Selected articles (April 08, 2020)

PDF-Version: selected articles 8.4.2020


Selected articles (April 08, 2020)




Julian Assange and Lockdown Injustice

By Binoy Kampmark

April 8, 2020

„[…] On Tuesday, April 7, during the course of yet another court duel, Assange’s legal team attempted to convince the judge to grant legal anonymity to the WikiLeaks publisher’s partner.  As with so many efforts, it ended in heroic failure, which could only be put down to a judge who does her work in a hermetic chamber mute to the world. […] Going ahead with the case during the lockdown, argued the defence, would also violate the spirit of open justice.  Journalists could not be present in number.  The public would be effectively excluded. Keeping a court process open, something which chimes with the spirit of WikiLeaks’ own publication agenda, is not a trivial matter.  Many in the common law legal system wax lyrical about it.  Emma Cunliffe supplies a useful formulation: “Accessibility of information about courts and their activities is a necessary correlate to the principle that it should be possible to know the law, and helps safeguard the principle that citizens should be equally subject to law.” […]“



ASSANGE EXTRADITION: Assange Won’t Be Released Amid Virus Crisis, Australian Newswire Reports

April 4, 2020

„[…] The Ministry of Justice told the AAP that Assange won’t be among those released because he isn’t serving a custodial sentence. In other words, because he has not been convicted of a crime, and is instead only being held on remand pending the outcome of the U.S. extradition request, he must remain in Belmarsh prison with high-risk inmates–the most serious and hardened criminals. […]“




COVID-19: Economic sanctions should be lifted to prevent hunger crises – UN expert

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights)

March 31, 2020

„A UN human rights expert called for the immediate lifting of international sanctions to prevent hunger crises in countries hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

„The continued imposition of crippling economic sanctions on Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, and, to a lesser degree, Zimbabwe, to name the most prominent instances, severely undermines the ordinary citizens‘ fundamental right to sufficient and adequate food,“ said Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. […]  The Special Rapporteur also urged the international community to pay particular attention to the situation of civilians trapped in conflict settings, and notably those already experiencing acute violations of their rights to food, such as in Yemen, South Sudan, Gaza, Syria and in refugee camps worldwide. […]“




Letter from President Maduro as U.S. threatens Venezuela with war

April 2, 2020



Billionaire-backed Human Rights Watch lobbies for lethal US sanctions on leftist governments as Covid crisis rages

By Ben Norton

April 8, 2020

„Regime change-hungry HRW is proudly taking credit for crushing new US sanctions on Nicaragua while pushing to escalate Washington’s economic war on Venezuela. The Grayzone presents a deep dive into the “human rights” arm of US empire. […]“




Fake Coronavirus Data, Fear Campaign. Spread of the COVID-19 Infection

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

April 5, 2020

„[…] The economic and social impacts far exceed those attributed to the coronavirus. Cited below are selected examples of  a global process:

  • Massive job losses and layoffs in the US, with more than 10 million workers filing claims for unemployment benefits.
  • In India, a 21 days lockdown has triggered a wave of famine and despair affecting millions of homeless migrant workers all over the country. No lockdown for the homeless: “too poor to afford a meal”. 
  • The impoverishment in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa is beyond description. For large sectors of the urban population, household income has literally been wiped out.
  • In Italy, the destabilization of the tourist industry has resulted in bankruptcies and rising unemployment.
  • In many countries, citizens are the object of police violence. Five people involved in protests against the lockdown were killed by police in Kenya and South Africa. […]“

„[…] The Second Part of this article will largely focus on the following issues:

  • the definition of COVID-19 and the assessment of the number of “confirmed cases”,
  • the risks to people’s health,
  • how the alleged epidemic is measured and identified. […]“



CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel; Instructions for Use

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Ground Control to Planet Lockdown: This Is Only a Test

By Pepe Escobar

April 3, 2020

„[…] The European Commission is involved in a crucial but virtually unknown project, CREMA (Cloud Based Rapid Elastic Manufacturing) which aims to facilitate the widest possible implementation of AI in conjunction to the advent of a cashless One-World system.

