Lawlessness / Ruined – part 69

From WSWS:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin brief reporters about additional sanctions placed on Iran, at the White House, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Washington. [Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci]

“US and Israel escalate Middle East tensions in wake of Suleimani assassination” by Bill Van Auken (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

A week after Washington’s drone missile assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani at Baghdad’s international airport, a series of actions by the US and its principal regional ally, Israel, have escalated the drive toward a full-scale war throughout the region.

On Thursday, it was reported that a US drone strike killed or wounded more than 60 civilians in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat, close to the border with Iran. Wakil Ahmad Karkhi, a member of the Herat provincial council, confirmed the mass casualties to TOLO news, saying the civilians were killed and maimed in a US attempt to eliminate the leader of a split-off from the Taliban, known as Mullah Nangyalay.

The Pentagon has made increasingly indiscriminate use of air strikes in an attempt to stave off the Taliban, which controls the largest areas of the country since the regime it headed was overthrown by the US invasion more than 18 years ago. US strikes killed 579 civilians in the first 10 months of last year alone, a third more than in 2018.

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes struck targets on the Syria-Iraq border early Friday morning, killing eight members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, the coalition of predominantly Shia militias that is considered part of the Iraqi armed forces…

Three days later, the US drone strike killed Suleimani, considered the second most important figure in the Iranian state, along with the top commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and eight other Iranians and Iraqis. This assassination attack amounted to an act of war against Iran and a war crime, punishable under both US and international law.

Friday also saw Washington roll out a new round of sanctions against Iran, further escalating the “maximum pressure” economic blockade, tantamount to a state of war, which has been imposed since the Trump administration unilaterally abrogated the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and the major powers in May of 2018.

I have two quick points to make about the above linked-to article: Alexander Mercouris (who I disagree with about big things but is still quite informative) notes that the additional sanctions just won’t impact Iran. The Iranians are impacted thoroughly already by the sanctions in place now. And sanctions mean war and they mean lawlessness since sanctions target civilians. Stephen Gowans also correctly noted how this de facto state of war between the US and Iran is not new. See Gowan’s article titled “Soleimani assassination only one of many (and not the most consequential) US acts of war against Iran.”

In this image released by the White House, President Donald Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence, second from left, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, left; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, second from right, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, right, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House monitoring developments in the U.S. Special Operations forces raid that took out Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.. (Shealah Craighead/White House via AP)

“Official ISIS Newspaper ‘Thanks God’ for Trump Killing Iran’s General Soleimani” by Patrick Henningsen (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

It was only a matter of time before US President Donald Trump got the recognition he deserved for America’s military exploits these past two weeks. Yesterday, Trump received glowing praise from the official international ISIS newspaper, Al Naba, highlighting Washington’s assassination of Iranian IRGC’s General Qasem Soleimani on January 3rd.

Source:, Zulio

“Trump slashes Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico” by Julio Patron (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Last week, President Trump intervened in the final stages of legislative passage of a $1.4 trillion spending package, funding the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, to further slash the impoverished island of Puerto Rico of billions of dollars of Medicaid funding.

The initial spending bill would have sent about $12 billion in Medicaid funding to Puerto Rico over four years, but Trump demanded this be slashed to $5.7 billion over two years, according to a Politico report. In a bipartisan vote, the Democratic-controlled House overwhelmingly passed the spending package last Tuesday and it was approved Thursday by the Senate. Trump signed the bill into law on Friday, ahead of the December 20 deadline…

While social services such as health care are being cut by the billions, the two budget bills passed by Congress and signed into law by Trump include a massive $738 billion for the military and national security spending. The package includes $1.4 billion in spending for Trump’s border wall.

Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in 2017 and destroyed essential infrastructure and thousands of homes, led to a mass exodus to the mainland US. Those who remain on the island are elderly or impoverished, and many doctors and medical professionals have left the island in search of better working conditions and better pay. Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors are 40 percent lower than in the mainland US. More than 60 percent of people on the island receive either Medicare or Medicaid, and 1.6 million are on the island’s Medicaid program, called “Mi Salud.”

