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Posts Tagged ‘UK’

WATCH: Is the UK heading toward medical martial law? – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on October 5, 2020

He specifically mentions “managing the narrative”, which is no surprise considering his role as a former Army officer, a current reserves officer, and his known affiliation with the 77th Brigade. For those who don’t know: The 77th is the British army’s team of “facebook warriors”. An information warfare unit whose job is to “counter misinformation”, “manage the narrative” and generally corral and control the internet conversation.

WATCH: Is the UK heading toward medical martial law? We are hearing frequent calls for the UK’s coronavirus “pandemic” response to become a military operation

On the 28th September Tobias Ellwood, Tory MP for Bournemouth East, stood up in Parliament and suggested that the British Army and the Ministry of Defense be in charge of distributing and administering “millions of doses” of the Sars-Cov-2 vaccines, as well as issuing “vaccination certificates” which will “allow travel”.

And that’s just the highlights, there’s a lot more vaguely sinister language, camouflaged in his rather drab monotone voice. (You can watch the whole speech here, go to 20:24).

This is a concerning development, one very much worth keeping an eye on. The BBC don’t think so, of course, because the call for what would easily amount to medical martial law didn’t even make it into their “Today in Parliament” programme.

This is not new behaviour for Ellwood. He has always been a consistent voice for use of the military in response to the “pandemic”. On the 18th of September he requested the Prime Minister make “greater use of our fine armed forces”.

He specifically mentions “managing the narrative”, which is no surprise considering his role as a former Army officer, a current reserves officer, and his known affiliation with the 77th Brigade. For those who don’t know: The 77th is the British army’s team of “facebook warriors”. An information warfare unit whose job is to “counter misinformation”, “manage the narrative” and generally corral and control the internet conversation.

That’s not a “conspiracy theory”, their existence is readily acknowledged by both the government and the mainstream media. Considering they’re currently employed “countering covid misinformation“, they will likely be in the comments of this post (Hi guys!).

Other countries around the world have already moved on to this “war footing”, and the UK is likely not far behind.

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Crossing the Rubicon: The UK Slips into a Repressive State – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on August 3, 2020

I’m forced now to doubt that we, the British people value our freedom as much as we profess to. We take to the streets in droves to embrace new forms of repression, such as an anarchistic movement that seeks to rewrite history and dismantle our police forces, or an anti-human death cult that seeks to suppress all human activity by frightening us all into believing we are destroying the Earth by existing.

Mark Chapman

Julius Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon River in 49 BC in defiance of Roman law placed him and his army on a direct collision course with Rome, leading to the Civil War which established him as Roman dictator. It is a well-established metaphor for a point at which there is no going back and at which things will never be the same.

I predicted a few weeks ago that the UK Government would in the near future try to force everyone to wear facemasks in public. Leave aside the plethora of information that makes it clear face masks are of practically zero benefit in everyday circumstances, and may in fact be dangerous, the forced wearing of facemasks is a transgression so fundamental and of such significance that it is difficult to adequately express.

It implicitly hands your body over to state control, and renders one of your most basic existential freedoms subject to state interference. For the first time, the right to exercise a choice of whether you should inhibit your respiratory faculties and hide your face in public is taken out of your hands. If you doubt the significance of this, try to remember the public outcry that followed a debate regarding banning the wearing of burkhas and hijabs in the face of Islamic terrorism, and the connotations this had for civil liberties at the time.

Facemask wearing is the visible hallmark of Asian states perceived in the West as repressive and authoritarian. It is a badge of serfdom, akin to the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany. There is no greater invasion of your person possible short of tattooing you with a number.

This astonishing about-turn in policy has not happened overnight or without preparation. It has been preceded by a cleverly-orchestrated media campaign which seeks to bizarrely turn established professional and scientific research on its head, making virologists, infection-control bodies and academics who have published papers for the medical profession into liars and charlatans.

This campaign has included editorials and blogs which talk in disapproving and accusatory tones of “mask-shirkers” and “mask-deniers” allegedly “refusing” to wear face masks. Leave aside the obvious fact that refusal cannot take place without a demand: in other words someone has to give you an instruction to which you reply, “No, thanks.”

Absent such a demand, you are not refusing anything, merely making a choice. And until now there has been no such demand. But those making this choice are now psychopaths and enemies of humanity without a shred of integrity, respect or regard for their fellow human beings. When I returned from Asia early this year the advice was clear: face masks do not protect you from infection and it is not advised that you wear them.

What is more, face mask wearing was actively discouraged because of limited supplies required for hospital environments, where infection control is king and every precaution makes sense. Above all the only situation in which it is appropriate to wear a facemask in public is if you are unwell and have a cough, in which case why not stay at home?

But this piece of simple logic has been covered by the mask-advocates whose logic runs like this: “You may have coronavirus without knowing it, and may infect others with your breath even at unlimited distances so you need to wear a mask.” This covers all bases despite the evidence for this being at best negligible and at worst manipulated and dishonest.

It is part of the greater logic that renders every societal value worthless unless it contributes to the impossible task of making sure that not one single individual anywhere, ever, is infected with Covid-19. None of this means I think we should do nothing about this pandemic. But there is now a growing awareness that the cure proposed is not indefinitely sustainable and may in fact be worse than the disease.

The virtue-signalling of face-mask advocates is easily refuted. Facemasks have been available for decades for use in industry and ideas generally considered good are taken up by the public. Nobody needed the government to tell them to go out and buy a car or a television set.

So if you’re so convinced face masks are a good idea why has it taken the State to tell you before you came to this Eureka moment?

And for how many years or decades have you been going around disrespectfully infecting your fellow human beings by going out without a mask when you had a cold or the flu?

