinguished anthropologist, treated this topic. So let us examine the evidence, and please, let us have no giggling or smart comments from the back of the room.

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Breastology

Although the reason for breasts’ existence is obviously breast-feeding, women’s capacity for milk production is not associated with breast size (at least not before pregnancy). Furthermore, there has been no clear association between hormone levels and breast size. So why have men evolved to like them?

tits big

An early hypothesis was that breasts are an honest signal of fat reserves, which would come in handy during lean times for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. If that were true, however, men should find breasts no more erotic than fat elsewhere on the body. Chalk that one off.

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One of the most popular theories has to do with pair-bonding. Neurology studies have proven that women are flooded with oxytocin, the bonding hormone, when their nipples are stimulated by a nursing baby, or indeed by a sexual partner. So, men who pay extra attention to this will impress their mate, and make it more likely that she will have his babies. Make of this theory what you will – it seems to suggest an unlikely degree of unselfishness in men – but there may be something to the bonding aspect.

Switching positions

One person who thinks bonding plays a part is British anthropologist Edward Dutton; he has suggested that breasts evolved to resemble buttocks. Seeing as our distant ancestors mated from behind, like our primate cousins, at some point they must have switched to face-to-face. This moment in evolutionary history was hugely important, because with front-facing intercourse came sustained and intense eye-contact theretofore absent from the act of procreation.

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Much has been speculated about the profound anthropological changes face-to-face sex may have brought on the human species, not least the new depths of pair-bonding it must have triggered. Dutton thinks that one of the byproducts of the change may have been that female breasts expanded so as to create a cleavage reminiscent of the previously all-important backside.

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How old are you?

Possibly the most intriguing argument is that of evolutionary psychologist Frank Marlowe. His ‘nubility hypothesis’ proposes that full, pert breasts are an honest signal of youth, and therefore fertility. In the ancestral environment, humans often went without clothing on their torsos, meaning the females’ breasts would have been more on show. Before birth records and possibly even before the advent of language, there was no way to know the age of other adult humans, except by visual physiological signals.

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As women age their breasts begin to sag due to the pull of gravity. Therefore, fleshy lumps on females’ chests became one fool-proof way for males to know the rough age of females, even if it was subconscious. Over aeons of time and thousands of generations, those men with an internal urge to mate with women with younger breasts would on average have had greater reproductive success, seeing as they were mating with younger (but adult) women.

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Once a preference for a certain kind of breast kicked in, sexual selection may have also entered the picture. Women having the types of breasts men prefer also had the most reproductive success, leading to a feedback loop of selection for the permanently swollen breasts we see in Homo sapiens, somewhat unlike any other mammal species.

Fast forward millions of years, and attraction to breasts is a near ubiquitous trait among heterosexual men (and homosexual women).

 

book club

It’s a good story, but does that make it true? And do the cultural elements have any role to play at all or is it all just cold hard evolutionary biology? And if natural selection is still at work, what kind of breasts will the man of the future find attractive – if any at all?

wax girl

Peter Andrews is an Irish science journalist and writer, based in London. He has a background in the life sciences, and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in Genetics

https://redd.it/i5ybp3

‘The Gadfly,’ an Irishwoman’s novel of revolutionaries: Remembering Ethel Voynich – by Jenny Farrell (People’s World) 24 July 2020

‘The Gadfly,’ an Irishwoman’s novel of revolutionaries: Remembering Ethel Voynich

Image from the cover of an edition of ‘The Gadfly.’ | via Mariinsky Theatre

Liam Mellows read this novel awaiting his execution, along with the other condemned and his comrades, imprisoned by the Irish Free State in the civil war (1922-23), for opposing the Treaty which gave Ireland Dominion Status within the British Empire, rather than establish an independent Irish Republic. Fellow prisoner Peadar O’Donnell writes: “It is a curious fact, which many of the Mountjoy prisoners must be easily able to recall, that it was around the days that the Gadfly was being widely read in ‘C’ wing; it is a tale of Italian revolution with a ghastly execution scene.… MacKelvey…picking up the Gadfly…saying once more: ‘God, I hope they don’t mess up any of our lads this way.’ MacKelvey was to remember the Gadfly next morning.”

What was this book, so widely read by Republicans in Ireland and the Labour movement in Britain in its own day?

This novel of revolution was published in New York in 1897 and a few months later in London, two years after its completion. It achieved cult status in the USSR and China, selling millions of copies. Two film versions were made in the USSR, one silent (1928), the other (1955) with a score by Dmitri Shostakovich. Its author, Irish-born Ethel Voynich, was closely associated with revolutionary circles in London, Berlin, and Russia.

By National Book League – Frontispiece of Book News, Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Ethel Lilian Boole was born May 11, 1864, in County Cork, the youngest of five daughters of the renowned mathematician professor George Boole and Mary Boole, psychologist and philosopher. Ethel’s father died shortly after her birth, and her mother took the family to London, returning to Ireland regularly during her childhood. It was on one of these visits to Ireland that she first read about Giuseppe Mazzini, leader of the Italian Risorgimento movement.

At the age of 18, she went to study music in Berlin for three years (1882–85). There she met Russian revolutionaries, and when she returned to London, she learned Russian from the exiled revolutionary Stepniak (Sergei Kravchinski), who had fled Russia after assassinating the chief of the Czarist secret police. Later, she traveled in Russia, staying with Stepniak’s sister-in-law Preskovia Karauloff in St Petersburg for two years (1887–89). Preskovia was a doctor, whose husband was a political prisoner. Ethel helped Preskovia treat impoverished peasants. She also gave music lessons and associated with families of political prisoners whom she met through Preskovia.

Back in London, Ethel met a Polish political exile, recently escaped from Siberia (Poland was part of the Russian Empire at that time), who Anglicized his name to Wilfred Michael Voynich. Transported to Siberia for participation in the Polish liberation movement against the Czarist regime, he escaped to England in 1890. Ethel and Wilfred worked together with Stepniak printing revolutionary literature and banned books and smuggling them into Russia, including translations of Marx’s and Engels’s writings. Along with other revolutionaries, they founded the Russian Free Press Fund. Ethel herself undertook a clandestine journey to Lvov in Ukraine to organize the smuggling of illegal publications into Russia. Involved in these Russian émigré circles was another Russian exile and agent, Sigmund Rosenblum, alias Sidney Reilly, executed in 1925 for his role in a coup d’état against Lenin and the USSR. Legend is attached to Ethel and “Sidney” having an affair in Italy.

From these experiences and circle of comrades, Voynich drew the stuff from which the novel is made. It is set in 1840s Italy at the time of its popular rebellion against Austrian domination, the Risorgimento.

The novel’s main characters belong to Mazzini’s underground party, Young Italy, active in the national liberation movement. A thrilling plot roots the readers’ sympathy with the author’s. It is understandable how this book captured the imagination of readers who sympathized with movements against oppression and domination. “Several of them belonged to the Mazzinian party and would have been satisfied with nothing less than a democratic Republic and a United Italy.” It is obvious why the Anti-Treaty prisoners, captured during the civil war in Ireland, identified with the characters in the book.

This domination was not merely exercised by a foreign power. Reflecting historical fact, the novel sharply criticizes the Catholic Church’s active opposition to the movement for a united Italy, expressed in a father and son conflict that deepens the import: an Italian reluctantly willing to sacrifice his son and the cause of freedom, and Italy’s future, for the sake of religion. The author leaves no doubt regarding her own stance. In fact, the novel’s declared atheism must have contributed to its being banned by the Irish State in 1947.

The spirit of revolution is not limited to members of the Young Italy movement. It has covert support throughout the population, evidenced in many scenes in the novel. Ordinary people help the movement smuggle arms across borders, come to their personal aid, even prison wardens back them. In fact, in the scene referred to by MacKelvey, the firing squad tries to protect their secret hero. So, at the end of the 19th century, we see a new type evolving within the English novel, one whose hero and heroine are revolutionaries and part of a revolutionary liberation movement.

Written at a time of international suffrage movements, the central female character, Gemma Warren, is a woman the movement respects highly. She is inspired not only by Voynich’s own experience but also by other women revolutionaries around the author. Gemma is not merely an emancipated woman; she is also a revolutionary woman, at the center of the movement. In this way, she goes beyond the literary heroines of the late 19th century and anticipates the proletarian women Gorky would write about. “Those who saw her only at her political work regarded her as a trained and disciplined conspirator, trustworthy, courageous, in every way a valuable member of the party, but somehow lacking in life and individuality. ‘She’s a born conspirator, worth any dozen of us; and she is nothing more,’ Galli had said of her.” Voynich brings not only the revolutionary group as central to the novel plot but, as a necessary part of this group, a new type of woman.

Given Voynich’s internationalism and experience, it is bewildering to find racist sentiments toward South Americans and Black people expressed in this book. This racism also affects the portrayal of women of color, as readers will discover. It seems that Voynich’s novel did not find much resonance in Cuba and other Latin American countries, nor in Africa, all waging heroic liberation struggles. Surprisingly, critics have not drawn attention to this aspect. Instead, if they dislike it, it is due to its unashamed atheism, so unusual for its time, or for its partisanship for a revolutionary movement.

Before the outbreak of the First World War, Wilfred Voynich became involved in the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom. He ran a rare bookshop in Soho, which he also used for money laundering and smuggling revolutionary Marxist literature into Russia. Again, Ethel frequently worked as a courier for the organization.

Wilfred’s greatest fame is linked to a Renaissance manuscript he discovered in 1912. Later, he brought this with him to New York, where he moved in 1915 and continued in the book business. The document that became known as the “Voynich Manuscript,” was written in a code that to this day has not been deciphered. Much mystery surrounds this script; one possibility is that it is an elaborate hoax, manufactured by Voynich, who held a degree in chemistry.

Ethel began writing full time, authoring three more novels: Jack Raymond (1901), Olive Latham (1904), and An Interrupted Friendship (1910). She also translated some poetry by Shevchenko and Lermontov into English, published in 1911.

She worked with the Quakers as a social worker in London’s East End during World War I and left Britain for good around 1920 when she joined Wilfred in New York. There is no further information about active political work. Wilfred died in 1930. Ethel returned to music, composed musical works including the “Epitaph in Ballad Form,” dedicated to the Irish revolutionary Roger Casement, who was hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, on August 3, 1916. She also translated composer Frederic Chopin’s letters into English. None of her later novels achieved the quality or the fame of The Gadfly.

Soviet literati in 1955 discovered that Ethel was still alive in New York, aged 91. This caused an enormous sensation in the USSR and resulted in the payment of royalties. Ethel continued to live quietly with her companion, Anne Nill, who had once managed Wilfred’s New York book business. They lived together for thirty years in the heart of Manhattan, in an apartment at London Terrace on West 24th Street. Ethel Voynich died 60 years ago, on July 27, 1960, at the age of 96.

‘The Gadfly,’ an Irishwoman’s novel of revolutionaries: Remembering Ethel Voynich

The Whites Who Are Pro – African American Black Nationalist Color Revolution – by C.J. Hopkins • 29 July 2020

The White Black Nationalist Color Revolution

So, the White Black Nationalist Color Revolution (“made possible in part by at GloboCap”) appears to be going extremely well. According to Foreign Policy magazine, the Trump regime is clinging to power, but it’s only a matter of time until the identitarian moderate rebels drive the Putin-backed fascists out of office and restore democracy to the Western world.

Trump Chest

Yes, that’s right, just when it looked like the corporate-sponsored, totally organic, peaceful uprising against racism was over, and the Russo-fascist Trump regime had survived, the Global Capitalist Anarchists of Portland and other militant “Resistance” cells have launched a devastating counter-attack against assorted fascist building facades, fascist fences, and stores, and so on, and are going mano-a-mano in the streets with heavily-armed Putin-Nazi goon squads.

According to The Guardian, and other elements of the underground “Resistance” media, peaceful protesters in Portland have been attacking the fascists with rocks, bottles, improvised explosive devices, and various other peaceful anti-racist projectiles. In Oakland, they peacefully set fire to the courthouse. In Austin, Texas, a peaceful protester armed with an AK-47-style rifle was shot to death by a suspected fascist whose car was peacefully swarmed by a mob after hetried to aggressively drive past protesters.” In Los Angeles, peaceful anti-racism protesters have been whipped up into such a frenzy of righteous anti-fascist fervor that they are performing flying tackles on the cops, who then promptly beat the snot out of them. And so on … I think you get the picture.