Just as the Trump administration used the social devastation after Hurricane Maria to secure debt repayments to Wall Street creditors and crystallize the austerity programs imposed by the Obama administration through the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), Trump’s response to the funding of medical care on the island expresses the complete indifference and criminality of the entire ruling elite toward the working class.

related: “Fascists Consolidate Via Crises + The Phony Contest Between The Repubs And Dems”

Jair Bolsonaro

“Brazil to Go Through With Mining on Tribal Lands” by ? (teleSUR)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Brazil’s right-wing regime said it was pushing ahead with its plans to mine on tribal lands, despite the objections of the people that live in these targeted areas…

According to a public statement on the ministry’s website, the Mning [sic] and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque told the European diplomats on Friday that “significant leadership” from native communities had asked for the opportunity to mine on their lands…

The Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), which advocates for native rights in Brazil, has argued against Bolsonaro’s plans to open up mining on reservation lands, saying most indigenous groups are opposed.

“Invisible Ink “Tattoos” Could Be Used to ID Vaccinated Kids” by Victor Tangermann (

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

===== =
For the people overseeing nationwide vaccination initiatives in developing countries, keeping track of who had which vaccination and when can be a tough task.

But researchers from MIT might have a solution: they’ve created an ink that can be safely embedded in the skin alongside the vaccine itself, and it’s only visible using a special smartphone camera app and filter.

In other words, they’ve found a covert way to embed the record of a vaccination directly in a patient’s skin rather than documenting it electronically or on paper — and their low-risk tracking system could greatly simplify the process of maintaining accurate vaccine records, especially on a larger scale.

“In areas where paper vaccination cards are often lost or do not exist at all, and electronic databases are unheard of, this technology could enable the rapid and anonymous detection of patient vaccination history to ensure that every child is vaccinated,” researcher Kevin McHugh said in a statement.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the team’s research, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday. According to a Scientific American story, the project came about following a direct request from Microsoft founder Bill Gates himself, who has been personally involved in efforts to eradicate polio and measles through vaccinations.
= =====

It’s not clear to me whether the author of the above report is for or against the continuing war on informed consent. But I can tell you that I am absolutely against the war on informed consent and freedom and find the above report to be alarming.

related: “Destroying Consent”


© Sarah James

“Groundwater pumping drains rivers in BC and globally” by Gavin MacRae (Watershed Sentinel)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Coho, steelhead, and cutthroat trout struggled to survive this August in “severely degraded” habitat caused by bottomed-out flow levels on the Koksilah River, south of Duncan on Vancouver Island.

Three summers running, provincial officials had requested voluntary reductions in water use on the Koksilah, but this time it wasn’t enough, and the province issued a mandatory restriction on water draws.

What made the stop-order unique is that for the first time in BC, groundwater wells were included.

It’s unlikely to be the last.

An estimated 70% of the water drawn from the Koksilah watershed is groundwater, and essential for crop irrigation, businesses, and rural homes. But many of the wells tap shallow aquifers hydraulically connected to the river.

It’s a textbook example of groundwater pumping affecting streamflows, and could have made a fitting case study for new hydrological modelling by an international team of researchers, published in October in Nature.

The findings of the study show that globally, unsustainable groundwater pumping is causing a “slow desiccation” of thousands of streams and rivers, with “potential devastating effects” on aquatic ecosystems.

Detail from the frontispiece to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne | Public Domain

“Mining sets its sights on the deep seabed” by Gavin MacRae (Watershed Sentinel)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Since the influential book Mineral Resources of the Sea by J. L. Mero was published a half-century ago, governments and mining companies have dreamed of extracting untapped metal and mineral deposits from the sea floor.

Progress has been stuttering, but the technology is now sufficiently advanced that commercial scale deep sea mining is considered by many observers to be imminent…

A decade ago, deep sea mining exploration centred around prospects off Papua New Guinea, and the target was massive sulphide deposits rich in copper, gold, silver, and zinc, occurring around active or dormant hydrothermal vents. Now, geopolitical and economic forces have shifted attention to the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, a 4.5 million square kilometre swath of Pacific seafloor stretching between Hawaii and Mexico. This time the focus is on mining polymetallic nodules: billions of mineral-rich, potato-sized rocks littering the seafloor at depths of 3000 to 6000 meters…

Polymetallic nodules are found on the abyssal plains – vast seafloor mudflats covering over half the earth’s surface – which, despite their bleak moniker and homogeneous appearance, support a phenomenal amount of life…

The ore would be pumped up to a ship and processed, with waste tailings returned to the ocean floor – creating a sediment plume that could bury and smother organisms. As well, disturbing seafloor sediments could release unknown amounts of stored carbon, potentially making climate change worse.

