Christopher Owens 🎵 “Midnight, our sons and daughters/Cut down, taken from us/Hear their heartbeat/We hear their heartbeat/In the wind we hear their laughter/In the rain we see their tears/Hear their heartbeat” - U2.

Horns up.
New year. New tunes. Let’s go.
 

New Horizons


Comeback Kid – Heavy Steps

Five years on from the underrated ‘Outsider’, ‘Heavy Steps does not fuck around in. Harsh, but melodic guitars rule the roost, and the lyrics speak of positivity and overcoming obstacles, with soaring gang choruses are very much in place. From the opening title track, through to ‘Crossed’ (featuring Gojira vocalist Joseph Duplantier) and ‘Menacing Weight’, this is life affirming hardcore.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Jack Endino – Set Myself on Fire

The legendary producer/engineer behind Nirvana, Mudhoney and Zeke (as well as his underrated band, Skin Yard) straps on a guitar and gives us his first solo record in over 15 years. Although not as heavy as anticipated (more garage/70’s rock sounding at times), it’s still an excellent, dirty sounding record that exudes acceptance of one’s mortality and celebrates it at the same time.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Possessor – The Speed of Death EP

Bowing out after 9 years’ worth of headbanging, London’s Possessor leave us with this EP as a farewell. And it is blistering. Three tracks (plus an interlude) of no frills riffing, blurring the lines between thrash and black metal. No frills, no pretentions. This EP is a boot in the balls, acting as a glorious farewell and the first genuinely great record from the underground this year.

The EP can be streamed and purchased here.

Mick Chillage – Tides of Melancholy

Dublin based Michael Gainford has been producing records in some sape or form for 25 years. This, his first release of the year, sees him go down a more ambient route. ‘Submerged Cathedrals’ sounds like an outtake from Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack, while the title track lifts us up into the sky for some spiritual healing. One to play whenever you get home from work.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Jeremiah Moon – Sputnik

Recorded in a remote cabin in Florence, Oregon, this debut EP demonstrates an artist still in thrall to his influences (Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens and Nick Cave) but also one whose songwriting ability lifts him out of the ‘also-ran’ category and into ‘one to watch’ terrain. The orchestration on ‘Melusine’ is utterly sublime and ‘Kinds of Light’ feels like an Emilíana Torrini song.

The EP can be streamed and purchased here.

Masche - Oxia Chaos

An Italian collective who describe their recordings as “…an attempt to express an honest synthesis of what playing together means to us”, this release melds discordant jazz with sedated post punk. ‘There Will Come Soft Rain’ is 20 minutes of demented genius, while ‘Night Meeting’ veers towards the seedier, acting as an alternate soundtrack to Chinatown.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Omnibael - Rain Soaks the Earth Where They Lie

Not long after helping to produce one of the finest records of last year, Omnibael are back and ready to level 2022 by putting out this immense record. Embracing the more experimental/psychedelic side of industrial music without forgetting the pounding rhythms, this is a deeply disorienting listen that picks up where the likes of Uniform left off and plummets the listener. Album of the month.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Charlie Butler – Deep Space

Cody Noon member Charlie Butler had a prolific 2021 with three cassette releases. This carries on in a similar vein. Taking the post-rock template and adding a dreamier, ethereal background, what you end up with is a release that elevates the listener into the clouds, purging them of all stress and negativity. ‘Garak’ references the ending music from Get Carter, so full points. Love the Vaughn Oliver influenced sleeve as well.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Rukus – S/T

No frills, no fucking around, this is US hardcore as it should be: metallic sounding riffage, hardcore drumming and a production that elevates the scuzziness so much that it becomes an integral part of the sound. Six minutes of controlled chaos.

The demo can be streamed here.

Boris – W

Although Boris, for me, peaked with 2008’s ‘Smile’, their prolific nature means that they’re always worth checking out. This, their first for Sacred Bones, leans more on their atmospheric side, with songs like ‘Drowning by Numbers’ conjuring up a raucous, jazzy vibe that is uniquely Boris and ‘Old Projector’ goes from droney menace to black metal riffage via ambience. A quality release.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Golden Oldies


Uniform – Wake in Fright

Once you get past the immediate power on show, you begin to marvel at the song writing and just how great lo-fi productions can be in generating raw, sinister sounding atmosphere. This album reminds me why industrial rock/metal hit the mark with me all those years ago and why, given the right record, it still does. Simple stuff, but highly effective, with ‘The Light at the End (Cause)’ just flat-out aggression and ‘Night of Fear’ exuding menace.


Code Orange – Forever

Although not a giant leap forward from previous albums, what ‘Forever’ has in its favour is a bigger production sound, better songs and a bigger sonic palate. When it blisters, it takes your breath away at the ferocity on show. But the mellow and industrial tinged moments are the ones that really make the album. They’re cool diversions and add weight to the tortured lyrics. ‘Ugly’ is the best song on here with the lyrics suggesting an internal battle and self-realisation coming through in the chorus.



