New Eastern Outlook

Injustice So Thick You Could Cut It with a Knife


The US government will go to any length to keep the truth away from the world. But does the US have a government? Can we call the Trump regime a government?

How will a President Biden deal with an illegal Israel embassy, whose location is based on racism and ignoring rule of law placed, now in the Occupied Territories?

This is but one injustice of the Trump years but, before they can be redressed, the problem of not just transition to rule of law but enforcement of law against an army of transgressors needs to be addressed first. Trump's America became a criminal cult, simple as that.

How will he deal with treason, sedition and murder?

Let's take one issue at a time and look at some aspects of criminal law as they apply to the January 6 attack on the US government.

  • The purpose of the attack was to block the certification of an election where baseless allegations had been made of corruption. Such interference is legally sedition and the physical means is insurrection.
  • However, the overall purpose of the sedition and insurrection was to overthrow the constitution, which is treason.
  • In the process, rioters murdered one police officer and assaulted dozens of others. By law, anyone involved in any aspect of this riot or insurrection, is fully culpable for the murder. They are also fully culpable for sedition, insurrection and treason as well.

We will examine this. The vast majority of those involved in these brutal crimes, the videos have shocked the world, are white.

Clear as a bell, the basis of racism and injustice in the US which is engrained in American society plays out for all to see.

Let's look at some analogies. In the US if you rob a bank and you hire an Uber to deliver you there, park two blocks away, and he drives you from the scene, he is technically guilty of bank robbery. If you kill someone in the bank, the Uber driver is a murderer.

A case can be made for his innocence, but the burden of proof falls on him, not the other way around. In fact, it would be impossible for him to prove he wasn't complicit.

In Washington, on January 6, 2021, no one can claim such distance from "guilty knowledge." All are fully complicit according to longstanding interpretations of law that have led to the executions of dozens, perhaps hundreds of accomplices to crimes that sat in cars or as with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, provided assistance before or after in any way.

This opens another door, those who financed busses for rioters, those who recruited and paid, those who supported them and pushed them into a criminal frenzy in the media, the term "accessory" comes to bear there.

Then we have the issue of "incitement." This is what led to Donald Trump's second impeachment. However, others, some at the scene like Donald Trump Jr. or Ivanka Trump or Kimberly Guilfoyle, or perhaps General Michael Flynn, they are subject to the same "incitement" charge as Donald Trump.

His charge in the impeachment is a criminal charge according to federal law and impeachment is only a step in the process that would lead to not only removal from office but also criminal conviction in a Federal Court and imprisonment, even execution.

Then, however, this same law would apply to all others who pushed for combat, men like Rudy Giuliani who called for "combat" on January 6, combat that led to deaths, that led to sedition, that led to insurrection, that led to treason, that led to property damage, that led to assaults on dozens of police officers as they were beaten with lead pipes, rebar and in one case, nearly executed.

Behind this, we have issues of conspiracy, and the US Senate, as outlined by Senator Bernie Sanders, will be investigating Senator's Cruz and Hawley. The US House of Representatives will investigate their own including members who, according to witnesses, led leaders of the insurrection on tours of the Capitol, where no member of the public whatsoever has been allowed for nearly a year due to COVID 19, that later entered those same chambers with criminal intent.

Senator Sanders has cited the Sgt. At Arms of both chambers as targets for criminal investigation for sedition and the heads of other agencies as well.

Any conspirator, as the law works, who was complicit in planning or supporting any level of criminal activity on January 6 is also guilty of the worst of the crimes, first of all the felony murder of a Capitol Police officer but also the crime that there has been so much strange silence over, and that is treason.

Both the murder and treason are capital crimes and may be punished by execution.

There are fears that endless millions of Americans hold as to how these legal issues will be played out. America has a long history of using deadly force against black citizens only. Under Trump, there has been a rash of killings of unarmed, and often bystanders only, like Breonna Taylor but so many others as well.

Not only are there murders, summary executions but the police involved, in most cases, have long affiliations with white supremacist and neo-Nazi organization.

The two most dangerous groups, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, that advocate the violent overthrow of the US Constitution, though their cheap and childish rhetoric would list them as self-described patriots, are made up not partially but largely of police officers.

One needs only to watch America's television dramas, many of them police procedural shows, to gain an understanding of how far many, not all but many police departments have moved toward becoming criminal gangs, insurrectionists, human traffickers and drug dealers.

