Wayne Dupree: Have we really become a society where free thought and dialogue are feared rather than embraced?

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Wayne Dupree was invited to the White House to talk to President Trump on messaging to the black community. He was named in Newsmax’s top 50 Influential African-American Republicans in 2017, and, in 2016, served as a board member of the National Diversity Coalition for Donald Trump. Before entering politics, he served for eight years in the US Air Force. His website is here: www.waynedupree.com. Follow him on Twitter @WayneDupreeShow

The greatest threat to the US is the progressive left’s radical Marxism. These programs, supported by government and ‘woke’ private business, are trying to instill in children values that only bring violence, vitriol and division.

This danger to our Republic and national security is exacerbated by lies about systemic racism and supposed hatred by anyone who disagrees with the left’s radical agenda, and nowhere is this agenda more apparent than in public education.

There are increasingly few reasons for parents to rely on anonymous public educators to teach their children what is actually important for their long-term well-being. Instead, kids’ heads are being filled with intersectional leftist dogma. Homeschooling has its challenges but, unless we take drastic action, I’m convinced it will be the only way to produce more balanced children, ready for higher education and the real world.

If we want to save the public schools, parents have to engage with schools and school boards. For as long as I can remember, the liberal left has pushed for only “educational scholars” (ie Doctors of Education already steeped in leftwing politics) to be worthy of school-board membership. It is well past time common sense moms and dads ran for their local boards and took back our schools.

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American schools and universities need a major change. Their purpose should be to educate and teach students to think independently, not indoctrinate them. Kids should be studying and learning the lessons of Fahrenheit 451, not participating in an online reenactment of the storyline.

We have transitioned to a society where debate and dialogue are feared rather than embraced. This is a major sign of a society in decline. Cancel culture under the guise of “anti-racism” is far more dangerous than any other social issue we face as a society, it is the death of free thought.

On top of this internal problem we also face the challenge of unfettered illegal immigration, that will inevitably impact the school system. On this front, the damage Joe Biden has done in the past seven months leaves one wondering what on earth he is going to do next.

Just the other day, I wrote of how I agreed with the federal judge that nixed Barack Obama’s DACA executive order. Look at who Biden is allowing into the country illegally, there are illegal aliens from more than 60 countries who have been shipped all over the US and will be taken care of by your tax dollars. Given that many of these migrants are minors, an urgent consideration must be given to how this influx will affect our public schools?

To my mind, it begs three questions:
1. Will it hold your child back from the education they deserve?
2. Will classrooms become overcrowded?
3. Will your child get the attention they may need?

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The US has already lowered standards to accommodate various groups of students. Across the country, woke officials are debasing the curriculum on the bogus basis of ‘decolonizing education,’ which has led to insidious ideologies like critical race theory being taught, to outright nonsense like suggesting math is ‘racist.’ What I find extremely objectionable is that some teachers are forcing their ideas and beliefs on our children, often without our knowledge. Children are not born racist, and teachers have no business telling them they are innately oppressors or victims – they are children.

This all starts at the top, and it doesn’t matter what the political party’s name is. By not being a true leader for the American people, Biden is handing the country to the Democratic left’s version of socialism. History tells us Democrats do not know how to run things; they just throw money at a situation and hope their crazy ideas somehow materialize. Then, after they inevitably don’t, it is all blamed on some amorphous nonsense like structural racism, the patriarchy or whatever the woke buzzword of the day happens to be.

If I really want to be honest, I don’t think Joe can see a difference between Democrats, communists or anything else, and that’s the main issue with all of this. When the leader of the country is confused, the country is confused. When the leader of the country allows bad ideas to be implemented, the country suffers.

Biden should be focusing on what is really important, our economy, providing our children with an education that enables them to compete in a global marketplace and making the US stronger. Parents should benchmark the US against other countries’ educational systems and try to enhance our American curriculum. Is that too hard for the powers that be to do? If not, then why aren’t they doing it? The answer is easy. They don’t know how, and they don’t care.

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Before I leave you, let me add one important caveat to this article. Americans across this country need to realize our mainstream media actively runs a massive program to distract citizens. Any socialist know the key to their success is to keep the masses focused on something else while they smuggle Marxism into every level of the US education system.

Over the last four years, we have been waking up to how deeply this sinister philosophy has crept into our education system. Education in America is transforming into a Marxist RE-EDUCATION system, and that has been able to occur because of our lack of vigilance.

We must know the names of all parties in every school board, and those parties need to explain to those who vote them in (or vote them out) where they stand on matters that are important to the public, who they are sworn to serve. If your local board of education is out of touch with the parents, go to your County Recorder office and file a petition for a recall election on the school board members. With parents going house to house, sending letters, email, or texts messages, these patriot-hating Marxists will all soon be out of a job! It’s already underway in many school districts. Recall elections and petition requests on public school board members are going to hit the roof, and about time, too!

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Sean Penn’s refusal to work on new TV series unless all crew are vaccinated is a Hollywood ego trampling over workers rights

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Studios and unions have spent time and money creating a safe working environment but it’s not good enough for the tetchy Oscar winner who won’t return to work until all staff on his latest project are double-jabbed.

There is absolutely no one on this Earth more tedious, more irritating, more lacking in self-awareness than a Hollywood star with a social conscience. With that in mind, let me say a name and test your reaction: Sean Penn.  

Did you just sigh involuntarily? Roll your eyes? Think: What now? Or all three?

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Yep, the former Mr Madonna has thrown a Hollywood strop of Citizen Kane dimensions by refusing to resume his starring role on Watergate-themed TV series, Gaslit, until all production staff are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Of course the ultimatum came just after he returned from Cannes – despite a current ban on French people entering the United States – where he’d been attending the ‘essential’ film festival to promote his latest, soon-to-be-released movie, Flag Day. Travel restrictions are for the little people, after all. I can’t be the only one smelling more than a whiff of entitled hypocrisy. 

Does it matter to the double-Oscar winner that some of these working stiffs alongside him on his TV project – in which Julia Roberts co-stars – might not be minded to have the vaccine? Or can’t? Somehow, I doubt it even enters his mind. After all, he’s Sean Penn dontcha know! He has two Oscars! 

In a tremendous display of passive aggression, Penn’s non-profit organisation – for some reason, my eyes just won’t stop rolling – has even offered to orchestrate the vaccination effort free of charge but the actor has made it clear he won’t be back at work until everyone has agreed to his demands. 

Anecdotally, I’m told that not only are the vaccines totally safe, but they also help burn weight. Healthier & slimmer in one shot.

— Sean Penn (@SeanPenn) July 17, 2021

Frankly, that could be a good thing because his last outing as a big screen director produced The Last Face in 2017, starring Charlize Theron as a glamorous international aid organiser and Javier Bardem as a dishy medic and set in war-torn Africa… not exactly Citizen Kane. 

Because as one critic, Daniel Barnes, pointed out, the characters in these roles are the sort of people Penn and former supermodel Theron like to mix with in real life. You know, the jet-setting, white-saviour crowd. Barnes went on to say, “however, the film’s bumbling mix of drippy romance, fetishised violence and self-serving sermonising in a context-deficient void only makes a mockery of that commitment.” He didn’t like it. 

The Last Face scored just 8% on Rotten Tomatoes and was, in Hollywood parlance, a flop. A turkey. A dud. A snoozefest.

So maybe a few holdouts among the crew of his latest TV project are doing us all a solid, preventing Penn from completing work on this new political drama and saving the public from having to endure his tedious final output. 

The actor/director is not even issuing this demand for his own wellbeing, after all he’s been vaccinated already. It’s more about the principle of having a safe workplace for everyone. And I get that, but the studios and unions already have strict rules in place.  

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The USA has seen a staggering 610,000 Covid-19 deaths and more than 34 million cases of the virus but its public health officials have played a blinder and now nearly 50% of the population, that’s 162 million people, are fully vaccinated. They don’t need some Hollywood schmo’s help. 

Meanwhile, back on the set, I bet if the producers of Gaslit were offering production staff a vaccination against Sean Penn, there’d be no shortage of takers. Double jabs all round!

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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.


Turkey is straddling a fine line between being friend or foe to the US, EU, and NATO

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Turkey has violated UN Resolutions by opening portions of occupied Cyprus to development, while providing security for the US withdrawal in Afghanistan and NATO’s eastern flank. How long can it sustain this Jekyll and Hyde act?

Turkey seems conflicted over which role it wants to play when it comes to its US, EU, and NATO allies. In June, Turkey offered to maintain its military presence in Afghanistan, currently consisting of a battalion of about 500 soldiers who secure and operate the military section of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Kabul airport is Afghanistan’s primary commercial airport. It also serves as a military base and is viewed as a critical piece of strategic infrastructure connecting Afghanistan to the rest of the world. Moreover, the airport is deemed critical to the logistical and security viability of the 600 US soldiers who are expected to remain in Kabul to secure the US embassy following the withdrawal of the US military mission in August. Turkey’s commitment to secure the airport is not free from risk. Indeed, it puts Turkey in the difficult position of souring decades of warm relations with the Afghan people, should the mission turn violent.

And earlier this month Turkey deployed a small Air Force detachment, consisting of four F-16 fighters and some 80 support personnel, to Malbork Air Base in northern Poland. This deployment, scheduled to last through mid-September, is Turkey’s second contribution to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission. This posturing began in 2014 in response to Russia’s involvement in Crimea and the Donbass region of Ukraine. Ostensibly the deployment is designed to enhance cooperation and interoperability between Turkey and its NATO allies. The posture, in reality, is designed to deter Russian military aggression in the region.

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But Turkey’s status as a NATO ally of good standing is suspect of late. Last year, the US imposed sanctions on parts of Turkey’s military procurement network in retaliation for their purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia. Turkey’s ongoing support for Libyan rebels opposed to the internationally recognized government of that nation put it on a collision course with the French Navy, which attempted to interdict what they claimed to be an illegal Turkish arms shipment in violation of UN resolutions. And Turkey’s decision to delineate a maritime border with Libya, thereby expanding Turkey’s territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, have put it at odds with the European Union, and other littoral nations of the Med, when it comes to divvying up the considerable oil and gas reserves believed to located beneath the waters.

It is through this kaleidoscope of competing motivations and actions that Turkey’s most recent provocation, involving statements made by Turkish President Recep Erdogan during a recent visit to Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus, must be viewed and assessed. While in Nicosia to mark the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus, Erdogan announced that peace talks on the island could only take place between the “two states” which claim territory on the island, and that the involvement of the United Nations had, therefore, run its course.

Cyprus is divided between the majority-Greek, internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus (ROC) and the self-proclaimed, majority-Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (RNC), whose existence is recognized only by Turkey. Erdogan’s announcement was made during a controversial visit to the suburb of Varosha, part of the Cypriot city of Famagusta, which was occupied and sealed off by the Turkish military in July and August of 1974.

During his visit, Erdogan stated that he would seek to open Varosha to development by the RNC, an action which would violate existing UN resolutions calling for the negotiated reunification of occupied Cyprus. The Turkish efforts to reopen Varosha are the most recent in a series of events designed to enhance the independence of the RNC. Turkey has used the territorial claims of the RNC to assert its sovereignty over the energy-rich waters surrounding Cyprus, and by extension the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Earlier this month, Erdogan announced Turkey’s intention to continue its efforts to explore for oil and gas deposits in the region, despite firm opposition to those efforts by Greece, the EU, and the US.

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The Turkish actions regarding Cyprus come at a time when the security cooperation between the US and the ROC was expanding in the aftermath of the signing into law, in December 2019, of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019, designed to counter what the US State Department branded “Russia’s malign influence in the region.” While there is little chance of Turkey and the US coming to blows over Cyprus, the Turkish actions only reinforce the impasse that took place during the June meeting of Erdogan and US President Joe Biden during the NATO summit, where the two leaders were unable to reach any common ground on the myriad issues that divide their two countries.

How long the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Turkish relations with the US, EU, and NATO can continue is anyone’s guess. But so long as the geopolitical interests of Turkey clash with its perceived role as a source of regional strength and security for NATO and the EU, then this complicated blend of friend and foe will continue to exist. This suggests that Turkey’s ability to irritate its regional partners through unilateral actions are, for the moment, offset by its strategic role in securing NATO’s volatile southern flank. But in this ever changing world, nothing lasts forever.

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The bombs rain down as I visit the Idlib frontlines, and witness the atrocities committed against civilians by NATO-backed terror

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Children are being killed, homes are being shelled, and fields scorched, often by Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists armed with US-made weapons or by Turkish artillery. Where’s the outcry in the West against these war crimes?

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres celebrated the extension of a “humanitarian” border crossing at Bab Al Hawa on July 10 as a “lifeline for millions of people” – many Syrians would rather describe it as a “lifeline” for Al-Qaeda. 

On July 15, I visited Jurin, a village to the north of the Hama governorate and only 5km from the Syrian-allied military frontlines with the Al-Qaeda-dominated armed groups controlling Idlib in northwest Syria. We arrived at around 9a.m. to the boom of mortar and rocket fire from the Jabal az Zawiya mountain that is under the control of Turkish-backed armed groups. Jurin is in the Al Ghab plains at the foot of two mountain ranges, and is an easy target for the elevated terrorist positions on Jabal az Zawiya.

On June 20, a three-year-old child, Massa Akram Saleh, was murdered by armed groups who targeted her family home, injuring her father and brother, five-year-old Akram Saleh, whose body was lacerated by shrapnel wounds. Massa was rushed to Al Sqeilbiyyeh hospital, a journey of one hour, but later died. Her brother and father are still receiving treatment. Massa’s grandfather tells me:

“If this had been a child of the militants, the UN would have made a big case of it. Hundreds of children have died in our area but it is as if nobody died at all.”

The grandfather describes a daily deluge of attacks from the Turkey-assisted armed groups, targeting the triangle of Jurin, Al Safafeh and Zkereh. He begs the Syrian forces to push the militants at least as far as the M4 highway and away from the region, to bring an end to the ceaseless aggression. This is an aggression that apparently is not worth mentioning in UN reports on the cross-border “humanitarian” activity. He thanks the Syrian Arab Army for doing everything it can to keep the extremist groups at bay. 

A mother with her baby and the grandmother of three-year-old martyr, Massa Saleh, in Jurin. © Vanessa Beeley

While the grandfather is talking to me, a mother carrying a baby, hugging her children, is cowering and weeping in the background as the shells continue to fall. Next to her is Massa’s grandmother, who cannot move without her walking frame. One shell had hit the outer wall of the house just before we arrived, another had blown a two meter crater in the garden behind the extended family home. A third exploded five meters from where I was standing as I interviewed a second family member, Ghaith Ghazi Saleh. He tells me

“We are being targeted on a daily basis with shells from Az Zawiya mountain. During the last two or three years, we have seen Turkish convoys coming into the area not more than 2km from our farmlands; they prevent us from cultivating our farmlands … the artillery that bombards us is Turkish. The coordinates are provided by the terrorists.” 

On left the rocket that targeted the Saleh household on 15/7/2021 and on the right the debris from the strike in the hallway. © Vanessa Beeley

Saleh informs me that the armed groups target schools, residential areas and civilian infrastructure. They even targeted a funeral procession and a condolences gathering two years ago, he says. He describes the Turkish and armed-group destruction of the land, and talks of the intensification of militant aggression to target Russian/Syrian humanitarian corridors that are an effort to allow Syrian civilians to safely escape the armed occupation of northwest Syria. This is something that I had previously witnessed in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta: as civilians attempted to flee to the safety of Syrian Arab Army humanitarian collection points, they were cruelly shelled or sniped at by the occupying extremist groups, furious that their human shields were evading them. 

US-manufactured weapons in the hands of Al-Qaeda affiliates

It is no secret that the CIA Timber Sycamore operation supplied US-manufactured weapons to “moderate” extremist groups that mysteriously ended up in the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. These weapons included TOW anti-tank missiles that are liberally used by the Idlib armed groups against civilian targets, which is an undeniable war crime, according to investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who has specialised in uncovering the illegal arms trade in Syria.

In Gaytandzhieva’s latest investigation, she reveals that the Pentagon is “buying $2.8 billion worth of weapons for conflict zones around the world. Most of the weapons are destined for Syria.” Videos and images released by the armed groups clearly show that Hayat Tahrir As Sham (HTS), an Al-Qaeda offshoot, have been supplied with US TOW missiles in Idlib. 

During my visit to Jurin, I was shown a number of weapons that had been used against civilian infrastructure and residential areas. They included a 155mm Turkish Army artillery shell and an unexploded US-origin TOW missile. According to residents, Turkey is supplying the armed groups with incendiary missiles which are being used to torch farmland and agricultural crops, again a familiar tactic to starve civilians and force them to leave their land. I was shown fields that were blackened and burned as evidence of this barbaric practice. 

The scorched-earth policy in Jurin, where Turkey and terrorist groups have deliberately burned agricultural crops and farmland. © Vanessa Beeley

It must raise the question – how do these weapons enter Idlib? Press TV journalist Serena Shim revealed in 2013 that World Food Programme (WFP) “humanitarian” aid trucks were being used to smuggle ISIS terrorists and weapons into Syria via the Turkish border crossings. Shortly after Shim reported on this nefarious activity, she died in a suspicious car accident after being threatened by Turkish authorities. A 2020 Nobel Peace Laureate, WFP still has a presence and involvement in Bab Al Hawa.

In 2021, the official border crossings have been reduced down to one, the one at Bab Al Hawa. A Russian UN representative statement informs us that: 

“The UN still has no presence in Idlib de-escalation zone which is controlled by international terrorists and fighters. It’s not a secret that the terrorist groups control certain areas of the de-escalation zone and use the UN humanitarian aid as a tool to exert pressure on [the] civil population and openly make profit from such deliveries.”

