Hot topics put on back burner as G7 is sucked into interminable Brexit row and summit descends into simmering row over sausages

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Tempers flare over Brexit and a beach barbecue dominates the sidelines, as UK officials target the ‘offensive’ EU while the rest of the world mulls how to outspend China’s Belt and Road Initiative and save the planet.

Many onlookers expected the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall to be a big reset for the West. A chance to show that, after the tumultuous period of Brexit, Trump and the devastating coronavirus pandemic, the leaders of the biggest democracies on the planet had put all that behind them and were ready to take on the climate, vaccines for the world and an increasingly troublesome China.

And while those issues were addressed, what dominated the summit was the weeping sore of Brexit, the ridiculous ‘sausage wars’ that bedevil the chances of the UK and the European Union ever reaching final agreement on the British decision to leave the trading bloc.

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Fundamental to the row, it came to light, was a European misunderstanding of British geography, with President Emmanuel Macron apparently under the impression that Northern Ireland and the UK were different countries.

He reportedly needed to be set straight on this by Bojo at Saturday night’s beach barbecue – social distancing, whassat? – but Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it wasn’t just the French suffering this misperception, it was widespread among EU leaders and it was “offensive”. 

No 10 insists G7 leaders’ beach barbecue ‘done in an entirely Covid secure way’. This is the event… pic.twitter.com/OrwBgTL08L

— Libby Wiener (@LibbyWienerITV) June 13, 2021

This helps explain why we have got to this point, if those involved in the negotiations don’t even know what country they’re talking about.

And while the spat bubbled along, it seems good ol’ President Joe Biden and the Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin had come up with a plan involving a Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures deal that would eliminate 80% of the checks currently sought by the EU on goods crossing the Irish Sea from the UK.

At the risk of upsetting those geniuses involved in the past five years of talks around this thorny issue, why didn’t they think of the SPS route first? Instead, we have Biden and Martin jointly pulling a rabbit out the hat while the rest of the crowd stare on slack-jawed in wonder.

With no skin in this game, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga must be hoping his preparedness to sit through this torture will be reciprocated by his new buddies showing a readiness to run the Covid gauntlet for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for just over a month’s time.

There should be no excuses – after all, at Saturday night’s barbie, face masks were ditched, along with social distancing for a select group numbering far beyond the current UK allowance of just 30 people. Hey-ho. World leaders make the rules and it seems they can break the rules too.

Amid all this bickering, there was still time for the bigger issues, and top of those was China. With Biden in the Oval Office, it seems he is bringing more to this debate than a bagful of swingeing tariffs, and the big plan was to out-China China by offering receptive nations more than they might expect from the Belt and Road Initiative.

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The initiative is China’s global goodwill policy aimed at providing finance to build railways, roads, ports and even sports stadiums in nations across the world – albeit at a price. Many of its efforts have been branded as debt diplomacy.

Now, the G7 leaders are saying they’re prepared to pull the same trick and likewise claim it’s a force for good. The only problem is it’s not quite clear who’s going to pick up the bill. Germany? USA? Anyone? Hello…?

Needless to say, China was quick on the rebuttal, warning that gone were the days of a “small” group of nations dictating terms to the rest of the world that “world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries”. 

It’s funny that the Chinese Embassy in London should raise that point, because, tomorrow, the international leaders roadshow heads to Brussels for a meeting of NATO allies. And top of their agenda there is China once again, with Biden expected to press the Europeans to commit to a tough statement aimed at thwarting further Sino/Russian joint military operations in the region, which have been unnerving some NATO members.

The West can barely afford to take a breath before Tuesday’s big show in Geneva, at which President Biden is to meet Russia’s President Vladamir Putin for a cosy bilateral chat.

Forgotten will be the Cornish sunshine, the talk of sausages, and the never-ending Eurocentric obsession with Brexit – there is much more to talk about, and on issues that mean a helluva lot more to the wider world.

With Johnson having prepared the stage and Biden having shown himself willing to step up on key issues, maybe we can hope that the next few days will offer some sort of consensus on the way ahead both for the West and those it has found problematic to deal with.

China. Russia. Turkey. It’s not a long list. But now is the time to make progress and to make a difference. The world is watching.

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Being a ‘non-racist’ is not enough, the ‘righteous white men’ actor Tom Hanks learns, after daring to write about race issues

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After penning a column on how the unfolding of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre should be taught more widely, actor Tom Hanks is being taken to task for playing “righteous white men” and for his movies not being “anti-racist” enough.

In a Sunday op-ed for the US media outlet NPR, TV critic Eric Deggans claims the two-time Academy Award-winning Tom Hanks was a “non-racist” actor, and it was time for him to be an “anti-racist” actor.

But what’s the difference, you may wonder?

“Anti-racism implies action – looking around your universe and taking specific steps to dismantle systemic racism,” Deggans writes. And Hanks is apparently not supporting his words with enough action. 

Deggans’ NPR piece was in response to Hanks’ column earlier this month for the New York Times, in which he opined that the facts of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, during which as many as 300 black residents were killed and their town destroyed by white aggressors, should be taught more widely in school. Hanks also called out history for being “written by white people.”

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“History was mostly written by white people about white people like me, while the history of Black people – including the horrors of Tulsa – was too often left out. Until relatively recently, the entertainment industry, which helps shape what is history and what is forgotten, did the same,” the liberal actor wrote. 

This stance apparently didn’t go far enough, however, in Deggan’s view. He argues that Hanks’ own filmography sours his words, as he’s made a career “amplifying ideas of white American exceptionalism and heroism.”

“He is a baby boomer star who has built a sizable part of his career on stories about American white men Doing the Right Thing,” Deggans says at another point, pointing to Hanks’ penchant for playing either real-life figures or fictional characters in historical dramas, such as ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Sully,’ and ‘News of the World.’

If Hanks and other white artists want to make a difference when it comes to race, Deggans claims, they must “talk specifically about how their work has contributed” to the problems they’re trying to address, which is something Hanks has apparently not done. 

The Tulsa Race Massacre, which stemmed from white rage over an accusation of rape against a black man that turned out to have been false, is a disgusting episode in American history and one that has not been faced nearly squarely enough in the decades that have followed. This is the thrust of Hanks’ wordy piece, and it’s a truth that everyone, across political lines and racial boundaries, should agree with. 

Instead, Hanks’ highlighting of that rather obvious truth has inspired his fellow liberals to either give the actor a digital pat on the back or admonish him for daring to raise a race-related issue without first getting a playbook from activists about his own apparent ties to racism.

If you needed further proof that tribalism and wokeism in politics has led to an upside-down reality, then a popular white actor being targeted for playing “righteous white men” because he called for an outrage against black Americans to be taught more widely should be all you need now. 

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Hanks deserves neither praise nor admonishment for his Times piece. He pointed out an undeniable fact. Sure, the “white people writing history” point is blatant virtue-signaling, but what else should we expect from one of Hollywood’s most recognized liberals?

Hanks – who claims he only learnt about the Tulsa Race Massacre himself last year – may be seeking approval from his fellow guilt-ridden white celebrities, but that’s to be expected. To see the pendulum then swing the opposite way and be informed that yet another clueless white person is indirectly responsible for everything wrong with race in America is a sour surprise. 

Deggans, who admits he’s nonetheless a fan of Hanks, promotes today’s popular leftist theory that “anti-racism” requires action. And action, in the eyes of the activists, is admitting being somehow at fault merely as a representative of your race, or apologizing for not doing enough – because nothing is ever enough – to push back against your white privilege and society’s “amplification” of whiteness. 

The argument has found supporters, but has also received so much pushback that, ironically, Hanks has found himself being defended by conservative pundits – a crowd typically critical of him.

Ha ha ha ha pic.twitter.com/RaN53a0vme

— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) June 13, 2021

No good deed goes unpunished. Tom Hanks writes op-ed urging coverage/teaching of Tulsa massacre. Black columnist says, yeah, but when are you going to apologize for making a career out of "amplifying ideas of white American exceptionalism and heroism." https://t.co/VmOjA41QSh

— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) June 13, 2021

After everything he did to advance the cause of gender fluidity… pic.twitter.com/ZjdRAigF2q

— Tom Crittenden (@tmcrittenden) June 13, 2021

Yet the actor should bear none of the responsibility Deggans or other activists would like to put on him. He doesn’t owe it to black or white people either to push any agenda or swallow his pride and admit that, despite being “non-racist,” he is still the bad guy. 

The self-destructive nature of modern wokeism is that it consumes everything, including itself. Hanks may be a certified liberal who attaches himself to the right causes, but even he gets called to task for thought-crimes against the woke mob. 

We’ve seen people’s words and actions policed by social justice warriors on countless occasions in recent years, but now we’re entering a new era, in which even non-action is offensive. Hanks’ biggest crimes, according to the NPR piece, are portraying “righteous white people” and not saying enough to condemn his own role in racial inequality. 

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These arguments are equally childish. Hanks is a white actor. It should come as little surprise – but, then, who knows anymore – that he is limited to playing white characters in film. As for the “righteous” part, anyone who has seen even a handful of Hanks’ movies knows the kind of roles he’s drawn to: the everyman, old-school, true-blue-values American hero. Does he choose these roles to promote whiteness? No. He has an affinity with and talent for playing a certain type of character and he’s typically cast as that type of character. What’s controversial about that? Is it not his responsibility to pick the roles that are most advantageous to his career or best suited to his talents? Should he go out of his way instead to choose parts that inform an audience already inundated with political messaging that white people are not just good, but also evil? How would any artist get anywhere in both their professional and personal pursuits if this was the level of thinking that went into their choice of projects?  

As for Hanks’ “non-racist” criticism – because his Times piece clearly just ain’t enough – the idea of calling someone a “non-racist” and then casting that in a negative light is an ill-thought-out, politically motivated smear. If a “non-racist” is someone who conducts himself in such a way that he treats everyone equally and doesn’t tolerate racism around him, then what is wrong with that? No, now he must go the extra mile, take a public lashing and use all the right words before he earns the right to wear the “anti-racist” approval sticker. 

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Ex-PM Gordon Brown’s call for Britain to rejoin the EU proves there’s still a risk to Brexit

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Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.

Rather than deride former UK prime minister Gordon Brown as a political dinosaur fighting the battles of yesteryear, or simply ignoring him, Brexiteers must take seriously the possibility of Britain one day rejoining the EU.

The ex-PM announced in a speech last week that he believed Britain should rejoin the European Union. He also declared he would never ‘give up’ campaigning for it. I have to say, I hold a grudging respect for Brown for openly stating his opinion, even though I profoundly disagree with him. His openness, in many ways, is refreshing – especially when compared to the majority of Labour MPs, who also want to rejoin the EU but dare not admit it.

Many Brexiteers laugh off statements such as Brown’s, viewing them as the bitter ramblings of Remainers who have never accepted the result of the Brexit referendum. They also quite rightly point to the fact that, if Britain did rejoin the EU, it would be handing over the power to make its own laws and conduct its own trade deals to the unelected European Commission. 

However, regardless of the obvious logic in their arguments, for a number of reasons, I would urge fellow Brexiteers to be cautious about Brown’s pronouncement. First, Brown’s view is in line with that of the majority of the Labour Party’s membership. A poll taken in April revealed that 59 per cent of Labour members want the party to openly campaign for Britain to rejoin the EU. 

In contrast, the current leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, wants his party to ‘move on’ from Brexit and discuss domestic issues. However, his leadership is presently hanging by a thread, and a loss in the up-and-coming Batley and Spen by-election could be the end. Moreover, as political parties are often driven by the opinions of their members, I would not be surprised to see a new Labour leader adopt a more stridently pro-EU stance in the not-too-distant future.

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I would also encourage Brexiteers to remember the history of the anti-EU movement. When I started campaigning for Britain to leave the EU nearly 20 years ago, it was regarded as a fringe issue, just as rejoining is today. Indeed, mainstream politicians back then wouldn’t have dared utter the view that Britain should leave the bloc, as it would have been the end of their political career. 

However, through determination and hard work, we managed to make the issue popular, and those same politicians who’d previously refused to back the idea of an independent Britain suddenly became leading Brexit campaigners. I can guarantee that if rejoining the EU became a popular cause, then similar fickle politicians would swiftly jump on the bandwagon.

I would also point to opinion polls showing the country remains divided over whether Brexit is a good or bad thing. Indeed, polls tracked since 2016 show that a slender majority of people think Brexit has not been in the interests of the country. Now, we know opinion polls are not always accurate, as proven by Boris Johnson’s landslide general election victory in 2019, but it would be remiss of Brexiteers simply to discount them.

That same election also revealed the fault line in the country regarding Brexit. Johnson’s Conservatives swept to victory almost everywhere in England except for big cities such as London, Manchester and Liverpool. These metropolitan hubs, all of which voted Remain in 2016, tend to be more ethnically diverse and have a large student body, and there are many in their populations that have not accepted the result of the referendum. Add into the mix Scotland, which is run by the rabidly pro-EU Scottish National Party, which has retained a Brussels office, and it is clear that Brexit remains a bone of contention.

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The only way Brexit will regress as an issue is if Johnson’s government makes it a success. At the moment, things are looking good: trade deals are being struck across the globe and the vaccine rollout, which was only possible because Britain left the European Medicines Agency, has been exemplary. Moreover, every time the EU is deemed to be unreasonable, as it was over the vaccines in April, or now over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the campaign for Britain to rejoin the bloc is weakened.

Brexiteers must neither rest on their laurels nor be hubristic, however. The threat to Brexit is still out there and it is real. Gordon Brown’s intervention last week should serve as a timely reminder that those who want Britain to rejoin the EU are waiting in the wings, they are organising, and they are ready to pounce. Brexiteers must be equally ready.

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Riz Ahmed says Hollywood under-represents and toxically portrays Muslims. But he isn’t telling the whole truth

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The Oscar-nominated British actor and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the US’s University of Southern California (USC) have jointly published a study that’s long on complaints and short on facts.

Riz Ahmed, the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards, is spearheading an initiative to increase the visibility of Muslims in film and eradicate toxic stereotypes in Muslim characters.

As evidenced by his stellar work in, among others, the films ‘Nightcrawler’ and ‘The Sisters Brothers’, the mini-series ‘The Night Of’, and his Oscar-nominated portrayal in ‘Sound of Metal’, Ahmed is one of the finest actors around, and he seems to be a very thoughtful artist and man.

Unfortunately, on reading ‘Missing and Maligned’, the study by Ahmed’s Left Handed Films and USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, it becomes apparent that his noble venture is a deeply disingenuous one.

The study obviously started with its conclusion, that Muslims are under-represented in film, and then intentionally limited its investigation and cherry-picked its evidence to make it appear that its preconception was accurate.

The fatally flawed study focuses only on the top-200 grossing films from 2017 to 2019 in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. It also fails to look at those on any streaming service, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, which are among the biggest producers and distributors, and didn’t examine representation in TV shows.

Its disingenuousness is clear when it declares that Muslims make up 24% of the world’s population, but represent only 1.6% of speaking characters in films. This is a deceptive statistic, as the Muslim populations of the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand combined actually constitute roughly 1.5%. In other words, Muslims are slightly over-represented in film in comparison to their population percentage in the countries measured.

The study also gets specific about these individual countries. For example, it decries the fact that the US films on which it focused featured only 1.1% of characters who were Muslim, despite the fact the US has a Muslim population of… 1.1%. It also finds but fails to highlight that Australia actually features more than twice as many Muslims in its films, at 5.6%, than there are Muslims in its population, at 2.6%. And, according to the study, the UK and New Zealand, with their 5.2% and 1.3% Muslim populations, represent Muslims in film to the tune of 1.1% and 0%, respectively.

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But, again, limiting the metric to just these four countries as opposed to the English-speaking film industry’s target audience, the entire Anglosphere – the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand – is deceptive. For instance, if you tally the Muslim population in the Anglosphere, it is 1.5% of the overall population, which is slightly less than the combined percentage of Muslim characters in films in the four countries examined in the study.

The second part of Ahmed’s complaint, which focuses on the toxic stereotyping of Muslim characters, is certainly more compelling, given that vacuous ethnic caricatures are one of Hollywood’s trademarks, but even on this slam-dunk topic, the Annenberg/Ahmed study is shallow, vapid and lop-sided.

For example, in a section titled ‘Modern-day Muslim Characters are Rare’, it uses statistics that reveal that 48.9% of Muslim characters are shown in “present-day settings”. Is slightly less than 50% now considered “rare”? Indeed, the “rarity” claim is even more absurd, as the study also finds that 11% of those characters were featured in scenes “in the recent past”, meaning 59.9% were in scenes in the present or recent past and 40.2% were from “the historical or fantastical past”. These sorts of statistical and rhetorical shenanigans only undermine Ahmed’s credibility.

Another odd study topic, titled ‘Disparagement is Directed at Muslim Characters’, lists words and phrases directed at 41 primary and secondary Muslim characters, such as “terrorist”, “Paki” and “fundamentalist”. The obvious counter to this is that, if films did not show the sometimes vile treatment and harassment of Muslims, then Annenberg and Ahmed would instead accuse them of ignoring Islamophobia.

Further undermining Ahmed’s argument are statements from Ahmed himself. According to the BBC, “Ahmed recently said he enjoyed the fact that the religion and ethnicity of his character Ruben in ‘Sound of Metal’ was not mentioned at all in the movie.”

So, Ahmed wants more Muslim representation in film, but is glad not to be representing a Muslim in a film? Why didn’t he want Ruben to be Muslim? Wouldn’t that have normalized the featuring of a Muslim on screen?

