Archive | October 2nd, 2017

Slaughter in Las Vegas


Featured image: Stephen Paddock (Source:


On Sunday, reportedly at least 59 people were killed, another 527 injured in a mass shooting incident during a concert near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Police blamed a lone gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, called a “local resident,” reportedly firing from a window on the Mandalay hotel’s 32nd floor. Raw video footage from a taxi driver showed muzzle flashes from the 4th floor. The Harvest Music Festival took place across the street.

Did he take his own life as Las Vegas police claimed or did SWAT team members lethally shoot him? His brother, Eric, said “(t)here is no reason we can imagine why Stephen would do something like this.”

“We have no idea how this happened. It’s like an asteroid just fell on top of our family.” Stephen was “not an avid gun guy at all…He ha(d) no military background or anything like that.”

Police located Marilou Danley’s whereabouts, living outside America, thought to be his “companion” and “roommate,” calling her a “person of interest.” She’s not considered a suspect.

City police tweeted overnight: “Confirming that one suspect is down. This is an active investigation. (P)lease do not head down to the Strip at this time.”

Was it a lone wolf attack or something more sinister? It’s too soon to know. One gunman able to kill or wound hundreds of people single-handedly raises suspicions.

Nearly two dozen rifles and other firearms allegedly found in his room begs an obvious question. How could anyon get them into the hotel unnoticed? How many suitcases and/or satchels are needed to transport this arsenal, along with munitions?

Dead men tell no tales, so his account of what happened won’t be told. Witnesses on the scene suggested multiple shooters. One unnamed individual insisted there were more than one. It would seem likely given the high casualty count.

Even using a semi-automatic weapon, one shooter able to cause this much carnage singlehandedly begs a couple of questions. Were others involved? Was the incident as reported or a false flag?

It’s reminiscent of multiple July 22, 2011 shootings on Norway’s Utoeya Island, scores of children killed, blamed on Anders Breivik, called a lone gunman.

Several eyewitness saw two shooters. Evidence suggests Breivik couldn’t have acted alone.

Yesterday’s incident was also reminiscent of the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School incident.

The official narrative blamed Adam Lanza. Investigative work by Professor James Tracy questioned whether any shootings took place – “at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation’s news media” described things.

Contradictions abounded. Key questions weren’t answered. How did one alleged gunman fire so many shots in so little time and supposedly inflict so many casualties?

Connecticut’s coroner, Wayne Carver, and police officials said Lanza shot each victim from three to 11 times – 182 shots, one every 2 seconds plus likely misses.

Yet the official narrative called him the sole gunman, a youth with no military training, said to have used a 30-shot magazine in one weapon, having to reload over half a dozen times to have done the alleged shootings himself.

Tracy explained “(p)hotographic and video evidence (was) lacking in terms of its capacity to demonstrate that a mass shooting took place on a scale described by authorities.”

There was “no visual evidence of Lanza’s violent entry” – nor any “broken glass, blasted security locks and doors, bullet casings and holes, bloodied walls and floors,” no evidence that any more than small number of the school’s 600 students were evacuated.

Tracy concluded that the incident was an “elaborate hoax,” citing the following reasons:

1. “Proof of death (was) suppressed.”

2. “Emergency protocols were not followed.”

3. “Drill protocols were” used instead.

4. “(F)oreknowledge of the event” existed.

5. Reports about weapons used were “contradictory.”

6. No verifiable evidence indicates Adam Lanza’s responsibility for the shootings – after supposedly killing his mother, then taking his own life after the incident.

7. Authorities and media sources “displayed inappropriate behavior.”

8. Photos of the crime scene and victims “look(ed) staged or fake.”

9. The crime scene was deliberately contaminated and destroyed, making it unusable for investigation.

10. Alleged “(d)eceased children sang at the 2013 Super Bowl.”

Was Sunday’s Las Vegas incident another Utoeya Island, Norway or Sandy Hook-type incident? The fullness of time may tell.

Note: ISIS claiming responsibility for the Las Vegas shootings is meaningless. America supports the terrorist group. Why would it bite the hand feeding it!

On Monday, the FBI said Paddock has no connection to ISIS. What’s behind Sunday’s carnage remains to be revealed.

The official account has a familiar disturbing aroma. Was Paddock a convenient patsy? He’s not around to tell his side.