Turkish mobster Sedat Peker, former ally to President #Erdogan, revealed he shipped arms, military supplies, drones, vehicles to al-Nusra front in #Syria at the request of #Sadat, Turkish contractor run by Erdogan's former chief military advisor Adnan Tanriverdi. pic.twitter.com/AdqUxSyVVO

— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) May 30, 2021

In May, Sedat Peker, a gangster and former aide of Turkish President Recep Erdogan exposed the trafficking of weapons and vehicles from Turkey to Al-Qaeda by a contractor called SADAT that was run by Erdogan’s former military advisor. 

Who controls Bab Al Hawa? 

According to an Al Monitor article in May 2020, HTS seize at least 10% of the “humanitarian” aid entering Bab Al Hawa. HTS benefits from the illicit trade of UN-supplied equipment and aid and has a monopoly over the processing of oil stolen by the US Coalition and proxies in occupied northeast Syria via their lucrative WATAD operation. The HTS warlords make an estimated $130 million per month from this criminal merchanting of Syrian resources and UN “aid” while imposing heavy taxes and “customs fees” on civilians to supplement their dwindling foreign assistance. 

Syrian analyst Ibrahim Mohammad highlighted a May 2020 report in Amjad Media, a known Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda) media outlet that revealed the establishment of a military “unified operations room” in Bab Al Hawa that included Turkish military officers and HTS fighters. In other words, an Al-Qaeda central command supported by NATO member state Turkey. 

Turkey is embedded in Idlib to support Al Qaeda and target Syrian civilians

Map showing the proximity of the Turkish military base in Quqfin to Jurin.

Nine months ago a Turkish convoy entered Quqfin to the east of Jurin and established a military observation base. According to the Syrian military personnel I spoke to in Jurin, this base is providing surveillance and coordinates for HTS, enabling them to target not military installations, but civilian infrastructure, schools, farmland and homes.  

The Turkish military base in Quqfin providing surveillance for HTS/Al-Qaeda. Photo: Syrian Media in Jurin.

Why did Russia sanction the six-month extension for the Bab Al Hawa crossing?

Russia and Syria have historically opposed the UN “aid’ runs via Turkey for reasons that become obvious when considering the benefits for Al-Qaeda. Many were surprised that Russia in the end recently approved a six-month extension. However, there is a promised “substantive” UNSG report into the Cross Border Mechanism transparency which will be of concern to the US Coalition and Turkey, as Russia will presumably be gathering evidence to prove that much of the aid is destined for Al-Qaeda and to sustain the war against the Syrian government. My opinion, not shared by all experts in Moscow, is that Russia took this decision to prevent US accusations of belligerence, while ensuring that terrorist sponsorship by NATO member states is out in the open and those involved should be held accountable for the resulting war crimes. 

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Bab Al Hawa is not a lifeline for the Syrian civilians of Jurin 

One thing is clear from my visit to the Idlib battle front lines – the Bab Al Hawa border crossing is not the “humanitarian” lifeline as described by US and UK representatives and aligned officials at the UN. For these civilians it represents the perpetual threat of death or injury, the destruction of their livelihood and a life of deprivation, bloodshed and fear. 

Western media is still amplifying the alleged “war crimes” of Syrian and Russian forces battling to liberate Syrian territory from the clutches of terrorist groups that would massacre the residents of Jurin in an instant if they could break through Syrian and Russian defences. 

Two days after my visit, during the night of July 17, eleven civilians were injured by HTS shelling, including one child. This is the reality of this war, never explored by the NATO-aligned media outlets and “humanitarian” agencies who seek only to demonise the Syrian government and to “disappear” these inconvenient Syrians who expose the moral vacuum of their narratives.  

This is an edited version of an article that was first published in full here.

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

Cake is linked to slavery because it contains sugar? Yes, the woke witch-finders have struck again

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By Joanna Williams, the founder of the think tank Cieo. She is the author of Women vs Feminism, Why We All Need Liberating From the Gender Wars and is a regular columnist for Spiked. Follow her on Twitter @jowilliams293

An English council is considering cancelling a regional delicacy called parkin cake due to its supposed links to slavery. But this isn’t about colonialism – it’s an attack on people who are proud of their local traditions.

Yorkshire parkin cake is delicious. The sweet and sticky mix of treacle, oats and ginger is a firm favourite right across the north of England. To many, it is synonymous with autumn and Bonfire Night celebrations, but it is also a school dinner staple enjoyed by countless children every day. 

Sadly, in this age of woke, no one – not the youngest child in the school canteen nor the oldest Guy Fawkes’ night reveller – can be allowed just to enjoy a slice of cake. Everything must be ‘problematised’ and ‘gender-neutralised’ and ‘decolonised’ until any hint of pleasure has been sapped out and replaced by a dull worthiness. 

Once, penitential abstinence for Lent was followed by Easter feasting. Only in C. S. Lewis’s mythical Narnia was it always winter, but never Christmas. But today’s woke priests are uncompromising and now they have parkin firmly in their sights. Prompted by last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, Leeds City Council has launched a review into connections between local cuisine and the slave trade. 

A council document, seen by The Telegraph, claims: “Historically, some of the ingredients used to make these ‘local’ products were gained through the triangular slave trade (for example, sugar).” To which the only possible response is: “So what?”.

Although health campaigners may wish it were otherwise, sugar makes up a huge part of our diet here in the UK. It seems ridiculous to have to point out that, in 2021, none of this sugar has been produced by slaves. In fact, the sugar consumed by Brits nowadays is far more likely to come from beet farms in the English Midlands than cane from the Caribbean. 

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The idea that cake is tainted by a connection to slavery, or that Yorkshire tea – that other product Leeds City Council currently has ‘under review’ – is to be snubbed because of the legacy of imperialism is ridiculous. Cake is not racist. Yorkshire’s parkin producers are not white supremacists. The county’s school dinner ladies are not fantasising about racial segregation with every serving of parkin doled out.

The truth is, the woke witch-finders are not really down on sugar at all. No, that would mean sacrificing their expensive Green and Blacks. What really disturbs them about parkin is not the sugar, or even the treacle, but the people who eat it. 

Parkin is enjoyed by people who identify with their region and are proud of local culture and traditions. To the snobs at Leeds City Council, these people are ignorant, racist, and most likely voted for Brexit. The councillors see their role as being to re-educate the plebs, starting, of course, with the captive audience of school children.

The council’s review will explore “how local products such as Yorkshire Parkin and Yorkshire tea are, in fact, reliant on global trade.” Do they really need to spend good money on research to discover this? No one seriously thinks there are tea plantations sandwiched between the Tees and the Humber. But Leeds City Council wants “evidence” of this global trade in order to provide “teaching material for primary school pupils.”

It is good to teach children about where food comes from and the historical roots of our favourite dishes. Through this, they might learn geography, history, economics and even some science. But of course, this is not what Leeds City Council has in mind. It wants special lessons on food to be taught under the umbrella of “Empire and Colonialism.” These classes will cover not just food but “slavery, gender bias, and decolonisation.” In this way, pupils will be taught that it is wrong to associate anything at all positive with their region. Cynical councillors want to beat every sense of regional or national pride out of children long before it has a chance to manifest itself.

Through lessons on “global trade”, children will be made to see that what they think of as locally produced goodies are, in fact, nothing of the sort and that Britain is, at best, insignificant, and at worst, shameful. The not-very-subtle message behind the “It’s not even from Yorkshire!” big reveal is that trumped-up notions of national sovereignty are foolish when we can’t even muster up the ingredients for a cake. 

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Launching a review into Yorkshire parkin has nothing whatsoever to do with education: it is entirely about politics. Children who participate in these proposed lessons on “Empire and Colonialism” are guaranteed to learn only one thing: guilt. Leeds City Council will put them off cake far better than any zealous public health campaigners.

‘Decolonising’ local dishes is about much more than simply raising questions. It is an attack on local culture and traditions that may have existed within families and communities for generations. Making children feel ashamed of their region risks alienating them from their history and from those around them, including their own relatives. 

I’m thinking of starting a new campaign called ‘Let Cake Be Cake.’ We’ll meet once a week and eat cake for no reason whatsoever, other than that it tastes delicious and makes life more pleasurable. Who’s with me?

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If the world wants a WHO that functions properly, America has to stop scapegoating it

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Relentless pressure from the US has caused the World Health Organization to suggest a second probe into the origins of Covid, focusing on Chinese labs. This astonishing U-turn is typical of the increasingly dysfunctional WHO.

A year and a half ago, as the Covid-19 pandemic began to spiral out of control across the world, the political narrative was set out very firmly by the United States: that Chinese political influence and pressure had subjugated the World Health Organization (WHO) and left it unable to fulfil its functions. 

Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was routinely abused across social media as being little more than a puppet of China, and the fallout over Covid-19 set off a chain of events that would see Donald Trump first pull the plug on funding the WHO, before announcing America would quit the organization altogether. 

Tedros Adhanom or the Director General of the World Health Organization FAILED to tell the truth about Corona Virus.Tedros Adhanom should be a name that no one forgets. It should be a name that lives in infamy.Instead of alerting the world Tedros decided to be China’s puppet.

— Brigitte Gabriel (@ACTBrigitte) May 20, 2020

While Joe Biden would immediately go on to reverse that decision on taking over as president, the US’ politicisation of the virus and the WHO has simply continued, with the theatrics of the Wuhan lab-leak conspiracy theory and speculation about the origin of the virus gaining new life – first, as a domestic conduit by Republicans in their ‘anti-science’ campaign against Dr. Anthony Fauci, and second, as part of the ongoing American hostility against China. 

Amid the chaos, the findings of the WHO-led investigation in Wuhan into the origins of Covid-19 were quickly discredited because they didn’t fit the US narrative. Now, following relentless pressure from the US, the organization is singing a very different tune. Despite the WHO having frequently dismissed the lab-leak theory, Dr. Tedros last week suddenly called for a second probe – which he said should incorporate local virology institutes – and asked for Beijing to be more co-operative. China quickly rubbished the idea, with Deputy Health Minister Zeng Yixin describing it as “disrespect for common sense and arrogance toward science.”

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For an organization originally lambasted for being too ‘pro-China,’ this is an extraordinary turnaround, but it is typical of the WHO’s inability to function coherently, and a symptom of it being infected and derailed by the broader geopolitical struggle being forced upon it by Washington.

Although the laboratory theory has never been taken seriously in credible bioscience circles, the WHO is now resorting to this political ‘hedging’ because its own institutional survival and interests are being upended by the anti-China crusade of the US. America’s constant attempts to proliferate the narrative of the pandemic being based not on benign and boring scientific facts but an almost romanticized science-fiction trope is geared towards placing maximum culpability on Beijing. 

This arrangement has pretty much meant the US is not interested in a ‘good faith’ interpretation of events, with Biden under heavy domestic pressure from Republicans. The truth is that the origin of this pandemic – with its ever-evolving variants and asymptomatic spread – does not match the picture of moral and political absolutism it’s being depicted with. 

But that’s not what is happening on the ground. Washington is now wielding coalition politics to scapegoat the WHO and demand a new investigation, making various statements – including at the recent G7 – demanding that it reforms, and, in all probability, leveraging funding on change. The result is that Dr. Tedros is trying to juggle this political to and fro, but he’s failing, and being caught in the crossfire.

Beijing is arguably not handling this situation well. Not only does it have few options, but it is also increasingly cornered by Washington in the battle for the narrative. China is dismissing the calls for further investigation because it sees itself as making a principled point by refusing to give legitimacy to what it considers is a politicized conspiracy theory being promoted by the US. 

However, in shutting down the WHO’s claims for more investigations, it inevitably grants more ammunition to its critics – especially those in Washington – that China has something to hide from the world, thus prompting more calls for transparency. 

Beijing will keep insisting that science ought to lead any further inquiries, and this is correct, particularly given Washington’s behaviour. However, the fundamental weakness here is that the ‘burden of proof’ continues to be placed on China, and it has not been able to change the conversation, even if we can identify that the US narrative is flawed. This means the American attacks will continue. 

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Rather than finding a practical solution to address this matter, China pointed the finger at the ‘Fort Detrick’ lab in Maryland in an attempt to hit back at Washington. But this is fanciful and not a serious counter-attack, and hasn’t stuck.

It also produced a coalition of 55 nations of its own to write to the WHO and support its own narrative of the pandemic. China was backed largely by conventional friends such as Russia, Pakistan, North Korea and Iran, but these nations do not have the financial leverage over the organization that America and its Western allies have. 

Although Trump’s decision to quit the WHO a year ago made a mockery of the American position by isolating it and voiding it of credibility, Biden is effectively pursuing the same strategy of vilification, but in a more refined way, and with teeth, by getting nations to gang up against the WHO and China. What Beijing does next will be fascinating, because it’s become quite obvious that the US won’t take no for an answer.

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Rather than letting the recent revelations about UFOs spell hope and intrigue, the US government is spreading ‘fear porn’

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By Tara Reade, author, poet, actor and former Senate aide, author of Left Out: When the Truth Doesn’t Fit In. Follow her on Twitter @readealexandra

Filmmaker Reuben Langdon spoke to RT about how the government is controlling the messaging around the new information around UFOs to keep justifying its bloated military budget and terrify Americans.

For my ninth birthday, my brother got me a telescope. In rural Northern Wisconsin, on my family’s farm, I would look at the stars across the night sky with no light pollution to block the waves of patterns webbing across the dark. Michael, my older brother, patiently set up my telescope and showed me the constellations and told me their ancient names; we would also wonder about possible other worlds and UFOs. 

The first time I could find the constellations on my own, I was lit up and forever transfixed by stars. My brother explained the history, “This is the Ursa major and Ursa minor, the bears, the protectors.” I looked up at him, strong and tall, Michael, like the bear constellation, was my constant protector until his death took him somewhere beyond the stars.

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Recently, international media began reporting more and more stories about Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) sightings, following the release of American government information relating to secret projects on the subject. For a long while, UFOs weren’t taken seriously by mainstream media, they featured them only as clickbait for ‘cranks’ on the internet. But now, as more and more credible people have come forward with their experiences, a shift has occurred in public perception. 

There was a movement for the American government to release under the Freedom of Information Act documentation relating to projects involving UFOs. Former Navy pilots and civilians have since come forward for interviews about what they witnessed in the skies and the way the military chose to conceal sightings of the advanced technology demonstrated by UFOs. Yet, for all the supposed transparency there was a message of fear creeping into the narrative. 

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As the American empire always seeks to justify its bloated weapons spending to the tune of trillions of dollars, the sudden release of these CIA documents seems at best suspect and at worst diabolical with a view to blaming the presence of this unrecognized technology on Russia or China. Unfortunately, instead of seeing the opportunity to expand awareness for humanity the framing of the new information became one with a thread of distrust and war. 

In the words of filmmaker and actor Reuben Langdon, the corporate media gives us

“fear porn.” 

He added: “The people doing the work (researching UFOs) seem to have the best of intentions. It comes down to the media and forcing their hand. We have a media that is so focused on the negative news with very few positives. A lot of the researchers in the field have trouble to even bring forth the information. Like, Chris Mellon who said, first we have to have the conversation and unfortunately many will not listen unless it has that negative spin.”

This is my first time engaging UFO Twitter, and it's been interesting. A lot of well-intentioned people believe this latest UFO narrative may yield more than new cold war escalations, and I think that's mistaken. The US war machine isn't going to suddenly embrace transparency.

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) June 4, 2021

Reuben began his career as a stuntman and has featured in Hollywood blockbusters including Avatar and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as numerous video games, and became interested in UFOs following an experience he had while filming the James Cameron sci-fi epic. For over a decade he has been researching extraterrestrial phenomena amongst other things and entered a successful documentary making career. 

Is the CIA controlling the messaging around this using the media to justify some other agenda? As we hear more stories about the phenomenon, the American government defaults their messaging to fear.

Several years ago, Reuben was involved in a citizen congressional hearing including former members of Congress discussing the history of UFOs and the coverup by the American government. Several high-ranking military intelligence figures shared information at this mock hearing to show what a real investigative Congressional hearing could be like if it were ever allowed. The hope was that it would raise enough awareness to force a public inquiry. 

One of the highlights was watching the late Senator Mike Gravel demand that information that was hidden from the public by the US intelligence about UFOs and the history be released for everyone. As I discussed this project with Reuben Langdon, he described what it was like to coordinate the emulated hearing, quite unique in its approach. 

He added: “I disagree with projecting fear with the UFO stories. It is an approach to get it in the media but not my approach to this phenomena. The national (American) media seems to be about selling fear and scaring as many people as possible because… fear sells.…” 

One of the biggest challenges regarding the UFO coverage is getting it to be taken in a serious way at all. Reuben described the challenge of bringing forth information. 

“I think that the Government may see this as an opportunity to put forth their agenda which is one of control of power…taking a bird’s eye, how it is approached by media… be prepared for false flags in the media, like an alien invasion.… We can choose to support people with a fear based narrative or support people with a non-fear based narrative. There is no reason to be in fear, if you are aware of it.” 

Reuben had also made a documentary exploring alternative energy sources and the inventors who created them. The documentary was ultimately rejected by top executives for distribution. Undaunted, Reuben outlined how with his own equipment he embarked on the journey of two seasons of his show, Interviews with Extra Dimensionals, which ended up being a top show on the network GAIA. Reuben’s tenacity is driven by a curiosity based on his own personal experiences. 

He said:“To some it may seem like the end of the world when in actuality it is humanity waking up to our true potential. The realization we are sovereign, independent beings that can create our own reality and not rely on others to do it for us.” 

Reuben’s new project is a film about the adventurer F.A. Mitchell Hedges (the man Indiana Jones character was based on) and the crystal skull. It was discovered in the 1920’s at a Mayan temple, by his daughter. Reuben explores the mystique surrounding the object and its larger meaning to those who believe it has spiritual powers.

He added: “There seems to be an interaction between sacred spots and different places on the Earth, that indigenous hold in sacredness. The feature is setting up Hedges’ research and work. The film will also uncover the legend about the possibilities that there are 13 skulls around the Earth and if all found the legend says, humanity will enter a new era.” 

