Bibi Netanyahu misspoke. During a “peace conference” in Warsaw, Poland he said Israel wants war with Iran, then he turned around and said that’s not what he meant and “war” in Hebrew has a different meaning. 

.

.

Israel has pushed the idea of a “war” against Iran for decades. Iran sits atop a list of countries Bibi and the Likudniks want to take out. It was “mission accomplished” in Iraq and Libya, but a failure in Syria. Iran is a tough nut to crack and not a pushover like Iraq (where twelve years of brutal sanctions worked to soften the country up prior to the Bush dynasty’s second round of “creative destruction”). 

Here’s Bibi calling for mass murder in the lead-up to his destruction of Iraq. I say “his” because the “war” was orchestrated by a coterie of Likudnik operatives in the Bush administration. 

If you believe there are multiple meanings of the word “war” in Hebrew and Bibi misspoke or his true meaning was lost in translation, you’re not paying attention. The Israeli state is eager to kill Iranians and flatten Tehran in similar fashion to Aleppo or Fallujah. 

Bibi will need Sunni Arabs—in particular the vicious Wahhabi brand—Europe, and of course the United States, for his master plan to be a success. That’s what’s going on right now in Poland—a sort of pre-war powwow, getting all the ducks lined up in a row. 

But if you listen to the wife of a former Federal Reserve chairman, Netanyahu and VP Pence are in Poland to honor Jews who died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Andrea Mitchell managed to implicate the Polish government in that sad historical event. Did she forget the Nazis invaded Poland? 

Mike Pompeo was a bit more circumspect in his language. He declared “pushing back”—economic warfare eventually followed up with bombing raids—will solve the region’s problems. 

The former tank commander said Israel has the “right” to defend itself, but didn’t bother to enlighten on the particular threat the Jewish state—flush with billions of US dollars and military hardware—faces. 

Certainly not nuclear bombs. It is well-known, despite the fantasies of Likudniks and converts like Pompeo, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program. Israel, on the other hand, has a long secret nuclear program and steadfastly refuses to declare its nukes. Iran understands there is no shortage of homicidal lunatics in Israel, most prominently Bibi who would like you to believe “war” means something entirely different in Hebrew. 

The Warsaw confab is dedicated to a singular purpose—organizing the destruction of Iran with the blessing of Iran’s Arab neighbors. Bibi hopes to put together an Arab force for an invasion, thus making sure Arabs and Americans—the latter will undoubtedly be sucked into this quagmire—die to make Israel safe for apartheid and rabid settler serial murder of Palestinians. 

Meanwhile, the Christian Zionist Mike Pence demands Europe withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. 

If we can believe the Islamophobe Pamela Geller, Pence has warned the evil mullahs want to perpetuate a “new Holocaust” that will “erase Israel from the map.” 

Obviously, Ms. Geller lacks imagination, preferring instead to fall back on a discredited fantasy that Iran wants to kill every last Jew in the Middle East, never mind that any attempt to do so would result in it becoming an irradiated parking lot. 

There is a little propaganda sideshow coinciding with the war summit in Poland. Monica Witt, a former US counterintelligence officer, was charged this week with spying for the Iranian government. The indictment followed on the heels of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s promise to resist economic and psychological attacks by the United States. 

Finally, the charade in Warsaw allowed the cult of personality around Maryam Rajavi and her terroristic MEK (People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran) to gain media attention. Rudy Giuliani was on hand to give a speech urging violence, murder, and social and political chaos in Iran. 

Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and former Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department, hit the bull’s eye when he said,

“[Giuliani] seems wholly addicted to the group’s honorarium checks, and he refuses to let it bother him that the MEK has American blood on its hands.  He is the picture of a man without principle.”

I believe that’s too kind. Giuliani is sociopath dedicated to Israel’s hegemonic drive in the Middle East and its willingness to kill thousands and possibly millions of Iranians, so long as the killing is done by Arabs and, of course, stupid Americans brainwashed into the belief that mass murder and the starvation of children are characteristics of the neoliberal form of  democracy. 

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Another Day in the Empire.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research.


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

Special Price: $15.00

Click here to order.

Disclosure about 5G — and its considerable risk for humanity — is occurring within the United Nations. This is thanks to longtime UN staff member and whistle-blower Claire Edwards, who recently contacted me with this powerful story which touches all of humanity and our shared future. Watch the interview above, or on YouTube here or on Facebook here. -Josh del Sol Beaulieu
**

The first eight months of WWII with no fighting was called The Phoney War.

 Using millimetre waves as a fifth-generation or 5G wireless communications technology is a phoney war of another kind.

This phoney war is also silent, but this time shots are being fired – in the form of laser-like beams of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from banks of thousands of tiny antennas[1] – and almost no one in the firing line knows that they are being silently, seriously and irreparably injured.

In the first instance, 5G is likely to make people electro-hypersensitive (EHS).[2] Perhaps it was sitting in front of two big computer screens for many of the 18 years I worked at the UN that made me EHS. When the UN Office at Vienna installed powerful WiFi and cellphone access points – designed to serve large, public areas – in narrow, metal-walled corridors throughout the Vienna International Centre in December 2015, I was ill continuously for seven months.

I did my best for two and a half years to alert the UN staff union, administration and medical service to the danger to the health of UN staff of EMR from these access points, but was ignored. That’s why, in May 2018, I took the issue to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres[transcript]. He is a physicist and electrical engineer and lectured on telecommunications signals early in his career, yet asserted that he knew nothing about this. He undertook to ask the World Health Organization to look into it, but seven months later those public access points remain in place. I received no replies to my many follow-up emails.

As a result, I welcomed the opportunity to join the effort to publish an International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space because it was clear to me that, despite there having been 43 earlier scientific appeals, very few people understood the dangers of EMR. My experience as an editor could help ensure that a new 5G appeal, including the issue of beaming 5G from space, was clear, comprehensive, explanatory, and accessible to the non-scientist. The International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space is fully referenced, citing over a hundred scientific papers among the tens of thousands on the biological effects of EMRpublished over the last 80 years.[3]

Having spent years editing UN documents dealing with space, I know that outer space is hotly contested geopolitically and any untoward event involving a military satellite risks triggering a catastrophic response.[4]Space law is so inadequate – just one example is the complexity of space liability law[5],[6] – that we could really call the Earth orbits a new Wild West. China caused international consternation in 2007 when it demonstrated an anti-satellite weapon by destroying its own satellite. Space debris is the main concern among space-faring nations, with a so-called Kessler syndrome positing a cascade of space debris that could make the Earth orbits unusable for a thousand years.[7] Does launching 20,000+ commercial 5G satellites in such circumstances sound rational to you?

I live in Vienna, Austria, where the 5G rollout is suddenly upon us. Within the last five weeks, pre-5G has been officially announced at Vienna airport and 5G at the Rathausplatz, the main square in Vienna, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors to its Christmas market each December and skating rink each January, which are special treats for children. Along with birds and insects, children are the most vulnerable to 5G depredation because of their little bodies.[8]

Friends and acquaintances and their children in Vienna are already reporting the classic symptoms of EMR poisoning:[9] nosebleeds, headaches, eye pains, chest pains, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, tinnitus, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and cardiac pain. They also report a tight band around the head; pressure on the top of the head; short, stabbing pains around the body; and buzzing internal organs. Other biological effects such as tumours and dementia usually take longer to manifest, but in the case of 5G, which has never been tested for health or safety, who knows?[10]

Seemingly overnight a forest of 5G infrastructure has sprouted in Austria. In the space of three weeks one friend has gone from robust health to fleeing this country, where she has lived for 30 years. Each person experiences EMR differently. For her, it was extreme torture so she and I spent her last two nights in Austria sleeping in the woods. Interestingly, as she drove across southern Germany, she suffered torture even worse than in Austria, while in northern Germany she had no symptoms at all and felt completely normal, which suggests that there has been as yet no 5G rollout there.

There are no legal limits on exposure to EMR. Conveniently for the telecommunications industry, there are only non-legally enforceable guidelines such as those produced by the grandly named International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, which turns out to be like the Wizard of Oz, just a tiny little NGO in Germany that appoints its own members, none of whom is a medical doctor or environmental expert.[11]

Like the Wizard of Oz, ICNIRP seems to have magical powers. Its prestidigitation makes non-thermal (non-heating) effects of EMR exposure disappear into thin air, for taking into account the tens of thousands of research studies demonstrating the biological effects of EMR would invalidate its so-called safety guidelines.[12] It has bewitched the International Telecommunication Union, part of the UN family, into recognizing these guidelines.[13] And one little email sent to ICNIRP in October 2018 to submit Professor Martin Pall’s comments on ICNIRP’s new draft guidelines conjured up an immediate explosion of interest in the sender’s online presence – which had hitherto attracted none – from companies and individuals worldwide, one country’s immigration authorities, the office of the Austrian Chancellor (head of government), a firm of lawyers in Vienna and even Interpol![14],[15]

I hope that people read and share our Stop 5G Space Appeal to wake up themselves and others quickly and use it to take action themselves to stop 5G. Even eight short months of this 5G Phoney War could spell catastrophe for all life on Earth. Elon Musk is set to launch the first 4,425 5G satellites in June 2019 and “blanket” the Earth with 5G, in breach of countless international treaties. This could initiate the last great extinction, courtesy of the multi-trillion-US-dollar 5G, the biggest biological experiment and most heinous manifestation of hubris and greed in human history.10

People’s first reaction to the idea that 5G may be an existential threat to all life on Earth is usually disbelief and/or cognitive dissonance. Once they examine the facts, however, their second reaction is often terror. We need to transcend this in order to see 5G as an opportunity to empower ourselves, take responsibility and take action. We may have already lost 80 per cent of our insects to EMR in the last 20 years.[16] Our trees risk being cut down by the millions in order to ensure continuous 5G signalling for self-driving cars, buses and trains.[17]Are we going to stand by and see ourselves and our children irradiated, our food systems decimated, our natural surroundings destroyed?

Our newspapers are now casually popularizing the meme that human extinction would be a good thing,[18],[19] but when the question becomes not rhetorical but real, when it’s your life, your child, yourcommunity, your environment that is under immediate threat, can you really subscribe to such a suggestion?

If you don’t, please sign the Stop 5G Appeal and get active in contacting everyone you can think of who has the power to stop 5G, especially Elon Musk[20] and the CEOs of all the other companies planning to launch 5G satellites, starting in just 20 weeks from now. Life on Earth needs your help now.

***

A UN staff member Claire Edwards informs the UN Secretary General of the harm resulting from 5G and wireless proliferation.

The biological effects of EMF radiation are amply documented.

We may be facing a global health catastrophe of the order of magnitude well in excess of tobacco and cigarettes. 

5G is designed to deliver concentrated and electronic radiation.

Scroll down for full transcript

TRANSCRIPT

UN staff have repeatedly been told that they are the most important resource of this Organization.

Since December 2015, the staff here at the Vienna International Centre have been exposed to off-the-scale electromagnetic radiation from WiFi and mobile phone boosters installed on very low ceilings throughout the buildings. Current public exposure levels are at least one quintillion times (that’s 18 zeros) above natural background radiation according to Professor Olle Johansson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

The highly dangerous biological effects of EMFs have been documented by thousands of studies since 1932 indicating that we may be facing a global health catastrophe orders of magnitude worse than those caused by tobacco and asbestos.

Mr. Secretary-General, on the basis of the Precautionary Principle, I urge you to have these EMF-emitting devices removed immediately and to call a halt to any rollout of 5G at UN duty stations, because it is designed to deliver concentrated and focused electromagnetic radiation in excess of 100 times current levels in the same way as do directed energy weapons.

In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to “Protect, Respect and Remedy”, 5G technologies MUST be subjected to an independent health and safety assessment before they are launched anywhere in the world.

There is currently an international appeal () signed by 237 EMF scientists from 41 nations urging the UN and particularly the WHO to exert strong leadership in fostering the development of more protective EMF guidelines, encouraging precautionary measures, and educating the public about health risks, particularly risk to children and fetal development.

Mr. Secretary-General, we have a unique opportunity here at the UN Office at Vienna. Since our medical records are digitized, you have the possibility of releasing data on a closed population exposed to off-the-scale levels of electromagnetic radiation to establish if there have already been abnormal health consequences for the UN staff here in the last 28 months.

I urge you to do so and stop any 5G rollout in these buildings immediately.

Thank you.

UN Secretary-General: Sorry, because you are talking to someone who is a little bit ignorant on these things. You’re talking about the WiFi systems?

Staff member: On the ceilings of these buildings, WiFi boosters and cell phone boosters were installed without consultation, without information to staff in December 2015. Now, if you understand electromagnetic radiation, the signal is – if you cannot get a signal from your mobile phone, the signal goes to maximum strength and that then bounces off metal walls affecting the body multiple times at maximum exposure levels. So the situation here is extremely dangerous. I have heard anecdotally of many people who have had health problems. I don’t know if they are related but the Precautionary Principle would dictate that we use our medical records to look into this and that we remove these dangerous devices immediately. Thank you.

UN Secretary-General: Well, I’m worried because I put those devices in my house. [Laughter & applause]

Staff member: Not a good idea!

UN Secretary-General: This I will have to – I confess my ignorance on this but I’m going to raise this with WHO [World Health Organization] – which I think is the organization that might be able to deal with it properly for them to put someonetheir staff or organizations to work on that because I must confess I was not aware of that danger – [humorously] to the extent that I put those things in the rooms of my housein the ceiling.

Staff member: I would suggest that everybody start looking into this issue and particularly into 5G, which 237 scientists from 41 countries consider a threat that is far worse than the tobacco and asbestos threats of the past.

UN Secretary-General: Well, maybe I have learned something completely new. I hope it will be very useful to me but I confess it is the first time I hear about it.

[End of transcript]

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the authors of the Stop 5G Appeal.

Donations are urgently needed to publicize the Stop 5G Space Appeal further and educate people throughout the world about the threat from 5G, especially from 5G satellites, set to begin operation as of June 2019 and blanket the Earth with 5G, from which there would be no escape for any living organism anywhere on the planet (www.5gspaceappeal.org/donate/).

Claire Edwards can be contacted at [email protected].

Arthur Firstenberg can be contacted at [email protected] or www.5gspaceappeal.org/contact/.

The Appeal is available in Chinese (中文), Japanese (日本語), Croatian (Hrvatski), Czech (Český), Danish (Dansk), Finnish (Suomi), French (Français), German (Deutsch), Greek (Ελληνική), Hungarian (Magyar), Italian (Italiano), Norwegian (Norsk), Polish (Polski), Portuguese (Português), Romanian (Română), Russian (Русский), Serbian (Српски), Spanish (Español) and Turkish (Türkçe) and will soon also be available in Dutch, Macedonian, Mongolian, and Swedish (www.5gspaceappeal.org/the-appeal/). We are seeking volunteer translators for other languages.


References

[1] Delos, Peter. “The Way to a New Phased Array Radar Architecture.” TechTime: Electronics & Technology News. January 15, 2018. Accessed January 1, 2019. https://techtime.news/2018/01/ 15/analog-devices-phased-array-radar/. “Although there is a lot of discussion of massive MIMO and automotive radar, it should not be forgotten that most of the recent radar development and beamforming R&D has been in the defense industry, and it is now being adapted for commercial applications. While phased array and beamforming moved from R&D efforts to reality in the 2000s, a new wave of defense focused arrays are now expected, enabled by industrial technology offering solutions that were previously cost prohibitive.”

[2] “Electrosensitive Testimonials.” We Are The Evidence. 2018. Accessed January 1, 2019. http://wearetheevidence.org/adults-who-developed-electro-sensitivity/. “WATE intends to expose the suppressed epidemic of sickness, suffering and human rights crisis created by wireless technology radiation; elevate the voice of those injured; defend and secure their rights and compel society and governments to take corrective actions and inform the public of the harm.”

[3] Glaser, Lt. Z. “Cumulated Index to the Bibliography of Reported Biological Phenomena (‘effects’) and Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-frequency Radiation: Report, Supplements (no. 1-9).” BEMS Newsletter B-1 through B-464 (1984). Accessed January 1, 2019. http://www.cellphonetaskforce.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Zory-Glasers-index.pdf. Lt. Zorach Glaser, PhD, catalogued 5,083 studies, books and conference reports for the US Navy through 1981.

[4] “Space Sustainability: A Practical Guide.” Secure World Foundation, 2014, 21. Accessed January 1, 2019. https://swfound.org/media/206289/swf_space_sustainability-a_practical_guide_2018__1.pdf.

“However, as more countries integrate space into their national military capabilities and rely on space-based information for national security, there is an increased chance that any interference (either actual or perceived) with satellites could spark or escalate tensions and conflict in space or on Earth. This is made all the more difficult by the challenge of determining the exact cause of a satellite malfunction: whether it was due to a space weather event, impact by space debris, unintentional interference, or deliberate act of aggression.”

[5] “Space Law: Liability for Space Debris.” Panish, Shea & Boyle LLP. 2018. Accessed January 1, 2019. https://www.aviationdisasterlaw.com/liability-for-space-debris/. “Filing a lawsuit against SpaceX for space debris is a little different than one against the commercial industry or state-sponsored launch. Since SpaceX is a private company, injured parties can file claims directly against the establishment in accord with the state’s personal injury laws. For the claim to be successful, the plaintiff will have to prove that SpaceX was negligent in some way that caused the space debris collision. Space law is notoriously complex, making it very difficult for injured parties to recover for [sic] their damages in California.”

[6]Von Der Dunk, Frans G. “Liability versus Responsibility in Space Law: Misconception or Misconstruction?” University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law: Space, Cyber, and Telecommunications Law Program Faculty Publications 21 (1992). Accessed January 1, 2019. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/spacelaw/21/?utm_source=digitalcommons.unl.edu/spacelaw/21&utm_medium=PDF&utm_campaign=PDFCoverPages.

[7]Kessler, D. J., P. M. Landry, B. G. Cour-Palais, and R. E. Taylor. “Aerospace: Collision Avoidance in Space: Proliferating Payloads and Space Debris Prompt Action to Prevent Accidents.” IEEE Spectrum 17, no. 6 (1980): 37-41.

[8] Morgan, L. Lloyd, Santosh Kesari, and Devra Lee Davis. “Why Children Absorb More Microwave Radiation than Adults: The Consequences.” Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure 2, no. 4 (December 2014): 197-204. Accessed January 1, 2019. https://www.sciencedirect.com/ science/article/pii/S2213879X14000583. Highlights: (1) Children absorb more microwave radiation (MWR) than adults. (2) MWR is a Class 2B (possible) carcinogen. (3) The fetus is in greater danger than children from exposure to MWR. (4) The legal exposure limits have remained unchanged for decades. (5) Cellphone manuals warnings and the 20 cm rule for tablets/laptops violate the “normal operating position” regulation.

[9]Electro Hypersensitivity: Talking to Your Doctor. PDF. Canadian Initiative to Stop Wireless, Electric, and Electromagnetic Pollution. http://weepinitiative.org/talkingtoyourdoctor.pdf.

[10]FCC Chairman on 5G: “We won’t study it, regulate it, have standards for it.” Youtube. June 20, 2016. Accessed January 1, 2019. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwgwe01SIMc. Notes in video: Ultra-high frequency radiation (24 to 100 GHz or more); aimed and amplified signals; massive deployment of towers; worth billions; no standards, no testing; sharing with satellite and military operations; all areas (including rural areas) to be saturated with radiation; all local deployments to be fast-tracked; everything to be microchipped.

[11] Dariusz Leszczynski, PhD. “Is ICNIRP Reliable Enough to Dictate Meaning of Science to the Governmental Risk Regulators?” Between a Rock and a Hard Place (blog), April 8, 2018. Accessed January 2, 2019.

https://betweenrockandhardplace.wordpress.com/type/gallery/.

“The major problems of ICNIRP are: (1) it is a “private club” where members elect new members without need to justify selection; (2) lack of accountability before anyone; (3) lack of transparency of their activities; (4) complete lack of supervision of its activities; (5) skewed science evaluation because of the close similarity of the opinions of all members of the Main Commission and all of the other scientists selected as advisors to the Main Commission.”

[12] Matthes, Rüdiger. “EMF Safety Guidelines: The ICNIRP View.” International Telecommunications Union Workshop on Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields, May 9, 2013. Accessed January 1, 2019.

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/climatechange/emf-1305/Documents/Presentations/s2part1p1-Rued igerMatthes.pdf.

[13] ITU Telecommunication Development Sector Study Group 2: Session on Modern Policies, Guidelines, Regulations and Assessments of Human Exposure to RF-EMF. Session 1: Recent Activities on Human Exposure to RF-EMF in ITU and ICNIRP, Geneva, Switzerland. October 10, 2018. Accessed January 2, 2019.

www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Study-Groups/2018-2021/Pages/ meetings/session-Q7-2-oct18.aspx.

“Session 1 will discuss some of the recent activities held in ITU and describe the latest updates to the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection) guidelines.”

[14] Martin L. Pall, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University. Response to 2018 ICNIRP Draft Guidelines and Appendices on Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic and Electromagnetic Fields (100 KHz to 300 GHz). October 8, 2018. Accessed January 2, 2019.

www.5gexposed.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/FINAL-Martin-L-Pall-Response-to-2018-Draft-Guidelines-8.10.18.pdf.

[15] Cooperation Agreement Between The International Criminal Police Organization Interpol and The International Telecommunication Union. Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-18) Dubai 29 October–16 November 2018. Accessed January 2, 2019.

https://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-s/md/18/pp/c/S18-PP-C-0047!!MSW-E.docx.

“2. In implementing the Agreement, each Party shall act within their respective areas of competence. More specifically, the implementation of the Agreement by ITU shall not exceed beyond its mandate pertaining to building confidence and security in the use of ICTs, in accordance to Plenipotentiary Conference Resolution 130 (Rev. Busan, 2014) and to its role on child online protection in accordance to Plenipotentiary Conference Resolution 179 (Rev. Busan, 2014), whereas the implementation of the Agreement by INTERPOL shall not exceed its mandate as defined by article 2 of its Constitution which include activities pertaining to cybercrime and online child exploitation”. (emphasis added)

[16] Hallmann C.A., M. Sorg and E. Jongejans. “More than 75 per cent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas.” PLOS One 12, no. 10 (2017): e0185809.

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809&type=printable. Accessed January 1, 2019.

[17] Laville, Sandra. “Millions of Trees at Risk in Secretive Network Rail Felling Programme.” The Guardian, April 29, 2018. Accessed January 1, 2019.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/ apr/29/millions-of-trees-at-risk-in-secretive-network-rail-felling-programme.

[18] May, Todd. “Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?” The New York Times, December 17, 2018. Accessed January 1, 2019.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/17/opinion/human-extinction-climate-change.html.

[19] Davis, Nicola. “Falling total fertility rate should be welcomed, population expert says: figures showing declining birth rates are ‘cause for celebration’, not alarm.” The Guardian, December 26, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.

www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/26/falling-total-fertility-rate-should-be-welcomed-population-expert-says.

[20] “Planet Earth: Worldwide 5G Radiation from Orbit?” Letter from Claus Scheingraber, Roland Wolff and others to Elon Musk. June 18, 2018. Brunnthal, Germany. “… We are sure that your satellite project is already at an advanced stage. But even if much money has been invested, one should consider that it is only a matter of time until the fact of damaging health potential of mobile communications – and especially of 5G-mobile communication – can no longer we overlooked. Therefore we emphatically recommend not to implement the satellite project.”

(Letter in German) (Letter in EnglishClaire Edwards

Claire Edwards, BA Hons, MA, worked for the United Nations as Editor and Trainer in Intercultural Writing from 1999 to 2017. Since May 2018, she has collaborated with Arthur Firstenberg to publish the International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space (www.5gspaceappeal.org).

The Appeal has attracted over 30,000 individual and group signatories from 100 countries, but still needs to reach many more people.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

For a nation that prides itself on being the world’s wealthiest, most innovative, and most technologically advanced, the US’ healthcare system is nothing less than a disaster and disgrace. Not only are Americans the least healthy among the most developed nations, but the US’ health system also ranks dead last among high-income countries.[1] Despite rising costs and our unshakeable faith in American medical exceptionalism, average life expectancy in the US has remained lower than other OECD nations for many years and has continued to decline for the past three years. On the other hand, countries with universal healthcare coverage find their average life expectancy stable or slowly increasing.  The fundamental problem in Washington is that both parties are beholden to the pharmaceutical and private insurance industries. Neither has the courage or will to spurn their corporate donors to do what is sensible, financially feasible and morally correct to improve Americans’ quality of health and well-being. 

Our system is horribly broken. If this weren’t so, the single-payer debate would not be as contentious as it is at this moment. Poll after poll shows that the American public favors the expansion of public health coverage.  Other incremental proposals, including Medicare and Medicaid buy-in plans, are also widely preferred to the Obamacare mess we are currently stuck with. 

It is not difficult to imagine how the dismal state of American medicine could be the result of a system that has completely sold out to free-market ideology and the bottom line interests of drug makers, healthcare mega-corporations, the insurance industry and Wall Street. How advanced and ethically sound can a healthcare system be if tens of millions of people have no access to medical care because it is financially out of their reach? 

The United Nations recognizes healthcare as a human right. Last year, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denounced the American healthcare system as “politically and morally wrong.”  Ki-moon belongs to a group known as The Elders founded by Nelson Mandela and funded by Sir Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel, a group of older wise statesmen and stateswomen around the world determined to tackle global crises during their remaining years and unafraid to take on the capitalist system. Among their initiatives is global universal healthcare, and the US has been an enormous roadblock to reaching that goal. [2]  

The US’ healthcare system is a public economic failure, benefiting no one except the large and increasingly consolidated insurance firms at the top that ultimately supervise the racket.  The entire system is another example of the moral deterioration that fuels the inequality plaguing the nation for the past three decades. 

Our political parties have wrestled with single-payer or universal healthcare for decades. Obama ran his first 2008 presidential campaign on a single-payer platform. His campaign health adviser, the late Dr. Quentin Young from the University of Illinois Medical School, was one of the nation’s leading voices calling for universal health coverage since 1986.   Among the 35 most developed OECD nations, 32 have some form of universal healthcare systems.  However, past efforts to even raise the issue have been rapidly attacked and falsely discredited. The fact of the matter is that a huge army of private interests are determined to keep the public enslaved to private insurers and high medical costs. The failure of our healthcare is in no small measure due it being a fully for-profit operation.  Industry and older corporate rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans argue that a single-payer or socialized medical program is unaffordable. However, not only is single-payer affordable, it will in the long-term save over $2 trillion annually. It will end bankruptcies due to unpayable medical debt. In addition, as we outline below, universal healthcare, structured on a preventative model, will reduce disease rates at the outset.  

During a private conversation with Dr. Young shortly before his passing in 2016, he conveyed his sense of betrayal at the hands of the Obama administration. Already in his 80s when he joined the Obama team to help lead the young Senator to victory with the promise that America would finally catch up with other nations, he sounded like a defeated man. Dr. Young shared how he was manipulated, and that Obama held no sincere intention to make universal healthcare a part of his administration’s agenda. During the closed-door negotiations that spawned the weak compromised bill known as Obamacare, Dr. Young was neither consulted nor invited to participate. In fact, he stated, he never heard from Obama again after the election.  The record shows that the principal parties meeting with the Obama administration were from the insurance and medical industries. It is they who created Obamacare. It was left to the charismatic and charming Obama to offer this up to the public as a spectacular victory. 

Today the pharmaceutical, HMO, and insurance industries, as well as medicine’s most prominent professional associations, medical schools and Wall Street firms comprise a powerful cartel with its tentacles wrapped around the throats of politicians and federal health agencies, determined to refashion healthcare in its own rapacious image. Obama’s domestic promises and accomplishments, including Obamacare, were anemic at best. The policies he enacted only further muddied the waters with esoteric taxes, shortsighted giveaways, and bureaucratic hurdles.  Meanwhile, the physical and mental health of the nation continues to erode. 

Corporate Democrats argue that Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a positive step inching the country towards complete public coverage. However, aside from providing coverage to the poorest of Americans, the ACA turned into another financial anchor around the necks of millions more.  Since the law was enacted, the average price for a family health policy has risen by $2,200. Patient out-of-pocket hospitalization costs are also increasing and have now reached $329 billion.[3] The ACA is riddled with loopholes benefiting the private insurers who actually wrote the bill. After Obama left office, 28 million people remained uninsured. Rather than healthcare spending lessening, as Obama promised, it has exploded.  Since Trump took his place upon the throne, an additional 7 million Americans fell into medical hardship and joined the uninsured.[4] Over five percent of American children under 18 remain uninsured.[5] These figures are in no way indicative of a “strong economy.” 

Clearly, a universal healthcare program would require flipping the script on the entire private insurance industry, which employs approximately half a million people. Yet the private health insurers’ profits continue to surge. For the first three months of 2017, the top five for-profit insurers collected $4.5 billion in net earnings.[6] Yet this seems conservatively low. Last year, Modern Healthcare reported that United Health alone cracked the $200 billion revenue mark in 2017, showing a 30 percent profit increase.[7]  And none of this extreme wealth went directly towards preventing disease. It is all a middle-man scam.   

Democrats are becoming more sharply divided over the matter of universal healthcare. It will be a critical issue for Democrats looking to enter the White House in 2020, and corporate Democrats beholden to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries will face harsh opposition for reelection. Nancy Pelosi fills much of her campaign war chest with contributions from the healthcare industry, which amounted to $1.18 million last election cycle.[8]  According to Kaiser Healthcare News, the top three Democratic House leaders — Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn – have collected over $2.3 million in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry since the 2008 election. Hoyer in particular receives more PAC financing from drugmakers than any other member of Congress.[9] 

Obviously, the most volatile debate concerning a national universal healthcare system concerns cost.  Although there is already a socialized medical system in place — every federal legislator, bureaucrat, government employee and veteran benefits from it — fiscal conservatives and groups such as the Koch Brothers network, including the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, are single-mindedly dedicated to preventing the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid. 

Government medical coverage already reaches between 38-46 percent of Americans, according to the US Census Bureau.[10] The Mercatus analysis made the outrageous claim that a single-payer system would increase federal health spending by $32 trillion in ten years. However, analyses and reviews by the Congressional Budget Office in the early 1990s concluded that such a system would only increase spending at the start; it would quickly be offset by enormous savings as the years pass. 

In one analysis, “the savings in administrative costs [10 percent of health spending] would be more than enough to offset the expense of universal coverage.”[11]

High administrative costs overshadow all aspects of US healthcare, not just the insurance industry. Twenty-five percent of hospital spending is administrative, compared to 16 percent in the UK. In 2015, CNBC reported that $275 billion was wasted in insurance paperwork. In addition, there are billing services, which in 2012 averaged $471 billion to physicians, hospitals, supply services, and private and public insurers. 

Therefore, the private insurance industry and private billing services would have to be either removed from the equation altogether or radically reformed in order to comply with federal rules rather than dictating them.  The Green Party’s Dr. Margaret Flowers, the national coordinator of Health Over Profit for Everyone, argues that a single payer system is “the best way to put private insurers on the margins of our healthcare system and to control the pharmaceutical industry” as well as their exorbitant drug prices.[12] 

Indeed, a universal healthcare system would increase federal spending. But at the same time, independent analyses indicate it would reduce the nation’s total healthcare costs, a critical goal we should be striving for. Compared to other nations, the US spends a disproportionate amount on healthcare.  According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in 2017, the US spent approximately $10,740 per person.[13] However, as we will note below, this is a misleading figure. It conceals the deeper problems running through the system.  Compare this to Switzerland, the second highest per capita spender at $8,000, or 28 percent less.  At present, healthcare accounts for 18% of the US’ GDP, an unsustainable figure as costs increase. After the US and Switzerland, per capita expenditures decrease dramatically, with Germany (the third highest) at $5,700.  France, Canada, Belgium, Japan, Australia and the UK each spend less than half what the US does.[14]

An investigative review published by The Atlantic found that more than half of healthcare spending goes to only five percent of patients! If this money were equally distributed, then the $10,740 per capita expenditure for every adult and child might make sense. The writer calls this tiny segment of patients who dominate health costs the “Platinum Patients.”[15]  Most of these medical “frequent flyers” are the elderly and the chronically ill who have reached the final months or days of their lives.[16] This is where tens of billions of dollars in care and treatment are spent annually. This segment of patients is also the most lucrative for private insurers, hospitals and doctors – patients whose charts can be larded with unnecessary diagnostic tests, drug prescriptions and medical procedures to further scam the system. 

Funding a National Health Program would primarily be accomplished by raising taxes to levels comparable to other developed nations. The Green New Deal proposed by Senator Sanders and the new young Democrat progressives in the House would tax the highest multimillion-dollar earners 60-70 percent. Despite the outrage of its critics, including old rank-and-file Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, this is still far less than in the past. During the Korean War, the top tax rate was 91 percent; it declined to 70 percent in the late 1960s. Throughout most of the 1970s, those in the lowest income bracket were taxed at 14 percent. Life, including healthcare, was affordable then.

But Democratic supporters of the ACA who oppose a universal healthcare plan ignore the additional twenty new taxes that were levied to pay for the program. These included surtaxes on investment income, Medicare taxes from those earning over $200,000, taxes on tanning services, an excise tax on medical equipment, and a 40 percent tax on health coverage for costs over the designated cap that applied to flexible savings and health savings accounts.  The entire ACA was messy and unnecessarily complicated from the start.  And the people who suffered the most from these hidden details, yet were mandated by law to purchase private insurance, were those that just missed the poverty line cutoff. 

Other public health costs are completely out of kilter, presenting a completely avoidable drain on the system. The fact that Obamacare created and strengthened two parallel systems — federal and private — with entirely different economic structures created a labyrinth of red tape, rules, and wasteful bureaucracy. Since the ACA went into effect, over 150 new boards, agencies and programs have had to be established to monitor its 2,700 pages of gibberish. A federal single-payer system would easily eliminate this bureaucracy and waste. 

A medical New Deal to establish universal healthcare coverage is a decisive step in the correct direction. The energy behind the younger generation of Democrat legislators is admirable, but we question whether they possess the wisdom to address the fullness of our health crisis. We must look at the crisis holistically and in a systemic way.  Simply shuffling private insurance into a federal Medicare-for-all or buy-in program, funded by taxing the wealthiest of citizens, may only reduce costs, possibly only temporarily. It will not curtail nor slash escalating rates of disease. Any effective healthcare reform must also tackle the underlying reasons for Americans’ poor state of health. We must not shy away from examining the social illnesses infecting our entire free-market capitalist culture and its addiction to deregulation. A viable healthcare model must structurally transform how the medical economy operates. Finally, a successful medical New Deal must honestly evaluate the best and most reliable scientific evidence in order to effectively redirect public health spending. 

For example, years ago, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former Obama healthcare adviser, noted that AIDS-HIV measures consume the most public health spending, even though the disease “ranked 75th on the list of diseases by personal health expenditures.”[17]

On the other hand, according to the American Medical Association, a large percentage of the nation’s $3.4 trillion healthcare spending goes towards treating preventable diseases, notably diabetes, common forms of heart disease, and back and neck pain. In 2016, these three conditions were the most costly and accounted for approximately $277 billion in spending.[18] 

The rate of autism has increased 15 percent in only a two year period. It now stands at 1 in 28 boys (2.7 percent) and 1 in 152 girls.[19] The CDC estimates that 1 in 40 children between 3 and 17 years of age are autistic.[20]  In 2015, the economic burden of autism disorders was $268 billion; it is expected to almost double to $461 billion by 2025.[21]  There are no signs that this alarming trend is slowing or stopping; and yet, our entire federal health system has failed to search honestly and conscientiously for the underlying causes of this epidemic.

All explanations that might interfere with the pharmaceutical industry’s unchecked growth, such as over-vaccination, are ignored and viciously discredited without any sound scientific evidence.  Therefore, a proper medical New Deal will require an overhaul and reform of our federal health agencies, especially the Centers for Disease Control, a thoroughly compromised and corrupt agency that cries out for demolition and rebuilding. For any medical revolution to succeed in advancing universal healthcare, the plan must prioritize spending in a manner that serves public health and not private interests.

It will also require placing all private corporate interests and their lobbyists on the sidelines, away from any strategic planning, in order to avoid gross conflicts of interest. This would be the correct approach; however, we have little faith that our legislators, including the so-called progressives, are willing to undertake such actions. 

Most important, America’s healthcare system, as well as the Green New Deal, almost completely ignores the single most critical initiative to reduce costs – that is, preventative efforts and programs instead of deregulation and loopholes designed to protect the drug and insurance industries’ bottom line.  Prevention can begin with banning toxic chemicals that are proven health hazards associated with current disease epidemics. 

This should be a no-brainer for any legislator who cares for public health.  Unfortunately, unlike Europe, the US continues to permit numerous toxic chemicals, including many known carcinogens, to find their way into common everyday products. Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, notes that “the policy approach in the US and Europe is dramatically different” when it comes to chemical allowances in cosmetic products.[22]  Whereas the EU has banned 1328 toxic substances from the cosmetic industry alone, the US has banned only 11.  The US continues to allow carcinogenic formaldehyde, petroleum, many parabens (an estrogen mimicker and endocrine hormone destroyer), the highly allergenic p-phenylenediamine or PBD, triclosan, which has been associated with the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, avobenzone, and many others to be used in cosmetics, sunscreens, shampoo and hair dyes.[23]  

Other toxic chemicals are commonly used in the American food industry. Potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide (ADA) are frequently found in baked foods, yet both are banned in Europe due to cancer risks.  Attempts to ban potassium bromate from breads and buns, pastry dough, and pizzas started twenty years ago, yet the fast food industry continues to use it extensively. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled the chemical a likely human carcinogen.  Likewise, the FDA continues to argue that azodicarbonamide, or ADA, a whitening agent used in flour, is safe, although animal studies have also revealed carcinogenic activity.[24]  Other health-threatening chemicals used in raising farm animals, such as genetically engineered bovine growth hormone and ractopamine (used to increase metabolic weight gain in cows, pigs and turkeys), are also prohibited in the EU but not the US.[25] 

These are only a few among hundreds of chemicals and food additives that the FDA lists as safe but the EU has banned. One reason Europeans are so much healthier than Americans is because their governments take more immediate measures and step in once a chemical is shown to pose serious health risks. This is one preventative measure the US must adopt in order to reduce avoidable healthcare costs. Corporations should no longer be given a free pass to poison our population. There are no safe levels for any carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting chemical, and that applies across the board – for every healthy and sickly man, woman and child. 

Next, the food Americans consume must be evaluated for its health benefits. We see no problem in taxing the unhealthiest foods, such as commercial junk food, sodas and candy, products that contain ingredients proven to be toxic, and meat products laden with dangerous chemicals including growth hormones and antibiotics. The scientific evidence that the average American diet is contributing to rising disease trends is indisputable. We would also implement additional taxes on the public advertising of these demonstrably unhealthy products.  All such tax revenue would accrue to a national universal health program to offset medical expenditures associated with the very illnesses linked to these products. Although such a tax measure would help pay for a medical New Deal, it should be combined with programs to educate the public about healthy nutrition if it is to produce a reduction in the most common preventable diseases. The public must understand the reasons why their favorite junk foods are being taxed and the health risks they face by consuming them. 

Measures to improve the quality of Americans’ health demand a harsh reality check. After acknowledging that $3.4 trillion is being spent on American healthcare every year, we must look at how it is being spent. It is highly unlikely, if not impossible, that our suggestions will be taken seriously. Ultimately, the best solution is to remove the extravagant profit motive from the system, eliminate the private insurance and billing industries completely, and invest in a national preventative health program. Preventative health education should be mandatory throughout public school systems.  

Physicians are also forced into a bind, and this is contributing to prodigious waste in money and resources.  In 2010, $55.6 billion (2.4%) of annual healthcare spending went towards medical liability insurance. It is time that physician liability insurance is replaced with no-fault options. Today’s doctors are spending an inordinate amount of money to protect themselves. Legions of liability and trial lawyers seek big paydays for themselves stemming from physician error. Forbes reports that the cost of medical malpractice runs at about $55 billion per year.[26]  This has created a culture of fear among doctors and hospitals, resulting in the overly cautious practice of defensive medicine, driving up costs and insurance premiums just to avoid lawsuits. Doctors are forced to order unnecessary tests and prescribe more medications and medical procedures just to cover their backsides.  In 2017, $200 billion was spent on unnecessary medical tests, compared to $6.8 billion just 6 years earlier. The blowback has been a tragic rise in medical errors, patient injuries and deaths. 

According to a 2017 review by Dr. Raj Gopalan, vice president of Innovation and Clinical Informatics at Wolters Kluwer, there are at least two million confirmed adverse drug reactions in the US every year, causing 100,000 deaths. These medication errors and complications add an additional $136 billion to the US’s annual healthcare bill.[27] Furthermore, there is the loss of work and productivity due to medical error. The Journal of Health Care Finance estimates that every year, 10 million work days valued at approximately $1.2 billion are lost due to measurable medical errors. The reality is likely much worse, and an earlier analysis by Loyola University Medical School estimated that the total economic impact across the board for all losses due to iatrogenic events and deaths is nearly $1 trillion every year.[28]

No-fault insurance is a common-sense scheme that enables physicians to pursue their profession in a manner that will reduce iatrogenic injuries and costs. Individual cases requiring additional medical intervention and loss of income would still be compensated. This would generate huge savings. In recent years, reports have indicated that the US is experiencing a shortage of doctors, with too many med school graduates entering highly specialized and lucrative medical professions in order to increase their income. We believe that all medical and nursing education should be free. From the time students graduate, they should receive an excellent living wage, even before proceeding to any specialty – all without the specter of debt looming over their future. 

No other nation suffers from the scourge of excessive drug prices like the US. After many years of haggling to lower prices and increase access to generic drugs, no substantial progress has been made. And now even generic drug prices are skyrocketing, according to a CBS News investigation. A 60 Minutes feature about the Affordable Care Act reported a “orgy of lobbying and backroom deals in which just about everyone with a stake in the $3-trillion-a-year health industry came out ahead—except the taxpayers.”[29]

For example, Life Extension magazine reported that an antiviral cream (acyclovir), which had lost its patent protection, “was being sold to pharmacies for 7,500% over the active ingredient cost. The active ingredient (acyclovir) costs only 8 pennies, yet pharmacies are paying a generic maker $600 for this drug and selling it to consumers for around $700.”[30] The active ingredient in the drug tretinoin costs 80 cents to manufacture, yet a full bottle costs $1,100. Other examples include the antibiotic Doxycycline. The price per pill averages 7 cents to $3.36 but has a 5,300 percent mark up when it reaches the consumer. The antidepressant Clomipramine is marked up 3,780 percent, and the anti-hypertensive drug Captopril’s mark-up is 2,850 percent. And these are generic drugs![31] These numbers show how bloated and rapacious the medical industrial complex is. Drug prices like these are another reason why do not have universal healthcare. 

Medication costs, therefore, need to be dramatically cut to allow drug manufacturers a reasonable but not obscene profit margin. By capping profits approximately 100 percent above all costs, we would save our system hundreds of billions of dollars. Such a measure would also extirpate the growing scourge of pricing fraud, which forces patients to pay out-of-pocket in order to make up for the costs insurers are unwilling to pay. 

The same is true for exorbitant hospital costs. A one dollar bag of intravenous saline can cost up to $546, plus an additional $127 to administer it.[32] A single aspirin pill can cost $30, six times the pharmacy’s cost for a full bottle, if given in the ER.[33]  A Fox News report noted that a visit to the ER for a headache might bankrupt you with over a $17,700 bill, or bilk you with a $24,100 bill for a sprained ankle.[34] Unfortunately, the private insurance industry permits this unchecked price-gouging, and hospitals simply take advantage of the medical services racket.

The chart below summarizes estimated costs that may be saved by converting to a national universal healthcare program. If a truly concerted effort were made to overhaul our system, savings could reach over $2.6 trillion. This figure does not even include the billions in savings that could be achieved if drug price increases were regulated. The current figures pertain to reviews and reports available between 2012-2017.

Regardless of its critics, a single-payer program is completely feasible and well within the nation’s reach. Dean Baker at the Center for Economics and Policy Research states,

“The government already pays for more than half of the nation’s health care bill through Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits and other public sector programs. Getting to Medicare for All would mean covering the other half of current expenses, along with the additional costs of paying for the uninsured and under-insured who are not getting the care they need.”[35]

Finally, we must acknowledge that our healthcare is fundamentally a despotic rationing system based upon high insurance costs vis-a-vis a toss of the dice to determine where a person sits on the economic ladder.  For the past three decades it has contributed to inequality. The economic metrics used cast millions of Americans out of coverage because private insurance costs are beyond their means.

Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton University political economist, has called our system “brutal” because it “rations [people] out of the system.”  He defined rationing as “withholding something from someone that is beneficial.”[36] Discriminatory healthcare rationing now affects over 35 million people who have been priced out the system and left uninsured. They make too much to qualify for Medicare under Obamacare, yet earn far too little to afford private insurance costs and premiums. Out-of-pocket expenses for services insurers refuse to provide can also bankrupt a family. In the final analysis, the entire system is discriminatory and predatory. 

We have to be realistic. Almost every member of Congress has benefited from the flow of Big Pharma money into their pockets for their campaigns. The only way to begin to bring our healthcare program up to the level we see in other developed nations’ programs is to remove the drug industry’s rampant and unnecessary profiteering from the equation. 

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries.

Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on alternative and nutritional health and a multi-award-winning documentary film director, including Poverty Inc and Deadly Deception.

Notes

1  https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/journal-article/2017/jul/last-first-could-us-health-care-system-become-best-world?redirect_source=/publications/in-brief/2017/jul/last-to-first-could-us-health-system-become-best-in-world  

2  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/25/ex-un-chief-ban-kioon-says-us-healthcare-system-is-morally-wrong

3  http://www.actuary.org/content/prescription-drug-spending-us-health-care-system

4  https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-264.html

5  https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-264.html

6  https://www.axios.com/profits-are-booming-at-health-insurance-companies-1513302495-18f3710a-c0b4-4ce3-8b7f-894a755e6679.html

7  https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/17/unitedhealth-earnings-up-more-than-30-percent.html

8  https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary/nancy-pelosi?cid=N00007360

9  https://khn.org/news/democrats-taking-key-leadership-jobs-have-pocketed-millions-from-pharma/

10  https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-264.html  

11  http://www.gp.org/single_payer_will_lower_the_total_cost_of_health_care  

12   http://www.gp.org/single_payer_will_lower_the_total_cost_of_health_care  

13  https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nationalhealthaccountshistorical.html

14  https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/health-spending-u-s-compare-countries/#item-average-wealthy-countries-spend-half-much-per-person-health-u-s-spends

15  https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/06/how-we-spend-3400000000000/530355/

16  Ibid. 

17  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/27/the-u-s-spends-more-on-health-care-than-any-other-country-heres-what-were-buying/?utm_term=.27bd1bc2855e  

18  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/27/the-u-s-spends-more-on-health-care-than-any-other-country-heres-what-were-buying/?utm_term=.27bd1bc2855e

19  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180426141604.htm

20  https://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/autism-news-51/u-s-autism-rate-rises-to-1-in-40-children-report-739912.html

21  https://www.statista.com/statistics/316036/cost-of-autism-spectrum-disorders-us/

22  https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/banned-europe-safe-us/  

23  https://www.beautybyearth.com/over-1000-toxic-ingredients-banned-in-europe-but-not-in-us/

24  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/well/eat/food-additives-banned-europe-united-states.html

25  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/well/eat/food-additives-banned-europe-united-states.html

26  https://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2010/09/07/the-true-cost-of-medical-malpractice-it-may-surprise-you/#6a9856bb2ff5

27  https://www.healthitoutcomes.com/doc/the-high-cost-of-medication-errors-0001

28  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23155743

29 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obamacare-60-minutes/

30  https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2017/3/As-We-See-It/Page-01

31  https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/3/New-England-Journal-of-Medicine-Exposes-Generic-Price-Scandal/Page-01

32  https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/27/health/exploring-salines-secret-costs.html

33  https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/outrageous-e-r-hospital-charges-what-to-do

34  https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/outrageous-e-r-hospital-charges-what-to-do

35  https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/04/medicare-for-all-is-not-a-fantasy/  

36  https://www.pbs.org/healthcarecrisis/Exprts_intrvw/u_reinhardt.htm  

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The US’ Healthcare System Is a Predatory Catastrophe: It’s Time for Universal Medical Coverage
  • Tags: ,

Video: Wireless Industry Confesses: “No Studies Show 5G Is Safe”

February 15th, 2019 by Take Back Your Power

During today’s Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on the future of 5G wireless technology and their impact on the American people and economy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) raised concerns with the lack of any scientific research and data on the technology’s potential health risks.

Blumenthal blasted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—government agencies jointly-responsible for ensuring that cellphone technologies are safe to use—for failing to conduct any research into the safety of 5G technology, and instead, engaging in bureaucratic finger-pointing and deferring to industry.

In December 2018, Blumenthal and U.S. Representative Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) sent a letter to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr seeking answers regarding potential health risks posed by new 5G wireless technology. At today’s hearing, Blumenthal criticized Carr for failing to provide answers, and instead, just echoing, “the general statements of the FDA, which shares regulatory responsibility for cell phones with the FCC.”  Blumenthal also decried the FDA’s statements as “pretty unsatisfactory.”  A PDF of Carr’s complete response is available here.

During an exchange with wireless industry representatives, Blumenthal asked them whether they have supported research on the safety of 5G technology and potential links between radiofrequency and cancer, and the industry representatives conceded they have not.

Blumenthal stated:

“If you go to the FDA website, there basically is a cursory and superficial citation to existing scientific data saying ‘The FDA has urged the cell phone industry to take a number of steps, including support additional research on possible biological effects of radio frequency fields for the type of signals emitted by cell phones.’ I believe that Americans deserve to know what the health effects are, not to pre-judge what scientific studies may show, and they also deserve a commitment to do the research on outstanding questions.”

“So my question for you: How much money has the industry committed to supporting additional independent research—I stress independent—research? Is that independent research ongoing? Has any been completed? Where can consumers look for it? And we’re talking about research on the biological effects of this new technology.”

At the end of the exchange, Blumenthal concluded,

“So there really is no research ongoing.  We’re kind of flying blind here, as far as health and safety is concerned.”

