On January 30th, the South China Morning Post bannered “How Donald Trump could change the course of Meng Wanzhou’s ‘years-long’ battle against extradition: Canada usually complies with extradition requests but the China-US trade war – and the US president’s apparent willingness to intervene in the case – could make the difference this time.” That “‘years-long’ battle” referred to an expected future “years-long” legal wrangling over Wanzhou, not to anything in the past, because the extradition request was made by U.S. President Donald Trump only on December 1st of last year.
Canada’s press likewise is reporting the intense political nature of Trump’s demand to bring Wanzhou, one of China’s top international corporate executives, to the U.S., on criminal charges. On January 28th, Canada’s Global News TV network headlined “Conservatives slam Liberals for handling of Meng Wanzhou case” and “Liberals say Conservatives making ‘false claims’ on China”.
On January 29th, Toronto’s Globe and Mail headlined “U.S. formally requests extradition of Meng Wanzhou to face financial fraud charges”, and reported that “Canada has received a formal request from the United States for the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, officially starting the clock on a complex process that could ultimately see her sent stateside to face multiple charges of financial fraud. … Ms. Meng, who is living in her Vancouver home, appeared briefly in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday for a bail adjustment hearing.”
China’s Government views “Western egoism and white supremacy” behind Trump’s actions in this case.
On January 9th, China’s Ambassador to Canada reacted to the 1 December 2018 arrest of the the mega-corporate Chinese executive Wanzhou by saying:
Without violating any Canadian law, Meng was arrested last month and put in handcuffs just as she was changing planes at the Vancouver International Airport. … Some people in Canada, without any evidence, have been hyping the idea that Huawei is controlled by the Chinese government and poses security threats to Canada and other Western countries, and that Chinese law requires China’s enterprises to collaborate with the government in espionage activities. However, these same people have conveniently ignored the PRISM Program, Equation Group, and Echelon — global spying networks operated by some countries that have been engaging in large-scale and organized cyber stealing, and spying and surveillance activities on foreign governments, enterprises, and individuals. … Something is considered as “safeguarding national security” when it is done by Western countries. But it is termed “conducting espionage” when done by China. What’s the logic? … The reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to Western egoism and white supremacy. In such a context, the rule of law is nothing but a tool for their political ends and a fig leaf for their practising hegemony in the international arena.
The U.S. arrest warrant alleged that Wanzhou had violated Trump’s anti-Iran sanctions. However, Trump himself had instituted those sanctions after his having single-handedly, and in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that all treaties must be approved by at least two-thirds of all sitting U.S. Senators, failed to seek such Constitutionally mandated approval (and his predecessor, Barack Obama, had likewise committed the United States to ending those sanctions by Obama’s violating the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of at least a two-thirds vote approving in the Senate any treaty-change). Violating the U.S. Constitution is now perhaps even the norm for the U.S. Government, especially regarding international relations. And the U.S. Supreme Court almost never intervenes or objects, at all, in any way. The U.S. Constitution is dying, if not dead, at least on many of the most important issues.
(Incidentally, at the time, 9 June 2010, when the sanctions were first being imposed against Iran, Susan Rice, Obama’s U.S. U.N. Ambassador, had endorsed them heartily, by saying, “Today, the Security Council has responded decisively to the grave threat to international peace and security posed by Iran’s failure to live up to its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).” So, these sanctions were instituted by the U.N. Security Council in 2010 with Obama’s support. However, in order for the U.S. to participate in them without violating the U.S. Constitution, a two-thirds vote of the U.S. Senate was necessary, but no such vote was ever held in the U.S. Senate. And such ignoring of the U.S. Constitution is normal. Furthermore, the White House proudly announced on 31 July 2012, during President Obama’s re-election campaign, that “With President Obama’s leadership, the United States gained the support of Russia, China, and other nations to pass United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 in June 2010, which created the most comprehensive and stinging international sanctions the Iranian regime has ever faced.” It wasn’t until Obama’s coup in Ukraine in February 2014, that Russia’s leader, Putin, knew that Obama had been deceiving him that Obama was intending to reverse, or “reset”, former U.S. President G.H.W. Bush’s secret policy since the time of 24 February 1990 to continue America’s Cold War against Russia even after the Soviet Union and its communism and Warsaw Pact would end, as they all did in the following year, 1991. Obama had used that deceit in 2010 to get Russia and China onboard America’s anti-Iran train. Under Trump, it’s a train that’s crashing through to China. All of this — everything — is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s two-thirds-of-Senate clause. U.S. foreign policies are established, and set, almost entirely in secret, and without any public debate, even in the U.S. Senate. That’s the reality: a secretly imposed dictatorship. This is America’s reality, today.)
