Monday, November 18, 2019

The Human Cost of Sanctions on North Korea

Economic sanctions have become Washington's preferred means of punishing/coercing nations that fail to fall into line with its global agenda.  As shown on this graphic, there are a significant number of sanctions programs that are being used to manipulate governments around the world into submission:

In some cases, Washington's sanctions programs have existed for decades, particularly those imposed against Cuba and Iran.  While North Korea (DPRK) and its nuclear ambitions are a relative newcomer to the American-led sanctions reality, unilateral sanctions by the United States against the DPRK have existed in one form or another since 1950 - 1953 during the Korean War.  These sanctions have been less than completely effective since they have been undermined by nations that fail to enforce them or deliberately trade with one of the world's pariah nations, the sanctions have taken a toll on the civilian population of North Korea according to a recent study commissioned by Korea Peace Now.

North Korea is currently one of the most sanctioned nations in the world with unilateral American and United Nations sanctions that have resulted in a near total ban on investment and trade in the DPRK.  While the United Nations sanctions state that their sanctions regime is not supposed to have adverse humanitarian consequences, the study shows that this is clearly not the case.  Here's what UN Resolution 2397 (2017) has to say:

"Underlining once again the importance that the DPRK respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community including the necessity of the DPRK respecting and ensuring the welfare, inherent dignity, and rights of people in the DPRK, and expressing great concern that the DPRK continues to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles by diverting critically needed resources away from the people in the DPRK at tremendous cost when they have great unmet needs…

Reiterates its deep concern at the grave hardship that the people in the DPRK are subjected to, condemns the DPRK for pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles instead of the welfare of its people while people in the DPRK have great unmet needs, emphasizes the necessity of the DPRK respecting and ensuring the welfare and inherent dignity of people in the DPRK, and demands that the DPRK stop diverting its scarce resources toward its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles at the cost of the people in the DPRK;

Regrets the DPRK’s massive diversion of its scarce resources toward its development of nuclear weapons and a number of expensive ballistic missile programs, notes the findings of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance that well over half of the people in the DPRK suffer from major insecurities in food and medical care, including a very large number of pregnant and lactating women and under-five children who are at risk of malnutrition and 41% of its total population who are undernourished, and, in this context, expresses deep concern at the grave hardship to which the people in the DPRK are subjected...". (my bolds)

The United Nations has a mechanism that looks at humanitarian exemptions to North Korea's sanctions on a case-by-case basis through its 1718 Committee.  In an analysis of 25 exemption requests before the Committee, there were months of delays for what would seem to be critical cases such as water systems, ambulances and medical equipment for maternal and neonatal emergencies. 

There are also significant problems with humanitarian programs in the DPRK which focus on helping the nation's women and children.  The UN Needs and Priorities 2018 program applied for $111 million but was only 24 percent funded.  UNICEF's Humanitarian Action for Children 2019 appealed for $16.5 million but had a 69 percent funding gap at year's end.  Programs that would assist in meeting the needs of 6 million North Koreans had their lowest funding levels in a decade and were one of the lowest funded appeals in the world.  There is little doubt that Washington has played a role in discouraging other nations from donating to programs that might assist North Koreans.

While the United Nations Security Council (and by extension, the United States) feigns great concern over the plight of North Korea's civilian population, the study makes it quite clear that the delay in supplying certain imports into the nation have resulted in "increased mortality", reduced human rights including the rights to food, health and development.  It is the chronic lack of food security, access to basic health services and issues with water, sanitation and hygiene that are causing the greatest problems for North Koreans.  Let's look at some of the issues:

1.) Food Insecurity - ten million North Koreans are food insecure with food production of only 4.95 million tons in 2018, down by 9 percent from 2017 and 16 percent from 2016.  This is due to a lack of access to modern agricultural equipment and spare parts, fuel and fertilizers as well as recurrent natural disasters.  The lack of fuel also limits farmers' ability to irrigate which results in reduced yields and increased crop susceptibility to extreme weather shocks.  Fuel shortages also mean that farmers are having to increasingly rely on manual labour to plant and harvest crops, resulting in increased post-harvest losses.

