Notes on the News

Notes on the News

By Gwydion M. Williams

Biden’s Failed Anti-Russia Crusade

Covid – Another US Failure

Climate Chaos and Lost Butter Mountains

Philippines – better Rough Justice than No Justice

No Privacy for Some Murderers

Snippets

The Radical Young in Britain

The Failing Young in the USA

Killing Journalists OK in Israel?

Armenia – Realism as Treason

Libya – Failed Politics

Official British Lies

Biden’s Failed Anti-Russia Crusade

President Biden is one of a crop of US politicians who decided in the late 1990s that Russia must be treated as an enemy.  That was many years before Russia did anything hostile.  But Russia under Putin was rejecting the ‘wisdom’ of the New Right, seen as suitable for foreigners by Asocial Liberals like Clinton, Obama and Biden.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, adviser to presidents Johnson and Carter, explained it all in 1997.[1] Ukraine must be split from Russia, and Russia detached from the rest of Europe.

Antagonism didn’t begin with Russia taking back Crimea in 2014.  The USA was offended when their carefully-staged Colour Revolution was reversed by a disappointed electorate in 2010

  (See my blog Ukraine Punished For Rejecting US Values in 2010.[2])

The growth of Ukraine’s Far Right was sparked by extremists among the returning exiles.  But fed off growing poverty after Ukraine trusted Western advice.  The USA must have seen them as convenient raw material to antagonise Ukrainians who still had good feelings about the Soviet Era.  The Communist Party of Ukraine’s vote had peaked at 25% in 1998.[3]  In 2012 they got between 18% and 25% in the south-eastern regions (oblasts).[4]

US influence must have been the reason that right-wing militias were given official status in 2014, rather than suppressed as illegal private armies.  And why they got away with threatening moderate leaders.  Western reports always ignore numerous stories about Zelensky being threatened when he tried to be a real peacemaker.[5]

Yet splitting Russia from the rest of Europe is pointless for the US elite, if it also splits the rest of the world from the G7 / NATO amalgam.

Most of the world sees no threat from Russia or China.  It is not like the Cold War, where the Soviet Union was just as keen to bend the rest of the world to its own values.  Now it is just the USA, weaker, greedier, and less tolerant USA than when they won the actual Cold War.[6]

“A fact sheet distributed by the White House in February describes the framework [for Asia] as part of a wider push to ‘restore American leadership’ in the region by engaging with partners there to ‘meet urgent challenges, from competition with China to climate change to the pandemic’.

“Nevertheless, Biden’s decision not to pursue a major trade deal harks back to the protectionist leanings of former US President Donald Trump, and, in particular, his administration’s abrupt pullout from the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Trump, whose antipathy towards traditional alliances sparked anxiety in many Asian countries, scuttled that agreement in 2017 despite sharing the deal’s aims of countering expanding Chinese economic influence.”  .[7]

Most of the world resents the demands that the USA makes on them.  ‘Human Rights’ that concentrate on the rights of journalists, accused criminals, lawyers, and opposition politicians.  That want market forces to take care of health, education, employment, and food.

When Human Rights were defined after the Second World War, the needs of ordinary people were included, in theory and often in reality.  Ignoring these was an innovation by the New Right.  One which Asocial Liberals like Clinton and Tony Blair weakly conceded.  Struggle is everything, and welfare an unwanted burden.

And now they cannot understand why liberalism is less and less popular.

Covid – Another US Failure

Trump was absurdly slow to act on warnings about the new pandemic that China had successfully contained to just one of its many provinces.

It was easier and cheaper to blame China.  Or say that it was all natural and trivial.

And that choice was disastrous:

“If the United States had the same Covid death rate as Australia, about 900,000 lives would have been saved.”[8]  

And it may not be over.  

“Japan’s Economy Shrank 1 Percent as Consumers Fled Covid

“The world’s third-largest economy lost momentum in the first three months of the year after the Omicron variant suppressed demand at home…

“Japan’s economic recovery from the enormous damage done by the pandemic has also not been as fast as the United States, China or the European Union, he said.”[9]

China is now asked to come into line and let the virus in.  The World Health Organisation now say this.  But also report many more global deaths than most governments will admit:

“The number of people who died … may be nearly three times higher than previously thought, according to estimates by the World Health Organization.

“The WHO calculation is based on an analysis of excess mortality, an approach used by demographers to measure the real impact of the health crisis that compares average death rates with those recorded during the pandemic.

“14.9 [million] excess deaths ‘associated directly or indirectly’ with the pandemic … 5.4 [million] officially confirmed Covid-19 deaths”[10]

Climate Chaos and Lost Butter Mountains

The war in Ukraine has worsened a food crisis that would have existed anyway.

