Episodes

  • In November, a huge underground naval fuel storage facility at Red Hill near Honolulu burst, leaking 14,000 gallons of jet fuel, contaminating the water supply, poisoning scores of people and driving thousands of Hawaiian families from their homes.

    The state’s attorney general, David Day, has alleged that the military has essentially no control over the safety of the enormous depot, which holds 250 million gallons of fuel. Day remarked that the state had a “ticking time bomb” on its hands, and that further contamination of its precious water supply was all but inevitable. The tanks sit just feet above the island’s largest aquifer.

    And this incident is merely the latest in a long list showing the American empire’s callous disregard for the civilian population of Hawaii, as it puts military needs before the people or the environment. Joining Lowkey today are two Hawaiian activists, Ihilani Lasconia and Daniel Kauwila Mahi. Ihilani is an artist, singer and organizer from Waimānalo; Daniel is a musician, rapper and student from Honolulu.

    The two place the latest disaster in the context of centuries of American imperialism, which sees Hawaii as a strategic location for control over the Pacific. The United States overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and formally annexed the islands in 1898. From there, it became a linchpin in the U.S. expansion across the Pacific and the conquest of the Philippines, Guam and other territories, serving as an important military launchpad.

    There are 11 military bases on Oahu alone, including the enormous Pearl Harbor, the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command. So militarized have the islands become that around one in ten of all Hawaii residents are servicemen and -women.

    “It’s not just the guns and the bombs,” Lasconia told Lowkey, noting that the military has even tested depleted uranium shells at its bases, leading to locals developing cancer. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” of being at ground zero for the American war machine, she added.

    The deep-seated racism towards the indigenous population is something that native Hawaiians can feel every day. Lasconia noted that this latest contamination was far from an isolated incident. “Fuel tanks have been leaking for decades now,” she said; “But [it is] because [this time] it affected predominantly white people on the U.S. base that they are doing something about it.” Kauwila Mahi noted that the increased critical coverage of the incident is also prompted by the negative consequences it has for the state's two other sectors of power: the tourism and real estate industries, which do not wish to see further environmental degradation. He sees this as an opportunity to use the Red Hill disaster as a wedge issue to strike back at the excessive militarism on display throughout the islands.

    Ihilani and Daniel are among a new generation of leaders challenging the empire, although they see themselves as part of a long tradition. “Hawaiians have always opposed militarization throughout Hawaii,” Lasconia said. However, she expects no help from local elected officials, who do not have the power to speak out against the military for fear of reprisals. “It’s not a government; it’s not a democracy; it’s essentially a mafia state run by terrorists who don’t hurt just Hawaii but indigenous peoples across the world,” she told Lowkey.

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  • For a supposedly developed, democratic nation, the United States locks up an extraordinary number of its citizens. Close to one quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States. Even on a per capita basis, only El Salvador and Turkmenistan come close to America’s preponderance for incarceration. In a country with a rising population and a falling demand for labor, the government decided to solve this problem by simply locking up millions of its poorest citizens, in the process allowing corporate America to make billions from their suffering. The prison industry is booming: between 1990 and 2005, the U.S. built, on average, a new prison every ten days.

    Joining Lowkey to discuss how prisons became big business is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. Chris spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Balkans, and the Middle East for The New York Times and currently hosts the show On Contact on RT. His latest book, “Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison,” was published in October. “The entire system works to railroad primarily poor people and disproportionately poor people of color into this system,” he told Lowkey. “Almost no one in the United States gets a jury trial; 94% of the people in the prison system are coerced by prosecutors to accept a plea deal. Public defenders can only spend 10 or 15 minutes with their clients.”

    In “Our Class,” Hedges describes mass incarceration as “the civil rights issue of our age.” “When you incarcerate someone, in essence, the whole family becomes incarcerated,” he said. Some 77 million Americans have a criminal record, while 113 million American adults have an immediate family member who has been to or currently is incarcerated, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

    Once in the system, it is, by design, extremely hard to escape. Incarcerated individuals are forced to work for pennies per hour (some states pay nothing), while all manner of essential items are not provided and cost exorbitant amounts to purchase from the commissary. As a result, inmates are often released owing thousands of dollars. Having a criminal record bars citizens from many welfare and public housing benefits, as well as applying for jobs in a myriad of professions. For example, during the summer wildfires last year, California prison firefighters worked alongside professionals, tackling some of the worst blazes in American history. For this, they were paid barely $1 per hour, and are blocked from applying to the fire department once they are released. Thus, paying back these odious debts is even harder than it may appear.