2.) Health Services - nine million North Koreans, particularly those in rural areas, have limited access to quality health services which is threatening recent achievements in reduced infant and under-five mortality rates.  Sanctions have led to shortages of sterilizers, UV lamp for disinfection, ambulances, orthopaedic appliances for disabled persons, ultrasound and cardiograph equipment, syringes, catheters, X-ray machines, microscopes and other key medical equipment.  North Koreans suffered from one of the world's highest rates of tuberculosis with an infection rate of 513 per 100,000 people and an estimated 20,000 tuberculosis-related deaths annually.  Health facilities often lack essential medical equipment and life-saving medicines required to provide health services with many facilities having problems maintaining water and electricity supplies.  The lack of clean water and sanitation facilities (WaSH) has lead to 36.6 percent of the population relying on contaminated water for drinking, a situation that leads to wasting disease in children.  Women of childbearing age are particularly vulnerable with 23. 2 percent being malnourished which impacts the nation's ability to repopulate itself.

Now, let's look at the impact of the sanctions on North Korean civilians.  The full extent of the sanctions is difficult to assess, however, the authors of the study believe that the following preventable deaths took place because of delays in assessing exemptions to sanctions and funding shortfalls:

Let's close with this quote from the report:

"In a landmark 2012 study on how unilateral coercive measures may be violating international law, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found the most relevant humanitarian principles to be the prohibition against the starvation of a civilian population as a method of warfare, the obligation to permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs as well as medical supplies, and the prohibition of collective punishment.  Meanwhile, it found the most relevant human rights to be “the right to life, the right to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing, housing and medical care, the right to freedom from hunger, and the right to health.”".

If it is the intention of Washington (and its proxy, the United Nations) to coerce and punish North Korean civilians into submitting to its will, even the sanction-related deaths of thousands of North Koreans and the suffering of millions more seems to have done little to break their spirit.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

China's Defense Strategy and Its Role in the New Multipolar Geopolitical Reality

The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China recently released a white paper entitled "China's National Defense in the New Era".  This paper, a counterpoint to the Pentagon's National Defense Strategy of the United States of America which had this to say about China:

"China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbours while militarizing features in the South China Sea...It is increasingly clear that China (and Russia) want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model - gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions."

With those provocative statements in mind, let's see what the authors of the Chinese white paper have to say about China's role in the new global reality.

The white paper opens with the following preface:

"Today, with their interests and security intertwined, people across the world are becoming members of a community with a shared future. China is at a critical stage of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and embarking on the new journey of building a modernized socialist country in an all-round way.Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era."

In response to the Pentagon's proclamation that China is attempting to intimidate the nations in its sphere of influence, China has this to say:

"The pursuit of peace, stability and development has become a universal aspiration of the international community with forces for peace predominating over elements of war. However, international security system and order are undermined by growing hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism and constant regional conflicts and wars.

International strategic competition is on the rise. The US has adjusted its national security and defense strategies, and adopted unilateral policies. It has provoked and intensified competition among major countries, significantly increased its defense expenditure, pushed for additional capacity in nuclear, outer space, cyber and missile defense, and undermined global strategic stability." (my bolds)

The authors also note that there are growing signs of a global arms race with the death of key arms treaties, that extremism and terrorism continue to spread despite nearly two decades of a war against terror and the growth of non-traditional security threats including cybersecurity and biosecurity.

The authors go on to observe that the Asia-Pacific region has remained relatively stable through the forging of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization which is giving birth to a new, non-confrontational partnership with the goal of creating a new model for regional security cooperation.  Despite the stability of the Asia-Pacific region, as the world economic centre shifts to the region, it has resulted in major country competition, particularly with the United States.  Here is a quote from the paper that outlines the key problem that is developing in this new era:

"The US is strengthening its Asia-Pacific military alliances and reinforcing military deployment and intervention, adding complexity to regional security. The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the Republic of Korea (ROK) by the US has severelyundermined the regional strategic balance and the strategic security interests of regional countries.In an attempt to circumvent the post-war mechanism, Japan has adjusted its military and security policies and increased input accordingly, thus becoming more outward-looking in its military endeavors. Australia continues to strengthen its military alliance with the US and its military engagement in the Asia-Pacific, seeking a bigger role in security affairs."

