Author Archives: Alan MacLeod

“No victory for press freedom”—Assange wins case but judge sets worrying precedent

Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States as many feared, but his fate still hangs in the balance as it was the integrity of his mental health, not the right to a free press, that saved him.

Wikileaks cofounder Julian Assange will not be extradited to the United States, a London court decided Monday morning. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange would stay in the United Kingdom over fears for his psychological health. “I find that the mental condition of Mr Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” she said, noting that she did not believe the U.S. prison system had the capability to stop him killing himself. The Australian publisher had been facing up to 175 years in a supermax prison if taken to the U.S. The prosecution, representing the U.S. government, immediately announced that it would appeal the decision. Continue reading

Media responds with apathy, disappointment as US-backed coup gov’t concedes defeat in Bolivia

Across the spectrum, corporate media has endorsed last year’s rightwing takeover of Bolivia, refusing to label it as a coup. Coverage of Sunday’s historical elections hasn’t been much better.

Bolivia’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party is celebrating what appears to be a crushing, landslide victory in Sunday’s elections. Although official vote counting is far from over, exit polls show an overwhelming triumph for the socialists, and a repudiation of the right-wing military government of Jeanine Añez, who has ruled since the coup last November. At the same time, the corporate press appears less than pleased about the return to democracy for the Andean country. Continue reading

IMF seizes on pandemic to pave way for privatization in 81 countries

76 of the 91 loans the IMF has negotiated since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic come attached with demands for deep cuts to public services and policies that benefit corporations over people.

The enormous economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to fundamentally alter the structure of society, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if using the crisis to implement near-permanent austerity measures across the world. Continue reading

Flint-linked Veolia merger brings water privatization closer to ‘global reality’

‘This lack of competition will lead to unaffordable costs for families, slack maintenance and safety procedures, loss of union jobs, and potentially rampant corruption.’—Food and Water Watch

Veolia, one of the world’s largest private water corporations, has just announced the acquisition of 29.9 percent of Suez Water, another of the planet’s largest multinationals, with a plan to gain full control at a later date. Continue reading

A UK court ruled that the administration of Boris Johnson’s position that Juan Guaidó is the legitimate ruler of Venezuela is far from equivocal, paving the way for over $1 billion of the country’s gold to be released

A United Kingdom court has handed the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro a major win today, overturning a previous ruling from a lower court that legitimized the British government’s decision to freeze Venezuelan government gold reserves held in the Bank of England. The English Court of Appeal ruled that the Conservative administration of Boris Johnson’s position that Juan Guaidó is the country’s legitimate ruler was far from equivocal, potentially paving the way for some $1.95 billion of the Central Bank of Venezuela’s gold to be accessed. Continue reading

As his extradition trial drags on, media and rights groups are still ignoring Julian Assange

Many mainstream rights groups and media organizations have a mixed history when it comes to opposing Washington’s agenda. The case of Julian Assange has been no exception.

The extradition case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continues in London. The U.S. government is indicting the Australian living on the other side of the world under its own Espionage Act, with the case widely seen as setting an important precedent for freedom of speech and of the media worldwide. Continue reading

Mail sorting machines across America dismantled ahead of November election

Some 671 mail sorting machines have already been decommissioned ahead of the upcoming presidential election, where record numbers of Americans are expected to vote by mail.

With little explanation from management, United States Postal Service (USPS) machines are being disassembled across the country. A USPS worker leaked images of a newly decommissioned machine—capable of handling 30,000 pieces of mail per hour—to NBC Montana. Local news outlet KUOW report that 40 percent of the post sorting machines in the Seattle-Tacoma area have been recently dismantled, to the dismay of the local workforce. “It would take a crew of 20 to 30 people hand-sorting the mail all night to do what one of these machines can do in a couple hours… Our infrastructure doesn’t work without these machines,” one worker said. “In our meetings with management, the union has been given no rationale whatsoever,” he added. Continue reading

“A disturbing milestone”: America’s top 12 plutocrats now own $1 trillion in wealth

New figures from the Institute for Policy Studies show that, despite a pandemic that has stunted the economy for months, America’s billionaire class is becoming richer than ever, adding nearly $700 billion to their fortune since the nationwide lockdown in March.