As an Irish Catholic, I totally understand Ahmed’s frustration with under-representation and negative portrayal in film, as Hollywood seems incapable of portraying anyone of faith – regardless of which faith – as anything other than alien or villainous. But Annenberg/Ahmed needed to prove their intellectual integrity by diving into the uncomfortable topic of which ethnic or racial groups are over-represented on screen and even behind the scenes of the film industry.

The pat answer would be white people. They make up 76.3% of the US and 86% of the UK population, yet, in 2018, represented only 69.1% of characters in films. So, which group or groups should have their representation in film decreased to make room for the Muslims Ahmed fails to prove are under-represented?

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Until Annenberg, Ahmed and the rest of those raising representation issues acknowledge and address that awkward question, they and their claims will be viewed as disingenuous and short on rigour. If they want to be taken seriously when it comes to under-representation and mis-representation, they need to do more than just churn out a piece such as ‘Missing and Maligned’, which misses the mark and maligns the intelligence of its readers.

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The US’ persecution of Venezuelan envoy Saab, arrested in Cabo Verde, has nothing to do with alleged money laundering

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Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is author of the recently-released No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using “Humanitarian” Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests.

For nearly a year, Colombian businessman and Venezuelan Special Envoy Alex Saab has been imprisoned on the island nation of Cabo Verde (aka Cape Verde) 400 miles off the northwestern coast of Africa in the Atlantic.

Saab is now awaiting extradition to the US on alleged money laundering charges. While the allegations against him are hotly disputed, what is not in doubt is that the US is behind his persecution. It is also clear that it is interested in him not because of any alleged crimes, but because he may hold the key to Venezuela’s ability to navigate the US’ deadly unilateral sanctions. In the meantime, the tiny nation of Cabo Verde is the pawn in the American imperial game.

As a Bloomberg article explains: “Saab was detained June 12 [2020] when the private plane he was traveling on from Venezuela to Iran made a fuel stop on the Cape Verdean island of Sal.” What it does not mention is that Saab’s plane was forced to land in Cabo Verde because two other nearby nations in mainland Africa, apparently under pressure from the US, had refused to let him land.

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Curiously, the US has no extradition treaty with Cabo Verde. Moreover, while the Cabo Verde authorities have claimed that Saab was detained pursuant to a valid Interpol notice, a regional court in Nigeria found that the detention took place before the Interpol notice was issued, raising huge concerns about the validity of his detention and imprisonment. Indeed, this regional court, the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice, explicitly “ruled that Saab should be freed because he was detained before the Red Notice was issued.” However, as Bloomberg adds, “Decisions by that court are final and binding under a 1991 protocol.”

On June 8, 2021, the UN Human Rights Committee also issued a decision for preliminary measures, demanding that the extradition be suspended and that Saab, who is suffering from cancer, be given the necessary medical attention, which he is currently being denied.

When arrested in Cabo Verde, Alex Saab, President Nicolas Maduro’s envoy to the African Union, was on his way to Iran to negotiate the exchange of Venezuelan gold for much-needed gasoline supplies. Due to US sanctions, the oil-rich nation of Venezuela is unable to obtain the necessary chemicals and supplies to refine its oil into the gasoline needed to generate electricity and transport goods across the country. In addition to gasoline, Saab was also attempting to negotiate the purchase of food, medicines, and other critical supplies that have also been made scarce due to US sanctions.

As explained by Alena Douhan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the unilateral use of coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights:

“The hardening of sanctions faced by the country since 2015 undermines … the state’s capacity to maintain infrastructure and implement social projects. Today, Venezuela faces a lack of necessary machinery, spare parts, electricity, water, fuel, gas, food, and medicine. Venezuelan assets frozen in United States, United Kingdom and Portuguese banks amount to US$6bln. The purchase of goods and payments by public companies is reportedly blocked or frozen …

It has been reported that electricity lines are able [only] to work at less than 20% of their capacity today. . . .

An estimated 90% of households are connected to the national water distribution system. Numerous households, however, report frequent cuts because of electricity outages affecting water pumps and the maintenance of infrastructure, and because of the shortage of qualified maintenance staff.”

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It appears to be Saab’s very adeptness in helping Venezuela get around these sanctions – sanctions that Douhan notes are illegal under international law – in order to obtain crucial humanitarian supplies that is the real reason for the US’ interest in having him detained and extradited.

Indeed, an article in the New York Times makes this quite clear. It explains that, while the US has brought vague money-laundering charges against Saab, “hard-liners at the Justice and State Departments, including Elliot Abrams, the State Department’s special envoy for Iran and Venezuela,” want to insure his continued detention in Cabo Vere lest they “lose an opportunity to punish Mr. Maduro.” As the Times continues: “The months-long detention of Mr. Saab has stripped Mr. Maduro of an important ally and a major financial fixer at a time when fewer countries are willing or able to come to Venezuela’s aid. If Mr. Saab cooperates with American officials, he could help untangle Mr. Maduro’s economic web of support and assist the authorities in bringing charges against other allies of the Venezuelan government.”

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And how is the US ensuring Cabo Verde’s compliance in all this? It’s using old-fashioned ‘gunboat diplomacy.’ Thus, as the Times explains, the US has anchored the navy cruiser USS San Jacinto off the coast of Cabo Verde to make sure Saab doesn’t somehow escape. While US officials claim they are doing this in response to “threats” by Venezuela to take all measures to protect Saab’s human rights, the presence of the gun ship appears calculated as much to coerce Cabo Verde as it is to prevent some rescue attempt by Venezuela or its ally Iran.

And, so, while Saab remains in indefinite lockup with untreated cancer at the insistence of the US, Cabo Verde itself is suffering its own bullying at the hands of the US. The US’ actions in this regard are nothing but the last gasps of an empire in distress and impending collapse. As such, they must be resisted.

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Are we about to face rise in ECO-TERRORISM once Covid-19 pandemic is over?

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By Kevin Karp, commentator, screenwriter, and former political adviser in the House of Commons and the European Parliament. As an EU adviser based in Brussels and Strasbourg, he specialized in international trade, European populism, and Brexit. Find his website at moon-vine-media.com.

Amid post-Covid-19 economic recovery, the risk of climate-activist eco-terrorism is increasing, and with it the danger of political elites co-opting its motives to implement contentious “green” regulatory regimes.

As the world wrestled with Covid-19 in 2020, another sinister crisis, years in the making, was erupting beneath the radar. That crisis is eco-terrorism. Having been around for decades, ever since ex-Greenpeace activists began attacking commercial shipping vessels in the 1970s, eco-terrorism, in the FBI’s definition, is “the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.”

A more recent focal point for eco-terrorist activity has involved groups of radical environmentalists attacking infrastructure serving the global oil industry. Such foul play was reportedly involved in the December 2020 derailment of a crude-oil train north of Seattle, as part of a wave of dozens of eco-terrorist attacks on crude-oil railway infrastructure gripping the State of Washington since the early part of that year.

The method apparently used in these incidents is to place a “shunt” device on the tracks that interferes with the low-level electrical current on the tracks, disrupting a train’s safety features and causing it to derail.

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The US Justice Department has been placing blame for these eco-terrorist attacks on left-wing anarchist groups. After a string of shunting incidents in Washington in January 2020, the Puget Sound Anarchists took responsibility for the attacks, stating on the website itsgoingdown.org “that the shunting activity was carried out in solidarity with Native American tribes in Canada seeking to prevent the construction of an oil pipeline across British Columbia, and with the express goal of disrupting BNSF [Railway] operations and supplies for the pipeline,” according to a criminal complaint eventually filed by the Justice Department in November 2020.

The nearly 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, transiting the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois, has seen a similar running battle erupt between oil-pipeline development and radical environmentalists, with pipeline developer Energy Transfer having sued Greenpeace in 2017 over directing “rogue eco-terrorist groups” in a protest campaign that allegedly raised the cost of construction by $300 million. One incident in 2016 saw hundreds of protesters spark a riot on project land in which shots were fired on police officers and vehicles burned. The pipeline, which had its construction halted under the Obama Administration but reopened and completed under President Donald Trump, is currently under environmental review by the Biden Administration.

Consciously or not, the eco-terrorists targeting oil infrastructure may be pawns in the pressure for a globalized carbon-regulatory system and its billions of dollars of potential revenue. That is the theory suggested by Roy Spencer, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who dissents on the implications of increased carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, whose like-minded colleague John Christy’s office was allegedly targeted by seven shots fired during a “March for Science” event on campus in 2017.

Lending credence to this viewpoint is the fact that the Puget Sound Anarchists claiming responsibility for the January 2020 shunting attacks take a vehemently climate-activist stance on what they view as human-caused global warming. In one article posted to its website, the argument is advanced that “Rapidly increasing ecological collapse and climate change brought on by the State’s mismanagement of ‘its’ resources and in cooperation with industrial capitalism’s overzealous exploitation of the land and sea have destabilized regions the world over and created climate refugees and destroyed communities.”

Yet these radical eco-terrorists are frequently portrayed in mainstream media outlets as, in some shape or form, noble crusaders forced down the path of violence by an evil conservative juggernaut – embodied by the recent Trump Administration – that refuses to recognize the supposedly unassailable theory of human-caused climate change via fossil-fuel burning.

That is a dangerous generalization on several counts. There is a body of scientific evidence that casts doubt on the claims of anthropogenic climate change.

So-called “clean energy” – supposedly the Shangri-La taking us away from dirty fuels into environmentally-friendly electricity generation from source to user – is a slick exterior that conceals a profoundly toxic truth. Clean power installations including those used for solar and wind energy, along with electric-vehicle batteries, rely heavily on components made of rare-earth metals, which are mined and processed via high-pollution methods and solvents, often in countries with appalling working conditions. In the city of Baotou, China alone, thousands of tons of chemically treated, mined rare earth are reportedly deposited each year in a five-mile-wide artificial lake after neodymium has been extracted for wind turbines, many of which have been installed in the UK. The pollution has ruined farmland and endangered residents along with their water sources.

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With global oil demand rising again and trade – including that in hydrocarbon-based fuels – quickening a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the risk of eco-terrorist incidents may be increasing too, as the radical environmentalists find new “motives” for attacks. But the motives may be less important than the implications. 

The real harm from eco-terrorism is how mainstream “progressive” establishment circles portray the terrorists, as quasi-sympathetic figures who are used as justification for burdensome regulatory regimes to address climate change. If the world would only address the supposedly existential threat of human-caused climate shifts by taxing consumers for their carbon-emitting energy consumption, as the theory implies, such eco-terrorists would become deradicalized and re-enter mainstream society. Already, these elites are gearing up to use any expedient pretext to make post-Covi-19 recovery more about costly and contentious regulatory regimes than coalescing and expanding that recovery’s economic gains.

The heavy guns of globalist dogma are fully deployed, trying to force a renewed effort for large-scale climate activism, due to the alleged interrelatedness between the coronavirus and climate change. Arthur Wyns, a climate change researcher at the World Health Organization (WHO), has written that “Well-resourced healthcare systems are essential to protect us from health security threats, including climate change.”

The Brookings Institution think tank is citing the economic gains of pandemic recovery in the developing nations of Africa as justification for taxing those gains to fund “green transformations” in a “recovery and sustainability program.”

To top it all, on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden remarked in an address to Air Force personnel in the UK that the US military Joint Chiefs of Staff have told him “the greatest physical threat facing America” is global warming allegedly caused by humans.

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What this high-flying language does is provide an underhanded public platform for the radicalized, rather narrow-minded worldviews of climate activists who have become terrorists. What it denotes, in reality, is a system of taxation funneling money into unaccountable bureaucracies. Biden’s new post-Covid spending proposals are rife with carbon-regulatory measures and a rollback of Trump-era tax cuts, and though they do not explicitly delineate a “carbon tax,” the US president is apparently still open to the idea.

The right-wing Heritage Foundation has its own ideological ax to grind in the realm of direct and indirect carbon taxes, but it nonetheless hits closer to the mark in a report pointing out that a blanket carbon-taxation system would pummel individual consumers through increased energy costs passed onto them by big oil companies while destroying jobs, allowing for “an unprecedented expansion of the federal government while making Americans poorer and more dependent on Washington.”

Those who stand most to profit from “anarchist” and “environmentalist” terrorism against the oil industry, then, are not the on-the-ground perpetrators but the establishment figures who are subtly seeking to co-opt its message, using it to justify a bloated climate-activist regulatory regime. That path leads to an oppressive, oligopolistic system of unaccountable government and corporate cabals harming the economic positions of citizens and smaller companies. 

Militantly attacking oil as evil while upholding the ephemera of climate activism as sacrosanct is a dangerous path, deflecting attention from the real problem of toxic pollution in the industries supplying the “clean” energy sector with its componentry. Attempting to divert the economic gains of post-pandemic recovery under the noble heading of environmental protection is a tactic of compulsion – one that distorts the cause of environmentalism when it so desperately needs honest critique.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

I’m on a ‘hit list’ Kiev allows to silence dissent & journalism. That’s all you need to know about Ukrainian ‘democracy’

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Address issues which Ukraine, the West’s client state, does not like and you could end up on a ‘hit list’. Because that’s apparently how flourishing democracies roll…

Last week, photojournalist Dean O’Brien participated in a United Nations meeting to give his perspective on the war in Donbass, Ukraine’s breakaway region in the east. Shortly after the discussion, O’Brien came under fire from the Ukrainian embassy in the UK.

However, smears from Ukrainian officials are nothing compared to what the controversial ‘enemies of Ukraine’ database, the Mirotvorets (Peacekeeper) website, could bring.

In May, O’Brien and I discussed this hit list, noting that we were both on it, with photos of us published on the witch-hunt website.

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“It’s a website called ‘Peacemaker.’ It’s anything but, really. It seems to be a hit list, a target for journalists or anybody that goes against the grain in Ukraine. If you’re reporting on them, they see you as some kind of threat and put you on this list,” he said. 

The platform was created in 2014, shortly after Crimea was reabsorbed by Russia and the Kiev government’s military campaign in eastern Ukraine was launched. As TASS noted in 2019, Mirotvorets “aims to identify and publish personal data of all who allegedly threaten the national security of Ukraine. In recent years, the personal data of journalists, artists or politicians who have visited Crimea, Donbass, or for some other reason have caused a negative assessment of the authors of the site, have been blacklisted by Peacemaker.”

Talking about the horrors that Donbass civilians endure under Ukrainian shelling is, according to this rationale, a threat to Ukraine’s national security. As is going to Crimea, maintaining that Crimeans chose to be a part of Russia (or, as many in Crimea told me, to return to Russia) and criticising the influence neo-Nazis wield in Kiev.

“The most worrying thing is that they seem to be able to get a hold of people’s passports, visas,” O’Brien told me. “The fact that they can get ahold of your passport photo, your visa photocopies, these can only come from official government offices in Ukraine. This is a governmental website, it’s been discussed in parliament, to close it down. They’re not interested in closing it down. This website is kind of like a hit list, really.”

That might seem like an exaggeration, but people listed on Mirotvorets have been targeted and even killed.

A report by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy titled “Ukrainian War Crimes and Human Rights Violations (2017-2020)” gave the example of a Ukrainian journalist assassinated in 2015 after his personal details were published on the website.

“A few days before his death, Oles Buzina’s details, including his home address, had been posted on the Canadian-based Mirotvorets website, created with the initiative of Anton Gerashchenko, the Ukrainian deputy minister of internal affairs. The people listed on it are recommended for liquidation and arrest, and the total number of people listed are in the tens of thousands.

According to many experts, it was the listing on the site and the publication of the home address that prompted the murder of Oles Buzina, Oleg Kalashnikov, and many other opposition figures by members of the Ukrainian ‘death squads’.

Back in 2015, Georgiy Tuka, who participated in the creation and operation of the site, stated that, of the people listed on the site, “more than 300 were either arrested or destroyed,” the report states. 

When in April 2015 the Ukrainian parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights Valeriya Lutkovskaya launched an effort to shut the list down, the then-adviser to Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko threatened her position and stated that the work of the site was “extremely important for the national security of Ukraine.” He said that “anyone who does not understand this or tries to interfere with this work is either a puppet in the hands of others or works against the interests of national security.” 

So the website remains active, with Ukraine’s security service reportedly stating that it did not see any violations of Ukrainian law in the activities of the Mirotvorets website.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, too, has refused to have the website shut down, ironically claiming that it’s wrong to interfere with the work of websites and the media.

Let’s remember that in Ukraine, untold numbers of journalists, activists and civilians have been imprisoned, and killed, for their crimes of voicing criticism of the government and neo-Nazi groups.

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Ukraine isn’t the only country to host such a hit list. Although Stop the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) – the project of crazed US-based journalist, Lee Kaplan – named activists, including myself, for our crimes of reporting on Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza in 2008/09, the website has since changed format and is far less detailed. But cached versions show the extent of its insanity, including a clear call for our murders:

“ALERT THE IDF MILITARY TO TARGET ISM

“Number to call if you can pinpoint the locations of Hamas with their ISM members with them. Help us neutralise the ISM that is now definitely a part of Hamas since the war began.”

Others on the kill list were named for their crimes of reporting Israel’s systematic abuse and killing of Palestinians. Their personal details, including passport information, were published.

An article on this heinous website noted: “The dossiers are openly addressed to the Israeli military so as to help them eliminate ‘dangerous’ targets physically, unless others see to it first.”

Although arguably that website was the project of one lunatic and their allies, the fact that for many years it stayed active and called for the murders of international peace activists speaks volumes on America’s own values.