Diamanda Galas – All the Way

Whether singing about the AIDS epidemic, Armenian genocides and the torture of alleged traitors, Diamanda Galas taps into the concepts behind all of these: suffering, humiliation and powerlessness. Like Michael Gira and Justin Broadrick, Diamanda Galas gives voice to themes where no words suffice. Because of this simplicity, ‘All the Way’ is an addicting listen. Running under 45 minutes, it’s a terse, nonstop and candid album that delves into the darkest edges of love.



Loincloth – Psalm of the Morbid Whore

Pitched as their final album (due to drummer Steve Shelton’s commitments to Confessor), ‘Psalm of the Morbid Whore’ follows the template laid down by ‘Iron Balls of Steel’: short, compact instrumentals which never leave the listener wishing there was a vocalist in place. There’s no fucking around on here, musically speaking (the titles might be a little different). The songs are lean, crisp and headbanger friendly. They’re also dark enough to soundtrack the journey to and from work.


⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist. 

Predominance 13

 

A Morning Thought @ 1324

Anthony McIntyre  ✒ The concluding episode in the three part documentary Crimes and Confessions, will have left many viewers with a bad taste in their mouths, suggesting something rotten in the state of Dublin.

It focused almost exclusively on the infamous scandal of the Kerry Babies. In April 1984 the body of a three day old boy was found washed up on a beach. It had been stabbed to death. Immediately,  the Gardai began an investigation into recently pregnant women in the vicinity and homed in on the Hayes family.

The cops involved had a long association with Heavy Gang activity, and light touch was alien to them. Joanne Hayes had been pregnant and when asked where her baby was she told the detectives that it had died shortly after birth. So, panicked, she had deposited its remains on the family farm.

Rather than search the location, the Gardai coerced a confession out of her so that she became the mother of the stabbed baby. Not only was she the child’s mum, she was also its killer according to her forcibly extracted statement. When her own baby was discovered a day later, exactly where she said it was, the Garda gang insisted she was indeed the mother of the stabbed baby and that she had been pregnant with twins to two separate fathers, the risible "heteropaternal superfecundation" theory. When forensic evidence rubbished that, showing that neither Ms Hayes nor the father of the baby found on her farm had any connection to the baby on the beach, the Gardai then claimed there was a third baby which had also been dumped in the sea. This third baby that in reality had never been born was supposedly the child of Joanne Hayes, which she had murdered.

A black comedy writer could not make it up. It was all spurious Garda garbage, which they felt they could get away with in a society that was prone to unhinged beliefs such as moving statues. The case against the Hayes family and Joanne was dismissed. Much as had happened with previous cases that had fallen apart when Garda evidence was subjected to logic and proper scrutiny. Prosecutors could not wait to be shot of it, so ludicrous were the Gardai claims. It had all become like a crazed scene from Flann OBrien's The Third Policeman, only this was the Third Baby.

Yet, this Kafkaesque world has never been laid to rest. It wasn’t just Heavy Gang head honcho John Courtney who propagated the myth that "there was no such thing as a 'heavy gang' in the Garda Siochana." 

The force itself institutionalized the lie by promoting many of those involved. The judiciary did likewise by staying silent when Kevin Lynch was made a Supreme Court justice after he had excoriated the Hayes family and exonerated the Garda gang at his Widgery-like tribunal. He went as far as to rule that Joanne Hayes had killed her own baby despite the state pathologist being unable to establish the cause of death. In something straight out of Roland Freisler's judge's rule book he also accused the Hayes family of being barefaced liars. 

The Irish state has perpetuated the myth that no Heavy Hang existed by failing to confront it and call it by its name.

Doubtless, An Garda had a rough time of it at the hands of the IRA. It lost members, often gunned down as they went about their business unarmed. Martin McGuinness, a former IRA chief of staff, while an army council member publicly specified the conditions under which the IRA could kill members of An Garda. 

Magill captured the heady atmosphere of the time:

In what was an hysterical but probably genuine belief that the Southern state was under threat practices were tolerated which were themselves criminal. Police violence was just one element in this. There were also used methods of achieving results which were devious and unlawful.

Anger while not righteous was molten. To borrow from Albert Camus, police violence in such circumstances was probably as unavoidable as it was unjustifiable. 

Before this society can know that it will never happen again, it has to know that it was wrong for it ever to have happened in the first place. Yet, silence from the citadels of authority and legitimacy. While the sentinels in Leinster House and An Aras avert their gaze, their watch remains compromised. 

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

The Third Baby

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of One Hundred And Twenty Seven

Caoimhin O’Muraile ☭ The British Government have recently, in fact for some time, been shouting from the roof tops about imposing an amnesty for all those outstanding “offences” left over from the “troubles” in “Northern Ireland”. 

This amnesty, if it goes through, would apply to all supposed offences which occurred prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998, including the First Battalion Parachute Regiment who were responsible for the murder of eleven unarmed civilians between 9th-11th August 1971 - the Ballymurphy massacre, part of Operation Demetrius, Internment without trial. 