    Hedges singled out President Biden as playing a particularly key role in turning the United States into an incarceration nation. Biden was “instrumental” in pushing the Democrats into seizing back the “law and order” narrative from the Republicans in the 1990s, helping to pass into law rules such as the Three Strikes Law, which has sent many Americans to prison for life for trivial offenses. The number of crimes worthy of the death penalty was also exanded from barely a handful to 51. Until recently, Biden took credit for the infamous 1994 Crime Bill, which was a key piece of legislation in codifying the prison industrial complex.

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  • The High Court in London has upheld the U.S. government’s appeal to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a key step towards his rendition to the United States. The Australian publisher faces up to 175 years in prison once he sets foot on American soil.

    Whether he ever makes it to the United States is still in question. His legal team has indicated they will challenge the ruling, which will inevitably draw out court proceedings and prolong his stay inside Belmarsh Prison. Also of note is the 50-year-old’s health. This weekend, it was revealed that he had suffered a stroke in October as a result of the stress of the trial.

    Two individuals who have been closely monitoring the Assange trial are Pablo Navarette and John McEvoy. Pablo is a British-Chilean filmmaker and the founder of Alborada magazine, an outlet concentrating on Latin American politics. John is an investigative journalist whose work documents the impact of the British national security state on public life. In November, the pair published an article entitled ‘“A Lot of Mistakes”: The Guardian and Julian Assange,’ which can be read on MintPress News. Today, they discussed the role that The Guardian, and the mainstream press more generally, have played in persecuting him.

    It is now known that UC Global – the private security firm hired to protect the Ecuadorian Embassy, where Assange was confined – was secretly spying on their charge, sending the information they gleaned back to the U.S. government. This included security cameras and audio bugs.

    Guardian journalist Stephanie Kirchgaessner was aware of the spying long before it was made public. Yet rather than blowing the whistle, she instead chose to write highly dubious articles insinuating that he was an agent of Russian malfeasance.

    The Guardian was one of WikiLeaks's partner organizations, being fed bombshell after bombshell, revelations that helped build its brand and its audience. Yet, far from standing up for free speech, it was in the lead in attacking WikiLeaks and its founder. Of particular note is Luke Harding, who published the passcode to a trove of WikiLeaks documents, an act that the U.S. government claims endangered its representatives around the world.

    In 2018, Harding also published a viral story that claimed that Assange had secretly met with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and unnamed “Russians” while in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The insinuation was that Assange (and Russia) was partly responsible for Trump’s shocking election in 2016.

    From being Assange’s partner, the newspaper morphed into “the spearhead of a campaign of vilification by the mainstream media,” Navarette told Lowkey.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • “Unregulated capitalism is a suicide pact” – Noam Chomsky did not hold back today when discussing the worldwide economic system and the world’s acceleration towards climate collapse. Chomsky made the comments in the context of the recent COP26 climate-change conference in Glasgow, where global leaders gathered to discuss global environmental threats, but little of any note was achieved.

    The renowned linguist and political scientist also trained his ire on the European Union and its treatment of refugees fleeing from NATO’s wars in the Middle East and North Africa, calling it “one of the worst crimes of the modern age,” and claiming it made “what Trump did to refugees look mild” by comparison.

    “[There are] thousands of people dying in the Mediterranean, trying to flee from Africa, where Europe has a certain history -- it destroyed Africa for centuries. People are trying to flee from the wreckage and the Europeans are saying ‘go drown in the Mediterranean,’” he explained, noting that Europe had also set up military bases in Niger (one of the poorest countries in Africa) in a bid to stop migrants from even making it to the Mediterranean.

    “The message is ‘don’t come anywhere near us. We destroy you for a couple of hundred years, we enslave your population, we prevent you from developing, we murder and slaughter you, but don’t come anywhere near our shores,’” he told Lowkey; “I don’t think there are words to describe this; ...it is a hideous crime.”