The end of cash necessarily implies a One-World government capable of dispensing – and controlling – UBI; a de facto full accomplishment of Foucault’s studies on biopolitics. Anyone is liable to be erased from the system if an algorithm equals this individual with dissent.

It gets even sexier when absolute social control is promoted as an innocent vaccine.

ID2020 is self-described as a benign alliance of “public-private partners”. Essentially, it is an electronic ID platform based on generalized vaccination. And its starts at birth; newborns will be provided with a “portable and persistent biometrically-linked digital identity.”

GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, pledges to “protect people’s health “ and provide “immunization for all”. Top partners and sponsors, apart from the WHO, include, predictably, Big Pharma.

At the ID2020 Alliance summit last September in New York, it was decided that the “Rising to the Good ID Challenge” program would be launched in 2020. That was confirmed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) this past January in Davos. The digital identity will be tested with the government of Bangladesh. […]“



How BlackRock Leveraged Control of the U.S. Economy

March 29,2020

„In less than a week the Federal Reserve has been merged with the U.S. Treasury (implying it wasn’t always that way) and BlackRock, the world’s largest and most powerful financial services institution, has been put in charge of executing future acquisitions and trades. Who is BlackRock? What do they own? And perhaps more importantly, what and who do they control? Jazz and James dive into BlackRock and uncover a significant portion of the apparatus by which U.S. politics are controlled and manipulated.“



COVID-19: Wall Street Wins Again

By Nomi Prins

April 7, 2020

Nomi Prins writes about bailouts in the time of the coronavirus.

„[…] The global economic freeze caused by the coronavirus has crushed more people in a shorter span of time than any crisis in memory. Working people will need far more relief than in the last meltdown to keep not just themselves but the very foundations of the global economy going.

The only true avenue for such support is national governments. Central banks remain the dealers of choice for addicted big corporations, private banks, and markets. In other words, given congressional (and Trumpian) sponsored bailouts and practically unlimited access to money from the Fed, Wall Street will, in the end, be fine.

If ground-up solutions to help ordinary Americans and small businesses aren’t adopted in a far grander way, one thing is predictable: once this crisis has been “managed,” we’ll be set up for a larger one in an even more disparate world. When the clouds from the coronavirus storm dissipate, those bailouts and all the corporate deregulation now underway will have created bank and corporate debt bubbles that are even larger than before.

The real economic lesson to be drawn from this crisis should be (but won’t be) that the best offense is a good defense. Exiting this self-induced recession or depression into anything but a less equal world would require genuine infrastructure investment and planning. That would mean focusing post-relief efforts on producing better hospitals, public transportation networks, research and development, schools, and far more adequate homeless shelters.

In other words, actions offering greater protection to the majority of the population would restart the economy in a truly sustainable fashion, while bringing back both jobs and confidence. But that, in turn, would involve a bold and courageous political response providing genuine and proportionate stimulus for people. Unfortunately, given Washington’s  1-percent tilt and Donald Trump’s CEO empathy, that is at present inconceivable.“



Amid coronavirus crisis, China demonstrates that an alternative to the US-led, neoliberal order is possible

By Ajit Singh

March 30, 2020

„For nearly four decades the United States and its Western allies have proclaimed to the world that “there is no alternative” to neoliberalism, maligning the state and public sector as inefficient and unproductive. If the 2008 financial crisis loosened this myth’s stranglehold on notions of what is possible, the current coronavirus pandemic has shattered it.[…]“



Xi’s unremitting call for Global Health Cooperation

Belt & Road News

April 8, 2020

„Over the past seven years, Chinese President Xi Jinping has on various occasions stressed the importance of Global Health Cooperation, expressed China’s support for international health organisations, and voiced the country’s determination to help improve global health governance. His remarks on global public health in recent years, especially in the last few months, have become particularly meaningful as countries worldwide mark the 2020 World Health Day on Tuesday amid a raging COVID-19 pandemic. China says it is willing to contribute to international cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic via the construction of a Health Silk Road. […]“



‘For common benefit of all,’ Ireland nationalizes hospitals for duration of Coronavirus crisis, sparking demand for U.S. to follow suit

By Eoin Higgins

March 26, 2020

The news that Ireland is nationalizing its healthcare system for the duration of the coronavirus crisis inspired observers including Rep. Ilhan Omar to call for the same approach in the U.S. as the world’s largest economy faces the disease.[…]“

