This is an archived newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, consisting of headlines and weblinks, with occasional news summary and brief analysis, for the indicated month(s) and year. See the current, ‘World news’ website page here. To find past stories on this and other news pages on this website, use the ‘find’ (word search) function on your web browser. Headlines in red denote items published on the main news page of A Socialist In Canada, mostly authored by Roger Annis.
World news headlines on A Socialist In Canada, January 2020
Trump edges world closer to nuclear war with ‘low yield’, ‘more usable’ nuclear warhead currently on U.S. submarine patrol, Common Dreams, Jan 30, 2020
World Health Organization declares the new coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, news release by World Health Organization, Jan 30, 2020
* World Health Organization praises China’s response to coronavirus, will reconvene expert committee to assess global threat, by Andrew Joseph and Megan Thielking, STAT media company, Jan 29, 2020 The leaders of the World Health Organization on January 29 praised China’s response to the ongoing outbreak of a novel coronavirus that emerged there and has since spread to more than a dozen other countries. They said the agency would again convene its expert committee to weigh whether the outbreak amounts to a global health emergency… There have been reports from China questioning whether the country has been accurately documenting all deaths tied to the outbreak and how prepared it was to handle an emerging pathogen. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who had just returned from meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing, including President Xi Jinping, told reporters on January 29 that Chinese officials had shown they were committed to combating the transmission of the virus and demonstrated cooperation with other countries to stem its global spread…
* WHO, China leaders discuss next steps in battle against coronavirus outbreak, news release by the World Health Organization, Jan 28, 2020 …The WHO delegation [arrived in China] highly appreciated the actions China has implemented in response to the outbreak, its speed in identifying the virus and openness to sharing information with WHO and other countries…
Notes on the deadly coronavirus 2019-nCoV, by Rob Wallace, published on MR Online, Jan 29, 2020 (Rob Wallace is an evolutionary biologist. He blogs at Farming Pathogens. He is the author of the 2016 book Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Infectious Disease, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science (Monthly Review Press). )
Trump’s border wall, vulnerable to flash floods, needs large storm gates left open for months, Washington Post, Jan 31, 2020 …President Trump’s border wall probably will require the installation of hundreds of storm gates to prevent flash floods from undermining or knocking it over, gates that must be left open for months every summer during “monsoon season” in the desert, according to U.S. border officials, agents and engineers familiar with the plans. The open, unmanned gates in remote areas already have allowed for the easy entry of smugglers and migrants into the United States…
Airbus reaches deal with U.S., UK and French governments, paying $4 billion fine for corruption practices but avoiding criminal charges, Reuters, Jan 27, 2020 [The corrupt Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin has been less successful than the corrupt Airbus. In 2018, the company failed to convince the justice ministry of the Canadian government to gift it a ‘deferred prosecution agreement’ similar to what Airbus has won. The government then waged a months-long pressure campaign against its own justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybold, to reverse her ministry’s decision. She refused and was then booted out of the government cabinet and the Liberal Party. In late 2019, the company reached a plea deal for corruption practices years earlier in Libya, paying a $280 million fine; as well, one company official convicted of bribery practices in Libya. Other bribery and corruption charges apart from practices in Libya are ongoing. In January 2020, the company formally withdrew its legal challenge to the 2018 decision refusing it a deferred prosecution agreement.]
U.S. life expectancy climbs by a fraction for the first time in four years as drug overdose and cancer deaths decline, CNN, Jan 29, 2020 and read: report in Washington Post, Jan 29, 2020
… the number of drug overdoses deaths fell from 70,237 in 2017 to 67,367 in 2018–a drop of 4.1% and the first such decline in decades. In 2018, the rate of overdose deaths in the United States was 4.6% lower than in 2017… The five states with the highest drug overdose deaths are West Virginia,
Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio…
Are Russia and Turkey entering the last act of the fight over liberating Idlib province? Report by Maxim A. Suchkov, in Al-Monitor, Jan 27, 2020
Related: Syrian forces fully recapture city of Ma’arrat al-Nu’man in southern Idlib province, Press TV, Jan 29, 2020
Trump-Netanyahu deal decried as shameful attack on Palestinian rights, Common Dreams, Jan 29, 2020
* Trump’s pro-Israel Mideast deal sparks shock and ire, Press TV, Jan 29, 2020
* Buried in Trump-Netanyahu deal is effort to ‘torpedo’ Int’l Criminal Court war crimes probe, Common Dreams, Jan 29, 2020 The plan announced on January 28 by the White House demands Palestinians “dismiss all pending actions” before the International Criminal Court.
Iran, China and the challenge to U.S. hegemony, by the Qiao Collective, published on the group’s website, January 2020 You can read the essay here in pdf format: Iran, China and the challenge to U.S. hegemony From the website of the Qiao Collective: (‘Qiao is a collective of Chinese leftists living in the diaspora. We aim to be a bridge between the U.S. left, particularly the Chinese diaspora left, and China’s rich Marxist, anti-imperialist historical and contemporary political work and thought.’)
… The U.S. has become increasingly threatened by a new global political alliance led by China, Iran, and Russia and including countries like Bolivia, Venezuela, and Cuba. Strengthened through years of meticulous economic, military, and political cooperation and forged under shared circumstances of victimization by antagonistic U.S. foreign policy, this power bloc threatens to challenge U.S. hegemony over the global order… Disappointingly, China’s consistent support for victims of U.S. economic terrorism has gone largely unnoticed by self-described Western leftists. The U.S. left in particular has failed to advance a systematic analysis that places U.S. aggression in Bolivia, Venezuela, Iran, and Iraq in relation, instead defaulting to a reactive, case-by-case resistance to various coups, air strikes, and aggressions as they occur. While U.S. anti-war advocates have quickly mobilized to respond to overt forms of imperial intervention—the use of military violence in Iran or its staging of the 2019 Bolivian coup, for instance—it has failed to connect the dots between these individual cases and the emergence of a global power bloc challenging U.S. hegemony, of which China plays a key and consistent role…
You can trust ‘left liberals’in the U.S. to be liberals first and left last. A reply to the open letter by Noam Chomsky and friends urging support for the Democratic Party, by Jack Rasmus, published on his website, Jan 27, 2020
* An open letter to the Green Party about 2020 election strategy, by Noam Chomsky, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kathy Kelly, Ron Daniels, Leslie Cagan, Norman Solomon, Cynthia Peters, and Michael Albert, published in LA Progessive, Jan 24, 2020
* ‘Every state is a battleground’: Response to ‘An open letter to the Green Party about 2020 election strategy’, by Howie Hawkins, candidate for the presidential nomination of the Green Party, published in LA Progessive, Jan 27, 2020
U.S. bombing of Afghanistan hit ten-year high in 2019, Press TV, Jan 28, 2020 The U.S. military has stepped up its airstrikes on Afghanistan since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.The Trump White House has removed earlier restrictions that provided greater oversight over aerial attacks aimed to prevent civilian casualties. The United Nations and rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern that the spike in the air raids across the country has resulted in a significant increase in civilian casualties…
French workers stage general strike on Jan 24 as gov’t meets to adopt its pension cuts plan. Report by ABC News, Jan 24, 2020
* French Cabinet passes controversial pension reform that prompted strikes, Deutsche Welle, Jan 24, 2020
* French court says gov’t has not proven its financial case for pension cuts, is vulnerable to legal challenges, The Connexion (France), Jan 24, 2020
Syrian forces advance towards key city of Ma’arat al-Nu’man in Idlib province as terrorists block civilians’ exit, Press TV, Jan 22, 2020
* Syrian regime, backed by Russia, inches closer to city of Ma’arat al-Numan, report in Asharq Al-Awsat, Jan 26, 2020
* Germany’s Merkel backs Turkish regimes plan to build refugee camps in Syria’s Idlib province, Deutsche Welle, Jan 25, 2020
* EU-Turkey pact in 2016 to bloc refugees traveling to Europe shows very few returned, Deutsche Welle, Jan 26, 2020
* Among the Syrian militiamen of Turkey’s intervention in Libya, by Frederic Wehrey, New York Review of Books, Jan 23, 2020
World leaders gather for Holocaust commemoration, 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army. Report by Reuters, Jan 24, 2020 More than one million people, most of them Jews, were killed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Nazi-occupied Poland… One notable absentee from Thursday’s commemoration was President Andrzej Duda of Poland. He turned down an invitation because he was not allowed to speak at the conference unlike wartime victors the United States, Russia, Britain and France, or Germany. Polish leaders have also been angered by comments made by Vladimir Putin last month suggesting Poland shared responsibility for the mass murders of Jews…
* Holocaust remembrance is vital to counter Nazi glorification in Ukraine, by Scott Taylor, published in his ‘On Target’ column in Esprit de Corps magazine (Canada), Jan 27, 2020 [It is disappointing to read that the writer makes no mention of the fervent, ongoing support by the Canadian government and its NATO allies to the right-wing government of Ukraine. For several years, the Ukrainian government has conducted a vast re-write of World War Two history in praise of the Ukrainians who collaborated with Nazi Germany. In addition, neo-Nazi paramilitaries have come to infest every level of the Ukrainian police agencies and armed forces ever since the right-wing coup of February 2014. There is no more fervent adherent to NATO policy supporting the Ukrainian government than Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland. Widespread media reporting has documented her maternal grandfather’s role during WW2 as a Nazi collaborator and propagandist.] * Poland’s Israel problem, editorial, Jerusalem Post, Jan 8, 2020 …In 2017, Poland enacted a controversial law that outlaws blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust. Many Israeli officials condemned the law, including Israeli President Reuven Rivlin…
* Summit meeting cancelled as Israel and Poland row over Holocaust, The Guardian, Feb 18, 2019
[The boycott by the government of NATO-member Poland of the January 23 ceremony in Jerusalem is part of that government’s drive to rewrite the history of World War Two in favour of neo-Nazi ideology. According to the revisionists, the Soviet Red Army was an ‘occupying’ military force equivalent to the German Nazis who waged the war and conducted the Holocaust. Similar historical revision has been carried out by the NATO-backed government of Ukraine, though in that case their is friction between Ukraine and Poland. The regime in Kyiv objects to Poland’s whitewashing of the role of Polish collaborators with the Nazis in killing tens of thousands of Ukrainians. The controversy surrounding the historical revisionism is largely unknown in the West, including among uncaring and uninterested ‘leftists’. Western media and governments are joining in the revisionism as part of their anti-Russia New Cold War. They have already long promoted the anti-Russia myth of a ‘Holodomor’–the claim that the government of the Soviet Union conducted a deliberate starvation of Ukrainians during the Soviet Union-wide famine conditions of 1932-33.]