    While widely hailed as the father of modern linguistics, Noam Chomsky has, for well over half a century, also been one of the sharpest and most committed voices critiquing the crimes of the United States government. Having written well over 100 books on a range of subjects – from politics to media to science and history – Chomsky was at ease discussing many of the biggest questions facing humanity today.

    Among those questions is the increasing American hostility towards China and the possibility of a terminal nuclear war. While the 92-year-old University of Arizona professor was critical of Chinese actions in the South China Sea, he reserved most of his criticism for the U.S. government, which he claimed sees the world in much the same way as the head of an organized crime syndicate views a turf war. “The ‘threat’ of China is China’s existence; it exists as a major power that the United States cannot push around, cannot intimidate, and does not follow U.S. orders. That is intolerable. Any mafia don can explain that,” he told Lowkey.

    In this wide ranging conversation, Lowkey and Chomsky also discuss U.S. war crimes, the rise of conservative academic star Jordan Peterson (and what that says about academia), and the concocted antisemitism crisis in British public life.

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  • The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is celebrating as, with almost all votes counted, they appear to have won 20 out of the country’s 23 states in Sunday’s regional “mega elections.” More than 70,000 candidates stood for one of 3,082 public positions, including local mayorships, councillors, regional legislators and state governors -- the vast majority of candidates affiliated with opposition parties.

    The landslide victory was watched over by international observers from 55 countries, including a delegation from the European Union, who praised the organizational capacity of the National Electoral Council, effectively endorsing the proceedings.

    This will no doubt anger many in Washington. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described the vote as a “grossly skewed” contest controlled by a dictatorship that carries out, “arbitrary arrests and harassment of political and civil society actors, criminalization of opposition parties’ activities, bans on candidates across the political spectrum, manipulation of voter registration rolls, persistent media censorship, and other authoritarian tactics.”

    If this is indeed the case -- that the Maduro administration is autocratic and repressive -- why did so many people still come out to support and vote for Maduro and the PSUV? Joining Lowkey to discuss this is Diego Sequera, a columnist for investigative journalism outlet Mision Verdad. One of the sharpest and most cogent thinkers on radical politics, Sequera is also a member of the Samuel Robinson Institute, a think tank based in Caracas.

    While President Nicolás Maduro has undoubtedly presided over a period of serious economic dislocation, it is important to remember it was not always this way. The socialist movement first came to power in 1999 under Hugo Chavez who, in just a few short years, radically transformed the country.

    Under Chavez, school enrollment went from 45% to 90% nationwide. The number of people in primary education rose from only 500,000 in 1998 to 2.8 million by the time of his death in 2013 -- a 460% rise. Sequera described this as “the biggest literacy campaign in history.” “In a very few years, illiteracy, which was pretty high here, was eradicated completely… Here you had people 80 years old finishing their high school and then starting university,” he told Lowkey. This would have been unthinkable before the Bolivarian revolution.

    Thus, there remains a great deal of good will towards the PSUV. Sunday’s result underscores the notion that the Venezuelan people blame the U.S. sanctions for their suffering, rather than purely pointing the finger at the government.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • In Venezuela, Britain is dedicated to supporting the U.S.’s sanctions regime against the country, responsible for more than 100,000 deaths already. McEvoy’s work has revealed the existence of a secret British “reconstruction unit” inside Venezuela -- an organization dedicated to overthrowing the Maduro government and planning for a future Venezuela without him.

    The British government also ordered the Bank of England to freeze around $2 billion worth of gold belonging to the government of Venezuela, on the grounds that it no longer recognized Maduro, instead choosing the unelected Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate ruler. “Venezuela has been a key target of the hybrid war,” McEvoy explained to Lowkey.

    McEvoy’s academic work at the University of Liverpool focuses on Western interference in Latin America. He recently revealed that the British government had worked tirelessly in the 1960s to prevent the anti-imperialist socialist Salvador Allende from coming to power, and, once he was overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup d’etat, supported fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet. The U.K. government protected Pinochet even after he was removed from office, including paying for his legal fees in his extradition case to Spain, where he was wanted to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

    Just as Britain protected war criminals in the past, today it is helping to persecute those who expose war crimes, such as Julian Assange.