The Crystal Skull is thought by some to be similar to an ancient computer that holds some sort of sacred knowledge like the Akashic records and other information available from ancient civilizations. People show up from all over the world to simply sit in the presence of the Crystal Skull to experience its power and report mystical attunement with multi-dimensional realms. 

I imagine my brother Michael’s delight at watching the unfolding of all this new information. Near the end of my brother’s life, Michael gestured vaguely one night at the sky, took my hand in his and looked at me intently. Too weak to form all the words, I looked into his eyes and he turned his head upward to the night sky. I nodded and understood. “Look for me in the stars, I am with you.” I imagined him saying, “I will always be here to protect you. I love you.” Tears rolled down his face slowly as I kissed his hand.

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Michael instilled in me the gift of wonder for discovering more about the Universe. I remain open and curious. Even now, I look up at night as I still search the same familiar constellations, I look for my protector, my brother, his smile now hidden somewhere behind the stars. 

I am encircled with the thought of all the possibilities. 

As Reuben Langdon suggests, “Instead of fear, why not be curious?”

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Mimicking an accent can be unfunny, even offensive, but it doesn’t have the cultural baggage of blackface

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David Matthews is a writer whose work has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Mail on Sunday and the Observer, and on the BBC and Channel 4. He is the author of several books, including Voices of the Windrush Generation. Follow him on Twitter @mrdavematthews.

A linguist caused uproar on British TV when he said copying accents promoted lazy stereotypes and flirted with racism. But, let’s face it, we all do it for banter – and most of us know where to draw the line.

Recently, while in a barbershop in Ladbroke Grove, West London I picked up on some ‘bants’ between a customer and a member of staff concerning an unpaid debt.

The customer, a young, agitated fellow, claimed he was unable to pay up as he’d been stiffed over his wages that week by his employer, who had fobbed him off with a ‘cheque’s in the post’ excuse or t’other. “That old chestnut,” I remarked to my barber, who was zeroing in on the last remnants of hair on my newly shaved bonce. The barber chuckled, and in a part ‘Jafaican’, part Mockney accent replied, “That old chestnut? You’re a proper Cockney, aintcha?”

While the “chestnut” quip isn’t a particularly East End expression, and it’s certainly not Cockney rhyming slang – I should know, being born “within the sound of Bow Bells” –  what my barber picked up on, and felt comfortable to mock, was my accent, discernible as it is from the mumble rap that is modern London patois.

Despite being born in the East End, having spent much of my life wading through the murky waters of London’s so-called ‘metropolitan media elite’ and plying my trade across the world, one of the many accents I’ve acquired over the years is a sort of pseudo-mid-Atlantic ‘generic middle-class bloke’ twang. It’s a sort of everyman fallback staple that sounds urbane, but not pretentious, clear but not clipped, yet retains enough of a London motif to let the real me shine through. Hmmm.

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To old Cockney mates, some of whom I’ve known for nearly 50 years, ever since I crossed the tracks I’ve sounded “posh,” even though my inclination is to sound like Danny Dyer on acid when we’re out on the lash. My more bourgie muckers, on the other hand, and indeed those from the West Indian diaspora, often twig me as being more authentically London than I care to think. In truth, I probably get through four or five accent variations in a day depending on who I’m communicating with, and am concerned about being judged or bantered by.

Accents are a sort of sonic tattoo, aural inkwork that animatedly marks out your identity; and depending on the complexity of image created by one’s cadence, listeners can tell how far, and along what manner of path you’ve travelled to get to the you now in front of them.

This is what people who criticise those of us who play the accent game don’t get. Given the fluidity of modern personal identity, and the degree to which one’s accent plays a huge role in forming and communicating identity, in their own way, accents are as non-binary as anything else in the cultural marketplace right now. Accents are constantly evolving. What remains of the old-school Cockney accent today is markedly different from its post-war version. Estuary English is another relatively new accent, as are London and regional patois, which aren’t just a mishmash of slang words and expressions – they carry with them an accent that parrots the Caribbean, African, Asian and indigenous dialects of the British Isles in a whole new manner.

From Shakespeare onwards, wordsmithery has been one of the more redeeming features of these shores, thanks to the eclectic nature of the English language, its massive vocabulary and its linguistic complexity. But it’s not just the imagination, invention and playfulness of what Brits say that makes our use, and yes, abuse of English so dynamic, it’s how we say it that’s been key to the dominance of the language. Pop songs, written and performed in English, for instance, wouldn’t have the pre-eminence they do were it not for the language’s ability to bend, shape and mould itself to fit any context through accent and cadence.

It’s this elasticity that linguist Dr Rob Drummond from Manchester Met University seemed to lose sight of when he found himself caught in a ‘race storm,’ having suggested on Good Morning Britain, that seat of academic learning, that mimicking a foreign accent is as offensive as using blackface. As someone who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s bombarded with godawful Jim Davidson ‘Chalky White’ pseudo-Jamaican impersonations and cringeworthy “Katanga” African stereotypes courtesy of Lenny Henry, I’m all too familiar with the mockery in Britain that has surrounded ‘ethnic’ accents.

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Previously, Peter Sellers’ brownface character, Hrundi V. Bakshi in the 1968 movie ‘The Party’ and Spike Milligan’s 1969 blacked up Pakistani Irishman Kevin O’Grady in the short-lived ITV series ‘Curry and Chips’ not only took visual minstrelsy to a new low, but the outrageous accents these stars produced laid the foundation for “bat-bat, ding-ding” ridiculing of Indian accents that has persisted up until recently in mainstream TV shows such as ‘The Simpsons’. Even more troubling, for detractors of the politics of accents, is that this remains a staple piss-take on the streets of Britain.

Arguing that the use of such hackneyed accents for comedic effect in sitcoms like ‘Fawlty Towers,’ in which English actor Andrew Sachs famously played a hapless Spanish waiter named Manuel, promotes “lazy stereotypes” that can be “pretty damaging,” Mr Drummond, again, is onto something, in that millions of Britons take their cues from mainstream media and, if channels are still running shows with problematic yet still highly popular stereotypes, is it any wonder that fans of said shows ape these characters at work, down the pub or at home?

But this is where it gets complicated. While shaking down suspect TV shows is one thing (I still find it hard to believe that ‘Mind Your Language,’ a sitcom predicated on racial stereotypes and cartoon accents, ever got commissioned), Mr Drummond and the thought police have got their work cut out if they think the average Brit is going to give up his “G’day” Aussie accent, his “Top o’ the mornin’” Irish cliché or his “Is it cos I is black?” Ali G rip-off any time soon.

Dodgy accents, and the easy, pervasive way people mimic others just for cheap laughs, simply don’t have the same cultural baggage and artifice as blackface. People should be able to police themselves when it comes to common, everyday language without academics making spurious links between social phenomena that rachet up, not temper, people’s concerns about public decency, freedom of speech and above all, individual social responsibility.

For most people, having a back pocket of bad, ill-conceived and barely legible ‘foreign’ accents is about as close to being Steve Coogan as they’ll ever get. Most of the time this amateur-hour tomfoolery, like the closed WhatsApp groups that have taken private jokes into truly private dark social networks, is hermetically sealed from the wider public. Yes, such jolly japes can spill over into the wider world and rankle, as my children often remind me when, I’ll freely admit, my Bajan accent starts to sound more West Country than West Indian – and the rest of the supermarket checkout isn’t impressed.

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But am I about to get woke over my barber ‘othering’ me as a black cockney? Hell no. The way I see it is he’s got a ‘cultural copyright’ in that situation because we have enough cultural understanding, and contextual savvy, to know it’s genuine bants. Likewise, if a female buddy takes exception to me doing an Essex girl impersonation while out having a jar, I’ll happily STFU and move on.

Much is being made these days about the phoney ‘cultural war’ notching up a disproportionate level of comedic collateral damage. Received wisdom is, if you can’t cock a snook and have a laugh at any aspect of society, then what sort of society are you living in? Yes, accents can be stale, corny, and offensive for no good reason; but so can comedy, period. My rule of thumb is always to consider the audience or read the room before opening your trap. That way you’ll always get the tone, and the accent, right.

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Inept Labour’s week from hell shows why England now feels like a one-party state

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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.

Internal purges, cash woes, redundancies, and now self-isolation for its leader. It’s been a disastrous week for the Labour Party, illustrating exactly why the Tories are impregnable, no matter how ‘useless’ Boris Johnson is.

If you think Boris Johnson has had a torrid few days, spare a thought for poor Sir Keir Starmer. His week started when the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) governing body voted to ban a number of hard-Left organisations. The controversial decision had the backing of Starmer. The groups banned were Resist, Labour Against the Witchhunt, the Labour In Exile Network and Socialist Appeal, which describes itself as a Marxist voice of Labour and youth. It is estimated that around 1,000 members will be removed from the party as a result of the decision.

The move was criticised by John McDonnell, the former Shadow Chancellor, who said, “standard Blairite fare to try show how strong a leader you are by taking on your own party but bizarre to do it by expelling people, most of whom have left already.”

Standard Blairite fare to try show how strong a leader you are by taking on your own party but bizarre to do it by expelling people, most of whom have left already. Looks desperate when what is needed is restoration of whip to Jeremy Corbyn, publication of Ford & taking on Tories

— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) July 17, 2021

McDonnell is of course right, as Labour’s membership has plummeted under Starmer’s leadership, losing over 50,000 last year alone. Moreover, those who remain members are not entirely sold on Starmer. A recent poll found that 67% have a favourable opinion of their leader, but 31% have an unfavourable opinion. This is far from a unified party, never mind an effective opposition.    

The decision to provoke a fight with the hard Left has been criticised by the powerful Momentum organisation, which played an integral role during the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Momentum complained that “at a time when the Tory government is allowing the pandemic to rip through the country, the Labour leadership has once again turned inwards.”

Our statement on the Party Leadership's proposed use of proscription and the auto-expulsion of members. pic.twitter.com/g2cipMTWYx

— Momentum 🌹 (@PeoplesMomentum) July 19, 2021

It is evident that this battle for the heart and soul of the party is far from over, especially as Momentum has influence over a number of large local Labour associations.

Then came the news that the party is losing cash like water passing through a sieve. David Evans, Labour’s General Secretary, claims that the party’s finances have suffered because of the fall in membership and the use of funds to deal with anti-Semitism cases. He allegedly told staff that the financial reserves are so low that they only cover one payroll. As a result, the party is being forced to lay off a quarter of its workers.

Labour’s idea of reducing its staff through ‘voluntary redundancies’ has also gone down like a lead balloon with the trade unions, who are the party’s largest donors. A co-authored letter from the Unite and GMB trade unions concluded with a scathing attack on party management. It stated that “we note that the lack of clarity, trust and openness with staff is breeding a climate of anxiety and fear amongst staff impacting on their mental health. It is simply not the way we would expect an organisation like the Labour Party to undertake work of this nature.” It is never a good idea to upset your paymasters. 

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To top off this disastrous week for Starmer, he now has to self-isolate for a fourth time, as one of his children tested positive for Covid. Former Labour PM Harold Wilson once said that “a week is a long time in politics” but, for poor Sir Keir, it must have felt like an age and Saturday surely cannot come quickly enough. Indeed, the recent surprise victory in Batley and Spen must already seem like a lifetime ago.

Now, before we go any further, I want to make it clear that I am no fan of the Labour Party. I have had too many run-ins with it over the years, particularly over Brexit. I do believe, however, that the country requires a strong opposition. In its absence, what we have in England is virtually a one-party state, where the Tories are allowed to emerge from crises relatively unscathed. Take for example the Matt Hancock affair and the Dominic Cummings revelations. In years gone by, the Labour Party would have benefited from these squalid incidents, yet in its current state it is unable to make any headway.  

Much of the mess Labour finds itself in must be laid at Starmer’s door. In backing the NEC in its confrontation with the hard Left, Starmer obviously wants to imitate former leaders Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair, who both benefited from taking on the militants. Indeed, in the long term, the actions of the NEC are probably in the interest of the party; but they are not in the interest of the country in the short term.

What the UK needs right now is an effective opposition and Labour cannot be that if they are fighting each other. You would usually have more chance of seeing a flying pig than have me agreeing with Diane Abbott, but I have to admit that she was right when she said that Labour must start “fighting the Tories” and “not each other.” They owe it to the country and to voters of all stripes.  

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A new book explains why the first transgender athlete to compete against women at the Olympics has wired-in, unfair advantages

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Laurel Hubbard, born male, is competing in women’s weightlifting. Hubbard may be classified female, but retains many of the the advantages of a male body. The key is testosterone, not just now, but in the past.

The Tokyo Olympics get underway this week but the women’s weightlifting competition is already mired in controversy. Laurel Hubbard will represent New Zealand in the 87kg+ class and become the first male-born transgender athlete to compete against women at the Olympic Games. 

The 43-year-old’s eligibility followed a 2015 ruling by the International Olympic Committee. Transwomen can compete alongside women if their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Why 10 nmol/L? Women’s testosterone is much lower, typically in the range 0.2 – 1.7 nanomoles per litre; possibly it was a round number plucked out of the air? Or set as a sop to the vocal trans activist lobby? Who knows? But it is a controversial issue that’s dogged athletics for many years, including the banned two-time Olympic champion runner Caster Semenya

But wherever the committee sets its arbitrary cut-off, everybody knows that male and female bodies are distinguished by rather more than the concentration of testosterone in the latest blood test.

In her superb new book, Testosterone: The Story of the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us, Dr Carole Hooven explains why we are different. Hooven – currently the Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies in Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard – brings the science to life, and makes it accessible to the general reader. She draws liberally on her experience in the field. We travel with her to observe the sex lives of chimpanzees in Uganda, and red deer on the island of Rum in the Hebrides. There is lots more sex in the book: rats do it, birds do it and spiny lizards do it, and Hooven tells us about it.

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The common link is the need to reproduce. Any species where males and females do not feel the urge to copulate with each other will not be long for the world. Testosterone is the key to sexual dimorphism – Hooven is clear about that – but nature did not tag it on as an afterthought. It is fundamental to our development and, in humans, it starts working early, way back in the womb. We all started out with “bipotential gonads,” but eight weeks after conception – while we were the size of grapes – male and female went their separate ways.

While human bodies develop along two distinct pathways, “intersex” variations exist within each one. Hooven discusses them sensitively and comprehensively. Accurate and thorough in her approach, she draws on the experience of people with “differences of sexual development,” or DSDs for short. This terminology is far better: nobody is between the sexes, and there is certainly no third sex.

Recently, political activists have tried to muddy the waters on this point, confusing the material reality of our sexed bodies with our feelings about them and how we might identify. But Hooven is refreshingly clear. She defines sex by the “design plan for the gametes.” Because not all animals have XX and XY chromosomes. In birds, she tells us, males have a pair of identical sex chromosomes (ZZ), while females have two different ones (ZW). Turtles and crocodiles have no sex chromosomes – the temperature of the eggs determines the sex. But in all these species, males produce small mobile gametes (sperm), while females produce larger immobile gametes (eggs). 

Few readers will challenge the idea that prenatal testosterone sexes our bodies, but what impact did it have on our psychology? Hooven took particular care to explore the idea. She noted the unusual gendered behaviour of girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). This DSD causes elevated testosterone levels throughout their foetal development. Studies show that these girls show play preferences “that were much more masculinised than their unaffected peers.”

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“Compared to age-matched unaffected girls,” Hooven reports, “CAH girls gravitate towards rough and tumble play; choose toys such as trucks, planes, and blocks; and have a greater preference for playing with boys.” And when these girls grow up, they earn more money than the control group.

Hooven is courageous to explore these ideas. They run counter to the idea that gendered behaviour is driven by society. Instead, it seems that patterns of behaviour are hard wired into us. 

But there are sound evolutionary reasons for gendered behaviour. The two sexes have different roles in reproduction, obviously, and males and females who adopt certain patterns of behaviour are more likely to pass on their genes. In some species, for example, promiscuity conveys advantages on the male but not on the female. Hooven led us through the very different behaviours of male and female deer on the island of Rum. The difference is testosterone. Whatever else it does, its primary job “is to coordinate male sexual anatomy, physiology and behaviour in the service of reproduction.”

When juveniles play, Hooven suggested that they are practising the adult behaviours they need to survive and reproduce. Over evolutionary history, different patterns of male and female play become established. As a teacher, I am familiar with the different ways in which boys and girls tend to play. Hooven observed young rats playing differently; social constructs could not explain that.

Hooven warns that some scholars and academics are not fans of the idea that testosterone masculinises the brain as well as the body but, if something is true, it is pointless to deny it. Indeed, unlike chimps and bonobos – our closest neighbours whose communities are notable by gendered behaviour – we can understand why we are like this. Male aggression may have helped our evolutionary ancestors fend off rivals, but today it can be very destructive, and we need to temper it. Hooven is clear about that when she refers to her son, “masculine feelings are not toxic, what matters are actions and he has control over those.” But, as she points out, “one can’t solve a problem if one misunderstands its causes.”

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​​As a parent, the speed that Western society and culture is descending into hysterical self-hatred makes me worry for my children

A chapter is devoted to transgender issues, where Hooven focussed on the impact of cross-sex hormones. I take cross-sex hormones myself – I am transgender – so this piqued my interest. Hooven, perhaps understandably, shies away from social commentary and focuses on the biology, but it leaves the impression that she sits on the fence regarding the impact on individuals and society. Regarding children, I would come down more strongly against paediatric transition. Hooven is clear that the long-term risks of puberty blockers are unknown, but I feel she underplays the dangers.

But with Hubbard and the Olympics sure to be in the news, we come back to the question, should transwomen compete with women? This book provides us with much food for thought. Hooven takes us through all the stages of male physical development. Boys become acquainted with testosterone long before puberty. After the surge in utero, it flares up again shortly after birth. But when boys go through puberty, the impact is profound. From then on, boys have an undeniable physical advantage, and Hooven notes, “nearly every boy by age 15 throws better than the best girl.” 