However, apparently all the established research is now wrong and face mask wearing is essential. It is a vast game of “Simon Says,” in which we only do anything when Simon says. And it won’t stop there. Expect newspapers like the Guardian to run sanctimonious editorials demanding that face-mask wearing be extended to pubs and restaurants, and eventually to every departure from your home.

Following this such a move will become policy: indeed, the British public will do what they are already doing, gleefully embracing this perverse doctrine, boasting of buying colourful face masks for their children, and showering anyone who has a different point of view with disapproval.

I’m forced now to doubt that we, the British people value our freedom as much as we profess to. We take to the streets in droves to embrace new forms of repression, such as an anarchistic movement that seeks to rewrite history and dismantle our police forces, or an anti-human death cult that seeks to suppress all human activity by frightening us all into believing we are destroying the Earth by existing.

But in the face of mounting attacks on our liberty and our freedom, we are silent. We have had our liberty taken away from us. Our movements are monitored. Our discussions are censored via social media. We are no longer free even to make fundamental choices about our bodies. A public that will silently accept these things has learned nothing from history, will accept anything and deserves its fate if that is a dystopian world-state.

We are no longer entitled to lecture other nations about being repressive states. Their representatives, quite rightly in my view would laugh in our faces. There is a growing fear in the minds of many of us that Western lockdowns may be permanent. The spectres of identity cards, martial law and forced vaccination now hover over us.

Dismissing this as “conspiracy theory” and accusing those who feel this way of an inhuman disregard for life is the rhetoric of fascism, a force that always thrives in the face of a perceived threat. I believe forced face-mask wearing in British streets is a brutal act that crosses the Rubicon, and finally signifies our descent into a de facto repressive state.

Mark Chapman is an artist and educator based in the UK. His work is often concerned with questioning established narratives where evidence is contrary to these. You can read more of his work at his blog Humanism

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State Dept-funded Transparency International goes silent on jailed transparency activist Julian Assange | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on July 27, 2020

Transparency International has been vocal in defending jailed opposition activists in states like Zimbabwe, Russia, and Venezuela. But when it comes to Assange – far-and-away the world’s most prominent imprisoned transparency activist – the NGO has not said a word since a week after his arrest in April 2019. 

Transparency International happens to be funded by the UK government which is currently jailing Assange, and by the US State Department, which is headed by Mike Pompeo – the former CIA director who presided over a black operations campaign to destroy Wikileaks.

By Patrick Maynard

BERLIN, GERMANY – On a cool July day, the Berlin neighborhood where Transparency International’s global headquarters is situated feels a thousand miles away from London’s Belmarsh Prison. But it is not just the pleasant setting a few blocks from the Spree River that makes the influential NGO seem so detached from the maximum security penitentiary’s most famous inmate, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Transparency International has been vocal in defending jailed opposition activists in states like Zimbabwe, Russia, and Venezuela. But when it comes to Assange – far-and-away the world’s most prominent imprisoned transparency activist – the NGO has not said a word since a week after his arrest in April 2019.

When Transparency International did mention Assange’s arrest, it came in the form of a mealy-mouthed blog post that referred to the Wikileaks founder as “polarizing” and failed to condemn his persecution.

Transparency International happens to be funded by the UK government which is currently jailing Assange, and by the US State Department, which is headed by Mike Pompeo – the former CIA director who presided over a black operations campaign to destroy Wikileaks.

Much has changed since Transparency International last issued a statement about Assange. A UN special rapporteur found evidence that Assange may have been tortured. The judge on the case was switched after significant conflicts of interest were discovered.

Assange’s bail-jumping penalty of 50 weeks was also exhausted in April, meaning that for many weeks, the British have been holding him purely as a favor for their American allies, without Assange being formally charged with a British crime. And, perhaps most relevant to the case, 36 members of the European Parliament have recently called for Assange to be released from Belmarsh on press freedom and humanitarian grounds.

Unlike Transparency International, several other large NGOs have been vocal about the case within the last year. Those groups include Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Courage Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. A total of 40 rights groups recently signed an open letter urging Assange’s release.

Ignoring the world’s most prominent jailed transparency activist

Julian Assange first became well-known when Wikileaks published a series of document troves that embarrassed the United States and its allies. Several stashes of military information exposed possible war crimes on the part of U.S. soldiers, while a collection of State Department cables from 1966 through 2010 showed American diplomatic officials being manipulated to act on behalf of U.S. companies abroad.

Shortly after those releases, Assange was investigated over a possible sexual assault in Sweden. Assange and his team worried that the investigation might be a pretext to detain and extradite him into U.S. hands, so they offered to have him testify via video link from Britain. Swedish authorities refused. Assange jumped his British bail and took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he lived for nearly seven years. The sexual assault investigation was later dropped.

Following Assange’s arrest in April 2019, a federal grand jury in the U.S. returned an 18-count superseding indictment charging the publisher with computer intrusion and with breaking the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.

A key part of the U.S. government’s case is the idea that, by publishing leaked information, Wikileaks damaged the safety abroad of people friendly to the American cause. Asked by The Grayzone by email if the Justice Department would be willing to name a single person who had been killed or injured as a result of Wikileaks material, the DOJ declined to comment.

US State Department, UK government support – and corporate influence peddling

There was an initial groundswell of solidarity from abroad after Assange’s arrest, with publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post commenting on how the Espionage Act charges threatened press freedom. A few major international human rights NGOs spoke out as well.

That support has been uneven over the last 15 months or so, however. After the initial burst of coverage, the hearings faded into the background, with few mainstream American or British media organizations reporting on Judge Emma Arbuthnot’s ties to UK intelligence and defense interests while she presided over pre-extradition hearings.

Asked whether Transparency International had commented on the judge’s seeming conflicts of interest, Transparency spokesman Paul Bell told The Grayzone that the international secretariat “hasn’t made any statements in relation to Lady Emma Arbuthnot.”

