Category Archives: Political Science

Meet New Zealand’s New foreign minister

Nov 3, 2020
New Zealand was the first country in the world to grant women the vote, and now the progressive island nation is making history again by appointing a woman with a facial tattoo as its first female foreign minister.
Nanaia Mahuta – who has a moko kauae, a traditional Maori tattoo on the chin – replaces Winston Peters in the role after he was ousted from parliament in last month’s election.
‘I follow in the line of a long legacy of firsts for women, and I hope that many other women of Maori descent, mixed descent, across New Zealand will see this as lifting the ceiling once again on areas that have been very much closed to us in terms of professional opportunities.’
Mahuta said she will continue to pursue a ‘progressive trade agenda’ for New Zealand as Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government marks its second term in office after a landslide victory last month.
‘What we know more than ever before in the Covid context is that, as a small country, we need to develop our relationships and remain committed to a multilateral, rules-based trade system that works for New Zealand.’
Mahuta’s moko tattoo incorporates the traditional carving patterns of her tribe and marks the anniversary of her father’s death.
‘Moko is a statement of identity, like a passport,’ the politician told the Guardian. ‘I am at a time in my life where I am ready to make a clear statement that this is who I am, and this is my position in New Zealand.’

MORE: https://on.rt.com/attx

The US Empire Is A Smiley-Faced Serial Killer

Waiting for the results of the US presidential election is like waiting to find out if you’re going to get hit by the mugger with the bat or the mugger with the crowbar.

Dave Calhoun, CEO of top war profiteer company Boeing, said back in July that he’ll be quite happy regardless of what happens on November third.

“I think both candidates, at least in my view, appear globally oriented and interested in the defense of our country and I believe they’ll support the industries,” Calhoun said. “I don’t think we’re going to take a position on one being better than the other.”

And of course, he didn’t take such a position. Why would he? Arms manufacturers have been pouring money into the campaigns of both candidates, and they both know that no matter who wins the presidential election they’re going to reap highly profitable mountains of corpses. Since they know they win no matter who wins, why risk offending a future business partner?

The fact that war plutocrats are happy with either candidate tells you more about the reality of this presidential race than all the billions of dollars worth of mass media reporting and punditry that’s gone into it over the last two years combined. No matter what happens in the election and its aftermath, this is the real headline.

It’s so unspeakably insane that people can become unimaginably wealthy by using campaign donations to help warmongering politicians rise to the top of the political system of the most bloodthirsty government on earth and then selling the weapons used in the wars those politicians start.

Really, just think about that for a second. Imagine if someone said “I’m going to become a billionaire by killing people in the Middle East and Africa and selling their organs on the black market.”

That would be insane, right? That person would immediately be branded the most disgusting person in the world.

But if someone becomes a billionaire by starting wars in the Middle East and Africa and selling the weapons used to kill the same number of people in those wars, they’re considered industrious businessmen and philanthropists.

They did functionally exactly the same thing as someone killing those people and selling their organs, but their evil is completely invisible to the scrutiny of the mass media which informs the way people think, act and vote. War profiteers pour money into political campaigns, think tanks, mass media advertising and other narrative management operations which have the direct result of more mass military violence and more public support for it, but they are seldom even criticized for that depravity let alone held accountable for it.

The more you think about it, the creepier it gets. This is true not just of the military-industrial complex, but of the US-centralized empire as a whole.

There is nothing more creepy than the close power alliance loosely centralized around the United States which functions as a single empire on foreign policy.

Its leaders promote ideals like “freedom” and “democracy” while brutalizing any nation which disobeys its dictates and squeezing its own populace with increasingly authoritarian measures.

They extol the virtues of “human rights” while butchering human beings around the world whenever it is geostrategically convenient.

Their media virtually never point out the fact that their government is never not murdering human beings to fill the coffers of war profiteers and ensure unipolar planetary hegemony, but they will churn out sitcoms and feel-good stories about unity and togetherness like no one’s business.

The reality that they are riding on the parade float dressing of an insatiable death machine is carefully concealed from the denizens of this murderous empire, and instead, they are fed a constant Hollywood diet of movies and shows about how fun and hilarious and awesome their country is.

The US empire is a serial killer with a horrifying grin stretched over its blood-spattered face. A smiley-faced psychopath babbling about civil rights and the importance of inclusive language while chopping a Yemeni child to pieces.

Once you’ve seen it, you can never see the smiling nice guy again.

Survive The Night GIF by THE PURGE: ANARCHY - Find & Share on GIPHY

Despite all the partisan shrieking and melodrama and hyperbole, Trump is not uniquely evil.

Despite all the partisan shrieking and melodrama and hyperbole, Biden is not uniquely evil.

What’s uniquely evil is the murderous globe-spanning empire which dictates the fate of our species fueled on human blood and posing as a nice guy. Our world has never seen anything quite like it. It is a one of a kind monster.

Only deeply depraved people are capable of serving such a deeply depraved machine, and only deeply depraved people will ever be given an opportunity to. Trump and Biden are not unique in their depravity. They’re not even remarkable. They’re just the next in line to serve at the front desk of the smiley-faced murder factory.

