Archive | December 4th, 2015

A British Mother to David Cameron: “You are an Extremist … This War is in Your Name Sir!”

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Parliament Recalled To Discuss The Response To Syria's Use Of Chemical Weapons

This is the text of the open letter of Angela Kerrigan published in Evening Times  

The British media has carefully twisted the meaning of Angela Kerrigan’s statement. 

Evening Times:

Dear David Cameron,

This is my beautiful daughter, she is almost three-years-old. I’m sitting tonight watching you debate the prospect of bombing Syria. You claim that it is to protect every man woman and child in this country from extremist. I’d just like to correct you, you are an extremist. What she needs, is to be protected from you.

“The war on Iraq didnt stop the 7/7 bombings. It didnt stop the Glasgow Airport bombings. Why you think bombing Syria will stop Daesh is beyond me. Extremists are everywhere, your intelligence tells you this, yet you insist on concentrating you military action on one country. One country with hundreds of thousands of innocents. Innocent men, women and children, just like us!

“And as for you Jeremy Corbyn, you were voted in to lead your party, lead them away from the same catastrophic decisions they made about Iraq. But instead you have been upstaged by your very own shadow foreign secretary, who received a standing ovation for his war mongering. You have failed to lead your party.

“The French bombed Syria. They were attacked just weeks later. Going to war to prevent war is absolute lunacy! Dropping bombs on children just like mine below, from 34 thousand feet, offers us zero protection.

Britain has been on severe risk/ red alert since August. And yet the first time I have been scared is tonight. Watching you offer up hugely reactionary and extreme solutions to protect us from Daesh.

My heart tonight is with the parents and grandparents in Syria who are waiting to see if the actions of my country are going to destroy their lives, their homes, their existance. I want them to know, loud and clear, this war is in your name sir! Their blood will be on your hands. I cry for them.

What you have done is guarenteed that my daughter, Erin Rose, will grow up to see the new generation of extremists you will have created with your military action. Its history repeating itself. Its a never ending war.

“Not in her name!”

Britain has since carried out its first airstrikes in Syria, hours after MPs voted overwhelmingly to authorise military action.

Since the decision, Angela has posted: “And as the first bombs fall. I pray for the innocents who’s blood will be running in the streets.

“Syria, I’m so so sorry.”

Angela Kerrigan

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US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning before Bombs

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“Runs out of Ammo” against ISIS Targets

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Ever since the Russians began dropping real bombs on real ISIS targets in Syria, the United States and NATO have been forced to engage in a two-sided propaganda campaign that swears opposition to ISIS while simultaneously doing everything it can to facilitate and protect ISIS forces on the ground. It has also found itself in the bizarre position of trying to facilitate the death squad army while, at the same time, attempting to play catch-up to the Russians in at least the appearance of bombing ISIS.

Thus, when Russian forces truly hit at one of the sources of ISIS funding – the captured oil being shipped from Syria and Iraq to Turkey where it is purchased by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s son, Bilal – the United States must then engage in its own faux bombing campaign against ISIS oil trucks.

Yet, instead of actually bombing the trucks – drivers and all – and putting them out of commission permanently, the U.S. bombing campaign takes the form of a laughable formality that involves a 45-minute warning to the oil convoys that a U.S. bombing campaign is about to take place. The warning involves an airdrop of leaflets to the tankers that read “Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them. Warning: air strikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life.”

The justification is that the drivers of the tankers might be civilians and not actual ISIS members.

Of course, there is no mention of the fact that, in any other context, an individual who renders “material support to terrorists,” particularly in the form of driving tankers of stolen oil in a war zone that will be used to fund the terrorist organization would killed without question under that designation.

There is also no mention as to why these “potential civilians” received ample warning but true civilians receive no such courtesy. It is truly a pity that the U.S. did not drop leaflets to the million Iraqis it has killed over the last decade or the thousands of Libyans that died at the hands of NATO.

Still, one need only look at the numbers of destroyed oil tankers racked up by the U.S. in comparison to the Russians to see a distinct difference. The United States, according to Col. Steve Warren, has taken out only 116 tankers since the bombing campaign began while the Russians have eliminated over 1,000 in five days. Remember, until the Russians began bombing the oil tankers, the United States had yet to launch an attack on them.

Even more laughable was the response that came when the U.S. military was questioned as to why they were unable to destroy more trucks than they did after such a highly publicized strategy. According to Army Co. Steve Warren, the American jets simply “ran out of ammo in the process. “The goal was to destroy every truck there. They ran out of ammunition before they were able to do that. But the desire was to destroy every single truck there,” he said.

Even with the new attempt to be seen as truly aimed at fighting ISIS in the eyes of the gullible American public, the U.S. has been forced to use videos and photographs from Russian bombings to purvey across the mainstream media due to the fact that American strikes on ISIS oil trucks are so rare.

The pathetic propaganda fail by the United States military now stands as yet one more example of how the United States is not at all interested in defeating ISIS but instead on defeating Assad, Iran, and the Russians.

Indeed, American foreign policy propaganda would be greeted as much needed comic relief if it were not so tragic and potentially dangerous to the rest of the world.

 

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UK bombs in Syria without a plan and without a strategy

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Image result for Cameron CARTOON

By Stuart Littlewood

David Cameron came to the Commons on 2 December with his master-plan for confronting the Islamic State (IS) group, having told his MPs: “You should not be walking through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathiser.”

At his party’s conference a few weeks earlier Cameron preached to the faithful: “My friends – we cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.” These were unwise remarks considering that Cameron himself adores terrorists.