The group’s silence over the past year stands in contrast to earlier times when it had been vocal about freedom of speech, and had not been shy about bringing up Assange’s name as a hook for its blog posts on the topic.

Tracking outside influence on Transparency International can be difficult, as it is made up of more than 100 independent chapters around the globe.

But the organization’s USA chapter honored the notoriously war-profiteering oil services giant Bechtel with its  “Corporate Leadership Award” in 2016.

Two years earlier, Transparency USA honored the arms manufacturer Raytheon “for anti-corruption efforts.” Both Bechtel and Raytheon were major donors to the organization at the time.

In 2017, Transparency USA was finally disaccredited for fostering apparent pay-for-play relationships under the guise of anti-corruption efforts. However, Transparency’s Secretariat defended the USA chapter’s honoring of Hillary Clinton with its “Integrity Award” in the face of revelations of influence-peddling by the Clinton Global Initiative.

The Little Sis database, which tracks relationships of organizations by analyzing their donors, board members and leadership, indicates that Transparency has shared adjacencies with organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Infraguard – which the FBI describes as a “partnership between the FBI and the private sector” that is “dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the U.S.”

On its website, Transparency International lists funding from the US Department of State, which is currently headed by the former CIA director, Mike Pompeo, who apparently authorized the spying ring that targeted Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy.

It also receives support from the Department of International Development of the UK government, which is currently prosecuting Assange.

In fact, much of the NGO’s funding comes from EU governments.

Bell, the Transparency spokesman, stated in an email to The Grayzone that his organization’s international board has not received pressure regarding the Assange extradition hearings from U.S. or U.K. entities, including governments.

“There is a principle and a precedent at stake … no matter how you feel about Julian Assange”

Assange has made some powerful enemies over the years. He angered Republicans by exposing inconvenient truths behind the military interventions initiated by George W. Bush, and infuriated Democrats by dumping a cache of embarrassing emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal server just before the 2016 election.

Parker Higgins, the advocacy director at Freedom of the Press Foundation, argues that individual feelings about Assange shouldn’t get in the way of a clear-eyed view of the gravity of the extradition case.

“The importance of this case goes far beyond the facts of who Julian Assange is and what he is alleged to have done,” Higgins said in an email to The Grayzone. “There is a principle and a precedent at stake that are important considerations for press freedom, no matter how you feel about Julian Assange himself.”

Higgins asserted that large countries are now attempting to extend their own jurisdiction globally – especially on what he calls “borderless issues” like censorship – and that an Assange extradition would be a deepening of that trend.

China, for example, has recently attempted to assert that non-citizens in foreign countries are subject to its new national security law regarding speech about Hong Kong. That has chilled activism as far away as Canada. In the case of Assange, the United States is attempting to apply its rarely used 1917 Espionage Act to an Australian journalist operating in Europe, activists argue. In doing so, they say, the U.S. government is extending its jurisdiction and setting up a potentially dangerous template for future generations to follow.

Spying, denial of legal access, “torture and neglect”

There are other aspects of the Julian Assange case that trouble many close observers. Assange‘s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said in April that there had been no “direct access” with his client for “more than a month.”

That situation has gotten worse as the COVID-19 outbreak has continued, with a recent hearing featuring Assange literally boxed in inside a glass container, through which it was difficult to hear.

Back when Assange did have regular access to legal counsel – during his time in the Ecuadorian embassy – his interactions with others were secretly recorded by a Spanish contractor with ties to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, as The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal has documented in detail.

In most American court cases, surveillance of attorney-client meetings would result immediately in a mistrial being declared.

Additionally, Assange’s health has been declining. In June, 216 doctors from 33 countries wrote to medical journal the Lancet, protesting what they called “torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange” and stating that, “under the Convention Against Torture, those acting in official capacities can be held complicit and accountable not only for perpetration of torture, but for their silent acquiescence and consent.”

While some reporters have argued that Assange’s extradition would not set a precedent for cases against other journalists, since Assange is accused of helping a source crack a password, Higgins argues that future judges are not necessarily likely to parse that difference.

“There’s no guarantee that the line a journalist draws now is going to be the one that future judges follow,” Higgins stated. “The threat of criminal charges for talking to sources is sure to have a chilling effect.”

Patrick Maynard is a journalist whose work has featured in the Baltimore Sun, Truthout, Vice and The Grayzone.


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The UK Is Greenlighting Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia Again. That’s a Travesty. – Original

Posted by M. C. on July 18, 2020

By propagating the fiction that years of repeated Saudi violations of the laws
of war are “isolated” incidents, the UK is either denying the facts on the ground
or undermining mainstream understanding of the laws governing war. Most likely,
it’s doing both.

Neither the law nor the facts support a conclusion that Saudi war crimes in Yemen are “isolated.”

A jobs program for the connected contributors.

On July 7, the United Kingdom announced that it intends to resume approving weapons sales by British companies to Saudi Arabia. Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is choosing to move forward with these sales despite reams of evidence that once weapons are in the Saudi arsenal, there’s no way to be sure they won’t be used to commit war crimes in Yemen.

The government is moving forward despite eloquent pleas from Yemenis who say that continued sales greenlight continued abuses by the Saudi led coalition. It’s moving forward despite the UK’s own foreign secretary’s recent appeal on behalf of the people of Yemen for “international help to escape tragedy,” recognizing they are living through the world’s worst humanitarian crisis while trying to battle a global pandemic.

Moving forward at this moment ignores the realities on the ground in Yemen and also evidences a willingness to twist the facts and the law. In doing so, the UK is undermining the rules that govern the international order at a time when multilateralism is more important than ever.

