Archive | December 1st, 2016

CIA’s Brainwashing Mayhem is in the Full Swing in the EU

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By Grete Mautner 

It is now an undisputed fact that the Western democratic values and the so-called “freedom of speech” that have been heralded for a long time as the principal achievements of the Western world are nothing but empty slogans. This is evidenced by the latest resolution of the European Parliament on countering Russia’s media influence dubbed the “EU strategic communications with a view to counteracting propaganda.” This document was initiated by a Polish member of the European Parliament, Anna Fotyga who claims that Russia has been providing financial support to opposition political parties and organizations in the EU, thereby undermining the unity of its states.

It is noteworthy that the authors behind this document are speaking about the necessity of media pluralism and freedom of information, while introducing a form of censorship against all Russian media sources.

At the same time those behind this curious paper advocate the revocation of Article 55 of Chapter IX of the UN Charter, which demands a universal respect and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone, regardless of their race, sex, language or religion, including the rights to freedom of expression.

It’s curious that delusional witch hunts and the suppression of alternative media sources have recently become one of the principal attributes of European politics. This is clearly shown by the report that has been presented by Dr Andrew Foxall, the Director of the Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society, that advocates the notion that activists, journalists, and politicians should point out the pro-Russian connections of individuals and parties across the political spectrum and challenge the credibility of these entities via political debates, while personal and organizational connections of left- and right-wing politicians and parties and their Russian counterparts should be mapped across Europe.

It’s curious that Dr Marcus Papadopoulos, the editor in chief of Politics First has been outraged by the above mentioned report, calling it manifestation of a modern form of McCarthyism. Papadopoulos is convinced that this is nothing but a slap in the face of freedom of speech and a rather stupid attempt to try to silence those who disagree with with the UK government.

It’s curious that UK politicians are convinced they can call “idiots” anybody who disagrees with their position.

Moreover, the “Foxall’s proclamation” was released on the eve of the discussion of the EU strategic communications with a view to counteracting propaganda in the EU parliament and has become a sort of foundation for this document.

This means that Operation Mockingbird which was launched by the CIA in the 1950s hasn’t been discontinued and is now being implemented in the EU. If you take a look at the rapidly growing funding of the European corporate media sources, it becomes obvious that America’s loyal puppets have been busy producing disinformation on a massive scale. Every day we witness new articles being published that have nothing in common with reality, yet no amount of evidence can force those corporate media sources to confess that they’ve been deliberately lying.

Just take a look at the role Western media played in the Ukrainian crisis, where Russia’s position is just being ignored by every single Western journal and newspaper. Yet, the fact that Russia hasn’t been preparing any sort of occupation of Ukraine has been proven by France’s military intelligence, General Christophe Gomart in the speech he delivered in front of the French National Assembly. Yet, his report was just ignored.

It must be clearly understood that a web of deception is always being created by the CIA in those regions and in those periods when specific Washington’s actions may become the cause of serious criticism and may lead to the manifestation of one’s independence from the United States. For this purpose, the White House annually allocates billions of dollars to the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID, the CIA and countless NGOs to spread disinformation. However, such steps are not causing alarm among European politicians, that are subjecting their people to vassal dependency on Washington and its position.

Back in 2011 the Guardian reported:

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world. The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces. Since then, OEV is reported to have expanded into a $200m programme and is thought to have been used against jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Today we can witness the direct result of this program on most European forums, where those dissatisfied with their elected officials are being subjected to harassment and trolling. Yes, the delusional notion about the so-called “Russian propaganda” is the talk of the day in the EU, while Washington’s aggressive disinformation campaign is being silently ignored, as if nothing of interest was happening in this domain.

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A Second Attempt at the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base

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Adelina Marini

The European Commission is making a second attempt at implementing a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) after the previous attempt in 2011 failed. Chances of success are not too big this time either, but the Commission relies on the new approach towards one of the most controversial European dossiers to soften the resistance. It also relies on the different situation in the EU, which is both favourable and hostile at the same time – on the one hand there are already positive attitudes towards common efforts in fighting tax fraud and the evasion of taxes, but on the other hand common European ice is quite thin these days. The EC first proposed the CCCTB in 2011 with the idea of making the single market one step more single. Negotiations in the Council, however, stalled and ultimately the proposal was placed in the freezer.

Last year, when it presented its action plan, the EC announced its intention of resurrecting the project, but this time it decided to split it in two parts. The first step is gaining a common base and the second step is consolidation. A common base would mean a common set of rules for taxation of company profits, keeping in consideration all the different exceptions and allowances. For example, the common base would guarantee that all member states allow for an equal depreciation of assets or allow as non-taxable a certain type of expenses. This means that the calculation of the taxable base would be much easier throughout the EU. Consolidation means that multinational companies would be able to add up all their profits and losses from daughter companies in different member states and calculate their net profit or loss on EU level.

When the tax base of the company is established, its taxable profit will be distributed between member states in which it operates using a special formula, which will account for three factors: the company’s assets in the respective member state (buildings, machinery); labour that the company is using in the country (number of employees or cost of labour); sales that the company has made in the member state, with this factor being calculated based on the destination of the produced goods (where will they be sold, or where the service is being done).

This is one of the major changes compared to the 2011 proposal. The other alteration is that the CCCTB will now be mandatory for all companies with incomes exceeding 750 million euro per annum. In the previous proposal, volunteering was one of the most controversial elements. Small and mid-size enterprises (SME) as well as start-ups can join the system voluntarily if they wish to take advantage of the possibility to save on expenses. Currently, 30% of taxes paid by SMEs go for administration. Expenses become much higher when the company expands beyond the borders of a single member state. The EC assures that with CCCTB those expenses will be drastically lowered.

Another new moment in the proposal is that the research and development expenses will have a large discount. If a company is spending, for example, 30 million euro for R&D, it will be entitled to deducting all the expenses from its taxable income – 30 million euro. Besides, the company receives an additional 50% discount for the first 20 million, which is 10 more million. 25% more are discounted for the next 10 million. So, the company can deduct a total of 42.5 million euro from its tax base.

With this proposal, the EC aims at discouraging taking out loans. Currently, the taxation systems in member states are favouring loans by allowing deduction of interest. With the CCCTB, the Commission offers a similar treatment of equity, for when there is preferential treatment of loans companies tend to get in debt. This makes them more vulnerable and economies more crisis-prone. The EC proposes an instrument which will award tax breaks to companies, which are financed on the capitals markets. The proposal is for the tax break to be valid for ten years.

The Commission insists that the CCCTB does not mean harmonisation of tax rates. Member states will continue to be independent in setting their corporate tax rates. The CCCTB will make corporate tax more transparent in the EU and thus make tax competition in the Union fairer, the EC hopes. The proposal was announced at the end of October and was discussed for the first time by the EU ministers of finance on November 8. The public part of the discussion was quite general and as a whole demonstrated a positive attitude towards the new proposal. This, however, cannot be considered a success of the EC’s second attempt, for the essential work on the document has not begun yet. When discussions of the document begin, article by article, then it will become clear whether the new mission will turn out to be possible.

European Commissioner for Taxation Pierre Moscovici (France, Socialists and Democrats) underlined that the two-stage approach does not mean that the first step will be made and then deliberations will start on whether to move to the second one. French Minister of Finance Michel Sapin hailed the proposal and pointed out that this is a very opportune moment for it. His Dutch colleague, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also Eurogroup boss, gave a lukewarm approval of the proposal. He said it is right to use the current public and political debate, but warned that the proposal needs to be reviewed in detail and gain the approval of national parliaments.

Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan supported Pierre Moscovici by stating that the proposal must be accepted in its entirety and not be boiled down to just its first part. Luis de Guindos (Spain) said that the new proposal is far more acceptable than the previous one. Many of his colleagues also hailed the two-step approach. De Guindos did voice concerns about whether the CCCTB could have negative impact on corporate tax collection. Reserves could be felt in almost all ministers, but the strongest ones came from Poland and Hungary. The issue is especially important to Poland because, in the words of Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in the last eight years revenues from corporate tax have doubled. He welcomed the two-step approach, but stated that consolidation is a very complex question.

