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YEAR END REVIEW 2019 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Barry Kowal   
Dec 23, 2019 at 11:43 AM

YEAR END REVIEW 2019

Hello Everyone!!!! 

   This is one of those group e-mails that are shot out at the last minute to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS or whatever you celebrate (or If you celebrate anything at all) and a HAPPY NEW 2018!!! Sort of just realised that Christmas is Wednesday! For those of you who are new to my mailing list I do this year-end review every year.I have been doing this for every year since 2004.These reviews are fairly lengthy so I reckon most of you probably don't even read it.

   Those of you who do,thank you. The review is available all year round on my website at: http://hitsofalldecades.com/chart_hits/

This year like last year and the year before I have images that shaped 2018.Each one of these images will be addressed in my year-end review.

Now I will begin the year-end review. Every year I start with the news and first discuss issues related to the USA and then I will discuss issues regarding other parts of the world. Some issues are intertwined as they involve more than one country.Then I do the obituaries,then sports,then entertainment and the closing.The topics look at several events of the past year.So hold your breath now and let's begin by looking at what has transpired in this world that we live in over the past 365 days.


REAL NEWS-NOT CNN

 

INTRODUCTION 

  The News I display here is not CNN,MSNBC or FOX News.It is real news.I will post things you will not read or hear in the mainstream media.

  Now I will start the 2019 Review by continuing with a story I started with in my 2017 Year-End Review and continued with in my 2018 Year-End Review

under the title "THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE:

See:http://hitsofalldecades.com/chart_hits/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4174&Itemid=58 and

http://hitsofalldecades.com/chart_hits/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4887&Itemid=58

 

THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE CONTINUED 

  To understand this article better you should first read my article in my 2017 Year-End Review titled :THE RISE AND FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE" at: http://hitsofalldecades.com/chart_hits/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4174&Itemid=58

and in my 2018 Year-End Review under the title :"THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE" see:http://hitsofalldecades.com/chart_hits/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4887&Itemid=58 

 That will bring you up to 2019. 

 I use the term "empire"bsolely for lack of a better word. A more appropriate word to describe American dominance would be "hegemony". But I'll use "empire as a pejorative term for the sake of continuity and simplicity. As I said before when empires fall you don't just wake up one day and the empire is gone.It usually takes decades for empires to fall. Further,when empires do fall they do not suddenly become third world countries. Although the British Empirehas fallen,the UK is still a major player on the world stage.This year you have seen many signs of the falling American empire.It now appears that the USA is no longer the sole superpower.Although Americans may be in denial.We are now living in a multi-polar world.Here are four good reasons why I draw this conclusion.

 

 1)CHINA WILL NOT CAPITULATE TO US PRESSURE

 

  Being unprovoked the USA started a trade war with China.For every tariff the USA has imposed on China,China has retaliated with at least equal tariffs on the USA (measured response).China has also imposed sanctions on any US business selling military hardware to Taiwan.

  One would ask why really did the USA really start the trade war.Well,the US has it ingrained in their psyche that they are exceptional and are exclusively number one in the world.Well,China sort of burst their bubble.The economy and technology of China has been surpassing that of the USA.Leaders in the USA believe this can not and must not happen.The Chinese creation of 5-G by Huawei proved to the world that China was technologically more advanced than the USA.In response in December of 2018,the USA got their Canadian lap dogs,the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to act at the request of the United States government,to arrest Huawei executive Meng Ping at Vancouver International Airport en route to Mexico from Hong Kong.TheUnited States alleged Meng Ping defrauded multiple financial institutions in breach of US imposed bans on dealing with Iran.Meng has yet to be extradited.But the USA really arrested Meng to stop the influence of Huawei and discredit the company and the 5-G Network.

   Also in November the USA tried to assert it's "Freedom Of Navigation" by sending naval vessels through the South China Sea.In response,the Chinese government sent a defiant warning to Washington,urging the US to stop its patrols in a furious statement.

   A spokesman for China;s Southern Theatre Command (military) said:'We call on the US to stop such provocative acts to avoid the happening of any mishap."China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and its surrounding area."

   Chinese armed forces later sent military personal to intercept two US Navy vessels after they entered the South China Sea.China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) said: "The Chinese PLA sent ships and aircraft to conduct the whole-process monitoring and verification on the two US warships and warned them to leave"

     They warned a "mishap" could occur should the US remain in the periphery of the waters, and were infuriated further when the US sent a patrol ship to Vietnam to help bolster Hanoi's capacity to thwart Chinese encroachment.

   At a closed-door meeting later on,Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe urged US Defence Secretary Mark Esper to  "stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea", according to a Chinese spokesman. 

 Further,China will not take America's bullshit lying down.

 On Monday,December 2nd China retaliated against the USA by deciding to take a series of actions in response to the United States's move of signing the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 into law.

   Denouncing the passing of the bill as a severe interference in China's internal affairs and a serious violation of international law,Beijing suspended the review of the request for U.S. maritime vessels visiting Hong Kong and sanction several U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGO), effective immediately. The list includes the National Endowment for Democracy (NED),National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs,International Republican Institute,Human Rights Watch and Freedom House.

  "This is the price they are paying for destroying Hong Kong's peace and stability," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said,referring to facts and evidence that showed U.S. NGOs' backing anti-Beijing activists in Hong Kong,funding 'pro-independence' protests and inciting acts of extreme violence and crimes.

   The NED,one of the U.S. NGOs to be sanctioned,though defines itself as a private,non-profit organization committed to supporting democratic institutions worldwide,has been proved covert ties with Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which operates two of its largest overseas branches in Hong Kong,one of which-NDI-is also on the sanction list.

  "China will take further,necessary countermeasures,as the situation develops,to safeguard its national sovereignty,security and development interests," Hua said, urging the U.S. side to get back to the right track and keep its dirty hands off Hong Kong,which is Beijing's internal affairs. 

 

 2)RUSSIA WILL NOT CAPITULATE TO US PRESSURE

 Although,Russia does not have the economic might of China it has the enough military power to send the USA back to the stone age.In February Russia sent 100 troops to Venezuela.This thwarted the USA's endeavor of trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government.Just like in 2015 when Russian presence in Syria hindered the USA from trying to overthrow the government of Syria.Too bad Bolivia did not ask Russia for help.However,events are still unfolding in that country as I write this.

  Ecomically,the USA has tried to cripple Russia since 2014 with sanctions.This has backfired.When Russia has their back against the wall,they do not panic,they adapt.Since 2014,the Russian economy has grown especially in the agriculture secter.Russia has increased trade with China.In 1972 when US President Nixon opened up China to the west,he did so to to bring down the USSR.Henry Kissinger (United States Secretary of State from 1973-1977) warned US Presidents,that after you bring down the USSR you then have to become friends with the USSR because you don't want to see the rise of China.Well,with the USA's recent hostile actions toward both China and Russia they have made the Russia-China alliance stronger leading to America's own demise.

  The USA's big might is not it's military as much as it's control over the SWIFT system.This year at the BRICS (Brazil,Russia,India,China and South Africa) summit.The association concluded that they are in the process of devising a system to circumvent the SWIFT system.Already Russia and China do not use US dollars when trading.

 

  3)MANY NATIONS WANT TO ESCAPE AMERICA'S STRANGLEHOLD

 

  The soft power that elevated the USA to super power status was it's respect for the "rule of law".After World War II rhe USA established the United Nations.The UN is a forum where all countries can express their views and dialogue can be achieved between nations.

  However nothing can destroy a country more quickly than one that denies the color of it's very own existence.The USA began to lose the respect of others when,without UN approval America invaded Iraq in 2003.It continues to this day.Earlier this year the ICC (International Criminal Court) was investigating war crimes being committed by the CIA against the citizens of Afghanistan.The court wanted America to disclose certain documents to aid them in their investigation.The USA vehemently refused to comply and John Bolton (then US National Security Advisor) threatened sanctions against the court should they continue to pursue their investigation.

  This year the USA threatened Egypt and Turkey with sanctions for purchasing Military Equipment from Russia.Egypt was proceeding with a $2 billion deal to buy more than 20 Su-35 Russian fighter jets.While Ankara was purchasing an S-400 missile defense system.Both countries have not complied to America's demands.

  For years now Germany and Russia have been constructing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline across the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany.The USA is threatening Germany with sanctions for doing so.The USA also wants Germany to buy gas from them,that costs 4 times as much as the cheap Russian gas.

 

 4)CLIMATE CHANGE

 

 This topic will be discussed in greater detail later on.But for now it is starting to show it's effects in places like Venice,Solomon Islands and Kiribati.

  In November,the Trump administration formally began the year long process of pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement.It is the first and only country to quit the 200-nation deal to combat climate change.That's a big concern for some of the world's most vulnerable countries,including the small island nations of the Pacific.

 The Trump administration still promises to work outside the agreement with nations on environmental problems, Pacific island nations that consider themselves on the front lines of climate change had hoped the U.S. would stay committed to the global deal to cut emissions and help populations confront the rising seas around them.

   Now some leaders of those nations are turning for help to China and climate change has been a factor.Beijing has vowed to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement.The diplomatic reconfiguration in the region has opened up a new front in the battle for influence between China and the U.S. and its allies.

 "The show of lack of leadership by the current U.S. government in the fight against climate change is very discouraging not only to us but to all the low-lying island nations of the Pacific," officials from the Solomon Islands tells via email."Although China is one of the biggest CO2 emitters,it is showing leadership and commitment to help lead our global efforts against climate change.

 An archipelago of some 900 islands northeast of Australia, the Solomon Islands decided in September to downgrade its ties with Taiwan and renormalize diplomatic relations with Beijing.Taiwan then ended its relationship with the Solomons.

 Economic reasons were a key driver of the Solomons' decision, but climate change was "also a factor in the decision to switch," Robson Tana Djokovic, the Solomon Islands prime minister's chief of staff, and Samson Viulu, a senior economic official,tells the world. "For most of us, climate change is about our present and future."

  They've watched their islands disappear under rising seas and their drinking water inundated by saltwater. The two officials said the Solomon Islands "felt that we are not an important part of the global family maybe because we do not have big economies and so are not treated as important when it comes to climate change."

   So in September they've turned to China,in hopes a relationship with Beijing will boost economic development as well as give their nation more resources to manage and mitigate the impact of global warming.

 

  Less than a week after the Solomon Islands' diplomatic shakeup,the Republic of Kiribati,a sovereign state in the central Pacific Ocean may soon be under water because of climate change.A smattering of low-lying atolls in the central Pacific with a population of just more than 116,000-announced it too would also severe ties with Taiwan and establish relations with Beijing.

   You can't avoid the footprint of China on the Pacific now -it's just everywhere.

   "The reason was very clear," Kiribati President Taneti Mamau told reporters in New York during the United Nations General Assembly.China, "as a big power with much more resources" than Taiwan, he said, would be a better partner in tackling both domestic and global issues, including climate change. Kiribati previously had diplomatic ties to China.

 China is "serious" about climate change, he emphasized, citing Beijing's promise not only to cut its own carbon emissions, but also to help Pacific island nations mitigate and manage the impacts of climate change and fully implement the Paris Agreement.

   China's involvement in the Pacific has grown in the past two decades but really began to accelerate after Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan panel that advises the US Congress on the security implications of trade and economic relationshipsbetween Beijing and Washington.

   In a report issued this year, the commission said China wants to establish a military presence in the region, benefit from the region's voting power at the United Nations, gain access to natural resources such as timber, gold, nickel and fish, and undermine regional diplomatic support for Taiwan, which Beijing sees as its own.

   Rather important to note is that the US military industrial complex is the biggest contributor to climate change in the world.

 

 CONCLUSION

 

  Obviously we are now living in a multi-lateral world no matter how disillusioned the USA may be.In 2017 Louis Asare wrote a book titled:The Economic Super Power:China's Secret Strategy To Replace America As The Global Superpower.See:https://www.amazon.com/Chinas-Secret-Strategy-Become-Superpower-ebook/dp/B075MRN1RM.

   As you read this book,you will understand the strategic policies and measures that the Chinese government has pursued to transform indigenous China into the most industrialized country of the world.China believes it will overtake the USA without firing a shot.Right now the USA is acting like a Mafia boss with all the threats they are making on other nations.If you are not a super power in order to survive you need your country to be protected by a super power.So it won't be long before many countries will want to be protected by China or Russia.

  The million dollar question now is Thucydides Trap-When one great power threatens to displace another,war is almost always the result-but it doesn't have to be.One of three things can happen.1)The Super power can accept it.Like the UK did when the USA overtook them as the super power. 2)They can negotiate. Although I don't see this happening because the USA's idea of negotiating is "It's my way or the highway." Or 3)War-which has happened 12 out of 16 times in recorded history when a rising power overtakes the incumbent power.The only problem with option #3 is that a war between China and the USA could be the war to end all wars because both the USA and China have nuclear weapons.Albert Einstein said I don't how World War III will be fought but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

 

WHY THE DEMOCRATS REALLY IMPEACHED TRUMP AND WHY DO THEY STILL PERSIST?


 

    To understand why the Democrats really impeached Trump one should go back to 2016.In 2016 "Wikileaks" revealed that the DNC rigged the primaries in Hillary Clinton's favor.Rather than take responsibility Hillary and the DNC started pointing fingers at Russia accusing them of meddling in the election.

Then Julian Assange revealed that Russia wasn't the source of the leak,that it was Seth Rich a DNC staff worker in Washington,D.C.Seth Rich who was a Bernie Sanders supporter was found murdered outside his Washington,D.C. home on July 10,2016.The D.C. police claim he was the victim of a botched robbery,although no money was taken.You draw your own conclusion.

   So,even after Hillary lost to the orange bafoon in the 2016 election,Hillary and the DNC continued to promote the narrative that Hillary lost because of Russian interference.Rather than address the contents of the wikileaks accusations or admit that Hillary was a bad candidate,it was more convenient without any evidence for Hillary and the DNC to blame Russia.

  The DNC and Hillary persisted with these accusations until Robert Muller started an investigation which lasted for over 2 years until March of 2019.The Democrats were expecting a bomb shell but were quite disappointed when the investigation came up empty handed.

   However,the Democrats had gone too far to walk back.So,when the Democrats learned that Trump made a phone call to the Ukrainian president asking him to investigate the actions of the son of his potential rival Joe Biden,the Democrats switched the narrative from Russiagate to Ukrainegate.

  At first Nancy Pelosi,speaker of the US House of Representatives was reluctant to institute impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump because she knew the orange bafoon may be impeached in the House of Representatives,but he will never get removed from office by the Senate.

   So,if you can read between the lines there is an ulterior motive by the Democrats to proceed with impeachment proceedings.That is the 2020 election.The corporate wing of the Democrat party,who control the Democrat party,do not really have anything to offer the US public.The only thing they have to offer is vote for us because we are not Donald Trump.

   Then the corporate Democrats anointed Joe Biden to be their candidate in 2020.But Ukrainegate,Bidden's dismal appearances on the debate stage,and the rise of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the Democrat primaries,has the corporate wing of the DNC scrambling to find a more viable candidate.They may prefer Pete Buttigieg and now have gotten billionaire Michael Bloomberg to throw his hat into the ring.

  Going further,the Corporate Democrats determined impeached Trump and now want there to be long drawn out hearings in the US Senate during the early part of 2020.There is a good reason for this.If there are impeachment hearings during the early part of 2020 that means all senators will have to be present six days a week during the impeachment proceedings.Meaning,justice Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will have problems going out on the campaign trail during this time.It is a very crucial time because the New Hampshire primary and Iowa Caucus will be proceeding.These are the first elections of a primary season and if a candidate does not perform well at either event it takes a lot of wind out of their sails.It would also improve electability for Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg.To be more succinct the corporate Democrats are proceeding with Trump impeachment hearings in order to sabotage the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

  I too would like to see Trump Impeached but not for what he is being accused of.What he did was exposing Joe Biden committing corruption.I could think of many incidents the bafoon should be impeached for,like facilitating concentration camps on the US border,or aiding and abetting a genocide in Yemen by providing hardware and logistics to Saudi Arabia or granting pardons to persons convicted of committing war crimes.But to impeach Trump for exposing corruption?????? That is why I believe Tulsi Gabbardf cast the correct vote at the Trump Impeachment Hearing-"PRESENT".Look at Chelsea Manning going to prison for exposing war crimes.In the USA you can commit war crimes or corruption with impunity.But expose those antics and it's your ass.