Within the last two weeks, television shows like The Rookie and S.W.A.T., among the most popular in the world, have openly depicted police as racist and criminal. From the Guardian:

"Experts were not surprised that officers were part of the mob, given the ties between some police and white supremacist groups in recent years.

For years, domestic terrorism researchers have warned that there are police departments in every region of America counting white supremacist extremists and neo-Nazi sympathizers among their ranks.

To these experts, and the activists who have been targeted by law enforcement officers in past years, it came as no surprise that police officers were part of the mob that stormed the US Capitol on 6 January. In fact, the acceptance of far-right beliefs among law enforcement, they say, helped lay the groundwork for the extraordinary attacks in the American capital.

'I've been trying to ring the alarm since before Donald Trump was elected,' said Cedric O'Bannon, a journalist and activist who was stabbed at a 2016 neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento and was later targeted by the investigating officer. 'It's nothing new. We've seen it getting worse and worse. The law enforcement collusion with white nationalists is clear,' he said.

'These are people who we give guns to, who get specialized training, who have access to sensitive information," said Vida B Johnson, Georgetown University law professor and expert on policing, "and they took part in a plan to undo the votes for the democratically elected president.'"

What the Guardian points out, is repeated continually, academic studies, investigative reports and in the media. It is also witnessed every day. In many cases, police not only openly join neo-Nazi groups but use them as "auxiliaries."

In case after case, police have been cited at BLM protests breaking windows and starting fires.

The most publicized case was the "Umbrella Man" at the protests in Minneapolis after the murder of George Floyd by police officers. It turned out he was a police officer who was fired, not arrested.

He was one of many police starting fires and destroying property. Most were never caught by their fellow officers, no surprise there. This same scene has been repeated in dozens of cities and certainly at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The issue of the institutional injustice of American society explains much of where America is today and the insanity and brutality that now shocks the world. It also leaves open the question the world asks as well, are there enough people of good will, of intellect and of courage and resolve to turn things around.

It might also ask how and if one might cure evil.

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He's a senior editor and chairman of the board of  Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook."

translate | Mon, 18 Jan 2021 20:40:57 +0000

Iran’s Warning to US-funded Agitators


CNN would report in its article, "Iran executes dissident journalist Rouhollah Zam," Iran's swift and severe punishment for what the American media company suggested was "alleged attempts to overthrow" the Iranian government.

CNN glosses over Iran's claims that Zam and his media operation helped incite deadly violence during protests targeting the Iranian government in 2017 and 2018 and instead cites Western government and corporate foundation-funded "rights" groups who condemned the execution.

Near the end of the article, CNN briefly mentions Fars News Agency which detailed the security operation Iran carried out to capture Zam in France and bring him back to face justice in its article, "Riot Provocateur Rouhollah Zam Executed."

Fars News Agency also provided details omitted in the CNN article including mention of Zam's Telegram group for "Amad News" with which he and those working with him promoted unrest including violence. Fars News Agency also noted Zam's ties to Western governments who were backing his work.

And while the Western media portrays Iran's claims and charges against Zam as somehow embellished or disproportionate in the wake of his execution – the Western media had previously admitted as much about Zam and his activities in Iran themselves.

In a 2018 Daily Beast article titled, "The App Powering the Uprising in Iran, Where Some Channels Pushed for Violence," it would admit that Zam ran "Amad News" and that (emphasis added):

Two channels on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, Amad News and Restart, have become major players in Iranian political discourse in recent weeks. The best-known figure associated with Amad News is Ruhollah Zam, while Restart is run by Mohammad Hosseini. Both channels have been accused of inciting violence.

Then managers of Amad News announced that the person responsible for encouraging violence had been fired.

The Daily Beast even admits that Zam – as well as fellow agitator Hosseini – had both been involved in the US State Department's Voice of America media platform, admitting (emphasis added):

In recent months, the Restart group has gained support from the Bayan Media Network, the director of which is Bijan Farhoodi who used to work with the Voice of America (VOA). Also, the program Last Page on VOA TV network, which is hosted by Mehdi Falahati, has frequently invited Ruhollah Zam on its broadcasts. There is no evidence that this proves a systematic connection between them, but what is clear is that Restart and Amad have succeeded in securing powerful platforms for their agendas.  