    A major thorn in the side of the British establishment, McEvoy is having increasing trouble uncovering documents, his FOIA requests being constantly dismissed in cases he believes to be politically motivated. The FOIA system is supposed to be blind and neutral. However, he told Lowkey, “it has become clear that they have got a blacklist of journalists that they have effectively blocked releasing information to… It’s a signal of a receding democracy.”

    The two also discuss threats to independent journalism at home, specifically the silent campaign to destroy the funding model of alternative media. A group called Stop Funding Fake News was set up in 2019, supposedly in an effort to pressure businesses to remove ads from websites sharing hateful or misleading content. However, McEvoy’s research found that the vast majority of its ire was directed at left-wing alternative news outlet The Canary, leading him to conclude that the project was a “thinly veiled censorship campaign against independent media in the U.K.”

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • A small English village is hardly the first place that comes to mind when mentioning the war in Yemen. Yet Warton in the northwest of England is playing an oversized role in what the United Nations has repeatedly called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” The Lancashire village is home to an airfield and a manufacturing site where weapons dealer BAE Systems maintains, repairs and rearms Saudi jets responsible for much of the worst destruction in Yemen.

    Today, Lowkey speaks to Phil Miller, an investigative journalist and producer who is currently a staff reporter for Declassified UK. He has just released the documentary “Warton’s War on Yemen,” which exposes how BAE Systems is playing a key role in the carnage in the Middle East. Every week, aircraft arrive from and leave for Saudi Arabia carrying crucial supplies to keep the Kingdom’s war machine going.

    War is big business. A 2018 paper found that an estimated 7,000 employees of U.K. contractor companies, civil servants, and temporarily deployed military personnel were currently aiding Saudi forces in their attack on Yemen. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the Kingdom is by far Britain’s most important arms customer, responsible for 49% of all international weapons purchases.

    Miller also described the British royal family as “effectively lobbyists for BAE Systems,” as they are often sent to the Middle East to drum up orders for U.K.-made weapons.

    That British-made arms are being used against civilian populations is not in doubt. A 2020 report from Oxfam noted that Saudi forces were deliberately targeting medical and water infrastructure, having done so over 200 times since the conflict began. This amounted to one attack every 10 days on average. There have been over 21,000 Coalition air raids on the country since 2015, according to the Yemen Data Project.

    Miller studied politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London before switching to journalism. An acclaimed filmmaker, he is also author of the book “Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Got Away With War Crimes.” Join Lowkey and Miller for a frank discussion about the incredible secret role Britain is playing in major war crimes.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • Earlier this week, rapper Lowkey joined campaigners on the streets of Oldham as they protested at the Elbit Ferranti weapons factory located in the northern English town.

    While the post-industrial town of 96,000 people might not seem like a likely flashpoint for the Israel-Palestine conflict, many of the weapons used against the civilian Palestinian population are actually manufactured there by the Israeli arms corporation.

    In this interview, Lowkey speaks to the co-founders of Palestine Action, Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard, both of whom have been arrested for their anti-Apartheid activism. Ammori is a Palestinian-Iraqi whose father was chased from his home by Israeli soldiers in 1967. He was forced to flee to Iraq without even a pair of shoes.

    In 2006, at the height of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, nine activists in Northern Ireland forced their way into the offices of Raytheon, a major arms manufacturer. Once inside, they destroyed everything they could, from servers to computers to documents. At their trial two years later, they were found not guilty by a court, the decision spurring Raytheon to close down operations in the United Kingdom.

    Palestine Action hopes that their actions will have a similar effect, and ultimately force British manufacturing to divest from Israeli war crimes.

    While much has been made about the unshakeable U.S. support for Israel, the United Kingdom has been receiving much less negative attention. The British military has designated Israel as a “strategic partner” and has sold the country over half a billion dollars worth of arms since 2015. U.K. forces also help train the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), with a small number of British soldiers stationed inside the country as well.

    After the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in the summer, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally thanked his British counterpart Boris Johnson for his “unwavering” support for his state’s actions.