For the first time in history, the 12 richest individuals in the United States collectively hold over $1 trillion in wealth. New figures from the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) show that, despite a pandemic that has stunted the economy for months, America’s billionaire class is becoming richer than ever, adding nearly $700 billion to their fortune since the nationwide lockdown in March, now holding $1.015 trillion. Continue reading

Julian Assange court case delayed again in bizarre circumstances

‘I have never in my career faced so much difficulty attempting to trial monitor as in Julian Assange’s case.’—Rebecca Vincent, Director of International Campaigns for Reporters Without Borders.

There were bizarre scenes at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London Friday, as the extradition process of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange (present via videophone from Belmarsh prison) was again delayed. Continue reading

A ‘brazen giveaway’ GOP HEALS Act is a $30 billion bonanza for the Pentagon

The new $1 trillion GOP HEALS act includes billions for F-35 fighters, Apache Helicopters, and other welfare programs for the Pentagon.

On Monday, the Senate GOP released their outline for a new $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. A successor to March’s CARES Act, the 177-page document, named the HEALS Act, includes no funding for hazard pay, the Postal Service, state and local governments, nutrition assistance, or help for uninsured or underinsured Americans, but incorporates a $29.4 billion bonanza for the Pentagon. Continue reading

Trump tells Florida crowd ‘something will happen in Venezuela’ soon

‘Something will happen with Venezuela. That’s all I can tell you,’ Trump said, before not-so-cryptically adding that Washington would be ‘very much involved.’

On a trip to COVID-19 riddled Florida this weekend, President Donald Trump not-so-cryptically revealed that he had something big planned for Venezuela during a meeting with leaders of the U.S. military’s Southern Command. “Something will happen with Venezuela. That’s all I can tell you,” he said, before adding that Washington would be “very much involved” in what he was referencing. Continue reading

TikTok could become latest victim of US war on Chinese competition

A potential US ban on TikTok comes amid a rise in anti-China warmongering that suggests the move has more to do with re-establishing American dominance over social media than concerns over privacy.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed Monday night that he is strongly considering banning the hugely popular video app TikTok. “I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at,” he told Laura Ingraham. When the Fox News anchor pushed him further, asking if anybody should download the app, he responded, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Continue reading

Twitter targets accounts of MintPress and other outlets covering unrest in Bolivia

MintPress News, along with a number of independent Bolivian news outlets and journalists covering the unrest there, were all targeted for suspension at the same time.

Social media giant Twitter took the step of suspending the official account of MintPress News on Saturday. Without warning, the nine-year-old account with 64,000 followers was abruptly labeled as “fake” or “spam” and restricted. This move is becoming a frequent occurrence for alternative media, especially those that openly challenge U.S. power globally. Continue reading

Project Venezuela: Right-wing activists push Wikipedia to blacklist MintPress, other alternative media

A group of right-wing Venezuelans has managed to ban the use of a range of alternative media outlets covering Venezuela, including MintPress News.

Still unable to convince a sufficient number of their countryfolk to support them, the Venezuelan opposition has turned their efforts towards convincing an international audience—primarily Americans—to support their cause. Part of that is spending inordinate amounts of time online, arguing in English on social media, creating bot networks, and editing Wikipedia articles. Many Wikipedia articles on Venezuela are particularly biased towards the opposition, containing numerous inaccuracies, falsehoods and non-sequiturs. Continue reading

Cuomo announces partnership with Bill Gates to ‘revolutionize’ NY schools in wake of coronavirus

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will use the COVID-19 virus as an opportunity to ‘revolutionize’ the state’s school system, inviting Bill Gates to implement his controversial ideas about education.