While the Daily Beast – even in 2018 – tried to downplay the significance of Zam's media operation inciting violence, undermining the Iranian government, and promoting unrest all while appearing on US government-funded media networks – US policymakers themselves have admitted in detailed policy papers that this would be precisely the plan used by the US government to overthrow the government of Iran.

US Plans for Iranian Regime Change 

The 2009 Brookings Institution paper, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran," would extensively lay out this plan under chapter 6 titled, "Supporting a Popular Uprising."

Under this chapter, Brookings policymakers would explain (emphasis added):

The United States could play multiple roles in facilitating a revolution. By funding and helping organize domestic rivals of the regime, the United States could create an alternative leadership to seize power. As Raymond Tanter of the Iran Policy Committee argues, students and other groups "need covert backing for their demonstrations. They need fax machines. They need Internet access, funds to duplicate materials, and funds to keep vigilantes from beating them up." Beyond this, US-backed media outlets could highlight regime shortcomings and make otherwise obscure critics more prominent. The United States already supports Persian language satellite television (Voice of America Persian) and radio (Radio Farda) that bring unfiltered news to Iranians (in recent years, these have taken the lion's share of overt US funding for promoting democracy in Iran). US economic pressure (and perhaps military pressure as well) can discredit the regime, making the population hungry for a rival leadership.

US plans to engineer an uprising are clearly meant to be combined with military and economic pressure – two components at odds with international law and which represent a constant existential threat to Iran's leadership and population. The deaths of Iranian generals and scientists in recent months highlights how real US regime change efforts are and the life and death struggle Iran finds itself in.

Zam's Execution in Context: Iran's Existential Threat

Iran is surrounded by nations – Iraq and Afghanistan – currently occupied by US military forces who have killed tens of thousands in both nations, displaced millions, and have created enduring sociopolitical and economic hardship all along Iran's borders. The US openly aspires to do likewise within Iran's borders.

Zam's involvement in this plan would clearly implicate him in acts of treason – treason defined by Merriam-Webster as: (noun) the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance – and treason unforgivable considering the outcomes of similar US-backed regime change operations in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.

Without this context – the Western media deliberately attempts not only to cover up what Zam did to Iran, its government, and its people, but is at the same time attempting to further advance US regime change efforts against Iran by portraying the nation as a brutal regime rather than a government determined to prevent its own people from suffering the same fate as Iraq, Afghanistan, and more recently, Libya and Syria.

For Iran, the message sent by Zam's execution is clear – those involved in US-backed regime change in Iran – efforts aimed at destroying Iran in the same manner the US has destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria in – will pay the ultimate price and the West's promises of protection, profits, and fame are not guarantees.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

translate | Mon, 18 Jan 2021 20:15:25 +0000

Iraqi People are Forcing Washington to Withdraw its Troops


The million-strong protests that took place in Iraq on the anniversary of the killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis along with 8 other people in a January 3, 2020 US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq became the latest breeding ground for the rise of anti-American sentiment in this Middle Eastern nation. The demonstrators called for those responsible for Washington's incendiary actions to be punished and demanded that remaining US troops leave Iraq. These marches were also a heavy blow to the United States' policies in Iraq and the entire Middle Eastern region.

During the aforementioned protests, a number of Iraqi government officials said the attack on the Iraqi soil was a violation of national sovereignty and helped unite Baghdad and Tehran in their fight against US policy in the region. According to a January 3 article published by Alsumaria News (an Iraqi TV network), Brigadier General Yahya Rasool Abdullah, Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces and the military spokesman for Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, stated that the government did not want Iraq to become a staging ground for an attack on neighboring countries, and called on the US and Iran to respect the sovereignty of Iraq, which was a red line for the armed forces. Leader of the Fatah Alliance (involved in the Popular Mobilization Forces) and politician Hadi Al-Amiri told the protesters that all foreign forces needed to leave Iraq.

According to a statement from Pentagon, US President Donald Trump personally ordered the drone strike because Iran was purportedly planning attacks on four US embassies. However, the US Defense Secretary at the time, Mark Esper, said he had not seen specific evidence from intelligence officials that Iran was plotting attacks on concrete diplomatic missions, yet they took Trump's word for it.