After a landmark court ruling, the UK government was forced to pause sales until it could show that it had properly evaluated the risk that weapons sold to Saudi Arabia could be used in laws of war violations. Although UK suppliers have continued to fulfill existing contracts and the government “inadvertently” issued some new licenses, the court ruling undoubtedly had a chilling effect on transfers over the past year. That’s a good thing.

But now, the UK laughably claims it has “developed a revised methodology” that supports further sales based on the specious conclusion that the Saudis’ violations are “isolated” incidents.

Human Rights Watch made a 172-page submission to the UK last year that indicates the exact opposite. Despite their arsenal of top-of-the-line weapons with precision guidance, Saudi-led coalition aircraft keep hitting Yemeni civilians while they’re shopping for groceries, celebrating weddings, riding in school buses, mourning their dead at funerals, and seeking treatment for cholera.

Recently, the UN confirmed that the coalition hit four schools and hospitals in 2019. The International Rescue Committee estimates that more than half of the bombs dropped by the Saudi-led coalition in May of this year hit civilians or civilian infrastructure. These attacks have almost always been followed by self-investigations that excuse away the crimes.

Neither the law nor the facts support a conclusion that the problems with Saudi Arabia’s conduct are “isolated.”

Human Rights Watch has been campaigning to halt all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia since 2016. The UN has warned that those who continue to supply the coalition with weapons after seeing its abysmal track record risk complicity themselves. To be sure, this is not a problem that will be resolved by cutting off sales from the UK alone.

Saudi Arabia leads the world in arms imports and is responsible for 12 percent of global purchases since 2015. While the UK had paused licensing, French companies transferred $1.6 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia in 2019. Although the U.S. Congress has twice voted to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia, President Trump vetoed those bills allowing arms sales to proceed.

Last year, Trump pressed forward with a massive $8 billion sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE. The US is now considering an additional $478 million transfer of precision guided munitions to the Saudis. Once again, some members of Congress are objecting, but the Trump administration appears poised to move forward anyway.

While Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland all announced that they will stop new weapons exports to the Saudis, they have continued to supply arms, spare parts, and components to the Saudis under existing contracts. In fact, in 2019, Canadian military exports to Saudi Arabia hit an all-time high despite their moratorium.

The Trump administration in particular has made naked economic and geopolitical calculations the basis of its foreign policy. Its continued arms exports to “allies” despite a track record of human rights abuses is not unique to Saudi Arabia. But it’s particularly chilling that Trump was not shy about making an economic argument for sales in the face of the Saudi killing and dismemberment of US resident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The timing of the UK move, one day after it launched sanctions on 20 individual Saudis for their role in Khashoggi’s murder, underscores the incoherence of this approach. Governments like the UK shouldn’t need their courts to tie their hands — they should simply stop their sales to the Saudis. Instead of engaging in legal gymnastics to justify weapons sales, they should take a stance that definitively ends their role in fueling war crimes abroad.

By propagating the fiction that years of repeated Saudi violations of the laws of war are “isolated” incidents, the UK is either denying the facts on the ground or undermining mainstream understanding of the laws governing war. Most likely, it’s doing both.

Akshaya Kumar is the crisis advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy In Focus.

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The EU’s Latest Screw-You to the UK Shows a Big Problem with Trade Agreements | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 29, 2020

Let me translate that for you: European politicians are concerned
there might be too much freedom in the UK after Brexit is finished.
Brussels fears producers in the UK might use that freedom to produce
goods and services that will be more affordable to European consumers.

Thus, the EU’s negotiators want to force British producers to labor
under all the same entrepreneurship-crushing and innovation-destroying
regulations that Europeans now must endure.

Should they refuse, the EU plans to hike tariffs or employ other trade-blocking sanctions.

A free trade agreement longer than one page is not “free” and is benefiting someone that’s not you.

All too often, discussion over trade deals focuses almost solely on tariffs.

It’s true that tariffs—i.e., taxes—are always a significant barrier to free exchange at all levels, but there are also plenty of ways to block or lessen trade that are not primarily tariff-based. Recent conflicts over the pending negotiations between the UK and the EU are a reminder of this.

For instance, The Guardian reported yesterday “The EU will demand the right to punish Britain if the government fails to shadow the Brussels rule book in the future….The bloc will demand that the British government apply EU state aid rules in their entirety as they evolve.”

Specifically, EU countries—especially France—want to make sure

that Britain must comply with strict “level playing field” provisions to ensure that the UK does not undercut the EU on issues like the environment, state aid and workers’ rights.

Let me translate that for you: European politicians are concerned there might be too much freedom in the UK after Brexit is finished. Brussels fears producers in the UK might use that freedom to produce goods and services that will be more affordable to European consumers.

Thus, the EU’s negotiators want to force British producers to labor under all the same entrepreneurship-crushing and innovation-destroying regulations that Europeans now must endure.

Should they refuse, the EU plans to hike tariffs or employ other trade-blocking sanctions.

The Creation of a Global Trade Bureaucracy

This isn’t to say that the EU is the only state or quasi state guilty of working to limit trade while also claiming to be expanding it.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA, the successor to NAFTA) features the use of government regulations to manage trade and limit foreign freedoms that might be used to “undercut” other countries.

As with NAFTA, under the USMCA Mexico can’t export goods to the United States unless those producers are subject to new labor laws demanded by US negotiators. Mexican firms must also adhere to US-approved environmental regulations and to intellectual property laws that extend corporate monopolies (mostly patents) into ever longer time periods.

And, of course, Mexico must conform to “country of origin” rules designed to ensure that other countries aren’t using Mexico as a pass-through for their goods.

What if Mexico doesn’t comply? Well, then tariffs go up, thus illustrating that the agreement was never really about free trade in the first place.