„[…]The move follows a decision by Spain on March 16 to do the same to that country’s system and represents a „massive change“ in Ireland’s social safety net, tweeted Irish author Caelainn Hogan.[…]“



Meet the Americans Studying Medicine on the Cuban Government’s Dime

March 31, 2020

By Alan Macleod

„[…] It’s a medical school like no other: the largest of its kind in the world. The Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana, Cuba hosts students from well over 100 countries and every year, dozens of American students are paid to go there to train as doctors. Paid, that is, by the Cuban government on the proviso that they return to the U.S. and serve underprivileged communities. Generally, students come from underprivileged backgrounds themselves and would not have been able to attend medical school in the U.S. for financial reasons. The average cost of in-state training at am American public college runs to nearly $35,000 per year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, with private universities charging well over $50,000. Women and people of color make up the clear majority of applicants. […]“




Oil Price Rises After Trump Phones Putin

By Gary Littlejohn

March 31, 2020

„The recent rapid decline in oil prices may now be coming to a halt as Trump and Putin agreed in a recent phone call that their oil industry ministers should talk to each other about the oil standoff that began when Russia refused to agree to participate in a cut in oil output proposed by OPEC. This proposed cut was then effectively reversed by Saudi Arabia ‘opening the taps’ to increase its oil output. Russia continued to refuse to cut back, even though the COVID-19 pandemic drastically reduced global demand for hydrocarbon products. […]“



Oil price war came at the worst possible time, and a truce between Moscow and Riyadh can’t come too soon

By Nebojsa Malic

April 8, 2020

„[…] In almost a month since Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ramped up production – ostensibly to punish Russia for refusing to accept additional cuts under OPEC+ quotas – the oil price has crashed by over 70 percent, with Brent crude at $32.5 and WTI at $24.5 a barrel as of Tuesday. […]“




Transatlantic Call to Ease Humanitarian Trade with Iran due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

06 April 2020

Today, a bipartisan group of two dozen American and European national security leaders issue a joint statement urging the US government to ease humanitarian trade with Iran in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. “As the world grapples with COVID-19 – the disease caused by the novel coronavirus – we must remember that an outbreak anywhere impacts people everywhere. In turn, reaching across borders to save lives is imperative for our own security and must override political differences among governments” the authors write.

The statement, organized by the European Leadership Network and The Iran Project, includes signatures from dignitaries such as former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini; four former NATO Secretaries-General; a range of former US officials spanning five Democratic and Republican presidential administrations, and British, French, German, and other European Prime Ministers, Foreign and Defense Secretaries, Ministers, and Ambassadors. […]“



How Europe can help Iran fight covid-19

Commentary by Esfandyar Batmanghelidj an Ellie Geranmayeh

European Council on Foreign Affairs

April 6, 2020



UN chief urges rolling back sanctions to contain coronavirus pandemic

Tehran Times

March 29, 2020

„[…] “I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity not exclusion,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a letter to the G-20 economic powers. “Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.” […]“



Europe’s Trade System with Iran Makes First Deal: Germany

March 31, 2020

„The German foreign ministry said on Tuesday that a system they set up to enable trade with Tehran has finally concluded its first transaction, facilitating the export of medical goods.[…]“



Collective punishment has always been the stated goal of Iran sanctions hawks

By Eli Clifton

March 23, 2020

„[…] Amid the crisis, on March 17, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions against Iran, telling reporters, “We have an open humanitarian channel to facilitate legitimate transactions even while ensuring our maximum pressure campaign denies terrorists money.” But that assessment of the humanitarian channel isn’t widely shared and, despite Pompeo’s repeated assertions that the Trump administration offered Iran help to deal with the coronavirus crisis, he hasn’t provided details of what those offers entail. “Our research showed that in practice, humanitarian exemptions in the U.S. comprehensive sanctions regime have been ineffective in offsetting the strong reluctance of companies and banks to conduct trade with Iran, including the humanitarian trade that is presumably legal,” Human Rights Watch Iran researcher Tara Sepheri Far told Responsible Statecraft. “The Iranian healthcare system, both in terms of access to specialized medicine and also with regards to access to medical equipment, has taken a toll as a result of sanctions,” she added. […]“