This will be the case regardless of who is inaugurated on January 20th. It should remain at the forefront of everyone’s attention above the hysterical partisan fray. Ignore the drama over who gets to be DeathCorp’s secretary and keep your gaze fixed on the smiling killer.

_____________________________

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CHINA MAKES CHICKENS OUT OF CANADA AND AUSTRALIA

Thomas Hon Wing Polin21SilkRd

1thSpo1hohnsoreid  

Why Canada must release Meng Wanzhou

· CHINA MAKES CHICKENS OUT OF CANADA AND AUSTRALIA

“For the superior man, waiting ten years to take revenge is not too long.” So goes a famous Chinese saying.The opening anecdote in the accompanying story (below) perfectly illustrates the maxim. While the junzi (Confucian “gentleman,” or superior person) is infinitely patient, he also ensures that depraved criminality does NOT go punished.So it will be with the scurrilous kidnapping of Meng Wanzhou. The atrocity has been seared into the braincells of all Chinese. Unless they repent and make profuse amends, the chief culprits will be punished by the Chinese nation in due course.These will include PC “Woke” Trudeau, Porkface Pompeo and probably their godfather, Donald Trump. Beijing’s steeliness throughout the two-year-old affair is a hint of things to come.In a parallel case, the vengeance isn’t waiting a decade, but has already arrived.

On the receiving end is Australia’s Scott Moronson regime. With awe-inspiring enthusiasm, it became the pack-leading attack dog in the Trump regime’s drive to demonize China and the Chinese.Three Chinese hammer blows have already descended on the Not-So-Lucky Country: boycott of critical exports of coal, cotton and iron ore. Other strikes about to descend are withdrawal of Chinese tourists and students.

Big China bullying two small Anglo nations? Hardly. Here’s where another Chinese saying comes in: “Kill the chicken to scare the monkeys.”In their eagerness to please their Uncle, Sam, Canadian and Australian authorities treated Chinese like sub-humans. They are simply being reminded, in ways they would understand, that it’s not wise to do so. They’re the chickens. Other would-be US allies-in-depravity are the monkeys.From the piece below, which brilliantly exposes the Meng case as the farce it is:“The outcome of this judicial kidnapping will determine US and Canadian China policy for decades to come: whether a rapprochement is possible in the future, or whether relations will spiral into a cycle of acrimony, vengeance, and ultimately catastrophe.“What is on trial, of course, is not Meng, or Huawei, but the judicial system of Canada and the conscience, good sense, and ethics of its ruling class: whether it will uphold or undermine international notions of justice.“If the Canadian judiciary and its ruling classes fail this test, Canada risks being driven, metaphorically, into the sea by a determined Chinese leadership. The global community that upholds international justice could only concur.”

“For the superior man, waiting ten years to take revenge is not too long.” So goes a famous Chinese saying.The opening anecdote in the accompanying story (below) perfectly illustrates the maxim. While the junzi (Confucian “gentleman,” or superior person) is infinitely patient, he also ensures that depraved criminality does NOT go punished.So it will be with the scurrilous kidnapping of Meng Wanzhou.

The atrocity has been seared into the braincells of all Chinese. Unless they repent and make profuse amends, the chief culprits will be punished by the Chinese nation in due course.These will include PC “Woke” Trudeau, Porkface Pompeo and probably their godfather, Donald Trump. Beijing’s steeliness throughout the two-year-old affair is a hint of things to come.In a parallel case, the vengeance isn’t waiting a decade, but has already arrived. On the receiving end is Australia’s Scott Moronson regime. With awe-inspiring enthusiasm, it became the pack-leading attack dog in the Trump regime’s drive to demonize China and the Chinese.Three Chinese hammer blows have already descended on the Not-So-Lucky Country: boycott of critical exports of coal, cotton and iron ore. Other strikes about to descend are withdrawal of Chinese tourists and students.Big China bullying two small Anglo nations? Hardly. Here’s where another Chinese saying comes in: “Kill the chicken to scare the monkeys.”In their eagerness to please their Uncle, Sam, Canadian and Australian authorities treated Chinese like sub-humans. They are simply being reminded, in ways they would understand, that it’s not wise to do so. They’re the chickens. Other would-be US allies-in-depravity are the monkeys.From the piece below, which brilliantly exposes the Meng case as the farce it is:“The outcome of this judicial kidnapping will determine US and Canadian China policy for decades to come: whether a rapprochement is possible in the future, or whether relations will spiral into a cycle of acrimony, vengeance, and ultimately catastrophe.“What is on trial, of course, is not Meng, or Huawei, but the judicial system of Canada and the conscience, good sense, and ethics of its ruling class: whether it will uphold or undermine international notions of justice.“If the Canadian judiciary and its ruling classes fail this test, Canada risks being driven, metaphorically, into the sea by a determined Chinese leadership. The global community that upholds international justice could only concur.”

