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The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link With ?Biden? in the White House, the Kremlin now needs to change gear Thu Jan 28, 2021 00:05 | The Saker
[This analysis was written for the Unz Review] First, a clarification. When I speak of “Biden” I don’t mean the fungus (to use Tom Luongo’s apt expression) which was recently

offsite link Dress Rehearsal Of Color Revolution In Russia Wed Jan 27, 2021 15:38 | amarynth
South Front Anti-government protests under the pretext of the detention of the notorious Russian opposition leader Navalny took place in various cities across the country. They were characterized by underwhelming

offsite link American Prospect Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:34 | amarynth
by Sushi for the Saker Blog If you wish to understand the concerns of those who attended the 1/6 Save America rally, you can learn much by watching the first

offsite link Russian President Putin Delivers Speech at Virtual World Economic Forum Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:34 | amarynth
This is the live stream video. The transcript is now being posted as it becomes available. Update: Transcript complete.   President ofRussia Vladimir Putin: Mr Schwab, dear Klaus, Colleagues, Ihave

offsite link Democrats? ?divide and conquer? Senate show trial may jeopardize duopoly Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:42 | amarynth
by Ramin Mazaheri and PressTV Much ink could be spilled about the upcoming, and second, Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, but that would be a waste of ink –

The Saker >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Mainstream media: Failing to speak truth to power

offsite link David Quinn’s selective tolerance Anthony

offsite link A Woulfe in judges clothing Anthony

offsite link Sarah McInerney and political impartiality Anthony

offsite link Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein? Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Poor Living Conditions for Migrants in Southern Italy Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:14 | Human Rights

offsite link Right to Water Mon Aug 03, 2020 19:13 | Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

offsite link Turkish President Calls On Greece To Comply With Human Rights on Syrian Refugee Issues Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58 | Human Rights

offsite link US Holds China To Account For Human Rights Violations Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Spirit of Contradiction

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

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

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

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

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

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Marko Marjanović - Wed Jan 27, 2021 20:59

There you go it has happened. Just as the Lockdown Faithful predicted everyone in South Dakota is now dead courtesy of their Covid-denying, anti-Science Governor (also now deceased). I mean how else to explain the fact their Covid curve has collapsed:

They didn't have any lockdown measures to control the virus so if the uncontrolled virus is now collapsing it can only be because it ran out of warm bodies. Indeed a recent scouting party brought back evidence of the fact:

They sure wish now they had done like North Dakota and locked down! Yeah, seeing how the two policies resulted in wildly different Covid and mortality outcomes:

Too late South Dakota, YOU'RE ALL DED! (Filthy deniers, suits you right)

The recent reports of people flocking to South Dakota (a state of just 900,000 people is the 4th highest recipient of newcommers) and being welcomed by living people in a flourishing state are utterly false. The thousands of new arrivals are actually scavenging parties coming in to loot the corpses of the infidels.

There you go it has happened. Just as the Lockdown Faithful predicted everyone in South Dakota is now dead courtesy of their Covid-denying, anti-Science Governor (also now deceased). I mean how else to explain the fact their Covid curve has collapsed:

They didn't have any lockdown measures to control the virus so if the uncontrolled virus is now collapsing it can only be because it ran out of warm bodies. Indeed a recent scouting party brought back evidence of the fact:

They sure wish now they had done like North Dakota and locked down! Yeah, seeing how the two policies resulted in wildly different Covid and mortality outcomes:

Too late South Dakota, YOU'RE ALL DED! (Filthy deniers, suits you right)

The recent reports of people flocking to South Dakota (a state of just 900,000 people is the 4th highest recipient of newcommers) and being welcomed by living people in a flourishing state are utterly false. The thousands of new arrivals are actually scavenging parties coming in to loot the corpses of the infidels.

Lenore Skenazy - Wed Jan 27, 2021 19:55

A mom who dropped her kids off at their grandparents' house so she wouldn't have to drag them into the grocery store during COVID-19 has been fined $880.

Natasha Kohl is a mom of four in Simcoe, Ontario (population 13,922). Last week—on her birthday—she left three of her kids with family members so she could go buy food. Even under Ontario's lockdown orders, parents are allowed to access childcare.

The National Post reports that when Kohl came back from her shopping trip, her kids were happily eating pizza with their cousins, uncle, and grandparents. Kohl joined them, then she and the kids headed home.

As she was driving away, a cop car turned on its lights and made Kohl pull over. The policeman informed her that there had been complaints about "high traffic" at the grandparents' house. He handed her a ticket for failing to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act.

A press release from the Ontario Provincial Police Norfolk County detachment said, "It was determined that police were contacted after several people were seen at the residence. Officers attending the area subsequently stopped a vehicle seen leaving and conducted an investigation."

Kohl assumes that some neighbor must have complained about either the kids running around, or the wild craziness of a couple of drop-offs and pick-ups. But since when are cops in the business of turning cranky neighbors' complaints into $880 fines?

While obtaining or providing childcare is allowed under Ontario's stay-at-home orders, Derek Rogers, media relations coordinator for the OPP's west region office, disputed that Kohl was charged for dropping off her kids at their grandparents' house.

"She was charged with violating the Reopening Ontario Act," he said.

Oh. That makes things so much clearer.

Look, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Kohl had to quit her job to take care of the kids. Now she's got no job, no legal way to drop her kids off at her in-laws, and a fine on top if it all. Making it harder for a normal mom to do normal things in an abnormal era isn't making anyone safer.

Kohl plans to fight the ticket in court. Thankfully, an attorney has offered to represent her for free.

Source: Reason Magazine

A mom who dropped her kids off at their grandparents' house so she wouldn't have to drag them into the grocery store during COVID-19 has been fined $880.

Natasha Kohl is a mom of four in Simcoe, Ontario (population 13,922). Last week—on her birthday—she left three of her kids with family members so she could go buy food. Even under Ontario's lockdown orders, parents are allowed to access childcare.

The National Post reports that when Kohl came back from her shopping trip, her kids were happily eating pizza with their cousins, uncle, and grandparents. Kohl joined them, then she and the kids headed home.

As she was driving away, a cop car turned on its lights and made Kohl pull over. The policeman informed her that there had been complaints about "high traffic" at the grandparents' house. He handed her a ticket for failing to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act.

A press release from the Ontario Provincial Police Norfolk County detachment said, "It was determined that police were contacted after several people were seen at the residence. Officers attending the area subsequently stopped a vehicle seen leaving and conducted an investigation."

Kohl assumes that some neighbor must have complained about either the kids running around, or the wild craziness of a couple of drop-offs and pick-ups. But since when are cops in the business of turning cranky neighbors' complaints into $880 fines?

While obtaining or providing childcare is allowed under Ontario's stay-at-home orders, Derek Rogers, media relations coordinator for the OPP's west region office, disputed that Kohl was charged for dropping off her kids at their grandparents' house.

"She was charged with violating the Reopening Ontario Act," he said.

Oh. That makes things so much clearer.

Look, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Kohl had to quit her job to take care of the kids. Now she's got no job, no legal way to drop her kids off at her in-laws, and a fine on top if it all. Making it harder for a normal mom to do normal things in an abnormal era isn't making anyone safer.

Kohl plans to fight the ticket in court. Thankfully, an attorney has offered to represent her for free.

Source: Reason Magazine

The Babylon Bee - Wed Jan 27, 2021 18:56

Health experts are now recommending that people double mask -- place a second mask over the first mask -- to better protect themselves from the virus, or maybe to protect others from themselves possibly having the virus (it’s still kind of unclear). Many are denouncing this recommendation, especially triple-maskers, who find it wholly inadequate.

“I guess I’d only double mask if I didn’t really care about not killing grandma,” said the extremely muffled Mark Carlson, who was wearing three masks at once. “But I have three masks on because there’s an ongoing pandemic and I care.”

Triple-maskers point out that three masks are 50% more effective than two masks. “If the virus somehow makes it past two masks, then we’re all done for,” said Karen Walker, although her exact words were unclear as it was kind of hard to hear her through three masks. “But not if you have a third mask. The virus wasn’t expecting that.”

“Really, I can’t see any reason to wear only two masks unless you’re some kind of misanthrope who wants to see everyone die,” she added.

Not everyone is on board with three masks, though, especially quadruple-maskers, who find three masks to be inadequate -- but most of them have suffocated to death.

Source: The Babylon Bee

Text may contain traces of satire.