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Catalonia Independence: Five Things to Think About


Catalan independence can be good or bad – it depends on the Catalan people to make it good, or else it likely will be bad.

Headlines and commentary across both Eastern and Western media have mainly focused on the Catalan independence referendum and the actions of Spanish police and the Spanish government’s attempts to disrupt polls.

However, little is being said about what the real implications of Catalan independence may be. What do those politicians in Catalonia in favor of independence seek to do with it should they succeed? Will they create a Catalonia that serves the best interests of the people? Or serve the EU and NATO more efficiently and eagerly than a united Spain ever could?

There are 5 points those following this conflict should know and keep in mind as events unfold:

1. Catalonia has a formidable industrialized economy relative to other regions of Spain, with a GDP and population just exceeding those of nations like Scotland or Singapore, and likely could achieve and sustain independence from Spain.

2. NATO appears eager to encourage independence and would welcome what they expect to be a robust military capability to add to their wars of global aggression.

An article published in 2014 by the Atlantic Council – a Fortune 500-funded NATO think tank – titled, “The Military Implications of Scottish and Catalonian Secession,” would state:

Catalonia has 7.3 million people, with more than $300 billion in GDP. Spending just 1.6% of that on defense provides over $4.5 billion annually, or roughly the budget of Denmark, which has well-regarded and efficient armed forces. Catalonian military plans are more vague, but so far, they emphasize the navy. With excellent ports in Barcelona and Tarragona, Catalonia is well-positioned as a minor naval power, ‘with the Mediterranean as our strategic environment, and NATO as our framework’, as the nationalists’ think-tank on defense argues. The rough plans call for a littoral security group of a few hundred sailors at first. After a few years, Catalonia would assume responsibility as “a main actor in the Mediterranean,” with land-based maritime patrol aircraft and small surface combatants. Eventually, the nationalist ambition may include an expeditionary group with a light assault carrier and hundreds of marines, to take a serious role in collective security.

The Atlantic Council piece would emphatically conclude that:

If accurately characterized by the few white papers that have surfaced, the separatists’ position suggests a valuable and refreshing view of specialization in collective defense: build a navy that is comparatively focused on influencing events ashore.

3. Pro-independence Catalan politicians appear to enthusiastically support Catalonia’s membership in NATO.

…when the next Afghanistan comes, Catalan blood will also be spilled.

A 2014 article titled, “Catalan PM confirms NATO membership, commitment to collective security,” stated:

Prime Minister Artur Mas explicitly confirmed Catalonia is seeking NATO membership. In a recent interview with the Italian daily La Reppublica, Catalan Prime Minister Artur Mas explained that an independent Catalonia sees herself at the heart of NATO. This is in line with Catalonia’s commitment to the international community, the principle of collective security, international law, and the rule of law at sea.

The article also claims:

Catalonia seeks freedom, not to avoid the inescapable responsibilities that come hand in hand with it, but to fully exercise them side by side with partners and allies. Catalans understand fully that freedom never comes without cost, and that whereas independence means government of the people, by the people, and for the people, instead of alien rule, it also means that they will not be able to look the other way when a crisis or challenge arises. They understand that when the next Afghanistan comes, Catalan blood will also be spilled.

In essence, Catalan politicians appear eagerly committed not only to NATO, but to the foreign wars of aggression it wages, and spilling the blood of its people to help NATO fight them.

4. Some Catalan politicians have begun planning for its military’s integration into NATO.

The pro-independence Catalan National Assembly’s Defense Policy Working Group has stated in a 2014 paper titled, “Dimensions of the Catalan Defence Forces: Naval Forces (Executive Summary),” that:

The Mediterranean: our strategic environment. NATO: our framework 
Catalonia must participate in SNMG2 (Standing NATO Maritime Group 2; formerly Standing Naval Force Mediterranean), a component of the NRF (NATO Response Force).

It would also be convenient to participate in the SNMCMG2 (Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2). 

5. Like “Kurdistan,” any sort of “independence” is meaningless if the resulting state finds itself utterly dependent and entwined with Western hegemony and the institutions that maintain it – especially at the cost of member states and proxies – be they Kurdish or Catalan.

