Monday 26th of September 2022


biden blinken...biden blinken...
















WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Joe Biden will convey to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their upcoming meeting that the United States is not seeking to escalate the situation and seeks more stable and predictable relations with Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday.


"President Biden has been very clear for a long time including before he was President that if Russia chooses to act recklessly or aggressively, we’ll respond. But we are not looking to escalate. We would prefer to have a more stable, more predictable relationship, and if Russia moves in that direction, so will we. And I think President Biden will have an opportunity when he meets with President Putin to talk about that directly", Blinken said. 

Raab, in turn, said that an opportunity for better relations with Moscow exists if Russia "changes its behaviour".

At the same time, Blinken said that he welcomed the United Kingdom's recent announcement about extending the global Magnitsky sanctions targeting Russia.


"I also want to thank the United Kingdom, for joining us in holding Russia to account for its reckless and aggressive actions", Blinken said during a briefing. "We have reaffirmed our unwavering support for the independent sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which I'll be visiting later this week. I also welcomed the Foreign Secretary's recent announcement on the extension of global Magnitsky sanctions to combat Russian human rights abuses."

Last week, US President Joe Biden said in an address to Congress that Washington is seeking no escalation with Russia and believes both countries can cooperate where their interests converge. The US president had offered Putin to meet during summer in a yet to be determined European country.

a left off-the-hook...

If you don’t dig deep Joe Biden appears to be governing as the most liberal president since LBJ. But conservatives needn’t worry. Biden is no progressive in centrist’s clothing. 

True, the president’s legislative agenda—after the coronavirus relief bill, which was undeniably progressive—would expand the social safety net, increase direct aid to citizens in trouble and pay for this expansion of the federal government with tax hikes the way we leftists like them, on corporations and rich individuals—if passed.

Which it won’t. No one, Biden least of all, expects Congress to approve his big infrastructure or education packages. Recalcitrant Republicans and reluctant red-state Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will probably water the proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill down to virtual under-$1-trillion insignificance. The $1.8 trillion education proposal, which would be funded by a capital-gains tax increase the GOP hates, is an even more desperate Hail Mary pass.

These bills aren’t serious attempts to legislate. Bidenism is a series of rhetorical feints, window dressing, kabuki theater designed to fail, just like Biden’s half-hearted dead-on-arrival attempt to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Since the Senate parliamentarian ruled against attaching it to the stimulus package, increasing the minimum wage hasn’t heard from again.

The president’s agenda isn’t really an FDR-scale new New Deal. His true goal is to silence his party’s restive progressive base with so much slobbering lip service they won’t know how to hate him.

It’s working so far.

Biden had a front-row seat to the centrist-progressive split that tore the Democratic Party apart over the past quarter century. Though Bill Clinton’s politics of corporatist triangulation triumphed, early signs of trouble from the left emerged in the form of the anti-globalization movement and the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” that disrupted a meeting of the World Trade Organization. A full-fledged leftist rebellion began in 2011 with the Occupy Wall Street movement. OWS went after Obama and establishment neoliberal Democrats, setting the stage for Bernie Sanders’ surprise insurgency in 2016. Damage from that split hobbled enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton, contributing to Donald Trump’s upset win five years later and a slate of presidential primary contenders forced to lean left in 2020.

Biden has drawn the lesson from Obama and both Clintons that dividing his party by stiff-arming the left doesn’t pay in the long run. His center-left incrementalist policy-orientations don’t much differ from his predecessors. But his style is friendlier.

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perceived threats...


Foreign ministers from the world's leading economies met face-to-face for the first time in two years on Monday, following a coronavirus-extended pause.

Britain, which holds the G7 rotating presidency, has billed the event as a chance to reassert its influence and play a greater role in dealing with perceived threats from China and Russia.

The in-person meetings in London on Monday have allowed diplomats the chance to hold informal discussions, which have been missing from teleconferences. On Monday evening, the ministers sat down for a socially distanced dinner. 

The diplomats will hold a more formal face-to-face meeting together on Tuesday. 

US, UK discuss Russia, China and Iran

Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, spoke alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after the two met on Monday. 

