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Twitter Admits To Censoring Criticism of The Indian Government

Twitter Admits To Censoring Criticism of The Indian Government

Twitter LogoOn Saturday, Twitter admitted that it is actively working with the Indian government to censor criticism of its handling of the pandemic as the number of cases and deaths continues to skyrocket. There are widespread reports that the Indian government has misrepresented the number of deaths and the true rate of cases could be as much as 30 times higher than reported.  The country has a shortage of beds, oxygen, and other essentials due to a failure to adequately prepare for a new surge. Not surprisingly, the Indian government has moved to crackdown on criticism. This included a call to Twitter to censor such information and Twitter has, of course, complied. With the support of many Democratic leaders in the United States, Twitter now regularly censors viewpoints in the United States and India had no trouble in enlisting it to crackdown on those raising the alarm over false government reporting.

Buried in an Associated Press story on the raging pandemic and failures of the Indian government are these two lines:

“On Saturday, Twitter complied with the government’s request and prevented people in India from viewing more than 50 tweets that appeared to criticize the administration’s handling of the pandemic. The targeted posts include tweets from opposition ministers critical of Modi, journalists and ordinary Indians.”

The article quotes Twitter as saying that it had powers to “withhold access to the content in India only” if the company determined the content to be “illegal in a particular jurisdiction.” Thus, criticism of the government in this context is illegal so Twitter has agreed to become an arm of the government in censoring information.

Keep in mind that this information could protect lives. It is not “fake news” but efforts by journalists and others to disclose failures by the government that could cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

India’s Experiments with COVID-19

Shooting from the Hip

Reminiscent of his demonetization effort in 2016, on 24th March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on TV and declared an immediate nationwide curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave wherever he or she happened to be. All flights, trains (after 167 years of continual operation) and road transportation came to a complete, shrieking halt.

Stranded in India… [PT]

Tens of millions of people — myself included — got stuck wherever they were.

People were not allowed to leave their homes, not even for grocery shopping, the latter of which was amended after a few days when the government realized that people needed to eat. In a country of 1.38 billion people, the initial policy was a shot from the hip, without any consultation or planning, as if prepared by primary school kids.

Those, particularly the poor, who ventured out to get food, were ruthlessly beaten by police.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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India’s Farmer Movement, Indigenous Land Defenders and Hidden Histories

India’s Farmer Movement, Indigenous Land Defenders and Hidden Histories

The protests may be half-a-world apart. But they’re both based on a spiritual connection to the land.

When 250 million workers joined the largest strike in human history last month to support the Indian Kisan Andolan, or Farmer Movement, the connection to Indigenous land protests in British Columbia might not have been instantly evident.

But the two struggles have much in common in their resistance against neoliberal nation states and the corporations that influence them. They also share a hidden history that aligns the struggles in a unique field of solidarity.

Indian farmers are fighting the central government over three bills that effectively hand the agricultural market to large corporations, letting them set prices, and turn formerly independent farmers into contractors under corporate control.

Punjabi farmers have taken their protests to the border of Delhi and created blockades on highways, while farmers from other parts of India are doing the same.

The majority of Punjabis in India follow the Sikh faith. Agriculture is central not just to Punjab’s economy, but also to its culture. During the march to Delhi, police brutalized the farmers with water cannons and batons. Despite this, the farmers practiced a central tenet of the Sikh faith, langar (free kitchen) and made food available to both protestors, bystanders and police.

In B.C., a different but connected battle is being waged. Hereditary Chiefs from the Wet’suwet’en Nation have opposed TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline across northern B.C. since it was proposed. This resistance has led to demonstrations and railway blockades across Canada.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

The U.S. Continues To Import A Record Amount Of Silver While Flows Into India Nearly Dry Up

The U.S. Continues To Import A Record Amount Of Silver While Flows Into India Nearly Dry Up

U.S. demand for silver continued to remain strong as imports surged higher in September after a decline in August.  However, the opposite was true for India as silver imports during the same month collapsed to an all-time low.  What a difference in just a few years as India imported nearly 500 metric tons on average a month last year.