Health experts are now recommending that people double mask -- place a second mask over the first mask -- to better protect themselves from the virus, or maybe to protect others from themselves possibly having the virus (it’s still kind of unclear). Many are denouncing this recommendation, especially triple-maskers, who find it wholly inadequate.

“I guess I’d only double mask if I didn’t really care about not killing grandma,” said the extremely muffled Mark Carlson, who was wearing three masks at once. “But I have three masks on because there’s an ongoing pandemic and I care.”

Triple-maskers point out that three masks are 50% more effective than two masks. “If the virus somehow makes it past two masks, then we’re all done for,” said Karen Walker, although her exact words were unclear as it was kind of hard to hear her through three masks. “But not if you have a third mask. The virus wasn’t expecting that.”

“Really, I can’t see any reason to wear only two masks unless you’re some kind of misanthrope who wants to see everyone die,” she added.

Not everyone is on board with three masks, though, especially quadruple-maskers, who find three masks to be inadequate -- but most of them have suffocated to death.

Source: The Babylon Bee

Text may contain traces of satire.

The Times of Israel - Wed Jan 27, 2021 17:50

Editor's note: Of course Israel has no intention of attacking Iran. The whole game is to get the US to do it for it, or at least keep it under the oil siege indefinitely.


Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on Tuesday said he has directed the military to prepare fresh operational plans to strike Iran to block its nuclear program.

“Iran can decide that it wants to advance to a bomb, either covertly or in a provocative way. In light of this basic analysis, I have ordered the IDF to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to the existing ones. We are studying these plans and we will develop them over the next year,” Kohavi said.

He added: “The government will of course be the one to decide if they should be used. But these plans must be on the table, in existence and trained for.”

According to Kohavi, due to its improved centrifuges and growing stockpile of enriched uranium, Iran, were it to now “rush ahead,” could be “months, maybe even weeks” from a bomb.

Kohavi made his remarks during a livestreamed speech at the Institute for National Security Studies think tank’s annual conference, which was held this year entirely online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a rare public comment on American foreign policy, the IDF chief warned that US President Joe Biden should not rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement, as the American leader has indicated he plans to do provided Tehran returns to compliance with the deal.

“With the changing of the administration in the United States, the Iranians have said they want to return to the previous agreement. I want to state my position, the position that I give to all my colleagues when I meet them around the world: Returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement or even to an agreement that is similar but with a few improvements is a bad thing and it is not the right thing to do,” Kohavi said.

Due to the close relationship between the American and Israeli militaries, as well as the IDF’s general preference to keep out of political arguments, it is highly uncommon for military officials to criticize allies’ foreign policy.

In his speech, Kohavi spoke out harshly not only against the possibility of the United States rejoining the 2015 deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but also against the original agreement. Kohavi’s predecessor, as well as other senior Israeli defense officials, were not devout champions of the agreement, but described it as an imperfect way to take the Iranian nuclear issue off the table for at least a few years, allowing them to focus their attentions more on other issues.

Kohavi denounced the deal entirely, specifically for its so-called “sunset clauses,” the terms of the agreement limiting different aspects of Iran’s nuclear program that end after a certain number of years. Critics of the JCPOA see these as allowing Iran to eventually develop an accepted nuclear program, while proponents of the deal argue that these could have been pushed back further with additional agreements.

The consensus view among Israeli defense officials opposes a return to the exact terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement, under the belief that the leverage from recent sanctions would allow for a stronger deal to be negotiated.

But Kohavi’s speech marked the first time an improved version of the deal has also been described as wholly unacceptable from an Israeli security standpoint.

“If the 2015 nuclear deal were carried out, Iran would be able to get itself a weapon because the agreement did not include limits to prevent this when [the agreement] ended. As of today, Iran has increased the amount of enriched material beyond what was permitted. It enriched it to levels beyond what was permitted. It developed and manufactured centrifuges that will allow it to rush ahead and produce a weapon at a much faster rate, within months, maybe even weeks,” Kohavi said.

Earlier this month, Tehran announced it was beginning to enrich uranium up to 20 percent — far beyond the 3.5 percent permitted under the JCPOA and just a small technical step away from the 90 percent needed for a nuclear weapon. Iran also said it was beginning research into uranium metal, a material that technically has civilian uses but is overwhelmingly seen as a step toward a nuclear bomb.

Iran said Tuesday it would also move to restrict short-notice inspections of suspect nuclear facilities from late February.

“No one has any doubt. Iran hopes, wants, identified and built the capabilities necessary to be a military nuclear power. And maybe even use them when it decides it wants to,” Kohavi said.

The military chief warned that a return to the Iran deal would also likely prompt a “nuclear arms race” in the Middle East as other countries in the region — like Saudi Arabia, which also sees Iran as a major threat — would also seek to obtain an atomic weapon in order to maintain the balance of power.

In his speech, the IDF commander called for the United States to use the leverage over Iran gained during the presidency of Donald Trump through his so-called “maximum pressure” campaign of financial sanctions on Tehran, which has crippled the already-weak Iranian economy. Kohavi said the US should use this situation to negotiate a better deal that would end Iran’s nuclear program entirely, not just its military aspects.

“There needs to be serious effort so that by the end, there won’t not only not be a bomb but there won’t be an ability to rush to a bomb,” he said.

“The Iran of today is not the Iran of 2015 when the deal was signed. Iran now is under enormous pressure — financial pressure, massive inflation, bitterness and unrest in the population, whose salaries have tanked — because of the American sanctions. These pressures must continue. No matter what happens. Anything that releases that pressure gives them oxygen, gives them air and will allow them to continue to violate the current agreement,” Kohavi said.

Source: Times of Israel

Editor's note: Of course Israel has no intention of attacking Iran. The whole game is to get the US to do it for it, or at least keep it under the oil siege indefinitely.


Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on Tuesday said he has directed the military to prepare fresh operational plans to strike Iran to block its nuclear program.

“Iran can decide that it wants to advance to a bomb, either covertly or in a provocative way. In light of this basic analysis, I have ordered the IDF to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to the existing ones. We are studying these plans and we will develop them over the next year,” Kohavi said.

He added: “The government will of course be the one to decide if they should be used. But these plans must be on the table, in existence and trained for.”

According to Kohavi, due to its improved centrifuges and growing stockpile of enriched uranium, Iran, were it to now “rush ahead,” could be “months, maybe even weeks” from a bomb.

Kohavi made his remarks during a livestreamed speech at the Institute for National Security Studies think tank’s annual conference, which was held this year entirely online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a rare public comment on American foreign policy, the IDF chief warned that US President Joe Biden should not rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement, as the American leader has indicated he plans to do provided Tehran returns to compliance with the deal.

“With the changing of the administration in the United States, the Iranians have said they want to return to the previous agreement. I want to state my position, the position that I give to all my colleagues when I meet them around the world: Returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement or even to an agreement that is similar but with a few improvements is a bad thing and it is not the right thing to do,” Kohavi said.

Due to the close relationship between the American and Israeli militaries, as well as the IDF’s general preference to keep out of political arguments, it is highly uncommon for military officials to criticize allies’ foreign policy.

In his speech, Kohavi spoke out harshly not only against the possibility of the United States rejoining the 2015 deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but also against the original agreement. Kohavi’s predecessor, as well as other senior Israeli defense officials, were not devout champions of the agreement, but described it as an imperfect way to take the Iranian nuclear issue off the table for at least a few years, allowing them to focus their attentions more on other issues.

Kohavi denounced the deal entirely, specifically for its so-called “sunset clauses,” the terms of the agreement limiting different aspects of Iran’s nuclear program that end after a certain number of years. Critics of the JCPOA see these as allowing Iran to eventually develop an accepted nuclear program, while proponents of the deal argue that these could have been pushed back further with additional agreements.

The consensus view among Israeli defense officials opposes a return to the exact terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement, under the belief that the leverage from recent sanctions would allow for a stronger deal to be negotiated.

But Kohavi’s speech marked the first time an improved version of the deal has also been described as wholly unacceptable from an Israeli security standpoint.

“If the 2015 nuclear deal were carried out, Iran would be able to get itself a weapon because the agreement did not include limits to prevent this when [the agreement] ended. As of today, Iran has increased the amount of enriched material beyond what was permitted. It enriched it to levels beyond what was permitted. It developed and manufactured centrifuges that will allow it to rush ahead and produce a weapon at a much faster rate, within months, maybe even weeks,” Kohavi said.