They discussed NATO's withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iran, China and the threat posed by Russia.

The pair warned Moscow that it must start respecting international law.

Raab accused Russia of "saber-rattling" with its recent actions on the border with Ukraine.

"The door for positive relations and diplomacy is always open to us," Britain's top diplomat told journalists.

"But what has got to change is Russia's behavior," he said. "Whether it is the brinkmanship and the saber-rattling with Ukraine, whether it is the cyberattacks and the misinformation, or the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

Russia was kicked out of the G8, as it was then called, in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea.

Secretary Blinken said that "if Russia chooses to act recklessly or aggressively, we will respond."

"But we're not looking to escalate: we would prefer to have a more stable, more predictable relationship. And if Russia moves in that direction, so will we."

On China, Blinken said the West was not trying to hold China down.

"It is not our purpose to try to contain China or to hold China down," he said. "What we're trying to do is to uphold the international rules- based order that our countries have invested so much in over so many decades."

The pair also discussed how they should help their nationals currently held in jail by Iran.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the UK was working "very intensively" to secure the release of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, but said reports that she is due to be released by Iran are inaccurate.

"It's incumbent on Iran unconditionally to release those who are held arbitrarily and, in our view, unlawfully, and the reports, I'm afraid, are not yet accurate in terms of the suggestion of her imminent release," he said.

His US counterpart Blinken also said Iranian reports that a US prisoner swap had been agreed "were not accurate", but said that the Biden adminstration had "no high priority" than securing the release of "hostages."

What else is on the agenda?

Raab is hosting his counterparts from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US. 

Representatives of the European Union are in attendance, as are delegates from Australia, India, South Korea, South Africa and the chairman of the Association of South-East Asian Nations.

"We'll be taking action to ensure fair access to vaccines around the world, setting global girls' education targets, agreeing ambitious action on climate change and developing new measures to prevent famine," said Raab.

The foreign minister said on Twitter that "daily testing and careful safeguards" would be in place to endure "COVID-secure conditions."

Raab also held talks Monday with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi.

Britain, which is looking to strike more post-Brexit free trade deals, has applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) - a free trade agreement of mainly Pacific nations which includes Japan.

"The depth of the UK-Japan relationship is based around a shared outlook on democracy, free trade, tackling climate change, and security collaboration," Raab said in a statement.

Cornwall backdrop to leaders' summit

US Secretary of State Blinken's meeting with his UK counterpart comes ahead of the wider gathering in preparation for US President Joe Biden's first scheduled trip since taking office.


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creeping up fascism...



America's complacent descent into fascism



Opinion  » Columnists     

Commonsense dictates that if you take a pile of dog poop, place it on a silver serving tray, cover it in Bearnaise Sauce, and garnish it with parsley, it is still dog poop.


David R. Hoffman



So why is it so difficult for some people to understand that when you create a political system where racism, venality, mendacity, hypocrisy, and sociopathy are considered to be virtues that you end up with some of the most despicable human beings who ever walked the earth controlling your local, state, and federal governments?

When Donald Trump was voted out of office in 2020, millions uttered a collective sigh of relief, comforted by the fact that America's brief dalliance with fascism had mercifully come to an end.

But this has not been the case. Besides Trump himself waiting in the wings, there is no shortage of wannabe Fuhrers seeking to wear the fascist crown. And, even more disturbingly, there appears to be millions of Americans perfectly willing to subject their governments, their nation, and their freedoms to the whims of these prospective Fuhrers.

In two recent Pravda.Ru articles, Tyranny Disguised As Patriotism  and When Tyranny Masquerades As Law And Order, I discussed how fascists often conceal their true motives underneath garments of "patriotism” and/or "law and order.”

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As I said in the latter article, "Tyrants are rarely satiated by denying their "subjects' one or two freedoms. They demand total subservience and control.”

This verity has been exposed yet again by another fascist tactic: Seeking to dictate what people are allowed to learn.

In the State of Idaho, lawmakers "fast-tracked” legislation that bans the teaching of "critical race theory,” even at the university level. In doing so these fascist politicians resurrected the ubiquitous bogeymen they incessantly exploit whenever they what to control what people think and believe: That this theory is just a covert way of "indoctrinating” students into socialism, communism, and Marxism.