According to the data from GoldChartsRUs.com, India’s silver imports in September fell to only 11 metric tons (mt) compared to 169 mt during the same month last year.  That’s a 93% decline year-over-year.  Interestingly, during July last year, India imported an average of 33 mt of silver A DAY.  However, in September this year, it was a total of only 11 mt.  Gosh, that’s a tad bit more than 350,000 oz.  What’s going on?  Of course, the pandemic likely was part of the reason for the decline in silver imports, but the silver price rise to an average of $27-$28 during September likely curtailed buying by savvy Indian investors.

While India’s silver imports nearly dried up in September, it was a totally different story for the United States.  Total silver imports jumped to 745 mt in September, up from 524 mt in August.  When be put India and U.S. silver imports side-by-side, we can see a huge difference.

The United States imported 66 times more silver than India in September.  In just the past three months (JUL-SEP), U.S. silver imports totaled 2,309 mt, or 74 million oz.  As we can see, the U.S. has imported roughly 2.5 times more silver than India during the first three-quarters of the year.  The majority of U.S. silver imports were in bullion form.

The next chart shows just the U.S. silver bullion imports for Jan-Sep.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

250 Million Protestors in India – Almost the Population of the United States

For centuries, India was the source of the spice trade. Christopher Columbus thought he discovered a shortcut to India but bumped into America. The various spices in India have been used also for practices such as yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda. They are deeply rooted in Indian and South Asian culture. Today, as it has been for thousands of years, these herbs commonly used for these practices, such as turmeric, ginger, and ashwagandha, are exported from India and Modi has pulled another fast one on the people.

Indian farmers are currently protesting against unfair new agriculture laws and this has seen 250 million people joining the protest against the tyranny of the Modi government which has set controversial new agricultural laws. The Indian government set three new agricultural laws in September 2020. Previously, the government fixed prices for a variety of crops, meaning the farmers were guaranteed minimum profits for their work. However, under these new laws. Modi has directed farmers to sell directly to companies and sellers, meaning the farmers are no longer guaranteed the same minimum profits. Now they must negotiate for themselves when it comes to finding buyers.

For the past two weeks, Indian crop farmers have led more than 250 million protestors against these new agricultural laws in the Indian capital city New Delhi, according to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Many protesters have also ignored the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. The protests have shut down major highways, shops, markets, and more (see The Guardian). The participants say they will not cease their protests until the government listens, (see India Times).

India’s One-Day General Strike Largest in History

India’s One-Day General Strike Largest in History

If those who struck on Nov. 26 formed a country, it would be the fifth largest in the world after China, India, the United States and Indonesia, writes Vijay Prashad.

India’s general strike on Nov. 26, 2020. (IndustriALL Global Union, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Farmers and agricultural workers from northern India marched along various national highways toward India’s capital of New Delhi as part of the general strike on Nov. 26.

They carried placards with slogans against the anti-farmer, pro-corporate laws that were passed by India’s Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) in September, and then pushed through the Rajya Sabha (upper house) with only a voice vote.

The striking agricultural workers and farmers carried flags that indicated their affiliation with a range of organizations, from the communist movement to a broad front of farmers’ organizations. They marched against the privatization of agriculture, which they argue undermines India’s food sovereignty and erodes their ability to remain agriculturalists.

Roughly two-thirds of India’s workforce derives its income from agriculture, which contributes to roughly 18 percent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). The three anti-farmer bills passed in September undermine the minimum support price buying schemes of the government, put 85 percent of the farmers who own less than 2 hectares of land at the mercy of bargaining with monopoly wholesalers, and will lead to the destruction of a system that has till now maintained agricultural production despite erratic prices for food produce.

One hundred and fifty farmer organizations came together for their march on New Delhi. They pledge to stay in the city indefinitely.

India’s general strike on Nov. 26, 2020. (IndustriALL Global Union, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is War With China Becoming Inevitable?

Is War With China Becoming Inevitable?

Tensions are rising between the U.S. and China, as the list of ideological, political and economic clashes continues to lengthen. And there is a transparent new reality: China seems in no mood to back down.

“The Indians are seeing 60,000 Chinese soldiers on their northern border,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo ominously warned on Friday.

He spelled out what he meant to commentator Larry O’Connor:

“The Chinese have now begun to amass huge forces against India in the north. … They absolutely need the United States to be their ally and partner in this fight.”

Pompeo had just returned from a Tokyo gathering of foreign ministers from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” the group of four democracies — U.S., Japan, Australia, India — whose purpose is to discuss major Indo-Pacific geostrategic issues.