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US Dominated Security Council Tightens Savage Sanctions on North Korea


US Dominated Security Council Tightens Savage Sanctions on North Korea, Intentional Provocations to War

Rogue States US, UK and France Flaunt Violations of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty


On September 24, 2017, The New York Times published the following letter written by Donald P. Gregg, C.I.A. officer in Vietnam, 1970-1973; C.I.A. station chief in Seoul from 1973 to 1975; and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 1989 to 1993: excerpts from his letter follow:

“I can’t help thinking about the lessons from Vietnam that might apply today to North Korea. I fear that we are headed down a 2017 version of ‘ignorance alley’ in our dealings with Pyongyang; we do not know what North Korea wants today, because we have not asked its leaders that question directly in several years. When we assume that we are always right, and our opponents always wrong, we overlook the need to ask questions. And as Vietnam demonstrated, in such a scenario, misguided decisions result.”

Another United States official, Assistant Secretary of Defense John T. McNaughton wrote during the Vietnam War:

“A feeling is widely and strongly held that ‘the Establishment’ is out of its mind. The feeling is that we are trying to impose some U.S. image on distant peoples we cannot understand (any more than we can the younger generation here at home), and that we are carrying the thing to absurd lengths. Related to this feeling is the increased polarization that is taking place in the United States with seeds of the worst split in our people in more than a century.”  McNaughton wrote this to Secretary McNamara in early May, 1967. (Less than two months later, McNaughton, his wife and their son died in a plane collision near Asheville, North Carolina, a week before he was to be sworn in as Secretary of the Navy.) John McNaughton’s words, regarding the United States’ behavior toward Vietnam, are a precise description of the United States’ behavior toward North Korea at this very moment.

PART 1: North Korea and North Vietnam: The Deadly Chronicle of Western Imperialism

One can take passages from “The Pentagon Papers” and simply replace the name “North Vietnam” with “North Korea,” and we have an exact description of United States aggression toward North Korea today;  this juxtaposition,  on page 580 of the Bantam Edition of “The Pentagon Papers,” would read as follows:

“There may be a limit beyond which many Americans and much of the world will not permit the United States to go. The picture of the world’s greatest superpower trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one. It could conceivably produce a costly distortion in the American national consciousness and in the world image of the United States—especially if the damage to North Korea is complete enough to be ‘successful.’ The most important risk, however, is the likely Russian, Chinese and North Korean reaction to intensified US air attacks, harbor-mining, and ground actions against North Korea.”

It seems as though little has  changed in the United States’ attitude toward the world since the Vietnam War, or more precisely, since the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Many participants in this year’s United Nations General Assembly were shocked and horrified when President Trump suggested, on September 19, 2017;

“we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

I have highlighted these words because any suggestion that North Korea would initiate military action is deliberate obfuscation. The DPRK has never sought to impose itself beyond its borders, and has sought only to protect itself from a repetition of the holocaust it suffered during 1950-1953, the intentional slaughter, by the United States military, and its United Nations cohorts, of more than three million North Korean citizens, and the total devastation of the entire country.

I have described the US, the UK and France as “rogue states” and it is imperative  to also highlight the unconscionable hypocrisy of both the United States’ position and that of the United Nations Security Council in criticizing North Korea for its nuclear tests:

Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty states:

“Each of the parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

With unmitigated arrogance, on July 7, 2017, following the adoption of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the US, the UK and France issued the following joint press statement:

“France, the United Kingdom and the United States have not taken part in the negotiation of the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”

This statement is in scandalous violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and these rogue nuclear powers unscrupulously flaunt their violation and impose their will. The United States, alone, possesses almost 5,000 nuclear weapons and is investing one trillion dollars more in upgrading them. Together with the nuclear arsenals of the UK and France, these rogue states possess the capacity to annihilate the entire earth multiple times. Their demonization of North Korea is a manifestation of their own psychotic obsession with domination, which itself is jeopardizing all life on earth.

Article 1 of the NPT states:

“Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices.”

The US, in reckless violation of the NPT, has transferred its B61-12 nuclear bombs to five non-nuclear weapon states: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey, all members of NATO. The United States has also placed nuclear-powered submarines in the territory of South Korea, terrorizing the DPRK.

Trump’s speech to the UN General Assembly is filled almost entirely with hackneyed propaganda, but the speech is enormously dangerous, because the US economy is weak and failing, and the classic capitalist remedy for economic disaster is war. There is every indication that the US is preparing the American public to accept, at least initially, the horrific consequences of an attack on North Korea. Many of Trump’s advisers share the appalling assumption that there may be millions of deaths resulting, but the deaths will be “over there”!