Terrorism-adoring servant of Israel

He has pledged undying support for the Israeli terror regime, saying: “I am a passionate friend of Israel, and that’s the way it’s going to stay” and “As far as I’m concerned an enemy of Israel is an enemy of mine; a threat to Israel is a threat to us all”. Isn’t Syria (and especially Assad) an enemy of Israel, just as Saddam’s Iraq was? And doesn’t perpetual war in the Middle East serve Israel’s purpose perfectly?

And didn’t Cameron also dismantle our universal jurisdiction laws to provide a safe haven for wanted war criminals? And doesn’t he just love hobnobbing with the Saudis? Corbyn needs no lectures on loyalty or national security from him.

This was the prime minister’s motion in parliament:

That this House notes that ISIL [Islamic State in Syria and the Levant – now calling itself Islamic State] poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom;

– Welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 which determines that ISIL constitutes an “unprecedented threat to international peace and security” and calls on states to take “all necessary measures” to prevent terrorist acts by ISIL and to “eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”;

– Further notes the clear legal basis to defend the UK and our allies in accordance with the UN Charter;

– Notes that military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria;

– Welcomes the renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement;

– Welcomes the government’s continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees;

– Underlines the importance of planning for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria;

– Welcomes the government’s continued determination to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters and weapons;

– Notes the requests from France, the US and regional allies for UK military assistance;

– Acknowledges the importance of seeking to avoid civilian casualties, using the UK’s particular capabilities;

– Notes the government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations;

– Welcomes the government’s commitment to provide quarterly progress reports to the House; and accordingly

– Supports Her Majesty’s Government in taking military action, specifically air strikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria; and

– Offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

MPs opposed to extending the UK’s bombing campaign into Syria had tabled a cross-party motion refusing to authorise military action. Spearheaded by Conservative MP John Baron and the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Westminster leader Angus Robertson, it was signed by 110 MPs – a list, said the SNP’s Alex Salmond, that he had examined carefully and failed to identify a single terrorist sympathiser among them.

A dozen MPs stood up to demand an apology from Cameron for his deeply insulting “terrorist” remark, but the prime minister’s Etonian manners didn’t allow it. The amendment proposed…

While welcoming the renewed impetus towards peace and reconstruction in Syria, and the government’s recognition that a comprehensive strategy against Daesh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL) is required, does not believe that the case for the UK’s participation in the ongoing air campaign in Syria by 10 countries has been made under current circumstances, and consequently declines to authorise military action in Syria.

No adequate plan, inappropriate course of action

My own MP, Richard Arkless (SNP), wrote to me:

Syria is already the most bombed country in the world with 3,000 bombings from 10 other countries in recent months. These have not succeeded in reducing the influence of the group around the world. It has also been argued that this bombing campaign will kill civilians which can only strengthen the resolve of Daesh terrorists worldwide.

We have not heard a convincing post-war plan from the prime minister. We know when the UK bombed Libya in 2011, the UK government spent 13 times more money on bombing the country than contributing to its reconstruction. Without a sensible and reliable post-conflict plan, the UK government are helping to create further turmoil in a an unstable region of the world.

The influential Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons has taken a wide range of evidence from military experts, academics, lawyers, the foreign secretary and Syrian groups. The cross-party committee set a number of questions for David Cameron, and just yesterday the committee voted by majority that these questions had not been answered by the prime minister.

The SNP does not believe that the UK government has an adequate plan, and that a bombing campaign which will most certainly kill civilians, is the most appropriate course of action.

Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn had given his MPs a free vote instead of whipping them [i.e. instructing them through the party’s parliamentary enforcers] to oppose war, and as a result had virtually guaranteed victory for Cameron. A great many were inclined to support the government position. Many of these were Blairites who voted for the Iraq war and they included most of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet – even his deputy leader and shadow foreign secretary.

Hillary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, shamelessly milked France’s plea for help for all it was worth in a speech that flatly contradicted his leader.

Much was made of France’s plea for help in the wake of the Paris atrocity, so the occasion was emotionally charged and this had a lot to do with MPs’ attitude and the timing of the debate. Hillary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, shamelessly milked France’s plea for help for all it was worth in a speech that flatly contradicted his leader.

Cameron’s hurriedly cobbled scheme – it doesn’t really qualify as a plan – hinges on very sketchy ground intelligence. And even if our air strikes wiped out the ISIS command centres and sent the extremists packing there’s no clear idea of who would magically fill the void on the ground.

He claims there are 70,000 “moderate” mercenaries ready and able to come in and consolidate the air campaign’s success. But critics say that the only land forces capable of mopping up behind the air strikes are Assad’s army. The moderates cited by Cameron are an ill-defined ragbag mainly interested in fighting Assad not IS, therefore can’t be relied on to mobilise against the jihadist group.

Cameron, however, has nothing to say about teaming with Assad’s coherent and functioning army against IS and stays very quiet about the sources of IS funding and armaments.

Follow the money

Before committing to air strikes without the necessary underpinnings, and involving Britain in the consequences (intended or otherwise), why doesn’t he follow the money? Who finances IS, who supplies their weapons, who sells their hijacked oil and who buys it? The answers may be embarrassing to Cameron, Obama and Hollande, which is why the question is always brushed aside. But the lid to this can of worms must be prised off. Then we might make some progress.

The vote was 397 for bombing in Syria, 223 against. Government MP were whipped, Labour MPs had a free vote and 67 are reported to have backed the government. Here in Scotland it was a different picture altogether. Fifty seven out of our 59 Westminster MPs voted against.

We reap what we sow. And many people here are genuinely anxious about what might happen next. IS reprisals in our cities? More horrors, this time for British travellers? And are we seeing the clumsy opening moves that lead to World War III? Read the social media. Noisy demonstrators outside parliament were saying tonight that the vote was a tragedy for the Syrian people and dangerous for the British people. They felt betrayed by their elected representatives.