Five months later, 30th January 1972, the same battalion was responsible for the gunning down of thirteen demonstrators in Derry in what is referred to as “Bloody Sunday,” who were on an anti-internment march. Both wings of the Irish Republican Army (Official and Provisional) had ensured “none of” their “volunteers were not in the area”. This amnesty, the British argue, for all “offences” which took place during the war which engulfed the six-counties for thirty years, will bring the curtain down on that dark period of “Northern Irelands” history. Not so for the families of those gunned down in cold blood! Put bluntly, nobody will face prosecution for these horrific murders carried out by the British Army if this goes through.

The British Army, via Press Officer Captain Mike Jackson (who would go on to become General Mike Jackson and head of the British Army) claimed the army had taken out an IRA armed unit in a gun battle. This was a pack of lies, as has now been proved, and was not even propaganda, which has to have a modicum of truth: these were blatant lies. Jackson was laughing, when showed on the RTE documentary about the massacre in old film footage, as he made these false statements to the press (Britain’s very own Joseph Goebbels) giving his very much doctored version of events, lies. The fact was there were no IRA in the area at the time, as even residents shouted “where were you over the last few days” to representatives of the republican movement. 

The British Army continued to pedal these false claims that the shootings in Ballymurphy had been the result of a battle between themselves and the IRA. The people of Ballymurphy who were gunned down were as innocent as anybody in Clacton on Sea, Essex, who may have been going to the shops and on their return getting shot down by British troops returning from mock land-sea manoeuvres wishing to have some “sport” at the expense of civilian lives. The people of Derry, gunned down by soldiers from the same battalion, One Para, were as innocent as people in London going on an anti-poll tax demonstration and getting shot in cold blood by troops on stand-by (which they were back in 1990, I witnessed them, hundreds in side streets waiting if the police could not handle the situation. They were armed) while protesting against the poll tax. 

The families of those murdered want the British Government's amnesty rejected and prosecutions to be brought against those responsible for their loved one’s deaths. This is an understandable position: who would not want the murder of a family member brought to account? Such prosecutions will bring about closure for the families of those who were murdered in cold blood throughout the thirty-year war.

In May 2021 ten of the eleven who were killed or died as a result of the actions taken by British troops at Ballymurphy - who Jackson tried to claim in the press were IRA gunmen - were found “innocent” by an inquest. The same inquest also found the use of “lethal force” used by the British Army was “not justified” in any way. An eleventh man, Paddy McCarthy, died of a heart attack after being threatened by a soldier and was not part of the inquest. His death was at very least related to the events which took place between 9th and 11th August 1971. The relatives of the victims are urging the Irish Government to oppose this amnesty proposal.

There is, however another side to this dirty coin. This amnesty the British appear determined to bulldoze through also covers republican volunteers who are presently on the run (OTRs). This was a question, that of the OTRs, which should have been clarified by those who signed the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and obviously wasn’t! Some OTRs received letters from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) reconstituted as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) claiming they were no longer wanted by them for any “crime”. This raised false hope for these former volunteers that their days of looking over their shoulders were over. They were wrong; letters from the RUC or any other police force are not letters from the government, they are letters from a government agency, not quite the same thing! Why did the experienced negotiators of the GFA not secure the future of OTRs when they had the chance, and not sign the document, let alone recommend decommissioning, until they had safeguarded these people’s futures? This was not the only lack of clarity surrounding the GFA!

This is a Catch 22 situation which the British Government can’t lose. If on the one hand the amnesty goes through the families of those murdered throughout the conflict will be, justifiably, outraged. The families of the OTRs, though not over the moon, will be pleased their family members presently on the run can return to some kind of normal life. If the amnesty is not ratified then the relatives of those killed will see at least somebody, like the often spoke of “soldier F” - who I believe is being scapegoated - before the courts but it will mean OTRs will probably remain exactly that, on the run! 

The British Government, and “Northern Ireland” Secretary, Brandon Lewis, will be more than aware of the conflicting interests their amnesty proposals present. Could it set family against family? The British may well be hoping so I am sure of that. They will be able to say to the relatives of those on the run, along the lines of, look we offered you an amnesty and your own people rejected it: especially as Sinn Fein are opposed to the amnesty. They would not, of course go into detail as to why it was rejected. This could be their line should their amnesty bill fail. 

Remember, the English, later British establishments, have been at this since the middle-ages! The British may well take the position of injured party in all this. They’re good at that, and may say again along the lines of; look we are not going to prosecute our own poor blokes and let your lot on the run off now are we now? They may put on the deeply hurt ambivalent tone, almost asking for the sympathy of all for trying to be honest brokers again. They would almost certainly take the view, we are not going to prosecute the members of the Parachute Regiment, while the IRA and INLA members presently on the run can go home and live out their lives. This almost certainly would be the view of the British establishment.