On September 23, 2017, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho eloquently stated, in reply to Trump’s dangerously provocative remarks, that:

“Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates ‘to bring about by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.  Due to high-handedness and arbitrariness of one particular big power however, at present the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and other established basic principles of international relations are now wantonly ignored in the UN arena.  Abnormal acts of justifying and legitimizing high-handedness and arbitrariness and the acts of violating truth and justice are connived at or tolerated.  The most rampant violation of international justice can be seen on the Korean peninsula.  Unprecedented acts of injustice such as imposing harsh sanctions on a victim for the reason that the victim chose to stand up to the offender are openly committed in the name of the UN.”

In the section of letters to the editor of The New York Time, September 24, 2017 is another witness to the horrors of imperialism, (“the highest stage of capitalism,”) during the Vietnam War, a prelude, and a warning to persons of conscience of what capitalism probably intends for North Korea. The letter was written by Anh Le, of San Francisco and states:

“During the French-Indochina War, my father, a highly educated Vietnamese man was imprisoned and tortured by the French for two years. My mother was raped.”

AnLe’s letter continues:

“(the war) was waged based on a Cold War mentality, a misguided American foreign policy, and anti-Communist propaganda from the White House, Congress, the Pentagon and a series of propped-up governments in Saigon. Americans were deceived and misled by their government with the ‘domino theory’ and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Vietnamese were seen as the enemy, ‘gooks’ or ‘dinks.’ The My Lai Massacre was not an aberration.  Napalm, Agent Orange, cluster bombs, destruction of villages and towns, rapes, tortures, Kim Phuc, the naked young girl running down the country road and screaming with pain from the napalm on her body, are seared in our collective conscience.”

These excruciating methods of torture of Vietnam, just described in a letter, by a Vietnamese victim, to The New York Times, are essentially what the UN Security Council is preparing  for the North Korean people to suffer. While the Security Council boasts and congratulates itself on its “consensus” on the barbarous sanctions, it enables and nourishes the arrogance and aggression of the US and its proxies, which then cite this same “consensus” to justify escalating its relentless march toward war against North Korea, and ultimately against China and Russia. Many onlookers within the United Nations,  including journalists with no ax to grind, are alarmed at the likelihood of a war against North Korea, spreading uncontrollably, and question the complicity of Russia and China in supporting these provocative sanctions. Some “laid back” but extremely astute American journalists are perplexed at the passivity of China and Russia, whose double vetoes prevented Syria from suffering the obliteration inflicted upon Iraq and Libya, with the Security Council’s blessing. One Ambassador from the Middle East pointed out that Russia and China used their veto power to protect Syria from becoming a failed state, but today are failing to use their veto power (in his own words) “now that it is really needed” to prevent a nuclear war in Asia. Unless these heinous sanctions inflicted on North Korea are opposed by those who have the power to do so, North Korea will continue to suffer intolerable provocations, and war may become inevitable,  sooner rather than later.

Image result for north korea vietnam war

Source: Quora

No doubt, China is aware that on September 27, 2017 General  Joseph Dunford, reappointed as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that China will become “the greatest threat to our nation by about 2025….Chinese President Xi Jinping’s military reforms and plans for economic expansion have presented a challenge to U.S. hegemony.”

In 1950 the US-ROK axis attacked and almost extinguished North Korea as a nation and as a people. There were many who considered that war as the prelude to an attack on China, with the goal of replacing the communist government of Mao Tse-tung with the fascist government of Chaing Kai-chekSenator Joseph McCarthy was terrorizing the American people with his anti-communist psychopathology, and Truman, John Foster Dulles, and General MacArthur attacked North Korea with the ultimate goal of attacking and demolishing the People’s Republic of China. The American aggressors were humiliated by the defeat they were handed by the peoples of North Korea and China, who preferred their communist systems to the brutal injustices of capitalism, and fought with heroic courage and determination to defend their chosen way of life, much to the chagrin of the arrogant Americans. South Korea was, and remains a colony of the US, and atrocities committed within the ROK have been exposed throughout the years. It now seems that nothing has changed, and the goals of US-NATO are the same now as they were from the Truman Doctrine in 1947 up to today. But while it is convenient to denounce Trump as an aberration, Trump is simply the symptom of a system that is failing to provide a decent life for its people, and may inevitably resort to war as its only option, as it is either unwilling or incapable of change to meet the needs of its citizens, and the demands of its oligarchy.