After all, under both the USMCA and the EU agreements, enforcement of all these regulatory provisions requires a whole host of bureaucratic agencies designed to monitor and regulate trade so as to ensure compliance.

When your “free trade” agreement depends heavily on thousands of pages of rules and regulations, then somebody has to check to make sure “40 to 45 percent of automobile parts must be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour,” or that 75 percent of a manufactured good’s components come from an approved location. There must be inspections, reports, audits—and when necessary—judicial-type proceedings designed to determine guilt and punishment.

We should also expect these requirements, regulations, and mandates to get worse over time. Ever since NAFTA was inked, there have been complaints that the agreement did not impose enough new requirements on the Mexicans to suit the desires of environmentalists and labor union advocates. And, of course, huge corporations are always demanding ever-more-exploitive intellectual property rules. We should not expect those demands to go away with the USMCA.

Meanwhile, Europe isn’t exactly in any danger of liberalizing its regulatory regime. If the past decade is any indication, the next ten years will bring a host of new regulations. Through it all, the EU is now telling us the British will be expected to “keep up” or “harmonize” its own laws with those of the EU. Otherwise, Britain will be accused of abusing the system by providing a means for employers and producers to avoid some regulations but still get access to the EU trading bloc.

Poor Countries Often Get the Worst of It

But at least the UK is already a rich country. In the case of Mexico, as with other developing countries, these nontariff trade barriers “may erode the competitive advantage that developing countries have in terms of labour costs and preferential access.”1

Yes, poor countries can offer cheap labor to bring down costs of producing goods. But when exporting those goods requires jumping a host of regulatory burdens, costs can quickly climb again. Moreover, these regulatory requirements can be stacked on top of each other. Under EU rules, for example, a trading partner in Africa might need to meet “sanitary” requirements around food quality while also meeting labor requirements and quality control mandates on manufactured goods. In many cases, these requirements are difficult to meet because producers in poorer nations lack the expertise and capital to achieve compliance at a level far above what the market itself demands.

For this reason, “tariff liberalization alone has generally proven unsuccessful in providing genuine market access [and] has drawn further attention to non-tariff measures (NTMs) as major determinants in restricting market access.”2

Nor are these “regulatory harmonization” efforts the only sort of nontariff barriers at work. According to this 2017 study,3 these can include domestic subsidies designed to make domestically produced goods more competitive than foreign ones. Other nontariff barriers include straight-up quotas on foreign goods and laws requiring governments procure goods and services only from domestic firms. Given the size of the public sector in many countries—including the US, which heavily employs this type of trade barrier—those kinds of provisions have a sizable impact on international trade.4

Global non-tariff barriers, 2009-2016:

Source: Erdal Yalcin, Gabriel Felbermayr, Luisa Kinzius, Hidden Protectionism: Non-Tariff Barriers and Implications for International Trade (Munich: Liebniz Institute for Economic Research, 2017), p. 8.​

Of all of these, though, it may be the use of regulatory mandates as a trade barrier that is the most insidious. By requiring trade partners to expand their own regulatory states so as to “harmonize” their legal environments with those of trading partners, trade agreements actually expand the power and jurisdictions of bureaucratic regimes.

Trade Bureaucracy Destroys Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Rich and Poor Countries Alike

Like all trade barriers, this may be a net win for certain interest groups within the country where the state is pressing for greater regulatory mandates. But these measures also cut out much of the benefit of expanded international trade for entrepreneurs and consumers.

For example, imagine a small chain of US restaurants discovers a new much more affordable source of avocados in El Salvador. The restaurant chain then begins to demand more avocados than it could afford to buy before. Farmers in El Salvador start to hire more workers to harvest the avocados and ship them north. The American restaurants then hire more truckers to deliver the avocados and more waiters to serve their customers.

But then it turns out that the El Salvador farmers aren’t paying the workers the wage mandated in the trade agreement between the US and El Salvador. US trade negotiators then demand that the farm owners pay higher wages or submit to a 20 percent tariff. As a result, El Salvador workers are laid off and become once again unemployed. Meanwhile in the US the restaurant chain must scale back its operations and close stores as a result of rising food costs. Had there been real free trade, of course, the workers, the restaurant owners, and the diners would have all been free to produce avocados in a way that everyone could agree on. But then regulators got involved and imposed regulations to make sure Salvadoran workers and farmers weren’t “undercutting” US workers and farmers. The enforcement of these provisions might be a win for certain American farmers and labor unions. But it’s a loss for everyone else.

So much for “free trade.”

Here we see again the dark side of economic integration: what was billed as a lowering of taxes, barriers, and “transaction costs” was in many ways just an expansion of the state’s jurisdiction. We are witnessing something very similar in the Brexit negotiations. The UK is angling for an agreement to facilitate trade, but in the end it may just end up increasing Brussels’s power over British consumers.

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DOJ Drooling Over Likely Assange Extradition | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 26, 2020

Let’s make this clear, there has never been any evidence presented in the decade since those cables were released, that anyone was ever harmed. This is a baldfaced canard deployed by Washington from the start and it is now being used to attempt to drag Assange back to the U.S. where he faces 18 federal charges of espionage, including theft and hacking, and for that, up to 175 years in prison.

Because the UK has no constitutional guarantee of a free press and its free speech rights are practically non-existent today, which means his pleas for both won’t buy him a basket of fish and chips from the local pub.

In other words, putting trust in the British system of law is a gamble. The British establishment hated Assange from the beginning too. And why not? Former PM Tony Blair was President George Bush’s poodle, and dragged his country into the war in Iraq against the majority of his countrymen’s wishes. They were right there with us as the lies played out in real time.

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The ‘Special Relationship’ Is Collapsing… and That’s a Good Thing — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on August 3, 2019

With FDR’s death, these British operatives took over American foreign policy and wiped out the remaining pro-American forces in the State Department, disbanding the OSS and reconstituting America’s intelligence services as the MI6-modelled CIA in 1948.