The authors outline the following security risks to China:

1.) Fight against the growth of the independent Taiwan movement and the growth of the separatist movement which seeks to end any hope of the "One China" solution.  Here's what the paper says about China's approach to Taiwan: "Aiming at safeguarding national unity, China’s armed forces strengthen military preparedness with emphasis on the sea. By sailing ships and flying aircraft around Taiwan, the armed forces send a stern warning to the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces."

2.) Tibet independence.

3.) Territorial sovereignty of islands and reefs in the South China Sea and the entry of ships and aircraft from "countries outside the region" for reconnaissance purposes.  The paper clearly states that "China’s armed forces defend important waters, islands and reefs in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea, acquire full situation awareness of adjacent waters, conduct joint rights protection and law enforcement operations, properly handle maritime and air situations, and resolutely respond to security threats, infringements and provocations on the sea."

Here are the fundamental goals of China's national defense in the "new era" (i.e the multipolar world order):

1.) to deter and resist aggression

2.) to safeguard national political security, the people’s security and social stability

3.) to oppose and contain “Taiwan independence”

4.) to crack down on proponents of separatist movements such as “Tibet independence” and the creation of “East Turkistan” 

5.) to safeguard national sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and security

6.) to safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests 

7.) to safeguard China’s security interests in outer space, electromagnetic space and cyberspace

8.) to safeguard China’s overseas interests

9.) to support the sustainable development of the country

In order to accomplish these goals, China will utilize the following strategy, the key to their success in the new world order thus far:

"Though a country may become strong, bellicosity will lead to its ruin. The Chinese nation has always loved peace. Since the beginning of modern times, the Chinese people have suffered from aggressions and wars, and have learned the value of peace and the pressing need for development. Therefore, China will never inflict such sufferings on any other country. Since its founding 70 years ago, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has never started any war or conflict. Since the introduction of reform and opening-up, China has been committed to promoting world peace, and has voluntarily downsized the PLA by over 4 million troops. China has grown from a poor and weak country to be the world’s second largest economy neither by receiving handouts from others nor by engaging in military expansion or colonial plunder. Instead, it has developed through its people’s hard work and its efforts to maintain peace. China has made every effort to create favorable conditions for its development through maintaining world peace, and has equally endeavored to promote world peace through its own development. China sincerely hopes that all countries will choose the path of peaceful development and jointly prevent conflicts and wars.

China is committed to developing friendly cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. It respects the rights of all peoples to independently choose their own development path, and stands for the settlement of international disputes through equal dialogue, negotiation and consultation. China is opposed to interference in the internal affairs of others, abuse of the weak by the strong, and any attempt to impose one’s will on others. China advocates partnerships rather than alliances and does not join any military bloc. It stands against aggression and expansion, and opposes arbitrary use or threat of arms. The development of China’s national defense aims to meet its rightful security needs and contribute to the growth of the world’s peaceful forces. History proves and will continue to prove that China will never follow the beaten track of big powers in seeking hegemony. No matter how it might develop, China will never threaten any other country or seek any sphere of influence." (my bolds)

To put all of this information into perspective, let's look at two figures showing how much China has spent on its defense as a percentage of its GDP and as a ratio of total government expenditures going back to 1979:

Over the period from 2012 to 2017, China's average defense expenditure was 1.3 percent.  This compared to 4.4 percent for Russia, 3.5 percent for the United States, 2.5 percent for India, 2.3 percent for France and 2.0 percent for the United Kingdom and is the lowest among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.  When looking at the ratio of spending on defense to total government expenditures, over the period between 2012 and 2017, China's average ratio was 5.3 percent compared to 12.4 percent for Russia, 9.8 percent for the United States, 9.1 percent for India, 4.8 percent for the United Kingdom and 4.0 percent for France.

The fact that China has officially declared that it will never threaten any other nation or that it will not seek global hegemony is a rather interesting development in the world's evolution from a monopolar reality to a multipolar reality.  Whether Washington will take this proclamation seriously is yet to be seen however, it's constant meddling in the South China Sea and the affairs of Taiwan suggest that it is highly unlikely that it will pay heed to China's promise that it will not "seek any sphere of influence" nor will it interfere in the internal affairs of others, a lesson that most definitely has not taken root in Washington.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Who are the World's Real Rogue Nations?

