Political Articles from 2021
[Justice] [Political] [Media]
Key Witness in Assange Case Admits to Lies in Indictment
By Bjartmar Oddur Þeyr Alexandersson and Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson
Posted June 29, 2021
A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder. The witness, who has a documented history with sociopathy and has received several convictions for sexual abuse of minors and wide-ranging financial fraud, made the admission in a newly published interview in Stundin where he also confessed to having continued his crime spree whilst working with the Department of Justice and FBI and receiving a promise of immunity from prosecution.
The man in question, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, was recruited by US authorities to build a case against Assange after misleading them to believe he was previously a close associate of his. In fact he had volunteered on a limited basis to raise money for Wikileaks in 2010 but was found to have used that opportunity to embezzle more than $50,000 from the organization. Julian Assange was visiting Thordarson’s home country of Iceland around this time due to his work with Icelandic media and members of parliament in preparing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a press freedom project that produced a parliamentary resolution supporting whistleblowers and investigative journalism.
The United States is currently seeking Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom in order to try him for espionage relating to the release of leaked classified documents. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison. The indictment has sparked fears for press freedoms in the United States and beyond and prompted strong statements in support of Assange from Amnesty International, Reporters without borders, the editorial staff of the Washington Post and many others. More…
[Economic] [Political] [Social] [Media]
The Con Job of the Century?
by Laurie Calhoun
Posted June 28, 2021
One might reasonably assume that anyone who stands to enrich himself from government policies should be excluded from consequential deliberations over what ought to be done, and in certain realms, the quite rational concern with conflict of interest still operates to some degree. With regard to the military, however, there has been a general acquiescence by the populace to the idea that because only experts inside the system are capable of giving competent advice, they must be consulted, even when they will profit from the policies they promote, such as bombing, which invariably increases the value of stock in companies such as Raytheon.
Arguably even more ruinous to the republic in the longterm than the rampant conflict of interest inherent to “revolving door” appointments between the for-profit military industry and the government has been the infiltration of the military into academia, with many universities receiving large grants from the Defense Department for research. Academia would be a natural place for intellectual objections to the progressive militarization of society, but when scholars and scientists themselves benefit directly from DoD funds, they have self-interested reasons to dismiss or discredit those types of critiques—whether consciously or not—in publishing, retention and promotion decisions.
As a result of the tentacular spread of the military, Cui bono? as a cautionary maxim has been replaced by Who cares? People seem not at all bothered by these profound conflicts of interest, and the past year has illustrated how cooption and corruption may creep easily into other realms as well. Indeed, there is a sense in which today we have two MICs: the military-industrial-complex and, now, in the age of Covid-19, the medical-industrial-complex. This latter development can be viewed, in part, as a consequence of the former, for in recent decades the military industrial complex has sprouted tentacles to become the military-industrial-congressional-media-academic-pharmaceutical-logistics banking complex. More…
Pharmaceutical Industry Dispatches Army of Lobbyists to Block Generic Covid-19 Vaccines
by Lee Fang
Posted June 26, 2021
The pharmaceutical industry is pouring resources into the growing political fight over generic coronavirus vaccines.
Newly filed disclosure forms from the first quarter of 2021 show that over 100 lobbyists have been mobilized to contact lawmakers and members of the Biden administration, urging them to oppose a proposed temporary waiver on intellectual property rights by the World Trade Organization that would allow generic vaccines to be produced globally.
Pharmaceutical lobbyists working against the proposal include Mike McKay, a key fundraiser for House Democrats, now working on retainer for Pfizer, as well as several former staff members to the U.S. Office of Trade Representative, which oversees negotiations with the WTO.
Several trade groups funded by pharmaceutical firms have also focused closely on defeating the generic proposal, new disclosures show. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which all receive drug company money, have dispatched dozens of lobbyists to oppose the initiative.
The push has been followed by a number of influential voices taking the side of the drug lobby. Last week, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., released a letter demanding that the administration “oppose any and all efforts aimed at waiving intellectual property rights.” Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chair, has similarly criticized the proposal, echoing many of the arguments of the drug industry. More…
[Justice] [Politics] Social]
One Nation Under Greed: The Profit Incentives Driving the American Police State
By John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead
Posted June 25, 2021
Not satisfied with merely padding their budgets by issuing speeding tickets, police departments have turned to asset forfeiture and red light camera schemes as a means of growing their profits. Despite revelations of corruption, collusion and fraud, these money-making scams have been being inflicted on unsuspecting drivers by revenue-hungry municipalities. Now legislators are hoping to get in on the profit sharing by imposing a vehicle miles-traveled tax, which would charge drivers for each mile behind the wheel.
States now have quotas to meet for how many Americans go to jail. Increasing numbers of states have contracted to keep their prisons at 90% to 100% capacity. This profit-driven form of mass punishment has, in turn, given rise to a $70 billion private prison industry that relies on the complicity of state governments to keep the money flowing and their privately run prisons full, “regardless of whether crime was rising or falling.” As Mother Jones reports, “private prison companies have supported and helped write … laws that drive up prison populations. Their livelihoods depend on towns, cities, and states sending more people to prison and keeping them there.” Private prisons are also doling out harsher punishments for infractions by inmates in order to keep them locked up longer in order to “boost profits” at taxpayer expense. All the while, prisoners are being forced to provide cheap labor for private corporations. No wonder the United States has the largest prison population in the world.
