11/9/19

Working Families Party Backs Elizabeth Warren to ‘Achieve Socialism’ — Race Politics at Play

By: Trevor Loudon | The Epoch Times

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during an event to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2017” on Capitol Hill on Sept. 13, 2017. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

The far-left Working Families Party (WFP) sees its recent endorsement of presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren as a step toward American “socialism.”

However, the WFP sees its role as going beyond supporting Warren. The longer-term aim is to use her movement to build a major left-wing coalition working within, but essentially independently of, the Democratic Party.

In a recent interview with Organizing Upgrade (a front for the communist group Liberation Road), WFP director Moe Mitchell stated that “If we are to seriously achieve socialism, there needs to be some transitional step between where we are in neoliberal capitalism and socialism.”

Mitchell went on to make it clear that backing Warren, even over the more explicitly socialist Bernie Sanders, would be a significant step down the socialist road, because Warren appeals to a much larger base than Sanders can, and she can be used to build a movement with influence way beyond the next election.

On the left, WFP backing is a big deal. In states where it’s legal WFP runs its own ballot line soliciting votes from the far left. These votes can then be added to the Democrat vote totals to gain increased majorities, especially for leftist Democrat candidates—like Sanders and Warren. Whoever gets the WFP endorsement is almost guaranteed a bigger chunk of the left vote.

In 2016, the WFP tended to be dominated by people close to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which formed the backbone of the Sanders campaign. Therefore, it was no surprise that the WFP backed Sanders in that election cycle.

Since Mitchell and Nelini Stamp took over leadership of the WFP in 2018, the party has leaned more toward the Liberation Road line. Known until recently as the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Liberation Road leans toward Maoist politics and is one of this country’s leading pro-China communist parties.

Mitchell has been actively involved in several Liberation Road/FRSO fronts, including the Movement for Black Lives and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

Stamp, WFP’s national organizing director, is also close to Liberation Road. She, too, was involved in Movement for Black Lives and in 2013 participated in the successful FRSO campaign to elect lifelong Marxist Chokwe Lumumba to the Jackson, Mississippi, mayoralty.

Controversy

After the WFP endorsed Warren in September 2019 it created a firestorm on the left. Sanders backers regarded WFP’s support for Warren as a betrayal of the “Bernie” movement. The WFP was inundated with hate email, and Facebook blew up with howls of outrage from “Bernie bros” and aggrieved DSA comrades.

To settle the situation down a little, the WFP issued a statement, “A letter from the movement to the movement,” signed by over 120 black activists, mostly affiliated with Liberation Road. These included former Black Lives Matter founders Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors, former FRSO General Secretary Sendolo Diaminah, and FRSO comrade Ash-Lee Henderson, the co-director of the Highlander Research and Education Center, a communist training school situated in Eastern Tennessee.

The letter made the attacks on the WFP all about race–which is Liberation Road’s “modus operandi.”

“It was brave of the WFP to make an early endorsement, and it signals that the WFP is ready to be a real contender for power. … The WFP made a decision, with its members and supporters and staff, and there is now conflict over the substance of that decision. But let’s also be clear — the WFP is under new leadership. For the first time in its history, Maurice Mitchell, a Black man with decades of experience building movements and strengthening our democracy, alongside Nelini Stamp, a working class, woman of color and a gifted organizer with a long list of accomplishments, are now at the helm of the Party, where they should be. And apparently, some folks aren’t happy about it.

“These incredible leaders who led an organization to take a risk by lifting up the leadership of Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander and white communities in coalescing around a candidate with enough time to engage their communities deeply ahead of the 2020 election, are being threatened on a daily basis, by self-identified Sanders supporters, with hateful, violent and racist threats. ‘Uncle Tom.’ ‘Slave.’ ‘[expletive].’ These kinds of threats have no place in our movements and are reminiscent of the threats Black people would receive when daring to vote even though the white supremacists would try and discourage Black people from doing so.”

The letter did end on a slightly conciliatory note, calling for unity between Warren and Sanders supporters in the face of “one of the most serious threats to peace and justice in our lifetimes”—presumably meaning President Donald Trump.

