Hidden History: The Potato Famine and the Rise of Irish Nationalism

The Story of Ireland Part 4 (1801-1900)

BBC

Film Review

In 1801, the British Parliament passed the Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland, official incorporation Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Highlights of this period include the Potato Famine (1841-1846) led one million Irish tenant farmers to die of starvation and disease and 1.5 million to emigrate to England and the US.

The Fenian Brotherhood, a revolutionary organization which began in Ireland in the 1860s, gave rise to a sister Fenian Brotherhood in the US. The latter raised major sums of money they sent back to Ireland to save poor tenant farmers from eviction.

In 1881, British Prime Minister William Gladstone passed a number of laws sought by Irish reformers, including legal protection for Irish tenant farmers against eviction and rent increases and the right to purchase their own land. He also repealed the Penal Laws that required Catholics (the majority of the Irish population) and Ulster Calvinists to pay taxes supporting the Anglican Church and preventing them from voting or standing for office.

He also supported Irish nationalist MP Charles Parnell’s bill establishing Home Rule for Ireland (Gladstone needed the votes of Parnell’s MPs to remain in office). It was defeated by 30 votes.

In 1899 when the Boer Republics revolted against British rule, numerous Irish nationalists (including Arthur Griffith – the eventual founder of Sinn Fein*) traveled to South Africa to  support the Boers in the war against the British.


*Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party formed in 1905 in support of Irish independence and unification.

Pipelinistan: Is the Novichok Psyops an Effort to Shut Down Nord Stream 2?

Politics, Power and Pipelines – Europe and Natural Gas

DW (2018)

Film Review

This documentary concerns Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, due for completion by the end of 2019. The EU, the UK and the US have been working hard to shut down Nord Stream 2, and various commentators believe the current Novichok psyops is an effort to pressure Germany to back out of their agreement with Gazprom.

The Nord Stream 2 project is a partnership between Russian state-owned Gazprom and five private energy companies from Britain, Germany, France and Netherlands. It will transport natural gas directly across the Baltic Sea to Germany. The existing Nord Stream 1  pipeline system transports Russian gas to western Europe mainly via Ukraine.

Since the 2014 US-sponsored coup in Ukraine, there has been considerable conflict between Russia and Ukraine over Nord Stream 1 – involving Ukraine’s non-payment of fuel charges, their failure to maintain the pipeline and illegal diversion of gas supplies. Russia totally shut down gas supplies to Ukraine in 2009 and 2014 for non-payment, resulting in very cold winters for Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary at the other end of the pipeline.*

Two prominent Germans are part of the Nord Stream 2 consortium, former German Chancellor and Social Democratic Party leader Gerhard Schroder and former Stasi member and Putin friend Mattias Warning. The latter serves as the company’s Managing Director.

Despite their determination to become more independent of Russian gas and oil, Poland and other Eastern European states are dismayed that Nord Stream 2 will bypass them. Ukraine is distraught because it stands to lose $2 billion annually in transit fees.

The EU is trying to stop Nord Stream 2 by claiming regulatory authority, **which Russia and German dispute, as both Nord Stream 1 and 2 are external pipelines.

The US also opposes the pipeline, as it prefers both EU countries to buy its more costly fracked LNG (liquified natural gas). They have threatened economic sanctions on countries that sign new energy agreements with Russia.

The US also opposed Nord Stream 1 (completed in 1973), fearing it might lead to a closer relationship between West Germany and Russia. Former German chancellor Willy Brandt strongly championed Nord Stream 1, over US objections. He believed trade and detente*** were a preferable strategy for bringing down the Iron Curtain. It now appears he was right.

The filmmakers raise legitimate concerns about Russia investing so heavily in yet more fossil fuel pipelines (Gazprom is also building a pipeline via Turkey to Italy and Greece) in a period when the planet urgently needs to end fossil fuel use altogether.


*On March 3, 2018, Russia announced it was ending fossil fuel contracts with Ukraine altogether, raising grave concerns for countries at the other end of the pipeline. See Russia’s Gazprom to Terminate Gas Contracts with Ukraine

**Detente is a cold war term referring to the easing of strained relations.

 

Biological Warfare: The US Germ Warfare Attack on North Korea in 1952

Dirty Little Secrets

Al Jazeera (2010)

Film Review

Dirty Little Secrets is about an apparent biological warfare attack against North Korea in January 1952. The attack involved US bombardment of North Korean villages with canisters containing insects infected with typhoid, anthrax, plague and cholera. At least 30 witnesses report seeing insects crawling in the snow next to hollow bomb canisters. Following the attack, many North Koreans died of infectious illnesses that resembled plague and typhoid fever.