PART 2: Alternative to Annihilating War

On September 27, 2017, the Baltimore Sun published a “Plan B” by Dave Anderson, an alternative to war:

“The chief reason that North Korea keeps testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles is self-defense. They rightly fear that the United States and our allies would dismantle the current regime if we could. During the Korean War the United States destroyed 80 percent of North Korea……It is just not logical to presume that there are conditions under which they would give up the very weapons they believe are critical to their survival, and President Trump’s recent remarks about destroying North Korea or hinting at regime change have only made that more true….What should the United States do? There are many possibilities, but all good ones rely on publicly recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power and publicly dropping the goal of creating a denuclearized Korean peninsula.  ….What is holding up peaceful relations between the United States and North Korea is just these two points. President Trump is not willing to treat North Korea as a nuclear power, and as a result he and the Congress continue to sanction North Korea, and he personally continues to threaten North Korea. It is time for the United States to stop trying not to lose face against a foe who needs to be recognized as a player on the world stage. They don’t want to lose face either, and it is time for us, the bigger country in this dispute, to act like the bigger, more powerful country. North Korea is surrounded by countries that either have nuclear weapons – China and Russia – or are protected by countries (i.e. the United States) that have nuclear weapons and will defend them.  A fair question is: Why should North Korea not have a right to have nuclear weapons, too? Once we get over this hurdle, then the way will be cleared to figure out the best way to make peace with North Korea. And if we do not get over this hurdle, then we risk a major war in the Korean Peninsula and even World War III.”

PART 3: Will China Repeat Gorbachev’s Disastrous Mistake?

Gorbachev and Reagan sign the INF Treaty

Gorbachev and Reagan sign the INF Treaty in 1987 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

According to AFP, Jia Qingguo, Dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University, is urging China’s abandonment of North Korea. According to this report, it is suggested that China abandon North Korea, and expects the United States to permit it to “manage” a collapsed DPRK, as well as expecting US withdrawal from the Korean Peninsula, and removal of the THAAD missiles from South Korea. If these reports are accurate, and suggest significant trends in China’s thinking, they indicate staggering naivete by the Chinese leadership, and indicate it is following Gorbachev’s gullible path which led to the disastrous collapse of the Soviet Union. In so betraying North Korea, China would squander both credibility and moral authority, and would, in fact, betray those great Chinese leaders of the first half of the Twentieth Century whose enormous sacrifices created the foundation that enabled China to become the great power it is today. China would actually be embracing a “lose-lose” situation. One wonders what will result from Trump’s upcoming visit to China, and meeting with Xi Jinping. Will the siren song that seduced Mikhail Gorbachev succeed in luring China to its destruction?

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Zionism: The Ideological Cover-up to Jewish Colonization of Palestine


The benign-sounding term “settler” or “settlement” is used so often in the news without reference to Jewish colonization of Palestine that the world often loses sight of the immoral nature of the Zionist project in Palestine. The term is used to describe Jews moving illegally to the West Bank, and commandeering land that belongs to Palestinians. Waves of Jews moving to Israel are no longer called colonists or even settlers in the news media, but rather immigrants. 

Palestine is the only and last active act of settler colonialism. Since the creation of the UN, “more than 80 former colonies [including several in the Arab world] comprising some 750 million people have gained independence since the creation of the United Nations.”

Why the exception in the case of Palestine? Because the ideological driving force behind the process, Zionism, is the most virulently and insidiously powerful force on the planet. Over the course of the past one hundred years — i.e., since the Balfour Declaration, Zionism has successfully manipulated imperial powers, first Britain and now the United States, and also instrumentalized Christianity, as well as Judiasm, to serve its political purpose.

As John Berger put it:

“Certain voices across the world are raised in protest [against the Jewish state]. But the governments of the rich, with their world media and their proud possession of nuclear weapons, reassure Israel that a blind eye will be cast on what its soldiers are perpetrating.”

Colonialism justifiably has a bad name. When Third World Quarterly published an article titled “The Case for Colonialism”, voices rose sharply demanding “retraction, to fire the journal editors, even to fire author and to revoke his PhD.” In that piece, Bruce Gilley argues controversially that Western colonialism was, “as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found.”