“As Black leaders in this movement … [w]e demand that the Sanders campaign unequivocally denounce the racism in its ranks, and issue a public statement separating themselves from these abhorrent attacks. And we call on our movement to recommit to the real fight ahead of us. Democracy isn’t built in a day, and the WFP will need us, Sanders supporters and Warren supporters, to come together to defeat one of the most serious threats to peace and justice in our lifetimes.”

Liberation Road/WFP is apparently trying to “racially guilt” Sanders supporters into staying in the movement when their hero inevitably fails.

This Liberation Road/DSA divergence may explain why only three members of “The Squad”—the infamous foursome of far-left Democratic freshmen congress members—have endorsed Sanders so far. DSA members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, plus DSA supporter Ilhan Omar, have all gone for Bernie. The fourth “Squad” member, Boston-based Ayanna Pressley, has not.

Pressley, like Warren, has worked closely with Massachusetts-based FRSO/Liberation Road front groups for years—particularly the Beijing-friendly Chinese Progressive Association. It seems that Liberation Road, especially its large black membership, is leaning toward Warren.

Intersectionality

Liberation Road is all about “intersectionality.” For them, Trump can only be defeated by mobilizing millions of women, “communities of color,” and the young. Sanders’ mainly white and male DSA supporters lean more toward traditional class-based Marxism. Liberation Road is targeting a much larger voter pool.

Many Liberation Road members do currently support Sanders, but it seems likely that most will jump to Warren when Sanders’ inevitable defeat becomes more apparent.

Liberation Road, the DSA, and the Communist Party USA have been cooperating for some time to build an anti-Trump alliance. The burning question for Liberation Road must be how do we get rid of Sanders, but keep his DSA base on board?

The only thing that can keep the movement together is to frame the WFP and the Warren base as the only viable vehicle for an ongoing socialist movement.

According to Mitchell:

“From organizing mass movements like the Movement for Black Lives, and doing local base-building work for years – knocking on thousands of doors working on local issue campaigns – and from my perch here at WFP, there is wisdom in people’s organizations that are building long-term power and wrestle with the contradictions of attempting to build left grassroots organizations.

“There is also wisdom in individuals in movements, especially people who are newly politicized because they are not boxed in by the limitations of existing organizations or, frankly, they are so early in their development that they are not cynical about the possibilities of radical change.

“Both of those wisdoms are essential in moving the left towards actually building socialism. …

“So, the forces that are disappointed with any endorsement … I would invite them to organize their forces within the party [WFP] because this is a space where your organizing actually will matter, in a much more meaningful way than in the Democratic Party.”

If Warren also fails, which I believe she will, where will that movement go next? If a badly struggling Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) can stay in the race a few more months, her color and her Liberation Road connected friends might yet give her a surprise shot at the nomination. Or maybe another horse from the same Maoist stable, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), may pull off a shock breakout.

Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.

11/9/19

Security Risks: Why President Trump Is Right Not to Trust Adam Schiff or the House Intelligence Committee

By: Trevor Loudon | The Epoch Times

President Donald Trump delivers remarks during the Medal of Honor ceremony for Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 30, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Many Congress members simply cannot be trusted to keep the United States’ important national security secrets. Let that sink in.

After U.S. forces killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder of ISIS, during a midnight raid on Oct. 26, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) complained that he hadn’t been notified of the operation.

President Donald Trump told reporters in Washington on Oct. 28 that the White House didn’t notify the House Intelligence Committee about the raid due to a concern that the information would be leaked by Schiff.

The Hill reported Trump as saying:

“Well, I guess the only thing is, they were talking about why I didn’t give the information to Adam Schiff and his committee. And the answer is because I think Adam Schiff is the biggest leaker in Washington.”

The president certainly has a valid point. And it doesn’t just apply to Schiff. The House Intelligence Committee shouldn’t be entrusted with the White House grocery list, let alone the details of a highly sensitive military operation that could put many American lives at risk.

There are virtually no serious security protocols in Congress. There are no background checks for Congress members serving on any committees, let alone the especially sensitive armed services, Homeland Security, or Intelligence committees. Is it possible that the United States’ enemies may be aware of this glaring weakness in the United States’ national security network? Is it likely that they might try to exploit it?