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Swedish Foreign Minister Accuses Nazi regime of Executing Palestinian Assailants Without Trial

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Barak Ravid Dec 04, 2015

In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 file photo, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom gestures during a media interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Stockholm, Sweden.

In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 file photo, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom gestures during a media interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Stockholm, Sweden. AP

Three Israeli soldiers wounded in two West Bank attacks Jerusalem and Babylon Like it or not, everything is about the Jews Swedish FM’s remarks on Paris terror spark Israeli diplomatic protest Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström on Friday accused Israel of executing Palestinian assailants without trial.

The remarks further exacerbated the tension between Stockholm and Jerusalem, prompting a scathing response from the Israeli ambassador to Sweden.

Wallström made the comments in response to foreign policy questions directed at her during a parliament meeting. During the session, three parliament members claimed that Swedish government policy favors the Palestinian position over the Israeli one.

Wallström stated that she condemns the stabbing attacks perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis, but asserted the Israeli response was “disproportionate.”

“I reject/condemn the knife-attacks,” the foreign minister said. “I think that it is awful and that it should not happen and Israel always has the right to defend itself and ensure its safety.
“And in the same way the response cannot be, and I say this in other situations as well, where the response becomes so that there are extrajudicial executions, or that it becomes disproportionate so the numbers of dead on the other side is greater than the original death toll by several factors,” she said.

Wallström’s remarks were widely reported in Swedish media, and were met with a harsh response from Israeli Ambassador to Stockholm Isaac Bachman.
“Israel’s moral standards when it comes to fighting terrorism are at least at par with other Western nations coping with the same threat,” Bachman said. “Israeli practices are even more successful in avoiding civilian casualties than in other Western nations’ cases, according to verified military statistics.

“The emphasis on how the victims of terror defend themselves is diverting the attention away from the true horrors of terrorism,” he continued. “Instead one should condemn and act to stop the perpetrators, the financers and the inciters of terrorism. If we focus on condemning and preventing terrorism there will be no need for self-defense.”

 

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The Fight against Neoliberalism and Britain’s Austerity Measures

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Q&A session with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and the Greek ex-Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.

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“The Rally involving Yanis was immensely successful in moving the debate about austerity forward into a discussion about how we can not only oppose the attack on our welfare state, but as importantly, how we can create the society we need… a tremendous achievement.”  Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

“Why is so little hope growing among so many riches?” Yanis Varoufakis [ pictured left]

It has been a depressing few weeks for the supporters of the British Labour Party’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn.  After seeing crowds attending meetings across the country to hear him speak and the roar that raised the roof when the election results were announced, it was down to dirty earth the day after.

The relentless criticisms from the Tories and the very right-wing mainstream media were expected.  Nothing Corbyn’s new team did was right.  It was pored over, picked over and pulled to pieces.  And any good news was ignored, such as…

Such as Labour wins in Council by-elections since Corbyn became leader.  For example, in Banbury, Oxfordshire they took a seat from the Tories with a 5.9% swing and 45% of the vote.  Not the kind of news that the media wants to publicise so they ignored it.

Just as, after the first rush of news, they ignored the sheer numbers behind Corbyn’s win.  Of a total of 422,664 votes cast, Corbyn received 251,417 or 59.5%.  An astonishing 16,000 people signed up as volunteers to help run Corbyn’s leadership campaign.  The latest poll, from the Times no less, shows that Corbyn’s leadership is backed by two thirds of party members, an increase on what he achieved in the election.

The Labour Party has benefited, seeing a surge in membership.  More people have joined the Party since the general election than there are in the entire Conservative party.  Wouldn’t you think that Labour MPs would be strutting around Parliament with new-found confidence?

Here is a new leader who can draw crowds and bring in new members; a new team putting forward policies that are backed by the public, even though the press and their polls say the majority of the public doesn’t understand what Corbyn’s policies are, possibly because they keep misrepresenting what he and his allies say.

There is a hum and a buzz in the air, a sense of a political watershed.  Yet the sniping, the vitriol, the plans by some fellow MPs to oust Corbyn, all faithfully reported by the media, comes from the Parliamentary Labour Party.  They do not support Corbyn and his team, and are eager to carp and criticise on the floor of the House of Commons.  How low can they sink?

As a body, the PLP simply does not connect with its party membership.  Members and supporters are invisible.  They should have no say in what Labour’s policies are.  Many Labour MPs remain wedded to the Westminster system based on power and entitlement.  They do not want change.

But the membership does.  As an antidote to the depressing plotting and biased reporting, one needs to attend an event centred on the ‘new politics’ and join in the political conversation.  Momentum, naturally labelled as a ‘hard left’ and therefore dangerous organisation, is organising various events.

There has been little mention of the Trade Unions, once the backbone of the Labour Party – also PLP invisible.  But the Trade Union Coordinating Group hosted a blinder of a Rally at Westminster Hall on November 21 – Build the Fight against Austerity.  Around 1400 people attended and the atmosphere was electric.  It is hard to describe what it is like to walk into a hall full of strangers knowing that each is a friend with the same hope, vision and aims as you – invigorating, life-affirming, energising – all these things.

And humour.  There was a lot of that and it was genuine, not the embarrassing jokes that David Cameron uses in Parliament; positive and forward looking humour; laughter among friends.  But mostly there was an undercurrent of knowledge that, if we get it right, this is a pivotal moment in this country’s political history.  If we get it right.

Among the first panel of four speakers was Ellen Clifford of Disabled People Against Cuts – an emotive presentation that got huge sympathy from the audience.  With disabled people driven to suicide by poverty, it is hard to grasp that the Tories have little sympathy for such people.  Have Cameron and Osborne ever thought “here but for the grace of God…”?