    Here, Johnson’s government is at odds with the British public, only around 10% of whom, when polled, say their sympathies lie more with Israel than with Palestine. There is widespread anger at Israeli atrocities. Yet this has not been mobilized into much in the way of direct consequences. Palestine Action hopes to change this.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • The British National Health Service (NHS) once stood as an internationally renowned example of a tax-funded health system that delivered public-health services to millions of British citizens, lifting a huge burden from the sick. However, the rise of neoliberal policies in the United Kingdom has targeted the NHS to become the latest victim of a U.S.-U.K. economic trade deal that would put health care services in the hands of private U.S. corporations.

    This means that private U.S. healthcare corporations would capitalize on the taxpayer funded budget, “creating private insurance-style funding pools” similar to how healthcare is conducted in the U.S.

    In this segment of The Watchdog, host Lowkey is joined by Bob Gill -- family doctor, NHS campaigner and director of the film The Great NHS Heist -- who argues that the NHS is heading towards becoming a ”two-tier system that will be lower quality, more expensive, bureaucratic, with perverse incentives that damage professionalism, patients, taxpayers and the privately insured, who risk claims being denied or capped, as we see clearly in America.”

    Gill’s film makes clear parallels between the U.S. healthcare system and how it’s making its way into the NHS. For example, the film exposes how the transition of control of these budgets to insurance companies is now presided over by “Simon Stevens as Chief Executive of NHS England since 2014, formerly president of global expansion for UnitedHealth,” America's largest private health insurance conglomerate.

    This new system also puts the once-private patient data into the hands of Big Tech giants -- outsourced data-systems and pharmaceutical companies that will market their drugs to patients while incentivizing prescriptions for medical doctors.

    The corporate takeover of the NHS is already having dire effects on an already economically struggling society, especially in the post-COVID era, with patients being forced to pay for more out-of-pocket costs that are handing major profits to U.S. healthcare and insurance companies. “The comprehensive range of NHS services salami, sliced down to a remnant of poor standard emergency care in fewer locations. For non-urgent care the choices will be to go without treatment, pay out of pocket or buy top-up insurance,” Gill wrote in 2020.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • Instead of simply stopping its human rights abuses, the Israeli government has built an extensive and sophisticated public relations network across the West in order to protect itself from criticism.

    Today, Lowkey speaks to one of the latest victims of that smear campaign, Professor David Miller. A prominent critic of the state of Israel’s policies, Miller was recently sacked from his position as Professor of Sociology at the University of Bristol, after a pressure campaign involving Zionist student groups and even members of parliament, who accused him of “inciting hatred against Jewish students.”

    Miller, a graduate of the University of Glasgow Media Group, was appointed to his position at Bristol University in 2018. He also held positions at the University of Strathclyde from 2004 until 2011 and the University of Bath from 2011 until 2018.

    Miller is the creator of the websites SpinWatch and Powerbase, both of which are dedicated to revealing networks of influence and power in Western society. Much of his academic work revolved around Islamophobia in the post-9/11 era. Miller maintained that Zionist organizations were one source of anti-Muslim bigotry, an accusation that put him on a collision course with those groups.

    The final blow came late last month, as the university, under enormous external pressure, sacked Miller, citing his comments that certain Jewish students were being used as “pawns of Israel.”

    Miller’s case has drawn considerable attention from those who see it as a harbinger of things to come. An open letter to Bristol University defending him as an “eminent scholar” was signed by hundreds of academics and public intellectuals -- including prominent Jewish public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Norman Finkelstein and Illan Pappe, who described him as a trailblazer “exposing the role that powerful actors and well-resourced, co-ordinated networks play in manipulating and stage-managing public debates, including on racism."

    Miller is far from the first academic to be targeted in such a manner, and it is unlikely that he will be the last. Ironically, Miller’s book, “Bad News for Labour: Anti-Semitism, the Party and Public Belief,” detailed how bogus charges of anti-Semitism were weaponized against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in order to defame and destroy him. Just such an occurrence appears to have happened in his case as well.


    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • What was the Afghanistan War all about? That is the question on many people’s lips after a devastating 20-year campaign that has killed an estimated 176,000 people and displaced nearly 6 million more.

    Today, Watchdog host Lowkey is joined by a man who knows the war from both inside and out. Matthew Hoh was at the forefront of the American empire’s campaign in the Middle East, first serving as a captain in the U.S. Marines, then moving to the Department of Defense and the State Department. In 2009, he publicly resigned from his position in the State Department in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, over U.S. policy in the country, which he saw as both illogical and immoral.