Many U.S. Congress members receive money from Iranian-backed entities. Some work closely with Chinese-supported organizations. Many have close ties to Marxist groups such as the Democratic Socialists of America or pro-China groups Communist Party USA and Liberation Road. Many Congress members are sympathetic to the United States’ enemies such as Cuba, China, or Venezuela. Some on both sides of the aisle have ties to front groups for known terrorist organizations such as Hamas.

There are several currently serving members of the House Intelligence Committee with problematic ties. Many of them would probably struggle to get a security clearance to drive a school bus or sell stamps at the post office. But that doesn’t prevent them from serving on a congressional committee with oversight of the FBI, CIA, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Security Agency, and a dozen other national security organizations.

Schiff, for example, has close ties to the Committee of 100 (C100), which essentially runs “influence operations” for the communist Chinese regime. Schiff attended C100 conferences in 2009 and 2016 and has also met with high-ranking Chinese Communist Party officials C.H. Tung, now vice-chair of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and former mayor of Shanghai and president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Xu Kuangdi, all arranged through C100 contacts.

During the 2018 election cycle, Schiff also received funding from the Iranian American Political Action Committee, reportedly a front for the Iranian government.

The second-ranked Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Jim Himes of Connecticut, traveled to pro-Soviet Nicaragua in the late 1980s to research his undergraduate thesis “The Sandinista Defense Committees and the Transformation of Political Culture in Nicaragua.” Himes essentially whitewashed these civilian spy networks for the Marxist-Leninist regime:

“If the CDSs [Sandinista Defense Committees] maintain and advance their autonomy and continue to serve the role they have served they will help ensure that the people of Nicaragua may have the kind of participatory role in their own destiny they were promised under Sandinismo.”

Himes was elected to Congress in 2008 with help from the Communist Party USA and has worked closely with a Party front, the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans, ever since.

The fourth-ranked Intelligence Committee Democrat, André Carson of Indiana, is one of three Muslims currently serving in the House of Representatives.

Carson received money from the Iranian American Political Action Committee during the 2018, 2016, and 2014 election cycles and was an early backer of President Barack Obama’s failed “nuclear deal” with Iran.

Carson has long worked closely with the Council on American Islamic Relations and its founder and current spokesman Nihad Awad.

In 1994, Awad revealed at a forum at Florida’s Barry University that he had once supported the pro-Soviet terror group the Palestine Liberation Organization. When the Soviet Union “collapsed,” Awad switched his allegiance to Hamas.

In February 2017, three Pakistani American brothers, the Awans, who managed office information technology for members of the House Intelligence Committee, including Carson and other lawmakers, were abruptly relieved of their duties. The brothers were suspected of accessing congressional computers without permission. It was later revealed that the three brothers had access to the computers of more than a dozen congressional Democrats, some for more than a decade.

According to the Daily Caller, the father of the brothers allegedly “transferred a USB drive to a Pakistani senator and former head of a Pakistani intelligence agency.”

However, no espionage charges were ever brought.

The House Intelligence Committee, like every other committee in Congress, is shot through with “security risks.”

Is it any wonder that Trump is unwilling to share sensitive information with Schiff and his junior committee members?

Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.

11/9/19

Socialists in Your ‘Hood: List of 44 DSA-Endorsed Candidates for Nov. 5 Local Elections

By: Trevor Loudon | The Epoch Times

Democratic Socialists of America march in downtown Berkeley, Calif., on Aug. 5, 2018. (Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States’ largest Marxist organization, the 56,000-member Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), is running at least 44 endorsed candidates in 20 states for the Nov. 5 local elections.

Most are running as Democrats, but some are nonpartisan or independent. While most will fail, the DSA will use their campaigns to recruit more members and spread their message. Those who succeed will join dozens of comrades already in office across the country in funneling taxpayers’ money into socialist projects, employing their comrades, and spreading socialist propaganda with the prestige of their elected office.

It must be remembered that the DSA is an alliance of organizations, which includes several pro-China groups such as the Communist Party USA, Liberation Road, and Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. The DSA also incorporates Stalinists from the League of Revolutionaries for a New America and Trotskyists from Solidarity and the recently defunct International Socialist Organization.