 

11,000 scientists Warn:Climate Change Isn't Just About Temperature

 

   Exactly 40 years ago, a small group of scientists met at the world;s first climate conference in Geneva.They raised the alarm about unnerving climate trends.On November 5th, more than 11,000 scientists have co-signed a letter in the journal BioScience,calling for urgently necessary action on climate.

   This is the largest number of scientists to explicitly support a publication calling for climate action.They come from many different fields, reflecting the harm our changing climate is doing to every part of the natural world. 

Why no change? 

  If you're thinking not much has changed in the past 40 years,you might be right.Globally,greenhouse gas emissions are still rising,with increasingly damaging effects.Much of the focus to date has been on tracking global surface temperatures.This makes sense,as goals like "prevent 2 degrees Celsius of warming" create a relatively simple and easy-to-communicate message.However,there's more to climate change than global temperature.

  There has been a tracking of a broader set of indicators to convey the effects of human activities on greenhouse gas emissions, and the consequent impacts on climate,our environment and society.

   The indicators include human population growth,tree cover loss,fertility rates,fossil fuel subsidies,glacier thickness and frequency of extreme weather events.All are linked to climate change. 

Troubling signs over the past 40 years 

Profoundly troubling signs linked to human activities include sustained increases in human and ruminant populations,global tree cover loss,fossil fuel consumption, number of plane passengers, and carbon dioxide emissions.

  The concurrent trends on the actual impacts of climate change are equally troubling.Sea ice is rapidly disappearing and ocean heat, ocean acidity, sea level and extreme weather events are all trending upwards.

   These trends need to be closely monitored to assess how we are responding to the climate emergency.Any one of them could hit a point of no return,creating a catastrophic feedback loop that could make more regions of Earth uninhabitable. 

The need for better reporting 

  People have urged national governments to report on how their own results are trending.Indicators will allow policymakers and the public to better understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities to alleviate climate change.

  Some of the indicators could even be presented monthly to the public during news broadcasts,as they are arguably more important than the trends in the stock exchange. 

It's not too late to act 

In the scientists paper they suggest six critical and interrelated steps that governments, and the rest of humanity,can take to lessen the worst effects of climate change:

  prioritise energy efficiency, and replace fossil fuels with low-carbon renewable energy sources,

  reduce emissions of short-lived pollutants like methane and soot,

  protect and restore the Earth's ecosystems by curbing land clearing,

  reduce our meat consumption,

  move away from unsustainable ideas of ever-increasing economic and resource consumption,and

  stabilise and ideally, gradually reduce human populations while improving human well-being.

They recognise that many of these recommendations are not new. But mitigating and adapting to climate change will entail major

transformations across all six areas. 

How can the public help? 

  Individuals can make a difference by reducing meat consumption, voting for political parties and members of government bodies who have clear climate change policies, rejecting fossil fuels where possible, using renewable and clean sources of energy, reducing car and air travel, and joining citizen movements.Lots of small changes will help inspire larger scale shifts in policy and economic frameworks.

   Scientists are encouraged by a recent global surge of concern. Some governments are declaring climate emergencies. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change.

  As scientists,they urge widespread use of their indicators to track how changes across the six areas above will start to change our ecosystem trajectories.

 

16 Year old Norwegian Environmental Activist Greta Thunberg condemns world leaders in emotional speech at United Nations


 

   At the United Nations Greta Thunberg excoriated world leaders for their "betrayal" of young people through their inertia over the climate crisis at a United Nations summit that failed to deliver ambitious new commitments to address dangerous global heating.

 "If world leaders choose to fail us,my generation will never forgive them!!!!"

  In a stinging speech on Monday,September 23rd the teenage Swedish climate activist told governments that "you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us.But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal."

   Days after millions of young people joined protests worldwide to demand emergency action on climate change,leaders gathered for the annual United Nations general assembly aiming to inject fresh momentum into efforts to curb carbon emissions.

  But Thunberg predicted the summit would not deliver any new plans in line with the radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are needed to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.

  "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words," a visibly emotional Thunberg said.

  "The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this.

Right here,right now is where we draw the line."

  As the summit spooled through about 60 speeches from national representatives,it became clear that Thunberg's forecast was prescient.Narendra Modi,the prime minister of India,told delegates that "the time for talking is over" in announcing a plan to ramp up renewable energy but didn't announce any phase-out of coal" a key goal set by Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general who convened the summit.

   Angela Merkel,the German chancellor, did set out the end of coal mining in her country but only by 2038-a lengthy timeframe that disappointed environmentalists.

  Meanwhile, China declined to put forward any new measures to tackle the climate crisis.

  Emmanuel Macron, the French president, called for the European Union to deepen its emissions cuts and said that France would not make trade deals with countries not signed up tor the landmark Paris climate agreement. "We cannot allow our youth to strike every Friday without action," Macron said, in reference to the global climate strikes.

   Despite Guterres; efforts, the summit was somewhat overshadowed by its absentees-most notably the US and Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil,whose representatives were reportedly not selected to make a presentation there because of Brazil;s failure to outline plans to strengthen its efforts to counter climate change.

   Donald Trump did visit the UN on Monday but only briefly dipped into the climate summit to see Modi;s speech before attending a meeting which he had called on religious freedom.

   As he arrived at the UN, Trump crossed paths with Thunberg, who fixed the president with a hard stare.

   The summit was designed to accelerate countries' ambition to address the climate crisis amid increasingly urgent warnings by scientists.A new UN analysis has found that commitments to cut planet-warming gases must be at least tripled and increased by up to fivefold if the world is to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement of holding the temperature rise to at most 2C above the pre-industrial era.

   The world is currently on track to warm by as much as 3.4C by the end of the century,the UN warned,a situation that would escalate disastrous heatwaves,flooding, droughts and societal unrest. Major coral reefs and many other species face extinction.

   "There/s a big dissonance between every leader saying to Greta "we hear you" and the commitments they are putting on to the table," said Isabel Cavelier,a former climate negotiator for Colombia who is now senior adviser at the Mission 2020 climate group. "China said absolutely nothing new, India mentioned commitments made in the past,the US,Canada and Australia aren't here.We are seeing governments showing up empty-handed.There's a feeling that the big emitters are holding things back."

   There were a few signs of progress. A group of nearly 90 large companies promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050, while a handful of countries said they will be winding down coal use. But it became apparent that most of the ambition was coming from developing countries, rather than the major polluters.

   Trump has vowed to pull the US out of the Paris agreement,while other major powers are wary of making further commitments ahead of key UN climate talks in Glasgow next year.

 

Death May Become A Thing of The Past: How The Crypto Rich Influence Science

 

  The rise of cryptocurrency is changing the philanthropic world by causing the redistribution of wealth from old money to visionary innovators and early tech adopters.The new crypto rich invest their donations by supporting scientific research in groundbreaking fields that may one day enable humanity to cure aging,reverse death and completely change the relationship between work and income.

  Examining the record of donations made by the crypto rich reveals a pattern of support for goals that others may feel belong in the pages of science fiction novels.Having benefited greatly from recognizing the potential of peer to peer electronic cash earlier than the masses,it is no surprise that they have great optimism in the power of technology to radically change our lives for the better.

   One of the main benefactors of this type of donation focus is the SENS Research Foundation located in Mountain View, California.The non-profit SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) defines its goal as working to develop,promote and ensure widespread access to therapies that cure and prevent the diseases and disabilities of aging.Unlike the traditional medical approach of only treating or managing old age problems as they kick in,this approach focuses on comprehensively repairing the damage that builds up in our bodies over time,thus mitigating the aging process as much as possible.

  In the early 2000s, Michael Novogratz donated to the research organization and the Pineapple Fund gave SENS $2 million in BTC last year.Moreover,Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin also donated $2.4 million to SENS in 2018 and another $350,000 in January 2019.The regenerative medical therapy organization also raised another $4.1 million in cryptocurrencies last year in addition to the Pineapple Fund donation.

   The chief science officer of SENS,British biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey,talked about the relationship between his venture and crypto proponents last year and detailed that many have donated to the research organization."I'm not in this to do science for the sake of doing science," de Grey explained."I'm in it for the ultimate goal."He further revealed that a few anonymous donors have given SENS $1 million each and other cryptocurrency personalities are also long-term donors of the foundation.

  Another main benefactor of donations made by crypto personalities is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.This nonprofit based in Scottsdale,Arizona,advocates for,researches and performs cryonics.This entails the freezing of the whole human corpse or just the brain in liquid nitrogen after legal death,with hopes of resurrecting the individual when the requisite technology is developed in the future.

   According to reports,a number of crypto rich have anonymously donated to Alcor;s cryonics research.The top connection between the field and cryptocurrency is that Alcor might be preserving the body of a man some believe to be Satoshi Nakamoto himself.Hal Finney is the computer scientist who received the very first bitcoin transaction and helped get the network up and running during its first year.On Aug. 28, 2014, Finney.s body was taken to an Alcor facility soon after his death and underwent the cryogenic process. In May 2018 the foundation announced that cryptocurrency enthusiast Brad Armstrong gave it a $5 million research contribution, being held in the name of the "Hal Finney Cryonics Research Fund".

   Another connection between cryptocurrency and cryogenics is that computer scientist Ralph Merkle,known for creating cryptographic hashing,the Merkle tree and other inventions,is also a researcher and advocate of cryonics. He reportedly knows a few crypto people who have donated to cryonics and also helped raise funds for Alcor.

  A more economic research topic, but one that could have drastic implications for human society no less than curing aging or cheating death, is Universal Basic Income. UBI is one of the hottest economic debate topics of the last couple of years, talked about as a possible solution to technological unemployment, preventing humans from falling behind once robots take over all the jobs. The idea has even gained support from various politicians around the world recently such as U.S. democratic candidate Andrew Yang.

   Basically the UBI plan is to provide everyone with a stipend so that they can live their lives without worrying about making enough money from work just to survive.This raises several questions as it goes against how many believe the world should function and it will also be an unprecedented experiment in the human condition.The Pineapple Fund made a $5 million donation to the organization Give Directly in 2017 to sponsor cash transfers to people living in extreme poverty in Kenya,Uganda and Rwanda where it is possible to test the UBI concept before it's implemented in more expensive regions of the world. The Pineapple Fund has also donated more than $1 million to aid in the research of using MDMA as a treatment for PTSD.

   Crypto rich and well-known community personalities have of course donated to other causes than the above mentioned scientific research projects.To list a few examples, Justin Sun gave $3 million to the Binance Charity Foundation, $250,000 to the ALS association and over $4.5 million to Glide which aims to alleviate poverty.John McAfee donated a 27-foot boat worth $1.1 million to the Belize Coast Guard. The CEO of Coinbase,Brian Armstrong,even signed the Giving Pledge,the drive started by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for rich people to give away the majority of their wealth instead of leaving it to their heirs.

 

China-US trade war:A war that began in 2018 and will continue to 2020

The China-United States trade war is an ongoing economic conflict between the world's two largest national economies,China and the United States.President

Donald Trump in 2018 began setting tariffs and other trade barriers on China with the goal of forcing it to make changes to what the U.S. says are "unfair trade practices".Among those trade practices and their effects are the growing trade deficit,the theft of intellectual property and the forced transfer of American technology to China.

   Since the 1980s,Trump advocated tariffs to reduce the U.S. trade deficit and promote domestic manufacturing,saying the country was being "ripped off" by its trading partners;imposing tariffs became a major plank of his presidential campaign.Although some economists and politicians argue that the United States' persistent trade deficit is problematic,many economists argue that it is not a problem and few advocate tariffs as a solution.

   In the United States,the trade war has brought struggles for farmers and manufacturers and higher prices for consumers.In other countries it has also caused economic damage,though some countries have benefited from increased manufacturing to fill the gaps.It has also led to stock market instability.The governments of several countries,including China and the United States,have taken steps to address some of the damage caused by a deterioration in China-United States relations and tit-for-tat tariffs.

   The trade war has been criticized internationally,including by U.S. businesses and agricultural organizations,though most farmers continued to support Trump.Among U.S. politicians the response has been mixed and most agree that pressure needs to be put on China.As of late November 2019,none of the leading Democratic candidates for president said they would remove the tariffs,including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren,both of whom agreed the U.S. had to confront China's unfair trade policies.Senator Bernie Sanders said that he would use tariffs as a negotiating tool but criticized Trump's actions as "totally irrational and ... destabilizing the entire world economy". 

China is now home to more wealthy people than the USA-for the first time ever 

   The richest 10 per cent of the world holds 82 per cent of its wealth-and more of the globe's wealthiest now live in China than the US, or anywhere else on the planet.

  The richest 10 per cent of people in the world hold 82 per cent of its wealth-and for the first time, there are more wealthy individuals in China than the US.

  According to Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Report 2019, the world;s wealthiest 10 per cent hold assets of more than US$109,400. And right now there are 100 million individuals who make that threshold in China-and 99 million in the states.

  China of course has a substantially larger population than the United States- 1,384,688,986 in 2018 compared to 329,256,465 in America-which means that number is only set to grow as China's economy continues to expand.

  "Wealth in China started the century from a lower base, but grew at a much faster [rate]," Credit Suisse said in the report. "It was one of the few countries to avoid the impact of the global financial crisis. China's progress has enabled it to replace Europe as the principal source of global wealth growth and to replace Japan as the country with the second-largest number of millionaires."

    Despite overtaking the United States as home to the most members of the top 10 per cent, the overall growth of China's ultra-wealthy class stalled in 2018, according to Credit Suisse. Tariffs and declining exports slowed China's overall economic growth last year, the report stated.

    The US is still home to the largest share of millionaires of any country. Credit Suisse found that 40 per cent of the worl's millionaires-some 18.6 million-are American, compared to China's 4.4 million.

    Credit Suisse outlined three factors that affect how many millionaires a country has: the size of a country's adult population, average wealth and levels of wealth inequality.

   In the US, the latter of those three metrics is particularly pronounced when compared to China.

   The top one per cent of Americans now owns 40 per cent of the country's wealth, the University of California, Berkeley's Gabriel Zucman wrote in a paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research in February. China, on the other hand, has relatively low-but rising-levels of inequality, due to the lack of old money and equal land division, according to Credit Suisse.

 

 

World's 26 richest people own as much as poorest 50%, says Oxfam


 

   The growing concentration of the world's wealth has been highlighted by a January report showing that the 26 richest billionaires own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet's population.

     In an annual wealth check released to mark the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos,the development charity Oxfam said 2018 had been a year in which the rich had grown richer and the poor poorer.

   It said the widening gap was hindering the fight against poverty, adding that a wealth tax on the 1% would raise an estimated $418bn (325bn pounds) a year-enough to educate every child not in school and provide healthcare that would prevent 3 million deaths.

   Oxfam said the wealth of more than 2,200 billionaires across the globe had increased by $900bn in 2018-or $2.5bn a day. The 12% increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world's population.

   As a result, the report concluded, the number of billionaires owning as much wealth as half the world's population fell from 43 in 2017 to 26 last year. In 2016 the number was 61.

 

Among the findings of the report were:

  In the 10 years since the financial crisis, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled.

  Between 2017 and 2018 a new billionaire was created every two days.

  The world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, saw his fortune increase to $112bn. Just 1% of his fortune is equivalent to the whole health budget for Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people.

  The poorest 10% of Britons are paying a higher effective tax rate than the richest 10% (49% compared with 34%) once taxes on consumption such as VAT are taken into account. 

  Oxfam;s director of campaigns and policy, Matthew Spencer, said: "The massive fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty is one of the greatest achievements of the past quarter of a century but rising inequality is jeopardizing further progress.

  "The way our economies are organized means wealth is increasingly and unfairly concentrated among a privileged few while millions of people are barely subsisting. Women are dying for lack of decent maternity care and children are being denied an education that could be their route out of poverty. No one should be condemned to an earlier grave or a life of illiteracy simply because they were born poor.

   "It doesn't have to be this way" there is enough wealth in the world to provide everyone with a fair chance in life. Governments should act to ensure that taxes raised from wealth and businesses paying their fair share are used to fund free, good-quality public services that can save and transform people's lives."

   The report said many governments were making inequality worse by failing to invest enough in public services. It noted that about 10,000 people per day die for lack of healthcare and there were 262 million children not in school, often because their parents were unable to afford the fees, uniforms or textbooks.