On December 11th of 2018, the economist Jeffrey Sachs bannered, at Asia Times, “Meng arrest a huge provocation to China”, and he said:
The context of the arrest matters enormously. The US requested that Canada arrest Meng in the Vancouver airport en route to Mexico from Hong Kong, and then extradite her to the US. Such a move is almost a US declaration of war on China’s business community. …
The US rarely arrests senior businesspeople, US or foreign, for alleged crimes committed by their companies. Corporate managers are usually arrested for their alleged personal crimes (such as embezzlement, bribery or violence) rather than their company’s alleged malfeasance.
Yes, corporate managers should be held to account for their company’s malfeasance, up to and including criminal charges; but to start this practice with a leading Chinese businessperson, rather than the dozens of culpable US CEOs and CFOs, is a stunning provocation to the Chinese government, business community, and public.
Meng is charged with violating US sanctions on Iran. Yet consider her arrest in the context of the large number of companies, US and non-US, that have violated US sanctions against Iran and other countries. In 2011, for example, JPMorgan Chase paid US$88.3 million in fines for violating US sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan. Yet chief executive officer Jamie Dimon wasn’t grabbed off a plane and whisked into custody.
And JPMorgan Chase was hardly alone in violating US sanctions. Since 2010, the following major financial institutions paid fines for violating US sanctions: Banco do Brasil, Bank of America, Bank of Guam, Bank of Moscow, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Clearstream Banking, Commerzbank, Compass, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, JP Morgan Chase, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Pakistan, PayPal, RBS (ABN Amro), Société Générale, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Trans-Pacific National Bank (now known as Beacon Business Bank), Standard Chartered, and Wells Fargo.
None of the CEOs or CFOs of these sanction-busting banks was arrested and taken into custody for these violations. …
Quite transparently, the US action against Meng is really part of the Trump administration’s broader attempt to undermine China’s economy by imposing tariffs, closing Western markets to Chinese high-technology exports, and blocking Chinese purchases of US and European technology companies. One can say, without exaggeration, that this is part of an economic war on China. … They certainly have nothing to do with upholding the international rule of law.
The US is targeting Huawei especially because of the company’s success in marketing cutting-edge fifth-generation (5G) wireless technologies globally. …
Sanctions regarding non-national parties (such as US sanctions on a Chinese business) should not be enforced by one country alone, but according to agreements reached within the United Nations Security Council. In that regard, UN Security Council Resolution 2231 calls on all countries to drop sanctions on Iran as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. Yet the US – and only the US – now rejects the Security Council’s role in such matters.
Michael Moore’s latest documentary film, Fahrenheit 11/9 (not to be confused with his 2004 Fahrenheit 9/11) documents that throughout the career of Donald Trump, he has been racist in his actions, even where he wasn’t also racist in his explanations of his actions. Moore also documented there the full participation of Trump’s predecessor, President Obama, in the Republican Michigan Governor Richard Snyder’s having caused and then covered up the lead-poisoning of Flint Michigan’s children, who are overwhelmingly Blacks. However, with Obama, the contempt appears to have been against the poor, whereas with Trump, there is, in addition to that classism, clearly a hatred of racial and ethnic minorities. That’s perhaps the major difference between the two men.
Could it then be that Trump’s now-indubitable racism is part of his sense of “Make America Great Again” (the alleged basis of his trade-policies)? The Republican Party says that it’s not, but they also deny that Trump is a racist, which now clearly is a false allegation about him — he certainly is a racist.
How much more about America’s foreign policies might Trump’s deep-seated white-supremacist racism be affecting those policies — especially trade-policies (and this includes, of course, economic sanctions)?
Given the evidence that’s presented in Moore’s documentary, his racism has been expressed — in his actions — against Blacks, and it has also been widely expressed, even also verbally, against Hispanics, and, perhaps even more blatantly, against Muslims (except not against U.S.-allied aristocracies, such as the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia).