The DSA has close ties to several European and Latin American Marxist-Leninist parties and, despite its constant denials, is a de facto communist party.

Not every candidate on DSA’s endorsement list is a DSA comrade—some are members of sympathizing groups such as Liberation Road or Socialist Alternative. All, however, are definitely socialist and have been extensively vetted by the DSA to ensure their purity of thought. If the past is any guide, many non-DSA candidates will formally join the DSA during their campaign, or after their electoral victory.

In several cities, the DSA has more than a thousand members. Every DSA-endorsed candidate can expect dozens or even hundreds of DSA volunteers to hold campaign office, to door-knock, to phone-bank, and to donate. After the primaries are settled, candidates in key winnable races may even expect nationwide DSA support.

This is exactly how 29-year-old bartender Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat the fourth-ranked Democrat in the House of Representatives, and first-time candidate comrade Lee J. Carter beat the senior Republican in the Virginia state legislature. In many races, a DSA endorsement can greatly improve one’s chances of victory.

DSA-endorsed comrades standing in your neighborhood this Nov. 5 include the following:

California

Dean Preston for San Francisco Board of Supervisors District 5. Member of San Francisco DSA.

Colorado

Junie Joseph for Boulder City Council.
Juan Marcano for Aurora City Council Ward 4. Member of Denver DSA.
Radhika Nath for Denver School Board District 1. Member of Denver DSA.
Julie Banuelos for Denver School Board District 5. Member of Denver DSA.

Connecticut

Darnell Ford for Middletown Common Council.

Georgia

Andrea Cervone for Clarkston City Council.

Iowa

Chelsea Chism Vargas for Des Moines City Council Ward 4. Member of Central Iowa DSA.

Kansas

Joey Hentzler for Lawrence City Commission.

Kentucky

Shameka Parrish-Wright for Jefferson County School Board District 4.

Massachusetts

Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler for Cambridge City Council. Member of Boston DSA.
Ben Simon for Cambridge City Council.
Curtis Tuden for Medford City Council. Member of Boston DSA.

Michigan

Brian Stawowy for Ferndale Mayor. Member of Detroit DSA.
Nada Daher for Ferndale City Council. Member of Detroit DSA.
Kat Bruner James for Ferndale City Council. Member of Detroit DSA.
Sara Habbo for Southfield City Council.
Mike McDermott for Westfield City Council. Member of Detroit DSA.
Evan Dalley for Traverse City Commission. Member of Northern Michigan DSA.

Montana

Randy Heinz for Billings City Council District 2. Member of Billings DSA.

New York

Tara Gaston for Saratoga Springs Supervisor.

Ohio

Liliana Rivera Baiman for Columbus City Council At-Large. Member of Columbus DSA.
McCray Powell for Nelsonville City Council. Member of Athens Revolutionary Socialists—a spin-off of the International Socialist Organization.
Ellie Hamrick for Athens City Council. Member of Athens Revolutionary Socialists.
Damon Krane for Athens Mayor. Member of Southeast Ohio DSA.

Pennsylvania

Connor O’Hanlon for Doylestown Supervisor. Member of BuxMont DSA.
Marisa Ziegler for Parkland School Board.
Kendra Brooks for Philadelphia City Council At-Large.
Nicolas O’Rourke for Philadelphia City Council At-Large.
Randall Taylor for Pittsburgh City Council District 9.
Darnika Reed for Woodland Hills School Board Director.

Tennessee

Charles Al-Bawi for Knoxville City Council District 5.
Amelia Parker for Knoxville City Council At-Large Seat C. Member of Knoxville DSA.
David Hayes for Knoxville City Council At-Large Seat B. Member of Liberation Road.
Michalyn Easter-Thomas for Memphis City Council District 7.

Texas

Ashton P. Woods for Houston City Council Position 5. Member of Houston DSA.
Rob Block for State House District 148. Member of Houston DSA.

Virginia

Nicholas Da Silva for Richmond City Council District 5. Member of Richmond DSA.
Jeff Staples for State Senate District 5. Member of Tidewater DSA.
Michael Payne for Charlottesville City Council. Member of Charlottesville DSA.