    The recent fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government, only days after NATO troops withdrew, and the Taliban’s quick re-emergence as the dominant political force in the country were no surprise to him. “The same thing would have happened in 2009 [when I was there],” Hoh told Lowkey today. “This has always been a house of cards; any little thing was going to cause it to collapse.”

    Hoh, who has since become an anti-war activist, discussed the reasoning behind his decision to follow his conscience and leave his lucrative and distinguished career behind him. Already jaded after his experiences in Iraq, he told Lowkey that he was “holding on to the hope that somehow the Afghan War was going to be different and somehow fundamentally a war worth fighting… I didn’t want to let go of who I had become and the career I was in.”

    The North Carolinian also described the extraordinary waste and corruption in both the U.S. and the Middle East, noting that 40% of the “aid” money scheduled for places like Iraq and Afghanistan never leaves the U.S. at all, staying in what is now colloquially known as “Raytheon Acres” -- the ring of expensive suburbs around Washington, D.C., home to the headquarters of a myriad of weapons contractors and aid agencies alike. “The one place that reconstruction was successful was in Northern Virginia,” Hoh quipped. And 20% more goes to management fees, leaving barely 10 cents on the dollar for the actual projects in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Today, Matthew Hoh has left that life behind and is a Senior Fellow with the Center for International Policy and a member of the Eisenhower Media Network, organizations challenging orthodox thinking in U.S. foreign policy.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • The war in Afghanistan appears to be drawing to a close. But Western atrocities in the Middle East continue, with the 20-year-old War on Terror estimated to have displaced over 37 million people globally.

    One particularly noteworthy example is the onslaught in Yemen, driving the country to become “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” in the opinion of the United Nations. Currently, more than half the country — 14 million people — are considered to be at risk of starvation.

    While the Saudis may be doing the majority of the fighting, they are being armed, trained, aided and supported by the United States, Great Britain, and other Western nations profiting from the suffering.

    One man who knows more than most about this is Ahmed Al-Babati. Ahmed was a lance corporal in the British Army until last August, where he staged a public protest in London, demonstrating against British complicity in the violence.

    Explaining his decision, he said:

    I joined the army in 2017 and took an oath to protect and serve this country, not to be part of a corrupt government that continues to arm and support terrorism. What made this decision so easy for me and why I choose to sacrifice a lot of things, including possibly my freedom, is the simple fact that I myself, as somebody who was born in Yemen, could have easily fallen victim to one of those air strikes or died from hunger. I’ve seen too much not to speak out and I’d rather sleep peacefully in a cell than stay silent for a paycheck."


    Ahmed Al-Babati joins Watchdog host Lowkey today to discuss his life, his protest, British crimes in the Middle East, and what can be done to put a stop to endless war.

    In this free-flowing conversation, Lowkey and Al-Babati discuss Britain’s role in the world. “Whether it is Yemen, Afghanistan or Palestine, it seems like we are at the center of the problems happening around the world. And the reason for that is that we benefit from it; we profit from it,” Al-Babati said.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

    Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube.

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  • The world’s news feeds have been inundated this week with a deluge of images of the extremely hasty American retreat from Afghanistan. After militarily occupying the country for two decades and spending an estimated $2 trillion, the American-backed Afghan government lasted barely a week without U.S. troops backing it up. President Ashraf Ghani almost immediately fled to nearboring Tajikistan, reportedly taking hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen cash with him.

    The scenes of desperate Afghans crowding into the last American planes have made this week an extremely embarrassing one for the U.S. and its allies. But what about the human cost of two decades of occupation?

    One man who knows more than most about the absurdities of the war is Joe Glenton. A former soldier in the British Army, he refused to return to Afghanistan, citing his moral objections to the conflict, for which refusal he served six months in a military jail. Joe Glenton joins Watchdog host Lowkey to discuss his experiences and the recent events in the country.

