All posts filed under: democracy

Britain on the Leash with the United States – but at Which End?

James George Jatras, October 13, 2018, via Strategic Culture The “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom is often assumed to be one where the once-great, sophisticated Brits are subordinate to the upstart, uncouth Yanks. Iconic of this assumption is the mocking of former prime minister Tony Blair as George W. Bush’s “poodle” for his riding shotgun on the ill-advised American stagecoach blundering into Iraq in 2003. Blair was in good practice, having served as Bill Clinton’s dogsbody in the no less criminal NATO aggression against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999. On the surface, the UK may seem just one more vassal state on par with Germany, Japan, South Korea, and so many other useless so-called allies. We control their intelligence services, their military commands, their think tanks, and much of their media. We can sink their financial systems and economies at will. Emblematic is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s impotent ire at discovering the Obama administration had listened in on her cell phone, about which she – did precisely nothing. Global hegemony means …

Business as Usual: Washington’s Regime Change Strategy in Venezuela

Garry Leech via GreanvillePost, Nov 23rd 2018 For those who have been following Venezuela closely in recent years there is a distinct sense of déjà vu regarding US foreign policy towards that South American nation. This is because Washington’s strategy of regime change in Venezuela is almost identical to the approach it has taken in Latin America on numerous occasions since World War Two. This strategy involves applying economic sanctions, extensive support for the opposition, and destabilization measures that create a sufficient degree of human suffering and chaos to justify a military coup or direct US military intervention. Because this strategy has worked so well for the United States for more than half a century, our elected leaders see no reason not to use it regarding Venezuela. In other words, from Washington’s perspective, its regime change policies towards Venezuela constitute business as usual in Latin America. Despite US rhetoric, this regime change strategy does not take into account whether or not a government is democratically elected or the human rights consequences of such interventions. In …

How Queer Theory Became University Policy

by Michael Biggs, [edited by Sarah Mills], via Conatus News The establishment of an official doctrine on gender identity is an unprecedented threat to academic freedom. Sex and gender should be subjects for debate. My university has recently established an official doctrine on gender, promulgated by its Equality and Diversity Unit. The University of Oxford declares that sex is not determined at conception but rather ‘assigned’ at birth, presumably on the whim of the midwife or obstetrician. Sex must be replaced for all practical purposes by an individual’s sense of gender identity, which may be chosen from a lengthy menu including nonbinary and genderqueer. Oxford is not peculiar, for the same doctrine is being instituted across British universities. This doctrine is derived from queer theory, an outgrowth of postmodernism. To understand how this esoteric discourse became the new orthodoxy, we need to follow the work of Gendered Intelligence, the charitable interest company that translates queer theory into public policy. Its chief executive is Jay Stewart MBE, a transman with a doctorate in Visual Cultures from …

Behind Your Back: How the new “anti-stalking” bill could silence online dissent

John Ward MP Sarah Wollaston quite rightly wants the police to do more about (and tighten up the prosecution of) potentially dangerous stalkers. But now the crime includes “Cyber abuse”, her Private Member’s Bill is too lax in its definitions about what stalking is, and police guidelines on priorities. Equally worrying, a majority of those sponsoring the legislation have dubious elements in their pasts. In a special investigation, The Slog raises the alarm. Viewed in the round, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Tory MP Sarah Wollaston is a good egg. She isn’t Party voting fodder, she had a real job as a doctor before entering Parliament, she is suspicious of private sector health rip-offs, and she’s enormously popular in her Totnes constituency, where her ability to double and then treble majorities seems immune from the whimsical winds of electoral change as a whole. She espouses radical reform (in favour of the citizen) in how UK politics operate, and rebelled against the Government to vote against setting up a Royal Charter to regulate …

Propornot 2 — Setting Up the Atlantic Council for Lawsuits

by George H. Elias, Donbass Early in 2018, I pulled back the veil Propornot hid behind and disclosed the groups behind the smear site.  Propornot is a product of the Atlantic Council’s backers.  It is a symptom of the ongoing Information War.  People in the groups behind it are waging to destroy Press Freedom in the US by branding dissenting voices as objects of ridicule at best and enemies of the state at the worst. Below, you’ll see the results of yet another website scan, as well as circumstantial evidence showing the InterpreterMag and the Atlantic Council, are responsible for Propornot. The lawsuits are starting and because of the damage Propornot’s lists have done, will trickle down to the InterpreterMag staff,  the Atlantic Council, and their backers at some point. For those that don’t know, the Atlantic Council is brought to you by the Central and Eastern European Coalition (CEEC), the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America (UCCA), and the Ukrainian World Congress(UWC). Between these three organizations, there is a constituency of 20 million voting ultranationalist …