There is a possible way round this conundrum. British Army officers are supposedly in their positions to take responsibility for the actions of their men. Even today we see former SS officers, rightly so, going before the courts for war crimes during the Second World War. Even former German Army (which the SS were not part of) officers are being questioned and even tried for offences on the Eastern Front against civilians. Therefore, why can the same rule of thumb not apply here? 

Generals Harry Tuzo and Robert Ford who oversaw the Bloody Sunday murders in Derry are dead, but lower ranked officers may well still be alive. Brigadier General Frank Kitson who from September 1970 commanded the 39th Air-portable Brigade which consisted of eight frequently changing battalions on short four-month tours. The First Battalion Parachute Regiment, often referred to as “Kitson’s private army” were attached to this grouping. Kitson was below or technically under Lieutenant General Ian Freeland followed by Lieutenant General Vernon Erskine-Crum, but pretty much according to the documentary about the Ballymurphy Massacres, did as he pleased. Freeland and Vernon Erskine Crum are dead but Kitson is not! Now if Kitson and then Captain Mike Jackson, the Pres Officer who lied through his teeth, later General, are still at large should it not be them on trial for war crimes? These men were officers, albeit in the case of Jackson in 1971 a lower ranked officer who climbed the greasy poll, who are supposed to take responsibility as officers for the actions, no matter how wrong, of their men. I shine no light for so-called Soldier F but he and others are minions, “obeying orders” I think is the term (which covers a multitude) but should it not perhaps be those who gave the orders be the ones standing trial?

The officer responsible for sending the paras into the Bogside on 30th January 1972, Colonel Derek Wilford, then Lieutenant Colonel Wilford is very much alive. He disobeyed a senior-officer's orders, not to send troops into the Bogside, and therefore is ultimately responsible for the deaths of thirteen (fourteen, as another man died later) civilians on that day. Wilford still claims his men were shot at first, despite there being no corroborating evidence to support his claim. He is alive and well, living in Belgium with his wife. He along with Kitson, Jackson and others could be brought forward for war crimes trials, or trial relating to the deaths in Belfast and Derry, already described as “unlawful”.

Of course, the British Government would not entertain such ideas. They would not sacrifice the misleading “good name” of the British Army Officer, which is bollocks, when some cunt lower down the pecking order will do to hang out to dry. 

Dating back centuries English, then British Army Officers, were/are supposed to be “officers and gentlemen” which in most cases they were/are neither. Going back to the “Tan War” or “War of Independence” this crap was touted around while, at the same time, upper crust thugs in uniform rampaged through Irish towns and cities. Take, for example the Auxiliaries, a ruthless gang of supposed retired army “officers and Gentlemen” whose actions were worse, if such deeds are possible, than those carried out by the Black and Tans. The Auxiliaries came from the upper echelons of British society, aristocracy and large bourgeoisie, and were above court-martial. The Black and Tans, on the other hand, came from the working-class and were occasionally held to account via a court-martial. They received, albeit, relatively light sentences relative to their crimes but the point was, so-called “officers and gentlemen” would not face court-martial for horrendous crimes against Irish civilians whereas Black and Tans on occasion would. 

For this reason, none of those officers still alive today, Kitson, Wilford and Jackson to name but three, will ever be brought to task for their crimes during the early seventies. Why? Because British “officers and gentlemen” do not commit such acts! But if this track were to be adopted then the bereaved families will have closure, proper closure, and the OTRs would be free men and women. So-called “Soldier F”, no doubt from a working-class background would not be sacrificed for his so-called “social betters” whom, like many mugs throughout the ages, appears happy enough to be sacrificed in order to maintain and uphold the British class system, rotten to the core as it is!

Caoimhin O’Muraile is Independent 
Socialist Republican and Marxist

British Government Attempts At Amnesty For The Troubles/War In The Six-Counties

 

A Morning Thought @ 1323

Matt Treacy ✒ In May 2019, Chico Makamda who then had an address in Waterford was sentenced to five years in prison by Justice Melanie Greally having been convicted of sexual assault, false imprisonment and robbery in Dublin in April 2018. He had 15 previous convictions.


He had attacked the woman as she made her way home after a night out and who was only saved from him when another man arrived and Makamda fled the scene. He had committed a similar offence five years previously to that when he attacked a woman who was walking home along Blessington Street on the north side of Dublin city centre.

Makamda introduced himself to Melita Carroll during that sexual assault by shouting “You drank too much bitch” before attempting to drag her down a lane. Carroll saved herself from further harm by screaming and kicking Makadma who fled when another man arrived on the scene.

In 2015 Makamda was sentenced to just three years with one year suspended. Sentencing had been delayed because of legal arguments regarding another of this person’s sexual crimes. This involved an earlier conviction for exposure to two teenage girls in Tralee for which Makamda was fined €50. Makamda had denied he was same person but it was confirmed that he was the same person.