Taking time off from mismanaging a pandemic and turning lifesaving masks sent from all over the country into an art installation, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared yesterday that he would use the deadly COVID-19 virus as an opportunity to “revolutionize” the state’s school system, inviting Microsoft founder Bill Gates to implement his controversial ideas about education statewide. Cuomo did not divulge many details of what his imagined education revolution would look like but did mention virtual education and remote learning. However, Gates is best known for one thing in education: charter schools. Continue reading

Experts warn of new nuclear arms race after Trump signals US withdrawal from START Treaty

While much of the corporate press has blamed Russia and China for the sudden failure of multiple longstanding nuclear treaties, experts put the blame on squarely on the Trump administration.

After pulling out of multiple international treaties designed to limit the global threat of atomic weapons, the Trump administration is now strongly indicating that it will also let the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expire in February 2021. START is commonly described as “the last remaining arms control agreement constraining the arsenals of the two major nuclear weapons powers,” the United States and Russia. Continue reading

ICE is deporting COVID-19 positive detainees from private immigration prisons

By continuing deportations of quarantined detainees during a pandemic, ICE is greatly increasing the risk of spreading the deadly virus to other countries officials and activists warn.

Woken in the middle of the night and marched out of a crowded, quarantined group cell by prison guards to be deported. That is the story of one D.C.-area man on Wednesday, inside of an ICA Farmville for-profit prison full of hundreds of undocumented immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The unit is in the middle of a two-week lockdown due to a number of inmates showing symptoms of COVID-19, yet that did not stop guards bursting in and taking the man, who has not been named due to fears about retaliation, out to process his deportation, recklessly endangering others in the facility. Continue reading

‘People are being hunted down’—ICE launches rights-busting onslaught against sanctuary cities

Rights are routinely being violated as hundreds of ICE agents storm New York City and other sanctuary cities in a fresh attempt to round up undocumented immigrants.

Operation Palladium has begun. Hundreds of agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have entered New York and other sanctuary cities in a fresh attempt to round up undocumented immigrants. The directive, according to officials, is simple: arrest as many undocumented immigrants as possible and “flood the streets” with officers. Beginning a 24/7 surveillance and detention program, ICE leadership has requested over 500 special agents who normally work fighting trafficking and organized crime to bolster the agency’s numbers. This follows an earlier decision to deploy immigration SWAT teams to round up undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities. Continue reading

Genocide scholar warns that the groundwork for genocide in the US has been laid

Brynn Tannehill, a defense analyst and genocide scholar, took to Twitter to warn that the necessary conditions and many of the precursor events for genocide in the US ‘are in motion.’

Writer, scholar and activist Brynn Tannehill came out to say that the United States, particularly under the Trump administration, is already several steps down the path towards committing genocide against certain segments of the population. In a viral tweetstorm, the navy veteran and former defense analyst claimed that immigrants, Muslims, the homeless and transgender people are most at risk, noting that India, Brazil and much of Europe are moving in a similar direction. Continue reading

Election result signals a possible end of the United Kingdom

On the face of it, Thursday’s election result could hardly have been better for Boris Johnson and his ruling Conservative Party. Campaigning on a simple slogan of “get Brexit done,” the Tories romped to victory, winning 365 of a total of 650 seats, easily enough for a comfortable majority government. In his victory speech, the Prime Minister claimed that he was humbled that the British public had put their trust in him, and promised to make it is mission to work night and day, flat out, to get Brexit done by January 31st, “no ifs, no buts, no maybes.” Continue reading

Insurance companies are spending millions on attack ads against Medicare for All

The privatized, for-profit healthcare industry is close to panicking over the prospect of a nationalized system along the lines of other advanced countries.

Healthcare corporations are spending millions of dollars on astroturfed attack ads against Medicare for All. The Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future, for example, a coalition of hospitals and insurance companies, has spent $1 million on a television campaign against changes to the current healthcare system they profit from. Continue reading