Exactly what kind of “ally and partner” the U.S. is to be “in the fight” between India and China over disputed terrain in the Himalayan Mountains was left unexplained. We have no vital interest in where the Line of Control between the most populous nations on earth should lie that would justify U.S. military involvement with a world power like China.

And the idea that Japan, whose territorial quarrel with China is over the tiny Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, thousands of miles away, would take sides in a Himalayan India-China conflict also seems ludicrous.

Yet, tensions are rising between the U.S. and China, as the list of ideological, political and economic clashes continues to lengthen.

And there is a transparent new reality: China seems in no mood to back down.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

India Reports Record Jump In COVID-19 Deaths As China Struggles With “Textbook Second Wave”: Live Updates

India Reports Record Jump In COVID-19 Deaths As China Struggles With “Textbook Second Wave”: Live Updates

Nuclear-armed neighbors China and India may be enmeshed in a deadly border dispute with potentially serious ramifications for the global community, both countries are struggling with an alarming resurgence of COVID-19 cases, according to media reports.

Yesterday, Chinese officials ratcheted up restrictions in Beijing as nearly 150 new coronavirus cases have been identified in the city over the past week. More residential compounds were placed under ‘partial lockdown’ conditions on Tuesday. Beijing has already tested more than 350k people since Saturday, with a goal of testing a large chunk of the city’s population of ~20 million people.

According to Al Jazeera English, one of the few English-language news organizations with reporters still on the ground in Beijing, many locals were taken by surprise as the local government raised the emergency alert level to ‘II’, closed schools and markets and began imposing movement restrictions, particularly on those who live in “high risk” areas (ie areas near the Xinfadi wholesale food market where officials believe the outbreak originated).

Some Beijingers didn’t realize that their residential community had been placed on ‘partial lockdown’ with nobody allowed in or out until all residents have been tested. AJ says there are currently at least 27 communities under these conditions.

Nelson Quan had no idea he had been locked into his compound in the Yuquan district of Beijing until he arrived at the front gate and saw the barricade.

Four days earlier, on June 11, Beijing had reported its first COVID-19 case in almost two months. Now, Quan’s community and at least 27 others are forced to stay at home while they await the results of their nucleic acid virus tests. No one is allowed in, or out.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

India Orders “Biggest Lockdown In World History”, 1.3 Billion Told To Stay Home For 21 Days: Live Updates

India Orders “Biggest Lockdown In World History”, 1.3 Billion Told To Stay Home For 21 Days: Live Updates

Summary:

  • US reports more than 10k new cases in largest daily jump yet
  • Number of new coronavirus cases confirmed over last 2 days largest yet
  • Alaska orders visitors to quarantine
  • US records more than 100 deaths in a day
  • India PM Modi announces 21-day nationwide lockdown that will be largest world has ever seen
  • Pelosi says ‘real optimism’ Congress could reach stimulus bill deal in the next few hours
  • Global case total nears 400k
  • PM Abe, IOC agree to delay Tokyo Games 1 year, Paralympics still set to take place this summer
  • India expands lockdown
  • Italian designers making coronavirus face masks
  • Pakistan deploys army
  • Italy shuts down gas stations
  • Albania imposes 16-hour daily lockdown
  • Myanmar, Laos confirm first cases
  • Dr. Birx says NY efforts will take 1-2 weeks to show progress
  • India bans export of ventilators
  • Trump to invoke DPA to produce 60k masks
  • G7 promises ‘whatever is necessary’ to save global economy
  • Thailand to declare state of emergency
  • Macau, Hong Kong tighten restrictions
  • Beijing lifts lockdowns on Hubei, Wuhan
  • Nearly half of UK watched Johnson’s Monday night address
  • Belgium reports 500+ new cases
  • European PMI offer first indicator of economic damage
  • German finance minister says more stimulus to come
  • Hawaii reports first death

*  *  *

Update (1050ET): In what appears to be the largest lockdown in world history, Indian PM Narendra Modi has ordered all 1.3 billion Indians to stay home for 21 days, a lockdown order that will nearly double the number of people who are facing – or did face – a lockdown (some 3 billion people, now).

Nicola Sturgeon calls on people to stay at home as UK set for lockdown

Modi warned that India, which has confirmed fewer than 500 cases, though the outbreak is suspected of being much, much larger, will be set back for decades if it doesn’t act, according to Reuters.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rabobank: Over 100 Million Could Be In Lockdown In India

Rabobank: Over 100 Million Could Be In Lockdown In India

Police State

The headlines continue to shock.

