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International Group Of Doctors Warns Assange Will “Die In Prison” Without Urgent Medical Care

International Group Of Doctors Warns Assange Will “Die In Prison” Without Urgent Medical Care

With Washington fighting tooth-and-nail to extradite him from the UK, the notion that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange might die in prison is looking increasingly probable. At this point, it’s more a matter of when: A few weeks, or a few decades.

Assange’s health has reportedly deteriorated to such a terrifying degree that a group of 60 doctors have written an open letter warning that they fear the renegade journalist could soon die in a British jail if he doesn’t receive more intensive medical care, the Guardianreports. 

In the “open” letter (which was nevertheless still addressed to British Home Secretary Priti Patel), the doctors called for Assange to be moved to a university teaching hospital from his current digs at the Belmarsh Prison on southeast London.

The doctors based their assessment of Assange’s health on the “harrowing eyewitness accounts” of his Oct. 21 court appearance in London and a Nov. 1 report by Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, who has repeatedly issued warnings about Assange’s treatment by the British. In his November report, Melzer said warned that Assange’s “continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.”

In the letter – which stretched to 16 pages – the doctors expressed “serious concerns” about Assange’s mental and physical health.

“We write this open letter, as medical doctors, to express our serious concerns about the physical and mental health of Julian Assange,” the letter read.

They expressed doubts about his ability to withstand the full extradition hearing, which is presently set for February.

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

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’ 
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at the annual Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan last week. Photo: Asia Times / Pepe Escobar 

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’ 

Foreign Minister Zarif sketches Iran-US relations for diplomats, former presidents and analysts


Just in time to shine a light on what’s behind the latest sanctions from Washington, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a speech at the annual Astana Clubmeeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan delivered a searing account of Iran-US relations to a select audience of high-ranking diplomats, former Presidents and analysts.

Zarif was the main speaker in a panel titled “The New Concept of Nuclear Disarmament.” Keeping to a frantic schedule, he rushed in and out of the round table to squeeze in a private conversation with Kazakh First President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

During the panel, moderator Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, managed to keep a Pentagon analyst’s questioning of Zafir from turning into a shouting match.

Previously, I had extensively discussed with Syed Rasoul Mousavi, minister for West Asia at the Iran Foreign Ministry, myriad details on Iran’s stance everywhere from the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan. I was at the James Bond-ish round table of the Astana Club, as I moderated two other panels, one on multipolar Eurasia and the post-INF environment and another on Central Asia (the subject of further columns).

Zarif’s intervention was extremely forceful. He stressed how Iran “complied with every agreement and it got nothing;” how “our people believe we have not gained from being part of” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; how inflation is out of control; how the value of the rial dropped 70% “because of ‘coercive measures’ – not sanctions because they are illegal.”

He spoke without notes, exhibiting absolute mastery of the inextricable swamp that is US-Iran relations. It turned out, in the end, to be a bombshell. Here are highlights.

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

US Publicly Backs Iran Protests As Khamenei Says Crackdown On “Thugs” Coming

US Publicly Backs Iran Protests As Khamenei Says Crackdown On “Thugs” Coming

It took Washington all of two days to jump behind the large popular protests over gas price hikes which gripped cities across Iran since Friday. Over the weekend the US State Department predictably came out in favor of more protests, in a volatile situation in the sanctions-ravaged country which has already witnessed multiple demonstrators killed and over a thousands arrested, and banks and gas stations torched in anger over soaring gas prices

Given Uncle Sam is all too eager to hijack any Iranian domestic protests for the purpose of ‘regime change’ in what’s currently a middle and lower class driven movement over the deteriorating economic situation and drastic change in policy which saw petrol subsidies suddenly slashed, this could be the very recipe which brings the unrest to a halt. Ayatollah Khamenei already labeled those behind vandalism and sabotage as “thugs” and described them as “counter-revolutionary” forces, in reference to Iran’s ‘Islamic revolutionary’ government. 

Central Bank In Behbahan, Iran being engulfed in flames as demonstrators chant.

The Islamic Republic’s clerics and political leaders will now no doubt paint the crowds in the streets as being the servants of US and Israeli imperial aggression and interference. But then again, considering that the Trump administration established a special CIA unit reportedly named the ‘Iran Mission Center’ — with an express purpose to facilitate US-driven political change in the country — the mullahs might not be too far off the mark in their paranoia and suspicions at any “spontaneous” uprising. 