I’m sure these two hit-list examples are not isolated ones. Quite likely, there are similar lists targeting journalists reporting on the crimes of other countries. But they are the height of absurdity, and fascism: targeting people whose reporting aims to help persecuted civilians.

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Meanwhile in Donbass, Ukraine reportedly continues its shelling of civilian areas. Recently in Gorlovka, a northern city hammered by Ukrainian bombing over the years, a mine blew off part of a woman’s leg as she gathered mushrooms.

In spite of the hit list, journalists, rightly, continue to report on these war crimes.

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Denmark MP Messerschmidt shoots down UN & EU in row over his country’s bid to outsource asylum-seeker processing to Rwanda

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Denmark’s hardline stance reflects a changing world and increased mobility that mean conventions signed in the aftermath of World War II are no longer fit for dealing with European migration, says the People’s Party MP.

Leading Danish politician Morten Messerschmidt has said out-of-touch historical agreements on migration should be torn up and renegotiated, after Denmark drew fire internationally for passing legislation paving the way for processing asylum seekers in a third-party country.

The Danes are planning to send their would-be migrants more than 4,000 miles away to Africa, having signed a memorandum of understanding with Rwanda in April. Talks on processing centres are also ongong with Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt. 

The government believes the offshoring – mirroring a controversial, albeit successful, operation by Australia in 2013 – will help alleviate its, and Europe’s, migration crisis. More than 20,000 people, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, have died since 2014 while attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea. 

Speaking exclusively to RT.com, Messerschmidt, the 40-year-old deputy chairman of the Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party) in Demark’s Folketing (Parliament), brushed aside criticism from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who branded Denmark’s legislation as “counter to the letter and spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention”, and from European Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz, who flatly asserted, “It is not possible under existing EU rules or proposals under the new pact for migration and asylum.”

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The popular Danish MP was unapologetic about his party’s stance. “Our view is that the world has changed dramatically, therefore it makes sense that we should rewrite these conventions,” he explained. “Those agreements were written in an entirely different context in history, at a time where we didn’t have the easy opportunity of moving around from country to country. The conventions are no longer adequate for the situation we’re living in, so we don’t feel that strongly about sticking with them.

“With international mobility so much greater today, more people have the chance to get a better life simply by migrating and that was never, as I understand it, the intention of the Refugee Convention all those years ago, in 1951, when the background was more about the Second World War.”

The decision passed in the Folketing last week by 70 votes to 20, on an initiative from the governing Social Democrats, was the latest in a series of hardline moves on migration to have won public support over the past 12 months.

At the height of Europe’s refugee crisis, in 2015, Denmark received more than 20,000 applications for asylum, but that fell to just 1,515 last year, as stricter rules started to bite.

However, Messerschmidt predicts a dilemma for the ruling party: “Going against those historical agreements is not the Social Democratic position, which I think, at the end of the day, is going to be their biggest difficulty. After all, how much can you actually do about immigration while at the same time acknowledging these conventions as they are being interpreted by organisations like the UN?”

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The latest legislation, however, follows no-nonsense laws passed last year to tackle socio-economic deprivation in migrant ghettos in the country and, more recently, the decision to revoke the residency status of more than 200 Syrian refugees on the grounds that Damascus and the surrounding region were now considered safe places to live.

Last week’s vote opens the way for the government to house new asylum seekers in a third-party country while their applications are processed. If successful, they will be sent to Denmark to begin their new lives. If not, they will be returned home.

Currently, Rwanda looks to be the most likely partner in Denmark’s outsourcing scheme, with officials having visited the African nation in April, when they signed an agreement to enhance cooperation on migration and asylum.

Amnesty International intervened to warn that “any attempt to transfer asylum seekers arriving in Denmark to Rwanda for their asylum claims to be processed would be not only unconscionable, but potentially unlawful”, but the Danes are not proposing anything that hasn’t already been tried elsewhere. 

While the Australian government attracted international condemnation for its offshore processing facilities on the island of Nauru, and in Papua New Guinea, no new asylum seekers have needed to be sent to either centre since 2014, suggesting its tough message on illegal immigration has found its mark.

“The Australians were able to issue a pretty tough message,” Messerschmidt said. “And that in itself acts as quite a strong deterrent.”

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For the conservatives of the Folkeparti, all this is a step in the right direction.

“From our point of view, of course, we are always happy to find the areas to push for tougher migration legislation,” said the MP, a former contestant on Denmark’s ‘Big Brother’ reality-TV show. “We would like to have a full package of policies providing better possibilities of excluding people who have sworn their loyalty to Islamic State and people that commit crime, and we would like to make it easier to withdraw Danish citizenship if it turns out that people do not have the loyalty to Denmark that they have sworn when they were given it.”

The surprising thing is not that these positions are held by supporters of the Folkeparti, but that the Social Democrats too are aligned with them. Despite parties of the left across Europe generally being pro-immigration and multiculturalism, in Denmark that is not the case.

As Messerschmidt explained, “The Social Democrats have turned 180 degrees on migration, and it was something that was done very decisively after having consistently lost elections for 20 years primarily due to migration issues. They simply decided to acknowledge that we were right.”

While some commentators suggest the Danes are in thrall to populism, that is not so, says the MP.

“I regard myself as a conservative,” he said. “The late Danish MP Jesper Langballe once said – and this is my translation into English – that you could become a conservative once you realised that there is something that you love that you are losing.

“I think many politicians and people voting for the other parties have come to realise that actually there is something with our values, our welfare, our society and our country that is at stake. And now they also understand that if we don’t change policies we’re going to lose it.”

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‘We were fighting & in danger. To now say that’s a war crime makes me really angry’ – is Aussie SAS killer a hero or a villain?

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By Graham Hryce, an Australian journalist and former media lawyer, whose work has been published in The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, the Sunday Mail, the Spectator and Quadrant.

An Australian SAS war hero broke down in the witness box as he recalled the killings he carried out in Afghanistan that earned him the Victoria Cross. Newspapers also allege he brutally murdered six unarmed detainees.

The defamation case involving Australia’s most decorated living war hero presents a curious spectacle – a celebrated SAS soldier breaking down in tears as he defends himself and the reputation of the country’s armed forces against a concerted attack by a woke media organisation, aided and abetted by a platoon of his former fellow soldiers.

In his opening statement to what local media in Sydney have dubbed the trial of the century, the counsel for the newspaper defendants, Nicholas Owens SC, outlined his clients’ case against Victoria Cross winner Ben Roberts-Smith. Put simply, the defendants allege that the war hero callously and brutally murdered six people in Afghanistan.

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Owens told the Federal Court that none of the six murders said to have been committed by Roberts-Smith occurred “in the heat of battle.” Rather, each of the victims had been securely under the control of Australian troops, and none posed a military threat. It was not certain whether some of the victims were members of the Taliban, but that was beside the point, said Owens.

He stated that the defendants would be calling 21 current and former special forces soldiers – one of whom “who would himself confess to murder” – and four Afghan villagers to give evidence in support of the defendants’ case.

He rejected suggestions that the soldiers’ evidence was fabricated or motivated by jealousy, and characterised Roberts-Smith’s account of the six incidents as “inherently implausible.” For good measure, he accused Roberts-Smith of threatening witnesses and destroying relevant evidence.

The soldier himself commenced giving evidence in chief on Thursday.

The war hero told the court: “I have spent my life fighting for my country, and I did everything to ensure I did it with honour.” He described the allegations made against him as “devastating… it breaks my heart, really.”

He then gave evidence in relation to a number of specific incidents relied upon by the defendants.

Roberts-Smith rejected claims that he had bullied or threatened fellow soldiers, and denied saying to one, “I don’t care about women and children. I just want to kill c***s.” 

He also denied that he had fired 10 to 15 rounds into the body of an insurgent, or that he took part in an incident in which a soldier was ordered to shoot a kneeling Afghan insurgent in the head as a way of “blooding the rookie.”

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When asked about the infamous incident in which Australian soldiers were photographed drinking from the prosthetic leg of a dead Taliban member, Roberts-Smith said that this was an example of “gallows humour” that enabled troops to “desensitise themselves to the horrors of seeing dead bodies every day”, adding: “We were out there doing a job you cannot explain to people… I don’t have a problem with it, it’s how people decompressed… it’s about people being able to let go of some of the demons that they deal with.”

Roberts-Smith was scathingly critical of a number of the special services soldiers he served with – including one who he said had crashed a vehicle while trying to shoot a stray dog, and another who was more concerned about cooking his lunch than engaging with the enemy. There were some soldiers in his unit “who shouldn’t have been there,” he declared. 

Late on Thursday afternoon, when recounting the brutal battle at Tizak in 2010 where he won his Victoria Cross for storming two machine-gun posts and killing the gunners, (in all, 76 insurgents were killed in the action), Roberts-Smith became emotional. “We were all fighting, we were all in some form of danger,” he explained. “To have somebody tell you that that is now somehow some kind of criminal act, a war crime, it makes me angry, it makes me really angry.”

He became visibly upset and broke down in the witness box – and the court adjourned.

On Friday, he told the court that winning the Victoria Cross had “put a target on his back” and provoked acts of retribution from jealous soldiers serving with him. “As soon as you become a tall poppy, that becomes a chance to belittle you, and undermine you, and to use that award against you, out of pure spite,” he explained.

He said about one of the soldiers scheduled to testify against him, “for some reason he could not get over the fact that I had a Victoria Cross.”

He said he had been “white-anted” by other soldiers, especially during his final deployment in 2012. The court heard that on a noticeboard within the SAS compound at Tarin Kowt, he was ridiculed over night-time reconnaissance missions he led: “RS is trying to win another medal,” one note read.

Roberts-Smith denied saying to one soldier, who is to give evidence, “Before this trip is over I’m going to choke a bloke to death and watch the life drain out of him.”

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He also denied handcuffing an Afghan and kicking him over a cliff – describing the allegation as “fanciful.” When asked how he felt about such an allegation being made about him, he responded by saying, “You feel like you’re in a bloody nightmare, to be frank.”

Roberts-Smith categorically denied ever killing anyone who was under the control of Australian troops.

He admitted punching one Australian soldier after a failed mission, during which the soldier had fired indiscriminately, endangering an Afghan woman and child as well as his own colleagues.

The soldier will continue giving evidence next week. 

His cross-examination by Nicholas Owens SC will be the most important part of the trial and will, in large part, determine the result. If Roberts-Smith is to win this action, it is crucial that he comes through his cross examination unshaken in his denials of wrongdoing.

Coincidentally, this week the ABC published an updated report about an alleged massacre of Afghan civilians by Australian SAS troops in 2012.

According to the ABC, the incident involved the cold-blooded murder of 11 Afghan civilians (including a 13-year-old boy) who witnessed two SAS raids on Taliban outposts. Roberts-Smith was not involved in this incident, but the story has kept attention focused on the issue of  precisely what Australian troops did during the war in Afghanistan. 

The Office of Special Investigator – a body established by the Australian government to investigate those incidents brought to light by the Brereton Report – is now apparently investigating what the ABC describes as “the single deadliest alleged war crime committed by Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan.”

One thing seems absolutely clear – the spotlight will remain firmly fixed on the alleged misconduct of Australian troops in Afghanistan for a long time to come.

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Bugs Bunny, LGBTQ superstar? Insider creates bizarre database of LGBTQ cartoon characters in the name of ‘inclusion’

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Have you ever wanted to pore over a database of cartoon characters to learn which ones are gay, transsexual, and “gender nonconforming?” No? Well you can anyway, thanks to the intrepid journalists at Insider.

Technology has changed the work of the journalist. Shrinking attention spans and the instant availability of press releases, tweets and statements mean the modern reporter often writes short articles without ever picking up the phone or doing any investigative work of their own. But those investigative skills aren’t dead. They’ve simply been put to… other uses.

Like compiling the world’s first comprehensive database of “LGBTQ characters in kids’ cartoons.” That’s not a joke. Insider, an outlet that normally churns out throwaway articles on pop culture and current affairs, pulled out all the stops this week to give readers the lowdown on which beloved cartoon characters bat for the other team.

Ursula, Bugs Bunny, and Asami Sato. They are three of the 259 LGBTQ characters Insider found in cartoons.Queer culture has historically been present in this space. But, small-screen LGBTQ representation both exploded and shifted over the past decade. https://t.co/h2WhmIPhfUpic.twitter.com/VzphTmG10V

— Insider (@thisisinsider) June 10, 2021

It’s actually a serious piece of investigative reporting. The team at Insider trawled through every single line of dialog in every episode of 70 cartoon series, and identified 259 “LGBTQ” or “Gender minority” characters. These characters were rated as either explicitly or implicitly LGBTQ, after child psychologists determined “what kids about 12 and under might recognize about LGBTQ culture and identities.”

The reporters then confirmed the characters’ sexualities, or lack thereof, with the shows’ creators and studios, and built a searchable database that lets curious readers filter the characters by 12 genders, eight disabilities (included in an LGBT database for some unknown reason), and 11 sexual orientations. For peak SJW value, the characters were sorted into two racial categories too: “White” and “POC.”

Did you know that ‘Puck’ from ‘Gargoyles’ is genderfluid and polysexual? Or that ‘Entrapta’ from ‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’ is an autistic, pansexual POC? Well, you do now. Thanks to the team at Insider, you’ll never forget that ‘Steven Universe’ is explicitly gender nonconforming, or that ‘Tory Raynes’ from ‘Superman: the Animated Series’ has no set sexual orientation, but is somehow still LGBT.


A screenshot from Insider’s database, taken June 11, 2021 © Insider.com

If these names don’t ring a bell, don’t worry. These aren’t the cartoon icons of yesteryear. Insider did promote the database by describing Bugs Bunny as LGBT, but his name is conspicuously absent from the database itself, leading some commenters to accuse Insider of peddling clickbait.

Insider has done the work, but why? What’s the point? Animators have long slotted gay characters and subtexts into their shows, to the delight of some adult viewers and the chagrin of conservative parents. SpongeBob SquarePants’ innuendos made the cartoon sea sponge a gay icon, but the idea of compiling a database of LGBT characters is something one would traditionally associate with the Christian right of old – the same conservatives who pushed for ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on rock and rap records in the 1980s.

Insider’s database is like that, but in reverse. Instead of cautioning parents away from shows with homosexual themes, the database was put together “to bust the myth that kids can’t handle inclusion.”

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Can’t they? The thing is, Insider noted that LGBT representation in cartoons only really exploded from around 2014 onwards. There were nine LGBT characters on kids’ TV in 2015, and 74 in 2019, the investigation found. The kids watching these shows in 2019 are still kids.

Regarding the age-old question of whether art imitates life or vice versa, it’s a reach to suggest that this increase will encourage more children to ‘come out’ in later years, but it’s imaginable. It’s also imaginable that these kids will rebel against the diversity and inclusion fed to them in cartoons and grow up to completely reject LBGT acceptance and woke ideology. In short, nobody really knows yet what the kids make of “inclusion.”

Whatever the conclusion, Insider reckons that “children’s animation is undergoing a massive shift in telling LGBTQ stories — and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.” And, evidently, the reporters at Insider and its ilk will be putting their degrees and expertise to use outing every new character, whether the public asks for it or not.

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Cyberattack blame games are closer to nuclear war than it might seem – which is why a cyber-security treaty is essential

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NATO has made it clear a sufficiently serious cyberattack can be treated as a physical one, and trigger a response as such. That means not even nuclear war is off the table, and an international treaty is urgently needed.

A recent statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg drives home the chilling reality that cyberattacks, proven or alleged, have the potential to lead to a nuclear conflict that would make even the worst cyberattack pale in comparison. During a visit to the US, Stoltenberg said NATO had “decided that a cyberattack can trigger Article 5…[i]t doesn’t matter if an attack is kinetic or cyber, we will assess as allies when it meets the threshold … and it sends a message that we are cyber-allies.”

Stoltenberg had already written an article in August 2019 in which he declared that NATO, in “adapting to this new reality” (i.e. cyberattacks), was embracing a policy whereby “a serious cyberattack could trigger Article 5 of our founding treaty” – the collective defense clause in the NATO Charter that states that an attack against one ally is treated as an attack against all. “We have designated cyberspace a domain in which NATO will operate and defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea,” Stoltenberg wrote.

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The problematics of that statement aside, Stoltenberg and NATO were taking steps to equate a cyberattack with armed aggression. This dangerous escalation cannot simply be pushed aside and ignored as hyperbole. In February 2018, the Trump administration published its Nuclear Posture Review document, which allowed for the use of nuclear weapons to respond to devastating non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure, including crippling cyberattacks of the kind envisioned by the United States when targeting Russia and other nations, such as Iran. Given there is a record of US cyber weapons being re-purposed for use against US targets, it is not inconceivable that the US could be hit by a devastating cyberattack using its own US-made cyber weapons, and that this attack could prompt an American nuclear response.

There has never been a greater need or urgency than now for a cybersecurity treaty or agreement between the US and Russia. The White House has said that President Biden plans on making alleged Russian cyber activity a topic during his upcoming meeting with President Putin. Washington is accusing Russia of harboring the perpetrators of a recent spate of ransomware attacks – either instigating them directly, or failing to crack down on the criminal groups.

For his part, President Putin is expected to respond to any discussion of cyberattacks with a list of grievances of his own, along with a proposed solution in the form of a four-point “comprehensive program of practical measures to reboot our relations in the field of security in the use of information and communication technologies” that Putin first raised this past September.

For over a decade now, Russia has been pushing for a cyber treaty based on the model of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). In a 2009 speech, Vladislav Sherstyuk, a deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, set forth Russia’s baseline conditions for such a treaty – namely, the banning of any country secretly embedding malicious codes or circuitry that could be remotely activated during time of war.