‘This crime had accomplices’: Text of Putin’s speech to the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem on Jan 23, 2020 marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Red Army, speech transcript published on the website of the President of Russia, Jan 23, 2020 (also published here in The Times of Israel)
…The crimes committed by the Nazis, their deliberate, planned, and as they said, ”final solution to the Jewish issue,“ is one of the darkest and most shameful pages of modern world history. But we should not forget that this crime also had accomplices. They were often crueler than their masters. Death factories and concentration camps were served not only by the Nazis, but also by their accomplices in many European countries.
…Back in 1945, it was first of all the Soviet people who put an end to these barbaric plans. As it has just been said, they protected their Fatherland and liberated Europe from Nazism. We paid a price no nation could even imagine in their worst dreams: a toll of 27 million deaths. We will never forget this. The memory of the Holocaust will serve as a lesson and a warning only if it remains fully intact, without any omissions. Unfortunately, today the memory of war and its lessons and legacy often fall subject to the immediate political situation. This is completely unacceptable. It is the duty of current and future politicians, state and public figures to protect the good name of the living and fallen heroes, civilians and victims of the Nazis and their allies.
Will Russia provide missiles to ‘close the entire sky’ over Iran?, by Anton Mardasov, Al-Monitor, Jan 24, 2020
‘Iraq for Iraqis’: Hundreds of thousands flood streets of Baghdad to demand U.S. military leave country, Common Dreams, Friday Jan 24, 2020 Read also: Hundreds of thousands protest in Baghdad against U.S. troop presence in Iraq, Press TV, Jan 24, 2020 and: report by CNN, Jan 24, 2020. View a photo gallery here.
* As Iraq’s protests continue, is there a political solution on the horizon?, by Ali Mamouri, Al-Monitor, Jan 24, 2020 …Iran-backed militias warned Iraqi President Barham Salih not to meet Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, yet Salih attended a meeting with him on Jan. 22. They discussed the strategic relationship between Iraq and the United States — a clear sign that Salih wants U.S. troops to stay in the country… Leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq (Wikipedia) are united in supporting Salih’s policy of a strategic relationship with the United States. In fact, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani accompanied Salih to Davos and even met with Trump himself…
* U.S. plotting partition of Iraq to secure continued presence of its occupation troops, says special report in Middle East Eye, Press TV, Jan 24, 2020
[The assassinations in Baghdad on January 3 of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis sparked growing calls for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. The two martyrs were key leaders in the war against ISIS. Iraqis see the killings as breaches of the country’s sovereignty. There are roughly 5,000 US troops in Iraq. Iraq’s national legislature voted on January 5 to expel the U.S. military from the country following the attack, but the Trump administration has said it does not intend to pull troops out and the Iraqi government has taken no measures to implement the legislature vote.]
Our Brexit or theirs: ‘Leave, Fight, Transform’ holds one-day conference on Jan 18 of trade unionists and socialists in northern England to organize the continuing fight for social justice, report on the website of Leave, Fight, Transform (LeFT), Jan 21, 2020 (You can view the speeches by union and Labour Party activists to teh Jan 18 conference on the Facebook page of LeFT.)
Busting pro-war propaganda: Report from a visit to China, interview with Danny Haiphong, broadcast on ‘Red Lines’ (The Grayzone), with host Anya Parampil, Jan 22, 2020 (42-minute interview) (Danny Haiphong is a contributing editor to Black Agenda Report and a socialist and anti-imperialist activist. His mother left her home country of Vietnam during the American War. His father served in the U.S. armed forces in that war.)
Related: White supremacy and war are vice grips strangling the working class: What we can learn from China in fighting these evils, by Danny Haiphong, contributing editor, Black Agenda Report, Jan 22, 2020
Pro-coup New York Times and The Guardian acknowledge that the Venezuela coup plan using Juan Guaido has flopped. Two commentaries: Guaidó, promising change for Venezuela, fails to conquer Davos, New York Times, Jan 24, 2020 and, One year on, Juan Guaidó’s attempt at regime change in Venezuela has stalled, by Tony Wood, The Guardian, Jan 23, 2020 (Tony Wood is an anti-Russia writer and author of the 2019 book Russia Without Putin.)
Facing pushback from allies, U.S. is pressing its campaign to ban Huawei from 5G cellular networks, Wall Street Journal, Jan 23, 2020 Read the article here in pdf format: U.S. pressing allies to ban Huawei [U.S. allies, notably in Germany and countries of the ‘Five Eyes’ spying alliance, are deliberating on a ban of Huawei’s 5G network. A ban will cost billions of dollars to national governments and telecommunications industries. Canada, meanwhile, is chipping in by trying to convince Canadian courts to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to the U.S. court and prison gulag.].
Related: Extradition trial of Meng Wanzhou is a ‘test’ of Canadian legal system, says defence lawyer, The Canadian Press, Jan 23, 2020 …A British Columbia Supreme Court hearing wrapped on January 23 that focused on the legal test of double criminality, or whether the conduct Meng is accused of would also be a crime in Canada. The United States has charged her with fraud over allegations she lied to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with an Iran-based subsidiary, putting the bank at risk of violating American sanctions. The defence has argued the judge must dismiss the case because Canada has rejected similar sanctions, while the Crown said the judge’s job is to determine if there’s evidence of fraud, not to uphold Canadian sovereignty…
Whose revolution? A reflection on the Iranian uprisings, by Sima Shakhsari, and Minoo Moallem, published in the academic feminist magazine Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research (Beirut), issue of winter 2019-20
U.S. sanctions against Iran are causing a major humanitarian crisis, by Ahmad Jalalpour, The Nation, Jan 21, 2020 Read the article here in pdf format: U.S. sanctions against Iran, Jan 2020
There has been a catastrophic drop in living standards in Iran following the Trump regime’s withdrawal in May 2018 from the 2015 political agreement with Iran over nuclear energy production [Wikipedia]. The deterioration in public health warrants immediate assistance by the international community. …If you haven’t heard about this [the many deleterious consequences of U.S. sanctions against Iran], you are not alone. Nobody, certainly not the main protagonists, seems the least bit interested in talking about the devastation of human life in Iran today. It is as if a conspiracy of silence has been cast over the whole issue… While at present, most Iranians blame the government for their misfortunes, sooner or later, the truth about the sanctions [the U.S. role in imposing them] will come out…
* Six charts showing how hard U.S. sanctions have hit Iran, BBC, Dec 9, 2020
* U.S. economic sanctions harm Iranians’ right to health, report by Human Rights Watch, Oct 29, 2019 [Human Rights Watch supports U.S. foreign policy in many areas. This report criticizes U.S. sanctions against Iran in the realm of ‘humanitarian’ concerns only.].