Earlier this month, Tehran announced it was beginning to enrich uranium up to 20 percent — far beyond the 3.5 percent permitted under the JCPOA and just a small technical step away from the 90 percent needed for a nuclear weapon. Iran also said it was beginning research into uranium metal, a material that technically has civilian uses but is overwhelmingly seen as a step toward a nuclear bomb.

Iran said Tuesday it would also move to restrict short-notice inspections of suspect nuclear facilities from late February.

“No one has any doubt. Iran hopes, wants, identified and built the capabilities necessary to be a military nuclear power. And maybe even use them when it decides it wants to,” Kohavi said.

The military chief warned that a return to the Iran deal would also likely prompt a “nuclear arms race” in the Middle East as other countries in the region — like Saudi Arabia, which also sees Iran as a major threat — would also seek to obtain an atomic weapon in order to maintain the balance of power.

In his speech, the IDF commander called for the United States to use the leverage over Iran gained during the presidency of Donald Trump through his so-called “maximum pressure” campaign of financial sanctions on Tehran, which has crippled the already-weak Iranian economy. Kohavi said the US should use this situation to negotiate a better deal that would end Iran’s nuclear program entirely, not just its military aspects.

“There needs to be serious effort so that by the end, there won’t not only not be a bomb but there won’t be an ability to rush to a bomb,” he said.

“The Iran of today is not the Iran of 2015 when the deal was signed. Iran now is under enormous pressure — financial pressure, massive inflation, bitterness and unrest in the population, whose salaries have tanked — because of the American sanctions. These pressures must continue. No matter what happens. Anything that releases that pressure gives them oxygen, gives them air and will allow them to continue to violate the current agreement,” Kohavi said.

Source: Times of Israel

Glenn Greenwald - Wed Jan 27, 2021 16:51

Washington, DC has been continuously militarized beginning the week leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, when 20,000 National Guard troops were deployed onto the streets of the nation’s capital. The original justification was that this show of massive force was necessary to secure the inauguration in light of the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

But with the inauguration over and done, those troops remain and are not going anywhere any time soon. Working with federal law enforcement agencies, the National Guard Bureau announced on Monday that between 5,000 and 7,000 troops will remain in Washington until at least mid-March.

The rationale for this extraordinary, sustained domestic military presence has shifted several times, typically from anonymous U.S. law enforcement officials. The original justification — the need to secure the inaugural festivities — is obviously no longer operative.

So the new claim became that the impeachment trial of former President Trump that will take place in the Senate in February necessitated military reinforcements. On Sunday, Politico quoted “four people familiar with the matter” to claim that “Trump’s upcoming Senate impeachment trial poses a security concern that federal law enforcement officials told lawmakers last week requires as many as 5,000 National Guard troops to remain in Washington through mid-March.”

The next day, AP, citing “a U.S. official,” said the ongoing troop deployment was needed due to “ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol.” But the anonymous official acknowledged that “the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility.” Even National Guard troops complained that they “have so far been given no official justifications, threat reports or any explanation for the extended mission — nor have they seen any violence thus far.”

It is hard to overstate what an extreme state of affairs it is to have a sustained military presence in American streets. Prior deployments have been rare, and usually were approved for a limited period and/or in order to quell a very specific, ongoing uprising — to ensure the peaceful segregation of public schools in the South, to respond to the unrest in Detroit and Chicago in the 1960s, or to quell the 1991 Los Angeles riots that erupted after the Rodney King trial.


Deploying National Guard or military troops for domestic law enforcement purposes is so dangerous that laws in place from the country’s founding strictly limit its use. It is meant only as a last resort, when concrete, specific threats are so overwhelming that they cannot be quelled by regular law enforcement absent military reinforcements. Deploying active military troops is an even graver step than putting National Guard soldiers on the streets, but they both present dangers. As Trump’s Defense Secretary said in response to calls from some over the summer to deploy troops in response to the Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations."

Are we even remotely at such an extreme state where ordinary law enforcement is insufficient? The January 6 riot at the Capitol would have been easily repelled with just a couple hundred more police officers. The U.S. is the most militarized country in the world, and has the most para-militarized police force on the planet. Earlier today, the Acting Chief of the Capitol Police acknowledged that they had advanced knowledge of what was planned but failed to take necessary steps to police it.

Future violent acts in the name of right-wing extremism, as well as other causes, is highly likely if not inevitable. But the idea that the country faces some sort of existential armed insurrection that only the military can suppress is laughable on its face.

Recall that ABC News, on January 11, citing “an internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News,” claimed that “starting this week and running through at least Inauguration Day, armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol.” The news outlet added in highly dramatic and alarming tones:

The FBI has also received information in recent days on a group calling for “storming” state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event President Donald Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day. The group is also planning to “storm” government offices in every state the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump.

 

None of that happened. There was virtually no unrest or violence during inauguration week — except for some anti-Biden protests held by leftist and anarchist protesters that resulted in a few smashed windows at the Oregon Democratic Party and some vandalism at a Starbucks in Seattle. “Trump supporters threatened state Capitols but failed to show on Inauguration Day,” was the headline NBC News chose to try to justify this gap between media claims and reality.

This threat seems wildly overblown by the combination of media outlets looking for ratings, law enforcement agencies searching for power, and Democratic Party operatives eager to exploit the climate of fear for a new War on Terror.

But now is not a moment when there is much space for questioning anything, especially not measures ostensibly undertaken in the name of combatting white-supremacist right-wing extremism — just as no questioning of supposed security measures was tolerated in the wake of the 9/11 attack. And so the scenes of soldiers on the streets of the nation’s capital, there in the thousands and for an indefinite period of time, is provoking little to no concern.


What makes this all the more remarkable is that a mere seven months ago, a major controversy erupted when The New York Times published an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) which, at its core, advocated the deployment of military troops to quell the social unrest, protests and riots that erupted over the summer after the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd. To justify the deployment of National Guard and active duty military forces, Cotton emphasized how many people, including police officers, had been seriously maimed or even killed as part of that unrest:

Outnumbered police officers, encumbered by feckless politicians, bore the brunt of the violence. In New York State, rioters ran over officers with cars on at least three occasions. In Las Vegas, an officer is in “grave” condition after being shot in the head by a rioter. In St. Louis, four police officers were shot as they attempted to disperse a mob throwing bricks and dumping gasoline; in a separate incident, a 77-year-old retired police captain was shot to death as he tried to stop looters from ransacking a pawnshop. This is “somebody’s granddaddy,” a bystander screamed at the scene.

(Cotton’s claim that police officers “bore the brunt of the violence” was questionable, given how many protesters were also killed or maimed, but it is true that numerous police officers were attacked, including fatally).

Cotton acknowledged that the central cause of the protests was a just one, noting they were provoked by “the wrongful death of George Floyd.” He also strongly affirmed the right of people to peacefully protest in support of that cause, accusing those justifying the violence of “a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters,” adding: “A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.”

But he insisted that, absent military reinforcements, innocent people, principally ones in poor communities, will suffer. “These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives,” Cotton wrote, adding: “Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further.”

The backlash to the publication of this op-ed was immediate, intense, and, at least in my memory, unprecedented. Very few people were interested in engaging the merits of Cotton’s call for a deployment of troops in order to prove the argument was misguided.

Their view was not that Cotton’s plea for soldiers in the streets was misguided, but that advocacy for it was so obscene, so extremist, so dangerous and repugnant, that the mere publication of the op-ed by The Paper of Record was an act of grave immorality.

“I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but to not say something would be immoral. As a black woman, as a journalist, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this,” pronounced the paper’s Nikole Hannah-Jones in a now-deleted tweet. The New York Times Magazine writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner posted a multi-tweet denunciation that compared Cotton to an anti-Semite who “says, ‘The Jew is a pig,’" argued that “hatred dressed up as opinion is not something I have to withstand,” and concluded with this flourish: “I love working at the Times and most days of the week I'm very proud to be part of its mission. But tonight, I understand the people who treat me like I work at a tobacco company.”

Former NYT editor and Huffington Post editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen announced, also in a now-deleted tweet: “I spent some of the happiest and most productive years of my life working for the New York Times. So it is with love and sadness that I say: running this puts Black @nytimes staff – and many, many others – in danger.” That publication of the Cotton op-ed “puts Black New York Times staff in danger” became a mantra recited by more journalists than one can list.