   Oxfam said governments needed to do more to fund high-quality, universal public services through tackling tax dodging and ensuring fairer taxation, including on corporations and the richest individuals' wealth, which it said were often undertaxed.

   A global wealth tax has been called for by the French economist Thomas Piketty, who has said action is needed to arrest the trend in inequality.

   The World Inequality Report 20180co-authored by Piketty-showed that between 1980 and 2016 the poorest 50% of humanity only captured 12 cents in every dollar of global income growth. By contrast, the top 1% captured 27 cents of every dollar.

   Oxfam said that in addition to tackling inequality at home, developed nations currently failing to meet their overseas aid commitments could raise the missing billions needed to tackle extreme poverty in the poorest countries by increasing taxes on extreme wealth.

   China's rapid growth over the past four decades has been responsible for much of the decline in extreme poverty but Oxfam said World Bank data showed the rate of poverty reduction had halved since 2013. In sub-Saharan Africa, extreme poverty was on the increase.

   Oxfam said its methodology for assessing the gap between rich and poor was based on global wealth distribution data provided by the Credit Suisse global wealth data book, covering the period from June 2017 to June 2018. The wealth of billionaires was calculated using the annual Forbes billionaires list published in March 2018.

 

U.S. Human Rights Record Exposes Its Hypocrisy


 

The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2018 released in March of 2019 by China's State Council Information Office is filling this glaring gap.

Deteriorating U.S. human rights record

   The U.S. State Department had just unveiled its 2018 country reports on human rights practices,which blasted human rights abuses around the world,but with a notable exception of itself.

   2018 was a particularly bad year for human rights in the U.S., and the story needs to be told.Some of the human rights abuses are deeply rooted in the U.S. political system and social values.

    Inequality and financial disparity between the rich and the poor is enlarging,making the U.S. the worst in terms of income inequality among Western countries, which is a denial of the rights of less-privileged people.

    Hate crimes are rearing their ugly head, exposing rising discrimination based on race, religion and sexual orientation and impairing the rights of minority groups.

    The "Me Too Movement" highlights the persistent discrimination on gender and widespread sexual harassment, which hurts the rights of women.

    Other human rights violations are spurred by the current US administration.

    President Trump's war on the media has curtailed freedom of the press in the US.

    His harsh stance on immigration and the infamous "family separation" policy gave rise to a humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border.

    His divisive rhetoric encourages right-wing populism and religious intolerance, and has brought the white supremacist movement into mainstream politics.

    The Mueller investigations has also revealed scandals involving the president and given us a glimpse into rampant money politics in the US.

    What is the most astonishing of all is the U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is widely seen as its abdication of responsibility to safeguard human rights. 

U.S. Hypocrisy Exposed 

   This report used facts and figures to expose the hypocrisy of the U.S. for it is selective in human rights issues to the best of its advantage.

   First of all,the U.S. believes in American exceptionalism. Self-proclaimed as a "City upon a Hill," the U.S. sees itself with a "manifest destiny." But it is not exceptional,for instance,that the U.S. is no safe haven for digital freedom or privacy, for it has become a common practice by its intelligence officers to search through ordinary Americans' emails,calls and chats without obtaining a warrant. The U.S. is also used to dictating its own values to others.Some are well-intentioned, but others are more sinister in nature.Since any society has a legitimate right to practice its own value system,it would be offensive and self-defeating to impose Western values on others.

   Second, the U.S. is using human rights as a basis or excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. By naming and shaming others in the name of defending human rights, the U.S. is able to justify unilateral sanctions or even military attacks against a sovereign nation. By putting moral pressure on the international community, the US is able to mobile a coalition against the target.

   Third,the U.S. is practicing double standards on human rights issues.It would spare no effort to fabricate or amplify human right abuses of its rivals and enemies. It would deliberately downplay human rights violations of its allies and partners. It even wages war against another country in the name of human rights which only brings bigger human rights disasters.For example, the U.S.-led air strikes in Syria and Yemen have led to an abhorrent number of civilian deaths, which have been euphemized as collateral damage.  

                 A Worthy But Complex Endeavor 

    The report is also trying to remind the international community that human rights are a worthy but complex endeavor.

  First of all, there is a tension between universalism and particularism. Human rights are a universal value that we champion as humanity. But there is no universalized way to prioritize among various human rights.One man's food is another man's poison. Some societies might prioritize individual rights while others might prioritize collective rights, and some value life while others value liberty.

   Second, there is a trade-off between absolutism and relativism. There is no such thing as an absolute right. Sometimes it needs painful choices and trade-off. It would be immoral to secure a man's right by sacrificing another's. The prolonged debate on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is a case in point, for the right to bear guns inevitably impairs the right to security.

   Third, there needs to be a balance between rights and obligations. Social beings have rights as well as obligations. If everyone only asks for rights, the society as a whole suffers. For example, the US laissez-faire approach to freedom of speech, say antisemitism, only provokes discrimination and hatred. The US practice of liberal internationalism at home and around the world denies less-privileged people and countries the right of development and the pursuit of happiness.

   Given the above inherent difficulties, there is still a long way to go before the international community truly delivers on the lofty commitment.

 

See:https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/police-killings-are-sixth-leading-cause-death-among-young-men-n1041526

 

Police Killings Are The Sixth Leading Cause Of Death Among Young Men In The USA,Study Shows

 

See:https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/police-killings-are-sixth-leading-cause-death-among-young-men-n1041526

  And

https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2019-08-15/police-shootings-are-a-leading-cause-of-death-for-black-men

 

     Young American men are at a high risk of being killed by a police officer,according to a recent study.

     Police killings-which can include shootings,choking and other uses of force-are the sixth-leading cause of death among men of all races ages 25-29, according to the study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.

   Accidental death, a category that includes drug overdoses and car accidents, was the biggest cause at 76.6 deaths per 100,000, followed by suicide (26.7), other homicides (22.0), heart disease (7.0), and cancer (6.3).

   The risk of being killed by the police is more pronounced for black men, who are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police, while black women are 1.4 times more likely than white women to be killed by police.

    According to Frank Edwards, lead researcher of the study and an assistant professor at the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, the numbers "may be an undercount."

   While the killings of Michael Brown,18,Charleena Lyles,30, and other black men and women at the hands of law enforcement have brought national attention to the role race plays in police violence against Americans,researchers lack basic estimates of the prevalence of police-involved deaths, in large part because of an absence of official and authoritative data.

   Edwards told NBC News that the federal government "never collected adequate data" speaking to racial, gender-based and age disparities among victims of police violence and that researchers cannot rely on police departments to self-report such cases.

   "Police departments have very little incentive to record the number of deaths, nor are they mandated to do so," Edwards said.

   In conducting this research, Edwards and his team instead relied on data from Fatal Encounters, a journalist-led effort that uses news reports, public records requests and crowdsourced information to document police-induced fatalities.

   Edwards said that he hopes the study shows the need for a "multi-pronged approach" to collecting data that doesn't require exclusively relying on media reports. He also hopes the numbers will lead to others understanding police-involved deaths and police brutality as public health issues.

   "There's clear evidence that shows the harmful and distinct ways police violence expands inequality," Edwards said, citing other research that shows "stop and frisk" and aggressive policing can affect both mental and physical health."Policing plays a key role in maintaining structural inequalities between people of color and white people in the United States." 

Iranians In Malaysia Say Banks Close Their Accounts As U.S. Sanctions Bite


 

  see:https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-iran-banks/iranians-in-malaysia-say-banks-close-their-accounts-as-u-s-sanctions-bite-idUSKBN1X90A9

  In October,when I read this story I just felt nauseated just knowing how pathetic the US government is.

  Banks in Malaysia are now closing the accounts of Iranian individuals and companies, nearly a dozen affected people told Reuters,in a sign that U.S. sanctions are having a far-reaching impact on citizens of the Islamic republic.

   Although Malaysian banks seemed to be more cautious in dealing with Iranians than those elsewhere,some Iranians and one embassy official said,there were "mass closures" in the Southeast Asian country in recent months.

    The banks were being "more Catholic than the Pope", said university lecturer Behrang Samadi, who is among an estimated 10,000 Iranians living in Malaysia and learnt in August that his bank,CIMB,would close his 14-year-old account.

   "In Western countries,there is no problem opening bank accounts," he added. "They are only sensitive about money transfers,especially in big amounts."

   Samadi said he withdrew his money soon after the bank warned him of the closure within a month's time,though he was still able to access his account online in October.

   Despite Washington's sanctions over Iran's nuclear program imposed late last year,Malaysia has kept up good diplomatic ties with Tehran and their leaders discussed ways to further strengthen ties.

   It was not clear if the account closures were linked to the tracking of a tanker of Iranian fuel oil offshore Malaysia this year, a development that annoyed the United States.

   Many Iranians said they knew of dozens of compatriots who had received notices from CIMB and RHB Bank.

  "We regret to inform (you) that we are unable to continue the banking relationship," CIMB said in identical notices reviewed by Reuters.

  The banks did not state a reason,but some individuals said bank officials attributed the move to tighter scrutiny after the sanctions.

  Such matters depended on individual banks' own risk appetite and assessment, the central bank said this month in an email response to one Iranian's complaint that was viewed by Reuters.

  But a July notification on the central bank's website refers to a statement by the Financial Action Task Force urging "enhanced due diligence" on Iranians by members of the global money laundering watchdog.

   Iran's embassy in Kuala Lumpur said it was working to resolve the issue.

  "We hope that by goodwill and cooperation of the Malaysian officials, the negotiations will yield a positive result," it told Reuters in an email, adding that Iranian companies had also been affected.

   For now,Iranians in the Malaysian capital have been left wondering how to pay school fees or hospital bills.

   "Without a bank account we need to use the ancient techniques, keeping money under the pillow or in teapots," said one of them, who sought anonymity. "It's not fair."

      Rahaf Alqunun

 

 

Rahaf Mohammed Al Qunun was born on March 11,2000 in Saudi Arabia.Her father is the town governor of al-Sulaimi in the Ha'il Region. She has nine siblings.

    She has said that her family prevented her from getting an education,had locked her up for months,subjected her to physical and psychological abuse, wanted her to enter into a forced marriage,and threatened to kill her because she no longer follows Islam.Apostasy in Islam is a crime punishable by death according to the Sharia law of Saudi Arabia. 

  While Mohammed was on vacation with her family in Kuwait in January,she left them and boarded a flight to Bangkok,Thailand.She intended to continue on another flight to seek asylum in Australia.A tourist visa had been issued to her that permitted entry into Australia.Her family reportedly filed a missing person report after her escape from Kuwait.Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok,a man greeted her,not disclosing that he was a Saudi embassy official and told her that he needed her passport so that he could help her obtain a Thai visa.He left with her passport and did not return.Mohammed never intended to leave the airport's transit area and therefore did not require a Thai visa.

   She was detained by Thai authorities at the Miracle Transit Hotel within the airport.

   Mohammed opened an account on Twitter and in a series of posts said that she had renounced Islam and was concerned that she could be murdered by her family in a so-called "honor killing" if deported to Saudi Arabia.She also said she had barricaded herself in her hotel room,was refusing to exit until she met with UN representatives,claimed refugee status and implored embassy officials of various Western nations to assist her in seeking asylum. This drew world-wide support,with more than half a million tweets using the "#SaveRahaf" hashtag.In one tweet,she shared a picture of her passport.Australian ABC Journalist Sophie McNeill flew to Bangkok and sneaked into her room and barricaded herself with Mohammed to protect her.While barricaded Mohammed also allowed a friend to tweet on her behalf.

   Lawyers in Thailand filed an injunction to prevent her forced deportation.The injunction was subsequently dismissed,though an appeal was planned.Thailand's chief of immigration at the Royal Thai Police Surachate Hakparn subsequently confirmed that authorities in the country had acted at the behest of Saudi Arabia.

   Mohammed was scheduled to be forcibly repatriated on a flight to Kuwait on January 7,2019.She barricaded her room to block entry,while at times live streaming airport staff trying to get her to leave the room.She refused to leave.The Thai government later released a statement saying that it would not deport her.Francois Zimeray, a lawyer chosen by the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights to defend Mohammed in Bangkok against deportation back to Saudi Arabia,judged the role of Mohammed's tweets to have played an verwhelming role in preventing her deportation.Zimeray stated that the Thai authorities' attitude changed "completely" in "a few minutes" when they realized the strength of international support for Mohammed.Mohammed revealed in a later interview that she wrote a goodbye letter and decided that she would end her life if she was to be forced back to Saudi Arabia. 

 In an initial assessment on January 5,2019, Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson said "the Thai government... (was then) manufacturing a story that she tried to apply for a visa and it was denied... in fact,she had an onward ticket to go to Australia,she didn't want to enter Thailand in the first place."Two days later on January 7,2019,after international pressure, the Thai official overseeing immigration in the case,Police General Surachate Hakparn,was seen walking beside Mohammed, and stated that "We will not send anyone to die.We will not do that. We will adhere to human rights under the rule of law."Subsequently, she was placed under the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), her passport,which had indeed included a valid Australian tourist visa, was returned to her and formal arrangements for the establishment of her long-term asylum status began. 

  The UNHCR issued a statement on January 7,stating that: 

 The Thai authorities have granted UNHCR access to Saudi national,Rahaf Mohammed Al-qunun,at Bangkok airport to assess her need for international refugee protection... For reasons of confidentiality and protection, we will not be in a position to comment on the details of the meeting. 

   Mohammed subsequently left the airport in the care of the agency,which later granted her refugee status and asked the Australian government to consider granting her asylum.Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton stated in a radio interview with journalists that Mohammed seemed to be safe in Thailand.With growing concerns over her safety and an unclear timeline how long Australia would take to process her application,the UNHCR referred her case to Canada and her application was processed within several hours. 

   On January 11,Mohammed flew to Toronto via Seoul,having being granted asylum by Canada,as a "resettled refugee".The UNHCR said this had been arranged "on a fast-track 'emergency' basis".She was greeted at Toronto Pearson International Airport by Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland. 

 Mohammed's family released a statement disowning her:We are the family of [Rahaf] Mohammed al-Qunun in Saudi Arabia.We disavow the so-called 'Rahaf al-Qunun' the mentally unstable daughter who has displayed insulting and disgraceful behavior. 

   After learning about her family disavowing her,she decided to drop al-Qunun from her name and to be known as "Rahaf Mohammed."

   Abdullah al-Shuaibi, Saudi Arabia's charge d'affaires in Bangkok, was quoted saying, in a meeting with the Thai immigration office:When [Rahaf] first arrived in Thailand,she opened a new [Twitter account] and the followers reached about 45,000 within one day... I wish you had taken her phone,it would have been better than [taking] her passport.

    Mohammed's case has been compared to those of Dina Ali Lasloom and Hakeem al-Araibi.Stephen Kalin,writing for Reuters,described Mohammed's case as triggering a new phase in the Saudi anti male-guardianship campaign. 

   After she was resettled in Canada,a smear campaign was launched against her in both Saudi mainstream media and social media,sometimes even containing conspiracy theories such as a "Canadian attempt at stirring up civil strife by inciting the Kingdom's teenage girls to abandon social mores" in Okaz.While those that helped or sympathized with her such as Mona Eltahawy were heavily attacked.Saudi commentator Hani al-Dhaheri called her a drug addict and claimed that the fund raising campaign for her was fake and a failure and she would end up "waiting tables in a nightclub for drunkards and gangsters" despite the official fund raising campaign successfully exceeding the goal of $10,000.Further the Pro-Government newspaper Al Riyadh even used the incident to promote family oversight and state control of media in order to stop "hostile ideas" from infecting Saudi youth and to save children from "intellectual penetration".

 

Yellow Vests Movement

 

With the economic gap reaching unprecedented heights it is no surprise that uprisings are erupting all over the world.It is also not a red herring to findthe French in the vanguard.After all,rhey are widely remembered for their reaction to Marie Antoinette's remark "Let them eat cake".

  The Yellow Vest Movement began in France in October 2018 and has continued to the present.After an online petition posted in May of 2018 had attracted nearly a million signatures,mass demonstrations began on November 17,2018.The movement was initially motivated by rising fuel prices and a high cost of living;it claims that a disproportionate burden of the government's tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes,especially in rural and peri-urban areas.The protesters have called for lower fuel taxes,a reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth,a minimum-wage increase,the implementation of Citizens' initiative referendums,among other things.On November 29,2018,a list of 42 demands was made public and went viral on social media,becoming de facto a structuring basis for the movement,covering a wide range of eclectic topics,mostly related to democracy,social and fiscal justice.