* U.S. sanctions are affecting all aspects of human life in Iran, interview with Professor Sasan Fayazmanesh (California State University, Fresno), published by Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, July 26, 2019 (Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor Emeritus of Economics and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at California State University, Fresno.)
Consortium News sends libel notices to Canada’s top-secret spying agency Communications Security Establishment and Global News television network, Consortium News, Jan 21, 2020 [The libel action is prompted by a Global News report in December 2019 that pointed to a Feb. 27, 2017 article in Consortium News by journalist Arina Tsukanova. The article was titled ‘A Nazi skeleton in the family closet‘. It was part of the news revelations at the time that Chrystia Freeland (then foreign affairs minister of Canada, now deputy prime minister) had lied about her grandfather’s past as an editor of a Nazi newspaper in occupied Poland during World War Two. A brief introduction to the article by Tsukanova explained, “Canada’s fiercely anti-Russian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says her Ukrainian grandfather struggled ‘to return freedom and democracy to Ukraine’, but she leaves out that he was a Nazi propagandist justifying the slaughter of Jews.”]
G7 nations falling behind on fight against corruption, Deutsche Welle, Jan 23, 2020 Top world powers are increasingly viewed as corrupt, Transparency International’s latest global corruption index has found. Canada, the UK and France all fell several points, while the U.S. saw its lowest score in years.
The Lebanese Intifada: The growth of an anti-capitalist mass movement, by Jana Nakhal, MR Online, Jan 22, 2020 (Jana Nakhal is an urban planner, designer, feminist researcher, and organizer from Beirut and Sour. She writes for the magazine Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research (Beirut).)
Anti-war protest rallies planned for this Saturday, January 25 in New Zealand, media release by Global Peace and Justice (New Zealand), Jan 23, 2020 Join the protests in Auckland, Wellington and Waihopai!
Journalist Glenn Greenwald defiant after being charged with ‘cyber crimes’ by right-wing government in Brazil, Common Dreams, Jan 21, 2020
Turkey’s Libya strategy: The cure has become worse than disease, by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor, Jan 20, 2020
Nicaragua has built 130,000 new houses in 12 years, Orinico Tribune, Jan 21, 2020
Related: The revolution that has transformed the lives of Nicaragua’s Caribbean peoples, published on the website Tortilla con sol, Jan 11, 2020
Canada bowing to U.S. sanctions against Iran is the ‘centrepiece’ of the legal case of Meng Wanzhou against extradition to U.S., say her lawyers at opening of trial, Vancouver Sun, Monday, Jan 20, 2020 …“This case is founded on an allegation of breach of U.S. sanctions, sanctions which Canada has expressly repudiated,” Meng’s lawyer Richard Peck told the judge. “The (United States) has cast this matter as a case of fraud against a bank. In our respectful submission this is an artifice. In reality, sanctions violation is the essence of the alleged misconduct.”…Meng’s lawyers are expected to finish their submissions on Tuesday. Then lawyers for the federal Crown, acting on behalf of U.S. authorities, will begin their arguments…
Related: Fraud allegations are a facade, lawyers for Meng Wanzhou argue at extradition hearing, Globe and Mail, Jan 20, 2020
Meng Wanzhou’s defence team opened her extradition hearing before a packed public gallery in Vancouver on January 20 arguing she should not be sent to the United States because the allegations she faces would not be a crime in Canada.
The U.S. wishes to prosecute the Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive for an alleged evasion of economic sanctions against Iran, her lawyers said in British Columbia Supreme Court, while falsely portraying the case as one of alleged fraud. The difference between the two types of charges is critical. Fraud is an offence in both the U.S. and Canada. But Canada has not had economic sanctions against Iran since 2016, when it signed an international agreement to limit its nuclear program.
For an extradition to occur, any criminal acts must be deemed an offence if committed in either country. The concept, known as “double criminality,” is not just a technical matter. Ensuring that an offence would be a crime in the country from which extradition is requested is how that country insists its own values are respected in the reciprocal process of extradition. For that reason, double criminality is at the core of extradition law in much of the world…
Tens of thousands of pro-gun fanatics and racists, peppered with neo-Nazis, gather at pro-gun rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Report by Associated Press, Jan 20, 2020 Donald Trump ‘tweeted’ his support to the right-wing, extremist rally.
Vladimir Putin’s proposed constitutional changes for Russia explained, interview with analyst and Moscow resident Mark Sleboda, broadcast on ‘Redlines’ (The Grayzone), with host Anya Parampil, Jan 19, 2020 (one-hour interview)
Putin proposes changes to Russian constitution in his annual address to the country’s Federal Assembly, PM Medvedev resigns and the head of Russia’s tax service is named the new prime minister: What’s going on?, by Natylie Baldwin, published on her website blog Natylie’s Place, Jan 17, 2020 (Natylie Baldwin is the author of the forthcoming book The View from Moscow: Understanding Russia and U.S.-Russia Relations. She is co-author of the 2015 book Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard and How the West Was Checkmated. She has traveled throughout western Russia since 2015 and writes about political and social life in Russia. She resides in San Francisco.)
* Vladimir Putin’s State of the Nation address explained, by Dmitry Sudakov, in Pravda Report, Jan 15, 2020 …Putin paid first priority attention to issues of increasing the birth rate in Russia, increasing the income level of citizens, supporting young families, and overcoming poverty and economic stagnation…
* Text of the presidential address to Russia’s Federal Assembly on Jan 15, 2020, published on the website of the President of Russia, Jan 15, 2020
[Five noteworthy economic and political measures announced by Vladimir Putin in his January 15, 2020 speech are:
1. Increases in family child support payments for children up to the age of three. These include monthly payments as well as one-time ‘maternity capital’ payments. They will be significantly increased again in 2021. In addition, family support payments will be introduced to cover children from three to seven years of age, inclusive.
2. Expansion of existing, social welfare test programs.
3. ‘The Constitution should guarantee that the minimum wage must not be lower than the subsistence level.’
4. Further measures by the government to defend the historical truth about the victory over fascism in the Great Patriotic War (WW2).
5. “In the coming years, the number of school graduates will increase. It is important to maintain equal, fair access to free, full-time higher education. In this regard, I propose to increase the number of state-funded places at universities annually and to give such places to regional universities in the first place.”
[Additionally in the speech: “The UN founding countries should set an example. It is the five nuclear powers that bear special responsibility for the preservation and sustainable development of mankind. It is five nations that must be first to take measures to eliminate prerequisites for a global war, develop new approaches to ensuring stability on the planet, which would fully take into account political, economic and military aspects of modern international relations.”
[The proposed social measures in Vladimir Putin’s speech go a long way to explain his high electoral popularity–68 per cent, according to a survey in mid-2019. This stands in contrast to the unpopularity of nearly every leader of a Western imperialist country. That said, the new social measures merit careful analysis and scrutiny in order to understand their scope and effectiveness. Alas, Western leftists, not to speak of corporate and state-run news outlets in the West, show zero interest in such analysis. When asked ‘Why does Russia act in the way it does–providing social welfare improvements domestically while opposing imperialist war and militarism on the international stage, including opposing the new nuclear arms race being waged by the U.S. and its allies–their motto remains ‘Who knows, who cares?’ Indeed, corporate media in the West is self-censoring any reporting of the social measures contained in Putin’s speech; instead, it is working up speculative and exaggerated stories of the secondary, constitutional changes announced in the speech, changes that the New York Times calls–cue the music–a “power shake-up” in an anti-Russia commentary which argues that Putin is surreptitiously aiming to become “president-for-life”. (And a prime example of biased, self-censored anti-Russia reporting is broadcast on the ‘alternative’ media site Democracy Now! on Jan 16, 2020.) ]
Background: Law on raising retirement age in Russia comes into effect on January 1, 2019, Moscow Times, Dec 31, 2018 …The average pension in Russia in 2018 was 14,100 rubles ($202). According to the new law, the average, monthly old-age pension for non-working pensioners will increase to 15,000 rubles in 2019 ($215–seven per cent increase) and to 20,000 rubles by 2024 ($286–33 per cent increase)… The new law preserves the right to early retirement for people working in harmful and dangerous conditions and for those injured as a result of radiation or man-made disasters. Also, the law secures early retirement to one of the parents or the guardian of a disabled person from childhood and it provides benefits to permanent residents in the Far North regions of Russia and equal areas–those who worked there as reindeer herders, fishermen and hunters…
Reform or revolution in the 2020s?, by Mike Treen, The Daily Blog (New Zealand), Jan 14, 2020 …The solutions to the current economic and ecological crises should be solutions that look to replace a system based on the pursuit of private profit with a system the empowers workers and has solutions to social problems based on collective solidarity.Tackling the climate crisis is only possible with a system not based on relentless growth and the pursuit of profit. These policies can be put together as a plan for a ‘Green New Deal’ that priorities well-paid jobs, public housing, health care and education for all. Such a Green New Deal should include these essential features…
RT report backs Trump in his attacks at Davos against environmental movement and Greta Thunberg.