In the current climate, on January 7, 2021, as part of its investigation into the killing of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a Baghdad court issued an arrest warrant for US President Donald Trump under Article 406 of the Iraqi Penal Code, "which provides for the death penalty in all cases of premeditated murder". Iraqi media outlets have reported that "the warrant was made after the judge recorded the statements of the personal claimants from the family of Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis". The courts had previously considered requests from Iran. Former Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Baha al-Araji "welcomed the news of the arrest warrant on Twitter, describing it as a victory for the Iraqi state." Humam Hamoudi, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, congratulated the Iraqi judiciary on their brave decision.

A year ago, on January 3, 2020, after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, vowed to avenge the Major General's death. On January 8, 2020, Iran launched ballistic missiles at two bases hosting US and coalition forces in Iraq. Donald Trump decided not to retaliate against Iran militarily, after all, no servicemen were seriously injured as a result of the attack. According to the Pentagon, there were 109 US troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following the missile strike against the Ayn al Asad air base in western Iraq.

At the end of last year, Head of the Iranian Judiciary's High Council for Human Rights, Ali Bagheri-Kani, announced that Iran had identified 48 persons involved in the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani and taken measures for their prosecution. Countries in one way or another involved in this terrorist attack had been encouraged to cooperate with the investigation, specifically to provide Iranian judiciary with any requested information. Ali Bagheri-Kani also alleged the United States had used the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany to relay satellite signals that steered the drone attack against Qasem Soleimani.

In this charged climate, opposition to the presence of US-led coalition troops in Iraq has been growing recently. In December 2020, defenses at the Ayn al Asad air base in Iraq were strengthened as a precaution against Iranian-backed militia attacks as well as in view of the inauguration of Joe Biden.

On January 3, as Alsumaria News wrote, "a logistical support convoy of the international coalition had been targeted by an explosive device on Samarra Road" in Iraq's Salah ad Din Governorate. Couple of days earlier, two convoys carrying auxiliary equipment were attacked by roadside bombs in Iraq's southern province of al-Qadisiyah. On January 6, 2021, it was reported that roadside IEDs targeted convoys with supplies for the US-led coalition in the Yusufiya area south of Baghdad and in Al Muthanna Province.

It remains unclear what militant group(s) these attackers belong to. Still, Iraqi Shiite insurgent faction "Brigades of Qasim al-Jabarin" have claimed responsibility for some of the aforementioned attacks.

In response to a resolution calling on the government to expel foreign troops from the country, which the Iraqi parliament passed on January 5, 2020, and similar demands from the local populace as of recent, the United States leadership and subsequently, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi started talking about the gradual withdrawal of US-led forces from Iraq. The Prime Minister of Iraq announced that "the withdrawal of more than half of" US troops from the country would be completed during the coming days, as a fruit of the continuous strategic dialogue with the United States. He added that only hundreds of them would remain "to cooperate in the fields of training, rehabilitation, armament and technical support".

In response to anti-US rhetoric from Iraqi officials, on January 8, 2021, the "US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Iraqi Popular Mobilization Committee (PMC) Chairman and former National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh for his connection to serious human rights abuse". He is accused of being a "part of a crisis cell comprised primarily of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia leaders formed in late 2019 to suppress the Iraqi protests with the support of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF)," headed by Qasem Soleimani in the past. The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (which was enacted in 2016) authorized the US government to sanction those it sees as human rights offenders. As a result, all property and interests in property of Falih al-Fayyadh that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons and any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are blocked. Falih al-Fayyadh is also banned from entering the United States. Iraq's Foreign Ministry said that the US decision "was an unacceptable surprise".

In the meantime, various protests are ongoing in different parts of Iraq, organized by opponents of the current Iraqi government and backed from abroad. For instance, on January 11, there violent clashes erupted between security forces and demonstrators in Nasiriyah, Iraq, with police resorting to tear gas and batons. Marches to protest corruption, unemployment and inefficient public services first began in October 2019 and spread to the central and southern provinces of Iraq. As a result, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi resigned. Aside from the US role in possibly encouraging such protests due to policy disagreements between the United States' and Iraqi leadership, ANNA-News reported that Turkey has also been inciting the demonstrators.

Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

translate | Mon, 18 Jan 2021 10:59:30 +0000

What Did More Damage to the World: COVID-19 or Trump?


Out of all the hot topics in international life over recent times, there are most likely two that vie with each other for primacy: COVID-19 and Trump.

The website Worldometers.info reports that in one year of the pandemic, more than 2 million people have already passed away because of COVID-19.