    The movement spans the political spectrum.According to one poll,few of those protesting had voted for Macron in the 2017 French presidential election,and many had either not voted,or had voted for far-right or far-left candidates.Rising fuel prices initially sparked the demonstrations.Yellow high-visibility vests,which French law required all drivers to have in their vehicles and to wear during emergencies,were chosen as "a unifying thread and call to arms" because of their convenience,visibility,ubiquity and association with working-class industries.

   The protests have involved demonstrations and the blocking of roads and fuel depots,some of which developed into major riots,described as the most violent since those of May 1968 and the police response,resulting in multiple incidences of loss of limb,has been criticised by international media.The movement has received international attention, and protesters in many places around the world "some with similar grievances,others unrelated" have used the yellow vest as a symbol.

 

2019 Chilean Protests

 

Like France massive protests have been occurring this year in the South American country of Chile.The 2019 Chilean protests are ongoing civil protests throughout Chile in response to a raise in the Santiago Metro's subway fare,the increased cost of living,privatisation and inequality prevalent in the country.

    The protests began in Chile's capital,Santiago,as a coordinated fare evasion campaign by secondary school students which led to spontaneous takeovers of the city's main train stations and open confrontations with the Carabineros de Chile (the national militarized police force).On October 18,the situation escalated as organized bands of protesters began vandalizing city's infrastructure; seizing, vandalizing and burning down many stations of the Santiago Metro network and disabling them with extensive infrastructure damage and for a time causing the cessation the network in its entirety.All in all 81 stations have sustained major damage, incluidng 17 burned down.On the same day,President of Chile Sebastian Pinera announced a state of emergency, authorizing the deployment of Chilean Army forces across the main regions to enforce order and prevent the destruction of public property and invoked before the courts the Ley de Seguridad del Estado ("State Security Law") against dozens of detainees.A curfew was declared on the 19th of October in the Greater Santiago area.

    Protests and riots have expanded to other cities,including Concepcion,San Antonio and Valparaiso.The state of emergency was extended to the Concepcion Province, all Valparaiso Region (except Easter Island and Juan Fernandez Archipelago) and the cities of Antofagasta,Coquimbo,Iquique,La Serena, Rancagua,Valdivia,Osorno and Puerto Montt.The protests have been considered the "worst civil unrest" having occurred in Chile since the end of Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship due to the scale of damage to public infrastructure,the number of protesters and the measures taken by the government.

   On the 25th of October,over a million people took to the streets throughout Chile to protest against President Pinera,demanding his resignation.As of the 26th of October,19 people have died,nearly 2,500 have been injured and 2,840 have been arrested.Human rights organisations have received several reports of violations conducted against protesters by security forces,including torture,sexual abuse and sexual assault.

  On the 28th of October,President Pinera changed eight ministries of his cabinet in response to the unrest,dismissing his Interior Minister Andres Chadwick.On November 15,most of the political parties represented in the National Congress signed an agreement to call a national referendum in April 2020 regarding the creation of a new constitution. 

 

THE BOLIVIAn COUP D'ETAT THAT OUSTED EVO MORALES

 

  The weekend of November 8th roiled Latin American politics as a coup in Bolivia forced President Evo Morales aside on Sunday,November 19 and days earlier,former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva was freed from prison.

   Morales spoke Wednesday,November 16 from Mexico City,where he is in exile and expressed interest in returning to Bolivia in the wake of what he has described as a U.S.-backed coup d'etat.At the press conference,Morales encouraged the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle to continue and rejected self-declared interim President Jeanine Anez.Past anti-Indigenous comments from Anz,a right-wing Christian,are coming to light,adding to the backlash she already faces from Morales's supporters.Nonetheless,Anez has vowed to call for new elections.

    U.S. President Donald Trump's official statement,meanwhile, praised the military coup in Bolivia and noted that the events leading up Morales's ouster "send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail".What role the U.S. may have played in Bolivia is certainly less clear than the overt attempt at regime change in Venezuela early this year.

     Morales's journey into self-imposed exile marked the end of a remarkable era in Bolivian politics.One of the first Indigenous presidents in the modern Americas, Morales rode a populist wave to power in 2006,when Bolivia's Movimiento al Socialismo "Movement Toward Socialism,or MAS" rose amid a reshuffling of South American politics to the left in the wake of the Cold War's end.Part of this "pink tide," Morales's 14 years in power saw economic gains for many Bolivians.By 2017,Bolivia's middle class had grown dramatically and the country of around 11 million people had the region;s highest growth rate-but at a cost.Deforestation rates in Bolivia spiked and Morales pivoted to the center while embracing natural gas and mining projects.

    The October 2019 election virtually guaranteed trouble for Morales's presidency long before it took place.Many in Bolivia viewed Morales as being "politically spent," anthropologist and Bolivia scholar Bret Gustafson told the Intercepted podcast."The movements had been co-opted by the state.And any dissent within the movements had been silenced," Gustafson said. "Those who had managed to become a part of the state and party structure remained loyal to Evo Morales."

   Morales's run for a fourth term was unconstitutional,according to the new constitution adopted by Bolivia in 2009.After losing a referendum to allow his candidacy in 2019,Morales approached Bolivia's Constitutional Court.Declaring that term limits violated Morales's "human rights," the court allowed him to run.Then came the race.In the two-round voting system,an election is determined after a candidate wins by 50 percent,or just by 40 percent if the candidate has a 10-point lead over the closest opponent.An outright win in the first round of voting was unexpected.

    "The OAS is certainly being questioned,largely because of the role played by the United States and Brazil and Argentina." During the vote count,results from the unofficial,preliminary count showed Morales falling short of the first-round victory.Opposition leader and former President Carlos Mesa alleged fraud when,after a tense delay,the newly released official count showed Morales with just over a 10-point lead,easily securing a victory.

    Violent opposition protests swept the country and the Washington, D.C.-based Organization of American States conducted an audit.In a statement,the OAS flagged "its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results revealed after the closing of the polls"-stoking the anti-Morales protests but offering little in the way of concrete evidence of fraud.

  "The OAS is certainly being questioned," Gustafson explained,"largely because of the role played by the United States and Brazil and Argentina"-a coalition of influential member states headed by right-wing governments-"and the very outspoken role that Luis Almagro,the head of the OAS,has had trying to facilitate the ouster of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela."

   Speaking Wednesday from Mexico, Morales said, "The OAS is not in the service of the people of Latin America,less so the social movements.The OAS is at the service of the North American empire."

   Though the role of external forces in the coup remain unclear,even the mere opportunity for the Bolivian right to surge is owed to domestic factors.Namely,support for Morales had eroded even among his most loyal constituencies:Indigenous communities.

    Following the election,those communities came under attack.A right-wing Christian opposition figure named Luis Fernando Camacho led violent protests targeting Morales's Indigenous supporters and elected officials.An agribusiness and natural gas tycoon dubbed "Bolivia's Bolsonaro", Camacho is aligned with the Civic Committee movement and comes from an elite family with influence in the natural gas distribution business.

   Anti-Indigenous racism played a role in the violence."Camacho is like many on the right wing in eastern Bolivia,who consider themselves white or white-ish",Gustafson explained."There is a long history of anti-Indigenous racism and a long history of fascist political organizing in Bolivia that is very much wedded to symbols of Christianity." Indeed,videos posted to social media showed anti-Indigenous coup supporters burning Bolivia's Indigenous Wiphala flag and opposition leaders brandishing ostentatious Bibles.

    Despite the political chaos of the prior month,Gustafson pointed to the strength of Bolivian social movements."Whatever government emerges out of this,if it takes some "neoliberal position" or attempts to restore the kind of racist model of rule that characterized the country for centuries",he said, "the social movements in Bolivia are going to give them a really hard time."

   On November 8 in Brazil,one of Morales's main Latin American political allies,Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, was released after a year and a half in prison.Lula,a contemporary of Morales's among the leaders of the resurgent Latin American left,would most likely have won Brazil's 2018 presidential election.But a disputed,politically-tinged corruption conviction prevented him from running and allowed the right-wing opposition to guide far-right Jair Bolsonaro to victory.

   The judge that presided over Lula's case,Sergio Moro, has been at the center of a major investigation by "The Intercept".Co-founder Glenn Greenwald explained on "Intercepted" that,essentially,Moro was not a judge. "He was secretly commanding the prosecutorial task force,not just in Lula's case,but in many,many others. The prosecutors were constantly violating their ethical constraints,trying to profit off of the fame that they got from winning." Greenwald said. "There was massive corruption inside this anti-corruption probe that has really changed Brazilian politics in a fundamental way over the last five years."

    Lula returned to the political scene rejuvenated after his release from prison, Greenwald said. Calling Morales's ouster a coup,Lula tweeted a statement of support for the Bolivian president:"It is unfortunate that Latin America has an economic elite that does not know how to live with democracy and the social inclusion of the poorest.:Bolsonaro, for his part, has dismissed that a coup occurred in Bolivia.

    Lula's statement was one among a global chorus of left-of-center politicians who spoke out against the coup. On Sunday,November 10,Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted,"There's a word for the President of a country being pushed out by the military. It's called a coup." While many Democratic presidential candidates have remained silent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted, "I am very concerned about what appears to be a coup in Bolivia, where the military, after weeks of political unrest,intervened to remove President Evo Morales."

    Much of the U.S. mainstream media,meanwhile,has been reticent to call what happened in Bolivia a coup. "I think it's amazing that U.S. media outlets just explicitly refuse to call it a coup and are going out of their way to say everything but,". "It just shows how in U.S. discourse, "democracy" means putting a leader in place who serves U.S. interest and 'tyranny' or 'dictatorship' means a leader-even if they're democratically elected-who refuses to."

 

VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICHOLAS MADURO THWARTED THREE ATTEMPTED U.S. BACKED COUP D'ETATS IN 2019

  

 

  Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro has thwarted three coup attempts against his government.The U.S. has made three attempts this year and failed to remove Venezuela's democratically elected Maduro from power.First in February,then in June and again in October.

    After an uprising in Venezuela quickly fizzled out,President Maduro blamed the U.S. government for orchestrating a coup attempt against his country. The military has supported Maduro and refused to back his opponent Juan Guaido,who declared himself interim president in January and has backing from dozens of countries,including most of Latin America and the U.S. Maduro has called Guaido a U.S-backed "puppet" who seeks to oust him in a coup.Still most countries in the world do not recognize Juan Guaido as president.Also the presence of Russian troops in Venezuela may have been a contributing factor to helping Maduro thwart the attempted coup d e'tats.Just like Bashar al-Assad having Russian troops present in his country prevented him being removed by a US backed coup d'etat.Perhaps something Evo Maduro should have done and he might still be the Bolivian president.

 

Economic Hardships Sparked Iranian protests,Or Did It?

 

  As the internet slowly flickers back on across Iran, videos of violent clashes between protesters and security forces are bursting into the public eye.In the days following a fuel price hike on November 15,thousands of Iranians took to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the decision.

  In May of 2018 the USA withdrew from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action 2018,and then imposed severe sanctions in the hope that the citizens of Iran would rise up and overthrow the current Iranian government.In November it appeared that America's dream came true.Or did it?

   The Iranian people are dissatisfied with their government but they don't want the Americans meddling.They believe they will work out their problems by themselves.

   At the same time,the Iranian government was well aware of the fact that the CIA was trying to stir up the shit in Iran.So the Iranian government wanted to flush them out.The government knew that raising a fuel hike price would anger people and it would bring the shit stirrers to the vanguard.Eight people connected with the CIA were arrested.

   Iranian security agents arrested at least eight people linked to the CIA during last week's deadly unrest over petrol price increases,the official news agency IRNA reported on Wednesday,November 27.

    "These elements had received CIA-funded training in various countries under the cover of becoming citizen-journalists," it quoted the intelligence ministry as saying. "Six were arrested while attending the riots and carrying out [CIA] orders and two while trying to ... send information abroad."

  Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-in his strongest remarks since the unrest peaked-described the two weeks of violence as the work of a "very dangerous conspiracy".

   "The people foiled a deep, vast and very dangerous conspiracy on which a lot of money was spent for destruction, viciousness and the killing of people," Khamenei said.

   The Iranian leader was speaking at a gathering of the Basij-a militia loyal to the Islamic Republic's establishment.The Revolutionary Guard's all-volunteer Basij force helped significantly to put down the demonstrations.

   On Twitter, Khamenei expressed his "heartfelt gratitude and appreciation" to the Iranian nation in a post alongside pictures of a massive pro-government rally held in Tehran on Monday,November 25.

   "The people proved again that they are powerful and great and defeated the big conspiracy of the enemy with their presence on the scene," it said.

   The tweet blamed the unrest on the "#GlobalArrogance and #Zionism"-in reference to Iran's rivals,the United States and Israel.

   Khamenei described the US as seeing the price hikes as an "opportunity" to bring their "troops" to the field, but the "move was destroyed by people".

   Iran did give a glimpse on Wednesday into the scale of what may have been the biggest anti-government protests in the 40-year history of the Islamic Republic.

   Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli estimated as many as 200,000 people took part in the demonstrations,higher than previous claims. He said demonstrators damaged more than 50 police stations, as well as 34 ambulances,731 banks and 70 gas stations in the country.

"We have individuals who were killed by knives,shotguns and fires," Fazli said, without offering a casualty figure,in remarks published by IRNA.

 

Protests In Hong Kong.Is There A Way Forward?

The protests in Hong Kong began in June when an extradition bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government.The protests continue to this day.

 However,the protests have taken a turn for the worse.While the vast majority of protestors have been peaceful,violence and vandalism have now become the norm-and for some the goal.Clashes with the police have continually escalated.Amid such chaos,is there a way forward for Hong Kong?

   The movement has ventured far beyond the original catalyst,the government's extradition bill,with increasingly radical dynamics abetted by inept government responses.Social media has shaped narratives which allow groups (more than individuals) to create their own reality.De-escalation is sorely needed, but elusive.

   Politically speaking,the protestors have achieved a lot.The government has announced the formal withdrawal of the extradition bill itself,though it took several attempts to convince people that the bill was in fact "dead".The passage of the controversial national anthem law continues to be postponed and the long-discussed national security legislation (required under Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law) will now appear even lower down the agenda than it already was.

   Indeed, Hong Kong's government is weaker than it has ever been.The balance of power has shifted away from the government to the street,exacerbated by the weak performance of Hong Kong's political institutions.The anti-mask regulation,introduced on 4 October,has not yet helped authorities gain some control over the protests and continues to be widely ignored.

   A power vacuum brings risks beyond those of street politics.Like it or not,the weakness of Hong Kong's political institutions could mean that Beijing increasingly seeks to guide socioeconomic change in Hong Kong in ways not previously envisaged.Its recent rhetorical intervention targeting property developers is an example.

   Unrest looks set to continue.Radical protestors have dug in for prolonged urban warfare against the government,police and even Hong Kong's mass transit rail system, using increasingly violent measures.Dialogue and compromise are not on their agenda,only the pursuit of goals and ambiguous slogans which are unlikely to be realized under Hong Kong's current political framework.The government continues to resist the demand which attracts most popular support-for an independent commission of inquiry-without explaining convincingly why it opposes the idea.

   The persistence and scale of the protests also reflect deep dislocations in Hong Kong,ranging from a fundamental dislike of Beijing to localist or independence sentiment,protectionist identity politics and socioeconomic problems.These go beyond questions about the constitutional arrangement of 'one country,two systems'.Given the depth of the wounds and hatred,there is little chance that Hong Kong's problems will be solved.There is no consensus on what a political solution looks like. 

    Chief Executive Carrie Lam's annual policy address,delivered on 16 October,was an opportunity to set out a way forward.Lam focused on housing,land supply, livelihood issues and economic development,announcing a raft of measures and the goal that every family would be able to have "their own home in Hong Kong".

   This could contribute positively to the longer-term challenges facing the city,though housing in particular will remain a running sore.More could probably be done in the short term with Hong Kong's fiscal surplus and reserves,targeting sectors most affected by the turmoil and finding ways of ensuring that money reaches the grassroots.