Dave Ward of the CWU gave a barnstorming speech and made two powerful pleas: that trade unions stopped defending their territories and unite in the fight against austerity (a hint here to some Labour MPs?) and for the Labour Party to create a Bill of Rights for workers, to combat the assault on Trade Unions by the Tories.

The heart of the event was the Q&A session with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and the Greek ex-Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.  They didn’t disappoint.  McDonnell opened with a story about going to the then Justice Minister Jack Straw in 2007, to inform him the Prison Officers Union was calling its members out on strike.

“But that’s illegal!” protested Straw.

“Well, who’s going to lock them up then?” replied McDonnell.  He added, “There’s a tale in there somewhere!”  Indeed.

Because one question from the floor was from Yannis Gourtsoyannis, prompting Varoufakis’ comment “Oh my God, another Greek!”  Laughter erupted into cheers when it came out he was a junior doctor, one of the 98% who had voted for strike action because the government was trying to force them into accepting a deal that promised a pay rise that actually meant longer hours for less money, which would endanger the safety of their patients.

He asked how the junior doctors could maintain public support and deal with the unsupportive press.  McDonnell, tongue in cheek, suggested creating a ‘warm relationship’ with the right-wing, Tory-supporting Daily Mail.  He also said that during the last 7 weeks the media assault on Corbyn’s team had been “a disgrace to any civilised society.”

On a more serious note, following a question about the Trade Union Bill and whether workers have the right to resist unjust laws, he pointed out that the Tories could not destroy the workers’ basic human rights.  “If we have to defy unjust legislation we not only have the right to do it, we have the duty.”

On finance, having outlined the reviews that Labour is now undertaking on the Treasury, banking and the finance sector, McDonnell said there was a need for financiers “to understand that we cannot tolerate a finance sector that is not contributing to the prosperity of the country overall.”

Another aim, based on the cuts to local council budgets meaning the closure of many local services, is to form a national movement to address local problems.  Currently local campaigns, good though they are, can be isolated.  The Local Councils campaign will be a national campaign, McDonnell promised.

Over to Varoufakis.  He has often claimed that we are not suffering ‘austerity’, a view which, to people suddenly finding that they are genuinely poor, seems wrong.  But his explanation makes sense.

All governments run deficits and debt; they borrow money on our behalf.   But it is government debt.  “George Osborne’s project of reducing the deficit,” said Varoufakis, “means that the people of Britain will be condemned to go deeper and deeper into the red.”  So, in Varoufakis’ analysis, what we are suffering from is not genuine austerity, but the government shifting the debt to our shoulders, increasing our insecurity.

“Why is so little hope growing among so many riches?” he asked, because this is a rich country.  Hope, he said, “requires the prospect of creative labour, the opportunity for people to unfold their talents.”  That means investment in infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and above all, people.  The money is there, an estimated £743 billion sitting idle in corporate accounts.  Listing the many areas where investment should take place he suggested that, while companies should be made to pay the full amount of tax, they could be given tax breaks on the money they invest.

Suffering ‘austerity’ makes it difficult to imagine a better future, and that creates depression and despair.  How do we build the hope, so evident at this event, out in the wider world?   Unity among Trade Unions, a Workers’ Rights Bill to combat the Tory assault on workers, a sound financial plan involving a Public Investment Bank and genuine investment to combat the so-called ‘necessary’ austerity programme, bringing local community campaigns into a national campaign – we need all this, just as we need unity within the Parliamentary Labour Party.

But the hope, the energy and inspiration, the pressure to change things for the better, that has to come from us, the people.  What everyone felt at the Rally has to be shared among friends, neighbours, groups, strangers on buses, trains and in supermarket till queues.  It is too good not to be shared and then acted upon.

Videos of Yanis Varoufakis explaining his investment plan, and of the Q&A session, can be found here.

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Hospital Bills Palestinian Authority for Medical Treatment of Dawabsha Child

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Nazi Ministry of Health “Reimbursed for Nazi War Crimes”: Hospital Bills Palestinian Authority for Medical Treatment of Dawabsha Child

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The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that the Tel HaShomer Israeli Hospital sent them a bill, demanding the Palestinians to pay the expenses of the treatment of Ahmad Dawabsha, the only survivor of his family after Jewish Nazi terrorists firebombed their home five months ago, killing his mother, father and his 18-month-old brother.

The Ministry denied statements by the head of the Nazi “Civil Administration Office” in the occupied West Bank, Yuav Mordechai, who claimed that Nazi regime would be paying all the medical expenses.

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On October 25, the Tal HaShomer Hospital Administration demanded the Palestinian Health Ministry pay the expenses, which initially amounted to 259.643 New ‘Israeli’ Shekels (NIS), in addition to the costs of a special mask for the child; the Palestinian Authority paid for the mask.

On October 6, the hospital demanded a payment of 216.754 NIS, for the treatment costs of the child’s mother, Reham Dawabsha, who died on August 7, due to severe burns covering 90% of her body.

The Health Ministry said that it is ready to provide medical treatment to Ahmad, in the best hospitals in the world, and that it is closely following his treatment, based on direct orders from President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah.

The surviving child has undergone many surgeries, and is still receiving treatment, always accompanied by his grandfather, and is reportedly starting to remember the horrific night, while constantly asking about his mother and father, and “why haven’t they come to see him yet.”

Ahmad still needs extensive treatment and rehabilitation from his burns, and the trauma he suffered as a result of the terrorist attack.

The attack fatally burnt his baby brother, Ali Dawabsha, 18 months of age,http://www.imemc.org/article/72444, while his father, Sa’ad Dawabsha,http://www.imemc.org/article/72565, and his mother, Reham Dawabsha,http://www.imemc.org/article/72935, died of severe burns in Israeli hospitals.