[The RT news outlet has published its most brazen attack to date against the global environment movement and against one the movement’s most outstanding activists–Greta Thunberg. The attack comes in the form of an article on January 22, 2020 which lauds the speech delivered by Donald Trump on January 22 to the annual gathering of the world’s economic elite at Davos, Switzerland. The Trump speech to the ‘World Economic Forum’ attacked the world’s environmental “prophets of doom”, as Trump calls them. The global warming-dismissal speech endorsed the ‘one billion trees’ inititative, by which we are to believe that the trashing of the world’s ecosystem by the world capitalist order–including ongoing destruction of forests by logging and wildfires–can be repaired by feel-good initiatives such as planting one billion trees. RT reports enthusiastically on Trump’s ‘trees’ endorsement.
[This year’s World Economic Forum is dedicated to voicing ‘concern’ over global warming. As Deutsche Welle reports with a suitable tone of irony, the lead speaker at the forum’s opening on January 22 was… the global warming-denying Donald Trump. Later that day, Greta Thunberg told the gathering,”Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. And we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else…” (Watch her address at Davos here.)
[For several years now, the editorial direction of RT has been moving steadily rightward–notably in opposition to the fight to mitigate and reverse global warming and in support of numerous conservative, social outlooks. The informed news reports which RT still occasionally provides on developments in world politics is now far outweighed by its awful embrace of global warming denial and social convervatism.]
Related: Greta Thunberg demands Davos elite immediately halt all fossil fuel investments, Common Dreams, Jan 22, 2020
World’s richest 2,200 people control more money than poorest 4.6 billion, explains new report by Oxfam, Reuters, Jan 19, 2020
At conference hosted by German gov’t, Libya players agree to respect arms embargo but ceasefire remains elusive. Report by Deutsche Welle, Jan 19, 2020
* In 2011, Russia and Turkey did not stop NATO in Libya. Now their voices speak loudest as they try to end nine years of chaos, by Scott Ritter, published in the eclectic news and commentary outlet RT, Jan 20, 2020 …The two countries opposed the U.S.-led NATO intervention to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi nine years ago, but despite Turkey being a NATO member and Russia being on the UN Security Council, neither exercised their veto prerogatives. Both states went on to bitterly regret sitting out…
* Why Turkey’s Libya commitment angers Arab nations, commentary in Deutsche Welle, Jan 18, 2020
* Can Libya be turned around and become Russia’s ‘second Syria’?, by Marianna Belenkaya, Al-Monitor, Jan 15, 2020
* Turkey commences troop deployment to Libya, Press TV, Jan 16, 2020 and read: report by Reuters, Jan 16, 2020 [On January 2, Turkey’s parliament approved a bill to deploy troops to Libya. In a parallel development, Turkey will begin granting licenses for oil exploration and drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.]
UK election: Labour’s defeat and the triumph of Johnsonism, by Jeremy Gilbert, published in Open Democracy, five-part article, Jan 13-17, 2020:
Part 1: It was the centrist dads who lost it
Part 2: Corbyn was intensely moral, but never a working class hero
Part 3: Labour should have argued against the last 40 years, not just the last ten
Part 4: Labour let the right shape both sides of the Brexit debate
Part 5: To take on the right wing media, we need to build a political movement
Trump’s bellicose actions against Iran risk his 2020 re-election effort, by Jeremy Peters, New York Times, Jan 13, 2020 Part of President Trump’s appeal in the 2016 election was his criticisms of America’s entanglements abroad. The uncertainty in the Middle East could threaten his re-election chances. [Donald Trump’s erratic statements in 2016 supposedly criticizing the foreign wars waged by past U.S. regimes were crafted to confuse and demobilize antiwar sentiment among the U.S. and international working class. It has worked well for him, with even many Western leftists falling for the ruse. The Western left has failed to campaign against sanctions by the U.S. and its imperialist allies against Iran, Russia, Syria and Venezuela. But will the Trump’s regime’s ruses hold amidst the continued steps to war against the people of Iran?]
‘Blanket secrecy’ surrounds Australian weapons sales to countries accused of war crimes, The Guardian, Jan 13, 2020 …Nearly 100 permits were issued to export weapons and military technology to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the 2018-2019 financial year. But the Australian defence department has refused to reveal how many weapons have been sold, for how much, or for what purpose…
In France’s longest protests since 1968, striking workers continue the fight against Macron government’s austerity drive, by Alan Macleod, Mintpress News, Jan 17, 2020
* Protests, strikes continue in France against Macron’s proposals for pension overhaul, report by The Associated Press, Jan 16, 2020 [Hundreds of thousands of striking transport and other workers marched in cities across France on Jan 16. Another day of protests is set for Jan 24.].
* Macron makes more concessions to strikers but the battle continues, by John Mullen, Counterfire, Jan 13, 2020
* France at a crossroads, by Richard Greeman, published in CounterPunch, Jan 15, 2020
National Public Radio’s sanitizing of Trump’s Jan 14 Milwaukee rally shows how he’s broken the media, by Aaron Rupa, VOX.com, Jan 15, 2020 In trying to be above taking sides, the mainstream media does Trump a favor by making order out of his chaos. …The disconnect between the real Trump and the whitewashed version that emerges from mainstream reporting was captured nicely by Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor in a piece she wrote last September headlined, ‘As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump’s press conference‘
* In his lies, Joseph Biden is sounding a lot like Trump, by Branco Marcetic, In These Times, Jan 15, 2020
* The Ministry of Untruth: What Donald Trump’s unending stream of lies has done to our White House, our country and us, lengthy essay by S.V. Date, published in HuffPost US, Jan 15, 2020
Some Iraqis want foreign troops to leave, but the U.S., Canada and their NATO allies don’t appear to be going anywhere soon, by David Pugliese, military affairs columnist, Ottawa Citizen (Postmedia), Jan 16, 2020 Read the column here: NATO boosting military presence in Middle East
Related: NATO preparing to become ‘more involved’ in the Middle East, Al Jazeera, Jan 14, 2020
Canada and European countries meeting in London to coordinate threats and new pressures against Iran following Jan 8 plane crash over Tehran. Report by CBC News, Jan 16, 2020 (and read: report by Canadian Press, Jan 17, 2020) [The government of Holland was invited to the January 17, 2020 meeting of foreign ministers at the Canadian embassy in London though none of its nationals were on board the Ukraine Int’l Airlines flight that was shot down over Tehran. That’s because Holland brings expertise from its lead role in waging the anti-Russia investigation by self-appointed countries following the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine on July 17, 2014. The new, Canadian-led group consists of the countries whose citizens died in the crash–Canada, Britain, Sweden, Ukraine and Afghanistan but not including Iran, the country with the largest number of victims. One of the group’s battle cries announced in London was ‘Iran must compensate the victims of the airline crash.’ No such demand is placed on the country whose war actions against the people of Iran caused the crash to take place–the Trump-led United States. This confirms the propaganda purpose of the London initiative. Another key battle cry is that the work of the ‘investigating’ countries not be ‘obstructed’, that is, they be given free reign to go and do as they please in Iran proper.] Related: Trump is the third president to lie about Afghan war success, by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout.org, Jan 17, 2020
Trump’s trial begins, senators vowing ‘impartial justice’, Associated Press, Jan 16, 2020 …The Government Accountability Office said on Jan 16 that the White House violated federal law in withholding the security assistance to Ukraine, which shares a border with hostile Russia. At the same time, Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has turned over to prosecutors new documents linking the president to the shadow foreign policy being run by Giuliani. The developments applied fresh pressure to senators to call more witnesses for the trial, a main source of contention that is still to be resolved. The White House has instructed officials not to comply with subpoenas from Congress requesting witnesses or other information…
* Lev Parnas implicates Mike Pence, Bill Barr, and Devin Nunes in Trump Ukraine scheme, by Igor Derysh, Salon.com, Jan 16, 2020
* Giuliani associate Lev Parnas names Trump, Pence and more involved in Ukraine conspiracy, Associated Press, Jan 17, 2020 …Lev Parnas says he delivered an ultimatum in May 2019 at Giuliani’s behest to the incoming president of Ukraine that no senior U.S. officials would attend his inauguration and vital American security aid would be withheld if an investigation into Biden wasn’t announced. He said Trump was aware of Giuliani’s efforts to secure an investigation and the president was briefed regularly. If true, Parnas’ account undercuts a key Republican defense of Trump during the impeachment investigation — that Trump’s withholding of vital military aid to Ukraine last summer wasn’t a quid pro quo for Biden investigations…