Crisis in Armenia: Is the Empire Attacking Russia from the South?

by Tyler Durden, via ZeroHedge, April 23, 2018 Western-Backed Regime Change Looms As Armenia PM Resigns Following Mass Protests After 11 days of mass protests and violent clashes over the perceived power-grab following the outgoing Armenian President’s election to Prime Minister, Serzh Sargsyan has resigned and police have released opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan. “The people are against my rule,” Sargsyan, who took office as prime minister after serving as Armenia’s president for 10 years, said in a statement. “I am leaving my post.” As Bloomberg reports, the announcement came as demonstrators flooded the streets of the capital, Yerevan, for an 11th day on Monday demanding Sargysan’s resignation, and hours after police released opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan from overnight detention. Pashinyan’s arrest prompted the largest protest to date on Sunday, while scores of troops joined the anti-government movement on Monday for the first time. Sargsyan’s election as Prime Minister was largely perceived as a power grab because Sargsyan will largely retain the same powers that he held during his two terms in the Presidential capacity, and …

Another Europe is Needed

by Ernesto Screpanti, January 5, 2018, Lexit-Network Since the end of World War II, tribal rivalries and xenophobic sentiment in Europe have never been as strong as they are today. And this is but one of the European Union’s “successes”. Not to mention the resurrected warmongering vocation that led the Union to feed conflicts in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and, when the Union was still in the preparatory phase, to favor the explosion of devastating civil wars in Yugoslavia. Another series of “successes” has involved the social and economic sphere, with increases in unemployment, poverty, and inequality; the deterioration of labor conditions; reductions in workers’ rights; greater labor insecurity and precariousness; worsening welfare in the areas of education, health services, public utilities and social security; the proletarianization of the middle classes; rising uncertainty and, last but not least, the threatening of household savings by a predatory financial sector. Meanwhile, the process of convergence of the national economies, prophesied by the founding fathers as one of the most important effects of the Union, turned out to be …

FISA Memo Released: Here’s What It Says

The just released FISA memo accuses senior officials at the DOJ of inappropriately using biased opposition research into then-candidate Trump to obtain surveillance warrants on transition team members as part of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia. According to the document, information from the the so-called Steele dossier was “essential” to the acquisition of surveillance warrants on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. It claims that then-deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe told the committee in December that without the information from the Steele dossier, no surveillance warrant for Page would have been sought.

Open Letter to Radio 4’s World At One

by Fair Play for Women Dear World At One, We are writing to you as an organisation to express our concern and dismay at the way the issue of self-definition as a woman within the Labour party was presented on your show on Monday, 29th January 2018. The current dilemma over self-definition was presented as a small group of women not wanting transwomen to be allowed onto all-women shortlists, and starting a donation campaign to fight this. However, this is simply not true, and the facts are so readily available that we feel it necessary to question the integrity of the research undertaken to prepare this item for broadcast. Further incorrect information was allowed to be presented by Harriet Harman on your show on the following day (30th). It is becoming increasingly clear that politicians and the media are possibly not taking impartial advice on these topics or receiving adequate objective research. To this end, we have prepared this short article to explain the situation correctly, with the hope that, as highly respected journalists and broadcasters, you will …

Untying PropOrNot: Who They Are … and a Look at 2017’s Biggest Fake News Story

In a week when Propornot plunged new lows of scumminess by sneering at the death of the great Robert Parry, George Eliason looks at who this group is and who is supporting them