Palestinians have still been waiting for action to be taken against the individuals responsible for the attack. A number of Jewish extremists were detained, but, nearly all of them were later released and none were convicted.

Nazi news site Ynet, on Sunday, reported that Israel had made a breakthrough in “one of the most serious acts of Nazi Jewish terrorism to take place in recent years,” but the details remained under gag order and the site could not confirm that it was referring to the Douma attack.

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Taking On Jihadists without Taking On Racism Is a Lost Battle

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Since the Paris attack of 13 November 2015, which killed 130 people and injured hundreds of others, the headlines of the various news outlets and social media have been keeping analysts and experts busy examining this murderous act ─ and its future ramifications not only for France and Europe but also the entire world. The attack came days after another (suicide) attack was carried out that  targeted a southern suburb of Beirut, killing forty innocent civilians. A few days earlier, a Russian air plane had been downed, taking the lives of more than 200 people. All these attacks were carried out by ISIS which straightforwardly has claimed responsibility.

Ever since the atrocities, the focus has been on mainly, if not only, the Paris attacks and on aspects of minor relevance such as the portraits of the individual perpetrators, their past and upbringing, their affiliation with ISIS, and how they managed to plan and carry out the attacks. Even though the investigation of this security-related information is crucial, more important questions related to the larger context of the relationship between the West and the Middle East need to be tackled courageously and now.

Of course, 13 November 2015 will be added to 11 September 2001 in the calendar listing murderous attacks of Islamist zealots against American and European targets. The implication here is that the world is sailing into, even being steered towards an episode similar to the one that followed 11 September, which failed to produce security and stability– not for western capitals, nor for the Middle East. This new episode of the war on terror is equally unlikely to succeed as long as western powers persist in placing their domestic security above stability and security in the Middle East. Achieving durable security and stability in the western capitals such as Paris and London, adamantly necessitates achieving security and stability in Arab capitals such as Baghdad, Damascus, Sana’a, and Jerusalem.

Since 9/11 and the ensuing “war against al-Qaeda terror,” neither peace nor democracy was brought to the Middle East. Instead, al-Qaeda has been replaced by another, notoriously militant group called ISIS. Both al-Qaeda and ISIS are made up of heirs of the militant Islamists who were supported by western countries in the 1980s, during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Back then, they were called mujahedeen, and were offered funds and weapons to fight on behalf of the United States and its allies. In those days, these Jihadi groups, a name that carries negative connotations now, were perceived as “the good guys” since they served the western objective of fighting communism. As unveiled in the Washington Post, “In the twilight of the Cold War, the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation. The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum.” In sum, ISIS is an extension of the groups that the United States has perceived in the past as fighters against tyranny.

The instrumental role of these Islamist groups in the US strategy at the time was summed up by the former chief of the CIA, Robert Gates in his memoirs “From the Shadows”, when he admitted that  American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention, knowing that such aid will induce a Soviet military intervention. This approach was a continuation of the strategy adopted, at least since the 1950s, a strategy that perceived hard-core Islamists as allies because they were seen a fierce anti-communists and opposed to nationalist leaders such as Nasser in Egypt and Mohammed Mosaddak in Iran.

There is no question that the horrible attack against the French capital is a heinous act of terror which reveals moral and political darkness that should not be tolerated. In order for the French (and the West in general) to truly succeed in fighting terror domestically and abroad, a different and more profound approach must be developed towards the Middle East that acknowledges and considers the following issues:

First, the investigation of the reasons for the attacks against the French capital can be better served by linking them to recent developments, of the last century or so, than by linking them to Islam which is 1400 years old. The former allows for the explanation of the shortsightedness of the Western approach towards the Middle East and the identification of the root causes of the animosity between the peoples that live on the two banks of the Mediterranean, whereas the latter allows only for the perpetuation of a self-produced narrative about the different Other that produces neither mutual understanding or respect, nor security, a mutual sense and assurance of security.

Second, the Paris attacks should be understood as a byproduct of the collapse of the old order in the Middle East ,which was brought about by the colonial West (France and United Kingdom) in 1916 with the Sykes–Picot Agreement. The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian Peninsula into areas of future British and French control. In the context of colonial rivalry, the Arab world was divided by creating individual “states” in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, not to forget the Jewish state in Palestine. A hundred years later, that order has collapsed and the peoples of the area are engaged in internal strife and civil wars that have disintegrated and fragmented “their” states, allowing for Islamists such as ISIS to emerge as unbeatable domestic power brokers to fill the void by writing a new chapter in the region’s history

Third, in order for France – and the West in general – to succeed in combating terror, one unified yardstick must be employed that values and cherishes all human lives equally, regardless of religion and ethnic affiliation. This implies that terror is ugly not only when it reaches Paris, London, and New York but also when it takes the lives of ninety-seven people in the Turkish capital on 10 October 2015, and forty people in a southern suburb of Beirut on 12 November 2015, and over one hundred people in Palestine killed by the Israeli colonial settlers and their protective army over the month of October 2015. State-sponsored terror by the US and UK, under Bush and Blair in particular, that took lives, injured and displaced millions in Iraq and Afghanistan is as ugly and vicious as the Paris attacks.

Finally, in order to better serve the great principles of the French revolution Liberté, égalité, fraternité that stand for France and reflect its ideals, the plight of the Palestinians should be ended. To this end, the comment made by the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström regarding the Paris attacks is important and could be a sound beginning for a guiding strategy. In that comment she said “Obviously, we have reason to be worried … across the world — because there are so many that are being radicalized. Here, once again, we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where not least, the Palestinians see that there is not a future. [The Palestinians] must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

Unless the above four issues are acknowledged, encountering Jihadists through racism is a lost battle.