CNN The Chickens Come Home to Roost

Portland, Oregon (where just under 6% of the population is Black) has of course been at the vanguard of the revolution, as it has since the Russians stole the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016 by “influencing” gullible African-Americans with a handful of ridiculous Facebook ads, and then installed Donald Trump and the rest of the Putin-Nazi Occupation Government in office. Not only have local Antifa militants been tirelessly fighting gangs of neo-nationalist boneheads you’ve probably never heard of more or less around the clock since then, Portland is also the headquarters of most of the militant Antifa intelligentsia (characters like Alexander Reid Ross, an anti-fascist geography lecturer who inculcates kids with his paranoid theories about the international Duginist-Red-Brown conspiracy to take over the whole world and mass-murder the Jews. So, naturally, Portland is now the epicenter of the White Black Nationalist Color Revolution.

love in the buildings

But this isn’t just the usual Portlandia silliness. This White Black Nationalist Color Revolution has been in the works for the last four years. Since the moment Trump won the Republican nomination, the global capitalist ruling classes have been fomenting racialized polarization, Putin-Nazi paranoia, and other forms of mass hysteria, in anticipation of the events of this summer. The propaganda has remained consistent. Both the liberal corporate media and the alternative left media have been predicting that Trump is going to go full-Hitler, impose martial law, proclaim himself Führer, and perpetrate some sort of racialized holocaust … for reasons they’ve never quite been able to explain.

He hasn’t, of course, so the global capitalist ruling classes had no choice but to unleash a shit-storm of civil unrest to goad him into overreacting … which, no surprise, he was stupid enough to do. Ordering the goon squads into the streets might delight his hardcore right-wing base, but it will alienate the majority of “normal” Americans, who aren’t especially fond of goon squads (unless they’re doing their thing in some faraway country). Most importantly, it will motivate all those non-Clinton-voting Obama voters to go out and vote for “Slappy” Joe Biden, or whichever corporate puppet the Democrats have replaced him with by November 3. That seems to be the general strategy.

Now, regardless of whether they can pull this off (and whatever your feelings about GloboCap as a de facto hegemonic empire), you have to at least admire their audacity. The part where the mayors of major cities stood down and otherwise hamstrung their cops, and let the “peaceful protesters” run amok, was particularly audacious, in my opinion. That was a serious gamble on GloboCap’s part. Trump could have resisted the urge to go totalitarian and called their bluff. He could have made a speech explaining to Americans exactly how these color revolutions work, how this one is going right by the book, and why he wasn’t going to take the bait, and left the cities in question to their own devices (until the mayors were forced to restore order themselves). But no, tactical genius that he is, he had to order in the goon squads, which, of course, is exactly what the “Resistance” wanted. Now he’s got cities like Philadelphia threatening to order their police to confront and attempt to arrest the federal agents … I assume you see where this is heading.

Fire 30 May 2020

The other part that was particularly tricky was sequeing from the original protests following the murder of George Floyd by the cops, most of which were authentic expressions of frustration and outrage by actual Black people about systemic racism and police brutality (both of which are very real, of course) to the orchestrated civil unrest that followed, most of which is being coordinated, funded, and carried out by White people. That was also an extremely bold move, but, as the generous folks at The Ford Foundation put it in July of 2016, when they announced that they would be overseeing the funneling of $100 million to organizations in the Black Lives Matter movement:

“We want to nurture bold experiments …”

Oh, and speaking of bold experiments, what better setting could there be for a White Black Nationalist Color Revolution than a fake apocalyptic plague that has wrecked the economies of most Western countries, terrorized the masses into mindless obedience, and destabilized whole societies to the point where fanatical, GloboCap-brainwashed brownshirts are macing people in the face for not wearing masks at outdoor picnics and wishing death on entire families if the mothers won’t put masks on their kids?

No, credit where credit is due to GloboCap. At this point, not only the United States, but countries throughout the global capitalist empire, are in such a state of mass hysteria, and so hopelessly politically polarized, that hardly anyone can see the textbook color revolution that is being executed, openly, right in front of our faces.

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Or … OK, actually, most Trump supporters see it, but most of them, like Trump himself, have mistaken Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the Democratic Party and their voters for the enemy, when they are merely pawns in GloboCap’s game. Most liberals and leftists cannot see it at all … literally, as in they cannot perceive it. Like Dolores in the HBO Westworld series, “it doesn’t look like anything” to them. They actually believe they are fighting fascism, that Donald Trump, a narcissistic, word-salad-spewing, former game show host, is literally the Return of Adolf Hitler, and that somehow (presumably with the help of Putin) he has staged the current civil unrest, like the Nazis staged the Reichstag fire! (The New York Times will never tire of that one, nor will their liberal and leftist readers, who have been doing battle with an endless series of imaginary Hitlers since … well, since Hitler.)

I’ve been repeating it my columns for the last four years, and I’m going to repeat it once again. What we are experiencing is not the “return of fascism.” It is the global capitalist empire restoring order, putting down the populist insurgency that took them by surprise in 2016. The White Black Nationalist Color Revolution, the fake apocalyptic plague, all the insanity of 2020 … it has been in the pipeline all along. It has been since the moment Trump won the election. No, it is not about Trump, the man. It has never been about Trump, the man, no more than the Obama presidency was ever about Obama, the man. GloboCap needs to crush Donald Trump (and moreover, to make an example of him) not because he is a threat to the empire (he isn’t), but because he became a symbol of populist resistance to global capitalism and its increasingly aggressive “woke” ideology. It is this populist resistance to its ideology that GloboCap is determined to crush, no matter how much social chaos and destruction it unleashes in the process.

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Looters smashing a window of a store front on School street after the Black Lives Matter rally at the Massachusetts State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

In one of my essays from last October, Trumpenstein Must Be Destroyed, I made this prediction about the year ahead:

“2020 is for all the marbles. The global capitalist ruling classes either crush this ongoing populist insurgency or God knows where we go from here. Try to see it through their eyes for a moment. Picture four more years of Trump … second-term Trump … Trump unleashed. Do you really believe they’re going to let that happen, that they are going to permit this populist insurgency to continue for another four years? They are not. What they are going to do is use all their power to destroy the monster, not Trump the man, but Trump the symbol. They are going to drown us in impeachment minutiae, drip, drip, drip, for the next twelve months. The liberal corporate media are going to go full-Goebbels. They are going to whip up so much mass hysteria that people won’t be able to think. They are going to pit us one against the other, and force us onto one or the other side of a simulated conflict (Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis) to keep us from perceiving the actual conflict (Global Capitalism versus Populism). They are going to bring us to the brink of civil war …”

OK, I didn’t see the fake plague coming, but, otherwise, how’s my prediction holding up?

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing and Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. His dystopian novel, Zone 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. Volume I of his Consent Factory Essays is published by Consent Factory Publishing, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amalgamated Content, Inc. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org.

Philly man warned others not to share protest photos online – Now charged with trashing cop cars based on pics posted to his Instagram – by Jeremy Roebuck and Vinny Vella (Philadelphia Inquirer) 31 July 2020

 

As demonstrations continued on June 1, hundreds of people poured onto Interstate 676 in the afternoon.

JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

As demonstrations continued on June 1, hundreds of people poured onto Interstate 676 in the afternoon.

A Philly man who warned not to share protest photos online was charged with trashing cop cars based on pics posted to his Instagram

Police and Their “Unions” Have No Place As Members Of The Labor Union Movement (Boson Workers) 2 Aug 2020

Amidst nationwide protests ignited by the racist police murder of George Floyd, union members everywhere are asking: how can labor throw its weight into the fight to uproot racist repression?

Using our collective power as workers is key. The multiracial working class makes the country’s wheels turn, and can bring them to a halt just as quickly. We have the power to shut down factories and docks, farms and urban transport, food plants and phone service. And now is the time to use it.

But it’s also high time the labor movement cleans its own house. In fact, it’s long overdue. As mass anger at police killings shines the spotlight on police forces’ role as enforcers of racist repression, the time is now to carry through the demand long raised by class-struggle unionists, summed up in the slogan: “Cops out of the unions.”

As the list keeps growing, we in labor’s ranks join millions searching for an answer to how and when police killings and brutality will end. Workers like me want police “unions” ousted from the labor movement and want cops of all kinds removed from unions and union bodies now: this will be a crucial part of unchaining labor’s power in the fight against racial oppression.

The fact is, we face a glaring contradiction with the inclusion of police in the labor movement. The struggle against racist oppression is crucial to lab

or’s cause, but the professionals of repression are included in one labor body after another. Freeing labor from any and all affiliation with the cops is crucial to the revitalization of unions, which is a matter of life or death for the labor movement. Yet despite recent efforts by the Writers Guild of America, East and others to rightly call for the expulsion of the International Union of Police Associations from the AFL-CIO, the push has been met with resistance – the AFL-CIO rejected WGAE’s call earlier this month. When members of the labor officialdom try to stop or divert this vital fight, they are wielding the very outlook and policies that have drastically undercut and weakened our movement for years.

We must resolve this contradiction now if labor is genuinely going to unite with the aspirations of a new generation of workers who want to uproot racism – and if the labor movement is going to

transform itself into an instrument for the emancipa

tion of the working class and the oppressed.

Labor playing the role it must in the fight against racist repression is flatly counterposed to harboring organizations whose purpose is to push the claims, and shield the crimes, of the police. And that is precisely what cops’ so-called “unions” are all about. When Minneapolis banned “warrior training” for cops last year, the police “union” even announced that it would provide such training for free.

While labor bodies like WGAE push for disaffiliation with the International Union of Police Associations, the effort is just one drop in one very large bucket. IUPA is just one of the entities representing the demands and interests of the

repressors in blue. “We have a dozen affiliate unions that represent law enforcement in some form,” the AFL-CIO Executive Council noted in its June 10 statement opposing WGEA’s demand. Instead, it’s calling for police groups to adopt a “code of excellence.” This would be the equivalent of cops taking a knee before they go out yet again to bust heads and round up anti-racist protesters.

While police associations are not workers unions, many actual unions (AFSCME, the CWA, SEIU, Teamsters and others) have brought “law enforcement” and repression-industry sectors into their ranks. Having professional strikebreakers in the unions — when unionists face repression from cops and guards in every strike — is a recipe for defeat.

The AFL-CIO leadership’s position would only discredit unions in the eyes of a new generation that must be won over to the cause and struggle of labor. And it delivers a slap in the face to countless unionists subjected to police violence, teargas and sonic weapons for protesting racism or standing on a picket line. The officialdom claims that maintaining the affiliation of police is a question of – wait for it – “unity.” Cops’ billy clubs may “unite” with our heads, but real unity of workers, against racist repression, means uncuffing labor from “unity” with those swinging the batons.

The shopworn claim that it’s just a “few bad apples” involved in police brutality across the U.S. is starkly exposed by current events. When police terrorize black communities, target protesters and break up union pickets, they are literally doing their job — a role integral to the profit system, in which racial oppression has always been key to capitalists’ wealth and power. There is no reform or code, no set of rules or oversight that can change the basic role of the police, and they don’t belong in our unions in any form.

Just digging into the history of the police in America, which began as slave patrols, reveals how central it has always been to racial oppression.

After the Civil War, the promise of black freedom through Reconstruction was betrayed. As industry grew, labor — both black and white — faced bloody police intervention. As black workers took the lead in bringing the 1877 labor upheaval into the South, the cops were there to bloodily break up interracial workers’ struggles. When Democratic Party “Redeemers” imposed Jim Crow, the cops were there to enforce “law and order.” Up North, police joined post-WWI pogroms against black communities, while police frame-ups and vigilante lynchers took the lives of immigrant workers like Sacco and Vanzetti, IWW bard Joe Hill, his Native American comrade Frank Little and innumerable other heroes of labor.

Down the decades, from police massacres of striking dock workers in San Francisco and “Little Steel” strikers in Chicago, to the police murder of black teenager Larry Payne in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike to today, strike-breaking and racist repression are central to the history of labor struggle, and of the police.