In keeping with the majority of America’s Christians, Trump is not racist against Jews. He even is largely financed by Jewish billionaires, such as the Israeli Sheldon Adelson. But whether he is racist against Chinese is, as of yet, an open question. But now, China’s Government has raised the issue.
The Chinese Government is certainly not going beyond the bounds of the evidence and of logic, to raise this question.
Furthermore, Sachs’s own statement against Trump on this matter is actually a damnation against not only Trump but also against all recent U.S. Presidents and their Administrations, when Sachs said, “Yes, corporate managers should be held to account for their company’s malfeasance, up to and including criminal charges; but to start this practice with a leading Chinese businessperson, rather than the dozens of culpable US CEOs and CFOs, is a stunning provocation to the Chinese government, business community, and public.” Sachs was saying there that, up till the present time, it has never been the case that “corporate managers” are “held to account for their company’s malfeasance, up to and including criminal charges.” He is there alleging that the only, or virtually only, people who are in prison in the United States, are people who are not “corporate managers” who themselves carried out, or rewarded or incentivized their employees to carry out, “their company’s malfeasance.” Only lower-level people are subjected to any significant imprisonment in the United States, no matter how corrupt the mega-corporations are. He is saying that America, which has the world’s highest percentage of people in prison, allows “corporate managers” to perpetrate, and to reward their employees for perpetrating, “criminal” acts. So, although America is an incredible police-state regarding its poor (and the Moore film also copiously displays that fact) Sachs, there, is saying that “corporate managers” in the United States are actually above the Law. That’s a remarkable admission from him — and it’s true. For the aristocracy, America is no police-state at all, except one that protects them and their privileges — privileges both legal and otherwise, both in prison and on the outside.
Another meticulously researched nonfiction movie, this a top-quality “docu-drama,” is the 2014 Kill the Messenger, about how the CIA was caught organizing and protecting narcotics kingpins and using kickbacks from this multibillion-dollar-per-year illegal business to finance off-the-books foreign regime-change operations, which are too costly to be funded merely in the official ways. The same U.S. Presidents who were famously waging “The War Against Drugs” were secretly having their CIA use the illegal narcotics trade in order to pump up up their regime-changes abroad, to serve America’s billionaires’ interests. And then the mainly Blacks who became victimized by, and who participated in, this trade got slammed into prison for it, while their CIA-cooperating bosses did not. This movie is a cult classic amongst investigative journalists, because it shows how the CIA destroyed and perhaps murdered the great investigative reporter, Gary Webb, who revealed the scandal. America’s major ‘news’-media fired him and never allowed him ever again to work for them. Then, once Webb’s career was destroyed by that blacklisting of him on the part of the ‘news’-organizations, and he was in obscurity, he died mysteriously with two bullets in his head, and few among the public even heard about the murder, at the time. It seems that Webb never got to know that the CIA’s narcotics trafficking kickbacks had begun with the CIA’s first-ever coup, which was in 1948 Thailand and installed there a general who was the lynchpin for the southeast Asian narcotics network and who helped establish, with Nugan Hand, the CIA’s future dependence upon drug-trafficking. So, both regime-change and narcotics-trafficking were joined together right at the CIA’s very start. But Gary Webb reported only about the Reagan-era part of this longstanding (if not permanent) CIA system. And this was the first time that any part of this seedy history became publicly known (to the extent it did, at all).
It’s not merely Trump, and Moore’s documentary made clear that Obama was just as psychopathic against the poor as Trump is, though slick enough to hide it, even from the people who despise Trump for his racism.
Democracy Or What? – And Then Climate
Most of us were appalled to see what happened in Washington a ten days ago when a ‘mob’, incited by Donald Trump’s address, stormed the Capitol building to prevent the presentation of Joe Biden as the next President. He gave voice to a possible fraudulent (in his mind) election, by putting suspicion on the postal ballot long before the election took place, and tried to ‘engineer’ the ballot by putting his ‘own’ man in control of it. He tried to manipulate the Supreme Court by replacing vacancies with people he expected to follow his lead and must have been disappointed, if not shocked, to find that the court unanimously rejected his claim that the votes had been rigged and should be thrown out. His unruly term of office saw the greatest turnover of people of any previous presidential term as staff could only hack the unusual behaviour of a disordered mind for so long. And so on and on. Much will be written about the 4-year aberration that was Donald Trump. On a lighter note, his escapades in golf have given rise to a book, ‘Commander in Cheat’!