Ironically, the evidence that no such indoctrination is occurring stared these fascist lawmakers right in the face, as students came out to protest the passage of this bill, thus proving they have the capacity to think and decide for themselves.

It would seem that Americans would be frightened by these overt attacks on some of the most fundamental freedoms in the United States Constitution, especially since these laws not only allow the government to compel people and entities to utter speech they might otherwise disagree with, they also hide the destruction of these freedoms behind vague definitions of what "critical race theory” is, what "rioting” is, or what "patriotism” is, essentially letting the fascists pick and choose who these draconian laws are enforced against.

For example, some of the new "anti-rioting” laws I discussed in my Law and Order article enhance criminal penalties for vandalizing or destroying "monuments.” Although this sounds laudable in theory, in reality the only "monuments” that will be zealously protected are those that celebrate white supremacy, slavery, and the genocide of Native-Americans, while attacks against monuments to civil rights icons, police violence victims (like George Floyd), or groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) will be routinely minimized or ignored. In addition, the vague definition of "rioting” these laws utilize will initially only apply to those struggling against racial, economic, and social injustice, and not the actions of Trumpian-style insurrectionists, whom these fascist lawmakers currently feast upon for votes.

This is why there are millions of Americans who find nothing disturbing by these fascist assaults on freedom and democracy, because they are not the ones being targeted.

To them I say, your smugness of today might be obliterated tomorrow.

For example, how many of those incited by Trump and others of his ilk to storm the Capitol Building, because Trump's pathetic ego could not fathom that he lost an election, trusted in Fuhrer Donald to pardon them for crimes committed in devotion to him.

But reality taught them something different.

In 1940, as the rumblings of America's Cold War against the Soviet Union were beginning in earnest, the United States Congress passed the Smith Act-a blatantly unconstitutional law that made it illegal to advocate for the overthrow of the United States government by force or violence.

At the time, the American Communist Party was divided between those who supported Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and those who supported his assassinated rival, Leon Trotsky.

A year later, Adolf Hitler broke an agreement with Stalin and launched an attack on the Soviet Union in "Operation Barbarossa,” thus making Stalin an ally of the United States.

The result was, to the Stalinist communists' delight, that Smith act prosecutions were primarily directed against their Trotskyite rivals.

But when World War Two ended, the Cold War truly began, and suddenly many of the same people who were praising the Smith Act just a few years before were now lamenting that it was being used against them.

If history has taught one immutable lesson, it is that while fascists demand that their followers be zealously loyal to them, they are only loyal to themselves.

So do not be surprised if you wake up one morning to discover that your freedoms are no more. And then understand that you will have nobody to blame for this but yourselves, because in your desire to allow fascists to deny freedom to those you oppose, you failed to realize these draconian and unconstitutional laws they rely upon in their lust for power can also be applied to you.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

And if the American fascists continue to have their way, that silence will soon be mandatory.

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From endless wars and imperialist violence to racist systems of oppression and climate destruction, the battles poor and working people face around the globe are as daunting as they are numerous. What will it take to build a grassroots movement that not only combats these destructive forces, but understands them as fundamentally interconnected? In the first segment of this week’s blockbuster “Marc Steiner Show” (now premiering every Tuesday), we talk about what such a movement can look like with Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice.

Then, in our second segment, we talk with Congressman John Sarbanes, U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 3rd congressional district, who introduced H.R.1, the For the People Act, in the House of Representatives. Marc and Rep. Sarbanes discuss H.R.1 and what it would do to restore and protect voting rights in the U.S. They also discuss the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 in the context of the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd.

Tune in for new episodes of The Marc Steiner Show every Tuesday on TRNN.


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american onions...


This week the United States secretary of state Anthony Blinken travels to Ukraine for meetings with the Ukrainian leadership. It is likely that he is taking a message that the Ukrainians do not want to hear: that they must cease the undeclared war against the two breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Although it is not a message that Ukrainians wish to hear, the changing geopolitics of the region give them little choice.