At Makambda’s trial for the 2013 offence, his defence Counsel Luigi Rea tried to argue some mitigation on the basis that Melita Carroll’s false imprisonment had “only” lasted around 90 seconds. And that in any event that his client wished to “put the incident behind him and has learnt a solitarily (sic) lesson while in custody.”

It would seem that he had not, in fact, learned anything from his time in custody. Or at least not anything that made him less of a threat to women and girls.

Melitta Carroll in her impact statement told the court that she had been unable to leave her home on her own for a nearly a year following Makambda’s assault, and that she was continuing to experience panic attacks, no longer went out at night and no longer felt safe.

Makamda at that time was living in a hostel in Limerick and had arrived in Ireland in 2009 claiming to be a refugee. In 2020, five people claiming to be fleeing something in Angola applied for asylum here and all were rejected, but of course that only means that they enter a long drawn out Dickensian appeals process.

If you read that he was sentenced to five years in May 2019 you might be doing some quick calculations and wondering how it comes to be that if he is now out and about again. That has to do with the fact that his sentence was backdated to the time he was initially detained and presumably normal remission.

However, there is an added element because Makambda was actually sentenced to seven and a half years by Justice Greally but had two and a half years taken off on the condition that he leave Ireland within 14 days of his release.

Greally had also perhaps been moved by the claims of his defence Paul Carroll that the poor man had no family and was homeless and not that bright. None of which are any excuse you might imagine, but Justice Greally having referred to Melita Carroll’s trauma decided that Makambda’s social isolation and the difficulties foreign prisoners have mixing with other prisoners in a strange country deserved some sympathy too.

Will he still be here in two weeks do you think? Why has the state seemingly left it up to someone who is clearly highly toxic and dangerous towards women and girls to make his own way home? Will some legal person decide that making him go home is an horrendous assault on his human rights, and indeed on all of our human rights, and thus begin yet another tax stumped journey via the courts while the threat remains?

These are issues that ought to be immediately addressed by the Minister for Justice who is clearly intent on reducing the dangers that face Irish women from men like Makambda, even if he does fit into some other victimhood box.

Matt Treacy has published a number of books including histories of 
the Republican Movement and of the Communist Party of Ireland. 

Deportation Left Up To Sexual Offender Himself

Alex McCrory ✒ I'm watching a documentary made in 1983 about the Diplock Court system and the administration of British justice in the north of Ireland. 

It is interesting for it's background information, touching as it does on the removal jury trials; changes in the law to allow the courts to admit self-incriminating statements obtained under interrogation, and the use of supergrasses.

One statistic jumped out at me that relates to many discussions that appear online that are critical of positions adapted in the courts by political prisoners today. It has always been my belief these exchanges lack historical context.
 
The documentary in order to make a point looked at every single case that went before the Diplock courts in the period of the first three months of 1981.

Of all the people involved 170:

147 pleaded guilty.
23 pleased not guilty.
8 were acquited.
Only 1 refused to recognise the court.

This is evidence of a sea change in the attitude of Republican prisoners going before the Diplock courts. This trend would continue throughout the Eighties and into the Nineties.
 
I will allow the reader to draw their own conclusions from the data.

Alec McCrory 
is a former blanketman.

Diplock

Gary Robertson ✒ The recent passing of rock God Meat Loaf came as a shock to many of us and the outpouring of grief on social media was to be expected. 

Meat Loaf

His long term association with Jim Steinman helped transform this most unlikely of heroes into the star he became. I hope wherever they are that their differences are patched up and they’re rocking in the afterlife. That must be some concert.

I’m no music critic, I’m just a fan. But I’m pretty sure that few could be failed to be moved by the power of his rock opera style. The iconic videos that accompanied the songs were stories in themselves and propelled Meat Loaf into many a living room. Sometimes over the top, often outrageous but never dull, when a new track was released you knew you were in for a audio visual masterpiece that would for a few minutes make you feel part of this weird and wonderful world that he laid before you. 

It’s sad, bitterly sad to know he was currently working on new material and a new album. I do hope there’s enough recorded material so we can hear from the great man one last time.

Music however wasn’t all Meatloaf was about and he was an accomplished actor in his own right from the unforgettable Eddie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show to shows and movies such as Formula 51 🎥 Wayne’s World 🎥 South Park and Fight Club

Another of his great passions (the paranormal) would lead him to investigate with the boys and girls of TAPS on the TV show Ghost Hunters. It was obvious from the way they all interacted there was a genuine friendship between them and Meat was fascinated excited and eager to investigate. It is in my opinion that he would have made an ideal full time member of the team. His enthusiasm never wavering, the world is a more somber place today.

Rest in peace Meat. Thank you for everything … don’t ever stop rocking!

⏩ Gary Robertson is a Glasgow Celtic fan.

Meat Loaf

 


A Morning Thought @ 1322

Fra Hughes ✒ A deeper look into the political events that reshaped the world through the four corners of the globe in 2021.

First Published In
Al Mayadeen English.