Two editors — including the paper’s Editorial Page editor James Benett and a young assistant editor Adam Rubenstein — were forced out of their jobs, in the middle of a pandemic, for the crime not of endorsing Cotton’s argument but merely airing it. Media reports attributed their departure to a “staff revolt.” The paper itself appended a major editor’s note: “We have concluded that the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.” In addition to alleged flaws in the editorial process, the paper also said “the tone of the essay in places is needlessly harsh and falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate.”

There is a meaningful difference between deploying National Guard troops and active duty soldiers on American streets. But both measures are extraordinary, create a climate of militarization, have a history of resulting in excessive force against citizens engaged in peaceful protest and constitutionally protected dissent, and present threats and dangers to civil liberties far beyond ordinary use of law enforcement.

Why was the idea of troops in American streets so grotesque and offensive in June, 2020 but so normalized now? Why were these troops likely to indiscriminately arrest and murder black reporters and other journalists over the summer but are now trusted to protect them? And what does it say about the current climate, and the serious dangers it poses, that the public is being trained so easily to acquiesce to extreme measures in the name of domestic security?

We are witnessing the media and their public treat what ought to be regarded with great suspicion as not only normal but desirable, all through the manipulation of fears and inflation of threats. That does not bode well for those who seek to impede the imminent attempt to begin a new domestic War on Terror.

Source: Substack

Washington, DC has been continuously militarized beginning the week leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, when 20,000 National Guard troops were deployed onto the streets of the nation’s capital. The original justification was that this show of massive force was necessary to secure the inauguration in light of the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

But with the inauguration over and done, those troops remain and are not going anywhere any time soon. Working with federal law enforcement agencies, the National Guard Bureau announced on Monday that between 5,000 and 7,000 troops will remain in Washington until at least mid-March.

The rationale for this extraordinary, sustained domestic military presence has shifted several times, typically from anonymous U.S. law enforcement officials. The original justification — the need to secure the inaugural festivities — is obviously no longer operative.

So the new claim became that the impeachment trial of former President Trump that will take place in the Senate in February necessitated military reinforcements. On Sunday, Politico quoted “four people familiar with the matter” to claim that “Trump’s upcoming Senate impeachment trial poses a security concern that federal law enforcement officials told lawmakers last week requires as many as 5,000 National Guard troops to remain in Washington through mid-March.”

The next day, AP, citing “a U.S. official,” said the ongoing troop deployment was needed due to “ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol.” But the anonymous official acknowledged that “the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility.” Even National Guard troops complained that they “have so far been given no official justifications, threat reports or any explanation for the extended mission — nor have they seen any violence thus far.”

It is hard to overstate what an extreme state of affairs it is to have a sustained military presence in American streets. Prior deployments have been rare, and usually were approved for a limited period and/or in order to quell a very specific, ongoing uprising — to ensure the peaceful segregation of public schools in the South, to respond to the unrest in Detroit and Chicago in the 1960s, or to quell the 1991 Los Angeles riots that erupted after the Rodney King trial.


Deploying National Guard or military troops for domestic law enforcement purposes is so dangerous that laws in place from the country’s founding strictly limit its use. It is meant only as a last resort, when concrete, specific threats are so overwhelming that they cannot be quelled by regular law enforcement absent military reinforcements. Deploying active military troops is an even graver step than putting National Guard soldiers on the streets, but they both present dangers. As Trump’s Defense Secretary said in response to calls from some over the summer to deploy troops in response to the Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations."

Are we even remotely at such an extreme state where ordinary law enforcement is insufficient? The January 6 riot at the Capitol would have been easily repelled with just a couple hundred more police officers. The U.S. is the most militarized country in the world, and has the most para-militarized police force on the planet. Earlier today, the Acting Chief of the Capitol Police acknowledged that they had advanced knowledge of what was planned but failed to take necessary steps to police it.

Future violent acts in the name of right-wing extremism, as well as other causes, is highly likely if not inevitable. But the idea that the country faces some sort of existential armed insurrection that only the military can suppress is laughable on its face.

Recall that ABC News, on January 11, citing “an internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News,” claimed that “starting this week and running through at least Inauguration Day, armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol.” The news outlet added in highly dramatic and alarming tones:

The FBI has also received information in recent days on a group calling for “storming” state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event President Donald Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day. The group is also planning to “storm” government offices in every state the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump.

 

None of that happened. There was virtually no unrest or violence during inauguration week — except for some anti-Biden protests held by leftist and anarchist protesters that resulted in a few smashed windows at the Oregon Democratic Party and some vandalism at a Starbucks in Seattle. “Trump supporters threatened state Capitols but failed to show on Inauguration Day,” was the headline NBC News chose to try to justify this gap between media claims and reality.

This threat seems wildly overblown by the combination of media outlets looking for ratings, law enforcement agencies searching for power, and Democratic Party operatives eager to exploit the climate of fear for a new War on Terror.

But now is not a moment when there is much space for questioning anything, especially not measures ostensibly undertaken in the name of combatting white-supremacist right-wing extremism — just as no questioning of supposed security measures was tolerated in the wake of the 9/11 attack. And so the scenes of soldiers on the streets of the nation’s capital, there in the thousands and for an indefinite period of time, is provoking little to no concern.


What makes this all the more remarkable is that a mere seven months ago, a major controversy erupted when The New York Times published an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) which, at its core, advocated the deployment of military troops to quell the social unrest, protests and riots that erupted over the summer after the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd. To justify the deployment of National Guard and active duty military forces, Cotton emphasized how many people, including police officers, had been seriously maimed or even killed as part of that unrest:

Outnumbered police officers, encumbered by feckless politicians, bore the brunt of the violence. In New York State, rioters ran over officers with cars on at least three occasions. In Las Vegas, an officer is in “grave” condition after being shot in the head by a rioter. In St. Louis, four police officers were shot as they attempted to disperse a mob throwing bricks and dumping gasoline; in a separate incident, a 77-year-old retired police captain was shot to death as he tried to stop looters from ransacking a pawnshop. This is “somebody’s granddaddy,” a bystander screamed at the scene.

(Cotton’s claim that police officers “bore the brunt of the violence” was questionable, given how many protesters were also killed or maimed, but it is true that numerous police officers were attacked, including fatally).

Cotton acknowledged that the central cause of the protests was a just one, noting they were provoked by “the wrongful death of George Floyd.” He also strongly affirmed the right of people to peacefully protest in support of that cause, accusing those justifying the violence of “a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters,” adding: “A majority who seek to protest peacefully shouldn’t be confused with bands of miscreants.”

But he insisted that, absent military reinforcements, innocent people, principally ones in poor communities, will suffer. “These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives,” Cotton wrote, adding: “Many poor communities that still bear scars from past upheavals will be set back still further.”

The backlash to the publication of this op-ed was immediate, intense, and, at least in my memory, unprecedented. Very few people were interested in engaging the merits of Cotton’s call for a deployment of troops in order to prove the argument was misguided.

Their view was not that Cotton’s plea for soldiers in the streets was misguided, but that advocacy for it was so obscene, so extremist, so dangerous and repugnant, that the mere publication of the op-ed by The Paper of Record was an act of grave immorality.

“I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but to not say something would be immoral. As a black woman, as a journalist, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this,” pronounced the paper’s Nikole Hannah-Jones in a now-deleted tweet. The New York Times Magazine writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner posted a multi-tweet denunciation that compared Cotton to an anti-Semite who “says, ‘The Jew is a pig,’" argued that “hatred dressed up as opinion is not something I have to withstand,” and concluded with this flourish: “I love working at the Times and most days of the week I'm very proud to be part of its mission. But tonight, I understand the people who treat me like I work at a tobacco company.”

Former NYT editor and Huffington Post editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen announced, also in a now-deleted tweet: “I spent some of the happiest and most productive years of my life working for the New York Times. So it is with love and sadness that I say: running this puts Black @nytimes staff – and many, many others – in danger.” That publication of the Cotton op-ed “puts Black New York Times staff in danger” became a mantra recited by more journalists than one can list.

Two editors — including the paper’s Editorial Page editor James Benett and a young assistant editor Adam Rubenstein — were forced out of their jobs, in the middle of a pandemic, for the crime not of endorsing Cotton’s argument but merely airing it. Media reports attributed their departure to a “staff revolt.” The paper itself appended a major editor’s note: “We have concluded that the essay fell short of our standards and should not have been published.” In addition to alleged flaws in the editorial process, the paper also said “the tone of the essay in places is needlessly harsh and falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate.”