In November 2018, the National Toxicology Program released the final results of the longest and most expensive study to date on cellphones and cancer. Those studies found “some evidence” of a link to cancer, at least in male rats. However, the study only focused on the risks associated with 2G and 3G cell phones.

The latest 5G wireless technology relies on the deployment of many more new antennas and transmitters that are clustered lower to the ground and closer to homes and schools. There has been even more limited research with respect to the health ramifications of 5G technology, and the FCC has thus far failed to adequately explain how they have determined 5G is safe.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Today, the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota issued a landmark dismissal [1] of all claims against all defendants in the USD$900 million case against Greenpeace and others brought by Energy Transfer [2].

The decision to dismiss this lawsuit, which alleged Greenpeace engaged in racketeering and defamation, sends a strong message to all companies trying to silence their critics with baseless legal claims.

Greenpeace USA General Counsel Tom Wetterer said in response to the decision:

“Justice has been served. This is a huge victory not just for Greenpeace but for anyone and everyone who has ever stood up against powerful corporate interests. Today’s decision to dismiss Energy Transfer’s baseless lawsuit against Greenpeace and others sends a clear message to companies trying to muzzle civil society that corporate overreach will not be tolerated. It is also a check on corporate efforts to silence dissent.

“We are confident that this decision will set a precedent that deters Energy Transfer and other corporations from abusing the legal system in their quest to bully those who speak truth to power. Greenpeace will continue to fight for the ability of all people to advocate for human rights and the planet.”

The decision to dismiss this case comes in a key moment of growing resistance to pipelines around the world. In just the past year more than 400,000 people around the globe have supported Greenpeace’s demand that leading global banks not fund Energy Transfer and tar sands pipelines in light of the threats they pose to human rights, Indigenous rights, and the climate.

The racketeering case dismissed today is the second case filed by Trump’s go-to law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres, against Greenpeace on behalf of corporate interests. In 2016, Resolute Forests Products filed a strikingly similar strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) for CAD$300 million through Kasowitz [3]. Last month, Judge Tigar dismissed the RICO, and most of the other, claims against all Greenpeace entities. In 2013, the logging giant filed a separate defamation case against Greenpeace Canada and two staff members in Ontario. This case is still pending and Greenpeace Canada continues to vigorously fight the remaining claims.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on U.S. Federal Court Dismisses $900 Million Pipeline Company Lawsuit Against Greenpeace
  • Tags:

Trump’s Wall & National Emergency Declaration Coming

February 15th, 2019 by Dr. Jack Rasmus

Just leaked today that Senator McConnell, Trump’s echo, has indicated that Trump will declare a national emergency today, even as he signs a compromise bill with Pelosi and the Dems to fully fund his Wall. Mainstream media thinks this is big time news. Comes as a surprise. But I predicted it back on January 7, 2019 in a tweet @drjackrasmus.com.

To quote myself in response to talk whether Trump will declare a national emergency to get his way on the Wall:

“Can (and will) Trump declare national emergency to fund his wall? Yes and Yes. Dem Congress in 1976 law gave him wide powers. 100s laws since say which. He’ll move $ from Defense budget to wall. Dems to be outmaneuvered again. US slouching further toward dictatorship”

Pelosi and Dems will act indignant. But as the historical record is clear, the Dems gave him this authority decades ago. Congress has been steadily giving up its authority to an Imperial Presidency for decades. Now we’re about to move into an era of legislation by Executive-Presidential action. So much for checks and balances and the basic structure of the US Constitution.

Under the US Constitution only the House of Representatives can initiate spending authorization and define how much will be spent on what. That era is over. Now the President can declare emergency and spend on whatever he wants. That’s another drift in US democracy toward dictatorship. That is, where the executive accretes legislative function to itself and ‘dictates’ what will be spent on what and when.

Trump has deep proclivities toward tyranny (ie. sees himself above the law, the definition of a Tyrant) and toward rule by dictate (where he declares law and spends as he wants, not the elected legislature).

So what will the Dems do now? Essentially nothing, I predict. They will huff and puff and file legal suits and use it all as ammunition for their re-election plans in 2020. But will they impeach Trump? Not a chance. They’ll just hold hearings now until November 2020.

What about the Mueller Report and forthcoming indictment? Will they use that to go after Trump now that he’s taking over some of their legislative function by declaring national emergency? Don’t expect much there either. There already are signs that the Mueller ‘Report’ the public gets to see will be an abridged, edited, and carefully whitewashed version. The real report will be shown to only a select few Congresspersons, in secret behind closed doors. And they will have to agree not to discuss it publicly as a condition of reading it. But without public pressure, nothing will happen. There can be no Democracy without public access to what the government is doing.

Meanwhile the Neocons are back in the drivers’ seat in the Trump administration. Bolton, Pompeio, Navarro, Lighthizer,–with mouthpieces like Coulter, Hannity, and others shouting in the background–are running policy. On the foreign policy front, preparations for deploying tactical nuclear war are moving forward, early stages of a proxy invasion of Venezuela are underway, the US is pulling out of treaties with Russia and moving forces closer to its border, phony negotiations pervade the mainstream media, for public consumption, about negotiations with North Korea, the US is adopting a hard line to thwart and stop China technology development, US allies in Europe and elsewhere being ‘brought into line’ to accept US policies or pay the price of sanctions or worse. In short, the US empire is gathering up its loose ends and preparing for a new phase, to restore its global hegemony in a more aggressive foreign policy form.

On the domestic US front, as neoliberal economic policies are being intensified under Trump (i.e. tax cuts for the rich and their corporations, more war spending, more free money from the Fed to subsidize the markets, coming attacks on social security, medicare, educations, etc.) in what is becoming increasing clear is an more aggressive, Neoliberal 2.0 form, the domestic political and Democracy landscape is being whittled away and reconstructed in order to make way and ensure the more aggressive neoliberal economic policies become embedded and institutionalized for another decade.

In other words, what we see happening in the US today in a more aggressive and confrontational US foreign policy, and an intensifying subsidization of capital incomes, amidst an atrophying of Democratic Rights and civil liberties at home. The new, nasty, more aggressive foreign policy and further destruction of US democratic rights are just the consequence of Trump’s new, aggressive neoliberal economic policies. The US elite know the next recession, coming soon, will significantly exacerbate the economic problems at home, while intensifying the political instability abroad. And they are preparing–at home and abroad.

Trump’s imminent declaration of national emergency to get his wall–a big leap toward circumventing the US House and Congress and the US Constitution–is just the latest event in this historical economic and political drift.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Jack Rasmus.

Dr. Rasmus is author of the book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression, Clarity Press, August 2017, and the forthcoming ‘The Scourge of Neoliberalism: US Policy from Reagan to Trump’, also by Clarity Press, 2019. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and hosts the weekly radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network. His twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Trump’s Wall & National Emergency Declaration Coming

Who Does Government Serve?

February 15th, 2019 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The US health system is the most high cost and dysfunctional health care system in the world. The reason is that it is privatized. In the rest of Western civilization the system is socialized.

The reason health care is socialized in civilized countries is not only to provide health care to citizens who otherwise could not afford it, but also to reduce the cost. In a privatized system, a profit has to be turned at every level: the general practitioner, the specialist, the diagnostic facility, the ambulance service, the emergency room, the hospital, the hospice, the health insurance company. All of these levels of profit build up the cost.

In the hybrid system with which the US is afflicted, regulation drives the cost even higher. It is not only government regulation because of Medicare and Medicaid, but also private regulation imposed by private insurance companies. In America, alone in the world, medical care comes second to paperwork.

Doctors working in medical clinics have to dictate the results of each patient seen, the diagnosis, the treatment, and so forth, in sufficient detail to satisfy the payer of the bill, whether public or private. The dictation time eats into the doctor’s treatment time. In other words, the paper work requirements reduce the amount of time the doctor has to see patients. The paperwork also requires nurses to organize and compile it. And this is not the end of it.

Health care corporations employ people to monitor the doctors to make sure the physican dictates enough to create a record that Medicare, Medicaid, or the private insurance company will accept as evidence of billable service.

Even a libertarian economist who views the massive costs upon costs of the American system cannot find any economies to attribute to private enterprise.

In a socialized health care system, none of the many levels require a profit in order to continue to operate. As there is no billing of Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies by private corporations, there is no need for the high cost of preventing fraud. Nurses and doctors can attend to patients instead of paperwork. Of course, in any system cost-saving regulations can expand cost-producing bureaucracies, and no system will work well without moral and virtue rules that instill a compassionate and responsible attitude on the part of health care providers.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the cost of health care in the US would diminish dramatically if the US had a socialized health care system in which there is no profit, no paperwork, only health care. And this is why it will not happen.

In the US system, health care is profitable to private interests. They are concerned with their profits, not with the cost of health care to people. It is profitable to all the fraud prevention, public and private, bureaucracies. It is profitable to the members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, as private health care companies are major donors.

If you doubt this, consider that Democrats, or many of them, say that they are for a single payer health care system, by which they mean a socialized health care system in which there is no profit and no regulatory cost. But they are not really in favor of such a system as the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi’s health policy aide made clear to private insurance company executives. Pelosi’s health care adviser, Wendell Primus, pledged Democratic Party support to the insurance industry in the fight against single-payer health care.

Pelosi’s plan is to achieve “universal coverage” via the Obama Affordable Care Act. This misnamed legislation achieves health coverage for Americans by mandating that they purchase private insurance policies for their health insurance. Many Americans have not, because the premium, together with the deductible and co-pays are so high that few can afford to use the policy. The perfect deal for a health insurance company is to collect a premium on a policy whose deductibles and copays make it too expensive to use.

What we need to ask outselves is: Why can’t we Americans get affordable health care? A socialized system could pay high salaries to doctors and nurses to guarantee their commitment. Their education could be subsidized. Pharmaceutical companies can be nationalized. Scientists dedicated to finding cures don’t care who they work for. The entrepreneural argument is a red herring.

The answer is that government does not serve the citizens. Government is just another private business that serves those whose campaign contributions put senators, representatives, and presidents in office. What liberals, conservatives, and libertarians do not understand is that government is a private activity like a capitalist business, not a public organization.

Government is just another privatized sector. It serves those who pay. As people needing health care can seldom pay, the system is in the hands of the private insurance companies.
The only “health care reform” that America will ever have is the reform that drives the cost of healthcare even higher.

Pelosi’s sellout to the insurance companies is more evidence that the concept of “public goods,” that is, the government’s provision of goods and services to citizens, needs rethinking. For example, consider national defense. In what sense is the massive US military/security complex budget a public good as contrasted with taxpayer-provided profit to a small number of subsidy-seeking private corporations? In what sense does US foreign policy serve the public as opposed to the armaments corporations, oil companies, and Israel Lobby? It is impossible to look at the US government budget and not see that it feeds private interest groups with strong lobbies.

Consider the symbiotic relationship between foreign policy and the military/security budget. The massive Pentagon budget and the massive power of the CIA and NSA require a dangerous enemy. Thus, US foreign policy creates the “Russian threat,” the “Chinese threat,” the “Iranian threat,” the “Al Qaeda threat,” the “ISIS threat,” the “Saddam Hussein threat,” the “Gaddafi threat,” the “Assad threat,” and now the “Maduro threat.” In order to maximize profits, the military/security complex increases the risks of war. In other words, the profits come at an expense greater than the budget imposed on taxpayers. In the case of war with Russia, the cost is the destruction of life on earth.

Propaganda serves the same role in democracies as it does in dictatorships. The public have to be deceived in order for citizens to accept an agenda that serves others than themselves. The public’s patriotism and gullibility pave the way for propaganda’s success. Currently Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton are preparing the public for US military intervention in Venezuela with false claims that Cuba has taken control of Venezuela’s security apparatus, and Hezbollah and Iran have active cells operating in Venezuela. This alleged risk to America has “to be taken down” in Venezuela and “all across the globe.”

All over the Western world the public has been sold out by government; yet only in France is there effective protest.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from PYMNTS.com

On February 13, the Syrian Air Force conducted a series of airstrikes on ISIS hideouts in the area of Kiribat al-Hosn in the Damascus desert. The airstrikes reportedly came in response to a recent increase in the activity of ISIS cells in this area.

The Damascus desert as well as the desert areas near the US-occupied al-Tanf zone are still a safe haven for a few hundred ISIS-linked militants. Just last week, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) eliminated a group of 6 ISIS members involved in a reconnaissance operation near the administrative border of al-Suwayda province.

The situation in the desert area may deteriorate even further if the SAA and its allies do not employ the measures needed to neutralize this threat.

\

Meanwhile, reports appeared that the SAA has sent reinforcements to southern Syria. The reason for the deployment givem by some pro-government outlets is the reinforcement of SAA positions near the Golan Heights, where Israeli strikes recently took place. However, the very same forces can be used to secure the countryside of al-Suwayda in the event of the growing ISIS threat from the desert.

In the Idlib de-escalation zone, the SAA conducted one of the most intense shellings of militant positions since the start of the year. According to pro-opposition sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies came under fire in al-Lataminah, Lahaya, Maarkaba, al-Buwaydah, Qalaat al-Madiq, al-Hwaiz, al-Twinah and al-Hurriyah in northern Hama as well as Sukayk, Khan Shaykhun and al-Tamanah in southern Idlib.

The Syrian state media said that the strikes were a response to violations of the ceasefire regime by militant groups. In turn, militants accused the Assad government of violating the de-escalation deal.

It should be noted that Russia has recently toughened its attitude towards the de-escalation zone issue. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov officially stated that that the Idlib agreement is only a temporary measure and “no agreement suggests the endless preservation of this terrorist nest in Syrian territory”.

The US-led coalition is working to establish a permanent military base in southwestern Iraq, near the country’s border with both Syria and Jordan, the Iraqi al-Maalomah news outlet reported on February 13 citing a source in the province of al-Anbar. This would not be the first attempt of the US military to fortify its presence in this part of the country. In November 2018, a commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units revealed that the coalition had tried to occupy the H3 airbase, known as Abu Rida al-Baldaui, in western al-Anbar.

These actions are a part of the wider effort to establish an infrastructure allowing the US military to control key highways linking Syria and Iraq. On February 3, US President Donald Trump openly declared that despite the Syria withdrawal, US forces will remain in Iraq in order to watch Iran.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

If you’re able, and if you like our content and approach, please support the project. Our work wouldn’t be possible without your help: PayPal: [email protected] or via: http://southfront.org/donate/ or via: https://www.patreon.com/southfront

Seeds of Destruction

The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

by F. William Engdahl

Global Research, 2007 ISBN 978-0-937147-2-2

SPECIAL ONLINE AND MAIL ORDER PRICE  US$18.00 (list price $25.95)

Order your copy now

This skillfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO.  Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical World of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Engdahl’s carefully argued critique goes far beyond the familiar controversies surrounding the practice of genetic modification as a scientific technique. The book is an eye-opener, a must-read for all those committed to the causes of social justice and World peace.

What is so frightening about Engdahl’s vision of the world is that it is so real. Although our civilization has been built on humanistic ideals, in this new age of “free markets”, everything– science, commerce, agriculture and even seeds– have become weapons in the hands of a few global corporation barons and their political fellow travelers. To achieve world domination, they no longer rely on bayonet-wielding soldiers. All they need is to control food production.

-Dr. Arpad Pusztai, biochemist, formerly of the Rowett Research Institute Institute, Scotland

If you want to learn about the socio-political agenda –why biotech corporations insist on spreading GMO seeds around the World– you should read this carefully researched book. You will learn how these corporations want to achieve control over all mankind, and why we must resist…

-Marijan Jost, Professor of Genetics, Krizevci, Croatia

The book reads like a murder mystery of an incredible dimension, in which four giant Anglo-American agribusiness conglomerates have no hesitation to use GMO to gain control over our very means of subsistence…

-Anton Moser, Professor of Biotechnology, Graz, Austria

Click to order

Review by Arun Shrivastava:

The central question that dominated the minds of the ruling clique was population reduction in resource rich countries but the question was how to engineer mass culling all over the world without generating powerful backlash as it was bound to happen. When the US oil reserves peaked in 1972 and it became a net oil importer, the situation became alarming and  the agenda took the centre stage. Kissinger, one of the key strategists of Nixon, nurtured by the Rockefellers, prepared what is known as National Security Study Memo (NSSM#200), in which he elaborated his plan for population reduction. In this Memo he specifically targets thirteen countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia,  Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, and The Phillipines.

The weapon to be used was food; even if there was a famine food would be used to leverage population reduction. Kissinger is on record for stating, “Control oil, you control nations; control food and you control the people.” How a small group of key people transformed the elitist philosophy, of controlling food to control people, into realistic operational possibility within a short time is the backdrop of Engdahl’s book, the central theme running from the beginning till the end with the Rockefellers and Kissinger, among others, as the key dramatis personae.

[Engdahl] describes how the Rockefellers guided the US agriculture policy, used their powerful tax-free foundations worldwide to train an army of bright young scientists in hitherto unknown field of microbiology. He traces how the field of Eugenics was renamed “genetics” to make it more acceptable and also to hide the real purpose. Through incremental strategic adjustments within a handful of chemical, food and seed corporations, ably supported by the key persons in key departments of the US Government, behemoths were created that could re-write the regulatory framework in nearly every country. And these seeds of destruction of carefully constructed regulatory framework- to protect the environment and human health- were sown back in the 1920s.

… It is a complex but highly readable book. It is divided into five parts, each containing two to four short chapters. The first part deals with the political maneuverings to ensure support to Seed and Agri-biz firms, the second deals with what should be widely known as ‘The Rockefeller Plan’, the third deals with how vertically integrated giants were readied for Washington’s silent wars on planet earth, the fourth part deals with how GM seeds were unleashed on unsuspecting farmers, and the final part deals with how the elites is going on destroying food, farmers that would eventually cause mass culling of population. He does not offer any solution; he can’t because it is up to the rest of the world, including Europeans and Americans, to wake up and take on these criminals head on. An essential read for anyone who eats and thinks.

F. William Engdahl is a leading analyst of the New World Order, author of the best-selling book on oil and geopolitics, A Century of War: Anglo-American Politics and the New World Order,’ His writings have been translated into more than a dozen languages. 


Order this critically-acclaimed book from Global Research!

Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation
by F. William Engdahl

ISBN Number: 978-0-937147-2-2
Year: 2007
Pages: 341 pages with complete index

Global Research Price: US $18.00
(List price: US $25.95)
CLICK TO BUY

 

 

Ordering from North America? Click below to view our bulk order special offers:

original          original          original

3 BOOKS: Seeds of Destruction – $40.00 – Save 47%

10 BOOKS: Seeds of Destruction – $120.00 – Save 54%

1 BOX = 36 BOOKS – SPECIAL OFFER: Seeds of Destruction – $354.60 – Save 62%

The Royal Navy should be able to “develop a reign of terror down enemy coasts”, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said today.

During a speech outlining military spending priorities, Williamson said:

“In 1940, Winston Churchill said: “Enterprises must be prepared with specially trained troops of the Hunter class who can develop a reign of terror down enemy coasts”.

Our actions mean we will deliver on Churchill’s vision for our Royal Navy and for our Royal Marine commandos.”

According to the National Army Museum, Churchill’s quote ends by proposing a “butcher and bolt policy” of commandos behind enemy lines, “leaving a trail of German corpses behind them”.

Williamson’s speech was interpreted as a show of force against both Russia and China, as he said he would send the military’s new aircraft carrier to the South China Sea.

The Defence Secretary also defended the concept of foreign military intervention, saying that the price of not intervening is often higher than the price of intervening.

Williamson’s “reign of terror” comments are characteristic of the inflammatory language he favours. He was widely mocked when he said that “Russia should go away. It should shut up.”

When asked four times by Richard Madeley if he regretted these words, he failed to answer and Madeley ended the interview.

According to BuzzFeed News, Williamson’s general use of language has angered his colleagues in the Ministry of Defence. One former adviser reportedly said:

“The shooting from the hip and choice of words has raised a few eyebrows because it’s not particularly statesmanlike.

There is a tendency for some who arrive in the department to want to play with the toys and grandstand, which is something to be avoided – it’s not great. The language has been a little bit alarming to those in the services.”

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith also criticised Williamson’s “sabre-rattling”. In response to his speech, she said:

“The Conservatives have slashed the defence budget by over £9bn in real terms since 2010 and they are cutting armed forces numbers year after year.

“Instead of simply engaging in yet more sabre-rattling, Gavin Williamson should get to grips with the crisis in defence funding that is happening on his watch.”

On the other hand, Campaign Against Arms Trade criticised Williamson’s current planned increase in military spending instead of the cuts of the past eight years.

The anti-arms organisation also objected to Williamson’s comments about increasing “lethality” and “hard power”. Spokesperson Andrew Smith said:

“With the UK at a crossroads, the Government should redefine its role, but that should mean an end to interventionism and the focus on projecting military strength around the world – not more of the same failed policies that have done so much damage.

Williamson rightly condemns those that flout and ignore international law, but the Government is arming and supporting Saudi forces widely accused of violating international humanitarian law in atrocities against Yemen.

At a time when budgets are being squeezed and cut across the country, and when millions are being hit by austerity, the Government is finding even more money for the military.

It’s time for Williamson and his colleagues to take a different view on security. Where the UK, and other rich nations, can make a positive difference is through overseas aid, supporting civilian peace-building efforts, and investing in renewable energy and green technologies to combat climate change, which is the number one threat to our security and that of the world.”

Williamson is rumoured to be planning either a Tory leadership run himself, or to support another candidate in exchange for a top job under the next leader.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Joe Lo is a reporter for Left Foot Forward.

This article was originally published on February 13, 2007, in commemoration of the Ameriya Shelter bombing in Baghdad, Iraq.

***

It is sixteen years since the Ameriyah Shelter in west Baghdad was bombed, incinerating all but eight, inside. Figures for the souls lost, still vary from four hundred and five to over twelve hundred, the registration book was incinerated along with those who had sought refuge, women,children, students and on occasion, the very old. The men stayed out to make room for those whom they wished protection – and to rescue others from the ongoing carpet bombing. The Shelter was only used over night.

The shelter had been built to withstand a possible nuclear attack, during the eight year, western driven, Iran-Iraq war. Walls three metres thick with the roof reinforced by the near indestructable steel ‘mesh’ used to support four or six lane road bridges. The only vulnerable point was the ventilation shaft. Iraq had chosen a Finnish company to build shelters throughout Baghdad, selecting the company because of perceived Finnish neutrality and commercial integrity. The company, reportedly passed the plans to the US prior to the 1991 onslaught.

I visited the Shelter just months after the bombing. We were a group from various countries and arrived in the early, sparkling sunlight. So unscathed was the building from the outside, that we had not realised where we were, talking and laughing under a sky still painted with dawn’s translucent trails and myriad shades of orange and ochre.

Iraqi reads holds a 1000 cranes peace offering at the Al-Amiriyah bomb shelter in Baghdad where 408 people died after two bombs destroyed it in 1991. Three days after the bombing the U.S. government apologized for bombing the shelter which protected families. (Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr./Seattle Post-Intelligencer For News story by Larry Johnson)

Entering, there was a stunned silence. The smell of burning flesh still overwhelmed. I found myself tiptoeing through the blackened interior, under the melted piping, tiptoeing through the screams. There were sooted plastic flowers laid in dark corners, pathetic scraps of bloodied gauze. The only light was from the near perfect spherical entry point of the missiles, illuminating below, the great crater where they fell, the jagged remains of the centimetres thick steel mesh, hanging, a ‘surgical strike’ indeed, as a knife through butter – against women and children.

The Shelter, as during the Iran-Iraq war and in 1991, had been a safe haven in abnormal times. With electricity bombed, the huge generators allowed the children brief childhood normality: watching television, playing video games, reading, playing, homework – and the bombs could not be heard. The rows of bunk beds were a treat, with a rush to get the top bunk, a joyous eyrie of escape and escapism.

There were two vast floors, the top for sleeping, studying, socialising, sharing meals, the lower had showers, kitchens, a medical centre. When the bombs fell, the heat incinerated those on the top floor – and the vast water tank on the lower floor heated to bursting – boiling those showering, or chatting whilst cooking the evening meal, or those whose ailments were being treated and the medical staff.

The breast high ‘scum’ on the walls, was the flesh of those who perished. On the upper floor is the seared ‘shadow’ of a mother, holding her baby. Hiroshima revisited. I could bear the screams no longer and fled out and in to the sunlight. Noticing a small, blackened, brass plaque on the wall, I asked a Jordanian friend what it read. He struggled with the translation for a moment, the: ‘It is like when there is a crisis and civilian people try to help ..’ ‘Civil Defence?’ I asked : ‘Yes, yes, it says Civil Defence Shelter No:24.’

America had, of course, claimed it was a Command Centre for Saddam Hussein’s government. A lie, as ever, of enormity. Further, the U.S. had satellites watching everything (which continued through the embargo years, as now, clearly visible, blinking away like vast stars, floating, rotating.) A consistent comment over numerous interviews in the area and Baghdad, about the Shelter horror, that first visit and over subsequent years, was that for three days before, a satellite had been rotating over the district.Thus it would have recorded women and children entering it at dusk and leaving at dawn. That night there would have been a particular procession and it was the eve of the festival of Eid and with no means of cooking at home for the fast breaking, women took their food to prepare in the kitchens and their festive gifts, to wrap under the lights.

When the fire engines arrived, the rescuers could hear the screams, until they began to fade away – but the great metre thick steel door, with airline type handles to seal it from the inside for safety, was glowing like a furnace, then as it melted, re-sealed itself. Dante, revisited. To have poured water from gaping missile hole in the roof, would have subjected those inside to boiling steam. The fire chief, the toughest of men, who had seen the unimaginable and directed rescues over many years, faltered as he said, of the remains they finally brought out: ‘We thought we were bringing out only children and wondered why they were there alone – then we realised the (adult) bodies had (contracted) to child size with the intensity of the heat.’

Anwar, then eighteen and a student ran to help, with a friend with whom he was staying, nearby. When talking of that night, he too faltered and stilled, then gestured with his hands, saying: ‘The peoples, the bodies, they had gone so small – like this ..’ There is a haunting tale told by Umm Rheda (mother of Rheda) who left the shelter temporarily to take some preparations home. Whilst she was away, the bombs fell her children were incinerated, with Rheda, her eldest daughter. When all the emergency services experts, the army which was drafted in, had failed to open the door, she begged and screamed to try. It opened: ‘Rheda opened it for me’, she says. The fire chief confirmed that Umm Rheda opened the door.

The Shelter, over time, became a shrine, the bereaved, visitors brought momentos, pictures of the dead, the babies, the mischevious, the young mothers, the earnest students, stared from the walls. The floor was cleaned and polished, but the skin, the shadows, the seared walls and the screams remained. Until 2003, this was a unique U.S. wickedness. Another was an early act of their invading troops : to storm it (with their boots on of course) and search this sacred, sobbing site, for weapons. And now courtesy again, of the U.S.A., all Iraq is Al Ameriyah.

Three days before the Shelter bombing, Dick Cheney, now Vice President and General Colin Powell (designated a ‘dove’ by the George W. Bush Administration) visited the US Air base at Khamis Mushat, Saudia Arabia (slogan: ‘bombs are us’ and ‘we live so others may die.’) After a pep talk to troops, they both signed two thousand pound bombs: ‘To Saddam with fond regards’, wrote Cheney (‘A General’s War’, General Bernard Traynor and Michael Gordon, Little Brown, p.324.)

When the Shelter was bombed, frantic calls followed incase the bombs might have been involved in this massacre. Cheney’s bomb apparently fell on northern Iraq, dropped by a Major Wes Wyrich. What souls Powell’s decimated, is seemingly unknown.

The Ameriyah Shelter was bombed on the night of 13th/14th February: the celebration of Eid, St. Valentine’s Day and the anniversary of the fire bombing of Dresden. When I put this to a U.S. General and remarked on the ‘coincidence’, he looked me in the eye and said: ‘Kinda neat, eh?’

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from uruknet.info

Last month, the National Nuclear Security Administration (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission) announced that the first of a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons had rolled off the assembly line at its Pantex nuclear weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas. That warhead, the W76-2, is designed to be fitted to a submarine-launched Trident missile, a weapon with a range of more than 7,500 miles. By September, an undisclosed number of warheads will be delivered to the Navy for deployment.

What makes this particular nuke new is the fact that it carries a far smaller destructive payload than the thermonuclear monsters the Trident has been hosting for decades — not the equivalent of about 100 kilotons of TNT as previously, but of five kilotons. According to Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the W76-2 will yield “only” about one-third of the devastating power of the weapon that the Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber, dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Yet that very shrinkage of the power to devastate is precisely what makes this nuclear weapon potentially the most dangerous ever manufactured. Fulfilling the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility,” it isn’t designed as a deterrent against another country launching its nukes; it’s designed to be used.  This is the weapon that could make the previously “unthinkablethinkable.

There have long been “low-yield” nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, including ones on cruise missiles, “air-drop bombs” (carried by planes), and even nuclear artillery shells — weapons designated as “tactical” and intended to be used in the confines of a specific battlefield or in a regional theater of war. The vast majority of them were, however, eliminated in the nuclear arms reductions that followed the end of the Cold War, a scaling-down by both the United States and Russia that would be quietly greeted with relief by battlefield commanders, those actually responsible for the potential use of such ordnance who understood its self-destructive absurdity.

Ranking some weapons as “low-yield” based on their destructive energy always depended on a distinction that reality made meaningless (once damage from radioactivity and atmospheric fallout was taken into account along with the unlikelihood that only one such weapon would be used). In fact, the elimination of tactical nukes represented a hard-boiled confrontation with the iron law of escalation, another commander’s insight — that any use of such a weapon against a similarly armed adversary would likely ignite an inevitable chain of nuclear escalation whose end point was barely imaginable. One side was never going to take a hit without responding in kind, launching a process that could rapidly spiral toward an apocalyptic exchange. “Limited nuclear war,” in other words, was a fool’s fantasy and gradually came to be universally acknowledged as such. No longer, unfortunately.

Unlike tactical weapons, intercontinental strategic nukes were designed to directly target the far-off homeland of an enemy. Until now, their extreme destructive power (so many times greater than that inflicted on Hiroshima) made it impossible to imagine genuine scenarios for their use that would be practically, not to mention morally, acceptable. It was exactly to remove that practical inhibition — the moral one seemed not to count — that the Trump administration recently began the process of withdrawing from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, while rolling a new “limited” weapon off the assembly line and so altering the Trident system. With these acts, there can be little question that humanity is entering a perilous second nuclear age.

That peril lies in the way a 70-year-old inhibition that undoubtedly saved the planet is potentially being shelved in a new world of supposedly “usable” nukes. Of course, a weapon with one-third the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, where as many as 150,000 died, might kill 50,000 people in a similar attack before escalation even began. Of such nukes, former Secretary of State George Shultz, who was at President Ronald Reagan’s elbow when Cold War-ending arms control negotiations climaxed, said,

“A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. You use a small one, then you go to a bigger one. I think nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons and we need to draw the line there.”

How Close to Midnight?

Until now, it’s been an anomaly of the nuclear age that some of the fiercest critics of such weaponry were drawn from among the very people who created it. The emblem of that is the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a bimonthly journal founded after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by veteran scientists from the Manhattan Project, which created the first nuclear weapons. (Today, that magazine’s sponsors include 14 Nobel Laureates.) Beginning in 1947, the Bulletin’s cover has functioned annually as a kind of nuclear alarm, featuring a so-called Doomsday Clock, its minute hand always approaching “midnight” (defined as the moment of nuclear catastrophe).

In that first year, the hand was positioned at seven minutes to midnight. In 1949, after the Soviet Union acquired its first atomic bomb, it inched up to three minutes before midnight. Over the years, it has been reset every January to register waxing and waning levels of nuclear jeopardy. In 1991, after the end of the Cold War, it was set back to 17 minutes and then, for a few hope-filled years, the clock disappeared altogether.

It came back in 2005 at seven minutes to midnight. In 2007, the scientists began factoring climate degradation into the assessment and the hands moved inexorably forward. By 2018, after a year of Donald Trump, it clocked in at two minutes to midnight, a shrill alarm meant to signal a return to the greatest peril ever: the two-minute level reached only once before, 65 years earlier. Last month, within days of the announced manufacture of the first W76-2, the Bulletin’scover for 2019 was unveiled, still at that desperate two-minute mark, aka the edge of doom.

To fully appreciate how precarious our situation is today, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists implicitly invites us to return to that other two-minutes-before-midnight moment. If the manufacture of a new low-yield nuclear weapon marks a decisive pivot back toward jeopardy, consider it an irony that the last such moment involved the manufacture of the extreme opposite sort of nuke: a “super” weapon, as it was then called, or a hydrogen bomb. That was in 1953 and what may have been the most fateful turn in the nuclear story until now had just occurred.

After the Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb in 1949, the United States embarked on a crash program to build a far more powerful nuclear weapon. Having been decommissioned after World War II, the Pantex plant was reactivated and has been the main source of American nukes ever since.

The atomic bomb is a fission weapon, meaning the nuclei of atoms are split into parts whose sum total weighs less than the original atoms, the difference having been transformed into energy. A hydrogen bomb uses the intense heat generated by that “fission” (hence thermonuclear) as a trigger for a vastly more powerful “fusion,” or combining, of elements, which results in an even larger loss of mass being transformed into explosive energy of a previously unimagined sort. One H-bomb generates explosive force 100 to 1,000 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb.

Given a kind of power that humans once only imagined in the hands of the gods, key former Manhattan Project scientists, including Enrico Fermi, James Conant, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, firmly opposed the development of such a new weapon as a potential threat to the human species. The Super Bomb would be, in Conant’s word, “genocidal.” Following the lead of those scientists, members of the Atomic Energy Commission recommended — by a vote of three to two — against developing such a fusion weapon, but President Truman ordered it done anyway.

In 1952, as the first H-bomb test approached, still-concerned atomic scientists proposed that the test be indefinitely postponed to avert a catastrophic “super” competition with the Soviets. They suggested that an approach be made to Moscow to mutually limit thermonuclear development only to research on, not actual testing of, such weaponry, especially since none of this could truly be done in secret. A fusion bomb’s test explosion would be readily detectable by the other side, which could then proceed with its own testing program. The scientists urged Moscow and Washington to draw just the sort of arms control line that the two nations would indeed agree to many years later.

At the time, the United States had the initiative. An out-of-control arms race with the potential accumulation of thousands of such weapons on both sides had not yet really begun. In 1952, the United States numbered its atomic arsenal in the low hundreds; the Soviet Union in the dozens. (Even those numbers, of course, already offered a vision of an Armageddon-like global war.) President Truman considered the proposal to indefinitely postpone the test. It was then backed by figures like Vannevar Bush, who headed the Office of Scientific Research and Development, which had overseen the wartime Manhattan Protect. Scientists like him already grasped the lesson that would only slowly dawn on policymakers — that every advance in the atomic capability of one of the superpowers would inexorably lead the other to match it, ad infinitum. The title of the bestselling James Jones novel of that moment caught the feeling perfectly: From Here to Eternity.

In the last days of his presidency, however, Truman decided against such an indefinite postponement of the test — against, that is, a break in the nuke-accumulation momentum that might well have changed history. On November 1, 1952, the first H-bomb — “Mike” — was detonated on an island in the Pacific. It had 500 times more lethal force than the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima. With a fireball more than three miles wide, not only did it destroy the three-story structure built to house it but also the entire island of Elugelab, as well as parts of several nearby islands.

In this way, the thermonuclear age began and the assembly line at that same Pantex plant really started to purr.  Less than 10 years later, the United States had 20,000 nukes, mostly H-bombs; Moscow, fewer than 2,000. And three months after that first test, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved that hand on its still new clock to two minutes before midnight.

A Madman-Theory Version of the World

It may seem counterintuitive to compare the manufacture of what’s called a “mini-nuke” to the creation of the “super” almost six decades ago, but honestly, what meaning can “mini” really have when we’re talking about nuclear war? The point is that, as in 1952, so in 2019 another era-shaping threshold is being crossed at the very same weapons plant in the high plains country of the Texas Panhandle, where so many instruments of mayhem have been created. Ironically, because the H-bomb was eventually understood to be precisely what the dissenting scientists had claimed it was — a genocidal weapon — pressures against its use proved insurmountable during almost four decades of savage East-West hostility. Today, the Trident-mounted W76-2 could well have quite a different effect — its first act of destruction potentially being the obliteration of the long-standing, post-Hiroshima and Nagasakitaboo against nuclear use. In other words, so many years after the island of Elugelab was wiped from the face of the Earth, the “absolute weapon” is finally being normalized.

With President Trump expunging the theoretical from Richard Nixon’s “madman theory” — that former president’s conviction that an opponent should fear an American leader was so unstable he might actually push the nuclear button — what is to be done? Once again, nuke-skeptical scientists, who have grasped the essential problems in the nuclear conundrum with crystal clarity for three quarters of a century, are pointing the way. In 2017, the Union of Concerned Scientists, together with Physicians for Social Responsibility, launched Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War, “a national grassroots initiative seeking to fundamentally change U.S. nuclear weapons policy and lead us away from the dangerous path we are on.”

Engaging a broad coalition of civic organizations, municipalities, religious groups, educators, and scientists, it aims to lobby government bodies at every level, to raise the nuclear issue in every forum, and to engage an ever-wider group of citizens in pressing for change in American nuclear policy. Back From the Brink makes five demands, much needed in a world in which the U.S. and Russia are withdrawing from a key Cold-War-era nuclear treaty with more potentially to come, including the New START pact that expires two years from now. The five demands are:

  • No to first use of nukes. (Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Adam Smith only recently introduced a No First Use Act in both houses of Congress to stop Trump and future presidents from launching a nuclear war.)
  • End the unchecked launch-authority of the president. (Last month, Senator Edward Markey and Representative Ted Lieu reintroduced a bill that would do just that.)
  • No to nuclear hair-triggers.
  • No to endlessly renewing and replacing the arsenal (as the U.S. is now doing to the tune of perhaps $1.6 trillion over three decades).
  • Yes to an abolition agreement among nuclear-armed states.

These demands range from the near-term achievable to the long-term hoped for, but as a group they define what clear-eyed realism should be in Donald Trump’s new version of our never-ending nuclear age.

In the upcoming season of presidential politics, the nuclear question belongs at the top of every candidate’s agenda. It belongs at the center of every forum and at the heart of every voter’s decision. Action is needed before the W76-2 and its successors teach a post-Hiroshima planet what nuclear war is truly all about.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

James Carroll, TomDispatch regular and former Boston Globe columnist, is the author of 20 books, most recently the novel The Cloister (Doubleday). His history of the Pentagon, House of War, won the PEN-Galbraith Award. His memoir, An American Requiem, won the National Book Award. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Featured image: The W76-2 will be launched aboard Trident II D5 missiles. (Ronald Gutridge/U.S. Navy)


Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” 

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research! 

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-5-3
Year: 2012
Pages: 102
Print Edition: $10.25 (+ shipping and handling)
PDF Edition:  $6.50 (sent directly to your email account!)

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Reviews

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

WWIII Scenario

Mexico’s Energy Transformation?

February 14th, 2019 by James Neimeister

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised a “fourth transformation” of the Mexican state and is taking back control of the national oil and gas firm. Workers, indigenous groups, and the environmental movement in Mexico and internationally can push the agenda further.

***

When fuel prices shot up dramatically two years ago, ordinary Mexicans took to the streets. The gasolinazo, as the abrupt surge in prices was called, was a gut-punch to Mexicans’ strained finances, triggering blockades, occupations, and ransacking at gas stations across the country. A year and a half later, in July 2018, voters rejected the right-wing PRI and PAN parties behind Mexico’s energy reforms, electing Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a storied figure on the Mexican left.

Despite the central importance of energy policy to his election, there has been relatively little discussion of what a López Obrador government might mean in terms of climate policy. López Obrador (also known by his initials: AMLO) ran on a hodgepodge of environmental proposals including a major reforestation project, support for renewables, and support for rural agriculture. At the same time, AMLO’s proposed “Maya Train”, a high speed tourist train connecting the Yucatán beaches of Tulum and Cancún with famous ruins such as Palenque further south, has raised consternation and doubts from indigenous leaders and environmental activists who worry that the mega-project will cause further damage to protected areas along its path.

The new government’s most ambitious action to impact the climate is its crusade to bring Mexico’s national oil company, Pemex, back under public control. If successful, it would strengthen public finances, allowing the government to exercise a sovereign energy policy. While the new government seeks to expand Pemex’s production, de-privatizing Pemex may be a necessary precondition to negotiating a just transition from fossil fuels in Mexico. Oil revenues have been a singular source of income for modern Mexico, and the government will need capital to move off of fossil fuels. The government is taking steps to effectively renationalize Pemex in the interim, but it will have to contend with the country’s dependence on oil exports and its relationship with the United States in the long term. The danger remains that the government will fall into a similar trap as past progressive governments in Latin America, financing poverty reduction through intense resource extraction.

Surely that would not bring climate progress to Mexico, but a dramatic change in geopolitical in circumstances could shift the balance of power. With the text of NAFTA 2.0 expected to come up for a vote in Mexico, the US, and Canada’s legislatures later this year, there is a chance for the new government in Mexico and Democrats in the US House of Representatives to slow down the deal and deliver a coup. A bold stance on NAFTA 2.0 and mass mobilization against it could reorient North American trade, development, and climate policy in the critical years to come, and further, it would plant the seeds of the cross-border movement needed to topple the overwhelming power of fossil fuel multinationals.

Rescuing Pemex from the Brink

Bringing Pemex back under state control is a core element of AMLO’s political project and remains an absolute necessity for any leftward political motion in Mexico. Decades of neglect threaten both the company and the country’s finances, and as corruption and violence have spiraled out of control, so has outright theft from Pemex. Reversing its current decline might reduce Mexico’s dependence on the US, but it will accelerate resource extraction like oil exploration and refinery production. AMLO’s ambition is to restore faith in public institutions in deep crisis, setting the stage for a deeper transformation.

During the oil crises of the 70’s, Pemex contributed as much as 80% of the national budget. While today that figure is closer to a one third, the President has called for shifting spending priorities to put “the poor first.” The government has limited salaries for highly paid senior officials, but it largely plans on raising Pemex’s revenues by increasing production.

Structural reforms to the energy sector over the years have restricted the government’s finances. For decades, Mexico’s political right wing fought to privatize Pemex and finally gained traction with the rise of neoliberalism in Mexico in the 80’s. While other state enterprises were sold off, Pemex and the 1938 oil expropriation that created it were too popular for privatization to be politically viable. Instead, energy reforms worked incrementally to diminish Pemex’s investment in oil exploration and to gradually open the door to foreign capital. In 1986, the government began to allow private, foreign investment in petrochemicals, where Pemex had profitable and exclusive rights. In 1992 the company was broken up into subsidiaries, increasing administrative and borrowing costs. Reforms in 2006 and in 2013 opened the door to foreign investors to participate in direct oil exploration. High oil prices kept Pemex revenues up into the mid-2000s, but instead of funding new exploration to maintain or increase oil production, the neoliberal PRI and PAN governments of the last forty years moved money from Pemex to fund pet projects and pork barrel spending, all while imposing austerity on the people and risking the country’s finances.

As a direct result of these policies, Pemex’s oil production peaked in 2004, and its daily production in 2018 was a third lower than it was three decades earlier, in 1990. With thieves siphoning off $3.4 billion worth of gasoline in 2018, the company’s dire financial situation and the state of its infrastructure has deteriorated significantly in recent years. Opening the door to private, foreign investment, a policy of underinvestment, and turning a blind eye to outright theft from within the company amounted to a deliberate plan to sabotage Pemex, paving the way to its inevitable privatization – a plan that AMLO has accused the past three presidents of tacitly, if not outright, supporting.

Source: ebdi.pemex.com

Source: ebdi.pemex.com

But is Pemex’s falling production good new for the climate? Not necessarily. Mexico has become even more dependent on US fossil fuel companies in the process, with production shifting across the border. Despite being an oil exporter, Mexico imported almost 80% of its gasoline last year, primarily from refineries in Texas and Louisiana. López Obrador likened the situation to “selling oranges and buying orange juice,” with prices on average a dollar more per gallon than in the US. AMLO explicitly campaigned on eliminating gasoline imports within three years to end the situation. The new government moved quickly to increase Pemex’s 2019 budget, investing billions of dollars to refurbish its existing six refineries and in the construction of a new one. The budget projects for Pemex to increase crude oil production to 2.62 million barrels a day by the end of 2024.

The plan highlights the tension between the government’s goal of reducing Mexico’s dependence on the US and its laudable environmental ambitions. Advocates have called the significant increase in spending on refineries a major red flag. Refineries are capital-intensive and polluting, and it can take decades to recoup the cost of the investment. Without policies that improve urban mobility, public transit, and long-distance travel, car ownership and demand for gasoline will continue to rise.

Putting a stop to rampant gasoline theft is also a factor in to the government’s plan to reassert control over Pemex, raise revenues, and it is critical to its campaign to restore faith in public institutions. Around $10 billion US dollars worth of gasoline are believed to have been stolen over the last 10 years. In 2018 alone, estimates of Pemex’ losses to theft are as high as $3.4 billion. In late December, the new government shut down pipelines for repairs and deployed the military to guard infrastructure, resulting in long lines at gas stations across the country. Public support for the plan remains high as past presidents simply ignored the problem, letting it grow.

AMLO campaigned on fighting institutional corruption at all levels, and the likely masterminds behind the theft include public officials and high-ranking Pemex employees. Dissident members of the oil workers’ union STPRM have denounced their union president of 26 years, a former PRI senator who voted for Peña Nieto’s energy reforms, for his alleged complicity in gasoline theft. Another group of workers who claim to represent up to 10% of the workforce have asked the government to decertify STPRM and recognize an alternative union in its place. These workers’ courageous acts, and the government’s vocal support for democratized unions, point towards the radical potential renationalizing Pemex could unleash.

The Tlalhuelilpan pipeline explosion on January 18 captures the scale of gasoline theft in Mexico and reveals something about how widespread robbery of public resources has become. In a video taken minutes before the explosion, which killed nearly 100 people, crowds gather around the ruptured pipeline with jugs and buckets as gasoline gushes out of it. Perhaps these ordinary people soaking themselves in gasoline made a rational calculation: “If those at the very top are stealing from us, then we deserve our share.” But those at the very top will never have to pay with their lives.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Pemex’s slow motion collapse has torn at the fabric of the social order. AMLO’s sweeping promise of a “fourth transformation” of the country – referencing Mexico’s historic independence, secular reforms, and revolution – calls for expanding social rights and restoring faith in battered public institutions. Rescuing Pemex is a critical step toward achieving those goals, but without raising the government’s ambition on climate mitigation, AMLO’s fourth transformation will fail to live up to its radical potential.

Prospects for Transformative Change

Across Latin America, neoliberals have waged analogous campaigns to deliver state-run energy companies like Argentina’s YPF, Brazil’s Petrobras, Petroperú and others into the hands of multinational oil giants. Venezuela’s PDVSA, with rights to the world’s largest proven reserves, remains a tantalizing prospect for vulture capitalists. Other ostensibly progressive governments have likewise fallen into the trap of funding social programs through resource extraction. In the long run, all oil companies must be shuttered in a rapid, just, and orderly way, but the multinationals that would take the place of these state-run companies under global capitalism are no better. Moves toward deprivatization reduce the power and reach of oil multinationals. They may set some of the conditions for a planned drawdown of fossil fuel extraction, which will require vast amounts of capital, but Mexico’s furtive efforts at deprivatization have yet to progress that far.

The AMLO government’s current emphasis on industrial development underlines its shortcomings on environmental justice. Its proposed “Maya train,” which would intensify tourist activity in the jungles of southeast Mexico, provoked a stinging declaration of resistance from the Zapatistas and allied indigenous groups. AMLO’s repeated overtures to patriotic capitalists should also invite skepticism from the left. The new government may be Mexico’s first left-leaning administration since the 1930’s, but its focus on development belies a greater continuity with the past than the government and its supporters may want to admit.

Though countries like Mexico export their natural resources on the global market, most consumption takes place in rich countries where the profits from resource extraction accumulate. Mexico is a sovereign country with the rights to extract its own oil and socialize those profits. There is no comparison between the scale of destruction perpetuated by the United States or any rich, industrialized country and developmental regimes in the Global South. Pemex produces less than 10% as much as the entire US oil industry, and its reserves are generally cheaper and less energy-intensive to extract from than unconventional oil fields in the US and Canada like the Bakken or Alberta Shale. Mexico should expand production in more rational and less environmentally damaging ways, limiting investment in refineries to refurbishing existing ones. Under ideal circumstances the government would use the capital Pemex accumulates from oil extraction to fund a transition away from fossil fuels. The critical question is under what internal and external conditions the Mexican state and actors from elected officials to oil workers might consider a planned drawdown of fossil fuels.

At present, Mexico is dependent on oil exports, buying gasoline from the US, and decades of privatization schemes have led to widespread theft of public resources. Strengthening public control over the energy sector has popular support, but for now, more radical measures such as decarbonization are hardly on the radar. Where there is little internal pressure to take explicit steps to end fossil fuel extraction, one question to consider is how the AMLO government might attempt to reconfigure political and economic circumstances externally. NAFTA may be its opportunity.

This January 1 marked 25 years of North American political and economic integration under NAFTA and the 25 year anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, itself sparked by changes to Mexico’s constitution that privatized indigenous land when NAFTA took effect. AMLO’s government has shown itself willing to push during NAFTA 2.0 talks. Before taking office, the presidential transition team negotiated the removal of restrictions on Mexico’s energy sovereignty from the deal. The US, Mexico, and Canada’s legislatures must approve the text of NAFTA 2.0 before it comes into effect, meaning any one of them has the power to put the deal on hold. Climate activists in the US can turn up the pressure on House Democrats, who vote on the text of the deal first, demanding they halt the deal and renegotiate under a new, hopefully progressive president. It has happened before. In 2008, Nancy Pelosi torpedoed George Bush’s free trade deal with Colombia, bringing it back for a vote with revised labor standards in 2010. A unified front against NAFTA 2.0 would essentially match President Trump against Speaker Pelosi and AMLO, and the obvious victors would have the power to radically rewrite the trade policies governing a third of the global economy. One idea for the bargaining table: the US and Canada must initiate a planned drawdown from fossil fuels first and commit funding to less wealthy countries for their transition.