As coronavirus cases explode in Iran, U.S. sanctions hinder its access to drugs and medical equipment

By Erin Cunningham

March 29, 2020

„[…] Sweeping U.S. sanctions are hampering Iranian efforts to import medicine and other medical supplies to confront one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the world, health workers and sanctions experts say. The broad U.S. restrictions on Iran’s banking system and the embargo on its oil exports have limited Tehran’s ability to finance and purchase essential items from abroad, including drugs as well as the raw materials and equipment needed to manufacture medicines domestically. The Trump administration has also reduced the number of licenses it grants to companies for certain medical exports to Iran, according to quarterly reports from a U.S. Treasury Department enforcement agency. The list of items requiring special authorization includes oxygen generators, full-face respirator masks and thermal imaging equipment, all of which are needed to treat patients and keep medical workers safe, doctors say. […]“



The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the Iranian Economy

By Raz Zimmt and Tomer Fadlon

The Institute for National Security Studies (Israel)

April 7, 2020

„[…] Nonetheless, no systemic economic collapse is evident at this stage, and there are no signs of a lack of essential goods or a loss by government authorities of the ability to ensure regular supply of essential goods and services such as electricity, water, and gas. It appears that production abilities in most areas of agriculture and industry have been maintained in spite of the ongoing crisis. Furthermore the Iranian regime has already proven its ability to overcome grave crises, including years of significant economic sanctions, in part in light of the centralization of the Iranian economy, which is characterized by extensive involvement by government institutions and by the Revolutionary Guards. This centralization improves the regime’s ability to adjust the economy to the new conditions created by the crisis. The deeper the crisis becomes, the more the Iranian authorities will need to reassess the situation and reorder national priorities. Although it is unlikely that its strategic aims will change, Tehran will probably be hard-pressed to finance some of its military activity in the regional arena. Iran has already been compelled by the renewal of American sanctions two years ago to reduce its support for particular organizations in the Arab world, including Hezbollah, which is facing severe economic distress. The damage done to Iran is likely to further restrict its abilities to assist its proxies in the region.“



With COVID-19, Iran’s Dependence on China Grows

By Kevin Lim

The Washington Institute

March 27, 2020

„Beijing has steadily become Tehran’s economic ventilator, diplomatic prop, and military enabler, and the Iranians need this backstop now more than ever.

When the coronavirus spun out of control in Wuhan this January, Iran ignored the example of many other countries and continued to maintain direct flights and open borders with China. Even after President Hassan Rouhani’s government suspended all such flights on January 31, Mahan Air—a company affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—kept flying between Tehran and four first-tier Chinese cities, leading many to allege that the airline was instrumental in introducing or at least exacerbating Iran’s raging epidemic. […]“




By Katherine Lawlor and  Brandon Wallace

Institute for the Study of War

April 2, 2020

Key Takeaway: Iran continues to escalate proxy attacks against the U.S. in Iraq, demonstrating that it remains undeterred despite the January 3 strike that killed IRGC – Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and key Iraqi proxy leader Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis and subsequent U.S. strikes. Iran’s proxy network in Iraq is advancing its campaign to compel an American withdrawal by increasing the operational tempo of its attacks on U.S. and allied personnel. Iran’s proxies are responsible for at least 15 attacks on American and U.S.-led Coalition personnel since January 3. A new militia group, Usbat al-Thairen, claimed several recent attacks, indicating that the proxy network may be reorganizing in observance of the shared vision of Soleimani and Muhandis and that Iran may have reached a new phase in its campaign to expel U.S. forces form Iraq.“



Wife recounts Iranian scientist’s ordeal in US jail

Press TV

March 30, 2020

„[…]The wife of an Iranian material sciences professor, who has been held in the United States for close to three years on ‘not-proven’ charges of bypassing Washington’s sanctions against Iran, has recounted his ordeal in American detention. Sharif University of Technology Professor Sirous Asgari was arrested in the United States in mid-2017. Back then, the FBI alleged the scientist had shared information about a project he had conducted on a sabbatical in the US five years before with his students, his wife said in an interview published Sunday. “The findings were published and made available on the Internet afterwards, which means there was nothing secret about the project. Nevertheless, they accused Asgari of stealing information,” his wife said. […]“