Posted in Middle East, FranceComments Off on Taking On Jihadists without Taking On Racism Is a Lost Battle

Where Does ISIS Get Its Funding? Maybe We Should Ask Our Allies

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Obama Erdogan

Russia’s defense ministry accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [pictured left with US President Barack Obama] and his family of directly and personally benefiting from illegal oil smuggled through Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq — and Russia has pictures that appear to prove it.

At a rare briefing that was open to the press in Moscow, defense ministry officials displayed satellite images it claims show the “vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon” that Russian President Vladimir Putin described to French President François Hollande in a meeting on Friday, as reported by Zero Hedge. “The views resemble a living oil pipe stretched from ISIS and rebel-controlled areas of Syria into Turkey.” Putin expounded on the scenes Russian pilots had observed in surveillance sorties:

“Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there — empty.We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists. It is from these areas [that oil comes from], and not with any others. And we can see it from the air, where these vehicles are going.”

He added that Russia “assume[s] that the top political leadership of Turkey might not know anything about this [illegal oil trade]. Hard to believe, but it is theoretically possible.”

Putin has accused Turkey of downing a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border to protect its own oil supply line. He stated Monday:

“We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure security of this oil’s delivery routes to ports where they are shipped in tankers.”

Though Russian officials did not specify what evidence they might have of the Erdoğan family’s direct involvement in this illicit oil trade, other news sources have come forward in recent times to implicate his son, Bilal Erdoğan, who heads BMZ Group Denizcilik, a maritime shipping company that primarily transports oil. According to Zero Hedge:

“The son of Erdoğan, it seems, is the man who makes the export sales of ISIS-controlled oil possible.

“Bilal Erdoğan owns several maritime companies. He has allegedly signed contracts with European operating companies to carry Iraqi stolen oil to different Asian countries. The Turkish government buys Iraqi plundered oil which is being produced from the Iraqi seized oil wells. Bilal Erdoğan’s maritime companies own special wharfs in Beirut and Ceyhan ports that are transporting ISIS’ smuggled crude oil in Japan-bound oil tankers.”

Pres. Erdoğan has repeatedly, vehemently denied any entanglement in the illicit ISIS oil business — even going as far as promising to tender his resignation should verifiable evidence surface:

We are not that dishonest as to buy oil from terrorists. If it is proven that we have, in fact, done so, I will leave office. If there is any evidence, let them present it, we’ll consider [it].”

Russia’s defense ministry has answered this challenge by presenting their evidence which can be viewed in the video and images below:

isis oil turkey

isis-oil-trucks-1

isis-oil-trucks-2

Though Erdoğan seemingly proffered this offer without any sense of irony, the global community collectively wondered if, as Zero Hedge put it“the man who just finished starting a civil war just so he could regain a few lost seats in Parliament and who would just as soon throw you in jail as look at you if he thinks you might be a threat to his government,” could ever stick to such a promise.

Nobody has the right to slander Turkey by saying Turkey is buying Daesh [ISIS, Islamic State] oil,”Erdoğan asserted Wednesday from a university in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov retorted:

“Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq. According to information we’ve received, the senior political leadership of the country — President Erdoğan and his family — are involved in the criminal business. Maybe I’m being too blunt, but one can only entrust control over this thieving business to one’s closest associates.

“They have invaded the territory of another country and are brazenly plundering it.

“In the West, no one has asked questions about the fact that the Turkish president’s son heads one of the biggest energy companies, or that his son-in-law has been appointed energy minister. What a marvelous family business!

One notable omission by mainstream media in the U.S., concerning escalating tensions between Turkey and Russia, is a potentially explosive claim by opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) that Bilal Erdoğan’s company’s ships have stopped in ports in both Syria and Russia, transporting unknown commercial merchandise and food. Dr. Sezin Tanrikulu of the CHP explained the allegation in the Turkish daily newspaper, Cumhuriyet, whose chief editors were recently arrested and charged with espionage for reporting ostensible evidence about Turkey’s entanglement in the ISIS oil business:

“It was reported by the press that the ship G. Inebolu, belonging to Manta Denizcilik [BMZ Group], in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son is a partner, left the Russian port of Novorossiysk on April 3rd 2014, arrived in Istanbul on April 10 and on the same day traveled through the Aegean and Mediterranean and cast anchor in the Syrian port of Tartus, which is under the control of Esad [Assad].”

Tanrikulu goes on to ask what those goods might be, should those shipments be proven true — and more importantly, if a conflict exists with Erdoğan’s own son being involved in trade with Syria and Russia in this way.

What is perhaps most pertinent — and also most representative of the complexities rife in the Middle East imbroglio — is the extent to which Erdoğan knows about his son’s dealings, and precisely what those dealings might be. Wouldn’t such commerce with Syria’s Assad regime and Russia’s Putin administration directly contradict NATO’s support of member state, Turkey?

After accusations had been cast between the two increasingly belligerent States in late November, Iraq had finally had enough, and on Wednesday, demanded a U.N. Security Council investigation of the “criminals” smuggling ISIS oil.

“We don’t believe the Americans support Daesh,” said spokesperson for Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, Naseer Nouri.

But it is true that most people are saying they do, and they are right to believe that the Americans should be doing more than they are. It’s because America is so slow that most people believe they are supporting Daesh.”