Minister of National Economy of Hungary Agnes Hornung was far more reserved. She questioned whether the CCCTB will achieve its goals regarding competitiveness. Budapest is sceptical of this and prefers that more attention is paid on the stricter implementation of OECD rules on base erosion and profit shifting. Reserves were put forward by Denmark as well, which worries that the Directive may lower the tax base and thus tax revenues. Denmark is also concerned about the efficiency of national measures for fighting tax evasion. Copenhagen is of the opinion that stricter measures against tax evasion will not work well with a harmonised tax base.

Romania, too, was concerned about tax incomes. In her opinion, some member states will benefit from the CCCTB at the expense of others. Besides, Bucharest worries that the project may impact member states’ budget planning. The most expected reaction was of Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan, for Ireland has for years been violently opposed to any measures, which could affect its corporate tax. Mr Noonan’s reaction was composed. He called the proposals “very interesting”, but preferred that initially member states support the anti-hybrid rules, so that the full implementation of OECD recommendations against BEPS is guaranteed.

The Irish minister welcomed the idea that the CCCTB is separated in two stages, but warned that he needs to consult with the government and parliament, for the proposal could bring “a significant narrowing of the Irish corporation tax base”. A total of 14 states took part in the discussion. The Minister of Finance of Slovakia Peter Kažimír, who presides the Council until the end of the year, was unusually frank in admitting that, coming from a small member state, he too has reserves, but the current environment is different. There is movement in this direction globally. “I hope God will bless the Maltese and Estonian presidency and we’ll move [the dossier] further. Taxation are always difficult issues”, summarised the minister.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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Syrian Government Forces Are Close to Full Liberation of Aleppo City

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A large buildup of pro-government forces took place in southern Aleppo. Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba deployed a significant number of manpower to the area. This move has once against fueled massive speculations in pro-government media outlets that the Syrian army and its allies are going to advance in the direction of Khan Tuman. However, this move can be hardly expected in the near future.

Now, the Syrian military’s main goal is to develop momentum in eastern Aleppo in order to push militants to surrender and to set a full-control over Aleppo city. Government forces deployed contingent in southern Aleppo to strengthen the pressure on militants in the southern part of eastern Aleppo pocket, tacking advantage on their lack of manpower and military supplies. While Jaish al-Fatah militant coalition will try repel government attacks in southern and northern directions, the Syrian military will likely launch a splitting attack in the direction of Aleppo Citadel, putting the end to the battle for Aleppo city.

Over 800 members of militant groups have laid down arms and surrendered to the Syrian government over last 48 hours.

ISIS announced on Tuesday that the terrorist group had captured 2 Turkish soldiers in the area west of al-Bab in the province of Aleppo. Later the Turkish Army confirmed that it had lost contact with 2 of its soldiers in northern Syria. The fate of military personnel is unknown.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan said on Tuesday that the Turkish Army and the so-called “FSA” entered Syria to put an end to the rule of “the tyrant al-Assad”. Erdogan’s statement highlighted Ankara’s pretension and most likely marked the end of tactical rapprochement between Turkey and Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance over the Syrian conflict that had taken place after Moscow imposed a sanction regime on the Erdogan regime last year. Now, Turkey will most likely make an attempt to defeat YPG and Syrian government forces deployed near al-Bab to open the way to capturing of this logistical hub.

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces have liberated the village of Mid’ani from Jaish al-Islam militants in the Eastern Ghouta region of Rif Damascus province. Government forces are now advancing Hawsh Shalaq. The Syrian military has been preparing a major military operation to restore control over the whole region and has already deployed reinforcements for this. Sources say that up to 10,000 military personnel could be involved in the offensive.

The Syrian government is setting up control over the whole Western Ghouta region. On November 28, 29 and 30 groups of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham militants and their families were transferred from Khan al-Shih and Zakiyah to Idlib. Reports say militants from Muqalibah and Taiybah have agreed to hand over the villages to the Syrian government. Militant units deployed in Marranah will likely joint the deal.

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New U.S. Troops Arrive in Yemen while Saudis Kill 13 more Civilians

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Yemen

A report says more American military forces have arrived in Yemen’s port city of Aden to join the contingent of U.S. troops allegedly fighting al-Qaeda militants in the country’s south.

Yemen’s al-Masirah television channel published footage showing American troops arriving in Aden.

The report further said the new batch is apparently linked to the U.S. troops already deployed in al-Anad Airbase and other Yemeni areas, adding that the deployment is aimed at reinforcing the U.S. forces claiming to be fighting al-Qaeda terrorists.

The TV report added the development reveals the true intention of the U.S.-backed Saudi aggression against Yemen, which is to gain dominance over the Arabian Peninsula state and loot its wealth.

The deployment of U.S. troops to Yemen, the report said, shows Washington is pursuing its own interests in the war-torn country and seeks to expand its military presence there.

The Pentagon has been providing logistics and surveillance support to Saudi Arabia in its military aggression against Yemen, the kingdom’s impoverished southern neighbor, which has killed at least 11,400 civilians since its onset in March 2015, according to a latest tally by a Yemeni monitoring group.

In the latest development, Yemeni security and medical officials say at least 13 civilians have been killed by a Saudi-led military coalition air raid in a western port city.

The officials told the Associated Press on Monday that airstrikes hit two homes in rural areas north-east of Hodeida.

Among the victims are women and children, according to a medical official in al-Thawra hospital.

The airstrikes, which took place on Saturday, also destroyed telecommunications towers. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to speak to the press.

Yemen’s army and fighters of the popular committees have carried out retaliatory attacks against military positions on the Saudi territory amid the kingdom’s ongoing airstrikes.

According to Yemen’s al-Masirah news website, the Yemeni forces fired artillery shells at a Saudi army base in the southwestern region of Asir.

The Yemeni forces also launched mortar attacks against Saudi military positions in the southwestern province of Najran.

Yemeni snipers killed seven Saudi soldiers in Asir and the province of Jizan.

Meanwhile, the head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council warned Saudi Arabia and the U.S. that the country’s forces are determined to reclaim its soil, one step at a time.

Saleh Ali al-Sammad made the remarks in a Facebook post, saying, sooner or later, Yemen will defeat all those who violate its sovereignty under whatever pretext.

“Yemen will take back its soil from Al Saud and its American masters,” he said.

Sammad was referring to the controversially close alliance between Riyadh and Washington, which has seen the latter generously arming the former during its unbridled bombing of Yemen and even lending advisory support to the bombardment.

The U.S. approved more than $20 billion in military sales to the kingdom in 2015 alone.

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Ohio Muslim “Attacker” Shot Dead by Police: What They Really Mean by “Influenced by Islam”

terrorists-usa

Somali immigrant Abdul Razak Ali Artan is alleged to have carried out an attack, injuring 11 until he was eventually shot dead by police.

Alleged alternative media platform, Breitbart News, immediately set to work to link the attack to “Islam” and “refugees” in articles like, “Ohio State Attacker Posted Anti-US Screed to Facebook Movements Before Attack.”

It mirrors similar, cherry-picked journalism Breitbart used to cover another attack carried out by a Somali-American in Minnesota earlier this year, in a wider campaign both Breitbart, and a larger segment of the establishment’s right cover are engaged in to reintroduce the Bush-era “clash of civilizations” narrative into the alternative media.

Yet neither Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s status as an alleged “Muslim” nor his being a Somali refugee had anything to do with his alleged radicalization.

The US and its Allies Radicalized Abdul Razak Ali Artan 

“Radical Islam” is a synonym for the legions of armed terrorists and ideological extremists cultivated by the United States and its Saudi and Qatari allies since the 1980s. Forming up organizations including Al Qaeda itself and its offshoots including Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria and the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS), these terrorists and ideological extremists have fought the proxy wars of the West and their allies from the mountains of Afghanistan to the shores of Libya, and everywhere in between.

These legions of terrorists and ideological extremists have also played an integral part in justifying the construction of an unprecedented, Western-wide domestic police state that , while predicated on “fighting terrorism,” has been utilized to wage war on all enemies, foreign and domestic, of Western special interests.

Regarding domestic terrorism in particular, it has been revealed that many “foiled” terrorist attacks have simply been Western security services entrapping and leading along suspects toward the execution of terrorist attacks. Often, at the last minute, firing pins are removed from weapons, and inert substances swapped with real explosives to avert successful attacks before dramatically arresting the suspects.