The US categorically denies the attack ever happened. North Korea, in turn, insists the US must acknowledge and apologize for this war crime before it agrees to nuclear disarmament.

The evidence compiled by an independent Japanese investigator is pretty damning:

  • Thirty-six US airmen who were shot down and captured, wrote detailed confessions admitting to their participation in the attacks. On their return to the US, they retracted the confessions after being threatened with court martial.
  • Declassified documents from the National Archives reveal the US shielded Shiro Ishii, the Japanese scientist who perfected this method of germ warfare, from war crimes charges after he agreed to sell his secrets to the US.
  • Other declassified documents reveal that in 1947 Fort Dietrick scientists expanded on Ishii’s work using flees and mosquitoes.
  • In 1951 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff issued an order calling for testing germ war fare under “operational warfare.”
  • An independent international commission (including scientists from France, Italy, Brazil, Sweden, Russia and the UK) investigated after the Korean War ended and produced a 600 page report confirming the attack occurred.

The Telegraph also features an excellent article on the same topic from 2010: Did the US Wage Germ Warfare in Korea

 

The UN’s Shocking Report on US Poverty

This Al Jazeera news feature highlights the recent report by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston on extreme poverty levels in the US. Panelists include Alston himself and antipoverty activists from Alabama and Skid Row in Los Angeles. A Guardian reporter accompanied Alston on his tour of American communities. The photos are heart wrenching.

Alston points out the US is very different from other poverty-stricken countries he visits. Other countries have large indigent populations because their governments are too poor to assist them. In contrast, the US has just awarded $1.5 trillion to its most wealthy citizens.

According to Alston, the US has 40 million people living in poverty and many of them are employed. During his investigation, he spoke to WalMart employees who can’t afford to feed their families without federal food stamps. The US government provides $6 billion in food stamps to WalMart employees.

Industrial Salmon Farming and the Die-Off of Wild Salmon

Salmon Confidential

Directed by Twyla Roscovich (2013)

Film Review

Salmon Confidential is about the Pacific Canadian salmon farms that are killing millions of wild Frasier River salmon and the deliberate cover-up by the Canadian government.

Like land-based Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFO), the rearing of salmon in crowded stationary pens creates a rich environment for fish pathogens such as sea lice and numerous salmon viruses. The most lethal include salmon anemia (ISA), which is also known as salmon flu; salmon alpha virus; and piscene reovirus.

All but one run that wild salmon use return to the Frasier River (to spawn) travels through commercial fish farms. The fish that swim through the farms are becoming sick and dying in massive numbers – while those that bypass the farms are thriving.

Because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) refuses to test either wild or farmed salmon for ISA, a grassroots group called the Department of Wild Salmon has sent numerous samples to independent labs. When a significant number tested positive, the CFIA tried to close down the labs rather than the fish farms. ISA is an internationally notifiable disease. For CFIA to acknowledge that Canadian salmon carry it would result in both the US and China banning all Canadian salmon exports.

In the most alarming part of the documentary, biologists test farmed salmon they buy in supermarkets that show obvious evidence of ISA (deformed heads and body shape, bleeding eyes and open lesions). Many test positive for ISA, as do raw salmon they obtain from sushi restaurants. Consuming raw fish infected with ISA, a type of influenza virus, has ominous implications for human health.

American Soldiers Hoist U.S. flag in Syria, Set Up New Military Base

us-flag

A new batch of U.S. special forces have entered Syria through Turkey and set up camp at the Al-Monbath hill in the countryside of Tell Abyad, a Kurdish-held region north of Raqqa.

In total, 50 American troops – 10 of which are classified as combat advisors – are stationed at the base. The crew is armed to the teeth with heavy weaponry and accompanied by 17 armored vehicles. Communication equipment has been set up while U.S. flags have somewhat controversially been hoisted at the base.

Source: AMN

Unelected Regime Begins Killing Spree in Eastern Ukraine

 

With fanatical, irregular forces, armored vehicles, and aircraft including warplanes and helicopter gunships, the unelected government in Kiev has undertaken a war against their own people. That the US and EU are supporting this regime in terrorizing the Ukrainian people is a total reversal of the so called “responsibility to protect” they advocated in both Libya and Syria.

As Cartalucci points out at the end of his article: the west has already lost in Ukraine. With the people of Crimea choosing to rejoin Russia and with unrest spreading across eastern Ukraine, the notion of a “united” Ukraine shifting West is unlikely if not indefinitely impossible.