Now the United States is experiencing a severe outbreak of the coronavirus infection: the average daily mortality rate in the country has exceeded 3,000 people. However, it is expected that the situation will become even more exacerbated, and due to that the holidays, hospitals, and doctors are preparing for an influx of patients, which is only increasing, as a consequence of the holidays. In this situation, American medical workers who served in the military recall their missions to Iraq and the horrors of the war there, reports ABC News.

As the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic has shown, American capitalism no longer serves most Americans. At the same time, the well-educated elite live longer and more prosperous lives, while less educated Americans (and that is two-thirds of the population!) die at younger ages, and experience hardships physically, economically, and socially, Project Syndicate emphasizes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has depleted the capacity of medical centers, in particular in Los Angeles County, where they have decided not to hospitalize people if their chances of survival are low. Los Angeles ambulance crews were even advised to limit the quantities of supplemental oxygen that they provide to patients with the coronavirus to save money, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing the local authorities.

Besides the overall significant losses incurred by the American economy during the pandemic, passenger traffic in the New York subway has decreased by 70%, leading to losses of 3.4 billion USD, writes Die Welt The city's subway administration stated that every second subway line is under the threat of being shut down. For comparison, during the financial crisis of 2008, the metro incurred losses that amounted to 400 million USD. The pandemic hit all economic spheres in New York, and across the United States as a whole. New York's budget is sorely lacking in funds, so the authorities have to cut costs on everything.

"The pandemic entails a stronger, more universal shock than the 2008 financial crisis and September 11, 2001, which only gave a good scare to part of the world. For the first time, all of humanity fears that same thing – and at the same time! It seems to me that there have been massive clashes and trauma, whose long-term consequences could be enormous," said Hubert Vedrine, who used to be France's foreign minister from 1997 to 2002 and is the head of a geostrategic consulting company, in an interview with Le Figaro.

The charity organization Save the Children has called for assistance to return children from poor countries back to schools that have been closed due to the pandemic – otherwise these children risk becoming a lost generation. Children who are not currently attending school could become future doctors, scientists, or drivers. According to estimates from this NGO, reopening schools for 136 million of these children would cost 300 EUR per student, and the total cost would be 50 billion USD.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the previous trajectory the course of world development was taking, paving the way for radical change and ushering in remote work, distance learning, and an explosive growth in online commerce. In 2019, for example, it was believed that only by 2050 China would become impervious to the United States, and that in 2035 China's GDP would equal that in the United States in absolute terms. But even by the end of 2020 it had become clear that China's GDP would equal the United States' much earlier (possibly by 2025-2028), and would become impervious to it by 2030.

However, according to the conclusion reached by many inhabitants on the planet, not only has the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the previous trajectory taken by world development, but so did the "Trump presidency", which was a terrifying tornado that passed through not only the United States, but throughout the world.

The assessment given by Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth was that Donald Trump's presidency has been a disaster for human rights. As HRW experts report, the list of humanitarian violations that the organization charges the outgoing American president with is very extensive. According to this organization, at home the American president has neglected his duty to provide protection to people fleeing violence and danger, and his policies have destroyed refugee families, and separated children from their parents. Donald Trump is also accused of helping reinforce right-wing radicals in the United States, inciting hatred against minorities while disregarding the incidents of systematic racism on the part of the police, which specifically resulted in incidents such as the death of African-American George Floyd, and other similar cases that have led to the largest protests against racism in the United States over the past few decades. Moreover, besides the blame for the deaths of more than 300,000 Americans from COVID-19 (which is 1.82% of the country's population, and more than the losses suffered by the United States during WWII), fundamental inequality manifested itself through the fault of Trump during this pandemic, and black people and members of other minorities have been affected by this.

Even the US Department of Defense has been hit by the "Trump tornado". As Politico points out, the Pentagon has faced a rise in extremism in its ranks, accompanied in particular by the growing popularity of ideas concerning the supremacy of the white race. In this regard, the Department of Defense is currently trying to understand how acute this problem has become specifically during the years of Trump's presidency. This issue has been especially high on the agenda following recent reports that former military personnel were involved in the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill.

