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The Russians Are Loving Trump’s Decision to Withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty

President Donald J. Trump has announced the U.S. intends to exit the “Open Skies” treaty. The 34-nation agreement allows the United States, Russia and other countries to conduct observation flights over each other’s territories in the interests of transparency and international security. 

An infectious disease specialist for the Russian Health Ministry said Trump must really be taking hydroxychloroquine, since it’s known to cause psychotic side effects.  

Speaking to reporters about Russia’s violations of the treaty, Trump said: “We’re going to pull out, and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal. We’ve had a very good relationship lately with Russia.” 

While the Trump administration is citing Russia’s violations of the agreement as the main reason for the U.S. withdrawal, Russian experts and government officials believe that the abrupt decision is rooted in Trump’s desire to throw all international treaties out the window in pursuit of a bigger, better deal.

Such flippant methods may work for reality television, but tend to backfire in real life. Case in point, Trump’s gambit with Iran, where U.S withdrawal from the nuclear deal led to the expansion of Tehran’s nuclear stockpile.

Now that Trump reportedly is toying with the idea of resuming nuclear testing, the Kremlin intends to take full advantage of that harebrained idea.

Washington’s approach is rooted in the flawed assumption that renewed nuclear testing would prompt the Kremlin to pressure the Chinese into joining a trilateral agreement with the United States and Russia. This concept was dismissed out of hand by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. During an online forum conducted by the Gorchakov Fund, a Russian think tank, Ryabkov asserted that the Kremlin didn’t intend to apply any pressure to China to please Washington.  

Instead of playing along with Trump’s dangerous brinkmanship, Russia may pull out of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty altogether. Alexei Fenenko, an associate professor of global politics at Moscow State University, told the state media outlet RIA Novosti that such a withdrawal would be “beneficial for Russia, since the collapse of this treaty would cause colossal damage to the United States of America.” State media outlet Vesti surmised that such a move would obliterate all of Washington’s efforts and decades-long investments in the nuclear ban treaty.

Instead of playing along with Trump’s dangerous brinkmanship, Russia may pull out of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty altogether.

As for the planned U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies treaty, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clarified that it is set to take place six months from now, on Nov. 22, 2020, after the next presidential election in the United States.

In Russia, Trump’s commentary and the timing of the intended withdrawal from Open Skies were interpreted as a sign that the move is merely political, with no tangible repercussions for the Kremlin. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov mentioned that the Kremlin’s exchanges with Washington were taking place via the traditional and non-traditional channels, but described the Trump administration’s demands and ultimatums as “senseless” and “categorically unacceptable.”

Russian state-owned radio station Vesti FM described Trump’s dangerous flailing on the international arena as his desire “to play with toy soldiers.”

The Kremlin’s state media have grown used to laughing at Trump’s irrational bluster. Appearing on state TV show 60 Minutes earlier this week, Elena Malinnikova, an infectious disease specialist for the Russian Health Ministry, caustically said that Trump must really be taking the regimen of hydroxychloroquine, since it’s known to cause psychotic side effects.  

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Gateway Pundit News

“In America We Need More Prayer Not Less!” – BREAKING: President Trump Designates Houses of Worship “Essential” States Must Open Up Houses of Worship THIS WEEKEND!

President Trump designated Houses of Worship “Essential” on Friday during the White House press briefing.
The President announced new guidelines for Houses of Worship in the United States.
States must open their churches and synagogues THIS WEEKEND!

In his statement President Trump said if any state leaders challenge this new executive order he will overrule them!

The post “In America We Need More Prayer Not Less!” – BREAKING: President Trump Designates Houses of Worship “Essential” States Must Open Up Houses of Worship THIS WEEKEND! appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.

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Lawmakers seek to BAN Trump from SINGLE-HANDEDLY tearing up intl accords after he teases Open Skies treaty withdrawal — RT USA News

Two US lawmakers have introduced a law compelling President Donald Trump to seek Congress’ approval before ditching international treaties, such as the Open Skies Treaty, arguing the move is a blow to national security.

“The decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty is completely counter to our national security interests and demonstrates continued disregard for our alliances and arms control accords,” Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-California) said in a joint statement with the legislation’s co-sponsor, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts).

Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lambasted Trump’s move, calling it “reckless” and arguing that it would leave “a lasting impact” on the nation’s ability to keep tabs on the Russian military, which “could threaten the interests of the United States and our allies.”

The proposed legislation – the Preventing Actions Undermining Security without Endorsement (PAUSE) Act – would make it impossible for a US president to sidestep Congress when deciding on either to withdraw or terminate US involvement in any major international accord, including the Open Skies Treaty and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia (New START).

The PAUSE Act creates a statutory role for Congress to affirmatively approve the withdrawal or termination of any Treaty to which the Senate has provided its advice and consent.

Trump announced on Thursday that the US would formally initiate the process to disentangle itself from the Open Skies Treaty (OST) on Friday. The departure will be finalized in six months, unless the US makes an about-face, which, according to Trump, is conditional on Moscow’s response. 




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Trump says US will withdraw from Open Skies Treaty, blames Russia



Announcing the US exit from the accord, Trump accused Russia of violating the treaty, which has been in force since 2002 – an allegation the Kremlin has emphatically rejected. Firing back, Moscow blamed Washington for repeatedly disregarding its obligations under the agreement, which remains one of the last remaining cornerstones of the global arms control framework.




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Moscow says it was US that violated Open Skies Treaty, still willing to save pact essential to European security



The treaty, which allows for reconnaissance flights over the territories of its signatories, is essential to European security, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Despite the hostile rhetoric from Washington, Russia said it is intent on saving the treaty through negotiations with the US and other interested parties, provided that Moscow’s own concerns over Washington and its allies’ failure to hold up their end of the bargain will be addressed as well.




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Dangerous narcissism: REAL reason Trump ditched Open Skies is dislike for any treaties that don’t bear HIS signature



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Moscow says it was US that violated Open Skies Treaty, still willing to save pact essential to European security — RT World News

Russia will do everything in its power to salvage the Open Skies Treaty (OST) after the US signaled its intention to withdraw from one of the few remaining arms-control pillars, Moscow said, rejecting claims it violated the pact.

“If the US exits the Treaty, a blow will be dealt to a rather fragile balance of interests of its parties. As a result, not only the OST will suffer, but also the European security framework as a whole,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, after US President Donald Trump announced he would be withdrawing from the agreement that allows reconnaissance planes to overfly the territory of its signatories.

In force since 2002, the treaty currently involves 35 states, including Russia and the US, and is considered to be one of the cornerstones of the global arms control mechanism, aimed at reducing the possibility of a military conflict breaking out due to the lack of transparency.




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Trump says US will withdraw from Open Skies Treaty, blames Russia



The ministry said that Russia is poised to try to resuscitate the treaty through negotiations with the US, noting that such talks should also address Russia’s own concerns over Washington not holding up its end of the bargain.

“Russia is doing everything possible to keep the treaty intact and believes it’s necessary to reconcile the existing differences through negotiations within The Open Skies Consultative Commission, taking into account concerns expressed by all parties, including problems with the US and their allies’ implementation of the treaty,” the ministry said.

Announcing the US’ intention to pull out of the agreement, Trump pointed a finger at Russia, accusing it of failing to abide by its provisions – an allegation which Moscow has categorically denied.