In other incidents, successful attacks are carried out by suspects long-known to security agencies, some of whom have known ties to terrorist organizations and are known to be involved in terrorist activity, but are otherwise inexplicably allowed to operate freely until carrying out their attacks.

Whether a “foiled” attack or a successful bloodbath, increased powers are transferred to Western governments while populations are further distracted and divided along religion, race, and politics, and indifference toward wars fought abroad grows.

The US Sought the Rise of ISIS 

And while Breitbart attempts to insinuate ISIS may have influenced Abdul Razak Ali Artan, it should be remembered who cultivated and ultimately created ISIS as a strategic asset in the first place.

A Department of Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo first published in 2012 (PDF) admitted:

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran). 

The DIA memo then explains exactly who this “Salafist principality’s” supporters are (and who its true enemies are):

The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.

It has been through a torrent of billions of dollars worth of weapons, supplies, and US-NATO trained terrorists that have sustained ISIS’ fighting capacity over the last several years. When a Syrian-Russian-Iranian coalition began shutting down the Turkish-Syrian border over which the summation of ISIS’ supplies crossed, Turkey organized and implemented a US-backed invasion of a “buffer zone” within Syrian territory to ensure the last supply corridor remained opened.

Image: ISIS terrorist wielding a US-made TOW anti-tank missile near Palmyra, eastern Syria.

Saudi Arabia and neighboring Qatar’s state sponsorship of not only armed terrorist organizations, but also indoctrination centers established around the world is the other variable unmentioned by the likes of Breitbart in the “radicalization” equation.

These centers, which could easily be differentiated from legitimate mosques by honest journalism and investigations by local law enforcement, their funding traced, and their facilities closed down, are instead used as recruiting centers – often right in the center of Western nations – to fill the ranks of Al Qaeda and ISIS, as well as manage and exploit extremists when they eventually return home. In addition to operating physical centers, they also produce an immense amount of propaganda used online, over radio waves, and on TV to attract and “radicalize” recruits.

If Abdul Razak Ali Artan was influenced by ISIS and Saudi-Qatari propaganda, or inspired by the deadly exploits of terrorists waging war abroad, who is to blame but the state sponsors of ISIS and those nations who prop up the Saudi-Qatari regimes – a terrorist organization and two nations that would not even exist without the immense and constant supply of political support, cash, and weaponry provided to them both from abroad?

Image: Shoulder-to-shoulder, literally, with Saudi state sponsors of terrorism, America’s “right” attend a rally in support of armed terrorist front, Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) which kidnapped and killed US military officers, US civilian contractors, and hundreds of Iranian civilians. Many of these characters are regularly interviewed and their views promoted by Breitbart.

It is not “Islam” or “being Somali,” that allegedly incited Abdul Razak Ali Artan – if “ISIS” played a role in his “radicalization” – it was a toxic, geopolitically-motivated ideology created for the sole purpose of filling the ranks of a global mercenary force – not to achieve “Islamic hegemony,” but to augment America’s existing hegemony and threaten the influence, even the existence of America’s global competitors.

Perhaps the most tragic irony of the establishment’s attempt to retrench its talking points within the alternative media through cognitive infiltrators like Breitbart is that the majority of the Islamic World is victim to, not benefiting from such extremism. It is the sons and daughters of  Muslims serving on the front lines fighting extremists in cities like Aleppo, the edge of Damascus, and across Libya and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Breitbart’s editors sit comfortably at home, fulfilling US communication strategist Cass Sunstein’s dream of infiltrating and disrupting the alternative media – diverting attention away from the real money and power driving terrorism, and instead implicating Islam – as if US-made TOW anti-tank missiles were summoned from the pages of the Qu’ran, and not delivered from an armory in Saudi Arabia, stocked by their American allies – including those Americans who regularly appear in Breitbart interviews.

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The Liberation of Aleppo: Tears, Hugs and Smiles, the Relief of Escaping Imprisonment in East Aleppo

Aleppo-escape

These images and videos will never see the light of day in the corporate media editing rooms because they expose their almost six year narrative on Syria as one of the most criminal propaganda projects ever deployed against a sovereign nation, its people, its state and its national army.

The prolonged dehumanization of the majority of the Syrian people, the exploitation of their children as cynical props to further the NATO & Gulf state geo-political objectives in the region, the overt and covert endorsement of NATO State-proxy terrorism, the tacit endorsement of economic terrorism via the illegal US/EU sanctions against Syria, all amount to crimes against Humanity and the Syrian people.

The #FakeNews “regime change” cohorts are seeing their pyramid of lies being dismantled stone by stone, by the very people they have been claiming to “protect” for almost six years.

This video shows the reactions of civilians, fleeing their four year imprisonment in East Aleppo, subjugated by various militant factions, funded by NATO states and led by Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda.  The first woman, collapses into tears, as she reaches the journalist.  These touching moments will be sullied by the corporate media reporting and accounting of events, as they desperately try to resuscitate their expiring Aleppo chronicles.

Translation of what is being said by Suleiman Milad

“They are saying God bless the army and they send their greetings to the army. They also said that there was no food and water where they were in eastern Aleppo between terrorist groups , they also said that terrorists treated them very bad and that the army helped them get out to safe areas. They also showed very big happiness seeing the interviewer who is a very famous war reporter in Syrian for Syrian official TV.”

The following images were taken of the fleeing civilians in the last 24 hours.

“Today, more civilians exited terrorists held areas, and reached to Hanano & Al-Sakhour which are under the control of the SAA in Aleppo.”

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Sarah Abdallah, analyst and commentator, notes the following:

“Syrian Arab Army’s remarkable east Aleppo advancement continues:

Four more districts freed today, including the pivotal region of Sakhour. In the last 48 hours alone, 12 east Aleppo districts have been liberated. From one area to the next, the “moderate” terrorists are melting down. Most important news today though is the SAA’s recapture of the Suleiman al-Halabi Water Pumping Station. The Aleppo water crisis is over! Since 2012, Turkish-backed “jihadists” have withheld water from Aleppo’s residents as a means of blackmailing them into supporting the “revolution”. This has led to unprecedented levels of sickness and malnourishment. But now, the SAA has restored water to more than one million people as it moves ever-closer to freeing Aleppo entirely.

21st Century Wire will continue to post brief but informative updates as we receive them from known and verified sources on the ground in Aleppo and across Syria or the region.

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The Dangerous Bias of the “Unbiased” About Fidel’s Cuba

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Castro Révolution cubaine

When I wrote an article on Cuba’s philosophical traditions, a left-wing friend, also a friend of Cuba, said I should acknowledge and address Cuba’s alleged human rights violations. Unless I did that I was presenting Fidel Castro as a “Messianic figure”. I am not being objective.

Ideas are Cuba’s best gift to the world. Fidel Castro expressed them, in deed, speech and theory. If I write about something Canada does well, should I discuss the residential school programs, or the suicide epidemic among youth (even in rich southern Ontario). These matter deeply to the country’s self-conception. Yet no one will accuse me of bias if I leave them out writing about philosophy in Canada.

In the case of Cuba, any positive reference, no matter what the topic, without equal space for Cuba’s human rights violations, is considered unfairly biased.

To be objective, we consider opposing positions. But the reality is that there exist careful, informed arguments that: Cuba is democratic, Fidel is not a dictator, Cuba`s human rights violations are exaggerated and not as serious as many other countries. The point is not that the arguments are sound. It is that they exist. They are made by intelligent, morally responsible scholars. They are not silly.

So the question is: When the “unbiased” make routine references to Cuba`s human rights violations, do they address these arguments? Do they know about them? If they do not, they are guilty of bad argument, and unfair bias. This is just a point about scholarship. The human rights criticisms against Cuba have been answered over and over again, in the UN, in documentaries (e.g. Saul Landau’s Will the real terrorist please stand up?) and in entire books. The responses are ignored.

Nonetheless, I am required to repeat the criticisms, in order to be considered fair when I make an argument about the value of Cuba’s philosophical traditions.

When my students want me to be objective, they are asking me to be fair. I should not rely upon personal likes and dislikes regarding, for example, their appearance and personalities. However, they do want me to follow my preferences for clear writing, good argument and serious research. These are also values. They can also be called biases.