"Donald Trump has committed a series of actions that hit international institutions and America itself, but it will not be possible to simply hit the rewind button and return everything to the state before Trump," believes international diplomat and expert Lakhdar Brahimi. For example, the fact that he announced the US withdrawal from the WHO in the midst of a pandemic, breaking the "nuclear deal" with Iran, and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. To date, only one disarmament treaty remains between Russia and the United States: he signed off on many sanctions imposed on Russia, withdrew from the ABM Treaty, the Treaty on Open Skies, and the INF Treaty – and was apparently ready to withdraw from the START Treaty. In brief, to find at least something positive for the Russian Federation during the Trump presidency is, to put it mildly, a difficult task. Through the fault of Donald Trump, today the United States has strained relations with China, the UN, and according to Brahimi nowadays it can no longer manage conflicts, or help resolve them – and many of its mechanisms no longer function.

Ultimately, America is divided now, and President Biden will not be able to reassemble it over the next four years, nor will he be able to raise from the dead the more the than 300,000 Americans who have already died from COVID-19, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Middle East that have perished owing to prolonged armed aggression that Trump never did put a halt to.

Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

translate | Mon, 18 Jan 2021 07:10:09 +0000

Information War Dethrones US President


In the end, it was not the Russian government as anti-Russia propagandists in the West claimed but instead homegrown digital tools that brought down US leader Donald Trump. As a result, not only did he lose the presidential election in 2020, but also access to his much-loved social networking sites in his last days at the White House, which Donald Trump often used in his own interests.

Recent events in the United States have shown that the internet and new digital tools, along with an altered political landscape, have all contributed to the diminishing role of professionalism and character in determining whether a politician gets elected or not. The digital revolution, which was initiated and subsequently promoted in the West by political elites, led to fragmentation and division within societies and to individuals striving to remain within their own networks on social media sites so as to access and digest information on their smartphones and notebooks in a manner comfortable for them.

On his path towards becoming the US President, Donald Trump began actively using all of these fairy new digital tools at the start of his 2016 election campaign. He then continued to take advantage of them (e.g. his Twitter account) to communicate with the public. Initially, many communication experts, politicians and journalists did not think highly of Donald Trump's use of Twitter. Still, such a communication strategy was the secret weapon that helped him win in the 2016 election. After all, average American voters, especially those with less than stellar education, must have viewed Trump's tweets as messages directed at them, which they could relate to. Over the years, it became the norm in the US that more informal and direct encounters with voters (i.e. at shopping centers, on the streets and in other public places vs. at rallies) benefited candidates running in elections. Hence, in this digital era, Trump's tweets must have played the same role as conversations in an informal setting. In all likelihood, average voters viewed his Twitter posts as messages directed at them and not at some distant elites who one usually communicates with via media outlets, which are not always accessible for free. In addition, people with less than average education could prefer communication via tweets, which are usually short. The fact that Donald Trump chose Twitter as his main mouthpiece probably encouraged an average US voter to view him as "one of the guys".

At the beginning of December 2016, Das Magazin (a Swiss-based publication) wrote about the effect Big Data had on the results of the 2016 presidential election in the United States. At the time, a number of media outlets already started reporting about psychological micro-targeting as a political tool, and its effect on outcomes of elections. In a nutshell, an individual's digital footprint on social networking sites was used to compile the user's psychological profile and then the information collected could be employed to manipulate public opinion. In fact, Cambridge Analytica, a company hired by the Trump team to take charge of the 2016 social media campaign did just that.

Cambridge Analytica, founded in 2013, was a subsidiary of the SCL Group (Strategic Communication Laboratories) and its main focus was on US elections. SCL described itself as a "global election management agency" and studied the use of Big Data in public relations and political technologies. Reportedly, Cambridge Analytica's owners included the family of Robert Mercer, a computer scientist and an early artificial intelligence researcher who later began to actively fund political campaigns. It is also important to note that the company's board of directors included Steve Bannon, who later became Donald Trump's chief strategist. According to various reports published earlier, approximately in 2007, Steve Bannon wanted to tear down crony capitalism, which was "about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people." The Breitbart Embassy, headquartered in Tallahassee, dealt with implementing this thesis and included not only a young team of 200 analysts known as 'Bannon's pirates' but also the most powerful US private software and hardware system aimed at analyzing the invisible internet.

By the end of 2014, Cambridge Analytica had been "involved in 44 US congressional, US Senate and state-level elections". The company became more well known after its involvement in Ted Cruz's and subsequently Donald Trump's presidential campaigns in 2015-2016. After performing data mining and data analysis on its audience, the firm's communication team would specifically target key groups "to modify behavior in accordance with the goal of" Cambridge Analytica's client which dramatically increases the probability of success (by precisely 1,400%).