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Russia’s worries were far from theoretical – classified documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that, as of June 2010, the National Security Agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit, responsible for offensive cyber operations, would intercept “shipments of computer network devices (servers, routers, etc.) being delivered to our targets throughout the world,” which would then be diverted to a secret location where they would install “beacon implants directly into our targets’ electronic devices.” Photographs contained in the documents showed NSA employees opening the shipping box for a Cisco router and installing beacon firmware.

Cisco was a major supplier of high-tech internet equipment at the time, providing sophisticated internet switches similar to those modified by the NSA to Russian customers, allegedly including the Federal Security Service and Ministry of Defense.

The activities of the NSA’s TAO appear to be part of a comprehensive offensive cyber program initiated under President Obama that targeted Russia in two ways: first, by implementing operations that were designed not to cause significant damage and intended to be detected, thereby sending a signal about the potential reach of US cyber capabilities. The second cyber pathway was more ambitious, involving the employment of the kind of “implants” mentioned in the Snowden documents, penetrating critical Russian networks “that would cause … pain and discomfort if they were disrupted.” These implants were designed so they could be remotely triggered in response to any Russian cyber-based aggression.

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It goes without saying that the US resisted Russia’s proposal for a CWC-style cyber treaty, since, if it had been implemented along the lines proposed by Russia, the US would have found its entire cybersecurity strategy undermined, since it is firmly founded in the principle that the best defense is a good offense. In short, if offensive cyber operations were banned by international law, the US would suddenly find entire organizations and tens of thousands of dedicated cyber spies and warriors out of work. It is for this reason that the US position regarding international cooperation on cyberattacks has been to treat the matter as a law-enforcement issue, with the US State Department endorsing as a model the 2004 Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, which has been signed by 22 nations, including the United States – but not Russia. Russian objections were founded on notions of sovereignty, specifically that the convention allows law enforcement agencies from other countries to investigate suspected cyber-based criminal activity originating inside Russia without first informing Russian authorities. But the real reason could be as practical as those of the US hesitancy regarding a CWC-style cyber treaty – by entering a convention that required Russia to work with outside agencies regarding criminal cyber activity originating in Russia, Russia would be hampering the work of private hacking groups allegedly attacking its rivals from its territory, whether in direct affiliation with the state or not.

When the two presidents get together in Geneva on June 16, one can only expect that Putin will give as good as he gets when it comes to cybersecurity. Hopefully, the two world leaders will be able to avoid the temptation of repeating Biden’s theatrical “Putin is a killer” moment from earlier this year, and realize that the threat from cyberattack is real and mutual, and, if not resolved, could lead to instability that could quickly tumble into things much more devastating than cyberattacks.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Caitlin Johnstone: The lie that a kinder, gentler US Empire is possible

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By Caitlin Johnstone, an independent journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her website is here and you can follow her on Twitter @caitoz

The main rift among the American left wing is between people who seek an end to the imperialist murder machine, and people who just want the imperialist murder machine to give them healthcare.

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar has once again been the center of an artificial controversy launched in bad faith, this time over a tweet where she mentioned the United States and Israel in the same breath as Hamas and the Taliban as perpetrators of “unthinkable atrocities”.

“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” Omar said while sharing a video of her wildly unsuccessful effort to get a straight answer from Secretary of State Tony Blinken on accountability for US and Israeli war crimes.

This provoked a bunch of ridiculous garment-rending histrionics from Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats, not because it is absurd to compare murderous warmongering regimes like the US and Israel with vastly less destructive regional forces like Hamas and the Taliban, but because it is considered unacceptable in mainstream politics to suggest that the US and Israel are anything other than beneficent powers who at worst make the occasional innocent oopsie.

We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice. pic.twitter.com/tUtxW5cIow

— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) June 7, 2021

This pathetically mild criticism of a power structure which has killed millions and displaced tens of millions just in the last two decades, during a pathetically unsuccessful attempt to get any kind of concession about war crimes and crimes against humanity from a prominent US official, drew so much outrage and vitriol from the US political/media class that Omar was once again forced to issue another pathetic walkback of her comments.

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“On Monday, I asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ongoing International Criminal Court investigations,” Omar said in a statement on her congressional website. “To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel.  I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”

And that is it, ladies and gentlemen. That is as far as you are allowed to take criticism of the empire in mainstream American politics. Even that level of feeble, impotent criticism is far outside the boundaries for anyone in the mainstream political/media class.

So, in case it wasn’t already clear to you, progressive Democrats are a joke. They’re not a real thing. If they are literally barred from even meaningfully criticizing the US empire, let alone actually working to dismantle it, they’re a joke. They will never succeed in advancing any kind of real progressive agenda.

There’s this unspoken and unquestioned assumption among progressive Democrats that it is possible to advance progressive agendas without actually ending the US empire. That you don’t need to actually dismantle the US empire and strip down its military to the bare bones in order to get nice things like universal healthcare, a living wage, and more ethical behavior on the world stage.

This is pure fantasy. It will never happen.

the US is a significantly more violent and destructive terrorist organization than Hamas. This is not remotely controversial

— Rob (@robrousseau) June 10, 2021

As long as the US is the center of a globe-spanning empire, it will be necessary to keep Americans too poor, too busy and too confused to interfere with the operation of the machine. You cannot allow a critical mass of Americans to have enough money to spend on political campaign donations, to have enough free time to research what’s actually happening in their world, to be sufficiently stress-free to look up and realize that your government is murdering children in their name, and also keep the empire running smoothly. You cannot have an imperialist oligarchy who runs things and also have income and wealth equality.

The empire feeds on oppression, exploitation, ignorance, and blood. It is impossible to dominate the planet with a unipolar world order if you don’t use violent force, and the threat of violent force, to uphold that world order. If you’re not strangling people at home and bombing people abroad, then you cannot have an oligarchic empire. Period.

The main rift you see on the leftmost end of the American political spectrum is between people who seek an end to the imperialist murder machine, and people who just want the imperialist murder machine to give them healthcare. The first group faces a very difficult uphill battle to get what it wants. The second group is just masturbating an impossible fantasy.

This is how you can tell who is for real and who is not: do they want to dismantle the oligarchic empire, or don’t they? If they do, they’re fighting for something real, but the oligarch-owned political/media class will not give them a platform. If they don’t, they may get a punditry job or a seat in congress, but they won’t ever actually give you anything besides feel-good empty narrative fluff.

The Left Will Never Achieve Its Goals Until It Prioritizes Countering Establishment Propaganda"Seize control of the narrative."https://t.co/TElXuByjLh

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) March 6, 2021

The solution, as I always point out, is to work together to destroy and discredit the oligarchic propaganda apparatus which enables the empire to determine who gets a platform and who doesn’t. As long as they are able to uplift vapid fauxgressives who pretend it’s possible to have a kinder, gentler US empire and marginalize people who actually want to dismantle the status quo, there will never be enough public awareness to force real change. All positive changes in human behavior are always the direct result of an expansion of awareness, so spreading awareness of the fact that there is an oligarchic empire which is exploiting and deceiving everyone should be the foremost priority of anyone who wants real change.

It’s not that you can’t beat the machine, it’s that you can’t beat the machine using the tools the machine has given you. A grassroots effort to wake each other up to reality is a very achievable goal, and once enough eyes are open, anything is possible.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

A murder epidemic, migrant crisis & economic meltdown at home… but STILL the US meddles in the world’s affairs

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Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.

As Joe Biden and Kamala Harris make their first significant appearances on the world stage, the problems are mounting up back home. They’d do well to make fixing them their top priority, rather than interfering in other countries.

US President Joe Biden is attending the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, and his vice president, Kamala Harris, has this week been in Mexico and Guatemala. Even before he arrived in England, Biden had already made clear his intention to meddle in Britain’s affairs. He let it be known that he would tackle Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the Northern Ireland Protocol and the protracted post-Brexit negotiations with the European Union.

Biden failed to broach the subject during Thursday’s meeting with Johnson, but he will no doubt return to it before the weekend is over. Similarly, on her visit to Central America, Harris berated her hosts for corruption and told would-be Guatemalan migrants not to try and get into the US, because “if you come to our border, you will be turned back.” Fine words indeed from the vice president, but unfortunately not based in reality.

Instead, I would suggest that rather than lecturing other leaders how to run their respective countries, Biden and Harris should take a look in the mirror, because all is not well in the US at the moment.  

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Firstly, America’s largest cities are in the midst of a murder epidemic. The homicide rate in Chicago, for example, is eye-wateringly high. Last year alone, there were 750 murders in the ‘Windy City’, which represents a jump of 50% on 2019. These increases in homicides were replicated in all of the US’ most populated cities. There were, for example, 437 registered murders in New York, a 40% increase on 2019, and also 322 killings in Los Angeles, a leap of 30%. This year, things are only getting worse, as homicide rates are already up 24% in comparison to 2020. Take Philadelphia for example, where there were 170 murders by May 9, a rise of 28% on the same period last year.

Violent crime is also an increasing problem in American cities. Detroit remains the most dangerous city in the US, where there is a staggering 1-in-51 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. St. Louis has similar astonishing violent crime statistics, as do Memphis and Baltimore. Indeed, there were 55 shootings last weekend in Chicago alone. And one thing all of these crime-ridden cities have in common is that they are run by Biden’s party, the Democrats.  

Added to Joe’s woes is the fact that the US’ southern border is under massive pressure due to the number of migrants coming over from Mexico. Trump attempted to stem the tide by building a wall and implementing a ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which was partially successful. One of the first actions of the Biden administration, however, was to ditch these. In an attempt to get a handle on the increasingly desperate situation, Biden dispatched Kamala Harris – who has not even bothered to visit the border – down to Mexico and Guatemala. Harris warned Guatemalans, “Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders.” It is fair to say that her visit was not well received, and nor will the Guatemalans take any notice, primarily because mixed messages never work.

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On the one hand, Harris is attempting to convince migrants not to attempt to breach the border, while at the same time Biden’s policies are making it easier for migrants to cross the border. This has unsurprisingly infuriated those who live in the border states, particularly Texas. Governor Greg Abbott stated that “this problem will continue to get worse because of the policies that have been adopted by the Biden administration.” He also encouraged Biden to reinstate Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and “continue to build the wall along the border in south Texas.” Neither of these suggestions will be taken on board by Biden and Harris, and as a result the migrants, who are themselves victims of people-smugglers, will continue to come in their droves.

Finally, Biden will soon have to contend with economic problems, partially caused by the Covid pandemic. On Thursday, it was announced that inflation in the US had risen by 5% in the past month, the largest increase since August 2008. The price of cars and trucks, for example, has jumped in price by a whopping 7.3%. If inflation continues to rise at this pace, then American workers will find price hikes outstripping wages; and of course, the worst hit will be the low paid.  

Added into this toxic economic mix is the fact that the US is a country increasingly living off debt. It has an astounding $30 trillion of national debt, coupled with a $1 trillion annual deficit. The US debt level now rivals Italy, which has been tinkering on the brink of economic collapse for years. The debt situation in the US cannot go on forever and the economic balloon will eventually pop. And when it does, we will all suffer the consequences because, as the saying goes, ‘When America sneezes, the world catches a cold.’    

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So, whilst Biden and Harris introduce themselves on the world stage and tell other countries how to run their affairs, it would, I suggest, make more sense if they focused on their own problems. With a murder epidemic, the southern border out of control, and growing economic problems, I am not sure anyone should be taking advice from this pair.

Moreover, Biden has no right to poke his nose into British affairs, although the mainstream media seem to suggest that he can because his ancestors were Irish. Well, if this logic is applied, then Boris Johnson – who was born in New York and held dual nationality until 2016 – has even more right to tell Biden to get his own house in order first. 

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Bullying beer firm BrewDog’s ‘punk’ schtick has gone flat. It’s just a grubby profit chaser like all the rest

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The successful ‘non-corporate’ craft beer firm has won plaudits for its tasty ales and clever marketing. But its ‘culture of fear’ left a nasty taste with ex-employees, who have gone public with some damning accusations.

It’s the ones you least expect that hurt the most.

The world is dominated by corporate behemoths. There’s hardly a country you can’t touch down in and be met by a familiar array of shops, restaurants and coffee bars.

That’s why plucky, challenger firms that apparently put principles over profit and are driven by a genuine identity tend to be rapturously received.

Over the past decade or so, BrewDog has been the epitome of this. The global beer market is dominated by a small cabal of super producers, so it used that as its raison d’etre as it shook up the establishment with its innovative ales and clever marketing.

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There were constant references to how it began with two men and a dog. Consumers were made to believe they were nurturing a free-spirited company that would never sell out.

BrewDog co-founder James Watt played that song over and over as the company and its empire of beers and bars grew and grew. On discovering a fake BrewDog bar in China, he used it as a PR move and wished the venture good luck.

In a publicly available letter he said to the copycats: “The fact that it is no longer the global mega brands alone that are being copied in China, but also the small craft beer producers, proves to me that there is not just a slight change in the world’s food and drink tastes, but a tectonic shift.” 

BrewDog monetised this image, too. It didn’t take cash from hedge funds, but opted for crowdfunding, with those who pledged money hailed as ‘Equity Punks’. Despite this, it was still raising large sums, including £25 million in 2015.

To celebrate the launch of one round of fundraising, Watt flew above Europe’s financial capital London in a helicopter throwing taxidermy ‘fat cats’ out, claiming: “This round of Equity for Punks has got off to a great start so we went behind enemy lines to conduct a symbolic gesture that heralds the extinction of the city fat cat. This is our way of showcasing the viability of alternative forms of finance, it is our own anti-propaganda propaganda.” 

BrewDog even used politics to promote the brand, launching a beer called Hello My Name is Vladimir in protest at the Russian president’s policies. And initially all these unconventional dark arts worked, as BrewDog became highly successful and fashionable, with accolades including the Entrepreneur of the Year Award and gold at the 2010 World Beer Cup.

Beer drinkers appreciated the different approach from the corporate giants.

But the tide began to turn when it became clear the firm would stop at nothing in pursuit of growth.

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In 2017, a family-run bar in the English city of Birmingham named Lone Wolf saw another side to BrewDog when its lawyers waded in demanding a name change.

Then last year, as Britain suffered the worst Covid-19 death toll in Europe, it showed questionable taste as it created a beer to mock Boris Johnson’s aide Dominic Cummings’ claims of driving during lockdown to test his eyesight, called Barnard Castle Eye Test.

And the Equity Punks got new fellow shareholders as California private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners took a 22% share.

These were all signs that BrewDog’s punk ethos was beginning to fade and the shock tactics were losing their appeal. 

But this week a bomb dropped when an explosive letter was posted online signed by 61 ex-employees and backed by another 45. 

An open letter, to BrewDog. pic.twitter.com/xEd3B83qot

— Punks With Purpose (@PunksWPurpose) June 9, 2021

It contained startling accusations. The former staff claimed BrewDog fostered a “culture of fear” and blamed Watt’s ego for a “rotten culture of lies.” They described the firm as “built on a cult of personality” and added “hypocrisy and deceit can be useful tools.”

Among the allegations was that while the company was championing its environmental credentials, it made use of a private jet that had to be filled with employees to justify the cost, and that it wasted glacier water. The insiders also revealed that despite the firm’s PR, beer was never sent to Vladimir Putin as was claimed.

The letter also explained how staff were made to accept “genuine safety concerns” and stated: “You spent years claiming you wanted to be the best employer in the world, presumably to help you to recruit top talent, but ask former staff what they think of those claims, and you’ll most likely be laughed at.”

The most damning line of the letter was: “Put bluntly, the single biggest shared experience of former staff is a residual feeling of fear. Fear to speak out about the atmosphere we were immersed in, and fear of repercussions even after we have left.”

Other ex-staff swiftly tweeted their agreement, piling the pressure on.

As an ex-employee of @Brewdog this rings so true. Be it @BrewDogJames acting like bar staff didn’t exist as he greeted mgmt, the constant trial-and-error changing of food/ drink practices or toxic, high-pressure behaviour from upper mgmt, it was a frustrating place to work. https://t.co/dyUmohjMz6

— Jack and 658 others (@and_658) June 10, 2021

It’s beyond embarrassing for Watt, who once said: “For decades, the craft of lager has been lost and forgotten, bastardised by mega breweries putting profit before flavour.” This didn’t tally with the whistleblowers, who stated in their letter that “growth, at all costs, has always been perceived as the number one focus.”

BrewDog reacted quickly. In response to the letter, Watt said that “most of all, right now, we are sorry” and added “our focus now is not on contradicting or contesting the details of that letter, but to listen, learn and act.” 

I wanted to share a quick update on the open letter from former BrewDog team members. pic.twitter.com/yKPtKpfUmM

— James Watt (@BrewDogJames) June 10, 2021

Despite Watt’s apology, one thing is clear: the perception of BrewDog will be changed forever. Yes, its ales may still be stocked globally and enjoyed, but the image it cultivated has been outed as a charade.

Wearing trendy jeans and a flat-cap to work doesn’t make a person morally sound. So much of what is claimed by eco-warriors and those determined to shake up the establishment is spin. They are the same as the rest, but just don’t want to admit it.

This story may end in sweet irony though.

Wouldn’t it just be gorgeous if the investment bankers exacted revenge for all of the jibes, by pouring the company down the sink and shutting off the cashflow?

The thought of BrewDog getting its comeuppance is one thing I’d raise a glass to.