When I first spent time in Cuba, I was criticized for talking to members of the Communist Party. To be objective, I should talk to dissidents. I considered this criticism. It was true that I wasn’t spending time with dissidents, but it was not true that I disregarded their ideas. Such ideas inform institutions I’d lived with my entire life – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), for example, which equates democracy and capitalism, never acknowledging, even remotely, opposing conceptions.

At that time, the Soviet Union had just collapsed, and Cuba had lost 85 percent of its trade almost overnight. The economic crisis was severe. It was easy to understand why people were discontented and why some were leaving for the US. It was much harder to understand those who refused to leave, who said they didn’t know where they were going but that they could not/would not turn back.

And there they were: warm, funny, likeable, and intelligent people, working for independence, without lights, pens, or enough food. I was more challenged by their stories than by those of the dissidents, which is not to disrespect the latter. I have spent more than two decades trying to understand what José Martí describes as the “heroism” of pursuing a line of thought “in an orderly way”, day by day, against the prevailing global orthodoxy. Even so, I am only beginning to understand.

Some researchers claim to make no value judgments. They listen to the stories of the people. I asked one in Cuba whether she interviewed members of the government or the Cuban Communist Party. She looked surprised and said no, not intentionally. She considered herself “non- judgmental,” and yet deliberately discounted some Cubans, without argument. Apparently this had not occurred to her.

Wherever Fidel Castro went in the world, including to Canada for Pierre Trudeau’s funeral, people poured into the streets, in the hundreds of thousands, or more. The “unbiased” wouldn’t have known about these events because they weren’t reported by CNN or the CBC. The “unbiased” won’t find the explanation for them either because it is not consistent with the “balance” being “unbiased” requires.

Castro said once that there are two struggles. One is the social, political and economic struggle for justice and independence. The other is the struggle for the story that will be told about the first struggle. Some say the second one is harder. Chinua Achebe wrote that there are some who rush to battle and some who tell the story afterward. Some think it is easy to control the story. But, he says, they are fools.

Those who know the truth about the Cuban Revolution must do the hard work of the second struggle. It won’t be just Cubans. But whether in the North or the South the struggle won’t be unbiased. It shouldn’t be unbiased. It has to forge more adequate concepts – some philosophical – which means disturbing the balance of comforting liberal certainties. Fidel Castro’s ideas are a vehicle.

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Fidel Castro: More Than a Friend of Palestine, Much More

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By Telesur

 

Under the leadership of Comandante Fidel Castro and his comrades, Cuba has played an outsized role in supporting revolutionary and progressive movements around the world, far greater than might be expected from a relatively small country. Some of Revolutionary Cuba’s actions are well-known, such as the its role in defeating the CIA/South African attempt to conquer Angola in the 1970s and 80s. The decisive Battle of Cuito Cuanavale was not only a victory for the Angolan people, it was also a key factor in the downfall of the apartheid regime in South Africa itself. Cuba’s solidarity with numerous movements in Latin America is widely documented.

Less known, is the long history of Cuba’s solidarity with the Palestinian and other struggles in the Middle East and North Africa, a history that began only months after the 1959 revolution. A few months after the triumph, Raul Castro and Che Guevara visited Cairo, making contact with African liberation movements based there, and also visited Gaza, then under Egyptian administration, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

Cuba saluted the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964, and established ties with the FATAH movement the following year. A close alliance was developed between Cuba and the leftist government of Syria in the late 1960s, and at the time both supported FATAH after it became the dominant force in the PLO. Cuba provided political, educational and military support to FATAH, as well as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front (DFLP), the second and third largest organizations in the PLO.

The 1966 Havana-based Tricontinental Conference called for uniting the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America in a united struggle against “colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism.” In his closing speech Fidel spoke of “the warm support of the conference” for the Palestinian people.

Following the October 1973 war, Cuba broke diplomatic relations with Israel. The next year, Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the PLO was received as a head of state when he visited Havana, and later an Embassy of Palestine was established in Cuba.

In 1975, Cuba was one of the sponsors of UN Resolution 3379 that branded Zionism “a form of racism and racial discrimination,” and passed by a vote of 97-35-32.

Following the 1978 Camp David Accord, which split Egypt away from the other Arab states and dealt a severe blow to the Palestinians, Cuba supported the “Steadfastness Front” made up of Syria, Libya, Algeria and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen). Camp David paved the way for Israel’s murderous assault on Lebanon and the Palestinian refugee camps, which left over 30,000 people dead, and was condemned by the Cuban government.

Cuba gave strong support to the mass Palestinian Intifada that began in late 1987.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, killing more than 1,460 Palestinians and wounding over 10,000, Fidel wrote, “Why does the government of this country (Israel) think that the world will be impervious to this macabre genocide that is being committed today against the Palestinian people?”

The major Palestinian organizations issued statements of mourning, and manifestations of solidarity took place across Palestine. The PFLP’s message, said much about Fidel Castro’s historic role:

“From Angola to South Africa, Palestine to Mozambique, Bolivia to El Salvador, Castro’s legacy of international revolutionary solidarity and struggle continues to serve as an example in practice that transcends borders toward revolution, democracy and socialism.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, CUBAComments Off on Fidel Castro: More Than a Friend of Palestine, Much More

“Orders to Kill” Dr. Martin Luther King

“Orders to Kill” Dr. Martin Luther King: The Government that Honors MLK with a National Holiday Killed Him

A Review of The Plot to Kill King by William Pepper

 
martin-luther-king-jr

Very few Americans are aware of the truth behind the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Few books have been written about it, unlike other significant assassinations, especially JFK’s. For almost fifty years there has been a media blackout supported by government deception to hide the truth. 

And few people, in a massive act of self-deception, have chosen to question the absurd official explanation, choosing, rather, to embrace a mythic fabrication intended to sugarcoat the bitter fruit that has resulted from the murder of the one man capable of leading a mass movement for revolutionary change in the United States.  Today we are eating the fruit of our denial.

In order to comprehend the significance of this extraordinary book, it is first necessary to dispel a widely accepted falsehood about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. William Pepper does that on the first page.

To understand his death, it is essential to realize that although he is popularly depicted and perceived as a civil rights leader, he was much more than that.  A non-violent revolutionary, he personified the most powerful force for the long-overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.

In other words, Martin Luther King was a transmitter of a non-violent spiritual and political energy so plenipotent that his very existence was a threat to an established order based on violence, racism, and economic exploitation.  He was a very dangerous man.

Revolutionaries are, of course, anathema to the power elites who, with all their might, resist such rebels’ efforts to transform society.  If they can’t buy them off, they knock them off.  Forty-eight years after King’s assassination, the causes he fought for – civil rights, the end to U.S. wars of aggression , and economic justice for all – remain not only unfulfilled, but have worsened in so many respects.  And King’s message has been enervated by the sly trick of giving him a national holiday and urging Americans to make it “a day of service.”  Needless to say, such service does not include non-violent war resistance or protesting a decadent system of economic injustice.

Because MLK repeatedly called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence on earth,” he was universally condemned by the mass media and government that later – once he was long and safely dead – praised him to the heavens.  This has continued to the present day of historical amnesia.

But William Pepper resurrects the revolutionary MLK, and in doing so shows in striking detail why elements within the U.S. government executed him.  After reading this book, no fair-minded reader can reach any other conclusion.  The Plot to Kill King, the culminating volume of a trilogy that Pepper has written on the assassination, consists of slightly less text than supporting documentation in its appendices, which include numerous depositions and interviews that buttress Pepper’s thesis on the why and how of this horrible murder.  It demands a close reading that should put to rest any pseudo-debates about the essentials of the case.

Pepper, an attorney who represented the King family in the 1999 trial that found U.S. officials of the federal (in particular, the FBI and Army Intelligence), state, and local governments responsible for King’s assassination, has worked on the King case since 1977.  He met MLK in 1967, after King had read his Ramparts’ magazine article, “The Children of Vietnam,” that exposed the hideous effects of U.S. napalm and white phosphorous bombing on young and old Vietnamese innocents.  The text and photos of that article reduced King to tears and were instrumental in his increased opposition to the war against Vietnam as articulated in his dramatic Riverside Church speech (“Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence”) on April 4, 1967, one year to the day before his execution in Memphis.  That speech, in which King so powerfully and publically linked the war with racism and economic exploitation, foretold his death at the hands of the perpetrators of those abominations.