There is a meaningful difference between deploying National Guard troops and active duty soldiers on American streets. But both measures are extraordinary, create a climate of militarization, have a history of resulting in excessive force against citizens engaged in peaceful protest and constitutionally protected dissent, and present threats and dangers to civil liberties far beyond ordinary use of law enforcement.

Why was the idea of troops in American streets so grotesque and offensive in June, 2020 but so normalized now? Why were these troops likely to indiscriminately arrest and murder black reporters and other journalists over the summer but are now trusted to protect them? And what does it say about the current climate, and the serious dangers it poses, that the public is being trained so easily to acquiesce to extreme measures in the name of domestic security?

We are witnessing the media and their public treat what ought to be regarded with great suspicion as not only normal but desirable, all through the manipulation of fears and inflation of threats. That does not bode well for those who seek to impede the imminent attempt to begin a new domestic War on Terror.

Source: Substack

Gareth Porter - Wed Jan 27, 2021 15:58

A close analysis of recent statements by members of President Joseph Biden’s foreign policy team indicates his administration has already signaled its intention to treat negotiations with Iran as an exercise in diplomatic coercion aimed at forcing major new concessions extending well beyond the 2105 nuclear agreement. The policy could trigger a renewed US-Iran crisis as serious as any provocation engineered by the Trump administration.

Although the Biden team is claiming that it is ready to bring the United States back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran comes into full compliance first, it is actually planning to demand that Iran give up its main source of political leverage. Thus, it will require Iran to cease its uranium enrichment to 20 percent and give up its accumulated stockpile of uranium already enriched to that level before the United States has withdrawn the economic sanctions that are now illegal under the JCPOA deal.

Meanwhile, the Biden team is planning to hold on to what it apparently sees as its “Trump card” – the Trump administration’s sanctions against Iran oil exports that have gutted the Iranian economy.

But the Biden strategy faces a serious problem: Iran has already demanded all sanctions imposed after the JCPOA took effect must be ended before Iran would return to compliance. Iran expects the United States, as the party which initially broke the agreement, to come into compliance first.

The New Biden Coercive Strategy

The Biden administration is banking on a scenario in which Iran agrees to cease its enrichment to 20% and reverse other major concessions Iran made as part of the 2015 agreement.

The Biden team then states it would start a new set of negotiations with Iran, in which the United States would use its leverage to pressure Iran into extending the timeline of its major commitments under the deal. Further, Tehran will be required to accept a modification in its missile program, as European allies have urged.

The Biden team’s Iran strategy was not hastily cobbled together just before inauguration. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan outlined it in an interview last June with Jon Alterman, the Middle East program direct at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You can get some early wins on the nuclear program but tie long-term sanctions relief to progress on both [nuclear and other issues] files,” Sullivan explained.

Sullivan made it clear the primary goal of his proposed strategy was to constrain Iran by imposing extended restraints on its nuclear program. The idea, he explained, was “to see, is it possible to get a short term win on the nuclear file to basically get Iran back into compliance with the JCPOA and to then put the longer term disposition of Iran’s nuclear program on a negotiating track.”

Biden’s future NSC director implied that US sanctions would be exploited to draw Iran into talks with Israel and Saudi Arabia on missiles and other issues, but not at the expense of U.S. aims on the nuclear issue. The assumption that the US would maintain its coercive leverage on Iran is at the center of the policy. As Sullivan said, summarizing an article he co-authored for Foreign Affairs, “the US should say, ‘We are going to be here applying various forms of leverage, including economic leverage as well as military dimensions, apart from whether we have 20,000 more troops or 10,000 less troops there’.”

At the heart of Biden’s strategy is the demand for Iran to return immediately to full compliance with the nuclear agreement. Before Iran rejoins the pact, the new administration expects it to reverse the moves it made to increase the level and the speed of enrichment in response to Trump’s withdrawal.

The Biden administration’s demand ignores the fact Iran scrupulously observed all of the JCPOA’s provisions for two years after the Trump administration had withdrawn from the agreement. It was only after the Trump administration reintroduced old sanctions outlawed by the agreement and introduced crushing new sanctions aimed at preventing Iran from exporting oil that Iran began enriching uranium at higher levels.

By piling up onerous demands while offering few concessions of its own, the new administration conveys the clear message that it is in no hurry to return to the JCPOA. Secretary of State of Tony Blinken stated in his confirmation testimony that the Biden administration was “a long way” from returning to the deal and said nothing about reversing any of the sanctions that were introduced or reintroduced by the Trump administration after it quit the agreement.

Robert J. Einhorn, a key Obama policymaker on the Iran nuclear issue as State Department Special Adviser on Arms Control and Proliferation who has maintained contacts with Biden insiders, has provided an explanation for that ambiguous message. He suggested that the Biden administration aims to press Iran for a deal falling well short of full restoration of the JCPOA – an “interim agreement” involving “rollback” of part of Iran’s current enrichment activities and going beyond the JCPOA in return for “partial sanctions relief.”

That relief would include “some” of the revenues from oil sales that have been blocked in foreign bank accounts. Einhorn appeared to confirm that the new Biden strategy would be based in holding on to the leverage conferred by Trump sanctions against Iran’s oil and banking sectors, which have crippled the country/s economy.

Learning the Wrong Lesson from Obama’s Coercive Diplomacy

Biden’s foreign policy team is comprised largely of Obama administration officials who either initiated nuclear deal talks in 2012-2013 or who were involved in the later stages of the negotiations. NSC Director Sullivan and CIA Director William Burns were key figures in the early talks with Iran; Blinken oversaw the later phase of the negotiations as Deputy Secretary of State, and Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman was in charge of day-to-day negotiations with Iran on the JCPOA until the final round in Vienna in 2015.

So it should be no surprise that the Biden team is pursuing an Iran strategy similar to the one that the Obama administration followed in its negotiations with Iran on the JCPOA itself. The Obama administration proudly claimed success in increasing Iran’s “breakout time” for obtaining enough enriched uranium for a single bomb from two or three months to a year through the pressure of heavy sanctions. It believed it had secured a winning diplomatic hand in 2012 when it got European allies to buy into its coercive strategy of oil and banking sanctions that would cut deeply into Iran’s foreign currency earnings.

But Iran’s enrichment efforts before negotiations on the nuclear deal began in 2012 tell a very different story. As the IAEA reported at the time, between late 2011 and February 2013, Iran enriched 280 kg of uranium to 20 percent, which would have placed it well over the level regarded as sufficient for “breakout” to a bomb. Meanwhile, Iran roughly doubled the number of centrifuges capable of 20 percent enrichment at its Fordow enrichment facility.

Instead of storing the total amount of uranium enriched to 20 percent for a possible bomb, however, Iran did exactly the opposite: it immediately converted 40 percent of its total capacity of enriched uranium to power Iran’s reactor. What’s more, it did not take steps to make the new centrifuges at Fordow capable of enrichment.

Iran was clearly amassing its stockpile and enrichment capability as bargaining chips for future negotiations. During a September 2012 meeting with EU officials in Istanbul, Iran confirmed the strategy by offering to suspend its 20 percent enrichment in return for significant easing of Western sanctions.

The Obama administration believed its sanctions weapon would prevail over Iran’s diplomatic chips. But Iran persisted in asserting its right to more than a token enrichment program. In the very last days of the negotiations in 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry sought to retain language that would allow the United States to reimpose sanctions deep into the implementation of the agreement, as an Iranian official told this writer in Vienna. But Iran held fast, and Obama needed to get an agreement. Kerry ultimately gave up his demand.

Blinken, Sullivan and the other Biden administration officials who worked on Iran during the Obama administration seem to have forgotten how Iran used 20 percent enrichment to get the United States to drop its sanctions. In any case, they are so enamored with the Trump sanctions and their role in stifling Iranian oil sales that they believe they will have the upper hand this time around.

In its bid to coerce a state that is fighting for its most basic national rights into submission, the Biden administration has exhibited a stubborn refusal to acknowledge the limits of US power. The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign has already prompted Iran to establish military capabilities that it previously lacked.

If the Biden administration refuses to relent on its coercive diplomacy and provokes a crisisIran can now inflict serious costs on the United States and its allies in the region. Yet Biden’s foreign policy team appears so far to be oblivious to the serious risks inherent in its current path.