Recently, Donald Trump's opponents, including first and foremost members of the US Democratic party and supporters of liberal political causes (e.g. George Soros), have come to appreciate the important role played by digital tools in the US President's previous elections and political life. Aside from encouraging mail-in voting with its inherent falsifications during the 2020 presidential election, they also made a crucial decision to try and beat Donald Trump at his own social media game in the hopes of dealing a heavy blow to US President's 2020 re-election campaign. At first, US-based social networking sites promoted posting of content on preparations to and the elections themselves that was biased against current leader Donald Trump. And afterwards they clearly declared war against him. These websites started censoring information, posted by the President himself, that the opposition could find objectionable.

In order to make their actions seem justifiable and fair to the public, yet another anti-Russia campaign was initiated within the US media landscape under the pretext of combatting false narratives and Russian government-sponsored interference in US presidential elections.  Wide-spread censorship of messages and content posted on social media benefited members of the US Democratic party and individuals like George Soros as accounts belonging to alternative information sources, such as that of the New Eastern Outlook, were suspended by US-based social networking sites. Facebook whistleblower Ryan Hartwig  filmed with a hidden camera and uncovered documents that show Facebook censoring conservatives and influencing elections on a global scale.

In the end, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Twitch suspended Donald Trump's and his closest allies' accounts and channels, thereby essentially preventing him from communicating with his supporters online and making him lose elections. It is therefore not surprising that members of the professional association of social media and messenger users advised the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, to create accounts on Russian social networking sites. However, such advice does not seem relevant at present because the current US leader has not shown any true affinity for Russia or its various institutions during his presidential term.

Social media and digital tools used in information warfare have proven to be a destructive force comparable to nuclear weapons since under certain circumstances, they can be used not only to influence outcomes of important elections in various nations but to also help win different political battles.

Clearly, social networking sites have long been employed as political tools and the United States appears to have mastered their use in this manner. In addition, they have been employed by presidential candidates to win elections and to encourage color revolutions all over the world. Facebook, Youtube and Google dominate the online world and their leadership do not seem to care where in the world accounts are suspended as long as they continue to comply with the wishes of investors and sponsors.

Such wars can be initiated and waged yet again in any country and not only using tools employed in color revolutions. Hence, it is important to ensure the use of digital tools for waging information warfare is regulated at a supranational level in order to prevent certain political forces in the West from employing them in their own interests in other countries.

Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

translate | Sun, 17 Jan 2021 06:20:31 +0000

UK’s Renewed Focus on Children


Recently, in many countries, there has been a growing interest in child-related policies, including those that encourage the creation of optimal conditions for children's overall development and their rearing.

According to a study conducted by professors at Harvard University, low-income families seemed "to benefit from moving to better neighborhoods," with improved economic outcomes for children from them in the future. It is believed that, as a rule, offspring of wealthy parents grow up to be successful financially but researchers are still unsure as to why this is the case. It is possible that these children prosper because they are genetically predisposed to inherit certain traits and skills, as for instance, the ability to make money and save. Or perhaps wealthy parents invest more heavily in education of their children and then help them find better-paying jobs.

According to a 2015 paper, published by professors from departments of economics of University of Texas at Austin, Lund University (Sweden) and University College Dublin, research results suggested that "children with wealthy, high-consuming parents" benefited "not just from good genetics but, more importantly", from growing up with more advantages.

Recently, U.S. News & World Report published its 2020 Best Countries to Raise Kids ranking, according to which the Kingdom of Denmark was in first place, Sweden came second and Norway third. The top ten also included Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia and Austria. However, the United Kingdom, where parents from numerous nations wish to educate their children, did not make the cut.

According to the most recent Innocenti Report card on child well-being in rich countries from UNICEF (also referred to as the United Nations Children's Fund), the Netherlands was in first place followed by Denmark and Norway. In addition, a PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) questionnaire showed that the percentage of children at 15 years of age who expressed satisfaction with their life was quite high in Mexico (86%), Romania (85%), Finland (84%), Croatia (82%), Switzerland (82%) and Spain (82%). However, in Turkey, only 53% of children said they were satisfied with their life, the lowest percentage. In the United Kingdom, the figure stood at 64%, which is far from being at the top of the list.