Why Canada must release Meng Wanzhou

Why Canada must release Meng Wanzhou

Why Canada must release Meng Wanzhou

Like ‘kidnappings’ of the past, the arrest of Huawei’s CFO could bode ill for the ‘abductor’
asiatimes.com
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou leaves the British Columbia Supreme Court on May 27, 2020. Photo: AFP / Don MacKinnon

Few things are as dangerous as a poorly thought-out kidnapping. Kidnappings are serious business, often with unintended consequences. History is replete with dimwitted criminals who engaged in them on a whim, only to discover adverse outcomes far beyond their imagining. One dramatic example happened 90 years ago this week.

On October 24, a mother with young children is kidnapped. She is the cherished wife of an important man whom the kidnapper’s gang is in competition with. The plan is that by abducting her, the kidnapper will create unbearable psychological pressure on her husband, force him to capitulate, or at least damage his resolve.

The woman is first humiliated, then tortured, then killed. But the leader does not capitulate, break, or weaken. Instead, over the next 19 years, he wages war without quarter on his enemies and eventually drives them into the sea. Decades later, he will write this poem for her:

The lonely goddess in the moon spreads her ample sleeves
To dance for these faithful souls in the endless sky.
Of a sudden comes word of the tiger’s defeat on earth,
And they break into tears of torrential rain
.

The poet, of course, was Mao Zedong. The kidnapped woman was the beloved wife of Chairman Mao, Yang Kaihui, the mother of his three children. In the winter of 1930, the Kuomintang kidnapped her and her son, in order to demoralize Mao and put pressure on him to capitulate. She was executed in Changsha, on November 14, in front of her children, at the ripe age of 29.

Though utterly helpless while she was being held hostage, Mao never forgave the kidnappers for their depravity, cowardice, and misogyny – victimizing women and children as weapons in a war – and he ground his enemies into the dust, and then built a state where such atrocities could never occur or go unpunished again.

The state-directed, extraterritorial kidnapping of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is widely seen as a similar act of infamy, misogyny and thuggery, by a similar class of disreputable individuals.

“Lawless, reasonless, ruthless … vicious” is the official diplomatic pronouncement of the Chinese government. It is certainly a violation of international law. How this will play out ultimately, and what retribution will be meted out, remains to be seen, but retribution there will surely be for this “extremely vicious” act.

George Koo has pointed out the “rotten underpinnings of the case” in a previous Asia Times article. Most people understand that Meng is not guilty of anything other than being the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei.

Huawei, as a global technological powerhouse, represents Chinese power and Chinese technical prowess, which the United States is hell-bent on destroying. Meng has been kidnapped as a pawn, as a hostage to exert pressure on Huawei and the Chinese government, and to curb China’s development.

In a maneuver reminiscent of medieval or colonial warfare, the US has explicitly offered to release her if China capitulates on a trade deal – making clear that she is being held hostage. This constitutes a violation of the UN Convention on Hostages.

The outcome of this judicial kidnapping will determine US and Canadian China policy for decades to come: whether a rapprochement is possible in the future, or whether relations will spiral into a cycle of acrimony, vengeance, and ultimately catastrophe.

What is on trial, of course, is not Meng, or Huawei, but the judicial system of Canada and the conscience, good sense, and ethics of its ruling class: whether it will uphold or undermine international notions of justice.

If the Canadian judiciary and its ruling classes fail this test, Canada risks being driven, metaphorically, into the sea by a determined Chinese leadership. The global community that upholds international justice could only concur.

Key facts about the Meng Wanzhou case

The Canadian government arrested Meng on December 1, 2018, as she was transiting Vancouver on a flight to Mexico. The arrest was made on the demand of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The initial charge was “fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud to circumvent US sanctions on Iran.”

Of course, the US government knew quickly that these allegations could not constitute an extraditable charge. Ottawa does not subscribe to US sanctions against Iran – it actively encourages trade with Iran – and therefore business dealings with that country could hardly be a crime in Canada.

In fact, the unilateral US sanctions are a violation of international law.  Furthermore, like most jurisdictions in the world, Canada has a requirement of “double criminality”: unless the alleged crime is a crime in both jurisdictions, you cannot extradite.

So an alternative case had to be constructed. The case that was concocted alleged that because Meng had lied to a bank, she must be extradited for fraud. Of course, the bank was British (HSBC), the “crime” happened in Hong Kong, the accused was a Chinese national, and the arrest was in Canada. Hence she must be extradited to the US for “fraud.”

As a setup for a lame joke this would not pass, and as a legal argument it is beyond farce.  The US court claimed standing to charge her because transactions with HSBC had, or would have, transited US servers in New York for a few milliseconds.