Blinken’s trip to Ukraine is part of a wider American reappraisal of their intentions and priorities in the region. Foremost among those priorities are a softening of the confrontational stance the Americans have taken against Russia in recent years, culminating in a virtual freezing of relations between the two countries. One symptom of this was the Russian withdrawal of its ambassador to Washington, and the unsubtle suggestion that the United States ambassador to Russia should return home for “consultation” with his superiors in Washington.

This was accompanied by other Russian moves against the United States embassy, including a ban on the hiring of locals to work in the embassy, and restrictions on the extent to which American diplomats could move outside of Moscow.

These moves clearly are discomforting to the Americans who, after a shaky start by them, including the Ill-considered and frankly appalling allegations by Biden in a TV interview that the Russian president Vladimir Putin was a “killer”. That remark broke several important diplomatic conventions, quite apart from coming from the head of state of the country that has been responsible for more violent deaths worldwide in the entire post World War II period than any other political leaders by a very considerable margin.

Blinken’s trip to Ukraine has several motives. One is that he wishes to discourage Ukrainians from any ill-considered attack upon the Donbass and Lugansk regions. That such an attack is seriously contemplated by Ukrainians is not in doubt. It is evidenced in part by the build-up of Ukrainian military forces on the borders of the two republics. That build up prompted a Russian response which the Ukrainians, rather hysterically, denounced as evidence of a forthcoming Russian attack on their territory. Were such an attack to occur two facts are immediately apparent.

The first is that it would be in defence of the two breakaway Republic’s, the overwhelming majority of whom are Russian speaking. The second fact is that Russian retaliation would be devastating to the ill-equipped and poorly trained Ukrainians. The overwhelming probability is that their forces would be destroyed in a matter of days, and with it likely the survival of the Ukrainian regime.

That is not an outcome the Americans wish to see happen, not only because of the demise of their erstwhile ally, but because the Americans have a wider interest in a good relationship with Russia.

Something approaching a normalisation of the United States-Russia relationship is the broader aim of the United States administration. It is not because they see Russia as a friend, much less any sort of ally, but rather they are playing a bigger geopolitical game. That game involves the United States diminishing its problems in Europe to better concentrate its efforts on confronting the country that they see as posing the greatest threat to remaining United States hegemony: China.

One of the major geopolitical changes in recent years has been the growing strategic relationship between Russia and China. That growing closeness had a number of precipitating factors, not the least of which was unrelenting United States hostility to the ambitions of both countries. That ambition had a largely peaceful component, with both countries at the forefront of a wider geopolitical realignment taking place around the world.

That realignment has seen, for example, the growth of trading arrangements separate from the western domination patterns that have prevailed for the past 200+ years. It has led to the growth of alternative economic patterns, of which the Shanghai Corporation Organisation is an outstanding, but far from unique, example.

The United States clearly sees China as a major threat to the dominant position the United States has enjoyed in the world, and it is determined to do everything in its power to limit or frustrate the continued expansion of that Chinese power.

The current campaign being waged against China for the alleged ill-treatment of its Uighur population is but one example. The more extreme allegations in respect of this group allege genocide, a frankly absurd proposition. An unrelenting propaganda campaign against the reincorporation of Hong Kong back into China is another manifestation of this attack. The West would clearly like people to forget that Hong Kong was part of China for thousands of years before British colonialism brought havoc with China, receiving no little help from infecting the population with heroin grown in Afghanistan.

Not the least of British abuses was denying the Hong Kong population the right to vote in the management of their own affairs.

China has rejected that history and any continuation of British say over the conduct of their own affairs. Hence the ongoing lament from the British that the Chinese government is failing to honour the terms of the 1999 agreement that saw Hong Kong return to Chinese rule, albeit with an extraordinarily long transition period which the Chinese have now rejected.

The United States plan to recover lost ground with Russia is a clear example of a ploy to enable them to concentrate their fire power upon China. Manufacturing an excuse for war over the status of Taiwan is clearly part of that plan. The Russians however, are far from stupid. They see the United States plan for what it clearly is: an attempt to separate China and Russia so that they can concentrate their animosity on China.

The plan will not work. Not only do China and Russia see it for what it is, the world itself is no longer willing to tolerate the unbridled use of US hegemony.