As GM workers in Detroit picketed the North American Autoshow demanding a Green New Deal, 70,000 auto parts workers were on strike demanding higher wages in the border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Overcoming the adverse conditions global capitalism imposes on left wing governments in the Western Hemisphere and across the Global South will be impossible without organizing beyond borders rooted in common struggles at home. As climate activists build closer bonds with the labor movement, the prospect of fighting for just transition policies within the framework of NAFTA renegotiation could build a stronger labor-climate coalition and powerful cross-border coalitions to boot. A truly just Green New Deal must upend the perverse dynamics of development and resource extraction that keep some countries subjugated all to maintain the US’ standard of living.

With Pemex back under public control, the AMLO government plans to fund expanded social rights and fight corruption. It will reduce its dependence on the US and resist the power of fossil fuel multinationals. But without a dramatic change in its external conditions, led by the government or from below, Mexico and North America as a whole may never realize its energy transformation.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

James Neimeister is an organizer with NYC Democratic Socialists of America and an MPA student at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College. He tweets @ny_my_ster.

The International Red Cross has declined to participate in Washington’s controversial humanitarian aid plan to Venezuela, it was announced this weekend.

“We will not be participating in what is, for us, not humanitarian aid,” stated Colombia’s International Red Cross (ICRC) spokesperson, Christoph Harnisch.

The assistance, which is being coordinated by Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president, Juan Guaido, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is reportedly comprised of US $20 million worth of medical, food, and personal hygiene supplies which are currently being warehoused in the Colombian border city of Cucuta. The Venezuelan government has denied USAID personnel entry into the country, claiming that the aid is being used as a cover for a foreign intervention to install Guaido in Miraflores presidential palace.

Harnisch also raised concerns about the aid being instrumentalized for political ends, calling on parties to have “respect for the term ‘humanitarian.’” Last week, ICRC Director of Global Operations Domink Stillhart had likewise told reporters that he considered the aid to have a “political tone”.

The Red Cross currently provides medical assistance to a number of Venezuelan hospitals under pre-existing and recently expanded international agreements with Maduro’s government.

On Wednesday, ICRC President Peter Maurer told reporters that the body will be doubling its budget to assist the Venezuelan government in countering the effects of the deep economic crisis.

“Our focus is really to, on the one side increase our response to Venezuelans, and on the other hand to keep away from the political controversy and political divisions which are characteristic to the crisis in Venezuela,” Maurer told press in Geneva.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has likewise raised objections to Washington’s “politicised” aid plan.

“Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York last Wednesday.

UN spokespeople have also recently vowed to increase the budgets of current aid programs carried out in coordination with the Maduro administration.

President Maduro has staunchly rejected US aid, claiming that while Venezuela has problems, it is not “a beggar country.”

He also pointed out that the reported $20 million in US aid pales in comparison to the estimated US $30 million per day the new US oil embargo will cost Venezuela this year. On January 28, US National Security Advisor John Bolton unveiled the latest round of economic sanctions prohibiting corporations under US jurisdiction from purchasing oil from Venezuela’s PDVSA state oil company, which he said will deny the company US $11 billion in revenues in 2019. Bolton also announced a freezing of Houston-based PDVSA subsidiary CITGO’s assets, which are valued at US $7 billion.

“If [the US] wants to help, then lift the sanctions,” Maduro urged at a recent press conference. He also qualified the plan as a media “show” and a “trap” which looks to “justify [foreign] intervention in the country.”

Fears of a direct military intervention in Venezuela have grown in recent weeks after both US President Donald Trump and opposition leader Juan Guaido refused to rule it out.

Adding to these concerns, Venezuelan authorities announced that they confiscated a cache of illegal firearms they say were smuggled into the country from Miami last Tuesday. The 19 assault rifles, 118 explosive charges, 90 radio antennas and six latest generation smartphones arrived on a Boeing 767 cargo flight from the 21 Air company to Valencia airport.

Venezuela Arms

The firearms were confiscated on a cargo plane arriving at Valencia airport from Miami. Photo | Lechuguinos

Maduro has ordered a reinforcement of border security in response to the increased threats, with the armed forces loyally executing his order not to let the USAID personnel enter the country.

He has also been under attack this week following the circulation of a picture of the Tienditas bridge connecting Venezuela and Colombia blocked by tankers, with international commentators accusing him of closing the bridge this week. The bridge was culminated in 2015 but was never opened due to border tensions between Venezuela and Colombia that flared up later that year.

US establishment figures from both sides of the political aisle, including Vice President Mike Pence, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have lined up to back the aid plan, denouncing Maduro for refusing to open Venezuelan borders and urging him to step aside as Venezuela’s leader.

What’s in the aid?

According to a USAID statement released Friday, the aid packages are supposed to “provide relief to Venezuelans coping with severe food and medical shortages.”

USAID is an arm of the US State Department and has been involved in a number of scandals in recent years which have led to its expulsion from Russia for political meddling and Bolivia for conspiracy.

The press release explains that the plan is to supply Venezuelans with vegetable oil, flour, lentils and rice which they claim will feed 5,000 Venezuelans for 10 days.

Also reportedly included in the shipment is ready-to-use food supplements for 6,700 Venezuelan children for two months and high energy bars for 10,000 children for one month.

Equally, the US body says it looks to deliver a 10-day supply of soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other personal hygiene products for 7,500 Venezuelans, as well as emergency medical kits for 10,000 hospitals for 3 months.

No details about proposed distribution plans inside Venezuela nor qualifying criteria for the aid were made public.

Venezuela is entering the sixth year of severe economic contraction caused by a variety of factors, including collapsing oil prices, crippling US-led sanctions, as well as corruption and economic mismanagement.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.

Congress will not support U.S. military intervention in Venezuela despite hints by President Donald Trump that such action had not been ruled out, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Wednesday.

“I do worry about the president’s saber rattling, his hints that U.S. military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: U.S. military intervention is not an option,” U.S. Representative Eliot Engel said at the opening of a hearing the OPEC nation.

Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has to approve foreign military action. Engel also warned about the possible effects on the Venezuelan people of U.S. sanctions on state oil company PDVSA. The United States in January imposed sanctions aimed at limiting President Nicolas Maduro‘s access to oil revenue.

“I appreciate the need to squeeze Maduro,” Engel said. “But the White House must think through the potential repercussions that these sanctions could have on the Venezuelan people if Maduro does not leave office in the coming weeks.”

Testifying at the hearing, Trump’s pick to lead U.S. efforts on Venezuela, former U.S. diplomat and convicted war criminal Elliott Abrams, said Washington would keep up pressure on Maduro and his inner circle by “a variety of means.”

“But we will also provide off-ramps to those who will do what is right for the Venezuelan people,” he said.

Abrams drew intermittent protests at the start of the hearing. “You are a convicted criminal!” one man shouted before being escorted out of the room.

Abrams, assistant secretary of state during the administration of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, was convicted in 1991 on two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal. He was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

The United States and its right-wing allies in Latin America have come out in support of a right-wing coup attempt against the Venezuelan government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro after they supported a decision by opposition lawmaker, named Juan Guaido, to declare himself an “interim president” of Venezuela on Jan. 23 in violation of the country’s constitution.

In return, Maduro has repeatedly called for the restoration of talks between his government and the opposition in order to maintain peace and avoid a U.S.-backed coup, or even military intervention by the United States in favor of removing him and placing an unelected right-wing government.

Guiado and his allies Trump, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his National Security advisor have so far responded to such calls by escalation and rejection of any dialogue. They continue to call for the military to intervene, while sources in the United States have revealed that Trump is “seriously considering” military intervention into Venezuela if Maduro does not step down.

To further the pressure, the United States imposed harsh economic sanction on the Venezuelan oil industry and its national oil company, while also blocking the bank accounts of the Venezuelan state in the United States, vowing to only remove such restrictions when Guiado achieves control of the state institutions.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Where a No-Deal Brexit Would Hit Hardest

February 14th, 2019 by Zero Hedge

In recent weeks, the chances of a dreaded no-deal Brexit occurring have increased exponentially ahead of the deadline on March 29th.

A new study has looked into that scenario’s potential impact on jobs across the world. Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes that the analysis was carried out by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH), focusing on 56 industrial sectors across 43 countries while assuming a 25 percent drop in EU exports to the UK in the event of a hard Brexit.

It found that Germany could lose the most jobs with around 103,000 threatened if the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal.

Infographic: Where A No-Deal Brexit Would Hit Hardest  | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Even though Europe’s economic powerhouse could be impacted most in terms of the sheer number of jobs, the situation is different when it comes to the share of total employment threatened.

In this case, only 0.24 percent of Germany’s workforce would be under threat compared to 1.03 percent of all jobs in Ireland. That’s despite “only” 19,800 Irish jobs potentially being impacted.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

US presidents have bombed or invaded places like Grenada, Panama, Iraq and Sudan to distract from domestic scandals or to gain a quick boost in popularity. But, do Canadian politicians also pursue regime change abroad to be cheered on by the dominant media as decisive leaders?

In a discussion on regime change in Venezuela after last Monday’s “Lima Group” meeting in Ottawa, Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole praised Canadian policy but added that the Liberals used the meeting of countries opposed to Nicolas Maduro’s government to drown out criticism of their foreign policy. O’Toole claimed the “Lima Group” meeting was “put together quite quickly and I think there are some politics behind that with some of the foreign affairs challenges the Trudeau government has been having in recent months.” In other words, O’Toole believes the Liberals organized a gathering that concluded with a call for the military to oust Venezuela’s elected president to appear like effective international players.

Understood within the broader corporate and geopolitical context, O’Toole’s assessment appears reasonable. After being criticized for its China policy, the Liberals have been widely praised for their regime change efforts in Venezuela. In a sign of media cheerleading, CTV News host Don Martin began his post “Lima Group” interview with foreign minister Chrystia Freeland by stating “the Lima summit has wrapped and the object of regime change is staying put for the time being” and then he asked her “is [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro any step closer to being kicked out of office as a result of this meeting today?” Later in the interview Martin applauded the “Lima Group’s” bid “to put the economic pincers around it [Venezuela’s economy] and choking it off from international transactions.”

In recent days Ben Rowswell, a former Canadian ambassador in Caracas, has been widely quoted praising the Liberals’ leadership on Venezuela.

“It’s clear that the international community is paying attention to what Canada has to say about human rights and democracy,” Rowswell was quoted as saying in an article titled “Trudeau’s Venezuela diplomacy is a bright spot amid China furor”.

Rowswell heads the Canadian International Council, which seeks to “integrate business leaders with the best researchers and public policy leaders”, according to its billionaire financier Jim Balsillie. Long an influential voice on foreign policy, CIC hosted the above-mentioned forum with O’Toole that also included the Liberal’s junior foreign minister Andrew Leslie and NDP foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière. CIC’s post “Lima Group” meeting forum was co-sponsored with the Canadian Council of the Americas, which is led by Kinross, Kinross, ScotiaBank, KPMG and SNC Lavalin. On the day of the “Lima Group” meeting CCA head Ken Frankel published an op-ed in the Globe and Mail headlined “Venezuela crisis will be a true test of Canada’s leadership in the hemisphere.” Frankel told CPAC he was “always supportive of Canadian leadership in the Hemisphere” and “the Venezuela situation has presented … a perfect opportunity for the Trudeau government to showcase the principles of its foreign policy.”

At the CCA/CIC forum Laverdière made it clear there’s little official political opposition to Ottawa’s regime change efforts. The NDP’s foreign critic agreed with Canada’s recognition of Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela, as she did on Twitter, at a press scrum and on CPAC during the day of the “Lima Group” meeting in Ottawa. (Amidst criticism from NDP activists, party leader Jagmeet Singh later equivocated on explicitly recognizing Guaidó.)

With the NDP, Conservatives, CIC, CCA, most media, etc. supporting regime change in Venezuela, there is little downside for the Liberals to push an issue they believe boosts their international brand. To get a sense of their brashness, the day of the “Lima Group” meeting the iconic CN Tower in Toronto was lit up with the colours of the Venezuelan flag. A tweet from Global Affairs Canada explained, “As the sun sets on today’s historic Lima Group meeting, Venezuela’s colours shine bright on Canada’s CN Tower to show our support for the people of Venezuela and their fight for democracy.”

The Liberals drive for regime change in Venezuela to mask other foreign-policy problem is reminiscent of Stephen Harper’s push to bomb Libya. Facing criticism for weakening Canada’s moral reputation and failing to win a seat on the UN Security Council, a Canadian general oversaw NATO’s war, seven  CF-18s participated in bombing runs and two Royal Canadian Navy vessels patrolled Libya’s coast.

The mission, which began six weeks before the 2011 federal election, may have helped the Conservatives win a majority government. At the time Postmedia published a story titled “Libya ‘photo op’ gives Harper advantage: experts” and Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom published a commentary titled “Libyan war could be a winner for Harper”.  He wrote:

“War fits with the Conservative storyline of Harper as a strong, decisive leader. War against a notorious villain contradicts opposition charges of Conservative moral bankruptcy. The inevitable media stories of brave Canadian pilots and grateful Libyan rebels can only distract attention from the Conservative government’s real failings.”

Similar to Venezuela today, the regime change effort in Libya was unanimously endorsed in Parliament (three months into the bombing campaign Green Party MP Elizabeth May voted against a second resolution endorsing a continuation of the war).

It’s appropriate for Canada to be a part of this effort to try to stop Gadhafi from attacking his citizens as he has been threatening to do,’’ said NDP leader Jack Layton.

After Moammar Gaddafi was savagely killed six months later, NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel released a statement noting,

the future of Libya now belongs to all Libyans. Our troops have done a wonderful job in Libya over the past few months.”

Emboldened by the opposition parties, the Conservatives organized a nationally televised post-war celebration for Canada’s “military heroes”, which included flyovers from a dozen military aircraft. Calling it “a day of honour”, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the 300 military personnel brought in from four bases:

We are celebrating a great military success.”

Today Libya is, of course, a disaster. It is still divided into various warring factions and hundreds of militias operate in the country of six million.

But who in Canada ever paid a political price for the destruction of that country and resulting destabilization of much of the Sahel region of Africa?

A similar scenario could develop in Venezuela. Canadian politicians’ push for the military to remove the president could easily slide into civil war and pave the way to a foreign invasion that leads to a humanitarian calamity. If that happened, Canadian politicians, as in Libya, would simply wash their hands of the intervention.

Canadians need to reflect on a political culture in which governing parties encourage regime change abroad with an eye to their domestic standing.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

The parallels between aspects of the Contra scandal and the current situation in Venezuela are striking, particularly given the recent “outrage” voiced by mainstream media and prominent U.S. politicians over Maduro’s refusal to allow U.S. “humanitarian aid” into the country.

***

Two executives at the company that chartered the U.S. plane that was caught smuggling weapons into Venezuela last week have been tied to an air cargo company that aided the CIA in the rendition of alleged terrorists to “black site” centers for interrogation. The troubling revelation comes as Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has rejected a U.S. “humanitarian aid” convoy over concerns that it could contain weapons meant to arm the country’s U.S.-backed opposition.

Last Tuesday, Venezuelan authorities announced that 19 rifles, 118 ammo magazines, 90 radios and six iPhones had been smuggled into the country via a U.S. plane that had originated in Miami. The authorities blamed the United States government for the illicit cargo, accusing it of seeking to arm U.S.-funded opposition groups in the country in order to topple the current Maduro-led government.

A subsequent investigation into the plane responsible for the weapons caché conducted by McClatchyDC received very little media attention despite the fact that it uncovered information clearly showing that the plane responsible for the shipment had been making an unusually high number of trips to Venezuela and neighboring Colombia over the past few weeks.

Steffan Watkins, an Ottawa-based analyst, told McClatchy in a telephone interview that the plane, which is operated by U.S. air cargo company 21 Air, had been “flying between Philadelphia and Miami and all over the place, but all continental U.S.” during all of last year. However, Watkins noted that “all of a sudden in January, things changed” when the plane began making trips to Colombia and Venezuela on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day.

According to Watkins’ analysis, this single plane had conducted 40 round-trip flights from Miami International Airport to Caracas and Valencia — where the smuggled weapons had been discovered — in Venezuela, as well as to Bogota and Medellin in Colombia in just the past month.

Publicly available flight radar information shows that the plane, although it has not returned to Venezuela since the discovery of its illicit cargo, has continued to travel to Medellin, Colombia, as recently as this past Monday.

Multiple CIA ties

In addition to the dramatic and abrupt change in flight patterns that occurred just weeks before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence prompted Venezuelan opposition member Juan Guaidó to declare himself “interim president,” a subsequent McClatchy follow-up investigation also uncovered the fact that two top executives at the company that owns the plane in question had previously worked with a company connected to controversial CIA “black sites.”

Indeed, the chairman and majority owner of 21 Air, Adolfo Moreno, and 21 Air’s director of quality control, Michael Steinke, both have “either coincidental or direct ties” to Gemini Air Cargo, a company previously named by Amnesty International as one of the air charter services involved in a CIA rendition program. In this CIA program, individuals suspected of terrorism were abducted by the intelligence agency and then taken abroad to third-country secret “black sites” where torture, officially termed “enhanced interrogation,” was regularly performed.

Steinke worked for Gemini Air Cargo from 1996 to 1997, according to a 2016 Department of Transportation document cited by McClatchy. Moreno, although he did not work for Gemini, registered two separate business at a Miami address that was later registered to Gemini Air Cargo while the CIA rendition program was active. McClatchy noted that the first business Moreno registered at the location was incorporated in 1987 while the second was created in 2001. Gemini Cargo Logistics, a subsidiary of Gemini Air Cargo, was subsequently registered at that same location in 2005.

21 Air has denied any responsibility for the weapons shipment discovered onboard the plane it operates, instead blaming a contractor known as GPS-Air for the illicit cargo. A GPS-Air manager, Cesar Meneses, told McClatchy that the weapons shipment had been “fabricated” by the Maduro-led government to paint his government as the victim. Meneses also stated that “the cargo doesn’t belong to 21 Air and it doesn’t belong to GPS-Air” and that it had been provided by third parties, whose identities Meneses declined to disclose.

Contras redux?

The revelation that the company that operates the plane caught smuggling weapons into Venezuela has connections to past controversial CIA programs is unlikely to surprise many observers, given the CIA’s decades-long history of funneling weapons to U.S.-backed opposition fighters in Latin America, Southeast Asia and other conflict areas around the globe.

One of the best-known examples of the CIA using airliners to smuggle weapons to a U.S.-backed paramilitary group occurred during the 1980s in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, in which the Reagan administration delivered weapons to the Contra rebels in order to topple the left-leaning Sandinista movement. Many of those weapons had been hidden on flights claiming to be carrying “humanitarian aid” into Nicaragua.

The parallels between aspects of the Contra scandal and the current situation in Venezuela are striking, particularly given the recent “outrage” voiced by mainstream media and prominent U.S. politicians over Maduro’s refusal to allow U.S. “humanitarian aid” into the country. Maduro had explained his rejection of the aid as partially stemming from the concern that it could contain weapons or other supplies aimed at creating an armed opposition force, like the “rebel” force that was armed by the CIA in Syria in 2011.

Though the media has written off Maduro’s concern as unfounded, that is hardly the case in light of the fact that the Trump administration’s recently named special envoy in charge of the administration’s Venezuela policy, Elliott Abrams, had been instrumental in delivering weapons to the Nicaraguan Contras, including hiding those weapons in “humanitarian aid” shipments. In subsequent testimony after the scandal broke in the 1980s, Abrams himself admitted to funneling weapons to the Contras in exactly this way.

With the recently uncovered illicit weapons shipment from the U.S. to Venezuela now linked to companies that have previously worked with the CIA in covert operations, Maduro’s response to the “humanitarian aid” controversy is even more justified. Unfortunately for him, the U.S.-backed “interim president,” Juan Guaidó, announced on Monday that his parallel government had received the first “external” source of “humanitarian aid” into the country, but would not disclose its source, its specific contents, nor how it had entered the country.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and has contributed to several other independent, alternative outlets. Her work has appeared on sites such as Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute, and 21st Century Wire among others. She also makes guest appearances to discuss politics on radio and television. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Featured image: A 21 Air cargo plane coast on a runway in Colombia in 2018. Photo | Juan Pardo | Editing by MintPress

The lineup of Democrats who have already declared themselves as candidates for their party’s presidential nomination in 2020 is remarkable, if only for the fact that so many wannabes have thrown their hats in the ring so early in the process. In terms of electability, however, one might well call the seekers after the highest office in the land the nine dwarfs. Four of the would-be candidates – Marianne Williamson a writer, Andrew Yang an entrepreneur, Julian Castro a former Obama official, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congressman John Delaney – have no national profiles at all and few among the Democratic Party rank-and-file would be able to detail who they are, where they come from and what their positions on key issues might be.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has a national following but she also has considerable baggage. The recent revelation that she falsely described herself as “American Indian” back in 1986 for purposes of career advancement, which comes on top of similar reports of more of the same as well as other resume-enhancements that surfaced when she first became involved in national politics, prompted Donald Trump to refer to her as “Pocahontas.” Warren, who is largely progressive on social and domestic issues, has been confronted numerous times regarding her views on Israel/Palestine and beyond declaring that she favors a “two state solution” has been somewhat reticent. She should be described as pro-Israel for the usual reasons and is not reliably anti-war. She comes across as a rather more liberal version of Hillary Clinton.

And then there is New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, being touted as the “new Obama,” presumably because he is both black and progressive. His record as Mayor of Newark New Jersey, which launched his career on the national stage, has both high and low points and it has to be questioned if America is ready for another smooth-talking black politician whose actual record of accomplishments is on the thin side. One unfortunately recalls the devious Obama’s totally bogus Nobel Peace Prize and his Tuesday morning meetings with John Brennan to work on the list of Americans who were to be assassinated.

Booker has carefully cultivated the Jewish community in his political career, to include a close relationship with the stomach-churning “America’s Rabbi” Shmuley Boteach, but has recently become more independent of those ties, supporting the Obama deal with Iran and voting against anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation in the Senate. On the negative side, the New York Times likes Booker, which means that he will turn most other Americans off. He is also 49 years old and unmarried, which apparently bothers some in the punditry.

California Senator Kamala Harris is a formidable entrant into the crowded field due to her resume, nominally progressive on most issues, but with a work history that has attracted critics concerned by her hard-line law-and-order enforcement policies when she was District Attorney General for San Francisco and Attorney General for California. She has also spoken at AIPAC, is anti-BDS, and is considered to be reliably pro-Israel, which would rule her out for some, though she might be appealing to middle of the road Democrats like the Clintons and Nancy Pelosi who have increasingly become war advocates. She will have a tough time convincing the antiwar crowd that she is worth supporting and there are reports that she will likely split the black women’s vote even though she is black herself, perhaps linked to her affair with California powerbroker Willie Brown when she was 29 and Brown was 61. Brown was married, though separated, to a black woman at the time. Harris is taking heat because she clearly used the relationship to advance her career while also acquiring several patronage sinecures on state commissions that netted her hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The most interesting candidate is undoubtedly Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is a fourth term Congresswoman from Hawaii, where she was born and raised. She is also the real deal on national security, having been-there and done-it through service as an officer with the Hawaiian National Guard on a combat deployment in Iraq. Though in Congress full time, she still performs her Guard duty.

Is Tulsi Gabbard for Real? America Is Ready for a Genuine Peace Candidate

Tulsi’s own military experience notwithstanding, she gives every indication of being honestly anti-war. In the speech announcing her candidacy she pledged “focus on the issue of war and peace” to “end the regime-change wars that have taken far too many lives and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.” She referred to the danger posed by blundering into a possible nuclear war and indicated her dismay over what appears to be a re-emergence of the Cold War.

Not afraid of challenging establishment politics, she called for an end to the “illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government,” also observing that “the war to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria – which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis, and pose a greater threat to the world.” She then backed up her words with action by secretly arranging for a personal trip to Damascus in 2017 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad, saying it was important to meet adversaries “if you are serious about pursuing peace.” She made her own assessment of the situation in Syria and now favors pulling US troops out of the country as well as ending American interventions for “regime change” in the region.

In 2015, Gabbard supported President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and more recently has criticized President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal. Last May, she criticized Israel for shooting “unarmed protesters” in Gaza, but one presumes that, like nearly all American politicians, she also has to make sure that she does not have the Israel Lobby on her back. Gabbard has spoken at a conference of Christians United for Israel, which has defended Israel’s settlement enterprise; has backed legislation that slashes funding to the Palestinians; and has cultivated ties with Boteach as well as with major GOP donor casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. She also attended the controversial address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March 2015, which many progressive Democrats boycotted.

Nevertheless, Tulsi supported Bernie Sanders’ antiwar candidacy in 2016 and appears to be completely onboard and fearless in promoting her antiwar sentiments. Yes, Americans have heard much of the same before, but Tulsi Gabbard could well be the only genuine antiwar candidate that might truly be electable in the past fifty years.

What Tulsi Gabbard is accomplishing might be measured by the enemies that are already gathering and are out to get her. Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept describes how NBC news published a widely distributed story on February 1st, claiming that “experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard.”

But the expert cited by NBC turned out to be a firm New Knowledge, which was exposed by no less than The New York Times for falsifying Russian troll accounts for the Democratic Party in the Alabama Senate race to suggest that the Kremlin was interfering in that election. According to Greenwald, the group ultimately behind this attack on Gabbard is The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), which sponsors a tool called Hamilton 68, a news “intelligence net checker” that claims to track Russian efforts to disseminate disinformation. The ASD website advises that “Securing Democracy is a Global Necessity.”

ASD was set up in 2017 by the usual neocon crowd with funding from The Atlanticist and anti-Russian German Marshall Fund. It is loaded with a full complement of Zionists and interventionists/globalists, to include Michael Chertoff, Michael McFaul, Michael Morell, Kori Schake and Bill Kristol. It claims, innocently, to be a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group that seeks to identify and counter efforts by Russia to undermine democracies in the United States and Europe but it is actually itself a major source of disinformation.

For the moment, Tulsi Gabbard seems to be the “real thing,” a genuine anti-war candidate who is determined to run on that platform. It might just resonate with the majority of American who have grown tired of perpetual warfare to “spread democracy” and other related frauds perpetrated by the band of oligarchs and traitors that run the United States. We the people can always hope.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected]. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Taking on Goliath: Irish Journalist Gemma O’Doherty Takes on Google

February 14th, 2019 by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin

Google’s European headquarters in Dublin were surprised when Irish journalist Gemma O’Doherty and Yellow Vests Ireland staged a protest over YouTube shutting down the Livestream facility of her channel.

Gemma is known for her work in exposing alleged corruption in the country’s criminal justice system and police force. She also worked for 16 years as Chief Features Writer at the Irish Independent until she was sacked for investigating the Garda penalty points system.

The protesters were locked in to the building (Tuesday, 12 February) at 1pm for 12 hours before Google/YouTube apologized and restored her Livestream facility at 1am.

Afterwards she tweeted:

“A victory for free speech tonight by #YellowVest #Ireland. Our occupation of @Google HQ ended in success following the reinstatement of my @YouTube. We will continue to fight all censorship by #SiliconValley who are fleecing Irish taxpayers #EndGlobalismNow #GiletsJaunes”

O’Doherty’s channel has become a popular site for alternative views on globalism and free speech. Her videos have covered many different topics such as vaccines, abortion, wind energy, censorship, cultural Marxism, corruption within the UN, the Clinton Foundation and much more.

It is unfortunate for Google and advantageous for Gemma that their European headquarters are based in Dublin, thus providing a physical target for an Irish peaceful protest. This is the Achilles Heel for Google in this case as these worldwide firms are usually difficult to approach online through the very medium within which they can exert so much control.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from Irish Examiner

Hands Off Venezuela: US, Canada Go Home!

February 14th, 2019 by David William Pear

What is happening to Venezuela is a coup d’état and it has nothing to do with democracy, human rights, free and fair elections or international law. The US and Canada represent the antithesis of those values; defying the United Nations Charter and international law by interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Their hands are not clean, and their motives are not pure, because their foreign policy objectives everywhere are to promote the interests of their domestic corporations, oligarchs and war profiteers.

In 2017 the US and Canada formed a posse of vigilantes that they named the Lima Group. The members of the Lima Group are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia. Mexico’s newly elected liberal government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has withdrawn from the Lima Group, saying that Mexico follows the principles of sovereignty, non-intervention, and self-determination in foreign policy. Viva AMLO! The Lima Group makes a mockery out of the United Nations and international law.

The US, which is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, handpicked the gang members of the Lima Group. Most are rightwing governments, and politically dominated by business-centric oligarchs, and wealthy families just like those that are trying to take control in Venezuela. Fascism, supported by corporations, elites and imperialists are on the march. There is a new wave of anti-immigrant, xenophobic, evangelical, homophobic, and social conservativesgaining power in Latin America, as elsewhere.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Idriss Jazairy specifically condemned the US and Canada for imposing economic sanctions on Venezuela. Jazairy stressed that the economic sanctions are immoral on humanitarian grounds, and they are an illegal attempt to overthrow the internationally recognized sovereign government of Venezuela. On January 31, 2019 the UN released a report that quoted him as saying:

“I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela… Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state. The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law…. Economic sanctions are effectively compounding the grave crisis affecting the Venezuelan economy, adding to the damage caused by hyperinflation and the fall in oil prices.”

Former UN Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who is also an international expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, said on his website on February 7th the following about the current situation in Venezuela:

“Members of the United Nations are bound by the Charter, articles one and two of which affirm the right of all peoples to determine themselves, the sovereign equality of states, the prohibition of the use of force and of economic or political interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states…… the enormous suffering inflicted on the Venezuelan people by the United States is nothing less than appalling. The economic war against Venezuela, carried out not only by the United States, but also by the Grupo de Lima in clear violation of Chapter 4, Article 19 of the OAS Charter, the financial blockade and the sanctions have demonstrably caused hundreds of deaths directly related to the scarcity of food and medicines resulting from the blockade.”

Zayas also said that what the US, Canada and the mainstream media are doing to Venezuela reminds him of the deliberate disinformation campaign that led to the US, and the “coalitions of the willing” that included Canada anonymously, illegally invading Iraq in 2003, and their destruction of Libya in 2011.

In the case of Libya in 2011, the so-called “no-fly zone” authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was for the intended purpose of bringing about a ceasefire. It specifically forbade any “boots on the ground”, which the US is known to have violated.

The US, Canada and other NATO forces illegally exceeded their UN mandate, and used it as a cover to completely destroy Libya and regime change. It later was learned that the supposed Gaddafi genocide, which the no-fly zone was intended to stop was a hoax. The point is that the US and its junior partners can never be trusted to tell the truth when a lie serves their purposes much better.

Whenever the US and its junior imperial partners resort to pleas of democracy and human rights, an ulterior motive should be assumed. For instance, the little the US and Canada care about democracy, human rights and free elections is shown by their long history of supporting non-democratic governments.

Canada has supported every US regime change project, and the overthrow of democratic governments, which did not conform to their mutual foreign policy objectives. Both countries’ foreign policies prefer corrupt business-centric rightwing repressive governments. Democracy and human rights conflict with the interests and profits of their exploitative and extractive corporations.

Both the US and Canada supported the apartheid government of South Africa right up until the very end; they support the apartheid government of Israel, which is the number one violator of human rights in the world; and they both sell arms and support the most repressive government in the world, Saudi Arabia. Human rights have not been an issue.

The US overthrew the democratically elected Salvador Allende of Chile, with Canada’s support. Both countries supported the junta regime of Augusto Pinochet, whom was later arrested for crimes against humanity. Both the US and Canada supported the illegitimate coup governments of Haiti in 2004, and in Honduras in 2009. By some estimates, the US (and Canada) support 73% of the dictators in the world. Human rights have not been an issue.

The US and Canada have been trying to overthrow the democratically elected reformist government of Venezuela, known as the Bolivarian Revolution, since 1999. Hugo Chavez’s elections were all certified by the Carter Foundation, the OAS and other legitimate observers. Chavez was elected in free, fair and democratic elections, but that did not matter to the US and Canada. They wanted to overthrow him anyway. Human rights were not an issue.

Democracy, human rights, the right-to-protect, humanitarian interventions and all the other righteous soundbites are just talking points for the US and Canada. They are only used against governments that get in their way, and never used against corrupt business-friendly governments, no matter how oppressive. Paul Jay, a Canadian, who is the editor-in-chief of The Real News Network says that he personally became aware in 2005 of Canada’s involvement in the conspiracy of regime change in Venezuela:

The hypocrisy of US concerns over human rights is on full display in a leaked US State Department memo from Brian Hook to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The memo is titled “Balancing Interests and Values”. The memo does not mince words about human rights concerns being only a tactic to use against adversaries:

“America’s allies should be supported rather than badgered…. allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries…. We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmaneuver them…. pressing those regimes [adversaries] on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically.”

Hook continues his memo by giving Tillerson a history lesson on the art of US hypocrisy from 1940 to 2017.

In other words, rightwing dictators, military juntas, ethnic cleansing, fraudulent elections, human rights violations, political prisoners, torture and murder should be treated differently, and better, with compliant allies. Even when adversaries are democratically elected, they should be roasted in order to “extract costs”, according to Hook…. but not because the US cares about people.

There is no serious doubt about the legitimacy of the more than a dozen elections in Venezuela between 1998 to 2013. That did not prevent the US and Canada from “extracting costs”, and trying to overthrow Hugo Chavez anyway. Given the examples of the US and Canada overthrowing the democratically elected governments in Chile, Haiti and Honduras, the objections to Maduro are unbelievable.

In the past few years, there have been a half-dozen certified democratic elections in Venezuela. The real motives for opposing Maduro must be something else. It is obvious what that something else is. The real motives behind the US and Canada are Venezuela’s massive wealth in oil, gas, and other natural resources, such as gold, copper and coltan.

There are also tremendous profits to be had by bringing Venezuela into the Washington Consensus. US and Canadian banks profit from IMF and World Bank loans. The corrupt politicians and oligarchs steal the loans, and then it is the poor that have to repay them, through higher prices for life’s necessities, reduced wages and government-imposed austerity. The privatization of state-owned enterprises at corrupt fire-sale prices enrich oligarchs and corporations tremendously.

The Washington Consensus also forces unequal trade agreements and currency devaluation on poor countries. The resulting lower prices are used to extract natural resources, monocrops and sweatshop produced products for export. Small farmers are driven off the land because they cannot compete with dumped US and Canadian tax-payer highly-subsidized agricultural products, such as corn and wheat. Those that suffer are the local farmers, the poor, landless and indigenous people, who go from subsistence, to poverty, to wage slavery.

The chaotic political situation in Venezuela has been purposely made worse by the US and Canada. Since Venezuela is “cursed” with natural resources, especially oil, its economy has historically gone from boom to bust depending on international oil prices.

It was low oil prices, endemic poverty, gross inequality, and neoliberal economic policies that favored the rich in the 1990’s, which swept Chavez into power in the 1998 election. A majority of the Venezuelan people elected Hugo Chavez and his “Bolivarian Revolution” of rewriting the constitution, increasing participatory democracy, frequent elections, and implementing social programs for the poor. The Carter Center (as well as the OAS) certified the election, and praised Venezuela’s modern voting systems as one of the best in the world:

“Venezuelans voted peacefully, but definitively for change. With more than 96 percent voting for the two candidates who promised to overhaul the system, Venezuelans carried out a peaceful revolution through the ballot box”, said Jimmy Carter’s Foundation upon Chavez’s victory.

The US opposed Chavez regardless of fair and democratic elections. A surprisingly honest 2005 article in the Professional Journal of the US Army explained why the US opposed Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution for economic and geopolitical reasons:

“Since he was elected president in 1998, Chávez has transformed Venezuelan Government and society in what he has termed a Bolivarian revolution. Based on Chávez’s interpretation of the thinking of Venezuelan founding fathers Simón Bolívar and Simón Rodríguez, this revolution brings together a set of ideas that justifies a populist and sometimes authoritarian approach to government, the integration of the military into domestic politics, and a focus on using the state’s resources to serve the poor—the president’s main constituency.”

“Although the Bolivarian revolution is mostly oriented toward domestic politics, it also has an important foreign policy component. Bolivarian foreign policy seeks to defend the revolution in Venezuela; promote a sovereign, autonomous leadership role for Venezuela in Latin America; oppose globalization and neoliberal economic policies; and work toward the emergence of a multipolar world in which U.S. hegemony is checked. The revolution also opposes the war in Iraq and is skeptical of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The United States has worked fruitfully in the past with Venezuela when the country pursued an independent foreign policy, but the last three policies run directly contrary to U.S. foreign policy preferences and inevitably have generated friction between the two countries.” [Emphasis added.] [See Appendix]

Whether it is Chavez or Maduro, the US, Canada and the oligarchs in Venezuela have been trying to kill the Bolivarian Revolution from when it was an infant in the cradle.

The opposition with the support of imperialists have been trying to get rid of the Bolivarian Revolution with every means imaginable. They have tried a US supported military coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002. It failed. They tried strikes by the management of the Venezuelan oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela. It failed. They tried a recall election in 2004. It failed. Obama tried economic sanctions in 2015. It failed. The US and Canada tried an economic blockade in 2017. It has failed, as of this article. They tried to assassinate Maduro with a drone. It failed.

In 2018 the opposition boycotted the election. Maduro won by a landslide. He had invited the United Nations to be election observers, but the opposition kept the UN away. Other international observers certified the election. Now the opposition complains about the integrity of the election observers. The opposition is making a circus out of elections. The objections by the oligarchs, the US and Canada that the 2018 elections in Venezuela where fraudulent is itself a fraud. Their objectives are to knowingly “extract costs” that Venezuela can ill afford.

The US chose Canada to be the mouthpiece for the Lima Group, but the coup is being directed by imperial powers in Washington. Canadian politeness is not working, and its imperialism is out of the closet where it has been hiding. As Canadian historian Yves Engler puts it, the US carries the big stick in Latin America, and Canada comes along afterwards with the billy club. Engler is referring to Canadian peacekeeping missions, which he exposes as actually policing and counter insurgency missions. Yves Engler has written dozens of books and articles on Canadian imperialism.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be fooling some of the people, some of the time. But he is now under attack at home for corruption. His accusers say that he has obstructed justice in the world-wide corruption scandal involving the powerful international Canadian conglomerate SNC-Lavalin. SNC-Lavalin is a mining, energy and engineering company that is typical of the corrupt face of Canadian imperialism.

Trudeau’s conspiracy with Trump to overthrow the internationally recognized government of Venezuela has unmasked Canada as a second-rate imperial power. Upon closer look, Canada has been protecting its oil and mining companies that have been raping Latin American countries, destroying their environment and poisoning their people for decades. Canadian imperialism has to obey its “deep state” too, as Canadian journalist Bruce Livesey puts it:

“Those who believe the oil industry has become a deep state point to how the political elites, whether Liberal, Conservative or NDP — from Justin Trudeau to Stephen Harper to Rachel Notley — go to bat for the industry….”.

Mining companies as well as oil and gas are a big part of Canada’s “deep state”. They control approximately 50 to 70% of the mines in Latin America, and they are not held accountable in Canadian courts for their destruction to the environment and harm to human beings in foreign countries. They dispossess the indigenous people and poor of their land. They hire goons to threaten, attack and murder those that try to form labor unions, or demonstrate about land confiscation and human rights abuses. Honduras is just one example of what happens when a democratically elected leader is overthrow by a US and Canadian-backed coup; Canadian mining companies move in. It is all exposed in the book “Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras”, by Tyler Shipley.

All extractive industries wound the planet. That happens with relatively more impunity abroad, but capitalism inflicts severe harm at home, too. [Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America. Photo Council on Hemispheric Affairs.]

Dispossessing native people of their land and natural resources comes natural to Canada. After all, like the US it was a settler colonial outpost for the British Empire. Both the US and Canada committed genocide and ethnic cleansing of their mutual Indigenous People. They were even allies and coordinated the genocide. According to historian Andrew Graybill:

“….the NorthWest Mounted Police were created and the Texas Rangers renewed and reorganized in the early 1870s specifically to address the pressing ‘native question’ confronting Texas and western Canada, among the few places where bison still roamed after 1870….. both Austin and Ottawa called on their rural police to manage indigenous populations facing societal collapse….by controlling or denying the Natives access to the bison.”

In other words, both the US and Canada collaborated in killing the buffalo to extinction. It was the coup de grâce for the starving “native question”. [This reminds us that the “settler” capitalist states have been morally despicable practically from inception, all propaganda to the contrary.—Ed ]

Mining is one of Canada’s biggest and most powerful and politically influential industries. Canada has approximately 60% of all mining companies in the world. Canadian companies such as Ascendant Copper, Barrick Gold, Kinder Morgan, and TriMetals Mining have operations in Canada, Latin America and elsewhere. They are continuing the ethnic cleansing of the “native question” in Latin America, and at home. (See map and statistics of Canadian Mining in Latin America.)

Canadian mining and natural resource companies are heavy handed when it comes to First Nations at home. TransCanada Corporation recently was in the news because of its pipeline route, which they are trying to put through First Nation’s land in the Wet’suwet’en territory, in northern British Columbia. On a court order, a militarized unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police broke up a road blockade, which the tribal leaders had put up to keep the pipeline company out of their nation. The Mounties whom lacked jurisdiction arrested 14 tribal leaders on their sovereign land.

During the reign of the British Empire, Canada helped the British put down slave rebellions in the Caribbean. Canada was involved in the slave trade, and slavery was legal in Canada until 1834. The products of slavery, such as cotton and sugar were used for trade and to industrialize Canada. When the British conquered New France, the 1760 declaration of surrender signed in Montreal specifically said:

“The Negroes and panis [aborigines] of both sexes shall remain, in their quality of slaves, in the possession of the French and Canadians to whom they belong; they shall be at liberty to keep them in their service in the colony, or to sell them; and they may also continue to bring them up in the Roman Religion.”

In the 19th century Canadian banking and insurance companies, along with those of the British, monopolized finance in British controlled parts of Latin America. Canada is still financially powerful in the English-speaking Caribbean. For example, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and the Royal Bank of Canada, as well as Sun Life Financial are dominate in the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, and Trinidad. After the decline of the British Empire, Canada assumed its natural role as a second-rate imperial power and junior partner for US imperialism.

In the Lima Group, Canada is the US’s junior partner. The US has the leading role from behind the curtain. To prove it, right on cue at the January 4th meeting of the Lima Group, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pulled the curtain back in a video presentation to the group. Pompeo showed the members who they would have to answer to if they did not vote according to Washington’s wishes. The Lima group obeyed, and voted to politically isolate and economically blockade Venezuela, contrary to international law. Leaving nothing to chance, Pompeo again addressed the group from behind the video curtain at their February 4th meeting in Ottawa.

As Christopher Black wrote in New Eastern Outlook:

“The United States is the principal actor in all this but it has beside it among other flunkey nations, perhaps the worst of them all, Canada, which has been an enthusiastic partner in crime of the United States since the end of the Second World War. We cannot forget its role in the aggression against North Korea, the Soviet Union, China, its secret role in the American aggression against Vietnam, against Iraq, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Haiti, Iran, and the past several years Venezuela.”

Black left out many other imperial crimes of the partners in Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Somalia, Sudan, the Congo, Palestine, Libya, Yemen, etc. The US and Canada are “always there for each other” and stand “shoulder to shoulder” in war and imperialism, in Justin Trudeau’s own words. Even against Cuba!

The current Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland recently referred to Venezuela as being in “Canada’s backyard”. As the SNC-Lavalin case illustrates, the Canadian “backyard” of imperialism also extends to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and former Soviet Union republics, such as Ukraine.

This is not the 19th century. Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands are not anybody’s back yard. It is insulting, degrading and shows a colonial mentality for the US and Canada to even think about having a backyard.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on The Greanville Post.

David William Pear is a columnist writing on U.S. foreign policy, economic and political issues, human rights and social issues. David is a Senior Contributing Editor of The Greanville Post (TGP) and a prior Senior Editor for OpEdNews (OEN). David has been writing for The Real News Network (TRNN) and other publications for over 10 years. David is a member of Veterans for Peace, Saint Pete (Florida) for Peace, CodePink, and the Palestinian-led non-violent organization International Solidarity Movement. 

Featured image: A Hands Off Venezuela protest in London on January 28, 2018. (Socialist Appeal/Flickr).

To the People of Venezuela

Recently I wrote an article explaining how you could defeat, using nonviolent strategy, the US coup attempt that is taking place in your country. See ‘A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat the US Coup Attempt in Venezuela’.

I would like to complement that article by now briefly explaining how you can also defeat a military invasion by the United States and any collaborating invaders by using a strategy of nonviolent defense as well.

In making this suggestion, I acknowledge the extraordinary difficulties inflicted on Venezuela by the US sanctions imposed over many years as part of its ‘undeclared war against Venezuela’ (partly designed to destroy its progressive social banking model), explained straightforwardly by Ellen Brown in her article ‘The Venezuela Myth Keeping Us From Transforming Our Economy’ as well as alternative proposals to resolve the crisis, ranging from that by several governments to facilitate dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition – see, for example, ‘Russia Proposes Venezuelan “Peaceful Measures” Initiative to UN’– to Stephen Lendman’s suggestion that a peacekeeping force be deployed to Venezuela by such countries as Russia, China and non-aligned nations. See ‘Save Venezuelan Sovereignty: Oil Economy Destabilized. Peace-keeping Role by Russia, China, Non-alligned Nations?’

I understand that your first reaction to the idea of a strategy of nonviolent defense might be one of scepticism or even outright disbelief. However, if you are willing to consider what I write below, I will briefly explain why a strategy of nonviolent defense is theoretically and empirically sound, has often been successful in a wide range of contexts in the past, and why I believe it is important and how it can be done.

Of course, I am well aware that this history of successful nonviolent defense is little known because it has been, and still is, suppressed. And yet the history of nonviolent resistance in many diverse contexts clearly demonstrates that a strategy of nonviolent defense has the best chance of defending your country while minimizing the death and destruction in doing so (which does not mean that it would be without cost).

Moreover, if you want to read many carefully documented historical accounts of nonviolent struggles that were successful against military opponents, including those that were ruthlessly violent, you can do so in The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach. The book also carefully explains why these successes occurred without incurring heavy casualties on the defense, particularly in comparison to military campaigns and guerrilla struggles.

In my view then, the idea of implementing a strategy of nonviolent defense is important to consider for two essential reasons.

First, you are dealing with an opponent that is insane– see

‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’

with a more detailed explanation in ‘Why Violence?’ and

‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’

incredibly ignorant– see this interview of US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo ‘Venezuelan military will realize Maduro’s time is up: Mike Pompeo’ which is critiqued in these articles ‘Pompeo: America “obligated” to fight “Hezbollah” in Venezuela to save “duly elected” Guaido’ and ‘Pompeo Attempts to Link Iran, Hezbollah to Crisis in Venezuela’– and grotesquely violent

– see ‘The History – and Hypocrisy – of US Meddling in Venezuela’ and Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II– that, history teaches us, is highly likely to destroy your country to gain the geostrategic advantage and natural resources that control of your country offers, as the people of Iraq and Libya, for example, can testify.

And second: no matter how committed and courageous are the (loyal) members of your military forces and civilian militia (the National Bolivarian Militia of Venezuela), and the military forces of any allies who will stand with you in the defense of Venezuela, even a ‘successful’ outcome, such as that which Syria may be on the verge of ‘celebrating’, will only come at enormous cost in terms of human lives, infrastructure (including national heritage), ecological impact and time, all of which can be far more gainfully employed to continue building Venezuela, including overcoming outstanding problems, as you decide.

The Background

As I know that you are well aware, given the declared interest of the US elite in stealing your natural resources, including oil – see, for example,

‘“Good for business”: Trump adviser Bolton admits US interest in Venezuela’s “oil capabilities”’ and ‘Regime Change for Profit: Chevron, Halliburton Cheer On US Venezuela Coup’

– the US elite has long interfered with – see, for example, ‘US Influence in Venezuela Is Part of a Two Centuries-old Imperial Plan’

– and threatened military invasion of Venezuela to seize control of these resources in clear violation of international law. For recent examples only, see ‘Trump pressed aides on Venezuela invasion, US official says’ and ‘Time for talks “long passed”: US weaponizes aid amid push for regime change in Venezuela’.

Consequently, the US administration has finally used the pretext of an alleged unfair election result in 2018 to call for the overthrow of your government despite the widely accepted result, verified by independent sources, and even the testimony of a former US president that your electoral system is without peer. See ‘Former US President Carter: Venezuelan Electoral System “Best in the World”’.

Moreover, the US puppet Juan Guaidó, anointed by the US to replace your elected President, has effectively indicated his support for US intervention, which clearly reveals where his loyalties lie, his willingness to now provide a pretext for a US invasion, and his complete disregard for the well-being of those Venezuelans who will inevitably be killed, injured and/or dispossessed during an invasion to support the ‘neocon regime-changers’ in Washington. See ‘Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “president” Guaido isn’t ruling out “authorizing” US intervention’ and ‘The Cynicism of Empire: Sen. Rubio Tells Venezuelans to Overthrow Their Government… or Starve!’

This threat of military intervention, as the historical record clearly demonstrates, has every prospect of being carried out. See ‘Before Venezuela: The long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America’ and ‘Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List’.

Despite this threat, as you are aware, President Nicolás Maduro has persisted in offering to discuss the issues arising from this conflict while also calling on the international community to ‘“Stop Trump’s insane actions!” Venezuela’s Maduro talks to RT about avoiding war’ and even writing an appeal to the people of the United States which, of course, was ignored by the corporate media so that it does not even reach a wide audience.

See ‘An Open Letter to the People of the United States from President Nicolas Maduro’.

While I applaud your President for his persistent calls for dialogue to resolve this issue – for a recent example, see ‘Maduro Asks International Community to End US’s Threats of War’ – there are simply three realities that make it highly unlikely that his call will be heeded, whether by the US administration that has already rejected such a call – see ‘Time for talks “long passed”: US weaponizes aid amid push for regime change in Venezuela’ – or by the international community, a substantial section of which has already declared their support for the US puppet Juan Guaidó, who has been carefully groomed for a decade for the role he is now playing. See ‘The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader’.

These three realities are those I mentioned above:

You are dealing with an insane, incredibly ignorant and grotesquely violent opponent: an elite that seeks geopolitical control and endless resources for profit no matter what the cost to fellow human beings and the biosphere, as the record demonstrates.