Matthew Ehret


British Ambassador Kim Darroch’s return to London from his failed mission in America is being hailed by many naïve commentators as yet another proof that President Trump is a crazed ego-maniac who cannot take criticism from a seasoned professional diplomat.

During the weeks since the “Darroch memo” scandal erupted, mainstream media has totally mis-diagnosed the nature of the breakdown in US-British relations, and has brushed over the most relevant evidence that has been brought to light by Darroch’s cables. This spinning of the narrative has made it falsely appear that the Ambassador merely criticized the President as “clumsy, diplomatically inept, unpredictable and dysfunctional” and was thus unjustly attacked by the President causing the poor diplomate to resign saying “the current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.” Former British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt went so far as to say that Darroch was “the best of Britain” and encouraged all diplomats to continue to “speak truth to power.” International press on both sides of the ocean followed suit portraying Darroch as a hero among men.

Hog wash.

The reality is that Darroch’s messages to the British Foreign Office go much deeper and reveal something very ugly that challenges the deepest assumptions about recent history and modern geopolitics.

Sir Darroch and Britain’s Invisible Hand Exposed

Sir Darroch, (Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George) is not your typical British diplomat. The Knight made a name for himself as a leading agent of Tony Blair while acting as Ambassador to the European Union from 2007-2011 in an effort to win international support for a regime change operation against Iran, Syria and Libya.

Blair and the highest levels of the British oligarchy had managed America as its “dumb giant” throughout the entire post-9/11 regime change program on the Middle East. While many have labelled this policy as “American”, we shall come to see that it was merely the carrying out of the “Blair Doctrine” announced in the 1999 speech in Chicago calling for a post-nation state (post-Westphalian) world order.

It is important to remind ourselves that the dodgy WMD dossier  had been crafted by the British Foreign Office before being used by neo con hawks such as John Bolton and Cheney as justification to blow up Iraq in 2003. It was also the earlier Anglo-Saudi sponsored BAE black operation run by Prince Bandar bin Sultan which funded and directed 9/11 earlier. As US Ambassador beginning in January 2016, Sir Darroch was instrumental in vetting Christopher Steele as “absolutely legit”. Steele’s “dodgy dossier” on Trump was used to justify the greatest witch hunt of a sitting President in history.

When viewed in the same light as the British-directed Russia-gating of the President, these memos shed valuable light upon the Byzantine methods which British intelligence has used to conduct its subtle manipulation of America for a very long time.

Trump Whisperers and Britain’s Other Tools

In his memos, Sir Darroch called for “flooding the zone” with Trump whisperers who can influence the President’s perceptions of the world and push him towards the British agenda on issues such as de-carbonization, Free Trade, and war with Iran.

Sir Darroch said to his superiors that “we have spent years building the relationships; they are the gatekeepers… the individuals we rely upon to ensure the U.K. voice is heard in the West Wing.” Who are these voices who been built up over years? National Security Advisor John Bolton is a long-standing visitor to the British embassy and former Chief of Staff John Kelly has had regular early morning breakfast dates. A Washington Post assessment of July 8th described Darroch’s “coterie- including Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller, Mick Mulvaney, Sarah Sanders and Trump ally Chris Ruddy” who have met at the embassy and “share about the President and his decision-making.”

Darroch also revealed that Trump’s resistance to the British position on war with Iran was not acceptable when the President chose to cancel an attack on Iran on June 21st after an America drone was shot down. Moments after Trump’s cancellation of the attack, a Darroch memo complained that Trump was “incoherent and chaotic” and that Trump could fall into line once he was “surrounded by a more hawkish group of advisers… Just one more Iranian attack somewhere in the region could trigger yet another Trump U-turn.”

Only two weeks after sending this cable, Britain orchestrated a crisis by seizing an Iranian ship on July 5th which snowballed into an Iranian seizure of a British tanker and greater danger of confrontation amongst the NATO axis and Iran.

The biggest confusion spread by the controllers of “officially accepted narratives” when assessing such things as 9-11, regime change wars, or the current debacle in Iran is located in a sleight of hand that asserts that America leads the British in the Special relationship. This belief in an “American empire” betrays a profound misunderstanding of history.

The Fallacious History of US-British “Friendship”

For much of the 19th century, Americans generally had a better understanding of their anti-colonial origins than many do today. Even though the last official war fought between Britain and America was in 1812-15, the British failure to destroy America militarily caused British foreign policy to re-focus its efforts on undermining America from within… generally through the dual infestation of British-sponsored ideologies contaminating the American school system on the one hand and British banking practices of Wall Street’s ruling class on the other. This attack from within required more patience, but was more successful and led to the near collapse of America in 1860 when Lord Palmerston quickly recognized the Southern slave power’s call for independence from the Union. Britain’s covert military support for the Confederate cause was exposed by the end of that war and led to Britain’s payment of $15 million settlement to America as part of the Alabama Claims in 1872.

As the informative 2010 Lpac documentary “The Special Relationship is for Traitors” showcased, during the early 20th century leading American military figures like Brig. General Billy Mitchell understood Britain’s role in supporting the Confederacy and Britain’s manipulation of global wars. General Mitchell fought against the “special relationship” tooth and nail and led the military to create “War Plan Red and War Plan Orange” to defeat Britain under the context of an eventual war between the English-speaking powers. These plans were made US military doctrine in 1930 and were only taken off the books when America decided it was more important to put down London’s Fascist Frankenstein threat than fight Britain head on in WWII.

