The horrific persecution of Julian Assange continues - By Thomas Scripps

 

 

The attempted US extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange resumed yesterday with the opening of a hearing into a US government appeal. It is a legal abomination in pursuit of a heinous crime.

Assange is being targeted for his and WikiLeaks’s exposure of war crimes, torture and other human rights abuses, mass surveillance, coup plots, and state corruption. The architects of these crimes, the US and other imperialist governments, are determined to extract a blood price, either through Assange’s life imprisonment and the destruction of his physical and mental health, or his murder.

Modi makes spectacle of India’s 1 billionth COVID vaccine shot to cover up his government’s culpability for mass death -By Wasantha Rupasinghe

 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered an address to the nation on October 22 to mark the country’s 1 billionth COVID-19 vaccination shot.

 

 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking in Houston in 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

By making a spectacle of this “historic” achievement, Modi sought to cover up and divert attention from his government’s responsibility for the tsunami of COVID-19 infections and deaths that have ravaged the country. He also seized on the occasion to promote the lie that the worst of the pandemic is over, thereby providing muster to the ruling class’s campaign to “reopen” India.

Guantanamo prisoner Majid Khan describes years of torture at CIA black sites-By Barry Grey

 Appearing before military jurors at a sentencing hearing Thursday, Guantanamo Bay prisoner Majid Khan described the brutal and sadistic torture to which he was subjected during three years of detention at secret CIA “black sites.”

 

 
      Majid Khan [Credit: Center for Constitutional Rights, ccrjustice.org]

 Khan, 41, a legal US resident who graduated from high school in Baltimore, where he moved with his family from Pakistan in the late 1990s, is the first-ever ex-prisoner of the CIA sites set up under the George W. Bush administration to openly describe the horrific abuse he endured.

The danger of US-China war and Australia’s anti-democratic election laws-by Peter Symonds

The new anti-democratic election laws in Australia, aimed at deregistering so-called minor parties, go hand in hand with the efforts of the political and media establishment to stifle and censor public debate on the most important issues facing working people.

War between the United States and China, the world’s largest and second largest economies, both nuclear-armed, is an ever-growing danger. And successive governments—Coalition and Labor with the backing of the Greens—have placed Australia on the frontline of a US-China conflict.

 

 Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison and Joe Biden at G7 meeting in June 2021 [Source: Australian Government]

Nothing could make this clearer than the military agreement reached between the US, the United Kingdom and Australia in mid-September. The AUKUS pact revives the World War II alliance in the Pacific—this time directed against China, not Japan.

A key element of the AUKUS agreement is the provision of nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia—only the second time that the US has ever shared this sophisticated technology. These submarines have no defensive purpose. They are designed to operate at long distance—that is, in strategic waters off the Chinese mainland for protracted periods of time.

German billionaires’ wealth hits new heights in the pandemic- By Elisabeth Zimmermann

 Around the world, the richest and wealthiest have benefited enormously from the coronavirus pandemic. In Germany, too, this is taking on very stark forms. The concentration of wealth at the top of society is horrendous. This was most recently confirmed by the latest rich list presented by Manager Magazin at the beginning of October. The annual list of the 500 richest Germans has been published for the 20th year.

The editorial accompanying this year’s list states, “Never before has the average absolute increase in wealth been as high as it is now. Never has Germany had so many billionaires, 213 currently.”

 

 Susanne Klatten at the BMW booth at the IAA 2017 in Frankfurt (Olaf Kosinsky, CC BY-SA 3.0 EN, via Wikimedia Commons)

The magazine explains that its calculations of all wealth figures “are estimates. The basis of the valuations are business evaluations as well as research in publicly accessible archives, trade and real estate registers. In addition, research is conducted with asset managers, lawyers, bankers and representatives of the list itself.”

This week in history: October 25-31

 

25 years ago: Fighting erupts in Zaire

 

                           A United Nations refugee camp in Zaire, 1994

 On October 30, 1996, fighting erupted in Zaire after Tutsi rebels and Rwandan army commandos routed Zairian troops near the border in a battle to take the city of Bukavu.

Zairian troops were fighting Tutsis, known as Banyamulenge, who defied government orders to leave the country. Thousands of people—refugees from the slaughter in Rwanda barely two years earlier—fled camps at the border in an attempt to escape violence and death.