Recurrent talk in Washington about ditching the treaty over the pretext of alleged Russian “violations” has prompted “serious concerns” in Moscow, the ministry went on, arguing that Russia’s moves to restrict some of the flights were either a tit-for-tat response to similar restrictions imposed by US allies, or were provided for by the treaty itself.

The US is yet to send an official note to Moscow about its intent to leave the treaty. Trump administration officials who briefed the media on the reasoning behind the US move cited Russia’s restricting flights over Moscow, the republic of Chechnya, as well as near Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia recognized both as independent states in 2008, after they came under attack by the government in Tbilisi, while the US still considers them Georgian territory.




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Dangerous narcissism: REAL reason Trump ditched Open Skies is dislike for any treaties that don’t bear HIS signature



Responding to the accusation, the ministry said that while it has indeed barred observation flights within 10 kilometers of the border of the two Caucasian republics, it did so after Georgia – which is also party of the treaty – refused to heed its obligations, denying the flyover of Russian reconnaissance missions over its own territory.

Limiting the altitude of surveillance flights over the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad was done within the scope of the OST, to ensure that the region is not subject to the “more effective level of surveillance than the rest of Russia, as well as the territories of the other parties to the treaty, such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia,” the ministry said.

The ministry denied allegations that it flouted the agreement by preventing the US and Canada from carrying on with a scheduled flight near the Center-2019 drills, which were held in southern Russia and Central Asia in September 2019 and involved around 128,000 troops and more than 20,000 pieces of hardware.

It was impossible to ensure security of the joint US-Canadian mission at the time due to the rapidly changing situation during the active phase of the large-scale war games, the ministry explained. When offered an alternative timeframe for the flight, Washington and Ottawa refused to proceed.




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‘We’ll spend you into oblivion’: US nuclear envoy reveals ‘negotiating’ tactic for New START, last arms control deal with Russia



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Pentagon: US Will Formally Submit Notice to Withdraw From Open Skies Treaty Friday

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The US Department of Defense (DoD) on Thursday said that the US would formally submit its request to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty on Friday.

In a statement, the DoD wrote that “Russia has increasingly used the treaty to support propaganda narratives in an attempt to justify Russian aggression against its neighbors and may use it for military targeting against the US and our allies.”

The statement also said that Russia has “continuously violated its obligations under the treaty.”

On Thursday, Vladimir Ermakov, the head of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that if the US does withdraw from the treaty, it will be “regrettable.”

“If it does happen, it will be very regrettable, of course. But unfortunately, it goes with the general policy of the current [US] administration [which aims to] derail all agreements on arms control. This treaty is crucial in terms of ensuring predictability and mutual trust in Europe and on a larger scale,” the diplomat said.

Two US lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation to prevent US President Donald Trump from withdrawing the nation from international treaties without first getting congressional approval.

“Senator Edward J. Markey and Congressman Jimmy Panetta today introduced the Preventing Actions Undermining Security without Endorsement (PAUSE) Act to prevent a US president from withdrawing from international treaties without Congressional approval,” the statement by Markey read.

​The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force in 2002, establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of the states who are members of the accord.



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Trump Administration Confirms U.S. Is Leaving Open Skies Surveillance Treaty : NPR

Open Skies would be the third major international military pact Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from. This file photo shows Czech soldiers inspecting cameras on a U.S. Boeing plane at a military airbase in Pardubice, Czech Republic, as part of the agreement.

Alexandra Mlejnkova/AP


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Open Skies would be the third major international military pact Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from. This file photo shows Czech soldiers inspecting cameras on a U.S. Boeing plane at a military airbase in Pardubice, Czech Republic, as part of the agreement.

Alexandra Mlejnkova/AP

President Trump’s administration will give official notice of the U.S.’s intent to exit the Open Skies treaty, officials announced Thursday. The 34-nation agreement allows the U.S., Russia and other countries to fly their aircraft over each other’s territory – increasing transparency and reducing the chances for perilous miscalculations.

“Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty, so until they adhere, we will pull out,” President Trump said, adding that there is “a very good chance” to reach a new deal. “We’re going to pull out, and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “it has become abundantly clear that it is no longer in America’s interest to remain a party to the Treaty on Open Skies.”

Pompeo accused Russia of repeatedly violating the treaty and using it to further its expansion goals by refusing to allow flights over “Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia” and asserting control over an airfield in Crimea. Echoing the president, he also suggested the U.S. might remain in the agreement if Russia changes its approach.

“Effective six months from tomorrow, the United States will no longer be a party to the Treaty,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “We may, however, reconsider our withdrawal should Russia return to full compliance with the Treaty.”

The move quickly drew criticism from Democratic members of Congress.

Trump’s plan “directly harms our country’s security and breaks the law in the process,” said Rep. Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Engel cited a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act from late 2019, which requires the secretaries of State and Defense to notify Congress at least 120 days before a formal notice is sent to treaty depositories about an intent to leave Open Skies.

Calling the treaty a “pillar of stability, transparency, and security for the United States and our European allies,” Engel said Open Skies is critical to the New START Treaty and other arms control measures, and he said Russia will conduct flights over NATO and American bases “with or without our participation in Open Skies.”

Russian is awaiting a full explanation of the U.S. accusations, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in an interview with Russian TV. She added that the treaty includes mechanisms for ensuring compliance and presenting complaints – and that the U.S. will likely use diplomatic channels as well.

The Russian ministry republished a list of its own grievances on Thursday, saying the U.S. has put a number of new Open Sky restrictions in place since Trump took office.

The Open Skies treaty has been in effect since 2002. The idea of allowing other countries’ surveillance aircraft to conduct flyovers was first proposed by President Dwight Eisenhower, early in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. But a deal didn’t gain traction until after the Soviet republic collapsed; it was signed in 1992 and took effect 10 years later.

“It gives you access to things that, even if you have a satellite network, you might not be able to see,” Olga Oliker, director of the Europe program at the International Crisis Group in Brussels, told NPR last November. “It’s a very useful way for the parties to be on the same page about who has what where.”

The treaty includes a number of stipulations that give host countries a level of control over the flights in their airspace, from designating which planes and airports can be used to flight distances. It also allows inspections of surveillance equipment. The signatories include most of America’s NATO allies, and Ukraine.

Noting that many U.S. allies in Europe want to keep the treaty in full force, Pompeo said, “If not for the value they place on the OST, we would likely have exited long ago.”

If the U.S. does exit, Open Skies would be the third major international military pact Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from, coming after the president spiked the Iran nuclear deal and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty.

Critics of the treaty say they believe Russia gets more out of it than the U.S. does.

“Today the president has taken another positive step to end America’s dependence on dysfunctional and broken treaties,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a statement about Trump’s plan.

Cotton says the treaty has become technically defunct and outdated. And he added that by leaving the agreement, the U.S. won’t have to pay “nearly a quarter-billion dollars in recapitalization money for our OC-135 Open Skies Aircraft fleet.”

As NPR’s David Welna has reported, Moscow has modernized Russia’s surveillance planes. But the U.S. has not, according to Oliker of the International Crisis Group.

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US Media Says Washington to Inform Moscow on Friday About Quitting the Open Skies Treaty

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Earlier, the US accused Russia of abusing the terms of the treaty, claiming that Moscow had been unfairly limiting US flights through its airspace.

The United States will inform Russia tomorrow about its plan to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, US media reported on Thursday.

The New York Times cited senior Trump administration officials in its report about President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty.