   Lam ended up delivering her address by video link, after disruption of the legislative sitting by opposition lawmakers. This shows the limited appetite for dialogue across the community,following an ineffective set-piece dialogue on 26 September (which incidentally highlighted the differences between Hong Kong and the rest of China).

  Before her address,Lam rejected calls for immediate resumption of political reform,even though this is again moving up the popular agenda (and seen by some as a panacea). The problem remains that changes require a broad consensus. Progress on universal suffrage needs agreement by the central government, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and two-thirds of the legislature.This is where things came unstuck in 2014,when it was opposition legislators, not the government, that vetoed change. Prospects for consensus look even bleaker now.

  In spite of the challenges facing Hong Kong, the cacophonous politics of this summer have highlighted the distinctive nature of Hong Kong's system,and the ability of its citizens to express their views locally and internationally.The city's wider value for China and international business needs to be retained, even as the US Congress seems determined to make its distinctiveness more difficult to maintain with the passage of a new Hong Kong Act, the most likely impact of which will be an erosion of confidence in Hong Kong and a reduction in its actual autonomy.

   Foreign governments have been heavily lobbied to "stand with Hong Kong". But to do this effectively requires understanding the full range of views across the community-not just those who lobby in Washington, London or Canberra.It also means giving some support to the Hong Kong government and encouraging it to find the right balance between the interests in Hong Kong and those in Beijing, difficult though this may be politically.

   Most important of all,this wave of violence must come to an end. Unless this happens,Hong Kong's society may never recover from the current crisis.

 


North Korea says choice of 'Christmas gift' is up to US

 

   On December 2,North Korea issued a thinly veiled warning it could resume long-distance missile tests in the next few weeks if the US does not change its negotiating position on the regime's nuclear disarmament,saying "it is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get".

   Ri Thae Song,the deputy foreign minister, said in a statement translated on the state news agency that the "year-end time limit" set for the US was "drawing nearer" and accused the Trump administration of playing for time in discussions with Pyongyang, in the hope of avoiding a standoff before US presidential elections in November.

  "The dialogue touted by the US is,in essence,nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK [North Korea] bound to dialogue and use it in favour of the political situation and election in the US," Ri said.

   Joshua Pollack,the editor of the Nonproliferation Review,pointed out that Pyongyang has used the threat of a "gift" before, to refer to its first test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in 2017.

    He said that Pyongyang also warned the Japanese prime minister,Shinzo Abe,that he could face "a real ballistic missile in the not distant future and under his nose".

    "They might not necessarily wait until the end of the year to show their displeasure on how the diplomacy with the United States has gone," Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see an ICBM go over Japan on Christmas Day itself."

    Donald Trump is touting his summit diplomacy with Kim Jong-un as one of his signature foreign policy achievements.He points in particular to North Korea's moratorium on testing nuclear warheads and ICBMs.An ICBM test over the holiday season would represent a significant blow as his re-election campaign moves into higher gear.

   Speaking in London,where Trump was attending a NATO meeting,Trump played down the security concerns over the North Korean nuclear and missile programmes.When a journalist put it to him that Kim continued to developed both programmes,the president replied "You don't know that",even though it reflects the US intelligence consensus.

   However,Trump did acknowledge that Kim had staged a series of short-and medium-range missile tests.

   "He definitely likes sending rockets up,doesn't he" That's why I call him Rocket Man, Trump said. He added:"Now we have the most powerful military we've ever had and we're by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully,we don't have to use it, but if we do, we'll use it."

   Trump said that at their first summit meeting in Singapore in June 2017,Kim had promised to "denuclearize".

   "I hope he lives up to the agreement,but we're going to find out," the president said.

   In fact the Singapore agreement said "the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".To North Korea,the denuclearization of the peninsula,signifies a gradual process of mutual disarmament that also involves the withdrawal of US strategic weapons from the region.

   The difference in interpretations was papered over until the second summit in Hanoi in February 2018.The talks fell apart when Trump presented a plan requiring the wholesale dismantling of the North Korean nuclear and missile programmes in return for comprehensive sanctions relief.Kim wanted a step-by-step process.

  Since the collapse of the Hanoi talks,Kim and his regime have issued repeated threats that North Korea could resume nuclear or ICBM testing if the US did not make more concessions or demand less of Pyongyang.

   In his remarks in London, Trump hinted at possible concessions over its military deployment in South Korea,saying "it can be debated" whether the troop presence there was in US national security interests.

   "I can go either way," he said.

   As  far as the DPRK goes if they denuclearize they become sitting ducks.Just look at Libya and Iraq.Does North Korea want to share the same fate?

 

Julian Assange Being "Treated Worse Than A Murderer" in prison-John Pilger

 

Julian Assange is suffering from poor health as a result of mistreatment in prison,according to journalist John Pilger,who in August visited the WikiLeaks founder. Pilger said that he now fears for Assange.

Describing Assange's "deteriorating" condition, Pilger tweeted in August that he was being treated "worse than a murderer" at London's Belmarsh prison.

 "He is isolated, medicated and denied the tools to fight the bogus charges of a US extradition.I now fear for him. Do not forget him," Pilger wrote.

   Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London on April 11 and received a 50-week sentence for skipping bail in a Swedish investigation involving alleged sexual assault.

   The 48-year-old now faces extradition to the United States,where he is charged with possession and dissemination of classified information.If found guilty,he could receive up to 175 years in prison.

    Assange has been in Washington's crosshairs for years,with his organization gaining notoriety after publishing a leaked video showing the US military attacking journalists and civilians in Iraq in July 2007.

 

 Julian Assange is not on trial,British justice is

 

The most honest man in Britain today is Julian Assange while the most dishonest are those who are engaged in his ongoing persecution.

   One of the instalments in that persecution is a court hearing in London on June 14,where details of the request for his extradition to the US,were expected,to be revealed.

   The formal request for the extradition of the founder of WikiLeaks was made to the UK by US authorities earlier that week-and with British Home Secretary Sajid Javid signing the relevant papers sanctioning it,the final decision on whether Julian Assange's extradition to the US goes ahead now rests with the courts.

   Assange's poor state of health means that it's uncertain whether he will be able to attend the hearing in person, or whether instead he will address the court by video link from Belmarsh Prison,where he's been detained since being arrested and forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in central London on April 11.

   What the start of the extradition proves is that Assange was right all along in claiming political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy,on the basis that he was under threat of extradition to the US, and that those who rubbished and ridiculed him for doing so stand exposed as charlatans.

   Where we are now is that for daring to publish details of US war crimes and atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan,not to mention later exposing the corruption of Hillary Clinton and the DNC in the lead-up to the US presidential election in 2016, Assange is facing the prospect of being sent into the void that is the US justice system-forever.

   Or at least as close to forever as possible,given that he is looking at being sent to prison for 175 years on a raft of espionage charges.

   In revealing to the world the beast of US hegemony that resides behind the velvet curtains of democracy and human rights,Julian Assange exposed the lie upon which this American Empire (and make no mistake,it is an empire) depends.While at the same time in November Donald Trump pardons soldiers convicted of committing the war crimes.

   It depends on it in order to persuade its supposed beneficiaries-i.e. people living in the West-to continue to suspend disbelief as to the reality of a system they've been conditioned to believe is rooted in values that emanate from the human heart rather than from the heart of the machine.

   The end result is that in exposing this lie,Assange and WikiLeaks became a bigger threat to the ability of US hegemony to function normally than a million bayonets. As such,it became imperative that he,as the founder and face of WikiLeaks,be destroyed.

   Britain's role in this process couldn't be any more sordid or shameful.Its legal system and judiciary has effectively been turned into a subsidiary of its US counterpart;its function not to dispense justice but to deliver a man into the arms of injustice. 

   The fate to befall Assange proves that there's a world of difference between believing that you live in a free society and behaving as if you do.He is the canary down the coalmine of Western democracy,signalling the warning that its foundations are rotten to the core.

   A journalist said when he spoke at a recent Imperialism On Trial event in London,he will never forget the chill that slid down my spine as he watched

Julian Assange being dragged out of his political asylum in the aforementioned Ecuadorian Embassy in London and hurled into the back of a van. It was a scene you would associate with a fascist state in the 1930s,not a democratic one in 2019.

   It was a vision of the future unless people in the West wake up and stand up.

   Compounding the injustice involved in the treatment of Julian Assange has been the complicity of a mainstream media which has,without exception,engaged in an unrelenting campaign of demonization,delegitimization and even dehumanization where he's concerned.

   These people are not journalists,they are ideological foot soldiers.In fact,they're not even that;they are expensively educated cranks and hacks-so-called progressives,who with a chai latte in one hand and a signed copy of Campbell's Diaries or Blair's autobiography in the other,step over homeless people in the street

on the way to their hot yoga classes and sushi bars;there to congratulate one another on the latest offering of vacuous tripe served up to the God of yellow journalism.

    Compare and contrast the treatment of Julian Assange at the hands of the mainstream media in the UK, and the treatment of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in the Russian media.

   Upon what appears to have been Golunov's unjust arrest and detention by the police in Moscow,the Russian press united in demanding his release.Largely as a result of the media's stance,which galvanised public opinion in Russia, Golunov's detention ended in a matter of days.It stands as a pristine example of how a free and independent press functions in holding the authorities to account on behalf of the people.

   Today in Britain,in grim contrast,we have a mainstream media that operates more along the lines of holding the people to account on behalf of the powerful; the plight of Julian Assange being a case in point.

   From this point on,at every stage of this execrable extradition process,it is British justice on trial,not him.And thus far the verdict tends towards guilty-guilty of being a US vassal;guilty of the violation of Assange's human rights;guilty of putting truth and justice behind bars and setting untruth and injustice free.

   Ultimately, the stakes in this case couldn't be any more important or higher and in the last analysis it really is very simple.

   Until Julian Assange is free,none of us are.

 

With the Help of Russian Fighters, Libya's Haftar Could Take Tripoli

 

 

   In a shattered villa south of the Libyan capital that serves as his field headquarters,a middle-aged militia commander named Mohammed al-Darrat,an engineer in another life,fretted over incoming ordnance.These were not just any artillery shells,he explained during a lull in the fighting late last month: They homed on their target through a laser designation from a ground spotter. The projectiles had forced him to move his headquarters more than three times in the last several weeks. And they were just one of several worrying upgrades to the arsenal of his foes in this latest phase of Libya's ongoing civil war, which started on April 4,2019 when a septuagenarian Libyan general named Khalifa Haftar launched an assault to topple the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

    Ostensibly undertaken to rid the capital of militias,the campaign by Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (also called the Libyan Arab Armed Forces,a coalition of regular units and militias) was in fact a baldfaced grab for power and wealth.The United Nations envoy to Libya has said it "sounded more like a coup." As it unfolded,al-Darrat and other militia leaders from Tripoli and its environs set aside their differences to confront the incursion. They were joined by fighters from across the country: On the front lines recently,I met militiamen from the eastern city of Benghazi and ethnic Tuareg from Libya's deep south.The war that ensued started as a grinding,largely stalemated fight that blended aging Soviet artillery and state-of-the-art drones,piloted by personnel from the United Arab Emirates, which backs Haftar and Turkey,which supports the GNA.

    But the deck was shuffled in early September,which saw the arrival to the Tripoli front of yet another foreign meddler-more than 100 Russian mercenaries from the so-called Wagner Group early that month,joined, in recent weeks,by hundreds of additional fighters,who've inflicted an uptick in casualties among al-Darrat and his men.The Libyan commander bemoaned the apparent improvement in the precision of the ever present armed drones that destroy his vehicles at will day or night, constricting his movements and forcing him to hunker down for hours on end.There is a seemingly endless supply of mortars that rain down. Russian anti-tank missiles, the dreaded Kornets, snake between sand berms to incinerate their target with a devastating accuracy.

   And then there are the Russian snipers.Their shots to the chest and head,al-Darrat says,reveal a professionalism he's never seen before,accounting for 30 percent of the deaths in his unit.One of these marksmen had recently killed a 23-year-old fighter,whose body still lay on the battlefield. al-Darrat and his men plotted for hours one morning about how to retrieve it using ropes or armored cars:It lay directly in the path of snipers,who'd already wounded a soldier in a previous recovery attempt,with an anti-materiel rifle.The mission seemed all the more urgent because the dead man's father was imploring al-Darrat to return his corpse.

  All this may sound like good news to Haftar,who,for the first time,could conceivably take Tripoli.But the battlefield advantages that come with Russian aid may carry costs.On Nov. 14,the U.S. State Department issued its most forceful condemnation yet of his war,singling out his militia by name and asserting that his alliance with Russian mercenaries is a dangerous breach of Libyan sovereignty.In tandem,the U.S. Congress is growing considerably more concerned about the war's effect on civilians and its boon to Russian influence in the region.Bipartisan legislation is pending in both the House and Senate that would place sanctions on the Russian contractors and their enablers.

   Together, these moves represent an encouraging departure from months of U.S. ambivalence about the latest twist in the Libyan civil war.The disastrous "wait and see" policy stemmed from a phone call by U.S. President Donald Trump to Haftar in mid-April,in which he endorsed the general's attack as being in line with U.S. counterterrorism goals.Beyond its boost to Haftar's war, the phone call was confounding because most of America's counterterrorism activity in western Libya has been conducted with the militia commanders whom Haftar is now fighting. al-Darrat is one of them.In 2016,I had joined him as he led militiamen in a battle against the Islamic State in its stronghold in the central city of Sirte.Back then,he had U.S. intelligence and airstrikes to help him. But now he questions Washington;s commitment to its old allies.

   He doubts that the State Department;s Nov. 14 statement and Congress's increased scrutiny will mark a constructive shift in U.S. policy. Not much will change from America, he told me the day after the announcement,in the weary tone of a hardened soldier."And they're going to attack tonight," he predicted of Haftar's forces,in a defiant retort to Washington's admonitions. And sure enough, at the front after dusk,two missiles from an Emirati drone streaked across the sky. Hearing the low-pitched hum of another, we ducked under some foliage until it was out of earshot.

    The next morning,there was a volley of mortars and machine gun fire from Haftar's positions,only several hundred yards away,to dodge.

    "They hit us under a tree!" A fighter ran up to tell al-Darrat. "We had to fall back!"

    "Deal with the enemy!" the commander exhorted his men. But the young man's belt-fed machine gun had jammed.

    Fighters dashed back-and-forth, and mutual accusations were shouted into walkie-talkies-You didn't cover my flank!" The toll of this relentless violence-the results of Haftar's recent technological edge-was etched on the faces of these combatants:It was a stark difference from when I met them this summer,when they were flush with a boisterous confidence.

 

Fallujah, Iraq now has more birth defects than Hiroshima and Nagasaki

 

 

 

See:https://www.middleeasteye.net/reportages/fallujah-birth-defects-story

 

 

   George W Bush bombed the Iraqi city of Fallujah with depleted uranium in 2004. Fifteen years later,Fallujah has the highest rate of birth defects in the world.Higher than Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the US dropped atom bombs on them.

  The lack of quality maternity care in the region means the hospital in Fallujah is overloaded,with patients coming from as far afield as Karbala,85km to the south, to make use of its already stretched facilities.

   Amid the country's numerous conflicts,Fallujah itself has changed hands numerous times-in January 2014,the city was captured by Islamic State (IS),prior even to the group's capture of Mosul in northern Iraq.

   While the city was taken back from IS in June 2016,the recovery process has been slow,and there has been little improvement in local services.

   Lack of investment from central government has left the maternity hospital reliant on foreign donors for equipment.

   To make matters worse,for years now,babies born in Fallujah have suffered disproportionately high levels of birth defects, including congenital heart disease, gastroschisis (where the digestive system is found outside the baby's body) and spina bifida.

   Paediatrician Sameera Alani says that she generally sees around 30 cases a month of children suffering from birth defects.

   Since 2009,Alani has been the leading force in documenting the cases.

   On Facebook and Twitter,she and others run the the Fallujah Birth Defects group,which posts imagery of the shocking array of problems that foetuses in the region develop in the womb.

   "Environmental pollution is an important cause,but we can't say which case is related to what cause," she told Middle East Eye.

   Alani explained that a lack of facilities in the hospital meant that it was difficult to determine the direct cause.

   The last time a team came to Fallujah to examine the levels of environmental pollution in the local area had been in 2011,when a team of analysts from London had documented pollution in the "trees, soil and water".