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A ‘red wave’ of left-wing resurgence engulfs South America, which the US claimed as its ‘backyard’ but neglected to tend

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The apparent narrow victory of socialist Pedro Castillo in Peru is the latest splash of a ‘red wave’ engulfing South America, where Washington and its ‘free market fundamentalism’ have been calling the shots for decades.

Over the past few days, many eyes in the Western Hemisphere have been on the hotly contested presidential election in Peru. Left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo of the anti-imperialist Free Peru party appears to have gained the upper hand against establishment figure Keiko Fujimori in an otherwise dead-heat contest, which the latter then accused him of rigging. The possible election of such a radical socialist, whose public image includes humble ponchos, sandals and straw hats, has been empowered by a generation of young people deeply disillusioned by the country’s spiralling inequality, prolonged poverty and corruption scandals, as well as rural voters and indigenous communities.

Yet, this is not a political earthquake in Peru alone, but in fact one of many increasingly spanning an entire continent. Latin America is experiencing a “red wave” – a momentous blast of left-leaning energy sweeping across multiple countries and empowering a thirst for radical change. As this election heads to its finale, protests and uprisings continue to sweep Colombia, Chile has abandoned its Pinochet-era constitution, and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is making a resurgent comeback in Brazil.

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But what is causing this? What do these countries have in common? The answer is a rejection of a neoliberal, US-led economic order of “market fundamentalism” which has exacerbated a vastly unequal distribution of wealth, a diminishing of opportunities, and high unemployment – all of which have prolonged disillusionment and left the economies of the continent stagnant over the past decade. Now, the wind of change is here and it’s all happening in America’s own backyard, which it claims as its own but does not tend to the garden.

In many ways, the misfortunes of Latin America have been exacerbated by geopolitics. Since the 19th century, the United States has wielded its “Monroe Doctrine” – a foreign policy approach that prerequisites undisputed dominance over the entire Western Hemisphere as a safeguard for American interests and national security. Such a policy has led to a longstanding approach in Washington to remove and hinder any governments whose preferences do not align with their own, especially socialist ones. This has led to many outright wars, coups and other illicit regime changes, all of which prolonged chronic instability and severely set back many of the countries involved.

As a result, this longstanding lust for political dominance has not been matched with a strategy of facilitating development, investment and growth throughout the continent. The United States has long sought to impose its economic system across the region, but it has not generated growth and prosperity as was marketed, but instead led to the wholesale privatization of assets to US control and “free market fundamentalism,” the erosion and absence of a national industrial and technological base, as well as the creation of small, super-rich pro-US oligarchic classes and a negation of the masses, which subsequently results in mass immigration towards the US itself due to a lack of local opportunities.

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When Kamala Harris turned up in Guatemala this week, the message the world heard was “Don’t come,” revealing the otherwise chronic lack of empathy and economic focus Washington has vested in Latin America. It is no surprise on such a background that movements in the south have subsequently arisen, demanding popular change. They are not driven by geopolitical competition, the events in Peru, Chile and Colombia amongst others cannot be explained by Russia, China or Cuba, but a broken status quo and a system which is permanently rigged against them. US neoliberalism in this region is a failed experiment. With the United States now having decided the world’s future is “the Indo-pacific” and Asia, where does that leave South America?

In this case, it will be interesting to see how the US foreign policy establishment reacts to the red wave on its doorstep. Will they perceive it as a national security threat? Will they seek to uproot and dismantle these movements? Or even facilitate coups? Even if they are not driven by any particular geopolitical rival, it is not hard to see why they are for the most part unequivocally anti-American in character given the history, with US flags having been burned in Colombia. Yet even if not, Washington can surely not ignore these events due to their explicit ideological element, which will challenge the popular discourse that East Asia is set to be “the story of the 21st century.” This movement may yet in unforeseen ways have ripple effects on the wider world. The red wave is reimagining South America, and it isn’t over yet.

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Other states should follow Texas in trying to fix the border crisis… because you can bet that the White House won’t do it

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said his state will crack down on illegal immigration to protect its borders. Every state should take this approach, as security is too politicized an issue for the federal government to deal with.

Ever since Donald Trump lost the election in 2020, the southern border of the United States of America has been nothing more than a mess, with the number of undocumented migrants at a 20-year high. The situation has been described as a “humanitarian crisis,” with footage showing large cages of migrants awaiting processing – all, of course, in the middle of a pandemic. 

With criticism of his administration’s poor handling of the crisis escalating, President Joe Biden has assigned Vice President Kamala Harris to take care of the issue. To this point, it appears she hasn’t actually visited the border at all, and the most notable thing she has done publicly is simply tell people from other countries: “Do not come.”

Now, words are all very well. But actions are better. The fact of the matter is that if there’s nothing to deter someone from crossing a border illegally, words aren’t going to be enough. Most of the people trying to get into the US don’t care who the vice president is, let alone what she has to say. There has to be some sort of action taken to show that those words have some sort of weight. As it stands, not much is going on.

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And so Governor Abbott has seized control of the issue by announcing that his administration will be taking more steps to enforce border law in his state. Barriers are going to be built, and law enforcement will be enabled to punish those who break the border laws. 

“You’re not going to have a pathway to roam the country. You’re going to have a pathway directly into a jail cell,” was Abbott’s firm warning. Encouraging words, but then he diluted their impact by adding: “In the end, only the federal government and Congress can fix this, but as it stands right now, the state of Texas is going to step up and we’re going to start making arrests.”

Can the federal government ever be relied upon to sort this mess out? Frankly, I doubt it.

Let’s consider the effort that it took to even get a partial barrier built at the border during the Trump administration. A law to finance it was never passed, and when the barrier finally started being erected, it was only after Trump diverted funds from other programs into the wall as a national security measure. 

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Now, that was within his power to do so. But as was evidenced when Biden entered the Oval Office, it only takes a signature on one piece of paper to undo everything. So, within a four-year timespan, a full wall was never built, and the whole program can be completely undone far too easily anyway. In fact, you might realistically argue that the only thing keeping Biden from tearing down the current barriers is the reality of the situation that he created.

With that in mind, I believe that each of the southern states that border Mexico should consider doing what Texas is doing, and should never have to rely on the federal government to secure their own borders. US states have their own autonomy, and those individual state governments have a responsibility to protect the rights of their own citizens. They shouldn’t need the federal government for anything, because it is a mess and takes too long to do anything anyway.

Very simply, each state within the US should never be in a position where they need to defer to the federal government when it comes to ensuring the safety of their own citizens. Currently, the political situation around something as simple as border security is nothing short of ridiculous. So why wait on the federal government to get its act together? Every state should be confident that they can protect their own people – because one thing is for sure: Washington won’t do it.

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Two-tier societies are emerging, with dwindling rights for the unvaccinated. Why do governments consider them such a threat?

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By Rachel Marsden, columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at rachelmarsden.com

While the authorities keep saying that Covid-19 vaccination isn’t obligatory – at least, not yet – good luck trying to live a normal life without it. It’s clear the ostracization of those who haven’t had the jab is well underway.

Last year, at this time, Covid-19 cases fell significantly without any substantial measures, as everything opened up for the summer and the powers-that-be in some countries allowed life to return to normal for a few months, all in the absence of vaccination.

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This year, exactly the same phenomenon observed in 2020 is being attributed to mass inoculation. The narrative is that this is what’s saving us from Covid. And now the pressure’s on to force everyone into compliance, lest they want to live any semblance of normal life, beginning with summer travel.

Holiday options are shaping up to be quite different, depending on whether you’re vaccinated or not. France is now exempting vaccinated travelers from Europe and zero-Covid countries from quarantine and testing. But even vaccinated travelers from the US and elsewhere need to produce a negative test result before their flight, which begs the question, if the vaccine is so reliable, why do you need to test at all?

Unvaccinated travelers from outside Europe aren’t allowed to come to France for tourism. And if they must, for an imperative reason, a pre- and post-flight test and seven-day quarantine is imposed on arrival.  

Canada currently forces its own returning citizens – the only travelers for whom the border is open – to quarantine in a government-designated facility at the traveler’s prepaid expense of up to $2,000, where they await a negative test result before completing the remaining 14-day quarantine at home. The hotel quarantine could be scrapped sometime this summer, but only for fully vaccinated returning Canadians – despite the fact that a scientific expert panel advised the government to drop the hotel quarantine altogether. 

So, hassle-free travel to these countries and others is almost fully dependent on vaccination, even though these same governments have so little faith in the jab itself that they still require vaccinated travelers to be tested unless they’re coming in from a place where Covid-19 is so rare as to be virtually non-existent. Makes you wonder what the point of vaccine-based travel restrictions are if they’re viewed as so shoddy they can’t be trusted to prevent spread. 

These rules reflect what we’ve already been told: that the vaccine doesn’t prevent disease or transmission, but rather reduces the likelihood of severe illness in the relative few who may have been prone to it.

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Nor is the vaccine seemingly enough to allow life to go back to pre-pandemic norms in some places, even as the annual virus season draws to an end and summer ramps up. While some countries’ swimming pools and gyms are back to relatively normal capacity and use, others are still making patrons sign up for limited time slots and swim up one lane and down another in order to maintain social distancing between length swimmers – presumably, so they don’t risk infecting someone while breathing during front crawl. 

Meanwhile, some American and Canadian universities are requiring Covid vaccination as a condition of attendance this fall. Why is all this necessary when it doesn’t stop transmission and anyone who’s worried about getting a serious form of Covid has already had the shot?

A medical advisory panel in France is also recommending that the vaccine be obligatory for certain public-facing professions and for school kids. This effectively means that any individuals who choose not to vaccinate – either because they already have natural immunity from the disease or figure that what they risk from the disease isn’t worth the potential long-term risks of taking a vaccine based on new, experimental technology – are going to find themselves with limited options.

There’s absolutely no justification for forcing anyone to vaccinate – for travel or otherwise. This mantra being bandied about that everyone has to do their part and take the shot in order to protect others is just total nonsense. The proof is in the lack of confidence that governments themselves are showing this summer by demanding that even the fully vaccinated take Covid tests.

The jab protects one person: the jabbed. That’s it. And no one should be ostracized or inconvenienced as a result of making a different choice for whatever reason. This highly personal medical decision is being misrepresented as some kind of collective necessity and is marginalizing those wanting to make a choice that’s different from the one that governments are pushing.

Since self-protection from serious forms of Covid-19 is in the hands of each individual, why exactly is the individual who chooses differently considered such a threat?

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Women are being attacked, sacked and threatened with jail simply for pointing out that you cannot change your biological sex

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This war on women by trans activists – aided and abetted by a woke police and judiciary – has to be stopped. Free speech is in real danger when those who state scientific reality are being cancelled.

A Scottish feminist campaigner, Marion Millar, had been charged with hate crimes for alleged homophobic and transphobic posts on Twitter. The case seems bizarre. Millar is a 50-year-old mother of autistic twins and runs an accountancy business. She’s also a feminist campaigner and, along with many other Scottish feminists, has been tweeting under the hashtag #WomenWontWheesht (Women won’t shut up).

Millar has been unrepentant in calling out “predatory” men who, she argues, are claiming to be women, while also saying she “support transsexuals absolutely.” In other words, she is not anti-trans, but is extremely worried about the most aggressive trans activists and the idea that someone can simply declare themselves to be a woman, something that could threaten women-only spaces.

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According to blogger Lily Maynard, on April 28, Millar was contacted by local police and told that she would need to attend her local police station to be interviewed under the Malicious Communications Act (MCA). She was told she would have to place her children with social services while she was interviewed. After another cancelled appointment, she was interviewed on June 3, after which she was charged. If she is convicted, she could face up to six months in prison.

One of the apparently offensive tweets from Millar was of a photograph of a ribbon – in the Suffragette colours of green, white and purple – tied to a fence outside the studios where the BBC soap opera River City is filmed. However, it seems that the ribbon was interpreted by someone as a noose, implying that the tweet was in fact a veiled threat. 

Whatever happens with the case, it seems that a noisy critic of gender-identity politics has been placed in a very stressful situation with the threat of a prison sentence if convicted. This will surely make other women fearful of engaging in the debate about trans rights.

Another incident involves a law student at Abertay University in Dundee, Lisa Keogh. She has had to face a university misconduct case because some of her classmates complained about comments she made, including that “women are weaker than men” and “women are women because they have vaginas.” Keogh found out on Tuesday night that she had been cleared. But as she told BBC Woman’s Hour on Thursday, even though there would not now be any formal punishment from the university as such, “the investigation was a punishment.” Keogh worries that others will be deterred from expressing their opinions as a result.

This comes in the same week that Maya Forstater, a think-tank employee who was sacked for tweeting her view that people cannot change their sex, that “men cannot change into women,” won an employment tribunal appeal. She had claimed that her dismissal was discriminatory, but the original tribunal had ruled that her case was not covered by the Equality Act because her views did not have “the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.”

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In the original judgement, the judge noted that it is “a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.” That is, to believe in the immutability of biological sex and act upon that belief is now indefensible. The appeal tribunal was clear that it was not ruling on whether Forstater was right or wrong, simply stating (the obvious, in my view) that it was a belief that “must be tolerated in a pluralist society.”

The trans debate is extremely heated, with trans campaigners demanding the right to self-identify as the gender they choose and to be treated exactly as if they would be if they were born as that sex. The oddity is that the vast majority of people, and indeed the law, act in a “live and let live” way. If someone wants to live as the opposite sex, then for the most part, they are allowed to do so and generally people act towards them in that way.

However, there are situations where this can be difficult. One is the question of women-only spaces. Should men who have not transitioned in a medical sense but choose to live as women really be allowed to access those spaces? To go into women’s toilets, dressing/changing rooms and refuges, for example? 

Another is to do with sport: should people who were born and grew up as men be allowed to compete in sport as women when they may be at a very significant physical advantage? This isn’t simply a matter of women annoyed at losing to people who grew up as men. There is a serious risk of physical injury, too, yet objections are often overruled. Many women feel that their, often hard-won, rights are being erased in order to respect the feelings of trans people.

These are proper questions for debate. One side of the argument should not be shut down by trans activists taking advantage of the law to threaten their opponents. Indeed, what the hell are the authorities doing when they allow free debate to be undermined in this way?

There is a serious problem when those in a position of power lose the moral authority and capacity to say “No” to campaigners in these circumstances. The upshot of this loss of authority is, perversely, more authoritarianism: free speech is undermined, critics get cancelled, opponents face imprisonment. Open debate is surely a better solution than that.

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BoJo & Biden’s new Atlantic Charter is nothing more than a shameful PR exercise

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Johnson and Biden hit a reboot on the US-UK relationship by signing Atlantic Charter 2.0, invoking the war spirit in a post-pandemic world. Let’s hope they can stick to the principles more successfully than their predecessors.

Attempts to flag the newly-signed trade, defence and tech deal between the US and UK as a Atlantic Charter 2.0 are nothing more than shameful, tin-eared grandstanding aimed at infusing the G7 gabfest with some sort of historical significance.

Wartime leaders Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill signed the original 1941 charter under a veil of secrecy at a meeting aboard the USS Augusta moored in the cold waters of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in the middle of a terrifying war. The latest agreement was signed at a luxury five star seaside hotel with a golf course soaked in the Cornish sunshine.

The original Atlantic Charter was an attempt by the allies to enshrine “certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.”

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The new agreement was looking to open a travel corridor so lockdown-weary Brits and their kids can make it to Disneyworld this summer but after a look at Delta coronavirus variant infection rates in the UK, Biden nixed that. What’s the point of a  ‘special relationship’ if you can’t bend a few rules?

Sure there’s some waffle about defending democracy, boosting trade, a ‘landmark’ technology pact, action on climate change, protection of biodiversity and the usual guff that earnest young wonks love to cram into agreements like this. Something for everyone.

The agreement is one big PR stunt. A not-too-subtle effort to reset the UK-US relationship after the tumultuous Trump years with two less-than-leaderly figures in PM Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden now in charge, hoping the blatant attempt to appear statesmanlike will make them appear, well, statesmanlike.

Let’s face it. Churchill and FDR they aint. Boris has written a Churchill biography, but that’s as close as they get. Lord help us, if these two clowns were leading us into a world war we’d all be speaking Mandarin by the end of next week.

The original Atlantic Charter, admittedly, was also something of a public relations exercise. It signalled intent and agreement between two nations that both wanted a massive say in shaping the world if and when the Nazis and the Japanese were defeated. 

Churchill’s underlying motive in signing the charter was to get the Americans into the war while FDR was hoping his involvement would encourage the American public to approve US intervention on behalf of the Allies. Neither man got what he wanted at the time. That only happened after Pearl Harbour.

What they did manage to achieve, however, was to lay down markers for the future using eight common principles that, as time passed, even they had trouble abiding by.

For instance, principle two expressed a “desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.” Maybe the CIA lost its copy of the charter before ousting Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in a military coup in Iran in 1953, and organising a similar plot in Guatemala in 1954. Then there was the CIA coordination of attempts to successfully assassinate the first prime minister of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, in 1960; the tactical support given to the killer of the Dominican Republic’s brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1961; plus further coups in South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964) and Chile (1973). That’s quite a run.

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Then there was principle eight that “for realistic as well as spiritual reasons” urged the abandonment of the use of force, “Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers.”

Again, maybe the copy of the Atlantic Charter, which easily fits on a single sheet is the sort of thing that is pushed so far to the back of the drawer in the desks of the Oval Office and Downing Street that it becomes wedged down the back, inaccessible and long-forgotten was never passed on from leader to leader.