Even the lively imaginations of the Western capitalist-owned press has found no way to blame Russia for the current severe drought in France.[11]

Or the intense heat in Pakistan and India:

“Climate change makes record-breaking heatwaves in northwest India and Pakistan 100 times more likely, a Met Office study finds.

“The region should now expect a heatwave that exceeds the record temperatures seen in 2010 once every three years.

“Without climate change, such extreme temperatures would occur only once every 312 years, the Met Office says.”[12]

Elsewhere we have the opposite – floods:

“As southern Australia continues to recover from the destruction of the 2019-2020 ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, towns in Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) have just experienced devastating floods.

“Some towns have even seen ‘once in 100 year’ floods occur twice in several weeks. In Lismore, an NSW town of nearly 30,000 people, the river rose more than 14 metres in late February, breaching the town’s levees and inundating people’s homes and businesses. Thousands of residents were forced to take refuge on their roofs.”[13]

“The massive and deadly floods that struck South Africa in April were made twice as likely and more intense by global heating, scientists have calculated…

“Catastrophic floods and landslides hit the South African provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape on 11 April following exceptionally heavy rainfall.”[14]

“Flooding submerges Valencia after record-breaking rainfall”[15]

Less obvious to the public, careful measurements show a fast-changing world:

“’How much more evidence do we need’? Planet breaks four climate records in one year, WMO warns

“Last year the world set ‘alarming’ new records in four key tests of climate health, a United Nations body has warned.

“The tests were greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification.”[16]

India has reacted to look after its own citizens:

“India, the world’s second largest producer of wheat, has banned all exports with immediate effect after a heatwave affected the crop.”[17]

Storing food for bad years is part of civilisation.  But it needs governments that will ignore market forces and be ready to look after the people.  It seems it is done in China.[18]  But unfashionable elsewhere from the 1980s.

Back in the 1970s, foes of the European Union complained loudly about ‘butter mountains’.  Also beef mountains, milk lakes, wine lakes and grain mountains.[19]

They were certain these would never be needed.  And they are definitely no longer there.

Philippines – better Rough Justice than No Justice

I was delighted when Filipinos threw out President Marcos in 1986.  Back then, it wasn’t clear how greedy and damaging US dominance would be.

Governments after Marcos did very little that was good for ordinary people.

Now globalised liberals whine, after Marcos’s son won the Presidency with 59% of the votes.

Liberals have forgotten the lessons of the 1940s – you won’t get majority support for governments that obey liberal ideology, but fail to provide Good Government.

A recent report in The Guardian gives the headline to the critics: four out of seven under the heading ‘disgusted’.  

But it also had three who shared the majority view:

“I feel ecstatic about the election results. The Marcoses built a lot of infrastructure which still exists today – infrastructure in the Philippines has been neglected for decades. Our expectation is that it will now be the focus of this new administration.

“I feel that the presidencies following that of Ferdinand Marcos Sr did not really bring about lasting progress…

“Filipinos want a Marcos return in order to instil discipline, progress, and bring back peace and order…

“I want a country that opens our economy to the world, free and not too tied to the west or east. We want a pragmatist like Duterte is. He’s mostly misunderstood in the west – he may be crude and brash but he thinks realistically.”[20]

No Privacy for Some Murderers

Liberals get very alarmed at technology intruding more and more into our lives.

Except when they like the outcome, as in police thrillers where All Is Seen.

They would probably be evasive about a recent murder trial:

“Greece killing: Pilot murdered [his wife] Caroline Crouch, court rules…

“Caroline Crouch’s biometric watch revealed her pulse readings on the day she died, showing that her heart was still beating at the time Anagnostopoulos claimed she was murdered.

“Anagnostopoulos’s movements were also tracked via his mobile phone, proving that he was moving around the house while he said he was tied up.”[21]

Television crime series helpfully brief potential criminals on the advantages of untraceable ‘burner phones’, the existence of which everyone is fine with.  But not everyone thinks to use them.

Liberals worry about controlling on-line video postings.  But the recent racist killer in Buffalo took pictures of his murders which spread fast within a racist subculture that feeds on videos of similar killings.[22]

One way to become an Internet Star.

This feeds into the ills of a society that has been going wrong for decades:

“Like many major American cities, Buffalo bears a tell-tale scar of long-standing segregation, a highway built in the 1950s and 1960s that cut directly through a Black neighborhood, severing those communities and stifling economic development for decades to come.”[23]

The killer was from the depressed white working class, who back then were looked after.  People hooked on racism, rejecting state interventionism when it seemed non-whites got too much from it.  But most White Racists are also victims.