Source: The Grayzone

A close analysis of recent statements by members of President Joseph Biden’s foreign policy team indicates his administration has already signaled its intention to treat negotiations with Iran as an exercise in diplomatic coercion aimed at forcing major new concessions extending well beyond the 2105 nuclear agreement. The policy could trigger a renewed US-Iran crisis as serious as any provocation engineered by the Trump administration.

Although the Biden team is claiming that it is ready to bring the United States back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran comes into full compliance first, it is actually planning to demand that Iran give up its main source of political leverage. Thus, it will require Iran to cease its uranium enrichment to 20 percent and give up its accumulated stockpile of uranium already enriched to that level before the United States has withdrawn the economic sanctions that are now illegal under the JCPOA deal.

Meanwhile, the Biden team is planning to hold on to what it apparently sees as its “Trump card” – the Trump administration’s sanctions against Iran oil exports that have gutted the Iranian economy.

But the Biden strategy faces a serious problem: Iran has already demanded all sanctions imposed after the JCPOA took effect must be ended before Iran would return to compliance. Iran expects the United States, as the party which initially broke the agreement, to come into compliance first.

The New Biden Coercive Strategy

The Biden administration is banking on a scenario in which Iran agrees to cease its enrichment to 20% and reverse other major concessions Iran made as part of the 2015 agreement.

The Biden team then states it would start a new set of negotiations with Iran, in which the United States would use its leverage to pressure Iran into extending the timeline of its major commitments under the deal. Further, Tehran will be required to accept a modification in its missile program, as European allies have urged.

The Biden team’s Iran strategy was not hastily cobbled together just before inauguration. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan outlined it in an interview last June with Jon Alterman, the Middle East program direct at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You can get some early wins on the nuclear program but tie long-term sanctions relief to progress on both [nuclear and other issues] files,” Sullivan explained.

Sullivan made it clear the primary goal of his proposed strategy was to constrain Iran by imposing extended restraints on its nuclear program. The idea, he explained, was “to see, is it possible to get a short term win on the nuclear file to basically get Iran back into compliance with the JCPOA and to then put the longer term disposition of Iran’s nuclear program on a negotiating track.”

Biden’s future NSC director implied that US sanctions would be exploited to draw Iran into talks with Israel and Saudi Arabia on missiles and other issues, but not at the expense of U.S. aims on the nuclear issue. The assumption that the US would maintain its coercive leverage on Iran is at the center of the policy. As Sullivan said, summarizing an article he co-authored for Foreign Affairs, “the US should say, ‘We are going to be here applying various forms of leverage, including economic leverage as well as military dimensions, apart from whether we have 20,000 more troops or 10,000 less troops there’.”

At the heart of Biden’s strategy is the demand for Iran to return immediately to full compliance with the nuclear agreement. Before Iran rejoins the pact, the new administration expects it to reverse the moves it made to increase the level and the speed of enrichment in response to Trump’s withdrawal.

The Biden administration’s demand ignores the fact Iran scrupulously observed all of the JCPOA’s provisions for two years after the Trump administration had withdrawn from the agreement. It was only after the Trump administration reintroduced old sanctions outlawed by the agreement and introduced crushing new sanctions aimed at preventing Iran from exporting oil that Iran began enriching uranium at higher levels.

By piling up onerous demands while offering few concessions of its own, the new administration conveys the clear message that it is in no hurry to return to the JCPOA. Secretary of State of Tony Blinken stated in his confirmation testimony that the Biden administration was “a long way” from returning to the deal and said nothing about reversing any of the sanctions that were introduced or reintroduced by the Trump administration after it quit the agreement.

Robert J. Einhorn, a key Obama policymaker on the Iran nuclear issue as State Department Special Adviser on Arms Control and Proliferation who has maintained contacts with Biden insiders, has provided an explanation for that ambiguous message. He suggested that the Biden administration aims to press Iran for a deal falling well short of full restoration of the JCPOA – an “interim agreement” involving “rollback” of part of Iran’s current enrichment activities and going beyond the JCPOA in return for “partial sanctions relief.”

That relief would include “some” of the revenues from oil sales that have been blocked in foreign bank accounts. Einhorn appeared to confirm that the new Biden strategy would be based in holding on to the leverage conferred by Trump sanctions against Iran’s oil and banking sectors, which have crippled the country/s economy.

Learning the Wrong Lesson from Obama’s Coercive Diplomacy

Biden’s foreign policy team is comprised largely of Obama administration officials who either initiated nuclear deal talks in 2012-2013 or who were involved in the later stages of the negotiations. NSC Director Sullivan and CIA Director William Burns were key figures in the early talks with Iran; Blinken oversaw the later phase of the negotiations as Deputy Secretary of State, and Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman was in charge of day-to-day negotiations with Iran on the JCPOA until the final round in Vienna in 2015.

So it should be no surprise that the Biden team is pursuing an Iran strategy similar to the one that the Obama administration followed in its negotiations with Iran on the JCPOA itself. The Obama administration proudly claimed success in increasing Iran’s “breakout time” for obtaining enough enriched uranium for a single bomb from two or three months to a year through the pressure of heavy sanctions. It believed it had secured a winning diplomatic hand in 2012 when it got European allies to buy into its coercive strategy of oil and banking sanctions that would cut deeply into Iran’s foreign currency earnings.

But Iran’s enrichment efforts before negotiations on the nuclear deal began in 2012 tell a very different story. As the IAEA reported at the time, between late 2011 and February 2013, Iran enriched 280 kg of uranium to 20 percent, which would have placed it well over the level regarded as sufficient for “breakout” to a bomb. Meanwhile, Iran roughly doubled the number of centrifuges capable of 20 percent enrichment at its Fordow enrichment facility.

Instead of storing the total amount of uranium enriched to 20 percent for a possible bomb, however, Iran did exactly the opposite: it immediately converted 40 percent of its total capacity of enriched uranium to power Iran’s reactor. What’s more, it did not take steps to make the new centrifuges at Fordow capable of enrichment.

Iran was clearly amassing its stockpile and enrichment capability as bargaining chips for future negotiations. During a September 2012 meeting with EU officials in Istanbul, Iran confirmed the strategy by offering to suspend its 20 percent enrichment in return for significant easing of Western sanctions.

The Obama administration believed its sanctions weapon would prevail over Iran’s diplomatic chips. But Iran persisted in asserting its right to more than a token enrichment program. In the very last days of the negotiations in 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry sought to retain language that would allow the United States to reimpose sanctions deep into the implementation of the agreement, as an Iranian official told this writer in Vienna. But Iran held fast, and Obama needed to get an agreement. Kerry ultimately gave up his demand.

Blinken, Sullivan and the other Biden administration officials who worked on Iran during the Obama administration seem to have forgotten how Iran used 20 percent enrichment to get the United States to drop its sanctions. In any case, they are so enamored with the Trump sanctions and their role in stifling Iranian oil sales that they believe they will have the upper hand this time around.

In its bid to coerce a state that is fighting for its most basic national rights into submission, the Biden administration has exhibited a stubborn refusal to acknowledge the limits of US power. The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign has already prompted Iran to establish military capabilities that it previously lacked.

If the Biden administration refuses to relent on its coercive diplomacy and provokes a crisisIran can now inflict serious costs on the United States and its allies in the region. Yet Biden’s foreign policy team appears so far to be oblivious to the serious risks inherent in its current path.

Source: The Grayzone

Jeffrey A. Tucker - Wed Jan 27, 2021 14:20

 

For nearly a year, governments have been instructing people to stay put. Don’t leave your home unless you have to. Forget about organizing or attending events. Weddings and funerals are too great a risk for spreading disease. And so on it goes.

But not everywhere is this the case. Many states are open, some are still shut, and many others fall somewhere in between. In some places in the United States, life feels almost normal.

Might we predict a shift in population from lockdown states to open states? According to North American Moving Services, Americans are still on the move at high rates that compare with 2019, despite or maybe because of all the edicts.

Consider the top five cities that people are leaving: New York, New York; Anaheim, California; San Diego, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Riverside, California. All five of those cities remain even to this day in stringent lockdowns. Indoor dining in California is not permitted, and will only be permitted in Chicago starting next week. New York is still in lockdown, despite Andrew Cuomo’s call for the city to be reopened.

And where are people moving to? The top five destinations are: Phoenix, Arizona; Houston, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Denver, Colorado. Georgia was the first state to reopen following the panicked lockdowns of March 2020. Arizona and Texas opened in July.