Because I’m sure principle eight has never been brought up in any conversation about the US bombing campaigns in, say, Afghanistan. In 2006, 310  bombs were released by the US coalition but by 2019 that figure had grown to 7,423. Clearly a spiritual deficit there.

Going back to the ten years from 1965 spent in south east Asia, the US and its allies dropped more than 7.5 million tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, double the amount dropped on Europe and Asia during the Second World War.

Then there were battles in Malaya, Suez, Korea, the Balkans, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Palestine and, of course, the Falklands. All fought in the years after the guiding principles of the Atlantic Charter had been solemnly declared.

So it seems inappropriate to flag up this piecemeal bit of puffery signed in Cornwall as some pivotal moment for a relationship between two countries whose behaviour veered so badly off course from the intention of those principles set out in the original charter.

While Churchill died in 1965, before most of the egregious bombing in Vietnam and Afghanistan, FDR didn’t even survive until the end of World War II, having died from a brain haemorrhage in April ‘45.

What either of these once great wartime leaders would have made of the charter they signed hopeful of peace in the future and their names being invoked in the execution of this latest stunt doesn’t bear thinking. Shame.

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Slavoj Žižek: The difference between ‘woke’ and a true awakening

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The supposedly liberal ‘wokeness’ and cancel culture have little to do with awakening to what’s going on in the world and trying to change it – it’s just noise for the sake of noise, while the status-quo is carefully preserved.

The usual liberal-conservative reproach to the so-called woke cancel culture is that it is too radical: Its partisans want to destroy all statues, cleanse our museums, rewrite our entire past… in short, they want to deprive us of our entire collective memory and purify our everyday language into a flat, heavily censored jargon. However, I think Ben Burgis is right in his claim that the woke agents of cancel culture are “Canceling Comedians While the World Burns”: Far from being ‘too radical’, their imposition of new prohibitions and rules is one of the exemplary cases of pseudo-activity, of how to make sure that nothing will really change by pretending to act frantically. No wonder new forms of capital, in particular anti-Trump tech capitalists (Google, Apple, Facebook), passionately support anti-racist and pro-feminist struggles – ‘woke capitalism’ is our reality. One does not really change things by prescribing measures which aim at establishing a superficial ‘just’ balance without attacking the underlying causes of the imbalance.

Here is a fresh case of the politically correct struggle against privilege: California’s Department of Education proposed that the gap between well-performing students and their less able peers must disappear. Professors should hold well-performing students back and push their less intellectual peers forward, as if they were all equal in abilities. Justification? “We reject ideas of natural gifts and talents,” since “there is no cutoff determining when one child is ‘gifted’ and another is not.” The goal is thus to “replace ideas of innate mathematics ‘talent’ and ‘giftedness’ with the recognition that every student is on a growth pathway.”

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This is a showcase of fake egalitarianism destined to just breed envy and hatred. We need good mathematicians to do serious science, and the proposed measures certainly don’t help in this regard. The solution? Why not more access to good education for everyone, better living conditions for the poor? And it is easy to imagine the next step in this direction of the false egalitarianism: Is not the fact that some individuals are much more sexually attractive than others also a case of supreme injustice? So should we not invent some kind of push towards equity in enjoyment also, a way to hold the more attractive back, since there is no cutoff determining when one person is sexually attractive and another is not? Sexuality effectively is a domain of terrifying injustice and imbalance… Equity in enjoyment is the ultimate dream of false egalitarianism.

There are rare voices of authentic Left opposition to this drive towards false justice – apart from Burgis, one should mention Angela Nagle and Katherine Angel. The only problem I have with Angel’s Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Againis its title, which seems to imply that sex was once good (not-antagonistic) and will be that again. I’ve rarely read a book with whose basic premise I agreed so fully – since this premise is formulated concisely in the publicity paragraph for the book, I will shamelessly quote it:

“Women are in a bind. In the name of consent and empowerment, they must proclaim their desires clearly and confidently. Yet sex researchers suggest that women’s desire is often slow to emerge. And men are keen to insist that they know what women—and their bodies—want. Meanwhile, sexual violence abounds. How can women, in this environment, possibly know what they want? And why do we expect them to? Katherine Angel challenges our assumptions about women’s desire. Why, she asks, should they be expected to know their desires? And how do we take sexual violence seriously, when not knowing what we want is key to both eroticism and personhood?”

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The parts italicised (by me) are crucial: Any feminist theory should take into account not-knowing as a key feature of sexuality and ground its opposition to violence in sexual relationship not in the usual terms of ‘yes means yes’, but by evoking this not-knowing. This is why the motto that women “must proclaim their desires clearly and confidently” is not just a violent imposition on sexuality but literally de-sexualizing, a promotion of ‘sex without sex’. This is why feminism, in some instances, enforces precisely the same ‘shaming and silencing’ of women’s sexuality that it seeks to oppose. What lies under the direct physical (or psychological) violence of unwanted male sexual advances is the patronizing assumption he knows what the ‘confused’ woman doesn’t know (and is thereby legitimized to act upon this knowledge). It could thus be argued that a man is violent even if he treats a woman respectfully – as long as it’s done under this presumption of knowing more about her desires than she does herself.

This in no way implies that women’s desire is in some sense deficient compared to that of men (who are supposed to know what they want): The lesson of psychoanalysis is that a gap always separates what we want from what we desire. It may happen that I not only desire something but want to get it without explicitly asking for it, pretending that it was imposed on me – demanding it directly would ruin the satisfaction of getting it. And inversely, I may want something, dream about it, but I don’t desire to get it – my entire subjective consistency depends on this not-getting-it: Directly getting it would lead to a collapse of my subjectivity. We should always bear in mind that one of the most brutal forms of violence occurs when something that we secretly desire or fantasize about (but are not ready to do in real life) is imposed on us from outside.

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The only form of sex that fully fits the politically correct criteria is a sado-masochist contract.

Leftist partisans of political correctness often reproach to its critics that their focus on PC ‘excesses’, on the prohibitive aspect of cancelling and woke culture, ignores a much graver threat of censorship. Just in the UK, we have police infiltrating trade unions, regulation of what gets published in the media and appears on TV, underage children from Muslim families questioned for terrorist links, up to single events like the continuing illegal imprisonment of Julian Assange… While I agree that censorship is much worse than the ‘sins’ of cancel culture, I think it provides the ultimate argument against the woke culture and PC regulations: Why does the PC Left focus on regulating details of how we speak, etc. instead of bringing out the above-mentioned much bigger things? No wonder Assange was also attacked by some PC feminists (not only) from Sweden who did not support him because they took seriously the accusations about his sexual misconduct (which were later dismissed by the Swedish authorities). An unproven infraction of PC rules outweighed the fact of being a victim of state terror…

However, when the woke stance touches on a really important aspect of the reproduction of the hegemonic ideology, the reaction of the establishment changes from ridiculing the opponent for its excesses to a panicky attempt of violent legal suppression. We often read in our media complaints about the ‘excesses’ of critical gender and race studies which try to reassess the hegemonic narrative of the American past. But we are now in the middle of an ongoing reactionary counter-offensive to reassert a whitewashed American myth. New laws are proposed in at least 15 states all across the US that would ban the teaching of ‘critical race theory’, the New York Times’ 1619 Project, and, euphemistically, ‘divisive concepts’.

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Are the prohibited theories really divisive? Yes, but only in the precise sense that they oppose (divide themselves from) the hegemonic official myth which is already in itself divisive: It excludes some groups or stances, putting them in a subordinate position. Furthermore, it is clear that to the partisans of the official myth, truth does not matter here but only the ‘stability’ of the founding myths – these partisans, not those dismissed by them as ‘historicist relativists’, are effectively practicing the ‘post-truth’ stance: They like to evoke ‘alternate facts’, but they exclude alternate founding myths.

While criticizing the PC cancelling culture, we should thus always bear in mind that we share their goals (for feminism, against racism, etc.), and that we criticize their inefficiency in reaching these goals. With advocates of the founding myths, the story is a different one: Their goals are unacceptable, and we hope they will fail to reach them.

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Poland’s insistence it will never accept a United States of Europe puts it firmly on a collision course with the EU

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Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.

More trouble lies ahead for Brussels, with the Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki voicing his opposition to a European superstate. Don’t be surprised if Poland is forced to decide on its EU future within the next decade.

In a recent interview with Newsweek, Morawiecki revealed that he is not a fan of the direction the European Union is heading in. During the interview, he made his views on integration perfectly clear, stating that “we should not expect that there will be one ‘United States of Europe’ because it will never be.” Statements like this will not go down well in Brussels, where the desire for a United States of Europe is, and always has been, the raison d’etre of the project. 

Morawiecki is one of a number of Eastern European leaders increasingly concerned about Brussels’ ambitions for full integration. Indeed, mountains of EU legislation, which call for harmonisation, have been laying the groundwork for a United States of Europe for many years now. Morawiecki is clearly not impressed with such aspirations and asserted that the EU “cannot be one superpower, because if that is the case, there will be frictions and tensions that are going to grow even bigger if those from Brussels, Berlin or Paris would try to push all the others towards such a state.”

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The intervention by the Polish PM only serves to highlight the fissure that has developed between the European capitals. On one hand, there are the Western European politicians, like French President Emmanuel Macron, who want to see more integration, and on the other there are those in Eastern Europe who prefer looser ties. The situation is untenable and will, in all likelihood, come to a head in the not-too-distant future.

At the moment, the EU is clearly a fractured organisation. There is a political battle afoot that will dictate the kind of EU we see in the future. Of course, Brussels would prefer a Europe where the nation states are subservient to the EU. The Eurocrats dream of a day when the continent is a harmonised bloc with a European identity. Indeed, ‘ever closer union’ has been in the DNA of the EU since its inception.

In contrast, Morawiecki would prefer to see a Europe that preserves national culture and national identity. He stated in the interview that “there are 27 countries, and several more closely aligned that are not belonging to the European Union, but all of which have strong identities, cultural heritages, languages and traditions.”

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Such opinions are anathema to the Eurocrats, who view national differences as a barrier to their ultimate aim of a United States of Europe. To achieve their final goal of superstate status, the Eurocrats require national identity to play a subordinate role to a predominant European culture. Morawiecki correctly objects to this idea, stating that “for Europe to be strong, it has to be a Europe of homelands.”

He also claimed that Europe could have a place at the top table in global affairs “without this meaning a one-size-fits-all type of philosophy that some Eurocrats from Brussels seem to believe in.”

On the face of it, however, the EU’s ambition of a United States of Europe looks increasingly like a pipedream at the moment. Polling just released by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) reveals that trust in the EU has reached an all-time low.

The bungling of the Covid vaccine programme, augmented by a series of economic and border crises, has resulted in over 60% of French believing that the EU is ‘broken’. Figures from Germany are equally negative, with 55% having no confidence in the EU, and in Italy 57% of the public gave the bloc a firm thumbs down. 

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Although these figures make grim reading for the Eurocrats, they will not make them change course. Their usual response to these kinds of negative polls is to claim that all the continent needs is ‘more EU’ – a delusion that the European public just have to witness more of the EU’s achievements, and then they will learn to love it. Thus, they will continue to forge ahead towards their ultimate objective of full integration, even if some member states, like Poland, are opposed. Moreover, with Britain now out of the equation, the brakes towards a European superstate are well and truly off.

If Morawiecki’s words can be taken as a reflection of his country’s views, then the day is coming when Poland will have to make a decision about its membership of the EU. Indeed, I suspect that before the decade is out, Poland will have to choose whether to remain on the EU train, whose ultimate destination is a United States of Europe, or follow the British lead and hop off before it is too late. There is one thing for sure, however: Brussels will not compromise.  

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I’m not given to hyperbole, but the coming week is one of the most important in British history – if not the most important  

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If Covid-19 ‘Freedom Day’ on June 21 is postponed, as seems likely, and the public complies with it, Britain will never return to normal. If curbs can’t be lifted when deaths ‘with’ the virus are near zero, when will they ever be?

Don’t say you weren’t warned. Having predicted correctly, before Christmas, the very day (January 4) when Boris Johnson would announce the next lockdown, on January 1, 2021, I tweeted: ‘My inside source says that there will be no significant easing of restrictions until July at the earliest. Govt mentioning Easter as they need to take backbenchers with them & want public compliance.’ 

 The tweet received some abusive replies. “Drivel,” wrote Pete Hayward. “What a load of rubbish,” said Phil Moor. How ludicrous to say restrictions will still be in force deep into 2021!  

Now, however, here we are in June, and we are still living under restrictions. And in terms of overseas travel, more restrictions than we had last summer before anyone was vaccinated!  

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We can talk about the government moving the goalposts, but in truth, they’ve uprooted the goalposts and taken them off the pitch altogether. ‘Three weeks to flatten the curve’ has proved to be the longest three weeks in history. Currently, it’s 63 weeks and counting. 

Back in January, we were told by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that once the “most vulnerable” had been vaccinated, our freedoms would be restored. But then we had to vaccinate the over-50s. The over-40s. The over-25s.   

Now we’re told that we should delay the June 21 unlocking until everyone has had their second jabs. After that – rest assured – it’ll be ’until the children are vaccinated’. And then ‘we need to wait until everyone has had their booster jabs’. 

The much-maligned ‘conspiracy theorists’ who predicted that this thing was never meant to end and that every time restrictions are supposed to end, they’ll find new excuses to keep them (with the latest being ‘variants’), have been proven right. The question everyone needs to be asking is: If restrictions aren’t lifted in high summer when deaths ‘with’ Covid-19 fall to close to zero, as they have done this month, then when will they ever be lifted? 

Deaths in England and Wales have been below the five-year average for 11 of the past 12 weeks. Given that 80% of adults now have COVID antibodies, what possible grounds could there be to delay the full reopening? https://t.co/97J2qNLeuS

— Toby Young (@toadmeister) June 9, 2021

I’m not given to hyperbole, but the coming week will, I believe, be one of the most important – if not the most important – in British history.  

Because if Johnson does, as expected, announce a postponement of ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday and there is not a major (and I mean major) public backlash, the delay will not just be for two weeks or even a month. It will be forever.  

If people – and businesses – simply ‘take it on the chin‘, even if it means the destruction of their livelihoods and everything they have worked and strived for, then the government will take it as a green light to maintain a level of restrictions throughout the summer, before more lockdowns/increased restrictions are imposed in the autumn, and once again we’ll be told it’s “to protect the NHS”.    

Public acquiescence will mean it’ll be full steam ahead for the next phase of the ‘Great Reset’ – which means an extension of domestic vaccine passports (already being used for England’s home games in the Euros football tournament), and a genuine and permanent end to ‘free movement’ for the masses.  

If you’re enraged by the sight of Johnson arriving in Cornwall in a large jet for the G7 bash and tweeting about how he was going to ‘Build Back Better’ and ‘greener’, while ordinary Brits are not allowed to go abroad on holiday, well, get used to it, because this is the ‘one rule for us, one rule for you’ future that the Davos set is planning for us.  

That the UK political elites had no intention of voluntarily restoring the basic freedoms we all enjoyed prior to March 2020 – and have been pursuing a sinister and very authoritarian anti-human globalist agenda that had nothing to do with fighting a virus – was clear to anyone who paid close attention to what they actually said.  

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In April 2020, Home Secretary Priti Patel said, “The fact is we will not go back to how we were in early March – there will be new norms that will inevitably come off the way in which social distancing is dominating our lives and has affected society. We would expect social distancing in every single work area, whether it’s an office or a construction site, and on public transport going forward.” 

A couple of weeks later she declared: “I think we all recognise now social distancing is here to stay”, adding, “Our lives are going to be very different”. 

On May 22, 2020, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted about a path to ‘a new normal’, not to normal.   

This week, we learned the Scottish government is planning to extend ‘emergency’ powers until at least March 2022, with the option of a vote to extend them still further, until the end of September 2022. 

We also have lockdown hardliner Susan Michie, a member of both SAGE and ‘Independent SAGE’, saying on television that we’ll have to be wearing masks and socially distanced from our fellow human beings ‘forever’. To add insult to injury, she laughed when she said it too.  

In openly admitting there is no plan to return us to the world of early March 2020, a world without anti-social distancing, travel curbs and mandatory face coverings, Patel, Sturgeon et al are only echoing the words of the World Economic Forum’s founder Klaus Schwab, co-author of the book ‘The Great Reset’, who has made it very clear the ‘New Normal‘ is meant to be permanent.  

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“The people assume we are just going back to the good old world which we had and everything will be normal again in how we are used to normal in the old fashioned. This is, let’s say, fiction, it will not happen, the cut which we have now is much too strong in order not to leave traces,” he has said

The chances of the Great Reset being derailed don’t look good. Furlough – always a very good guide to what the government has planned – has been extended until the end of September. With plans to vaccinate schoolchildren, it’s worth remembering that the Covid-19 vaccines only have emergency approval, and if the ‘emergency’ is declared ‘ended’, what happens then? 

However, all is not yet lost.  

Opposition to restrictions is growing by the day – and many people who have up to now accepted lockdowns are saying “enough is enough”. Andrew Lloyd Webber, the impresario, has announced he will open his London theatres without social distancing on June 21 come “hell or high water” and said he is prepared to be arrested. There are also reports that the nightclub sector may open its doors on June 21 too, regardless of what Johnson announces on Monday. Such defiance is what we need to see a lot more of – providing that the full reopening does not involve the use of vaccine passports.  

Freedom in Britain hasn’t been lost for good just yet, but, make no mistake, it is in terrible danger. The next seven days will prove absolutely crucial. 