When police aren’t enough, companies rely on assistance from security guards like the Pinkertons (currently known as Securitas Security Services), infamous for strike-breaking as “just part of the job” of protecting capitalist property and making sure that bosses can keep unions in check.

On June 2, Minneapolis Public Schools voted to cut ties with the police department. This important step should spread to other cities. And it means opposing any attempts to replace them with private security guards or some other police department, which would mean more of the same.

Today, all labor faces the old question: Which side are you on?

I created a fake town – and I am so happy there – Life in Boson, Massachusetts

When I am dreaming up the latest news I am bouncing in my seat as I type.  Clickety clack on the keyboard to the left as my visions become words in my head and then words on the computer screen.  A town comes to life – and so much happens in Boson, Massachusetts.

I was posting on Reddit when I typed in something to do with ‘Boston’ the town I live in.  I saw a subreddit labelled’r/ThingsToDoInBoston’ and next on the pull down list ‘r/ThingsToDoInBoson.’  I laughed.  My immediate conjecture was that someone wanted to create a posting and discussion thread called a ‘subreddit’ dedicated to ‘Things to Do In Boston’ but missed the letter ‘t’ when typing.  I forget how to delete a subreddit, or even if one can delete a subreddit on Reddit.  So the thread was abandoned.  No one had posted.  I assumed that the creator and moderator of the subreddit did not check in on the thread, and did not care what was posted on his mistakenly entitled subreddit.

I have a problem of being banned from subreddits on Reditt, or having posts removed, or being accused of ‘spamming’ because I post a link to my blog or Youtube videos a number of times on different threads.  So… I like to find subreddits that I can post on.   In the past I have posted photos on ‘dead’ subreddits that no one seems to look at and the photos were featured on an aggregate subreddit that shows photos from around Reddit.  So, my photo can be seen by more people.

So I was delighted to find an abandoned orphan subreddit.  Boson you say.  Great.  Having been banned from Twitter for making fun of Massachusetts Senator E. Warren, and banned when I post on Craigslist Politics or Rants and Raves, or restricted on Boston Indiemedia, or told to remove posts by political associates, called a Russian ‘bot, there is a side of me that simply wants to fade into satire.  I began to post articles and re-writes on r/ThingsToDoInBoson.

(French Satirist Rabelais Illustration below)

Rabelais

I have thought that people like Rabelais, and Jonathan Swift, or even George Orwell, wrote parody and satire and speculative fiction about ‘other places and other times’ because they were not free to simply come out and tell the truth in public and in writing and in publication.  So Swift makes up faraway lands with little people to criticize the king of his own country.  Orwell made up an imaginary place and make-believe political system with exaggerated features of his own time and vision for the future.  So I could join the club from my kitchen computer and comment on the world while I cook pasta and meat sauce at my elbow.

swift 5

(Jonathan Swift used satire to comment on his society)

 

After some happy days of posting whatever I wanted about the town of Boson, which does not exist, it occurred to me that the whole thing could be erased and deleted when the actual editor ‘moderator’ took a look and did not like what he, or she, saw.  Since I was posting so many altered articles and photos I wanted to preserve my phony alternate Boston.

I created a new subreddit on Reddit called ‘r/BosonMassachusetts.’  I was the editor.  Things would not disappear unless the Reditt boss administrators decided to remove me.  Why would they?  Boson does not exist, and nothing that happens there is real.

I also set up a blog on Google’s free blog site ‘Blogger.’  I transferred all of my posts from the r/ThingsToDoInBoson to the Boson,Massachusetts blog, and the Reddit r/BosonMassachusetts subreddit.  I had dozens and dozens of entries.

I re-wrote a political commentary article I wrote about walking through the city of Boston after I got in trouble with political associates for my views.  My retreat into parody was complete.  I thought of an article I had written in the past saying that I had no interest in writing fiction.  Over the years I have written a lot of fiction short stories and two roughly shaped novellas.  But, why hide behind fiction I argued.  Simply write about what is going on as it is going on.

But times change, and I was retreating into fiction and parody,  and satire.  I when I worked as a teacher I often felt like I was speaking in riddles.  I did not want to lie to students, but I was prevented from telling certain truths by my bosses.

So here I was with writing at home and on the internet and — I must speak in riddles again.  But there is a certain freedom in fantasy and parody.  A fool can say anything, even the truth, is the first sentence of this blog.  I have no fear of playing the fool, but, I don’t always like not being able to tell the truth.

Shouldn’t accurate information lead to incisive interventions in reality?

But sometimes analogy and imitation and parody reveal the essence of a human situation.

……………….

I placed Boson directly to the south of Boston, Massachusetts.  I picture Boson as being on the southern shore of the mouth of the Neponset River.  Quincy gets pushed down as Boson squeezes in between the river and the town of Milton, and Quincy, and the East Blue Hills Reservation to the west.  There is no East Blue Hills Reservation, but a lot of stories come out of those woods and hills.

I live a half mile from the Neponset River and have spent most of my life a few miles from that river.

Neponset Map 1

Just about every morning I get up and read the news and then think of placing the events in Boson, Massachusetts.  Almost all of the big things that happen in the US happen in Boson, too.  I make them happen.

Over the past fifteen years or so I have been able to read a lot of news stories from around the world.  I have been a newspaper and magazine reader for most of my life, but the access to material greatly expanded with the internet postings of almost every newspaper in the world.  I once treasured a visit to Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, because I could step into the Out of Tow News kiosk in the middle of the square and see newspapers and magazines from around the world at a time when they were harder to get.  No more.  I can get more news in my kitchen as I make coffee in my pajamas for a much lower price.

Having so many news sources to read I have noticed over the years how writers simply copy other people’s info and regurgitate it with a spin, or no spin at all.  The UK Daily Mail had a writer who said his job was to read other media and re-write it for the Daily Mail.  Having seen a number of articles like that, I believed him.  Somehow the Daily Mail went to court and won a judgement that said they did not read and summarize.  But, they did.

My parody is basically the same thing.  I read other people’s news articles and spin my own take.  I go to the satirical site The Onion and take their photos or recast their stories.  The Onion has some very low level anti-Trump articles that look like someone took less than sixty seconds to write the piece.  On the other side the right leaning Babylon Bee has satire that is anti-Liberal.  I take some of their photos and repurpose them; a lot of their piece are simpleton name calling of Democrat Radical Liberals as “Marxists” and “Far Leftists” in a very low effort way.  Honestly, I think my satire is more sophisticated.  People read my stories and think they are real.  I make fun of their belief and they actually think the article supports their position.  The best kind of satire.  I think.

I have been posting and writing articles and creating graphics for just about a year.  A steady trickle of people read the r/BosonMassachusetts subreddit and a steady trickle visit the Blogger site ‘Boson, Massachusetts.’   I post on various subreddits to get new viewers for a story.  Sometimes a story takes off and thousands read the article.

In August 2019 I read a story from Australia of a man who was spear fishing and shot a spear through his cheek.  He was a Christian pastor who thanked God for sparing him from death.  Why didn’t God stop him from being speared in the first place, one might ask.  Anyway, I re-wrote the story and place the events in Boson HarborI used all of the graphic photos of the man with the pointed spear through his cheek.   I posted the story in various places and found an audience somewhere.  Just about two thousand people read the story on Blogger.   Most who commented seemed to think it was a true story about a real place called Boson, Massachusetts.

When I did an internet search of the word ‘Boson’ I found almost nothing.  The top results were for the term from molecular science ‘Higgs Boson’ a type of particle named after two scientists.

I used the term to create the founder of Boson, Higginson Boson an English colonist from 1630.

Boson Batman

Another very popular post was about the ‘junk art’ modern sculptures at U Mass Boson.

People assumed it was U Mass Boston and passionately denounced the horrible sculptures I reported had been removed by a recycle truck.

(Sunflowers for Vincent) 
There was an anti-human professor somewhere who I placed at U Mass Boson who really didn’t need any parody, since she seemed like self parody making the obvious eco-radical call for the reduction of the human population (excluding herself, of course.)

Anti 222

I stole an idea from the right leaning Babylon Bee about Barnes and Noble banning sales of the Bible.  I copied their graphic early in the morning.

barnes and

I changed the text of why they were banned from some wishy washy right wing complaint.  The post became very popular with almost 3,000 views around the world.  Somehow the post was being viewed in Russia on certain days.  But, when I went back to the Babylon Bee website later in the day the post had been changed and Barnes and Nobel removed and replaced with ‘Jen and Eric’s’ bookstore.  Generic bookstore was the graphic.  They must have gotten complaints from Barnes and Noble.

Perhaps my leaving in the reference to Barnes and Noble increased my viewership.

A leaflet was put up in a Massachusetts town that said “Islam is Right About Women.”  A woman called police and the local media did verbal summersaults to avoid adressing what the leaflet said while condemning the leaflet for opposing Islam.  So I created a similar leaflet to put up around Boson that said ‘Islam Is Right About Gays.’ 

People thought the leaflet was real and responded as they saw fit.  I got the most views for an article, about 2,750 or more.

https://xenagoguevicene.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/2df65-islam2bis2bright2babout2bgays.png

The Koran commands people to take any men who engage in homosexual activity and throw them from the roof of the tallest building in town.  Islamophiles in the West have no counter argument to that Islamic commandment.  But since they defend Islam and Gay Rights simultaniously they can only respond by labelling any examination of Islamic beliefs as ‘racist’ and not the business of any person who is not Islamic.   Others basically assert that just because 60% to 70% of people who follow Islam are extreme Right Wing fanatics that one should not blame the 5% of Muslims who are ‘moderate’ and only think Gays should be jailed.  Ok, point taken.

So my parody and satire hit a target.   Some people label me an opponent of the Islamic ‘race’ and it’s belief system.  So be it.

I also have my own radical Leftist newspaper – the Boson Workers.  I publish what I want and many read the articles without checking the source and finding that the publication does not exist.  Or, does it.

With so many posts, sometimes three articles a day, I have many pages of news on Boson.  I looked up a website that prints out color copies of blogs and internet postings and the first half of my Boson Blog would cost almost $300 to print  on paper.  I’m tempted, but online seems free.

I created a few videos of a model train version of Boson Massachusetts.  I used someone else’s visual and a different person’s music provided by Youtube.   Perhaps one day I’ll have a bash and buy a set of O Scale Lionel trains to set up my own model City of Boson.

There is so much freedom there.  (Restrictions Apply)

‘White Fragility’ is an exhausting, dull, racially obsessed book that only serves to deepen divisions – by Guy Birchall – 23 July 2020

‘White Fragility’ is an exhausting, dull, racially obsessed book that only serves to deepen divisions
Robin DiAngelo’s bestseller just proves that the woke intersectional left is equally unhealthily obsessed with race as the alt-right white nationalists they claim to despise.

‘White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism’ has recently ensconced itself in the global zeitgeist. Despite being written in 2018, its popularity has soared this year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and global Black Lives Matter protests-cum-riots. It is currently on both the New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists, no doubt making its author, Robin DiAngelo, a very wealthy woman.

I didn’t want to read this book; Scandinavian detective novels are more my bag to be honest, but given the prominence of it, I thought it best to see what all the fuss was about. Thus I subjected myself to thisexhausting, boring read, so you don’t have to put yourself through it – or further line the pockets of Professor DiAngelo. 

The book’s argument is simple: if you are white, you are a racist. There is no way out of this fact as DiAngelo says that white people denying they are racist is simply further proof that they are racist. This, she argues, is the eponymous ‘white fragility’ which is a product of white people growing up in a society which is steeped in ‘white supremacy’.

You may well have thought that white supremacy was confined to meetings of skinheads with swastika tattoos and rallies full of hooded lunatics setting fire to crosses. However, DiAngelo argues that Western society is built on white supremacy and as a result it pervades everything. Again, denying that our society is inherently racist only serves to compound and protect that white supremacy on which it is built. 

Even if people of colour gain positions of power in society, such as Barack Obama, Colin Powell, or Clarence Thomas, this does nothing to make the system less racist as they “support the status quo.” DiAngelo’s claims are completely unfalsifiable and effectively make racism in the West something akin to ‘The Force’ in Star Wars. 