The point is even clearer when you consider the states gaining and losing residents. Illinois, New York, and New Jersey – all with extreme stringencies – are losing residents faster than any other states. Northeastern states make up four out of the seven states, with California now fourth on the list. They are moving to Idaho, Arizona, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Here is what the coming/going map looks like.

These population shifts have contributed to a dramatic spike in single-family home construction.

In addition, a Gallup survey reports that “nearly half of all U.S. adults said they’d prefer to live in a small town or rural area in 2020. That’s a nine percentage-point increase from 2018, when just 39 percent of respondents said the same.” Which is to say we might only have begun to see these shifts, as people lose confidence in mayors and governors that thought so little of their people’s lives and liberties as to treat them like nonvolitional players in an agent-based model.

To be sure, the people who are able to grab their laptop and go have the financial means to make the move, and the kind of job that can be performed remotely. Good for them. But not everyone is in such a position. Some people are stuck where they are, even if their own governments shut down their place of employment.

The lockdowns have in fact massively redistributed both wealth and happiness from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest and most privileged, precisely as many of us predicted since March of 2020. I’ve called lockdownism the new feudalism.

survey conducted by the MorningConsult reveals an astonishing upheaval that is massively skewed by education and income. The only group consistently reporting a lack of misery in 2020 were those with incomes above $100K and also those with postgraduate educational credentials. Those in suburbs and rural areas with no college, making less than $50K, and especially women in general report dramatically worsening mental, physical, financial, and professional health.

Talk about inequality. The lockdowns supercharged it.

There is nothing surprising at all about any of these data. They were predicted early on. The destructive effects of lockdowns (including mass quarantines, business closures, and an end to public events) have been known for 100 years since they failed so miserably in 1918 when attempted even on a limited scale. That is precisely why public health rejected all these “nonpharmaceutical interventions” for a full century, until somehow some people forgot and attempted them anyway, with gravely calamitous results.

Now we are seeing dramatic demographic shifts, with people who can do so fleeing lockdown cities for anywhere that permits a modicum of freedom.

Aside from all these demographic effects, one of the worst features of the past year is how it has emboldened governments to believe they can violate the rights and liberties of their citizens, thereby giving rise to a new form of authoritarianism, as well documented in this report, which concludes, “An authoritarian response to a biomedical pandemic is not, and never will be, a humanitarian solution.”

Source: AIER

 

For nearly a year, governments have been instructing people to stay put. Don’t leave your home unless you have to. Forget about organizing or attending events. Weddings and funerals are too great a risk for spreading disease. And so on it goes.

But not everywhere is this the case. Many states are open, some are still shut, and many others fall somewhere in between. In some places in the United States, life feels almost normal.

Might we predict a shift in population from lockdown states to open states? According to North American Moving Services, Americans are still on the move at high rates that compare with 2019, despite or maybe because of all the edicts.

Consider the top five cities that people are leaving: New York, New York; Anaheim, California; San Diego, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Riverside, California. All five of those cities remain even to this day in stringent lockdowns. Indoor dining in California is not permitted, and will only be permitted in Chicago starting next week. New York is still in lockdown, despite Andrew Cuomo’s call for the city to be reopened.

And where are people moving to? The top five destinations are: Phoenix, Arizona; Houston, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Denver, Colorado. Georgia was the first state to reopen following the panicked lockdowns of March 2020. Arizona and Texas opened in July.

The point is even clearer when you consider the states gaining and losing residents. Illinois, New York, and New Jersey – all with extreme stringencies – are losing residents faster than any other states. Northeastern states make up four out of the seven states, with California now fourth on the list. They are moving to Idaho, Arizona, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Here is what the coming/going map looks like.

These population shifts have contributed to a dramatic spike in single-family home construction.

In addition, a Gallup survey reports that “nearly half of all U.S. adults said they’d prefer to live in a small town or rural area in 2020. That’s a nine percentage-point increase from 2018, when just 39 percent of respondents said the same.” Which is to say we might only have begun to see these shifts, as people lose confidence in mayors and governors that thought so little of their people’s lives and liberties as to treat them like nonvolitional players in an agent-based model.

To be sure, the people who are able to grab their laptop and go have the financial means to make the move, and the kind of job that can be performed remotely. Good for them. But not everyone is in such a position. Some people are stuck where they are, even if their own governments shut down their place of employment.

The lockdowns have in fact massively redistributed both wealth and happiness from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest and most privileged, precisely as many of us predicted since March of 2020. I’ve called lockdownism the new feudalism.

survey conducted by the MorningConsult reveals an astonishing upheaval that is massively skewed by education and income. The only group consistently reporting a lack of misery in 2020 were those with incomes above $100K and also those with postgraduate educational credentials. Those in suburbs and rural areas with no college, making less than $50K, and especially women in general report dramatically worsening mental, physical, financial, and professional health.

Talk about inequality. The lockdowns supercharged it.

There is nothing surprising at all about any of these data. They were predicted early on. The destructive effects of lockdowns (including mass quarantines, business closures, and an end to public events) have been known for 100 years since they failed so miserably in 1918 when attempted even on a limited scale. That is precisely why public health rejected all these “nonpharmaceutical interventions” for a full century, until somehow some people forgot and attempted them anyway, with gravely calamitous results.

Now we are seeing dramatic demographic shifts, with people who can do so fleeing lockdown cities for anywhere that permits a modicum of freedom.

Aside from all these demographic effects, one of the worst features of the past year is how it has emboldened governments to believe they can violate the rights and liberties of their citizens, thereby giving rise to a new form of authoritarianism, as well documented in this report, which concludes, “An authoritarian response to a biomedical pandemic is not, and never will be, a humanitarian solution.”

Source: AIER

Deutsche Welle - Wed Jan 27, 2021 13:20

Hundreds of elderly Serbs patiently wait outside one of Belgrade's vaccination centers, set up in a vacant trade fair hall near the Sava River. Sometimes, they have to wait for hours before they’re let inside for their pre-booked appointment. Unlike most Belgrade locals, those queuing here are wearing masks. Once inside, patients are welcomed by nurses, who lead to them to one of three dozen booths to get vaccinated. Most receive China's Sinopharm vaccine.

Beijing has sent a million doses of this inactivated vaccine (or killed vaccine) to Serbia. The vaccine has several advantages: It is cheaper to produce and less perishable than the mRNA vaccines developed by BioNTech-Pfizer or Moderna. However, the Sinopharm vaccine has an efficacy of only 75% to 80%, according to reports from China, Bahrain, Brazil and Peru.

"The best vaccine is the one we have readily at our disposal," says the Serbian minister of public administration and local self-government, Marija Obradovic. Today, she has come to the inoculation center to get immunized herself. Obradovic estimates that some 35,000 vaccine doses are being administered each day. As of Sunday evening, 172,000 Serbs had received the jab.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had personally awaited the delivery of the vaccine doses at Belgrade airport, expressing his gratitude toward China in front of rolling cameras. In Serbia’s pro-government press, Vucic presented himself as the nation’s savior, tirelessly negotiating with foreign governments and authorities to secure coronavirus vaccines.

PR coup

President Vucic has promised to set up factories to begin producing vaccines domestically — as was done when the former Yugoslavia existed. According to media reports, the required equipment will be provided by Moscow. Serbia intends to manufacture Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Until production capacities have been ramped up, Serbia is to receive hundreds of thousands of doses from Moscow.

The delivery of Sinopharm vaccine doses to Serbia is a major PR coup for China, according to political scientist Jaksa Scekic. He says that while Western states have managed to supply only a few thousand Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses in the past week, China has gone all out.

Scekic says many Serbs now view China as a true friend who has come through in tough times. He says both China and Russia are instrumentalizing vaccine deliveries for political purposes. Governments of EU member states, in contrast, are forced to coordinate with other EU members and heed economic considerations.

Source: Deutsche Welle

The country’s friendly relations with Beijing and Moscow appear to have paid off for the second time in this pandemic. Back in March last year, when the EU was banning exports of its medical supplies, even to its candidate countries, several planes from China landed in Belgrade and brought much needed protective gear and respirators, some of them as a donation.

Back then the president of Serbia, Alexandar Vucic, lashed out at the EU calling the block’s solidarity “a fairytale”. Billboards with the photo of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Belgrade read: “Thank you brother Xi!” But this time there were no harsh words from the Serbian leaders.

With the latest shipment of a million doses, Serbia became the first, and so far the only country in Europe, with such a quantity of the Chinese jab.