Devastated by King’s death, and assuming the alleged assassin James Earl Ray was responsible, Pepper retreated from the fray until a 1977 conversation with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, King’s associate, who raised the specter of Ray’s innocence.  After a five hour interrogation of the imprisoned Ray in 1978, Pepper was convinced that Ray did not shoot King and set out on a forty year quest to uncover the truth.

Before examining the essentials of Pepper’s discovery, it is important to point out that MLK, Jr, his father, Rev. M. L. King, Sr, and his maternal grandfather, Rev. A.D. Williams, all pastors of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, were spied on by Army Intelligence and the FBI since 1917.  All were considered communist sympathizers and dangerous to the reigning hegemony because of their espousal of racial and economic equality.  When MLK, Jr. forcefully denounced unjust and immoral war-making as well, and announced his Poor People’s Campaign and intent to lead a massive peaceful encampment of hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., he set off panic in the bowels of government spies and their masters.  Seventy-five years of spying on black religious leaders here found its ultimate “justification.”  As Stokely Carmichael, co-chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, said to King in a conversation secretly recorded by Army Intelligence, “The man don’t care you call ghettos concentration camps, but when you tell him his war machine is nothing but hired killers, you got trouble.”

It is against this “trouble” that Pepper’s investigation must be set, as that “trouble” is also the background for the linked assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, and RFK.  Understanding the forces behind the military, the spies, and the gunmen who, while operating in the shadows, are actually the second layer of the onion skin, is essential.  The government and mainstream corporate media form the outer layer with their collusion in disinformation, lying, and truth suppression, but Pepper correctly identifies the core as follows.

Bombastic, chauvinistic, corporate propaganda aside, where the slaughter of innocents is, and always was, justified in the name of patriotism and national security, it has always and ever been about money.  Corporate and financial leaders trusted with the keys to the Republic’s treasure moved from boardrooms to senior government positions and back again.  Construction, oil and gas, defense industry, and pharmaceutical corporations, their bankers, brokers, and executives thrive in a war economy.  Fortunes are made and dynasties created and perpetuated and a cooperating elite permeates an entire society and ultimately contaminates the world in its drive for national resources wherever they are ….Vietnam was his [King’s] Rubicon …. Here, as never before, would he seriously challenge the interests of the power elite.

MLK was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at 6:01 PM as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  He was shot in the lower right side of his face by one rifle bullet that shattered his jaw, damaged his upper spine, and came to rest below his left shoulder blade.  The U.S. government claimed the assassin was a racist loner named James Earl Ray, who had escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary on April 23, 1967.  Ray was alleged to have fired the fatal shot from a second-floor bathroom window of a rooming house above the rear of Jim’s Grill across the street.  Running to his rented room, Ray allegedly gathered  his belongings, including the rifle, in a bedspread-wrapped bundle, rushed out the front door onto the adjoining street, and in a panic dropped the bundle in the doorway of the Canipe Amusement Company a few doors down.  He was then said to have jumped into his white Mustang and driven to Atlanta where he abandoned the car.  From there he fled to Canada and then to England where he was eventually arrested at Heathrow Airport on June 8, 1968 and extradited to the U.S.  The state claims that the money Ray needed to purchase the car and for all his travel was secured through various robberies and a bank heist. Ray’s alleged motive was racism and that he was a bitter and dangerous loner.

When Ray, under extraordinary pressure, coercion, and a payoff from his lawyer to take a plea, pleaded guilty (only a few days later to request a trial that was denied) and was sentenced to 99 years in prison, the case seemed to be closed, and was dismissed from public consciousness.  Another hate-filled lone assassin, shades of Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan, had committed a despicable deed.

In the years leading up to Pepper’s 1978 involvement, only a few lonely voices expressed doubts about the government’s case – Harold Weisberg in 1971 and Mark Lane and Dick Gregory in 1977.  The rest of the country put themselves and the case to sleep.  They are still sleeping, but Pepper is trying with this last book to wake them up.  Meanwhile, the disinformation specialists continue with their lies.

While a review is not the place to go into every detail of Pepper’s rebuttal of the government’s shabby claims, let me say at the outset that he emphatically does so, and adds in the process some tentative claims of which he is not certain but which, if true, are stunning.

As with the assassinations of President Kennedy and his brother, Robert (two months after MLK), all evidence points to the construction of patsies to take the blame for government executions.  Ray, Oswald, and Sirhan all bear striking resemblances in the ways they were chosen and moved as pawns over long periods of time into positions where their only reactions could be stunned surprise when they were accused of the murders.

It took Pepper many years to piece together the essential truths, once he and Abernathy interviewed Ray in prison in 1978.  The first giveaway that something was seriously amiss came with the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations’ report on the King assassination.  Led by Robert Blakey, suspect in his conduct of the other assassination inquiries, who had replaced Richard Sprague, who was deemed to be too independent, “this multi-million dollar investigation ignored or denied all evidence that raised the possibility that James Earl Ray was innocent,” and that government forces might be involved.  Pepper lists over twenty such omissions that rival the absurdities of the magical thinking of the Warren Commission. The HSCA report became the template “for all subsequent disinformation in print and visual examinations of this case” for the past thirty-seven years.

Pepper’s decades-long investigation, not only refutes the government’s case against James Earl Ray, but definitively proves that King was killed by a government conspiracy led by the FBI, Army Intelligence, and Memphis Police, assisted by southern Mafia figures. He is right to assert that “we have probably acquired more detailed knowledge about this political assassination than we have ever had about any previous historical event.”  This makes the silence around this case even more shocking.  This shock is accentuated when one is reminded (or told for the first time) that in 1999 a Memphis jury, after a thirty day trial and over seventy witnesses, found the U.S. government guilty in the killing of MLK.  The King family had brought the suit and William Pepper represented them.  They were grateful that the truth was confirmed, but saddened by the way the findings were buried once again by a media in cahoots with the government.

The civil trial was the King family’s last resort to get a public hearing to disclose the truth of the assassination.  They and Pepper knew that Ray was an innocent pawn, but Ray had died in prison in 1998 after trying for thirty years to get a trial and prove his innocence (shades of Sirhan Sirhan who still languishes in prison).  During all those years, Ray had maintained that he had been manipulated by a shadowy figure named Raul, who supplied him with money and his white Mustang and coordinated all his complicated travels, including having him buy a rifle and come to Jim’s Grill and the boarding house on the day of the assassination.  The government has always denied that Raul existed.

Blocked at every turn by the authorities and unable to get Ray a trial, Pepper arranged an unscripted, mock TV trial that aired on April 4, 1993, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the assassination.  Jurors were selected from a pool of U.S. citizens, a former U.S. Attorney and a federal judge served as prosecutor and judge, with Pepper serving as defense attorney.  He presented extensive evidence clearly showing that authorities had withdrawn all security for King; that the state’s chief witness was falling down drunk; that the alleged bathroom sniper’s nest was empty right before the shot was fired; that three eyewitnesses, including the NY Times Earl Caldwell, said that the shot came from the bushes behind the rooming house; and that two eyewitnesses saw Ray drive away in his white Mustang before the shooting, etc.  The prosecution’s feeble case was rejected by the jury that found Ray not guilty.

As with all Pepper’s work on the case (including book reviews), the mainstream media responded with silence.  And though this was only a TV trial, increasing evidence emerged that the owner of Jim’s Grill, Loyd Jowers, was deeply involved in the assassination.  Pepper dug deeper, and on December 16, 1993, Loyd Jowers appeared on ABC’s Primetime Live that aired nationwide.  Pepper writes, “Loyd Jowers cleared James Earl Ray, saying that he did not shoot MLK but that he, Jowers, had hired a shooter after he was approached by Memphis produce man Frank Liberto and paid $1,000,000 to facilitate the assassination.  He also said that he had been visited by a man names Raul who delivered a rifle and asked him to hold it until arrangements were finalized …. The morning after the Primetime Live broadcast there was no coverage of the previous night’s program, not even on ABC …. Here was a confession, on prime time television, to involvement in one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the Republic, and virtually no American mass-media coverage.”