It would appear that there has been an increased focus on child-related issues in Great Britain, but unfortunately, not in the aforementioned directions.

Starting in November 2020, Scotland became the first part of the UK to outlaw physical punishment of under-16s, which had been allowed to parents and guardians by law previously. Wales passed similar legislation in January 2021 and it is expected to come into force in 2022. For now, there are no plans in either England or Northern Ireland to follow suit, where "reasonable punishment" can still be used. A staff member from the UK's charity NSPCC (the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) said that Scotland's decision to pass the legislation marked "a momentous step in making" the UK "a country where children's rights" were truly recognized, respected and fulfilled.

According to an article published in The Times, "working-class boys from white families" in the UK were "the worst educational performers" who "could fall even further behind if forced to apologize for 'white privilege'." Matthew Goodwin, a Professor of Politics at the University of Kent, expressed this assessment of the work of the House of Commons Education Committee. During an interview in 2017, Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge Diane Reay said that working-class children got "less of everything in education – including respect." In her opinion, there was "more segregation and polarization" in society. "Plus, research on wellbeing shows that you need to decrease the social distance between people. There's mistrust, wariness and anxiety about people who are different from us," Diane Reay stated. "There needs to be a sea change in public opinion, for us to say this is too inequitable and unfair. There needs to be a new collective effort to make things fairer," she opined. The children Diane Reay interviewed "had a powerful sense of their position in the academic hierarchy", with very young kids blaming themselves for being placed in lower sets.

And what kind of education can British children receive if certain teachers ask them "to plan their own funeral" instead of encouraging them to study more relevant school-related material? In June 2020, The Sun reported that St Paul's Catholic School in Leicester (the UK) had assigned its Year Eight pupils such a homework. The students "were asked to choose their favorite hymn and style of coffin" and even "what flowers would be appropriate for their memorial."

At the Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull (Great Britain), a homework assigned to children aged 11 to 14 required them to define "soft pornography", "hardcore pornography", "transgender pornography", etc. The task, which was "part of pupils' Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE)", caused outrage among parents.

In July 2018, there were reports in the media about at least 40 secondary schools in England that had "banned girls from wearing skirts in favor of a gender-neutral uniform for everyone" and one school prohibited the word 'girl' from being used.

Nowadays, transsexuality is an increasingly popular topic for discussion in the United Kingdom "and a glance at the figures sheds some light on why." "The number of children, in particular, being referred to the Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust's gender identity development service (GIDS)" from the National Health Service (NHS) "through which all UK candidates for a sex change under 18 are funneled" — was up from 77 in 2009 to 2,590 in 2018-2019.

Recently, "alarm bells have begun to ring among a handful of psychiatric professionals about the number of teenage girls arriving at the Tavistock's door and the nature of their treatment." In addition, a legal case was brought by a number of concerned individuals, "arguing that children" were "not legally capable of consenting to a gender transition." And in January 2020, "the NHS announced an independent review into puberty suppressants and cross-sex hormone treatments." Still, according to an article published in The Times in December 2020, David Bell, a British psychiatrist, who sent an internal report to the leaders at the Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust in 2018, "urging them to suspend all experimental hormone treatment for children who wished to change gender until there was better evidence of the outcomes" faced disciplinary action by the NHS service.

Celia Walden, a journalist who writes for The Telegraph (a British daily newspaper), opined that society "hit peak insanity over" transsexuality. She also questioned whether children should be "encouraged and enabled to make life-changing decisions before reaching adulthood."

According to an article published in The Economist in December 2020, the High Court in London made an important ruling "on the case of 1 detransitioner, Keira Bell". According to its decision, "it was 'highly unlikely' that a 13-year-old and 'doubtful' that 14- and 15-year-olds" were "mature enough to consent to such a procedure, and that doctors treating 16- and 17-year-olds" might also need to consult a judge before starting.

In January 2021, The Daily Mail reported on yet another issue related to children in the UK. According to the article, there were ongoing discussions about the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill at the House of Lords, which could allow law enforcement agencies to use under-18s as covert sources. The document also permits older teenagers (over 16 years of age) to inform "against their own family under special circumstances."

It is certainly not easy to be a child in the United Kingdom these days. Hence, it is not surprising that Great Britain was not among the top nations ranked according to child well-being either by UNICEF or U.S. News & World Report…

Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

translate | Sat, 16 Jan 2021 08:10:25 +0000
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