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Hometown: Green Mountains
Home country: US
Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM
Number of posts: 11,426

Journal Archives

Bill Clinton: I Tried to Put Russia on Another Path - The Atlantic


Not sure how much of this will escape the firewall. An interesting read from a first-hand participant.

When I first became president, I said that I would support Russian President Boris Yeltsin in his efforts to build a good economy and a functioning democracy after the dissolution of the Soviet Union—but I would also support an expansion of NATO to include former Warsaw Pact members and post-Soviet states. My policy was to work for the best while preparing for the worst. I was worried not about a Russian return to communism, but about a return to ultranationalism, replacing democracy and cooperation with aspirations to empire, like Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. I didn’t believe Yeltsin would do that, but who knew what would come after him?

If Russia stayed on a path toward democracy and cooperation, we would all be together in meeting the security challenges of our time: terrorism; ethnic, religious, and other tribal conflicts; and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. If Russia chose to revert to ultranationalist imperialism, an enlarged NATO and a growing European Union would bolster the continent’s security. Near the end of my second term, in 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO despite Russian opposition. The alliance gained 11 more members under subsequent administrations, again over Russian objections.

Lately, NATO expansion has been criticized in some quarters for provoking Russia and even laying the groundwork for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The expansion certainly was a consequential decision, one that I continue to believe was correct.

Articles Prove Chinese Surgeons Procure Organs Before Brain Death : Medscape

Archived: https://archive.ph/pCtUG

In a deep dive into obscure Chinese language transplant journals, a pair of researchers from Australia and Israel have added a new layer of horror to what's already known about forced organ harvesting in China.

Searching for documentation that vital organs are being harvested from nonconsenting executed prisoners, a practice that the China Tribunal confirmed "beyond any reasonable doubt" in 2020, Jacob Lavee, MD, an Israeli heart transplant surgeon, and Matthew Roberston, a PhD student at Australian National University, uncovered something even more shocking: that vital organs are being explanted from patients who are still alive.

"We have shown for the first time that the transplant surgeons are the executioners — that the mode of execution is organ procurement. These are self-admissions of executing the patient," Lavee told Medscape Medical News. "Up until now, there has been what we call circumstantial evidence of this, but our paper is what you'd call the smoking gun because it's in the words of the physicians themselves that they are doing it. In the words of these surgeons, intubation was done only after the beginning of surgery, which means the patients were breathing spontaneously up until the moment the operation started…meaning they were not brain dead."

The article is "evidence that this barbarity continues and is a very valuable contribution that continues to bring attention to an enormous human rights violation," said Arthur Caplan, PhD, head of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine. "What they've reported has been going on for many, many years, the data are very clear that China's doing many more transplants than they have cadaver organ donors," he told Medscape, adding that the country's well-documented and lucrative involvement in transplant tourism "means you have to have a donor ready when the would-be recipient appears; you have to have a matched organ available, and that's hard to do waiting on a cadaver donor."

A New History of World War II - The Atlantic

Archived: https://archive.ph/BZ2OO

This is an incredibly good read describing the basis for WW-II, before and after, as a result of empires and colonialism.

What was the Second World War about? According to Allied leaders, that wasn’t a hard question. “This is a fight between a free world and a slave world,” U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace explained. It is “between Nazidom and democracy,” Winston Churchill said, with “tyranny” on one side and “liberal, peaceful” powers on the other.

Would that it were so simple. The Allies’ inclusion of the Soviet Union—“a dictatorship as absolute as any dictatorship in the world,” Franklin D. Roosevelt once called it—muddied the waters. But the other chief Allies weren’t exactly liberal democracies, either. Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States, and (depending on how you view Tibet and Mongolia) China were all empires. Together, they held, by my count, more than 600 million people—more than a quarter of the world—in colonial bondage.

This fact wasn’t incidental; empire was central to the causes and course of the war. Yet the colonial dimensions of World War II aren’t usually stressed. The most popular books and films present it as Churchill did, as a dramatic confrontation between liberty-loving nations and merciless tyrants. In the United States, it’s remembered still as the “good war,” the vanquishing of evil by the Greatest Generation.

hat impelled Germany, Japan, and Italy on their conquering missions? Given how reckless and ruinous their belligerence was, pathologizing it is easy. Madness clearly abounded in the high command, but three countries going insane in the same way at the same time isn’t exactly a satisfying explanation. A better one, Overy suggests, lies further in the past.

The 19th century had seen a “veritable steeplechase for colonial acquisitions,” as Italy’s foreign ministry described it. Britain won that race, with other countries that would eventually join the Allies taking secondary prizes. The Axis powers, late out of the gate, got the leftovers. Worse, the winners locked the losers out, rebuffing Japan’s attempts to join the great powers’ club and stripping Germany of its meager overseas holdings after World War I. Going into the 1930s, the Allies held 15 times more colonial acreage than the Axis states did.

Japan, Germany, and Italy were rising economies without large empires. Was that a problem? Today, it wouldn’t be; 21st-century countries don’t require colonies to prosper. But different rules applied in the first half of the 20th century. Then, industrial powers depended on raw materials from far-off lands. And without colonies, they had every reason to worry about ready availability. Hitler never forgot the World War I blockade that largely cut Germany off from such materials as rubber and nitrates and caused widespread hunger. The global Depression, which shrunk international trade by two-thirds from 1929 to 1932, threatened a new form of blockade.

Disbelief in human evolution linked to greater prejudice and racism - phys.org


A disbelief in human evolution was associated with higher levels of prejudice, racist attitudes and support of discriminatory behavior against Blacks, immigrants and the LGBTQ community in the U.S., according to University of Massachusetts Amherst research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Similarly, across the globe—in 19 Eastern European countries, 25 Muslim countries and in Israel—low belief in evolution was linked to higher biases within a person's group, prejudicial attitudes toward people in different groups and less support for conflict resolution.