According to a July Greenpeace report, In Deep Water, the combined risks pose “severe and potentially irreversible environmental harm, both at the mine site and beyond. The deep ocean’s biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is barely understood and robust mitigation is not possible.”

I don’t buy the ‘life existed on the ocean floor for “tens of millions of years” line. But that’s irrelevant. And, What if I’m wrong?

“Britain’s Security Services Granted License to Kill” by Finian Cunningham (Strategic Culture Foundation)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

In a landmark ruling last week, a panel of five senior British judges ruled that a secret government policy of granting immunity to its state security service was “legal”. Below is an interview with one of the human rights groups which challenged the murky policy demanding that it be banned.

First though, some background to the issue. British government policy holds implicitly that agents or informants operating for the state’s security service, MI5, are permitted to commit crimes without fear of prosecution if those crimes are committed in the line of duty to protect national security.

This is tantamount to the British state granting its agents and proxies a “license to kill”. The judges in the panel of the so-called Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) have formally recognized this hitherto secret government policy as “legal”. The panel voted by 3 to 2 in favor. The two dissenting judges expressed deep concern that the ruling was “opening the door to future abuses” of power by British state agents.

MI5 is the branch of state intelligence that deals specifically with internal security. The other branch, MI6, deals with overseas activities. The disturbing implication is that MI5 can act with impunity, including acts of murder, against British citizens in the name of national security. The powers granted to it are secret and beyond public scrutiny in the courts. That means Britain’s secret services are now officially untouchable and above the law. This is a description fitting for a police state, not a supposed democracy which proclaims to be under the rule of law.

‘Licence to murder’ is more like it.

via Russia Business Today

“Germany Slams Trump’s ‘Meddling’ In Europe’s Energy After Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Passed” by Tyler Durden (ZeroHedge)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Included in Wednesday’s just passed mammoth 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — which increases the Pentagon budget by $22 billion (to a whopping $738 billion) — were long-threatened sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 underwater natural gas pipeline.

In the House bill, expected to be approved by the Senate sometime next week before Trump signs it into law, are measures which specifically target companies assembling the pipeline, a last ditch US effort to block the controversial 760-mile project that would allow Russia to export natural gas directly to Germany, depriving Ukraine of badly needed gas transit fees along the current route for Russian supplies.

The US states that Russia’s decision to lay Nordstream 2 will hurt Ukraine. That’s not only irrelevant (and strange coming from hyper capitalists of the neoliberal variety), but it’s nonsensical. And there’s certainly no good reason for the US’s opposition to Nordstream 2. If a vendor sells to someone and not to someone else, that’s up to the vendor. End of story. And there’s Ukraine, happy to work with Trump (read the transcript of the famous phone call between Volodymyr Zelensky and Donald Trump; it’s not long) to undermine Russia and Russia’s supposed to do business with Ukraine (laying pipelines in Ukraine supplying Europeans with gas and enabling Ukraine to charge a fee for allowing the transitting of that gas through its territory?) What’s also remarkable about this – and again illustrates the consequences of no consequences; the US is in the habit of firing sanctions at targetted countries left and right and has always got away with it – is the decision by the psycho US administration (and, for you rightwingers out there, Trump doesn’t get a pass here) to put sanctions on an ally, in this case Germany, simply in order to force Germany to help it play its destructive geopolitical games. Germany needs Russia much more than it needs the United States. But it may not be free to do whatever it pleases, partly because it’s a NATO member and partly because the US really does rule the world. So we’ll see.

“The Hidden Military Use of 5G Technology” by Manilo Dinucci (Global Research)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

At the London Summit, the 29 member countries of NATO agreed to “guarantee the security of our communications, including 5G”. Why is this fifth generation of mobile data transmission so important for NATO?