Perplexingly, along with being unfalsifiable, they are also contradictory. For example, DiAngelo argues that white people don’t see themselves in racial terms, while simultaneously arguing that their actions preserve “white solidarity.” How can a group that doesn’t see themselves as a group express solidarity? It is also argued that white people should both not avoid talking about race and not expect black people to “educate” them about it. This again makes no sense. 

However, while white people can never not be racist – DiAngelo herself says she is still racist – they can do “work” to make themselves more aware. Coincidentally, this “work” happens to be DiAngelo, who along with being a professor in “multicultural education” specialising in “whiteness studies” is also a diversity “facilitator.” This means that for a fee of between $30,000-$40,000 she will lecture you for around 90 minutes, at the end of which, if you listen very closely, you will still be racist, but more aware of it. That doesn’t exactly seem like money well spent. 

The purpose of these lectures is not only to make whites aware that they are inherently racist, but also to build up their “racial stamina.” You see, racial stamina is the way to combat white fragility and, from the sounds of it, building up this stamina is a deeply unpleasant process. The book is littered with anecdotes from these lectures and seminars, all of which appear to end with someone either in tears or storming out in a rage. Although this is obviously no indication of the lectures themselves being bad or insulting, just indicative of white fragility.

The crying is a particular problem for Professor DiAngelo, particularly white women crying in front of black people. Indeed, she considers this so much of a problem that there is an entire chapter of the book titled ‘White Women’s Tears’. Her reasoning behind this is that there is a history of black men being tortured and murdered because of white women’s distress. As a white woman herself, she writes, “our tears trigger the terrorism of this history,” before citing the case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly flirting with a white woman.   

This example is a perfect illustration of how DiAngelo’s warped view of the world manages to simultaneously be insulting to both white and black people. She argues not only that black men will immediately think of lynching when they see a white woman cry, but also that if they comfort the woman they are doing so not out of sympathy or concern, but because they have been conditioned by sexism and the patriarchy.

Her argument constantly seems to rob people of colour of their own agency, while impugning the motive of racism into any action by a white person. If a white person is nice to a black person, it is racist. If they are nasty to a black person, that is also racist. Saying that you were taught to treat everyone equally is not only racist but also ignorant as it shows you are unaware of your socialised racism. 

To illustrate this socialised racism, the book is peppered with anecdotes designed to show that all white people are racist, but really just display DiAngelo’s own prejudices. She argues that white people come away from the story of Jackie Robinson believing he was the first black baseball player good enough to play with whites rather than the first who was allowed to. But no one with even a passing interest in the sport believes that he was simply the first black man capable of competing with whites, making her argument a total fallacy. 

Elsewhere she says that white people use coded language such as “sketchy,” “urban,” or “bad neighbourhood” when what they really mean is a lot of black people live there. To demonstrate this, DiAngelo writes about a conversation she was having with a white friend who was telling her about a white couple she knew that had moved to New Orleans for $25,000. Her friend then told her that the couple had also bought a gun, at which point DiAngelo says, “I immediately knew they had bought a home in a black neighbourhood.” DiAngelo will presumably assert that all white people would make that assumption, but she cannot be sure of that. This statement is indicative her own prejudices, not a universal one.

DiAngelo’s argument is a perfect circular one, you are racist because you are white, only white people can be racist, so being racist makes you white. It is then impossible to argue against because denial is simply further proof of your racism. You can’t even argue that you just treat people as individuals because that ignores their experience as a member of a group in an inescapable intersectional power structure. Ironically, she shares the exact same view of race as the white nationalists she presumably despises. 

The best example of the unfalsifiability of her argument comes when DiAngelo lists a series of phrases used by white people to claim they are not racist. This includes phrases like: “I know people of colour,” “I marched in the sixties,” “the real oppression is class,” “you don’t know me,” but the most telling one of all is, “I disagree.” 

In Robin DiAngelo’s view, disagreeing with her is just proof that you are a racist. There is no room for nuance or debate, no shades of grey – to Professor DiAngelo the world is, in every sense of the phrase, black and white.

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Covid-19: Phase 1 of the “Permanent Crisis” – by Mike Whitney • 15 July 2020

Let’s assume that the events of the last five months are neither random nor unexpected. Let’s say they’re part of an ingenious plan to transform American democracy into a lockdown police state controlled by criminal elites and their puppet governors. And let’s say the media’s role is to fan the flames of mass hysteria by sensationalizing every gory detail, every ominous prediction and every slightest uptick in the death toll in order to exert greater control over the population. And let’s say the media used their power to craft a message of terror they’d repeat over and over again until finally, there was just one frightening storyline ringing-out from every soapbox and bullhorn, one group of governors from the same political party implementing the same destructive policies, and one small group of infectious disease experts –all incestuously related– issuing edicts in the form of “professional advice.”

Could such a thing happen in America?

What’s most astonishing about the Covid-19 operation is the manner in which the elected government was circumvented by public health experts (connected to a power-mad billionaire activist.) That was a stroke of genius. Most people regard the US as a fairly stable democracy and yet, the first sign of infection triggered the rapid transfer of power from the president to unelected “professionals” whose conflicts of interest are too vast to list. Equally fascinating is the fact that the lockdowns were not the brainchild of Donald Trump but the mainly Democrat governors who shrugged-off any Constitutional limits to their power and arbitrarily ordered people to stay in their homes, wear masks and avoid close physical contact with other humans. All of this was done in the name of “science” and condoned under “emergency powers” despite the fact that mass quarantines of healthy people have no historical precedent or scientific basis. No matter, this was never about science or logic anyway, and it certainly wasn’t about saving lives. It was always about power, pure, unalloyed political power. The power to push the economy into freefall destroying millions of jobs and businesses. The power to bail out Wall Street while diverting attention to a fairly-mild infection that kills roughly 1 in every 500 people. The power to create a permanent underclass willing to work for table scraps or less. And the power to fundamentally restructure human relations so that normal intimacies like handshakes, hugs or social gatherings are entirely banned. This, of course, was the most ambitious part of the project, the basic changes to human interaction that date back thousands of years, and which are now seen as an obstacle to a new order in which the individual must be isolated, desensitized and kept in a constant state of fear to be more easily controlled and manipulated.

On top of that, all of this is taking place in plain sight where anyone with even minimal critical thinking skills should be able to see what is happening, but very few do. Why is that?

Fear. Fear has gripped the population and is preventing typically intelligent, perceptive people from seeing something that’s right beneath their noses. Check out this clip from an article titled “When Will the Madness End?”:

“What’s happening now is a spread of this serious medical condition to the whole population… The public is adopting a personality disorder … paranoid delusions, and irrational fear. … It can happen with anything but here we see a primal fear of disease turning into mass panic….

…. Once fear reaches a certain threshold, normalcy, rationality, morality, and decency fade and are replaced by shocking stupidity and cruelty.…..We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first. ..…

…This is made far worse by politics, which has only fed the beast of fear. This is the most politicized disease in history, and doing so has done nothing to help manage it and much to make it all vastly worse.” (“When Will the Madness End?“, AIER)

We’re not saying that Covid doesn’t kill people, and we’re not suggesting that Covid is a bioweapon released on the public for nefarious purposes. (although that’s certainly a possibility.) What we’re saying is that scheming elites and their allies in the media and politics see every crisis as an opportunity to advance their own authoritarian agenda. In fact, the restructuring of basic democratic institutions can only take place within the confines of a major crisis. That’s why the CIA, the giant corporations, the WHO and the Gates Posse gathered for meetings that anticipated an event just like the Covid outbreak. They needed a crisis of that magnitude to achieve their ultimate objective; total control. That’s what they mean when they say there will be “no return to normal”, they mean they’re replacing representative government with a new totalitarian model in which the levers of state power will be controlled by them. So while the virus outbreak might be coincidental, the management of the crisis certainly is not. This is from an article by Gary Barnett:

“We are in the midst of an attempt by the oligarchs to eliminate the human spirit, and if this attempt is successful, the singular majesty of the human experience will have been abolished, and only a technocratic black hole of emptiness and despair will remain. This is the essence of a failed society brought about by the destruction of human intellect by state education, mass propaganda, and the planned control of individuals through physical and psychological manipulation due to fear.”(“Pandemic Madness: The State’s Plan Rests on the Destruction of the Human Spirit“, Gary Barnett, Lew Rockwell)

Is the author exaggerating?

I don’t think so. Our species has withstood myriad epidemics in the past without ever resorting to the extremist measures we have taken during this latest outbreak. Take the state of Oregon, for example, whose Democratic governor Kate Brown just signed another executive order extending a state of emergency through Sept. 4. The move comes months after the peak in deaths was reached in mid-April. As of Tuesday, Oregon’s death toll is a meager 240 nearly 90% of who are over 65 with underlying health conditions. That means that Brown shut down a $226 billion per year economy, put tens of thousands of people out of work, destroyed countless small and medium-sized businesses and plunged the state deep into debt, to save roughly 24 or 25 people under 65 with no underlying health conditions. That’s not the reaction of an intelligent, responsible political leader acting in the best interests of the people. That is the reaction of someone who is either criminally insane or doing someone else’s bidding. So which is it?

Like many of the other mainly Democrat governors, Brown also issued a “mask” mandate, punishable by a fine. The new executive order was neither approved by the House or by any other democratic body. It’s just Brown testing the limits of her new emergency powers. Interestingly, the mask mandate comes a full three months after the state reached its peak in fatalities which means that it has less to do with controlling the infection than it does with using the virus to usurp tyrannical powers. Does that mean Brown or the other Democrat governors are closet tyrants?

Probably not. But it does suggest that the people who fund Brown’s campaigns and pull her strings want to see how far they can push things before the public fights back. Here’s a comment by Carlo Caduff in the Medical Anthropology Quarterly that helps to put these developments into perspective:

“Across the world, the pandemic unleashed authoritarian longings in democratic societies allowing governments to seize the opportunity, create states of exception and push political agendas. Commentators have presented the pandemic as a chance for the West to learn authoritarianism from the East. This pandemic risks teaching people to love power and call for its meticulous application.” (“What Went Wrong: Corona and the World After the Full Stop“ Academia.edu)

Once again, we are not denying that Covid kills people. All we’re saying is that powerful elites are using crisis management to advance their own narrow political agenda.

It should be no surprise that states governed by Democrats are doing considerably worse than those run by Republicans. Watching the eagerness with which the Dems impose their economy-crushing measures, one can only wonder how the states will ever dig out of the current mess and regain solvency. Of course, maybe that’s the goal, to generate so much red ink that essential social services will have to be slashed, the poor will be left to starve, and the big money guys will buy-up public assets for pennies on the dollar. Indeed, that must be the plan, “shock therapy for the proles while the Democrat governors act as a battering ram to open the state to the plunder and looting of their Wall Street crony friends and others in the parasite class. Here’s how Israel Shamir summed it up in a recent article at the Unz Review:

“There are people who think we have it too good. They think we did nothing to deserve our high civilization. They think we shouldn’t be able to afford food, the roof above our heads and other goodies. This is the view of some very wealthy people. They are annoyed at seeing Tom, Dick and Harry going to Acapulco and eating in a restaurant, instead of being at their beck and call. They want to lower our income and raise the cost of living. They are willing to fund anyone who calls for more austerity.

Now they support lockdowns, claiming that it is the best way to fight disease. Yesterday they were calling on us to shut down industry in order to save the climate. Today these same people are still trying to reduce us to poverty, this time for the sake of Covid” (“Unmasking Freedom, The Unz review)

Shamir is right of course, the justifications are forever changing while the ultimate goal remains the same, wreak havoc the economy, divide the people into warring camps, and clear the way for the new streamlined system of authoritarian government, the glorious NWO. And the speed at which we are moving towards this new order is truly breathtaking. Take a look at this sampling of articles I’ve compiled which illustrates the catastrophic damage that is being done to the economy but swept under the rug by the media. In short, Covid is the diversion that keeps the American people from realizing that the system that keeps them employed, pays the mortgage and puts food on the table is being decimated by voracious oligarchs who want to start fresh. Check out these articles:

Anyway, you get the picture, the situation is dire. But as severe as the economic carnage may be, the psychic damage is that much worse. Many readers probably already know that suicides, divorces, child abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence have all risen sharply in the last 5 months. The impact of the lockdowns on people suffering from chronic depression or other mental health conditions has also increased dramatically. As Doctor Waqar Rashid opines in an article at The Spectator:

“Many people are… still terrified.,… afraid of venturing back into the outside world…. Masks are everywhere, and are compulsory on public transport. The result is a reminder that this ‘new normal’ is utterly unlike what we are used to. Even to those who don’t suffer from mental health problems it’s a depressing and dispiriting sight. And I fear this ongoing state of stress and anxiety is doing profound damage to people’s psychological wellbeing...