In March, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said that the US was concerned about the treaty “as it stands now”, including limits placed on flights near the Russian borders with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway republics from Georgia which are recognised by Moscow as independent countries and not by Washington. 

The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force in 2002, establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of the states who are members of the accord.

Trump’s intent to pull out from the Open Skies Treaty will be perceived as additional evidence that he also wants to withdraw the United States from the New START Treaty, the report said.

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COVID Is Still Raging in Texas. Time to Open the Bars, Leaders Say.

“Just to be clear, we’re not COVID-deniers or anything.”

Dustin Evans is nervous right now. But the 31-year-old general manager of Southern Roots Brewing Company in downtown Waco, Texas, is committed to reopening his bar at 25-percent capacity on Friday, even with small children and a pregnant wife at home. After all, COVID-19 cases seemed to taper off in his area, with four new infections reported Wednesday marking the first uptick in days.

“It’s not an easy decision, but my parents have poured their life into this business,” Evans told The Daily Beast. “It might be a little dance with the devil, but it came down to someone dropping off a pot of gold at the front door or letting us figure out how to work with this.”

“We’ve been doing to-go beer, but it’s just nothing like when you get a big group of people in here hanging out for an hour and a half,” he added.

After the initial fear and confusion of the unprecedented global COVID-19 outbreak, Evans said, the brewery purchased personal protective equipment, including masks, and made plans for daily employee screenings. Staff also redesigned the taproom, outdoor space, and seating areas with social distancing in mind.

“As much as we wish we could stay home until we find a vaccine, we just can’t,” said Evans. “The president says one thing, the governor says another thing, the local city leaders say another thing.”

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Coindesk News

Base Layer Blockchain Harmony Adds Staking to Open Up Validator Set

Harmony announced Tuesday that its mainnet has now incorporated staking, allowing users to earn ONE tokens for locking in their current holdings. Harmony is built to be a very fast base layer blockchain for transactions and smart contracts. 

“Staking is the mechanism that will allow us to trust participants in our network without knowing them. Now that staking is complete, we can take a huge step towards decentralization by opening the protocol to the public,” Nick White, a Harmony co-founder, told CoinDesk in an email. The blockchain is currently run by Harmony and trusted partners, but staking opens it up to broader participation.

Currently, roughly 5 billion ONE tokens exist. The protocol emits 441 million ONE per year, all of which will go to stakers. More details on Harmony’s token-economics can be found on its blog.

There are 16 staking partners who have committed to work with Harmony on running its validations including Staked, Stake.fish, Blockdaemon, Everstake, InfStones and others. 

Harmony believes that deploying staking is notable because it is doing so on a sharded blockchain.

“Staking itself is a frontier technology within the blockchain industry. Projects like Cosmos took years to design and build a secure staking protocol for a non-sharded chain. When sharding is added into the mix with staking, the complexity increases dramatically,” White wrote. “Ensuring that such a system runs securely requires enormous theoretical rigor and practical engineering.”

The easiest way to participate would be to join one of Harmony’s staking partners, however, the team encourages standalone staking. “We designed the protocol to require very little computing power and token stake to make staking accessible for more people and to encourage decentralization,” White wrote.

The minimum requirements to participate are:

However, because validators will initially be limited to a slate of 320 (actually 80 validators for each of their four shards), White expects the pragmatic minimum to run a validator will be something like $22,000 worth of ONE. 

Stakers can be slashed if they appear to be trying to create a malicious fork of the chain. They are not slashed for missing votes but they can lose their role as a validator. Eventually, there will be slots for 1,000 validators on Harmony.

Staked ONE takes about 10 days to become liquid again, once the holder initiates unstaking.

“The launch of staking on Harmony is about the transition from permissioned to permissionless and from centralized to decentralized,” White said.

Disclosure Read More

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Gateway Pundit News

Benghazi Liar Susan Rice Is Open To Being Joe Biden’s VP

Susan Rice was national security adviser to Obama.

You may remember her as the person who went on multiple news shows after the Benghazi terror attack and claimed it happened because of a YouTube video. That was a lie and everyone knows it.

Now she is apparently open to being chosen as Joe Biden’s 2020 running mate.

The Hill reports:

TRENDING: “We’ll Just Get Rid of All Whites in the United States” – CDC Chair of Advisory Committee on Immunizations Lashes Out at White Americans (VIDEO)

Susan Rice says she would ‘certainly say yes’ to be Biden’s VP

Former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice said she would “certainly say yes” if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden asked her to be his running mate.

“I’m humbled and honored to be among the extremely accomplished women who are reportedly being considered in that regard,” Rice said in an interview with PBS.

Rice said that if this was the role in which the former vice president felt she could best serve, she would not say no.

“I want to enable him to become the next president of the United States in any way I can,” Rice added…

Rice is also on the list of former Obama administration officials released by acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell who Grenell says asked for documents that led to the “unmasking” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, revealing his identity in intelligence reports between the 2016 election and President Trump’s inauguration.

See the video below:

This woman lied to the country about a terror attack on our embassy.

The American people have not forgotten this.

Cross posted from American Lookout.



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GOP Governors to Locals: Open Up, Or Else

If health and safety fears weren’t enough to trouble local officials during the coronavirus pandemic, some Republican leaders are making it clear to nervous locals that their health restrictions could lead to a legal fight. 

GOP state leaders in Texas and South Dakota have sent clear warnings in the last week challenging areas in their state going rogue when it comes to health measures as the leaders practice a much more lax approach. Alabama’s Republican attorney general has also struck a similar tone in his state during the pandemic, warning in a statement late last month that municipalities’ expansive powers “is not a license to abuse them.”

Onlookers say the tense dynamic playing out between states and local leaders over policy is nothing new in American politics. 

“This has been an issue ongoing for a long, long time,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. “But now, it’s playing out in life or death consequences.” 

The pandemic has further shown how deep the partisan divide can be in the country, even when it comes to trying to keep people healthy and safe. That continues to put medical officials in a difficult spot, as health directors in states have become the subject of backlash from some for extending restrictions this month. 

“I think it’s very unfortunate that this pandemic is exacerbating political partisan differences,” said Dr. Timothy Brewer, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at UCLA. “And it’s unfortunate that we all haven’t been as active as possible to try to get beyond that and come together as a nation to address what really is a global public health crisis. It is too bad that we haven’t been able to put the politics behind us.” 

The battle over health restrictions has become one of the most divisive pandemic-era battlegrounds, with Republican officials largely moving faster than Democrats to try and push life to more of a sense of normalcy. 

In Texas, that dynamic caused Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office to send letters to the mayors of Austin, San Antonio and a trio of counties chiding them over specific measures. The issues targeted included local mask requirements, which went farther than what the state would allow, and shelter-in-place orders. 

His office touted in a statement the public scoldings served as a “warning that some requirements in their local public health orders are unlawful and can confuse law-abiding citizens.” 

“It shows a concerning lack of coordination between states and cities on how to address the pandemic and how to deal with questions about reopening,” Columbia Law School professor Olatunde Johnson said. 

Each of the letters quickly pointed to the potential of a legal battle, with one urging officials to “act quickly to correct these mistakes to avoid further confusion and litigation challenging these unconstitutional and unlawful restrictions.” 

 The threat of legal action over health measures bothers Gostin “a great deal.” 