Here are some key things to remember about this case:

  1. Even if the allegations of so-called “fraud” were true, without the political pressures, such an issue would largely be a private matter between HSBC and Meng.
  2. None of the transactions between HSBC and Meng occurred in the US. The funds only transited through the US system because of the way of the global banking system is set up for dollar clearance – this was the pretextual technicality used for jurisdiction and charging. (The funds could equally have been set up to transit through an alternative system, bypassing US servers and risk.)
  3. No non-US person has ever been charged for “causing” a non-US bank to violate US sanctions in the past. In similar cases, it’s usually a small fine to a corporation.
  4. It has been shown that the US attempted the abduction of Meng in six European and Latin American countries, all of which rejected US demands. The US decided on Meng’s momentary transit through Canada because it considered Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to be the most pliable and sycophantic to its cause.
  5. US President Donald Trump has made statements that Meng could be used as a bargaining chip in the US-China trade deal, showing the clearly political nature of the arrest. Confidential Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) documents also note that the arrest was “highly political.” It’s widely suspected that the law-breaking John Bolton was the instigator behind the action.
  6. HSBC was already under prosecution by the US government for prior unrelated violations; rather than doing due diligence in their loan or clearance processes or the law, it decided to collaborate with the US government to entrap Huawei and Meng.
  7. The arrest itself involved massive abuses of process: irregularities in detention, notification, search, seizure, constituting themselves violations of international law and bilateral agreements.
  8. The court case has also been full of abuses, including the hiding of key exculpatory documents by the prosecution; and denial of access to key documents to the defense (on the basis of national security and “damage to China-Canada relations”).
  9. The Trudeau government is going on with charade that it is a hapless damsel obliged to follow US strong-arm demands. But Section 23 of the Canadian Extradition Act gives the government the authority to terminate this case at any time. Extradition is made on the discretion of the government, and by refusing to act, the Trudeau administration is abdicating its responsibilities to the Canadian people and the cause of justice.

The fraudulent charge of fraud

Meng Wanzhou’s lawyer has argued, “It is a fiction that the US has any interest in policing interactions between a private bank and a private citizen halfway around the world.… It’s all about sanctions.”

Jurisprudence upholds this: For a fraud charge against Meng to stick, it would have to show 1) deliberate misrepresentation/deception to HSBC as well as 2) harm or risk of harm to HSBC. In other words, Meng’s lies would have put HSBC at risk for fines and penalties for sanctions busting.

Note, however, that the bank could not have been held liable, if it could be shown that they had been “deceived” into breaching US sanctions by Meng as alleged. If Meng had “lied” to the bank, no harm could have occurred to the bank. The bank would have needed to act deliberately to face any risk of liability.

On the other hand, documents, slides and e-mails released later actually show that HSBC had been informed of the relationship between Skycom and Huawei before Meng’s testimony as well as during the meeting, so the allegation of deception doesn’t hold up.  (Slides 6 and 16 used in Meng’s presentation to HSBC were omitted to make it seem as if she had deceived the bank, but in full context, show there was no deception.)

The conclusion is simple: There was either no lie, or no harm. Regardless, there was no fraud.

In other words, the Canadian government had no case.

Double criminality and Justice Holmes

Heather Holmes, associate chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, presided over Meng’s interrogation. Like the fascist KMT warlord who kidnapped and tortured Yang Kaihui, she interrogated Meng Wanzhou and her lawyer in sibilant tones. Tell me about “double criminality,” she entreated gently, as if their arguments would be weighed in her judgment.

Meng’s lawyer, Richard Peck, answered with common sense: Because Canada doesn’t have sanctions against Iran, there would be no liability to the bank, hence no risk to the bank, hence no criminal “fraud.”

It also couldn’t constitute fraud in the US, since if what the government argued was true – that Meng had misrepresented facts to the bank – HSBC would not be liable because the bank would be an “innocent victim,” hence not liable for any sanctions.

“All risk is driven by sanctions risk in the US,” Peck stated.

Astonishingly, Justice Holmes ruled against Meng, claiming that one should not look for correspondence or equivalence between the statutes to determine “double criminality” in fraud. Instead, she claimed that one had to transpose the context and the coherence of the statues of the demanding country to render a decision.

Even though Canada didn’t have sanctions against Iran (thus no illegality or risk of harm, and hence no fraud), she stated that she still had to interpret the demand for extradition by “transposing the environment” that led the US to make the demand. In other words, Canada had no sanctions on Iran, but she had to imagine “the environment” – in other words, “as if Canada had sanctions on Iran” – to render the decision.

In so doing, she was able to smuggle in illegal US sanctions by installing a legal back door – into a country that had lifted sanctions.

In other words, the illegal “environment” of US sanctions overruled the clear, plain letter of Canadian law. Neither was any consideration given to the odious political “environment” driving the abduction.

Why did the good judge see fit to make a mockery of Canada’s own laws and sovereignty, and subjugate Canada to US extraterritoriality? Why did she contort herself to support the blatant illegality of US sanctions? Does she realize she has set her country barreling down the wrong lane of history?

It’s not known if Justice Holmes asked for the clerk to bring her a basin of maple syrup to wash her hands after she passed judgment. But it would have been understandable for such a corrupt, consequential, and deeply catastrophic judgment.

But why is US going after Huawei?