    Like many working class people, Glenton saw the military as a potential way out of poverty. He passed through basic training and was deployed to Kandahar Province in 2006. The Army told him he would be going there to help Afghan women, to allow girls to go to school, to build infrastructure, and to stop the booming illicit opium trade. However, he soon became disillusioned with what was going on. He developed a creeping sense of “I think we’re being lied to,” he told Lowkey. And what was sold as a peacekeeping mission almost immediately became a hot war. “It very quickly became clear that our presence had become a lightning rod. Where there hadn’t been an insurgency, there suddenly was one,” he added, noting that “on this supposed peacekeeping mission we ran out of high-artillery ammunition.”

    After repeated mortar shelling, Glenton began manifesting the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and once back in the United Kingdom, he publicly refused to return, leaving the country but eventually coming back to fight his case. Today, he is an activist and a writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent and The New Internationalist. His book, “Soldier Box: Why I Won't Return to the War on Terror,” was published in 2013.

    In this frank discussion, Glenton opens up about the cult of imperialism within the British Army, his experiences with the opium trade, and the completely foreseeable collapse of the Afghan government.

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  • The new MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip-hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know -- including intelligence, lobby and special-interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

    Hollywood is not exactly known for being a hotbed of anti-war, anti-imperialist activism. Indeed, so close is the relationship between the national security state and Tinseltown that the Department of Defense casually tweeted out on Oscar Night that it works closely with its “partners” in Hollywood to ensure the military is presented in a positive light.

    “Jack Ryan” star John Krasinski went further, explaining that he had an extremely close bond with the CIA. “I owe them everything,” he said. “The CIA is something that we should all not only cherish but be saying thank you for every single day. They’re always trying to do the right thing,” he said of the agency, claiming they “care about the country in a bigger, more idealistic way.”

    Hollywood is also a keen supporter of America’s unofficial fifty-first state, and all its highly questionable activities in the Middle East. As Israel was carrying out a blockade of the Gaza Strip, commonly referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison, celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Gerard Butler, Andy Garcia and Pharrell Williams raised over $60 million for the Israeli Defense Forces at a fundraiser.

    One celebrity who has spoken up against Israeli actions is the star of “The Vampire Diaries,” Michael Malarkey. As the Israeli government began bombing Gaza in the wake of its storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in May, the 38-year-old actor wrote on his Instagram account:

    The obsessive lengths being used to delegitimize anyone taking a stand against Israel’s apartheid regime are deceitful, despicable, and undemocratic. Those who employ such techniques want us to ignore the multitude of human rights abuses, the usage of illegal weapons and warfare, the unending occupation, the illegal annexation of Palestinian territories, and the callous bloodshed of innocents."


    “Now is the time to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel and to openly challenge those few other countries that have long sponsored the Occupation and vetoed UN resolutions condemning it,” he concluded.

    Michael Malarkey joins “The Watchdog” host Lowkey today to discuss his career in show business, his political activism, and the difficulties of working in an industry so intertwined with the national security state. “It’s fear-based for a lot of people,” he told Lowkey, explaining why more people in Hollywood do not speak up about their political convictions. “I think we’re at this very interesting and important place in our human history, where we are awakening,” he added, expressing hope that there is now a possibility for building organizations that can fight for a better world.

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  • Today, The Watchdog is talking about Australia, immigration and racism with Australian comedian and activist Aamer Rahman.

    Rahman is a stand-up comedian and one half of the comedy duo “Fear of a Brown Planet.” Originally born in Saudi Arabia, he moved to Melbourne at an early age. Although he trained as a lawyer, he found his calling on stage. His comedy deals with overtly political topics like race, imperialism and terrorism.

    When thought about at all, Australia is usually presented as a friendly, like-minded nation; a welcoming democratic, and stable state. This is certainly how many Americans who visit experience it. However, underneath that veneer lies a darker past.

    Established by the British as a penal colony and later, a settler-colonial state, genocide of the native population has been central to Australia’s story from the very beginning. As British colonization gathered speed in the 19th century, so did the attacks against its Aboriginal peoples. Wherever the Europeans went, massacres followed.

    Until well into the 1970s, the Australian government maintained a policy of removing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, placing them into spartan boarding schools in an attempt to destroy native culture forever.

    Taking their land were Europeans. Until 1973, the country’s immigration laws were formally described as the “White Australia policy”, barring Asian and other non-white populations from settling in the world’s sixth-largest nation. To this day, immigrants are regularly discriminated against, while the country maintains a particularly harsh policy on refugees.