Many advantages become ingrained. Subsequent hormone therapy may well take the edge off performance, but bones will always be stronger, muscle will not revert to the female level, nor will hearts and lungs shrink. It is hardly fair for someone who retains such advantages to compete against women.

Whether Hubbard will be able to lift better than the best woman is yet to be seen, but whatever the order of merit, women are displaced within a competition they thought was theirs. That is not fair and this book tells us why it’s not fair. This is a book, therefore, that needs to be read, and not just to find out how spiny lizards reproduce.

Testosterone: The Story of the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us, by Carole Hooven (Octopus books) £16.99 hard cover

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No rooting for Team USA: Lefty students hate America, but the Globalist American Empire doesn’t deserve the love of conservatives

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Young, left-wing college students don’t want to root for Team USA in the Olympics. Before right wingers seethe over their lack of patriotism, maybe they should take a moment to ask whether Team USA deserves their respect either.

With the Olympic opening ceremony set to begin on Friday, Campus Reform, a conservative student organization, asked America’s undergrads whether they’ll be cheering on the country’s athletes in Tokyo. They won’t, is the answer. Students told Campus Reform that they “don’t like being American,” that “patriotism shouldn’t be strong,” and that they’ll only cheer for “individual athletes” if pushed.

If you’re looking for Team USA’s next biggest fans…you’re not going to find them on college campuses.Watch the full video here ➡️ https://t.co/ybu2Qho1bupic.twitter.com/ymnAevoddr

— Campus Reform (@campusreform) July 22, 2021

College students hating on America is nothing new, and just a few years ago a video like this would have provoked howls of derision from the right. Donald Trump may even have tweeted about it, and promised to jail the flag-burners and seditionists on campus.

But times have changed, and patriotic Americans should think twice before criticizing these students for their lack of patriotism. While Trump’s supporters have slated athletes at home for their woke politics (think Colin Kaepernick taking a knee before his games), Team USA doesn’t automatically deserve their support abroad, just because America’s athletes compete under the red, white and blue.

Should patriotic Americans support the transgender cyclist who has vowed to burn an American flag on the podium if she wins a medal? Should they cheer for the hammer thrower who considers hearing the national anthem a personal insult? Or root for the soccer star who thinks they’re “white supremacists?” 

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They shouldn’t, and they likely won’t. After all, these athletes may wear the American flag, but they do not compete for the Republic that conservatives adore. They compete for the polity that has replaced it of late: the entity President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies call “Our Democracy,” and Revolver News founder Darren Beatty terms the “Globalist American Empire.” 

To the GAE, patriotism in the conservative sense is equivalent to “domestic terrorism,” the “equity” promised by Critical Race Theory has replaced the “equality” afforded by the Constitution, and the flags of the Black Lives Matter and LGBT movements are held in higher regard than Old Glory, with severe penalties applied to anyone who dares tarnish them.

Who then should patriotic Americans turn to? Which flag-waving leaders and institutions actually deserve their respect? 

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The military? Young, poor, white conservatives may fill its ranks and die in its wars, but the US military rewards them by elevating leaders like Gen. Mark Milley, who views them as Nazis and fantasizes about shooting them in the street. The right owes the military as an institution no loyalty when it subjects conservative troops to ideological purges and spends their tax dollars turning men into women. Sir! No sir!

What about America’s world-leading corporations? Even the rare companies that don’t bend the knee to BLM and LGBT play them for suckers. Take Black Rifle Coffee Company, a veteran-owned business that slaps flags and guns on its packaging and markets its insipid brew directly to conservatives and Trump supporters. The company may talk tough, but its owner granted The New York Times an extensive interview last week in which he disavowed his own customers as “racists.”

How about the Republican Party? Sure, the GOP may position itself as a bulwark against woke insanity and ‘cancel culture,’ and its politicians may wave the Star-Spangled Banner while they promise to put “America First,” but as long as they care more about the freedom of Cuban dissidents in Havana than Americans jailed and beaten in Washington, DC for protesting, they don’t deserve conservative votes.

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I am not an American, and perhaps I underestimate the emotions that hearing the anthem and seeing the flag inspire in millions of patriotic Americans. After all, the Trump supporters still rotting in solitary confinement six months after the riot on Capitol Hill sing the national anthem every evening to keep their spirits up. It’s a moving sound, and even though they’ve been jailed on patently political grounds and persecuted by the federal government, these detainees clearly feel that there’s some good left in the idea of America, and some power left in its icons.

But by and large, conservatives, inasmuch as there’s anything of their worldview left to conserve, are on their own. The flag they love is waved by people who hate them, and the institutions they once respected work in service of ideologies utterly alien to their own.

If anyone on the Right is still moved to reflexively cheer for Team USA or defend the country from any and all criticism by instinct, they should perhaps pause and ask themselves if the country they love so dearly even exists any more.

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Australia goes down under the boot as citizens in Sydney are ordered to avoid casual conversation – even with a mask and vaccine

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Five-Eye member state Australia has just solidified its reputation as the most draconian place on the planet by ordering citizens not to speak to one another. But is it really the virus that it fears, or is it something else?

You’d have to see it to believe it but, even then, it’s hard to fathom. After reporting an infinitesimal rise in new Covid cases in New South Wales – 78 to be precise, and one death – Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant took the precautionary anti-Covid measures to a level that can only be described as insane, as she advised people to end ‘small talk.’

After admitting that it’s “human nature to engage in conversation with others, to be friendly,” Chant, with just the right amount of quiver in her voice, chanted a warning that was indistinguishable from a command: “this is not the time to do that.” 

“So, even if you run into your next-door neighbor in the shopping center … don’t start up a conversation. Now is the time for minimizing your interactions with others.”

With all the urgency her contorted brow could convey, Chant went on to remind the citizens Down Under how critical it is to continue practicing those “Covid-safe behaviors of staying at home, not visiting friends and family.”

Unbelievable….. don’t behave like a human, forget humanity, just do as you are told https://t.co/bqCWG1n1qH

— Tonia Buxton (@ToniaBuxton) July 20, 2021

Putting aside the fact that Chant addressed the roomful of reporters sans mask, and also failed to field a single question from the bare-faced hacks following her deranged soliloquy, there are other things to ponder. For example, how long are Australians supposed to remain speechless behind their oxygen-starved masks? Should residents sign up for sign-language classes as a new form of interaction? Will the police be called in the event that two people become dangerously chatty in a social setting? And although Chant is a full-fledged doctor, as is Anthony Fauci, the beleaguered US Covid tsar, would it be asking too much to get a second opinion from other medical officials regarding this severe injunction? Considering it is something that not even fascist dictators enforce on their peoples at the height of war? Yes, as it turns out, it would be asking too much. If the pandemic has proved anything, it is that medical second opinions, of which there are plenty, are no longer permissible.

Try to envision the utter inanity of the following situation, which sounds like a scene out of a Monty Python skit: two close neighbors, both of whom are masked and gloved and ghostly pale from lockdown conditions, accidentally bump into each other at the local grocer. After the initial shock of coming into close contact with one of those deadly germ factories known as humanus hysteriacus covidius, the two females, despite being ‘asymptomatic’ – which in previous times simply meant ‘healthy’ – give each other a polite nod before quickly scampering off in opposite directions lest they arouse any suspicion.

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Such outrageous orders, which flog the concept of human rights into a bloody joke, could lead some free-thinking people who still inhabit this planet to entertain some cynical conclusions. For example, could it be that the Australian authorities, who have embraced some of the most draconian anti-Covid regulations in the world (authorities in South Australia have just ordered lockdown for a week after just five new Covid cases were reported), are less paranoid about the risk of people spreading the virus through casual banter than they are over what might be discussed in the course of these chance meet-ups?

As a proud member in the Five Eyes global intelligence ring, which the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed as a “supra-national intelligence organisation that doesn’t answer to the laws of its own countries,” it’s mere child’s play for Australia’s cyber cops to censor what is being discussed over the internet. But monitoring what is whispered between masked neighbors over their shopping carts, well, that’s a different challenge altogether. And, let’s face it, Australians, perhaps more than any other people, are in desperate need of a national conversation where it is not just the politicians doing all the talking.

The tyrannical conditions that are being rolled out in irregular and piecemeal fashion – not unlike Chinese water torture that eventually drives the prisoner to absolute despair, if not insanity – in Australia, as well as in other Western countries, like Canada, New Zealand and the United States, should concern everyone.

Is the spread of Covid a serious matter? Yes, undoubtedly. But does it necessitate the extreme response that we are witnessing in hot spots around the globe? I would argue it does not. It needs to be remembered that acquiring Covid is not a death sentence. Not by a long shot. The majority of people fully recover from this illness, while children are amazingly resilient to it. Yet, the response to this disease has been anything but reasonable and logical.

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The very things that make life worth living (and necessary to sustain life), like meeting with friends and family as well as participating in the global economy, an essential activity that puts food on our tables, should be absolutely non-negotiable, regardless what the emergency is. 

Life is full of emergencies; that is an unfortunate fact that will never go away, no matter how hard we try. What has changed, however, with the emergence of Covid is the unsustainable belief that it is necessary to stop living to eliminate the risk of dying. Aside from being a logical fallacy, it is just plain stupid.

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There is a new sheriff in Tehran who’s not a huge fan of the JCPOA – and the Biden administration won’t like it one bit

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By insisting on an approach to negotiations that ignored domestic Iranian reality, the Biden administration missed an opportunity to restart the nuclear deal. Now Iran, and its new incoming president, will be calling the shots.

Rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the landmark 2015 agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions, was one of the top foreign policy goals of Joe Biden. Better known by its acronym, JCPOA, and often referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, this agreement was seen as the foundation of regional stability in the Persian Gulf, a chance to both rein in Iranian ambitions and build a foundation for the possibility of improved US-Iranian relations going forward.

The failure of the Obama administration, which negotiated the JCPOA, to formalize the agreement as a binding treaty (an almost impossible task, given the level of opposition to the deal in the US Senate) paved the way for Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, to unilaterally withdraw from the deal. Trump began reinstating economic sanctions as part of a so-called “maximum pressure” campaign intended to compel Iran to come back to the negotiation table and agree to a heavily modified JCPOA which diluted Iran’s nuclear program by eliminating all uranium enrichment capabilities, while tying in non-nuclear issues such as Iran’s ballistic missile programs and so-called “regional malign activities” (i.e., Iran’s ongoing support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi in Yemen, President Bashar Assad in Syria, and pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.)

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Since taking office, the Biden administration has been trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. An almost impossible task under normal conditions, but one made even more difficult by their insistence on maintaining a system of economic sanctions outside the framework of the JCPOA which, from a practical standpoint, defeats both the letter and intent of the agreement. Moreover, the Biden administration has viewed the renewal of US membership in the JCPOA as the means to an end – a starting point for follow-on negotiations for a “new and improved JCPOA,” rather than an end in itself, which is Iran’s position.

It is for this reason talks were always doomed to fail.

On June 18 of this year Iran elected a new president, the current head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi , known for his conservative politics. Raisi  won the election, securing more than 62% of the vote. He will be sworn in on August 3, 2021, replacing the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, who has led Iran for the past eight years. According to Ali Nikzad, the vice speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Iran will not negotiate to restore a 2015 nuclear deal before Raisi’s swearing in ceremony next month.

Such a delay is normal in any country transitioning between presidents and should not be seen as a sign that Iran has given up on the JCPOA, Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi noted in a recent tweet.

But Iran’s outgoing president, Hassan Rouhani, cast a more somber pall on the fate of the JCPOA, noting that his administration could have achieved a completed deal which would have seen crippling sanctions lifted if it had been supported by conservatives in and out of government – including the wider theocracy. Rouhani said he hoped Raisi’s administration “will be able to finish the job,” but added a stark warning to those in the West who continued to drag their feet on closing the deal.

“Even if one day there is a need for 90% enrichment for a reactor, we do not have any problem and we are able,” Rouhani said. “We can do anything in the peaceful path.” The specter of Iran pursuing weapons-grade levels of enrichment, even if for peaceful purposes, should be enough to send a shiver down the spine of any non-proliferation specialist. The JCPOA limited Iran’s nuclear program to enriching only up to 3.67% – enough to power a civilian nuclear reactor. Iran is currently enriching small amounts of uranium up to 60%, a step it maintains can be reversed should the US rejoin the JCPOA.

The domestic opposition Rouhani referred to is linked to a December 2020 bill passed by Parliament, and subsequently approved by the Guardian Council, a constitutional body which verifies the constitutionality of legislation, entitled the “Strategic Action Plan to Lift Sanctions and Protect Iranian Nation’s Interests.” This legislation compels the Iranian government to undertake certain nuclear activities outside the limitations imposed by the JCPOA if the other members of the JCPOA “fail to fully deliver on their commitments toward Iran and banking relations are not normalized and obstacles to exports and Iran’s sale of oil products are not fully removed and forex proceeds from sales are not immediately and fully returned to the country.”

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The legislation also requires the Iranian presidency to provide Parliament with regular assessments of the status of the JCPOA negotiations and, if an agreement has been reached, its implementation. It was compliance with this requirement which compelled the Iranian Foreign Ministry to release a report on the JCPOA and the status of the ongoing Vienna negotiations earlier this month. According to outgoing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, his negotiators had reached what he termed a “framework agreement” which he hoped could be finalized by President-elect Raisi  at the beginning of his term.

According to Zarif, the “framework agreement” involves the lifting of sanctions imposed during the Trump administration on the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the “annulling” of the US designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. Additional US sanctions against over 1,000 Iranian entities, institutions, ships, boats, and individuals would also be lifted, along with the totality of the sanctions originally done away with as part of the original JCPOA.

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Zarif characterized the “framework agreement” as a “good deal” and warned conservatives in the Iranian Parliament against taking a “maximalist approach” to the Vienna negotiations. Such an approach, Zarif noted, “will only lead to endless negotiations which is essentially a detriment in all cases or at least the non-benefits for the country [of this approach] is no more than the benefit of reaching a hypothetical – but untenable – ideal deal.”

Zarif’s advice, along with the “framework agreement” his negotiating team had come up with, were rejected by a high-level committee within Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei declared on July 20, citing “noncompliance” with the December 2020 “strategic Action Plan” passed by the Iranian Parliament. The Supreme National Security Council is a powerful body responsible for key foreign policy decisions. While chaired by the Iranian president, the majority of the members are appointed by the supreme leader, and as such are more politically aligned with the president-elect, Raisi , than the outgoing Rohani. Any measure adopted by the Supreme National Security Council is not binding until it receives a final seal of approval from Khamenei.

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The Supreme National Security Council delegated the continuation of the JCPOA negotiations to the incoming administration of President-elect Raisi , meaning that there will be no movement until after he is sworn in on August 3. Even then, while his administration may adopt the existing “framework agreement” as a starting point for a new round of negotiations, it is clear that a Raisi  negotiating team will be more tightly bound by the limitations imposed by the Iranian parliament than the one that operated under the instructions of Rouhani.

The Biden administration was warned to try and close a JCPOA deal prior to the Iranian elections, and now it will pay the price for failing to do so. There’s a new sheriff in town, and it is clear that it will be Iran who is calling the shots at any future JCPOA negotiation.

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Be careful what you wish for: Biden will do whatever he’s told, even if it gets him kicked out of the Oval Office

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Most Americans seem to believe that, while Joe Biden is sitting at the Resolute Desk, he’s not actually doing the job – and it’s not inconceivable to suggest whoever’s calling the shots has their own Oval Office ambitions

Multiple polls indicate a minority of Americans believe Biden is really running the show at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Many seem to think Vice President Kamala Harris is the real power behind the throne, or that some combination of the State Department and National Security Adviser, a Kissinger-style Deep State, is actually calling the shots.

One problem with analyzing the behavior of such a president is that it’s hard to tell where his actions (or inactions) begin and where his puppetmasters’ might end. The New York Times on Tuesday praised Biden for staying away from “unpopular” spending plans, even though the president has effectively spent more of Americans’ money in less than a year than most previous presidential administrations put together. Where it concluded that such spending was “popular” isn’t clear – indeed, the Times ultimately admitted the blandly positive poll data it was using “signal[ed] a fundamental lack of public controversy around the proposals to this point” – i.e. the pollsters were asking questions guaranteed to deliver a thumbs-up for Joe Biden rather than an approximation of the popular opinion.

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In its glib praise for the president, the Times congratulated Biden for refusing to be tempted by…healthcare reform (i.e. Medicare for All), the one issue on which he opted not to spread Americans’ taxes around. One of the most popular issues among Democratic voters, Medicare for All isn’t necessarily reviled by conservatives either, especially after the coronavirus pandemic stripped millions of Americans of their health insurance when they lost their jobs.

Medicare for All is vocally supported by half the House Democratic Caucus and hundreds of unions, professional organizations, and other workers’ coalitions. The most recent version was introduced to the House by Rep. Pramila Jayapal in March and should, in theory, have no trouble sailing through a Democrat-controlled House. Biden would gain the progressive support he’s never really had, and the half-million Americans who go bankrupt due to medical bills every year would get a new lease on life and an unlikely hero in the neoliberal Biden. Surely, Biden – or whoever’s advising him – can see this as a win which would burnish his floundering image?

Yet the policy is being snubbed, and the Times is making it clear that it will continue to be snubbed. With single-issue anodyne polls giving Biden a moderate advantage (over nobody, as the poll does not compare him to any opponent, hypothetical or otherwise), the president may think he’s doing just fine, but calling the frenetic money-printing and menacing inflation at the Federal Reserve a “good” economy – as a YouGov survey from Monday claimed 45% of respondents did – sounds like someone’s having some fun at Biden’s expense.

Read more

HALF of Americans question Biden’s physical & mental health, concerned over lack of press conferences – poll

A little over a third of Americans believe Biden is actually performing the duties of president, according to a poll conducted earlier this month by the Trafalgar Group. That includes nearly a third of Democrats, and a dismal 11% of Republicans, while just a quarter of independents (who, the narrative managers hope you’ll forget, are more numerous than Democrats or Republicans) agree. Just over a fifth of young people – those under age 24 – believe he’s “fully executing the duties of his office,” a statistic that doesn’t bode well given that the Democratic Party has previously relied on the youth vote to survive, repeatedly conning debt-burdened college students into casting their vote for deep-pocketed good ol’ boys as if the two demographics overlapped.