It was widely acknowledged before the pandemic struck that mental health problems were not only increasing in number but also being seen more frequently in younger people. As a neurologist, the people I see are especially at risk from suffering from mental health problems. It’s a sad fact that in my line of work, we can cure very little. But we can try to control and mitigate the illnesses we seek to treat. Much of this relies on the patient remaining hopeful and optimistic about their prospects. But now, surrounded as we are by this ‘invisible enemy’, all too often hope has been substituted for fear, even terror.” (“What’s the true cost of lockdown?”, The Spectator)

Covid-19; Phase 1 of the “Permanent Crisis”

It all boils down to this: Ruling class elites are using a public health crisis to wage a full-scale war on the American people and their system of representative government. The Democrat-CIA-Media Axis has been instrumental in prosecuting the conflict, as they were in the Russiagate fiasco. These are the shock troops who execute the battleplan of economic strangulation, covert skulduggery, and relentless disinformation. By the time the American people figure out what’s going on, the political landscape will have changed completely.

US EPA Approves Two Lysol Sprays for Killing Coronavirus on Surfaces – by Rachel Nania (AARP) 7 July 2020

Lab tests confirm effectiveness of disinfectants against virus that causes COVID-19

A bottle of lysol

En español | Two Lysol cleaning products have proven effective in killing the novel coronavirus on hard surfaces, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced.

Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist received approval Monday from the federal agency for their effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They are the first surface disinfectant products to receive such approval; the EPA said it expects more will follow.



“EPA is committed to identifying new tools and providing accurate and up-to-date information to help the American public protect themselves and their families from the novel coronavirus,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

The coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person to person by way of respiratory droplets produced when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes in close proximity to others (within about 6 feet), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, it may be possible to become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth or nose, which is why the CDC encourages routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces as a best practice to avoid infection. Physical distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask in public are other main methods of prevention.

Direct testing against new coronavirus leads to Lysol approvals

The EPA has a list of more than 420 products that are powerful enough to wipe out viruses that are harder to kill than the new coronavirus. However, the products on the EPA list had yet to be tested against the novel virus itself. The two newly approved Lysol products are the first to show their effectiveness when matched directly against SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory testing. The active ingredients in both sprays are quaternary ammonium (quats) and ethanol (ethyl alcohol).

AARP

Maine Navy Shipbuilder files complaint over labor union ‘threatening’ anti-scab poetry during strike – By DAVID SHARP (AP) 10 July 2020

Baith Maine Strike

Maine: Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works on Friday, 10 July 2020, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing its largest union of threatening workers who cross the picket line during an ongoing strike by quoting an anti-scab poem by Jack London.

The company accused leaders of Machinists’ Local S6 of threatening so-called scabs with fines and loss of benefits — and hinting at violence through the poem.

Scab

“Ode To A Scab by Jack London

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a waterlogged brain, and a combination backbone made of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out. No man has a right to scab as long as there is a pool of water deep enough to drown his body in, or a rope long enough to hang his carcass with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his Master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab hasn’t.

Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas Iscariot sold his savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British Army. The modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, his country, his wife, his children, and his fellow men for an unfulfilled promise from his employer, trust, or corporation.”

 

“We are extremely disappointed that union leaders would

Jack london 2

make false and threatening statements to the very employees they are supposed to represent,” said BIW President Dirk Lesko. “We take these issues very seriously and will co
ntinue to ensure our employees’ rights are protected.”

Union leaders in a statement warned that anyone who chooses to cross the picket line will be fined after the strike is over. Jack London’s poem had this to say about scabs: “No man has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with.”
Jay Wadleigh, a district business representative for the Machinists, said the quote came from a Jack London poem, “Ode to a Scab.”
“Maybe they should study poetry a little more,” Wadleigh said of the shipyard’s managers.
Wadleigh insisted that production workers who cross the picket line are no longer eligible for union benefits, and may face fines, as well. The number of striking workers who’ve chosen to return to their jobs is small — roughly a dozen, he said.

About 4,300 Local S6 workers went on strike June 22 after overwhelmingly rejecting the company’s proposal in dispute that’s primarily centered on subcontractors, work rules and seniority while wages and benefits are a secondary concern.

The company’s final offer that was rejected called for a three-year contract with pay raises of 3% in each year.

Bath Iron Works is one of the Navy’s largest shipbuilders and a major employer in Maine, with 6,800 workers. The General Dynamics subsidiary builds Navy destroyers, the workhorse of the fleet.

The strike, with workers losing company-funded insurance during a pandemic, threatens to put the shipyard further behind schedule in delivering the destroyers to the Navy at a time of growing competition from China and Russia.

The strike began at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 22, as some 4,300 members of Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America/International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local S6 went on strike at the Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard here, where workers produce Arleigh Burke- and Zumwalt-class destroyers for the U.S. Navy. BIW is owned General Dynamics, which is one of the largest military contractors in the world, maker of the M1 main battle tank, and which year-in and year-out rakes in $3 billion annual profits on $30 billion in sales with its lucrative cost-plus contracts.

Amid record unemployment, a global pandemic and mounting pressure from the military as BIW’s order backlog grows longer, the shipyard workers have shown they are ready and willing to fight. When a worker at the plant tested positive for COVID-19, word spread like wildfire, and on March 24 more than 3,000 called out sick. What’s at stake in this strike is the survival of the union, as IAM international president Robert Martinez, Jr. stressed in a press release: “The company is engaged in flat-out union-busting, and is exploiting the current pandemic to attempt to outsource work from its dedicated employees.”

Now the battle has been joined, and it will take real class struggle to bust the union-busters. The last strike at the shipyards, in 2000, went on for 55 days, which worries BIW and GD corporate officers and the naval brass. The shipbuilders are in a strong position to win this fight if they hang tough, “come hell or high water” or anti-strike orders from the Pentagon or the White House. Looking to the bosses’ National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a loser, but a victory here could set the stage for a wave of labor struggles nationwide. The BIW workers’ strike must be taken up by the entire labor movement – Victory to IAM Local S6!

At issue in the strike are demands by the company to rip up seniority protections and to increase subcontracting, as well as jacking up workers’ contributions to health insurance. The shipyard is running six months behind schedule, according to the Defense One news site, with a backlog of eleven ships due to delays stemming from mismanagement exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the military and business press are full of hand-wringing articles. “It is critical for our Navy that we get ships, we get them on the schedule we contract for them, and that we have high confidence in our shipbuilders to deliver,” complained the assistant secretary of the Navy, James Guerts. In a letter to the Maine Congressional delegation, BIW boss Dirk Lesko cited Vice Adm. William Galinis, the new chief of the Naval Sea System Command, to the effect that “other shipyards with which the Navy does business, our competitors, regularly use subcontractors to address shortfalls in skilled labor to overcome schedule challenges.”

Worker discontent with Iron Works management has run rampant in recent years. The last contract offered up a variety of concessions in the hope of making the company more “efficient” as it vied for a Coast Guard bid. “I was one of the few on the Negotiating Committee that opposed it at the time,” current local president Chris Weirs told an Internationalist reporter, “but we took a five-year wage freeze so they could make a bid on those [Heritage-class] patrol cutters.” Of course, when the company lost the bid, the concessions weren’t returned.

In January 2020, state legislators started threatening to rescind a $45 million tax credit provided to the company on condition that it continue to provide good-paying jobs, citing plans to hire out-of-state contractors and to subcontract low-wage workers, as well as a decline in the average pay at the site as proof that BIW wasn’t living up to its end of the bargain. This further riled S6 members. But it was the company’s brutal indifference to the lives and health of its employees during the coronavirus pandemic that really stirred a hornet’s nest in the ranks.

Local S6 is going up against General Dynamics, one of the world’s largest, and always profitable, war contractors. (William Hall / Maine Business News)

In the March 24 walkout, the union called on the company to shut down for two weeks to clean and disinfect the facility, with full pay for employees. Management refused. After much legal wrangling involving state officials and the intervention of the U.S. Navy, the shipyards were declared “essential.” Initially, BIW refused to provide PPE (personal protective equipment) and insisted that workers provide their own masks. Many workers voted with their feet, and absenteeism was rampant until the company issued a “back-to-work” ultimatum in May. As we go to press, there are reports that four additional employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

As local union president Weirs told News Center Maine on April 10, “Our membership right now collectively is so turned over as far as hatred for Bath Iron Works and how they’re being treated, echoes of the word ‘strike’ are being heard through the shipyard.” Two months later, in a mail ballot, 87% of participating members voted against the proposed contract agreement and to go on strike.

In the last two weeks of the contract, IAM members showed their anger at the company by creating a raucous din, “every hour on the hour, for a minute,” a picketer said. “We would down hammer and bang on sheet metal, you could hear it across the river in Woolwich, it was so loud.” “It’s just a perfect storm,” added another picketer, “How much can you take? No raises for five years, then the disease, now this insulting contract. We decided we were going to hold the line here, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many ships are in the water.”

The Bath Iron Works strike is no local matter. Across the country and around the world, the bosses and their politicians have insisted that the working class and poor shoulder the burden of the ravages caused by the coronavirus pandemic. From employees of logistics giants Amazon and UPS to packinghouse workers and nursing home staffs, companies have made it clear that death and disease are no big whoop compared to the horror of flagging profits. As the United States reports over 2.5 million COVID-19 cases and over 126,000 deaths from the virus, the capitalist bosses have been on the offensive in a mad rush to reopen the economy.

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As Donald Trump used the Defense Production Act to order pork and beef processing plants reopened despite huge numbers of COVID-19 infections, the Pentagon leaned on Mexico to reopen the maquiladora (free trade zone) factories along the U.S.-Mexico border, where superexploited workers labor for the U.S. market. Among the corporate giants calling for the factories to reopen was GD. From Bath, Maine to Matamoros, Mexico, the name of the game is profits, profits, profits, and workers lives be damned. On June 8, courageous labor lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas, who has led a fight to shut down and clean up the maquiladoras, was arrested on trumped-up charges. Local S6 should join in demanding: Freedom now for Susana Prieto!

Despite expressions of support from other labor unions, such as the Teamsters and the Maine Nurses Association, it is crucial to see clearly that this class battle will not be won by playing by the bosses’ rules. The original directives from the union instructed picketers not to engage with scabs nor to block entrances to the struck facility. Now appeals are being made for federal mediation. What is needed instead is to mobilize and organize the power of the working class to shut down Bath Iron Works!

A class-struggle leadership of the labor movement would meet the threat of union-busting subcontracting by fighting to bring all these workers into the IAM, and for union control of hiring – organize the unorganized – for a union hiring hall. In the face of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, workers should form all-worker elected safety committees, independent of management, with the power to shut down production. Faced with rising health care premiums and increases in co-pays, a combative union movement would fight for socialized health care, free for all. And instead of appeals to the NLRB, build mass picket lines that no one crosses!

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Workers in “defense” industries are also in a key position to fight the warmongering policies of the imperialist rulers. A key reason why the Pentagon is hot to get the destroyers being built at BIW into the water is to step up provocative deployments in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats alike blame Beijing for the coronavirus, when the truth is that China, a bureaucratically deformed workers state, was uniquely able with its planned economy to limit the spread of the virus and the numbers of dead, in contrast to the disastrous response in the U.S. Just because naval construction workers build Navy ships doesn’t mean they share the war aims of the profit-driven rulers who don’t give a damn about them or any workers anywhere.