In the twenty-three years since that confession, Pepper has worked tirelessly on the case and has uncovered a plethora of additional evidence that refutes the government’s claims and indicts it and the media for a continuing cover-up.  The evidence he has gathered, detailed and documented in The Plot to Kill King, proves that Martin Luther King was killed by a conspiracy masterminded by the U.S. government.  Much of his evidence was presented at the 1999 trial, while other was subsequently discovered.  Since the names and details involved make clear that, as with the murders of JFK and RFK, the conspiracy was very sophisticated with many moving parts organized at the highest level, I will just highlight a few of his findings in what follows.  A reader should read the book to understand the full scope of the plot, its execution, and the cover-up.

  • Pepper refutes the government and proves, through multiple witnesses, telephonic, and photographic evidence, that Raul existed; that his full name is Raul Coelho; and that he was James Earl Ray’s intelligence handler, who provided him with money and instructions from their first meeting in the Neptune Bar in Montreal, where Ray had fled in 1967 after his prison escape, until the day of the assassination.  It was Raul who instructed Ray to return to the U.S. (an act that makes no sense for an escaped prisoner who had fled the country), gave him money for the white Mustang, helped him attain travel documents, and moved him around the country like a pawn on a chess board. The parallels to Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan are startling.
  • He presents the case of Donald Wilson, a former FBI agent working out of the Atlanta office in 1968, who went with a senior colleague to check out an abandoned white Mustang with Alabama plates (Ray’s car, to which Raul had a set of keys) and opened the passenger door to find that an envelope and some papers fell out onto the ground.  Thinking he may have disturbed a crime scene, the nervous Wilson pocketed them.  Later, when he read them, their explosive content intuitively told him that if he gave them to his superiors they would be destroyed.  One piece was a torn out page from a 1963 Dallas telephone directory with the name Raul written at the top, and the letter “J” with a Dallas telephone number for a club run by Jack Ruby, Oswald’s killer. The page was for the letter H and had numerous phone numbers for H. L. Hunt, Dallas oil billionaire and a friend of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.  Both men hated MLK. The second sheet contained Raul’s name and a list of names and sums and dates for payment.  On the third sheet was written the telephone number and extension for the Atlanta FBI office. (Read Jim Douglass’s important interview with Donald Wilson in The Assassinations, pp.479-491.)
  • Pepper interviewed four other witnesses who confirmed that they had seen Raul with Jack Ruby in Dallas in 1963 and that they were associated.
  • Pepper shows that the alias Ray was given and used from July 1967 until April 4, 1968 – Eric Galt – was the name of a Toronto operative of U.S. Army Intelligence, Eric St. Vincent Galt, who worked for Union Carbide with Top Secret clearance.  The warehouse at the Canadian Union Carbide Plant in Toronto that Galt supervised “housed a top secret munitions project funded jointly by the CIA, the U.S. Naval Surface Weapons Center, and the Army Electronics Research and Development Command …. In August 1967, Galt met with Major Robert M. Collins, a top aide to the head of the 902nd Military Intelligence Group (MIG) Colonel John Downie.”  Downie selected four members for an Alpha 184 Sniper Unit that was sent to Memphis to back up the primary assassin of MLK.  Meanwhile, Ray, set up as the patsy, was able to move about freely since he was protected by the pseudonymous NSA clearance for Eric Galt.
  • To refute the government’s claim that Ray and his brother robbed the Alton, Illinois Bank to finance his travels and car purchase (therefore no Raul existed), Pepper “called the sheriff in Alton and the president of the bank; they gave the same statement.  The Ray brothers had nothing to do with the robbery.  No one from the HSCA, the FBI, or The New York Times had sought their opinion.”  CNN later reiterated the media falsehood that became part of the official false story.
  • Pepper proves that the fatal shot came from the bushes behind Jim’s Grill and the rooming house, not from the bathroom window.  He presents overwhelming evidence for this, showing that the government’s claim, based on the testimony on a severely drunk Charlie Stephens, was absurd.  His evidence includes the testimony of numerous eyewitnesses and that of Loyd Jowers, the owner of Jim’s Grill, who said he took the rifle from the shooter in the bushes and brought it into the bar where he hid it.  Thus, Ray was not the assassin.
  • He presents conclusive evidence that the bushes were cut down the morning after the assassination in an attempt to corrupt the crime scene.  The order to do so came from Memphis Police Department Inspector Sam Evans to Maynard Stiles, a senior administrator of the Memphis Department of Public Works.
  • He shows how King’s room was moved from a safe interior room, 201, to balcony room, 306, on the upper floor; how King was conveniently positioned alone on the balcony by members of his own entourage for the easy mortal head shot from the bushes across the street.  (Many people only remember the iconic photograph taken after-the-fact with Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, et al., standing over the fallen King and pointing across the street.)  Pepper implicates that Reverends Billy Kyles, Jesse Jackson, and, to a lesser extent, Ralph Abernathy were involved in these machinations.  He uncovers of the role of black military intelligence agent Marrell McCollough, attached to the 111th MIG, within the entourage.  McCollough can be seen kneeling over the fallen King, checking to see if he’s dead.
  • Pepper confirms that all of this, including the assassin in the bushes, was dutifully photographed by Army Intelligence agents situated on the nearby Fire House roof.
  • He presents evidence that all security for Dr. King was withdrawn from the area by the Memphis Police Department, including a special security unit of black officers, and four tactical police units. A black detective at the nearby fire station, Ed Redditt, was withdrawn from his post on the afternoon of April 4th, allegedly because of a death threat against him. And the only two black firemen at Fire Station No.2 were transferred to another station.
  • He names and confirms the presence of Alpha 184 snipers at locations high above the Lorraine Motel balcony.
  • He explains the use of two white mustangs in the operation to frame Ray.
  • He proves that Ray had driven off before the shooting; that Loyd Jowers took the rifle from the shooter who was in the bushes; that the Memphis police were working in close collaboration with the FBI, Army Intelligence, and the “Dixie Mafia,” particularly local produce dealer Frank Liberto and his New Orleans associate Carlos Marcello; and that every aspect of the government’s case was filled with holes that any person familiar with the details and possessing elementary logical abilities could refute.
  • So importantly, Pepper shows how the mainstream media and government flacks have spent years covering up the truth of MLK’s murder through lies and disinformation, just as they have done with the Kennedy and Malcom X assassinations that are of a piece with this one.

But since this is a book review and not a book, I will stop listing Pepper’s very detailed and convincing findings.  While he may not have answered every aspects of the case, and may be mistaken in some small details, he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the basic fact that James Earl Ray did not kill Martin Luther King, but that this great and dangerous leader was killed by a conspiracy organized at the highest levels of government.

The Plot to Kill King will mesmerize any reader seeking the truth about MLK’s assassination.  Even when Pepper, towards the end of the book, offers circumstantial and non-corroborated testimony from witnesses Ronnie Lee Adkins and Johnton Shelby, the reader can’t help but be intrigued and to consider their stories highly plausible given all that Pepper has proven.  Adkins claims that his father, a friend of Clyde Tolson, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s deputy, and then he himself, were part of the plot to kill King.  This involved politicians, the FBI, MPD, and mafia, including the aforementioned produce dealer Frank Liberto and others, making payoffs with FBI money to various people, including Jesse Jackson (whom Adkins, Jr. claims was a paid FBI informer) and working closely on the details of the assassination.  Johton Shelby’s story as recounted in his deposition (2014) to Pepper (reproduced, together with Adkins’ (2009), as appendices in the book), is that his mother, who was working as an emergency room aide at St. Joseph’s Hospital when King was brought there, inadvertently witnessed men spitting on Dr. King as he lay in the emergency room and a doctor putting a pillow over his head and suffocating him to death.  Pepper tends to accept these accounts, but says he isn’t completely convinced of all aspects of them.  The reader is offered plenty of food for thought concerning these claims.

Besides clearly proving the government’s part in killing Martin Luther King, this book is very important for the way Pepper links the case to those of JFK and RFK, who was murdered two months after King.  At the center of all these murders is a trinity of men who were devoted to the ending the Vietnam War and all wars, restoring economic justice for all Americans, and eliminating racial inequality.  That their goals were the same provides a motive for their murders by forces opposed to these lofty objectives. That their murders clearly involved highly sophisticated operations and cover-ups that could never have been pulled off by “crazed lone assassins” points to powerful forces with those means at their disposal. And when it comes to opportunity, when did the shadowy forces of the deep state ever lack for that?