Afghanistan

America’s chaotic, disheveled, hasty retreat from Afghanistan was reminiscent of the last flights out of Saigon on April 29-30, 1975, when American troops fled Vietnam and the Viet Cong showed the world how an organized guerilla movement fighting a national war of liberation can free its landmass and its people from foreign imperialist occupation.

After 14 years of continued American aggression on Vietnam, 1961-1975, they were finally forced to retreat in a humiliating defeat.

Those scenes were repeated in Kabul Afghanistan when on August 30, 2021, American troops and personnel left the country in another humiliating defeat for the world's number one self-styled superpower.

While America tried to make Afghanistan, Russia's Vietnam, its own imperialist occupation from 2001, it was eventually defeated by a group of Islamist fighters, the Taliban, who America had previously supported. The men who came from the mountains and the caves of Tora Bora on motorcycles and with four by four trucks defeated American regional designs and forced them to negotiate their departure.

Afghanistan was not Vietnam, the military status quo could have gone on for decades to come. The Americans were militarily defeated in Vietnam but not in Afghanistan. The allied forces, to include imperialist Britain, held the major cities and the Taliban controlled much of the rest of the country.

It could be argued a combination of Donald Trump's America first policy and a pivot away from West Asia to rekindle the cold war against Russia and China deflected American interests from the quagmire of Afghanistan and focused on the new American created bogeyman of the Yellow Peril, China.

Belarus

If we look at a map of eastern European countries we will find Belarus, also known as Byelorussia, to be one of the few remaining pro-Russian former satellite states of the Soviet Union sharing a borderland with Russia.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, it has been claimed that NATO promised the Russian President that it had no desire to encroach into the former Soviet states and would not place NATO troops, weapons, or surveillance onto the Russian border.

If indeed there was an informal agreement then that has proven to have been untrue, as NATO and the European Union have accepted many of the former Soviet states into its embrace, with NATO bases in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Georgia.

Russia has seen NATO march to its borders and with the fall of Ukraine to the 2014 fascist inspired American supported coup, Belarus is seen as the new NATO EU prize and is being destabilized in a new color revolution, thus isolating Russia and the Russian federation from nearly all of its pre-1991 territory and alliances.

Cuba

Cuba is celebrating its 63rd year of freedom from the US-backed military dictator Batista as the embargoed country comes out of the pandemic with increased tourism from Russia, several effective Cuban developed Covid vaccines, and a people still imbued with the ideals of their socialist revolution and immune to the various efforts by America to destabilize the country.

China

China is fast becoming both an economic superpower and a shining light of the newly developing multipolar new world order envisioned by countries that see cooperation not military intervention as the path to global peace and prosperity.

China, which has lifted tens of millions of its citizens out of poverty within its own borders, can now achieve the same globally with its belt and road initiative which will revolutionize travel, transport, and the global economy.

Starting in Eurasia, it will eventually encompass Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean and act as a beacon to kick start local, regional, national and transnational commerce.

China is seen by American corporations, which finance the various political parties' campaigns in the United States, as the main rival to American hegemony over the world.

America took over the mantle as a world superpower from the British after the Second World War.

America relies on global dominance through its vast network of over 800 American military bases strategically encompassing the globe, allied to its support for rogue apartheid regimes like "Israel" and monarchical despots in West Asia and further afield.

From military interventions to destabilizing coups, to funding proxy wars through a network of terrorist organizations, America rules through a combination of fear, war, murder, rendition, secret prisons, and torture chambers.

China on the other hand increases its economic power base through innovation, dialogue, investment, and cooperation.

China will soon eclipse America on the global stage when dialogue is seen to advance mutual interests, whereas America's military-industrial complex will continue to bomb and murder its way to greater profits. China on the other hand will reinvest and redistribute the profits gained through mutual exchange and cooperation.

As America tightens the economic noose around the countries it is trying to manipulate and control, China is raising the standards in many of these very same countries with the gratitude and encouragement of the governments and peoples of those states living under the cosh of western sanctions.

France

France, once a mighty imperialist empire in its own right, is now just a shadow of its former grandeur and colonial stature.

While it still involves itself in Africa to continue its history of exploitation disguised as aiding the incumbent government from terrorism, it will soon be just another failed EU neo-liberal experiment.

Its continued attacks on Muslims in Africa, its destabilization of Lebanon, its machinations in Syria, and its continued Islamophobia at home, leave the French establishment as the racist, Islamophobic leader in western Europe.

Germany

Germany with a change of leadership has witnessed the end of Angela Merkel. What this means on internal and external foreign policy remains to be seen.

Germany like Austria appears to be moving further to the right politically as legislation targets those opposed to the Covid vaccine mandates and regulations.

More trouble may be seen on the streets.

Haiti

Haiti, a country that once led the revolutions in the Caribbean against slavery and imperialist interventions, again finds itself destroyed by American machinations, political assassinations, and chronic underinvestment.

Once a revolutionary beacon it has again been dominated and destroyed by the imperialist colonial aspirations of consecutive American administrations.