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Where Does ISIS Get Its Funding? Maybe We Should Ask Our Allies

Argentina prepares for new phase of struggle as right wing elected

NOVANEWS
By Karla Reyes
Argentina prepares for new phase of struggle as right wing elected

On November 22 in Argentina, Mauricio Macri of the Let’s Change Alliance (Alianza Cambiemos), a conservative right-wing party, won the presidential election against Daniel Scioli of the Front for Victory party (Frente para la Victoria) with a marginal victory of 51.4% to Scoili’s 48.6%.  While not an electoral sweep, this conservative victory demonstrates that neoliberalism, and the emphasis on free trade, austerity and privatization that accompany it, threatens Argentina and the rest of Latin America. Macri’s electoral victory could mean the beginning of a right-wing tendency in the region that has had left-wing victories since Chavez’s victory in 1998.

A mere 24 hours after his victory, Macri immediately called for Venezuela’s suspension from Mercosur due to false charges of human rights violations by Maduro’s government. Mercosur, which stands for Mercado Común del Sur (Common Southern Market), is a regional organization meant to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency in South America. Full members of Mercosur include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

In a wry response to the human rights charges, noted Argentinian intellectual Dr. Atilio Boron wrote, “Macri seems to not have been informed that last October 28, the Bolivarian Republic was reelected to the UN Human Rights Council.” (Telesurtv.net, Nov. 24, 2015)

Membership to Mercosur requires a democracy clause that seeks to punish anti-democratic governments through isolation from the organization. Macri, however, needs unanimous support from Mercosur’s other full members, the majority of whom stand with Venezuela.

Macri’s plan to discredit Venezuela through regional institutions throws a wrench into the political integration of Latin America that Venezuela has worked tirelessly to foster. In this act of hostility so quickly after his victory, Marci seeks to prove his allegiance to U.S. imperialism.  Macri would open Argentina up to Europe and the U.S., an act that works against the purpose of sovereign, anti-imperialist organizations like CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and Mercosur.

The administrations of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández were marked by important gains including an increase in the minimum wage, a raise in the minimum retirement pension and number of retirees, and the growth of Argentina’s middle class. In addition, Argentina showed support for Venezuela and unifying regional organizations like ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People’s of our America). Macri’s victory is not only a threat to the Argentinean people and the gains they have made but also to the rising anti-imperialist solidarity in Latin America.

Macri also declared he would annul the memorandum of agreement with Iran that would establish a joint investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people. This incident was twisted by the right-wing opposition to accuse Iran and wage a defamation campaign against President Fernández. The hostile media hype served to weaken support for her administration, in addition to other destabilizing attacks.

Earlier this week, a group of legislators in Argentina called the Parliamentary Friends of Venezuela met to publicly express worries about Macri seeking Venezuela’s expulsion from Mercosur. Carolina Gaillard, an Argentinean legislator explained that, “it doesn’t help the country or the bloc or the region.” She cites that there are two reasons Macri will not win his efforts to expel Venezuela. One is that Macri does not count with the support of the other Mercosur members, namely Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay, and the other is that Venezuela is a legitimate government with a valid democratic process.

While Macri’s win is a threat to progressive governments, movements, and regional organizations in Latin America, the prospect for struggle remains strong. There is an impetus from the people’s movement to defend the people’s gains against a looming neo-liberal onslaught. Florencia Prego, a sociologist and representative from the radical left group in Argentina called Quebracho, explains to Telesur network that Macri’s attacks are part of a “conservative revenge” across Latin America to attack all progressive gains. Prego sheds light on the fact that the right wing will not easily win because of the high level of organization of the popular movement that is determined to defend national sovereignty, anti-imperialism and cooperation among all people.

The Madres de Plaza de Mayo, a group of mothers that organized beginning in the 1970s in Argentina as a response to the abductions, disappearances and murders of young left wing militants at the hands of the U.S.-backed military regime, have organized a demonstration on Dec. 10 against Macri. The main message of the protest will be “Ni Un Paso Atrás — Resistir es Combatir” (Not one step back, to resist is to fight). As progressives and revolutionaries across the world, we need to stand with Argentina’s people’s movement and their resistance efforts against neoliberalism and imperialist intervention.

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Argentina prepares for new phase of struggle as right wing elected

Venezuela elections, a battle to defend Revolution

NOVANEWS
Venezuela elections, a battle to defend Revolution

PSUV supporters rally as campaigning draws to a close.

Venezuela’s upcoming Dec. 6 elections for all 167 National Assembly seats could be critical for the future of the Bolivarian Revolution.

The Bolivarian Revolution is the process launched by Hugo Chávez in 1999. It includes great economic and social gains, a progressive Constitution and legislation, national control of Venezuela’s enormous oil reserves, and a declared goal of building socialism.

Threatening these gains and aims is an intensifying economic and political war waged by the right-wing opposition and the U.S. government in the lead-up to the elections. The campaign of aggression shows no signs of easing after Dec. 6.

The right-wing politicians—part of Venezuela’s capitalist class—hope to derail the revolutionary government by winning a majority of seats in the National Assembly.

Ominous detailed plans by the opposition to dismantle revolutionary laws and institutions were published in El Nacional, on Nov. 23, one of the main opposition newspapers.

A “non-governmental organization” called “Un Estado de Derecho,” made up of right-wing lawyers, has prepared a 40-page analysis in which it claims how the “rule of law” can be reinstated, if the opposition wins just 50 percent plus one seat. It is a blueprint describing a takeover of the Supreme Court, Attorney General, Public Defender and General Comptroller and reorganizing the Citizen and Electoral powers of the Constitution.

El Nacional emphasizes, “This will be just the first step.”

Un Estado de Derecho is one mere component of an array of organizations financed by the U.S. government, given training and direction in subversive tactics, under the claim of promoting “democracy.” Others include terrorist organizations and individuals that carry out violent attacks.

U.S. imperialism and Venezuelan capitalists are fighting for return of their unfettered political and economic power, something they cannot achieve solely through coups and sabotage.