“What it tells me is the (officials) are using a political agenda that will put people in their own state at risk of illness and death,” he said. “And they’re willing to use the law to block evidence-based health and safety measures. And that’s unforgivable.”

The lingering threat of legal intervention towards restrictions has also been seen at the federal level. Late last month, Attorney General Bill Barr directed U.S. attorneys to “also be on the lookout for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.” 

The following day, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, while not making an explicit legal threat in a statement, noted that despite state law giving “municipalities broad ‘police powers,” in public safety and health matters, “these powers must be exercised within constitutional parameters.” 

Others have been far more direct in the days since.  

In South Dakota, the fight took the form of Gov. Kristi Noem feuding publicly with a pair of Sioux tribes over highway checkpoints. Noem had already seen her star rise on the right over her resistance to coronavirus measures. 

Her threat last Friday that the state would “take necessary legal action,” if the checkpoints, maintained by the tribes because of health concerns during the pandemic, weren’t eliminated in the following 48 hours once again made the governor a major figure in the national GOP narrative.

A spokesman for the governor confirmed Thursday that the state had yet to take any legal action towards the tribes on the checkpoints. 

While Republican state officials have emphasized potential litigation to try and get their way, a major state case this week showed the possibility of the courts rolling back a Democratic administration’s restrictions statewide. 



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How George Soros packed the European Court of Human Rights and Pushed Its Open Border Policies

Sensational revelations from Europe document the deep involvement of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations in the European Court of Human Rights, which has been key in forcing an “Open Borders” policy on countries like Italy.

By Collin McMahon

In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) handed down the landmark case of “Hirsi Jamaa and others vs. Italy”, which ruled that European countries could not “push back” illegal migrants and would be fined hundreds of thousands of Euros if they did. The case involved a network of Soros-sponsored lawyers and NGOs who managed to track down 22 Somalian and Eritrean migrants in Libya who had been turned back in 2009 and bring their case to Strasbourg.

Now, a report by conservative American activist Jay Sekulow’s European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) has revealed that NGOs related to the Open Society Network are deeply involved with the ECHR, and many of its judges are tied to these organizations. The report

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identified seven NGOs that are both active at the Court, and have judges among their former staff. At least 22 of the 100 judges who have served on the ECHR since 2009 are former staff or leaders of these seven NGOs, the report stated.

The NGOs are identified as A.I.R.E. Center (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe), Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Helsinki Committees and Foundations Network, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Interights (International Center for the Judicial Protection of Human Rights), and the Open Society Foundation (OSF) and its various branches, in particular the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI).

“The Open Society Network stands out for the number of judges linked to it and for the fact that it actually funds the other six organizations identified in this report. The powerful presence of the Open Society and its affiliates is problematic in many ways. But even more serious is the fact that 18 of the 22 judges were found to have served on cases initiated or supported by the organization with which they were previously associated.”

The report identified 88 problematic cases over the last 10 years: “In only 12 cases have judges abstained from sitting because of their connection with an NGO involved.” The think tank called its assessment “low”, since it did not take into account OSF’s close financial links to many other NGOs.

“This situation is serious, and calls into question the independence of the Court and the impartiality of the judges. These conflicts must be remedied immediately.” The report proposes greater attention be paid to the choice of candidates for the post of judge by avoiding the appointment of activists and campaigners, to ensure transparency of interests and links between applicants, judges and NGOs, and to formalize the procedures for deportation and disqualification.

While many blogs and alternative websites have covered the explosive revelations of the report, they have inexplicably been largely ignored by mainstream media. This week the Russian Foreign Ministry commented in an official Press release, stating that the report “caught our attention”, not least because Russia has “repeatedly pointed out to its Council of Europe colleagues” instances of Western human rights NGOs” exerting implicit and explicit influence on the ECHR” analyzed in this paper.

“We believe that our colleagues from the Council of Europe and member states of the organization should pay attention to this report, which may provide valuable “food for thought” in the context of ongoing ECHR reform. Russia has always advocated a strong but non-politicized European Court. It appears that due consideration by all parties of the existing shortcomings in the ECHR activities during the reform will make it possible to adjust and ultimately minimize the “political” side effects involved in its practice,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stated. Russian President Vladimir Putin banned Soros NGOs in 2015, saying they “posed a threat to both state security and the Russian constitution.” Russian observers frequently blame Soros for starting the war in Ukraine and the ensuing conflict between Russia and the West.

In December, US Attorney General William Barr warned of similar instances of Open Society „Lawfare“ in trying to influence the outcome of elections for prosecutors in the US. “There’s this recent development [where] George Soros has been coming in, in largely Democratic primaries where there has not been much voter turnout and putting in a lot of money to elect people who are not very supportive of law enforcement and don’t view the office as bringing to trial and prosecuting criminals but pursuing other social agendas,” Barr told Martha MacCallum on Fox News. “They have started to win in a number of cities and they have, in my view, not given the proper support to the police.”

Last year, Gateway Pundit revealed the ties between Soros and the Spygate Conspiracy’s Ukrainian origins. As the Spygate investigation comes to a head, Western governments must seriously consider following Russia’s lead and declaring Soros and the Open Society Foundations a hostile foreign power.

 

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RT’S 2020 KHALED ALKHATEB AWARDS FOR WAR JOURNALISM OPEN FOR ENTRIES — RT Press releases

MOSCOW, MAY 14 — RT is now accepting entries for the 2020 Khaled Alkhateb Memorial Awards, an annual international competition that recognizes the best journalism from conflict zones. The competition, now in its third year, was established in honor of RT Arabic freelancer, Khaled Alkhateb, who died in 2017 while reporting from the frontlines in Syria.

The Khaled Alkhateb Memorial Awards is presented in three categories: Best Video Journalism from a Conflict Zone: Long Form; Best Video Journalism from a Conflict Zone: Short Form; and Best Written Journalism from a Conflict Zone.

The inaugural year of the competition in 2018 saw entries from more than 20 countries in 10 different languages. The winners were journalists from Iraq and Ireland, whose reporting shed light on the situation in Iraq and Syria following the expulsion of ISIS, and a journalist from Singapore for her coverage of the seizure of Marawi, Philippines by ISIS terrorists. Judging was conducted by an international jury of news media professionals and experts on the subject of war and armed conflicts, including former CBS correspondent Philip Ittner and the Association for International Broadcasting’s Tom Wragg.

In 2019, the jury selected the best entries from 25 countries. Journalists from Russia, the US, Italy, and India took top honors for their reports about conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. The 2019 awards ceremony took place as part of the RT Media Talk – ‘Covering Conflict: Dimensions, Risks And Responsibilities Of Journalism In The Hot Zone’. Acclaimed journalists from all over the world discussed impartiality when covering international conflicts, debunking fake news from the frontlines, and other important issues facing today’s media.

The winners of the third annual Khaled Alkhateb Memorial Awards will be announced on July 30, which marks the day on which 25-year-old RT Arabic stringer Khaled Alkhateb was killed by ISIS shelling in Homs, Syria, in 2017. Khaled had been covering the fighting between Syrian government forces and terrorists. In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin posthumously honored Khaled with the Medal for Courage.

Find out more and submit your entry at https://award.rt.com/.

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Bolivia: The Open Veins Are Bleeding Six Months After The Coup

Bolivia: The Open Veins Are Bleeding Six Months After The Coup

Bolivia: The Open Veins Are Bleeding Six Months After The Coup2020-05-12PopularResistance.Orghttps://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2020/05/bolivia-1-e1589308898158.jpg200px200px

Above photo: The government represses hungry protesters is Bolivia. By El Huayllani from Twitter.