Concerned people have written and spoken about the state of democracy today. Those of us who have spent some time stateside appreciate the immensity of the country, how one is made welcome, but also the prejudices that one finds and the general unknowing of the world we live in by large swathes of the population. Some are still steeped in attitudes that pre-date the civil war. Donald Trump played to all of those and gave them voice. That is a big challenge facing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to get America back on track and if not ‘great again’ to stand up and join the rest of us and share and appreciate that there are billions of other people that are working away with hopes and dreams and looked to the US as a beacon.
That should be the meaning of ‘great again’, and if they can look up and truly be the land of the free and welcome the weak and downtrodden who are fleeing war and violence, as was once the way, then we can say that once more ‘you have earned the right to be the leader of democracy’, and democracy, for all its imperfections, is still the least bad form of government. It is well that the US re-joins the world as totalitarianism, in all its forms and at all levels, is on the rise again. Countries that espouse democracy and heed its precepts need to speak up loudly and be heard once again.
In November of this year is the World Climate Meeting, COP21, in Glasgow, Scotland at which the latest news on climate will be debated. Hopefully, the coronavirus will be on the decline and the US election will no longer be an issue. We can then get together on the one matter that should concentrate all our minds and separate the wheat from the chaff because there is some said that is wrong that muddies the waters, and leads the politicians to make incorrect decisions. But change is around us.
Climate is a highly complex issue, arguably the most complicated, that not all the modelling can get right, but study must go on. It is strange that it has only come to our notice since the population of the world over the past 60 years, has increased dramatically from approaching 3 billion to 8 billion. Mankind has thus significantly increased breeding himself, and thus his use of natural resources, for example cutting down trees, which need carbon dioxide to live, and vastly increased the pollution of the seas and the seas cover 70% of the planet. It has only been in comparatively recent times that we have started to pay attention to the seas and are alarmed at what we see.
However, we have the tools to put things right. We just need the will and ability to spend money wisely.
A Disintegrating Trump Administration?
If Donald J. Trump wanted a historic presidency, he certainly seems to have achieved it — he is now the only president to have been impeached twice.
According to the rules, the House impeaches followed by a trial in the Senate. There is precedent for the trial to continue even when the office holder has left office. Should that trial result in conviction, it prevents him from seeking any future elected office. Conviction is unlikely, however, as it requires a vote of two-thirds of the members present.
It has been reported that Trump wanted to lead the crowd in the march to the Capitol, but was dissuaded from doing so by the Secret Service who considered it much too dangerous and could not guarantee his safety.
Various sources attest that Trump’s mind is focused on pardons including himself and his family members. Whether it is legal for him to pardon himself appears to be an unresolved question. But then Trump enjoys pushing the boundaries of tolerated behavior while his businesses skirt legal limits.
He appears to have been greatly upset with his longtime faithful vice-president after a conversation early on the day of the riot. As reported by The New York Times, he wanted Mike Pence to overturn the vote instead of simply certifying it as is usual. The certification is of course a formality after the state votes already certified by the governors have been reported. Pence is reputed to have said he did not have the power to do so. Since then Trump has called Vice President Pence a “pussy” and expressed great disappointment in him although there are reports now that fences have been mended.
Trump’s response to the mob attacking the Capitol has also infuriated many, including lawmakers who cowered in the House chamber fearful for their lives. Instead of holding an immediate press conference calling on the attackers to stop, Trump responded through a recorded message eight hours later. He called on his supporters to go home but again repeated his claims of a fraudulent election.
Aside from headlining the US as the laughingstock among democracies across the world, the fall-out includes a greater security risk for politicians. Thus the rehearsal for Biden’s inauguration scheduled for Sunday has been postponed raising questions about the inauguration itself on January 20th.
Worse, the Trump White House appears to be disintegrating as coordination diminishes and people go their own way. Secretary of State Pompeo has unilaterally removed the curbs on meeting Taiwanese officials put in place originally to mollify China. If it angers China further, it only exacerbates Biden’s difficulties in restoring fractured relationships.