75 years later, newly-released wartime documents detail Soviet Red Army’s role in assisting 1944 uprising to liberate Warsaw, RT, Jan 16, 2020
In Jan 14 debate, Democratic Party candidates discuss ‘withdrawal’ or not of U.S. troops from Middle East but not ending endless wars, interview with Phylis Bennis, broadcast of Democracy Now!, Jan 15, 2020 …I think one of the things that was important to see last night was that all of the Democratic candidates, including the right wing of the group, as well as the progressives, as well as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, were vying with each other to see who could be more critical of the Iraq War… Now, on the specifics, I think there were some serious limitations, in two ways. On the specific question of withdrawing troops, everybody basically said, “I would leave troops.”… Across the board, particularly, of course, from the more centrist candidates, there was a focus on what’s going to happen to Americans — American jobs, American soldiers. We didn’t hear about human rights in the rest of the world…
[A contrasting analysis to Phyllis Bennis’ critical view of the foreign policies of the Democratic Party candidates for president is presented in the soft-left publication In These Times in its January 2020 issue (the article is re-printed on Jan 14, 2020 on the website of Jacobin, another soft-left website and magazine in the U.S.) Titled, ‘What a Bernie Sanders presidency would look like’, the article argues, “…Sanders promises to reshape the global order by exercising U.S. power in pursuit of negotiated geopolitical settlements…” And further, “Sanders has straightforwardly denounced the military-industrial complex, has long voted no on defense budgets, and stands alone in his consistent support for making the United States a partner to Global South struggles…”]
Australian gov’t signals shift from global warming denial to deflect and delay:
* Australia softens climate change rhetoric as bushfires, and voters, rage, Reuters, Jan 15, 2020 …A poll from the Australia Institute on Jan 15 showed the country’s bushfire crisis has intensified concerns about climate change with almost seven in ten Australians wanting the government to lead on climate action. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose popularity has sunk to its lowest levels since he took over leadership in 2018 over the government’s bushfire response, continues to espouse the merits of coal…
* Australia’s science minister calls for end to debate over whether climate change is real, SBS News, Jan 15, 2020 Top scientists will meet with Ms Andrews on Jan 15 to discuss a response to Australia’s unprecedented bushfires and how to address the effects of climate change fuelling their intensity.
* Two sides, same coin: It’s not about Labor or Liberal anymore, it’s too late for that now, by Nick Riemer, New Matilda, Jan 7, 2020 …Given the circumstances, distinctions between wet and dry, hard and soft, right and left in the ALP are ridiculous hair-splitting. Of course, there are ‘good people’ in the Labor Party. But they are no match for the careerist opportunists, apparatchiks-in-waiting, and nostalgists who will stick with the party regardless of what it actually stands for…
* What on Earth is the point of The Australian Labor Party?, by Liam McLoughlin, New Matilda, Sept 23, 2018 …For too long, there hasn’t been much of a choice for Labor Party voters. They could vote for the Labor Party whose leader promised to stop the boats, advocated boat turnbacks, killed the momentum of #LetThemStay, hobnobbed at exclusive, expensive fundraisers for business leaders, accepted political donations from fossil fuel companies, supported new coal mines and backed rafts of legislation transforming Australia into a police state, or they could vote for the Liberal Party…
The lies being used to justify U.S. acts of war against Iran keep coming. Two contrasting news reports:
* Hours of forewarning saved U.S., Iraqi lives from Iran’s missile attack. Report by Reuters, Jan 13, 2020 Nearly eight hours before Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on U.S. forces at bases in Iraq, American and Iraqi soldiers at Ain al-Asad air base scrambled to move personnel and weaponry to fortified bunkers, two Iraqi officers stationed at the base told Reuters. By midnight, not a single fighter jet or helicopter remained out in the open, said one of the sources, an intelligence officer. Another Iraqi intelligence source said U.S. troops even seemed to know the timing of the attack, saying they seemed “totally aware” the base would be attacked “after midnight.” When the missiles finally landed at about 1:30 a.m., they struck “empty bunkers that had been evacuated hours before,” the intelligence source said. No one was injured or killed…
* U.S. commanders at al-Asad base in Iraq believe Iranian missile barrage was designed to kill, page one report in Washington Post, Jan 13, 2020 U.S. commanders at the Iraqi military base targeted by Iranian missiles said Monday they believe the attack was intended to kill American personnel, an act that could have pushed the two powers closer to outright war… “These were designed and organized to inflict as many casualties as possible,” said Lt. Col. Tim Garland, commander of Task Force Jazeera and one of the most senior officials on the base that day…
Related: ‘Four embassies’: The anatomy of Trump’s unfounded claim about Iran, page one report in Washington Post, Jan 13, 2020
The theory was born on Jan 9 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, where President Trump stood before men in hard hats and orange construction vests for an environmental announcement and offered a fresh rationale for his controversial order to kill a top Iranian general. “They were looking to blow up our embassy,” Trump said, referring to the heavily secured Baghdad facility that had become a magnet for protesters.
Later that night, at a raucous campaign rally in Ohio, Trump added to his story. The Iranians, he claimed, were planning to attack not only the U.S. Embassy in Iraq but also an undisclosed number of embassies in other countries. And then Trump fleshed out his claim even further. “I can reveal I believe it probably would’ve been four embassies,” he said in an interview with Fox News Channel on Jan 10. Based on what is known so far, Trump’s statement was at best an unfounded theory and at worst a falsehood.
At each turn in the commander in chief’s rapidly evolving narrative of why he authorized the Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the machinery of government scrambled to adapt and respond. The result is a credibility crisis for an administration that has long struggled to communicate factual information to the public… In a rare public break with the president, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper acknowledged on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ on Jan 12 that he had not reviewed any such evidence of a plot to attack four U.S. embassies, as Trump had suggested…
* U.S. Defense Secreary Mark Esper says he has no hard evidence backing Trump claim of four U.S. embassies under threat, Associated Press, Jan 12, 2020 Defense Secretary Mark Esper has explicitly said that he had seen no hard evidence that four American embassies had been under possible threat when President Donald Trump authorized the targeting of Iran’s top commander, raising questions about the scale of the threat described by Trump last week. As the administration struggled with its justification for the drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Esper and other officials tried to refocus attention on voices of dissent in Iran… ( previously reported: Trump ups Iran accusations, says four U.S. embassies were being targeted, Associated Press, Jan 11, 2020, and see report in Washington Post, Jan 10, 2020 )
* Trump authorized the murder-assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago, NBC News, Jan 13, 2020
* Trump’s new foreign policy team falls into line on Iran, Washington Post, Jan 12, 2020 (or read here on MSN News) President Trump had from his earliest days in office raised the possibility of killing Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the powerful Iranian military commander who died this month in a U.S. military drone strike… Despite his reputation as an Iran hawk, former Defense Secretary James Mattis prioritized defeating the Islamic State. More broadly, during his time in the top civilian post at the Pentagon, Mattis was focused on preparing the military for possible conflicts with great powers such as China and Russia … Former White House officials who supported the killing of Soleimani this month viewed Mattis’s absence as one of the reasons the strike proceeded, surmising that Mattis either wouldn’t have supported such a strike or wouldn’t have presented the option to the president…
* Canada’s Maple Leaf CEO says the United States shares blame for Iran plane crash, The Canadian Press, Jan 12, 2020 [The Canadian government and the country’s corporate media and elite are marching in lock-step with the Trump regime’s war moves against Iran. But the head of Canada’s largest food processor is taking a pass.]