Moreover, in seeking to secure its objectives, the US elite will endeavour to control the narrative in relation to Venezuela. Hence, as you have noticed, the corporate media is lying prodigiously about Venezuela as it ‘beats the drums of war’. See, for example, ‘Dissecting the jingoistic media coverage of the Venezuela crisis’, ‘Venezuela Blitz – Part 1: Tyrants Don’t Have Free Elections’, ‘Venezuela Blitz – Part 2: Press Freedom, Sanctions And Oil’ and ‘The BBC and Venezuela: bias and lies’.

For you and those of us outside Venezuela who have some knowledge of your country’s history, we are well aware of the enormous gains made by the Bolivarian movement, despite the enormously damaged country that the movement inherited. See, for example, ‘Venezuela: From Oil Proxy to the Bolivarian Movement and Sabotage’.

This progress, of course, does not mean that all problems have been resolved, most of which have been exacerbated by the sanctions imposed in recent years by the United States government. See, for example, the report by Alfred de Zayas on behalf of the United Nations Human Rights Council – ‘Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order on his mission to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Ecuador’– which identified the crisis the US ‘economic warfare’ was precipitating. See ‘Former UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Against Venezuela Causing Economic and Humanitarian Crisis’.

Defending Against a US Military Invasion of Venezuela

So, while your effort to defeat the coup attempt continues, even if the United States military invades Venezuela before or after this issue is resolved, you have the powerful option of resisting any invasion effectively by employing a strategy of nonviolent defense.

I have explained the essential points of this strategy on the website Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy. The pages of this website provide clear guidance on how to easily plan and then implement the twelve components of this strategy.

If you like, you can see a diagrammatic representation of this strategy by looking at the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel.

And on the Strategic Aims page you can see the basic list of 30 strategic goals necessary to defeat a military invasion. These strategic goals can easily be adopted, modified and/or added to if necessary, in accordance with your precise circumstances as you decide. For example, your first couple of strategic goals might be as follows:

(1) To cause the women in [women’s organizations WO1, WO2, WO…] in [your area/country] to join the defense strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities]. For example, simple nonviolent actions would be to wear a national symbol (such as a badge of your national flag or ribbons in the national colors), to boycott all corporate media outlets supporting the invasion and/or to withdraw all funds from banks supporting the invasion. For this item and many subsequent, see the list of possible actions in the article ‘198 Tactics of Nonviolent Action’.

(2) To cause the workers in [trade unions or labor organizations T1, T2, T…] in [your area/country] to join the defense strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities]. For example, this might include withdrawing their labor from a locally or foreign-owned bank/corporation (which supports the invasion) operating in your country.

(3) To cause the small farmers and farmworkers….

If you want to read a straightforward account of how to plan and conduct a nonviolent tactic so that it has strategic impact, you can do so here: ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’.

This will require awareness of the difference between ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions’.

And, to ensure that the military violence directed against you is made as difficult as possible to perpetrate and, in many cases, does not eventuate, you are welcome to consider the 20 points designed to ensure that you are ‘Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression’ whenever you take nonviolent action to defend yourselves when repression is a risk. This information is useful for both neutralizing violent provocateurs but also to ensure that invading military forces are compelled to deal with complex emotional and moral issues that do not arise against a violent opponent who is threatening them, and which will lead some, and perhaps very many, to desist as the historical record clearly documents. Again, for many examples, see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach.

Conclusion

The US government and its sycophantic allies might not invade Venezuela. It may transpire that the diplomatic and other efforts of your government to defeat the coup and avert a US-led military invasion of Venezuela will be successful. There is also a fracturing of the opposition forces within Venezuela, in several ways, which works against the success of ongoing efforts to remove your government. See ‘Venezuela Regime Change “Made in the USA”’.

However, the extensive historical evidence of US interventions in violation of international law, the geostrategic and natural resource advantages that will accrue to the US elite from an invasion that removes your elected government, the anointment of a puppet president of Venezuela, the recent posturing and declarations by key members of the US administration and many US-allied governments, and the manufacture of public acquiescence by the corporate media all point heavily in the direction of invasion. And, as you are well aware, it is wise to treat this possibility seriously.

The elite conducting these preparatory moves is insane and, if it attacks Venezuela, there is a serious risk it will destroy your country as it has destroyed Iraq and Libya, especially if it meets significant military resistance. Their insanity precludes them caring about you, the people of Venezuela (even as they present any intervention as ‘humanitarian’). See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’. They care about nothing more than geostrategic advantage, eliminating progressive elements of your society’s development, and seizing your natural resources from which they can profit enormously.

Nevertheless, a strategy of nonviolent defense would enable you to defend yourselves and enable every last member of your population, irrespective of age and ability, to be strategically involved, as well as any solidarity activists overseas. It would also minimize the loss of life and destruction inflicted on your country.

Importantly, even if you suffer setbacks, unless and until you accept outright defeat, your strategy of nonviolent defense, ongoingly refined to maintain effective strategic coordination and to retain the initiative, will ultimately prevail.

As always, however, whether or not you decide to consider/adopt my suggestion, you have my solidarity.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is [email protected] and his website is here. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 2019 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela. Photo: Peter Boyle

Letter of Canadians Calling on the Government of Canada to Cease Its Illegal Attacks on Venezuela

February 14th, 2019 by Canadian Intellectuals, Professionals, Artists

The purpose of this letter is to persuade the Government of Canada and all the Members of Parliament to reverse its counterproductive policy towards Venezuela, on the grounds that it contravenes international laws, is unethical, undemocratic and is against the interest of the vast majority of Venezuelans.

The Canadian Government prides itself in its respect for the rule of law. It is therefore disturbing that this has not included the respect for international law, which is the only thing capable of preventing war among nations, any erosion of which is a threat against peace.

Canada has become leader of the ad-hoc Lima Group, a group that only came together after the OAS failed to achieve the majority vote necessary to support overthrowing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro whose legitimate government is recognized by the United Nations, the Organization of American States, all the Non-aligned Countries, all Caribbean States under CARICOM, the African Union, Russia, China, and India. Innumerable social organizations and unions throughout the world support the legitimate government of President Maduro including the Canadian Labour Congress and CUPE.

This Lima Group declared its support for an individual who proclaimed himself president of Venezuela in a public plaza, without the benefit of any presidential election and in violation of the Constitution and electoral laws of Venezuela.

Canada has abandoned its longstanding policy of “constructive engagement” and adhered itself to the United States’ economic sanctions against Venezuela, sanctions imposed with the explicit declared purpose of bringing about regime change in Venezuela, and were accompanied by the statement that “the United States will continue to take concrete and forceful action”. These sanctions were not imposed by the UN Security Council and therefore violate international law. The sanctions also violate the U.N.’s Charter, the OAS’ Charter and resolutions of the International Court of Justice.

The UN Charter in its Article 2 states:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

The UN Charter rests on the philosophy of multilateralism, a commitment to international cooperation and the sovereign equality of States. The principle of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states have been reaffirmed in the UN General Assembly notably in Resolutions 2625 (XXV) and 3314 (XXIX).

This principle is invoked by a recent report of the judicial experts body of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of the German parliament, by stating that there are “strong reasons” to affirm that the international recognition of Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó could amount to interference in the country’s internal affairs.

As well, the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action Article 32 of the UN Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States (adapted in 1974) stipulates that

“No state may use or encourage the use of economic, political, or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights.”

On 23 March 2018, the UN Human Rights Council condemned the unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela imposed by the USA (under Obama and Trump), Canada and the European Union.

The International Criminal Court in its Article 7 of the Rome Statute considers sanctions crimes against humanity. A recent UN Report of the Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, Dr. A. De Zayas, has noted that the sanctions against Venezuela “are effectively compounding the grave crisis affecting the Venezuelan economy”, and recommended an investigation of the economic sanctions against Venezuela as crimes against humanity under Article 7, and

The OAS Charter in its Chapter 4, Article 19, states:

”No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the state or against its political, economic and cultural elements.”

Further, the OAS Convention on the Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife (21 April 1972) resolves:

“To reiterate solemnly the need for the member states of the Organization to observe strictly the principles of non-intervention and self-determination of peoples as a means of ensuring peaceful coexistence among them…and… To reaffirm the obligation of those states to refrain from applying economic, political, or any other type of measures to coerce another state and obtain from it advantages of any kind.”

The US, Canadian and EU sanctions against Venezuela, are illegal and immoral. They directly impact the civilian population to create suffering. Sanctions are felt most especially among the poorest sectors of the Venezuelan population by causing shortages of food and medicines. They are human rights violations aimed at coercing a sovereign democracy.

Venezuela held presidential elections according to its laws, on 20 May 2018, a date that had been agreed upon by an opposition that had been clamoring for elections to be called ahead of schedule. Six opposition candidates backed by 16 opposition parties took part in the elections. Three other opposition parties chose not to participate, by their own decision. The results were:

  • President Maduro: 6.3 million votes, 67%
  • Henry Falcón: 1.9 million votes, 20.9%
  • Javier Bertucci: 996,181 votes, 10.8 %

The losing candidates all accepted the validity of the election results. 150 independent international observers, including a credible and respectful Canadian delegation, all accepted the election process as clean and transparent.

We regret that Canada’s long tradition of balanced international diplomacy and its role in peacekeeping has been sullied by this aggressive, interventionist stance against a friendly country. Canada once could boast of an independent foreign policy, as when it withstood strong US pressure during the Cold War and refused to break relations with China and Cuba, and when it refused to join the U.S. military adventure to invade Vietnam and Iraq.

So it is with dismay that we see Canada joining the U.S. in this absurd recognition of an individual who, without the knowledge and support of the main Venezuelan political parties, without any public elections, claims to be president of Venezuela. If Canada hopes to be, and be seen as, a country that truly respects the rule of law, it must not collaborate with the U.S. neo-colonial war of conquest in Latin America to take possession of its natural resources – as the U.S. administration admits.

We ask the Canadian Government to withdraw from the Lima Group, to distance itself from the interventionist policy of the U.S. government, to rescind its illegal sanctions against Venezuela, and to repudiate any intervention by foreign countries in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

The Fourth International Conference for “The Equilibrium of the World” took place in Havana, Cuba from 28 to 31 January 2019. The Conference, organized by the José Marti Project of International Solidarity, was sponsored by UNESCO and a number of local and international organizations and NGOs. It coincided with the 60thAnniversary of the Cuban Revolution and as such was also a celebration of that successful demonstration to the world that socialism, solidarity and love for life can actually survive against all odds – and, yes, Cuba, has faced more hardship than any other country in recent history, through boycotts, embargoes and all sorts of economic sanctions, heinous military infiltrations and assassination attempts, initiated by the United States and followed, largely under threats from Washington, by most of the western world.

Viva Cuba! – A celebration well deserved – and in the name of José Marti, who was born 166 years ago, but whose thoughts and spiritual thinking for a new world are as valid today as they were then. They may perhaps best be summarized as love, solidarity, justice, living well for all and in peace. These principles were taken over by Fidel and Raul Castro, the Che and Hugo Chávez. They transcend current generations and reach far beyond Latin America.

The conference had many highlights; brilliant speakers; a torch march was organized at the University of Havana in honor of José Marti; and the organizers offered the participants an extraordinary music and modern ballet performance at the National Theater.

From my point of view some of the important messages came from the representative of China, who talked about the New Silk Road, or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of building bridges and connecting countries and people, whereas the west was building walls. A Russian speaker sadly admitted that it took his government a long time and relentless trying to build alliances with the west – until they realized, relatively recently, that the west could not be trusted. Professor Adan Chavez Frias Chavez, Hugo’s brother, described an invasive history over the past 100 years by the United States of Latin America and called upon the brother nations of the Americas and the world to bond together in solidarity to resist the empire’s infringement and steady attempts to subjugate sovereign nations – with a vision towards a multipolar world of equals, of sovereign nations living together in peaceful relations.

*

My own presentation focused on Economy of Resistance. And what a better place than Cuba to talk about economy of resistance! Impossible. Cuba has a 60-year history of successful resistance against a massive embargo, ordered by Washington and followed by almost the entire western world, thus demonstrating that the west has been reduced to a US colony. This was true already during the Cold War, but became even clearer when the Soviet Union “fell”. Here too, the west, led by Washington, was instrumental in the collapse of the USSR – but that’s another story – and the US grabbed the opportunity to become the emperor of a unipolar world. Cuban troops also resisted and conquered the attempted US Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón) invasion launched by President Kennedy in 1961 – and not least, Fidel Castro survived more than 600 CIA initiated assassination attempts.

The principles of Economy of Resistance cover a vast domain of topics with many ramifications. This presentation focused on four key areas:

  • Food, medical and education sovereignty
  • Economic and financial sovereignty
  • The Fifth Column; and
  • Water Resources – a Human Right and a vital resource for survival.

On food, health and education sovereignty– Cuba is 100% autonomous, as far health and education go.

However, Cuba imports more than 70% of the food her citizens consume and that, at present, mostly from the European Union. Cuba has the capacity and agricultural potential to become not only fully self-sufficient, but to develop and process agricultural produce into an agricultural industry and become a net exporter of agricultural goods.

This process might be addressed as a priority policy issue. However, it will take some time to fully implement. Meanwhile, it may be wise to diversify imports from other parts of the world than the EU – i.e. Russia, China, Central Asia, friendly ALBA countries – because Europe is not trustworthy. They tell you today, they will always honor your purchasing contracts, but if the empire strikes down with sanctions – as they did recently for anyone doing business with Iran, Cuba may be “cooked”.

Spineless Europe will bend to the orders of Washington. They have demonstrated this time and again, not least with Iran, despite the fact that they signed the so-called Nuclear Deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, on 14 July 2015 (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, UK, Russia, France, and China—plus Germany and the EU – and Iran), after which Obama lifted all sanctions with Iran – only to have Trump break the agreement and reimpose the most draconian sanctions on Iran and on enterprises doing business with Iran. The US government, and by association Europe, does not adhere to any agreement, or any international law, for that matter, when it doesn’t suit them. There are plenty of indications – Venezuela today, to be followed by Nicaragua and Cuba. These should be valid signals for Cuba to diversify her food imports until full self-sufficiency is achieved.

Already in 2014, Mr. Putin said the ‘sanctions’ were the best thing that could have happened to Russia. It forced her to revamp her agriculture and rebuild her industrial parks with the latest technology – to become fully independent from imports. Today, sanctions are a mere propaganda tool of the west, but they have hardly an impact on Russia. Russia has become the largest wheat exporter in the world. – Cuba could do likewise. She has the agricultural potential to become fully food-autonomous.

On Economic and financial sovereignty– four facets are being addressed. The first one, foreign investments, Cuba may want to focus on (i) technology; (ii) assuring that a majority of the investment shares remains Cuban; (iii) using to the extent possible Cuba’s own capital (reserves) for investments. Foreign capital is bound to certain conditionalities imposed by foreign investors, thus, it bears exchange rate and other risks, to the point where potential profits from foreign assets are usually discounted by between 10% and 20%; and (iv) last but not least, Cuba ought to decide on the sectors for foreign investors – NOT the foreign investor.

Following scenario, as propagated by opposition lawyer and economist, Pablo de Cuba, in Miami, should be avoided:

“Cuba cedes a piece of her conditions of sovereignty and negotiates with foreign investors; puts a certain amount of discounted debt at the creditors’ disposal, so as to attract more investments in sectors that they, the investors choose, for the internal development of Cuba.”

As the hegemony of the US dollar is used to strangle any country that refuses to bend to the empire, a progressive dedollarization is of the order, meaning, in addition to the US dollar itself, move progressively away from all currencies that are intimately linked to the US dollar, i.e. Canadian and Australian dollars, Euro, Yen, Pound Sterling – and more. This is a strategy to be pursued in the short- and medium term, for the protection against more sanctions dished out by the US and its spineless allies.

Simultaneously, a rapprochement towards other monetary systems, for example in the east, especially based on the Chinese gold-convertible Petro-Yuan, may be seriously considered. Russia and China, and in fact the entire SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), have already designed a monetary transfer system circumventing the western SWIFT system, which has every transaction channeled through and controlled by a US bank. This is the key motive for economic and financial sanctions. There is no reason why Cuba could not (gradually but pointedly) join such an alternative system, to move out of the western claws of embargo. The SCO members today encompass about half of the world population and control one third of the globe’s GDP.

Drawbacks would be that the import markets would have to be revisited and diversified, unless western suppliers would accept to be paid in CUC, or Yuan through a system different from SWIFT. Moving away from the western monetary transfer system may also impact remittances from Cubans living in the US and elsewhere in the west (about US$ 3.4 billion – 2017 – less than 4% of GDP). It would mean departing from monetary transactions in the Euro and European monetary zones.

Be aware – the future is in the East. The West is committing slowly but steadily suicide.

Another crucial advice is – stay away from IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), World Trade Organization (WTO) – and the like. They are so-called international financial and trade organizations, all controlled by the US and her western “allies” – and tend to enslave their clients with debt.

Case in Point – Mexico: President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), a leftist, has little margin to maneuver Mexico’s economy, inherited from his neoliberal predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto. Mexico’s finances are shackled by the international banking system, led by the IMF, FED, WB and by association, the globalized Wall Street system. For example, AMLO intended to revive PEMEX, the petroleum state enterprise. The IMF told him that he first had to “financially sanitize” PEMEX, meaning putting PEMEX through a severe austerity program. The banking community agreed. In case AMLO wouldn’t follow their “advice”, they might strangle his country.

The CUC versus the Peso, a dual monetary system (CUC 1 = CuP 25.75), has also been used by China up to the mid-80s and by Germany after WWI, to develop export / import markets. However, there comes a time when the system could divide the population between those who have access to foreign currencies (CUC-convertible), and those who have no such access.

Also, the convertibility of the CUC with the Euro, Swiss franc, Pound Sterling and Yen, make the CUC, de facto, convertible with the dollar – hence, the CUC is dollarized. This is what Washington likes, to keep Cuba’s economy, despite the embargo, in the orbit of the dollar hegemony which will be used in an attempt to gradually integrate Cuba into the western, capitalist economy. – However, Washington will not succeed. Cuba is alert and has been resisting for the last 60 years.

The Fifth Column – refers to clandestine and / or overt infiltration of opposing and enemy elements into the government. They come in the form of NGOs, US-CIA trained local or foreigners to destabilize a country – and especially a country’s economy – from inside.

There are ever more countries that do not bend to the dictate of the empire and are targets for Fifth Columns – Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Pakistan and more – and Cuba?

The term, “Fifth Column” is attributed to General Emilio Mola, who during the Spanish civil war in 1936, informed his homologue, General Francisco Franco, that he has four columns of troops marching towards Madrid, and that they would be backed by a “fifth column”, hidden inside the city. With the support of this fifth column he expected to finish with (the legitimate) Republican government.

The process of “infiltration” is becoming ever more sophisticated, bolder and acting with total impunity. Perhaps the most (in)famous organization to foment Fifth Columns around the world, among many others, is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the extended arm of the CIA. It goes as a so-called NGO, or ‘foreign policy thinktank’ which receives hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department to subvert non-obedient countries’ governments, bringing about regime change through infiltration of foreign trained, funded and armed disruptive forces, sowing social unrest and even “civil wars”. Cases in point are Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Libya – and more – and now they attempt to topple Venezuela’s legitimate, democratically elected Government of Nicolás Maduro.

They work through national and international NGOs and even universities in the countries to be ‘regime changed’. Part of this ‘Infiltration” is a massive propaganda campaign and intimidation on so-called allies, or client states. The process to reach regime change may take years and billions of dollars. In the case of Ukraine, it took at least 5 years and 5 billion dollars. In Venezuela, the process towards regime change started some 20 years ago, as soon as Hugo Chavez was elected President in 1998. It brought about a failed coup in 2002 and was followed by ever increasing economic sanctions and physical military threats. Earlier this year, Washington was able to intimidating almost all of Europe and a large proportion of Latin America into accepting a US-trained implant, a Trump puppet, Juan Guaidó, as the interim president, attempting to push the true legitimate Maduro Government aside.

To put impunity to its crest, the Trump Government blocked 12 billion dollars of Venezuela’s foreign reserves in NY bank accounts and transferred the authority of access to the money to the illegitimate self-appointed interim president, Juan Guaidó. Along the same lines, the UK refused to return 1.2 billion dollars-worth of Venezuelan gold to Caracas. All these criminal acts would not be possible without the inside help, i.e. the “Fifth Column”, the members of which are often not readily identifiable.

It is not known, how often the empire attempted ‘regime change’ in Cuba. However, none of these attempts were successful. The Cuban Revolution will not be broken.

Water resources – is a Human Right and a vital component of an economy of resistance.

Water resources will be more precious in the future than petrol. The twin satellites GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) discovered the systematic depletion of groundwater resources throughout the world, due to over-exploitation and massive contamination from agriculture and industrial waste. Examples, among many, are the northern Punjab region in India with massive, inefficient irrigation; and in Peru the Pacific coastal region, due to inefficient irrigation, unretained runoff rain- and river water into the Pacific Ocean, and destruction of entire watersheds through mining.

Privatization of water resources, not only of drinking water and water for irrigation, but of entire aquifers, is becoming an increasing calamity for the peoples of our planet. Again, with impunity, giant water corporations, led by France, the UK and the US are gradually and quietly encroaching on the diminishing fresh water resources, by privatizing them, so as to make water a commodity to be sold at “market prices”, manipulated by the water giants, hence, depriving ready access to drinking water to an ever-growing mass of increasingly impoverished populations, victims of globalized neoliberal economies. For example, Nestlé and Coca Cola have negotiated with former Brazilian President Temer, and now with Bolsonaro, a 100-year concession over the Guaraní aquiver, the largest known, renewable freshwater underground resource, 74% of which is under Brazil. Bolsonaro has already said, he would open up the Amazon area for private investors. That could mean privatization of the world’s largest pool of fresh water – the Amazon basin.

Economic Resistance means – Water is a Human Right and is part of a country’s sovereignty; water should NEVER be privatized.

For Cuba rainwater – on average about 1,300 mm / year – is the only resource of fresh water. Cuba, like most islands, is vulnerable to rainwater runoff, estimated at up to 80%. There are already water shortages during certain times of the year, resulting in droughts in specific regions. Small retention walls may help infiltrate rainwater into the ground, and at the same time regulate irrigation, provide drinking water and possibly generate electricity for local use through small hydroelectric plants.

The National Water Resources Institute (INRH – Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidráulicos), is aware of this issue and is formulating a forward-looking water strategy and planning the construction of infrastructure works to secure a countrywide water balance.

Other challenges include the hygienic reuse and evacuation of waste water, as well as in the medium to long run an island-wide Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

In Conclusion, Economic Resistance might be summarized as follows:

  • Self-sufficiency in food, health services and education. Cuba has achieved the latter two and is now aiming at achieving 100% agricultural autonomy – and in the meantime is advised diversifying food import markets.
  • Economic and financial sovereignty, including progressive dedollarization, deglobalizing monetary economy and creating internal monetary harmony.
  • The “Fifth Column”– always be aware of its existence and with perseverance keep going on the path of past successes, preventing the Fifth Column’s destabilizing actions.
  • Water resources autonomy– achieving countrywide Integrated Water Resources Management, with focus on protection, conservation and efficient water use.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

After spending two days in Caracas on February 3 and 4, including a semi-private meeting with President Maduro, this is my basic impression. The situation in Caracas is the opposite of what is portrayed in the international corporate media in the U.S., Canada and other countries in the West. It is calm. There are no people starving to death nor “civil war” violence as the media repeat.

That is not to say that there is not an economic crisis, but this is largely caused by the crippling economic sanctions and threats that the U.S. has imposed on Venezuela over the last few years. The sanctions and threats began under Obama in March 2015 and were continued by Trump, the Justin Trudeau Liberal government and others.

Let us get to the heart of the matter. Many valuable articles have already been published concerning the legitimate election of Maduro in the last elections of May 2018 on the one hand and, on the other, regarding the violation of Venezuelan and international law, including the United Nations in “recognizing” its man in Caracas.

Furthermore, the main issue now is the right of Venezuela to its sovereignty and to choosing its own path without foreign interference, irrespective of any other consideration. Moreover, within this optic, the principal reality – ignored by the international media – is the civilian military union as a key component of Venezuelan democracy. It is not recognized either by ignorance or by mere wishful thinking, as those who want to eliminate the Bolivarian Revolution know very well it is this union that blocks their plan.

Source: Frank Miló, Havana

Although it was not the first time that I had heard Maduro speak, his February 4 talk in that semi-private meeting with Venezuelans and foreign guests was a clincher. Among other points, he outlined in detail how he and the other leaders (whom I also met briefly in that meeting) have been and are today still working to organize and inspire – and in turn are being inspired by – all the sections of the armed forces all over the country, from pilots, navy to the army to the people’s militia. He pointed out that this civilian military union has been developing in the country over several decades.

What is this civilian-military union? Chávez said that he found the idea of the civilian-military alliance in the political thought of the Venezuelan intellectual, guerrilla leader, Fabricio Ojeda, who wrote in his 1966 book La guerra del pueblo (The People’s War): “The anti-feudal and anti-imperialist basis of our revolutionary process suggests a form of alliance that can accommodate differences in background, political credo, philosophical conception, religious convictions, economic or professional status, or party affiliation among Venezuelans. The strength and might of the common enemy calls for a united struggle to defeat it… The forces most inclined to fight for national liberation are the workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie, students, intellectuals, and professionals as well as the majority of officials, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), and soldiers of the air, sea, and land forces…”

In Ojeda’s vision, which Chávez shared, all these civilian and military sectors are called upon to come together in a genuine national revolutionary alliance. (Ramonet, Ignacio, Hugo Chávez: Mi primera vida. Conversaciones con Ignacio Ramonet, Vintage Español, Nueva York, 2013). Translation Arnold August).

While Maduro declared in his February 4 speech that his government is ready to participate in any efforts at mediation, he also made clear that Venezuela is ready to defend its country: “Not one Yaqui soldier will enter Venezuela.”

The threat of U.S.-led military intervention is more real than ever. The issue is as follows: no to military intervention in Venezuela and full support for the right of Venezuela to defend itself in the worse-case scenario. Polls in Europe and other countries show support for this position, while the main unions in Canada have issued and are issuing statements rejecting the pro-Trump position of the Justin Trudeau Liberal Party position and demonstrations are taking place in the U.S.

The Justin Trudeau government hosted the so-called Lima Group in Ottawa on that same day, February 4, when we were in Caracas meeting with the Madura government leadership. The official communiqué reaffirmed its support for the Trump position on Venezuela, consisting of foreign interference in the internal affairs of that country with full support of its puppet as the so-called president.

The position of the Justin Trudeau government is a major and historical (in the very negative sense of the term) change in Canadian foreign policy, including within his own Liberal Party. In contrast for example, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War (March 2013) former Liberal Party Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said in an interview regarding Canada’s position to NOT support the U.S. war in Iraq, that

[Chrétien] has no regrets about rejecting Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led mission. It was a very important decision, no doubt about it. It was, in fact, the first time ever that there was a war that the Brits and the Americans were involved and Canada was not there, Chrétien told CTV’s [Canadian national news network] Power Play.

The move also helped assert Canada’s independence on the world stage, he said.

Unfortunately, a lot of people thought sometimes that we were the 51st state of America. It was clear that day that we were not.

Chrétien said he refused to commit to military action in Iraq without a resolution from the UN Security Council. He said Canada always followed the UN and intervened in other conflicts when asked to.

Chrétien also said he was not convinced that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction – the threat that fuelled support for a U.S.-led invasion of the country – and that turned out to be true.

Chrétien also addressed his visit to Venezuela last week [March 2013] (to attend President Hugo Chávez’s funeral).

He said he went because he knew Chávez personally and “never had any problem” with the controversial leader, even though he didn’t agree with him “on many things.” He also wanted to show his respect for the people of Venezuela.

He had support of the people and he was loved by the poor of his country. He was kind of a Robin Hood, Chrétien said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper [of the Canadian Conservative Party] angered the Venezuelan administration by saying in a statement that he hoped the country can have a better, brighter future after Chávez’s death.

Chrétien said the Venezuelan authorities were very, very happy to see him at the funeral, because they were very unhappy with Harper’s remarks.

Let us recall what everyone in Cuba, Latin America, and many in Canada knows: Justin Trudeau’s own father, as Liberal Party Prime Minister of Canada, went to Cuba when he stood next to Fidel Castro in June 1976 and shouted in a public meeting “Long live Prime Minister Fidel Castro!”, and had taken other positions independent of the U.S.

For these peoples in the South (as the Canadian people already recognize now), like any other family in whatever system, family relations and characteristics change. Regarding foreign relations, Justin Trudeau is not at all like his father. The Canadian press can quote me here: “Justin Trudeau’s father would turn over in his grave if he knew what his own son was doing.” Everyone in Canada hates Trump for all his policies, yet Justin Trudeau is aligned with him.

The Trudeau government, while giving lessons to Venezuela about democracy and freedom of the press for example in the February 4, Ottawa Lima Group meeting, denied access to Telesur. This is the email that Patricia Villegas, President of teleSur, received following the request to cover the Lima Ottawa meeting (a screen shot taken by the author from Villegas’ Twitter account):

Furthermore, the Trudeau government talks about democracy for Venezuela but does not recognize the position of millions of unionized workers in Canada and others against the pro-Trump interventionist Venezuela policy and in support of Venezuela’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Arnold August is a Canadian journalist and lecturer, the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 ElectionsCuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and the recently released  Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond. As a journalist he collaborates with many web sites in Latin America, Europe and North America including Global ResearchTwitterFacebook, His website: www.arnoldaugust.com

With impeccable logic and fact, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza repudiated the series of accusations being used by mainstream media to undermine the legitimacy of President Maduro’s government, and exposed the duplicitous motivations underlying the crocodile tears shed over the suffering of the Venezuelan people.

Pressed, repeatedly, with allegations that President Maduro should allow in the “humanitarian aid” the West is attempting to force on Venezuela, Arreaza referred to the multiple threats of military force which Washington is repeatedly making, and asked whether this “humanitarian aid,” offered by a power which is threatening a military invasion of Venezuela, would be safe for Venezuela to accept, indicating that the West’s “humanitarian aid” is a form of Trojan Horse which Venezuela cannot invite in. Arreaza quoted Trump as “openly stating he wants the ‘loot,’”: control of Venezuela’s oil and other rich resources.

Exposing the hypocrisy and deception underlying this so-called “humanitarian aid,” he confirmed that Venezuela has repeatedly demonstrated that they do not need this charity, they have more than adequate resources of their own to fulfill the needs of their own people, but these resources are being blocked by the coercive sanctions which Washington has imposed on Venezuela for years. He stated that if the West is sincerely troubled by the humanitarian plight of the Venezuelan people, they must lift the coercive unilateral sanctions and the blockade which are the cause of the economic crisis, and the continued imposition of these sanctions is an unacceptable form of imperialist domination, and a violation of the UN Charter and International Law.

When pressured by a reporter representing a powerful wire service, insistent that Venezuela should coordinate with the UN to let in “humanitarian aid,” Arreaza replied that there are many false accusations spread by the media, and Venezuela is currently at peace. He stated clearly that these media should not exacerbate the situation by their biased presentations, and he stated that if the media fuel the problem by spreading false stories and rumors, they will ultimately share responsibility for any violence and bloodshed that ensue. Arreaza stated that even the International Red Cross refuses to participate in this offer of so-called “humanitarian aid,” which the IRC stated is a politicized spectacle and a provocation.

The majority of members of the Non-Aligned Movement which met today opposed any attempt at foreign intervention in Venezuela, and supported the legitimacy of Maduro’s Presidency.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Carla Stea is Global Research’s correspondent at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y.

Featured image is from El Estimulo

Venezuela as the Pivot for New Internationalism?

February 14th, 2019 by Prof Michael Hudson

Introduction

There is a great deal of controversy about the true shape of the Venezuelan economy and whether Hugo Chavez’s and Nicholas Maduro’s reform and policies were crucial for the people of Venezuela or whether they were completely misguided and precipitated the current crises. Anybody and everybody seems to have very strong held views about this. But I don’t simply because I lack the expertise to have any such opinions. So I decided to ask one of the most respected independent economists out there, Michael Hudson, for whom I have immense respect and whose analyses (including those he co-authored with Paul Craig Roberts) seem to be the most credible and honest ones you can find. In fact, Paul Craig Roberts considers Hudson the “best economist in the world“!

I am deeply grateful to Michael for his replies which, I hope, will contribute to a honest and objective understanding of what really is taking place in Venezuela.

The Saker

***

The Saker: Could you summarize the state of Venezuela’s economy when Chavez came to power?

Michael Hudson: Venezuela was an oil monoculture. Its export revenue was spent largely on importing food and other necessities that it could have produced at home. Its trade was largely with the United States. So despite its oil wealth, it ran up foreign debt.

From the outset, U.S. oil companies have feared that Venezuela might someday use its oil revenues to benefit its overall population instead of letting the U.S. oil industry and its local comprador aristocracy siphon off its wealth. So the oil industry – backed by U.S. diplomacy – held Venezuela hostage in two ways.

First of all, oil refineries were not built in Venezuela, but in Trinidad and in the southern U.S. Gulf Coast states. This enabled U.S. oil companies – or the U.S. Government – to leave Venezuela without a means of “going it alone” and pursuing an independent policy with its oil, as it needed to have this oil refined. It doesn’t help to have oil reserves if you are unable to get this oil refined so as to be usable.

Second, Venezuela’s central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt. This meant that if Venezuela defaulted (or was forced into default by U.S. banks refusing to make timely payment on its foreign debt), bondholders and U.S. oil majors would be in a legal position to take possession of Venezuelan oil assets.

These pro-U.S. policies made Venezuela a typically polarized Latin American oligarchy. Despite being nominally rich in oil revenue, its wealth was concentrated in the hands of a pro-U.S. oligarchy that let its domestic development be steered by the World Bank and IMF. The indigenous population, especially its rural racial minority as well as the urban underclass, was excluded from sharing in the country’s oil wealth. The oligarchy’s arrogant refusal to share the wealth, or even to make Venezuela self-sufficient in essentials, made the election of Hugo Chavez a natural outcome.

TS: Could you outline the various reforms and changes introduced by Hugo Chavez? What did he do right, and what did he do wrong?

MH: Chavez sought to restore a mixed economy to Venezuela, using its government revenue – mainly from oil, of course – to develop infrastructure and domestic spending on health care, education, employment to raise living standards and productivity for his electoral constituency.

What he was unable to do was to clean up the embezzlement and built-in rake-off of income from the oil sector. And he was unable to stem the capital flight of the oligarchy, taking its wealth and moving it abroad – while running away themselves.

This was not “wrong”. It merely takes a long time to change an economy’s disruption – while the U.S. is using sanctions and “dirty tricks” to stop that process.

TS: What are, in your opinion, the causes of the current economic crisis in Venezuela – is it primarily due to mistakes by Chavez and Maduro or is the main cause US sabotage, subversion and sanctions?

MH: There is no way that’s Chavez and Maduro could have pursued a pro-Venezuelan policy aimed at achieving economic independence without inciting fury, subversion and sanctions from the United States. American foreign policy remains as focused on oil as it was when it invaded Iraq under Dick Cheney’s regime. U.S. policy is to treat Venezuela as an extension of the U.S. economy, running a trade surplus in oil to spend in the United States or transfer its savings to U.S. banks.

By imposing sanctions that prevent Venezuela from gaining access to its U.S. bank deposits and the assets of its state-owned Citco, the United States is making it impossible for Venezuela to pay its foreign debt. This is forcing it into default, which U.S. diplomats hope to use as an excuse to foreclose on Venezuela’s oil resources and seize its foreign assets much as Paul Singer’s hedge fund sought to do with Argentina’s foreign assets.

Just as U.S. policy under Kissinger was to make Chile’s “economy scream,” so the U.S. is following the same path against Venezuela. It is using that country as a “demonstration effect” to warn other countries not to act in their self-interest in any way that prevents their economic surplus from being siphoned off by U.S. investors.

TS: What in your opinion should Maduro do next (assuming he stays in power and the USA does not overthrow him) to rescue the Venezuelan economy?

MH: I cannot think of anything that President Maduro can do that he is not doing. At best, he can seek foreign support – and demonstrate to the world the need for an alternative international financial and economic system.

He already has begun to do this by trying to withdraw Venezuela’s gold from the Bank of England and Federal Reserve. This is turning into “asymmetrical warfare,” threatening what to de-sanctify the dollar standard in international finance. The refusal of England and the United States to grant an elected government control of its foreign assets demonstrates to the entire world that U.S. diplomats and courts alone can and will control foreign countries as an extension of U.S. nationalism.

The price of the U.S. economic attack on Venezuela is thus to fracture the global monetary system. Maduro’s defensive move is showing other countries the need to protect themselves from becoming “another Venezuela” by finding a new safe haven and paying agent for their gold, foreign exchange reserves and foreign debt financing, away from the dollar, sterling and euro areas.

The only way that Maduro can fight successfully is on the institutional level, upping the ante to move “outside the box.” His plan – and of course it is a longer-term plan – is to help catalyze a new international economic order independent of the U.S. dollar standard. It will work in the short run only if the United States believes that it can emerge from this fight as an honest financial broker, honest banking system and supporter of democratically elected regimes. The Trump administration is destroying illusion more thoroughly than any anti-imperialist critic or economic rival could do!

Over the longer run, Maduro also must develop Venezuelan agriculture, along much the same lines that the United States protected and developed its agriculture under the New Deal legislation of the 1930s – rural extension services, rural credit, seed advice, state marketing organizations for crop purchase and supply of mechanization, and the same kind of price supports that the United States has long used to subsidize domestic farm investment to increase productivity.

TS: What about the plan to introduce an oil-based crypto currency? Will that be an effective alternative to the dying Venezuelan Bolivar?

MH: Only a national government can issue a currency. A “crypto” currency tied to the price of oil would become a hedging vehicle, prone to manipulation and price swings by forward sellers and buyers. A national currency must be based on the ability to tax, and Venezuela’s main tax source is oil revenue, which is being blocked from the United States. So Venezuela’s position is like that of the German mark coming out of its hyperinflation of the early 1920s. The only solution involves balance-of-payments support. It looks like the only such support will come from outside the dollar sphere.

The solution to any hyperinflation must be negotiated diplomatically and be supported by other governments. My history of international trade and financial theory, Trade, Development and Foreign Debt, describes the German reparations problem and how its hyperinflation was solved by the Rentenmark.

Venezuela’s economic-rent tax would fall on oil, and luxury real estate sites, as well as monopoly prices, and on high incomes (mainly financial and monopoly income). This requires a logic to frame such tax and monetary policy. I have tried to explain how to achieve monetary and hence political independence for the past half-century. China is applying such policy most effectively. It is able to do so because it is a large and self-sufficient economy in essentials, running a large enough export surplus to pay for its food imports. Venezuela is in no such position. That is why it is looking to China for support at this time.

TS: How much assistance do China, Russia and Iran provide and how much can they do to help?  Do you think that these three countries together can help counter-act US sabotage, subversion and sanctions?

MH: None of these countries have a current capacity to refine Venezuelan oil. This makes it difficult for them to take payment in Venezuelan oil. Only a long-term supply contract (paid for in advance) would be workable. And even in that case, what would China and Russia do if the United States simply grabbed their property in Venezuela, or refused to let Russia’s oil company take possession of Citco? In that case, the only response would be to seize U.S. investments in their own country as compensation.

At least China and Russia can provide an alternative bank clearing mechanism to SWIFT, so that Venezuela can bypass the U.S. financial system and keep its assets from being grabbed at will by U.S. authorities or bondholders. And of course, they can provide safe-keeping for however much of Venezuela’s gold it can get back from New York and London.

Looking ahead, therefore, China, Russia, Iran and other countries need to set up a new international court to adjudicate the coming diplomatic crisis and its financial and military consequences. Such a court – and its associated international bank as an alternative to the U.S.-controlled IMF and World Bank – needs a clear ideology to frame a set of principles of nationhood and international rights with power to implement and enforce its judgments.

This would confront U.S. financial strategists with a choice: if they continue to treat the IMF, World Bank, ITO and NATO as extensions of increasingly aggressive U.S. foreign policy, they will risk isolating the United States. Europe will have to choose whether to remain a U.S. economic and military satellite, or to throw in its lot with Eurasia.

However, Daniel Yergin reports in the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 7) that China is trying to hedge its bets by opening a back-door negotiation with Guaido’s group, apparently to get the same deal that it has negotiated with Maduro’s government. But any such deal seems unlikely to be honored in practice, given U.S. animosity toward China and Guaido’s total reliance on U.S. covert support.

TS: Venezuela kept a lot of its gold in the UK and money in the USA.  How could Chavez and Maduro trust these countries or did they not have another choice?  Are there viable alternatives to New York and London or are they still the “only game in town” for the world’s central banks?

MH: There was never real trust in the Bank of England or Federal Reserve, but it seemed unthinkable that they would refuse to permit an official depositor from withdrawing its own gold. The usual motto is “Trust but verify.” But the unwillingness (or inability) of the Bank of England to verify means that the formerly unthinkable has now arrived: Have these central banks sold this gold forward in the post-London Gold Pool and its successor commodity markets in their attempt to keep down the price so as to maintain the appearance of a solvent U.S. dollar standard?

Paul Craig Roberts has described how this system works. There are forward markets for currencies, stocks and bonds. The Federal Reserve can offer to buy a stock in three months at, say, 10% over the current price. Speculators will by the stock, bidding up the price, so as to take advantage of “the market’s” promise to buy the stock. So by the time three months have passed, the price will have risen. That is largely how the U.S. “Plunge Protection Team” has supported the U.S. stock market.

The system works in reverse to hold down gold prices. The central banks holding gold can get together and offer to sell gold at a low price in three months. “The market” will realize that with low-priced gold being sold, there’s no point in buying more gold and bidding its price up. So the forward-settlement market shapes today’s market.

The question is, have gold buyers (such as the Russian and Chinese government) bought so much gold that the U.S. Fed and the Bank of England have actually had to “make good” on their forward sales, and steadily depleted their gold? In this case, they would have been “living for the moment,” keeping down gold prices for as long as they could, knowing that once the world returns to the pre-1971 gold-exchange standard for intergovernmental balance-of-payments deficits, the U.S. will run out of gold and be unable to maintain its overseas military spending (not to mention its trade deficit and foreign disinvestment in the U.S. stock and bond markets). My book on Super-Imperialism explains why running out of gold forced the Vietnam War to an end. The same logic would apply today to America’s vast network of military bases throughout the world.

Refusal of England and the U.S. to pay Venezuela means that other countries means that foreign official gold reserves can be held hostage to U.S. foreign policy, and even to judgments by U.S. courts to award this gold to foreign creditors or to whoever might bring a lawsuit under U.S. law against these countries.

This hostage-taking now makes it urgent for other countries to develop a viable alternative, especially as the world de-dedollarizes and a gold-exchange standard remains the only way of constraining the military-induced balance of payments deficit of the United States or any other country mounting a military attack. A military empire is very expensive – and gold is a “peaceful” constraint on military-induced payments deficits. (I spell out the details in my Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972), updated in German as Finanzimperium (2017).

The U.S. has overplayed its hand in destroying the foundation of the dollar-centered global financial order. That order has enabled the United States to be “the exceptional nation” able to run balance-of-payments deficits and foreign debt that it has no intention (or ability) to pay, claiming that the dollars thrown off by its foreign military spending “supply” other countries with their central bank reserves (held in the form of loans to the U.S. Treasury – Treasury bonds and bills – to finance the U.S. budget deficit and its military spending, as well as the largely military U.S. balance-of-payments deficit.

Given the fact that the EU is acting as a branch of NATO and the U.S. banking system, that alternative would have to be associated with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the gold would have to be kept in Russia and/or China.

TS: What can other Latin American countries such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba and, maybe, Uruguay and Mexico do to help Venezuela?

MH: The best thing neighboring Latin American countries can do is to join in creating a vehicle to promote de-dollarization and, with it, an international institution to oversee the writedown of debts that are beyond the ability of countries to pay without imposing austerity and thereby destroying their economies.

An alternative also is needed to the World Bank that would make loans in domestic currency, above all to subsidize investment in domestic food production so as to protect the economy against foreign food-sanctions – the equivalent of a military siege to force surrender by imposing famine conditions. This World Bank for Economic Acceleration would put the development of self-reliance for its members first, instead of promoting export competition while loading borrowers down with foreign debt that would make them prone to the kind of financial blackmail that Venezuela is experiencing.

Being a Roman Catholic country, Venezuela might ask for papal support for a debt write-down and an international institution to oversee the ability to pay by debtor countries without imposing austerity, emigration, depopulation and forced privatization of the public domain.

Two international principles are needed. First, no country should be obliged to pay foreign debt in a currency (such as the dollar or its satellites) whose banking system acts to prevents payment.

Second, no country should be obliged to pay foreign debt at the price of losing its domestic autonomy as a state: the right to determine its own foreign policy, to tax and to create its own money, and to be free of having to privatize its public assets to pay foreign creditors. Any such debt is a “bad loan” reflecting the creditor’s own irresponsibility or, even worse, pernicious asset grab in a foreclosure that was the whole point of the loan.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet

February 14th, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Such measures were always going to come on the heels, and heavily so, of the utopians.  Where there is Internet Utopia, Dystopia follows with dedicated cynicism.  Where there are untrammelled means of searching, there will be efforts to erect signposts, usually of a warning nature.  Like the librarian ever worried of her reader finding something inappropriate, material will be kept in a different section of the library, forever filed, concealed and kept from overly curious eyes.  The library, however, will never close. 

Like many of President Vladimir Putin’s projects, tackling the internet has all the elements of the improbable, the boastful and the grand quixotic.  It also has a certain Icarus, waxwing quality to it, and may end up melting when approaching its sunny objective.  Be that as it may, the Russian Internet Isolation Bill is simply another one for the books, another project in authority’s efforts to control, in the name of security, the way the world wide web works.  It seeks to impose further restrictions on traffic and data, routing it through state-controlled points to be registered with Roskomnadzor, the federal communications regulator. To this will be added a national Domain Name System, enabling the internet to function even if severed from foreign links.     

The obvious and sensible point here shared by all states with an interest in using, exploiting and controlling the internet is how best to preserve an information web function that is sovereign and resistant to attack.  The Russian suggestion here is somewhat bolder than others: to hive off and keep RuNet (the state’s internet infrastructure) safe from any cyber mauling. This would effectively link the Russian segment to a switch.  Even after an attack, the internet within the country might still function in its provision of online services, minimising internal chaos.

Critics of this Russian venture would do well to note the differing tactics of states towards the internet.  The functionaries in Moscow have never made any secret of the fact that control is the order of the day.  Ditto China, which remains all focused on maintaining its Great Fire Wall, barrier to deemed ills.  Other countries supposedly interested in freer flowing tributaries of information have the same suspicions and paranoias; they merely choose to manifest them in less heavy handed and, in some instances, underhanded ways. 

As a June 2018 piece from those sinister chaps at Stratfor observes with some accuracy, all governments wish to exploit the internet.  They are junkies for control.  “Administrations even in liberal countries such as the United States have attempted to direct online discourse and to sway public opinion toward some outlets and away from others.”  Ever mindful of future solicitations for its services, Stratfor insists that four countries “merit special attention for their efforts to break Western hegemony on the internet and, by extension, to challenge the free internet model.”  Delightfully slanted in selecting Iran, China, Turkey and Russia, the assessment ignores the obvious point: the free internet model is tat and show.

In the United States, where freedom of speech remains, at least in some form, relevant, the National Security Agency remains dedicated, not so much to controlling the net but conducting surveillance of it.  If you can’t beat it, spy on it.  The point was made with amply devastating effect by whistleblower Edward Snowden: “I, sitting at my desk, could wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.”

The lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, allowed passage of the bill on February 12 as the first of three votes.  Amendments are bound to follow, but the work is formidable.  A working group of industry figures established to implement the directives of the ensuing legislation insists that various tests and simulations will have to be done by telecommunication companies to test the effect of disconnection.  Its head, Natalya Kaspersky, might well have praised the goals of the legislation, but she was frank enough about the draft law to suggest that implementing it “raises many questions”.

Critics are, rightly, concerned that such bills have a rather nasty effect on how the Russian segment of the internet will work, which is precisely the point.  The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs is suspicious that this is a grand act of self-harm.  The Communists are sceptical.  Vladimir Zhirinovksy of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia will not back it. 

The issues of cost and capabilities in creating the necessary equipment to implement such a regime of strategic isolation have also niggled legislators.  As LDPR lawmaker Sergei Ivanov bitterly mused in debate,

“Russia does not produce any IT hardware, only cables, which some people better hang themselves on.” 

Strange things tend to be suggested in the name of preservation. 

The broader response by onlookers stretching from those in Freedomland to more autocratic outposts is to simply keep Russia in the cybernews.  Cyberwarfare and cyber activities have lifted Russia into the permanent news cycle, and endless churning and turning in the domestic affairs of the United States and Europe.  Spot the hack, spot the Russian. Lose an election, blame it on the Kremlin’s hacking and electoral interference.  If only it were that simple. 

For all the fears, coupled with the boast and bark from the Kremlin, this controlling effort, given the constant evolution of networks, may well collapse.  State regulators such as Roskomnadzor have already shown how they bungle when attempting to limit or stop various apps from working.  Last year’s effort to bar the encrypted communications app Telegram in 2018, for instance, disrupted associated IP addresses (15.8 million, in fact), precipitating havoc on Google and Amazon’s cloud-hosting platforms.  Networks will do that to you.

Notwithstanding that object lesson in what happens when swathes of the internet are blocked to target one undesirable gremlin, the utopians of government control are still in full voice. German Klimenko, who had a rough time of it as Putin’s grand wizard on internet affairs last year, may well be yet another name to add to that list, holding the belief that such complex interconnected systems can be protected by a merely “push” of a button without calamitous consequences.