Trump is causing havoc as he prepares to leave the White House. He seems unable to face losing an election and departing with grace. At the same time, we have to be grateful to him for one major policy shift. He has tried to pull the country out of its wars and has not started a new one. He has even attempted the complicated undertaking of peace in Afghanistan, given the numerous actors involved. We can only hope Biden learned enough from the Obama-Biden administration’s disastrous surge to be able to follow the same path.
Flames of Globalization in the Temple of Democracy
Authors: Alex Viryasov and Hunter Cawood
On the eve of Orthodox Christmas, an angry mob stormed the “temple of democracy” on Capitol Hill. It’s hard to imagine that such a feat could be deemed possible. The American Parliament resembles an impregnable fortress, girdled by a litany of security checks and metal detectors at every conceivable point of entry. And yet, supporters of Donald Trump somehow found a way.
In the liberal media, there has been an effort to portray them as internal terrorists. President-elect Joe Biden called his fellow citizens who did not vote for him “a raging mob.” The current president, addressing his supporters, calls to avoid violence: “We love you. You are special. I can feel your pain. Go home.”
That said, what will we see when we look into the faces of these protesters? A blend of anger and outrage. But what is behind that indignation? Perhaps it’s pain and frustration. These are the people who elected Trump president in 2016. He promised to save their jobs, to stand up for them in the face of multinational corporations. He appealed to their patriotism, promised to make America great again. Arguably, Donald Trump has challenged the giant we call globalization.
Today, the United States is experiencing a crisis like no other. American society hasn’t been this deeply divided since the Vietnam War. The class struggle has only escalated. America’s heartland with its legions of blue-collar workers is now rebelling against the power of corporate and financial elites. While Wall Street bankers or Silicon Valley programmers fly from New York to London on private jets, an Alabama farmer is filling up his old red pickup truck with his last Abraham Lincoln.
The New York banker has no empathy for the poor residing in the southern states, nothing in common with the coal miners of West Virginia. He invests in the economies of China and India, while his savings sit quietly in Swiss banks. In spirit, he is closer not to his compatriots, but to fellow brokers and bankers from London and Brussels. This profiteer is no longer an American. He is a representative of the global elite.
In the 2020 elections, the globalists took revenge. And yet, more than 70 million Americans still voted for Trump. That represents half of the voting population and more votes than any other Republican has ever received. A staggering majority of them believe that they have been deceived and that Democrats have allegedly rigged this election.
Democrats, meanwhile, are launching another impeachment procedure against the 45th president based on a belief that it has been Donald Trump himself who has provoked this spiral of violence. Indeed, there is merit to this. The protesters proceeded from the White House to storm Congress, after Trump urged them on with his words, “We will never give up, we will never concede.”
As a result, blood was shed in the temple of American democracy. The last time the Capital was captured happened in 1814 when British troops breached it. However, this latest episode, unlike the last, cannot be called a foreign invasion. This time Washington was stormed by protestors waving American flags.
Nonetheless, it is not an exaggeration to say that the poor and downtrodden laborers of America’s Rust Belt currently feel like foreigners in their own country. The United States is not unique in this sense. The poor and downtrodden represent a significant part of the electorate in nearly every country that has been affected by globalization. As a result, a wave of populism is sweeping democratic countries. Politicians around the world are appealing to a sense of national identity. Is it possible to understand the frustrated feelings of people who have failed to integrate into the new global economic order? Absolutely. It’s not too dissimilar from the grief felt by a seamstress who was left without work upon the invention of the sewing machine.
Is it worth trying to resist globalization as did the Luddites of the 19th century, who fought tooth and nail to reverse the inevitability of the industrial revolution? The jury is still out.
The world is becoming more complex and stratified. Economic and political interdependence between countries is growing each and every day. In this sense, globalization is progress and progress is but an irreversible process.
Yet, like the inhumane capitalism of the 19th century so vividly described in Dickens’ novels, globalization carries many hidden threats. We must recognize and address these threats. The emphasis should be on the person, his dignity, needs, and requirements. Global elites in the pursuit of power and superprofits will continue to drive forward the process of globalization. Our task is not to stop or slow them down, but to correct global megatrends so that the flywheel of time does not grind ordinary people to the ground or simply throw nation-states to the sidelines of history.
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