It’s not just Biden’s kicked-dog delivery, or his news appearances in which he self-admonishes (“I’m going to get in trouble!”). Fourteen Republican lawmakers have called for him to take a cognitive fitness test, a move which could normally be put aside as political theatre, given the party dynamics – indeed, his predecessor Donald Trump faced the same challenge. However, half the country was questioning Biden’s mental fitness back in March according to a Rasmussen poll, observing his refusal to take direct questions from reporters among other issues. As the oldest man to ever sit in the Oval Office, it’s not unreasonable to at least raise questions about Biden’s faculties and, if anything, the knee-jerk rush to his defense only makes things more suspect.

Biden certainly hasn’t helped such perceptions, making controversial pronouncements of the type any president might make only to have to walk them back, seemingly having overstepped a mark laid down by…someone. On Monday, he lamented that Facebook was “killing people” by permitting anti-vaccine “misinformation” to proliferate on the platform, a talking point he has returned to repeatedly as part of his push for more social media censorship. The only problem? His administration and Facebook seemed to have already settled their differences, applying a scarlet letter to 12 accounts his administration has blamed for 65% of the “anti-vaccine” content on the platform. Biden revised his accusation – Facebook wasn’t killing people, it was just filling their heads with wrongthink – and establishment pundits did their best to clean up after the president.

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If all it takes to present Biden’s docility as bold action is a limp Times profile in which the man is praised for dodging the issue of Medicare for All – a matter that tops many Democrats’ lists regarding a policy ‘must’ – it’s questionable how long the narrative managers really want Biden around. The aftermath of the coronavirus’ fiscal bloodshed is perhaps the only time Medicare for All might attract significant interest from conservative voters; with millions out of work – and thus uninsured – thanks to the Covid-19 shutdowns, Americans of all political stripes have been placed in the same sinking ship, and Biden could make a lot of friends if he were to bring the country together over such a broadly appealing issue.

Yet Biden has not only pledged to veto Medicare for All if it comes across his desk, but his lieutenants in the House and Senate won’t even utter the policy’s name, as if it’s cursed. “Biden may have found a way to skirt an ideologically divisive fight” (as the Times says) by assuming Washington’s favorite yoga pose, the “doormat,” but it’s unlikely this will win him any support from the progressives who still have a sour taste in their mouths over voting for him in 2020. The only question that lingers is whether it’s Biden who’s shunning healthcare reform, or someone else in his office angling for their turn in the big chair. Kamala? Is that you?

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Ten years on from Anders Breivik, the very complaints that drove the mass killer have gone mainstream across much of Scandinavia

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Although discussion on immigration and multiculturalism remains taboo in Norway, there’s a vigorous debate about these issues in Sweden and Denmark. That’s healthy – and Norwegians should put raw emotion aside and embrace that.

As Norway pauses to reflect today 10 years after Anders Behring Breivik’s July 22 terrorist rampage that left 77 people dead, it is hard to deny that the very complaints that drove the killer have not disappeared elsewhere in liberal Scandinavia. In fact, they have gone mainstream.

Fantasist Breivik, who in his own imaginings was Justiciar Knight Commander of the Knights Templar Europe, insisted on trying to play the Norwegian legal system by pleading guilty and accepting accountability for his horrific actions, just so he could deliver his rambling statement outlining his reasons for bombing the Norwegian Prime Minister’s office, killing eight, before setting off to murder 69 victims, many in their teens, at a summer camp on the island of Utøya for members of AUF, the youth division of the Norwegian Labour Party.

At the time, the killer’s claims of the existence of a shady pan-European network, along with multiple accomplices and further planned attacks, shocked a nation. But as investigations continued, his far-right fairytale unravelled to reveal that he acted alone, despite claiming to have committed the atrocities on behalf of all Europeans.

Breivik’s totally bonkers online 1,500-page manifesto, launched to coincide with the attacks, on closer inspection turned out to be a rehash of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s earlier work, with added insights into his personal training regime, steroid abuse, preparations for the attack and central role in an apparently Europe-wide resistance against ‘Islamisation’. In hindsight, there was nothing terribly unique about the document. It was garden-variety, lone-wolf nutter BS.

It was Breivik’s extraordinary actions that set him apart from his more relatively ordinary, if unhinged, beliefs.

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Because his actions were evil and that’s why he’s currently serving a 21-year prison sentence. Inextricably linking those actions to some of the political ideas found in his hotch-potch manifesto, however, and allowing him speaking time in a purpose-built courtroom – his very own stage – to let him expound on his thoughts, has created a problem for Norway in addressing the issues that Breivik raised – in short, immigration and multiculturalism.

Neighbouring Denmark and Sweden, however, have no such qualms. Both those nations are openly discussing these issues in ways that were unthinkable 10 years ago and, while debate is fierce on both sides, at least people can talk about these matters without one side being automatically excluded from the discussion for having been branded far-right extremists intent on bombing and slaughtering people into submission.

In Norway, far-right equals Breivik equals bombings and slaughter. So those on the Left – ever-sensitive to the fact that AUF is a  Labour youth wing – can shut down the conversation by always linking the arguments from the Right to the man who carried out the nation’s worst-ever atrocity.

That makes it impossible to have a balanced debate on immigration and multiculturalism and subsequently more difficult for the Norwegians to move on with their healing, which even now 10 years down the line, still has a long way to go.

Äsne Seierstad is a Norwegian journalist who wrote One of Us, a book about the Utøya massacre on which director Paul Greengrass based his film dramatisation of the events, 22 July, but in a follow-up piece published today, asking why the country has spent a decade failing to address what caused the attack, she unknowingly supplies the answer herself.

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In promoting the idea that the only answer to the right-wing political views shared by Breivik is the wholesale adoption of the liberal left ideology she holds so dear, it’s clear what the message is: those with views different to hers are racists, murderers and neo-Nazis, all no better than Breivik.

While the Left understandably continue to mourn their dead – “We lost some of our finest young people and the Labour Party’s greatest talents that day,” says Jens Stoltenberg, who was then Norwegian PM – until they can find it in themselves to tolerate opposing views without having a visceral emotional reaction that prevents rational debate, then any chance to resolve these divisive social issues will continue to be haunted by the spectre of Anders Behring Breivik.

And one thing is certain, he does not deserve the attention.

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United States of… Yugoslavia? Cartoon hints at next chapter of American civil war

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A recent editorial cartoon comparing the US to the former Yugoslavia isn’t a warning to avoid the path to balkanization and sectarian warfare, so much as a hint in which direction the already ongoing civil war might be escalating.

The chilling image appeared in the Washington Post on Sunday, showing the ethnically partitioned map of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and neighboring Serbia and Croatia – with the name “Yugoslavia” superimposed over the silhouette of the lower 48 states. 

interesting new cartoon in wapo pic.twitter.com/9Wbnppw32F

— Lily Lynch (@lilyslynch) July 20, 2021

WaPo’s grayscale rendering doesn’t do justice to the original image, showing the divisions in vivid color. It turns out to have been published on July 10, authored by the political cartoonist Ratt for the leftist blog Crooks and Liars.

“The whole is less than the sum of its parts,” said the sub-headline on the original post. Hashtags used in the tweet were “partisanship” and “balkanization.” 

#Partisanship, #Balkanization, #USA, #UnitedStates, #PoliticalCartoon, #EditorialCartoon, @Rattoons1776https://t.co/CcALWuH0SO

— Crooks and Liars (@crooksandliars) July 10, 2021

At first I was confused. Have the Democrats at WaPo and Crooks and Liars finally come around to the realization that their policies are leading the US down the path of open, kinetic civil warfare? Have they heeded warnings from people like me, over the years, against just such a thing?

There are, after all, similarities between the present-day US and Yugoslavia circa 1990: iInflation and national debt spiraling out of control, belief in diversity as strength (“brotherhood and unity,” we called it in Yugoslavia) and insuring the equality of outcomes by treating groups differently (known as “equity” in the US), to name a few. Yugoslavia was held together by its political system, and once the people in power trampled it in the name of expediency, things went south, and fast.

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Then I saw the first comment under the cartoon at Crooks and Liars: “Yep, the Republicans are the Serbs.” At which point I realized what it was supposed to mean. It wasn’t a warning or even introspection, but a foreshadowing of things to come. 

What Ratt is saying, and WaPo seems to agree, is that the Democrats intend to treat the Republicans as the US has treated the Serbs in the Western narrative about Yugoslavia’s demise. The largest of Yugoslavia’s ethnic groups was blamed for its destruction and accused of starting genocidal wars in order to prevent others and their federal states from leaving and creating free, independent, democratic NATO futures for themselves. When the Serbs tried to object, they were placed under an international blockade and silenced – censored, banned, deplatformed, in modern parlance.

Every other group was allowed to make a claim to independence – including ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, who had no such right by either Yugoslav or international law – while Serbs living in the territories they claimed were declared outlaws and their right to self-determination deemed void. Eventually, this was enforced at gunpoint – or rather, by NATO bombs – in 1999, and sealed with a “color revolution” in 2000, just in case.

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Arguably, the US has already gone through a civil war – a fifth-generation one, fought in the narrative space with most people entirely unaware of the fact – culminating in the “fortified” election of 2020 and the manufactured narrative of the January 6 Capitol “insurrection.” 

At the time, it seemed to me that the war had been fought and won, delivering absolute power to the Democrats to transform the old constitutional republic into something they called Our Democracy. Ratt’s cartoon suggests they’re not done – and don’t intend to stop until the Republicans are dealt the same fate as Serbs: permanently relegated to second-class status, demonized as villains, and placed outside the law. 

In a twisted sense, the cartoon amounts to confession through projection on the part of the Democrats, when it comes to the Yugoslavia narrative crafted mainly under the presidency of their hero Bill Clinton.

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The irony is that many Republicans are actually behaving just like the Serb leadership in the crumbling Yugoslavia: refusing to believe there’s a war on, appealing to fairness and rules that have long been cast aside, and advocating a tactic of retreating and regrouping in their strongholds. The principal lesson of Yugoslavia – that these tactics don’t work and lead to disaster and defeat – eludes them, because they either don’t know anything about the conflict, or know only the distorted mainstream narrative.

With that narrative now being weaponized against them, perhaps they ought to question it more – and quickly, while they still can.

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Joe Biden’s desire to ban pistols is a very bad idea, because guess what? Plenty of Dems own guns, too

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Biden’s suggestion that he would seek to “eliminate” 9mm pistols is likely to upset a lot of people, even among his own party’s supporters. Could it end up costing the Democrats both the House and Senate in the upcoming midterms?

Speaking on Wednesday on CNN, US President Biden once again seemed to make the serious political mistake of saying the quiet part out loud. 

When asked how he would address gun violence from a federal point of view, so as to bring about ‘change’ and make cities safer, Biden gave an answer that showed the Democrats want to do more than just get rid of what they define as an assault weapon. He harped on about the sizes of magazines and fire rates, but also mentioned 9mm pistols as a type he’d like to remove from sale.

They're not hiding their intentions. Joe Biden says he wants to ban handguns — not merely AR-15s like their previous dishonest talking points suggested. Watch Biden stumble through this town hall answer. pic.twitter.com/DI3CDTN1wL

— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) July 22, 2021

Biden said, “I’m the only guy that ever … passed legislation when I was a senator to make sure we eliminated assault weapons. The idea you need a weapon that can have the ability to fire 20, 30, 40, 50, 120 shots … whether it’s a 9mm pistol or whether it’s a rifle, is ridiculous. I’m continuing to push to eliminate the sale of those things, but I’m not likely to get that done in the near term.”

Now, the discussion from an anti-gun-control perspective has been done to death. It essentially boils down to the idea that the government should not get to decide what is ‘enough’ for you –  because that’s your decision. On top of that, the Second Amendment enshrines the ability to keep and bear arms.

But the really strange thing about Biden hinting he wants to ban one of the most common types of pistols on the market is just how unpopular that idea would be with Americans.

As of now, the Washington think tank the Pew Research Center reports, more than four in 10 adults say there is a gun in their household, with more than three in 10 reporting that they personally own a gun, according to a Gallup poll. Despite the common perception the left would have you believe, these are not all gun-toting Southerners who vote only Republican. Just under 20% of polled Democrats are gun owners themselves. Although there is obviously a party-line difference – half of Republicans say they own a gun – that’s still a substantial percentage of Democrats who could be alienated by Biden’s thinking. Especially when you take into account that three-quarters of Americans who currently own a gun say they can’t see themselves ever not owning one. 

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So, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, there’s a good chance that, if you’re a gun owner, you understand the use of that weapon and why it’s important to be able to own it. And, although Americans are divided on levels of gun control, ultimately, there’s not really much of a push for a complete handgun ban beyond the camp of the more extreme campaigners.

Biden, who was elected because he’s supposedly a moderate, is taking an incredibly radical position here that isn’t going to be popular with a sizable chunk of the American population. And if you consider the possibility that Republicans could take back both the House and Senate in the next midterms, talk of pistol bans is a recipe for disaster for the Democrats.

Ultimately, although it’s a stereotype that we Americans love our guns, it goes beyond simply having a material possession. The ability to purchase firearms – especially a wide variety of customization and ammunition options – gives us a choice of ways to determine exactly how we want to defend our own property. 

What Biden is suggesting would limit that down to bolt-action rifles, revolvers, and shotguns. Although I don’t dislike any of these options per se, as a voter, it’s important for me to be able to go to the ballot box and vote for someone who’s going to preserve my rights.

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People all across America are going to absorb what Biden said on CNN and realize that this is not the man who wants to protect our rights. Instead, they’re just going to vote for the other guy because of how extreme Biden’s position is. If you thought that the president was a lame duck now, this latest misstep could make him an even lamer duck after 2022.

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Israel is in meltdown over the ‘terrorism’ of Ben & Jerry’s stopping sales of its ice creams in the occupied territories

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The brand’s decision has driven political leaders into a frenzy, who accuse it of ‘anti-semitism’ and ‘a new form of terrorism’. Their hysterical rhetoric reflects their fears that other large businesses will follow its lead.

As if it were something out of a satirical soap opera, Israel’s political elite have come out in force against the existential threat of the “anti-Semitic” ice cream brand, but none of what is being said by Israeli leaders is to be taken as a joke. According to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the stand by Ben and Jerry’s will have “serious consequences, legal and otherwise, and that [Israel] will act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens”.

Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, even went as far as saying that Ben & Jerry’s is engaging in “a new form of terrorism”. While Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, has compared the action to a form of anti-semitism and vows to contact states in the US which have enacted unconstitutional anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions against Israel) laws, to try and get those states to punish the company.

So it is clear that Israel is taking the move very seriously, but what does this all actually mean? Well, for some 700,000 illegal Israeli settlers, living in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, they will no longer be supplied with products from Ben & Jerry’s. Practically however, if Israel allows the sale of the ice cream to continue at all, those settlers could just simply drive in their cars – some for no longer than about 10 minutes – in order to enter Israel and buy it. 

Unlike Palestinians, who suffer through military checkpoints and roadblocks, needing an ID or permit to travel into Israel, settlers have VIP access to Israel. Settlers don’t have to struggle like Palestinians; they simply drive into Israel as if there is no difference between the occupied territory and the occupying state where they hold citizenship.

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So in plain terms, nothing will really change immediately for settlers, other than having to buy different types of ice creams, or alternatively take a drive to get their Ben & Jerry’s. Funnily, former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is an arch opponent of boycotts, said on Twitter, “Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy”, which is a clear call for a boycott. So in Netanyahu’s eyes, it seems that boycotts are anti-Semitic, unless Israelis do them against their political enemies, then they are completely fine.

The real reason behind Israel’s aggressive approach to combating the Ben & Jerry’s move is not to do with the government truly believing that the ice cream company is anti-Semitic or is committing terrorism. Instead, Israel is looking to set an example for other companies, who may potentially be looking to follow suit, of how much chaos such a step could cause them.

Importantly, the act by the ice cream franchise is not an act of singling out as many Israeli critics have claimed, using this assertion as a means of framing the decision as based in anti-Jewish prejudice. In fact, the brand has been well known for backing many left-wing and human rights causes, including an endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Israel’s status in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip is considered unanimously, by the opinion of UN member states, as being an occupation of Palestinian lands. Under international law, the occupation is considered to be illegal, rooted in the 1974 United Nations General Assembly resolution 3314, which was the first to assert the illegality of “any military occupation, however temporary”.

On top of Israel maintaining an illegal occupation, it also commits various other crimes, including the transfer of its own population into those territories. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states clearly that, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. 

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Most recently, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 in 2016 reaffirmed that “Israel’s Settlements have no legal validity”, so when Ben & Jerry’s decided that selling in these illegal settlements is against their values, what they essentially meant to say is that they value international law.

What Israel now fears is that more international companies will now decide to take the step to stop doing business in illegal settlements built on Palestinian land and that this will be a blow for the likes of PM Naftali Bennett, who believes the Bible grants him the right to that land

If Ben & Jerry’s do not give in to Israel’s pressure, they will at the very least continue to face considerable attacks, which may or may not be enough to hold other companies back. But as Israeli politicians try their very best to go on the offensive, they may have instead made themselves laughing stocks, rather than intimidators, for claiming that a delicious ice cream brand is the world’s newest terrorist group. Al-Qaeda flavour, anyone?

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Will China rebuild war-ravaged Syria? Here’s why Beijing is doubling down on its newly minted partnership with Assad

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The recent visit of China’s foreign minister to Damascus as the first foreign guest since President Bashar Assad was sworn in for a second seven-year term is significant – and signals a shift that will annoy Washington and London.

Over the weekend the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Syria during a trip to the Middle East and met with President Bashar Assad. Yang is known for his highly proactive diplomacy, often dashing across multiple regions of the world to meet his counterparts, but this particular visit was particularly notable for a number of reasons. 