In its ambition to control the internet, Russia is simply another state addicted to yet paranoid about the nature of the internet.  All states, by definition, want control over the highways, the lanes and the alleys of a system that has its origins in survivability in catastrophic conflict.  Paradoxically, it also has the means to inflict it.  That way, a state’s own infrastructure can be spared at some cost, allowing the censor of unwanted ideas to keep it company, rummaging through materials deemed appropriate for consumers.  That’s what you get for believing in utopia.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

Pompeo, Bolton, and Iran’s “Fake Opposition”

February 14th, 2019 by Prof. Muhammad Sahimi

As Iranian people struggle for democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as preserving the national security and territorial integrity of their country, two main groups have emerged among the opposition to Iran’s hardliners, both within Iran and in the diaspora. One group, the true opposition that includes the reformists, religious-nationalists, secular leftists, various labor groups, human rights activists, and others, believes that it is up to the Iranian people living in Iran how to change the political system in their country. This group is opposed to foreign intervention, particularly by the United States and its allies, the illegal economic sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran, and the constant threats of military confrontation espoused by John Bolton, President Trump’s national security advisor, and other Iran hawks.

Many Iranians refer to the second group as the “fake” opposition. It consists mostly of the monarchists, some ethnic groups, and the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the exiled group that is universally despised in Iran and was on the State Department’s list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” from 1997 until 2011. It is called the “fake” opposition because it supports the economic sanctions and the threat of military attacks, and has completely aligned itself not only with the Trump administration, but also with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Israel, and endorses their propaganda against Iran. This group, whose followers are based mostly in the diaspora, acts more like a lobby for convincing the Iranian people to support the Trump-Mohammed bin Salman(MbS)-Benjamin Netanyahu triangle in their confrontation with Iran, rather than as a group supporting the true opposition within Iran for lasting, irreversible, and positive changes in the political system.

The harsh economic sanctions imposed on the Iranian people have contributed significantly to the terrible state of Iran’s economy, increasing inflation and unemployment, making vital drugs and medications scarce, and hurting the middle class greatly. These groups’ support for the hostility of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and UAE toward Iran is particularly galling at a time when Saudi Arabia has threatened “to take the war to inside Iran,” Israel came close numerous times to attacking Iran from 2010-2011 and is still threatening it, and the UAE welcomed the terrorist attacks in Ahvaz in southern Iran last September.

The Secessionist Ethnic Groups

Although National Security Advisor John Bolton supports the MEK and has met with its leader repeatedly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Brian Hook, the State Department’s Special Representative for Iran who directs the “Iran Action Group,” have met with some of the leaders of the “fake” opposition. Last June, Abdullah Mohtadi and Mustafa Hijri who lead, respectively, the Iranian Communist Kurdish group Komala and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI),  traveled to Washington, with Mohtadi reportedly meeting with Pompeo and Hijri meeting with other the State Department officials. Komala’s office in Washington has registered with the Justice Department as a lobbying group intending to “establish solid and durable relations” with the Trump administration. Before he was appointed the president’s national security advisor, Bolton published a white paper that included a call for supporting “Kurdish national aspirations, including Kurds in Iran, Iraq and Syria,” and for providing “assistance to Balochis, Khuzestan Arabs, Kurds” and other ethnic minorities in Iran.

Both groups have carried out armed attacks on Iran’s military inside Iran, which amount to terrorism. Both have separatist tendencies, which they conceal under the guise of calling for a federal system that would partition the country into various regions based on ethnicity. The separatist nature of the KDPI became clear when, in 2012, Hijri asked the United States to declare Iran’s Kurdistan province a “no-fly zone” so that his forces could attack government forces freely and eventually secede from Iran. Hijri has also called for “regime change” in Iran, declared the Islamic Republic “a common enemy” of the Kurds and Israel, and asked the Jewish state for support.

Identifying Iranian Ahmed Chalabis

One goal of the meetings between Pompeo, Bolton, and the exiled “fake” opposition is to identify those Iranians who have the potential to act as the Iranian version of Ahmad Chalabi. This notorious Iraqi figure, whose Iraqi National Congress for years fabricated lies about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction, worked closely with the neoconservatives in the run-up to the 2003 invasion. Another goal is to buttress the claim that the Iranian people support Trump’s policy vis-à-vis Iran.

One leading candidate is Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran’s last king, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi whose regime was overthrown by the 1979 Revolution. In the 1980s, the CIA provided Reza Pahlavi with funding. He has also had a long-term relationship with Israel and the Israel lobby in the United States, including meeting with Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and billionaire Republican donor who once suggested that the United States attack Iran with nuclear bombs. Reza Pahlavi has also called on Israel to help the “cause of democracy” in Iran.

Efforts to prop up Reza Pahlavi began immediately after Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, even before he formally took office. Suddenly, the Farsi division of Voice of America (VOA), as well as Radio Farda, a U.S. funded radio program, began promoting Reza Pahlavi as the “leader” of the opposition. Setareh Derakhshesh, director of VOA’s Farsi programs, interviewed Pahlavi, and both VOA and Radio Farda began presenting a very “modern” and positive portrait of Pahlavi and his family, a depiction that has continued.

In addition, Derakhshesh also interviewed several Iran hawks, including Bolton. She also interviewed  Elliot Abrams, who served in George W. Bush’s National Security Council and is an ardent opponent of the nuclear agreement with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA), and Michael Ledeen, a veteran anti-Iran neoconservative at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a leading anti-JCPOA group closely associated with Israel’s Likud Party. Both Abrams and Ledeen support Trump’s policy toward Iran. VOA also hired Masih Alinejad, a controversial reporter who has turned against the Reformists in Iran, to begin her own program on VOA, giving her large sums of money and promoting her heavily.

In addition, VOA’s programs stopped interviewing the Reformist figures in the Iranian diaspora or in Tehran. Several Iranian staff members who ran various VOA Farsi programs and were not comfortable with the sudden change of direction, either left VOAor moved to positions off camera.

The New Pro-War Group

Another “fake” opposition group that has emerged over the past several months and is closely linked with the Trump administration and the neocons is called Farashgard(“revival” in ancient Persian). Its leading member is Amir Etemadi who, together with Saeed Ghasseminejad, co-founded the so-called “Iranian Liberal Students Group” (ILSG), a small ultra-right group of student activists in Iran, most of whom moved to Canada and the United States and supported George W. Bush’s policy toward Iran. Ghasseminejad is now “senior adviser on Iran” at the FDDIn his Twitter account, Ghasseminejad refers to himself as a “classical liberal and non-partisan,” despite calling for the execution of the Islamic Republic’s leaders after regime change and working for the very partisan FDD.

Farashgard consists of 40 relatively young activists—most of whom are members of the ILSG—who have called for “regime change” in Iran, supported Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against their native land, and promoted Reza Pahlavi as the leader of the opposition. Before the group announced its existence in September 2018, many of its members had signed a letter in December 2016 in which they declared the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) “two sides of the same coin”—never mind that Iran played a leading role in defeating IS in Iraq and Syria. The letter also urged then President-elect Trump to take on the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) throughout the Middle East “by all available means” and help “the Iranian people to take back their country from the Islamic gang which has been in charge for the last four decades…” Echoing Bolton’s and Pompeo’s claim that Iran’s ballistic missile program is “a threat not only to the region but to the world,” they asked Trump to pressure Iran to stop its missile program, and impose tough economic sanctions that would hurt the Iranian people, not the regime

“New Iran” Foundation

A few months ago, a new Iran “think thank” popped up called New Iran (TNI), led by Alireza Nader, formerly of the Rand Corporation. TNI claims to be “a nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the objective research and analysis of Iran.” But Nader has recently been more involved in political development than analysis. In late December 2017 and early January 2018, when demonstrations against the terrible state of the economy broke out in several cities throughout Iran, Nader was highly active on Twitter, trying to encourage more demonstrations—see here, here, here, and here, for example—while working at Rand under a contract from the U.S. government.

Nader apparently left Rand a short time after those demonstrations, and suddenly TNI emerged with offices at a pricey Washington address and six permanent staff. The few analyses that TNI members, including Nader himself, have published—see here and here, for example—indicate that they support the Trump/Pompeo/Bolton approach to Iran. This is in fact Nader’s modus operandi. A review of his writings over the years shows that he generally changes positions as the U.S. administrations do and tries to align with whoever is in power.

In addition to supporting Trump’s Iran policy, Farashgard and TNI are also closely linked to the neoconservatives, the Israel lobby, and others. For example, a member of the board of directors of the TNI, Nader Uskowi, was a leftist student activist before the Iranian revolution and has worked at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an offshoot of the American Israeli Political Affairs Committee. Another member of TNI’s board is Thomas Parker who is also listed as a security expert on the website of the Washington Institute and has written for them in the past.

In a recent article, Uskowi seemingly praised Farashgard. In addition, Shay Khatiri, a researcher at TNI, is also a member of Farashgard, and in his Twitter account proudly describes himself as “the new Paul Wolfowitz,” the discredited neoconservative former deputy Pentagon chief under George W. Bush and one of the key architects of 2003 invasion of Iraq. A picture shows him shaking hands with the late Senator John McCain, an Iran hawk who sang infamously “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” His page on the TNI website claims that “he has researched Iranian politics, history, and public opinion at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the American Enterprise Institute,” whose “scholars” have included Wolfowitz, Bolton, Ledeen, and other Iraq and Iran hawks. Another TNI adviser, Sharon Nazarian, is “senior vice president of international affairs” at the Anti-Defamation League, a civil-rights group that is strongly pro-Israel and that has also long supported a confrontational stance towards Iran.

According to documents filed online by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political arm of the MEK, Uskowi has repeatedly met with NCRI’s Alireza Jafarzadeh. Iranians  consider Jafarzadeh the “foreign minister” of the MEK leader, Maryam Rajavi.

Bolton and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, have been long-time lobbyists for the MEK, receiving large fees for their lobby activities. Both Bolton and Giuliani have also called for “regime change” in Iran.

It’s not clear where TNI and other “fake” opposition groups receive their funding. The Gulf States, however, have made clear their their willingness to pay for anti-Iranian activities. Last November, The New York Times reported that, in March 2017, intelligence and military officials of Saudi Arabia discussed a $2 billion plan to destabilize Iran and assassinate its top officials, including Major General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds force.

No Significant Social Base of Support

One of the most important aspects of all such groups is that they have no significant social base of support within Iran. Even in the diaspora a large majority of Iranians, while opposing the clerics in Iran, reject economic sanctions, military threats, and these groups’ support for the anti-Iranian policy of the Trump-MbS-Netanyahu triangle. Within Iran, the hostility of the triangle has actually transformed the generally pro-West Iranians into strong opponents of the three countries, to the point of despising the three leaders and their governments.

Farhad Meysami, a medical doctor and human rights activist who has been imprisoned by the hardliners in Tehran and has even gone on hunger strike, criticized harshly the Trump administration in an open letter distributed widely on the Internet. He accused Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo of shedding “crocodile tears” for him and other jailed political and human rights activists, writing:

I was paging through a newspaper when I suddenly caught a glimpse of a story and got riveted to the spot. Apparently, [Donald] Trump’s State Department has called for the “freedom” of this humble civil activist. Actually, I prefer to serve my whole life in jail at the hands of a group of wrongdoing compatriot oppressors and spend it endeavoring to rectify their mistakes, rather than be subject to the stigma of “deal-breakers’ support” [a reference to the Trump administration leaving the JCPOA illegally].

Meysami ended his letter by saying, “I request the likes of Trump, Pompeo and Bolton to shed their crocodile tears for human rights elsewhere.”

After promoting Reza Pahlavi heavily, Farashgard called on the Iranian people to go on strike and demonstrate on the anniversary of last year’s scattered demonstrations, particularly on December 28 and January 7. No significant demonstration took place anywhere in Iran, hence demonstrating the absence of any social support within Iran for the monarchists, Reza Pahlavi, and their promotors. It also demonstrated these groups’ complete ignorance of Iran’s realities. The lack of support for the demonstrations was so embarrassing that it ignited a fierce internal debate among the monarchists about the wisdom of such calls.

All Iranians despise the MEK for collaborating with Saddam Hussein and Iraq during the war with Iran in the 1980s, for revealing information on Iran’s nuclear program and facilities, for working with Saudi Arabia, and for collaborating with Israel in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

The Poland Summit

In January, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a summit in Poland on February 13-14 to build a global coalition against Iran. The idea, according to Pompeo, is to “focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence.” Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said in a statement that 70 countries, including all 28 members of the European Union, have been invited.

A well-placed Iranian activist told the author that, in the run-up to the summit in Poland, Pompeo has invited several figures from the Iranian “fake” opposition to Washington for “consultation.” The apparent purpose is either to select some of them to take to Poland to speak “on behalf of the Iranian people,” to prepare some sort of “manifesto” on what the Iranian people want, or both. In fact, on February 4, Pompeo met with the VOA’s Alinejadand “underscored the United States’ commitment to help amplify the voices of the Iranian people and to condemn the Iranian regime for its ongoing human rights abuses.” This is while the United States continues to support Saudi Arabia and Egypt, countries that are gross violators of the human rights of their own citizens.

After re-imposing harsh and illegal economic sanctions on Iran, threatening Iran repeatedly, and banning most Iranians from traveling to the United States, the Trump administration, in collaboration with the “fake” Iranian opposition, sheds crocodile tearsfor the Iranian people. In Iran, meanwhile, the people struggle daily on two fronts. They continue to survive the sanctions and threats, and the rampant corruption of the hardliners. And they continue to pressure these same hardliners to stop the repression, open up the political space, and allow for free and fair elections.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Muhammad Sahimi, a professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has been analyzing Iran’s political developments and its nuclear program for 25 years. From 2008-2012, he was the lead political columnist for the website PBS/Frontline/Tehran Bureau. In addition, his writings have been published by Huffington Post, National Interest, Antiwar, and other major websites, as well as by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, among others.

The 14thof February meeting in Sochi between the three Presidents (Russia, Turkey and Iran) is not expected to find solutions agreeable to all parties about the two main problem areas left in Syria: northeast Syria (Manbij to Qamishli/al-Hasaka), currently occupied by US forces, and Idlib city and its rural areas occupied by jihadist groups friendly to Turkey. 

There are fundamentally different points of view. At the top of the agenda, the gathering is expected to have further discussions on a possible US withdrawal in the coming weeks – the month of April seems plausible – as announced by officials in Washington.

All parties are agreed, however, that US withdrawal is a priority and will be a relief to the Levant. Therefore, any step that help to reach this objective smoothly should be taken. Nevertheless, the main differences are triggered by the Russian desire and intention to conclude a “temporary deal” with Turkey over North-east Syria’s status after the US withdrawal. These differences are related to the price Syria should pay to see US forces out of the country.

Sources among decision makers in Damascus said “Russia is trying to find an excuse for Turkey to move into north-east Syria, within a “buffer zone” of 12,000 sq km out of the 42,000 sq km that represent the zone east of the Euphrates under US occupation, reviving the 1998 Adana agreement between Ankara and Damascus”.

On January the 23rd, President Putin said the 20-year-old agreement was still binding. A Syrian source reports,

“The Russian President is trying to open the road for Turkey to regain a direct relationship with Syria on a higher level. Russia believes the temporary presence of Turkey is acceptable as long as the unity of Syria is non-negotiable. But we in Damascus believe that if Turkey moves in, it will be difficult to dislodge its forces ever again”.

Russia has never abandoned the idea of Syrian unity and considers it important for the entire geographic area to return under the control of the central government. Nevertheless, Moscow believes the danger from the US is greater, and that it is worth seeing Turkey replacing the US forces temporarily if this is what Washington wants.

On the other hand, the Syrian and the Iranian Presidents disagree with Putin’s strategy because they are convinced that Turkey will never abandon control over the agricultural and natural energy wealth and resources in Northeast Syria under the pretext of fighting their sworn enemies, the Kurdish militants.

According to Syrian officials, Saudi Arabia, unlike Qatar, has abandoned its proxies in Syria.

“Riyadh was aiming to return to Damascus and reopen its embassy very soon when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put pressure on the Arabs to stop the process and prevent the return of Syria to the Arab League, throwing obstacles in the way of their end run towards Damascus. Nevertheless, Qatar is still active, supporting al-Qaeda in Idlib and the Turkish presence in north-east of Syria. Therefore, the US, Russia, Turkey and Qatar seem to agree on a Turkish presence in the Syrian “buffer zone” running from Manbij to Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, al-Hasaka and Qamishli”.

The destiny of the Kurds and their families unwilling to live under Turkish occupation is clearly no longer an interest of the USA. Also, Russia, Turkey and Qatar believe the only hope for the Kurds will be to move towards the Syrian government forces who will cross the Euphrates after the US withdrawal. The “revised Adana agreement” promoted by Moscow and Ankara will affect Syrian demography at the expense of the Kurds, who believed the US would provide them with an independent state, and never imagined a sudden US departure.

Turkish ambitions in Syria are not limited to northeast Syria. Ankara is unwilling to depart from Idlib and is demanding that local groups sort out their differences, mainly between the al-Qaeda group of “Hurras al-Deen” and the jihadist group of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is no longer related to the al-Qaeda group led by Ayman al-Zawaheri; its leader Abu Mohamad al-Joulani likes his independence. Joulani has been following the exact ideology and creed of ISIS and al-Qaeda during his time connected to these groups, but he had disagreements with some of their practices and lack of adaptation to the environment. In fact, Joulani doesn’t need to follow ISIS or al-Qaeda and nothing prevents him from being an independent Syrian jihadist with slightly different objectives and priorities. He has foreign fighters from all over the world under his command and is based in the Levant which every jihadist believes is the “promised land” for establishing an “Islamic Emirates”. Indeed, Joulani is the leader of “a jihadist group on the creed of Sunnah and Jama’a with the aim of imposing the Islamic Sharia through jihad and Da’wa,” as he describes the objective of his group in his communiqué.

Joulani leads a group that follows “Jihad al-Tamqeen”, meaning “Jihad until it becomes strong”, evoking a patient opportunist religious struggle, which aims to avoid burning bridges, and to adapt to its environment and to new developments without changing ideology or altering its creed. It compromises temporarily on alliances and practices until the group becomes strong enough to let go of some pragmatic policies that help it survive, gather strength and recruit. Joulani’s pragmatic policy suits Turkey very well. Turkey is the most powerful Islamic country present in Idlib, strong enough to hold back Russia and the forces of Damascus from attacking his stronghold. Turkey is happy to deal with a “chameleon jihadist” as long as it serves both parties’ purposes (Turkey and HTS).

However, Ankara wouldn’t mind delivering the skin of the Syrian al-Qaeda “Hurras el-Deen” for Russia to bomb and while Joulani to wears the skin of a jihadist obedient as a sheep. Joulani can help Turkey to resolve its awkward situation, if he shows pragmatism–Turkey has been embarrassed by its lack of commitment to the agreement signed with Russia in September last year, when it committed to end the al-Qaeda presence in Idlib and its surroundings. A metamorphosed Joulani is very convenient to both Ankara and Moscow.

The situation in the Levant is still complicated and unsolved due to prevailing scepticism about impending full US withdrawal from the country, and the lack of trust among partners. Russia seems to be tolerating the Turkish presence temporarily. Iran, a close Turkish partner, would like to see the Syrian forces in control of the entire territory but also gives priority to seeing the “great Satan” leave permanently. Damascus and Tehran share the same fear of seeing Turkish troops hanging on in Syria for a very long time. These differences may prevent a successful Sochi meeting, where the destiny of Idlib and northeast Syria are still unknown and not agreed upon between allies until now.

No perfect solution can be expected, since trust is clearly lacking- mainly over the future Turkish role and presence in Syria. Independently of this, the Kurds remain, regardless, the biggest losers.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

All images in this article are from the author

Year of the Pig Is Here! Literally.

February 14th, 2019 by Andre Vltchek

Gong Xi Fa Cai: happy year of the Pig 2019! Congratulations, the Year of the Pig has arrived!

“According to the Chinese astrology, 2019 is a great year to make money, and a good year to invest! 2019 is going to be full of joy, a year of friendship and love for all the zodiac signs; an auspicious year because the Pig attracts success in all the spheres of life.”

So, what is astrology actually saying? We will soon have some sort of ‘brotherhood of men’ year ahead of us; a year that could bring both peace and understanding between all the zodiac signs?

We all wish that it could be possible. But we all have doubts that this is what is actually ahead of us!

*

So, where does the world stand, as the most populous nation on earth – China (but also Vietnam and several other countries) – celebrates the New Year?

To be honest, the world does not ‘stand’ at all – it lies in the gutter. It appears to be in coma.

Washington, but also Paris, Berlin and other capitals of the Western mafia grouping which has bullied the world for decades and centuries, declared its unwavering support to a Venezuelan treasonous cadre – Juan Guaidó – a U.S.-‘educated’, handpicked ‘regime change dummy’. It is now almost certain that the West will not stop in front of anything; that it will try to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution and to occupy a country that is potentially so rich, that it alone could satisfy the entire global demand for oil, for at least 30 years.

That’s not such a good beginning, is it?

But there is much more that is happening, simultaneously; unsavory, disgusting stuff, which brings the West into face to face confrontation with the rest of humanity, endangering our entire planet, igniting wars and conflicts in all corners of the world.

As the Year of the Pig begins, the U.S. is basically throwing into the trash can, its nuclear treaty with Russia.

President Trump is flexing his muscle, capriciously and erratically antagonizing China, challenging the mighty Dragon to a duel which could, potentially, destroy the entire global economy.

In the meantime, people are disappearing, getting arrested, getting muzzled: journalists, executives of successful non-Western companies, activists. Social media accounts of those individuals who are critical of the Western terror, are being suspended. People who dare to criticize the Western global regime have become unemployable, and often already ‘disappeared’ from the public gaze. Non-Western media outlets are being intimidated, sanctioned and constantly attacked, in both Europe and in North America. There are ‘official’ budgets allocated for that. Philosophy, arts and literature have been reduced to entertainment, or to ‘academic disciplines’, while the academia itself has already collapsed, becoming synonymous with the lowest sort of collaboration.

These are dark ages, again. Terror reigns. Millions are dying, annually, mostly in the neo-colonies. The environment is being ruined. And the citizens in Western countries are too busy demanding more benefits for themselves, totally indifferent to crimes their countries are committing all over the world.

Just two months ago, I reported from Syria, that Syrian people had won, after tremendous sacrifice. Now, however, things are getting ‘complicated’ again. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syrian territory is not something we can be sure of, in this 2019 Year of the Pig.

The same goes for Afghanistan, where almost a two decades long NATO occupation has brought tremendous suffering and no benefits to the people. The once proud and freedom-loving nation now lies in rubble, with the lowest standard of living in Asia, and the shortest life expectancy.

And once mighty Iraq? Just a skeleton. And as the Year of the Pig begins, Trump declared that the U.S. military forces will stay, in order to ‘observe’ Iran! Well, that was not the deal, the Iraqi president protested: “You were supposed to be here in order to fight terrorism, only!” But who listens, and who cares. Iran is on the hit list of the Western mafia regime. To use ‘neighboring houses’ for the expansion of destruction, in this case already ruined Iraq, is something that NATO countries have had no problems of doing, for decades.

Listen to the Western mass media, and Russia is now ‘behind all evil political deeds’, as far as Europe and North America are concerned. Anti-Russian propaganda in the West and in its colonies (the latest was a comical outburst of a Western puppet, the Indonesian ‘President’ Jokowi), has reached a crescendo and were it not be so dangerous, it would make all rational human beings roll about on the floor laughing.

The most depressing is that the Western public is totally complacent. With certain notable exceptions (Italy, Greece), there is no attempt to change the regime and to save the world from tragedy. The so-called “Yellow Vests” in France are obsessed with higher salaries and better benefits for the French citizens, with near zero interest in what their country – neo-imperialist France – is doing to Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and other parts of the world.

In fact, there is hardly any soul-searching drive that can be detectable in the West, amongst the ‘common people’. They live, work, consume, enjoy the highest living standards on earth, and as long as they benefit, no crimes committed by their governments, corporations and individuals disturb their conscience.

By now, it is crystal clear that the world cannot count on the Western public to end the global terror that is being spread from London, Washington, Paris, and their dependencies – such as Riyadh, Tel Aviv or Jakarta. The West will have to be confronted and stopped ‘from outside’.

Will there be many confrontations and battles in the 2019 Year of the Pig?

*

The most important for this year, is to convince the global public that the West (and its colonies) have lost absolutely all the right to even utter such definitions as “democracy”, “freedom” or “human rights”.

For centuries and decades, these concepts have been brutally violated by all Western colonialist powers, and as a result, hundreds of millions of oppressed people have been dying, or living in appalling slums under fascist dictatorships.

Today, the West is the greatest ideologically fundamentalist, as well as undemocratic force on earth. Great majority of people there accepted all ideological dogmas of ‘exceptionalism’, while conquered nations are also forced to believe in Western exceptionalism.

The West tries to systematically overthrow all democratic, free and independent governments on earth. Then, it replaces them with servile and corrupt regimes that rob their own people and deliver loot to the doorsteps of the masters in New York, London and other ‘white’ Western capitals. The West is running the most brutal, racist, and morally defunct system in the history of the world. It is a fascist system, which is propelled by business, brainless consumption, moral emptiness, enslavement and shameless control as well as gray uniformity.

This 2019 Year of the Pig is not starting well.

But Chinese astrological predictions are actually positive. Let us share their optimism and not give up!

This should be the year designated to confront, with determination and courage, all the bad and filthy pigs of business, of colonialism and of imperialism.

At least in theory, good pigs should fight bad pigs, and win the battle.

Therefore, Happy New Year 2019, Happy Year of the Pig!

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on New Eastern Outlook.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are China and Ecological Civilization with John B. Cobb, Jr., Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

All images in this article are from the author

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Year of the Pig Is Here! Literally.

Do you value the reporting and in-depth analysis provided by Global Research on a daily basis?

At present we are not covering our monthly costs. The support of our readers is much appreciated. 

Click to donate or click here to become a member of Global Research.

*     *     *

In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror

By Jonathan Cook, February 13, 2019

You might imagine that a report by a multinational observer force documenting a 20-year reign of terror by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers against Palestinians, in a city under occupation, would provoke condemnation from European and US politicians.

The ‘Other’ Big Shutdowns: GM’s Is Permanent for at Least 14,000, Ford’s for 1,000 in US, 25,000 Abroad

By Dr. Barbara G. Ellis, February 13, 2019

If millions of America’s working-class felt empathy and fear for the 800,000 and their families caught in the recent 35-day federal temporary shutdown, what about the 14,000 out of nearly 18,000 General Motors employees with at least 12 years service facing permanent layoffs? Or Ford’s 1,000 in the U.S. out of possible 25,000 abroad (Britain, France, Germany, Russia).

Imperialist Aggression and What We Can Learn from the Attempted Coup Against Venezuela

By Alison Bodine, February 13, 2019

The day before Guaido’s self-declaration, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence was so excited at the prospect of overthrowing the democratically elected President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro that he could barely contain himself.

Rule Britannia against China: New UK Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth into the South China Sea in 2021?

By Tom Clifford, February 13, 2019

China has claimed a huge amount of territory in the sea and built air bases and naval facilities on many of the islands. There is little the West can do about it militarily. It can, through diplomacy, get China to navigate a different course but a spanking new aircraft carrier from Britain, regardless of how up-to-date it is, will not make an iota of difference.

RIP INF Treaty: Russia’s Victory, America’s Waterloo

By Cluborlov, February 13, 2019

On March 1, 2018 the world learned of Russia’s new weapons systems, said to be based on new physical principles. Addressing the Federal Assembly, Putin explained how they came to be: in 2002 the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. At the time, the Russians declared that they will be forced to respond, and were basically told “Do whatever you want.”

Starving Venezuela into Submission

By Israel Shamir, February 13, 2019

First, you starve people; then you bring them humanitarian aid. This was proposed by John McNaughton at Pentagon: bomb locks and dams, by shallow-flooding the rice, cause widespread starvation (more than a million dead?) “And then we shall deliver humanitarian aid to the starving Vietnamese”.

Ukraine: NATO in the Constitution

By Manlio Dinucci, February 13, 2019

The day after the signature of NATO’s membership protocol with North Macedonia as its 30th member, Ukraine did something without precedent: it included in its Constitution the engagement to enter officially into NATO and the European Union at the same time.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Selected Articles: Imperialist Aggression, Corporate Shutdowns, INF Treaty

How the Syrian Conflict Sparked the New Cold War?

February 13th, 2019 by Nauman Sadiq

In July 2003, Dr. David Kelly, a British weapons inspector who had disclosed to the media that Tony Blair’s government’s dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was “sexed up,” was found dead in a public park a mile away from his home.

The inquiry into his death concluded that Kelly had committed suicide by slitting his left wrist but the mystery surrounding his death has remained unresolved to date, though the obvious beneficiary of his propitious “suicide” was the British intelligence itself.

More recently, on March 4 last year, Sergei Skripal, a Russian double agent working for the British foreign intelligence service, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a public bench outside a shopping center in Salisbury. A few months later, in July last year, a British woman, Dawn Sturgess, died after touching the container of the nerve agent that allegedly poisoned the Skripals.

In the case of the Skripals, Theresa May’s government promptly accused Russia of attempted assassination. There are a couple of caveats, however. Firstly, although Sergei Skripal was a double agent working for MI6, he was released in a spy swap deal in 2010. Had he been a person of importance, Moscow would not have released him and let him settle in the UK in the first place.

Secondly, the British government concluded that Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a Moscow-made, military-grade nerve agent, Novichok. A question would naturally arise that why would Russian secret agents leave a smoking gun evidence behind that would lead prosecutors straight to Moscow when their assassins could have used a gun or a knife to accomplish the task?

Sergei Skripal was recruited by the British MI6 in 1995, and before his arrest in Russia in December 2004, he was alleged to have blown the cover of scores of Russian secret agents. He was released in a spy swap deal in 2010 and was allowed to settle in Salisbury.

Both Sergei Skripal and his daughter have since recovered and were discharged from hospital in May last year, which means they might not have been poisoned by Novichok. In fact, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shared the results [1] of a Swiss laboratory in April last year, according to which “BZ toxin” was used in the Salisbury poisoning which was never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK and other NATO states.

Nevertheless, the US, UK and European nations expelled scores of Russian diplomats and the Trump administration ordered the closure of Russian consulate in Seattle. In a retaliatory move, Russia also expelled a similar number of American, British and European diplomats, and ordered the closure of American consulate in Saint Petersburg. The relations between Moscow and Western powers reached their lowest ebb since the break-up of the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in December 1991.

Although Moscow might appear as an aggressor in these instances, in order to understand the real casus belli of the new Cold War between Russia and the Western powers, we must recall another momentous event that took place in Deir al-Zor governorate in eastern Syria in February last year.

On February 7, a month before the alleged assassination attempts in Salisbury, the US B-52 bombers and Apache helicopters struck a contingent of Syrian government troops and allied forces in Deir al-Zor that reportedly [2] killed and wounded scores of Russian military contractors working for the Russian private security firm, the Wagner group.

The survivors described the bombing as an absolute massacre, and Kremlin lost more Russian citizens in one day than it had lost throughout its more than tow-year-long military campaign in support of the Syrian government since September 2015.

The reason why Washington struck Russian contractors working in Syria was that the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which is mainly comprised of Kurdish YPG militias – had reportedly handed over the control of some areas east of Euphrates River to Deir al-Zor Military Council (DMC), which is the Arab-led component of SDF, and had relocated several battalions of Kurdish YPG militias to Afrin and along Syria’s northern border with Turkey in order to defend the Kurdish-held areas against the onslaught of the Turkish armed forces and allied Syrian militant proxies during Ankara’s “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwest that lasted from January to March 2018.

Syrian forces with the backing of Russian contractors took advantage of the opportunity and crossed the Euphrates River to capture an oil refinery located to the east of the Euphrates River in the Kurdish-held area of Deir al-Zor.

The US Air Force responded with full force, knowing well the ragtag Arab component of SDF – mainly comprised of local Arab tribesmen and mercenaries to make the Kurdish-led SDF appear more representative and inclusive – was simply not a match for the superior training and arms of Syrian troops and Russian military contractors. Consequently, causing a carnage in which scores of Russian citizens lost their lives, an incident which became a trigger for the beginning of the new Cold War as is obvious from subsequent events.

Regarding the brinkmanship, in the aftermath of alleged Douma chemical weapons attack in Syria on April 7 last year, one of the “smartest” American presidents ever tweeted on April 11, 2018:

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

When Donald Trump’s advisers drew his attention to the fact that he might have telegraphed his intentions of bombing Syria to Moscow, he came up with an even more childish tweet the next day, saying:

“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our Thank you America?”

Fact of the matter is that during the week before the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, Donald Trump was so distracted by the FBI’s raid on the office of his attorney Michael Cohen and the release of former FBI director James Comey’s tell-all book that he had paid scant attention to what had happened in Syria.

He kept fulminating about those two issues throughout the week before the alleged Douma chemical weapons attack on his Twitter timeline and mentioned the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria on April 7 last year only in the passing.

Even though Trump’s babysitter then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted on the record that although he was sure chlorine was used in the attack in Douma, Syria, he was not sure who carried out the attack and whether any other toxic chemical agent, particularly sarin, was used in the attack. If chlorine can be classified as a chemical weapon, then how is one supposed to categorize white phosphorous which was used by the US military in large quantities in the battle against the Islamic State in Raqqa?

Despite scant evidence as to the use of chemical weapons or the party responsible for it, Donald Trump ordered another cruise missiles strike in Syria on April 14 last year in collaboration with Theresa May’s government in the UK and Emmanuel Macron’s administration in France. The strike took place a little over a year after a similar cruise missiles strike on al-Shayrat airfield on April 6, 2017, after an alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, that accomplished nothing.

Both those cruise missiles strikes in Syria were not only illegal under international law but were also unlawful under American laws. While striking the Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, Washington availed itself of the war on terror provisions in the US laws, known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), but those laws do not give the president the power to order strikes against the Syrian government targets without the approval of the US Congress which has the sole authority to declare war.

The Intercept reported last year [3] that the Trump administration had derived the authority to strike the Syrian government targets based on a “top secret” memorandum of the Office of Legal Counsel that even the US Congress can’t see. Complying with the norms of transparency and rule of law had never been the strong points of American democracy but the Trump administration had done away with even the pretense of accountability and checks and balances.

The fact that out of 105 total cruise missiles deployed in the April 14, 2018 strikes against a scientific research facility in the Barzeh district of Damascus and two alleged chemical weapons storage facilities in Homs in Syria, 85 were launched by the US, 12 by the French and 8 by the UK aircrafts demonstrated that the strikes were meant as a show of force against Russia by a “powerful and assertive” American president who regards the interests of his European allies as his own.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.

Notes

[1] Lavrov: Swiss lab says ‘BZ toxin’ used in Salisbury:

https://www.rt.com/news/424149-skripal-poisoning-bz-lavrov/

[2] Russian toll in Syria battle was 300 killed and wounded:

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-casualtie/russian-toll-in-syria-battle-was-300-killed-and-wounded-sources-idUKKCN1FZ2EI

[3] Donald Trump ordered Syria strike based on a secret legal justification even Congress can’t see:

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/14/donald-trump-ordered-syria-strike-based-on-a-secret-legal-justification-even-congress-cant-see/

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on How the Syrian Conflict Sparked the New Cold War?

You might imagine that a report by a multinational observer force documenting a 20-year reign of terror by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers against Palestinians, in a city under occupation, would provoke condemnation from European and US politicians.

But you would be wrong. The leaking in December of the report on conditions in the city of Hebron, home to 200,000 Palestinians, barely caused a ripple.

About 40,000 separate cases of abuse had been quietly recorded since 1997 by dozens of monitors from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey. Some incidents constituted war crimes.

Exposure of the confidential report has now provided the pretext for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expel the international observers. He shuttered their mission in Hebron this month, in apparent violation of Israel’s obligations under the 25-year-old Oslo peace accords.

Israel hopes once again to draw a veil over its violent colonisation of the heart of the West Bank’s largest Palestinian city. The process of clearing tens of thousands of inhabitants from central Hebron is already well advanced.

Any chance of rousing the international community into even minimal protest was stamped out by the US last week. It blocked a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council expressing “regret” at Israel’s decision, and on Friday added that ending the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was an “internal matter” for Israel.

The TIPH was established in 1997 after a diplomatic protocol split the city into two zones, controlled separately by Israel and a Palestinian Authority created by the Oslo accords.

The “temporary” in its name was a reference to the expected five-year duration of the Oslo process. The need for TIPH, most assumed, would vanish when Israel ended the occupation and a Palestinian state was built in its place.

While Oslo put the PA formally in charge of densely populated regions of the occupied territories, Israel was effectively given a free hand in Hebron to entrench its belligerent hold on Palestinian life.

Several hundred extremist Jewish settlers have gradually expanded their illegal enclave in the city centre, backed by more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers. Many Palestinian residents have been forced out while the rest are all but imprisoned in their homes.

TIPH faced an impossible task from the outset: to “maintain normal life” for Hebron’s Palestinians in the face of Israel’s structural violence.

Until the report was leaked, its documentation of Israel’s takeover of Hebron and the settlers’ violent attacks had remained private, shared only among the states participating in the task force.

However, the presence of observers did curb the settlers’ worst excesses, helping Palestinian children get to school unharmed and allowing their parents to venture out to work and shop. That assistance is now at an end.

Hebron has been a magnet for extremist settlers because it includes a site revered in Judaism: the reputed burial plot of Abraham, father to the three main monotheistic religions.

But to the settlers’ disgruntlement, Hebron became central to Muslim worship centuries ago, with the Ibrahimi mosque established at the site.

Israel’s policy has been gradually to prise away the Palestinians’ hold on the mosque, as well the urban space around it. Half of the building has been restricted to Jewish prayer, but in practice the entire site is under Israeli military control.

As the TIPH report notes, Palestinian Muslims must now pass through several checkpoints to reach the mosque and are subjected to invasive body searches. The muezzin’s call to prayer is regularly silenced to avoid disturbing Jews.

Faced with these pressures, according to TIPH, the number of Palestinians praying there has dropped by half over the past 15 years.

In Hebron, as at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a Muslim holy site is treated solely as an obstacle – one that must be removed so that Israel can assert exclusive sovereignty over all of the Palestinians’ former homeland.

A forerunner of TIPH was set up in 1994, shortly after Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli army doctor, entered the Ibrahimi mosque and shot more than 150 Muslims at prayer, killing 29. Israeli soldiers aided Goldstein, inadvertently or otherwise, by barring the worshippers’ escape while they were being sprayed with bullets.

The massacre should have provided the opportunity for Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s prime minister of the time, to banish Hebron’s settlers and ensure the Oslo process remained on track. Instead he put the Palestinian population under prolonged curfew.

That curfew never really ended. It became the basis of an apartheid policy that has endlessly indulged Jewish settlers as they harass and abuse their Palestinian neighbours.

Israel’s hope is that most will get the message and leave.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power for a decade, more settlers are moving in, driving out Palestinians. Today Hebron’s old market, once the commercial hub of the southern West Bank, is a ghost town, and Palestinians are too terrified to enter large sections of their own city.

TIPH’s report concluded that, far from guaranteeing “normal life”, Israel had made Hebron more divided and dangerous for Palestinians than ever before.

In 2016 another army medic, Elor Azaria, used his rifle to shoot in the head a prone and badly wounded Palestinian youth. Unlike Goldstein’s massacre, the incident was caught on video.

Israelis barely cared until Azaria was arrested. Then large sections of the public, joined by politicians, rallied to his cause, hailing him a hero.

Despite doing very little publicly, TIPH’s presence in Hebron had served as some kind of restraint on the settlers and soldiers. Now the fear is that there will be more Azarias.

Palestinians rightly suspect that the expulsion of the observer force is the latest move in efforts by Israel and the US to weaken mechanisms for protecting Palestinian human rights.

Mr Netanyahu has incited against local and international human rights organisations constantly, accusing them of being foreign agents and making it ever harder for them to operate effectively.

And last year US President Donald Trump cut all aid to UNRWA, the United Nations’ refugee agency, which plays a vital role in caring for Palestinians and upholding their right to return to their former lands.

Not only are the institutions Palestinians rely on for support being dismembered but so now are the organisations that record the crimes Israel has been committing.

That, Israel hopes, will ensure that an international observer post which has long had no teeth will soon will soon lose its sight too as Israel begins a process of annexing the most prized areas of the West Bank – with Hebron top of the list.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

Featured image is from EAPPI

If millions of America’s working-class felt empathy and fear for the 800,000 and their families caught in the recent 35-day federal temporary shutdown, what about the 14,000 out of nearly 18,000 General Motors employees with at least 12 years service facing permanent layoffs? Or Ford’s 1,000 in the U.S. out of possible 25,000 abroad (Britain, France, Germany, Russia). 

Poor sales are blamed for both downsizings. Ford officials told the Michigan state government it was “restructuring” global operations in general. But in particular it would shutdown operations April 1 near Detroit where 1,012 workers at the Flat Rock Assembly plant make Lincoln Navigator SUVs and Mustangs.

For GM longtime employees, it’s déjà vu. A decade ago, GM faced Chapter 11 bankruptcy  after the 2008 crash and fierce competition from Japan’s automakers. It laid off 47,000, closed five plants, phased out the Hummer, and cut Pontiac production.

Image on the right: General Motors is expected to make a major announcement Monday that could affect its historic assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario (Source: Fox 5)

This year, GM will close five plants in four states (Maryland, Michigan, Ohio), and Canada’s Ontario province. The company specifically blamed significant profit losses on six passenger cars and, instead, estimated to make billions on electronic SUVs, pickup trucks, and driverless cars (“autonomous vehicles:” AVs).

GM has invested more than $6 billion to be the first of 11 automakers this year to put a fleet of AVs—ride-hailing Lyft robo-taxis—on America’s city streets. AVs could be a $285 billion market by 2030, according to Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs. GM has been fitting out 200 EV Bolts with state-of-the-art sensors and computer systems. Success, of course, rests on how many riders trust a cab doing a safe 25 mph, but solely dependent on a computer to avoid accidents. GM had 22 in 2017 tests, five in 2018; Tesla and Uber each have had a fatality, both apparently caused by computer glitches.

Other questions arise about GM’s monumental gamble on AVs which only fleet owners can afford, considering that prototypes have cost about $200,000 per car. What if its 10 competitors beat GM’s price? Too, prospective buyers certainly will have questions: Can an AV change large bills? Help the infirm (and luggage) in and out of the car? Miss the destination? Can AVs deal with detours, never have flat tires or stall or overheat, handle snow and ice. Above all, will it be well maintained after the warranty expires?

Used-car dealers may not be eager to accept them, knowing prospective customers will have even more of the same questions. Among them will be what guarantee do they have that the AV’s innards are still in working order?  What if it involves ruinously expensive repairs to ready it for resale? What happens when the AV ages into a “beater?”

Companies Silent on Key Issues

None of those issues have been aired for the buying public, despite GM’s legendary publicity and advertising skills to sell products. Ford has been even more silent about future plans. Perhaps such deliberate omissions have been covered up by the uproar in “demobilizing” the armies of the downsized.

GM’s thousands were given 19 days in November to decide whether to take a buyout. For the more than 50% who refused—most perhaps living from paycheck to paycheck— “the company will begin to unceremoniously lay off workers,” it announced  on October 31st. The first round of downsizings for the 4,250  salaried began Feb. 4. Plant closures begin in March.

Millions of working Americans might imagine that United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders would call for strike action. But the 2009 contract relinquishing strike rights  until 2015 and apparently is now set in stone. In addition, the union is a major GM stockholder  which has to have pulled its punches on labor relations. Scandal over union funds also is in the mix. Last year a federal investigation  revealed $4.4 million was demanded by the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center after millions went missing “in a scheme to misappropriate funds to top UAW officials” for luxury items.

Today, union leaders’ credibility is so poor that less than 40%  voted on the 2019-23 contract. Yet many members believe the contract guarantees the downsized will get about 90% of pay  for nine months.

Unions Try Absurd ‘Mexican-Made Car’ Boycott 

A sign on the fence of UAW Local 599, which had 28,000 members at the huge Buick City complex in Flint, Michigan in the 1960s. (Source WSWS)

In the current layoffs, both the UAW and Canadian counterpart Unifor at least did condemn GM. The UAW did give lip service to threatening legal means to stop the layoffs. It also spent union dues for a video reminding GM officials that post-2008 survival and profits depended on employee efforts. And in early February it and Unifor foolishly launched a U.S./Canadian consumer boycott  for vehicles assembled in Mexico. Jerry White, labor editor of the World Socialist Web Site, was among the first to call this action “absurd” considering automakers’ global assembly operations and the rising tide of international workers’ uniting without unions:

First of all, there is no such thing as a “Mexican-made” car, or, for that matter, an American or Canadian one. A modern vehicle is made up of 30,000 parts, produced and assembled by workers in dozens of countries, not to mention the workers from around the world who extract and process the raw materials that go into the vehicle. Vehicles assembled in Mexico contain components produced by US and Canadian workers whose jobs would also be imperiled by a production slump in Mexico. There are reportedly more than 60 Ontario-based auto parts companies that send components to Mexico, including GM’s transmission plant in St. Catharines and stamping operations in Ingersoll.

The only visible protests so far against the layoffs and plant closures was a one-hour production stoppage at GM Canada’s Oshawa plant February 6 and a major rally February 9 at GM’s Detroit headquarters for rank-and-file committee members countering the UAW. The rally was supported in Mexico by 77,000 striking auto-parts workers at the border town of Matamoros, but also worldwide labor: India’s Maruti Suzuki, Sri Lanka’s tea plantation workers, and those in Australia, Britain, Germany, and Turkey.

The committees have been organized by the Socialist Equality Party to end union leadership alliance with management and to provide democratic representation from employees. Aside from opposition to closures, committee demands sought from GM:

  • Abolition of the two-tier wage and benefit system
  • Giving temporary employees permanent status
  • Rehiring current laid-off employees
  • Employee control of production
  • Transforming “giant auto companies into public utilities, run on the basis of social need, not private profit.

State Officials Fail to Protest to Companies

Despite the turmoil, governors and state labor heads of the affected states didn’t descend on Ford’s or GM’s headquarters to protest closures. The jobless will be relying on dwindling state revenues for those subsequent increases in unemployment claims and food-stamp distributions. The downsized also will face housing foreclosures and rental evictions, as well as utility cutoffs, and diminishing pensions and healthcare benefits.

Michigan’s new governor Gretchen Whitmer has said little about the layoff’s economic crisis beyond promising a “sit-down” meeting with GM’s CEO Mary Barra. Worse, no reports have been revealed that officials in charge of labor affairs in the affected states have conferred with GM.

However, neither union leadership nor GM’s long-time employees can claim ignorance of American buyer trends in the last few years—or those from other global producers. Both parties have learned to watch sales figures with the desperation of the drowning. GM’s chief claim rested on a continuous run of poor car sales  with statistics to prove it. By contrast, officials said, most American buyers preferred pickup trucks and that SUVs seemingly were flying off car lots. So GM dropped six models: Buick’s LaCross, Cadillac’s CT6 and XTS, Chevrolet’s Cruz, Impala, and Volt.

Such contempt for the 99% was indicated when both GM’s and Ford’s movers-and-shakers ruled out making billions by volume-selling via drastic price cuts on cars. Competitors assuredly would have had to follow, but not to the extent of producing a clone to India’s $2,200 compact Nano, of course. Too, GM’s lending arm (GM Financial Co.) hasn’t cut new-car interest to, say, credit union rates (2% to 2.90%)—yet CUs hold 20%  of the car-loan business.

GM/Ford Write-Off the 99% Buyers

It’s difficult not to conclude that elitism via short-term profits by company officials and shareholders still take priority over business sense. Today’s vast buyer niche of the 99% has been written off for decades. Who on minimum-wage jobs can afford the average prices listed for 2019 models ranked as “best” by U.S. News & World ReportAdd to the sticker price the average 4.7% bank-loan rate:

  • Compacts: $36,000-$51,000
  • Pickup trucks (small): $24,000-$42,000
  • Pickup trucks (full size): $31,000-$59,000
  • SUVs (subcompacts): $32,000-$38,000
  • SUVs (compacts): $41,000-$56,000
  • SUVs (mid-size): $55,000-$71,000
  • Hybrids (compacts): $33,000-$47,000
  • Hybrids (mid-size): $41,000-$57,000
  • Used cars (2015-18 models): $11,000-$15,000

Ford’s founder, Henry Ford, seems to have been the last major mogul of the “Big Three” to produce a car his employees could afford. For instance, when GM first worked up a prototype for its electric vehicle (EV1) in 1990 to announce it on Earth Day, the cost was $608,832 in today’s dollars, and would have had to retail around $109,311 in 2019 dollars. Small wonder only 1,117 EV1s were produced, but for lease-only. By early 2005, GM’s directors finally got sensible and recalled almost all EVs for crushing at its Burbank CA facility.

Yet once GM decided to resurrect electronic cars (EVs) in an industry where design-to-dealer takes at least three years, officials wrote off the same vast niche instead of producing an affordable EV. Not Toyota. First retailing the Prius in the US in 2002 for $27,301 (in 2019 dollars), up to 2018, it has sold more than 11.47 million  —and retails today for under$22,000.

Playing to the wealthy, though selling far fewer EVs, may explain why GM has failed to set up, say, night-school retooling courses at its plants—including those in other countries. Nor have union leaders demanded retraining despite the UAW having its own facility. As usual in GM’s cold-blooded policy, the idea is to cut labor costs by getting rid of those with seniority and high pay. Forget their invaluable experience. Loyalty and long hours have never counted in that company, as the Flint Buick City closure in June 1999 demonstrated in steadily whittling down 77,000 employees to 1,200 when it folded operations.

GM Buys Company for AV Expertise

Today’s company spokespersons boast that “some 40% of its nearly 80,000 salaried workers have been with the company less than five years”—and indicating they are full of creativity. But if that were true, why it spend more than $1 billion to acquire the three-year-old, 40-staffer Cruise Automation high-tech company in early 2016, a leader in AV engineering.

All those new hires presumably were willing to work long hours mostly at far less pay, and constant fear of dismissals or its legendary downsizings in 1999 and 2009. As one 20-year body-shop employee said:

They are trying to force the older workforce to retire by placing them in other plants and making them drive long distances. It leaves them little time for their families. They can’t just relocate and buy new homes. It forces them to retire.

One interesting and promising factor coming out of the downsizing massacre is that those five empty plants will be “unallocated” in 2020. Now, if this were Argentina, the downsized would be physically seizing them, fending off Army and police attacks, and stalling off owners’ lawyers, as did one successful pioneer group of employees. Part of the cooperative movement, others also use their incalculable experience—and teachability—to restart the business. Aided by governmental, legislative, and judicial support, by late 2018 some 380 “recuperated workplaces” were employing more than 16,000.