Because of the moral questions raised by Western colonialism, the truth about the colonial nature of the Zionist project in Palestine has long been suppressed — consider, for example, the repulsiongenerated when a course was proposed at UC Berkeley titled “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis”.

But despite the strong veil of Zionist hasbara that shielded the moral degeneracy of Zionism from view, the paradigm of Israel as a settler-colonial project did gain traction. When that happened, the attitude among pro-Israel and Zionist voices took on the same point of view as that expressed in the Third World Quarterly article.

“Settler colonialism conveys an unarguable sense of delegitimization, racial exclusion and financial exploitation”, wrote Arnon Degani in a Sep 2016 Haaretz opinion piece, titled: “Israel Is a Settler Colonial State — and That’s OK.”

…arguing for the comparability of Israeli history to that of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, pulls the rug from under the agenda of singling out Zionism and its deeds as particularly evil… Israel, though, is probably heading more towards an arrangement similar to that of South African settler colonialism: a consolidation into a democratic republic in which the Whites are recognized as sons of the land and yet still enjoy many of the privileges they accumulated during Apartheid. In Israel, from the left (Haaretz’s own Gideon Levy and Rogel Alpher) and right (President Reuven Rubi Rivilin, MK Yehuda Glick), there is growing sentiment in favor of pursuing this particular one state settler colonial road.

The case being made here by Degani and his ilk is that Israeli Jews will still come out on top if Israel pursues the “one state settler colonial road”. They will be recognized as “sons of the land”, just as white settlers are in the U.S. or Canada, etc. have been, and “yet still enjoy many of the privileges they accumulated during Apartheid.” Clearly, this is a contention filtered through a Jewish supremacist ideology that is dismissive of the human rights of non-Jews.

BDS, on the other hand, is aimed at ending the three-tiered regime of injustice that has ruined Palestinian society since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948: 1) the military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian — and other Arab — territory occupied by Israel in 1967; 2) the system of institutionalized and legalized racism within Israel against non-Jews, and 3) the persistent denial of the internationally-sanctioned rights of the Palestine refugees, especially their right to return to their homes of origin and to reparations.

As Omar Barghouti observes,

“Moral reconciliation between conflicting communities is impossible if the essence of the oppressive relationship between them is sustained.”

And, in the case of Palestine, not even recognized.

And as long as the fundamental racism and moral blindness of Zionism continues to be obscured – as in negative references to “right-wing Zionism” rather than to plain Zionism or Jewish supremacy – the monumental ideological cover-up to Israel’s crimes against Palestinians will endure.

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Russia Effectively Smashing US-Supported Terrorists in Syria


Russia’s military intervention in Syria at the request of its government began two years ago today – September 30.

It dramatically changed the dynamic on the ground, turning sure defeat into eventual triumph. 

Thousands of square miles of Syrian territory were liberated from the scourge of US-supported terrorists, defeating Washington’s imperial aims, wanting regime change, the country transformed into another vassal state.

Tass reviewed Russian operations over the past two years, saying “victory over terrorism is near.” Its efforts transformed armed opposition conflicting groups into “a common front in the struggle against terrorists.”

What began two years ago today “is entering its final phase,” Russian air power enabling Syrian and allied forces to regain control over “85% of the country’s territory,” a remarkable turnaround from conditions before Moscow’s involvement.

Washington didn’t expect it, intending to eliminate Assad the way it ruthlessly killed Saddam Husseinand Muammar Gaddafi.

Things didn’t go as planned. Russia foiled US objectives, achieving them highly unlikely, a significant body blow to its regional aims, a step closer to defeating them worldwide.

In Syria, Aleppo was liberated late last year, the country’s pre-war commercial hub. Historic Palmyra was freed twice, hopefully for good after the second time.

The campaign to liberate Zeir Ezzor province entirely from US-supported terrorists continues, ISIS’ last stronghold in the country. Its three-year-long siege of the city was broken, security sweeps underway to eliminate its remnants in residential and other areas.

“Official forecasts regarding the chances of a successful completion of the anti-terrorist operation sound ever more optimistic,” said Tass.

Ahead of the Deir Ezzor campaign, Akerbat was liberated,

“a major transport hub and command center (and stronghold) of the terrorists in the east of Hama province,” Tass explained.

“With the loss of the city the terrorists were no longer able to regroup forces, receive ammunition and supplies, while the Syrian government army gained access to Deir Ezzor.”