On November 10, 2019, a violent coup d’état took place in Bolivia, navigated by the U.S., which managed to articulate the racist national oligarchy with the backing of the armed forces, the police and the paramilitary groups forcing Evo Morales to resign at gunpoint. The objective was to regain control of natural resources, mainly lithium, and to erase the example of a government with an indigenous face that for the first time since the genocidal conquest of America had come to power.

On November 12, Áñez proclaimed herself president, giving way to repression, including the massacres at Sacaba and Senkata. The coup left 35 dead, 800 injured, more than 1,500 arrested and hundreds exiled. A hunt for leaders, former officials, and journalists continues to this day. Neoliberal policies have been applied and the country has been plunged into a political, social, economic, and food crisis.

The Covid-19 and the health crisis has reconfigured the panorama by linking it to the other crises that acquire a new form of absolute and complete crisis with specific characteristics. The people are calling for elections to obtain a legitimate government that can deal with the pandemic and the economic crisis. Áñez, on the other hand, has used the pandemic to remain in power indefinitely, and as cover to avoid elections in order to consolidate a neoliberal political project complete with a military and police terrorist state.

From economic power to starvation suicides

During Evo Morales’ government, Bolivia went from being the second poorest country in Latin America to the region’s top country in economic growth with an average growth rate of 4.9 percent, according to the UN. The GDP quadrupled to US$9.5 billion from US$45.5 billion. Macroeconomic indicators were unsurpassed in South America and it was the country that had the greatest reduction in extreme poverty from 38 to 15%. After the coup d’état, Bolivia became a country where people commonly committed suicide from hunger. Three cases of suicide by hanging were known in April, that of a 12-year-old girl who could not stand the pain of her stomach due to hunger, that of a father of a family faced with the desperation of not being able to feed his 8 children, and that of a 15-year-old girl.

In this context of crisis, on April 27, the gasoline supply to the Cochabamba tropics was cut off, causing the death of more than 11 million fish due to lack of fuel to oxygenate the artificial pools of 3,500 fish farmers, causing massive economic damage to the region. Meanwhile, the Áñez regime tried to prevent the #TropicoSolidario campaign to carry out fruit distribution to low-income families in the region.  On April 27th, Áñez came up with her own unique solution by asking for a day of “fasting and prayer” to overcome the Covid-19 in the midst of the famine and there were massive blessings being amplified from helicopters in various cities in a secular country.

The people are calling for general elections to survive

On May 3, the general elections were postponed due to the health emergency. On April 29, a massive pot-banging and fireworks display was held to demand that an election date be set, in order to elect a legitimate government to deal with the economic and health crisis in the country. The coup leaders threatened to close the legislative assembly to prevent general elections. On April 30, Law 1,297 on the Postponement of General Elections was passed, giving the Electoral Tribunal 90 days to set a date. Áñez rejected the law and announced that she would resort to the “justice” to handle it. On January 22, the mandate of Áñez’s “transitional government” ended and they self extended their mandate until May 3. For the second time, the deadline expired and the pandemic is opportunistically being used as an excuse to extend the mandate again indefinitely in order to consolidate a neoliberal political project with a military and police terrorist state.

Persecution, imprisonment, and censorship

In order to impose terror and dismantle social organizations, a hunt and prosecution of leaders, former officials, and journalists has been unleashed in Bolivia with the suppression of human rights and constitutional guarantees. The asylum seekers who are still in the Mexican embassy in La Paz remain hostages of the dictatorship. State terrorism was radicalized by the pandemic, which is used as a strategy to muzzle freedom of expression and imprison opponents. The right-wing Interior Minister Arturo Murillo, is serving as a judge and prosecutor, boasting about conducting cyber patrols and threatens to imprison up to 10 years those who create “misinformation” about the Covid-19. The ultimate aim is to hide the government’s ineffectiveness. The media is complicit shielding the government from exposure while, demonizing the social movements, and assigning responsibility for all the negative events to Morales through the discourse of the “inheritance received”.

Area freed from corruption and drug trafficking

The dismantling of strategic companies is an example of a new wave of corruption. In the Bolivian airline (BoA), the directors were replaced by close associates of Fernando Camacho, who came from the private airline Amazonas. The dismantling was initiated through sabotage to affect profitability. At ENTEL, manager Elio Montes was criminally prosecuted for embezzlement and escaped to the U.S. At Y.P.F.B., President Herland Seliz resigned after a scandal over irregular insurance contracts and fuel purchases with high overpricing and no bidding.

In the de facto government, nepotism is the norm and families, friends, and lovers of officials hold positions in the state and misuse state assets. Bolivian Air Force (F.A.B.) planes and helicopters are used as taxis for so-called “humanitarian flights” to travel on vacation and/or to private parties in the middle of quarantine. The planes are not being used to bring the thousands of Bolivians who have been stranded for more than a month in different countries. Tests for the Covid-19 are being transported by land to the laboratories in La Paz and Santa Cruz which take a week to arrive and the laboratories promised for each department never arrived. On the other hand, 5-star hotel rentals were contracted for millions of dollars for insulation. The destination of the IMF credits and the millionaire donations from various countries and organizations to confront Covid-19 is unknown. The purchases of supplies that they announce they have donated never arrive and they refuse to publish the invoices, generating suspicions about the negotiations and who got what.

The landing of narcojets at the official airport of Guayaramerín, Beni where Áñez is from is increasing. On Jan. 28, a narcojet was intercepted in Mexico with a ton of cocaine loaded at the Guayaramerín airport, revealing Áñez’s family direct ties to drug trafficking. Carlos Áñez, her nephew, is in prison in Brazil for drug trafficking. Gustavo Álvarez Peralta, a drug trafficker with the Jalisco, Mexico, cartel and wanted by the D.E.A., was appointed director of agricultural production when his connections were publicized he mysteriously escaped.

Necrotic policies imported from the U.S. to confront Covid-19

On March 22, the quarantine was declared but to date, hospitals are lacking respirators, reagents, supplies, biosecurity equipment, and doctors. Infections and deaths among health, military, and police personnel are on the rise and they are still waiting for their personal protective equipment. On May 11, the “dynamic quarantine” will begin, making it more flexible in some regions. On May 5, the Secretary of Health of Santa Cruz, which is a hot concentration of 60% of the infections in the country, announced the imminent collapse of the health system, and the mayor was forced to stop relaxing the quarantine in the capital of Santa Cruz.

On April 6, the former health minister announced his four-month projections of 3,840 deaths, 48,000 infections and the collapse of the health system. On April 13, the current health minister Marcelo Navajas took office and minimized these projections by announcing a “strategic plan”, promising 500 respirators, but they never arrived. Tests are restricted to those with “active symptoms”. The announcement of the acquisition of 400,000 tests was also never fulfilled. The tests are important to detect infections, asymptomatic cases, isolate them to cut the chain of infections. Bolivia is the country that performs the least amount of tests in the region, which explains the low official figures of Covid-19 to justify the minimal measures of containment. Navajas said that 10,000 people are expected to be infected by May 31, and that the infection rate will drop once 60% of the population has been infected, in anticipation of a health collapse. The health minister, a former U.S. embassy doctor, is following the health policy line of Trump that placed the U.S. as the world epicenter of the pandemic, letting people “bathe” in the Covid-19 and condemning the elderly and those with basic pathologies to death. Navajas, the champion of health privatization, is following that mercantile logic, which he also shares with Trump: “Health is for those who can afford it”.