Washington

Shaun Scott for Seattle City Council District 4. Member of Seattle DSA.
Kshama Sawant for Seattle City Council District 3. Member of Socialist Alternative.
Chanan Suarez for Bellingham City Council Ward 5. Member of Whatcom DSA.

Wisconsin

Alex Brower for Milwaukee Comptroller. Member of Milwaukee DSA.

***

What started as a trickle in 2016 and grew to a small stream in 2018 could become a river in 2020 and a torrent beyond. By allowing “communists” to stand on its ballot-line, the Democratic Party is effectively committing a form of electoral fraud.

Unfortunately, most American voters have no idea they are voting for a DSA comrade posing as a Democrat. They have even less understanding that the nice “socialist” or “Liberal Democrat” they think they are voting for is, in fact, a “small c” communist—maybe even a Trotskyist, pro-China Maoist, or an unrepentant Stalinist.

There’s virtually no “mainstream media” coverage of what should be a major scandal.

Why is that, do you think?

Trevor Loudon is an author, filmmaker, and public speaker from New Zealand. For more than 30 years, he has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements and their covert influence on mainstream politics.

11/9/19

Obama Admin Tried to Partner with Burisma

By: Denise Sion | Founders Code

Where is Chairman Adam Schiff now? He brought in George Kent, the former charge d’affair at the Kiev embassy for testimony. And the whistle blew except Schiff did not run out to the hallway outside his office to the nearest microphone.

Hat tip again to John Solomon for his report and tireless investigative work.

In part from his report:

George Kent, the former charge d’affair at the Kiev embassy, said in testimony released Thursday that the State Department’s main foreign aid agency, known as USAID, planned to co-sponsor a clean energy project with Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas firm that employed Hunter Biden as a board member.

At the time of the proposed project, Burisma was under investigation in Ukraine for alleged corruption. Those cases were settled in late 2016 and early 2017. Burisma contested allegations of corruption but paid a penalty for tax issues.

Kent testified he personally intervened in mid-2016 to stop USAID’s joint project with Burisma because American officials believed the corruption allegations against the gas firm raised concern.

“There apparently was an effort for Burisma to help cosponsor, I guess, a contest that USAID was sponsoring related to clean energy. And when I heard about it I asked USAID to stop that sponsorship,” Kent told lawmakers.

When asked why he intervened, he answered: “”Because Burisma had a poor reputation in the business, and I didn’t think it was appropriate for the U.S. Government to be co-sponsoring something with a company that had a bad reputation.”

Kent’s testimony confirms earlier text messages I reported on in September. Those text messages show that Devon Archer — Hunter Biden’s business associate and fellow board member on Burisma — boasted to an American lawyer in December 2015 that the pair was seeking to do a project with USAID.

And internal State memos I obtained this week under FOIA show Hunter Biden and Archer had multiple contacts with Secretary of State John Kerry and Deputy Secretary Tony Blinken in 2015-16, and that Burisma’s own American legal team was lobbying State to help eliminate the corruption allegations against it in Ukraine.

Hunter Biden’s name was specifically invoked as a reason why State officials should assist, the memos show. A month after Burisma’s contact with State, Joe Biden leveraged the threat of withholding U.S. foreign aid to force Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who at the time was overseeing the Burisma probe.

Joe Biden says he forced the firing because he believed Shokin was ineffective, but Shokin says he was told he was fired because the American ice president was unhappy the prosecutor would not drop the Burisma probe.

Okay, so just to continue to check things out here for context and details, I trotted over to the Obama White House archives… BINGO! YIPPEE… Solomon is right on point.

Image result for usaid ukraine energy

2014 and read carefully the following:

For Immediate Release

April 21, 2014

FACT SHEET: U.S. Crisis Support Package for Ukraine

President Obama and Vice President Biden have made U.S. support for Ukraine an urgent priority as the Ukrainian government works to establish security and stability, pursue democratic elections and constitutional reform, revive its economy, and ensure government institutions are transparent and accountable to the Ukrainian people.  Ukraine embarks on this reform path in the face of severe challenges to its sovereignty and territorial integrity, which we are working to address together with Ukraine and our partners in the international community.  The United States is committed to ensuring that Ukrainians alone are able to determine their country’s future without intimidation or coercion from outside forces.  To support Ukraine, we are today announcing a new package of assistance totaling $50 million to help Ukraine pursue political and economic reform and strengthen the partnership between the United States and Ukraine.