China has been designated the official enemy (“revisionist power”) of the US, because it poses a threat to US dominance. As such, the US is engaged in “multi-domain” hybrid warfare against China to attack and bring China down.

The domains of warfare that involve the US assaults against Huawei are the domains of: tech war, trade war, economic war, lawfare, and cyberwar. Huawei is one of the key pillars of China’s technological and economic strength. It is the world’s largest and most advanced telecom corporation, and in 5G (fifth-generation telecom technology) it owns one-fifth of the base patents in the field.

Huawei is also building the digital infrastructure to accompany the Belt and Road Initiative (the “digital silk road”). This not only allows China’s economy to grow, but also prevents the effects of military blockade at the South China Sea. Its hardware makes it harder for US surveillance to tap.

These are the key reasons why it is being attacked and taken down. Aside from kidnappings, the US has been waging this warfare by trying to prevent other countries from signing deals for Huawei 5G infrastructure. It is alleging that Huawei would render these networks insecure: Huawei would spy on them for the Chinese government, or even open them for Chinese cyberwarfare.

Actually, the truth is exactly the inverse. A worldwide Huawei system could create problems for the US global panopticon upon which US “unipolar” dominance relies on: its ability to eavesdrop on individuals, corporations, the leaders of countries, as well as military communications. With non-Huawei routers, due to the subservience and mandated cooperation of US companies, cyberspace as a domain of warfare is always guaranteed to be permeable and amenable to US surveillance and attack.

In other words, the US taps routers globally to spy on individuals, companies, governments, and nations: “Routers, switches, and servers made by Cisco are boobytrapped with surveillance equipment that intercepts traffic handled by those devices and copies it to the NSA’s network.”

Regarding specific allegations of Huawei’s “spying,” Huawei has been completely transparent and has handed over its source code to relevant Intelligence agencies for detailed analysis, year upon year. No spying or intentional backdoors have been found: For example, German Intelligence found no spying, and no potential for spying, and British Intelligence also found none.

On the other hand, the US National Security Agency, in a program called Shotgiant, spied extensively on Huawei to look for links between Huawei and the People’s Liberation Army, evidence of back doors and spying, and vulnerabilities that they could exploit. This extraordinary spying (revealed by WikiLeaks) showed no evidence of back doors, spying or connections with the PLA.

The Shotgiant disclosures showed that US allegations were projection: NSA actions “actually mirror what the US has been accusing Huawei of potentially doing.” The NSA did, however, steal Huawei’s proprietary source code at the time, and had plans to spy on other countries by using this information and had sought to compromise security in general. Of course, these kinds of unethical exploits create dangers for everyone.

Theft and exploits notwithstanding, using Huawei hardware could still make it harder for the US to surveil networks – Huawei has declared it refuses to plant back doors.

Guo Ping, the chairman of Huawei, was quoted in The Verge: “If the NSA wants to modify routers or switches in order to eavesdrop, a Chinese company will be unlikely to cooperate.” Guo argues that his company “hampers US efforts to spy on whomever it wants,” reiterating its position that “Huawei has not and will never plant back doors.”

Wired magazine has also confirmed that Huawei is an obstacle to NSA surveillance: Telecom-equipment makers who sell products to carriers in the US “are required by law to build into their hardware ways for authorities to access the networks for lawful purposes.”

The only allegations of “Huawei vulnerabilities” with any backing evidence shown to date have been in a Bloomberg “gotcha” article, which claimed that in 2009 and 2011 some telnet connections in Huawei equipment for Vodaphone in Italy were insecure. Vodaphone, however, refuted these allegations.

The hardware (Baseboard Management Controller) that Bloomberg alleges is “insecure” cannot access any data in any normal configuration Furthermore, built-in Telnet access CLI connections are unexceptional, and did not pose meaningful risk.

Since then further allegations have been made by the US government (leaked to the Wall Street Journal), but always without proof. These allegations may be recycled and refuted old allegations, or they may just be pure invention, which why they cannot issue the proof.
Of course, Huawei refutes these allegations and always demands proof. The proof is never forthcoming, because there is none.

Here is a solution that allows everyone to step back from the brink. Back off on the unsubstantiated, unverifiable “back-door spying” canards. Stop the spying and harassment of Huawei, and stop the projection. Stop the interference with its global contracts: let each country evaluate them on their own merits. Stop the fraudulent prosecutions that recycle settled matters.

Above all, stop taking hostages: This is a violation of international law. Canada must release Meng Wanzhou, immediately. And it must find ways to repair relations and find ways cooperate anew with China. The benefits of success will be tangible and immense. The consequences of failure, immeasurable.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world’s first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

In apparent signal to US: Russia’s Putin endorses strategy of using nukes against conventional strike

Source

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) takes part in a video conference call with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, on June 2, 2020. (Photo via Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a strategy document outlining the country’s nuclear deterrent policy, amid rising tensions with the United States over a nuclear arms control accord.

The document allows Moscow to use nuclear weapons in response to a conventional strike targeting the country’s critical government and military infrastructure, Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Tuesday.