The Rhodes Scholars Take Over

Before the “Churchill gang” (that Stalin accused of poisoning FDR) could take control of America, Franklin Roosevelt described his understanding of the British influence over the US State Department when he told his son: “You know, any number of times the men in the State Department have tried to conceal messages to me, delay them, hold them up somehow, just because some of those career diplomats over there aren’t in accord with what they know I think. They should be working for Winston. As a matter of fact, a lot of the time, they are [working for Churchill]. Stop to think of ’em: any number of ’em are convinced that the way for America to conduct its foreign policy is to find out what the British are doing and then copy that!” I was told… six years ago, to clean out that State Department. It’s like the British Foreign Office….”

With FDR’s death, these British operatives took over American foreign policy and wiped out the remaining pro-American forces in the State Department, disbanding the OSS and reconstituting America’s intelligence services as the MI6-modelled CIA in 1948.

In 1951, the Chicago Tribune published a incredible series of exposes by journalist William Fulton documenting the cancerous penetration of hundreds of Oxford Trained Rhodes Scholars who had taken over American foreign policy and were directing America into a third world war. On July 14, 1951 Fulton wrote: “Key positions in the United States department of state are held by a network of American Rhodes scholars. Rhodes scholars are men who obtained supplemental education and indoctrination at Oxford University in England with the bills paid by the estate of Cecil John Rhodes, British empire builder. Rhodes wrote about his ambition to cause “the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British empire.” The late diamond and gold mining tycoon aimed at a world federation dominated by Anglo-Saxons.”

Sir Kissinger Opens the Floodgates

A star pupil of William Yandall Elliot (a leading Rhodes Scholar based out of Harvard) was a young misanthropic German named Henry Kissinger.

A decade before becoming a Knight of the British Empire, Kissinger gave a remarkable speech at a May 1981 event on British-American relations at London’s Royal Institute for International Affairs. At this event Kissinger described the opposing world views of Churchill vs. Roosevelt, gushing that he much preferred the post-war view of Churchill. He then described his time working for the British Foreign Office as Secretary of State saying: “The British were so matter-of-factly helpful that they became a participant in internal American deliberations, to a degree probably never practiced between sovereign nations… In my White House incarnation then, I kept the British Foreign Office better informed and more closely engaged than I did the American State Department… It was symptomatic”.

As Kissinger spoke these words, another anglophile traitor was being installed as Vice-President of America. George Bush Sr. was not only the son of a Nazi-funding Wall Street tool and former director of the CIA, but was also made a Knight of the Grand Cross and Order of Bath by Queen Elizabeth in 1993. The most disasterous foreign policies enacted under Reagan’s leadership during the 1980s can be traced directly back to these two figures.

The Potential Revival of the ‘Real’ America

Think what you may of Donald Trump. The fact is, that he has not started any wars which a Jeb or Hillary were happy to launch. He has reversed a regime change program active since 9/11. He has fought to put America into a cooperative position with Russia. He has undone decades of WTO/City of London free trade. He has called for rebuilding productive industries following through by reviving the protective tariff. To top it off, he has been at war with the British-directed deep state for over three years and survived. Now that Bolton has been outed as an ally of Sir Darroch, there is an open acknowledgement that Trump is gearing up to replace the neocon traitor as we speak. Trump has many problems but being a British asset is not one of them.

If you’ve made it this far, you shouldn’t be surprised that the collapse of the special relationship is a very good thing, since America now has a real opportunity to rediscover its true anti-imperial nature by working with Russia, China, India and other nations under the new cooperative framework of space exploration and the Belt and Road Initiative.




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Government That Tortures Journalists – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 10, 2019

By Caitlin Johnstone

The British Foreign Office has banned Russian outlets RT and Sputnik from attending the upcoming Global Conference on Media Freedom in London, citing their predilection for “disinformation”.

“We have not accredited RT or Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation,” said a Foreign Office spokeswoman.

“It takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media; sadly, the world has learned to expect just that from the UK Foreign Office,” RT said in a statement in response.

“It amounts to direct politically motivated discrimination of the Russian channel,” said the Russian embassy in London. “The refusal of accreditation comes on top of the months-long smear campaign against RT by British political figures, governmental bodies, including media regulator Ofcom, and even fellow journalists.”

“Now a leading Russian international TV channel is denied access to the forum, despite being officially registered and working in the UK, on legal grounds,” the embassy added. “What better illustration of the real situation with media freedom in the UK does one need? Yet the organizers of the Conference, as far as we understand, wish to discuss the situation with media freedom anywhere in the world, but not in this country.”

The BBC’s report on this story hilariously contains a brazenly propagandistic video titled “What’s so different about Russia Today?” which carefully explains why it’s very important for the BBC’s audience to understand that RT is propaganda.

“They want to be an alternative view, which in fact is the propaganda machine of, and is paid for by, the Kremlin,” says the video by the BBC, a government-funded news station with an established history of collaboration with British intelligence to deplatform dissenting voices.

“The BBC tries to cover all the angles of the story, including those that wouldn’t be pleasant to the UK government,” the BBC video claims. “RT always picks up pundits, questions, issues, angles that show the Kremlin and the Russian government in a positive way.”

In reality, the BBC is very much guilty of enforcing what British journalist Jonathan Cook recently described as the “narrow manufactured consensus of supposedly rational policy – neoliberal orthodoxy at home, and neoconservative warmongering abroad.” Like all other mainstream British media, the BBC works to shrink the Overton window of acceptable debate and propagandize British citizens into arguing over how existing power structures should be aided and maintained instead of whether those power structures should exist at all. For the BBC to pretend that it is in any way superior to RT on any level is laughable.

But the BBC will certainly be in attendance at the Global Conference on Media Freedom, welcomed with open arms by the British government it only half-pretends to have an oppositional relationship with.