Three recent votes in the United Nations has once again set the tone for the world and more specifically, Washington and its relationship to Cuba and the Middle East.  Here is the background.

We are all aware that Washington and its lackey, the Western mainstream media, have spent a great deal of energy portraying both Russia and China as the greatest threat to world peace in this multipolar world and that they should be considered as rogue nations.  Such is not the case as you will see in this posting.

1.) United Nations General AssemblyNovember 7, 2019 vote to end the United States embargo against Cuba:  For the 28th year in a row, the United Nations took a vote on a resolution that called for and end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.  Here's what the United Nations had to say about the vote:

Here is the result of the vote:

For - 187 Member States

Against - United States (29th year in a row), Brazil and Israel

Abstain - Columbia and Ukraine

Non-voting - Modova

The Cuba embargo is rooted in the darkest days of the Cold War; on March 14, 1958, the United States imposed an embargo against the sale of arms to Cuba during the Batista regime. This was followed by additional economic penalties after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959 and Cuba began to trade with the Soviet Union rather than with the United States.  Cuba was added to the State Department's lift of states sponsoring international terrorism in 1982 as shown on this Congressional Research Service report from 2005:

Since the embargo inception through to March 2016, Cuba estimates that the economic damages created have reached the $125.9 billion mark, a very significant penalty for a small economy.

2.) United Nations First Committee on Disarmament and International Security - November 1, 2019 vote on a draft resolution "Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East".  Here is the document:

Here is the key portion of the document (A/C.1/74/L.1):

"Urges all parties directly concerned seriously to consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, and, as a means of promoting this objective, invites the countries concerned to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Calls upon all countries of the region that have not yet done so, pending the establishment of the zone, to agree to place all their nuclear activities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguard."

Here is the result of the vote:

For - 172 Member States

Against - United States and Israel

Abstentions - Cameroon and the United Kingdom

3.) United Nations First Committee on Disarmament and International Security - November 1, 2019 vote on a draft resolution "The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East".  Here is the document:

Here is the key portion of the document (A/C.1/74/L.2)

"Stressing the importance of taking confidence-building measures, in particular the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, in order to enhance peace and security in the region and to consolidate the global non-proliferation regime.

Emphasizing the need for all parties directly concerned to seriously consider taking the practical and urgent steps required for the implementation of the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and, as a means of promoting this objective, inviting the countries concerned to adhere to the Treaty and, pending the establishment of the zone, to agree to place all their nuclear activities under Agency safeguards."

Here is the result of the vote:

For - 151 Member States

Against - Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the United States

Abstentions - 22 Member States

With these votes in mind, ask yourself the following question - which nations really are the world's rogue states, particularly given the history of Israel's acquisition of its nuclear weapons and the current uncertainty regarding the actual size of its nuclear armoury?

Monday, November 11, 2019

California's Medieval Crisis

While Washington spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually subsidizing America's defense industry, social issues that receive relatively little media coverage continue to plague the "homeland".  Here is a prime example:

Here is a discussion between Adam Corolla and Dr. Drew Pinsky (aka Dr. Drew), an American internist and addiction medicine specialist about the current situation in Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region:

Here is Dr. Pinsky once again weighing in on the same problems with homelessness, rats and epidemic outbreaks:

According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, in January 2018, California had an estimated 129,972 people experiencing homelessness on any given day.  Of that total, 24,332 were chronically homeless, 12,396 were young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 and, most embarrassingly, 10,836 were veterans.  

Here is a table showing the size of the problem in California:

According to HUD, on any given night in 2017, 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness or 17 out of every 10,000 Americans.   California "provides" nearly 25 percent of America's total homeless population, the highest of any state in the U.S. with a ratio of 34 homeless people out of every 10,000 Californians.  