   "Since then,the subject has been totally neglected and forgotten-by chance or intentionally,I don't know," Alani said. 

 Uranium exposure 

  Although the causes are numerous,one of the most documented reasons has been the lingering impact of uranium in the local environment,a remnant of the brutal bombardment of the town by US-led forces in 2004,as well as previous conflicts,including the 1991 Gulf War.

   A 2011 report produced by Alani and British doctor Christopher Busby found that "enriched uranium exposure is either a primary cause or related to the cause of the congenital anomaly and cancer increases" in Fallujah.

   Alani said that the lack of a clear registration system meant that there were no official statistics before 2003 on the number of birth defects emerging in Fallujah and so she could only go by her own experience.

   "We noticed that there are many,many cases that we didn't see before.I have been working in this hospital since 1997-I used to see maybe one or two cases per month," she explained.

   In the last month, Alani said she had documented around 33 cases of birth defects and 35 the month before.

   One recent case she had seen involved a woman giving birth to premature twins.

   "Out of the two babies,one was born with mermaid-like legs,a condition called sirenomelia and the other baby was born with gastroschisis,spina bifida and congenital heart disease," she said.

   She said the parents had been "hysterical and nervous" at the time of the birth.

   "The father started shouting," she said.

   Despite the serious problems her department has to manage, there is little in the way of cash flow from the government's coffers.

   "The government has no budget," she said.

   "We have two important pieces of equipment in this department-one is the ultra-sound machine,which was donated from a French organisation,and an echocardiogram machine,which was a donation from a group of activists [from Japan and Sweden]."

    Alani said an upcoming conference in the northern city of Erbil had been set to take place in June to encourage donations but had been postponed indefinitely.

    "Nothing here is from the government-maybe only the tables and chairs!" she said,adding that the problems were not unique to Fallujah.

    "Why would the protests be happening if it's different in other areas? It's all the same." 

 Sunnis Stay Indoors 

    The inability of the government to provide basic services has sparked widespread anger across Iraq and led to more than a month of mass demonstrations.

    The problems afflicting the maternity hospital at Fallujah are reproduced across the country-with activists accusing the political classes of pocketing the profits from Iraq's vast oil reserves and allowing the country's infrastructure to crumble.

    But while corruption, poverty, unemployment and lack of services has seen protesters in Baghdad,Karbala,Basra,Nasiriyah and other provinces of Iraq take to the streets,the residents of Fallujah-like most of the Sunni-majority regions of Iraq-have stayed in doors.

   At least 330 people have been killed so far in the clashes between security forces and protesters,with thousands more wounded.

  Activists have also been kidnapped, tortured and repeatedly threatened for their involvement.

  But while the largely Shia protesters have all these obstacles to face, for Sunnis there are even bigger concerns.

  Sitting outside a garage in Fallujah, a group of men discussed their concerns about the protest movement with MEE.

  "Protests are not good for the people," said Yasser,the owner of the garage.

  "They hinder economic life and many people die or become kidnapped because of these protests."

  He added that the last major protests in Anbar, beginning in 2012, had preceded the rise of IS, which no-one wanted to see again.

  During the war on IS, Yassir said, his shop had been hit by an explosive barrel, destroying it. He had applied to the government for compensation, but received nothing.

 'We suffered so much when we last protested' As Yassir was speaking, another man interceded saying people in Fallujah had "learned the lesson" from the 2012 protests, which had begun as demonstrations against unemployment and anti-Sunni discrimination by the government of then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but were later hijacked by militant groups.

  "People have the right to go protest, they have a good motive, but the politicians, they don't care. They have the post, they don't care," he said.

  "We want to go out and protest because the people are suffering-but we cannot go out and protest because we suffered so much when we last protested... so we're not going to do any protests here."

   Human Rights Watch has documented incidents of Anbaris being targeted simply for voicing support for the latest protest movement online.

   One case documented by the US-based rights group saw a young man putting a frame around a profile picture on Facebook,showing support for demonstrators, on 26 October.

   According to a relative,four police cars soon turned up at his door,beat him,accused him of "inciting protests" and then handcuffed him and took him away.

   He was held incommunicado until 31 October when he was released without charge.

   On October 24, just a day before the beginning of major planned protests,a statement from Anbar Police Command warned residents against joining demonstrations.

   "Anbar governorate calls upon its citizens to head to work and continue with construction, preserving security, supporting security forces, and benefitting from past lessons, from which the province has only gotten destruction, killings and displacement," it read. 

  "The Rivers are also poisoned" 

Fallujah has suffered greatly in a relatively short period of time and,despite promises of investment for reconstruction,the city's ongoing health crisis is still being left unaddressed.

   Yassir's brother, Nader,said there were serious medical issues in Fallujah as a result of the white phosphorous that the US had used during the war, but said that health facilities had degraded in the city.

   "Before IS came,just outside Fallujah there was a Jordanian hospital providing some very good care,but now they are closed down," he said.

   "The rivers are also poisoned-about a year or two ago, many fish suddenly surfaced dead.I was suspicious it was sabotage."

   However,so far,despite the major problems, there has been little evidence that Iraq's Sunnis are willing to risk further violence and demonetization by publicly backing the protests.

   Having barely recovered from IS's rule,their position is still too precarious.

   "If we go out protesting,they will give us terrorism charges,they will say 'you are with IS'," said Nader.

   "We in the Sunni areas,we suffer most."

 

Houthis Retaliate and Strike Major Saudi Arabia Oil Facilities


 

   Backed by the USA and UK,Saudi Arabia has been comitting a genocide on the Yemen Houthis.

In September the Houthis retaliated and bombed a Saudi Arabian oil field.

  Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone attack on the world's largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia which is vital to global energy supplies.

   The attacks on the processor and a major oilfield,operated by Saudi Aramco, on early Saturday,September 14 sparked a huge fire,the kingdom's interior ministry said.

   According to Reuters,threes sources claimed the assault had disrupted output and exports,with one source claiming 5 million barrels per day of crude production had been impacted-nearly half the kingdom;s output.

   The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia is shutting down about half of its oil output because of the incident.Authorities have not confirmed whether oil production or exports were affected.

   A military spokesman for Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the strikes,saying 10 drones had been deployed in the attack.

  The Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes on Yemen's northern Saada province,a Houthi stronghold,on the same day,a Reuters witness said.Houthi-run al Masirah TV said the warplanes targeted a military camp.

   Yahia Sarie made the announcement on Saturday in a televised address carried by the Houthi movement's al-Masirah satellite news channel.

   Sarie said the rebels had attacked the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khurais oil field.He said attacks against the kingdom would get worse if the war in Yemen continued.

  "The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us," he said. A Saudi-led coalition has been at war with the rebels since March 2015.

  It was unclear whether there were any injuries in the attacks, or whether they would affect the country's oil production. They are, however,likely to heighten tensions in the region, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are effectively fighting a proxy war in Yemen, and Tehran is at loggerheads with Washington over the latter's withdrawal from its nuclear deal with world powers.

   Online videos apparently shot in Abqaiq included the sound of gunfire in the background. Smoke rose over the skyline and flames could be seen in the distance at the oil processing facility.

   The fires began after the sites were targeted by drones,the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.It said an investigation was under way.

   Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq facility as the largest crude oil stabilisation plant in the world.It is thought to be able to process up to 7m barrels of crude a day.

  Bob McNally,who runs Rapidan Energy Group and served in the US National Security Council during the second Gulf War in 2003,told Reuters: "A successful attack on Abqaiq would be akin to a massive heart attack for the oil market and global economy."

  Militants have targeted the plant in the past. Suicide bombers claiming to be from al-Qaida tried but failed to attack it in February 2006.

  The Khurais oil field is thought to produce more than 1m barrels of crude a day.It has estimated reserves of more than 20bn barrels, according to Aramco.

  There was no immediate impact on global oil prices,because markets were closed for the weekend.Benchmark Brent crude had been trading at just above $60 a barrel.

  Abqaiq is 205 miles (330km) north-east of Riyadh.

  A Saudi-led coalition has been at war with the Houthi movement in Yemen since March 2015.The Iranian-backed rebels hold the capital,Sana and other territory in the Arab world's poorest country.

   The war has triggered the world's worst humanitarian crisis.The violence has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine and more than 90,000 people have been killed since 2015,according to the US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project,which tracks the conflict.

   Houthi rebels have been using drones in combat since the start of the Saudi-led war. The first appeared to be off-the-shelf, hobby-kit-style drones, but later versions have been nearly identical to Iranian models.Tehran denies supplying the rebels with weapons,but the west and Gulf Arab nations say it does.

  The rebels have flown drones into the radar arrays of Saudi Arabia's Patriot missile batteries,according to Conflict Armament Research,disabling them and allowing them to fire ballistic missiles into the kingdom unchallenged.

   They launched drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia's crucial east-west pipeline in May as tensions heightened between Iran and the US.

   Houthi drones also struck the Shaybah oil field in August.The field produces 1m barrels of crude a day near the Saudi border with the United Arab Emirates.

  UN investigators have suggested that the rebels' new UAV-X drone may have a range of up to 930 miles (1,500km), meaning they would be able to reach Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

Brexit

 

   This year the UK saw Theresa May exit 10 Downing Street and New York City born Boris Johnson become the new leader of the UK.On December 12 by an overwhelming majority Boris was victorious in a general election.After 3 1/2 years will Brexit finally happen?

  Brexit is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU).Following a June 2016 referendum,in which 51.9% voted to leave,the UK government formally announced the country's withdrawal in March 2017,starting a two-year process that was due to conclude with the UK withdrawing on March 29,2019.As the UK parliament voted against or failed to ratify the negotiated withdrawal agreements,that deadline has been extended three times.

The deadline is currently January 31,2020.

    Withdrawal is advocated by Eurosceptics and opposed by pro-Europeanists, both of whom span the political spectrum.The UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973,with continued membership endorsed in a 1975 referendum.In the 1970s and 1980s,withdrawal from the EC was advocated mainly by the political left,in the Labour Party's 1983 election manifesto.From the 1990s,the eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party grew and led a rebellion over ratification of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that established the EU.In parallel with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the cross-party People's Pledge campaign,it pressured Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to hold a referendum on continued EU membership.Cameron,who had campaigned to remain,resigned after the result and was succeeded by Theresa May.

   On March 29,2017,the UK government formally began the process of withdrawal by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union with permission from Parliament. May called a snap general election in June 2017,which resulted in a Conservative minority government supported by the Democratic Unionist Party.UK-EU withdrawal negotiations began later that month.The UK negotiated to leave the EU customs union and single market.This resulted in the November 2018 withdrawal agreement,but the UK parliament voted against ratifying it three times.The Labour Party wanted any agreement to maintain a customs union,while many Conservatives opposed the agreement's financial settlement on the UK's share of EU financial obligations,as well as the "Irish backstop" designed to prevent border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Liberal Democrats,Scottish National Party, and others seek to reverse Brexit through a second referendum.Should a withdrawal agreement be passed,there will be a transition period until at least December 31,2020,where the future relationship is to be negotiated.

   In March 2019,the UK parliament voted for May to ask the EU to delay Brexit until April and then later October.Having failed several times to get her agreement approved by Parliament,May resigned as prime minister in July and was succeeded by Boris Johnson.He sought to replace parts of the agreement and vowed to leave the EU by the new deadline,with or without an agreement.On October 17.2019,the UK government and EU agreed a revised withdrawal agreement, with new arrangements for Northern Ireland.Parliament passed the second reading of the new agreement allowing it to move to the committee stage for further scrutiny,but they rejected plans to pass it into law before the October 31 deadline and forced the government (through the 'Benn Act') to ask for a third Brexit delay.This was followed, on the last day of October,by an act providing for an early general election on December 12.

   Many effects of Brexit depend on how closely the UK will be tied to the EU,or whether it withdraws before terms are agreed-referred to as a no-deal Brexit.The broad consensus among economists is that Brexit will likely harm the UK's economy and reduce its real per capita income in the medium term and long term, and that the referendum itself damaged the economy.Brexit is likely to reduce immigration from European Economic Area (EEA) countries to the UK and poses challenges for UK higher education,academic research and security. Following Brexit,EU law and the EU Court of Justice will no longer have supremacy over UK laws or its Supreme Court,except to an extent agreed upon in a withdrawal agreement.The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 retains relevant EU law as domestic law,which the UK could then amend or repeal.

 

UN Votes 187-3 to Condemn US Embargo Against Cuba, With Israel and Brazil Joining Trump Administration as Lone Outliers

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/11/08/un-votes-187-3-condemn-us-embargo-against-cuba-israel-and-brazil-joining-trump

 

 

  The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday,November 7 voted for the 28th consecutive year to adopt a resolution condemning the six-decade U.S. economic embargo that has strangled Cuba's economy and caused widespread human suffering.

    The final vote was 187-3,with Israel and Brazil joining the U.S. as the only nations opposed to the resolution.Colombia and Ukraine abstained and Moldova did not vote.

    Bruno Rodriguez,Cuba's foreign minister,told the General Assembly following the vote that the Trump administration has "aggressively intensified" the devastating embargo,which he said "qualifies as an act of genocide." The Obama administration took steps to alleviate the embargo and normalize U.S.-Cuba relations,but the Trump White House has reversed course and imposed punishing new sanctions.

   "The blockade has caused incalculable humanitarian damages. It is a flagrant,massive and systematic violation of human rights," said Rodriguez. "There is not one single Cuban family that has not suffered the consequences of this."

   Keisha McGuire, Grenada's ambassador to the U.N., echoed Rodriguez's condemnation of the blockade and noted that Cuba was one of the first nations to assist The Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian struck in September.

    "We view the embargo not just as a punitive act against Cuba,but as an impediment to our shared regional development," McGuire told the General Assembly. "Opposition to this policy is now almost universal in nature."

 

OBITUARIES:WHO DIED IN 2019

 

JANUARY

02 Daryl Dragon-American musician and songwriter (Captain & Tennille,The Beach Boys),renal failure-age 76

11 Mark Elliot,Canadian radio host (CFRA), pneumonia.-age 65

12 Bonnie Guitar-American country musician,("Dark Moon")-age 95

14 Pawel Adamowicz-Polish politician,Mayor of Gdansk (since 1998),stabbed.-age 53

15 Carol Channing-American actress (Hello,Dolly!,Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,Thoroughly Modern Millie),singer and dancer,Tony winner .-age 97

16 Chris Wilson-Australian musician (Short Cool Ones),pancrFeatic cancer.-age 62

17 Reggie Young-American musician (The Memphis Boys)-age 82

20 Paul Barrett-British music manager and agent.-age 78

21 Kaye Ballard-American actress (The Mothers-in-Law,The Doris Day Show) and singer ("Fly Me to the Moon"),kidney cancer.-age 93

25 Roohi Bano-Pakistani actress, kidney failure.-age 68

26 Henrik Jorgensen-Danish Olympic marathon runner(1984,1988),heart attack.-age 57

27 Erica Yohn-American actress (An American Tail,Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Corrina,Corrina)-age 88

30 Diane Gaidry-American actress (The Dogwalker,Loving Annabelle),cancer.-age 54

31 Candice Earley-American actress(All My Children),multiple system atrophy.-age 68

 FEBRUARY

03 Julie Adams,Actress-starred in "Creature from the Black Lagoon"(1954),Eve Simpson on "Murder,She Wrote" (1984-1996)-age 92

07 Frank Robinson,MLB Baseball player-Baseball Hall of Fame,14-time All-Star,586 career home runs,first ever black MLB manager-age 83 (bone cancer)

10 Jan-Michael Vincent,Actor-played Stringfellow Hawke on the TV show "Airwolf" (1984-86)-age 73 (cardiac arrest)

12 Olli Lindholm-Finnish singer and guitarist (Appendix, Yo),seizure.-age 54

13 Ray Price-American speechwriter(Richard Nixon,Gerald Ford),stroke.-age 88

20 Vinny Vella,Actor-played Artie Piscano in movie "Casino" (1995) and HBO TV show "The Sopranos" (1999-2007)-age 72 (liver cancer)

21 Beverley Owen,Actress-played Marilyn Munster on TV show "The Munsters"-age 81

21 Peter Tork,Musician/actor-he was keyboardist and bass guitarist for pop group and TV show "The Monkees"-age 77 (adenoid cystic carcinoma)