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After countless failures, the EU is drinking at the last-chance saloon and risks being a casualty of Covid itself

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Following the EU’s dismal handling of the pandemic, a think tank’s bombshell report has found growing disillusionment with the off-the-rails Brussels project is now mainstream. It needs to shape up or its very future is in peril. 

A damning report just released by the European Council on Foreign Affairs think tank has confirmed what many have known for some time – the EU is broken, maybe beyond repair.

As the authors of ‘Crisis of Confidence: How Europeans See their Place in the World’ point out, “Disappointment with EU institutions has now come out of the periphery and gone mainstream.”

Its mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, from the production and distribution of PPE to a stalled immunisation rollout programme and confusing messaging over the efficacy of vaccines and their procurement, followed by its inability to present “a credible narrative of strong European leadership” after agreeing the €800 billion recovery package, have all raised big questions about the EU’s capacity to steer member states through the crisis.

The report concluded that failure meant “the EU itself may risk becoming another casualty of Covid-19.”

It found majorities in Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands reported lower confidence, or stable levels of low confidence, in the EU since the start of the pandemic. In Germany, the share of people who believe the EU system is broken is 11 percentage points higher than it was before the pandemic, according to polling by YouGov undertaken for the report.

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It’s not only the mishandling of the pandemic that has given Brussels a terrifying glimpse into the abyss. It’s just the latest in a string of major upsets in which it has simply failed to adapt and show the sort of leadership and political will necessary to navigate a way through.

There was the debt crisis of 2008, the migration surge in 2015, hugely divisive Brexit in 2016, four years of Donald Trump and a subsequently testy relationship with the US plus, more recently, Covid-19. In none of these has the leadership of Europe looked, at any time, to be in control. It has overreached, promised big and failed to deliver, despite plenty of accompanying rhetoric.

“The EU has used up its second chances now that trust in EU institutions has weakened,” says the report.

And the authors warn, “Europe’s political leaders need to be clear-eyed about the choice in front of them regarding the European project. The embattled belief in the need for European cooperation will not hold through further failure.”

That means the EU must rein in its obsession with becoming a global superpower with a seat among the big players, and concentrate on meeting the needs of its people in those areas where it can guarantee delivery, instead of simply more disappointment.

As the study shows, when asked if the EU should be “one of the world’s great powers, capable of defending itself from external threats including through military means when necessary” only 18% of those polled agreed. What should set alarm bells ringing in Brussels is that 12% were in favour of dismantling the bloc entirely, believing EU countries would be better off without it.

However, overwhelmingly, European citizens aspire to more abstract ideals like becoming “a beacon of democracy and human rights” and “prioritising the rule of law and high democratic standards within its own ranks.”

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These are the sort of targets that can be met. They’re uncomplicated, uncontroversial and give everyone a warm fuzzy feeling. That’s more than can be said than the rhetoric and regional muscle-flexing against nations like Turkey and Russia.

Because not only does that announce a far more aggressive foreign policy stance, but not all member states are on the same page. In polling about the relationship between Europe and a range of other countries, 41% felt that Turkey was a rival with which to compete or an adversary, a country in conflict with the EU. Let’s remember that Turkey is still a member of NATO.

What might surprise many in Brussels is that a total of 42% of people see Russia as either an ally, a country that shares European interests and values or a necessary partner with which the EU should cooperate with strategically.

Unless I am totally misreading the current state of affairs, these views are not aligned with the current narratives that drive EU foreign policy. And that makes the point about choosing to weigh in against difficult neighbours.

Because the report authors found that “strikingly, our data suggest that European voters do not see the world through that lens.” And that feeling is particularly strong in Germany where only 36% of respondents (compared with 58% in Portugal) felt that “The EU should ensure a more unified response to global threats and challenges.”

That could help explain the recent intervention from German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, where he vented his nation’s frustration at the difficulty in winning the unanimity required to implement EU foreign policy initiatives.

It’s the intangibles that Europeans love. The idea of defending ‘European traditions and values’ and of keeping nation states ‘strong’. What do these actually mean? Well, it’s about making people feel good about themselves, secure about their lifestyles and families and positive about the future.

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The EU can deliver on these. A stable European economy would be ideal. An effective vaccination rollout would help. Realistic and achievable targets set through the green agenda could do it and so could the exercise of soft power in pursuing strategic, cooperative partnerships not only with traditionally strong friends like the US and UK, but with other countries including Russia, China and Turkey.

This is where the future lies for Europe. It means it can shine its ‘beacon of democracy’ across the continent, keep 400 million people safe and secure and actually deliver on the promises it makes. 

That could mean it has a chance of rebuilding the trust it needs if the EU project is to survive. If it continues to pursue its wild ambition to be a global superpower, a belligerent approach to foreign policy, vainly trying to unite conflicting interests among its member states, and insists on picking fights with nations like the UK and Switzerland, then the future is not so clear.

What is obvious from ‘Crisis of Confidence’ is that a valuable lesson is there for the learning. But whether the EU will want to learn from it is doubtful, and that could well prove to be its own undoing.

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You are not God, Dr Fauci. If science was never challenged, we would never make any progress

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Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent suggestion that attacks on him are attacks on science itself is nonsensical. His attitude towards criticism is a prime example of scientism, which treats people in scientific fields with undue reverence.

There has been an interesting cultural fight within the culture war over science itself. Many people on the political left have a tendency to place scientific method on a pedestal and not consider it for what it is – which is, purely and simply, scientific method. 

Rather, they treat science as a sort of dogma which cannot be challenged. In a sense, their attitude towards it is not that different from a Christian’s outlook on the Bible. A Christian believes that the Bible is God’s word, and is static and unchanging because of the nature of God himself. 

However, the nature of science is not static because our understanding of the world is not static. As such, it’s appalling when someone who wields as much influence and political power as America’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks in a manner that treats science as a dogma. 

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In a recent interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC, Fauci recently claimed people who are critical of him are “critical of science itself”, which is clearly preposterous. Science is meant to be questioned. If science was not questioned, scientific progress would be impossible because there would be no prevailing attitude that more must be learned.

The attitude and belief that science is some sort of monolith is very disconcerting from a societal perspective. I have great respect for those who spend their time trying to understand our universe one cell and one atom at a time, but Fauci’s stance seems to spit in the face of those people. Ultimately, every person who works in the sciences can only act on what they know, and whether they admit it or not they’ll never know enough. That, surely, is the name of the game.

However, Dr. Fauci comes across as if he is the self-declared face of science and that he cannot be questioned for this very reason. Aside from this being wildly untrue, this is a prime example of scientism. It promotes the idea that his diplomas and governmental position make him someone who cannot be questioned, and that his knowledge has elevated him to a place above us mere mortals. As such if you don’t listen to what he says you’re nothing but a troglodyte. 

I don’t know how a man of such short stature carries such massive arrogance, but he certainly does not speak as if he is someone who has the proper attitude of a scientist.

And there is a deeper cultural issue that comes from this. The trend of those on the Left to worship scientists as if they are holy figures does nothing but boost their egos. That sort of deference does not show a hunger for knowledge, which is problematic.

Sure, scientists are to be respected because success and status take an incredible amount of study and knowledge. But it doesn’t make you God. And ultimately, for everyone’s sake, I would hope that Fauci will realise this at some point. 

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Western governments & businesses are about to feel the heat of Chinese countermeasures against sanctions… and they won’t like it

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The days when the US and its allies could sanction those they dislike with impunity are over. A new “counter-sanctions” bill from Beijing sets the legal framework to hit them back hard where it hurts, financially and commercially.

On Thursday afternoon the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress passed its new “counter-sanctions” bill, a piece of legislation which, as the name suggests, aims to codify China’s own countermeasures to Western-induced sanctions against its officials and companies, which have been growing in scope. 

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Although the specific details of the bill are yet to be released, it is known that impacted parties will be able to legally seek compensation. The legislation was originally prepared last year but put on hold in anticipation of what the Biden administration would do; it is now proceeding, as the new president has only served to continue with and expand on Trump’s tough stance against China. 

China has, of course, already began to utilize its own measures in response to actions from the West, having responded to coordinated sanctions over Xinjiang in March by blacklisting a number of UK and EU institutions and representatives, as well as also having sanctioned swathes of former Trump administration officials, including Mike Pompeo, Matthew Pottinger, and Peter Navarro, days after they left office. 

As described by experts, the new counter-sanctions bill is designed to attempt to legally codify China’s sanctions and to create a “toolbox” that will allow it to respond to the West in a defensive but more direct manner – yet what it will wholly consist of otherwise remains unclear. 

What are sanctions? And how does one make them effective? In their raw form, sanctions are diplomatic measures taken by one country or a group of countries to impose their will on another, with a view towards a given goal or objective. Sanctions can be driven by self-interest, or as a form of punishment or leverage in order to make a given state comply with the ‘rules’ of the international order. As international attitudes towards war changed in the 20th century, sanctions became the ‘first resort’, the most acceptable tactic in international disputes. 

In any context, the world knows the United States to be the world’s most industrial purveyor and distributor of international sanctions, utilizing its unrivalled dominance over the global financial system through the dollar to exclude countries and individuals who contravene its interests from worldwide banking. 

In this case, sanctions are effective only to the scale of power and leverage which a country has to damage the interests of its target. If an American official was sanctioned tomorrow by, let’s say, a tiny country with no economic relevance whatsoever like San Marino, would it mean anything? Yet Washington has the power to deprive Chinese officials of bank accounts even in their own country.

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This weakness is one reason Beijing has pushed through the counter-sanctions law. China may boast the world’s second-largest economy, but it has not accumulated the leverage to make its counter-sanctions felt beyond its own borders. Pompeo, for example, is banned from entering China, and he is banned from doing business with China, but this measure does not establish reciprocity to push back against America as a whole from placing more measures on Beijing, or make Washington ‘pay a price’. The bill endeavours to change that by legally codifying a process where its own economic strengths can indeed potentially cause damage to offending countries as a retaliation, aiming to weaponize China’s own enormous market as an instrument. 

Despite geopolitical frictions, China’s own domestic market remains an immeasurable and essential avenue for global business. This is only accelerating, with a recent report finding (despite all the controversy over the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, or CAI) that European firms are only set on expanding their presence in China, and not ‘decoupling’, as had been assumed. 

It has subsequently been raised as a concern that the new ‘compensation’ dynamic of the counter-sanctions law will allow impacted Chinese parties to seek reparation from damages facilitated by Western sanctions. But the question is, compensation from who? We don’t know the answer yet, but it is to be assumed based on existing precedent that the countries and organisations involved may be targeted. 

As a potential foreshadowing of this, earlier this year Chinese courts accepted lawsuits from Xinjiang companies against German scholar Adrian Zenz for fabricating ‘forced labour’ rumours, resulting in divestment from the cotton supply chain there. 

The case has not yet concluded, but if the court subsequently rules a certain sum to be paid in damages, then one wonders where that is going to come from (given that Zenz has no assets there). This means any company or organisation affiliated with Zenz could become legally liable to paying the money if they have a presence in China, which thus adds ‘extra-territorial’ reciprocity to such sanctions. 

As an additional example, the Western clothing chain H&M received a furious backlash in China for complying with the Xinjiang sanctions, and under the new law it could be forced to pay compensation. In that case, China’s own market power is transformed into a more ready sanctions tool which allows it to hit back against Western sanctions. 

This is precisely what it is designed to be: a means of deterrence to make offending countries think twice and to reform the mindset that China can be punished akin to a smaller, subordinate country and somehow forced to comply. The West fiercely decries Chinese counter-sanctions, believing that its ‘right’ to impose them on Beijing works only one way, but international relations as a whole are about the dynamic of power, as opposed to an ideological question of right or wrong. 

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Why does Joe Biden feel the need to tell people in other countries what to do, even when he can’t get Americans to obey him?

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Joe Biden followed a time-honoured presidential tradition of meddling in another country’s affairs by urging UK teens to get vaccinated. His ‘advice’ is galling, not least because the US is likely to miss its own vaccine targets.

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Joe Biden was supposed to be a new broom for America after the chaotic reign of Donald Trump. He hinted he would provide a break from US presidents of the recent past, with their penchant for ordering invasions abroad, talking down to other countries, and deploying missile-laden drones to foreign lands.

Not long after taking up residence in the White House, Biden said, “I’m announcing additional steps to course-correct our foreign policy and better unite our democratic values with our diplomatic leadership.” 

That seemed to suggest he would cease the tradition of ordering countries to dance to Washington’s tune. 

However, the promise was clearly an empty one, as was seen earlier this week when Biden followed Trump’s playbook by firing off an insensitive tweet: “Folks, the Delta variant — a highly infectious COVID-19 strain — is spreading rapidly among young people between 12 and 20 years old in the U.K. If you’re young and haven’t gotten your shot yet, it really is time. It’s the best way to protect yourself and those you love.”

Folks, the Delta variant — a highly infectious COVID-19 strain — is spreading rapidly among young people between 12 and 20 years old in the U.K. If you’re young and haven’t gotten your shot yet, it really is time. It’s the best way to protect yourself and those you love.

— President Biden (@POTUS) June 8, 2021

Folks? Is that how he refers to another nation’s sovereign people? Should we expect Boris Johnson to open his next speech in America with “Howdy partners?”

That aside, the arrogance of Biden’s tweet is brazen. Frankly, it’s none of his business what’s going on in Britain.

Boris and his government have made a complete mess of the response to the pandemic, but the one saving grace is that they have rolled out the vaccine programme as well as anyone.

A hi-tech nation like Japan is scrambling around with only four percent of their population vaccinated, whereas 75 percent of Brits have received at least one dose, and more than 28 million have had both.

Then there is Biden’s vow to have reached 70 percent of people vaccinated across the US by July 4, Independence Day. The rate of doses administered has slowed significantly, meaning it’s likely the target will be missed. Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci has said: “I believe we can, and I hope we will. And if we don’t, we’re going to continue to keep pushing.” 

That’s a typically diplomatic answer and of course, a lot of misinformation is being spread to cause people to doubt the safety of the internationally approved vaccines. But that doesn’t change the facts; Biden hasn’t got his own house in order, so why is he handing out diktats to Brits?

We’re all aware of the Delta variant, and BoJo’s government has been quick to introduce its own policies to deal with it, such as adding certain countries to the red list, so travellers must quarantine on arrival.

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But again, that is immaterial, as it simply isn’t Biden’s role to be handing out medical advice to the UK.

It’s just another example of the inherent arrogance of American leaders, who have no shame about jumping into matters unasked.

Barack Obama stuck his oar in on Brexit. Donald Trump had his say on pretty much everything. They continually fail to recognise that their interjections only cause most people to recoil. In this case, the lecturing of an elderly US president is unlikely to convince a single person to get the jab. Indeed, with some it’s not hard to imagine it may have the opposite effect.

America’s understanding of its place in the hearts and minds of the global population has continually been misplaced, and Biden is making the same mistakes. Even worse, social media means the public receive his words unfiltered, making it even more important that he uses it carefully.

And one other thing worth considering was the timing of the tweet. It was sent shortly before Biden made his first trip abroad as commander-in-chief, with his destination being England for the G7 summit.

Was this an unsubtle attempt to remind everyone that even though Britain and Boris Johnson are the hosts, he is the Big Dog? 

BoJo should pull the 46th president aside and tell him to wind his neck in and stop pontificating. We don’t need America’s leaders telling us what to think and do. Britain is a small but relatively prominent nation, so if Biden feels he has legitimacy to tell our people how to behave, it’s a safe bet that other countries will get the same treatment. So, let’s hope the other G7 leaders give his collar a tug, because another nation-building zealot is the last thing anyone needs.

Joe, you’re the president of the United States of America. Nowhere else. It would be worth remembering that.

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Biden knows Ukraine would make a bad NATO ally; he encouraged corruption & helped make it the dysfunctional state it is today

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If there’s one Western leader who knows the depth of corruption in Ukraine politics, then it has to be US President Joe Biden. His wayward son Hunter milked the country while daddy cemented the 2014 coup d’état in Kiev.

The president knows cheery talk about reforms for joining NATO are meaningless platitudes to conceal a dysfunctional state that he helped create. 

Biden has belatedly invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House next month despite disturbing reports of his censoring media and free speech and shutting down democratic opposition. Those infringements evidently don’t bother Uncle Sam. But what is problematic – though not outwardly stated – is Ukraine’s incorrigible corruption. And guess who would know all about that?

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Joe Biden was the point man for Ukraine’s ‘reforms’ during the Obama administration when he was vice president, after the Western-backed coup in Kiev against a democratically elected president in February 2014. 

On top of that, the second-highest-ranking US official at the time then used his political influence to get his son Hunter on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma with a $50,000-a-month income, a fortune in Europe’s second poorest country – even though Hunter Biden had no relevant professional experience. 

Thanks to the largely pro-Democrat corporate news media, that scandal of political influence-peddling and graft has been buried – dismissed as a conspiracy theory pushed by Donald Trump and his Republican supporters. The latter are certainly prone to wacky theories. Nevertheless, the story of the Bidens being knee-deep in corruption in Ukraine is real enough. Biden even bragged in public about how when he was vice president, he personally ousted the state prosecutor in Ukraine who happened to be investigating corruption at the Burisma company on whose board Hunter Biden was sitting. 

This background would explain the latest rebuff to Ukraine’s aspirations to join the NATO military alliance. It has not been able to formally apply for membership for years, despite NATO members supplying lethal weapons and military trainers to Ukraine, which is described in alliance parlance as an ‘enhanced opportunity partner’. 

Still, full NATO membership keeps eluding the former Soviet republic much to the frustration of the Kiev authorities.