    Australia maintains close political ties to the United Kingdom, with British Home Secretary Pritti Patel seeing the country’s offshore migrant detention centers, referred to by some as “concentration camps” as a model for the U.K. to follow.

    Many of the changes to Australia’s overtly racist policies were brought in by the government of Gough Whitlam (1972-1975). Whitlam began to recognize Aboriginal land claims, moved the country closer towards the Non-Aligned Movement and opposed nuclear weapons testing. Yet he did not last long, as a British and American plot to remove him from office succeeded, an event that, for many, effectively ended Australia’s brief run as an independent state and turned the country into an outpost of the American empire.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • Since the 1960s, the U.K. police have been charged with surveilling and infiltrating some 1,000 political, environmental or social justice organizations. Much of this involved undercover work. As part of their false personas, many officers entered romantic relationships with activists, leading to the births of a number of children whose mothers were completely unaware of their partners’ double lives. More than 20 women have come forward to claim they were “raped by the state” in such a way.

    Today, The Watchdog is talking to Tom Fowler about the so-called “Spycops” scandal in the United Kingdom. Fowler is a veteran activist from South Wales involved with a number of groups that were spied upon and infiltrated by police. His work can be found at SpyCops.Info, where he hosts a weekly podcast that shines a light on police malfeasance.

    In this conversation, Fowler notes that after the spectacular success of the anti-Vietnam War movement in the United Kingdom, the police have looked for any way to prevent other widespread radical movements from gaining momentum. In time, this technique expanded to the point where spy cops had infiltrated virtually the entire New Left, as well as the environmental movement and anti-war groups. Greenpeace, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, and the Fire Brigades Union were all targeted.

    So effective was this strategy that, at one point, the National Secretary of the Troops Out [of Northern Ireland] movement was an undercover police officer. On the other hand, the police showed no interest in surveilling violent far-right gangs or organizations, with which they became almost tacitly aligned.

    And while so many commentators complain about the excesses of cancel culture, the police are known to have worked with the private sector to maintain a secret blacklist of radical subversives (i.e., people who were the best union organizers), who were barred from jobs in their professions. In this sense, they became the enforcers for the upper class.

    The police have been less than forthcoming throughout the Spycops scandal, attempting to deny as much involvement as possible. To what extent is this policy still in place? And what techniques do police continue to use to infiltrate and derail any movement challenging the status quo? Fowler and Lowkey discuss all this in a free-flowing and explosive conversation.

    MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/MintPressNews)

  • The new MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey closely examines organizations that are in the public interest to know about including intelligence, lobby, and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

    For the launch of “The Watchdog,” we examine the idea that Israel, through well-camouflaged proxies, has been making efforts to merge with the U.S.national security state. The podcast delves deep into two organizations we deemed essential to this process of entryism. For this task, we enlisted the help of the prolific writer, researcher into intelligence, surveillance, civil liberties, and big tech on the macro and the micro-level, Whitney Webb.

    The first part of the podcast focuses on the IDF Unit 8200, a military intelligence unit in the Israeli Army known for monitoring Palestinian communication and using that information to blackmail them. The unit has also carried out cyber attacks on other states. Unit 8200 gave birth to the NSO Group, the supposedly private company responsible for the Pegasus Spyware which has recently been used around the world to target dissidents, journalists, activists, and more. The lesson which must come from this global scandal is that companies with any Unit 8200 involvement must be seriously examined.

    The NSO group is far from the only way in which Unit 8200 actors have been able to insinuate themselves into the business of other governments. Following a 2012 policy set by the Benjamin Netanyahu government, Israel set about siphoning the functions of its military intelligence into private companies. Former Unit 8200 members set up staff and numerous important cybersecurity companies across the world, tasked with guarding swathes of very sensitive data.

    Whitney Webb explores her research by looking at Unit 8200 founded and-or staffed organizations like Cybereason, National Start-up Central, and Cyber Threat Intelligence League which between them have access to masses of information in both the U.S. and UK. Lowkey draws a connection between Cybereason, their partner Leidos and the 2012 British census. He also delves into the recently widely referenced cybersecurity company Proofpoint, identifying for the first time the connection between this company and Unit 8200.

    MintPress is fiercely independent. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

    Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/MintPressNews)