“The proud Iranian people are not staying silent about the government’s abuses,” Pompeo said in a statement published Sunday, saying that “the United States is with you,” and will stand against Iran’s “tyranny.”

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

Resistance

Resistance 

The status quo is always difficult to alter. Resistance is a normal reaction to change.  The current theatrics in Washington, DC are especially revealing.

Donald Trump is many things to many people. His supporters believe him to be a savior of the American system and way of life. His opponents see him as a threat, Both views are correct. From the beginning, I viewed Mr. Trump as a wrecking ball:

… there has never been an inauguration speech like this one. Contrary to Pogo, Trump defined the enemy and it was not us. This wrecking ball clearly differentiated between the average man and the parasites who inhabit Washington.

The speech was populist all the way. It was anti-establishment all the way.  Clear demarcation lines were drawn. I sense that war was declared on Washington, DC today. There will be no compromise. Either Trump will be destroyed or he will dismantle much of the Washington establishment.

This assessment has been validated by subsequent events. The winner of this existential battle is still in doubt. That itself is rather remarkable. What appeared to be a quixotic crusade now takes on heroic aspects, at least for many outside Washington. What once seemed impossible no longer does.

Don Quixote Trump still may not be favored in his battle against Goliath but the odds have shifted. The American people have been awakened to how the elites have exploited them. Whether Trump wins this battle or not, the Deep State has lost the war. They have been exposed as ruthless, lying exploiters. Don Quixote has suddenly become Goliath.

The peasants have been enlightened. The true nature of current American government has been exposed. No amount of polished rhetoric can undo this knowledge. Attempts to do so will bring out the pitchforks.

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

Grayzone Editor Max Blumenthal Arrested Months After Reporting on Venezuelan Opposition Violence

Grayzone Editor Max Blumenthal Arrested Months After Reporting on Venezuelan Opposition Violence

Blumenthal has been arrested on false charges after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence outside the D.C. embassy. He describes the manufactured case as part of a wider campaign of political persecution, reports Ben Norton. 

Max Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of Oct. 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., that took place between April and May.

A team of D.C. police officers appeared at Blumenthal’s door at just after 9 AM, demanding entry and threatening to break his door down. A number of officers had taken positions on the side of his home as though they were prepared for a SWAT-style raid.

Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to D.C. central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by D.C. police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

Max Blumenthal.

Blumenthal was informed that he was accused of simple assault by a Venezuelan opposition member. He declared the charge completely baseless.

“This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie,” Blumenthal declared. “It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and the The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition.”

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

Trump Praises US Energy Independence After Saudi Attack: “We Don’t Need Middle Eastern Oil”

Trump Praises US Energy Independence After Saudi Attack: “We Don’t Need Middle Eastern Oil”

With international oil prices soaring following this weekend’s attack in Saudi Arabia, which has indefinitely crippled as much as half of its oil-production capacity, President Trump sent a tweet Monday morning to try and reassure markets that the US is now energy independent and doesn’t need crude from the Middle East in what looks like an attempt to send prices lower.

“Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!), we are a net Energy Exporter, & now the Number One Energy Producer in the World. We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!


Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!), we are a net Energy Exporter, & now the Number One Energy Producer in the World. We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!


The takeaway from the tweet is that Trump’s threatening posture toward Iran, which Washington has blamed from the attack, is simply an example of the US standing up for Saudi Arabia since its a critical regional ally. The US’s energy supplies are not being threatened.

Trump has a point about his policies helping to bolster the US energy industry. Democrats, particularly those who have embraced AOC’s ‘Green New Deal’ are much more hostile to the US energy industry. Among the candidates seeking the 2020 nomination, Elizabeth Warren has promised to shut down US shale drilling on her first day as president, something that would irreparably damage the US energy industry and kill any hopes of continued energy independence.

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

We’re Ready For “Full-Fledged” War: Iran Responds To US Accusation It Launched Saudi Oil Attack

We’re Ready For “Full-Fledged” War: Iran Responds To US Accusation It Launched Saudi Oil Attack

After the United States was quick to point the finger at Iran for the early Saturday explosions that rocked Abqaiq facility and the Khurais field — forcing production to be shut and with it 5.7 million barrels a day of oil production lost — Iran has warned it stands ready for a “full-fledged” war.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed Washington for a “maximum pressure” strategy that has turned to “maximum lies,” saying that because of the former’s “failure [the US] is leaning toward maximum lies”. FM Javad Zarif also said these were a continuation of efforts to pressure and shame into compliance under US hegemony.