Meantime Western liberals don’t like the Chinese public being told, when someone bad-mouthing the government probably has a comfortable job overseas:

“China’s Internet Censors Try a New Trick: Revealing Users’ Locations…

““The tags, based on a user’s Internet Protocol, or I.P., address that can reveal where a person is located, were first applied to posts that mentioned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a topic authorities said was being manipulated with foreign propaganda. Now they are being expanded to most social media content, further chilling speech on a Chinese internet dominated by censorship and isolated from the world”

‘The public have a right to know – except when I’d sooner they didn’t’?

Snippets

The Radical Young in Britain

Labour in 2017 got its biggest vote since Tony Blair’s first victory.  And in 2019, the real problem was that the Parliamentary Labour Party had helped ensure that every single possible reaction to the Brexit vote would be rejected.  Labour failure was caused by lost votes from Brexiteers who correctly trusted Boris Johnson to deliver.[24]  Not people put off by Corbyn.

Labour under Starmer is ignoring vast numbers of discontented young people.

“According to the Labour affiliate, a YouGov poll conducted in December 2021 found that 32% of people aged over 55 thought that Labour has moved in the ‘right direction’ since Keir Starmer assumed the leadership compared to 28% who felt the party was moving in the ‘wrong direction’. 39% said they were unsure.

“The Fabian Society described the two million voters who would now consider backing Labour at a future general election as ‘Labour’s new considerers’.

“Just 23% of voters aged under 55 told researchers that they felt the party was moving in the right direction, while 28% said Labour was moving in the wrong direction. 49% of under-55s were recorded by pollsters as being unsure.”[25]

*

The Failing Young in the USA

“Over the past decade-and-a-half, many young, college-educated workers have faced a disturbing reality: that it was harder for them to reach the middle class than for previous generations. The change has had profound effects — driving shifts in the country’s politics and mobilizing employees to demand fairer treatment at work. It may also be giving the labor movement its biggest lift in decades.

“Members of this college-educated working class typically earn less money than they envisioned when they went off to school. ‘It’s not like anyone is expecting to make six figures,’ said Tyler Mulholland, who earns about $23 an hour as a sales lead at REI, the outdoor equipment retailer, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. ‘But when it’s snow storming at 11:30 at night, I don’t want to have to think, ‘Is the Uber home going to make a difference in my weekly budget?’’

“In many cases, the workers have endured bouts of unemployment. After Clint Shiflett, who holds an associate degree in computer science, lost his job installing satellite dishes in early 2020, he found a cheaper place to live and survived on unemployment insurance for months. He was eventually hired at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, where he initially made about $17.50 an hour working the overnight shift.”[26]

But how many reject the fantasy of Heroic US Individualism?  Not enough.

*

Killing Journalists OK in Israel?

“New video shows no fighting before journalist Abu Akleh’s killing”.[27]

Israeli soldiers had no excuse for shooting her.  Just probable irritation at a clever critic.

Israel from the 1990s has suffered from a lethal friendship from the USA.  Anything not flattering to Israel is denounced as anti-semitic, which plays well with many voters in the USA.  So Israelis forget the need to look good in a world where US power is fading..

They will try a shooting that’s so bad that it can’t be defended:

“The Guardian view on Shireen Abu Aqleh: press freedom under attack:

“No one has been held to account in Israel for media deaths. That is bad for its democracy.”[28]

“UN Security Council condemns killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

“Council also calls for immediate and impartial investigation into the death of the Al Jazeera journalist who was shot earlier this week.”[29]

Then you get Israeli police dressed like villains from a Star Wars series, attacking a funeral procession.

But suppose Pakistan with its known nuclear deterrent were to team up with Turkey and Jordan.  Threaten their own ‘special military operation’ to create a proper Palestinian state on the West Bank?  

Would the USA go to the limits to oppose this?  

*

Armenia – Realism as Treason

“A campaign to oust Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been ongoing since April 25. The dissatisfaction was prompted by remarks by Pashinyan that many interpreted as displaying a willingness to compromise on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, even going as far as giving the disputed territory away to Azerbaijan. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody war over control of the region in 2020, which has seen periodic flare-ups ever since, the most recent being this past March…

“Meanwhile, Pashinyan has not been the only target of the protesters’ ire… the opposition leaders would like to share their vision of the country’s political situation with the US and EU countries’ ambassadors.

“‘By your silence you contribute to a dictatorship in Armenia,’ the National Assembly’s vice president said during a rally, addressing these words to the heads of the diplomatic missions whom he would like to meet.