Let Biden and Putin meet by all means. Any reduction in tension between the two nations is to be welcomed. But the Americans need to know that their plans for a China-Russia break up will not happen. The sooner they realise that, the sooner will come the chances for a genuinely peaceful coexistence between their nations.


James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.



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Anyone who slogs through the diplomatic verbiage generated last week by President Biden’s inaugural overseas trip will notice one phrase again and again: “rules-based.” It appears twice in Mr. Biden’s joint statement with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, four times each in the communiqués the United States issued with the governments of the Group of 7 and the European Union, and six times in the manifesto produced by NATO.

That’s no surprise: “Rules-based order” (or sometimes, “rules-based system”) is among the Biden administration’s favorite terms. It has become what “free world” was during the Cold War. Especially among Democrats, it’s the slogan that explains what America is fighting to defend.

Too bad. Because the “rules-based order” is a decoy. It’s a way of sidestepping the question Democrats should be asking: Why isn’t America defending international law?

Although now mostly directed at China and Russia, the phrase “rules-based order” began as a critique of Republicans. As the University of Chicago’s Paul Poast has detailed, the term gained currency after George W. Bush invaded Iraq without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which exemplified his general disregard for international restraints on American power.

“Rules-based order” became shorthand for the Democratic alternative. And after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and China in 2016 flouted an international ruling against its expansive claims in the South China Sea, the phrase gained new life as a way of distinguishing America from its increasingly assertive challengers. A key purpose of American foreign policy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained last month, is to “uphold this rules-based order that China is posing a challenge to.”


OK, but which rules, exactly, is America upholding? Biden administration officials don’t say. In fact, they never clearly define the term at all. Arguing about phrases like “rules-based order,” the political scientist Patrick Porter has noted, is like “wrestling with fog.”

That’s exactly the point. Since the “rules-based order” is never adequately defined, America’s claim to uphold it can never be disproved.

There is, however, a related phrase with a much clearer meaning: “international law.” For decades, diplomats and scholars around the world have used it to encompass the written and unwritten rules that govern the behavior of nations. And it is precisely because international law is so much better defined that Biden officials — when speaking solely for the United States — use it far less.

If Mr. Biden or Mr. Blinken declared that America upholds international law, critics might ask how that squares with Washington’s continuing bipartisan love affair with sanctions so punitive that both current and former U.N. special rapporteurs have likened to them economic war. Skeptics might wonder why the United States refuses to sign or ratify dozens of international treaties — many of them endorsed by a vast majority of countries — including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, the very treaty that the Biden administration condemns Beijing for violating with its encroachments in the South China Sea. Or they might question why the United States still maintains a law that authorizes an American president to use military force to extricate Americans who are prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

International law is contested and fragile, and not all countries shape it equally. But unlike “rules-based order,” it is not purely an American creation, which means it offers some independent standard against which to evaluate American behavior. For many Trump-era Republicans, that’s what makes it pernicious. Putting “America First” means liberating Americans from the need to care about what non-Americans think.

That’s not the Biden administration’s view. Mr. Biden and his top advisers recognize that international legitimacy constitutes a form of power. They badly want America’s allies — and American voters — to see America’s overseas behavior as less capricious and less predatory than the behavior of America’s chief rivals. They just are not willing to submit that proposition to any test other than one America writes itself.

Which is why their efforts are likely to enjoy only modest success. Yes, non-Americans have more confidence now that the United States will do the “right thing” internationally than they did when Donald Trump was president. But according to an Alliance of Democracies Foundation poll taken in 53 countries recently, people around the world still view the United States as a greater threat to democracy in their country than China or Russia. If Democrats regularly asked whether America’s actions violate international law, they would find that sentiment easier to understand.

The literary critic Edward Said once wrote, “Every single empire in its official discourse has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special.” The phrase “rules-based order” is the latest entry in America’s imperial lexicon. Given the Republican Party’s fervent hostility to international law, perhaps it’s the best a Democratic president can do. But the very nebulousness that makes “rules-based order” palatable in Washington ensures its ultimate irrelevance beyond America’s shores.


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