During 24 months of combat, 38 Russian military personnel perished, including General Valery Asapov, the coordinates of his location almost certainly provided ISIS by US forces. Washington bears responsibility for his death.

Russian and American objectives in Syria are world’s apart – Moscow combating terrorism, Washington supporting it. Bilateral relations are dismal on virtually everything except cooperation in non-military space activities.

Astana peace talks spearheaded by Russia continue making progress – without significant breakthroughs so far because Washington wants endless war and regime change, waging a losing battle, pursuing it anyway.

According to Russia’s reconciliation center, 2,200 localities joined the ceasefire agreement. More than 230 armed groups agreed to observe it.

Reconstruction in some areas began, restoring power, water and other essential infrastructure a vital first step, along with supplying humanitarian aid – Russia, Iran and Damascus alone providing it.

Nothing from America. Nothing from the EU. Nothing from regional Arab countries. Nothing from Israel, of course. Woefully inadequate UN help, Syrians on their own, dependent on their government and allies.

Moscow remains firmly committed to Syrian sovereign independence, its territorial integrity, and right of its people alone to choose their leadership, free from foreign interference.

“Both Russian and Syrian military commanders stress the intention to push ahead with the operation until the elimination of the last terrorist” nationwide, said Tass.

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The Syrian Outcome Has Departed from Washington


The Syrian Outcome Has Departed from Washington’s “Foreign Policy Script”. ISIS “Terrorists” are US-NATO Mercenaries

The CIA and presstitutes will re-write the history


Stephen Lendman sums up the success of Russian and Syrian militaries against Washington-supported ISIS. Washington claims to be fighting ISIS, but doesn’t. Remember, U.S. General Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, revealed on television that it was the “willful decision” of the Obama regime to use ISIS to overthrow the Assad government. General Flynn said the decision was made over his objection. 

News agencies and writers should stop referring to ISIS and any of the other groups as “terrorists.” The term “terrorists” connotes an independence that the “terrorists” do not have. These so-called “terrorists” are organized, financed, and armed by Washington and Washington’s vassals. Washington uses “terrorists” as a foreign policy tool. This has been going on for decades. Yes, sometimes the “terrorists” escape Washington’s control. Washington supported Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to help organize the Mujahideen to fight against the Soviet occupying force. Everyone knows this, or, perhaps I should say, formerly knew it prior to the presstitutes helping Washington bury all the facts and replace them with fake news.

The CIA has long used presstitutes to rewrite history. But not all facts have yet been thrown down the Memory Hole. Here is former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook:

“Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the ’80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.”

Here is Prince Bander bin Sultan on CNN’s Larry King program (October 1, 2001):

“This is ironic. In the mid-’80s, if you remember, we and the United – Saudi Arabia and the United States were supporting the Mujahideen to liberate Afghanistan from the Soviets. He [Osama bin Laden] came to thank me for my efforts to bring the Americans, our friends, to help us against the atheists, he said the communists. Isn’t it ironic?”

See also this article.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on The Syrian Outcome Has Departed from Washington

A Cuban Mystery: The US Embassy in Havana


Cuba has, for decades, been a form of political pathology for US political consciousness. Fidel Castro loomed in his indestructible guise, tormenting a succession of American presidents with his seeming indestructibility. Efforts at deposing and assassination had conspicuously failed. It was left, then, to Washington to insulate, seal off and keep Cuba as an infectious patient of international relations, fearing its global reach and influence.

With the softening of this manic stance under the Obama administration, Cuba ceased being the incurable. It even had promise. US business officials were smacking their lips and rubbing hands. The new Cuba might well return to the Cuba of old, one more open to reverie, smut and cash. The diplomats would return; the US embassy would reopen in Havana.

Then, Donald Trump happened. A new administration, the government of 140 character messages, roars and expectoration. The cool seemed likely to return in the heat of intolerance and misguided encounters. In June, Trump announced that limitations on trade and tourism with Havana would be imposed. It was a corrective of sorts to yet another “one-sided deal” and halted people-to-people exchanges.

Since the fall of 2016, staff at the US embassy have been troubled. Up to 21 diplomats have been affected by what is now being considered an attack. (These had been previously deemed, in State Department speak, “incidents”.) American media outlets, from the Old Grey Lady onwards are unanimous.