US capitalism bore direct responsibility for the catastrophe in Zaire. Zaire’s dictator Mobutu Sese Seko was installed through a CIA-backed coup in 1965, four years after Washington organized the assassination of left-wing nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba. For the following three decades, the Mobutu dictatorship functioned as the principal US client regime and an instrument of the Cold War in Africa.

Zaire served as a base of operations for counterrevolutionary interventions and proxy wars that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in Angola, Mozambique and elsewhere. The US poured in hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic aid, much of which went straight into Mobutu’s personal bank accounts.

Austerity policies in England linked to 57,550 extra deaths in five years Simon Whelan

 

The BMJ Open journal published by the BMJ (British Medical Journal) has released findings from the largest study yet of its kind into the cost in human lives of the savage austerity spending cuts initiated in the UK from 2008 onwards.

Analysing the combined impact of cuts to healthcare, public health and social care in the four years between 2010 and 2014, researchers from the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York found 57,550 more deaths than would have been expected.

Professor Karl Claxton of York’s Department of Economics and Related Studies told the Guardian: “Restrictions on the growth in health and social care expenditure during ‘austerity’ have been associated with tens of thousands more deaths than would have been observed had pre-austerity expenditure growth been sustained.”

The team of researchers found that social care spending rose by 2.2 percent per capita between 2001-02 and between 2009-10 but fell by 1.57 percent between 2010-11 and again between 2014-15. This loss alone in social care funding caused an astonishing 23,662 additional deaths, according to the research findings.

 

 A homeless person sleeping on Euston Road in London last winter (credit: WSWS Media)

The University of York research found that a slowing in life expectancy improvement coincided with the Cameron government’s severe reductions to health and social care spending. Professor Claxton said, “Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the slowdown in the rate of improvement in life expectancy in England and Wales since 2010 is attributable to spending constraints in the healthcare and social care sectors.”

Supreme Court doubles down to shield abusive police officers from misconduct lawsuits-By John Burton

 

The great Billie Holiday, in “God Bless the Child,” sings, “Rich relations give/Crust of bread and such/You can help yourself/But don’t take too much,” lyrics which pretty much sum up current Supreme Court doctrine on qualified immunity and its devastating impact on federal civil rights lawsuits against law enforcement and detention facility abuses.

In 1871, the Reconstruction Congress enacted, and President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law, Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 1983, known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, to enforce the due-process and equal-protection guarantees embodied in the recently ratified Fourteenth Amendment, which for the first time extended federally guaranteed rights to all people within the jurisdiction of a state.

 

 The Supreme Court building in Washington, Sunday, May 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

On Monday, October 18, the Supreme Court issued unsigned unanimous orders summarily dismissing two Section 1983 police brutality suits that had been deemed worthy of trial in the Court of Appeals. These rulings demonstrate that all of the justices on the current Supreme Court support the judge-made doctrine of “qualified immunity” that shields local law enforcement officers from facing trials on all but the most egregious excessive force and other misconduct claims.

UK Health Secretary “wilfully negligent” for ignoring warnings that pandemic is overwhelming National Health Service- by Tony Robson

In his Downing Street press briefing Wednesday, Conservative Health Secretary Sajid Javid dismissed warnings made by health professionals that the National Health Service (NHS) is being overwhelmed by the surge in infections and hospital admissions from the pandemic.

Javid declared, “We don't believe that the pressures that are currently faced by the NHS are unsustainable.”

 

 Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid speaks during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)

This was an arrogant response to appeals made by health managers represented in the NHS Confederation in a statement released the day before. The confederation wrote, “The NHS is seeing worrying increases in coronavirus cases in its hospitals and the community at a time when it is preparing for a busy winter period, its staff are close to burnout, and it is being expected to recover many of its services that were disrupted by the pandemic.”

Can We Avoid a Catastrophic War With China?-BY JOHN FEFFER

Photograph Source: Fibonacci Blue – CC BY 2.0

When he was running for office in 2008, Barack Obama wanted to put an end to the war in Iraq in order to focus U.S. troops and resources on the conflict in Afghanistan. This August, the Biden administration finally withdrew the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan. It’s hard not to get the sense that it has done so in order to perform a similar military pivot—this time toward China.

After all, U.S. policy toward China remains as provocative today as it was under Trump. Tariffs and economic sanctions against Beijing remain largely intact. Little has been done to resolve disputes on trade, security, and human rights. The Pentagon is cutting back on the kinds of weapons it was using in the Middle East in favor of munitions more suited to the Pacific theater. There hasn’t been much in the way of cooperation on the major global problems of pandemic and climate change. Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have barely talked with one another, though there are plans for a virtual meeting by the end of the year.