22 Morgan Woodward, Actor-played Marvin "Punk" Anderson in TV show "Dallas" also,the Walking Boss,in movie  "Cool Hand Luke"- (1967)-age 93

23 Katherine Helmond,Actress-played Jessica Tate on TV show "Soap"(1977-1981) and Mona Robinson on "Who;s the Boss" (1984-1992)-age 89 (Alzheimer's)

25 Mark Hollis,Singer/songwriter (UK)-founder of the pop group Talk Talk,top songs "It's My Life". and "Life's What You Make It"-age 64

25 Lisa Sheridan,Actress-appeared in TV shows "Halt and Catch Fire" and "Journeyman" (2005)-age 44 (complications of chronic alcoholism)

27 Nathaniel Taylor,Actor-played Rollo Lawson in TV show "Sanford and Son:(1972-1977)-age 80 (heart attack)

28 Andre Previn,Conductor/composer-scored music for over 50 Hollywood films, four Academy Awards and 10 Grammy awards-age 89

MARCH

04 Keith Flint,Musician/singer/dancer (UK)-frontman for dance/music group "Prodigy",hit songs "Firestarter" and "Breathe" (1996)-age 49 (suicide)

04 Roberta Haynes, Actor-prominent roles in "The Fighter" (1952),"Return to Paradise" (1953) and many others-age 91

04 Luke Perry,Actor-played Dylan McKay on the TV series "Beverly Hills, 90210" (1990-2000) and Fred Andrews on the CW series "Riverdale"-age 52 (stroke)

08 Marshall Brodien,Actor/magician-played Wizzo the Wizard on WGN TV show "The Bozo Show"(1968-1994)-age 84 (Alzheimer's)

09 Jed Allan,Actor-played Rush Sanders on TV show "Beverly Hills,90210"(1990-2000) and C.C. Capwell on "Santa Barbara" (1984-1993)-age 84

10 Freeda Foreman,Professional boxer-daughter of former heavyweight champ George Foreman-age 42 (suicide)

11 Hal Blaine,Drummer-drummer in Phil Spector;s house band "The Wrecking Crew" played on #1 hits;"Be My Baby" (1963),"Good Vibrations" (1966)-age 90

11 Julia Ruth Stevens,Babe Ruth's adopted step daughter-age 102

16 Dick Dale, Musician/guitarist-known as "The King of the Surf Guitar","Secret Surfin" "Spot" from the 1963 movie,"Beach Party"-age 81

16 Richard Erdman,Actor-character actor in over one hundred films,played chief Hoffy in "Stalag 17" (1953)-age 93

16 David White-American singer-songwriter(Danny & the Juniors,The Spokesmen)-age 79

17 Andre Williams-American R&B singer and songwriter ("Shake a Tail Feather"),colon cancer.-age 82

22 Scott Walker,Singer/songwriter (UK)-frontman for The Walker Brothers,top song "Make It Easy on Yourself" (1965)-age 76

24 Nancy Gates,Actress-contract actress for RKO Studios,"omanche Station"(1959),"Some Came Running" and "Suddenly"-age 93

28 Bill Isles,Musician-original member of "The O'Jays" (1958-present),"Back Stabbers" (1972)-age 78 (cancer)

29 Agnes Varda,Film director (FR)-oldest ever Oscar nominee (2017) and won an Honorary Oscar-age 90

30 Tania Mallet,Actress (UK)-played Tilly Masterson in James Bond movie "Goldfinger"(1964)-age 77

31 Nipsey Hussle,Rap singer/songwriter-nominated for Best Rap Album in 2019 for Victory Lap-age 33 (murdered)


APRIL

02 Kim English, Singer-had many hits on the US Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts including "Unspeakable Joy" and "Missing You"-age 48(kidney failure)

03 Dennis Day,(day the body was found) Child actor-an original member of Disney's "The Mickey Mouse Club"-age 76

04 Roberta Haynes,Actress-prominent roles in "The Fighter" (1952),"Return To Paradise" (1953)-age 91

07 Seymour Cassel,Actor-nominated for an Academy Award for "Faces"(1968),appeared in many John Cassavetes and Wes Anderson films-age 84 (Alzheimer's disease)

15 Georgia Engel,Actress-played Georgette Baxter on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1972-1977),nominated for five Emmy Awards-age 70

15 Joe Terry (Joe Terranova),Singer-original member of Danny & the Juniors, "At The Hop" (1958)-age 78

16 Fay McKenzie,Actress/singer-appeared in five singing cowboy films with Gene Autry,acted from 10 months old to 100-age 101 (died in her sleep)

30 Boon Gould,Musician (UK)-founding member of rock group Level 42,biggest hit "Something About You"-age 64

MAY

04 JR Cobb,Musician/songwriter-founding member of Atlanta Rhythm Section (1972-1987),wrote hit songs "Spooky" and "Stormy"-age 75 (heart attack)

09 Freddie Starr,Comedian,singer/actor (UK)-lead singer in the group "Midniters" (1960's)and had several self titled TV shows in the 1990's-age 76

11 Peggy Lipton,Actress/model/singer-played Julie Barnes in TV show "The Mod Squad" (1968-1973) also Norma Jennings in "Twin Peaks" (1990-1991)-age 72 (colon cancer)


13 Doris Day,Actress/singer-as a singer she recorded over 650 popular songs (1947-1967),signature song "Que Sera Sera",as an actress in movies "Calamity Jane"(1953),"Pillow Talk" (1959),"Move Over Darling" (1963),as an actress on TV "The Doris Day Show" (1968-73)-age 97

14 Tim Conway,Comedian-one of the comedy troupe on the TV show "The Carol Burnett Show" (1967-1978) also played Ensign Parker on TV show "McHale's Navy" (1962-1966)-age 85 (dementia)

15 Bobby Diamond,Child actor/attorney-played Joey Clark Newton in TV show "Fury"(1955-1960)-age 75

18 Melvin Edmonds,R&B Singer-member of the group "After 7",top hits:"Can't Stop,"Ready or Not"-age 65

28 Willie Ford,Bass singer-co-founder of The Dramatics, biggest hits;"In The Rain" and "Toast to the Fool"-age 68 (heart disease) 

JUNE

06 Dr.John,Singer/songwriter-New Orleans native,6 Grammy Awards,biggest hit "Right Place,Wrong Time"(1973),Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2011)-age 77 (heart attack)

09 Bushwick Bill,Singer/producer (JA)-member of the group Geto Boys, platinum album "We Can't Be Stopped"-age 52 (pancreatic cancer)

09 Jim Pike,Singer-co-founder and lead singer of The Lettermen;"Goin' Out of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" (1968),"When I Fall in Love" (1962)-age 82 (Parkinson's Disease)

12 Sylvia Miles,Actress twice nominated for the Academy Awards for "Midnight Cowboy" (1969) and "Farewell,My Lovely"(1975)-age 94

13 Sean Mccann,Actor (CAN)-played Jim Baxter on the TV sitcom "The Baxters"(1979-1981)-age 83

17 Gloria Vanderbilt,Socialite.fashion designer-designed fashions,perfumes and household goods but known for a line of stretch blue jeans-age 95(stomach cancer)

21 Elliot Roberts,Music manager-managed the careers of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell-age 76

23 Stephanie Niznik,Actress-played Nina Feeney on TV show "Everwood" (2002-2006)-age 52

24 Billy Drago,Actor-played Frank Nitti in movie "The Untouchables" (1987) and the demon Barbas in TV shoe "Charmed"-age 75 (complications of a stroke)

26 Beth Chapman,Actress-wife and costar to Duane "Dog" Chapman on TV show "Dog The Bounty Hunter" (2004-2012)-age 51 (throat cancer)

26 Max Wright, Actor-played Willie Tanner on TV sitcom "Alf" (1986-1990)-age 75 (lymphoma)

JULY

02 Lee Iacocca,Automobile executive/author/philanthropist-he had various jobs up to President of Ford Motor Company (1946-1978) and CEO of Chrysler Corporation (1979-1993)-age 94

03 Arte Johnson,Comedic actor-regular on TV comedy "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In-age 90 (bladder and prostate cancer)

09 Ross Perot,Businessman,philanthropist/politician-started two highly successful tech companies (EDS 1962-1984) ran for U.S. President in 1992 and 1996-age 89 (leukemia)

12 Dick Richards.Drummer-Hall of Fame inductee,was a member of "Bill Haley & His Comets"-age 95

14 Pernell Whitaker,Professional boxer-holds the longest unified lightweight championship reign in boxing history-age 55 (struck while walking across the street)

16 Barry Coe,Actor-played Paul Templin in TV series "Follow the Sun"(1961-1962) also appeared as "Mr Goodwrench" in TV commercials in the 1970s and 1980s-age 84  (myelodysplastic syndrome)

16 John Paul Stevens,Lawyer/jurist-associate justice of the United States Supreme Court (1975-2010)-age 99

19 Rutger Hauer,Actor (NL)-starred in movies "Nighthawks" (1981) and "Blade Runner" (1982)-age 75

22 Art Neville,Singer/songwriter-founded the Meters and later The Neville Brothers-age 81

AUGUST

01 Ian Gibbons,Musician/keyboardist (UK)-played with "The Kinks"(1979-1989)(1993-1996)-age 67 (bladder cancer)

03 Clifford Branch,Pro Football Player-played with the Oakland/LA Raiders (1972-1986),won (3) National Titles (1976,1980,1984)-age 71

05 Toni Morrison,Novelist/editor/professor-won the Pulitzer Prize for novel "Beloved" (1987) also a Nobel Prize in Literature (1993)-age 88

11 Barbara March,Actress (CA)-played Star Trek character Lursa,one of the Duras sisters-age 65 (cancer)

13 Kip Addotta,Comedian-many appearances on The Tonight Show as well as The Mike Douglas Show,Dinah! and American Bandstand-age 75

16 Peter Fonda,Actor-wrote and produced the counterculture movie "Easy Rider" (1969) nominated for two Academy Awards-age 79 (lung cancer)

19 Larry Taylor,Bass guitarist-played bass for the Canned Heat rock/blues band, biggest hit "Going Up the Country"-age 77 (cancer)

23 Sheila Steafel,Actress (UK)-played Tania in "Tropic of Cancer:(1970),Isolde in "Just Like a Woman" (1967)=age 84

26 Isabel Toledo,Fashion designer-most designs under her own name including designing for Michelle Obama, later became creative director of Anne Klein-age 59 (breast cancer)

27 Jessi Combs,Experimental car driver/ TV host-she set the land speed record for women at 477.59 mph and was attempting to break that record in a jet car when she crashed and died-age 36

30 Valerie Harper,Actress-played Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-1977),also on the spin off "Rhoda" (1974-78) won four Emmy's-age 80  (leptomeningeal carcinomatosis-brain cancer) 

SEPTEMBER

03  Carol Lynley,Actress-nominated for Golden Globe's for "The Light In The Forest"(1958) and "Blue Denim" (1959),was the go to actress in sitcoms n the 60's and 70's-age 77 (heart attack)

08 John Wesley,Actor-played Mr.Jim on the TV series "Martin" also Sweets Walker on the TV series "Dirty Dancing" (1988-1989)-age 72 (multiple myeloma)


13 Eddie Money,Singer/songwriter-had numerous hits in the 70's and 80;s;"wo Tickets to Paradise"(1977),"Take Me Home Tonight" (1986)-age 70 (esophageal cancer)

13 Brian Turk,Actor-played Tiny in "Beverly Hills, 90210" (1995) and Gabriel on "Carnivale" (2003-2005)-age 49 (cancer)

15 Ric Ocasek,Singer/songwriter-(founding member of rock band "The Cars" (1976-1988) "Drive","Shake It Up"-age 75 (atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease)

17 Cokie Roberts,Journalist/author-senior news analyst and commentator for ABC News (1988-present) and NPR (1981-1988)-age 75 (breast cancer)

17 Suzanne Whang,Television host/comedian-hosted HGTV's "House Hunters"(1999-2007) and played Polly Chae on "Las Vegas" (2003-2008)-age 56 (cancer)

20 Jan Merlin,Actor/screenwriter-played Cadet Roger Manning in TV series "Tom Corbett,Space Cadet" (1950-1953) also Lieutenant Colin Kirby in "Rough Riders"(1959)-age 94

21 Jack Donner,Actor-recurring role on General Hospital as Nikolas and Spencer Cassadine's butler Alfred-age 90

27 Rob Garrison,Actor-played Tommy in "The Karate Kid"-age 59 (kidney and liver issues)

27 Jimmy Spicer,Hip hop artist-best know for old school rap song "Dollar Bill Y'all"-age 61 (brain and lung cancer) 

OCTOBER

04 Diahann Carroll,Actress/singer-won a Golden Globe Award for TV series "Julia" (1968-1971) and an Academy Award for movie "Claudine" (1974)-age 84 (cancer)

06 Ginger Baker,Musician-drummer (UK)-co-founder of rock group Cream, "Crossroads","White Room","Sunshine of Your Love";sold over 15 million records-age 80 (heart issues)

06 Larry Junstrom,Musician/bassist-founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd (1964-1971) and .38 Special (1976-2014)-age 70

08 Molly Duncan, Musician/saxophonist(SCT)-founding member of The Average White Band (1974-1980) and The 360 Band (1995-present)-age 74 (cancer)

17 Rep.Elijah Cummings,Politician-was a U.S. Representative for Maryland's 7th congressional district (1996-death),received 12 honorary university doctoral degrees-age 68 (complications concerning longstanding health challenges)

17 Bill Macy,Actor-played Walter Findlay on TV show "Maude"(1972-1978)-age 97

26 Paul Barrere,Muscian/songwriter-member of rock group Little Feat, wrote "Skin It Back", and "Feats Don't Fail Me Now"-age 71 (liver cancer)

 

NOVEMBER

01 Rudy Boesch,Master chief petty officer U.S. Navy-was the first U.S. Navy SEAL also hosted the TV show "Combat Missions"-age 91

02 Brian Tarantina,Actor-played Jackie in TV show "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (2017-2018)-age 60

03 Louis Eppolito, American police officer, mobster and author-age 71

03 Robert Norris,Model/rancher/philanthropist-was the original "Marlboro Man" on TV commercials for fourteen years-age 90

04 Virginia Leith,Actress-played Ellen Kingship in "A Kiss Before Dying" (1956) also a decapitated head in "The Brain That Wouldn;t Die-age 94

05 Laurel Griggs,Child actress-played Ivanka in the Broadway play :Once" for seventeen months-age 13 (asthma attack)

05 William Wintersole,Actor-played Mitchell Sherman on "The Young And The Restless" for 20 years and Ted Ballantine on "General Hospital"-age 88

06 Tazeen Ahmad-British journalist and broadcaster(NBC,BBC,Channel 4),cancer.-age 48

07 Peter Simon-French singer (Camera Silens) and criminal, AIDS.-age 58

11 Bad Azz-American rapper-age 43

13 Niall Toibin, Actor(IRL)-played Joseph Donnelly's father in "Far And Away(1992)-age 89

14 Jean Fergusson-English actress (Last of the Summer Wine,Coronation Street).-age 74

18 Bridget Adams-British Olympic figure skater-age 91

19 Lloyd Watson-English rock guitarist.-age 70

20 Doug Lubahn-American rock bassist (Clear Light,The Doors,Billy Squier).-age 71

21 Colin Skipp-British actor (The Archers).-age 80

DECEMBER

01 Shelley Morrison,Actress-played the maid Rosario Salazar in TV show "Will & Grace" (1999-2006)-age 83 (heat failure)

02 Fred Storey-Canadian curler.-age 87

03 Nosrat Karimi-Iranian actor and filmmaker.-age 84

04 C. O. Simpkins Sr.-American dentist, civil rights activist, and politician, member of the Louisiana House of Representatives (1992-1996).-age 94

05 Robert Walker, Actor-played Ensign Frank Pulver in "Ensign Pulver" (1964), Billy Hyatt in "War Wagon" (1967)-age 79

06 Janusz Dzieciol-Polish reality show winner (Big Brother) and politician, MP (2007-2015), traffic collision.-age 65

07 Denise D'Ascenzo-American news anchor (WFSB)-age 51

09 Jarad Anthony Higgins aaka Juice WRLD-Rapper (seizure)-age 21

10 Russian politician, Mayor of Moscow (1992-2010), complications during heart surgery-age 83

13 Sheila Mercier-English actress (Emmerdale).-age 100

Sports

 

2019 WORLD SERIES

 

   The 2019 World Series was the championship series of Major League Baseball's (MLB) 2019 season.The 115th edition of the World Series,it was a best-of-seven playoff played between the American League champion Houston Astros and the National League champion Washington Nationals.The series was played from October 22 to October 30.The Nationals won the series,four games to three,to secure their first title in franchise history.Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg was named the World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) after earning two wins in the series.