Historically, shipyard workers have played a key political role precisely because they are a stronghold of workers power. In November 1982, when the Ku Klux Klan threatened to march in Washington, D.C., longshore and shipbuilders union leaders and activists from Norfolk, Virginia played a key role in a powerful labor/black mobilization that stopped the fascists cold. And going further back, in November 1918 dockers and shipyard workers in the port of Kiel were the spark that set off the German Revolution that brought the slaughter of World War I to an end.

Today, the power of the unions is hamstrung by a pro-capitalist labor bureaucracy that has chained workers to the bosses’ parties, particularly the Democrats. Yet the Democrats no less than Republicans have pushed policies like outsourcing and subcontracting that have destroyed unions and union gains for the last four decades. Instead of relying on Democratic Party phony “friends of labor” politicians like Joe Biden, who claims to support Local S6 workers, class-conscious workers must call to break with the Democrats and undertake the urgent task of building a revolutionary workers party that champions the cause of all of labor and the oppressed.

Victory to IAM Local S6! Bust the union-busters! ■

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https://apnews.com/972fa2c022dea1017a2f7f21fed9e05c

Are the Democrats a Political Party or a CIA-Backed Fifth Column? – by Mike Whitney • 5 July 2020

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Head of Thomas Jefferson Statue

How do the Democrats benefit from the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests?

While the protests are being used to paint Trump as a race-bating white supremacist, that is not their primary objective. The main goal is to suppress and demonize Trump’s political base which is comprised of mainly white working class people who have been adversely impacted by the Democrats disastrous free trade and immigration policies. These are the people– liberal and conservative– who voted for Trump in 2016 after abandoning all hope that the Democrats would amend their platform and throw a lifeline to workers who are now struggling to make ends meet in America’s de-industrialized heartland.

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The protests are largely a diversion aimed at shifting the public’s attention to a racialized narrative that obfuscates the widening inequality chasm (created by the Democrats biggest donors, the Giant Corporations and Wall Street) to historic antagonisms that have clearly diminished over time. (Racism ain’t what it used to be.) The Democrats are resolved to set the agenda by deciding what issues “will and will not” be covered over the course of the campaign. And– since race is an issue on which they feel they can energize their base by propping-up outdated stereotypes of conservatives as ignorant bigots incapable of rational thought– the Dems are using their media clout to make race the main topic of debate. In short, the Democrats have settled on a strategy for quashing the emerging populist revolt that swept Trump into the White House in 2016 and derailed Hillary’s ambitious grab for presidential power.

Grantstatuetoppled

The plan, however, does have its shortcomings, for example, Democrats have offered nearly blanket support for protests that have inflicted massive damage on cities and towns across the country. In the eyes of many Americans, the Dems support looks like a tacit endorsement of the arson, looting and violence that has taken place under the banner of “racial justice”. The Dems have not seriously addressed this matter, choosing instead to let the media minimize the issue by simply scrubbing the destruction from their coverage. This “sweep it under the rug” strategy appears to be working as the majority of people surveyed believe that the protests were “mostly peaceful”, which is a term that’s designed to downplay the effects of the most ferocious rioting since the 1970s.

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Let’s be clear, the Democrats do not support Black Lives Matter nor have they made any attempt to insert their demands into their list of police reforms. BLM merely fits into the Dems overall campaign strategy which is to use race to deflect attention from the gross imbalance of wealth that is the unavoidable consequence of the Dems neoliberal policies including outsourcing, off-shoring, de-industrialization, free trade and trickle down economics. These policies were aggressively promoted by both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as they will be by Joe Biden if he is elected. They are the policies that have gutted the country, shrunk the middle class, and transformed the American dream into a dystopian nightmare.

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They are also the policies that have given rise to, what the pundits call, “right wing populism” which refers to the growing number of marginalized working people who despise Washington and career politicians, feel anxious about falling wages and dramatic demographic changes, and resent the prevailing liberal culture that scorns their religion and patriotism. This is Trump’s mainly-white base, the working people the Democrats threw under the bus 30 years ago and now want to annihilate completely by deepening political polarization, fueling social unrest, pitting one group against another, and viciously vilifying them in the media as ignorant racists whose traditions, culture, customs and even history must be obliterated to make room for the new diversity world order. Trump touched on this theme in a speech he delivered in Tulsa. He said:

“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”

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Author Charles Burris expanded on this topic in an article at Lew Rockwell titled America’s Monumental Existential Problem:

“The wave of statue-toppling spreading across the Western world from the United States is not an aesthetic act, but a political one, the disfigured monuments in bronze and stone standing for the repudiation of an entire civilization. No longer limiting their rage to slave-owners, American mobs are pulling down and disfiguring statues of abolitionists, writers and saints in an act of revolt against the country’s European founding, now re-imagined as the nation’s original sin, a moral and symbolic shift with which we Europeans will soon be forced to reckon.”

The statue-toppling epidemic is vastly more disturbing that the the looting or arson, mainly because it reveals a ideological intensity aimed at symbols of state power. By tearing down the images of the men who created or contributed to our collective history, the vandals are challenging the legitimacy of the nation itself as well as its founding “enlightenment” principles. This is the nihilism of extremists whose only objective is destruction. It suggests that the Democrats might have aspirations that far exceed a mere presidential victory. Perhaps the protests and riots will be used to justify more sweeping changes, a major reset during which traditional laws and rules are indefinitely suspended until the crisis passes and order can be restored. Is that at all conceivable or should we dismiss these extraordinary events as merely young people “letting off a little steam”?

love in the buildings

Here’s how General Michael Flynn summed up what’s going on on in a recent article:

“There is now a small group of passionate people working hard to destroy our American way of life. Treason and treachery are rampant and our rule of law and those law enforcement professionals are under the gun more than at any time in our nation’s history… I believe the attacks being presented to us today are part of a well-orchestrated and well-funded effort that uses racism as its sword to aggravate our battlefield dispositions. This weapon is used to leverage and legitimize violence and crime, not to seek or serve the truth….The dark forces’ weapons formed against us serve one purpose: to promote radical social change through power and control.”

I agree. The toppling of statues, the rioting, the looting, the arson and, yes, the relentless attacks on Trump from the day he took office, to Russiagate, to the impeachment, to the insane claims about Russian “bounties”, to the manipulation of science and data to trigger a planned demolition of the US economy hastening a vast restructuring to the labor force and the imposition of authoritarian rule; all of these are all cut from the same fabric, a tapestry of lies and deception concocted by the DNC, the Intel agencies, the elite media, and their behind-the-scenes paymasters. Now they have released their corporate-funded militia on the country to wreak havoc and spread terror among the population. Meanwhile, the New York Times and others continue to generate claims they know to be false in order to confuse the public even while the people are still shaking off months of disorienting quarantine and feelings of trepidation brought on by 3 weeks of nonstop social unrest and fractious racial conflict. Bottom line: Neither the Democrats nor their allies at the Intel agencies and media have ever accepted the “peaceful transition of power”. They reject the 2016 election results, they reject Donald Trump as the duly elected president of the United States, and they reject the representative American system of government “by the people.”

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So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: Which political party is pursuing a radical-activist strategy that has set our cities ablaze and reduced Capitol Hill to a sprawling warzone? Which party pursued a 3 year-long investigation that was aimed at removing the president using a dossier that they knew was false (Opposition research), claiming emails were hacked from DNC computers when the cyber-security company that did the investigation said there was no proof of “exfiltration”? (In other words, there was no hack and the Dems knew it since 2017) Which party allied itself with senior-level officials at the FBI, CIA, NSA and elite media and worked together collaboratively to discredit, surveil, infiltrate, entrap and demonize the administration in order to torpedo Trumps “America First” political agenda, and remove him from office?

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Which party?

No one disputes the Democrats right to challenge, criticize or vigorously oppose a bill or policy promoted by the president. What we take issue with is the devious and (possibly) illegal way the Democrats have joined powerful elements in the Intelligence Community and the major media to conduct a ruthless “dirty tricks” campaign that involved spying on members of the administration in order to establish the basis for impeachment proceedings. This is not the behavior of a respected political organization but the illicit conduct of a fifth column acting on behalf of a foreign (or corporate?) enemy. It’s worth noting that an insurrection against the nation’s lawful authority is sedition, a felony that is punishable by imprisonment or death. Perhaps, the junta leaders should consider the possible consequences of their actions before they make their next move.

What we need to know is whether the Democrat party operates independent of the Intel agencies with which it cooperated during its campaign against Trump? We’re hopeful that the Durham investigation will shed more light on this matter. Our fear is that what we’re seeing is an emerging Axis–the CIA, the DNC, and the elite media– all using their respective powers to terminate the Constitutional Republic and establish permanent, authoritarian one-party rule. As far-fetched as it might sound, the country appears to be slipping inexorably towards tyranny.

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Jupiter, Saturn, The Moon, Mars, Venus, Coffee and Vanilla Creamer – 3:33 am 10 July 2020 Friday Morn

3:33 am Friday morn, 10 July 2020

I opened the front door and stepped onto the front porch while holding the door jam and placing my rollerblade on the deck. Over my shoulder, past the street light, next to the column of the front porch roof I saw a bright ‘star’ in the sky to the southeast.

“Jupiter!” I said aloud. I knew I was right. As I went down the stairs and skated across the sidewalk onto the street I saw Jupiter and another fainter ‘star’ to the left.

“Saturn,” I predicted confidently.

As I skated down the middle of the street I could see the half Moon directly south; to the left of the Moon was a small reddish ‘star.’

“Mars!” I exclaimed. I knew I was right. What other red stars have I seen?

I turned around and skated north on the street to the corner. I looked down the cross street towards the one hundred year old Italianate church tower. Due east I saw a very bright ‘star.’

“Venus,” I thought to myself as I straddled the double yellow line on the street. No cars on the road at 3:33 am or so.

I skated up and down the street under the harsh illumination of the numerous street lights. It is hard to see the naked stars when the city is lighting the streets when it gets dark. To what end? Can’t people learn to see in the dark?

I love skating in the dark of night.

Coffee and vanilla creamer called to me and I went back inside to my kitchen and smelled the coffee.

Through internet verification I found that I was right in the planetary identification of four ‘star’ like objects in the sky.

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Thirty years ago I might have been able to verify my identifications with a Farmers Almanac, or some other book of star charts and the night sky for New England. I was interested in astronomy back then. I watched and re-watched Carl Sagan’s television series ‘Cosmos.’ But aside from the Big Dipper and Small Dipper and Orion and his easy to spot belt in the winter sky I hardly ever knew what I was looking at. Perhaps Venus was so bright that I knew the planet for what it was. Sometimes Mars was so red, and so close to the Earth, that it was main stream news. But, otherwise I was left to explore Mars and Venus with H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

Journey 1

https://web.archive.org/web/20200710100508/https://xenagoguevicene.wordpress.com/2020/07/10/jupiter-saturn-the-moon-mars-venus-coffee-and-vanilla-creamer-333-am-10-july-2020-friday-morn/

Department of Truth – Trusting Main Stream Media’s Anti-Trump Polling – by Robert Bridge – 2 July 2020

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In an era of fake news, can we trust the MSM polls that show Trump badly trailing Biden in the race for the US presidency?

Robert Bridge
Consult just about any US media resource and a trend is quickly discernible: Donald Trump is sagging in popularity while his likely Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, soars like an eagle. Are these polls really to be believed?

Is there a conflict of interest greater than that of the US media conducting a public opinion poll on Donald J. Trump?

It appears to be a self-indulgent activity, a bit like climate change activists gathering opinions on the merits of air travel, for example, or a New York Yankees fan organizing a poll to determine who the best baseball player was, Babe Ruth or David Wright.

In other words, those asking the questions may be very tempted, in deference to their own prejudices, to get the answers they seek.

Perform a quick Google search on ‘Trump poll numbers’ and you will likely experience some deja vu. As in 2016, when the media showed Trump trailing far behind Hillary Clinton, the same media want us to believe that the presidential incumbent is now eating Joe Biden’s dust on the road to the White House.

The New York Times, for example, in an opinion poll it conducted in cahoots with ultra-liberal Siena College, showed Biden ahead of Trump by 14 percentage points, pulling 50 percent of the vote compared with just 36 percent for the president.