Beware of Trump Using the Coronavirus as a Cover for War With Iran

By Mehdi Hasan

March 30, 2020

„[…] More pressure. More escalation. This is precisely what Lt. Gen. Robert P. White seems to have been trying to warn against. Will anyone, though, heed his warning? Will Democrats in Congress be willing or able to call for hearings on the administration’s reckless and dangerous Iran policy, in the midst of our current coronavirus crisis? Trump and his underlings don’t seem to care about the domestic implications of starting a new foreign war. This is an administration that publicly announces a fresh round of punitive sanctions on Iran’s battered economy, while privately urging U.S. military commanders to escalate a conflict with the Iranians on Iraqi soil. Less than two weeks ago, in a piece about the cruelty and callousness of maintaining sanctions on Iran while a pandemic rages across that country, I described the people in charge of the U.S. government as “sociopaths.” Now we discover, courtesy of an internal memo written by a U.S. general and leaked to the New York Times, that strangling the Iranian economy isn’t enough for Trump and Co. They are bent on using the spread of a deadly disease as cover for a new war. Perhaps “sociopaths” was an understatement.“




South Fromt

April 6, 2020

„[…] The US Central Command officially confirmed deployment of Patriot air defense systems in Iraq. However, the US military announced that it will not provide “providing status updates as those systems come online” for security reasons. At least two Patriot batteries are now located in at the US military bases of Ayn al-Assad and Erbil. Two more Patriot batteries will reportedly be deployed soon. As part of its plan to redeploy forces to larger, more fortified bases, the US evacuated its troops from the al-Taqaddum Air Base in the province of al-Anbar. It became the fourth US military facility abandoned in Iraq within the last few weeks. The previous ones were located in al-Qaim, Kirkuk and al-Qayyarah. […]“



Pentagon Order to Plan for Escalation in Iraq Meets Warning From Top Commander

A secret Pentagon directive orders planning to try to destroy a militia group backed by Iran, but America’s top general in Iraq cautions of the risks.

By Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt

March 27, 2020

„The Pentagon has ordered military commanders to plan for an escalation of American combat in Iraq, issuing a directive last week to prepare a campaign to destroy an Iranian-backed militia group that has threatened more attacks against American troops.

But the United States’ top commander in Iraq has warned that such a campaign could be bloody and counterproductive and risks war with Iran. In a blunt memo last week, the commander, Lt. Gen. Robert P. White, wrote that a new military campaign would also require thousands more American troops be sent to Iraq and divert resources from what has been the primary American military mission there: training Iraqi troops to combat the Islamic State.[…]“



Blast Halts Iran’s Gas Exports to Turkey

March, 31, 2020

„[…] Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu said the explosion occurred near the Gurbulak border gate with Iran in Agri province. Turkish broadcaster TRT Haber also said the cause of the explosion was unknown. […] The report added that security forces are investigating the incident. Most recently the line was closed following an attack by PKK militants in July 2015, while a subsequent attack on the line in April 2018 was foiled by Turkish security forces. […] Iran is Turkey’s second-biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia. Tehran sells about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas under a 25-year supply deal to Turkey which it uses for electricity generation. The gas exports are carried out via a 2,577 km (1,601 miles) pipeline running from Tabriz to Ankara. Turkey imported 7.7 billion cubic meters of gas from Iran in 2019, or some 17% of its total gas imports. […]“



Israeli documents about Iran’s nuclear program cannot be confirmed: Nephew

By Javad Heirannia

March 10, 2020

„Richard Nephew, who served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran, is of the opinion that “It is the IAEA’s responsibility to investigate information that it receives.” […]“



Iran begins use of plasma for COVID-19 patients

By Ghanbar Naderi

March 29, 2020

As the proportion of patients infected with COVID-19 continues to rise in Iran, Masih Daneshvari Hospital in Tehran is facilitating access to COVID-19 convalescent plasma for use in patients with COVID-19 infections. This is while a number of the medical staff in the hospital are among the plasma donors who have been infected and have recovered recently. […]“