Shadow Economy, Democracy and the Manipulation of Public Opinion

by Denis Churilov Let’s talk about drugs, pop-music, public opinion manipulation and shadow economy. There’s a sociological concept known as the Overton window (also known as the Window of Discourse). Simply put, it’s a system of various political, cultural and media techniques that can be used to make forbidden topics acceptable, popular, and even policy changing. The classical model deals with ideas in six distinct phases: 1) unthinkable, 2) radical, 3) acceptable, 4) sensible, 5) popular and, finally, 6) policy-shifting. Pulling an idea from “unthinkable” to “policy” stage may take a couple of decades, or just a couple of years, depending on how much media resources do people who are interested in shaping society in a certain way have. Consider the following imaginary example. If the elites wanted to, say, make people engage in coprophagy and to eat their own excrement for breakfast (which is simply unthinkable at this stage), they would first finance the media to make a report, or a documentary, about some mentally unstable persons consuming their own faeces. It would initially …

Michael Flynn’s Indictment Exposes Trump Team’s Collusion With Israel, Not Russia

by Max Blumenthal, via Defend Democracy Press When Congress authorized Robert Mueller and his team of lawyers to investigate “links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” opponents of the president sensed that sooner or later, hard evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russian government would emerge. Seven months later, after three indictments that did little, if anything, to confirm the grand collusion narrative, Mueller had former National Security Council advisor Michael Flynn dragged before a federal court for lying to the FBI. The Russia probe had finally netted a big fish. As the details of the Flynn indictment seeped out into the press, however, the bombshell was revealed as another dud. To the dismay of many Trump opponents, nothing in Flynn’s rap sheet demonstrated collusion with Russia. Instead, the indictment undermined the Russiagate narrative while implicating another, much more inconvenient foreign power in a plot to meddle in American politics. According to plea agreement Flynn signed with Mueller, Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about …

Venezuela Regional Elections: chavismo in triumph, opposition in disarray and media in denial

As the President of the Venezuelan Electoral Commission (CNE) read the results from the regional elections that took place on Sunday, October 15, one could feel the agony in the editorial rooms of mainstream media outlets. Chavismo had just won 18 out of 23 [1] governorships, a result that, according to them, could not have happened. International observers praised the electoral process and opposition claims of fraud, while uncritically echoed by the media, do not have a leg to stand on.

Antifa in Theory and Practice: Storm Troopers of the Neoliberal War Party

by Diana Johnstone, 9 October 2017, via Counterpunch “Fascists are divided into two categories: the fascists and the anti-fascists.” – Ennio Flaiano, Italian writer and co-author of Federico Fellini’s greatest film scripts. In recent weeks, a totally disoriented left has been widely exhorted to unify around a masked vanguard calling itself Antifa, for anti-fascist.  Hooded and dressed in black, Antifa is essentially a variation of the Black Bloc, familiar for introducing violence into peaceful demonstrations in many countries. Imported from Europe, the label Antifa sounds more political.  It also serves the purpose of stigmatizing those it attacks as “fascists”. Despite its imported European name, Antifa is basically just another example of America’s steady descent into violence. Historical Pretensions Antifa first came to prominence from its role in reversing Berkeley’s proud “free speech” tradition by preventing right wing personalities from speaking there. But its moment of glory was its clash with rightwingers in Charlottesville on August 12, largely because Trump commented that there were “good people on both sides”. With exuberant Schadenfreude, commentators grabbed the opportunity …

The “Non-Citizens” of the Baltic States: Α European Scandal nobody speaks about!

by Tatjana Zdanoka, 4 October 2017, via DefendDemocracyPress The negotiations on Brexit are attracting a lot of attention. In particular, the possible erosion of the rights of around three million EU-27 citizens living in Britain is a major cause for concern. The European Parliament resolution adopted on 3 October states that “the withdrawal agreement must incorporate the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, such that there is no material change in their position”. The main author of this text, Mr Guy Verhofstadt, the EP Brexit Coordinator, argues that such an approach – not to lower the level of citizens’ rights – is “the goal of democracy”. But why was the very same principle ignored when another “exit” took place in Europe? It was the exit of the Baltic states from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1990-1991 when a million and a half citizens who had moved to Latvia and Estonia from other republics were deprived of the essential rights they enjoyed. Theoretical substantiation for this legal action was found in the …