Source: Euronews

Hundreds of elderly Serbs patiently wait outside one of Belgrade's vaccination centers, set up in a vacant trade fair hall near the Sava River. Sometimes, they have to wait for hours before they’re let inside for their pre-booked appointment. Unlike most Belgrade locals, those queuing here are wearing masks. Once inside, patients are welcomed by nurses, who lead to them to one of three dozen booths to get vaccinated. Most receive China's Sinopharm vaccine.

Beijing has sent a million doses of this inactivated vaccine (or killed vaccine) to Serbia. The vaccine has several advantages: It is cheaper to produce and less perishable than the mRNA vaccines developed by BioNTech-Pfizer or Moderna. However, the Sinopharm vaccine has an efficacy of only 75% to 80%, according to reports from China, Bahrain, Brazil and Peru.

"The best vaccine is the one we have readily at our disposal," says the Serbian minister of public administration and local self-government, Marija Obradovic. Today, she has come to the inoculation center to get immunized herself. Obradovic estimates that some 35,000 vaccine doses are being administered each day. As of Sunday evening, 172,000 Serbs had received the jab.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had personally awaited the delivery of the vaccine doses at Belgrade airport, expressing his gratitude toward China in front of rolling cameras. In Serbia’s pro-government press, Vucic presented himself as the nation’s savior, tirelessly negotiating with foreign governments and authorities to secure coronavirus vaccines.

PR coup

President Vucic has promised to set up factories to begin producing vaccines domestically — as was done when the former Yugoslavia existed. According to media reports, the required equipment will be provided by Moscow. Serbia intends to manufacture Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Until production capacities have been ramped up, Serbia is to receive hundreds of thousands of doses from Moscow.

The delivery of Sinopharm vaccine doses to Serbia is a major PR coup for China, according to political scientist Jaksa Scekic. He says that while Western states have managed to supply only a few thousand Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses in the past week, China has gone all out.

Scekic says many Serbs now view China as a true friend who has come through in tough times. He says both China and Russia are instrumentalizing vaccine deliveries for political purposes. Governments of EU member states, in contrast, are forced to coordinate with other EU members and heed economic considerations.

Source: Deutsche Welle

The country’s friendly relations with Beijing and Moscow appear to have paid off for the second time in this pandemic. Back in March last year, when the EU was banning exports of its medical supplies, even to its candidate countries, several planes from China landed in Belgrade and brought much needed protective gear and respirators, some of them as a donation.

Back then the president of Serbia, Alexandar Vucic, lashed out at the EU calling the block’s solidarity “a fairytale”. Billboards with the photo of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Belgrade read: “Thank you brother Xi!” But this time there were no harsh words from the Serbian leaders.

With the latest shipment of a million doses, Serbia became the first, and so far the only country in Europe, with such a quantity of the Chinese jab.

Source: Euronews

Anti-Empire - Wed Jan 27, 2021 12:21

Moscow most of the remaining restrictions because 2,000 to 3,000 daily "infections" is suddenly no big deal:

The Russian capital’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, issued an order on Wednesday morning in which he confirmed that restrictions on bars, restaurants, clubs, and bowling alleys would be lifted.

Justifying the decision, Sobyanin said that “the situation with the spread of coronavirus infection continues to improve. During the past week, the number of new infections did not exceed two or three thousand per day. The number of hospitalized people dropped by another thousand.

Two to three thousand isn't that much less than what Moscow was recording in April (admittedly with a lower testing capacity) when Sobyanin was Russia's number one lockdown fanatic and was allowed briefly to influence and lead the national policy in the same direction.

Opening nightclubs amid 3,000 daily "cases" is both A) correct, B) far more laissez-faire than rest of Europe, and C) far more laissez-faire than was Russia in the spring.

Without ever admitting it both Sobyanin and Russia have flipped on lockdowns nearly 180 degrees, or as much as they can while still saving face and not having to admit openly the supposedly anti-viral crackdowns were an unforced error to begin with.

Moscow most of the remaining restrictions because 2,000 to 3,000 daily "infections" is suddenly no big deal:

The Russian capital’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, issued an order on Wednesday morning in which he confirmed that restrictions on bars, restaurants, clubs, and bowling alleys would be lifted.

Justifying the decision, Sobyanin said that “the situation with the spread of coronavirus infection continues to improve. During the past week, the number of new infections did not exceed two or three thousand per day. The number of hospitalized people dropped by another thousand.

Two to three thousand isn't that much less than what Moscow was recording in April (admittedly with a lower testing capacity) when Sobyanin was Russia's number one lockdown fanatic and was allowed briefly to influence and lead the national policy in the same direction.

Opening nightclubs amid 3,000 daily "cases" is both A) correct, B) far more laissez-faire than rest of Europe, and C) far more laissez-faire than was Russia in the spring.

Without ever admitting it both Sobyanin and Russia have flipped on lockdowns nearly 180 degrees, or as much as they can while still saving face and not having to admit openly the supposedly anti-viral crackdowns were an unforced error to begin with.

Yaron Steinbuch - Wed Jan 27, 2021 11:15

Cats and dogs may also need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to help stunt the spread of the infectious disease — amid a threat of the “continued evolution of the virus in animals,” scientists have warned.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute, both in the UK, and the University of Minnesota warned about the “significant long-term risk to public health” from such transmission in an editorial for Virulence.

“It is not unthinkable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might … be necessary to curb the spread of the infection,” the experts wrote in the peer-reviewed medical journal, the UK’s Independent reported.

While there are no known cases in which a human contracted COVID-19 from a furry family member, Cock van Oosterhout, a professor of evolutionary genetics at UEA in Norwich, said we should prepare “for any eventuality.”

“It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets, for domestic animals, just as a precaution to reduce this risk,” he said. “What we need to be as a human society, we really need to be prepared for any eventuality when it comes to COVID.”

Last year, Denmark was forced ["forced"] to cull millions of mink after hundreds of coronavirus cases in the country were linked to the farmed critters.

If this were to happen with cats and dogs, it would pose “a significant long-term risk to public health,” the editorial warned.

“Continued virus evolution in reservoir animal hosts, followed by spillback events into susceptible human hosts, poses a significant long-term risk to public health,” the group of scientists wrote.

“SARS-CoV-2 can infect a wide range of host species, including cats, dogs, mink and other wild and domesticated species and, hence, the vaccination of domesticated animals might be required to halt further virus evolution and spillback events.”

The scientists added: “Whilst the vaccination campaigns against SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 are being rolled out worldwide, new virus variants are likely to continue to evolve that have the potential to sweep through the human population.”

Meanwhile, the group is also calling on governments to continue enforcing strict control measures, such as mask mandates and social distancing orders, to reduce the evolution and spread of any new COVID variants.

Source: The New York Post

Cats and dogs may also need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to help stunt the spread of the infectious disease — amid a threat of the “continued evolution of the virus in animals,” scientists have warned.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute, both in the UK, and the University of Minnesota warned about the “significant long-term risk to public health” from such transmission in an editorial for Virulence.

“It is not unthinkable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might … be necessary to curb the spread of the infection,” the experts wrote in the peer-reviewed medical journal, the UK’s Independent reported.

While there are no known cases in which a human contracted COVID-19 from a furry family member, Cock van Oosterhout, a professor of evolutionary genetics at UEA in Norwich, said we should prepare “for any eventuality.”

“It makes sense to develop vaccines for pets, for domestic animals, just as a precaution to reduce this risk,” he said. “What we need to be as a human society, we really need to be prepared for any eventuality when it comes to COVID.”

Last year, Denmark was forced ["forced"] to cull millions of mink after hundreds of coronavirus cases in the country were linked to the farmed critters.

If this were to happen with cats and dogs, it would pose “a significant long-term risk to public health,” the editorial warned.

“Continued virus evolution in reservoir animal hosts, followed by spillback events into susceptible human hosts, poses a significant long-term risk to public health,” the group of scientists wrote.

“SARS-CoV-2 can infect a wide range of host species, including cats, dogs, mink and other wild and domesticated species and, hence, the vaccination of domesticated animals might be required to halt further virus evolution and spillback events.”

The scientists added: “Whilst the vaccination campaigns against SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 are being rolled out worldwide, new virus variants are likely to continue to evolve that have the potential to sweep through the human population.”

Meanwhile, the group is also calling on governments to continue enforcing strict control measures, such as mask mandates and social distancing orders, to reduce the evolution and spread of any new COVID variants.

Source: The New York Post

Anti-Empire >>

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