    While the Astros had home-field advantage for the series,the road team won all seven games.It was the first best-of-seven postseason series in any of the major North American sports leagues in which the visiting team won all seven games,surpassing the previous high of five.It was also the sixth straight World Series in which the championship was clinched by the visiting team.

   For the third straight year,MLB sold presenting sponsorships to all its postseason series;as with the 2017 and 2018 World Series, this World Series was sponsored by YouTube TV and was officially known as the 2019 World Series presented by YouTube TV.

 

SUPERBOWL LIII (53)

 

   Super Bowl LIII was an American football game played to determine the champion of the National Football League (NFL) for the 2018 season. The American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots defeated the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Los Angeles Rams, 13-3.The game was played on February 3,2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta,Georgia.This was the first Super Bowl played at that stadium and the third one held in Atlanta.

    The Patriots' victory was their sixth,tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl championships.New England,after finishing the regular season with a 11-5 record,advanced to their 11th Super Bowl appearance,their fourth in five years and their ninth under the leadership of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.The Rams, who finished the regular season with a 13-3 record under 33-year-old head coach Sean McVay and third-year quarterback Jared Goff,made their fourth Super Bowl appearance overall and their first one since moving back from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016.Super Bowl LIII was a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI,a 20-17 Patriots win over the Rams that gave the Belichick-Brady tandem its first Super Bowl championship.Coincidentally,the Patriots reached that Super Bowl with an 11-5 record as well.With the Rams now playing in Los Angeles,Super Bowl LIII marked the first Super Bowl appearance of a Los Angeles-based team since the then-Los Angeles Raiders' victory in Super Bowl XVIII and the Rams' first super bowl appearance as a Los Angeles based team since Super Bowl XIV.This marked the 14th meeting in a major sports championship between the Los Angeles and Greater Boston areas.

   Super Bowl LIII was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history,eclipsing the previous record of 14-7 held by Super Bowl VII,and the lowest-scoring league championship contest since a 14-0 score was recorded during the 1949 NFL Championship Game.It also marked the first Super Bowl with no touchdowns scored by either team in the first three quarters, as the Patriots and the Rams held the contest to a 3-3 tie as they entered the fourth quarter.New England then scored 10 unanswered points for the victory,as their lone touchdown tied them with the New York Jets in Super Bowl III for the fewest touchdowns by a winning Super Bowl team.The Rams ended up as only the second Super Bowl team to not score a touchdown,joining the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman,who caught 10 passes for 141 yards, was named Super Bowl MVP.

   The broadcast of the game on CBS had the smallest Super Bowl audience in 10 years.The halftime show was headlined by U.S. pop group Maroon 5,joined by rappers Big Boi and Travis Scott as guests.

 

2019 NBA FINALS

 

   The 2019 NBA Finals was the championship series of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 2018-2019 season and conclusion of the season's playoffs.In the best-of-seven playoff series held from May 30 through June 13,2019, the Eastern Conference champion Toronto Raptors defeated the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors, 4-2,earning the franchise its first NBA championship as well as the first win by a team based outside the United States.Acquired by the Raptors via a trade during the off-season,Kawhi Leonard was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the second time in his career.

   This was the first NBA Finals appearance for the Raptors and the league's first finals with games played outside of the United States.Home-court advantage was awarded to Toronto,who finished the regular season with one more win (58-24) than Golden State (57-25).This was the first time in five consecutive NBA Finals appearances that the then-two-time defending NBA-champion Warriors did not have home-court advantage.Also for the first time after the past four postseasons,the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers did not meet in the championship round.This was the first finals since 2010 not to include LeBron James,who played in the past eight finals with Cleveland and the Miami Heat.

 

2019 AFL (Australian Rules Football) Grand Final

 

    The 2019 AFL Grand Final was an Australian rules football game contested at the Melbourne Cricket Ground between the Richmond Football Club and Greater Western Sydney Giants on September 28,2019.It was the 123rd annual grand final of the Australian Football League (formerly Victorian Football League),staged to determine the premiers for the 2019 AFL season.The match,attended by 100,014 spectators,was won by Richmond by a margin of 89 points,marking the club's twelfth premiership and their second in three seasons.Richmond's Dustin Martin won the Norm Smith Medal as the player judged best on ground.

  It was the eighth consecutive grand final which featured one Victorian team and one non-Victorian team, and it was only the second grand final in VFL/AFL history (and the first since 1980) that did not feature either team that finished first or second on the ladder at the conclusion of the home-and-away season.

 

ENTERTAINMENT 

 

#1 SONG FOR 2019 IN BOTH THE USA AND CANADA-"Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus

 

  In the December 14,2019 issue of Billboard Magazine the magazine revealed the 100 best songs for 2019 in the USA and in Canada.In both countries "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus was the #1 song for the entire year of 2019.

   "Old Town Road" is a song by American rapper Lil Nas X and country singer Billy Ray Cyrus (father of Miley Cyrus),first released independently in December of 2018.After gaining popularity,the single was re-released by major label Columbia Records in March of 2019,which now distributes the single.Lil Nas X also recorded a remix with American country singer Billy Ray Cyrus,which was released on April 5, 2019.Both the original and remix were included on Lil Nas X's debut EP,7 (2019).

   The song has been widely labeled as "country rap",a genre that had only become mainstream a year prior to release.Dutch beat producer YoungKio produced the instrumental and made it available for purchase online in 2018.It features a sample of a banjo from the instrumental piece "34 Ghosts IV" by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails.The sample was placed behind trap-style Roland TR-808 drums and bass.Lil Nas X purchased the instrumental for US$30 and recorded "Old Town Road" in one day.At the time,he had been living with his sister after dropping out of college;his real world struggles served as an influence on some of the lyrics.

   The song initially gained popularity on social video sharing app TikTok and eventually entered the Billboard charts in March 2019.The song reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart before the magazine disqualified it from being included on the chart on grounds that it did not fit the genre, sparking a debate on the definition of country music.Though the song was not re-entered onto the overall country charts,both the original version of the song and the remix featuring Cyrus eventually peaked at number one on the flagship Billboard chart,the Hot 100,for a record-breaking nineteen consecutive weeks.No song has spent more time at #1 on Billboard's primary weekly single charts going back to 1940.Internationally,one or more versions of "Old Town Road" have topped the national singles charts in Australia,Canada,France, Germany,Ireland,the Netherlands,New Zealand,Norway,Switzerland and the United Kingdom;and charted within the top ten in various other markets.Furthermore,the song was awarded diamond certification by the RIAA,in October 2019,for moving ten million total units in the United States,the fastest song to be awarded diamond certification.The remix of "Old Town Road" featuring Billy Ray Cyrus has been nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards,with its music video receiving a nomination for Best Music Video.

 

 

#1 SONG FOR 2019 IN AUSTRALIA-"Dance Monkey" by Tones and I

 

 

  Although ARIA (national music charts for Australia) does not release it's survey of the year's Top 100 until after the new year it is rather compelling that "Dance Monkey" by Tones and I will be the #1 song for the entire year of 2019.The song has spent 21 weeks at #1 on the ARIA weekly singles chart longer than any song in Australia going back to 1949 when the fist Australian weekly charts were posted.

 "Dance Monkey" is a song by Australian singer Tones and I,released on May 10,2019 as the second single from Tones and I's debut EP The Kids Are Coming.

   The song was produced and mixed by Konstantin Kersting.Upon release,Tones and I said the song is about the expectations that are placed on musical performers.

   "Dance Monkey" has topped the charts in over 30 countries including Australia,Austria,Belgium,Canada,China,Czech Republic,Denmark,Estonia,Finland, France,Germany,Iceland,Ireland,Israel,Italy,Japan,Malaysia,Netherlands,New Zealand,Norway,Portugal,Romania,Sweden,Switzerland and the United Kingdom and peaked within the top ten in many other European and Asian countries.It is the first charting single for Tones and I in the United States, peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.

    Upon reaching its tenth week at the top of the Australian Singles Chart,"Dance Monkey" broke the record for the most weeks at number one on the chart by an Australian act,previously held by Justice Crew's 2014 song "Que Sera".With its sixteenth week at number one,in November, it broke the record for the most weeks at number one in Australian chart history,previously held by Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" (2017).To date, "Dance Monkey" has spent 20 consecutive weeks at the top position.

   At the ARIA Music Awards of 2019,the single was nominated for seven awards,winning three.It won ARIA Award for Best Female Artist,Best Pop Release and Breakthrough Artist.

  In the United Kingdom,"Dance Monkey" broke the record for the most weeks spent at the top of the UK Singles Chart by a female artist when it remained at the top of the chart for an eleventh week.The previous record of ten weeks was held jointly by Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" in 1992-93 and "Umbrella" by Rihanna and Jay-Z in 2007.

   Tones made her debut on US television on November 18,2019 with a performance of the song on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

 

#1 SONG FOR 2019 IN NEW ZEALAND-"Sunflower" by Post Malone and Swae Lee

 

  The #1 song for the entire year of 2019 in New Zealand was "Sunflower" by Post Malone and Swae Lee.It became Malone's third and Lee's first song as a soloist to top the Billboard Hot 100 and charted in the top ten of the chart for 33 weeks as of the chart issue dated September 21,2019,becoming one of only three songs to achieve this feat,and the third in the past two years.

   "Sunflower" has received several awards and nominations,including pending ones for Record of the Year and Best Pop/Duo Performance at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.

   Malone confirmed his involvement with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in October 2,2018,on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,in which he announced that he wrote "Sunflower",which he also performs and played a snippet of the song.On October 15,Swae Lee revealed that he would also be on the song with Malone and released another snippet of the song.Lee said that he was "very excited" for people to listen to the song.On October 18, "Sunflower" was released as a single.Spring Aspers,head of music and creative affairs at Sony Pictures,said that "Post and Swae have delivered a song that's both heroic and emotional, which is exactly what a Spider-Man story needs.It's anthemic,but also heartfelt-the perfect soundtrack for Miles to discover the Spider-Man inside himself".Swae Lee called Sunflower one of his favorites collaborations in 2018,which he stated it was "because it's a movie placement [in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse]. The main character sings "Sunflower" and uses my vocals to calm him down in a certain situation-like my music was therapeutic for him".Malone and Lee previously collaborated on the song "Spoil My Night" for Malone's 2018 album Beerbongs & Bentleys.

  "Sunflower" debuted at number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100.After spending three weeks in the top five,it reached number one on the chart issue dated January 19, 2019,rising from number three the previous week. It became Post Malone's third and Swae Lee's first song as a soloist to top the chart."Sunflower" is the first song from a soundtrack to reach the top of the Hot 100 since Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling!" from the Trolls soundtrack (2016).Additionally,"Sunflower" is the highest-charting song from a Spider-Man franchise soundtrack,passing Chad Kroeger's "Hero",featuring Josey Scott,from Music from and Inspired by Spider-Man,which reached number three in 2002."Sunflower" also marks the first Hot 100 number one by two co-billed male leads with no other accompanying acts since George Michael and Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (1992).Due to the large airplay lead of "Without Me" by Halsey, "Sunflower" descended to number two the following week.It continuously shuffled within the top five the following four months, going so far as to return to the runner-up spot in March and April.The song has thus far spent 33 non-consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Hot 100,tying both Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" and Maroon 5's "Girls Like You",featuring Cardi B, for the longest top 10 run in the chart's archives.It has peaked atop the Canadian Hot 100 for two consecutive weeks.The song as previously mentioned reached #1 in New Zealand.Ir also peaked at #1 in Australia,

Malaysia,Mexico and the UK.

 

 

#1 SONG FOR 2019 IN THE UNITED KINGDOM-"Someone You Loved" by Lewis Capaldi

 

The #1 song in the United Kingdom for the entire year of 2019 was "Someone You Loved" by Lewis Capaldi.

  "Someone You Loved" is a song recorded by Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi.It was released as a download on November 8,2018 through Vertigo Records and Universal Music as the third single from his second extended play,Breach (2018) and was later included on his debut album,"Divinely Uninspired" to a Hellish Extent (2019).The song was written by Capaldi,Samuel Romans and its producers Thomas Barnes,Peter Kelleher and Benjamin Kohn.

   "Someone You Loved" was a commercial success,peaking at number one on the UK Singles Chart.The song became Capaldi's first number one single and spent seven consecutive weeks atop of the chart.It also peaked at number one on the Irish Singles Chart in March 2019.In the United States,"Someone You Loved" was a sleeper hit,topping the Billboard Hot 100 in its 24th week on the chart.The song also reached #1 in Canada,Czech Republic,Malaysia and Scotland.The song peaked at #4 in both Australia and New Zealand.

 

#1 JORDAN EMANUEL:PLAYBOY'S PLAYMATE OF THE YEAR FOR 2019

   Jordan Emanuel is a model,journalist,philanthropist, Playboy's Playmate of the Year for 2019,Playmate of the Month for December 2018 and Miss Black America New York 2018.She is the first Black Playboy Bunny that later became Playmate of the Year and is a co-founder of the non-profit Women With Voices.Her story has been covered by Ebony,Bossip,Business Insider and E! Online among others.

   Jordan Emanuel was born on December 25,1993 in Baltimore,Maryland and raised in Basking Ridge,New Jersey.Emanuel received a degree from the University of Miami,triple majoring in Broadcast Journalism,Music Business and Art History.After graduating,she moved to New York and pursued a career in journalism and "bringing life to images and converting ideas into thought-provoking video and digital content",contributing content to Hollywood Life and Bossip.She began modeling on a whim,posting "25 Days of Jordan" consecutively on social media,in celebration of her 25th birthday.She has modeled for brands including Rimmel,Cover Girl and Good American.

  Jordan co-founded the non-profit organization Women With Voices which provides communal supportive spaces and resources for women.Women with Voices is a Brooklyn,NY based women's empowerment 501(c)3 non-profit organization Emanuel describes the mission as focused on "empowering others". 

CLOSING 

   So much for the world in 2019.As for my world I started 2019 living in Chianyai,Thailand and I will end 2019 living in Nakhon Sri Thammarat province in Thailand.

   I spent every day of 2019 except for 3 on Thailand soil and the other three days sorting out my visa in Malaysia.I am now retired and still live in a house all alone.All of my 20,000 Cds,records and tapes,plus my huge Playboy collection are with me in my house.I will probably (unless I am kidnapped by the CIA) be in Thailand for almost all of 2020.I now have not been on US soil in over (10) years (I left the USA on September 15th,2009).If things go as I would like them to there is a good chance I may never see the USA again.I don't need the USA's war machine,I don't need their ghetto scenes.

   In 2020 I increased the size of my website.I now have approximately 5200 files on my website (see:www.hitsofalldecades.com).On January 1,2020 I plan to begin including famous birthdays on my website.So within about a year you will be able to know what famous birthdays were born on any day of the year.My projections are to have 6000 files on my website by January 15,2022.It may take me about five years for me to get my website up to snuff.So it may be at least five years before I begin writing that book about my life which I have been wanting to do for the past 11 years.Also in about five years I am hoping to have my own internet show.We will see.I take life one day at a time.I am hoping for this book and my internet show to be my bonanza.As Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones said back in 1967 "Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind".

   It was a pleasure to have all of you being part of my life this year. Anyway,that is my year-end review for 2019.I hope you all had a cool year too and that you have lots of dreams to aim for in the next 12 months or so.

   Remember every second of your life you spend thinking of bad and negative thoughts it is one second less your are spending thinking of good and positive thoughts and you don't get that one second back.Try spending more time thinking about things that make you smile and laugh.So even if life does not deal you the cards you wanted just remember to keep on dancing and enjoying the party.Have a fantastic Xmas or whatever holiday you celebrate and I will e-mail you all individually when the time frame is not so narrow!! It's been great to have you all in my year and my life!!!! 

  Joyeaux Noel,Feliz Navidad,Frohliches Weihnachten,Merry Xmas et la prochain!!

Last Updated ( Dec 23, 2019 at 01:49 PM )


  
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