Modi government seeking to tighten India's repressive film censorship regime- By Yuan Darwin

 India’s Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is seeking to tighten the country’s already intrusive and pervasive film censorship regime with its Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The proposed legislation would amend India’s existing film censorship law, the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to give the central government “revisionary powers,” thereby enabling it “to order recertification of an already certified film.” This will add an additional layer of direct government censorship to the existing censorship regime, overseen by the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC), or Censor Board.

The CBFC is a statutory body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting tasked with regulating the public exhibition of films. It has the power to compel changes before films can be legally presented to the public or to prohibit their release outright.

 

 Scene from Ashvin Kumar's "No fathers in Kashmir," which was only released in India after the filmmaker appealed to the now abolished Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal.

The board consists of a chairperson and 23 members, all of whom are appointed by the central government, and has its headquarters in Mumbai, the centre of India’s film industry. It has nine regional offices in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Cuttack and Guwahati, which are assisted in their examination of films by Advisory Panels whose members are also appointed by the Union government for a period of two years. The CBFC regularly orders directors to remove anything it deems offensive, including depictions of sex, nudity and violence, or “politically subversive” material. It can and does routinely make certification conditional on the cutting of “objectionable” scenes.

Press freedom groups call for charges against Assange to be dropped ahead of US appeal- By Oscar Grenfell

 A coalition of over two dozen press freedom and human rights organisations has called on the Biden administration to drop all charges against Julian Assange. This is ahead of a US appeal that will be heard next week, challenging a British court decision that blocked the WikiLeaks publisher’s extradition.

 

                                     
                                                          Julian Assange

The statement, delivered last week to Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland, reflects the widespread popular opposition to the attempt to prosecute Assange in the United States for exposing US-led war crimes, surveillance operations and global diplomatic intrigues.

It also expresses the increasingly crisis-ridden state of the US campaign against Assange, which is widely viewed as an assault on core civil liberties. This is even more so since revelations last month of gangster-like plans by the Trump administration and CIA to kidnap or kill the Australian journalist while he was a political refugee in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Signatories to the letter include the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the Knight First Amendment Institute, along with 20 other well-known advocacy organisations.

Biden says US will go to war with China to defend Taiwan-By Peter Symonds

US President Biden bluntly declared at a Town Hall meeting on Thursday that the US was committed to going to war against China in defence of Taiwan. The statement is another provocative step that undermines the basis of US-China diplomatic relations and intensifies the already acute tensions between the two countries.

 

 
President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Baltimore, with moderator Anderson Cooper. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Biden was asked from the audience what he would do to keep up with China militarily and “can you vow to protect Taiwan,” to which he replied “yes and yes.” He dismissed the suggestion that China would overtake the US militarily, declaring that the world “knows we have the most powerful military in the history of the world.”

A global tragedy: Up to 180,000 health care workers have died from COVID-19- by Andre Damon

In the latest in a series of statistics showing the disastrous social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that as many as 180,000 health care workers have died from the ongoing pandemic worldwide.

 

 Nurses and other health workers protest at Kandy hospital in Sri Lanka (WSWS Media)

 “Between 80,000 to 180,000 health and care workers could have died from Covid-19 in the period between January 2020 to May 2021,” the WHO stated. These workers are among the approximately 15 million people worldwide who have died from the pandemic, according to “excess death” statistics published by the Economist.

Health care workers, who have been battling the pandemic for close to two years, are approaching exhaustion.

ஆப்கானிஸ்தான்: நேற்று – இன்று – நாளை-–பேராசிரியர் விஜய் பிரசாத்



(இந்திய சமூக விஞ்ஞான கழகம், சென்னை சார்பில் 24.09.2021 அன்று மாலை நடைபெற்ற இணையவழி கூட்டத்தில் ஆற்றிய உரையின் சுருக்கமான தமிழ் வடிவம்)

நண்பர்களே! தோழர்களே!