This phenomenon was made famous by the 2004 documentary The Take of activist couple Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis. It depicted a bankrupt auto factory successfully resurrected by downsized employees willing to master every job description, marketing and accounting to hiring and research/development.

Argentina’s Employee Takeovers Spreading

The first takeovers, beginning in 2001, were a tractor factory (Zanello), a plant producing ceramic tiles (Zanon), and another making clothing (Brukman). Unlike other re-startups, Zanello stuck to the capitalist system, forming a corporation with power distributed by thirds: 33% to the workers, 33% to dealers, 33% to tech staff, and 1% to the city government.

Takeovers soon spread to four-star hotels, supermarkets, a small airline, fast-food operations, and other enterprises where owners either went broke or proved to be tyrannical and/or payroll cheats.

How most co-ops work is illustrated by the 2014 takeover of Chicago’s Argentine branch of R. R. Donnelley’s printing company—now called Madygraf:

Madygraf now employs 160 workers, who are paid the same hourly wage and who make all decisions democratically in general assemblies that meet regularly and can be called by anyone, anytime. These general assemblies decide, for example, who is assigned to what job in the factory, and assignments are based on individual talents, skills, experience, and interests. Previously, the workforce on the factory floor was exclusively male (with the exception of one trans-woman worker), and now about a third of the workers are women.

True, “recuperating” empty and “unallocated” GM and Ford plants into thriving automaking cooperatives by the downsized seems at first to be a colossal impossibility. However, state and local governments probably want those buildings—and employees—back on the tax rolls as much as GM/Ford want them as tax write-offs.

But consider what could happen if other companies—foreign or domestic—decided that if EV cars for the “masses” were no longer being made by GM/Ford, they would come to the U.S. and Canada to fill that gap with models under$10,000 that would meet EPA standards, and hire thousands of the downsized. Used-car dealers would be relieved because as the supply of 1 to 3-year-old cars diminishes, inventories would be reduced to “beaters” with all their shortcomings and dangers.

India, China Could Be U.S. Sources for Low-Priced Cars

For instance, India and China have produced such low-priced cars for low-income markets: the $2,200 Nano and the $5,170 Jiangnan EV T11, respectively. Upgrades of both would make them U.S. best sellers in this abandoned niche. At hand are those empty GM/Ford plants and a skilled labor force of thousands ready and eager to make—and buy—such cars.

If GM were to offer them bargain-priced leases on those empty plants and surplus equipment, it would be a superb public relations gesture for a company bailed out from bankruptcy after the 2008 crash by nearly $11 billion from Canadian taxpayers and $49.5 billion from Americans. It might also soften its imperious image from CEO Charles Wilson’s infamous and revealing 1953 policy statement that “what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

The other viable option is for GM and Ford to make drastic price cuts on those six downsized cars and, secondly, to pursue acquiring some of Jiangnan’s whipsmart T11 team to produce a basic EV for, say, a “door-busting” $5,576 @ a 2%. They’d have to rehire thousands to keep up with demand.

One long-shot might be rank-and-file committees inviting Amazon to Detroit in that the company is now “reconsidering” locating its headquarters in New York City because of possible failure in getting nearly $3 billion in subsidies. But in these days of revenue-poor major cities unable to do the same, Detroit can offer a ready-made facility: GM’s empty plant buildings and parking lots, its hub of air, railroad, highway centrality, and an available labor force to meet Amazon’s need for 25,000 employees.

At length, crying over spilled milk is never productive when stonehearted, money-grubbing giant corporations that regard personnel as disposable “worker-bees.” These new rank-and-file committees need to vigorously push one of these do-able solutions not just to GM and Ford, but also to federal, state, and local governments. As they say about successful public causes: “Numbers count.”

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Barbara G. Ellis, Ph.D., is the principal of a Portland (OR) writing/pr firm. A veteran writer and editor (LIFE magazine, Washington, D.C. Evening Star, Beirut Daily Star, Mideast Magazine), Ellis also has been a long-time journalism professor (Oregon State University/Louisiana’s McNeese State University) and a nominee for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history (The Moving Appeal). She is a contributor to such websites as Truthout, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, and Global Research, as well as being a political and environmental activist—and drives a 2000 Chevrolet Prizm.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The ‘Other’ Big Shutdowns: GM’s Is Permanent for at Least 14,000, Ford’s for 1,000 in US, 25,000 Abroad

US Navy Challenges China in the South China Sea

February 13th, 2019 by Peter Symonds

In its second provocative Freedom of Navigation operation in the South China Sea this year, the US Navy sent two guided missile destroyers yesterday—the USS Spruance and USS Preble—within the 12 nautical mile territorial limit claimed by China around Mischief Reef in the Spratly island group.

The naval operation coincided with the beginning of trade talks between the US and China this week ahead of a March 1 deadline by US President Trump for a deal to avert even more aggressive US trade war measures against China. The intervention of the two destroyers is designed to send a menacing message to Beijing that the US intends to step up its confrontation on all fronts unless China bows to its demands.

Naval spokesman Commander Clay Doss told CNN that the navy carried out the operation “to challenge excessive [Chinese] maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.” China has never threatened access by international shipping to the South China Sea.

Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, told reporters earlier this month that China was placing military hardware on the islets under its control in the South China Sea.

“There’s been sort of a steady increase,” he said. “The weapons systems have been getting increasingly sophisticated so it’s something we’re watching very closely.”

In reality, China’s expansion of facilities in the South China Sea is in response to Washington’s increasingly aggressive challenges to China’s territorial claims and to the US military build-up in Asia, firstly under President Obama and now Trump. The South China Sea is adjacent to major Chinese military bases, including its nuclear submarine pens on Hainan Island.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying yesterday condemned the latest US naval intrusion. She expressed China’s “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” and called on the US to “immediately stop its provocative actions.”

Hua said:

“The relevant actions of the US warships violated Chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace, security and order in the relevant sea areas.” She declared that China had “indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal, Mischief Reef, and the adjacent waters.”

The repeated US military provocations in waters near the Chinese mainland are fuelling calls for tougher counter-measures.

“If the US warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it,” Senior Colonel Dai Xu told a forum in December organised by the hawkish Global Times newspaper. “In our territorial waters, we won’t allow US warships to create disturbance.”

Last September, the USS Decatur sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson reefs controlled by China in the Spratly Islands. In a bid to ward off the US warship, a Chinese destroyer came within 45 metres of the USS Decatur in a manoeuvre denounced by the US navy as unsafe and unprofessional.

The incident was another indication as to how tense the situation in the South China Sea has become.

Last month’s naval provocation by the US also took place at the start of trade talks with China. On January 7, the destroyer USS McCampbell intruded within the 12 nautical mile limit around the Paracel Islands in South China Sea. On the same day, US and Chinese negotiators began three days of talks in Beijing to defuse the mounting trade war.

US-China tensions in the South China Sea have escalated dramatically since the Obama administration directly intervened in territorial disputes between China and neighbouring South East Asian countries that had previously been regarded as low-key regional matters.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton provocatively told a regional forum of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2010 that the US “was back in Asia to stay,” had a “national interest” in ensuring freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and offered to become involved in the territorial disputes.

The Obama administration launched the first freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and gave strong backing to the decision by the Philippines to challenged China’s maritime claims at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in the Hague. The US itself was in no position to challenge Chinese claims firstly because it was not a party to the territorial disputes, and secondly, because it has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The court ruling in 2016 ruled against the existence of territorial waters in the South China Sea, but did not adjudicate on the sovereignty of the disputed islands.

Obama’s aggressive challenge to China in the South China Sea was part of a far broader confrontation—diplomatically, economically and militarily—known as the “pivot to Asia.” The US exploited issues such as the South China Sea to drive a wedge between China and its neighbours, strengthened diplomatic and military ties throughout the region, sought to isolate China economically and expanded US military forces throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Trump has taken up where Obama left off, threatening a full-blown trade war and making further preparations for military conflict. The political establishment in Washington has fallen into line with these threats and provocations in a bid to ensure that China, now the world’s second largest economy, never challenges US global domination.

The US is also pushing for its allies to become actively involved in naval provocations in the South China Sea. Last August the British navy sent the HMS Albion close to the Paracel group in its first freedom of navigation operation. In January, the frigate HMS Argyll carried out the first joint US-British exercise in the South China Sea with the USS McCampbell “to address common security priorities.”

Yesterday, British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that the aircraft-carrier Queen Elizabeth, with two squadrons of F-35 stealth fighters, will be sent into disputed waters in the Pacific. In his speech, Williamson declared that Western allies must be prepared to “use hard power to support our interests,” and failing to intervene against aggressive foreign powers “risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger.”

Such reckless actions by the US and its allies risk an incident, whether accidental or deliberate, that triggers a devastating war between nuclear armed powers.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons

Observers have been struggling to find an historical comparison for the War on Syria since it first broke out over 8 years ago, and while the conflict is veritably a unique one in its own right, the best comparison that can be made to its current phase over the past couple of years is Laos because of how “Israel’s” ongoing secret war on the Mideast country in the New Cold War somewhat mirrors the former campaign that the US waged on the Southeast Asian state in the Old Cold War.

The “Worst-Kept Secret” In The Mideast

Netanyahu just acknowledged that “Israel” was responsible for the latest bombing attack on Syria earlier this week when his armed forces shelled a hill, observation post, and hospital near the occupied Golan Heights in response to what he said was “Iran and its attempts to entrench itself in the region”, specifically reminding the world that “Israel’s” forces literally “operate every day” on this front.

His remarkable chutzpah confirms what the former “IDF” chief revealed last month about how “Israel” “struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit” on a “near-daily” basis, which was already more or less known to the world as the Mideast’s “worst-kept secret” after the Russian Ministry of Defense practically said as much after the tragic mid-September downing of its spy plane in Syria.

RT reported at the time that the Ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that “[Israel’s] jets carried out more than 200 strikes against targets located in Syria over the past 18 months alone”, which would conservatively average out to at least one attack every two and a half days or so. Interestingly enough, Iranian Foreign Minster Zarif told the world about this well over half a year before Russia did when he accused“Israel” in February 2018 of “mass reprisals against its neighbours and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon”, which the author admittedly thought was a gross exaggeration for perception management purposes but now humbly accepts that it was the closest public representation of the truth at the time. The question therefore arises of why neither Russia nor Syria touched upon this before then, but the answers might be “politically inconvenient” for most of the Alt-Media Community.

Explaining The Silence

Regarding Russia, it and “Israel” are practically allies at this point as a result of the many publicly acknowledged instances of high-level strategic and military cooperation between the two in Syria extensively cited in the author’s recent piece about how “I’m A Pro-Putin Anti-‘Putinist’ And It’s About Time That Alt-Media Acknowledges That We Exist”. Follow-up evidence of this objective observation can be seen from the fact that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov felt the need to deny that Russia and Iran are “allies” in Syria while simultaneously emphasizing that his country “in no way underestimates the importance of measures that would ensure the very strong security of the State of Israel” (from 1:20-1:40 of his interview with CNN), which preceded the meeting that Presidential Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev recently had with the head of the Mossad.

Concerning Syria, the self-professed “beating heart of Arabism” is now the “broken heart of the Resistance” after having the ignoble distinction of being the country that’s been bombed by “Israel” many more times than any other. The Arab Republic is simply unable to defend itself from its neighbor’s regular onslaught against the Iranian and Hezbollah forces that it legally welcomed into the country to assist with its War on Terror, and the much-touted S-300s still haven’t passed into Syria’s full and independent control (and may never will if Russia strikes a deal with “Israel” to that effect to “ensure its very strong security”). Simply put, Syria is embarrassed to have turned into the “IAF’s” bombing range and therefore sees no need to publicize each and every time that its sovereignty is violated.

Different War, Same “Secrecy”

For all intents and purposes, “Israel” is waging a so-called “secret war” on Syria in the New Cold War that’s somewhat similar to the one that the US waged on Laos in the Old Cold War, seeing as how the entire world knew about both but didn’t say anything for their own reasons. Just like the US dropped more bombs on Laos than it did during the entirety of World War II, so too did “Israel” bomb Syria many more times than it bombed any of its other enemies, although the scale of its carnage is incomparable in a physical sense to America’s. Nevertheless, the historic comparison is accurate in a structural and strategic sense, but that’s where the similarities end.

Back then, the USSR actively opposed the US’ “secret war” on Laos, but nowadays Russia “passively facilitates” “Israel’s” secret war” on Syria as part of its grand strategic policy of “balancing” that tacitly aims at ensuring Iran’s dignified but “phased withdrawal” from the Arab Republic. In addition, no American aircraft were every downed by its allies in Laos to the best of the author’s knowledge, though “Israel’s” reckless mid-air tactical maneuver in September resulted in a Syrian-fired S-200 tragically hitting one of Russia’s own spy planes, but this importantly didn’t end the alliance between the two and Netanyahu’s upcoming summit with President Putinnext week is expected to publicly confirm the two sides’ reconciliation with one another since then.

Opposite Outcomes

Continuing with the mental exercise of comparing and contrasting the US’ “secret war” on Laos to “Israel’s” “secret war” on Syria, it can provocatively be predicted that the latest one’s outcome might be the opposite of its predecessor’s. Whereas the US failed to dislodge the Pathet Lao from the country and the communist revolutionary movement ultimately ended up taking over the state, “Israel” will probably have much more success in keeping Syria’s Iranian and Hezbollah partners away from the occupied Golan frontier and ultimately preventing them from entrenching their influence all throughout the country. The reason for this is that “Israel’s” predominant ally in Syria (Russia) is much more powerful than America’s was in Laos (the Royal Lao Government), and Moscow can exert diplomatic “mediating” influence over Damascus that Vientiane was incapable of exerting over the Pathet Lao.

Accepting this observation as accurate, it can be prognosticated that the end result of “Israel’s” “secret war” on Syria will probably be the perpetuation of the unofficial Russian-enforced “buffer zone” that Moscow created within 140 kilometers from the occupied Golan Heights and even its possible expansion if it can “convince” Damascus to “roll back” its Iranian ally’s influence in that part of the country. Unlike in Laos where the US had no chance of brokering international deals for the country’s post-war reconstruction (largely owing to its military-strategic failure there and eventual withdrawal from the region), Russia is in an excellent position to broker Syria’s post-war reconstruction with the Gulf Kingdoms and even “Israel’s” Western European allies in the event that Damascus does what’s “requested” of it by taking steps to ensure Iran’s dignified but “phased withdrawal” from the country.

Concluding Thoughts

Historical comparisons can provide creative and insightful ways of reevaluating contemporary conflicts and forecasting their possible solutions, but their accuracy is never absolute and the resultant models shouldn’t ever be assumed to be the be-all and end-all for understanding the object of study. Such is the case of Syria and Laos’ “secret wars”, which are remarkably similar in many senses but also really different in others. Both target states found themselves in the center of Cold War competition between the most important powers of the day, but the outcome of the current “shadow conflict” will probably be the opposite of the previous one due to the pivotal “balancing” role that Russia is playing in it, which astronomically improves “Israel’s” odds of at least partially achieving the success of its strategic objectives in Syria in a manner that the US never had a chance to do in Laos.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Times of Israel

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on “Israel’s” “Secret War” on Syria Is a Lot Like the US’ “Secret War” on Laos
  • Tags: , ,

If the so-called American Revolution of 1776 was truly committed to breaking with monarchical and autocratic rule from the United Kingdom then why did slavery grow at a rapid rate after the achievement of independence of the former 13 colonies in North America?

This is an important political question since even in the 21st century there are repeated references by elected officials in both houses of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court to the “Founding Fathers” and “Framers of the Constitution.” What is not mentioned by these career politicians and lifetime jurists is that many of the authors of the U.S. Constitution were large-scale slave owners themselves.

These wealthy landowners and slave masters did not see any reason to liberate the more than 700,000 Africans living in the former colonies by the conclusion of the 1780s. The existence of slavery was quite profitable and with the discovery of the cotton gin in 1793, the expansion of involuntary servitude across the South and extending further west empowered the planters to the point where as a result of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 they were able to dominate the House of Representatives through a provision declaring that enslaved Africans could be counted as three-fifths of a person.

In an article published by Paul Finkelman of the Albany Law School in New York:

“The three-fifths clause provided the extra proslavery representatives in the House to secure the passage of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (bringing Missouri in as a slave state); the annexation in 1845 of Texas, which was described at the time as an ‘empire for slavery’; the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850; the law allowing slavery in Utah and New Mexico; and the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 (which opened the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain territories to slavery). None of these laws could have been passed without the representatives created by counting slaves under the three-fifths clause.” (See this)

Some Aspects of the Anti-Slavery Movement in Britain in the Late 18th Century

While the descendants of the British colonialists were divorcing themselves from the Crown, a burgeoning anti-slavery movement was taking hold in England. London was the largest center of the Atlantic Slave Trade where enormous profits earned from the exploitation of African labor was set to spawn the rise of industrial capitalism in the 19th century.

Image on the right: James Somerset portrait during the 1770s

An important episode in the history of jurisprudence related to the legal basis for African enslavement was the case of Somerset v. Stewart which was heard and decided in London during 1772. James Somerset was an African purchased in Virginia and held by a Scottish merchant and customs officer. (See this)

Somerset was brought from Virginia to England by Charles Stewart with the intent to continue his enslavement. Somerset fled from captivity and was later imprisoned. He filed suit in the British courts demanding his freedom based upon the lack of sufficient English law recognizing slavery within the unwritten constitution.

Although there were codes under British customary law which reinforced slavery, the courts found that there was no legal basis for the ownership of Somerset by Stewart. The although narrow ruling was not intended to free enslaved Africans from bondage it provided the impetus for the abolitionist movement in both Britain and what later became known as the U.S.

A summary of the ruling states that:

“In a decision handed down by William Murray, Baron (later Earl) of Mansfield and Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench, the court narrowly held that ‘a master could not seize a slave in England and detain him preparatory to sending him out of the realm to be sold’ and that habeas corpus was a constitutional right available to slaves to forestall such seizure, deportation and sale because they were not chattel, or mere property, they were servants and thus persons invested with certain (but certainly limited) constitutional protections.” (See this)

The decision was hailed by the African population and anti-slavery proponents in Britain. Granville Sharp, a staunch advocate for the elimination of slavery had taken up the case on behalf of Somerset advising his lawyers on the arguments put forward in the case.

Sharp had written a tract in 1769 entitled “A Representation of the Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery”, considered a foundational publication of the abolitionist movement of the 18thcentury. Gaining a reputation through the Somerset Case and previous attempts at freeing enslaved Africans, Sharp was approached by Olaudah Equiano in 1781 to seek his support in exposing the Zong massacre. (See this)

Equiano, also known as Gustavus Vassa, wrote in his autobiography that he was captured in West Africa in the region now known as southeast Nigeria. He would be taken to Virginia where he worked to purchase his own freedom. Later he would be a co-founder of the Sons of Africa, an organization of emancipated people in Britain committed to the elimination of slavery. (See this)

The Zong was a British slave ship from Liverpool which captured 400 Africans setting sail later from Accra in West Africa. While traveling to the Caribbean island of Jamaica, many of the people on board were sickened including both European sailors and enslaved Africans.

After the deaths of 70 slaves and sailors on board, the captain Luke Collingwood authorized the throwing of Africans overboard resulting in the brutal deaths of another 133 people. This was done for the purpose of collecting insurance on the enslaved. The incident was widely publicized and consequently mobilized the Free African community and abolitionist movement in Britain.

Claims for the payment of the insurance were denied by the Baron of Mansfield who had ruled in the Somerset decision. Nonetheless, despite gallant attempts by abolitionists, the European crew was never convicted of murder. The ruling in the case said the killing of Africans was warranted under such circumstances as the purported lack of water, food and the prevalence of disease.

An historical website, blackpast.org, said of those in authority related to the attempt to prosecute the responsible individuals:

“Great Britain’s The Solicitor General, Justice John Lee, however, refused to take up the criminal charges claiming ‘What is this claim that human people have been thrown overboard? This is a case of chattels or goods. Blacks are goods and property; it is madness to accuse these well-serving honorable men of murder… The case is the same as if wood had been thrown overboard.’”

Just a decade later after the acquittal of the perpetrators of the Zong massacre, Captain John Kimber was placed on trial for the torture and murder of an African woman aboard the slave ship Recovery. Through the efforts of the abolitionists in Britain, Kimber was brought before the court, even though he was not convicted.

African woman tortured by John Kimber who was acquitted of murder by British courts in 1792

These developments illustrated the inherent racism within the British legal system. Such occurrences prompted the persistence of the anti-slavery campaigns. Africans such as Equiano and Ottobah Cugoano through the Sons of Africa grouping spread the consciousness related to the humanity of Black people. (See this)

The Sons of Africa worked closely with the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Thomas Clarkson, a co-founder of the Society, along with ten other anti-slavery advocates, persuaded parliamentarian William Wilberforce to introduce legislation demanding the end to human bondage. However, it would take decades of work to bring about the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

Image on the right: Ottobah Cugoano also known as John Stuart was an abolitionist and member of the Sons of Africa in Britain during the late 18th century

Cugoano was kidnapped by the British in the West Africa region of today’s Ghana in 1770 being taken to England. He would win his emancipation and publish a book in 1787 entitled: “Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species.” (See this)

As opposition to slavery increased through political actions along with mass rebellion, the British parliament would pass the Slave Act of 1788 and Amelioration Act of 1798 related to the treatment of Africans in bondage under the control of England. Later in 1807, the British parliament would pass the Slave Trade Act, ostensibly outlawing the transatlantic trade. The trade would continue illegally and the domestic production and trade in enslaved Africans satisfied the demands for unpaid labor within the growing cotton plantations of the southern U.S. Later in 1833 the Slavery Abolition Act was passed by the British parliament. Nevertheless, Africans in the Caribbean were forced to undergo a period of apprenticeship leading to years more of virtual enslavement and consequent rebellion.

Other events such as the Haitian Revolution against France from 1791-1803 resulted in the founding of a Black Republic in the Caribbean, heightened the fears of the slave owning class which maintained its political advantage through the American legislative system. It would take a series of slave rebellions in the U.S. from 1800 through 1859 to escalate the intransigence of the planters provoking their secessionist ambitions leading to a civil war from 1861-1865, which created the conditions for the legal abolition of African slavery in the U.S. (See this)

The Legacy of Slavery Extends Into the 21st Century

African American historian Gerald Horne published a study on the impact of the anti-slavery movement in Britain and the motivations for independence by the founders of the U.S. during the late 18thcentury. The book entitled: “The Counter-revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America”, advances a thesis which conflicts with the conventional assumptions fostered by the educational system related to the separation of the 13 colonies from Britain.

An abstract of the Horne research project released in 2014 says:

“Prior to 1776, anti-slavery sentiments were deepening throughout Britain and in the Caribbean, rebellious Africans were in revolt.  For European colonists in America, the major threat to their security was a foreign invasion combined with an insurrection of the enslaved.  It was a real and threatening possibility that London would impose abolition throughout the colonies—a possibility the founding fathers feared would bring slave rebellions to their shores. To forestall it, they went to war.” (See this)

154 years since the legal abolition of involuntary servitude in the U.S., the descendants of Africans formerly enslaved are still facing national oppression and economic exploitation. Today the criminal justice structures serve as the principal mechanism of social containment and institutional repression. Inevitably it will take a revolutionary struggle to complete the genuine emancipation of the African people in America.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from the author

The Miami Herald (2/8/19) reported, “Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro continues to reject international aid—going so far as to blockade a road that might have been used for its delivery.“

The “Venezuelan leader” reporter Jim Wyss referred to is Venezuela’s elected president. In contrast, Wyss referred to Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s “interim president.”

Guaidó, anointed by Trump and a new Iraq-style Coalition of the Willing, did not even run in Venezuela’s May 2018 presidential election. In fact, shortly before the election, Guaidó was not even mentioned by the opposition-aligned pollster Datanálisis when it published approval ratings of various prominent opposition leaders. Henri Falcón, who actually did run in the election (defying US threats against him) was claimed by the pollster to basically be in a statistical tie for most popular among them. It is remarkable to see the Western media dismiss this election as “fraudulent,” without even attempting to show that it was “stolen“ from Falcón. Perhaps that’s because it so clearly wasn’t stolen.

Approval ratings of Venezuelan political figures

Data from the opposition-aligned pollsters in Venezuela (via Torino Capital) indicates that Henri Falcón was the most popular of the major opposition figures at the time of the May 2018 presidential election. Nicolás Maduro won the election due to widespread opposition boycotting and votes drawn by another opposition candidate, Javier Bertucci.

The constitutional argument that Trump and his accomplices have used to “recognize” Guaidó rests on the preposterous claim that Maduro has “abandoned” the presidency by soundly beating Falcón in the election. Caracas-based journalist Lucas Koerner took apart that argument in more detail.

What about the McClatchy-owned Herald‘s claim that Maduro “continues to reject international aid”? In November 2018, following a public appeal by Maduro, the UN did authorize emergency aid for Venezuela. It was even reported by Reuters (11/26/18), whose headlines have often broadcast the news agency’s contempt for Maduro’s government.

It’s not unusual for Western media to ignore facts they have themselves reported when a major “propaganda blitz” by Washington is underway against a government. For example, it was generally reported accurately in 1998 that UN weapons inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq ahead of air strikes ordered by Bill Clinton, not expelled by Iraq’s government. But by 2002, it became a staple of pro-war propaganda that Iraq had expelled weapons inspectors (Extra! Update, 10/02).

And, incidentally, when a Venezuelan NGO requested aid from the UN-linked Global Fund in 2017, it was turned down. Setting aside how effective foreign aid is at all (the example of Haiti hardly makes a great case for it), it is supposed to be distributed based on relative need, not based on how badly the US government wants somebody overthrown.

But the potential for “aid” to alleviate Venezuela’s crisis is negligible compared to the destructive impact of US economic sanctions. Near the end of Wyss’ article, he cited an estimate from the thoroughly demonized Venezuelan government that US sanctions have cost it $30 billion, with no time period specified for that estimate. Again, this calls to mind the run-up to the Iraq invasion, when completely factual statements that Iraq had no WMDs were attributed to the discredited Iraqi government. Quoting Iraqi denials supposedly balanced the lies spread in the media by US officials like John Bolton, who now leads the charge to overthrow Maduro. Wyss could have cited economists independent of the Maduro government on the impact of US sanctions—like US economist Mark Weisbrot, or the emphatically anti-Maduro Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez.

Illegal US sanctions were first imposed in 2015 under a fraudulent “state of emergency” declared by Obama, and subsequently extended by Trump. The revenue lost to Venezuela’s government due to US economic sanctions since August 2017, when the impact became very easy to quantify, is by now well over $6 billion. That’s enormous in an economy that was only able to import about $11 billion of goods in 2018, and needs about $2 billion per year in medicines. Trump’s “recognition” of Guaidó as “interim president” was the pretext for making the already devastating sanctions much worse. Last month, Francisco Rodríguez revised his projection for the change in Venezuela’s real GDP in 2019, from an 11 percent contraction to 26 percent, after the intensified sanctions were announced.

The $20 million in US “aid” that Wyss is outraged Maduro won’t let in is a rounding error compared to the billions already lost from Trump’s sanctions.

Former US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield, who pressed for more sanctions on Venezuela, dispensed with the standard “humanitarian” cover that US officials have offered for them (Intercept, 2/10/19):

And if we can do something that will bring that end quicker, we probably should do it, but we should do it understanding that it’s going to have an impact on millions and millions of people who are already having great difficulty finding enough to eat, getting themselves cured when they get sick, or finding clothes to put on their children before they go off to school. We don’t get to do this and pretend as though it has no impact there. We have to make the hard decision—the desired outcome justifies this fairly severe punishment.

How does this gruesome candor get missed by reporters like Wyss, and go unreported in his article?

Speaking of “severe punishment,” if the names John Bolton and Elliott Abrams don’t immediately call to mind the punishment they should be receiving for crimes against humanity, it illustrates how well the Western propaganda system functions. Bolton, a prime facilitator of the Iraq War, recently suggested that Maduro could be sent to a US-run torture camp in Cuba. Abrams played a key role in keeping US support flowing to mass murderers and torturers in Central America during the 1980s. Also significant that Abrams, brought in by Trump to help oust Maduro, used “humanitarian aid” as cover to supply weapons to the US-backed Contra terrorists in Nicaragua.

In the Herald article, the use of US “aid” for military purposes is presented as another allegation made by the vilified Venezuelan president: “Maduro has repeatedly said the aid is cover for a military invasion and has ordered his armed forces not to let it in, even as food and medicine shortages sweep the country.”

Calling for international aid and being democratically elected will do as little to protect Maduro’s government from US aggression as being disarmed of WMD did to prevent Iraq from being invaded—unless there is much more pushback from the US public against a lethal propaganda system.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Joe Emerberger is a writer based in Canada whose work has appeared in Telesur English, ZNet and Counterpunch.

Featured image is from FAIR

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Facts Don’t Interfere with Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President
  • Tags: ,

The Crisis and Coup in Venezuela. A Review

February 13th, 2019 by Richard Galustian

Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, a renowned expert on Latin America gave an interview to broadcaster and journalist, Bonnie Faulkner (gunsandbutter.org) and the below is a summary of the key points of this interview.

.

.

Click link below to listen to the full interview.

Warfare Tools

Venezuela: From Oil Proxy to the Bolivarian Movement and Sabotage. Abysmal Poverty under US Proxy Rule (1918-1998)

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky and Bonnie Faulkner, February 10, 2019

***

This is an extremely important explanation of the situation, summarised. It is a must read for anyone confused about what is going on in Venezuela.

Prof. Chossudovsky discussed the economic and political crisis in Venezuela, and with a good deal of expertise and authority having been a past Advisor to the Venezuelan Minister of Planning.

It is hoped the following accurately distils his views for readers to comprehend the basics of this rather disgraceful attempt at regime change by the US Government.

To start with one must explain the three key objectives of the US:

– Install a US proxy regime,

– Confiscate the country’s extensive oil wealth (Venezuela has the largest oil reserves Worldwide),

– Impoverish the Venezuelan people.

A few weeks ago, President Trump announced that the U.S. would recognize without an election, Speaker of the Venezuelan parliament, Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of Venezuela.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Vice President Mike Pence called Guaidó the night before Trump’s announcement and pledged that the US administration would support him.

Ironically, Chossudovsky wryly points out, the position of Speaker of the National Assembly (Parliament) of Venezuela, held by Juan Guaidó, is comparable to that of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and, of course, the leader of the majority party, the Democrats, which is currently Nancy Pelosi.

There are certain differences from the constitutional standpoint, but what President Trump has intimated in declaring that Guaidó is the interim president of Venezuela is tantamount to saying, “Hey, Donald Trump, what about Nancy Pelosi for US President?”

Why can’t for example President Maduro of Venezuela say, “We would like Nancy Pelosi to be the President of the United States….and then, of course, we’ll go to the UN Security Council to have it endorsed.”

That illustrates “the ridicule of political discourse but also the shear fantasy of U.S. foreign policy”.

Chossudovsky says it is ‘a novelty’ in relation to regime change.

“We have military coups in Venezuela going back to the early 20th century – a whole bunch of military coups. We have color revolutions, which instigate protest movements. That is already ongoing in Venezuela. Then we have this new formula of intimating that we don’t like the President; have him replaced by the Speaker of the House. And that’s, of course, a very dangerous discourse because, as I mentioned, it could backlash onto President Trump himself.”

Russia and China backed Maduro but France, Britain, Spain and Germany said they would recognize Juan Guaidó as President unless Venezuela calls a new presidential election “within eight days”.

But wait a minute. Maduro was elected, he won the Presidency of Venezuela democratically and with a large majority.

France’s President Macron also won the Presidential election with a a very slim majority and nobody is questioning Macron’s Presidency except of course the Yellow Vest movement which is throughout France. That doesn’t seem to be making the headlines anymore and on the contrary people in Venezuela are taking to the streets to endorse Maduro.

The fact of the matter, the Professor continues is that “all these leaders in Europe are, first of all, caving in to U.S. foreign policy; they are essentially behaving as U.S. proxies”.

Adding

“Under a constitutional democracy, how is it that they could actually support the United States in calling for the Speaker of the National Assembly of Venezuela to become President of the country? It’s an absurd proposition, and that this would then get to the United Nations Security Council is even more absurd.”

“It’s a very complex process, and I think people have to understand first of all that Venezuela has the largest oil reserves worldwide; more than Saudi Arabia, both traditional crude as well as tar sands, which are extensive but also very easy to manage and produce compared to those of Canada, for instance. What is at stake is a battle for oil.”

Now when we look at what is happening in Venezuela today and where the U.S. policymakers say, “We want to come to the rescue of the people who have been impoverished.”

In reaction, Chossudovsky asserts

“this is a nonsensical statement. The history of Venezuela was a history of poverty right until Chavez became President. They retained that level of poverty and exclusion. Not to say that there aren’t very serious contradictions (within Venezuelan society); that’s another issue.”

Further explaining that the

“U.S. Foreign policy wants to restore. They want to restore Venezuela as a subordinate country with a poor population and elites that are aligned with the United States. That is the nature of the crisis which is ongoing today in Venezuela.”

Chossudovsky importantly also reminds us

“Now, there’s another thing I’d like to mention, which I think is very important. What has been the response today to this crisis? I saw recently a statement by a number of progressive authors and it essentially says that there should be mediation or negotiation between both sides. I think that that is something which is rather much misunderstood. There cannot be mediation between the government of Venezuela and a proxy for the CIA, which is Guaidó.”

The Professor concluded by saying

“Our thoughts today are with the Venezuelan people”

A final comment I would like to make is before our governments embark on more adventures and regime changes, it might be opportune to ponder these indirectly relevant facts. The US Military deaths in action since 1999 were 5,273. US Veterans since 1999 was a whopping 128,240 suicides and counting. What does that tell you as a reader?

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is author of 11 books. The complete lengthy interview is available on the Global Research website, globalresearch.ca for those interested.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on The Duran.

Featured image is from The Duran

On January 23, 2019 Juan Guaido declared himself to be the “acting President” of Venezuela. He was immediately recognized as the interim President of Venezuela by the United States government, followed in quick succession by the government of Canada, and right-wing governments in Latin America.

In order to achieve his new-found executive status, Guaido didn’t need to win the support of the majority of the people in Venezuela, let alone even run in any election. In order to get this appointment, all that he had to do was pledge allegiance to his bosses at the U.S. capital, Washington, DC.

The day before Guaido’s self-declaration, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence was so excited at the prospect of overthrowing the democratically elected President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro that he could barely contain himself. He recorded a video message of support to the Venezuelan opposition:

“As the good people of Venezuela make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say: estamos con ustedes. We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you until Democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of Libertad.”

But, what exactly does Pence mean when he claims support for Libertad (“Freedom” in Spanish)?

In the new era of war and occupation, which began with the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, “human rights,” “democracy,” “freedom,” have all become euphemisms in the deadly song of the U.S. war machine. Millions of people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Libya and across the Middle East and North Africa have been murdered by U.S. led wars, occupations, and covert and overt military operations in their countries. Millions of other people suffer needlessly under brutal imperialist sanction regimes imposed on people in North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.

For over the last 17 years, the Unites States government and their allies, including the government of Canada, have been on a mad path of destruction to regain hegemony in the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America. As the U.S. government and other imperialist countries face increasing financial crisis, they will stop at nothing to find new markets, people and resources to exploit.

In order to retake complete control for their own economic gain, the U.S. government must destroy the independent and sovereign peoples and governments that stand in their way. This is how the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro and the revolutionary people of Venezuela came squarely into their cross-hairs.

The U.S.-Led War on Venezuela

Without there being a single firefight, the U.S. government is at war with the people of Venezuela and their Bolivarian revolutionary process. It is an imperialist war of aggression imposed on the people of Venezuela through a coordinated campaign of political, economic and military threats and attacks. When the U.S. government and their allies recognized Juan Guaido as the “interim President” of Venezuela – it was nothing short of an attempted coup d’état against the democratically elected President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. It was an escalation in their anti-democratic and illegal intervention in Venezuela, which has included imposing brutal sanctions, threatening military attack, and giving financial and political support to Venezuela’s violent opposition.

It is especially relevant to the recent U.S.-led aggression against Venezuela to understand that just as President Trump refuses to recognize the 2018 electoral victory of President Maduro, so did President Obama refuse to recognize President Maduro’s first term victory in 2013. For the U.S. government and their allies – “democracy” is only “democracy” when their selected candidates take office.

Canada’s Vicious Role Against the People of Venezuela

The government of Canada is complicit in the imperialist war against the people of Venezuela and their democracy. Armed with their own set of interests in Venezuela’s natural resources, the government of Canada has effectively served as a proxy for the U.S. government in the international arena where the U.S.’s own history in Latin America would be an obstacle to their imperialist project to overthrow the government of Venezuela.

The government of Canada does so consciously and willingly. Chrystia Freeland, the Foreign Minister of Canada, exposed the government when she said,

“We have a very direct interest in what happens in our hemisphere, that’s why we have been so active and will consider to be so active,” during a Press Conference on Venezuela on January 28.

It is with this same reasoning that Minister Freeland has taken up her role as a leader in the illegitimate Lima Group, which was formed by the U.S. government in order to pursue further intervention against Venezuela, when their efforts in the Organization of American States failed.

The government of Canada has also imposed three rounds of sanctions against Venezuela and given support and an ear on Parliament Hill to Venezuela’s violent right-wing opposition.

Following the appointment by the U.S. government of Guaido as interim President of Venezuela, the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau released a statement that “commended Juan Guaido for his courage and leadership in helping to return democracy to Venezuela and offered Canada’s continued support.” With more or less nuance, this is the same sentiment expressed in official statements by leaders of the Conservative party and the NDP as well – as if somehow the government of Canada has the right to tell the people of Venezuela who their President is, and if their elections are free and fair.

Maduro Elected by People, Guaido Selected by the U.S. Government On January 15, 2019 appointed “interim President’ Juan Guaido was given an editorial in the Washington Post. Heavy on rhetoric and devoid of facts, Guaido claimed in this editorial that President Maduro was an “usurper” when he took office for his second Presidential term on January 10, 2019 “because we didn’t have an election.”

No election? Then, what was it when over 9.3 million Venezuelans voted in the Presidential election on May 20, 2018, choosing from four candidates representing 16 political parties? What did 14 electoral commissions from eight countries observe on the election day in Venezuela, if not a Presidential election?

On May 20, 2018 President Maduro was elected to a second term in office with nearly 68%, or over 6.2 million votes. The opposition candidate who won the greatest votes was Henri Falcón who received almost 21%, or 1.9 million votes. This election was a resounding victory for the people of Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolutionary process.

If, according to Guaido, there was no election, it is because not only did he not run in the election, nether did his pro-U.S. political party. Voluntad Popular was one of three opposition political parties that boycotted the election. However, as Pasqualina Curcio, a Venezuelan economist, researcher and academic wrote in an article “The Maduro government: why illegitimate?”, “The fact that three parties (AD [Accion Democratica], VP [Voluntad Popular] and PJ [Primera Justicia]) freely decided not to participate does not make the electoral process illegitimate.”

In fact, based on the election results, President Maduro has a stronger claim to Presidential legitimacy then most of the heads of state that are now attempting to force his overthrow. 31.7% of eligible voters in Venezuela cast their votes for Maduro, compared to only 27.3% for U.S. President Trump and an even lower 26.8% for Prime Minister of Canada Trudeau.

It is also important to note that in the eight months since the Presidential election, none of the candidates or political parties that ran in the election have made any claims of fraud. They haven’t contested the results.

In the weeks leading up to the attempted coup and Juan Guaido’s Washington DC appointment as “interim President” of Venezuela, he was in frequent communication with leaders in Venezuela’s violent counter-revolutionary opposition, as well as the U.S. government and the government of Canada. The architects of the coup attempt, Maria Corina Machado, Leopaldo Lopez, Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges all have close ties to the Untied States, and a direct-line to the Oval Office through right-wing U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.

Juan Guaido was assigned by the government of the United States as the “interim President” of Venezuela as he promised to deliver them exactly the kind of government in Venezuela that they desired.

Who is Guaido Anyhow?

Juan Guaido had not been a significant or well-known politician in Venezuela. In 2015 he was elected to Parliament with only 26% of the vote. The only reason that he became President of Venezuela’s National Assembly was because the opposition parties have decided to rotate the leadership as a way of dealing with their differences. Guaido became President of the National Assembly when it was the turn for his party, Voluntad Popular or Popular Will, in English, to take the position.

Voluntad Popular is a violent counter-revolutionary political party in Venezuela. Their methods of their leaders, like Leopaldo Lopez, range from participation in a coup against President Chavez in 2002 (which was overturned by the mass action of people in Venezuela in less than 48 hours), to violent street riots known as the “Guarimbas” that killed 43 people in 2014 and over 125 people in 2017.

Today, Guaido and the opposition controlled National Assembly, are claiming Constitutional authority. However, since 2016 Venezuela’s National Assembly has been held in contempt of court after refusing to correct electrical irregularities in the 2015 National Assembly elections. Even prior to this declaration, the National Assembly had been incapable of passing any legislation that complied with Venezuela’s Constitution.

Sanctions and Humanitarian Aid – Which One is It?

The crocodile tears of imperialist governments and their mainstream media minions are the most bitter when they describe the suffering of the people of Venezuela, who they claim are being denied food, medicines and basic goods by a corrupt and callous government that is unable and uninterested to manage its own affairs, and care for its people.

Never a word is spoken about the devastating effects of U.S. sanctions on the lives of every day people in Venezuela.

For example, the attempted coup against Venezuela was enforced with another round of sanctions, this time targeting Venezuela’s state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA). Trump administration officials reported that the sanctions “are expected to block $7 billion in assets and result in $11 billion in export losses over the next year for Venezuela’s government,” as reported by the New York Times. (Of course, these same officials also reported “Purchases of Venezuelan oil by American companies would be released once PDVSA is controlled by a government led by Mr. Guaido.”)

Mainstream media isn’t condemning sanctions on Venezuela because they still are working exactly how their imperialist government bosses intended. Sanctions are an attempt to strangle the economy of Venezuela. With this, imperialist governments are betting that the people of Venezuela will be brought to such misery that they support the overthrow of their democratically elected government.

Imposing crippling sanctions on Venezuela has also opened the possibility for the U.S. government and their allies to make the claim that Venezuelans need “humanitarian aid.” This claim is not only a good way to try to win over the hearts and minds of people living in the U.S. to their campaign for increased intervention in Venezuela, it also serves as a way for the U.S. government to bolster the “human rights defender” image of their appointed puppet Guaido.

In a January 24, 2019 Editorial, the Washington Post even suggests,

“The administration’s best approach would be to join with its allies in initiatives that would help Venezuelans while bolstering Mr. Guaido. A multilateral operation to deliver humanitarian supplies to Venezuela or to its borders, in cooperation with the National Assembly, is one possibility.”

If that isn’t turning humanitarian aid into a political tool, then what is it?

In all, U.S. sanctions are reported to have cost Venezuela at least $6 billion. So, how is it a humanitarian gesture of any shade that the U.S. government has pledged only $20 million for aid? That is barely 3% of what the sanctions have denied people of Venezuela. The people of Venezuela don’t need handouts – they need an end to the war and sanctions against their economy. So-called humanitarian aid is nothing, but an empty gesture meant to confuse people, both in Venezuela and back in the United States and around the world.

Why the U.S and Other Imperialists Hate the Maduro Government

In an interview on January 28, 2019 on Fox News U.S. National Security Advisor and war-monger John Bolton exposed one reason why the U.S. government is so determined to overthrow the government of President Maduro,

“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”

One of the gains of the Bolivarian revolutionary process is that the oil wealth of Venezuela has been taken out of the pockets of transnational companies, and redirected to funding social programs for poor, working and oppressed people in Venezuela. Yes, it is in the interests of the government of U.S. to have their hands on the Venezuela’s natural resources, including oil, once again.

Exactly how the revolutionary government of Venezuela poses a threat to U.S. control of Latin America deserves an even closer look.

Once again, the words of John Bolton are an important view into the strategic thinking of the U.S. government and their imperialist allies. On November 1, 2018 Bolton made a speech at the Freedom Tower in Miami, where he first coined the term “Troika of Tyranny,” in reference to the governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. His speech continued,

“Yet today, in this Hemisphere, we are also confronted once again with the destructive forces of oppression, socialism, and totalitarianism. In Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, we see the perils of poisonous ideologies left unchecked, and the dangers of domination and suppression.”

Bolton’s comments followed similar rhetoric and fear-mongering from U.S. President Trump at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018, where he condemned the “socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors, not long-ago Venezuela was one of the richest countries on earth, today socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people in abject poverty. Virtually everywhere, socialism, or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption and decay.”

These comments expose that Venezuela is not only a threat to the hegemony of the United States in Latin America, it is also a threat because it challenges capitalist ideology that has proclaimed the death of socialism. The government of President Maduro and the Bolivarian revolutionary process have dared to proclaim that a better world, a world that puts the interests of people before those of profits, is not just necessary, but also possible.

For the last 20 years the Bolivarian revolutionary process has implemented measures in Venezuela that have massively elevated the quality of life for poor, working and oppressed people in Venezuela. The revolutionary government calls these measures anti-capitalist and socialist, and this is exactly how they have managed to create so much fear and anxiety among imperialist powers. Since the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998, these anti-capitalist measures have paved the road for a better life and a socialist future for the people of Venezuela. With sanctions, provocations, inciting violence, and threatening military attacks, the United States is preventing this from happening.

Imperialist countries know full well where the Bolivarian revolutionary process is going if left unchecked. The anti-capitalist measures that are taking place in Venezuela today have the potential to culminate with the people of Venezuela deciding that they do not want capitalism anymore. This is the main reason why the U.S. government and their allies must prevent revolutionaries and the people of Venezuela from succeeding with their social justice projects.

Therefore, President Trump’s “military option,” has never been taken off the table. Now that Mike Pompeo, an ex-CIA director is Secretary of State, John Bolton, a war-monger and regime change engineer is National Security Advisor, and a war criminal Elliot Abrams is special envoy to Venezuela, the conditions are ripe for increasing war on Venezuela.

People of Venezuela are Resisting in Defense of Their Popular Government

Although millions of people in Venezuela have been mobilized in the streets in defense of the democratically elected government of President Maduro, not one has received even a mention on prime-time news. People from all sectors of life in Venezuela, have been organizing in defense of their sovereignty and self-determination, in schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.

There has also been little to no reporting on the opinions of people in Venezuela themselves when it comes to U.S. intervention and sanctions against their country. In a poll conducted in early January by the private firm Hinterlaces, 81% of Venezuelans disagreed with the “US economic and financial sanctions that are currently applied against Venezuela to remove President Maduro from power.” When asked, “Would you agree or disagree if there were international intervention in Venezuela to remove President Maduro from power?” 78% replied “I would disagree.”

What is the most important sign that the people of Venezuela support their democratically elected government of President Maduro and the Bolivarian revolutionary process? With all of imperialism’s tremendous effort and coordination, the U.S.-backed January 23 coup attempt failed.

Venezuela Solidarity – Now More Than Ever Before

“Our solidarity with the Venezuelan people and our brother Nicolás Maduro in these decisive hours in which the claws of imperialism seek again to mortally wound the democracy and self-determination of the peoples of South America.” – Evo Morales, President of Bolivia (via Twitter, January 23, 2019)

Although the U.S. government and their allies, including Canada, have not been successful to overthrow President Maduro and reverse the Bolivarian revolutionary process, the struggle of the people of Venezuela against imperialist intervention is far from over. As President Morales emphasizes, these are decisive times for poor, working and oppressed people around the world.

In the days following Guaido’s self-declaration as President of Venezuela, hundreds of actions were organized around the world, from Africa to Asia to Europe and across North and South America. People from many different walks of life came out into the streets in defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination. These actions do and must continue, especially from within the United States, Canada and Europe where imperialists are preparing for further attacks to bring chaos and destruction to Venezuela’s shores.

However, following their failed coup in Venezuela, there is one thing that the US and other imperialists learned very well, Venezuela is not and will not be alone.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Fire This Time!

Alison Bodine is Coordinator of Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Follow Alison on Twitter: @alisoncolette

A startling case of Brexititis, marked by nostalgia for imperial grandeur, the singing of Rule Britannia when taking a shower, and an unhinged view of the world and Britain’s diminished role in it, was observed in London on February 11.

On that day, Gavin Williamson, UK defense secretary, said there are plans to sail the country’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth across the oceans to put China in its place by cruising majestically into the South China Sea. China has claimed a huge amount of territory in the sea and built air bases and naval facilities on many of the islands. There is little the West can do about it militarily. It can, through diplomacy, get China to navigate a different course but a spanking new aircraft carrier from Britain, regardless of how up-to-date it is, will not make an iota of difference.

And two military bases, Williamson added, in the Caribbean and Asia will be built to “strengthen our global presence,’’. OK, so far so good, that’s what defense chiefs say routinely, boost global presence, show the flag, it’s what they are paid to do to boost their budgets, but then he added “to enhance our lethality and increase our mass”. It does beg the question, what lethality and what mass?

First of all, the carrier will enter active duty in 2021. Very sportsmanlike, very British, telling the “enemy” your plans two years in advance. The Chinese must be shaking in their boots and boats.

Williamson said that the UK had to be ready to use “hard power” when he announced that the carrier’s first operational mission would take place in the South China Sea. Absolute tosh. Britain is in no position to take on China in that sea. Full stop.

Even the British government torpedoed the notion. An official spokesman said in response that the carrier would not be deployed until 2021, that it would visit a number of global locations and that the prime minister, not the defense chief with ambitions to lead the party, would take the final decision over its route.

The prime minister’s spokesman said:

“In relation to China, I think we have set out areas where we have concerns – such as around cyber-intrusions against the UK and our allies. But it is also a country with which we have a strong and constructive relationship.”

Let’s face reality. If the Queen Elizabeth enters the South China Sea, the Chinese will protest, and demand Britain stop its provocation. Then the carrier will retreat after a brief stint in the disputed waters. Point made. The carrier returns home, Britain still rules the waves and the spirit of Drake and Nelson lives on.

The missiles on Fujian province alone can secure the sea for China. It does not need to deploy its navy to deal with an aircraft carrier. In the meantime, and in stark contrast, post-Brexit Britain will be hailing a new trade deal with China as a ‘win-win situation” for both countries. The deal will highlight Chinese investment in Britain in communications, banking and transport. Britain will invest heavily in Chinese manufacturing and education sectors.