In another survey, this one carried out by USA Today and Suffolk University, Trump garnered 41 percent to Biden’s 53 percent. What the poll failed to say, however, is that in 2016, the editorial board at USA Today took the unprecedented step of taking sides in that year’s presidential race, declaring Trump “unfit for the presidency.”

Suffolk University, meanwhile, is situated in snobby Boston, Massachusetts, a formidable Democratic stronghold where Hillary Clinton secured 60 percent of the 2016 vote compared to Trump’s 32.8 percent. No chance of bias there.

Then there was the poll by CNN, which Trump regularly slams as ‘fake news,’ where it was said that the incumbent leader was trailing Biden by a whopping 14 points. The Trump campaign, arguing that just 25 percent of the contacted respondents were Republican, condemned the survey as “defamatory, and misleading” with the goal of creating “an anti-Trump narrative.”

McLaughlin and Associates, a national survey research group requested by Trump to examine the findings, said the results were an effort on the part of “Democratic operatives” to “counter the enthusiasm of Trump voters.” Meanwhile, the right-leaning polling agency, Rasmussen, reported that Trump enjoys a 44 percent approval rating, which reflects the usual margin of difference.

It’s important to note that the media, which has a snarling political dog in the Trump-Biden fight, follows up on its dubious polls with stories based on those very same polls. CNN, for example, aired a segment that asked, ‘What would happen if Trump lost in November but refused to leave office?’ Even Fox News, considered to be ‘Trump friendly,’ wondered if Trump would drop out of the race due to low poll numbers.

At the same time, many people must be wondering how Joe Biden, 77, has been able to garner such glowing poll numbers. After all, when the former vice president finally ventured to speak in public after an 88-day disappearing act, it only served to make people question the possibility of his “cognitive decline,” a subject the mainstream media seems unwilling to consider in any great depth.

Although the United States has certainly suffered from a double whammy of Covid-19 and race riots, the situation does not appear to be as bleak as the media would have everyone believe. In May, for example, analysts expressed disbelief as the economy added 2.5 million jobs, with the unemployment rate declining to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent. Market watchers had been anticipating a loss of 7.25 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 19.0 percent. Meanwhile, Wall Street continues to weather the storm.

In short, the country remains resilient in the face of unprecedented challenges, yet Trump’s popularity continues to dwindle. Does the US leader have good reason to question the media-sponsored polls that show him in the basement, exactly where Joe Biden has been organizing his campaign from for months, or should the American people trust the findings?

Given the way the mainstream media has treated Trump over the course of his first term in office, it seems that whatever the media reports on the most divisive American president in living memory must be taken with a very generous handful of salt.

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Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of the book, ‘Midnight in the American Empire,’ How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. @Robert_Bridge

Undercover Libertarian Goes to Socialist Conference – Finds Some Surprising Similarities – by Elizabeth Nolan Brown – 16 April 2019

 

Are Socialists More Like Libertarians Than We’d Prefer To Admit?

A libertarian goes to a conference on socialism and finds some surprising similarities.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown

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“Are you interested in revolutionary politics?”

As I arrive at the location of the Socialism in Our Time Conference, a weekend-long summit organized by U.S. lefty mag Jacobin and the British Marxist journal Historical Materialism, a middle-aged woman approaches me to ask this question.

“I’m going in there,” I say, gesturing toward the entrance, hoping this non-answer will suffice.

It does not.

“In there,” she says, I will not hear about the Russian revolution, or black liberation, or true workers’ rights. Instead, I will hear about Bernie Sanders, who it is fair to say she does not support. She hands me a flyer from Workers Vanguard with the title “Bernie Sanders: Imperialist Running Dog.”

Democrats are not the answer, she says. I can agree with that, I say. This turns out to be a mistake, for she proceeds to try to convince me to buy a subscription to a newspaper she and several other revolutionaries loitering outside the conference are representing. It’s not the only sales pitch I’ll encounter at the conference.

On the third floor, the registration area is flanked with tables peddling books, magazines, and political journals. One person is selling buttons and magnets made from old Archie comics, plus some artwork, including an eerie-yet-awesome image of Laura Palmer—the murder victim at the center of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks—with eyes that follow me around the room. I have to resist the urge to buy it, settling for some magnets instead.

I stop at the table of a journal called New Politics, which the man behind the desk, Jason Schulman, says was known last century for pushing the “third way.” Third way? Like the centrist Democrats? Bill Clinton? Ah, no. “Neither Washington nor Moscow,” Shulman explains.

At a table for another political journal, Upping the Anti, from Canada, I pick up issues promising articles on safe-injection sites, the drug war in Canada, and state surveillance. There’s also a piece on “liberatory midwifery practice” from a registered midwife who pushed for “the right to access state-funded midwifery” only to reckon with “the trade-offs that state-sanctioned and funded midwifery would bring.” The burdens of state licensing of midwives are categorized not as a problem of government overreach, but of “class and white privilege” and being “petty bourgeois in orientation.”

Some of the books on display would be right at home on libertarian or anarchist bookshelves, but there are also plenty of covers featuring famous communists and hammers and sickles. Others seem almost like bizarro-world versions of the sorts of articles that might appear in this magazine: Marx at the Arcade. Union Power. Occult Features of Anarchism. Climate Leviathan.

It wasn’t the only time I was struck by the quasi-overlap—a kind of uncanny valley similarity—with the ideological movement politics I regularly encounter in libertarian circles. As a libertarian at a socialist conference, I found plenty to object to and, on occasion, snicker at. But I also couldn’t stop seeing ways we’re all more alike than we’d like to admit, and wondering if that’s what really matters.

The two-day conference is set up as a series of hour-and-a-half-long panels, with about a dozen options per time slot. The panels all fall into one of 13 categories, including “Colonialism and Anti-Imperialism,” “Historical Interrogations,” “Left Strategy,” “Labor,” “Queer Theory,” and “State Theory.” They bear little resemblance to the kind of leftist topics and slogans that dominate online and in popular politics.

I start with a panel called “Perspectives on Socialist Strategy in the Democratic Socialists of America” (DSA), which seems likely to offer the most tangible and timely information. Speakers come from different caucuses of the DSA, including a libertarian socialist faction represented today by John Michael Colón. He says libertarian socialist caucus-members are “not strictly anarchist” but are “united by a generally anarchistic conception of socialism,” where democratically run “counter-institutions to the state” provide many services in conjunction with a more minimalist democratically-run government.

One thing that quickly becomes clear is that DSA socialists are a factional bunch, and new splinter movements are perpetually rising up to challenge the old guard. Several of the caucuses represented on the panel had just been formed in the past year or two. And while the libertarian-socialist group is the oldest continually-running DSA caucuses, it, unfortunately, seems out of step with the others, all of which seem to envision a dramatically larger role for the state and less room for private enterprise.

The Bread & Roses Caucus, for example, aims to fuse “a reborn and mighty workers’ movement” with the smaller Socialist Movement and advocate for things like Bernie 2020, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal, according to a panelist named Neil. He says the ’90s and 2000s “will hopefully be the nadir of the socialist movement.”

The Socialist Majority Caucus, meanwhile, wants to “directly confront capitalist economic and political power,” says panelist Renée Paradis. It’s hoping to move beyond the inter-DSA struggles that have consumed a lot of the party’s time in the past few years—a result of the group effectively going “from a series of book clubs to a mass organization overnight” in 2016, she says—and help usher in a permanent socialist majority in the U.S. electorate.

The North Star Caucus, perhaps the most conventional of the bunch, is concerned with countering Trump and “the far right” first and foremost, according to audience member Ethan, who happens to be a North Star member. He said their “view reflects the more Michael Harrington vision” of the party. Harrington was a 20th century author and labor organizer who, in the 1960s, debated free market advocates like Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley Jr. and also objected to more radical contingents of the young left. He went on to help form and then chair the DSA, believing that socialists must work within the Democratic Party. The divide between work-from-within partisan politics on the one hand and radical activism on the other is one that will be familiar to many libertarians.

Ethan volunteers this information from the audience because the North Star panelist, Miriam Bensman, is running late.

When Bensman arrives, she apologizes to everyone in the room for “overestimating the [Metropolitan Transit Authority’s] capacity,” and folks snicker. I hate when people ask libertarians about using public roads, so I promise myself not to use her comment to set up some snark about government-run transit. I slip out to catch a different panel, where another speaker is also late. As I enter, she apologizes, then blames the unreliability of the New York City subway. I amend my position. I will not snark, but I will…mention this.

(Workers Vanguard Sales Table Outside the Conference)

There is no free lunch at the socialist conference, so we all break. Outside, the anti-Sanders crowd is now arguing with several police officers, who are telling them they must move and can’t hand out flyers right in front of a school. The group is trying to make the cops see how important it is that they counter the message of those inside. The cops look bored.

While watching, I strike up a conversation with Paradis, the panelist from earlier. I tell her I enjoyed hearing about DSA infighting because it makes me feel better about faction-splitting within libertarian circles. She says electoral politics are her main concern, but she came to the DSA from more standard liberal circles after looking at more progressive political issues and solutions through a more systematic and class-conscious lens. She appreciates the DSA for elevating concerns often ignored by mainstream politics.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown 2

I tell her, more or less, same, but for libertarianism. So many of the people I know in libertarian politics are working on the same issues that keep coming up at the conference—criminal justice reform, immigration reform, barriers to health care and employment among the working classes, crony capitalism and the unfair advantages it creates. All the ways an overreaching government hits more marginalized people and communities harder.

“Not just lowering taxes and gun rights,” I say. She nods, then gives me a look that seems skeptical, though I may be projecting. I am dead serious, of course, but this is not a place where I expect to be believed. Then Paradis says, “I’m really hung over.”

Of course. Never reach for elaborate ideological explanations when the mundane and human will suffice.

I look over to check in on the Workers Vanguard and the cops. They have agreed to move about 30 feet down the sidewalk. The woman I talked to earlier is walking by now and stops to look at me talking to Paradis. I suddenly feel ashamed. This is not the revolutionary vanguard, it’s the accommodation faction! For a brief moment, I want to tell the older woman, don’t worry, I am not on this one’s side! But I’m not on the Russian Revolution Redux side, either. What is happening to me? Am I worried about being first up against the wall?

I’m going to go get lunch, I tell Paradis. She is going home to take a nap. Au revoir, comrade.

After lunch, I hit up the “Law and Social Movements” panel, which, based on the name, could be about almost anything. It turns out to be a robust discussion of totally disparate topics from organizers in the reproductive rights, immigration reform, and LGBTQ spheres.

As so often happens with socialists, I found myself nodding along for much of it while periodically recoiling in horror. One panelist, Lea Ramirez, speaks out against immigration quotas that favor only highly-skilled workers from particular countries (yes!), but locates the source of historic and current immigration restrictions at large not with nativism, populism, and state control, but with “the capitalist class” and its pursuit of “a highly exploitable” workforce. Somehow, by keeping immigrants out and driving up the price of native-born U.S. labor, those wily capitalists are pursuing their bottom line.

Talking about recent abortion battles in New York State, Megan Dey Lessard expresses disappointment with how little that mainstream Democratic politicians and women’s rights groups seemed willing to settle for. They were content to allow regulators to control women’s bodies so long as it was through “public health code” rather than criminal laws, she complains. And after pushing through a largely symbolic bill, expressed a wish to move on to sex education advocacy.

Perhaps more so than with either mainstream “liberals” or “conservatives” these days, the far left tends to sound oddly similar to libertarians in a lot of ways—though neither group is keen to admit it. Democratic socialists are often willing to reject the endless litany of empty slogans, Culture War, and partisan kitsch of Republicans and Democrats. They are willing to speak up for civil liberties, and the dignity of the imprisoned, no matter who is in the White House, and they maintain a level-headed skepticism about the convenient political narratives, mostly centered on presidential personalities, that tend to dominate cable news.

That’s why the end-game solutions proposed by hardcore leftists always boggle my mind. How does anyone look at these systems and incentives, accurately see so many of their flaws—and then suggest that we can win by giving government thugs more control?

Granted, Medicare bureaucrats are not exactly Border Patrol agents. But give them enough power and remove private alternatives, and the distinction becomes almost irrelevant. With a monopoly and moral certitude and a multi-billion-dollar budget, any arm of the state will eventually start operating in unintended, power-hoarding, and corrupt ways that hurt society’s most marginalized. At the very least, they will consistently fail to perform adequately for large numbers of the people they are supposed to serve.