Why does California have such a homeless issue, an issue that is leading to the potential for a very significant infectious disease outbreak?  According to Steven Greenhut at R Street Institute, California simply is not building enough housing largely because of regulations that add 6 percent to 18 percent to the cost of a home.  The lack of housing has led to extremely high housing costs (demand outstripping supply) and a situation where California's housing costs, particularly for renters, are extremely high when measured against household income.  Here is a chart showing the percentage of households in California that are suffering from a housing cost-burden or a severe housing cost-burden from the California Budget and Policy Center:

The high housing cost strain is even worse for low-income households in California as shown here:

This problem is not isolated to Los Angeles.  As shown on this graphic, the housing cost problem is widespread throughout the state as shown here:

California's extremely high cost of housing has led to a series of unanticipated consequences; an increase in homelessness which is accompanied by an increase in the potential for the spread of infectious diseases thanks to a growing problem with an exploding rodent population associated with the accumulation of trash.

Let's close with this story about the situation in California from Fox News:  

This sounds like a problem that would occur in a nation with a developing economy or an issue that faced a medieval society, doesn't it?  And yet, Washington insists that the entire world must want to emulate its successful societal model.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Christianity in America

With the Republican Party relying heavily on America's Evangelical Protestant Christians for support as shown here:

...recent research by Pew would suggest that American politics is headed for a sea change. 

First, let's look at Pew's research which shows dropping regular (i.e. once a month or more) church attendance:

Over that past decade, the percentage of American who say that they attended church more than once monthly has dropped by 7 percentage points to 45 percent while the percentage of Americans who stated that they attended church less than once monthly if at all has also risen by 7 percentage points to 54 percent.  In the early 1970s, only 11 percent of American adults stated that they never attended religious services; by the late 2010s, this had risen to 27 percent, an increase of 16 percentage points or 145 percent.

Here is a graphic showing how the share of Protestants and Catholics have been shrinking and the percentage of "nothing" (i.e. no religious affiliation) has risen:

As well, over the past decade, there has been a broad-based decline in the share of Americans who identify as Christians and a corresponding rise in Americans who identify as unaffiliated, particularly among Generation X (born 1965 to 1980) and Millennials (born 1981 to 1996):

Not surprisingly, there is a very significant generation gap in American religious identity:

Data shows that there were 233 million adults in the United States in 2009 of which 77 percent identified as Christian resulting in approximately 178 million American Christians.  Today, there are roughly 256 million adults in the United States with only 65 percent identifying as Christian resulting in approximately 167 million American Christians, down 12 million over the decade.

One thing that will have an impact on future voting patterns is the share of white American Protestants who describe themselves as "born-again or evangelical" Christians as shown on this graphic:

Some of the drop of the number of white Protestant born-again or evangelical Christians from 19 percent to 16 percent over the decade can be attributed to the declining share of whites in the overall population and the dropping share of adults that describe themselves as Christians.

There is no doubt that the political landscape in the United States which is strongly influenced by the religious identity of voters is undergoing a massive change, a change that will have a significant impact on the voters that the Republicans have counted on for decades.  Religion also goes a long way to explaining the growing political divide in America as the left leans away from formal religion and the right clings to its belief system.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Unreported War and Its High Cost to Civilians

The war that is pretty much ignored by the mainstream media, particularly in the United States, just passed a milestone although you'd be hard-pressed to learn anything about it.

According to an analysis by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project or ACLED, the war in Yemen has now resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people and more than 40,000 conflict events have taken place since 2015.  Here is a breakdown:

1.) approximately 20,000 fatalities have been reported so far in 2019 - this is the second most deadly year after 2018.

2.) approximately 8,000 fatalities have been reported so far in 2019 - the number of conflict events has dropped since March 2019 thanks to a drop in the number of shellings and airstrikes however the actual number of battles has not decreased.

3.) April was the most deadly month in 2019 with over 2,500 reported fatalities compared to "only" 1,700 in September.  The third quarter of 2019 has seen the lowest number of reported fatalities since the end of 2017 due to a decline in battle intensity.

4.) the number of coalition airstrikes has declined over the past year while Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia increased until the group announced a unilateral ceasefire against targets inside Saudi Arabian territory in September 2019.  It is important to note that the Saudis only partially accepted the ceasefire and continue to conduct attacks inside Yemen.