If only the people were left in peace to sort out their economic problems, Haiti could once again bloom as a democracy of the people, by the people, for the people.

Iraq

The decision by the Iraqi government to demand an American withdrawal from its territories may yet yield further concessions from an already weakened American presence in the region.

The murder of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani alongside the Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, peace be upon them, both high ranking figures in the fight against regional terrorism, which is backed by the USA, UK, EU, "Israel", Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf monarchies, may also herald the death of American designs in the region.

From fleeing Afghanistan to being confined to barracks in Iraq, while under constant threat from Iraqi paramilitary units, America is on the back foot.

From the graves of martyrs springs the seeds of victory.

America's tenure in Iraq is nearly over. Twenty years in Iraq may well see another Saigon, Kabul-type American scrambled exit from Baghdad.

Iran

Iran has been under US sanctions just like Cuba from the day and hour the Islamic revolutionary forces removed the US-British-imposed dictator, the Shah, in 1979.

The CIA toppled the democratically elected Iranian leader Mosaddegh in order to allow British oil companies to continue to exploit the Iranian oil fields in 1952.

Installing the Shah in 1952 led to the Islamic revolution of 1979.

The West then fomented the conflict between Iraq and Iran, using Saddam Hussein in their proxy war to destroy Iran, the revolution, and the will of the Iranian people.

Iran since 1979, just like Cuba since 1959, has been striving to maintain the goals of the revolution, to defeat the counter-revolutionary forces the West has sent against them, and defend Gaza, occupied Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Venezuela.

Iran is inspiring the axis of resistance, those opposed to an American unipolar world, has seen Iran allied with Russia in Syria, with China in the one belt one road initiative, and hard at work to stabilize Venezuelan fuel supply and distribution, alongside providing vital anti-imperialist stability regionally and globally.

Lebanon

Lebanon has been systematically bombed, invaded, and destroyed by "Israel" over many decades.

Formerly a French colonial outpost in western Asia it suffered terribly from an internal semi-religious sectarian war that destroyed the government, the country, and society.

With Hezbollah's victory over the Israeli occupation in 2006 and the formation of a national government of reconciliation, Lebanon finally entered a period of peace and stability.

Always a target of "Israel", the EU - led by France - and the US, Lebanon has become ripe with instabilities; the drums of war are again beating in Beirut as the forces opposed to Lebanese stability begin to cry havoc and unleash their dogs of war.

We can only hope Lebanon and Hezbollah can withstand the tsunami of sanctions and destabilization America and others have set in motion.

Russia

Russia under Putin has become another beacon of opposition to the EU Israeli American designs on creating a new world order in their image.

From defending the Donbas republics which rebelled against the coup in Ukraine in 2014, to supporting Syria and increasingly China and Iran, Putin's Russia has again stood up to imperialist aggression and demands to be treated with respect by NATO and its hirelings.

Be under no illusion had ISIS won in Syria it was being sent to the Caucasus on Russia's borders to destabilize Russia?

Syria

Syria was once the backbone of the Arab fight for Palestinian self-determination that has been broken on the wheel of imperialist and Zionist intervention.

Syria has been attacked by a murderous proxy army financed controlled supported by the EU, Gulf Kingdoms, America, and "Israel" to varying degrees.

It has been balkanized and its food and oil resources are being exploited by American and Turkish intervention on the ground.

Without Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia, Syria would have eventually perished.

The sacrifices, especially that of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian revolution guards, have saved the Syrian Arab Republic and its people from a devastating brutal occupation by fundamentalist fanatics.

The Syrian people owe a debt to their own soldiers and their Lebanese, Russian and Iranian saviors.

Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah are in Syria in order to protect their own borders, going forward.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is very much disunited.

With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, Scotland and Northern Ireland will soon be leaving the United Kingdom.

Ireland under British occupation for 800 years regained partial freedom and independence in 1921 after a national war of liberation.

While the North of Ireland had been partially colonized thereby changing the population demographics, the Irish birth rate in the North of Ireland now means national reunification between North and South between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - partitioned in 1921 should hopefully come to an end in a national referendum in the coming decade.

Scotland has already failed in its first referendum to separate from the United Kingdom but polls show a pro-EU electorate that should ratify independence in the next ten years leaving England and Wales as the last proponents of the United Kingdom.

Brexit the dream of the Conservative party has come to pass and with it the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

Venezuela

Venezuela under Maduro has turned a corner.

With help from Iran, oil production is nearing one million barrels a day.

With help from Cuba and Russia, the people are being vaccinated against Covid, the Guaido-backed coup has failed and the currency has stabilized under a rebranding exercise.

With Latin America and the Caribbean electing socialist and non-neo-liberal candidates to positions of power, a repositioning of the continent into the anti-imperialist axis of resistance is occurring.
 
Yemen

Yemen is another country subject to regime change war brought there by Saudi Arabia with the help of other Gulf Nations to include the United Arab Emirates and the west continuing its proxy war with Iran.