Screengrab from video showing fires raging at Abqaiq facility on Saturday.

Iran denied the accusations, which followed photos circulating online which appeared to show cruise missile debris scattered in the Saudi desert outside the incapacitated oil facilities. Yemen’s Houthi forces had claimed responsibility, saying it deployed ten drones in the successful targeting of the facilities. 

And separately an IRGC commander is reported to have reaffirmed that American military bases and aircraft carriers are crucially up to 2,000km around Iran and thus “within range” of Iranian missiles.

The senior commander, Amirali Hajizadeh, said his country stands ready for a “full-fledged” war but he stopped short of directly mentioning the attacks. As quoted in regional and state media:

On Sunday, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying: “Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles,” according to Reuters.

“Iran has always been ready for a ‘full-fledged’ war,” Hajizadeh added, without directly mentioning the attacks in Saudi Arabia.

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

Marines “Remind China Of America’s Military Edge” During 11-Day Exercise In The Pacific

Marines “Remind China Of America’s Military Edge” During 11-Day Exercise In The Pacific 

The US is escalating the intensity of its military drills in the waters around mainland China. According to the South China Morning Post, US marines recently held airfield and island-seizure drills in the East and South China seas in order to remind Beijing of “US military supremacy” the Pacific – and of a treaty that the US has with Taiwan, the ‘wayward’ province that President Xi Jinping has vowed to ‘re-unify’ with the rest of the country, by force, if necessary.

The 11-day-long naval drills were carried out around the Philippines and the Japanese island of Okinawa (not far from Taiwan) by the Okinawa-based US marine expeditionary units.

The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit said the exercises were intended as a ‘warning’ to Beijing: That Washington could carry out amphibious campaigns far from home if Washington ever needed to, say, intervene in “territorial disputes between China and America’s allies in the region.” Most of the activity took place in the Philippines and East China Seas, and around an American naval base in Japan.

The drills were also intended “to remind Beijing of America’s military edge” at a time when the Communist Party is dramatically increasing its military budget in an arms race with the US.

The team performed “reconnaissance” and “surveillance” missions, but they also practiced landing a team of troops to “establish a refueling point” from a massive troop-carrying aircraft.

The unit’s Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon also performed a reconnaissance and surveillance mission through a high-altitude, low-opening parachute jump onto Okinawa.

A tilt-rotor aircraft, which hovers like a helicopter but flies like an aeroplane, afterward sent a landing team from a Wasp ship more than 400km (250 miles) away to establish the arming and refuelling point. The team achieved its objective in just over one hour, the statement said.

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

Beijing Enraged After US Navy Ship Sails Through Taiwan Strait

Beijing Enraged After US Navy Ship Sails Through Taiwan Strait

With the 70th anniversary of the founding of the CPC looming, and Beijing staking out a more aggressive trade stance Friday morning by threatening retaliatory tariffs, the US picked the best – or worst – time to provoke Beijing, when a Navy ship sailed through the Taiwan Strait in the Navy’s latest “freedom of navigation” operation, or ‘freeop’ on Friday.

As CNA points out, Washington has actually increased its antagonistic operations in the Taiwan Strait as tensions with Beijing have soared this year, and Friday’s mission risks stoking tensions even further, as Beijing has warned international powers not to interfere in its relationship with Taiwan, or risk provoking Beijing’s wrath.

Yet interfering is precisely what the US has done, and earlier this month, Beijing denounced the sale of $2.2 billion in weapons to Taiwan by the US. Beijing has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province.

Commander Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said the operation in the 111-mile wide waterway separating Taiwan from China “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Mommsen identified the ship as the Green Bay, an amphibious transport dock ship, hinting at a possible marine transport to the controversial island. Typically, these missions are carried out using destroyer-class ships.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the island’s military had a full grasp of the situation in the Strait and closely monitored it.Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan, but the US is bound by law to help defend the island nation should it be attacked. The US is also its primary source of arms.

Writing on the Wall

Writing on the Wall

Not Adding Up

One of the more disagreeable discrepancies of American life in the 21st century is the world according to Washington’s economic bureaus and the world as it actually is.  In short, things don’t add up.  What’s more, the propaganda is so far off the mark, it is downright insulting.