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First of all, it was the first high-level Chinese visit to Syria since the civil war began. The chaos tearing the country apart and efforts towards regime change by the West made it untenable for many years. On the back of this, what made it on the second note more notable was that Wang attended on the day Assad was sworn in for a new term as president, following May’s elections. 

That’s a big endorsement, to put it mildly. The timing and symbolism of the visit was designed to confer legitimacy upon him as Syria’s president, which Beijing has not done before. After the visit, China then came out with an almost manifesto-like spree of pledges concerning Beijing and Damascus, again, something it had not done before. 

China pledged support for Syria’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty, affirmed its opposition to regime change and foreign intervention, set out opposition to sanctions and also pledged itself as an economic partner by inviting the Arab country to join the Belt and Road Initiative. In exchange, Assad gave his “unconditional” support to China on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

What happened in Damascus is arguably rhetorical; one can see it doesn’t pledge anything up-front, not even a penny of investment. But it is significant and has substance in that it marks a dramatic escalation of Beijing’s relationship with Syria in the midst of the controversy and assaults that Assad has experienced from the West over the past decade.

While this is not actually a change in China’s position or diplomatic principles, it is a shift from being a backyard player on the Syria issue to being a frontline one, tilting away from a previous approach of being careful not to aggravate the West as the war there waged on. 

Now, China is placing itself in the driving seat and is expanding its diplomatic foothold right across the Middle East. This includes China’s recent strengthening of its relationship with Iran, including an investment pledge of an estimated £400 billion. Assad, so far, has received no such promise. Yet for Damascus and the Ba’athist Party, this is still a political endorsement which strengthens their hand after facing the brunt of sanctions and political isolation by the US and its allies. 

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Why is this happening now? Of all the countries for China to strengthen its relationship with, the rewards of embracing Syria seem low and the risks are high. It’s a move that is reflective of a changing geopolitical context, demonstrating how Beijing’s own strategic attitude to the West is both changing and hardening. China is less willing to continue to “appease” these countries. 

Whilst Beijing has always quietly supported states despised by the West on the premise of non-interference, it has, in the past, nonetheless also been quick to throw them under the bus to keep its ties with Western powers. 

But today’s world is different, and the US is increasingly pushing its allies to target China on a strategic level. As a result, Beijing is now less willing to “appease” these countries and is prepared to “hedge” against their agenda by actively empowering the countries the Western powers don’t like, and doubling down on ties to them. China was never anti-Assad, but for most of the civil war Beijing followed a “lay low” approach and quietly followed Moscow’s lead, never staking out its own agenda on the matter largely in contemplation of America’s priorities.

But now China owes no such respect to the US; Washington’s growing efforts to try and isolate Beijing through a variety of means and pursue geopolitical competition has ultimately drawn this epoch to an end. 

Yet this shift isn’t all about the West; there’s a regional element to it, too, concerning the Middle East. China’s move to strengthen ties with Assad gives it strategic leverage, giving it teeth in how it deals with other powers in the region. 

For example, neighbouring Israel has recently expressed more keenness to join the US camp against Beijing. China does not aim to make an enemy out of Tel Aviv, so how does it negotiate with them? The answer: by having more of a stake on the ground and using Assad as a bargaining chip. Beijing continues above all to have a “talk-to-all-sides” attitude in the region, even as it bigs up Assad. China also has healthy relationships with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It supersedes regional rivalries to try to be a “friend of all” – but it will be more successful in getting these states to follow its will if it is itself a stakeholder, and that it is what it is doing here.

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But besides strengthening ties, will China actually help rebuild Syria, a nation decimated by war? This is uncertain and, for the time being, not likely. As noted above, this is so far a penniless embracement. 

Syria remains an extremely high-risk destination. Its war is not over in the conventional sense. Whilst Assad has won back the core of the country, he still faces pockets of rebels in the North, tensions with Turkey and Israel, and has half of his country illegally occupied by hundreds of US troops backing thousands of Kurdish forces. It’s volatile. 

This means the scope for building infrastructure in the country is limited and China isn’t going to pour billions into a de facto war zone. The volcano may have long erupted, but it’s still boiling hot. In this case, Wang Yi’s visit was high on diplomatic symbolism but low on real substance. 

China might be prepared to offer Damascus some tokens of aid, but for the most part this is about a diplomatic message which causes ripples in Middle Eastern and Western capitals. It’s a trip which is enough to annoy the West and frustrate its agenda, and demonstrates China’s expanding footprint, but don’t expect Beijing to launch another China–Pakistan Economic Corridor-style project for Syria just yet.

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The floods in Germany show how fear-mongering about climate change is preventing us from combating actual disasters  

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The Rhineland floods were not nature’s revenge on humanity for ravaging the planet. This was a man-made failure, a seeming inability to act in the face of knowledge that had detected the catastrophe a week before it happened.

The political dishonesty about the recent tragic events in Germany is biblical. Instead of admitting that the tragedy was rooted in the inability of the German authorities to act on a series of remarkably accurate forecasts about impending extreme floods, the disaster has fed the climate-change narrative.

This was the message Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed during a visit to the largely destroyed Eifel village of Schuld. “We have to get faster in the fight against climate change,” she said, and added “We also need to pay more attention to adaptation,” warning that adaptation to the effects of climate change, such as drought and extreme rain, is not only an issue for Africa but also Germany.

However, what was genuinely revealing was that Merkel was interrupted by the mayor of Schuld, Helmut Lussi. While the media concentrated on how he was overwhelmed by his emotions, what he said was ignored because it implicitly challenged the climate-change narrative.

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Lussi simply referred to the chronology of three previous devastating floods in Schuld: the first had taken place in 1790, the second in 1910 – eras where there was no climate-change discussion. The third, 2021, was by far the worst. “You cannot calculate such catastrophes,” he added.

But the sad tragedy is that this latest catastrophe was calculated.

The first signs of a catastrophe were detected nine days before the event by a satellite in orbit 500 miles above the Rhine river. A team of scientists sent the German authorities a series of remarkably accurate forecasts about the impending extreme flooding along the Erft and Ahr rivers and of towns such as Hagen and Altena. Despite at least 24 hours’ warning that precisely predicted which would be the worst-affected districts, hundreds of people were caught unawares when the deluge came. Close to 200 people needlessly perished as a result, with many still missing.

Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at Reading University, who helped set up and designed the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) in the early 2000s to deal with disasters such as this, expressed alarm that a “monumental failure of the system” had led to one of post-war Germany’s deadliest natural disasters.

The cataclysmic floods across central and eastern Europe in 2002, which claimed at least 110 lives in nine countries, spurred Cloke on to ensure that such tragedies should be avoided and that potential victims had to be forearmed. “Given the number of deaths and the amount of damage, we had the idea that we should never allow this to happen again,” Cloke explained.

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The system they set up, which includes algorithms that combine observations from the European Union’s Copernicus satellites with hydrographical records and readings of river levels, is designed to give national agencies up to ten days to prepare for the worst. The science worked – they accurately predicted the catastrophe – but the risk management failed.

So, why did a system designed to prevent such tragedies fail so dramatically?

The failure lies in the profoundly misanthropic cultural moment, which sees humanity as the earth’s biggest threat, rather than what the science indeed revealed, namely that humanity and human reason are the solution… provided society is willing to act upon its knowledge.

In 2014 alerts and maps from Efas allowed the authorities in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia to fine-tune their response to colossal flooding in the Balkans.

Had German authorities acted upon the science, there is no doubt that the disaster there would have been mitigated. 

The Federal Office for Citizen Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) had issued alerts to the relatively small fraction of the public who had downloaded its apps. Most people were caught unawares.

The BBK is a national joke in Germany. Last September, it organised a nationwide “warning day,” which was a national embarrassment. People across the country were supposed to be simultaneously deafened by sirens and inundated with alert messages in a simulated natural disaster. It became a debacle: most of the technology didn’t work. 

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There is something systemic about this failure. It reveals that there is now a fatal gap between the willingness to foster fear about climate change, particularly among children, and the ability to develop the robustness and human agency to manage risks and disasters.

In Germany, the silence of the Greens on these events has been deafening. With elections approaching, one would have thought this was perfect for them, given their high standings in the polls. But as Times columnist Roger Boyes points out, it has been left to Merkel rather than them to address the current weather disruption.

It appears that, as the Greens come closer to government, the more nervous they are about governing the crisis they have been proselytising for decades. It is easier to cry wolf than deal with a real wolf when it enters your home.

What the floods in Germany have revealed is the irresponsibility of the climate-change catastrophists. 

This is where Greta Thunberg, and the ‘How Dare You!’ brand of politics ends up: an infantile temper tantrum that demands ‘something must be done, and now!’ but then refuses to take responsibility for the consequences. 

Just as the Greens are unwilling to explain why and how their policies will result in real cuts in living standards for ordinary Germans – and the rest of us – for fear of losing electoral support, it is the ordinary people who will suffer the most. 

This is what we have seen so tragically demonstrated in the authorities’ inability to act upon their climate-change fear-mongering.

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Banned for missing a bullying workshop, Britain’s ruling class are being treated like children

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The UK’s House of Lords has removed privileges from two octogenarian members who refused to attend a ‘Valuing Everyone’ course. In the Lords, it seems everyone is valued except those who refuse to comply with woke ideology.

Once upon a time, the House of Lords was a serious institution composed of leading members of the British ruling class. 

Today’s House of Lords has turned into a parody of itself – a second-rate politically correct entity whose members are treated as naughty children by the stern group of zealous ideologues who have taken control.

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The House of Wimps voted this week by 315 to 86 to ban two of its members, Lord Kalms (89) and Lord Willoughby de Broke (82), from parliamentary bars, restaurants and libraries. The two Lords have been punished for committing the crime of failing to attend a session of the ‘Valuing Everyone’ workshop by the beginning of April.

The aim of the Valuing Everyone workshops is to re-educate those Lords who still possess the kind of values that prevailed in enlightened society throughout much of the century. 

Ostensibly, the workshop is about getting participants to understand bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment. Its real purpose, though, is to turn members of the House of Lords into compliant children who have thoroughly ‘decolonised’ their behaviour.

Attendance at the workshops was initially voluntary. However, as is often the case with the institutionalisation of woke culture, last November, it was decided that attendance was so important, it should be mandatory. Peers were told that, unless they completed the course by 1 April, they would be in serious trouble, referred to the House of Lords’ Commissioner for Standards and duly disciplined.

It turned out that around 60 members of the House had failed to follow the instructions of their betters. This recalcitrant group included Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine and ex-Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd. Heseltine (88) was recovering in a nursing home from a knee operation when he found out he was under investigation, while Boothroyd (91) was recovering from a heart operation.

Although, in the general scheme of things, the humiliation of elderly politicians by the House of Lords’ Conduct Committee might seem like a trivial matter, there is something truly insidious about the transformation of an institution devoted to debate and argument into one based on the ethos of ‘do as you’re told or else’.

The impulse to not only humiliate but also control the behaviour of the peers is highlighted by the decision of the committee to forbid the likes of Heseltine and Boothroyd from speaking to the media about their experience. When the House of Lords bans its members from speaking to the press, it is evident something has gone seriously wrong with this institution. 

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The punishment meted out to disobedient peers has been justified on the grounds that staff working at the House of Lords need to be protected from the behaviour of people whose outlook has not been shaped by Values Everyone training. A spokesman stated that the two members would have “their access to services of the House restricted to minimise their contact with staff”. The implication of imposing pariah status on the two refuseniks is the suggestion that, unless you’ve been re-educated by ‘the Correctorate’, you will not be accepted by civilised society.

The aim of the Valuing Everyone workshops is to infantilise its participants and turn them into good boys and girls who talk the talk. But what’s really important about the workshop is the willingness of participants to attend and subject themselves to a humiliating ritual of re-education. And what’s frightening about the ascendancy of said Correctorate is the willingness of members to force their fellows to act in a manner that is alien to their nature. When it comes to mandatory re-education, there can be no debate. Like schoolchildren, you have to fall in line and wait for your turn to be tested.

Those 315 members of the House of Lords who voted to punish their colleagues for standing strong have demonstrated that they have internalised the ethos of Valuing Everyone. It is an ethos that values everyone other than those with whom you disagree. The 315 wimps have abased the values of a parliamentary democracy. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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Viktor Orban’s LGBTQ referendum could spell the end of Hungary’s membership of the EU, or the end of his premiership

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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.

Brussels and Budapest are betting big in this high-stakes political poker game. The clash between conservative East and liberal West is coming to a head in what could be another blow against the EU’s dream of ‘ever closer union.’

Hungary’s relationship with the European Union took another turn for the worse today, as Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, announced he would be putting his controversial child-protection laws out to a referendum. According to LGBTQ rights groups and some other EU member states, these laws, which came into force last week, are really part of a wider nefarious campaign against homosexuality and trans rights in the country. 

Brussels has already threatened Hungary with legal and financial reprisals over these new laws and Mark Rutte, the Dutch premier, even went as far to tell Hungary to leave the EU altogether. Added to this is the fact that MEPs have voted to support legal action against Hungary and this week, Guy Verhofstadt, a prominent voice in the European Parliament, said that “the EU has a dictatorship growing inside of it”.   

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Orban, however, is not backing down and has now raised the stakes with his referendum proposal. Think what you like about Orban, but he is an experienced and crafty politician. He must genuinely believe that he will win this referendum, or he would not be advocating it.

When announcing the referendum, Orban stated that “the future of our children is at stake, so we cannot let Brussels have its way.” He also stated that the referendum would contain five questions, which are:   

  • Do you support that children shall encounter sexual educational content that shows different sexual orientations without parental consent?
  • Do you support that sex-changing procedures shall be promoted to children?
  • Do you support that such procedures shall be made available for children?
  • Do you support that media programs which influence children’s development shall be aired without restrictions?
  • Do you support that media programmes which portray sex change shall be available for children?
  • This controversial move has set Hungary on a collision course with Brussels. The EU really doesn’t like referendums, as it does not like to leave anything to chance; and people, as the Brexit referendum proved, are way too unpredictable. However, usually when the EU loses referendums, it either ignores the result, as was the case in Netherlands in 2016, or it makes people vote again until it gets the answer it really wants, as happened in Ireland in 2008. This will not be the case in Hungary. If Orban secures a mandate for these laws, there will be no going back, unless he is removed from Office.  

    The EU will therefore no doubt up the ante and make Orban’s referendum about EU membership. Brussels will be confident that if membership of the bloc is dependent on the result of the referendum, then the Hungarian people will be cowed into voting against Orban’s proposals. But this is a high-stakes gamble that could easily backfire. 

    Orban, too, is betting big in this political poker game. If the Hungarian people reject his proposals, he will certainly have to resign. But it is a double-edged sword because, if the Hungarian public back his stance, then he knows that the EU will initiate legal and financial reprisals. Moreover, Hungary’s membership of the EU will then be called into question, which may be what Orban secretly wants to happen.

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    Orban blasts Dutch ‘colonial’ mentality after Rutte tells Hungarian PM to respect LGBTQ+ or leave the EU

    I suspect that a good few member states would rather see the back of an Orban-led Hungary. They are becoming too problematic. I have suggested before that this situation represents a clash of cultures, where the conservative East meets liberal West. It is also cast-iron proof of why European integration can never truly be attained. Indeed, the last thing the EU wants is a reluctant Hungary slowing the overall goal of the project, which is a European superstate.

    Orban’s referendum move is bold, brave, and dangerous. If he wins it will be a two-fingered salute to Brussels, and a clear message for it to keep its nose out of Hungary’s internal affairs. If he loses, however, then it will be curtains for him as PM and the EU will re-exert its authority over the country. This could go either way, and the coming months will be fascinating. It is not hyperbole when I say that this could be the beginning of the end of Hungary’s membership of the EU. 

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    Boris Johnson has ditched his journalistic roots with proposals that could see his fellow hacks jailed for 14 years like spies

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    Under a revamp of the UK’s Official Secrets Act, journalists could be treated like spies for reporting on matters of public interest, and face lengthy prison sentences. That’s a bit rich given BoJo’s history of dodgy journalism…

    Boris Johnson was a posh-boy floppy-haired joke to many of his fellow journalists when he was ‘on the road’ for The Times and The Daily Telegraph a quarter-century-or-so ago. 

    Many senior editors in London and their proprietors, though, rather enjoyed Boris’s bumptious bonhomie and his pithy turn of phrase, and promoted him accordingly. Mostly in a direction where writing a pithy phrase was what was required, where opinion is what counted. Not, necessarily, fact. 

    But not many hacks – none is my guess, although there might be at least one opinion to the contrary – trusted the bloke’s actual ability to conduct any thorough kind of research, let alone a deeper kind of investigation: to find the truth of a story and then stand it up so his paper wouldn’t get sued for libel. 

    Surely any news editor – that’s the commander of the news reporters with probably the most stressful high-burnout job of all – would have cold sweats reading every quote and fact in any BoJo article. Especially knowing Boris was beloved by those above, protected as he was by the boss class. 

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    It’d be wise to have someone else check it all, word by word. Pithy phrase by pithy phrase. The quiet kid in the corner on a freelance shift from a local paper would be way more trustworthy than BoJo.

    He was sacked from his first journalism job as a trainee on The Times for making up a quote from his godfather, a historian. Then he ended up as Brussels correspondent on the Daily Telegraph, where he mined a rich seam in ‘Euromyths’ – stories such as Italians complaining about condom sizes, the shape of bananas and standardised coffins, et comme ça.

    Former war correspondent Max Hastings was the Daily Telegraph’s editor at the time. “I have argued for a decade that, while he is a brilliant entertainer who made a popular maître d’ for London as its mayor, he is unfit for national office, because it seems he cares for no interest save his own fame and gratification,” Hastings wrote in The Guardian. “Johnson would not recognise truth, whether about his private or political life, if confronted by it in an identity parade.”