The former government was deposed by Ansar Allah revolutionaries with the support of elements of the Yemen national army.

This revolution has been bombed by Saudi Arabia and its acolytes with multi-million dollar missiles and armaments supplied by Britain and American alongside their continuing coordination in targeting hospitals, bridges, infrastructure, and schools led by British and American technical support for the targeted bombing campaign.

This alliance of the unholy also controls many Yemen seaports and oil fields.

As the Yemeni national forces expel Saudi and coalition forces, it has liberated land that has been under Saudi occupation for over 6 decades. Once these Yemeni forces have full control over the land and sea borders, they can import all the necessary vital aid required to forestall the ongoing man-made famine that is destroying the country. This catastrophe has reached biblical proportions.

Iran stands ready to assist Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. This all augurs well for strengthening the axis of resistance regionally as well as internationally.

2022 offers hope and despair in equal measure.

Hope for a more equal multipolar world of cooperation, but we will also see continued war, sanctions, man-made famines, and premature deaths globally, courtesy of the usual suspects, "Israel", the EU, the US, and the Gulf States.

𒍨The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al Mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Fra Hughes is a columnist with Al Mayadeen.

A Year In Review ✑ 2021

Sunday Independent ✒ Veronica Greenaway was in thrall to the anti-vax idols she let into her home — until Covid killed her husband.



Veronica Greenaway was an anti-vaxxer who for more than a year believed everything she read about Covid-19 on Facebook.

She idolised some of Ireland’s most prolific Covid deniers and allowed anti-vaxxers from both sides of the Border to use her Co Fermanagh home to spread misinformation. She believed the vaccine would kill her and her 77-year-old husband Billy.

Three weeks ago, her husband of more than 40 years and father to their three children did die. But not from the vaccine. He spent weeks in intensive care at South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen after Covid-19 took hold.

He, like his wife, who had the disease at the same time, had refused the vaccination because he was wrongly told it was causing heart attacks and strokes.

Ms Greenaway now says she has learned a hard lesson “in the cruellest manner possible” and blames the anti-vax movement — including suspended Derry GP Dr Anne McCloskey who addressed meetings on her farm — for “brainwashing” the Border region into believing Covid lies.

Continuing reading @ Sindo.

‘I Was Used’ – Former Anti-Vaxxer Speaks Out After Husband’s Death From Covid

Peter Anderson ⚽ With the EPL going into a two week break it is worth taking stock and having a closer look at the table to see how things stand before the run-in starts in earnest in mid-Feb.

At the top, it is as you were. City are clear and looking uncatchable, while Liverpool and Chelsea seem destined to fight it out for second. This is hugely disappointing, I really thought they would stay with City to the end.

The fight for the final UCL place is really hotting up. Only 4 points separate Man U in fourth and Wolves in 8th. Who will kick on? That may all depend on signings. Spurs, Arsenal and West Ham are all in the market for new talent too, and you can be sure that it will be a hard fought race for the lucrative UCL money. My heart says Wolves or West Ham, my head says probably Man U.

The race for relegation is another hard one to call. Norwich looked dead and buried, but a new manager and some impressive wins have seen them get out of the drop zone. Unfortunately for them the other teams have many games in hand over them due to Covid cancellations, and they play City and Liverpool in the middle of next month. Watford have been dragged into the mire, but having sacked Ranieri they will be looking to a new manager bounce and the return of midfield enforcer Ismaila Sarr from injury. 

Burnley look favourites to go down at the moment. Having lost their top striker, Wood, to relegation rivals Newcastle, it looks like they may also lose their best defender in Tarkowski. But they have a load of games in hand over their rivals and a strong manager, so will fancy their chances. Their next game is against Watford and it is a real 6 pointer for both teams. 

The great unknowns are Everton, Leeds and Brentford. Leeds have escaped the drop zone well after a tough run of games, including a 3-2 win away to the Hammers in the game of the season so far. They then went to Newcastle with the chance of distancing themselves completely from the drop and landing the Toon further in trouble, but lost the game to a single Jon-Jo Shelvey goal. They could easily get dragged back into it all if they are not careful. Brentford are falling fast after a great start to the season. Their next game is away to City, followed by 2 London derbies against Palace and Arsenal. If they are not on their game, they could be in the midst of the dog fight by the end of February. Everton, too, are falling fast and after sacking "agent" Benitez, they will be looking for a new manager bounce. Their next 2 games are away to Newcastle and at home to Leeds in what could be crucial games for those wishing to escape the race to the bottom. Everton's form has been really shocking - surely it can't continue?

Brighton, Leicester, Villa, Southampton and Palace don't, at this stage of the season, look like they will be involved at either end of the table but all that could change very quickly. Next week sees an international break for South American games, and the following week sees the 4th round of the FA Cup, then the EPL run-in can begin in earnest. We can be sure of many twists and turns to come.

Peter Anderson is a Unionist with a keen interest in sports.

Twists & Turns