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Following Mexico’s Worker Strikes, The US Steps In To Keep Border Factories Open

Following Mexico’s Worker Strikes, The US Steps In To Keep Border Factories Open

Following Mexico’s Worker Strikes, The US Steps In To Keep Border Factories Open2020-05-12PopularResistance.Orghttps://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2020/05/a-street-in-a-mexican-barrio-of-maquiladora-workers.-by-david-bacon.-e1589308880732.jpg200px200px

Above photo: A street in a Mexican barrio of maquiladora workers. By David Bacon.

In Washington, D.C., President Trump is trying his best to reopen closed meatpacking plants, as packinghouse workers catch the COVID-19 virus and die. In Tijuana, Mexico, where workers are dying in mostly U.S.-owned factories (known as maquiladoras) that produce and export goods to the U.S., the Baja California state governor, a former California Republican Party stalwart, is doing the same thing.

Jaime Bonilla Valdez rode into the governorship in 2018 on the coattails of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. And at first, as a leading member of López Obrador’s MORENA Party, he was a strong voice calling for the factories on the border to suspend production.

López Obrador himself was criticized for not acting rapidly enough against the pandemic. But in late March, in the face of Mexico’s rising COVID-19 death toll, he finally declared a State of Health Emergency. Nonessential businesses were ordered to shut their doors, and to continue paying workers’ wages until April 30.

Bonilla’s Labor Secretary Sergio Martinez applied the federal government’s rule to the foreign-owned factories on the border, producing goods for the U.S. market. Again, only essential businesses would be excepted.

When news spread that many factories were defying the order to close, Bonilla condemned them. “The employers don’t want to stop earning money,” he said at a news conference in mid-April. “They are basically looking to sacrifice their employees.” But now, a month later, he is allowing many non-essential factories to reopen.

Explaining the about-face are two competing pressures. At first, workers in the factories took action to shut them down, a move widely supported in border cities. But as the owners themselves resisted, they got the help of the U.S. government. The Trump administration put enormous pressure on the Mexican government and economy, vulnerable because of its dependence on the U.S. market.

Now as the factories are opening again, the deaths are still rising.

Strikes Start in Mexicali

Although Baja California is much less densely populated than other Mexican states, it’s now third in the number of COVID-19 cases, with 1,660 people infected. Some 261 have died statewide, and 164 in Tijuana alone. That’s more deaths than 131 in neighboring San Diego, a much larger metropolis. Fifteen percent of those with COVID-19 in Tijuana die, while only 3.5 percent die in San Diego. As is true everywhere, with the absence of extensive testing, no one really knows how many are sick.

In Tijuana, most who die are working-age. Since one-tenth of the city’s 2.1 million residents work in over 900 maquiladoras, and even more are dependent on those factory jobs, the spread of the virus among maquiladora workers is very threatening.

Alarm grew when two workers died in early April at Plantronics, where 3,300 employees make phone headsets. Schneider Electric closed when one worker died and 11 more got sick. Skyworks, a manufacturer of parts for communications equipment with 5,500 workers, admitted that some had been infected.

In the growing climate of fear, workers began to stop work. In Mexicali, Baja California’s state capital, workers struck on April 9 at three U.S.-owned factories: Eaton, Spectrum, and LG. Protesters said the companies were forcing people to come to work under threat of being permanently fired, refusing to pay the government-mandated wages and failing to provide masks to workers. The factories were forced to close by the state government.

Work then stopped at three more factories — Jonathan, SL and MTS. There, the companies offered bonuses of 20-40 percent if workers would stay on the job, but employees rejected the offer. One striker, Daniel, told a reporter for the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, “We want health — we don’t want money, or bonuses or even double pay. We just want them to comply with the presidential order that nonessential factories close, and to pay us our full salary.” Jonathan makes metal rails for machine guns and tanks for U.S. companies. Workers denied company claims that they made “essential” telecommunications equipment, a common claim by factories that want to stay open.

The Organization of the Workers and Peoples, a radical group among maquiladora workers in Baja California, reported a week of work stoppages at Skyworks, and a strike at Gulfstream on April 10. At Honeywell Aerospace, workers began shutting down production on April 6. “The company then laid off 100 people without pay, and fired four of them,” said Mexicali worker/activist Jesus Casillas. Honeywell closed for a week and then reopened.

As the strikes progressed, workers reported the death of two people in Clover Wireless’s two plants that repair cellphones. They were closed for one shift, and then started up again. Finally, on April 14, a general strike was called by Mexicali maquiladora workers and supported by the state chapter of the New Labor Center, a union federation organized by the Mexican Electrical Workers Union.

The Factories Don’t Actually Close

Companies that said they were closing never really did, workers charged. “They’d close the front door and put a chain on,” Casillas explained. “Then they bring workers in through the back door. They’d call the workers down to the factory, and would tell them that if they didn’t go back to work, they’d lose their jobs permanently.”

Elsewhere on the border, workers also complain about being forced to work. Company scofflaws even included breweries. In the rest of Mexico, beer began to disappear from store shelves as a result of López Obrador’s order, shuttering breweries because alcohol production was not deemed “essential.” Modelo and Heineken, two huge producers, complied. Constellation Brands’ two enormous breweries in Coahuila, which make Corona and Modelo for the U.S. market, did not.

On May Day, a Facebook post even showed workers at the Piedras Negras glass plant that makes the bottles for Constellation Brands lined up without masks. A message from a worker, Alejandro Lopez, charges, “We ask for masks and they deny us, like they do with [sanitizing] gel, which they only give us at the [brewery] entrance, and that’s it.” The response posted by the plant human relations director, Sofia Bucio, says the company does everything required, and then goes on to berate the worker: “We didn’t go take you out of your house and force you to work with us, right?… If you don’t like the measures IVC [the glass company] is taking, the doors were wide open to let you in when you came here, and they’re the same to let you out.”

In border cities across the Rio Grande from Texas, other factories that wanted to stay open said they’d let workers worried about the virus stay home, but only at 50 percent of their normal wages. “People can’t possibly live on that,” charged Julia Quiñones, director of the Border Women Workers Committee. Since López Obrador ordered a raise a year ago, the minimum wage on the border has been 185.56 pesos ($7.63) per day. Fifty percent of that, in Nuevo Laredo, would barely buy a gallon of milk (80 pesos).

“There’s no other work the women can do in town,” Quiñones explained. “In the past, some workers crossed the border to earn extra money by donating blood. But the border is now closed, even for those that have visas. They can’t sell things in the street because of the lockdown. The only option is to work.”

One worker told her, “It is better to work at 100 percent, even if we’re risking our lives, than to be at home with 50 percent.”

Meanwhile, work stoppages spread to other border cities, as the death toll rose. Lear Corporation, which employs 24,000 people making car seats in Ciudad Juárez, closed its 12 plants there on April 1. Lear had more COVID-19 fatalities than any company on the border. It won’t cite a number, and says it only learned of the first death on April 3. By the end of April, however, 16 Lear workers were dead from the virus, 13 from its Rio Bravo factory alone.