The new document appears to send a warning signal to the United States by including a non-nuclear attack as a possible trigger for Russian nuclear retaliation.

It also reflects Moscow’s concerns over the development of prospective US weapons, including space-based ones, labeling the creation and deployment of anti-missile and strike weapons in space as one of the main military threats to Russia.

The document offers detailed descriptions of situations that could trigger the use of nuclear arms, including attacks that “threaten the very existence” of Russia.

The document states that Russia could use its nuclear arsenal if it gets “reliable information” about the launch of ballistic missiles targeting its territory or its allies.

The United States has unilaterally pulled out of one nuclear arms treaty with Russia — the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty — and is flirting with the idea of not renewing another.

President Putin has previously warned that yet another arms race would be inevitable if Washington did not renew the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

The New START accord is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington that puts a limit on the development and deployment of strategic nuclear warheads of the two countries. It can be extended for another five years, beyond its expiry date in February 2021, by mutual agreement.

Under the New START, signed in April 2010, the US and Russia agreed to halve the number of their strategic nuclear missiles and restrict the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550.

Russia has also repeatedly voiced concern about the installment of US Patriot missiles and the deployment of American ground troops in the Baltic countries, as well as NATO drills near the country’s borders.

The buildup of conventional forces near Russia’s borders and the deployment of missile defense assets are among the threats identified in the new document.


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China’s parliament approves Hong Kong national security bill

Source

http://www.aljazeera.com

May 28, 2020

National People’s Congress votes 2,878 to 1 in favour of decision to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong.

China's parliament approves Hong Kong national security bill
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang cast their votes on the national security legislation for Hong Kong [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/ Reuters]
 

China’s parliament has approved a decision to move forward with national security legislation for Hong Kong that critics fear could undermine the city’s autonomy.

The National People’s Congress on Thursday voted 2,878 to 1 in favour of the decision to empower its standing committee to draft the legislation, with six abstentions.

The legislators gathered in the Great Hall of the People burst into sustained applause when the vote tally was projected onto screens.

China says the legislation will be aimed at tackling secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.

The security law will alter the territory’s mini-constitution, or Basic Law, to require its government to enforce measures to be decided later by Chinese leaders. The plans have prompted widespread condemnation and strained China’s relations with the United States and Britain.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said the Chinese move “is taking place without any consultation, any debate with Hong Kong’s leaders or its government”.

“China is taking advantage of a legal loophole that completely bypasses Hong Kong’s legislative process.”

Details of the law are expected to be drawn up in coming weeks, and Chinese authorities and the Beijing-backed government in Hong Kong say there is no threat to the city’s autonomy and the new security law will be tightly focused.

But the US on Wednesday revoked its special status for Hong Kong, alleging the city was no longer autonomous from Beijing, paving the way for future sanctions and the removal of trading privileges in the financial hub.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, riot police were out in force as its legislators debated another piece of legislation, a bill that would criminalise disrespect of China’s national anthem.

Dozens of protesters gathered in a shopping mall to chant slogans but there was no repeat of disturbances the previous day when police made 360 arrests as thousands took to the streets in anger over the anthem bill and the national security legislation proposed by China.

Last year, the city was rocked for months by often violent pro-democracy demonstrations over an unsuccessful bid to introduce an extradition law to China.

The national security legislation is the latest issue to fuel fears in Hong Kong that Beijing is imposing its authority and eroding the high degree of autonomy the former British colony has enjoyed under a “one country, two systems” formula since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, reporting from Hong Kong, said: “There is deep resentment towards this law in Hong Kong. And I think the protests that we saw on Wednesday are going to continue, if not intensify, even though protesters know Beijing is not going to reverse course.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer qualified for special treatment under US law, potentially dealing a crushing blow to its status as a major financial hub.

The proposed security law was “only the latest in a series of actions” undermining Hong Kong freedoms, he told Congress.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” he said.

The security law could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.

Relations between the two superpowers have been tense over China’s claims in the South China Sea and trade. The coronavirus pandemic has also become an issue of acrimony.

“Already, international business is facing the pressure of increased tension between the US and China, but the enactment of China’s security law for Hong Kong could take the tension to a whole new level,” said Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

“This is show time for Hong Kong,” Joseph said in a commentary in the South China Morning Post.

US President Donald Trump has promised action over Hong Kong, with an announcement at the end of the week. More than 1,300 US companies have offices in the city, providing about 100,000 jobs.

China said it would take necessary countermeasures to any foreign interference into what it insists are its internal affairs.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

EU admitted “American-led system” nears its end

European Union looks towards Asia to preserve its interests in the 21st century

EU admitted “American-led system” nears its end

“This comes as the U.S. is approaching 2 million cases of coronavirus and over 100,000 deaths. Earlier this month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. reached 14.7% with the Federal Reserve estimating it could reach a high of 25%. Pre-coronavirus data found that 29.9% of Americans live close to poverty while 5.3% of the population live in deep poverty and 11.1% of American households, were food insecure, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food for all people within the house.”

duran.com

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors on Monday that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes.” He said that the coronavirus pandemic could be the catalyst to shift power from West to East and that “pressure to choose sides is growing”  for the EU, before adding that the 27-nation bloc “should follow our own interests and values and avoid being instrumentalised by one or the other.”