Firstly, the number of coronavirus cases surged past 300,000 on Sunday with more than 13,000 deaths now reported worldwide.

Secondly, predictions about the fall out on the global economic outlook have rapidly gone from bad to worse over the past few days.

  • In the US over 80 million people are now in a lockdown,
  • over 100 million could be in similar circumstances in India.
  • In Italy, controls on movement have been stepped up with all internal travel now banned and in numerous other countries social gatherings have been forbidden and businesses have been closed in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.

In just over a fortnight or so, the debate among economists has shifted from whether the US will suffer recession to how big the downturn is likely to be. Our baseline base case now is a global pandemic as outlined by our colleagues here.

Central banks and governments around the world have moved quickly to staunch the wounds, but more policy support will likely be forthcoming.

On Friday, the UK Chancellor jacked-up the size of the fiscal relief offered to the UK economy aggressively – just over a week since he delivered his budget. The new measures include a pledge by the state to pay 80% of the wages of workers, up to GBP2,500 per month. Germany has announced it will raise EUR150 bln in new debt to bolster the economy, which is an abrupt departure from its culture of fiscal discipline. By contrast the US’s Republican’s Coronavirus Rescue Package failed to pass through the Senate yesterday. Shortly after the vote DJIA futures were again limit down. Democrats argued that the package overly favoured corporations and didn’t go far enough to support individuals facing joblessness and a loss of income.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dominos Are Falling – China Shutdown To Crush India’s Already-Crumbling Economy

Dominos Are Falling – China Shutdown To Crush India’s Already-Crumbling Economy

The supply chain shock emanating from China to other Asia Pacific countries and Europe, could become a major headache for India.

Bloomberg focuses on how an industrial shutdown of China’s economy has already had a profound effect on India’s economy and could get worse.

Pankaj R. Patel, chairman of Zydus Cadila, said prices of medicine in India have exponentially jumped in the last several weeks, thanks to much of the medicine is sourced from China.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is experiencing massive disruptions that could face shortages starting in April if supplies aren’t replenished in the next couple weeks, Patel warned.

He said prices of paracetamol, a common analgesic, have risen 40% in India, while some antibiotic medicines have soared 70% since Covid-19 broke out in China last month.

Manufacturers in China have idled plants, and at least two-thirds of the economy is halted. Some factories came online last week with promises of full production by the end of the month, but for most factories, their resumption will likely be delayed. This will undoubtedly lead to medicine shortages in India in the coming months ahead.

A new theme is developing from all this mayhem – that is the reorganization of complex supply chains out of China to a more localized approach to avoid severing. But in the meantime, these complex supply chains in India and across the world will experience massive disruption caused by the shutdown. All of this points to ugly end of globalization:

Pankaj Mahindroo, chairman of the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA), said the wrecking of supply chains in China could soon have a devastating impact on India’s smartphone production. 

Mahindroo represents companies including Foxconn, Apple Inc., Micromax Informatics Ltd., and Salcomp India, warned the “impact is already visible… If things don’t improve soon, production will have to be stopped.” 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Biometric Threat

The Biometric Threat

As with so many other convenient technologies, the world is underestimating the risks associated with biometric identification systems. India has learned about those risks the hard way – and should serve as a cautionary tale to the governments and corporations seeking to expand the use of these technologies.

NEW DELHI – Around the world, governments are succumbing to the allure of biometric identification systems. To some extent, this may be inevitable, given the burden of demands and expectations placed on modern states. But no one should underestimate the risks these technologies pose.

Biometric identification systems use individuals’ unique intrinsic physical characteristics – fingerprints or handprints, facial patterns, voices, irises, vein maps, or even brain waves – to verify their identity. Governments have applied the technology to verify passports and visas, identify and track security threats, and, more recently, to ensure that public benefits are correctly distributed.

Private companies, too, have embraced biometric identification systems. Smartphones use fingerprints and facial recognition to determine when to “unlock.” Rather than entering different passwords for different services – including financial services – users simply place their finger on a button on their phone or gaze into its camera lens.

It is certainly convenient. And, at first glance, it might seem more secure: someone might be able to find out your password, but how could they replicate your essential biological features?