This would be the same British government that is currently holding journalist Julian Assange behind bars pending a US extradition hearing for exposing American war crimes. The same British government who UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer found guilty of participating in the psychological torture of that same journalist. The same Foreign Office whose head, Jeremy Hunt, told Face the Nation last month that he will allow Assange to be extradited to the US if he succeeds in his bid to become the next Prime Minister, after explicitly and repeatedly condemning the persecution of dissident

You won’t see any of this ridiculous, jaw-dropping hypocrisy called out by the BBC, nor by any other mainstream outlet in the uniquely spineless and sycophantic British media. Do you know where you will see this hypocrisy being criticized? RT.

The only reason RT and Sputnik exist with any degree of popularity in the west is because, contrary to what the BBC claims, people are unable to hear any voices that are critical of real power from western mainstream media. If the BBC or any other British outlet were to begin platforming actual anti-war, leftist and anti-establishment voices with any degree of regularity, I can guarantee you with 100 percent certainty that RT and Sputnik would immediately lose their UK audiences.

But that never happens, because British mass media does not “cover all the angles of the story, including those that wouldn’t be pleasant to the UK government” as the BBC claims, it publishes propaganda which directly benefits the underlying power structures of the UK government. Their job isn’t to tell the truth and hold power to account, their job is to normalize the status quo, manufacture consent for endless war, and tell you day in and day out that Jeremy Corbyn is a cross between Adolf Hitler and a werewolf.

Jeremy Hunt longs for the days when a country could peacefully propagandize its citizens without this pesky problem of propaganda from other countries seeping into the mix and forcing everyone to think for themselves. We have been experiencing a brief but wonderful period where the internet has opened up rivers of information from all sorts of perspectives, but we will need to fight to keep those rivers flowing. Invisible censorship has already begun in earnest, and it’s at these conferences where they dream up even more insidious ways to throttle dissident voices.

Be vigilant. Fight them.


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Why the UK Suddenly Is Suffering from a Physician Shortage

Posted by M. C. on June 2, 2019

Doctors respond to these perverse incentives the same way many rational actors would: by closing up shop.

Imagine Sanders and Occasional-Cortex having their wish come true and running US healthcare.

A UK tax policy intended to soak the rich has caused highly specialized physicians and surgeons to retire early, depriving more than a million citizens of their services. A new report details the extent to which progressive taxation has harmed British patients.

The NHS is in a state of perpetual crisis characterized by doctor shortages, long wait times, and rationing. The UK lost 441 general practitioners last year and had 11,576 unfilled vacancies for doctors as of last June.

Closing up Shop

But in the last six years, 585 surgical practices have closed down, affecting 1.9 million patients. Last year alone, 138 surgery facilities closed their doors, up from 18 in 2013.

What changed during that time? The Daily Mail explains:

The [British Medical Association] has warned that growing numbers of GPs and consultants are taking early retirement or cutting back on work to avoid hefty pensions taxes which make it uneconomic to continue practising. Retiring GPs often create a domino effect by leaving remaining colleagues with more work, who in turn become demoralised and quit.

The problem has been compounded by the fact that more doctors are now working part-time.

Some members of UK society dismiss anything published in the Daily Mail. However, more socially prestigious outlets confirmed that analysis:

An investigation [in March] by the Financial Times found widespread evidence of consultants refusing to take on extra work to clear patient backlogs fearing extra pay would bust tax allowances on their pensions contributions, triggering five-figure tax bills. …

[T]he Department of Health conceded that around 3,500 consultants and GPs had retired early over the past three years due to pension tax charges.

The Consequences of Manipulating the Market

The NHS pension system is a Byzantine labyrinth of rules and regulations impossible for most people to navigate. These two videos (see below) explain the problem.

In brief: NHS doctors have no choice about whether, or how much, to contribute to their public pension. Physicians must contribute up to 14.5 percent of procedures deemed “pensionable pay.”

Citizens may also have a private pension plan. But since deposits are tax-deferred, the government slashed the annual limit on contributions from £255,000 in 2010-2011 to £40,000 in 2014-2015. There is also a lifetime pension limit of £1,055,000.

To further complicate matters, a penalty kicks in on anyone earning an “adjusted income” of £150,000 annually—but that amount includes earnings and any growth in the pension plan (which is impossible to foresee).

That can cause doctors to exceed government-mandated caps and see their income taxed at 40 to 45 percent. In some cases, they end up paying the NHS to work…

Be seeing you

tax crime

Change that to ANY TAX.


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UK to unleash internet safety czar on Google, Facebook, Twitter

Posted by M. C. on April 8, 2019

This is the Department of Culture speaking…Comrade

Government approved free speech.


The UK government is taking a hard line when it comes to online safety, moving to establish what it says is the world’s first independent regulator to keep social media companies in check.

Companies that fail to live up to requirements will face huge fines, and senior directors who are proven to have been negligent will be held personally liable. They may also find access to their sites blocked.

The new measures, designed to make the internet a safer place, were announced jointly by the Home Office and Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The introduction of the regulator is the central recommendation of a highly anticipated government white paper, titled Online Harms, published early Monday in the UK.

The regulator will be tasked with ensuring social media companies are tackling a range of online problems, including:

  • Inciting violence and spreading violent content (including terrorist content)
  • Encouraging self-harm or suicide
  • The spread of disinformation and fake news
  • Cyberbullying
  • Children accessing inappropriate material
  • Child exploitation and abuse content

As well as applying to the major social networks, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the requirements will also have to be met by file-hosting sites, online forums, messaging services and search engines.

“For too long these companies have not done enough to protect users, especially children and young people, from harmful content,” said Prime Minister Theresa May in a statement. “We have listened to campaigners and parents, and are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe.”…

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'Due to funding cuts, the Government has supplied us with its very own doctor!'

‘Due to funding cuts, the Government has supplied us with its very own doctor!’


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