A Balanced View of the Economics of Independence in Catalonia

by Angel Ubide, PIIE, September 15, 2015 Editor’s Note: In the light of the recent independence referendum in Catalonia, in which some 43% of the population took part despite police attempts to prevent the vote from taking place by means of violence, we are posting this 2015 article on the economics of the proposed secession. Two years after voters in Scotland rejected independence from the United Kingdom, Spain faces the threat of breakup as Catalonia holds regional elections on September 27. The Catalan president, Artur Mas, leads a pro-independence coalition for these elections, Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), with a single aim: to start a process of independence culminating in secession in 18 months. Polls show the independence coalition achieving a narrow majority in Parliament, though with just 40 percent of the popular vote. With its capital in Barcelona, Catalonia, a region of about 8 million people on the Mediterranean coast just below the Pyrenees, is one of Spain’s more prosperous regions. The pro-independence coalition argues that an independent Catalonia would be economically better …

Vladimir Putin’s 17 years in power: The scorecard

by Alex Krainer The Naked Hedgie Today, October 7, 2017, Russia celebrates the 65th birthday of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.  To mark the occasion, we are posting Alex Krainer’s review of Putin’s achievements since 2000. Mr. Putin can’t seem to get a break in the western media. I watched his recent interview with CBS’s Megyn Kelly with her tiresome, boring questions like, “did Russia interfere in our election,” “did your ambassador meet with Trump’s election officials,”  “isn’t it true that you’re a corrupt murderous thug,” etc. Only in response to Kelly’s last question did Mr. Putin get to name a handful of his achievements in Russia. But someone ought to better prepare his talking points on this score. The excerpt below from my upcoming book summarizes how Russia has changed during the 17 years since Mr. Putin has been at the helm. On 26th July 2014 British magazine “The Economist” published an article titled “A web of lies,” opening with the following two sentences: In 1991, when Soviet Communism collapsed, it seemed as if the Russian …

Google’s New Search Engine Bias is No Accident

by Jonathan Cook, October 1, 2017, via Dissident Voice Alternet has gone public with concerns about the way Google and Facebook have limited traffic to its website and, more generally, undermined access to progressive and independent media. Its traffic from web searches has dropped precipitously – by 40 per cent – since Google introduced new algorithms in the summer. Other big progressive sites have reported similar, or worse, falls. More anecdotally, and less significantly, I have noticed on both my own website and Facebook page a sharp drop in views and shares in recent weeks. Alternet is appealing for financial help, justifiably afraid that the drop in traffic will impact its revenues and threaten its future. Nonetheless, there is something deeply misguided, even dangerous, about its description of what is happening. Here is how its executive editor, Don Hazen, describes Alternet’s problems: Little did we know that Google had decided, perhaps with bad advice or wrong-headed thinking, that media like AlterNet—dedicated to fighting white supremacy, misogyny, racism, Donald Trump, and fake news—would be clobbered by Google …

Greece has become the EU’s third protectorate

by Jan Zielonka, August 14, 2015, OpenDemocracy The EU looks increasingly like an empire, having just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. The EU looks, walks and talks like an empire. After extending its borders into Central and Eastern Europe, the EU has just created its third protectorate in the Balkans. From now on Greece will effectively be run by the EU the way Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina already are. Empire is not a synonym of evil despite some bad historical connotations, especially from the colonial era. Power can be exercised in noble ways, and peripheries often prefer to be “conquered” than abandoned. However, the EU’s ambition to run dysfunctional countries by decree is doomed to fail and will represent yet another blow to the project of European integration. Formal involvement of the UN or the IMF in running the protectorates will not exonerate the EU. Enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe has been successful because it empowered local actors. …

The Single-party French State

by Diana Johnstone, via Counterpunch French legislative elections follow hard on the heels of the Presidential election.  The momentum virtually ensures a presidential majority.  So it was taken for granted that voters would give President Emmanuel Macron a docile parliament for his five-year mandate. But these elections were exceptional.  The victory of Macron’s personal party, la République En Marche (REM), is novel in several ways.  Not only has REM won an absolute majority of 350 out of 577 seats in the National Assembly.  REM’s victory has also bled the two traditional governing parties, the Republicans and the Socialists, perhaps fatally. With over 130 seats, the Republican Party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and its allies came in second, and thus ranks as leading opposition party.  But since Macron successfully lured two Republican politicians into prominent positions in his government – Edouard Philippe as Prime Minister and Bruno LeMaire as Economics Minister – it is hard even for the Republicans’ current leader, François Baroin, to explain just what they will oppose.  How can they be a …