Coming down from the mountain with the latest data tablet… [PT]

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an unemployment rate of just 3.7 percent.  The BLS also reports price inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), of 1.8 percent.  Yet big city streets are lined with tents and panhandlers grumble “that’s all” when you spare them a dollar.

In addition, good people of sound mind and honest intentions are racking up debt like never before.  Mortgage debt recently topped $9.4 trillion. If you didn’t know, this eclipses the 2008 high of $9.3 trillion that was notched at the precise moment the credit market melted down.

Total American household debt, which includes mortgages and student loans, is about $14 trillion – roughly $1 trillion higher than in 2008.  Credit card debt, which is over $1 trillion, is also above the 2008 peak.  To be clear, these debt levels are not signs of economic strength; rather, they are signs of impending disaster.  Moreover, they’re signs that American workers have been given a raw deal.

US CPI, “core” CPI and total consumer credit outstanding. 

How is it that the economy has been growing for a full decade straight, but the average worker has seen no meaningful increase in his income?  Have workers really been sprinting in place this entire time?  How did they end up in this ridiculous situation?

US mortgage debt outstanding and real household wages (real hourly earnings of production and non-supervisory employees) [PT]

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

Russia’s Sound Proposal for Gulf Peace

Russia’s Sound Proposal for Gulf Peace 

There is an eminently reasonable and feasible way to avoid conflict in the Persian Gulf, and to secure peace. The principles of multilateralism and international law must be adhered to. It seems almost astounding that one has to appeal for such obvious basic norms.

Fortunately, Russia has presented a roadmap for implementing a security concept in the vital waterway based on the above principles.

Russia’s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, outlined a possible international coalition to provide security for commercial shipping through the strategically important Persian Gulf. The narrow outlet accounts for up to 30 per cent of all globally shipped oil on a daily basis. Virtually every nation has a stake in the safe passage of tankers. Any disruption would have huge negative consequences for the world economy, impacting all nations.

The Russian proposal, which has been submitted to the UN Security Council, is currently being considered by various parties. Crucially, the security concept put forward by Moscow relies on the participation of the Gulf nations, including Iran. Rather than being led by an outside power, the Russian proposal envisages a region-led effort.

This multilateral arrangement for cooperation between nations is solidly within the principles of the UN Charter and international law. Potentially, it can build trust and positive relations, and thereby reduce the climate of tensions and uncertainty which have intensified over recent months, primarily between the United States and Iran.

Washington has blamed Iran for several sabotage incidents on commercial shipping since June. The Americans have not provided any proof for their claims. Iran, for its part, denies any malfeasance and instead has pointed to “malign conspiracy”aimed at stoking tensions, or worse, precipitate an all-out military confrontation between the US and Iran. Significantly, too, the problem of alleged sabotage and danger to shipping followed the increased deployment of US forces in the region during May, ostensibly to counter anticipated “Iranian aggression”.

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

U.S. Currency Wars With China—Past And Present

In a purely political move, the Trump administration (read: the U.S. Treasury) has branded China as a currency manipulator. This is an act of war. After President Trump announced that even more tariffs would be imposed on China, the markets took the value of the Chinese yuan down a notch or two. So, who was “manipulating” the yuan, Beijing or Washington? Well, it looks like Washington is engaging in yet another Asian currency war.

As it turns out, the United States has a long history of waging currency wars in Asia. We all know the sad case of Japan. The U.S. claimed that unfair Japanese trading practices were ballooning its bilateral trade deficit with Japan. To “correct” the so-called problem, the U.S. demanded that Japan adopt an ever-appreciating yen policy. The Japanese complied and the yen appreciated against the greenback from 360 in 1971 to 80 in 1995 (and 106, today). But, this didn’t close the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. Indeed, Japan’s contribution to the overall U.S. trade deficit reached almost 60% in 1991. And, if that wasn’t enough, the yen’s appreciation pushed Japan’s economy into a deflationary quagmire.

Today, the U.S. is playing the same baseless blame game with China. And why not? After all, China’s contribution to the overall U.S. trade deficit has surged to 47%.

America’s recent declaration of economic war against China isn’t the first time the U.S. has used currency as a weapon to destabilize the Middle Kingdom. In the early 1930s, China was still on the silver standard, and the United States was not. Accordingly, the Chinese yuan-U.S. dollar exchange rate was determined by the U.S. dollar price of silver.

During his first term, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered on his Chinese currency stabilization “plan.” It was wrapped in the guise of doing something to help U.S. silver producers and, of course, the Chinese.