Borrell said “we only have a chance if we deal with China with collective discipline,” noting that an upcoming EU-China summit this autumn could be an opportunity to do so. “We need a more robust strategy for China, which also requires better relations with the rest of democratic Asia.”

As China, India, Japan, Indonesia and Russia will become some of the world’s biggest economies by 2030, according to Standard Chartered Plc, the 21st century is known as the “Asian Century.”  So, the EU has a serious decision to make on whether to continue its hostile approach towards Russia if it wishes to have more straight forward trade access to Asia. Putin has made incentives for colonists to populate the Far East of Russia to boost its small population of under seven million people who live close to China to fully and better engage in the “Asian Century.”

European trade with Asia could be done through the Russian Far East port of Vladivostok and the Trans-Siberian transportation routes, and this would also bypass China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Macron last year made a Facebook post where he said “progress on many political and economic issues is evident, for we’re trying to develop Franco-Russian relations. I’m convinced that, in this multilateral restructuring, we must develop a security and trust architecture between the European Union and Russia.” With Macron emphasizing a European-Russian rapprochement, he then expanded on General de Gaulle’s famous quote that Europe stretches “from Lisbon to the Urals,” by saying that Europe reaches Vladivostok which is near the Chinese and North Korean border.

According to experts China’s foreign investment in the advanced development zone accounts for about 59.1% of all foreign investments in the region. The Russian Far East has a huge investment potential, especially with materials, natural resources, fisheries, and tourism, and China aims to take advantage of the mostly underdeveloped region. The region is not only resource rich, but is strategically located as it borders China, Mongolia and North Korea, and has a maritime border with Japan.

With France’s recognition of Vladivostok and Borrell now acknowledging that the power centers of the world are shifting to the East, the EU has little choice but to make a rapprochement with Russia and end its sanctions regime. In addition, it would be in the EU’s interests not to engage in anti-China actions on behalf of the U.S.

China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that it has not only recovered and restarted its economy, but that it engages in large-scale soft power projections by delivering tons upon tons of medical aid to every region in the world and has sent doctors and nurses to the most affected countries. This comes as the U.S. is approaching 2 million cases of coronavirus and over 100,000 deaths. Earlier this month, the unemployment rate in the U.S. reached 14.7% with the Federal Reserve estimating it could reach a high of 25%. Pre-coronavirus data found that 29.9% of Americans live close to poverty while 5.3% of the population live in deep poverty and 11.1% of American households, were food insecure, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food for all people within the house. Despite the growing social and domestic problems in the U.S., it is unlikely that Washington will give up its global hegemony so easily.

But Borrell seems to have little confidence that the U.S. will maintain its global leadership and is now eyeing China and the East as the EU’s new main trading partner. Effectively, as the Anglo World attempts to maintain the Atlanticist dominance, the EU is recognizing that its future lies with Eurasia.

Iran Foreign Ministry: Time for intl. community to stop US war machines

Source

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

The file photo taken on September 8, 2003 shows US forces manning a checkpoint in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. (By AFP)

Iran says it is high time the international community stood up to Washington’s historical warmongering policy, commenting on the Memorial Day in the US that remembers America’s wartime fatalities.

“Time to stand against US violence, warmongering, as remembering millions of lost lives,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry tweeted on Tuesday, a day after the United States commemorated the occasion, which is marked annually on the last Monday of May.

“Regretful that 100,000 American soldiers killed in battles waged because of US leaders’ instrumental rationality & insatiable greed,” the tweet read. “US war machines have just led to killing, destruction, [and] atrocities.”

America’s history of armed incursions is as old as the country, whose very foundation is owed to the deadly invasion of North American territories.

Across modern history, the US’s militarism has most notably been reflected in the Vietnam War (1955-1975), which is bitterly brought to the fore on Memorial Day. Estimates of the fatalities resulting from the war go as high as 4.2 million people, including 58,209 US forces.

In what has become the longest war in its history, the US along with its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of a so-called war on terror. The invasion — which is still underway — toppled the Taliban regime but the Afghan group’s militancy remains resilient to this day. The chaos has also led to the rise of Daesh, the world’s most notorious terror outfit, in the Asian state.

According to the latest figures, over 2,400 US military deaths have been recorded in the war, while over 20,000 American service members have been wounded.

More than 100,000 Afghans have also been killed or wounded since 2009, when the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began documenting casualties.

Washington’s first major incursion in the Middle East came in the form of the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s in favor of Saudi Arabia. A decade afterwards, the US began planting its jackboot far more firmly in the region by invading Iraq in 2003, a wholesale war that turned the country into a scene of rampant violence.

Nevertheless, Washington has never fallen short of finding excuses to militarily intervene in the region along with its allies

The most recent bout of US-led operations in the Middle East came in 2014, when the US and its allies began a military campaign in Iraq and Syria under the guise of uprooting Daesh, which had risen amid the chaos resulting from Washington’s own wars in the region.