A reality check. Britain’s armed forces are at their smallest number since the Napoleonic wars. At about 80,000, they would not even fill Wembley stadium’s 90,000 capacity on cup final day.

There is a threat from terrorism but technological and robotic counter-measures need to be enhanced to deal with it. There is no threat from the South China Sea. There is a clear and present danger, though, of believing that post-Brexit Britain can again rule the waves. Or that China is an enemy that needs to be taught a lesson. They have had experience of being taught lessons from the West.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Tom Clifford is an Irish journalist based in China. 

Featured image is from Royal Navy

In the British Indian context, the divide-and-rule policy originally meant that the British imperialists used this strategy to sow the seeds of dissension and communal hatred to prolong their tyrannical rule in India, which is a valid contention. However, some Indian historians later came up with the fancy notion that colonial powers lent their support to the division of India in 1947 in order to use Pakistan as a bulwark against communist influence in the region. This latter conspiracy theory is farthest from truth.

Firstly, the British imperialists took great pride in creating a unified and cohesive British Indian army and it’s a historical fact that the latter organization was vehemently opposed to the division of the British Indian armed forces. It simply defies common sense that if the colonial power was apprehensive of the expanding influence of the former Soviet Union in the region, in that case it would have preferred to leave behind a unified and strong India army, rather than two divided armies at loggerheads with each other.

Secondly, although Pakistan joined the Washington-led SEATO and CENTO alliances in the 1950s and it also fought America’s Jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union during the 1980s, we must bear in mind that there were actually two power-centers of communism during the Cold War: the Soviet Marxism-Leninism and the Chinese Maoism.

If the intention of the colonial powers was to use Pakistan as a bulwark against communist influence in the region, then how come Pakistan established such cordial relations with China during the 1960s that President Ayub Khan and his Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto played a pivotal role in arranging President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972?

Fact of the matter is that both India and Pakistan had good relations with the Western powers during the Cold War; however, India had friendly relations with Soviet Union and adversarial relations with China, whereas Pakistan had adversarial relations with Soviet Union and friendly ties with China. The relations of India and Pakistan with the communist powers were based more on their national interests than on ideological lines.

The relatively modern Indian historians who came up with the aforementioned conspiracy theory have actually retrospectively applied this theory to the chain of events: that is, they conceived the theory after Pakistan joined the anti-communist alliances and played the role of Washington’s client state during the Soviet-Afghan Jihad in the 1980s. At the time of independence movement in the 1940s, neither the Hindus nor the Muslims of British India knew anything about the aftermath of their respective freedom struggles.

Image result for Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman

Nevertheless, historically Pakistan’s military first used the Islamists of Jamaat-e-Islami during the Bangladesh war of liberation in the late 1960s against the Bangladeshi nationalist Mukti Bahini liberation movement of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman (image on the right) – the father of current prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, and the founder of Bangladesh, which was then a province of Pakistan and known as East Pakistan before the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

Jamaat-e-Islami is a far-right Islamist movement in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh – analogous to the Muslim Brotherhood political party in Egypt and Turkey – several of whose leaders have recently been hanged by the Bangladeshi nationalist government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed for committing massacres of Bangladeshi civilians on behalf of Pakistan’s military during the late 1960s.

Then, during the 1970s, Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto began aiding the Afghan Islamists against Sardar Daud’s government, who had toppled his first cousin King Zahir Shah in a palace coup in 1973 and had proclaimed himself the president of Afghanistan.

Sardar Daud was a Pashtun nationalist and laid claim to Pakistan’s northwestern Pashtun-majority province. Pakistan’s security establishment was wary of his irredentist claims and used Islamists to weaken his rule in Afghanistan. He was eventually assassinated in 1978 as a result of the Saur Revolution led by the Afghan communists.

Pakistan’s support to the Islamists with the Saudi petro-dollars and Washington’s blessings, however, kindled the fires of Islamic insurgencies in the entire region comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indian-administered Kashmir and the Soviet Central Asian States.

The former Soviet Union was wary that its forty-million Muslims were susceptible to radicalism, because Islamic radicalism was infiltrating across the border into the Central Asian States from Afghanistan. Therefore, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 in support of the Afghan communists to forestall the likelihood of Islamic insurgencies spreading to the Central Asian States bordering Afghanistan.

Regarding the Kashmir dispute, there can be no two views that the right of self-determination of Kashmiris must be respected in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions on the right of plebiscite for the Kashmiri people, and Pakistan should lend its moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri cause; but at the same time, the militarization of any dispute, including Kashmir, must be avoided due to horrific human suffering that militancy and wars anywhere in the world inevitably entail.

The insurgency in Kashmir erupted in the fateful year of 1984 of the Orwellian-fame when the Indian Armed Forces surreptitiously occupied the whole of Siachen glacier, including the un-demarcated Pakistani portion.

Now, we must keep the backdrop in mind: those were the heydays of the Cold War and Pakistan army’s proxies, the Afghan jihadists, had the upper hand against the Red Army in the Soviet-Afghan War during the 1980s, and the morale of Pakistan’s military’s top brass was touching the sky.

Moreover, Pakistan’s security establishment also wanted to inflict damage to the Indian Armed Forces to exact revenge for the dismemberment of Pakistan at the hands of India during the Bangladesh War of 1971, when India provided support to Bangladeshi nationalists and took 90,000 Pakistani soldiers as prisoners of war after Pakistan’s humiliating defeat in the war of liberation of Bangladesh.

All the military’s top brass had to do was to divert a fraction of its Afghan jihadist proxies toward the Indian-administered Kashmir to kindle the fires of insurgency in Kashmir. Pakistan’s security agencies began sending jihadists experienced in the Afghan guerilla warfare across the border to the Indian-administered Kashmir in the late 1980s; and by the early 1990s, the Islamist insurgency engulfed the whole of Jammu and Kashmir region.

Here, it’s worth noting, however, that an insurgency cannot succeed anywhere unless militants get some level of popular support from local population. For example: if a hostile force tries to foment an insurgency in Pakistan’s province of Punjab, it wouldn’t succeed; because Punjabis don’t have any grievances against Pakistan.

On the other hand, if an adversary tries to incite an insurgency in the marginalized province of Balochistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas, it would easily succeed, because the local Baloch and Pashtun populations have grievances against the heavy-handedness of Pakistan’s security establishment.

Therefore, to put the blame squarely on the Pakistani side for the Kashmir conflict would be unfair. Firstly, immediately after the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, India annexed the Muslim-majority princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in violation of the agreed-upon “partition principle” that allocated the Muslim-majority provinces of the British India to Pakistan and the Hindu-majority regions to India.

Even now, if someone tries to foment an insurgency in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir, it wouldn’t succeed, because the Kashmiri Muslims identify themselves with Pakistan. The Indian-administered Kashmir has seen many waves for independence since 1947, but not a single voice has been raised for independence in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir in Pakistan’s seventy-year history.

Secondly, India re-ignited the conflict by occupying the strategically placed Siachen glacier in 1984. Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir has been quite flexible and it has floated numerous proposals to resolve the dispute. But India is now the new strategic partner of Washington against China, hence India’s stance on the Kashmir dispute has been quite inflexible, as it is negotiating from a position of strength. Diplomacy aside, however, the real victims of this intransigence and hubris on both sides have been the Kashmiri people and a lot of innocent blood has been spilled for no good reason.

Finally, another obstacle to the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute is that the Kashmiri liberation struggle and militancy have been indigenized to a great extent during the last two decades. An entire generation of Kashmiri youth has been brought up in an environment of violence and bloodletting. Now, no political solution to the Kashmir conflict is possible unless it is acceptable to domestic political leadership of the Kashmiri people.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

On March 1, 2018 the world learned of Russia’s new weapons systems, said to be based on new physical principles. Addressing the Federal Assembly, Putin explained how they came to be: in 2002 the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. At the time, the Russians declared that they will be forced to respond, and were basically told “Do whatever you want.”

And so they did, developing new weapons that no anti-ballistic missile system can ever hope to stop. The new Russian weapons include one that is already on combat duty (Kinzhal), one that is being readied for mass production (Avangard) and several that are currently being tested (Poseidon, Burevestnik, Peresvet, Sarmat). Their characteristics, briefly, are as follows:

  • Kinzhal: a hypersonic air-launched cruise missile that flies at Mach 10 (7700 miles per hour) and can destroy both ground installations and ships.
  • Avangard: a maneuverable hypersonic payload delivery system for intercontinental ballistic missiles that flies at better than Mach 20 (15300 miles per hour). It has a 740-mile range and can carry a nuclear charge of up to 300 kilotons.
  • Poseidon: an autonomous nuclear-powered torpedo with unlimited range that can travel at a 3000-foot depth maintaining a little over 100 knots.
  • Burevestnik: a nuclear-powered cruise missile that flies at around 270 miles per hour and can stay in the air for 24 hours, giving it a 6000-mile range.
  • Peresvet: a mobile laser complex that can blind drones and satellites, knocking out space and aerial reconnaissance systems.
  • Sarmat: a new heavy intercontinental missile that can fly arbitrary suborbital courses (such as over the South Pole) and strike arbitrary points anywhere on the planet. Because it does not follow a predictable ballistic trajectory it is impossible to intercept.

The initial Western reaction to this announcement was an eerie silence. A few people tried to convince anyone who would listen that this was all bluff and computer animation, and that these weapons systems did not really exist. (The animation was of rather low quality, one might add, probably because Russian military types couldn’t possibly imagine that slick graphics, such as what the Americans waste their money on, would make Russia any safer.) But eventually the new weapons systems were demonstrated to work and US intelligence services confirmed their existence.

Forced to react, the Americans, with the EU in tow, tried to cause public relations scandals over some unrelated matter. Such attempts are repeated with some frequency. For instance, after the putsch in the Ukraine caused Crimea to go back to Russia there was the avalanche of hysterical bad press about Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which the Americans had shot down over Ukrainian territory with the help of Ukrainian military.

Similarly, after Putin’s announcement of new weapons systems, there was an eruption of equally breathless hysterics over the alleged “Novichok” poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. A couple of Russian tourists, if you recall, were accused of poisoning Skripal by smearing some toxic gas on the doorknob of his house some time after he left it never to return. Perhaps such antics made some people feel better, but opposing new, breakthrough weapons systems by generating fake news does not an adequate response make.

Say what you will about the Russian response to the US pulling out of the ABM treaty, but it was adequate. It was made necessary by two well-known facts. First, the US is known for dropping nuclear bombs on other countries (Hiroshima, Nagasaki). It did so not in self-defense but just to send a message to the USSR that resistance would be futile (a dumb move if there ever was one). Second, the US is known to have repeatedly planned to destroy the USSR using a nuclear first strike. It was prevented from carrying it out time and again, first by a shortage of nuclear weapons, then by the development of Soviet nuclear weapons, then by the development of Soviet ICBMs.

Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” was an attempt to develop a system that would shoot down enough Soviet ICBMs to make a nuclear first strike on the USSR winnable. This work was terminated when Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in December, 1987. But then when Bush Jr. pulled out of the ABM treaty in 2002 it was off to the races again. Last year Putin declared that Russia has won: the Americans can now rest assured that if they ever attack Russia the result will be their complete, guaranteed annihilation, and the Russians can rest secure in the knowledge that the US will never dare to attack them.

But that was just the prelude. The real victory happened on February 2, 2019. This day will be remembered as the day when the Russian Federation decisively defeated the United States in the battle for Eurasia—from Lisbon to Vladivostok and from Murmansk to Mumbai.

So, what did the Americans want, and what did they get instead? They wanted to renegotiate the INF treaty, revise some of the terms and expand it to include China. Announcing that the US is suspending the INF treaty, Trump said: “I hope we’re able to get everybody in a big, beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better…” By “everybody” Trump probably meant the US, China and Russia.

Why the sudden need to include China? Because China has an entire arsenal of intermediate-range weapons with a range of 500-5500 (the ones outlawed by the INF treaty) pointed at American military bases throughout the region—in South Korea, Japan and Guam. The INF treaty made it impossible for the US to develop anything that could be deployed at these bases to point back at China.

Perhaps it was Trump’s attempt to practice his New York real-estate mogul’s “art of the deal” among nuclear superpowers, or perhaps it’s because imperial hubris has rotted the brains of just about everyone in the US establishment, but the plan for renegotiating the INF treaty was about as stupid as can be imagined:

1. Accuse Russia of violating the INF treaty based on no evidence. Ignore Russia’s efforts to demonstrate that the accusation is false.

2. Announce pull-out of the INF treaty.

3. Wait a while, then announce that the INF treaty is important and essential. Condescendingly forgive Russia and offer to sign a new treaty, but demand that it include China.

4. Wait while Russia convinces China that it should do so.

5. Sign the new treaty in Trump’s “big, beautiful room.”

So, how did it actually go? Russia instantly announced that it is also pulling out of the INF treaty. Putin ordered foreign minister Lavrov to abstain from all negotiations with the Americans in this matter. He then ordered defense minister Shoigu to build land-based platforms for Russia’s new air and ship-based missile systems—without increasing the defense budget. Putin added that these new land-based systems will only be deployed in response to the deployment of US-made intermediate-range weapons. Oh, and China announced that it is not interested in any such negotiations. Now Trump can have his “big, beautiful room” all to himself.

Why did this happen? Because of the INF treaty, for a long time Russia has had a giant gaping hole in its arsenal, specifically in the 500-5500 km range. It had air-launched X-101/102s, and eventually developed the Kalibr cruise missile, but it had rather few aircraft and ships—enough for defense, but not enough to guarantee that it could reliably destroy all of NATO. As a matter of Russia’s national security, given the permanently belligerent stance of the US, it was necessary for NATO to know that in case of a military conflict with Russia it will be completely annihilated, and that no air defense system will ever help them avoid that fate.

If you look at a map, you will find that having weapons in the 500-5500 km range fixes this problem rather nicely. Draw a circle with a 5500 km radius around the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad; note that it encompasses every single NATO country, North Africa and Middle East. The IMF treaty was not necessarily a good deal for Russia even when it was first signed (remember, Gorbachev, who signed it, was a traitor) but it became a stupendously bad deal as NATO started to expand east. But Russia couldn’t pull out of it without triggering a confrontation, and it needed time to recover and rearm.

Already in 2004 Putin announced that “Russia needs a breakthrough in order to have a new generation of weapons and technology.” At the time, Americans ignored him, thinking that Russia could fall apart at any moment and that they will be able to enjoy Russian oil, gas, nuclear fuel and other strategic commodities for free forever even as the Russians themselves go extinct. They thought that even if Russia tried to resist, it would be enough to bribe some traitors—like Gorbachev or Yeltsin—and all would be well again.

Fast-forward 15 years, and is that what we have? Russia has rebuilt and rearmed. Its export industries provide for a positive trade balance even in absence of oil and gas exports. It is building three major export pipelines at the same time—to Germany, Turkey and China. It is building nuclear generating capacity around the world and owns a lion’s share of the world’s nuclear industry. The US can no longer keep the lights on without Russian nuclear fuel imports. The US has no new weapons systems with which to counter Russia’s rearmament. Yes, it talks about developing some, but all it has at this point are infinite money sinks and lots of PowerPoint presentations. It no longer has the brains to do the work, or the time, or the money.

Part of Putin’s orders upon pulling out of the INF treaty was to build land-based medium-range hypersonic missiles. That’s a new twist: not only will it be impossible to intercept them, but they will reduce NATO’s remaining time to live, should it ever attack Russia, from minutes to seconds. The new Poseidon nuclear-powered torpedo was mentioned too: even if an attack on Russia succeeds, it will be a Pyrrhic one, since subsequent 100-foot nuclear-triggered tsunamis will wipe clean both coasts of the United States for hundreds of miles inland, effectively reducing the entire country to slightly radioactive wasteland.

Not only has the US lost its ability to attack, it has also lost its ability to threaten. Its main means of projecting force around the world is its navy, and Poseidon reduces it to a useless, slow-moving pile of scrap steel. It would take just a handful of Poseidons quietly shadowing each US aircraft carrier group to zero out the strategic value of the US Navy no matter where in the world it is deployed.

Without the shackles of the INF treaty, Russia will be able to fully neutralize the already obsolete and useless NATO and to absorb all of Europe into its security sphere. European politicians are quite malleable and will soon learn to appreciate the fact that good relations with Russia and China are an asset while any dependence on the US, moving forward, is a huge liability. Many of them already understand which way the wind is blowing.

It won’t be a difficult decision for Europe’s leaders to make. On the one pan of the scale there is the prospect of a peaceful and prosperous Greater Eurasia, from Lisbon to Vladivostok and from Murmansk to Mumbai, safe under Russia’s nuclear umbrella and tied together with China’s One Belt One Road.

On the other pan of the scale there is a certain obscure former colony lost in the wilds of North America, imbued with an unshakeable faith in its own exceptionalism even as it grows ever weaker, more internally conflicted and more chaotic, but still dangerous, though mostly to itself, and run by a bloviating buffoon who can’t tell the difference between a nuclear arms treaty and a real estate deal. It needs to be quietly and peacefully relegated to the outskirts of civilization, and then to the margins of history.

Trump should keep his own company in his “big, beautiful room,” and avoid doing anything anything even more tragically stupid, while saner minds quietly negotiate the terms for an honorable capitulation. The only acceptable exit strategy for the US is to quietly and peacefully surrender its positions around the world, withdraw into its own geographic footprint and refrain from meddling in the affairs of Greater Eurasia.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from ClubOrlov

Starving Venezuela into Submission

February 13th, 2019 by Israel Shamir

You are so kind-hearted! I shed a tear thinking of American generosity.

“So many delightful goodies: sacks of rice, canned tuna and protein-rich biscuits, corn flour, lentils and pasta, arrived at the border of troubled Venezuela – enough for one light meal each for five thousand people”, – reported the news in a sublime reference to five thousand fed by Christ’s fishes and loaves.

True, Christ did not take over the bank accounts and did not seize the gold of those he fed. But 21st century Venezuela is a good deal more-prosperous than 1st century Galilee. Nowadays, you have to organise a blockade if you want people to be grateful for your humanitarian aid.

This is not a problem. The US-UK duo did it in Iraq, as marvelous Arundhati Roy wrote in April 2003 (in The Guardian of old, before it turned into an imperial tool): After Iraq was brought to its knees, its people starved, half a million of its children killed, its infrastructure severely damaged… the blockade and war were followed by… you guessed it! Humanitarian relief. At first, they blocked food supplies worth billions of dollars, and then they delivered 450 tonnes of humanitarian aid and celebrated their generosity for a few days of live TV broadcasts. Iraq had had enough money to buy all the food it needed, but it was blocked, and its people received only some peanuts.

And this was rather humane by American standards. In the 18th century, the British colonists in North America used more drastic methods while dispensing aid to disobedient natives. The Red Indians were expelled from their native places, and then they were provided humanitarian aid: whiskey and blankets. The blankets had been previously used by smallpox patients. The native population of North America was decimated by the ensuing epidemics from this and similar measures. Probably you haven’t heard of this chapter of your history: the USA has many Holocaust museums but not a single memorial to the genocide near home. It is much more fun to discuss faults of Germans and Turks than of your own forefathers.

First, you starve people; then you bring them humanitarian aid. This was proposed by John McNaughton at Pentagon: bomb locks and dams, by shallow-flooding the rice, cause widespread starvation (more than a million dead?) “And then we shall deliver humanitarian aid to the starving Vietnamese”. Or, rather, “we could offer to do [that] at the conference table.” Planning a million dead by starvation, in writing: if such a note would be found on the ruins of the Third Reich, it would seal the story of genocide, it would be quoted daily. But the story of the genocide of the Vietnamese is rarely mentioned nowadays.

They did it in Syria, too. At first, they brought weapons for every Muslim extremist, then they blockaded Damascus, and then they sent some humanitarian aid, but only to the areas under rebel control.

This cruel but efficient method of breaking nations’ spirit has been developed by lion tamers for years, perhaps for centuries. You have to starve the beast until it will take food from your hands and lick your fingers. ‘Starvation-taming’, they call it.

The Israelis practice it in Gaza. They block all export or import from the Strip, interdict fishing in the Mediterranean and drip-feed the captive Palestinians by ‘humanitarian aid’. Jews, being Jews, make it one better: they made the EU to pay for the humanitarian aid to Gaza AND to buy the aid stuff from Israel. This made Gaza an important source of profit for the Jewish state.

So in Venezuela they follow an old script. The US and its London poodle seized over 20 billion dollars from Venezuela and from Venezuelan national companies. They stole over a billion in gold ingots Venezuela had trustingly deposited in the cellars of the Bank of England.

Well, they said they will give this money to a Venezuelan Random Dude, rather. To the guy who already promised to give the wealth of Venezuela to the US companies. And after this daylight robbery, they bring a few containers of humanitarian aid to the border and wait for the rush of bereft Venezuelans for food.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted:

“The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela’s military under Maduro’s orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE.”

Venezuelans aren’t starving, even though they are going through difficulties. The biggest noise is made by the wealthy, as always. If Pompeo wants to help Venezuelans, he might lift the sanctions, return the funds, lift the blockade. The biscuits he wants to provide are of but little use.

President Maduro is right when he refuses to let this hypocrisy bribe the stomachs and hearts of his people. It is not just that he remembers his Virgil and knows, Timeo danaos et dona ferentes, “beware gift-bearing Greeks.” There are too many American and Colombian soldiers around the pending delivery place, and this place is suspiciously close to an airport with an extra-long runway suitable for a an airlift.

The US is known for its propensity to invade its neighbours: Panama was invaded in 1989 to keep the Panama Canal in American hands and to roll back the agreement signed by the good-hearted President Jimmy Carter. President George Bush Sr sent his airborne troops in after calling Panama president “a dictator and cocaine smuggler”. This is exactly what President Trump says about Venezuela’s president.

They are likely to use this aid to invade and suborn Venezuela. Wisely, Maduro began large military exercises to prepare the army in case of invasion. The situation of Venezuela is dire enough even without invasion. Their money has been appropriated, their main oil company is as good as confiscated; and there is a strong fifth column waiting for Yankees in Caracas.

This fifth column consists mainly of compradors, well-off young folk with a smattering of Western education and upbringing, who see their future within the framework of the American Empire. They are ready to betray the unwashed masses and invite the US troops in. They are supported by the super-rich, by representatives of foreign companies, by Western secret services. Such people exist everywhere; they tried to organise the Gucci Revolution in Lebanon, the Green Revolution in Iran, the Maidan in the Ukraine. In Russia they had their chance in the winter of 2011/2012 when their Mink-Coat Revolution was played at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Heath.

In Moscow they lost when their opponents, the Russia-First crowd, bettered them by fielding a much-bigger demo at Poklonnaya Hill. The Western news agencies tried to cover the defeat by broadcasting pictures of the Putin-supporters demo and saying it was the pro-Western Heath. Other Western agencies published pictures of 1991 rallies saying they were taken in 2012 on the Heath. In Moscow, nobody was fooled: the mink-coat crowd knew they were licked.

In the Ukraine, they won, for President Yanukovich, a hesitant and pusillanimous man of two minds, failed to gather massive support. It is a big question whether Maduro will be able to mobilise Venezuela-First masses. If he is, he will win the confrontation with the US as well.

Maduro is rather reticent; he hasn’t disciplined unruly oligarchs; he does not control the media; he tries to play a social-democrat game in a country that is not Sweden by long shot. His subsidies have allowed ordinary people to escape dire poverty, but now they are used by black marketeers to siphon off the wealth of the nation. Far from being a disaster zone, Venezuela is a true Bonanza, a real Klondike: you can fill a tanker with petrol for pennies, smuggle it to neighbouring Colombia and sell it for market price. Many supporters of the Random Guy have made small fortunes this way, and they hope to make a large killing if and when the Americans come.

A bigger problem is that Venezuela had become a monoculture economy: it exports oil and imports everything else. It does not even produce food to feed its 35 million inhabitants. Venezuela is a victim of neoliberal doctrine claiming that you can buy what you can’t produce. Now they can’t buy and they do not produce. Imagine a democratic Saudi Arabia hit by blockade.

In order to save the economy, Maduro should drain the swamp, end the black market and profiteering, encourage agriculture, tax the rich, develop some industry for local consumption. It can be done. Venezuela is not a socialist state like orderly Cuba, nor a social-democratic one like Sweden and England in 1970s, but even its very modest model of allowing the masses to rise out of misery, poverty and ignorance seems too much for the West.

It is often said there are two antagonists in the West, the Populists and the Globalists, and President Trump is the Populist leader. The Venezuela crisis proved these two forces are united if there is a chance to attack and rob an outsider country. Trump is condemned at home when he calls his troops back from Afghanistan or Syria, but he gains support when he threatens Venezuela or North Korea. He can be sure he will be cheered on by Macron and Merkel and even by The Washington Post and The New York Times.

He has the real WMD, the Weapons of Mass Deception, to attack Venezuela, and these WMD had been activated with the beginning of the creeping coup. When a rather unknown young politician, the leader of a small neoliberal rabidly pro-American fraction in the Parliament, Random Dude, claimed the title of president, he was immediately recognised by Trump, and the Western media reported that the people of Venezuela went out in mass demos to greet the new president and demand Maduro’s removal.

They beamed videos of huge Caracas demos back to Venezuela. Not many viewers abroad noticed that the video was old, filmed in 2016 demos, but the Venezuelans saw that at once. They weren’t fooled. They knew that there is no chance for a big protest demo on that day, the day of a particularly important baseball game in the professional league between Leones of Caracas and Cardenales de Lara from Barquisimeto.

But the WMD kept lying. Here is a report by Moon of Alabama: the reports of large anti-government rallies are fake news or prophecies hoping to become self-fulfilling ones:

Agence France-Press stated at 11:10 utc yesterday that “tens of thousands” would join a rally.

AFP news agency @AFP – 11:10 utc – 2 Feb 2019

Tens of thousands of protesters are set to pour onto the streets of Venezuela’s capital #Caracas Saturday to back opposition leader Juan Guaido’s calls for early elections as international pressure increased on President #Maduro to step down http://u.afp.com/Jouu

That was at 7:10am local time in Caracas, several hours before the rally took place. Such “predictive reporting” is now supposed to be “news”. A bit later AFP posted a video:

AFP news agency @AFP – 15:50 utc – 2 Feb 2019″>

VIDEO: Thousands of opposition protesters pour onto the streets of Caracas to back Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan #Guaido who is calling for early elections, as international pressure increases on President Nicolas #Maduro to step down

That was at 11:50am local time. The attached video did not show “thousands” but some 200 people milling about.

They lie that there are army deserters spoiling for a fight with the army. The young guys CNN presented weren’t deserters, and they didn’t live in Venezuela. Even their military insignia were of the kind discarded years ago, as our friend The Saker noticed.

However, these lies won’t avail – my correspondents in Caracas report that there are demos for and against government (for Maduro slightly bigger crowds), but the feelings aren’t strong. The crisis is manufactured in Washington, and the Venezuelans aren’t keen to get involved.

That’s why we can expect an American attempt to use force, preceded by some provocation. Probably it won’t be a full-blown war: the US never fought an enemy that wasn’t exhausted prior to the encounter. If the Maduro administration survives the blow, the crisis will take a low profile, until sanctions do their work and further undermine the economy.

In this struggle, President Trump is his own bitter enemy. He seeks approval of the War Party, and his own base will be disappointed by his actions. His sanctions will send more refugees to the US, wall or no wall. He undermines the unique status of the US dollar by weaponising it. In 2020, he will reap what he sow.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected].

Featured image is from The Unz Review

Its a political war of the American Empire in support of the interests of the extreme right that today governs,

They are warmongering in order to take over Venezuela.  

I call on the people of the world to wake up, open your eyes, to see that it is an aggression against a peaceful country

If you really want to support Venezuela, support peace. 

.

Our thanks to Information Clearing House (ICH) for having brought this video to our attention.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued an uncharacteristically detailed warning about one of the possible scenarios that might transpire in this former Soviet republic by the end of the month following its upcoming parliamentary elections on 24 February.

The Ministry’s Warning About Moldova

Moldova might very well be on the edge of experiencing its own Maidan by the end of the month, judging by an uncharacteristically detailed warning that was just issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry ahead of the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections on 24 February. As reported by TASS, Russia’s diplomats published a commentary on Tuesday in which they forewarned about the following scenario:

“Interference in the internal affairs of other countries has long become a familiar feature of Washington’s foreign policy. This is seen particularly well in Venezuela, where the United States in fact is trying to stage a government coup. Its occupation of part of Syrian territory after unsuccessful attempts to topple a legitimate government in Damascus belongs here, too. Apparently, a similar scenario is being prepared for Moldova. As soon as he took office last autumn, (US Ambassador to Moldova Derek) Hogan became deeply involved in Moldova’s internal processes.

 He’s been making public statements to support some politicians against others and issuing recommendations as to how to hold parliamentary elections. If the winner (of the upcoming elections) is disliked by Washington, the Moldovans will be threatened with the disruption of ties with the West and even a rerun of Ukraine’s Maidan scenario. It is very undesirable to see Moldova become another test site for such irresponsible experiments, which have already ruined Iraq and Libya and plunged Syria and Ukraine into the turmoil of bloody conflicts.”

It’s very possible that something of the sort is in the works when considering the contradictory interests that the US and Russia have in the former Soviet republic. Both countries are after diametrically opposing outcomes that naturally make Moldova a New Cold War fault line of outsized geostrategic importance.

Russia vs. America

Russia wants to retain Moldova’s existence as an independent state in accordance with the will of the majority of its population while carefully contributing to a peaceful resolution of the Transnistria Conflict, whereas the US might not be above dissolving the Moldovan state if its plans to pull it into the “Euro-Atlantic” orbit chaotically fail. About America’s agenda, it might very well try to implement a combined Venezuelan-Syrian-Ukrainian Hybrid War scenario in Moldova that sees a failed military coup attempt (or threat thereof) transition into an Unconventional War that ends with the success of a pro-reunification referendum with Romania modelled off of the Crimean precedent.

From Venezuela…

To explain, Russian-friendly multipolar President Dodon recently had to refute fake news that the military is allegedly planning a coup if the upcoming election isn’t free and fair (understood by context to mean that he won and would be accused of rigging it), but the rumor might nevertheless influence how the electorate votes.

For example, it’s entirely possible that an influential Indian ideologue’s fearmongering last year about the possibility that his country could invade its much smaller neighbor in the Maldives if the incumbent won the election contributed to his ultimate loss after some of his supporters might have figured that they’d be voting for their country’s de-facto annexation to India.

So too, in this instance, might Moldovans think that voting for Dodon would be a surefire way of triggering his pro-American “deep state” enemies’ tripwire of carrying out a military coup in Moldova on the purported basis of “restoring democracy”, just like how the US wants the Venezuelan one to do against Maduro on a similar pretext.

…To Syria & Ukraine

Failing that scenario’s actualization (both in terms of a military coup, and Dodon’s supporters voting against him or abstaining for the sake of preventing the aforementioned from happening), the next step in this phased regime change operation might realistically be to provoke Syrian-like Unconventional Warfare in the capital prior to pulling off a Color Revolution.

Usually Color Revolutions precede Unconventional Warfare and not the reverse, but Moldova is a special case where the breakdown of the constitutional order could be abused as the basis for manipulatively recreating a Crimean scenario in the country whereby pro-Romanian Moldovans would hold a referendum for reunification with their ethno-historical homeland.

There’s nothing wrong with that happening in principle, but it can almost be assured that the timing of the vote and the context in which it would be occurring within the politically divided country would probably lead to the disenfranchisement of those who are against this happening, basically ensuring that it succeeds against the will of the rest of the population who it would directly affect.

The Worst-Case Scenario In Transnistria

It should be said that the wishes of those in Transnistria don’t matter in this sense since they already democratically indicated that they wish to be a separate nation, but what’s being referred to is the many in so-called “rump Moldova” who are proud of their country’s independence in spite of its ethno-cultural similarities with Romania and want to preserve its statehood.

All of this is of immediate relevance for Russia because Moscow maintains a military presence in Transnistria that might come under threat in the event that Moldova reunites with Romania under questionable circumstances unlike the more clear-cut Crimean precedent that it would evidently be trying to emulate, albeit in geopolitically weaponized manner.

The geography of the potential theater is such that Russia could not reliably resupply its forces in Transnistria without passing through either hostile Ukraine or NATO-member “Greater Romania”, thus worryingly threatening a wider conflict if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ warning comes to pass about an impending regime change provocation in Moldova.

Concluding Thoughts

That said, it would be wrong to imply that the next global crisis is right around the corner and about to break out in Moldova in less than two weeks’ time, but just that observers should be alert for any signs that this scenario might be unfolding whether incrementally or otherwise in order to not be taken off guard in case some of this forecast materializes.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on A Maidan Style Regime Change Operation Might Break Out in Moldova?
  • Tags: ,

Canada: A Stakeholder in the Venezuelan Coup

February 13th, 2019 by Collectif Échec à la guerre

On the occasion of the emergency meeting of the Lima Group, held in Ottawa on February 4, we denounce the role of the Government of Canada in what is nothing less than a coup d’état.

A coup d’état under way

Since Wednesday the 23rd of January, events have unfolded in a blatant choreography:

1) self-proclaimed president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, has immediately been recognized by the US, Canada and those Latin American countries close to the US;

2) France, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal have all threatened to recognize Guaidó unless elections are called within eight days;

3) the US has pressured members of the Organization of American States to “choose sides” while trying, without success, to have Guaidó recognized by the UN Security Council;

4) the National Assembly of Venezuela has appointed new ambassadors, a prerogative outside its jurisdiction;

5) the Bank of England has refused a withdrawal of Venezuelan gold reserves by Venezuelan officials;

6) billions of dollars in new sanctions have been levied by the White House against the oil company PDVSA, followed by the professed intention to transfer Venezuelan bank accounts and assets held in the United States to Juan Guaidó.

All these mechanisms to suffocate the Maduro government were planned in-advance. From mid-December – a while before he was elected president of the National Assembly – Juan Guaidó visited Washington, Brazil and Colombia to present his plan for mass protests on 10th of January and his self-proclamation on the 23rd.

The threat of military intervention completes the panoply of destabilizing measures: “We do not exclude any option,” says Donald Trump and John Bolton, his National Security Advisor. As early as August 2017, Trump spoke of “a possible military option, if necessary.” The same year, Mike Pompeo, then Director of the CIA, spoke of a possible role for Colombia in this regard. As an echo, at a press briefing on January 29, John Bolton’s notebook read “5,000 troops in Colombia.” Elliott Abrams’ appointment as special envoy to Venezuela – known for his support for mass killings by the armies and death squads of El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s – is cause for fearing the worst.

The stakes: oil, neoliberalism and hegemony

In an interview with Fox News, John Bolton clarified one of the crucial issues of the Coup:

“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”

However, beyond the oil, the current coup aims to restore the hegemony of the United States in Latin America. Since the beginning of the 21st century, its domination has been mitigated by the left turn taken by several countries, moving away from neoliberalism and adopting progressive social policies. In the same period, the rise of China and Russia has increased their presence on the South American continent. The establishment of a right-wing government in Venezuela, favorable and indebted to foreign investment, would therefore benefit the United States and its allies.

And Canada in all of this?

Involved in the current coup, Canada was one of the first countries to recognize Juan Guaidó’s self-proclamation. Since September 2017, it has imposed economic sanctions against Venezuela in close consultation with the United States. Despite the absence of the US in the Lima Group, the latter includes countries that advocate the same hard line against Venezuela.  Presumably, Canada is the liaison in this regard. In its article on the preparations for the coup, AP News reports that Canada played an important role behind the scenes and that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland offered Canada’s support to Guaidó as early as January 9th.

The website, Global Affairs Canada, indicates that the February 4th emergency meeting “will bring together the Foreign Ministers of the Lima Group countries as well as participants from across the international community. They will meet to discuss support for Juan Guaidó, interim president of Venezuela, and to explore ways in which the international community can further support the people of Venezuela. Does this mean that for Canada, those countries that do not recognize Guaidó’s self-proclamation – namely the majority of the OAS countries and most other countries in the world – are not part of the international community?

The political maneuvering, repression and authoritarianism of the Maduro government are reprehensible. But that is not the question here. As the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights urgently recalls: “Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to secure a change of government in a sovereign state. The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law.” Not to mention the bloodshed that might be provoked by a foreign military intervention or clashes between a fractured Venezuelan army.

For a negotiated end of the crisis

The only responsible and legitimate international approach to the crisis in Venezuela is the immediate lifting of foreign economic sanctions and the search for a genuine Venezuelan political solution through negotiation, under the auspices of independent mediators.

Uruguay and Mexico have pledged to take this path, and have announced the organization of a conference of neutral countries in Montevideo on February 7th. Canada has chosen foreign interference, which is dangerous and reprehensible.

 

Judith Berlyn,

Martine Eloy,

Raymond Legault,

Suzanne Loiselle

Members of Collectif Échec à la guerre

Montreal

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from teleSUR

The Venezuelan government seems to be openly preparing to face a US military invasion.

On February 10, the country’s military kicked off large-scale military drills, which will run until February 15. According to President Nicolas Maduro, the drills are set to become the biggest ones the country has held in its 200-year history.

On the same day, multiple air defense systems, including Pechora-2M launchers, were spotted maneuvering in the area of San Cristobal, near the border with Columbia, an expected member of the US-led coalition in the event of invasion in Venezuela.

On February 7, Israel’s satellite company ImageSat International released a satellite image, allegedly showing that the Venezuelan military was releasing its S-300VN air defense system from mothballs in Captain Manuel Rios Airbase on February 4.

Separately, President Maduro announced the setting up of 50,000 “popular defence units” and promised that the US will get a South American “Vietnam War” if it decides to invade.

The military preparations came amid several important security developments. In January, authorities detained fugitive Colonel Oswaldo Garcia Palomo after he had crossed back into the country from Colombia. On February 7, he appeared on a video confessing to his ties with the CIA and Colombian officials to overthrow the Maduro government. According to Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, Palomo was involved in an effort to rally soldiers to mutiny, close off the capital and overtake the presidential palace.

On February 5, authorities seized a shipment of US-made weapons, which was discovered at a storage yard of Arturo Michelena International Airport in the city of Valencia. The stash included at least 19 rifles and 118 magazines, high-caliber ammunition, as well as 90 radios and six mobile phones – and was likely sent from Miami, Florida on February 3.

At the same time, Washington is reportedly engaged in so-called direct contacts with representatives of the Venezuelan military and government to convince them to support the coup and help to bring US-proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido into power. These efforts achieved at least a partial success.

On February 2, Air Force General Yanez, reportedly defected to the opposition’s side. He called for others to follow him in supporting “the right side.” On February 9, Colonel Ruben Paz Jimenez declared his support to the opposition. Separately, two more service members, Captain Hector Luis Guevara Figueroa and Army pilot Carlos Vásquez defected and called for others to do so.

Another, but also important front is the media sphere. US President Donald Trump has openly stated that he does not rule out a military option for Venezuela. Nonetheless, Washington still needs some formal pretext. Therefore, State Secretary Mike Pompeo declared in an interview with FOX Business that there is a growing Hezbollah and Iranian influence in Venezuela.

“People don’t recognize that Hezbollah has active cells — the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America. We have an obligation to take down that risk for America and how we do that in South America and all across the globe,” Pompeo said.

Washington says that Hezbollah, which it is considers to be a terrorist group, has been using Latin America as a base of fund-gathering for years. If it accidentally appears that the Maduro government has “deep ties” with Hezbollah, this could become a sufficient and necessary condition to propel a military intervention.

One more point of pressure is the delivery of the US humanitarian aid, which the Venezuelan government rejects.

President Maduro called this effort a “fake humanitarian assistance” designed to “humiliate” the country and “justify a military aggression”. On February 9, Guaido stressed that he would not rule out authorizing a US military intervention, whenever the term “authorizing” means in the case of the nation leader appointed from Washington.

With all these public statements and accusations, the White House cannot afford to tolerate the Maduro victory in the ongoing standoff. So, the US will continue to ramp up the pressure in political, economic and clandestine spheres. However, if these measures appear to be not enough to overthrow the government, a more direct action, including a military invasion, may be implemented.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

If you’re able, and if you like our content and approach, please support the project. Our work wouldn’t be possible without your help: PayPal: [email protected] or via: http://southfront.org/donate/ or via: https://www.patreon.com/southfront

Ukraine: NATO in the Constitution

February 13th, 2019 by Manlio Dinucci

The day after the signature of NATO’s membership protocol with North Macedonia as its 30th member, Ukraine did something without precedent: it included in its Constitution the engagement to enter officially into NATO and the European Union at the same time.

On 7 February, on a proposition by President Petro Poroshenko – the oligarch who made himself rich by plundering public properties, and who is once again a candidate for the presidency – the Kiev parliament, by 34 votes to 35 with 16 abstentions, approved these amendments to the Constitution.

The Introduction pronounces “the irreversible movement of Ukraine towards Euro-Atlantic integration”; articles 85 and 116 state that it is a fundamental duty of the parliament and the government to “obtain Ukraine’s full membership of NATO and the EU”; article 102 stipulates that “the President of Ukraine is the guarantor of the strategic decisions of the State aimed at obtaining full membership of NATO and the EU”.

The inclusion in the Ukrainian Constitution of the engagement to enter officially into NATO bears with it some very serious consequences.

On the interior, it alienates the future of Ukraine from this choice, by excluding any alternative, and outlaws de facto any party or person who might oppose the “strategic decisions of the state”. Already, the Central Electoral Commission has forbidden Petro Simonenko, director of the Ukrainian Communist Party, to participate in the Presidential elections to be held in March.

The merit for having introduced into the Ukrainian Constitution the engagement to enter officially into NATO goes in particular to Parliamentary President Andriy Parubiy. Co-founder in 1991 of the Ukrainian National-Socialist Party, on the model of Adolf Hitler’s National-Socialist Party; head of the neo-Nazi paramilitary formations which were used in 2014 during the putsch of Place Maïdan under US/NATO command, and in the massacre of Odessa; head of the Ukraine National Security and Defense Council, which, with the Azov Battalion and other neo-Nazi units, attacked Ukrainian civilians of Russian nationality in the Eastern part of the country and used his squadrons for acts of ferocious abuse, the plunder of political headquarters and other auto-da-fés in a truly Nazi style.

On the international level, we should keep in mind that Ukraine is already linked to NATO, of which it is a partner: for example, the Azov Battalion, whose Nazi character is represented by the emblem copied from that of the SS unit Das Reich, has been transformed into a special operations regiment, equipped with armoured vehicles and trained by US instructors from the 173rd Airborne Division, transferred to Ukraine from Vicence, and seconded by other NATO members.

Since Russia has been accused by NATO of having illegally annexed Crimea, and of launching military operations against Kiev, should Ukraine officially join NATO, the 30 other members of the Alliance, on the basis of article 5, would be obliged to “assist the party or parties under attack by adopting immediately, individually and in agreement with the other parties, any action that it should deem necessary, including the use of armed force”.

In other words, they would have to go to war with Russia.

These dangerous implications of the modification of the Ukrainian Constitution – behind which are most certainly strategies by the USA and NATO – have been met with political and media silence. Including that of the Italian parliament, which, in 2017 established an agreement with the Ukrainian parliament, supported by Laura Boldrini and Andriy Parubiy. Thus cooperation has been reinforced between the Italian Republic, born of resistance against fascism and Nazism, and a régime which has created in Ukraine a situation similar to that which brought about the arrival of fascism in the 1920’s and Nazism in the 1930’s.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Il Manifesto. Translated by Pete Kimberley.

Manlio Dinucci is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

“We will not kneel, we will not fear reprisals, we will keep protesting until the end,” said one Gilet Jaune protester to me on Saturday as the police tore into the crowd, scything people to the ground and trampling them underfoot.

***

For more than two months the people who come out into the streets are met with governmental repression. Since the 17th November 2018 we have been on the streets but we have not been listened to.” The statement from the Yellow Vests —  or Gilets Jaunes (GJs) as they are better known in France — was published just before Saturday February 2, 2019, when tens of thousands of GJs took to the streets of cities nationwide for Acte XII (Week 12) of the protests that have been a weekly event since they first began on November 17, 2018.

The GJ movement has taken France by storm since its sudden appearance after the increasingly unpopular President Emmanuel Macron introduced a number of measures that appeared to protect the French wealthy elite while penalising those already on the brink of poverty. The increase in the fuel tax was the final straw that broke the back of the already pressurized population struggling to make ends meet every month.

Geographer Christophe Guilluy had prophesied the potential of this uprising in 2014. Guilluy demonstrated the demographics of most major French cities comprising the wealthy, banking, industrial-capitalist centers surrounded by the ghettoized and marginalized suburbs that are home to an estimated 60 percent of the urban population. For those scraping a living together in the suburbs, driving to and parking in the city center for work could cost as much as 250 Euros ($284) per month. The impact of an increase in the cost of fuel would hit these people the hardest.

Historian and author Diana Johnstone, based in France, best explained the origin of the Yellow Vest as the symbol of this organic, grassroots movement. The yellow vest is something that every French citizen must have in their car in case of a road accident — the vest must be worn to prevent being unseen and run over by other vehicles. Wearing the yellow vest during protests signifies that French citizens do not accept being invisible to and railroaded by their government.

Jerome Rodrigues | Yellow Vest

Jerome Rodrigues, Gilets Jaunes spokesperson, targeted with a GLIF4 grenade and a LBD40 bullet which hit him in the eye during Acte XI, Jan 26, 2019. Jerome Rodrigues | Facebook

Acte XII came one week after the shocking targeting of prominent Gilet Jaune spokesman Jerome Rodrigues in Paris on January 26, 2019. Rodrigues had been filming live during the march when the arrival of the Black Bloc contingent caused him to call for the GJs to withdraw and avoid the inevitable violence. The Black Bloc element will be examined in a later section of this article.

On film, we can see the police factions advance, ignore the Black Bloc (or “Casseurs” in French), and begin targeting the retreating and peaceful GJs. Rodrigues is first targeted by a GLIF4 grenade that detonates close to him and is then hit in the eye by an LBD40 “flashball” bullet. After his hospitalization, Rodrigues informed his thousands of followers that there is little chance of saving his eye. As he is a plumber by trade, this senseless injury will have a potentially catastrophic effect on Rodrigues’ ability to provide for his family.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A police officer takes aim with the LBD40 “flashball” bullet launcher. Gilet Jaune | Facebook

French state weapons of mass mutilation

Rodrigues is only one of 19 GJs who have lost an eye to the “sub-lethal” LBD40 bullet launcher that is being liberally used by security forces during GJ protests across France. The LBD40 is the evolution of the notorious “flashball bullet,” 10 times the velocity of a paintball. The modern LBD40 launcher is a very accurate instrument with a “red-dot” laser pointer sight that ensures pinpoint targeting of civilians.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A collage showing French security forces taking aim at Yellow Vest protesters with the LBD40 launcher.

Recently, French human-rights organizations, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, and members of the French medical fraternity have unequivocally cautioned against the use of the LBD40 in crowd-control situations. While it is classified as a “sub-lethal” weapon, when used in violation of police regulations, at close range and in unstable crowd environments, it is lethal and capable of terrible damage to a human body — particularly the face, which appears to be a favorite target of the national police in France.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A member of the Toulouse Observatory of Police Practices (OPP) after being shot by French security forces. Photo | OPP

A member of the Toulouse Observatory of Police Practices (OPP) was shot in the face during the Acte XII protests in Toulouse on Saturday February 2, 2019. The following statement is taken from a translation of the OPP press release:

One of the OPP members, Jerome, also a member of the Human Rights League, was injured in the forehead by a projectile shot by the police forces […] his helmet, which was badly damaged, probably prevented a more serious injury.”

The press release goes on to condemn the disproportionate “panic” use of tear gas against peaceful protestors. The OPP also observed the heavy-handed tactics of the police, “including police officers, members of the Brigade Anti-Criminalite — Anti-Crime Brigade (BAC) — and members of “security and intervention companies.” The statement ends with this chilling indictment:

The injury of our comrade and OPP observer [..] recalls that police services, in the context of law enforcement operations, are disproportionately and indiscriminately using weapons of war in their possession. They cause serious injuries, regardless of the victim’s behaviour, including when the victim is not responsible for any incident.”

OPP calls for a ban on LBDs and GLIF4s. It also demands that the BAC police officers are no longer involved in demonstrations and asks for a moratorium on the presence of private security and intervention companies at the GJ marches. The photo below has been circulating on social media; it shows what appear to be civilians carrying French national police weapons and working alongside official police factions during a GJ march.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police plain clothes

Previous investigations have revealed that the GLIF4 grenade, or “grenade de desencerclement,” has also been condemned by an internal French police laboratory inquiry and recommendations have been submitted to the Interior Ministry for the banning of their use in crowd-control operations. The GLIF4 contains 25g of TNT, emits 165 decibels, and may contain CS or tear gas in powder form or 10g rubber pellets released upon detonation. These grenades have been responsible for the amputation of hands, hematomas, and the formation of necrotic tissue among the GJ demonstrators.

Antoine Boudinet | Yellow Vest

Antoine Boudinet lost his hand when a GLIF4 grenade landed next to him during GJ protests in Bordeaux. Photo | Laurent Theillet

The following video is taken from the Twitter account of French journalist David Dufresnes, who is recording all police infractions against civilians. This civilian was injured above the eye by a GLIF4 grenade in Place de la Republique, Paris during Acte XII:

Despite all the evidence of the traumatic effects of these weapons upon civilians, the French Council of State ruled that the LBD40 was a necessary instrument of “self-defence” for the forces of “law and order.” This ruling was announced two days before Acte XII. Acte XII thus went ahead in the knowledge that there was a high risk of further injuries and targeting of civilians by the forces of “law and order” with weapons that are clearly “lethal” when misused.

The French Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, also ruled that the GLIF4 grenade would continue to be used until stocks were exhausted, without specifying the number of grenades still in stock.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from this blatant denial of responsibility for the mutilation of French citizens by the state-militarized police forces is that the state is effectively enabling and endorsing the police savagery being witnessed nationwide.