இந்தக் கூட்டத்தில் பங்கேற்பதில் நான் மிக்க மகிழ்ச்சி அடைகிறேன். எனக்கு நன்றாக நினைவிருக்கிறது. சுமார் 16 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்னால் சென்னையில் சில ஆண்டுகள் நான் வாழ்ந்தேன். கடைசியாக சுமார் 3 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு ஒரு பயிலரங்கம் சம்பந்தமாக புகழ்பெற்ற பத்திரிக்கையாளரும் ஆய்வாளரும் ஆன பி. சாய்நாத் அவர்களோடு பங்கு பெற்றேன். அன்று மாலை நடைபெற்ற இந்திய சமூக விஞ்ஞான கழகத்தின் கூட்டம் ஒன்றிலும் பங்கு பெற்று பேசினோம். அந்த நிகழ்ச்சிகள் மிகவும் மகிழ்ச்சிகரமானதாக இருந்தது. இன்னும் சொல்லப் போனால் சாய்நாத் உடன் இருக்கும் ஒவ்வொரு கணமும் மதிப்புக்கும் மகிழ்ச்சிக்கும் உரிய ஒன்றுதான்.

சர்வதேச புரட்சியாளன் சே குவேரா-–எஸ். மோகனா



உலகின் எங்கு ஏகாதிபத்தியம் என்றாலும் எழும் சே

”உலகின் எந்த மூலையிலும் ஏகாதிபத்தியம் தலை தூக்குவதைக் கண்டு உங்கள் ரத்தம் சூடேறினால் நீ என் தோழன்” – சே

.. “உண்மையில் நான் அர்ஜெண்டினாவைச் சேர்ந்தவன் மேலும் கியூபாவை சேர்ந்தவன், பொலிவியாவை சேர்ந்தவன், ஆப்ரிக்காவைச் சேர்ந்தவன், ஆசியாவைச் சேர்ந்தவன், ஏன் அமெரிக்காவைச் சேர்ந்தவன் கூட. ஏனெனில் அடிமைப்பட்டு கிடக்கும் ஒவ்வொரு நாடும் என் தாய் நாடு. அவர்களுக்கு எனது போராட்டம் தேவையை இருக்கிறது. நானொரு கொரில்லா போராளி. அப்படி அழைக்கப்படுவதைத்தான் நான் விரும்புகிறேன்”… எர்னெஸ்டோ சே குவேரா

எந்த நாட்டின் விடுதலைக்கு என் உயிர் தயார்.. சே

“நான் அர்ஜெண்டினாவில் பிறந்தேன். அது ஒன்றும் ரகசியமல்ல, நான் ஒரு அர்ஜென்டிணன், ஒரு கியூபன், அதே சமயம் அனைத்து லத்தீன் அமெரிக்க நாடுகளின் தேச பக்தனாகவும் உணர்கிறேன். யாருடைய வேண்டுகோளும் இன்றி, இதில் எந்த ஒரு நாட்டின் விடுதலைக்காகவும் நான் என் உயிரைத் தரவும் தயாராக இருக்கிறேன்”… சே .

In preparation for its forthcoming austerity budget, the Sri Lankan government in recent weeks has removed price controls on several essential items, leading to major increases in the cost of living for workers and the rural poor.

 

 Nurses protesting outside Muthur hospital in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province (Photo: Facebook/GNOA)

  Cabinet meetings headed by President Gotabhaya Rajapakse in late September and early October ended price ceilings on rice, cooking gas, wheat flour, milk powder and cement. The decisions opened the way for big business rice mill owners and importers to impose unprecedented increases:

  • One kilogram of the lowest grade of rice rose to 115 rupees, a 17 percent increase, and samba, the next grade, increased to 145 rupees, a 37 percent rise. Rice is Sri Lanka’s main staple. ($US1 is about 200 Sri Lankan rupees.)
  • The cost of a 12.5-kilogram cylinder of cooking gas increased to 2,675 rupees ($US13), an 80 percent rise.
  • Milk powder, climbed to 1,195 rupees per kilo, a 26 percent increase.
  • A kilogram of wheat flour, increased by 11.5 percent, and now costs 97 rupees, triggering increases in the price of bread and bakery products.
  • A 50-kilogram pack of cement climbed to 1,098 rupees, a 9.2 percent increase.
  • Higher prices for fuel are expected to be announced shortly.

Another anti-China provocation: US, Canadian warships transit Taiwan Strait- BY Peter Symonds

In another belligerent operation, the US Navy last week sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait, for the tenth time this year. The guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey, accompanied by the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg, sailed through the narrow waterway separating mainland China from the island of Taiwan on Thursday and Friday.

 

        Guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (right) [Wikimedia Commons]

The US military absurdly declared that the transit demonstrated “the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” Such naval operations, thousands of kilometres from North America, are part of a decade-long US military build-up against China in Asia and are calculated to inflame tensions with China—in this case, over the particularly dangerous flashpoint of Taiwan.