This week, the White House forced Zelensky to make an embarrassing retraction of his version of a phone call with Biden. Zelensky claimed initially that the American president backed giving Ukraine a Membership Action Plan to join the 30-member bloc. But it turned out that Biden did not. Kiev then had to admit that it mischaracterized the phone conversation. 

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The Brussels-based, but US-led, alliance stipulates that there are strict qualifying criteria for applicant nations. These include the candidate country not being involved in any current internal civil conflict and not having a dispute with a neighboring state. Also, for successful admission, prospective members must have functioning ‘liberal democracies’ and market economies as well as military standards comparable to existing NATO forces. 

Arguably, Ukraine fails miserably on every count. It has endured a seven-year conflict with the breakaway Donbass regions in the east as well as major grievances – mostly contrived – with Russia, which supports the republics but doesn’t recognize them as independent. Ukraine’s political economy is far from meeting a Western health check due to being mired in corruption and cronyism. Its military has paramilitary neo-Nazi formations like the notorious Azov Battalion. And Zelensky is introducing a law that does not include ethnic Russians on the list of Ukraine’s native peoples.

Zelensky has also taken to issuing presidential decrees to shut down political opposition. He recently ordered the shuttering of media outlets critical of his governance in what has been denounced as an attack on free speech.

Western calls for reforms have fallen on deaf ears, and, if anything, Ukraine is sliding towards being a dysfunctional state. 

That said, however, none of NATO’s supposed standards have prevented past memberships from being agreed upon. 

Countries like Portugal and Turkey were admitted to NATO despite having military dictatorships at the time. Turkey and Greece have a long-running territorial dispute over Cyprus and Mediterranean waters. More recent members from the Balkan region, Albania and North Macedonia, are also tainted with reputations for corruption and harboring territorial disputes with neighbors.

Therefore, what is it exactly that makes Ukraine’s application to the US-led military bloc so problematic? And why has Biden moved firmly this week to quash Kiev’s membership hopes?

The difference is Biden’s personal knowledge of Ukraine’s endemic corruption. He knows from his own family’s sleazy involvement and enrichment that the country is irreformable under the prevailing politics of the Western-sponsored regime. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken – who was also formerly a key member of the Barack Obama administration during the 2014 coup in Kiev – refers darkly to Ukraine’s “internal threats” as stemming from systematic corruption. 

People like Biden know intimately just what a basket case the Ukrainian regime is. Despite the supply of arms and lip service about supporting Kiev against ‘Russian aggression’, the 46th president knows more than anyone just how insane it would be to admit Ukraine into NATO’s ranks. Because Biden is complicit in the making of this messed up state, and its irrational Russophobia, which is itching to start a war with Russia. 

Ukraine as a thorn in Russia’s side is one thing. Creating a casus belli through NATO is quite another. Biden understands the danger all too well from the rogue state he cultivated in 2014.

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This G7 Summit will be a time for sensible proposals on Covid-19, and nonsensical, virtue signalling schemes for climate change

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Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.

The political ‘great and good’ will convene in sunny Cornwall this weekend for the annual G7 summit to address their two ‘big issues’: the pandemic and the green agenda. The former is vital, the latter is riddled with flaws.

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will host the summit, and be joined by the prime ministers of Japan, Australia, Canada and Italy. Also in attendance will be the German chancellor, the French president, and most importantly, the new American President Joe Biden.

The nations of the G7, which was formed in 1975, are deemed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to have the most advanced economies in the world and account for 58% of global wealth. The two principal items at the top of the agenda for the G7 are dealing with the international Covid crisis and tackling climate change.

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The global Covid crisis will be top of the agenda because it is both here and now, and unlike climate change, it is not based on predictions about the future. Pressure is being applied on the leaders to support a waiver on intellectual property rights on vaccines and treatments for Covid, so they can be shared around the world. 

Indeed, fifteen of the UK’s Nobel Laureates have called on Boris Johnson not to block such a proposal. Moreover, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has described the situation as “a life and death matter”, and has urged the leaders to agree to “burden-share the financing of the whole medical effort”.

For once, Brown is quite correct. With the borders of Europe and the US being routinely breached with ease at the moment, the pandemic will surely skip from state to state. To the Americans’ credit, they have already waived their rights to intellectual property on this issue and Japan has indicated that it is willing to follow suit. 

Only the British and the Germans are holding out against the proposal. If common sense prevails, the leaders will all agree to the waiver and share their technology – albeit with the agreement of companies involved – with nations that have the finance and the scientific capability to develop their own vaccines. It is for the good of humanity and the clue, after all, is in the name: it is a ‘Global Pandemic’. 

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The other issue at the top of the agenda we are told is climate change. The British are leading the way on this one and Johnson is calling for a new ‘Marshall Plan’ to fund green energy projects in middle and developing countries, particularly in Asia and Africa. This issue, however, is not as straightforward as it might initially seem and there are a number of glaring problems with this scheme.

Firstly, how big is this green Marshall Plan going to be and who is going to pay for it? One would expect the hardworking taxpayers of the G7 countries to be billed for the scheme, which is going to be immensely unpopular with the domestic electorate, particularly in the US and the UK. Also, a proportion of Marshall Aid, which was provided by the Americans after the Second World War, had to be paid back with interest. I wonder if there are any plans to recoup the money spent on this green Marshall Plan; I expect not.

Secondly, do these middle and developing countries actually want or need investment in green initiatives? We all want to see a greener world, and it may make wealthy leaders glow with a sense of self-satisfaction to be doling out cash, but many green initiatives result in making poor people poorer and rich people richer. I would suggest that the poor of Asia and Africa would prefer regular food, clean water, and infrastructure than a truckload of wind turbines.

There is also little point in the G7 countries funding a green Marshall Plan if other leading economies are not fully signed up to cutting emissions. If China, for example, which is responsible for 27% of global greenhouse gas emissions, cannot be brought to the table, then putting a few wind turbines in Chad or Burkina Faso would be irrelevant. It would represent little more than self-indulgent virtue signalling and it would surely make more sense to tackle China on this issue first. I am sure many of the leaders know this already, but domestic political pressure will ensure that they agree to Johnson’s plan. 

Indeed, if you look at the leaders attending the summit, many of them are under political pressure, which is being applied by Greens in their own countries. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for example, is in coalition with the Social Democrat Party (SPD), which is under threat from the German Greens. Moreover, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, will need to secure the increasingly significant Green vote next year if he is to ward off Marine Le Pen’s presidential bid. And Joe Biden is clearly a prisoner of the fanatical left wing of his own Democrat party, which also has a radical Green agenda. This alone will ensure that he too would not dare oppose Johnson’s new green Marshall Plan.

It is worth noting, however, that none of the decisions taken at the G7 are binding. Leaders can, and often do, ‘pay lip service’, make empty pledges to waiting media, and then hop on their private aeroplanes back to their respective capital cities. But once the leaders have jetted off into the sunset, the people of Cornwall will be left to pick the pieces.

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Cornwall, which is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, has barely any infrastructure. The trainlines are antiquated and it does not have a single motorway, which no doubt contributed to Boris Johnson’s decision to fly all of 280 miles from London to Cornwall – a real commitment to cutting carbon emissions. It is also one of England’s poorest counties and is heavily reliant on tourist trade. 

As a result of this G7 summit, many holidays would have been cancelled, thus harming the local economy. And for those who are determined to take their vacations, ridiculously long car journeys and traffic jams await. Indeed, it was very selfish of the organisers of the G7 to choose such an unsuitable location for the summit. And with that, I am sure there is a metaphor in there somewhere.

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Bye-bye Miss American pie, you’re racist! From flags to apple pie, virtue signalers still haven’t found cancellation rock bottom

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A story linking apple pie to the “genocide of indigenous people” now has people debating whether or not to cancel the quintessentially American treat, the latest low for the woke mob.

In the Guardian piece: ‘Food injustice has deep roots: let’s start with America’s apple pie,’ the writer, Raj Patel, author and a research professor in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, makes the case for why Americans should perhaps not be too quick to enjoy a slice of apple pie. 

“The apple pie is as American as stolen land, wealth and labor. We live its consequences today,” the author says in the lengthy piece, which dives deep into the racist roots of that oh-so evil dessert. 

Why is the apple pie so controversial, you may wonder? Patel details the treat’s history, from English colonizers bringing the fruit over along with their “vast and ongoing genocide of Indigenous people.” They even used apple trees as markers of property.

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Patel makes similar rabbit hole arguments for everything from the gingham cloth (the pattern is probably Malay, ackshually) the dessert is often served on, to the sugar inside, which Patel links to the slave trade and “war capitalism” which “enslaved and committed acts of genocide against millions of Indigenous people in North America, and millions of Africans and their descendants through the transatlantic slave trade.”

While Patel’s piece was published last month, it recently caught the attention of numerous conservative pundits, many of whom blasted the windy rant for targeting a symbol so closely linked with the US by using loose threads to connect it to racism.

I remember when we used to use the phrase "the flag, motherhood, and apple pie" to signify things about which Americans were unified. It is now "an offensive symbol of white supremacy" and "birthing people." So I guess we're still good with apple pie.

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 8, 2021

Apples are privileged https://t.co/9seAB2GSC2

— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) June 9, 2021

I’m sure apple pie is racist.

— Karol Markowicz (@karol) June 8, 2021

Combating racism and fighting for social justice are righteous causes, but Patel is one of numerous examples of people who work too hard to tie these causes to vague, but attention-grabbing points that may grab clicks or garner debate. 

On the list of things related to racism and the history of indigenous people that need to be contemplated and debated, apple pie ranks fairly low, if it ranks at all. The hunger to cancel something, anything has grown so big that now we have people debating the racial pros and cons of a dessert eaten by – guaranteed – a majority of people who don’t give one thought to race when they’re eating it. 

The apple pie nonsense seems to be an extension of a larger effort being pushed primarily by far-leftists to equate iconic and recognizable American symbols with hate. “Put that apple pie down, racist, and contemplate the history of every horrible thing you had no control over that went into that treat!” is only one step away from the New York Times’ Mara Gay recently exclaiming in an MSNBC appearance that seeing dozens of American flags flying during a recent trip to Long Island was “disturbing.”

It’s as if the calls to cancel everything remotely offensive have grown so loud that one must choose as unique a target as possible – desserts! Pieces of cloth! – if they want others in their social justice mob to listen. 

While more conservative pundits similarly pushed back against Gay’s comments, it only led numerous other journalists to make a further effort to equate the flag to images of hate, using threads as loose as Patel’s.

No, it’s very simple: people who feel the need to hoist giant ass American flags on their car by default are deeply insecure and probably racist.We’re all adults here. Let’s cut the shit and be honest about this. https://t.co/8J7UfZrQR2

— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️‍🌈 (@cmclymer) June 9, 2021

There’s nothing wrong with the American flag but Mara Gay was right.Anyone who flies an American Flag on a pickup truck is a whole different breed of white people.

— Michael Harriot (@michaelharriot) June 9, 2021

It’s as if the mere fact that these ‘American’ signatures are connected to people liberal pundits find offensive and threatening is enough to cancel their standing altogether. If ‘high-minded’ liberal thinkers so concerned with social justice decide apple pie is a historically damaging pastry or the flag being waved means you’re a racist, then we all must fall in line and think the same. 

The ease with which modern activists posing as journalists will insult millions of people and imply that they are racist, hateful or ignorant simply because they eat a meal without contemplating the greater history of racism or fly the flag of their own country is what is actually offensive here. 

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With Dr. Seuss feeling the cancel culture axe in the grave, and continuous other examples of free thinkers whose livelihoods are put on the chopping block passing by, and now efforts to destroy apple pie and the American flag, it’s clear nothing is sacred anymore, and the closer something is related culturally to America, the worse it is.

Perhaps, though, we could find better cultural phenomena to debate than flags and apple pie because, at the end of the day, it’s okay for one to just be a flag and the other just a tasty dessert. 

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It must be a conspiracy! From Kennedy to Area 51 and Gates to Epstein, the world offers people a lot of deeply outlandish theories

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As a journalist, John Scott Lewinski hustles around the world, writing for more than 30 international news organization covering news, lifestyle and technology. As an author, he is represented by the Fineprint Literary Agency, New York.

As we battle a pandemic, we have to wrestle with those who don’t believe Covid exists, think the vaccine contains trackable microchips, and that the world is run by alien reptiles. The more ridiculous, the more it ‘must be true’.

You have to admire the dedication and discipline of the 21st century conspiracy buff. The ability to invest endless energy and emotion into both believing and distributing theories that can’t withstand even a few blinks’ worth of inspection shows that brand of religious fervor that both built and will eventually destroy the fabric of Western culture.  

To them, the unlikely becomes the unassailable, while the impossible becomes the essential. Logic collapses and dies quickly in the conspirators’ desert of delusion. They unpack Occam’s Razor and dull it against the rocky strata of explanations so long-winded they must swap out their lungs for Graf Zeppelins. 

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To the conspiracy groupie, the empiricist is a fool and evidence an inconvenience. Anyone who inspects the fishing twine and grainy baseball card bubble gum holding such plots together is branded a drone-ish sheep for not embracing the ridiculous. The more outlandish the PowerPoint explanation of today’s confidential connivance, the more it simply must be true. The equation becomes “less proof, the better.” 

It never occurs to the tinfoil headwear collector that Area 51 can’t be a top secret US military base simply because everyone with a brain stem knows it exists. One can argue that there is no less secret base in the world than that stretch of Nevada desert. If there are hidden military outposts out in the world, the public can’t find them, photograph them, write about them or torment their security guards for hours in the hot sun. 

When President Kennedy fell to assassination, the final score was Death 1 – JFK 0. Still, depending on the media tour for whatever book looks to cash in on the man’s death this week, he was killed separately or communally by Lee Harvey Oswald, the Grassy Knoll Shooter, the Mafia, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, the FBI, the military industrial complex, the presidential limo driver and/or a really aggressive horse fly that dodged the windshield. (I don’t know how they all fit in the same conference room, pre-Zoom). 

Since Kennedy wasn’t considerate enough to reanimate multiple times, these competing congealed conspiracy connections begin to inconveniently collapse after a while. (All the Cs in that last sentence couldn’t just be a smartass writer trying to show off a bit. It must be code to activate the Fraternity Agents in Connie Chung’s Hooded Council of 12.) 

These bleak last couple of years gave birth to two new psychotic players on the pitch – Covid-19 vaccine plots and QAnon. I’d need another 1,000 words here to lay out all versions of the former because they require chapter and verse on nano-bots, DNA sequencing and the Marky Mark of the Beast. Suffice to say that the great human achievement of successfully developing multiple vaccines to end a pandemic in less than 12 months rides in the bed of a rusted-out, 70s pickup truck driven by an anti-vax fiend who thinks polio and rubella are actresses on TV’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. 

Meanwhile, to make a long madness short, QAnon holds that a sinister coffee clutch of prominent politicians, corporate leaders and Hollywood types run child trafficking empires. Rather than just settle for pedestrian underage sexual abuse, these elite perverts eat the kids with vampiric aplomb so they can live forever – as one does.

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Fortunately, to defend the kind of GED patriots that wear star-spangled cow horns for their invasion of any nearby Senate chambers, former President Trump led a clandestine war to end the harvesting of those juicy juveniles and to expose the devil cults that really run the world.

Sure, that description cut some corners, but dung heaps should really be round. While I feel there just might be more than one weak point in the QAnon Pamphlet of Revelations, I only need to lance one. We’re to believe Donald Trump would take on this great moral crusade secretly. The man tweeted 206 times if he clogged a toilet at the Oval Office. Keeping schtum while saving the planet from left-wing baby suckers seems unlikely.

There’s always a healthy serving of narcissism in play with the truly ensconced conspiracy enthusiast. They maintain the dogged pursuit of the latest proposed plots because only they are capable of embracing the real truth. 

In my work, I’ve met a mix of some of the most intelligent souls and a few of the most dangerous people in the world. I can tell you this much: The brightest lights never once had to tell anyone how smart they were, and the tough folks never needed to demonstrate how much damage they could do. Anyone in their orbits could sense the special qualities filling the space around them. Sadly, only someone insecure in their wits seeks out public stances that demonstrate secret wisdom. 

Aggressive conspiracy jugglers are emotionally insecure, intellectually inadequate bullies desperate to prove they’re none of the above by claiming sacred knowledge their less creative (though comparatively sane) peers couldn’t possibly conceive. The method they choose to alleviate their helplessness is spending endless hours fictionalizing histories so complicated and so richly, though falsely, detailed, that they won’t be questioned by outsiders who have much healthier ways to spend their time. 

Do you realize what’s more frightening than the thought of an all-powerful, scheming cabal of masterminds controlling and manipulating everyone’s daily lives? It’s the lack of one. The thought that no one is fully in charge of the chaotic, endless stream of possibilities daily life throws at us amongst a population of more than seven billion souls on board is endlessly more difficult to endure than the illusion of conspiracies.  

The real damage these lickers of the unlikely bring upon us is the enabling of genuinely destructive people. While the Fox Muddled chase their false narratives in mindless circles, the real bastards operate with impunity inside self-generated clouds of plausible deniability. 

The world serves up more than our share of genuine assassins, dictators, sex traffickers and child abusers that require our pursuit and prosecution. We don’t need to stomp out the trail of footprints they leave by inventing elaborate fictional crimes concocted by awkward, angry misfits pretending only their particular brand of paranoia wears reality’s stamp of approval. 

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Now, for the record: Covid-19 happened. UFOs are real. Epstein killed himself, and JFK did not.  

(…or so they would have us believe…)

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