Destabilization campaign deepens

When President Hugo Chávez died in March 2013, the opposition intensified violent attacks on civilians and Venezuela’s defense forces. President Nicolás Maduro and his government became the new target.

The arsenal of economic war by Venezuela’s most powerful capitalists includes hoarding of consumer goods, massive currency theft and flight of capital. The drastic drop in world oil prices has also contributed to high inflation and loss of government revenues.

Economic difficulties affecting the population are bound to cost support and voting abstention, even though the PSUV militants are those forces struggling to guarantee improvements for the masses.

Still, the revolutionary government has maintained a high investment in social development, including a record pace of housing construction averaging 480 homes per day, for a total of 1,000,000 homes to be built between 1999 and 2015.

On Nov. 19, President Maduro announced an astounding acceleration in construction, with 500,000 more homes to be built next year through the Great Venezuela Housing Mission (GMVV).

Election nears, false accusations against PSUV

For months, unsubstantiated accusations and sensational media claims have been hurled at the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and Maduro’s government, all with the aim of affecting the electoral outcome.

On Nov. 10, in a calculated operation of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, two men purported to be nephews of PSUV leader Cilia Flores were arrested in Haiti as their plane landed, and were charged with conspiring to import cocaine to the U.S. Strangely, no other person was arrested and the private plane was allowed to leave. Of course, the corporate media used this incident to smear Maduro and Flores, who is married to Maduro.

Cilia Flores is a longtime leftist and attorney who was instrumental in helping free Hugo Chávez from prison in the early 1990s after his courageous strike at the dictatorship of Carlos Andrés Pérez. She became the first woman president of the National Assembly and is a PSUV candidate for an Assembly seat.

On Nov. 25, a false accusation was launched internationally accusing the PSUV of murder after a man named Luis Manuel Díaz was shot to death in the state of Guárico south of Caracas at a campaign rally. Díaz had just recently become local leader of the right-wing party Acción Democrática.

With absolutely no facts or information on the case, U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby denounced Maduro’s government the next day, accusing it in an official statement of failing to protect opposition candidates. Other U.S. officials weighed in to denounce Venezuela’s government, including Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, as well as Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro, European Union officials and Amnesty International.

On Nov. 28, Venezuela Vice-president Jorge Arreaza held a special conference inviting all the foreign diplomatic corps and urging them to transmit the truth of the case to their countries.

Arreaza said, “It is a terrible media attack against Venezuela and happens each time there is an electoral process. It is a pattern, a script carefully thought out and planned.”

He explained that the initial investigation shows Díaz’s murder was the result of a confrontation of criminal gangs, Los Plateados, El Malony and El Juvenal, over control of activity in the state of Guárico. Díaz was a known member of Los Plateados and was under active investigation for murder.

Arreaza added, “It was a murder for hire … with the same weapon that killed that man, (Díaz) another member of the same band, Los Plateados, was murdered.”

Using sensationalist and unsubstantiated media stories to spread suspicion about PSUV leaders is a subversive tactic. When clarified, the damage is already done. The truth gets no headlines.

This is only a small part of the attacks the government and PSUV are being subjected to. Washington will likely repeat the lies after the election as well and declare the electoral outcome fraudulent if progressives win the majority.

Washington’s psychological operation in other countries’ elections is well known: Million-dollar funding, media lies and fear mongering, to affect an outcome favorable to U.S. interests.

What Washington fears most of all

The U.S. government has killed or wounded millions of people in its wars and occupation throughout the Middle East, in its determination to control the giant oil resources of the region.

Venezuela has the largest-known oil reserves of any country in the world.

Before Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution, U.S. and British oil companies reaped enormous profits with minimal royalties paid to Venezuela. Meanwhile, 80 percent of the people lived in poverty through the decade of the 1990s.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. had tightened the blockade against Cuba and imposed neo-liberal policies throughout Latin America and the Caribbean via government leaders subservient to Washington.

President Chávez put a stop to this submission in 1999 when he took office. Today, Venezuela’s oil belongs to the country, not the imperialist powers.

In 2004, Chávez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro launched a process of unprecedented unity among several countries that was never possible before, with the formation of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples, ALBA.

Washington’s influence diminished in recent years due to the revolutionary and progressive governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

This is why President Obama acceded to Latin American pressure to allow Cuba to attend the Organization of American States summit, and opened up diplomatic relations with Cuba. It is simply a change of tactics. The ultimate objective of reasserting its domination and overturning the revolutionary governments remains the same.

Solidarity urgent more than ever

The Venezuelan revolutionary leaders and pro-government masses are working non-stop to mobilize the people on Dec. 6, at the same time they struggle to defend people’s power and advance the Bolivarian Revolution.

The mass rallies, the “1×10” daily, door-to-door campaign to get the vote out for the PSUV and GPP candidates are not routine electoral exercises. It is a life-and-death struggle to defeat the oligarchy and U.S. imperialism’s latest offensive, and to fight for a socialist future. It is a fight for Latin America’s and the Caribbean’s true independence and sovereignty.

Progressive forces worldwide must know what is at hand if the right-wing and U.S. government were to defeat the government and progressive candidates. We must work ever more earnestly to defend the Bolivarian Revolution.

In the United States, the newly created Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee, along with the ANSWER Coalition, Alliance for Global Justice, U.S. chapters of FMLN, and many other groups, are mobilizing to hold rallies, meetings and other actions in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Haven, Conn., Dec. 5 and 6. In Vancouver, Canada, several organizations will hold a protest at the U.S. Consulate on Dec. 6, as well as forums. Actions are planned throughout Latin America. Information is available at: www.cuba-venezuela.org

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela elections, a battle to defend Revolution

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