Without batting an eye, corporate and state media in the West uses the airline tragedy over Tehran to further war aims against Iran. [Jan 13, 2020 The U.S. assassination of Iran’s leading general Qassem Soleimani on January 3, 2020 was the latest act of war by the U.S. and its allies against the people of Iran. Ongoing and now-tightening sanctions by the West against Iran are another front of that war. The assassination and the immediate threat of more military action by the U.S. and its allies is the reason for the tragic crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 over Tehran on January 8, 2020 when an Iranian air defense crew mistook the plane for an incoming U.S. missile attack. All 176 passengers and crew died in the crash. Regardless of the tragedy, Western media is keeping up the drumbeat of violent overthrow of the Iranian government, including by inciting internal protest against the Iranian government. The headline of Canada’s Globe and Mail daily on Jan 13 captures the drumbeat: ‘Outrage grows in Iran over plane downing’. An accompanying photo shows perhaps one thousand student protesters at the University of Tehran criticizing their government. The New York Times headlined on Jan 13, ‘Protests over downed jet rage in Iran’, accompanied by a photo of a much smaller crowd of student protesters. (The Times‘ article and photo was reprinted the following day by the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest-circulation daily.) A photo gallery on the U.S. government’s Voice of America propaganda outlet similarly shows relatively small protests. Never mind that in the preceding days, many millions of Iranians took to the streets across the country to honour General Soleimani and demand that the U.S. be punished for its heinous act.]
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter analyzes the collapsing intelligence claims by the Trump White House to justify the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, interview with Scott Ritter, broadcast on ‘Pushback’ (The Grayzone), Jan 12, 2020 (31-minute interview) Scott Ritter is a former UN weapons inspector, Marine Corps Intelligence Officer and author of the 2019 book ‘Dealbreaker: Donald Trump and the Unmaking of the Iran Nuclear Deal’.
Ukrainian plane brought down over Tehran ‘due to human error’ announces Iran gov’t, Press TV, Jan 11, 2020 Iran says a Ukrainian plane which crashed outside Tehran this week had flown close to a sensitive military site and been brought down due to human error “at a time of crisis caused by US adventurism.” In a statement Saturday, the general staff of the armed forces touched on the tense situation in the hours after Iran’s missile attack on US bases in Iraq, saying Tehran was on the highest level of alert “in response to threats by the criminal American president and military commanders” to hit a large number of Iranian targets…
On the same day it killed Iranian General Soleimani, U.S. tried but failed to kill another Iranian military leader, Associated Press, Jan 11, 2020 The U.S. military tried, but failed, to take out another senior Iranian commander on the same day that an American airstrike killed the Revolutionary Guard’s top general, U.S. officials said on Jan 10. The officials said a military airstrike by special operations forces targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps but the mission was not successful…
Trump wants NATO expanded to Mideast and renamed ‘NATOME’, Associated Press, Jan 9, 2020
The U.S. is imitating Daesh (ISIS) in threatening to destroy Iran’s cultural sites, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Zarif tells UN Security Council, Press TV, Jan 10, 2020 Zarif’s speech was read to the January 9 UN Security Council session by Iran’s Ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, after the U.S. refused a visa to Zarif in a clear violation of its international obligations for Zarif to attend the meeting.
Background: U.S. blocks Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif from travel to New York to attend UN Security Council meeting, Common Dreams, Jan 7, 2020
From ‘Resistance’ to assistance: Little pushback in the pages of the New York Times and Washington Post to Trump’s Iran assassination, by Alan MacLeod, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, Jan 9, 2020 When the president carries out dangerous, aggressive actions, such as the assassination of Iranian general and political leader Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3, “resistance” turns to assistance from the corporate press.
U.S. dismisses Iraq request to work on a troop withdrawal plan, Associated Press, Jan 10, 2020
Western countries accuse Iranian missiles of downing Ukraine International Airlines flight over Tehran on Jan 8, 2020. It’s a familiar accusation process. [Canada and its NATO allies are well-versed in the art of politically-driven accusations when an airline passenger tragedy intersects with political and military objectives–in this most recent case, the military objective being a continuation of decades-long aggression against Iran and its people. On July 3, 1988, a U.S. warship shot down an Iran Air Flight 655 in Iranian airspace, killing all 290 people on board (Wikipedia). The U.S. immediately told lie after lie, saying its ship had come under attack by an Iranian military plane. But the lies quickly fell apart and the U.S. issued a statement of ‘regret’ after some days. On July 17, 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine (Wikipedia). Western countries seized upon that tragedy and used their ‘official’ investigation to escalate their new cold war against Russia. The investigation has never reached a satisfactory conclusion. On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 was downed over the Atlantic Ocean by bombs planted on board while flying from Montreal to London. The subsequent investigation and prosecution by Canadian police and courts lasted almost 20 years and resulted in acquittals of the two accused. Key surveillance files were destroyed by police before a trial of two accused finally got underway, in 2003! (Wikipedia).] Related: Ukraine airliner tragedy evokes memories of Iran Air shootdown by U.S. in 1988 and Cubana Flight 455 bombing on Oct 6, 1976, Common Dreams, Jan 10, 2020
Black Britons know why Meghan Markle wants out, it’s the racism, commentary by Afua Hirsch, New York Times, Jan 9, 2020 …If the media paid more attention to Britain’s communities of color, perhaps it would find the announcement by Prince Harry and Megan Markle they want out of royal duties far less surprising. With a new prime minister whose track record includes overtly racist statements, some of which would make even Donald Trump blush, a Brexit project linked to native nationalism and a desire to rid Britain of large numbers of immigrants, and an ever thickening loom of imperial nostalgia, many of us are also thinking about moving…
Related: Black Britons wonder what took Harry and Meghan so long, by Ceylan Yeginsu, New York Times, Jan 11, 2020
U.S. and Iran avoid war, but Trump’s war-mongering goes on, interview with Sina Toossi, senior research analyst at the National Iranian American Council, broadcast on ‘Pushback (The Grayzone), with host Aaron Maté, Jan 9, 2020 (16-minute interview)
Related: Its missiles did little damage, but Iran has more potent weapons, New York Times, Jan 9, 2020
Canadian gov’t can’t properly serve the interests of airline safety nor the families of victims of the Jan 8 airline crash in Tehran due to Conservative gov’t’s decision in 2012 to sever diplomat ties with Iran, left in place by Liberal gov’ts elected in 2015 and 2019. Report by CBC News, Jan 8, 2020 [Fifty seven Canadians, mostly Iranian-Canadians, died in the Jan 8 crash (corrected from the original announcement of 63). A total of 138 passengers were en route to Toronto, out of 176 passengers and crew. The safety of those traveling between Canada and Iran has been compromised for nearly ten years by Canada’s banning of direct flights to and from Iran. Most European countries, too, have followed Washington’s diktats and cut direct flights to and from Iran. Passengers are obliged to fly through third countries on secondary airlines due to the harsh, anti-Iran air travel bans. In this case, passengers were flying to Kyiv on board ‘Ukraine International Airlines’, then on to Toronto.]
Largest-ever strike in India shakes up Modi government, by Subodh Varma, Newsclick (India), Jan 8, 2020 Workers in industries, banks, transport, ports and government offices stopped work, They were joined by farmers and rural labourers as well as students in over 60 universities and institutions.