    Be careful, Max, that’s rather embarrassing to the most powerful man in Britain. Say this again in a few years’ time and it seems the secret police could be kicking down your door. 

    That’s because this sloppy, crappy little journalist wants to boost the Official Secrets Act to such a degree that it could send other journalists to jail, the ones who actually do the kind of work that few would ever have trusted him to do. 

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    The Hancock affair shows the long tradition of the British upper classes’ mentality of arrogance and disregard for law continues

    A jail cell could be waiting for hacks and sources behind, for example, The Sun’s exposure of Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s affair with an aide – oh, and hapless Hancock broke some Covid social distancing rules, too, apparently but, come on, really, who cares about that? Seeing the lovers secretly snogging in his office was THE story.

    The Information Commissioner’s Office has already raided two homes seeking the source of the video that nailed Hancock. The ongoing investigation also exposes just how dim Hancock and his squeeze Gina Coladangelo truly were, as it seems the camera that caught their tryst wasn’t secretly planted, or even hidden – it was a security camera that had been there since the new Home Office building opened. They could have snogged in a cupboard, instead of right in front of it. D’oh!

    Fresh proposals being considered by the Home Office could increase a jail sentence for sharing this sort of material from two years to 14. “We do not consider that there is necessarily a distinction in severity between espionage and the most serious unauthorised disclosures,” says the consultation document.

    This is despite, according to spurned former special adviser Dominic Cummings, BoJo regularly referring to The Telegraph as “my real boss” – not, you understand, the British electorate. BoJo also readily admits it’s “ludicrous” that he became PM in the first place, apparently.

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    Yup. Loads of those ‘on the road’ hacks would absolutely agree with him on that one, for once.

    But BoJo isn’t the only hack in high office. Oh no. 

    Cabinet minister Michael Gove oozes and throbs with as-yet-unsatiated ambition, he SO wants to be Prime Minister one day. He just does. Gove, too, is a former journalist, and held loads of senior posts on The Times – including a stint as news editor – before winning a seat in Parliament. He’s also married to the Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine. Or he was, but they’re getting divorced. I’d want to keep any salacious details quiet if I was Gove, wouldn’t you? These politicians have the power…

    If even these former hacks want to gag journalists these days, what hope is there that the UK won’t edge ever further towards North Korea? The Hermit Kingdom’s state-run news agency, KCNA, doesn’t realise just how strange it is to the outside world with stories such as “Exploits of Peerlessly Great Persons Highly Praised,” the invention of a waterproof liquid (ie: your bog standard sealant) or the discovery of a unicorn lair

    Britain’s not quite there yet. But who knows… if the ex-journalists running the country have their way, that could be the tabloid fodder we end up with. Maybe BoJo might like to resurrect his byline and liven them up with a pithy quote or two?

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    Tara Reade: Here’s why we have to march for healthcare in America

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    By Tara Reade, author, poet, actor and former Senate aide, author of Left Out: When the Truth Doesn’t Fit In. Follow her on Twitter @readealexandra

    In over 50 cities across America on Saturday, July 24, people are getting together to march for healthcare, but will the politicians listen?

    This month, billionaires launched their obscenely expensive metal phalluses into space at the cost of multimillions and the mainstream press toadies to them like obsequious little lap dogs. 

    However, the always entertaining congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, was widely praised on social media after dragging Jeff Bezos as he rocketed his 59-foot midlife-crises-mobile into the face of God. The oligarchs think we are against space exploration if we critique their inability to read the mood of the whole planet; perhaps that is why they are so keen to leave it? 

    Bezos, please stay up there. Do the world a favor.

    — Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) July 20, 2021

    those who attack spacemaybe don’t realize thatspace represents hopefor so many people

    — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 13, 2021

    The oligarchs are a generally very obtuse bunch. I love the idea of space exploration as much as the next person, but when these multinational corporations earn billions and pay no tax, we are going to have a lot to say as millions of US people’s housing, nutritional, medical and educational needs remain unmet. Over 55 million Americans have no healthcare coverage and millions more are underinsured. According to the Gravel institute, Americans carry $140 billion in medical debt, whereas citizens of other advanced nations have no need to even consider such a thing as “medical debt.”

    The cost of basic healthcare and prescriptions is astronomical in the United States. The debt can be crushing. I know. When I first came forward about Joe Biden, the social media trolls sent me direct messages to be quiet or they would post my bankruptcy. I did not care, but crucially, the bankruptcy I filed was not related to credit card debt, rather was mostly medical and educational debt. As an advocate in the field of domestic violence, I saw many victims unwilling to leave abusive partners for fear that they would lose healthcare coverage for the family. Also, the lack of access to proper medical, dental and vision care for the lower income citizens is still a systemic reality. 

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    Like so many Americans, an unforeseen illness or accident can mean losing everything you have built financially. I have had several close family members die of cancer. My brother who was fully insured when he was diagnosed with cancer experienced the additional stress of horrible debt and loss of his insurance when, after he was too sick to work, he lost his coverage. 

    This also resulted in him being unable to afford certain treatments. This is the stark reality of privatized medicine in a capitalist system. Too sick to work, well then, goodbye health insurance. Joe Biden said that “capitalism is alive and well,” what he failed to add is that so is unchecked greed and grinding poverty which goes with it. 

    As soon as it was announced I was speaking at the M4M march, a movement of diverse citizens reflecting various political views, the troll farms crawled from under their collective bridges, gnashing and spitting out the same old negative tweets attacking all the speakers and organizers.

    The Democratic elites just want Americans subdued and willing to accept their version of a fix, like the Medicare age being lowered. A battle started again between the not so left and lefty supporters of M4M. Where is the squad? Where are the progressive Democratic politicians that ran on a platform that they would fight for Medicare for All? They remain silent about this multi-city march. 

    The question is why don’t “social justice” Democrats want the same thing they promised progressives when they were running? The answer is Big Pharma owns America’s politicians. Look at the FEC filings of your favorite politicians. Biden? Well, he is backed by DuPont and Bristol Myers Squibb among others. The establishment Democrats have already broken out their strategy to undermine the march by having Nina Turner and AOC plan a “day of action” the same day. The social media battle tweets on.

    It's like this . . . pic.twitter.com/7BHKZ7YQZs

    — Political Memester (@PoliticalMemes5) July 21, 2021

    Right now the Democrats control the entire government and we can’t even get a floor vote on #MedicareForAll because the party is owned by the big insurance companies so it is time to hit the streets on July 24th & demand it!Follow @M4M4ALL for more info. pic.twitter.com/31mnkJUi5w

    — Ryan Knight ☭ (@ProudSocialist) June 21, 2021

    Many Americans have stories of being turned away at an emergency room when seeking medical help because they did not have money to pay or insurance. So yes, we are all so glad that capitalism is alive and well as America engages in the ultimate game of natural selection. 

    This Saturday there will be personal accounts told about our need for Medicare for All and affordable prescriptions. There will be stories of the deaths and bankruptcies of citizens during a pandemic. Americans are forced to beg for the bare minimums. Yet, the American government finds the money to bomb other countries, and our billionaire class literally proves that, for them, even the sky is not the limit. 

    Why America would not embrace the opportunity to have a healthy and educated workforce is beyond me; it seems we are hell bent on internal implosion. Many US citizens are now demanding better wages, no medical and educational debt, this is not even utopian, this is just in line with other developed nations. If America stays on the course of crushing its citizens with inflation, medical debt, educational debt and stagnant wages, it will not be sustainable. 

    Jackson Hinkle, an activist and podcast host, spoke to me recently about the march and the stakes it holds for so many Americans. 

    I'm going live with Tara Reade (@ReadeAlexandra) to discuss March 4 Medicare For All With Jackson Hinkle. Tune in!YouTube: https://t.co/6f56g5WwcS Rokfin: https://t.co/gMzjVNvlXBpic.twitter.com/vbToAwzTD1

    — Jackson Hinkle (@jacksonhinklle) July 20, 2021

    American exceptionalism is a myth perpetuated by the top 1% because it serves their narrative and keeps them in power and the false dream of ‘opportunity’ is dangled in front of the populace to distract it from the harsh reality and suffering Americans are faced with every day. The demand for Medicare for All is a battle cry the politicians should hear or the result might be far more than just losses in their upcoming primaries.

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    Forget Prince Harry’s ‘truth’… the real truth about his memoir is that it will ignore his startling, unearned privilege

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    A new book from the Duke of Sussex promises to reveal all about his relationship with the royal family. While it may be ‘his truth,’ it will tell us nothing about the structural inequality that facilitates his wealth and power.

    The news that Prince Harry is about to write his own book – a ‘heartfelt memoir,’ apparently – will surprise no one.

    The British royal family are big business and the book will attract worldwide interest – particularly if the relationships Harry has with his family, the British press and his wife and children play a large part in his story.

    Or rather than ‘his story,’ should that be ‘his truth,’ as Harry, Meghan and new best friend Oprah Winfrey might say? All, no doubt, relayed through a ghost writer to ensure he doesn’t actually come across like the privileged fool everyone knows he is.

    I’d also extend that description to the rest of the Royal Family, as I take no side in the civil war between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and House of Windsor. At best, I find the royal family the circus to the ever dwindling bread the rest of us have access to, and at worst a cruel and nasty institution structuring the whole class system for all of the parasites below them to feed off the working class.

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    However, the most important point about Harry’s foray into authorship is that it is another example of how rich and powerful people always get to tell their own stories, and those stories mostly go unchallenged, as it is ‘their truth.’

    As we all know, the individual narrative is king – the ‘it’s all about me’ culture leaves no room for critiquing the structural and institutional nature of contemporary life. It’s as if postmodernism, that much-maligned social theory – the tearing down of thought and critique about collective identities and recognising such things as specific class and power interests – has quietly been taken as a given.

    As the late sociologist Ulrich Beck once wrote “we are the authors of our own biographies” – the old divisions and power relations that structure inequality can be overcome by a good story and ‘telling your truth.’

    This really hit home to me when I read Nicole Aschoff’s 2015 book ‘New Prophets of Capital’. As with all good books, the arguments have made an impact long after I finished reading.

    It’s worth recalling them when considering Prince Harry’s new project and the fashion for the rich and powerful in ‘telling their truth.’ Aschoff shows how the elite tell the rest of us that ‘anyone can become anything’ – and we are supposed to transcend structural inequality and unfair disadvantages just by believing in ourselves, working hard and unlocking some sort of hidden talent most probably don’t realise is even there.

    It’s the ultimate neo-liberal self-help fairytale, one that is personally destructive to the rest of us who have to live daily with injustice, inequality and being exploited by this ridiculous narrative.

    I wonder how Prince Harry’s story might go, as he can’t really fit into the self-help narrative of rags to riches – rather his arc is more riches to riches. From royal palace to Santa Barbara mansion, the story doesn’t really leave a lot of room for the rest of us to emulate in ‘trying harder,’ ‘working harder,’ or ‘realising our potential.’

    Instead, I think Harry’s book will be an inversion of the Cinderella neo-liberal self-help story, with the message that even really rich, powerful, white men have feelings, too. They are just as sad and confused as the rest of us struggling with the pandemic, or poverty, or grief.

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    These stories of the personal struggles and real truths of the powerful – which purposefully turn a blind eye to all structural inequalities and unearned advantages – are the peak political statements we have in a contemporary Instagrammed and tweeted world, where every hardship can be airbrushed out and every complexity ignored.

    A more worthwhile exercise would be listening to the ‘truths’ of Britain’s working class. I have been collecting their stories of class inequality in Britain for 20 years, and until those experiences and narratives are understood and listened to, I have little time or interest in knowing another rich man’s truth. Publishers out there should get off their arses and find the radical stories that can really enrich our society, and leave the Little Lord and Lady Fauntleroy stories to Hello! magazine.

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    Is the United States done being the world’s cop? If only…

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    Despite what the New York Times claims, there’s zero evidence that the US is turning its back on its self-appointed role as global policeman. All that’s changed is that it’s now consumed by one main mission: confronting China.

    A well-thought-out article in the New York Times asks an interesting question: “Is the United States done being the world’s cop?” Most people will understand what that description means: the discursive image that America is the global policeman, framing itself as a country that apparently constantly engages in overseas military action in the name of ‘democracy’ and ‘a rules-based international order’. A country that is zealous, but apparently driven by good intentions and for the wellbeing of all, right? At least, that’s how its advocates paint it. 

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    It’s time for the world to dump the US’ failed Afghan experiment in the trash can of history and learn to live with the Taliban

    The article touches on the rapid pace of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the equally rapid gains of the Taliban to make the argument that, similar to Trump’s ‘America first’ doctrine, President Biden has had enough of the ‘forever wars’ approach that defined the opening decades of this century and is now taking a narrower approach that no longer involves costly military adventures against foreign countries. 

    It depicts a historically woven journey from US isolationism at the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. It offers a contrary view, too, citing Noam Chomsky’s observation that “little is changing” in practice in American foreign policy and it’s still led by self-interest.

    Chomsky’s observations are the most accurate way to describe what is happening. America is not quitting as the world policeman because, arguably, it has never really assumed that role. The argument being made in the NYT’s article is, in effect, that the US is withdrawing from the world, after its flawed global war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq did “severe damage to the humanitarian justification for military intervention”. 

    “Decades of fear-mongering about foreign threats by Washington insiders …” it argues, “have obscured what truly harms Americans: substandard education and health care systems, dilapidated infrastructure, gun violence, inequality, congressional gridlock and climate change.”

    If only that were true. Unfortunately, the evidence is all to the contrary. Washington’s overtures to democracy and human rights above all have always been a sugar coating for what is a highly aggressive and self-interest-driven foreign policy that simply differs according to geopolitical context and method. When viewed in this light, nothing has changed at all. 

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    Seizure of Iranian websites shows Biden is happy for America’s long history of bullying Tehran to continue

    The US still believes in imposing its ideology over the whole world and reigning supreme, and it is misleading to claim its destruction of various countries was done in the name of the greater good or in pursuit of some kind of altruistic cause. If one looks at the Biden administration, it may be sidestepping certain specific conflicts in relation to terrorism and the Islamic world, but the same zealous and self-interested foreign policy, presented as a global struggle for democracy, is still very much in evidence. All that has shifted is the enemy and the point of emphasis. Only yesterday, after all, Biden launched an airstrike against Somalia.

    What the article gets right is that, in the wake of World War I, American foreign policy experienced a shift. The US entry into that war and Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points redefined its doctrine from having a merely regional isolationist scope (where it had planted itself as the hegemon of the Americas), into a globe-spanning one that permanently fused the idea that, in its ‘national interest’, the US had to remake the world in its own image. Thus ‘national security’, ‘ideology’ and ‘interest’ all became one encapsulating vision in what was the commencement of the universalisation of American foreign policy. 

    It is this approach that, ever since, has seen the US locked into a zero-sum game of hegemony because of its inability to compromise on dogmatism. The mindset is that the US is not ‘safe or secure’ unless the world is completely in harmony with it. There is always something that is ‘threatening’ it – and this set the stage for the Cold War, the War on Terror and, now, of course, the China challenge. 

    What the NYT article also gets wrong is that the concept of ‘forever wars’ has dominated the entire period since World War II. It was only more prominent during the War on Terror period of 2001 to 2018 because the international system was unipolar and therefore there was less opposition to the United States.

    America’s spree of conflicts across the Middle East is ending not so much because of domestic opposition to them – the US is always capable of drumming up public consensus for war, after all – but because its foreign-policy priorities have shifted back towards ‘geopolitical competition’, with this again being defined as a win-lose fight between democracy and authoritarianism. 

    Biden’s rhetoric has been soaked in talk of “winning” the 21st century and “defeating” China, and the abiding principle remains the same: national-interest politics is inseparable from the aim of spreading and dominating values, even if, in practice, that is not true. 

    That the US may wage fewer wars in this period is not because it is “less altruistic” than before – this is the major mistake in the NYT piece – but because it lacks the political space in the international system to do so. The Syrian war was a turning point in this, as for the first time in decades, the US faced serious resistance to its regime-change efforts from competing powers. In essence, Russia thwarted America’s plans, providing an opposition that was missing in Iraq and Libya.

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    The US doctrine of ‘spreading democracy in the Middle East’ has now shifted to ‘spreading democracy to counter China’. The Biden administration would likely more than happily wage a proxy war against Beijing if the circumstances were right, so as to win control of a particular country or territory, in the way of the cold wars of the past. 

    Any claim that there’s been a shift in US foreign-policy doctrine towards renouncing the idea of fighting ‘foreign wars’ is misplaced and misleading. There has been no such tilt, not even by an inch: Washington has merely refined where its priorities are, and they lie 6,922 miles away. 

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    Wayne Dupree: If Republicans are suppressing voters, how did Biden get 80 million votes?

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    Wayne Dupree was invited to the White House to talk to President Trump on messaging to the black community. He was named in Newsmax’s top 50 Influential African-American Republicans in 2017, and, in 2016, served as a board member of the National Diversity Coalition for Donald Trump. Before entering politics, he served for eight years in the US Air Force. His website is here: www.waynedupree.com. Follow him on Twitter @WayneDupreeShow

    Democrats have pushed the narrative that Republicans have been keen to suppress voters across America over the past few decades. But the new Republican state bills are about fairness – something the Dems don’t recognize.

    Most Americans know the voter suppression stories are not true, but the Democrats keep pushing them like they’re dead-set on dividing the country. 

    And here’s my problem with their blueprint for confusion, the For The People Act: I’d like to know specifically what it’s in Republican state bills, both proposed and passed, that would make it ‘harder’ for Americans to vote. I just can’t find what’s being objected to. 

    Read more

    Wayne Dupree: The Biden administration using Big Tech to censor our questions and concerns over vaccines is a slippery slope

    I’ve read many versions of the legislation being passed by Republican governors. And, for the most part, I see the following: bans on drive-throughs to prevent voter intimidation and poll watchers’ inability to monitor the ballot harvest; voting hours being established between 7am to 7pm six days per week for three weeks prior to election day; and bans on 24-hour polling stations due to their inability to secure poll watchers and the added cost. Identification should not be recorded at any polling place, only validated. You can vote without ID, but it is a provisional ballot that can be verified later if needed. You must provide a driver’s license or the last four digits of your social security number only if you are requesting an absentee ballot by mail.