Christopher Castaner | Yellow Vest

A portrait of French Interior Minister Christopher Castaner composed of images of Yellow Vest protesters injured by police. Photo | Twitter

Castaner further denied any use of the controversial LBD40 bullet in Place de la Bastille, where Rodrigues was targeted. Unfortunately for Castaner, the enquiry conducted by the Inspection Generale de la Police Nationale (IGPN), the police ombudsman in France, found that the police had used the LBD40 launcher at the moment of Rodrigues’ wounding.

In the report, the policeman admits to using the LBD40 but denies targeting Rodrigues, claiming that they hit another demonstrator in the stomach. Castaner continues to refute the deliberate targeting of a prominent and popular member of the GJ movement, despite a plethora of video evidence filmed by other GJ demonstrators who were surrounding Rodrigues at the time.

Acte XII – Remembering the victims of state-sanctioned repression

Jerome Rodrigues | Yellow Vest

Jerome Rodrigues and another of the victims of the LBD40 flashball attend the White March in Paris, Feb 2, 2109. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

Acte XII — the White March — was in honour of all victims of what is perceived as state-sanctioned brutality against unarmed civilians since the protests began. The following is an excerpt from the GJ statement published just before the march:

After a short speech the wounded Gilets Jaunes will lead the march. During the march there will be a pause to demand the prohibition of weapons such as Flashball LBD40 and the GLIF4 grenades. …Paris and all cities of France will collectively pay their respects to the wounded, the Gilet Jaunes victims, injured in their thousands and dozens mutilated for life.

Many have had their lives permanently turned upside down by state violence. Some have lost hands, others an eye. …Their life is permanently ruined, they are simple, peaceful citizens of this country who were exercising their right to protest against a capitalist dictatorship which refuses to allow them to live a dignified life.”

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Some of the 159  seriously injured GJs — taken from activist site Desarmons Les, which records incidents of police violence and campaigns for the prohibition of LBDs and GLIF4s. Photo | Desarmons Les

I traveled to Paris to participate in the march and to witness events for myself. I arrived as the GJs were just beginning to gather before setting off on the 5km march through the Paris streets — final destination, Place de la République. The atmosphere was buoyant and defiant but definitely good humored and peaceful. There was a strong sense of solidarity and what struck me most was the representation of a wide range of French society. All classes, all backgrounds, all ethnicities unified in rejection of the erosion of their civil liberties and threat to their constitutional right to protest the perceived transformation of the French state into a repressive plutocracy.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A GJ protester wears an eye patch with Castaner’s name on it. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

As protesters were milling around, enjoying live music and the colorful, imaginative costumes, the Black Bloc or “Casseurs” (looters) arrived. Around 10 Casseurs ran towards the GJs, dressed head to foot in black and with their faces covered. They pushed a woman to the ground and ran over her. The atmosphere changed immediately: the GJs started to chant “Degages” or “get out” and I could hear shouts from the organizers calling for calm and no violence.

The Casseurs headed to the nearby restaurant, some brandishing wooden clubs, and were clearly threatening to smash the windows. Almost immediately, a number of GJs encircled the Casseurs and forced them to retreat without causing any damage. There was a degree of ensuing confusion, during which I could hear protesters condemning the Casseurs and calling for them to stop profiting from the GJ marches to carry out their violent acts of destruction and demolition of public property.

The following video shows the moment that the Casseurs are pushed away from the restaurant by the GJs:

An independent journalist, Laurent Daure, who accompanied me on the march, stated that it was always difficult to identify the Casseurs and to know whether they belonged to Antifa, an alleged anti-fascist movement with suspected funding from notorious philanthrocapitalist, George Soros; or to far-right factions that have also piggy-backed the GJ marches to promote their agendas; or whether they were agents provocateurs despatched by the French state to discredit the GJ movement, guilt by association.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A protestor in the Place Félix Eboué waiting for the march to begin. Acte XII, Paris. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

After rousing speeches from Rodrigues and other previously injured GJ protestors who attended the march, we set off amidst the cacophony of brass bands, drums and chanting of the GJ songs and slogans that have become the mantra of these marches — “Macron assassin” and “Macron demission/resign” being two of the most popular.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A protester wears an eye patch with a target on it to protest police use of the LBD40 bullets to blind protesters. Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

As we progressed along the predetermined route, I was impressed by the number of people who came out on their balconies as we passed and were waving yellow balloons and French flags in solidarity. The rear of the march was flanked by motorcyclists wearing yellow vests who intermittently revved their engines to add to the orchestra of protest. Different sections of the march were differentiated by the banners they were carrying.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

One amongst many of the children marching with the Gilets Jaunes, Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

I saw environmental activists, anarchists, women’s rights movements, animal rights groups, human rights groups marching side by side. I heard animated political discussions among protesters and I saw children carried aloft on their parents shoulders blowing whistles and participating in an event that will surely shape their future. The march was a riot of color. For the first time in a very long time I felt a sense of optimism and belief in the power of the “little people” to reverse the tide of globalism and capitalist adventurism that is sweeping our world. As one of the posters for Acte XII stated: “The powerful will only stop dominating us when the little people stop crawling.”

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Gilets Jaunes, Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

One thing I was acutely aware of was that the blue flashing lights of police cars could be seen a few hundred meters behind us as we moved through the streets. The police did not accompany the march as we are accustomed to seeing in the U.K. When the Casseurs re-appeared alongside the march at various moments, there was no effort made by the police to arrest them or prevent the damage they caused to shop and bank windows along the route. In fact, it was very much left to the GJs to manage the Casseurs, which put them at risk and will lead to further accusations from some residents, business owners and government ministers that the GJs are the cause of the damage.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A protester wears a sandwich board calling for the end of the “massacre” by state security forces. Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

The march had a brief pause in Place de la Bastille, the area where Rodrigues had been shot the weekend before. The GJs peeled off into the surrounding restaurants for sandwiches and refreshments. There was an atmosphere of conviviality among the restaurant staff and their yellow vested clientele. Again, I remarked that the police vans and cars kept a distance, lights flashing. There was no effort by the police to mingle with the marchers despite it being a good-natured event.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A sign reads “no social peace without equal sharing. The people are not a cash cow.” Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

As the GJs set off again on the last leg of the march, towards Place de la Republique, I noticed that the vans of police had moved closer and the heavily armored police officers were on the pavement. They were remote and tense, not prepared to converse with marchers or bystanders.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

A French police officer dressed for “war.”Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

Just before the Place de la Republique, the victims of previous police violence were diverted down a side street as news had reached the march that tear gas was already being used in Place de la Republique less than 200 meters away. Most marchers told me this was following the pattern of previous marches so the priority was to protect the injured from any further harm. Marchers had joined hands in a circle around the injured as a symbol of protection and solidarity and they opened the circle to allow the safe exit of their comrades.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Victims of police violence are taken to safety down a side street just before Place de la Republique., Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley.

As we approached Place de la Republique, the tear gas was drifting towards us and started to sting our eyes and the back of our throats. The scene in the square itself was one of demonstrators trying to relax after the march. People were standing in groups talking, buying coffee and tea from the stalls, or simply walking around. A man walked past me carrying a yellow rose. This was not the hotbed of “pestes brunes,” the “fascist plague,” as described by Gérald Darmanin, Macron’s budget minister.

As I advanced, I filmed the protesters. I could see nothing that would provoke the police to fire the tear gas to force people to disperse. It was clear that this was the end of the march and that people would start to drift back home after a few moments of reflection and discussion. As I got closer to the center of the square, the boom of tear gas launchers became more persistent and people started to react and to panic. It became clear very quickly that this was a deliberate attempt to incite the crowd and to drive them toward the arterial roads and side streets which, by now, were blocked by the security forces.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Protestors and civilians try to exit the Place de la Republique but are pushed back by police, Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

We exited the square and headed back the way we came. By now, the street was blocked by at least 15 police vans. The militarized police officers lined the street, clad in black body armor, faces concealed behind visors, brandishing shields and weapons. I watched protesters and civilians alike approach them, asking to be allowed through to escape the billowing clouds of tear gas that were building up in the square behind them. The police refused. I spoke to one officer who glared at me from behind his visor. I told him he was putting civilian lives in danger. “Peu importe,” he replied; “who cares.”

It is now proven that the French state is using a more potent gas against its own people. State militia or police forces are using CM3 gas in preference to CM6 gas in some cities. CM3 is six times more intense than CM6 and can cause skin lesions and damage to the eye cornea along with increased nausea; burns to the face; and, during prolonged exposure (which is the current police tactic), damage can be permanent and risk of chronic conditions increased.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Police block exit routes from Place de la Republique, turning civilians back towards the square which was enveloped in tear gas, Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley.

The tension started to build. Demonstrators — many of them women — became distressed. They had experienced this tactic during previous marches and they knew what to expect. Journalist Laurent Daure explained to me:

The police will either charge or advance. Their intention is to force the civilians back into the square and then kettle them there, not allow them to leave. They will rain down tear gas and then when the crowd reacts, they will charge and attack them. When the crowd reacts to that, they will fire on them with the LBDs or the GLIF4 grenades. This is what they do.”

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Police advance towards Place de la Republique, Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

I saw one tourist, pulling his wheeled suitcase behind him, ask the police if he could pass. The officer refused. The line of police started to advance. I spoke to one burly officer who had taken position next to me. I asked him how he could do this to his own people. He replied that “this is as bad for us as it is for you,” and insisted that we move down to the next exit point which he claimed was open. People were refuting that information; they knew it was also closed. Suddenly another officer grabbed me by the arm and started to push me towards the square. The police line was advancing rapidly, sweeping civilians towards certain danger and risk of injury.

The following video shows the events I have described:

What happened next was chaos. The Place de la Republique became a battleground. I saw medics screaming at the police officers to allow the fire brigade through with a stretcher for someone who had been injured, nobody knew how. We could see police officers from another side street charging the crowd in huge numbers, wielding truncheons. We could hear the firing of the LBD40 weapons and the detonation of GLIF4 grenades. The tear gas was still being rained down. Nothing prepared me for the brutality I was witnessing. One woman I spoke to on the sidelines told me:

I never expected to see this in my lifetime. I feel as if we are at war. In many marches the women are forced to stay in the square for hours, even if they need the toilet they are not allowed to leave. They are forced to go to the toilet in public. They are humiliated.”

The following video shows the violence of one the police charges into the crowd; a journalist is flung to the ground.

The following video shows police and security forces firing randomly into crowds who are weakened by tear gas inhalation:

During the attacks, at least one civilian was shot, at close range, in the face, by an LBD40 bullet. He is heard saying that he has been “targeted in the head.” He is bleeding and clearly traumatized as the police force him to the ground. The blood pools on the pavement while the police tie his hands behind his back. Medics who rush to attend to him ask him if they can contact any family members for him. A later video shows the man, his face bruised and bloody, hands still tied, being herded into a police van. He was arrested; to my knowledge he was not hospitalized despite the fact his jaw could easily be fractured. The following video covers the attack on this unarmed civilian:

Nobody is exempt from police violence during these protests. Journalists, medics, bystanders and civilians caught up in the mayhem are also affected both physically and psychologically. On Saturday, journalist Stephanie Roy, who has covered the marches from the beginning, was hit in the leg by a GLIF4 grenade:

Another GJ told me that police have previously kept people trapped in an area for more than two hours. They have finally opened one side street and allowed people to leave but not before having their bags searched or being subjected to body searches. If anything deemed suspicious is found in their possession, they risk being detained or eventually fined. “We are at war,” he told me. “We cannot submit to this kind of repression; it is not who we are and they [the state] know that.”

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Protesters carrying a banner demanding amnesty for the Gilets Jaunes “disappeared” in detention, Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

On the February 5, French MPs voted to pass the repressive Loi anti-Casseurs (the anti-looting law). Reaction on social media from the GJs and their supporters has been swift to condemn what they judge to be another attack on their constitutional rights and their liberty to protest injustice. The law has the full support of Interior Minister Castaner and his Macroniste acolytes. A minority in Parliament consider the new law to be a threat to civil liberties.

The law will effectively increase police powers of repression in France under the pretext of combating the Black Bloc or Casseurs, while it is admitted, even by Castaner, that these agents provocateurs are a tiny minority, numbering fewer than 300 nationwide. The law will sanction bag, vehicle and body searches during or leading up to protests. Prefets will have the power to ban targeted protesters for up to one month if they deem them “a grave threat to public order.”

Protesters who have been banned will be listed as wanted people. Those covering their faces during a protest, including wearing a gas mask, risk one year in prison and being fined 15,000 Euros ($17,000).

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Gilets Jaunes Acte XII, Paris. A protest sign reads “As under Vichy, submit to the oligarchy of Macron.” Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

What is Macron afraid of?

Emmanuel Macron was elected by the neoliberals, the globalists and capitalist elite to protect and expand their interests worldwide. Macron was not elected to represent the majority of his people, he was maneuvered into position to protect the banking cabals and their interests. Macron’s bubble has burst on the sword of dissent.

Macron’s political ascendancy was enabled by the oligarchs whose power base he is now mandated to defend at all costs. In 2008 Macron joined the Rothschild Investment Bank (RIB), where he earned the nickname “the Mozart of finance” for his successful orchestration of big-business mergers and acquisitions. During his time at RIB, Macron acquired a small fortune, which may have contributed to his loyalty to the ruling class; certainly his time at the bank would have taught him how to build an influential and close-knit establishment network that would further his own ambitions to be “king.” French author Francois-Xavier Bourmand has recently published a shocking investigation into the media and big-business moguls who facilitated Macron’s meteoric rise to the presidency — the title is Emmanuel Macron, the Banker who wanted to be King. (“Emmanuel Macron, le banquier qui voulait etre Roi”)

Macron’s foreign policy has been nothing more than an extension of the resource-hungry globalist plundering of target, resource-rich nations such as Syria — and now Venezuela is in Macron’s neoliberal crosshairs. Even while France burns, Macron is shoring up the distorted narratives that support the U.S. military and economic adventurism in Venezuela.

The Gilets Jaunes have exposed Macron for what he really is: an instrument of power on the global stage who will not be allowed to deviate from his machiavellian road map. Under Macron, France is rapidly being plunged into plutocracy and totalitarianism and the French people are pushing back.

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Gilets Jaunes Acte XII, Paris. Protesters carry signs depicting state-sanctioned violence and the perceived dictatorship of Macron’s regime, Acte XII, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

In a recent condescending attempt to reconcile with the GJs, Macron said:

“If being a yellow vest means wanting fewer parliamentarians and work being paid better, I am a yellow vest, too!”

Nothing demonstrates a state hierarchy disconnect from its people more than a dismissive, hollow statement of solidarity while maintaining policies that collectively punish citizens who align themselves with the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. At the same time, Macron has criticized the GJ refusal to elect leaders or buy into the theatre of identity politics and he has claimed that the GJs are “infiltrated by 40,000 to 50,000 militants who want the destruction of institutions” — an entirely refutable and ridiculous claim in support of which neither he nor anyone else has brought forward a scintilla of evidence. As journalist Laurent Daure told me:

Macron has peddled every conspiracy theory going to discredit the GJ movement — from Russia being behind them to injuries being faked. He has used the media to sow confusion and disinformation to distract from his plummeting popularity.”

One GJ demand has pierced the heart of the globalist movement: the referendum or direct democracy. The demand is for a designated substantial number of signatories to determine the right to call a referendum on specific issues. As author Diana Johnstone points out, “the right to a CIR [Citizens Initiated Referendum] exists in Switzerland, Italy and California.” This proposal threatens to wrest power away from those who have a monopoly over it and who make decisions for their populations that serve their own interests not those of the “little people.” It will send shivers down the spine of neoliberalism and globalism.

Johnstone cited the case of Etienne Chouard, a teacher who has been working on the concept of direct democracy for decades.

He (Chouard) insists that a referendum must always be held after a long debate and time for reflection, to avoid emotional spur-of-the-moment decisions. Such a referendum requires honest, independent media which are not all owned by special interests. It requires making sure that politicians who make the laws follow the popular will expressed in the referendum. All this suggests the need for a people’s constitutional convention.”

The GJ movement has kicked Macron’s hornets’ nest and what we are witnessing is the turning of the jackboot of power and tyranny against its own people — “the little people” who are of no consequence to the giants among the ruling elite, the wealthy, the privileged who profit from the spilling of blood at home and abroad, where their military adventurism has resulted in the deaths of millions of “little people” in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Central Africa and is now threatening Venezuela.

However, just as Macron, his predecessors, and allies in the U.S.-led coalition of interventionism have underestimated the solidarity and history of the Syrian people that have resisted eight years of punishing war and economic sanctions, they have also underestimated the depth of the roots of the French people in the history of their battles for “liberte, egalite and fraternite.”

“We will not kneel, we will not fear reprisals, we will keep protesting until the end,” said one GJ to me on Saturday as the police tore into the crowd, scything people to the ground and trampling them underfoot.

The sign in the photo below reads:

Stop the violence. Shame on you [Macron and Castaner], what have you done for money? Democracy is a Referendum. You injure, trample, humiliate, denigrate the people. Shame on the government.”

Yellow Vest | Riot Police

Gilets Jaunes Acte XII, Paris, Feb 2, 2019. Photo | Vanessa Beeley

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on MintPress News.

Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: A collage showing French security forces taking aim at Yellow Vest protesters with the LBD40 launcher. Photo | MintPress News

A decision by Japanese government officials to “restrict” questions from an unnamed reporter during press conferences has provoked protests by other journalists.

The controversy has re-raised longstanding questions about the environmental impact of a controversial new base for US Marines being constructed in the southwestern prefecture of Okinawa.

At the start of 2019, officials from the Cabinet Office (the government ministry that coordinates the operations of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo) directed the press club covering the Cabinet Office to “restrict” a certain reporter from asking questions during daily press conferences covering the Japanese prime minister. The Cabinet Office also accused the reporter of “spreading misinformation” about the environmental impact of infill.

望月衣塑子

The unnamed reporter in question is most likely Mochizuki Isoko, a journalist with the Tokyo Shimbun daily newspaper, who is known for asking difficult questions.

In Japan, news outlets typically get access to politicians and government officials through press clubs, which regulate the activities of members, and can even exclude reporters or news outlets. In turn, sources, such as government departments, can deny or limit press clubs with access. But it’s unusual to ban or restrict the activities of journalists from media outlets like Tokyo Shimbun, a prominent daily known for its watchdog approach to government activities.

Reporter questioned environmental effects of construction for US Marine base

Mochizuki apparently angered the Cabinet Office during a news conference on December 26, when she asked about the risks of environmental contamination at a controversial construction site in Okinawa.

In order to build a long-planned base for US Marines permanently stationed in Okinawa, sand and rock infill is being used to build an artificial island in a bay off of Henoko, a township about 65 km north of Naha, Okinawa.

The construction project is destroying and literally paving over existing tropical coral habitat in the bay. It has been reported that the construction project is using inexpensive red soil infill, instead of the gravel that was budgeted in the project and paid for by the government, in an effort to cut corners. There are also suspicions that construction contractors including Ryuku Cement are pocketing the difference.

The use of red soil as infill for marine construction projects is specifically prohibited by Okinawan law, even though the Henoko project has the direct support of the central government in Tokyo. The iron-rich red soil contaminates the surrounding seawater and is deadly to native corals. Local activists such as the Osprey Fuan Club say the infill also will likely contaminate nearby surviving coral colonies.

“Outrageous.”

The preservation of coral habitat displaced or destroyed by the Henoko project has been a contentious and potentially embarrassing issue for the government for the past few months, with Prime Minister Abe even claiming corals would somehow be moved away from the infill site to be transplanted in a new location.

Reporter accused of asking questions that would ‘spread misinformation’

When Mochizuki asked a series of pointed questions about the possible harms of the project at a December 26 press conference, it struck a nerve with media relations staff at the Cabinet Office.

Shortly thereafter, in their letter to the press club, the Cabinet Office strongly denied that red soil was being used as infill, and then also asserted that if it was used, its presence did not contravene Okinawan prefectural laws.

The Cabinet Office did not name Mochizuki, but instead stated that a “certain reporter” (特定の記者), had asked “inappropriate questions” (“正確でない質問に起因するやりとり”) that would “spread misinformation” to both members of the press club and to the general public (“内外の幅広い層の視聴者に誤った事実認識を拡散”). The Office said this could “impair” the significance of information presented during press interactions with the Cabinet Office itself (“記者会見の意義が損なわれる”).

The Cabinet Office then demanded that this unnamed reporter be “restricted” by the press club from asking questions at press events, for supposedly spreading misinformation about infill used in the Henoko project.

The reporter is widely believed to be Mochizuki Isoko, given that she had raised the controversial topic of red soil infill at the December 26 presser.

The letter from the Cabinet Office to the press club came to light more than a month later, on February 1, when it was published by Sentaku, a weekly news magazine. The Sentaku story swiftly generated a firestorm of debate.

An opposition lawmaker commented that “it’s totally obvious to anyone that it’s red soil” that is being used as infill at the Henoko site. After reading about the news in Sentaku, the Federation of Japanese Newspaper Unions (commonly known as the 新聞労連, Shimbun Roren) also publicly pushed back against the Cabinet Office, generating even more discussion.

On February 5, the Federation lodged an official complaint with the Cabinet Office.

For the rest of the week, trending hashtags on Twitter included “Tokyo Shimbun reporter restricted from asking questions” (#京新聞記者の質問制限), “towards a country where we can freely ask questions” (#質問できる国へ) and “we have the right to know” (#知る権利).

When questioned about its letter to the press club, the Cabinet Office denied that it was trying to shut down Mochizuki or any other reporter:

本件申し入れは、記者の質問の権利に何らかの条件や制限を設けること等を意図していない

(There is no intent) to place any conditions or restrictions on the right of reporters to ask questions.

At a February 7 news conference, a Cabinet Office spokesperson also denied that the unnamed reporter was Mochizuki, after Mochizuki herself — undeterred by previous requests — asked the spokesperson about the intention behind the Cabinet Office’s original letter. She described the letter as “a form of psychological pressure on me and my company.”

As a reporter, Mochizuki has long endured adversarial treatment from government officials that could be described as deliberate bullying.

A Harbour Online article from early December notes that Mochizuki typically only receives 2-3 second replies from government officials during press conferences, less than the 22-second replies and explanations her colleagues at Tokyo Shimbun receive, and far less than the 81-second replies reporters at Asahi Shimbun receive on average.

“In regards to Mochizuki Isako from Tokyo Shimbun, here’s an article published in December 2018. In terms of how (the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Communications Director) behave, here’s a look at how much time is spent answering her questions.

#towards a country where we can freely ask questions”

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image: Government infill project at Henoko Bay in Okinawa. Questions about the use of environmentally harmful red soil in the project led to demands that a journalist be shut out of press conferences. Image widely shared on social media.

Protests in Haiti over Hunger and Repressive Rule

February 13th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

US controlled Haiti endured over 500 years of severe repression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, , unrepayable debt, overwhelming human suffering, and destructive natural disasters.

Elections when held are farcical, democracy pure fantasy, Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s tenure the exception to the longstanding rule.

He once said

“(t)he people of Haiti want life, not death. They want peace, not violence. They want democracy, not repression.”

US colonization of the country denies them their fundamental rights – an entire population subjugated by Washington, suffering under its imperial boot.

Haiti is the region’s poorest country, its per capita income a small fraction of the Latin and Central American average, the vast majority of its people deeply impoverished, living on less than $2 a day, many less than $1.25 a day, affected by malnutrition, diarrheal and other diseases, along with overall severe deprivation.

Instead of improving, things keep deteriorating. Life expectancy is 57 years – compared to the Latin and Central American average of 69 years.

Most Haitians are illiterate. Only about one-fifth of secondary-age children attend school. One-fourth or less of the population has access to safe water.

Millions of Haitians are food insecure. According to Mission Belem’s Renata Lopez,

“(t)here are many, many problems in Haiti (including) lack of good water, lack of electricity, and hunger,” adding:

Hunger is most serious “because most of the people (have no jobs), and if they don’t work, there aren’t enough meals in a day. They can’t manage the situation with their families.”

Hunger, malnutrition, slow starvation for many, mass unemployment, and repression are state-sponsored national calamities. Mission Belem calls the country “chronically hungry.”

According to the World Food Program’s State of Food Insecurity in the World report, over half of Haitians are malnourished, many severely. It’s the key contributing factor to low life expectancy, along with untreated or poorly treated illnesses and diseases.

What’s heard daily in Haiti is people saying “I am hungry,” the misery most of its people endure.

In February 2017, Jovenel Moise succeeded US puppet/provisional Haitian president Jocelerme Privert. Turnout was 18%. The vast majority of Haitians boycotted the farcical process.

Moise is Washington’s man in Port-au-Prince. Reviled by Haitians, many thousands are protesting against him, demanding he resign, public anger in the country continuing since last summer over intolerable conditions, deep corruption, and repressive rule.

One protestor earlier said if the president refuses to resign,

“we will cut off the roads and burn everything, because we have nothing else to lose.”

Ongoing protests in Port-au-Prince and other cities caused at least eight deaths since January, hundreds injured, scores arrested, vehicles burned, a police station and businesses attacked, parts of the nation paralyzed – forcing closure of public offices, schools and enterprises.

February 7 marked the second anniversary of Moise’s tenure. He may not be around for a third of his five-year term.

Last year he survived an assassination attempt during a public event. Violence rocked Haiti last summer and fall, expressing public anger over Moise’s rule – millions taking to the streets nationwide.

They began over so-called PetroCaribe account plundering of around $3.8 billion, a fund established to finance schools, hospitals, clinics, and roads, lost to massive corruption.

Opposition leader Moise Jean Charles said

“protests will continue until Moise resigns. If (he) does not…step down from power, we are going to name an interim president in the coming days.”

A so-called Core Group comprised of the UN special representative in Haiti, envoys from the US, EU, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and OAS sided with the despotic Moise regime over long-suffering Haitians, saying:

It “deplores the loss of life and property damage caused by the unacceptable acts of violence that took place on the margins of the rallies, while acknowledging the professionalism demonstrated by the Haitian National Police” – ignoring how repressively they operate, serving privileged interests over beneficial social change.

Protests show no signs of ebbing. Moise’s days may be numbered. Staying or leaving won’t change a thing.

Haitians suffer under Washington’s imperial grip and despotic rule, Aristide’s tenure the exception to the rule.

The nation’s ruling authorities are installed to serving Western interests, ordinary Haitians exploited for profit, suffering from the scourge of imperial dominance.

A Final Comment

In February 2017, the Trump regime turned truth on its head, saying the

“inauguration of a democratically-elected president allows Haiti to return to democratic and constitutional rule.”

The hypocrisy needs no elaboration. Rigged Haitian elections have no legitimacy, a reality ignored by Republicans and undemocratic Dems.

The contrast with what’s going on in Venezuela is stark, its democratically elected and reelected President Maduro declared illegitimate by Trump regime hardliners – going all-out to topple him, perhaps by military intervention if ongoing tactics fail.

Note: What have the NYT and rest of US major media reported about Venezuela – plenty almost daily since Trump illegally recognized usurper in waiting Guaido interim (puppet) president, their reporting entirely one-sided, supporting the coup attempt.

What have they reported about Haitian suffering, rigged elections and despotic rule – practically nothing. Rare reports repeat the official narrative.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Britain’s Air and Drone War in Syria

February 13th, 2019 by Chris Cole

The rise in UK air and drone strikes in Syria since September 2018 has been laid bare in the MoD’s latest responses to a Drone Wars UK FoI request.

The number of British strikes in Syria per month rose to its highest ever amount (75) in December 2018.

.

Overall, the UK launched 244 air and drone strikes in Iraq and Syria during 2018, firing 512 munitions. Between 2014 and the end of 2018, the UK has fired more than 4,100 missiles and bombs in a total of 1,925 strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  You can see the details on our stats page here.

In 2018, for the first time, more UK weapons were fired in Syria than in Iraq – in fact almost 10 times more (464 in Syria, 48 in Iraq).  While UK aircraft continue to fly in Iraq, 90% of UK missions occurred in Syria.

UK Reaper drones continued to operate in both Iraq and Syria during 2018, however there were no UK drone strikes in Iraq.  While the MoD continues to insist that its drones are primarily for intelligence and surveillance operations, Reapers fired more weapons in 2018 than the UK’s dedicated strike aircraft, the Tornado, and almost as many as Typhoons.  27% of UK strikes were carried out by drones during 2018. Overall, a quarter of all British air strikes against ISIS have been carried out by drones.

Although ISIS has been virtually defeated as a military force in Iraq and Syria, with its territory reduced to a few square miles in the Euphrates Valley (indeed this weekend the final battle is reported to have begun) UK Ministers and defence officials insists that UK strikes will continue until the group is absolutely and totally defeated. This though other nations are withdrawing their forces and senior UK commanders acknowledge that ISIS is no longer a credible military force.  While the UK’s Tornado’s have been withdrawn, UK drones and Typhoons will continue to launch strikes.  In the case of British Reaper drones, that’s approaching 12 years of continuously launching strikes.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

The Trump promoted GOP scam was all about benefitting corporate interests and high-net-worth households.

Wage hikes attributed to tax cuts have been mostly hype. Big business gained hundreds of billions of dollars from the law – used mostly for stock buybacks and generous handouts to executives, workers getting shortchanged. 

Thousands got pink slips. The federal deficit is ballooning by over a trillion dollars annually, social benefits slashed to help pay for the tax cuts, a transparent wealth transfer scheme.

Analyzing the tax cut scam a year later, Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) said the following:

  • Corporations were the big winners. So were high-net worth households. “(S)old as a boon to the (disappearing) middle-class,(cuts) primarily benefit(ted) the wealthy.”
  • “By 2027 when the law is fully implemented, 83% of the tax cuts will go to the top 1%.” Little was done to end profit shifting to offshore tax shelters.
  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, about $300 annually is moved abroad to avoid taxes.
  • Corporations with accumulated offshore earnings got “a tax cut of over $400 billion on those profits.”

The GOP legislation encourages offshoring of US jobs and production by taxing foreign profits of American companies “at half the rate on domestic earnings.”

The so-called “small-business” tax cut has gone mostly to “wealthy owners of big firms. Most owners of pass-through businesses—sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations—are now generally allowed to exclude 20% of their business income from taxation,” ATF explained.

By 2024, 60% of the tax breaks will go to America’s 1%. The weakened estate tax widens the wealth gap. David Stockman estimates the great GOP tax cut heist will increase the federal debt to around $35 trillion by 2028.

Today it’s $22 trillion, rising exponentially. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin lied claiming the tax cuts would pay for themselves through through increased economic growth generating more tax revenues from lower rates.

“(I)nstead the deficit is increasing considerably due to the tax cuts,” said ATF – mostly because corporate tax revenue dropped by about one-third, almost $100 billion year-over-year since the December 2017 law took effect.

The GOP plan for checking the spiraling debt is by cutting social services for ordinary Americans – notably Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Increased corporate profits went mostly to shareholders and corporate executives, not workers.

Trump lied saying corporate America would use the windfall tax breaks by giving the average US household a $4,000 pay raise, “shower(ing) workers with bonuses,” along with generating “massive investments.”

A year later, “corporations are mostly using their actual and anticipated tax cuts and their rising profits to buy back their own stock, which principally further enriches wealthy shareholders and top corporate executives,” ATF explained.

According to its database, “$853 billion in share repurchases” were announced in 2018 – “120 times more” than workers got in pay increases last year, a slim “$7.1 billion” for the entire 128.5 million US workforce – about $55 per worker if my math is right.

Contrary to Trump’s promise, “worker wages are getting no boost from the tax cuts,” said ATF. “(O)nly 4.4%” of them received a monetary benefit ascribed to the measure.

Year-over-year-through December, inflation-adjusted “average real hourly wages for all workers rose just 0.8%, while average weekly wages actually fell, because employees were working fewer hours,” ATF explained, adding:

“Special interests are the GOP tax law’s big winners” – what was predicted before the law was enacted at yearend 2017.

Polls show most Americans know they were scammed. Benefits gotten are too meager to matter, and it gets worse. Millions of US workers expecting tax refunds either aren’t getting them or will receive much less than they anticipated.

Last week, the IRS said around 30 million US taxpayers will owe the agency money, three million more than before the GOP tax cut.

Average refunds going out are down 8.4% year-over-year so far. The American Institute of CPAs vice president Edward Karl said “(t)here are going to be a lot of unhappy people over the next month. Taxpayers want a large refund.” Millions will be sorely disappointed.

Last April, Trump falsely said not only will Americans “save a lot of money,” but the filing process will be simplified on “one page, one card,” adding:

“You’ll have a nice, simple form next year. This will be the last year (under the old system). So take pictures of it and enjoy it. This is the last time you’ll have to file a very complex and big tax form. It will be much easier starting next April.”

Tax code changes made things more complicated, along with ordinary Americans benefitting little from the great GOP tax cut heist.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Great GOP Tax Cut Heist a Year Later: Federal Deficit Ballooning to More than a Trillion Dollars Annually
  • Tags: ,

Selected Articles: President Starts a War?

February 13th, 2019 by Global Research News

Do you value the reporting and in-depth analysis provided by Global Research on a daily basis?

At present we are not covering our monthly costs. The support of our readers is much appreciated. 

Click to donate or click here to become a member of Global Research.

*     *     *

President Starts a War? Congress Yawns. Threatens to End One? Condemnation!

By Rep. Ron Paul, February 12, 2019

Last week’s bipartisan Senate vote to rebuke President Trump for his decision to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan unfortunately tells us a lot about what is wrong with Washington, DC. While the two parties loudly bicker about minor issues, when it comes to matters like endless wars overseas they enthusiastically join together.

Indigenous Activists Set Up Protest Camp at South Texas Cemetery to Stop Trump’s Wall

By Gus Bova, February 12, 2019

Just a few feet north rises a sloped earthen river levee, which the Trump administration soon plans to transform into a 30-foot concrete and steel border wall.

Being Marco Rubio

By Philip Giraldi, February 12, 2019

Americans consistently indicate in opinion polls that they approve of congress less than any other part of the federal government. The approval rating is sometimes in the single digits. As the congress was intended, per the Founders, to serve as the direct link to the American people, there is a certain irony in its being the most despised branch of government.

Scotland’s Bomb: Six Times More Powerful than Hiroshima

By Arthur West, February 12, 2019

Trident is a fearsome weapon of mass destruction. Each Trident warhead is at least six times more powerful than the bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of the second world war.

Is America’s “Deep State” Divided over the Taliban Peace Talks?

By Andrew Korybko, February 12, 2019

Not everyone in America’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) is on the same page regarding the ongoing Taliban peace talks, especially when it comes to the official role of increasingly irrelevant Kabul in this process.

Who Guards the Guardians? “Newsguard”, the “Integrity Initiative” and Other Threats to Independent Media

By Michael Welch, Whitney Webb, and Patrick Henningsen, February 11, 2019

It is estimated that six major corporations own and control 90 percent of everything Americans see, read and hear. Consequently certain narratives will get emphasis, and the spectrum of debate will be restricted.

Pompeo

Pompeo Attempts to Link Iran, Hezbollah to Crisis in Venezuela

By Whitney Webb, February 11, 2019

During a Wednesday night interview with FOX Business host Trish Regan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made several statements that raised eyebrows, such as claiming that Cuba had invaded Venezuela and “taken control” of the Venezuela’s “security apparatus” and that U.S. sanctions illegally imposed on Venezuela “aren’t aimed at the Venezuelan people.”

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Selected Articles: President Starts a War?

Venezuela: Opposing White Supremacy and Big Oil Interests

February 13th, 2019 by James Winter

The Canadian and U.S. governments are now openly supporting the treasonous overthrow of the democratically-elected President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.

The U.S. is now openly holding direct communications with Venezuela’s military, urging them to abandon the president.

I’m not surprised by Donald Trump’s unprincipled arrogance and bullying, but I’m somewhat taken aback by Justin Trudeau, a “moral leader of the free world,” according to the New York Times.

How is it that we have few problems with the undemocratic regime of the Saudi Arabian monarchy, indeed we continue to supply weapons to the Saudis, while they bomb neighbouring Yemen, but Venezuela is problematical?

While the Saudis only occasionally ever hold even municipal elections, Maduro won a national presidential election in May, 2018, with 68 percent (6.2 million) of the votes cast. Henri Falcon came in second with 21 percent. The turnout was 46 percent, despite a boycott by some opposition members.

Although Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said recently that “the Maduro regime…seized power through fraudulent and anti-democratic elections,” and said he is “now fully entrenched as a dictatorship,” this is blatantly incorrect: a boldfaced lie.

International observers of the 2018 Venezuelan elections published four independent reports, all of which concluded that the election results represented the will of the voters and were “uncontestable.” (See this)

An international observer mission led by the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA), comprised of former top electoral officials from throughout the region, said the election was clean. (See this)

As reported in the Windsor Star edition of the National Post on February 5th, a Canadian delegation which observed the election touted Venezuela’s “strong and vibrant democracy.” Their report noted, “We witnessed a transparent, secure, democratic and orderly electoral and voting process.” (See this)

In September, 2012, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said,

“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” (See this)

So, this is not about democracy.

Despite all of this, the media continue to refer to Maduro’s 2018 election as ‘widely viewed as fraudulent.’

Canada and the U.S. have now recognized Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly, as Acting President of Venezuela.

Mr. Guaido is an appointed, unelected leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which has been largely powerless since Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which supports Maduro, tried to dissolve it in March, 2017.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr. Guaido did not reject the possibility of supporting U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. For his part, Donald Trump, who has offered support to Guaido, has threatened a “military option” for Venezuela. (See this)

So, why Venezuela? As former BBC journalist Greg Palast points out, the first thing to note is that after four centuries of white supremacy, Venezuela has now had two Black Indian, Mestizo men as presidents, Hugo Chavez and since 2013, Nicolas Maduro, whom the rich whites call “monkeys.” If you don’t think this is partly about racism, then read the history of Haiti.

Media and politicians say Venezuela has been ‘badly managed.’

I’m reminded of Fidel Castro’s quote:

“For forty years you try to strangle us. And then, you criticize us for the way we breathe.”

Chavez and Maduro both have promoted social programs which help the poor majority. When oil prices were high, under Chavez, this paid for poverty reduction, health care, education, etc. According to the CIA Factbook on Venezuela:

“Social investment in Venezuela during the Chavez administration reduced poverty from nearly 50% in 1999 to about 27% in 2011, increased school enrollment, substantially decreased infant and child mortality, and improved access to potable water and sanitation through social investment.” (See this)

The Venezuelan economy is based on oil. It has the largest oil reserves in the world, three times those of Saudi Arabia.

Shortly after Maduro took office in 2013, oil prices began their collapse, and he was forced to borrow money to support the vast social programs, which caused wild inflation. The white privileged class’s bank accounts have become nearly worthless.

In tangent with this, the U.S. began what the UN rapporteur for Venezuela called “medieval sieges.” Now, Trump has cut off Venezuela from oil sale proceeds in the U.S., its biggest customer, receiving 41 percent of its exports.  Trump has seized Venezuelan-owned Citgo oil in the U.S. The British government has seized Venezuelan gold assets. Both are holding these assets until Mr. Guaido is President. THIS violates UN principles expressing a duty not to intervene in domestic matters, and to refrain from the threat or use of force against any state. (See this and this)

Recently, the U.S. declared transactions with Iran to be illegal. This led to the case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese national arrested by Canada.

Now Trump has cut off Venezuela from access to U.S. banks, which renders international transactions difficult, if not impossible. In August 2017, he restricted Maduro’s access to U.S. banks. (See this)

Trump also banned gold transactions with Venezuela. (See this)

Under U.S. pressure, The Bank of England is currently withholding $1.2 billion in gold from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government. (See this)

The ‘disrespectful’ Mestizos have dared to keep their oil revenues for the benefit of their own people. They must be punished.

Maduro certainly is managing badly, under this blockade.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

James Winter, PhD, is a Professor in the Graduate Program in Communication and Social Justice at the University of Windsor.

Featured image is from Fort Russ

Invito al Convegno internazionale per il 70° della NATO

February 12th, 2019 by Comité No Guerra no Nato

Consapevoli della crescente pericolosità della situazione mondiale, della drammaticità dei conflitti in atto, della accelerazione della crisi, riteniamo che sia necessario far comprendere all’opinione pubblica e ai parlamenti il rischio esistente di una grande guerra.

Essa non sarebbe in alcun modo simile alle guerre mondiali che l’hanno preceduta e, con l’uso delle armi nucleari e altre armi di distruzione di massa, metterebbe a repentaglio l’esistenza stessa dell’Umanità e del Pianeta Terra, la Casa Comune in cui viviamo.

Il pericolo non è mai stato così grande e così vicino. Non si può rischiare, bisogna moltiplicare gli sforzi per uscire dal sistema di guerra.

Discutiamone al

Convegno internazionale

I 70 ANNI DELLA NATO:

QUALE BILANCIO STORICO?

USCIRE DAL SISTEMA DI GUERRA, ORA.

Firenze, Domenica 7 Aprile 2019

CINEMA TEATRO ODEON

Piazza Strozzi

ORE  10:15 – 18:00

Tra i relatori:

Michel Chossudovsky, direttore del Centre for Research on Globalization (Global Research, Canada).

Gino Strada, fondatore di Emergency.

Alex Zanotelli, missionario comboniano.

Franco Cardini, storico.

Generale Fabio Mini.

Tommaso Di Francesco, condirettore de il manifesto.

Giulietto Chiesa, direttore di Pandora TV.

Manlio Dinucci, giornalista.

PROIEZIONE DI DOCUMENTAZIONI VIDEO

E VIDEOMESSAGGI

MICROFONO APERTO AL PUBBLICO

PER LE CONCLUSIONI

Promotori:

ASSOCIAZIONE PER UN MONDO SENZA GUERRE

Comitato No Guerra No Nato/Global Research

in collaborazione con

Pax Christi Italia, Commissione Giustizia e Pace dei Missionari Comboniani, Rivista/Sito Marx21, Sezione Italiana della WILPF (Lega Internazionale Donne per la Pace e la Libertà), Tavolo per la Pace della Val di Cecina e altre associazioni la cui adesione è in corso.

PER PARTECIPARE AL CONVEGNO (AD INGRESSO LIBERO)

OCCORRE PRENOTARSI COMUNICANDO VIA EMAIL O TELEFONO

IL PROPRIO NOME E LUOGO DI RESIDENZA A:

Giuseppe Padovano

Coordinatore Nazionale CNGNN

Email [email protected]

Cell. 393 998 3462

 

VIDEO :

  • Posted in Italiano
  • Comments Off on Invito al Convegno internazionale per il 70° della NATO

Ucrânia, a NATO na Constituição

February 12th, 2019 by Manlio Dinucci

No dia seguinte à assinatura do protocolo de adesão da Macedónia do Norte à NATO, como 30º membro, a Ucrânia efectuou um acto sem precedentes: incluiu na Constituição o compromisso de entrar oficialmente na NATO e, ao mesmo tempo, na União Europeia.

Em 7 de Fevereiro, por sugestão do Presidente Petro Poroshenko – o oligarca enriquecido com o saque de propriedades do Estado, que se recandidata à presidência – o parlamento de Kiev aprovou (com 334 votos contra 35 e 16 abstenções), neste sentido, as emendas da Constituição .

O Preâmbulo enuncia “o rumo irreversível da Ucrânia para a integração euro-atlântica”; os Artigos 85 e 116 decretam que a tarefa fundamental do Parlamento e do Governo é “obter a plena adesão da Ucrânia à NATO e à União Europeia”; o Artigo 102 estabelece que “o Presidente da Ucrânia é o responsável do curso estratégico do Estado para obter a adesão plena à NATO e à União Europeia”.

A inclusão na Constituição ucraniana do compromisso de entrar oficialmente na NATO, envolve consequências gravíssimas:

Ø  No plano interno, vincula a essa escolha o futuro da Ucrânia, excluindo qualquer alternativa e proíbe, efectivamente, qualquer partido ou pessoa que se oponha ao “curso estratégico do Estado”. Já hoje, a Comissão Eleitoral Central impede Petro Simonenko, membro do PC da Ucrânia, de participar nas eleições presidenciais de Março.

O mérito de ter introduzido na Constituição o compromisso de fazer entrar oficialmente a Ucrânia na NATO vai, em particular, para o Presidente do Parlamento, Andriy Parubiy. Co-fundador do Partido Nacional Socialista Ucraniano, em 1991, segundo o modelo do Partido Nacional Socialista de Adolf Hitler; chefe das formações paramilitares neonazis, usadas em 2014 no putsch da Piazza Maidan, sob orientação USA/NATO, e no massacre de Odessa; Chefe do Conselho da Defesa e Segurança Nacional que, com o Batalhão Azov e outras unidades neonazis, ataca civis ucranianos de nacionalidade russa, na parte oriental do país e com esquadrões violentos, efectua espancamentos ferozes, devastação de sedes de partidos políticos e queima de pilhas de livros em perfeito estilo nazi.

Ø  No plano internacional, deve ter-se em conta que a Ucrânia já está na NATO, da qual é um país parceiro: por exemplo, o batalhão Azov, cuja marca nazi é representada pelo emblema da SS Das Reich, foi transformado num regimento de operações especiais, dotado de veículos blindados e treinado por instrutores norte-americanos da 173ª Divisão Aerotransportada, transferidos de Vicenza (Itália) para a Ucrânia, apoiado por outros da NATO.

Visto que a Rússia é acusada pela NATO de ter anexado ilegalmente a Crimeia e de concretizar acções militares contra a Ucrânia, se ela entrasse oficialmente na NATO, os outros 30 membros da Aliança, de acordo com o Art. 5, deveriam “ajudar a parte atacada, iniciando a acção considerada necessária, incluindo o uso da força armada”. Por outras palavras, eles deveriam travar uma guerra contra a Rússia.

Sobre estas implicações perigosas da modificação da Constituição ucraniana – por trás das quais existe, de certeza, a rapina dos estrategas USA/NATO – caiu sobre a Europa, o silêncio político e mediático.

Também está em silêncio, o Parlamento italiano que, em 2017, concordou com um memorando de entendimento com o Parlamento ucraniano, assinado por Laura Boldrini e Andriy Parubiy, reforçando a cooperação entre a República Italiana – a qual nasceu da Resistência contra o nazi-fascismo – e um regime que criou na Ucrânia, uma situação análoga àquela que levou ao advento do fascismo nos anos Vinte e do nazismo nos anos Trinta.

Manlio Dinucci

il manifesto, 12 de Fevereiro de 2019

  • Posted in Português
  • Comments Off on Ucrânia, a NATO na Constituição

Ucraina, la NATO nella Costituzione

February 12th, 2019 by Manlio Dinucci

Il giorno dopo la firma del protocollo di adesione alla NATO della Macedonia del Nord quale 30° membro, l‘Ucraina ha compiuto un atto senza precedenti: ha incluso nella propria Costituzione l’impegno a entrare ufficialmente nella NATO e allo stesso tempo nell’Unione europea.

Il 7 febbraio, su proposta del presidente Petro Poroshenko – l’oligarca arricchitosi col saccheggio delle proprietà statali, che si ricandida alla presidenza – il parlamento di Kiev ha approvato (con 334 voti contro 35 e 16 assenti) gli emendamenti in tal senso della Costituzione.

Il Preambolo enuncia «il corso irreversibile dell’Ucraina verso l’integrazione euro-atlantica»; gli Articoli 85 e 116 decretano che compito fondamentale del parlamento e del governo è «ottenere la piena appartenza dell’Ucraina alla NATO e alla UE»;  l’Articolo 102 stabilisce che «il presidente dell’Ucraina è il garante del corso strategico dello Stato per ottenere la piena appartenenza alla NATO e alla UE».

L’inclusione nella Costituzione ucraina dell’impegno a entrare ufficialmente nella NATO comporta conseguenze gravissime:

Ø  Sul piano interno, vincola a tale scelta il futuro dell’Ucraina, escludendo qualsiasi alternativa, e mette di fatto fuorilegge qualsiasi partito o persona si opponga al «corso strategico dello Stato». Già oggi la Commissione elettorale centrale impedisce a Petro Simonenko, esponente del PC di Ucraina, di partecipare alle elezioni presidenziali di marzo.

Il merito di aver introdotto nella Costituzione l’impegno a far entrare ufficialmente l’Ucraina nella NATO va in particolare al presidente del parlamento Andriy Parubiy. Cofondatore nel 1991 del Partito nazionalsociale ucraino, sul modello del Partito nazionalsocialista di Adolf Hitler; capo delle formazioni paramilitari neonaziste, usate nel 2014 nel putsch di Piazza Maidan, sotto regia USA/NATO, e nel massacro di Odessa; capo del Consiglio di difesa e sicurezza nazionale che, con il Battaglione Azov e altre unità neonaziste, attacca i civili ucraini di nazionalità russa nella parte orientale del paese ed effettua con apposite squadracce feroci pestaggi, devastazioni di sedi politiche e roghi di libri in perfetto stile nazista.

Ø  Sul piano internaziionale, va tenuto presente che l’Ucraina è già di fatto nella NATO, di cui è paese partner: ad esempio il battaglione Azov, la cui impronta nazista è rappresentata dall’emblema ricalcato da quello delle SS Das Reich, è stato trasformato in reggimento operazioni speciali, dotato di  mezzi corazzati e addestrato da istruttori USA della 173a Divisione aviotrasportata, trasferiti da Vicenza in Ucraina, affiancati da altri della NATO.

Poiché la Russia viene accusata dalla NATO di aver annesso illegalmente la Crimea e di condurre azioni militari contro l’Ucraina, se questa entrasse ufficialmente nella NATO, gli altri 30 membri della Alleanza, in base all’Art. 5, dovrebbero «assistere la parte attaccata intraprendendo l’azione giudicata necessaria, compreso l’uso della forza armata». In altre parole, dovrebbero andare in guerra contro la Russia.

Su queste pericolose implicazioni della modifica della Costituzione ucraina – dietro cui vi sono certamente le lunghe mani degli strateghi USA/NATO – è calato, in Europa, il silenzio politico e mediatico.

Tace anche il parlamento italiano, che nel 2017 ha concordato un memorandum d’intesa con quello ucraino, sottoscritto da Laura Boldrini e Andriy Parubiy, rafforzando la cooperazione tra la Repubblica italiana, nata dalla Resistenza contro il nazi-fascismo, e un regime che ha creato in Ucraina una situazione analoga a quella che portò all’avvento del fascismo negli anni Venti e del nazismo negli anni Trenta.

Manlio Dinucci

il manifesto, 12 febbraio 2019

  • Posted in Italiano
  • Comments Off on Ucraina, la NATO nella Costituzione