Lessard alluded to this, recalling Carmen Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican woman who died during an abortion at a New York City hospital in 1970, not long after the state made it legal to terminate pregnancies with a doctor’s permission. The city’s municipal hospitals “were in shambles,” with one Bronx hospital “able to perform three abortions per day” with waiting lists of hundreds of women “and people just lining up at the door,” Lessard said. Rodriguez’s death from heart complications after the procedure served as a “flashpoint” for rallying around the need to “reclaim medical spaces” and expand “access to medical spaces in general.”

“Yes, abortion had become legalized,” but there was still “a gap between legalization and access,” Lessard said.

This is where capitalism comes in. Socialists often want to treat it as pure evil, a haven for corruption and amoral behavior. But capitalism is just an economic system where the provision of goods, services, and labor is determined by individuals negotiating with each other, rather than by a centralized state authority. Capitalism makes possible what government, paternalism, or altruism alone cannot.

In a market-oriented system, private clinics—be they worker-run cooperatives, privately-funded philanthropic endeavors, or your traditional for-profit physician’s office—can step in and fill the void. And in the decades since the ’70s, many have. It wasn’t capitalism that kept 20th century women from having abortions, but the state. And it’s not capitalism that’s now leading to clinic shutdowns, but politically motivated “public health” laws and other government policies.

Even more than most health care, reproductive health services are saddled with high levels of regulation that strictly limit where, when, and how they can operate. These regulations go far beyond basic safety standards, and they represent a significant barrier to the provision of reproductive health services.

What New York City women need, and have always needed, are freer, less regulated markets for contraception, abortion, and all-around reproductive health care, not more government-managed services.

 

In substance and style, there are plenty of differences between a socialist conference and its libertarian equivalents. The historic school setting may have leant itself to an old book-swap vibe last weekend, but it also allowed for a level of radical chic no Marriott conference center can. Beyond the aesthetic realm, the gap grows even wider.

It’s hard to pinpoint any particularly dominant political platform from the motley group of academics, organizers, journalists, DSA members, authors, and others (including a good number of folks from the U.K. and Canada) who were gathered at the Socialism In Our Time conference. Yes, many called for expansion of government’s role in health care, environmental regulation, and numerous other matters, but others questioned various facets of state authority, regulation, and power. There’s no getting around the fact that their ready explanation for pretty much all of society’s ills—capitalism—is what libertarians offer as a solution to an equally large variety of issues. Our core beliefs are fundamentally at odds.

Still, I got a kick out of the similarities. The lopsidedly male crowd. The mix of media types and the professionally political, earnest kids, disheveled academics, and dour lifetimers. The feuding factions and squabbling cliques. The hangovers. (Oh god, the hangovers.) The obsession with dead economists. The bitter—yet hopeful—relationship to mainstream politics. The endless tiffs over immigration. The emphasis on the concrete over the symbolic on the one hand, and the stubborn attraction to a few passionate slogans on the other. In so many ways, libertarian and socialist gatherings feel like strange mirror images of each other.

For both libertarians and socialists, most of society’s problems can be traced back to a single root cause. For socialists, it’s capitalism. For libertarians, the state. But unless you’re a hardcore anarchist or the most ardent communist, there’s a place for both. And the most insidious problems often flow out of intimate, ugly, accountability-free alliances between the two.

I know we can’t kumbaya our way out of this. Many of the major policy divides between libertarians and socialists are real and powerful. They can’t all be resolved by turning our collective sights on the worst and agreed-upon abuses. But there are still so very many of those abuses to conquer. It seems like maybe that’s what we should try to do.

So to answer the question of the woman I met outside the conference: Yes, I really am interested in revolutionary politics. That’s why I’m a libertarian. Radical respect for empowering individuals over the state is where my revolutionary sympathies lie.

And I know that however absurd or impossible it sounds, there are a lot of libertarians, leftists, Democratic Socialists, Libertarian Party members, independents, anarchists, conservatives, liberals, and Americans of all or no political affiliations who agree—or, at the very least, think and talk about politics and society in surprisingly similar ways. It can’t hurt for us revolutionaries, whichever side we’re on, to occasionally remember that.

US Leftist Protesters Must Rally to Resist Evictions and Foreclosures – by Ted Rall • 27 June 2020

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COVID-19 public health lockdowns and work place closures have created conditions that could provide a medium for a summer of continuous progressive protest.

Political protests and demonstrations used to be weekend affairs during which angry leftists shouted at empty government offices before shuffling home Sunday afternoon to gear up for the workweek. With 1 out of 4 workers having filed for unemployment and many more working from home, tens of millions of Americans have free time to march in the streets. Sporting events, movie theaters, retail stores and even houses of worship are closed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The usual distractions of a leap year are absent: The Summer Olympics are canceled, and presidential campaigning is so close to nonexistent as to be irrelevant. Politics is no longer about the politicians. Politics is in the street, where there’s nothing to do but gather, chant and dodge teargas cannisters.

The vacuum created by the lockdown and the impotence of a political class that no longer pretends to lead during a staggering medical-economic crisis has been filled by the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd. BLM has won important symbolic victories like the toppling of Confederate statues and a renewed push to remove the stars and bars from the Mississippi state flag. As the movement against police brutality and institutional racism continues, look for more substantive systemic reforms in policing.

What comes next? The eviction-and-foreclosure-resistance movement.

Thanks to Congress’s reluctance to pass another big stimulus package, protests in general will continue into the foreseeable future. But they won’t all be against evil cops. A looming eviction-and-foreclosure crisis could broaden the struggle from one centered around racial grievances into a class-based fight for economic justice.

Courts are about to get flooded by eviction hearings. Thirty percent of Americans missed their June housing payment. Supplemental $600-per-week unemployment checks expire July 31.

“I think we will enter into a severe renter crisis and very quickly,” Columbia Law professor Emily Benfer, a housing expert who tracks eviction policies, told The New York Times May 30. Without government action, she warned, “we will have an avalanche of evictions across the country.”

There is no sign that the government will lift a finger to help people who lost their jobs and will soon face homelessness. Even Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the most progressive members of the U.S. Senate, refuse to consider a rent or mortgage payment holiday. They support a tepid “moratorium,” not a rent freeze. Under a moratorium, back rent would pile up and come due at once later on. Millions of people would be kicked outside this winter during a possible “second wave” of COVID-19. That’s the best scenario. Odds are there won’t even be a moratorium. Congress will do little to nothing to help struggling tenants and homeowners.

Millions of homeowners and renters displaced from their homes during the 2008-09 subprime mortgage meltdown received zero assistance from the government. There were no protests worth mentioning. This time will be different.

First, there’s safety in numbers. The scale of this eviction crisis is much bigger. Three times more people have lost their jobs than during the Great Recession, during a much shorter period of time. Members of an eviction-resistance movement can help one another block county sheriffs from kicking them out. Among those who are still working, the tenuous nature of the labor market has everyone in there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I mode. We are in this together.

Second, this economic cataclysm wasn’t some act of God. People were ordered to shelter in place by the government. That’s why they lost their jobs, not a seemingly random stock market fluctuation. Targets of eviction and foreclosure won’t internalize any shame. They know they haven’t done anything wrong. They followed social distancing, as asked. Why should they sleep on the streets now because public health officials required them to go without income?

Third, Black Lives Matter has demonstrated the efficacy of street protests and of grassroots solidarity. Cops are currently about as popular as a sexually transmitted disease. How enthusiastically will police respond to a landlord’s request to fight their way through an angry crowd to throw a family onto the street? It depends on the municipality. Things will quickly turn ugly.

Finally, memories of how the big banks squandered their Bush-Obama bailouts on exorbitant CEO salaries and luxurious executive washroom renovations are still fresh. Even on the right, it will be tough to garner political support for banks trying to remove homeowners whose only crime was following stay-at-home orders.

There is a long but now largely forgotten history of tenant resistance movements in this country, mostly led by the communist left. Each first of the month between now and this fall brings us closer to a new radical struggle between people who ask nothing more than to keep the roof over the head and a system that prioritizes the right to own and control property over the most basic of human needs.

That movement will bring us closer to revolution.

Behind the Veil of the Protest Movement, the War on the American People Is Gaining Pace – by Mike Whitney • 23 June 2020

Main Stream Media and Liberal Authoritarian Censors – Eight Comic Performances Puritans Hate – Video – by Michael McCaffrey – 22 June 2020

We need a new, anti-woke platforms to stave off comedy’s impending EXTINCTION at the hands of cancel culture

We need a new, anti-woke TV station to stave off comedy’s impending EXTINCTION at the hands of cancel culture
With political correctness running roughshod over Hollywood, now is the perfect time for a billionaire to invest in a streaming service that prioritizes entertainment over wokeness.

We now live in an age where the Cancel Culture Clan routinely don their white robes of self-righteous totalitarianism and roam the comedy landscape of today and yesteryear searching for any heretics who have violated the ever-changing rules of the Church of Wokeness.

It was either Sir Isaac Newton, Huey P. Newton or Fig Newton, I can’t remember which, who once famously said, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” And so it is with the politically correct panic of our time.

This is why I believe that anti-wokeness is poised to be a major growth sector in the entertainment industry in the coming years.

My idea to cash in on the current woke hysteria is to start a comedy streaming service dedicated to being resolutely anti-woke.

I call this streaming service… F.U.T.V.

Instead of the fear of offending the delicate sensibilities of the most fragile among us being our guiding principle, F.U.T.V. will make the unorthodox decision to actually treat viewers like adults and let them decide for themselves whether they choose to watch whatever ‘offensive’ comedy has been targeted by the snowflake Savonarolas looking to fuel their bonfire of inanities.

Caving to the PC mob

We just need a rich bastard with enough testicular and fiscal fortitude to fund this noble venture. There has to be some billionaire entrepreneur out there who realizes that as the corporate behemoths of Hollywood cave to the incessant bitching of the PC mob by casting aside controversial comedians, shows and movies, a gaping void is being opened, and an anti-woke streaming service can profitably fill it.

For instance, in recent years, a cavalcade of wildly popular sitcoms such as Friends, Seinfeld, The Office, 30 Rock, The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park have all been branded with the scarlet letter of ‘P’ for problematic, due to various woke infractions regarding insensitivity towards race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference and diversity.

‘Problematic’ is always the first step on the journey down the very slippery slope that inevitably ends with crucifixion by the centurions of corporate cancel culture.

These TV shows are huge money-making properties, but in short order they will be available for pennies on the dollar because the weak-kneed buffoons in corporate Hollywood, who are scared to death of the tiny Torquemadas of the Woke Inquisition, will gladly sacrifice their comedy golden geese on the altar of political correctness in order to appease the angry gods of social justice.

Stand-up comedy will fare no better as venues such as Netflix, which have branded themselves the home to comedy, have already begun to cower to the Robespierres of the Woke Revolution and pulled a variety of “racially offensive” comedy shows.

Fear of enjoyment

The thing to understand about the woke mob is this – their greatest fear isn’t that someone, somewhere is being offended, it is that someone, somewhere is actually enjoying themselves.

No matter what you do to appease these dour and depraved scolds, it will never be enough, for they are voracious and insatiable in their appetite to destroy anyone and anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Netflix has given an inch, and I guarantee you these totalitarian tools will take a mile, and won’t relent until the heads of Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr and Ricky Gervais are on a platter.

Comedy history too will be raped and pillaged by these woke barbarians as they inevitably push for greats like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks and Billy Connolly to be purged from cultural memory for the crimes of wrong-think and political incorrectness.

The goal of comedy fans everywhere should be to extend a giant middle finger to all these repugnant woke simpletons by supporting comedians doing what comedians are supposed to do – rebelling against the small, closed minds in the culture that are trying to censure, censor and suffocate them.

In conclusion, here is a top-six ranking of some of the comedians and their routines that are no doubt on the endangered species list in this toxic age of wokeness. Let’s hope F.U.T.V. can get funding and stave off the incessant waves of woke whiners and bring to a halt comedy’s impending extinctio