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

Beijing Accuses Washington Of “Undermining Global Stability” In New Defense Report

Beijing Accuses Washington Of “Undermining Global Stability” In New Defense Report

For the first time since President Xi began his second term in 2017, China has released a defense white paper that doesn’t elaborate on the country’s military priorities so much as it criticizes Beijing’s chief political adversary – the US – while defending the Communist Party’s right to impose its rule over China’s wayward provinces, including Hong Kong, which is still being rattled by protests, and Taiwan.

It’s the latest sign that tensions between Beijing and Washington over the latter’s support for Taiwan – Washington recently approved the sale of $2 billion in tanks and anti-aircraft missiles – might not only scupper trade talks, they could be the spark that ignites World War III. And what’s more, it comes hours after the White House confirmed that the next round of in-person trade talks had been set for next week. Remember, Beijing has repeatedly threatened to use military force against any foreign power who interferes in its relationship with Taiwan, while Taiwan’s leaders have insisted that they would never submit to Communist Party rule, Bloomberg reports.

China

The paper, titled “China’s National Defense in the New Era” – in a reference to a popular Xi slogan – accused the US of provoking competition among major countries, and noted that the “international security system and order are undermined by growing hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism and constant regional conflicts and wars.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…“(The US) has provoked and intensified competition among major countries, significantly increased its defense expenditure, pushed for additional capacity in nuclear, outer space, cyber and missile defense,” the paper said.

The white paper noted recent patrols by Chinese warships and warplanes around Taiwan, insisting that the operation was intended to send a “stern warning” to Taipei.

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

You had better memorize the term: de-dol-la-ri-za-tion

You had better memorize the term: de-dol-la-ri-za-tion 

Some say it was Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, who wanted to dethrone the dollar, and so he paid for it with his own life. Others say it was Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein, who wanted to make settlements in a currency other than the US dollar, and he was hanged. Now it is Russia and China, which want to do the same. Just days ago an agreement was signed to this effect. 

(i) Russia and China have decided to begin to make mutual settlements increasingly in their respective national currencies, and 

(ii) they have decided to bypass the SWIFT system, introducing their own instead.1)

Moscow has also revealed lately that Russia has stopped using the US dollar and the SWIFT system for settlements in arms trade.2)

The exchange of goods between Russia and China is significant; Russian weaponry has a lot of clients around the globe. On the other hand both countries, and especially China, have large dollar reserves. And both states are under attack from the West, be it economic sanctions against Moscow, be it American trade war against Beijing. 

To administer punishment for such a daring act was a child’s play in the case of Libya and Iraq: the two countries were swiftly dealt with. What can one do with a nuclear superpower on the other hand and Asia’s largest economic tiger on the other?

If Washington has wanted to weaponize Moscow against Beijing or the other way round as it seems it has, then the strategists on the Potomac must swallow a bitter pillow. The hybrid war waged against Russia in Georgia, Ukraine, Moscow, the Baltic States, Poland as well as in Venezuela and Syria rather than weakening the target state have cemented its embrace with the Middle Kingdom.

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

Washington’s wager concerning Iran

Washington’s wager concerning Iran

Even more than Syria, Iran is now at the heart of the confrontation between East and West. The astounded public is witnessing Washington’s daily about-turns in what seems – mistakenly – to be an escalation towards war between the two countries. But this is not what it is about. Fortunately, the two Great Powers have demonstrated for the last 75 years that they are reasonable, and have always managed to stand down before they arrive at the point of mutual destruction.

JPEG - 30.4 kb

Tension is apparently rising between Washington and Teheran. As usual, President Trump is blowing hot and cold. Thus, on 21 June, he went as far as ordering the bombing of Iran, then changed his mind a few minutes before attacking his targets. And yet this behaviour, which has often allowed Donald Trump to win successes in the West, does not carry much weight with the Persian psychology [1]. But is he trying to impress Iran ?

The attitude of the North Americans must be understood from the point of view not only of their Middle Eastern policy, but also their global policy [2]. More than a conflict with Iran, it’s the balance of power between East and West that is at stake.

 Since the Second World War, the central preoccupation of the United States has been their rivalry with the USSR, then Russia. Since the first Geneva Conference (June 2012), on the margins of the Syrian conflict, Moscow has proposed to be the guarantor of regional peace alongside and in equality with Washington. This recalibration of international relations was imagined under the auspices of the ex-Secretary General of UNO, Kofi Annan.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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