Elections and Constitutional Reform:  Constitutional reform and free and fair elections are keys to Ukraine’s democratic development.  Assistance in this area is a down payment on the country’s democratic development.  We stand ready to provide further assistance to the new government after elections.

  • The United States is contributing an $11.4 million package to support the integrity of the May 25 elections.   These funds are being used to advance democratic processes – not to support a particular candidate or electoral outcome.  These efforts include voter education programs, transparent election administration, effective oversight of the election process, election security and a redress of infractions, and a diverse, balanced and policy-focused media environment.
  • The United States is contributing support and monitors to the OSCE’s election observation mission and other monitoring groups.  U.S. funded programs will provide at least 250 long-term observers and over 1,700 short-term observers.
  • We are also sending additional experts to provide advice on issues such as constitutional checks and balances, local governance, public participation, and the establishment of an independent, transparent judicial system.

Economic Assistance:  The United States has already signed a $1 billion loan guarantee to help Ukraine meet its financial obligations and protect vulnerable citizens from the impact of economic adjustments.  We have also supported Ukraine’s work with the IMF to secure a loan program worth $14-$18 billion.   As these U.S., IMF, and European funds begin to flow, we will have technical experts from the U.S. Treasury Department on the ground to help the Ukrainian government allocate them effectively to stabilize the economy and ensure all the regions benefit.  Currently, there are three banking advisors in Kyiv and we will be deploying public debt management and macroeconomic advisors in the coming week.  We are also committed to providing additional technical assistance in the areas of budget and tax administration.

Energy Security:  Over the coming weeks, expert teams from several U.S. government agencies will travel to the region to help Ukraine meet immediate and longer term energy needs.

  • Today, a U.S. interagency expert team arrived in Kyiv to help Ukraine secure reverse flows of natural gas from its European neighbors.  The team will continue on to Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia in the coming days to work on the details of these arrangements.  Reverse flows of natural gas will provide Ukraine with additional immediate sources of energy.
  • U.S. technical experts will join with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and others in May to help Ukraine develop a public-private investment initiative to increase conventional gas production from existing fields to boost domestic energy supply.  A technical team will also engage the government on measures that will help the Ukrainian government ensure swift and environmentally sustainable implementation of contracts signed in 2013 for shale gas development.
  • Department of Energy and USAID specialists will travel to Ukraine next month to provide advice on how to maximize energy efficiency, which could deliver potentially huge cost savings to Ukraine and rationalize energy consumption.

Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption:  The United States is committed to helping Ukraine break the cycle of corruption that acts as a tax on business, an impediment to economic growth, and a drain on public trust in government.  Technical advisors from the Departments of State and Justice have already been advising the government on anti-corruption measures.  Today we are expanding this assistance program with additional commitments.

  • Attorney General Holder will co-host an international conference in London April 29-30 to help identify, trace, and recover proceeds of corruption stolen by the former regime.  This is part of an ongoing effort, including work by an FBI investigative team on the ground in Kyiv to help the government of Ukraine recover assets stolen from the Ukrainian people.
  • The United States will provide advice and assistance to help modernize Ukraine’s government procurement in accordance with international standards, including the creation of a vetted anti-corruption unit.   We will offer technical assistance to that vetted unit to help build a sustainable anti-corruption regime within Ukraine, as we have done with substantial results in other parts of the world.
  • Specialized teams of prosecutors and investigators will help the Ukrainian government with other forms of technical assistance to put in place the proper legal and regulatory framework to fight corruption.  The teams will also serve as a resource to ensure follow-through and effective implementation.

People-to-People Ties:  To further strengthen ties between the people of Ukraine and the United States, we are announcing our intent to establish a new bilateral visa regime that will extend the standard validity of visas for businesspeople and tourists from 5 years to 10 years on a negotiated reciprocal basis.