As other plants continued operations despite a death toll, strikes broke out. On April 17, workers struck at six maquiladoras, demanding that the companies stop operations and pay workers the government-mandated wages. Twenty people in the city had died by then, including two workers at Regal Beloit (a coffin manufacturer), and two workers at Syncreon, according to protesters. At Honeywell, 70 strikers said the company hadn’t provided masks, and had forced people with hypertension and diabetes to show up for work.

The Electrolux plant stopped work on April 24 after two workers, Gregoria González and Sandra Perea, died. Two weeks earlier, workers there had protested the lack of health protection. When workers finally stopped working, the company locked them inside and later fired 20. One told journalist Kau Sirenio, “The company wouldn’t tell us anything though we all knew that we were working at the risk of getting infected. They waited until two died before they closed, and fired those who protested the lack of safe conditions. They still say their operation is essential, but you can see how little they care about the lives of the workers.”

In Juárez, the mayor closed the city’s restaurants but allowed the maquiladoras to keep running. When workers at TPI Composites began their protest, the city police were even called out against them. Nevertheless,in Juárez and other border cities throughout April, the pressure of workers did succeed often in forcing the government to demand compliance from the companies.

The U.S. Intervenes

At the end of April, the U.S. government intervened on behalf of the owners of the stalled plants. The Trump administration isset on protecting the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement set to go into effect on July 1. While the agreement has theoretical protections for worker health and safety, there is no expectation that it would be invoked to ensure that plants remain shut until the COVID-19 danger recedes. Instead, its purpose is to protect the chains of supply and investment between Mexico and the U.S., especially involving factories on the border.

López Obrador’s order classified as “essential” only companies directly involved in critical industries such as health care, food production or energy, and excluded companies that supply materials to factories in those industries. But from the beginning, many maquiladoras claimed they were “essential” anyway because they supplied other factories in the U.S. Luis Hernandez, an executive at a Tijuana exporter association, admitted, “Companies have wanted to use the ‘essential’ classifications of the U.S.

The military-industrial complex has a growing stake in border factories, which exported $1.3 billion in aerospace and armament products to the U.S. in 2004, climbing to $9.6 billion last year. To defend that huge stake, Luis Lizcano, general director of the Mexican Federation of Aerospace Industries, told the Mexican government it had to give Mexico’s defense industry the “essential” status it enjoys in the U.S. and Canada.

Pentagon Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord announced she was meeting Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard to urge him to let U.S. defense corporations restart production in their maquiladoras. “Mexico right now is somewhat problematical for us, but we’re working through our embassy,” she said. She later announced her visit had been successful.

Using the language of the Trump administration, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau played down the risk to workers. “There is risk everywhere but we don’t all stay at home out of fear that we’re going to crash our cars,” he said in a tweet. “Economic destruction also threatens health…. On both sides of the border, investment = employment = prosperity.”

Finally, on April 28, Baja Governor Bonilla bowed to the pressure and ordered the reopening of 40 “closed” maquiladoras. According to Secretary of Economic Development Mario Escobedo Carignan, they are now considered part of the supply chain for essential products. “We’re not in the business of trying to suspend your operations,” he told owners, “but to work with you to keep creating jobs and generating wealth in this state.”

Given that many “closed” factories in fact were operating already, Julia Quiñones said bitterly, “This is what always happens here on the border. The companies break the law, and then the law is changed to make it all legal.” And Mexico’s federal government itself has begun to back down as well, announcing three days after a U.S. request that it will allow the many enormous auto plants in Mexico to restart their assembly lines once automakers restart them north of the border.

The announcements didn’t indicate that Mexico had flattened the coronavirus infection curve or that the factories were now safe. In one 24-hour period, from April 29 to 30, the number of cases per million people went from 138 to 149. A million workers labor in over 3,000 factories on the border. The virus has already led to numerous deaths among them, and if all factories resume production while it still rages, the death toll will surely rise.

Luis Hernández Navarro, editor at Mexico’s left-wing daily, La Jornada (no relation to the Tijuana businessman), reminded his readers that the catastrophic spread of the virus in Italy was caused by the continued operation of factories in Lombardy until it was too late.

“The maquiladora industry has never cared about the health of its operators, just its profits,” he wrote recently. “Their production lines must not stop, and in the best colonial tradition, Uncle Sam has pressured Mexico to keep the assemblers operating…. The obstinacy of the maquiladoras makes it likely that the Italian case will be repeated here.”

David Bacon is a writer and photographer, and former union organizer. He is the author of several books on labor, migration and the global economy, including In the Fields of the North / En los campos del norteThe Children of NAFTACommunities Without BordersIllegal People and The Right to Stay Home. His photographs and stories can be found at here and here.

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Gateway Pundit News

Outrageous! Normal, Illinois Mayor Chris Koos Mocks Lock-Down Protesters and Laid Off Workers WHILE HE KEEPS HIS BIKE SHOP OPEN

Chris Koos is mayor of Normal, Illinois in Mclean County.
There are 169,572 people in McLean County Illinois.
There have been 112 cases of coronavirus in McLean County, Illinois and 3 coronavirus deaths this year.

Chris Koos has the city of Normal shut down due to the coronavirus.
Well, most of Normal anyway.
Chris Koos left his bike shop “Vitesse Cycle Shop” open. He declared it essential business.

Earlier this week there was a protest to re-open the city and allow residents to work.
Instead of listening to the protesters Mayor Koos mocked them.

Via BLN News:

TRENDING: CROOKED OBAMA PANICS! Deep State Reporter Isikoff Releases His “Leaked” Call – Former President’s Fingerprints All Over Attempted Coup and More Documents Are Coming!

In response to citizens peaceably protesting yesterday-

Normal Il mayor taunted “nonessential” struggling citizens and business owners while his business is OPEN. The banner proves he has NO compassion for his own community. He knew people were coming to protest, his message to those NOT ALLOWED to work: his middle finger!

Worse – Koos told the police to fine or arrest nonessential citizens who dare to earn a living.

Koos was brazen enough to post this picture on his Facebook page, minus the text of course. This tyrant is proud of himself!

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Coindesk News

Blockchain Bites: Paul Tudor Jones, Open Options and Why Bitcoin Looks Strong Heading to the Halving

Bixin is launching a $66M fund, Massive Adoption’s Jacob Kostecki is getting sued and Filecoin is delivering physical hard drives.

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3 Straight Record Days Drive CME Bitcoin Futures Open Interest to All-Time High

Open interest for CME bitcoin futures made a new all-time high of just under $500 million on Friday, the third consecutive day of open interest records this week. Significant growth in CME futures demonstrates the intensifying contest between the stalwart institutional trading platform and crypto-native derivatives exchanges like BitMEX. 

Over the past month, CME’s bitcoin futures market has grown faster than nearly every other bitcoin futures market on a percentage and real growth basis.

Soaring CME open interest coincides with news that prominent American hedge funds are interested in investing in bitcoin futures. As of April, Renaissance Technology’s flagship Medallion fund is considering trading bitcoin futures on CME. On Thursday, Paul Tudor Jones II of the Tudor Investment Corp. also told investors he is keen to invest in bitcoin futures. 

“The recent massive growth in regulated futures markets suggests growing institutional interest in bitcoin as an emerging macro hedge against money printing and geopolitical uncertainties,” said Qiao Wang, director of product at Messari and former quantitative trader at Tower Research. 

CME competitors in the U.S. have had trouble keeping pace, however. CBOE, for example, finally discontinued its bitcoin futures product in June 2019 after suffering mediocre trading volume for over two years. 