The ramifications of the MLK assassination profoundly inform our current condition. For anyone who truly cares about peace, love, and justice, The Plot to Kill King is essential reading.  William Pepper should be saluted.  He has carried on Martin King’s noble legacy.

Posted in USAComments Off on “Orders to Kill” Dr. Martin Luther King

Fifty Truths about Fidel Castro

NOVANEWS
fidel

The historic leader of the Cuban Revolution has forever marked the history of Cuba and Latin America, making his country a symbol of dignity and resistance.

1. Fidel Castro was born into a family of seven children on August 13, 1926, at Birán in the current province of Holguín, from a union between Angel Castro Argiz, a wealthy Spanish landowner from Galicia and Cuban born Lina Ruz González.

2. At the age of seven, he was sent to the city of Santiago de Cuba where lived with the teacher who was to be responsible for his education. She nonetheless abandoned him to his fate. “She deceived my family”, and “I have known hunger”, Fidel Castro recalled. A year later, in January 1935, he entered the religious school, Hermanos de La Salle, as an intern. In January 1938, after rebelling against the authoritarianism of a teacher, he left the institution at the age of eleven for Dolores College. From 1942 to 1945 he continued his schooling in Havana with the Jesuits at Belen College. After receiving high marks in his studies, his teacher, Father Armando Llorente, wrote in the institution’s directory, “He has distinguished himself in all literary subjects. He has also been a true athlete, an excellent and team-oriented player. Always courageously and proudly defending the college flag, he earned the admiration and affection of all. He intends to continue his studies in law and we have no doubt that he will fill brilliantly the pages of his book of life”.

3. Despite having gone into exile in Miami in 1961, following the tensions between the revolutionary government and the Cuban Catholic church, Father Llorente always retained fond memories of his former student: “I am often blamed for speaking well of Fidel. But I cannot speak ill of the Fidel that I knew. Moreover, one day, he saved my life. These are things that you can never forget”. Fidel Castro had jumped into a river to save his teacher who was being carried away by the current.

4. In 1945, Fidel Castro entered the University of Havana, where he began a law career. Elected as Faculty of Law delegate, he actively participated in demonstrations against corruption in the government of President Ramón Grau San Martín. He did not hesitate to publicly denounce the armed gangs of BAGA, a group with links to government authorities. Max Lesnik, then Secretary General of the Orthodox Youth group and a comrade of Fidel Castro, recalls an episode: “The committee ’30 September’ [created to fight against the armed gangs] had decided to denounce the government and the gangsters during the plenary session of the Students’ Federation. More than 300 students from various faculties thronged the hall to listen to Fidel when someone shouted […]: ‘He, who speaks too long, will speak for the last time’. It was clear to whom the threat was addressed. Fidel got up from his chair and, with a firm and poised step, walked to the center of the hall. After requesting a moment of silence in memory of the martyrs […], he began reading an official list of the names of all gang members and the leaders of the Federation of University Students who had received stipends from the government”.

5. In 1947, at the age of 22, Fidel Castro participated with Juan Bosch, the future President of the Dominican Republic, in an attempted landing at Cayo Confite intended to overthrow the dictator Rafael Trujillo, then supported by the United States.

6. A year later, in 1948, he participated in the Bogotazo popular uprising triggered by the assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, a progressive political leader and presidential candidate in Colombia.

7. After finishing his graduate studies in law in 1950, Fidel Castro worked as a lawyer until 1952, defending the poor, before entering politics.

8. Fidel Castro never militated for the Popular Socialist Party (PSP), the communist party of pre-revolutionary Cuba. Rather, he joined the Cuban People’s Party, also called the Orthodox Party, which had been founded in 1947 by Eduardo Chibás. Chibás’ progressive Orthodox Party program was based on several key elements: national sovereignty, economic independence achieved through the diversification of agricultural production, banning the latifundios (large estates), the development of industry, the nationalization of utilities, the fight against corruption, the struggle for social justice and the defense of workers. Fidel Castro has expressed his belief in the thinking of José Martí, of Chibás and in anti-imperialism. A talented orator, he ran in the parliamentary elections of 1952 as a candidate of the Cuban People’s Party.

9. On March 10, 1952, three months before the presidential elections, General Fulgencio Batista shattered the constitutional order by overthrowing the government of Carlos Prio Socarrás. He won the immediate support of the United States, which officially recognized the new military dictatorship.

10. Fidel Castro the lawyer filed a complaint against Batista for breach of the constitutional order: “If courts exist, Batista should be punished, and if Batista is not punished […], how then can the court judge a citizen for sedition or rebellion against a regime that is both illegal and the product of unpunished betrayal?” The Supreme Court, subservient to the new regime, found his complaint to be inadmissible.

11. On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro became head of an expedition of 131 men committed to launching attacks against the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba, the second most important military fortress in the country, and the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks in the city of Bayamo. The goal was to take control of Santiago –the historical cradle of all revolutions– and launch a call to rebellion throughout the country to overthrow the dictator Batista.

12. The operation was a bloody failure and many fighters –55 in total– were murdered after being brutally tortured by Batista’s military, while only six had been killed in combat. Some managed to escape thanks to the support of the local population.

13. Fidel Castro, captured a few days later, owes his life to Sergeant Pedro Sarría, who refused to follow the orders of his superiors and execute the Moncada leader. “Do not shoot! Do not shoot! You cannot kill ideas”, he exclaimed to his soldiers.

14. During his historic defense entitled “History Will Absolve Me”, Fidel Castro, defending himself, denounced Batista’s crimes and the misery in which the Cuban people lived. He presented his program for a free Cuba, based on national sovereignty, economic independence and social justice.

15. Sentenced to 15 years in prison, Castro was released two years later in 1955, following an amnesty granted by the Batista regime. He then founded the July 26 Movement (M 26-7) and announced his plan to continue the fight against the military dictatorship before going into exile in Mexico.

16. With a young doctor named Ernesto Guevara, Fidel Castro organized the Granma expedition. Castro had no trouble convincing the young Argentine who later recalled: “I met him during a cool night in Mexico City, and I remember that our first discussion revolved around international politics. A few hours later –in the early morning– I had decided to become a member of the future expedition”.

17. In August of 1955, Fidel Castro published the first manifesto of the 26th of July Movement, a document that included the main points he had made in his “History Will Absolve Me” defense. There is the question of land reform, banning latifundios, social and economic reforms that favor the underprivileged, national industrialization, housing construction, lowering rents, nationalization of telephone, gas and electrical services, education and culture for all, tax reform and the reorganization of government services to fight against corruption.

18. In October 1955, in order to raise funds for the expedition, Fidel Castro made a tour of the United States where he met with Cuban exiles. The FBI put the patriotic clubs that were founded in different cities by 26-7 M under close surveillance.

19. On November 25, 1956, Fidel Castro left from the port of Tuxpan, Mexico, aboard the Granma, a boat designed to hold 25 people. There were in total 82 revolutionaries aboard when it set sail for Cuba with the aim to triggering a guerrilla war in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra.

20. Due to climatic conditions, the crossing was a nightmare. One member of the expedition fell overboard. Juan Almeida, a member of the group and future Commander of the Revolution, recalls the episode. “Fidel told us the following: ‘As long as we have not saved him, we will not move from here’. Everyone was touched by his words and it aroused our fighting spirit. We felt that with this man, nobody would be abandoned. Yet, it was jeopardizing the expedition. Still he was finally saved”.

21. After a voyage that lasted seven days, instead of the five that had been forecast, the troupe landed on December 2, 1956 in what was, according to Raúl Castro, “the worst swamp anyone had ever seen”. The revolutionaries were dispersed by gunfire from Cuban aviation, and pursued by some 2,000 of Batista’s soldiers who had been waiting for them.

22. A few days later, in Cinco Palmas, Fidel Castro rejoined his brother Raúl and ten other members of the expedition. “Now we’re going to win the war”, the M 26-7 leader said to his men. The guerrilla war had begun. It would last for 25 months.