Fueled by the profit-driven military industrial complex, the government’s endless wars are wreaking havoc on our communities, our budget and our police forces. Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $32 million per hour. Future wars and military exercises waged around the globe are expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053. Talk about fiscally irresponsible: the U.S. government is spending money it doesn’t have on a military empire it can’t afford. War spending is bankrupting America. More…
Nuclear Power and the Lobbyists Behind It
by Union of Concerned Scientists
Posted June 24, 2021
Is nuclear energy a smart choice for the future? The amount of money lobbyists are spending to convince Congress and the public that nuclear power should be part of the next climate and energy bill may trigger a cloud of skepticism as you answer that question.
A new investigation finds that the nuclear industry has spent millions of dollars over the past decade to sell the public and Congress on the virtues of new reactors.
Times reporter Judy Pasternak, now with the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University. (To learn more, read Nuclear Energy Lobby Working Hard to Win Support.) In the first three quarters of 2009 alone, the nuclear energy industry spent $84 million lobbying Congress.
“In many ways, the nuclear power industry’s efforts to win support are a textbook case of how the influence game is played in Washington,” Pasternak reports. “Besides the money spent on lobbying and campaign contributions, the industry, led by the NEI (Nuclear Energy Institute), has created a network of allies who give speeches, quote one another approvingly and showcase one another on their websites. The effect is an echo chamber of support for nuclear power.”
Two of the industry’s celebrity spokespeople, former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and former Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore, have been stumping around the country, writing op-eds, and appearing on TV to extol the virtues of nuclear power as the co-directors of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. They rarely, if ever, mention that the NEI created the coalition and is its sole funder. More…
China Launches New App Allowing Citizens to Report Others For Expressing “Mistaken Opinions”
by Paul Joseph Watson
Posted June 22, 2021
China’s Communist government has launched a new app that encourages citizens to report dissidents for expressing “mistaken opinions” on the Internet.
The new platform will target anyone who criticizes the dictatorship’s ruling CCP, disputes the official version of the country’s history or engages in “misinformation.”
The new website and app was proudly unveiled by China’s Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), with authorities calling on users to play an “active role” in helping to identify “malicious people distorting facts and confusing” others.
China already operates an onerous social credit score system that bans people from using transportation and engaging in other basic functions of society if they commit minor infractions like jaywalking or buying too much junk food.
Given that social media mobs in the west, routinely aided by journalists, already conduct witch hunts that lead to people being socially ostracized, deplatformed and left unemployed for expressing “mistaken opinions,” are we really that better off than Chinese dissidents? More…
China is targeting dissidents who dispute country’s history or criticize ruling Communists and much like the Russian Cheka and the East German Stasi, they are enlisting citizens to spy on their neighbors.
Consider how people have been reporting Corona lockdown “violaters” in the US and other western nations.
The Military Origins of Facebook
by Whitney Webb
Posted June 20, 2021
Facebook’s growing role in the ever-expanding surveillance and “pre-crime” apparatus of the national security state demands new scrutiny of the company’s origins and its products as they relate to a former, controversial DARPA-run surveillance program that was essentially analogous to what is currently the world’s largest social network.
Part 1 of this two-part series on Facebook and the US national-security state explores the social media network’s origins and the timing and nature of its rise as it relates to a controversial military program that was shut down the same day that Facebook launched. The program, known as LifeLog, was one of several controversial post-9/11 surveillance programs pursued by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that threatened to destroy privacy and civil liberties in the United States while also seeking to harvest data for producing “humanized” artificial intelligence (AI).
As this report will show, Facebook is not the only Silicon Valley giant whose origins coincide closely with this same series of DARPA initiatives and whose current activities are providing both the engine and the fuel for a hi-tech war on domestic dissent. More…
[Justice] [Politics] [Social]
Rule by Fiat: When the Government Does Whatever It Wants
By John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead
Posted June 16, 2021
At 4:30 a.m. on March 12, 2020, in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that had most of the country under a partial lockdown and sheltering at home, a masked SWAT team—deployed to execute a “high risk” search warrant for unauthorized firearms—stormed the suburban house where 21-year-old Duncan, a software engineer and Second Amendment advocate, lived with his parents and 19-year-old brother.
The entire household, including Lemp and his girlfriend, was reportedly asleep when the SWAT team directed flash bang grenades and gunfire through Lemp’s bedroom window.
Lemp was killed and his girlfriend injured.
No one in the house that morning, including Lemp, had a criminal record.
No one in the house that morning, including Lemp, was considered an “imminent threat” to law enforcement or the public, at least not according to the search warrant. So what was so urgent that militarized police felt compelled to employ battlefield tactics in the pre-dawn hours of a day when most people are asleep in bed, not to mention stuck at home as part of a nationwide lockdown?
According to police, they were tipped off that Lemp was in possession of “firearms.” Thus, rather than approaching the house by the front door at a reasonable hour in order to investigate this complaint—which is what the Fourth Amendment requires—police instead strapped on their guns, loaded up their flash bang grenades and acted like battle-crazed warriors. This is the blowback from all that military weaponry flowing to domestic police departments. This is what happens when you use SWAT teams to carry out routine search warrants. More…
Is Real-World Activism Part of our Spiritual Journey?
by Richard Enos
Posted June 13, 2021
I don’t begrudge people who still believe that all we have to do to return to some form of normalcy is continue obeying protocols, but support for that idea is dwindling, as more people start to wonder if compliance is really the answer or if it is actually the problem itself.
Questions surrounding these measures are being asked everywhere we turn: Why are small businesses being shut down, while multinational corporations that pose just as much ‘risk’ are able to open? Why are children being forced to wear masks and distance within schools when the science and statistics indicate that such measures are unnecessary and even harmful? Why are our governments trying to convince us that the Covid vaccine will solve the problem, while telling us that we will still have to wear masks after receiving it? More…
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