“‘Dear ambassadors, representatives of international organizations, put an end to double standards,’ he called out to the crowd.

“The remarks that initially sparked the unrest came in a recent speech by the prime minister to Parliament in which he said: ‘Today the international community tells us again ‘lower your benchmark on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh a little and ensure greater international consolidation around Armenia and Artsakh’.’

“Otherwise, according to the prime minister, the international community will ask Armenia not to rely on it as it will be unable to help.”[30]  

Does anyone seriously believe that international organizations will put an end to double standards?  They simply want the issue shifted from peace-keeping to war-mongering.

But Pashinyan decisively won the last election.  His views should be respected.

*

Libya – Failed Politics

“One of Libya’s rival prime ministers has tried and failed to seize control of the capital Tripoli, breaking a months-long political stalemate and risking a fresh bout of fighting in the oil-rich North African country.

“Clashes erupted on Tuesday after Fathi Bashagha, a prime minister appointed by the eastern-based parliament in February, tried to seize control from Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, a wealthy businessman appointed last year as head of an interim government. But Bashagha was forced out within hours after fighting broke out between rival militias.”[31]

*

Official British Lies

“The British government ran a secret ‘black propaganda’ campaign for decades, targeting Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia with leaflets and reports from fake sources aimed at destabilising cold war enemies by encouraging racial tensions, sowing chaos, inciting violence and reinforcing anti-communist ideas, newly declassified documents have revealed.

“The effort, run from the mid-1950s through to the late 70s by a unit in London that was part of the Foreign Office, was focused on cold war enemies such as the Soviet Union and China, leftwing liberation groups and leaders that the UK saw as threats to its interests.”[32]

The only surprise is that it’s gone public.

Would anyone think it has ever ended?

*

Old newsnotes at the magazine websites.  I also write regular blogs – https://www.quora.com/q/mrgwydionmwilliams


[1] https://labouraffairs.com/2022/05/01/a-unipolar-world-and-ukraine%ef%bf%bc/

[2] https://mrgwydionmwilliams.quora.com/Ukraine-Punished-For-Rejecting-US-Values-in-2010

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Ukraine#Elections_result

[4] https://mrgwydionmwilliams.quora.com/Ukraine-Mariupol-and-the-War-for-the-Oblasts

[5] See https://mrgwydionmwilliams.quora.com/Ukraine-a-Land-With-a-Great-Future-Behind-It, ‘

[6] https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/problems-magazine-past-issues/the-mixed-economy-won-the-cold-war/

[7] https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/5/20/difficult-to-believe-bidens-economic-bid-a-tough-sell-in-asia

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/15/world/australia/covid-deaths.html  (pay site)

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/17/business/japan-economy-covid.html  (pay site)

[10] https://www.ft.com/content/fb593801-eec5-4496-a647-e00ccbc3e336 (pay site)

[11] https://www.france24.com/en/environment/20220511-france-s-unprecedented-drought-shows-climate-change-is-spiralling-out-of-control

[12] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-61484697

[13] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/17/australian-election-where-is-climate-change-on-the-agenda

[14] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/13/south-africa-floods-climate-crisis-global-heating

[15] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-61325769

[16] https://news.sky.com/story/how-much-more-evidence-do-we-need-planet-breaks-four-climate-records-in-one-year-wmo-warns-12615216

[17] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/14/india-bans-all-wheat-exports-food-security-risk

[18] https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1243846.shtml

[19] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butter_mountain

[20] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/14/im-disgusted-readers-in-the-philippines-on-the-2022-election-result

[21] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-61463800

[22] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/15/business/buffalo-shooting-social-media.html  (pay site)

[23] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/nyregion/east-side-buffalo-shooting.html (pay site) 

[24] https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/past-issues/editorials-from-labour-affairs/the-brexit-defeat/labours-vote-held-up-in-the-2019-defeat/

[25] https://labourlist.org/2022/04/older-voters-feel-labour-is-moving-in-right-direction-research-suggests/

[26] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/28/business/college-workers-starbucks-amazon-unions.html

[27] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/20/new-video-shows-no-clashes-during-shireen-abu-aklehs-killing

[28] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/may/13/the-guardian-view-on-shireen-abu-aqleh-press-freedom-under-attack

[29] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/14/un-security-council-condemns-killing-of-shireen-abu-akleh

[30] https://thepressunited.com/updates/thousands-take-to-streets-in-armenian-capital/

[31] https://www.ft.com/content/f768b482-fec4-4a12-8d47-2d9acdd3f414  (pay site) 

[32] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/14/secret-british-black-propaganda-campaign-targeted-cold-war-enemies-information-research-department

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