But, as with so many other convenient technologies, we tend to underestimate the risks associated with biometric identification systems. India has learned about them the hard way, as it has expanded its scheme to issue residents a “unique identification number,” or Aadhaar, linked to their biometrics.

Originally, the Aadhaar program’s primary goal was to manage government benefits and eliminate “ghost beneficiaries” of public subsidies.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

All Hell Breaks Loose In India As Violent Protests Spread After Citizenship Law

All Hell Breaks Loose In India As Violent Protests Spread After Citizenship Law

As central banks ramp up money printing to prevent the global economy from crashing, we’ve been documenting an alarming surge of social upheavals erupting across the world in 2019.

The latest unrest is spreading across India like wildfire after the Modi government passed a new law that grants citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from three Muslim-majority countries but doesn’t give Muslim migrants from those countries citizenship, reported Al Jazeera.

Called the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), the new measure was passed last week and grants citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, who have been persecuted for their faith.

Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, and Parsis from the three eligible countries will automatically be given citizenship if they have illegally entered the country.

So here’s where things get complicated. Rights groups and a Muslim political party have gone bonkers over the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi isn’t allowing Muslim migrants from the three country’s who have illegally entered India – a path towards citizenship. They say the bill violates India’s constitution that prohibits religious discrimination.

As a result of the bill, demonstrations have broken out across the country, including in New Delhi and various large cities in several states. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bill Gates Wants to Export India’s National ID System Around the Globe

Bill Gates Wants to Export India’s National ID System Around the Globe

It’s not just a social credit score system spreading around the world from China that threatens the free people of the world; India’s Aadhaar National ID program has the full support of Bill Gates and the World Bank as a model for other countries to follow.

Gates said in a 2018 CNBC interview that it was “too bad” if someone thought that Aadhaar was a privacy issue:

The Gates Foundation has pledged to fund the World Bank in an effort to take the ID program to other countries. 

Despite Gates plea that there are no privacy issues with Aadhaar, several court cases have gone to India’s supreme court on grounds of privacy violations. 

The ID system has had serious security breaches, with access to a billion identities being sold for less than $10 through WhatsApp.

One of the court filings (Mathew Thomas vs Union of India) details the rise of China’s social credit system, comparing the Indian Aadhaar initiative to the Chinese program.

Perhaps the most sensational angle to this story is that the same international tech company that provides the infrastructure to Aadhaar also makes drivers licenses in the United States.

Idemia (formerly Morpho), is a billion dollar multinational corporation. It is responsible for building a significant portion of the world’s biometric surveillance and security systems, operating in about 70 countries. Some American clients of the company include the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and the FBI.

The company website says that Morpho has been “…building and managing databases of entire populations…” for many years.

In the United States, Idemia is involved in the making of state issued drivers licenses in 42 states.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BRICS Nations Discuss Shared Crypto to Break Away From USD and SWIFT

BRICS Nations Discuss Shared Crypto to Break Away From USD and SWIFT

BRICS Nations Discuss Shared Crypto to Break Away From USD and SWIFT

ANALYSIS

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, or the BRICS economic bloc, are engaging in discussions to issue cross-national digital money in order to reduce the dependence of their economies on the United States, as reported by Cointelegraph on Nov. 14. What will the new cryptocurrency look like, how does the BRICS group plan to use it and are there any existing projects underway that seek to achieve a similar goal of independence on such a high level? 

BRICS and its problems

BRICS is the largest geopolitical block of countries, spanning three continents and wielding substantial economic power in global affairs. As of 2018, the five nations of the BRICS block had a combined nominal gross domestic product of $40 trillion, or about 23.2% of the gross world product.

However, such economic power does not come without competitive penchants from other nations that are vying for the markets that BRICS nations cater to. The greatest competition comes from the European Union and the U.S.

The political experience of recent years has shown that BRICS countries’ diplomacy has arguably failed in alleviating international sanctions, especially in politically sensitive markets such as the arms and the energy carriers markets. However, advances in technology are here to help out where politics cannot, as blockchain and digital assets have the potential to open entirely new horizons for finance.

The idea of a single cryptocurrency as a means of payments and value transmission is not a new one, but it is one that is being actively purported not only in countries like Venezuela with its Petro, but also among BRICS countries. The advantages of a single cryptocurrency as a universal means of settlements among BRICS nations would solve many of the problems they face on the global economic market.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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