The impact on civilians has been significant.  Since 2015, ACLED has tracked approximately 4900 attacks that directly targeted civilians resulting in more than 12,000 civilian deaths; so far in 2019, there have been approximately 1,100 civilian deaths.  The Saudi-led coalition is responsible for over 8,000 of directly targeted civilian deaths and the Houthis are responsible for over 2,000 civilian deaths from direct targeting. 

Here is a map of Yemen showing the events that have resulted in 30 or more deaths so far in 2019:

Thanks to the Yemen Data Project, we also have statistics showing the impact of coalition air raids on Yemen and its civilians.  According to their statistics, 20,824 coalition air raids have resulted in the deaths of 8,632 civilians and injuries to 9,714 civilians.  Here is a graphic showing the number of air raids per governorate in Yemen:

Here is a graphic showing the timeline of the coalition air raids and the number of air raids per month:

Here is a graphic showing the number of attacks against various types of non-military infrastructure:

With Saudi Arabia playing a leading role in the coalition fighting in Yemen, let's close this rather sobering look at one of the world's least reported wars with this:

You will notice that the vast majority of the Royal Saudi Air Force fighter inventory is comprised of F-15S/SA and F-15C manufactured by Boeing (formerly McDonnell Douglas) strike fighters, followed by Tornado IDS strike fighters manufactured by a European consortium and Typhoon strike fighters, also manufactured by a European consortium.  In other words, the United States defense industry is largely responsible for supplying the Saudi Royal Family with the means to kill thousands of innocent Yemeni civilians.  But, one thing we know for certain, Washington will go on rubber-stamping the sale of American fighter jets to their second-best friends in the Middle East, civilian deaths be damned.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Russia and Africa - How Facebook Controls the Narrative

Once again, we can thank Facebook for protecting us from those nasty Russians and their constant peddling of propaganda.  Here's the announcement:

Here is the key sentence:

"We're constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people."

This is a rather hilarious statement given that Facebook's Earnings Release for the second quarter of 2019 looks like this:

You will notice that $16.624 billion or 98.4 percent of Facebook's second quarter revenue comes from advertising, up 28 percent on a year-over-year basis.  If advertising isn't something that is used to manipulate people, then I don't know what its true purpose is.

Let's go back to the announcement.  The offenders apparently used fake accounts to post about global and local news in Africa regarding Russia's policies in Africa, elections in both Madagascar and Mozambique as well as criticism of French and U.S. policies in Africa.  Imagine, imbalance in reportage.  It's a good thing that the American media can never be accused of biased coverage of Russia, isn't it?

Here's what passes for pro-Russia Facebook-based African propaganda:

Fortunately for those of us that are easily duped by the pro-Russian narrative, Facebook also removed 17 Facebook accounts, 18 Pages, 3 Groups and 6 Instagram accounts that originated in Russia and focused on the Sudan.  Approximately 457,000 accounts followed one or more of these pages and 1,300 Facebook accounts jointed at least one of these groups.  Fortunately, the people behind these accounts paid around $160 for ads on Facebook using Russian Rubles, a dead giveaway to their real identity because no one uses Russian Rubles except Russians.

In addition, Facebook removed a network of 14 Facebook accounts, 12 Pages, one Group and one Instagram account that also originated in Russia and focused on Libya.  About 212,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, one account joined the Group and 29,300 people followed the Instagram account.   Here are three examples of the content posted by these pages:

According to Human Rights Watch, in October 2018, around 200,000 Libyans remained internally displaced and the United States continues its program of "precision bombings against purported ISIS and Al-Qaeda targets.  I'm certain that everyone is still very happy in Libya despite eight years of American-inspired civil strife, particularly Muammar Gaddafi who suffered this ignominious end:

On the upside, it did give the loser of the 2016 American presidential election something to chuckle about:

America's technology tyrants are still smarting over their preferred presidential candidate's loss in 2016 and they aren't about to let us forget that voters were stupid enough to swallow Russia's anti-Hillary propaganda.  Facebook's ongoing program of censorship ensures one thing; their narrative and that of their masters in Washington remains intact.  All other narratives are to be destroyed.

Apparently, we are all supposed to be thankful that the American technology giants are willing to do our thinking for us.