    That all sounds totally reasonable, doesn’t it? If that is suppressing anyone’s right to vote, I wonder if they can feed themselves and tie their shoes without help.

    No one wants to suppress voting; we only want to make sure whoever is casting the ballot is who they say they are. You must show ID before you can buy cigarettes, liquor or marijuana, or get a job, enter a government office, fly on an airplane, rent a car, register for welfare, open a bank account, take out a loan, rent a home, collect a controlled prescription, and even buy some cold medicines. So, why should you be able to vote without identification?

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, but here I go again. When it comes to suggestions of voter suppression, I don’t blame those politicians who are narcissistic and engage in performance art for the sake of a media moment. Instead, I blame those voters who vote for this type of behavior over and over again. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t vote for a particular party. But if you keep voting for this type of behavior by any politician, you are not serious about the whole democratic process, regardless of party.

    As you’ll know from my writings here at RT, I lean right, but I have no problem calling out both sides. If I thought there was some sort of semblance of voter suppression, I would say so. I have no allegiance to either party, only my country. I see this kind of behavior, and I remember it when the time comes to vote. Why don’t people read the bills that are being voted on? Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

    Democrats whine about states setting their own election rules, which the Constitution allows, while trying to subvert the Constitution and take over state rights with HR1. Make no mistake; this is about their protection, not yours.

    The Texas Democrats who fled their state for Washington DC are a good example of this. They didn’t want to do the job of dealing with the legislation on voting integrity, so here’s how the Texas GOP should ‘negotiate’ with them. Firstly, they should start making amendments to the current bill, which the Democrats will absolutely hate. Why not make it a felony to cast an illegal vote in the state?  

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    Then they could address other things, such as outlawing critical race theory and making teaching it a felony offense. Or adding funding for the border wall and a new law enforcement agency to deal with illegal immigrants, and placing it under the control of the governor as part of the National Guard. Life needs to be made really difficult for these Democrats, who’ve shown themselves to be irresponsible individuals incapable of leadership.

    Someone who is prepared to board a plane without necessities such as clothes – as in the case of Donna Howard – cannot possess the critical thinking ability to lead others. So, why should we let these people decide our laws?

    Let me explain it like this: the Democratic Party is no longer viable. That’s the only reason they fight tooth and nail on voting rights. 

    Once the Republican laws are passed and it becomes clear there is actually no support base for the Democrats, the entire party will either dissolve independently or be swiftly ruled by a fringe group and disbanded. That will leave patriots in charge of the nation, as was always intended. But it all begins with laws like these passing. They must go through to save the republic.

    If there is voter suppression in this country then someone please explain to me how Joe Biden got 80 million votes? What are the Democrats running scared of? States are making it harder to cheat, and that can only be a good thing, surely?

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    I’m a forgotten victim of Covid, treated like a second-class citizen because my acquired immunity isn’t recognised

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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

    As more governments push citizens to get vaccinated or lose access to everyday venues, people like me who have recovered from Covid fall into no man’s land and are treated like our naturally acquired antibodies don’t count.

    It all started last winter. The days were short and cold, I was working hard, and the French government’s 6pm curfew forced me to get up at an unholy hour each day to get things done before everything closed. 

    Read more

    France’s mandatory ‘health pass’ with government-issued QR codes for access to everyday life is the start of a dystopian nightmare

    As a nationally ranked Masters-level competitive swimmer, I had thrown myself into maintaining a daily six-kilometre (four-mile) training regimen using the special access to otherwise closed pools my doctor-certified chronic back problem afforded me under French restrictions. So, when I noticed I was struggling a bit on the daily swim and experiencing more fatigue than usual, I chalked it up to the circumstances of life – but kept ploughing on. It was only several days later, when I was eating some Jelly Babies, that I noticed a lack of difference in taste between the flavors. It was like someone had left the sugar out of the candy.

    Then it dawned on me. Could this be Covid?

    I had the answer a month later, when I dropped by my local pharmacy for a rapid finger-prick antibody test. “It’s positive!” my pharmacist buddy called out over the heads of other customers, as I cheered so elatedly that it prompted one woman to congratulate me on what she thought was a positive pregnancy test. She was perplexed when I explained that it was, in fact, just proof that my body had successfully gained gold-star future immunity from the virus.

    A subsequent laboratory test confirmed what my doctor described as “robust immunity”, with a high level of antibodies. And, over four months later, those antibodies were still at exactly the same level. Until those levels go down, she said – if they ever do – there’s no point interfering with it. And beyond antibodies, there are memory cells that can spring into action if I’m ever exposed again to any mutated version or variant of Covid.

    Fast-forward to July 12, 2021. Just days after a blood test confirming my lasting Covid antibodies, French President Emmanuel Macron announced in a televised national address that a “health pass” would be introduced on July 21, limiting access to everyday venues such as gyms, swimming pools, movie theatres, restaurants, and longer trips via planes, trains and buses to those with a government-issued QR code.  

    To qualify, you’d need to show proof of either a full two-jab vaccination cycle, a PCR or antigen test taken within 48 hours, or recovery from Covid within the past six months. Hey, that last one is me! Or so I thought…

    I called the laboratory that did my Covid antibody blood tests and asked them for the QR code. It said the government doesn’t give out QR codes for positive antibody tests – only for a PCR taken up to six months ago (after which the implication is that you’ll fall back into the ‘unvaccinated’ category if you don’t succumb to the jab). But as someone who wasn’t even aware they had Covid until it was too late for a PCR test, I don’t have what they’re asking for.

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    The only option I have now to continue my swimming training and live a normal life as a Covid survivor is to either have cotton swabs shoved up my chlorinated nostrils every 48 hours, or take my chances on a jab my doctor doesn’t recommend because my antibody levels are already so high that I’d be playing Russian roulette with my life and health.

    And the French government isn’t the only one that won’t recognize proof of antibodies in a Covid-recovered person as proof of immunity. As a Canadian citizen with a trip back home planned this summer, the federal government’s health authorities have failed to inform me, despite repeated written requests, whether they’d classify someone with proven Covid antibody protection as “vaccinated” or “unvaccinated” – which are the only two categories Canada considers on entry. The “vaccinated” have no restrictions, whereas the “unvaccinated” have to quarantine.

    Why should I – as someone with two positive Covid antibody tests and an official doctor’s note that reads “Covid immunity certificate” at the top confirming these results – be forced into quarantine and treated like my hard-earned immunity has no significance when some of us are explicitly told by our doctor not to vaccinate?

    These same governments spent months making a big deal about Covid victims and our suffering. So, why does our struggle no longer matter? Why are governments forcing us to endanger our health by failing to recognise our immunity and forcing us into their bureaucratic pigeonholes?

    Moreover, why isn’t anyone talking about antibodies? Can anyone actually tell us what exact level of Covid antibodies – either naturally acquired or vaccine induced – is needed to confer immunity? How many antibodies does each shot of the vaccine produce? And how does it compare to mine?

    The France-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an association representing the economic interests of Franco-Russian member companies, is asking the French government to recognise those who “have recovered from Covid without being in possession of a positive PCR test result”. Why are they the only ones who seem to be talking about this?

    The fact that Western governments, like those of France and Canada, don’t even want to acknowledge the existence of positive antibody tests is an aberration that effectively renders Covid victims with natural antibodies second-class citizens. The fact they want to force us to choose between our freedom or risking our health with a jab explicitly discouraged by our doctors is nothing short of criminal.

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    Cummings’ confessional was a masterclass in treachery and showed UK democracy is broken… but it won’t harm Teflon BoJo

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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.

    Hell hath no fury like Dominic Cummings scorned. Boris Johnson was dismissed as useless by his ex-aide in a scathing TV interview that made you wonder who’s running Britain. But it’s unlikely to cause lasting damage to the PM.

    I don’t think I have ever seen anything like the BBC’s interview with Dominic Cummings, the former Downing Street special adviser. It was both enthralling and disconcerting in equal measures. Moreover, Cummings’ accusations raise lots of questions about how the UK government is run and the fitness of Boris Johnson to be Prime Minister. 

    Cummings was once the PM’s rock. He was lauded by Brexiteers and despised by the left-wing press, which accused him of being morally bankrupt, a bully and a liar. Yet those same lefties who traduced his character when he was in Downing Street now hang on his every word, because it suits their agenda. In their eyes, Cummings is no longer Satan personified, he is a paragon of virtue and a purveyor of truths. The whole episode lays bare just how the UK media is vacuous, immoral and is taking the public for a ride.    

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    Nevertheless, Cummings made a lot of serious claims during the interview, and some of them were positively jaw-dropping. Indeed, viewers were left questioning who was really running the country. Was it Boris Johnson, who was elected by the people, or Cummings, who was elected by no one? Moreover, the PM was made out to be a buffoon; a showman to be wheeled out to win elections, but one who has no grip on policy or detail.   

    Cummings said of the PM, “He doesn’t have a plan, he doesn’t know how to be Prime Minister, and we only got him in there because we had to solve a certain problem, not because he was the right person to be running the country.” 

    That “certain problem” was, of course, Brexit. Theresa May had made a hash of the negotiations with the European Union and British MPs had refused to sanction her botched deal on numerous occasions. What was required in her place was someone who supported Brexit during the referendum campaign and was prepared to take a firmer line with the EU. Boris Johnson fitted the bill.   

    However, once Johnson had signed his deal with the EU, and had won the general election under the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done,’ Cummings was plotting to remove him. Cummings admitted, “We were already saying, ‘By the summer either we’ll all have gone from here, or we’ll be in the process of trying to get rid of him and get someone else in as prime minister.’” This statement alone tells us everything that is wrong with UK politics. We have faceless unelected apparatchiks, who are answerable to no one, plotting to remove a democratically elected PM. And we are meant to be living in a democracy!    

    Cummings not only painted his former employer as useless, but also callous, which is the most cutting accusation. He claimed that the PM did not want to lock the country down for a second time in October because the people who were dying from Covid were the elderly. Johnson is alleged to have written “that is above life expectancy … so get Covid and live longer.” 

    He also allegedly stated that “I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff. Folks, I think we may need to recalibrate.” This seems an amazing claim from a man who himself had almost died from Covid in April 2020. If this is true, and Cummings does indeed have written evidence, then Johnson could be in trouble. However, the fact that Cummings has not yet produced this evidence makes me question the veracity of this claim.  

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    The final takeaway from the interview was the role of the PM’s wife, Carrie Symonds. According to Cummings, she is a Lady MacBeth figure, using the PM to further her own aims and have her friends appointed to plum jobs. Cummings said that “the situation we found ourselves in is that, within days, [we] were in a situation where the prime minister’s girlfriend [now wife] is trying to get rid of us and appoint complete clowns to certain key jobs.” Admittedly, it is not uncommon for the wives of prime ministers to influence their husbands. Clementine Churchill, for example, certainly played a role in reining in her husband’s excesses. Moreover, in recent times, Cherie Blair seemed to juggle the roles of being an activist and the wife of a prime minister. Of all Cummings’ criticisms, this one is definitely the lamest.  

    Cummings is a clever man, of that there is no doubt. I remember a meeting back in early 2016 when he attempted to recruit us UKIP MEPs to his Vote Leave campaign. The meeting descended into farce when he got into an almighty row with Nigel Farage about the direction of the campaign. My conclusion was that Cummings was a details man, brilliant in many ways, but he was not a ‘people person’ and I knew that he would eventually fall out with those who crossed him. 

    There is, of course, nothing wrong with that, and politics is littered with people who have strong opinions. But it was obvious from that meeting that he would make enemies and hold grudges, and now we are seeing that writ large. 

    So, will this interview cause any long-lasting damage to the PM? I am not so sure. Boris Johnson is, if anything, a Teflon politician. He lumbers from crisis to crisis, performs U-turn after U-turn, and yet nothing seems to stick. Any other PM would be in the political doldrums right now and ailing in the polls. Yet Johnson’s approval ratings remain incredibly high, and his party is well ahead of Labour in the polls. Indeed, if there was a general election tomorrow, the Tories would romp home, probably with a bigger majority than they have now. 

    There is a popular saying that ‘you never kick a man when he is down’; yet, in politics, this is precisely when it is best to go on the attack. It was therefore pointless for Cummings to attempt to kick Johnson when he’s flying in the polls. If Cummings really wanted to cause lasting damage, he should have kept his powder dry and attacked the PM when the tide had turned, and Labour has got its act together. Instead, he has shot his bolt too soon and I predict that this interview will be chip paper by the end of the week. That is, unless Cummings has written evidence of Johnson’s callousness. The sum of Cummings’ claims amount to that we have a PM who is unsuited to the role but, to be honest, we knew this all along, and, as the polls show, no one really cares.

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    Despite vaccines working, oppressive health officials want to reinstate Covid restrictions. People will refuse, resist, and rebel

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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.

    There’s no need for fully vaccinated people to wear masks, so why are places like Los Angeles and New York bringing back mandates on them? People will vote with their faces, and reject these petty attempts to still be controlled.

    The narcissistic pencil-pushers Covid-19 thrust into undeserved positions of power will never freely accept the loss of that attention, adoration, and control. It’s not in their nature. The pandemic is the finest event of their adult lives, and they will mourn for these days when they finally pass. They will use any excuse, any statistic, and any rationalization they can find to maintain their esteemed position.

    As a result, the Western world is witnessing a tragically predictable retreat from the virus once again, despite the clear decline of Covid-19 in the face of massively successful vaccines.

    Like every other living thing on this planet, a virus fights to survive, and it’s doing so now by attacking the willfully unvaccinated or the inadequately treated with variants. Those people are quite literally the only hosts left, with as many as 75% of adults already possessing immunity in many settled regions of the hemisphere. Still, that viral surge kicked up case numbers, and the health officials and government advisers breathed a gleeful sigh of relief.

    Right on their witless, simpering cue, they rushed to the podium to reassert their dwindling authority and relevance. Los Angeles and New York are moving toward reinstating full mask mandates. The US State Department is ordering citizens to avoid certain foreign travel. You can see the excitement in their eyes and hear the dishonesty in their voices when they pretend to lament the need for clamping their claws back down on societies struggling to recover from several rounds of on-again, off-again interference.

    We’re past this nonsense now. Effective vaccines have remained freely available for six months. There remain ample stockpiles. If anyone you meet is not vaccinated, it is either because they acquired natural immunity or because they made the conscious choice not to have it. If you took the vaccine, you are all but scientifically and legally immune from the effects and restrictions of the pandemic. 

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    Ordinary people will resist these strictures, in ever increasing numbers.

    The only way this stops anywhere, in any country, within any socio-political system, is if the citizenry refuses to tolerate it. Only open rebellion will eventually restore any shade of governmental sanity by forcing them to realize their warnings no longer exercise any gravitas. They must be made to choose between discontinuing their unwelcome and unnecessary interference in the lives of the vaccinated –  or finally giving into their passionate desire to apply force to make other human beings obey them. Make them get ugly. Drive them to reveal their true selves.

    Consider: regardless of their psychological or political makeup, these autocrats are still health professionals. They know, yet continue to ignore, the widespread and obvious evidence that the pandemic is vanishing from our daily lives. They have access to the facts that any current spike in cases is largely hitting young people who chose not to get the vaccine because Covid-19 exacts a mild toll on people under 50. Most importantly, the feckless lords and masters realize full well the fully vaccinated cannot give or get the virus, except in a small number of cases. 

    Still, they look past all of this when there’s an opportunity to exercise any available authority. They are despots, unaware of their own tyranny while they wrap themselves in a smug, self-worshiping blanket of faux compassion. 

    So, again, people will rebel.

    We’re not talking about armed insurrection, Molotov cocktails, and assassination-studded coup d’etats. You don’t have to scribble something on a sheet of torn cardboard, walk in the street and take a selfie to advertise your anger. There’s no need to call for violence or endless recall elections, even if your heart longs for revenge on the panic-prone dictators who thought nothing of ruining countless lives with their whims and science-raping declarations.

    The process of rebellion is as simple as rejection, and rejection is as simple as an individual choice not to accept endless directives randomly issued by often unelected authorities. People who have got that vaccination card in their pocket, or the app on their phone that proves they took responsibility for their own health, will quietly, and in ever growing numbers, refuse to wear a mask. They will venture where they like during any lockdown. Travel anywhere they choose while the borders are open. Do whatever they must to live and whatever else they choose to keep that fire of resistance burning.

    If a business or private venue mandates masks, so be it. They have a right to do so, and you have the right to choose whether you want to enter or patronize such a business. 

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    Such resistance frightens the Covid kings and queens more than infection rates or ICU occupation. They dread that moment when they look out from those podiums and realize no one who took the jab cares about a single word they say – that no one will change any aspect of behavior based on their edicts. That’s death to them and their 18 months of prestige, limelight, and notoriety. 

    Regardless of your political affiliation, if you are a man or woman who values freedom of thought and action as not only valuable, but as essential to the human spirit as food, water. or air is to the body, this sort of quiet refusal to cower, bow, and scrape to clear insanity is an absolute good.

    It is long past the time that sensible, responsible, men and women who played along during the pandemic – those who masked up, kept their distance, got the vaccine, etc. – can be made to suffer punishment for those too foolish or lazy to do the same. If the coronavirus survives in those unwilling to take the basic steps required to avoid it, I wish it well – and those who suffer from it can live with its symptoms.

    There is no scientifically supported reason for vaccinated people to wear a mask or avoid public spaces. If you count yourself amongst that number, you will resist and reject any new mask mandates declared in response to Covid-19. People will do that not because they’re healthy. Not because they’re conservative or progressive. But because they’re free, rational human beings who will no longer be subject to the passing fancies of the irrational few who long to control and be controlled. These people will embrace and celebrate the virus as long as we allow it.

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