I'm starting to think that the first question I should ask when I meet someone is "Do you believe in evolution?". That way I'd know whether or not to bother having any further conversation with them.

This study reinforces many previous ones that equate a conservative brain with one that doesn't like new things - especially those that upset the status quo.

NPR: Russia threatens to fine Wikipedia if it doesn't remove some details about the war


Amazing that they think this will work. The Streisand Effect.

Guessing it is this page based on the Talk contents:

Although this one is very good also:

Many of these pages are also being archived in various external stores such as archive.ph which will capture the inanity of these attempts to stifle knowledge.

Digby: Bring on the immigrants

The single greatest advantage the United States has over China is that high-skilled immigrants would much rather move here.

Imagine if we reformed our immigration system to actually let them…

So much good information in this post.

Will make the RWNJ's blood boil, I'm sure.

Baker McKenzie, a go-to firm for Kremlin-linked companies, now says it's leaving Russia

Source: ICIJ

America’s largest law firm advised sanctioned Russian companies, including a military weapons maker, banks and an energy giant, a Pandora Papers investigation revealed. In the ruins of the former Soviet Union, legal giant Baker McKenzie found lucrative work for Russia’s largest state-controlled companies. From energy titan Gazprom to banking behemoth VTB to Rostec, maker of Kalashnikov rifles and fighter jets, Baker McKenzie served President Vladimir Putin’s business interests around the globe.

“Baker McKenzie will no longer have a presence in Russia. The offices and the people will transfer to an independent firm,” spokesman John McGuinness said in an email to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists today. “We are exiting relationships with all sanctioned Russian companies, and indeed will not act for any individuals or entities that are controlled by, or directly linked to, the Russian state and/or current regime, whether that work is in Russia or elsewhere in the world.”

As part of the Pandora Papers investigation, ICIJ and its media papers revealed in October that Baker McKenzie had represented at least six sanctioned companies controlled by the Russian government.
ICIJ’s investigation found that the Chicago-based law firm played a key role in creating the offshore economy, shaping financial laws, helping clients link up with offshore services providers and working with notorious fraudsters and autocratic regimes like Putin’s, as well as major corporations.

With 4,700 lawyers in 46 countries and annual revenue of $3.1 billion, Baker McKenzie is among those prestigious international law firms rethinking relations with the Kremlin in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the barrage of sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western governments.

Read more: https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/baker-mckenzie-a-go-to-firm-for-kremlin-linked-companies-now-says-its-leaving-russia/

We can't trust firms like these (law, financial, weapons dealers) to actually do something for the people.

They'll always look for ways to make money - off the people with some of it going to their clients.

Bravo, ICIJ!

HCR: The fall of fascism in Italy in 1944 and parallels with Putin/russian agression in 2022

On June 5, 1944, the day before the D-Day operation in which the Allied forces in World War II invaded German-occupied western Europe, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his 29th Fireside Chat.

Roosevelt told the American people that Rome had fallen to American and Allied troops the previous day. He used the talk not only to announce this important milestone in the deadly war, but also to remind Americans they were engaged in a war between democracy and fascism. And while fascists insisted their ideology made countries more efficient and able to serve their people, the Allies’ victory in Rome illustrated that the ideology of fascism, which maintained that a few men should rule over the majority of the population, was hollow.

Rome was the seat of fascism, FDR told his listeners, and under that government, “the Italian people were enslaved.” He explained: “In Italy the people had lived so long under the corrupt rule of Mussolini that, in spite of the tinsel at the top—you have seen the pictures of him—their economic condition had grown steadily worse. Our troops have found starvation, malnutrition, disease, a deteriorating education and lowered public health—all by-products of the Fascist misrule.”
In 2019, Russian president Vladimir Putin told the Financial Times that the ideology of liberalism on which democracy is based has “outlived its purpose.” Multiculturalism, freedom, and human rights must give way to “the culture, traditions, and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.”

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán has been open about his determination to replace western-style democracy with what he has, on different occasions, called “illiberal democracy,” or “Christian democracy,” ending the immigration that he believes undermines Hungarian culture and rejecting “adaptable family models” with “the Christian family model.”
That authoritarian government, it turns out, depended on democracies. As businesses pull out of Russia, the economy has collapsed. The ruble is worth less than a penny, and the Russian stock market remains closed. Today, the Russian economic ministry announced it would take the property of businesses leaving the country. Notably, it claimed the right to take about $10 billion of jets that had been leased to Russian airlines, quite possibly a way to get spare parts for the airplanes the huge country needs and can no longer get.

Putin is trying to prop up his power by insisting his people believe lies: on Friday, he signed a law making it a crime for media to produce any coverage the government says is “false information” about the invasion. He is now pushing the false claim that the U.S. is developing biological weapons in Ukraine, and has requested a meeting of the U.N. Security Council tomorrow to discuss this issue. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby called the story “classic Russian propaganda.”

Enough quoting. This is a great column and the comments are chock full of excellent background information.


"The Horror" Graphic: If you don't recognise these tactics, then you haven't been paying attention.


Bellingcat: Follow the Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map

Up-to-date reported incidents with details.

How to use the interactive map:

Editor’s note: The Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map is a crowdsourced effort by Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) and the wider open source community to map, document and verify significant incidents during the conflict in Ukraine. Its aim is to provide reliable information for policymakers, journalists as well as justice and accountability bodies about the evolving situations both on-the-ground and online. Bellingcat, Mnemonic and the Conflict Intelligence Team have also begun to contribute to the map in recent days.

Here, Benjamin Strick of the CIR team details the map and how it can be used.

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