After Corbyn, Israel Lobby Turns Its Guns on UK Academia- BY JONATHAN COOK

Jeremy Corbyn. Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair.

The Jewish Chronicle warns that the dismissal of Prof David Miller is ‘just the beginning’

The Israel lobby appears to be readying for a campaign to root out leftwing academics in the UK critical of Israel’s continuing oppression of the Palestinian people – echoing its efforts against the previous leader of Britain’s Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn.

As with the attacks on Corbyn, the assault on academia is being led by the Jewish Chronicle, a UK weekly newspaper that speaks for the most ardent supporters of Israel among the UK’s Jewish community.

The move follows the lobby’s success this month in pressuring Bristol university to sack one of its professors, David Miller, even after the university’s own investigation – headed by a senior lawyer – concluded that claims of antisemitism against Miller were unfounded.

Miller was formally dismissed on the unexplained basis that he “did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff and the University”.

The lobby has struggled to disguise its glee that, apparently fearful of bad publicity, Bristol university capitulated to a campaign of unsubstantiated claims Miller “harassed” Jewish students.

Legacy of Shame: Colin Powell’s Blood-Soaked Service to the Empire- BY KENN ORPHAN


Photograph Source: Reagan White House Photographs – Public Domain

Colin Powell just died from Covid-19. So we should expect a tsunami of eulogies from politicians, the mainstream media and even a few liberals who seem to enjoy sanitizing the murderous lives of the ruling class. Those of us on the left who refuse to play the games of polite society when it comes to war crimes will likely be chastised. And he will take his place among the “great generals” of the American Empire. All warmongering societies do this, so it should come as no surprise. But no amount of gushing tributes can erase the truth.

The man who helped whitewash the massacre of civilians at My Lai during the war against Vietnam, pushed hard for the Gulf War in the 1990s, and gave the green light to Ariel Sharon in his murderous assault on civilians in Jenin and land grabs in the occupied West Bank, also sold the war against Iraq at the beginning of this century with a fistful of lies. Iraq never attacked the US. It did not have “weapons of mass destruction.” But the Bush administration was salivating for blood and oil after the attacks on the US on the 11th of September, 2001. And any morsel of fiction that would justify their lust for violence was welcomed.

Powell would later blame his role in peddling these lies on an “intelligence failure.” This is the go-to excuse for the American military establishment, as we see with the latest atrocity they committed in Afghanistan, the recent drone bomb incineration of a family in Kabul after the disastrous pull out of American troops. Now that he is dead, he will not face justice at the Hague for these crimes. But really, no member of the American ruling class ever does.

In this same week we lost Sister Megan Rice who was 91 years old. Rice was imprisoned for two years in federal prison when she was in her 80s after she broke into a government complex to protest nuclear weapons. Her activism was influenced by her parents who worked with Dorothy Day for economic justice during the Great Depression and by her uncle who had spent four months in Nagasaki, Japan, following the criminal nuclear bombing of civilians by US forces. After living and working in West Africa for 23 years as a teacher and pastoral guide she returned to the US and became a major activist in the peace movement. Sister Rice will not get the attention of a dead general in the mainstream press or by politicians of the ruling parties. Those who expose war crimes or who advocate peace are generally marginalized, imprisoned or silenced in militaristic societies.

Americans have a remarkable ability of sanitizing the crimes of their ruling class. Their lives often seem to eclipse the mountains of corpses on which they stand atop. The regions left in disarray and ruin. The lives and families and hopes that were forever disfigured or shattered. All of that disappears, is explained away, or is designated as a mere footnote when one of the elite dies. The nationalistic panegyrics that are employed are designed to do just that. A kind of novocaine that glazes over eyes and numbs collective memory. But as the late Howard Zinn said: “‘There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” And, despite the enormous effort made, that shame cannot be sponged away in death. (19/10/21)

 

Kenn Orphan is an artist, sociologist, radical nature lover and weary, but committed activist. He can be reached at kennorphan.com  

 Source: counterpunch.org

 

ஜெய் பீம் – சினிமா விமர்சனம் நவம்பர் 4, 2021 விளிம்புநிலையில் தத்தளிக்கும் உயிர்களை இச்சமூகத்தோடு இறுக்கமாய் இணைக்கும் சட்டத்தின் தொப்புள்கொ...