23. In February 1957, the Herbert Matthews interview with Fidel Castro appeared in the New York Times, thereby permitting US and world public opinion to discover the existence of a guerrilla force in Cuba. Batista later admitted in his memoirs that through this media coup “Castro was becoming a legendary figure”. Matthews, however, nuanced the importance of his interview: “No advertising, as sensational as it might have been, would have made any difference, if Fidel Castro had not been exactly the man I described”.

24. Despite official declarations of neutrality in the Cuban conflict, the US provided political, economic and military support to Batista, and opposed Fidel Castro up to the final moments. On December 23, 1958, one week before the triumph of the Revolution, while Fulgencio Batista’s army was in disarray despite its superiority in men and weapons, the 392nd meeting of the National Security Council, with President Eisenhower in attendance, took place. Allen Dulles, the CIA director, made the US position quite clear: “We must prevent Castro’s victory”.

25. Despite the support of the United States, his 20,000 soldiers and material superiority, Batista could not defeat a guerrilla force comprised 300 armed men during the final offensive in the summer of 1958 that had gone on to mobilize more than 10,000 soldiers. This “strategic victory” demonstrated the military genius of Fidel Castro who had anticipated and defeated the “End of Fidel” operation launched by Batista.

26. On January 1, 1959, five years, five months and five days after the July 26, 1953 attack on the Moncada garrison, the Cuban Revolution emerged triumphant.

27. During the formation of the revolutionary government in January 1959, Fidel Castro was appointed Minister of the Armed Forces. He did not occupy the presidency, which devolved on Judge Manuel Urrutia, nor the post of Prime Minister, which went to the lawyer José Miró Cardona.

28. In February 1959, Prime Minister Cardona, opposed to economic and social reforms he considered too radical (the land reform project, for example), resigned. Manuel Urrutia then appointed Fidel Castro to the position.

29. In July 1959, faced with the opposition of President Urrutia, who refused further reforms, Fidel Castro resigned as Prime Minister. Huge popular demonstrations broke out across Cuba, calling for the departure of Urrutia and the return of Fidel Castro. The new President of the Republic, Osvaldo Dorticós, then reappointed Fidel Castro Prime Minister.

30. The US immediately showed itself hostile to Fidel Castro by welcoming the dignitaries of the former regime, among whom were several war criminals who had looted the national treasury and fled with some 424 million dollars.

31. Yet from the start, Fidel Castro demonstrated his willingness to maintain good relations with Washington. Nevertheless, during his first visit to the United States in April 1959, President Eisenhower refused to receive him and preferred to go golfing instead. John F. Kennedy expressed his regret about the incident: “Fidel Castro is part of the legacy of Bolivar. We should have given a warmer welcome to the fiery young rebel at the moment of his triumph”.

32. In October 1959, pilots from the US bombed Cuba and returned to Florida where they were unmolested by authorities. On October 21, 1959, a bomb dropped on Havana left two dead and 45 wounded. The person responsible for the crime, Pedro Luis Díaz Lanz, returned to Miami. He was not questioned and Washington refused to extradite him to Cuba.

33. In February 1960, Fidel Castro drew closer to Moscow, acquiring Soviet weapons only after the United States refused to provide the arsenal necessary for the island’s defense. Washington also pressured Canada and the European nations that had been approached by Cuba in order to force Cuba to turn to the socialist bloc, thereby justifying its own hostile policy toward Havana.

34. In March 1960, the Eisenhower administration made a formal decision to overthrow Fidel Castro. In total, the leader of the Cuban Revolution escaped no fewer than 637 assassination attempts on his life.

35. In March 1960, the French ship La Coubre, carrying weapons, was sabotaged by the CIA in the port of Havana. More than one hundred persons were left dead. In his address in tribute to the victims, Fidel Castro launched the slogan “Patria o Muerte” (Homeland or Death) inspired by that of the French Revolution of 1793, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death.”

36. On April 16, 1961, following the bombing of the main airports in the country by the CIA, a prelude to the invasion of the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro proclaimed the “socialist” character of the Revolution.

37. During the Bay of Pigs invasion, conducted by some 1400 exiles supported by the CIA, Fidel Castro was to be found on the front lines of the battle. He inflicted a severe defeat on the US by crushing the invaders in 66 hours. His popularity then skyrocketed worldwide.

38. During the October 1962 missile crisis, Soviet General Alexei Dementiev was at the side of Fidel Castro. He recounted in his memories: “I spent the most impressive moments of my life with Fidel. I was with him most of the time. There was a moment when we considered that a military attack by the United States was close at hand. Fidel made the decision to sound the alarm. Within hours, his people were in combat position. Fidel’s faith in his people was impressive, as was the faith of his people and of ourselves, Soviets, in him. Fidel is, without any question, one of the political and military geniuses of the century”.

39. In October 1965, the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) replaced the United Party of the Socialist Revolution (PURE) which had been created in 1962 (it, in turn, had replaced the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations –ORI– created in 1961). Fidel Castro was appointed First Secretary.

40. In 1975, following the adoption of the new Constitution, Fidel Castro was elected President of the Republic for the first time. He would be re-elected to this post up until 2006.

41. In 1988, from more than 20,000 kilometers away, Fidel Castro, in Havana, led the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola. It was in this battle that the Cuban and Angolan troops inflicted a crushing defeat on the South African armed forces that had invaded Angola and occupied Namibia. The historian Piero Gleijeses, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, wrote: “Despite Washington’s efforts [allied with the apartheid regime], Cuba changed the course of history in Southern Africa […]. The Cubans’ prowess on the battlefield and their virtuosity at the negotiating table proved decisive in compelling South Africa to accept Namibia’s independence. The victorious defense of Cuito Cuanavale was the prelude to a campaign that compelled the South African Defense Force (SADF) to leave Angola. This victory had repercussions far beyond the borders of Namibia”.

42. A lucid observer of perestroika, Fidel Castro, in a prescient speech given on July 26, 1989, declared to the nation that should the Soviet Union disappear, Cuba would resist and continue along the path of socialism: “If tomorrow or some other day we wake up to the news that a great civil war has broken out in the USSR, or even if we wake up with the news that the USSR has disintegrated […] Cuba and the Cuban Revolution will continue to fight and resist”.

43. In 1994, at the height of the Special Period, he met Hugo Chavez for the first time. They formed a strong friendship that lasted until the latter’s death in 2013. According to Fidel Castro, the Venezuelan president was “the best friend the Cuban people ever had”. They set up a strategic partnership with the creation in 2005 of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, which now includes eight countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

44. In 1998, Fidel Castro received the visit to Havana of Pope John Paul II. The latter demanded that “the world open up to Cuba and Cuba open up to the world”.

45. In 2002, former President of the United States Jimmy Carter made a historic visit to Cuba. He spoke directly on live television: “I did not come here to interfere in Cuba’s internal affairs, but rather to extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people and to offer a vision of the future for both countries and for the Americas […]. I want us to be friends and to respect each other […]. Since the US is the most powerful of the two nations, it is for us to make the first move”.

46. In July 2006, following a serious intestinal illness, Fidel Castro was forced to retire from power. In accordance with the Constitution, Vice-President Raúl Castro succeeded him.

47. In February 2008, Fidel Castro permanently renounced any executive office. He has since devoted himself to writing his memoirs and regularly publishing articles under the caption “Reflections”.

48. After a trip to Cuba in 2001, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a historian and special advisor to President Kennedy, raised the question of the cult of personality: “Fidel Castro does not encourage the cult of personality. In Havana it is difficult to find a poster or even a post card with a photo of Castro on it. The icon of Fidel’s revolution, visible everywhere, is Che Guevara”.

49. Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian writer and Nobel Prize in Literature, was a close friend of Fidel Castro. He drew up a brief profile that underscores “the absolute trust he places in direct contact. His power is seduction. He looks for problems where they are to be found. […] His patience is invincible. His discipline is ironclad. The force of his imagination expands the limits of the unexpected”.

50. The triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, led by Fidel Castro, is the most significant event in the history of twentieth century Latin America. While Fidel Castro may remain one of the most controversial figures of that century, even his fiercest critics acknowledge that he has made Cuba a sovereign nation whose independence is respected internationally. His country has made undeniable social achievements in the fields of education, health, culture, sport and international solidarity. He will forever be the symbol of national dignity, someone who is always aligned with the oppressed and all those who fight for their emancipation.

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