Washington has, throughout its history, also been lending immense political and military support to the regional regimes that are responsible for killing and displacing tens of thousands of people in pursuit of their political agendas.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

Schrödinger’s President

 

Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter went on a surprisingly vitriolic anti-Trump rant the other day, calling the president a “complete blithering idiot”, an “actual retard”, and “the most disloyal human God ever created” for his treatment of Jeff Sessions and his failure to build the border wall per his campaign promise.

“Coulter is right,” comedian Tim Dillon tweeted in response. “Trump doesn’t really care about immigration or the wall, it was just the way to win. He likes winning. You don’t live your entire life being a Hollywood star who hangs with the Clintons and Jeffrey Epstein and then decide you actually like people from Ohio.”

Which is true. Trump and his handlers understood that rising anti-immigration sentiment in America was a key to winning the presidency, but he never cared about immigration and never had any intention of going out of his way to do anything about it (which is why even his deportation numbers are still below Obama’s). Just one of the many ways where the popular narrative about Trump–the story everyone’s telling about him–differs wildly from the reality.

Tim Dillon

@TimJDillon

Coulter is right. Trump doesn’t really care about immigration or the wall, it was just the way to win. He likes winning. You don’t live your entire life being a Hollywood star who hangs with the Clintons and Jeffrey Epstein and then decide you actually like people from Ohio.

604 people are talking about this

It is normal to have multiple contradictory mainstream narratives running about a president at the same time, and for none of those narratives to be accurate. Obama was simultaneously a progressive champion of sanity and a socialist Muslim from Kenya hell bent on America’s destruction, none of which was true but both of which were believed with equal fervor by either side of the illusory partisan divide.

What’s unusual about Trump is that there are multiple contradictory narratives running about him at the same time, within the same political factions. His own base is able to hold the belief that Trump is a brilliant strategic mastermind who is commanding a covert counter-coup to overthrow the Deep State, for example, while simultaneously excusing all the many, many establishment capitulations that he makes as being beyond his control. Much like Schrödinger’s proverbial pet Trump exists for them in two mutually contradictory states at once: a skillful hero who is taking down the Deep State, and a hapless victim who can’t control what happens in his own administration because it’s all being controlled by the Deep State.

On the other side of the imaginary partisan divide, Democrats spent years advancing the mutually contradictory narratives that Trump is at once (A) idiotic, (B) mentally ill, and (C) running a covert operation to sabotage America in the interests of Russia–but cleverly evading detection under intense scrutiny. They also hold him as simultaneously presenting an unprecedented threat to American democracy and also perfectly safe to keep voting in support of continuing and expanding his military and surveillance powers.

None of these narratives have anything to do with reality, yet they consume an immense amount of oxygen in US political discourse while Trump continues and expands the many depraved agendas of his predecessors.

Consortium News@Consortiumnews

Biden Can’t Return US to Normal, Because Trump is a Normal President https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/22/biden-cant-return-us-to-normal-because-trump-is-a-normal-president/ 

Biden Can’t Return US to Normal, Because Trump is a Normal President

Wanting America to go back to how it was before Trump is like rewinding the same horror movie, writes Caitlin Johnstone. By Caitlin Johnstone CaitlinJohnstone.com “I am with Joe Biden all the way-…

consortiumnews.com

53 people are talking about this

Trump is not a populist champion of the little guy, nor a closet Nazi working to establish a white ethnostate, nor a Kremlin asset, but is in fact nothing other a miserable rich man from a miserable rich family who did what it takes to get elected to the presidency of a racist, corrupt, bloodthirsty empire and remain there for a full term. Everything else is narrative which is wholly divorced from reality.

The reason we can have wildly popular narratives dominating mainstream political discourse for years on end without their containing a shred of actual reality is because human experience is dictated by mental stories far more than most people realize. Establishment power structures, who have their hands in both parties of America’s two-handed political sock puppet show, stand everything to gain and nothing to lose by using narrative control to keep the public debating fake nonsense instead of the actual horrible things this administration is doing like imprisoning Julian Assange for journalism, vetoing attempts to save Yemen, inflicting starvation sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, and initiating cold war escalations against two nuclear-armed nations.

If people truly understood the extent to which mental narrative dominates their experience of life, propaganda, advertising and all other forms of psychological manipulation would be regarded by our society similarly to physical assault or property theft. For anyone who is interested in the pernicious ways narrative manipulation is used to keep people confused and conflicted while powerful people roll out toxic agendas, Trump is a very interesting case study indeed.

If humanity is to survive, people are going to have to evolve beyond the sticky relationship with mental narrative which enables establishment spinmeisters to keep an entire nation transfixed by fake stories about a very conventionally evil president instead of pushing for the real changes we’ll need to make if we’re to overcome the existential hurdles looming on our horizon. Learning to distinguish reality from narrative will send the whole prison crashing down.

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Understanding the sinister agenda being forced upon us