Related: Diary of an Indian uprising, by Vijay Prashad, Newsclick, Jan 9, 2020
Juan Guaido installs parallel National Assembly in Venezuela as Washington threatens more sanctions, by Ricardo Vaz, Venezuela Analysis, Jan 8, 2020
* Venezuela opposition breaks up in National Assembly, published in Resumen Latino America, Jan 5, 2020
* This might be the final episode of Juan Guaidó’s surreal regime change reality show, by Leonardo Flores, The Grayzone, Jan 8, 2020
* For Western press, the only coup in Venezuela is the one they claim to be against Juan Guaidó, by Lucas Koerner, FAIR.org, Jan 10, 2020
A view from Tehran: Iranian professor condemns U.S. aggression and warns U.S.-backed Gulf states, interview with Professor Mohammad Marandi (Tehran University), broadcast on Democracy Now!, Jan 8, 2020 (28-minute interview)
More than 180 events planned across U.S. to protest Trump’s march to war with Iran, Common Dreams, Jan 8, 2020
Iran fires warning against U.S. with missile attacks against two U.S. airbases in Iraq, news updates on Al Jazeera, Jan 8, 2020
* Tehran’s moderate retaliation paves way for de-escalation, commentary on Deutsche Welle, Jan 8, 2020
* Trump re-election campaign seizes on Soleimani killing, Associated Press, Jan 8, 2020
* Trump is running hundreds of Facebook ads praising himself for the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Buzzfeed News, Jan 7, 2020
* The evolving U.S. justification for killing Iran’s top general, CNN, Jan 8, 2020
* Special UN rapporteur on extrajudicial executions demands official UN probe of Soleimani assassination, Common Dreams, Jan 7, 2020
Dialogue roundtable in Venezuelan agrees on release of 14 prisoners, supports Luis Parra as National Assembly president replacing Washington’s and Ottawa’s lackey Juan Guaido, by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, Jan 6, 2020 The National Roundtable for Peaceful Dialogue announced on Jan 6 the release of 14 more jailed opposition figures. The majority of those freed were arrested during violent anti-government street protests looking to oust President Nicolas Maduro by force in 2014 and 2017. The protests left over 40 and 120 people dead, respectively… The roundtable meeting on Jan 6 came one day after self-declared ‘interim President’ Juan Guaido failed to secure reelection as head of the National Assembly. He was replaced by the more moderate opposition lawmaker Luis Parra…
* Fractured opposition replaces U.S. and Canada’s lackey Juan Guaido as head of Venezuelan National Assembly, by Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz, Venezuela Analysis, Jan 5, 2020 …Last month, a group of opposition legislators broke with Guaido following a new corruption scandal engulfing senior National Assembly deputies accused of accepting kickbacks from a Colombian businessman purportedly linked to Venezuela’s CLAP food program…
* New York Times acknowledges, laments coup plans in Venezuela by U.S., Canada and Europe have suffered major setback. Article in New York Times, Jan 6, 2020
Millions bid farewell to hero General Qassem Soleimani at hometown funeral in Kerman, southeastern Iran, Press TV, Jan 7, 2020 …A separate mass funeral was held for Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), in the southwestern city of Abadan. From there, his body will be transferred to Khorramshahr and Shalamcheh in Iran’s Khuzestan Province for similar mourning ceremonies… …An estimated seven million mourners packed an 11-kilometer thoroughfare in Tehran during a funeral ceremony on Jan 6…
* Millions pack the streets of Tehran on Jan 6 to pay homage to Major-General Qassem Soleimani, Press TV, Jan 6, 2020 …Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis chanting ‘Death to America’ joined the funeral procession for Gen. Soleimani and Iraq’s anti-terror commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad and the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iran on Jan 4…
* Iranians flood Twitter with photos of favorite cultural sites after Trump creature threatens sites with destruction. Report by Common Dreams, Jan 5, 2020
NATO imperialist alliance stands with U.S. after Soleimani assassination, says Iran must avoid ‘further violence’, Al-Jazeera, Jan 6, 2020
* After drone-killing U.S. regime stages murderous rampage, leaders of Germany, France and UK meet and tell Iran to ‘de-escalate’. Report in Deutsche Welle, Jan 6, 2020
* NATO ‘training mission’ in Iraq led by U.S. stooge Canada will stay, NATO meeting in Brussels declares. Report by Canadian Press, Jan 6, 2020
Middle East writer Patrick Cockburn blandly terms U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani part of a ‘US-Iranian rivalry’ and a ‘proxy war’ being fought at the expense of the Iraqi people. Article by Patrick Cockburn, published in The Independent, Jan 4, 2020 [Patrick Cockburn has long been treated as an authority on Middle East politics by certain left-wing publications, notably in the eclectic CounterPunch where he appears regularly as a proxy columnist. But his columns in the past few days show him to be a writer promoting some of the worst prejudices of Western media against the Iraqi and Iranian people (and Syrian people before that). Above is a reference and weblink to his column of January 4. In his latest column, on January 6, he describes the U.S. and Iran as “two outside powers” fighting for domination of Iraq and its people. The victims in the latest, murderous assault by the U.S. are not the Iraqi AND Iranian people, even though they have been attacked by U.S. imperialism for decades. No, the victim is a poor, hapless Iraq, caught between two ‘outside powers’. There is not a word of outrage in Cockburn’s writing over the criminal U.S. killing of General Soleimanie nor a word of the great peril to the entire world of the heinous act.]
* Right-wing socialists in Ontario publish second attack in three days against the people of Iran, Jan 7, 2020. [For the second time in three days, the right-wing socialists of the ‘Socialist Project’ have published a statement by Iranian exiles snearing at the righteous indignation of the Iranian people following the heinous assassination on January 3, 2019 of Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani by the Trump regime in Washington. The two statements are published in The Bullet, the online bulletin of the ‘Socialist Project’, an academic think tank based in Toronto and Ottawa. The statements do not appear on the website of the publication, only in email bulletin form. They can be read here (Jan 7, 2020) and here (Jan 5, 2020). The rambling statement published on January 7 is full of violent rhetoric and scaremongering, calling for ‘class war’ internationally. It says not a word about the decades of violence and regime-change sabotage directed by Washington and its allies against the people of Iran, including the harsh economic sanctions in place for decades. The statement reads, in part, …”The US military’s assassination of Qasem Soleimani, one of the top military commanders of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s expansionist regional policies and its proxy wars in the Middle East, can lead to retaliation by the Islamic regime. Such retaliation, the threat of further US retaliation and a chain reaction could further destabilize the region and endanger the lives of thousands of Iraqis, Iranians and other ordinary people in the Middle East.”] * Anti-Iran bias has long predominated in the pages of The Intercept, Jan 7, 2020. [Anti-Russia bias and Russiagate conspiracy mongering have long predominated in the pages of The Intercept. It has also consistently voiced sympathies for violent regime-change in Syria. These pro-imperialist positions are similar to those taken by Democracy Now! Parallel to all this is are the two publications’ hostility to the government and people of Iran. Iranian-supported military forces in Iraq and Syria have played an indispensable role in the war against the extreme-right ISIS. The assassinated General Qassem Soleimani was the central leader in this war. He and the anti-ISIS forces he helped to lead have played a far more consequential role in the battle against ISIS compared to the forces supported (or manipulated) by the U.S. and its imperialist allies, including among the Kurdish forces that the U.S. encouraged but only lightly armed. This lengthy, ‘special’ report in The Intercept from November 2019 entirely ignored this indispensable role which Iran-supported forces were playing in the war against ISIS. Instead, it promoted a conspiratorial and right-wing view of Iran as being a dastardly rival to the U.S. for domination of the Middle East, equally dangerous and equally illegitimate as the U.S. In a follow-up commentary published in The Intercept on January 9, 2020, a co-author of the November article, James Risen, regrets the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, but not on moral or anti-imperialist grounds. No, he writes instead, “The threat of retaliation has always been one of the most potent arguments against the use of assassination as a national security [sic] tool.”]
Stop the war, stop U.S. empire, by Greg Shupak, Jacobin Magazine, Jan 5, 2020
Iraqi PM reveals Soleimani was on peace mission when assassinated, exploding Trump’s lie of ‘imminent attacks‘, by Max Blumenthal, The Grayzone, January 6, 2020 The Trump administration claimed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was planning “imminent attacks” on US interests when it assassinated him. That lie was just destroyed, but not before countless corporate media outlets transmitted it to the public.
Trump’s march to war against Iran aided by Democrats’ weakness on sanctions and U.S. abrogation of 2015 nuclear deal, interview with Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, broadcast on ‘Pushback’ (The Grayzone), with host Aaron Maté, Jan 4, 2020 (22-minute interview) Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, discusses Trump’s radical neocon agenda in Iran and how Democratic votes for new sanctions against Tehran helped lay the groundwork for the current crisis.
Iraqi parliament votes to end U.S. troop presence, The National (UAE), Jan 5, 2020
Iraq’s parliament held an extraordinary session on January 5 and voted to end the presence of foreign troops and to lodge an official complaint against the U.S. over the drone killing of Qassem Suleiman. On Jan 3, regional tensions were dramatically escalated after Suleimani was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.