Bakkt, another competitor that launched physically settled bitcoin futures in late 2019 as an alternative to cash-settled CME contracts, claims less than 5% of the U.S. bitcoin futures market. The company has lost two CEOs within six months

For all intents and purposes, the American bitcoin futures market is the CME, and it’s growing faster than almost every other market.

“The recent growth of open interest in our bitcoin futures contract demonstrates market participants are increasingly turning to CME Group to express views and manage their risk amid ongoing global uncertainty,” said Tim McCourt, CME Group Global Head of Equity Index and Alternative Investment Products. “We are committed to continuing to provide our customers with the risk management tools and robust liquidity they need to navigate this challenging environment.”

CME is currently the third-largest bitcoin futures market in the world behind OKEx and BitMEX, according to Skew. And as institutional money continues to show interest, continued growth in CME’s bitcoin futures can be expected.

“It’s unsurprising that CME dominates its competitors in terms of market share. CME is historically the best-in-class futures exchange with top trading infrastructure and market makers,” said Wang. 

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Open Positions on Bitcoin Options Pass $1B for First Time

Open contracts on bitcoin options rose to record highs on Thursday as the cryptocurrency’s price rose into five figures.

Data from major exchanges – Deribit, LedgerX, Bakkt, OKEx, and CME – shows that open interest on options rose above $1 billion, surpassing the previous all-time high of $70 million registered on Feb. 14, according to crypto derivatives research firm Skew

The metric has increased sharply from the low of $410 million observed in March when the bitcoin market crashed on so-called “Black Thursday.”

skew_total_btc_options_open_interest-2
Source: Skew

Deribit, the world’s biggest crypto options exchange by volume, contributed nearly 90% of the total on Thursday as open positions on the Panama-based exchange reached a record high of $903 million.

Global options trading volume also jumped to $213.7 million yesterday, the highest level since the March 12 crash, while bitcoin itself clocked a two-month high of $10,062 on CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price index. At press time, bitcoin had dropped back to near $9,830, representing a 1.5% drop on the day, but an over 10% gain on a week-to-date basis. 

Options are derivative contracts that give the buyer the right, but not the obligation to buy or sell the underlying asset at a predetermined price on or before a specific date. A call option gives the purchaser the right to buy, while the put option gives the buyer the right to sell. 

Open interest refers to the number of options contracts that have
been traded but not yet liquidated by an offsetting trade or an exercise or
assignment. While open interest represents the number of contracts open at a
given point of time, trading volume refers to the number of contracts traded
during a specific period. 

The surge in open interest looks to have been caused by increased demand for put options, or bearish bets.

“Post-March crash, put options have been bought for downside protection primarily. As the market has rallied, more interest has entered via increased put accumulation,” said Tony Stewart, a derivatives trader and analyst in Deribit’s Market Insights channel

Validating Stewart’s argument is the one-month put-call skew’s recent rise from -3% to 9.1%. The positive figure indicates that put options are costlier due to drawing greater demand than calls. Similar sentiments are being echoed by the put-call ratio, which rose to a 10-month high of 0.81 on Monday, according to Skew data. 

The put bias seen in the options market suggests investors may be hedging for a potential post-halving price drop. Bitcoin is set to undergo its third mining reward halving on Tuesday, following which the reward per block mined will drop to 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC. 

See also: Bitcoin Halving, Explained

That the supply-altering event is a long-term bullish development has been extensively discussed by the analyst community for many months. Bitcoin’s price has rallied by nearly 160% since bottoming out at $3,867 in March and has recently decoupled from traditional markets as hype over the event mounts. 

Such strong rallies ahead of major events are often followed by price pullbacks. Historical data shows the cryptocurrency suffered a 30% drop in the four weeks following its second reward halving, which took place on July 9, 2016. 

“We may see the market drop by 25%-35% from the peak, but we expect it to be followed by a period of range-bound trading over a number of months and then a gradual move back up. The longer-term horizon for bitcoin is extremely bullish but in the short-to-medium term, we think we’ll see a lot of disappointed players out there,” said Ed Hindi, CIO of Tyr Capital Arbitrage SP, which focuses on liquidity provision and arbitrage within the cryptocurrency markets.

Hence, it’s not surprising that trades are buying hedges (puts)
against long positions in the spot or futures market. 

Bitcoin is widely expected to remain bid over the weekend due to “FOMO” buying from retail investors. FOMO, or fear of missing out, refers to panic buying in a rising market. 

Until the halving has passed, more price rises look likely. “$10,000 has already been breached and the psychological resistance of that has been overcome. We are keeping our eye on $10,500 as the next key level,” said Matthew Dibb, co-founder of Stack, a provider of cryptocurrency trackers and index funds. 

Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency at the time of writing.

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Bitcoin Breaches $9.2K as Open Positions on CME Futures Hit 10-Month High

Bitcoin is quickly gathering upward momentum alongside a surge in open positions on futures listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). 

The top cryptocurrency by market value jumped to a high of $9,220 at 10:20 UTC on Wednesday, having settled (UTC) above $9,000 on Tuesday to register its first above-$9,000 daily close in two months.

Meanwhile, open interest – or the number of futures contracts outstanding on the CME – rose to $351 million on Tuesday, the highest level since July 10, 2019, according to the data provided by crypto derivatives research firm Skew. 

skew_cme_bitcoin_futures__total_open_interest__volumes_-3-1
Source: Skew

Open interest hit a bottom of $107 million on March 12, when bitcoin’s price fell by over 40% amid the coronavirus-led crash in the traditional markets. Since then, open positions have risen by 228%. 

“The uptick in the CME open interest is indicative of professional traders returning to the bitcoin market,” noted analytics resource Arcane Research in its monthly report. CME open interest is widely considered to be a proxy for institutional activity. 

While that may be the case, retail investors, too, could be trading CME futures through TD Ameritrade, an online broker. 

Further, the latest open interest figure may have been distorted due to the rumored entry of Renaissance Technologies’ into CME futures trading. In March, the quantitative analysis-heavy firm gave the green light for its Medallion fund to trade the CME’s cash-settled bitcoin futures market.

Some observers argue that only U.S.-regulated institutions are required to trade on the CME, while the rest may be trading on other major exchanges like BitMEX. 

Put simply, the uptick in the CME open interest does not necessarily represent institutional activity, more so, as the exchange accounts for a small portion of the global futures open interest. 

“It’s still small relative to the rest of the market and the overall market open interest is still quite low,” said Darius Sit, co-founder and managing director at Singapore-based QCP Capital.

skew_btc_futures__aggregated_open_interest-6
Global futures open interest
Source: Skew

Total open interest in futures listed on major exchanges across the globe stood at over $2.5 billion on Tuesday, the highest level since March 11, when the tally was around $3.8 billion. Meanwhile, CME’s contribution to the global tally was 14%. 

Nevertheless, the uptick in both the CME and global volume is likely to bring cheer to bulls as a rise in open interest alongside an upward move in prices is said to confirm an uptrend. 

At press time, bitcoin is trading near $9,220, representing a 2.5% gain on the day.

The cryptocurrency has broken out of a six-day-long narrowing price range, signaling a continuation of the price rally from lows near $6,700 observed on April 20. The move strengthens the case for a rise to $10,000 ahead of next Tuesday’s mining reward halving.

Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency at the time of writing.

Disclosure Read More

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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