While the earlier technologies were perfected to create ever more advanced smartphones, 5G is designed not only to improve their performance, but mainly to link digital systems which need enormous quantities of data in order to work automatically. The most important 5G applications will not be intended for civil use, but for the military domain…

The possibilities offered by this new technology are explained by the Defense Applications of 5G Network Technology, published by the Defense Science Board, a federal committee which provides scientific advice for the Pentagon –

“The emergence of 5G technology, now commercially available, offers the Department of Defense the opportunity to take advantage, at minimal cost, of the benefits of this system for its own operational requirements”.

In other words, the 5G commercial network, built and activated by private companies, will be used by the US armed forces at a much lower expenditure than that necessary if the network were to be set up with an exclusively military goal. Military experts foresee that the 5G system will play an essential role for the use of hypersonic weapons – missiles, including those bearing nuclear warheads, which travel at a speed superior to Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound).

related (petition): e-2141 (Telecommunications)

Craig Murray

“The USA Doubles Down on its Saudi Allegiance” by Craig Murray (Craig Murray)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

For the United States to abandon proxy warfare and directly kill one of Iran’s most senior political figures has changed international politics in a fundamental way. It is a massive error. Its ramifications are profound and complex.

There is also a lesson to be learned here in that this morning there will be excitement and satisfaction in the palaces of Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran. All of the political elites will see prospects for gain from the new fluidity. While for ordinary people in all those countries there is only the certainty of more conflict, death and economic loss, for the political elite, the arms manufacturers, the military and security services and allied interests, the hedge funds, speculators and oil companies, there are the sweet smells of cash and power.

“Pentagon Warmongers Double-Down, Deploying 6 Nuclear Bombers to Persian Gulf” by ? (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

After escalating tensions in the region by attacking facilities and leaders from both Iraq and Iran, war hawks in Washington DC are now doubling-down on their World War III rhetoric by deploying six nuclear-enabled long-range B52 bombers to the contested British territorial island of Diego Garcia located in the Indian Ocean.

This latest deployment comes on the heals of two other recent B52 wing deployments, firstly beginning in 2016, when the Pentagon sent six bombers to Qatar near Iran, and also this past November 2019 when the US moved another wing of B52’s to the Mediterranean island of Crete, and quickly proceeded to use one of these aircraft to provoke the Russian air force in Syria.

US officials told CNN that Diego Garcia was chosen this time in order to keep the aircraft out of the range of Iranian missiles.

This latest move by Washington comes after the US bombed an Iraqi military facility on December 29, 2019, supposedly as retaliation for a “rocket barrage” which the US claim was carried out by “Iranian militias” (although no evidence has been shown to back this US claim) which hit a joint US-Iraqi base near Kirkuk and killed one “US defense contractor” on Dec 27, 2019. The US followed-up with that bombing raid by carrying out a double state-sponsored assassination of two highly respected Iranian and Iraqi military commanders, Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mouhendis just days after on Wed Jan 2, supposedly in response to Iraqi protesters who had attacked the outer ring of the US embassy in Baghdad on Dec 30th and 31st.

As we now know, the neocons, especially John Bolton (now gone from the US admin), had the idea to kill Qassen Soleimani many months ago. Other deranged staff in the US admin couldn’t wait to do it and finally pushed Trump to sign off on the violent action. But it’s not hard to twist someone’s arm when that someone is like you and possesses your world view and lack of principles. Trump doesn’t get a pass here, whether he is dumb or not. Defenders of Trump can’t make up their minds whether he’s dumb or smart, blaming his dumb moves on inexperience and the unfortunate influence on him of neocons in his cabinet, as though Trump wasn’t a neoconservative himself. Or they call him a diplomat and clever (Alexander Mercouris) and other supporters say he’s just playing 4G chess. Go figure. Alexander Mercouris even compared Trump’s de-escalation with Iran, over the killings that took out Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mouhendis and Iran’s response, to JFK’s back channel negotiations with Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis, implying that both leaders were on top of their game in those two situations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Richard Walton, who wrote “Cold War And Counterrevolution” observed that no matter how dumb and reckless JFK was, his worshippers would just shrug it off and call this or that blunder by the young president a learning experience. Seymour Hersh, in his book titled “The Dark Side Of Camelot,” explains how JFK should not get any credit for defusing, with Khrushchev, the Cuban missile crisis when it was he who created it in the first place with his, unknown to the public and much of the US government, program to assassinate Fidel Castro, which the Cubans and Soviets did know about.


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