The extraordinary session on Jan 5 was led by outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. He resigned earlier last week following protests at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad but is in office until a replacement has been decided. Parliament voted on a five-point action plan that would require the Iraqi government to end the presence of foreign troops in the country and withdraw its request for assistance from the anti-ISIS global coalition. This would require new legislation to cancel the existing agreement.
In attendance at the session were 173 of the 329 Iraqi MPs. The request for the vote was put forward on Sunday by the largest bloc in the legislature, known as Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the Iran-backed paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Units. Late on Jan 4, missiles hit the Baghdad enclave where the U.S. embassy is located and an airbase north of the capital housing U.S. troops, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten strikes on 52 sites in Iran. Parliament also called on the government to ban the use of Iraqi airspace by any foreign power… Mr Abdul Mahdi said asking the U.S. forces to leave “would be the best option to establish a strong friendship with the US and other countries, based on mutual respect for sovereignty”…
Related: From timeline report in Associated Press, Jan 5, 2020:
Iraq’s parliament has voted to expel the U.S. military from the country. Lawmakers voted on Jan 5 in favor of a resolution that calls for ending foreign military presence in the country. The resolution’s main aim is to get the U.S. to withdraw some 5,000 U.S. troops present in different parts of Iraq. The vote comes two days after a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani inside Iraq, dramatically increasing regional tensions. The resolution was backed by most Shiite members of parliament, who hold a majority of seats. Many Sunni and Kurdish legislators did not show up for the session, apparently because they oppose abolishing the deal.
Thousands take to streets in more than 70 cities across U.S. to protest Trump’s ‘reckless acts of war’ against Iran, Common Dreams, Jan 4, 2020
Related: Senator Bernie Sanders condemns the U.S. assassination-by drone of Major General Qassem Soleimani, seven-minute speech by Bernie Sanders, delivered on Jan 3, 2020
With Suleimani assassination-by-drone, Trump is doing the bidding of Washington’s most vile cabal, by Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept, Jan 3, 2020 … Assassination has been a central component of U.S. policy for many decades, though it has been whitewashed and normalized throughout history, most recently with Obama’s favored term, “targeted killings”… While many Democratic politicians are offering their concerns about the consequences of Suleimani’s assassination, they are prefacing it with remarks about how atrocious Suleimani was. Framing his assassination that way ultimately benefits the extremist cabal of foreign policy hawks who agitated for this very moment to arrive… For three years, many Democrats have told the country that Trump is the gravest threat to a democratic system we have faced. And yet many leading Democrats have voted consistently to give Trump unprecedented military budgets and surveillance powers…
Trump creature threatens bombing of cultural sites in Iran, considered a war crime under int’l law. Report in Washington Post, Jan 5, 2020
A shocked Iraq reconsiders its relationship with the U.S., New York Times, Jan 4, 2020 …The drone strike on General Suleimani “was a clear breach of the terms of the American forces’ presence,” Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said. He added the Iraqi Parliament will meet in the coming days to consider “appropriate measures to preserve the dignity of Iraq and its security and sovereignty,” including whether to ask the Americans to leave… The United States has nearly 5,000 troops in Iraq on a handful of bases… [Its junior partner Canada has 850 soldiers in the country, mostly in the kurdish region in the north.] …When militia fighters marched on the American embassy on Dec 31 to attack it, Iraqi security forces stepped aside to let them pass. As the protesters lay siege to the embassy, setting fire to buildings and effectively blockading embassy personnel in the embassy overnight, Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi found that he was powerless to get them to leave. For 24 hours, he held almost constant emergency meetings with the militia leaders, urging them to withdraw, according to officials involved in the meetings. “Please, you are putting me in a critical situation,” he begged, according to Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf. “We are a state, and we have to conduct ourselves as a state. We have to protect these embassies.” He finally persuaded the militia leaders to withdraw their forces only by threatening to leave his job and “leave the country to chaos,” according to Iraqi officials familiar with the exchanges…
Related: U.S. and allies suspend training of Iraqi forces, Reuters, Jan 3, 2020
U.S. assassinates Iran’s Major-General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, Press TV, Jan 3, 2020
* Who was Major-General Qassem Soleimani?, Press TV, Jan 3, 2020
* Angry Iranians rally in huge numbers to call for revenge over U.S. assassinations, Press TV, Jan 3, 2020
* Trump just declared war against Iran, by Fred Kaplan, Slate.com, Jan 3, 2020 There’s no other way to look at the killing of Qassem Soleimani.
* ‘A more dangerous world’: Drone killing against top Iranian general triggers global alarm, Associated Press, Jan 3, 2020 …German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer described the U.S. strike as “a reaction to a whole series of military provocations for which Iran bears responsibility,” pointing to attacks on tankers and a Saudi oil facility, among other events… The British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said “we have always recognized the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani.” …
* Fear of a major Mideast war, by Joe Lauria, editor, Consortium News, Jan 3, 2020
* Jeremy Corbyn demands UK ‘stand up to belligerent U.S.’ after Iran’s Soleimani killed, The Mirror, Jan 3, 2020 The outgoing Labour leader is among a host of left-wing figures urging the UK to condemn Donald Trump’s administration – which spoke to Britain today after launching an airstrike on Iranian General Qasem Soleiman
* Trump’s new year drone killing of Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani finally blows up the fake Russiagate narrative, commentary by Neil Clark, RT, Jan 3, 2020 [This important commentary is only available on RT, a publication whose editors and most of whose writers have otherwise long-promoted the naive (or malevolent) view that Donald Trump seeks ‘peace’ in the world but is blocked from achieving this by a U.S. ‘deep state’.].
* Interview with Aaron Maté on U.S. drone attack against Iran, broadcast on ‘Rising’ (The Hill), Jan 3, 2020 (nine-minute broadcast)
* Two opposing views on U.S. aggression against Iran.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group CodePink, on Twitter: Let’s be clear, Trump is not responding to Iranian aggression. TRUMP IS THE AGGRESSOR. He is the one who tore up the nuclear deal that Iran had agreed to and adhered to. TRUMP IS THE AGGRESSOR. Period.
Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Party candidate for 2020 presidential election nomination, on Twitter:
Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.
U.S. railroads are slashing workers, cheered on by Wall Street to stay profitable amid Trump’s trade war, by Heather Long, Washington Post, Jan 3, 2020 …More than 20,000 rail workers have lost their jobs in the past year, the biggest layoffs in rail since the Great Recession and a nearly 10 percent decline in rail employment, according to Labor Department data through November…
OPCW leaks expose ‘criminal’ Syria cover-up — and U.S. media is silent, interview with award-winning MIT professor Theodore Postol, broadcast on ‘Pushback’ (The Grayzone), with host Aaron Maté, Jan 2, 2020 (31-minute interview) The U.S. media continues to ignore one of 2019’s top scandals: a cover-up inside the UN’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that was used to justify U.S.-led military strikes on Syria in April 2018.
For a second day, protests in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq against U.S. presence in the country, Al Jazeera, Jan 1, 2020 Hundreds of Iraqi members of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and their supporters hurled stones at the United States embassy in Baghdad for a second day on Jan 1 while security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades in a bid to drive them away. U.S. troops also fired tear gas to disperse the protests, led by the Iranian-backed PMF, an umbrella grouping of paramilitary organisations that mostly consists of Iranian-backed Shia militias and that was integrated into Iraq’s armed forces…
Related: Protesters leave U.S. embassy zone in Baghdad, establish protest camp across the Tigris River, Al Jazeera, Jan 1, 2020
Iran re-opens truck assembly plant after German firms obeyed U.S. sanctions and left the joint venture, Press TV, Jan 1, 2020
Related: Iran says sanctions have lost steam, economy recovering, Press TV, Dec 18, 2019
Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul was even worse than we thought, by Ryan Bort, Rolling Stone, Dec 31, 2019
Related: Farmers got billions from taxpayers in 2019 and hardly anyone objected, National Public Radio, Dec 31, 2019
Venezuela is quietly ramping up oil production, Oil Price.com, Dec 31, 2019
Interview with 30-year old union leader Andrónico Rodríguez in Bolivia, potential successor to Evo Morales as presidential candidate of the MAS party, by Wyatt Reid, The Grayzone, Dec 28, 2019 (interview written in print form)