Security Assistance:  In addition to the $50 million package, today we are announcing the provision of $8 million of non-lethal military assistance to allow the Ukrainian armed forces and State Border Guard Service to fulfill their core security missions.  The additional supplies include:

  • Explosive Ordnance Disposal equipment and handheld radios for Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
  • Engineering equipment, communications equipment, vehicles, and non-lethal individual tactical gear for Ukraine’s Border Guard Service.

This is in addition to the $3 million of Meals Ready to Eat and nearly $7 million of health and welfare assistance the United States is already providing to Ukraine.  The United States will continue to actively review requests for additional support as Ukraine’s government further modernizes its armed forces and deals with evolving threats.

11/9/19

US Intel Tips Forced China to Prosecute Fentanyl Operation

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

A trial continues as fentanyl drug traffickers are sentenced in court, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Xingtai, north China’s Hebei Province. The court sentenced at least nine fentanyl traffickers Thursday in a case that was a culmination of a rare collaboration between Chinese and U.S. law enforcement to crack down on global networks that manufacture and distribute lethal synthetic opioids. (Jin Liangkuai/Xinhua via AP)

XINGTAI, China (AP) — A Chinese court sentenced nine fentanyl traffickers on Thursday in a case that is the culmination of a rare collaboration between Chinese and U.S. law enforcement to crack down on global networks that manufacture and distribute lethal synthetic opioids.

Liu Yong was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, while Jiang Juhua and Wang Fengxi were sentenced to life in prison. Six other members of the operation received lesser sentences, ranging from six months to 10 years. Death sentences are almost always commuted to life in prison after the reprieve.

Working off a 2017 tip from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about an online drug vendor who went by the name Diana, Chinese police busted a drug ring based in the northern Chinese city of Xingtai that shipped synthetic drugs illicitly to the U.S. and other countries from a gritty clandestine laboratory. They arrested more than 20 suspects and seized 11.9 kilograms (26.2 pounds) of fentanyl and 19.1 kilograms (42.1 pounds) of other drugs.

In form, the enterprise resembled a small business, with a perky sales force that spoke passable English, online marketing, contract manufacturing, and a sophisticated export operation, according to U.S. and Chinese law enforcement.

But the business had grave implications. Police photographs of the seizure show a dingy, chaotic scene, with open containers of unidentified chemicals and Chinese police in rubber gloves and breathing masks.

Liu and Jiang were accused of manufacturing and trafficking illicit drugs. The others were accused of trafficking.

Chinese officials said the Xingtai case was one of three fentanyl trafficking networks they are pursuing based on U.S. intelligence, but declined to discuss the details of the other cases, which are ongoing.

Austin Moore, an attaché to China for the U.S. Homeland Security Department, said the Xingtai case was “an important step” showing that Chinese and U.S. investigators are able to collaborate across international borders.

Moore said Chinese police identified more than 50 U.S. residents who tried to buy fentanyl from the Xingtai organization. Those leads prompted over 25 domestic investigations and have already resulted in three major criminal arrests and indictments in New York and Oregon, he said.

Scrambling to contain surging overdose deaths, Washington has blamed Beijing for failing to curb the supply of synthetic drugs that U.S. officials say come mainly from China. In August, President Donald Trump lashed out at Chinese President Xi Jinping for failing to do more to combat illicit opioid distribution in China’s vast, freewheeling chemicals industry. U.S. officials have reportedly moved to link Beijing’s efforts on fentanyl to U.S. trade talks.

Yu Haibin, deputy director of the Office of China National Narcotics Control Commission, on Thursday called allegations that Chinese supply is at the root of America’s opioid problem “irresponsible and inconsistent with the actual facts.”

“Drug crime is the public enemy of all humankind,” he added. “It’s about the life of human beings. It should not be related with the trade war or other political reasons.”

Chinese officials have been at pains to emphasize the efforts they have made to expand drug controls and crack down on illicit suppliers, even though synthetic opioid abuse is not perceived to be a significant problem in China.

But prosecuting cases against a new, rising class of Chinese synthetic drug kingpins has remained a challenge. Profit-seeking chemists have adroitly exploited regulatory loopholes by making small changes to the chemical structure of banned substances to create so-called analogs that are technically legal.

