Justice in the Land of the Free™

I feel for American basketball player Brittney Griner. Did she break the law? Yes, she did, and she pled guilty at trial. But a sentence of nine years – to be spent in what the New York Times calls a "penal colony" – for bringing hashish into Russia for self-treatment (assuming this is true) seems overly harsh. But the law can be an ass. If humans have sovereignty over their own bodies, then it is just plain wrong to be hassled for what one chooses to consume.

On the other hand, Griner should be accorded the same treatment from the Russian justice system as any Russian would be accorded. If this has been the case, then it can be argued that justice was meted out without favoritism in the Russian system.

Still, if it was a packing error, then Griner is paying a high price for a mistake that on its face would cause no harm to any other person.

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The Imperialists’ and Proxies’ War Against Syria

On 30 August 2021, the United States’ 20-year military occupation of Afghanistan came to an end when the removal of American forces was completed. Although the withdrawal was botched, it was the correct move. The withdrawal is ignominious because it turns out that the much ballyhooed US fighting forces were, in the end, defeated by Afghan peasants. Has the US learned anything from its debacle in Afghanistan? One might gain an insight into that question by observing the debacle still ongoing in Syria.

 Author AB Abrams provides an in-depth analysis on the US-led war in Syria in his excellent book World War in Syria: Global Conflict on Middle Eastern Battlefields (Clarity Press, 2021). WW in Syria documents the lead up to war in Syria, the precursors, the ideologies, the tactics, who the combatants are and who is aligned with who at different stages of the war, the battles fought, the impact of sophisticated weaponry, adherence to international law, the media narratives, and the cost of winning and losing the war in Syria for the warring parties. Unequivocally, every side loses in war. People are killed on all sides, and each death is a loss. But a victor is usually declared, and Syria with its allies has been declared as having won this war, albeit at a great price. However, the finality and clarity of the victory is muddled because Turkey and the US are still occupying and pillaging northern areas of Syria where they provide protection for Islamist remnants (or recklessly guard Islamist prisoners; as I write, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and US are fighting to defeat an Islamic State (IS) assault on a prison in northeastern Syria). In addition, apartheid Israel continues to periodically attack war-ravaged Syria.

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Skeptic’s Alert: Washington and New York Times Expose Russian False Flag

On 14 January, a breaking news story from the New York Times informed its readers: "U.S. Says Russia Sent Saboteurs Into Ukraine to Create Pretext for Invasion."

Unsurprisingly, Washington "did not release details of the evidence it had collected." Why did the NYT not question the withholding of evidence? Why even deign to report what so easily could be dismissed, by definition, as hearsay? Is that because the White House is a paragon of truth-telling? Did its erroneous reporting by disgraced writer Judith Miller that Iraq possessed weapons-of-mass-destruction precipitating a US-led invasion not teach NYT a lesson?

Nevertheless, the NYT chooses to lend credence to the anti-Russia accusation. It sources Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, who "said the Russian military planned to begin these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could begin between mid-January and mid-February. She said Moscow was using the same playbook as it did in 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, a part of Ukraine."

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What Does the Statement of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War Tell Us?

The Doomsday Clock has been sitting the past year at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to civilization-ending apocalypse. The United States has done little to quell doomsday apprehensions by ratcheting up tensions with China over Taiwan and its warships in the South China Sea, as well as with Russia over Ukraine, further NATO expansion, and missile deployment in eastern Europe. Will the first-ever Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races help to put a damper on any potential conflagration?

An analysis of the statement seems called for.

Joint Statement: The People’s Republic of China, the French Republic, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America consider the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.

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