U.S. officials have been hopeful that China’s move earlier this year to outlaw unsanctioned distribution of all fentanyl-like drugs as a class will help constrain supply and make it easier to prosecute Chinese dealers.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the decade ending in 2017 — increasingly, from synthetic opioids like the ones sold by the Xingtai network.

The American opioid crisis began in the 1990s, when the over-prescription of painkillers like OxyContin stoked addiction. Many people who became hooked on pain pills later moved to heroin. Fentanyl — an even more potent lab-made drug that raked in profits — then entered the U.S. illicit drug supply, causing overdose deaths to spike.

***

“China sentences 9 to jail for smuggling fentanyl to U.S …”

The question of what, if any, responsibility China should bear for fuelling a deadly opioid crisis in the United States has been a bitter source of contention between the two superpowers.

China’s jailing of nine people Thursday for trafficking and selling fentanyl to US buyers following a rare joint probe with US law enforcement would suggest Beijing is moving to address the problem.

But experts warn that while the case is a big step, it is not enough to stop the drug from pouring into the United States — from China and increasingly from Mexico as drug cartels pick up the slack.

Here is a look at the opioid crisis and the tensions it has caused between China and the United States:

What’s fentanyl?

Fentanyl was introduced to the US market in the 1960s as an intravenous anaesthetic to manage severe pain. It is used for cancer patients or those receiving end-of-life care.

The drug is 50 times more potent than heroin, with only a few milligrammes — equivalent to a few grains of sand — enough to kill someone.

It is trafficked into the United States, primarily from China and Mexico, in the form of powder or tablets, and is sometimes mixed with heroin and cocaine.

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids killed 32,000 people in the US last year according to government data.

The drug can be bought online and shipped to the United States via regular mail, posing a major challenge for postal inspectors sifting through mountains of packages.

What’s China doing about it?

Trump has long urged China to crack down on fentanyl.

It has even become a bargaining chip in the trade spat between the world’s two largest economies.

“High-level officials continue to blame China for the failure to stem the flow and that might be impacting the trade negotiations,” Bryce Pardo, a policy researcher at RAND Corporation, told AFP.

When Trump and President Xi Jinping declared a trade war truce at a summit in Argentina in December 2018, the Chinese side said it would designate all variants of fentanyl as controlled substances.

Trump hoped the move would be a “game changer” because China applies the death penalty against drug dealers.

It was not until five months later, in May, that China finally designated all fentanyl analogues as a controlled substance.

Before the ban, smugglers could skirt the law by changing the formula to make fentanyl-like drugs.

But three months later, Trump complained that China was still not doing enough.

Then came the news on Thursday that a court in northern Hebei province had handed a suspended death sentence to a smuggler and jailed eight others for terms ranging from six months to life after the first successful joint US-China investigation against a fentanyl operation.

Is it enough?

“It’s one case. You can count it as a success and it is,” Mike Vigil, a former head of international operations at the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), told AFP.

“But there is much more to be done. That’s a very tiny tip of the iceberg,” Vigil said.

Experts say China lacks the manpower to inspect all laboratories that produce fentanyl.

“The big problem is that there are so many laboratories and they have about 2,000 inspectors, which is not nearly enough,” Vigil said.

Scott Stewart, a security analyst at US intelligence consultancy Stratfor, said the flow of fentanyl and its precursor chemicals will not stop until China addresses “deeper problems” such as going after “powerful players” and lifting tax credits companies get for selling certain chemicals.

Is the ban working?

While the US welcomed China’s ban on all types of fentanyl, the move appears to have shifted production to Mexico, where drug cartels have quickly adapted to new law enforcement actions.

Chinese labs also produce the chemicals needed to make fentanyl and Mexican drug traffickers are importing them to produce the narcotic themselves, Vigil said.

“Precursor chemicals are fuelling the rise in the manufacture of fentanyl in Mexico by the major drug cartels,” Vigil said.

The DEA said Monday the cartels were making “mass quantities” of fentanyl-laced drugs.

China, for its part, continues to deny it is the source of the problem.

Following Thursday’s court case, Yu Haibin, a Chinese anti-drug official, pointedly said American deaths from overdoses had continued to rise after Beijing cracked down on all types of fentanyl.