“It started as a medical mystery,” went the New York Times. “It then was determined to have been the result of a mysterious attack.”

The symptoms cover a considerable range: nausea, dizziness, tinnitus, difficulty with sleeping, deafness, even mild brain trauma. That these might have arisen from a sonic attack has been suggested. But speculation is rife as the coterie of experts in the field of bio-electromagnetics are entertained. What sort of weapons might have been behind this?

One such figure is Denis Bedat, who made his splash for the AFP new agency.

“Ultrasonic waves, beyond the acoustic capacity of humans, can be broadcast with an amplifier, and the device does not need to be large, or used inside or outside the house.”[1]

Weapons such as the anti-riot gun in the employ of the US police forces, otherwise known as the Active Denial System (ADS), are exponents of such waves.

The Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has been cautious in according blame, despite also pouring over a proposed plan to close the embassy in Havana.

“We have it under evaluation. It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered. We’ve brought some of those people home. It’s under review.”[2]

Havana, in turn, has urged caution and restraint, expressing official bafflement at the cases.

“Cuba has told us it will continue to investigate these attacks, and we will continue to cooperate with them in this effort.”

This policy of cooperation is typically troubled, an appellation of suspicion and masochism.

Given that two Cuban diplomats have suffered expulsion as a result, the finger pointing is being presumed, even if those fingers are slightly askew. Punish, but not abolish; tell those in Havana that this is not the sort of thing the US will tolerate, but still keep doors open, if only slightly ajar and barely operating.

On Friday, the State Department did announce a suspension of routine visa operations, giving no clue when they would resume, while limiting official travel to Cuba by US officials, excepting those connected with the investigation or those in need of travelling to the country.[3]

The sting in the tail, however, was a travel warning for Americans in general, suggesting danger to visitors from the US. As “our personnel’s safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe US citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba.”[4]

Tillerson is exercising caution, and the theory that a third party may well be up to mischief is being floated. Officials have spoken about taking measures of protection in the name of prudence. Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, president of the American Foreign Service Association, has expressed concern that the US is prizing itself out of the diplomatic game in taking them.

“We’ve got a mission to do,” she explained to The Atlantic. “We operate all over the world, in places with serious health risks… The answer can’t be we just pull the flag down and move American presence from the field.”[5]

Havana has expressed consternation at the moves by the Trump administration, but is still hopeful in cooperation. But all this signals, yet again, the odd mix of machismo mixed with caution; bluster with a U-turn and summersault in Trump’s version of foreign policy.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email:


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Who Is Responsible for Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar?


The Rohingya: Imperialism’s New Cause; [Part 1]


On the 15th of September the dead bodies of a family were discovered by Burmese security forces In Mayu Mountain Rakhine state. The family are believed to be Daingnet minorities. The murders have been blamed on the Arakanese Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA, formerly Harakah al Yakin) a terrorist group with links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Myanmar’s Rakhine State has experienced a wave of violence since ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) terrorists attacked security forces on the 25th of August killing 10 police officers, 1 soldier, 9 security officers and several civilians.

The ARSA attacks were clearly timed to coincide with the report before the UN General Assembly of the Advisory Committee on Rakhine led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Dr Annan was appointed by the Burmese government to oversee an independent investigation of violence in the troubled region.

Numerous eyewitness reports in Myanmar say terrorists set fire to villages provoking an exodus, while others, including the Western corporate media, say the fires were lit by the Burmese military (Tatmadaw). There is no conclusive proof of who is responsible for the tragic exodus of Myanmar’s ethnic Bengali Muslim communities from North Rakhine State. But former US chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Burma, Pricilla Clapp contradicted US agencies when she told France 24 News that she believed the Takfiri terrorists were responsible for the burning of villages as well as laying land mines.

If Clapp’s claims are true, it strongly suggests that the terrorist insurgency in north Rakhine state is gaining in strength. The Islamist insurgency is estimated to be between 20 and 30,00 fighters. There are many accounts by Buddhist Muslim and Hindu villagers of being surrounded and attacked by the Takfiri terrorists.

According to American Burmese researcher Rich Heizman, almost all the inhabitants of Ye Bauk Kyar village, three miles from the Bangladeshi border, were hacked to death with machetes, swords and axes by the “Bengali” Islamist terrorists. 92 Hindus were also slaughtered in Kha Maung Seik village.

Mass graves of mostly Hindu villagers have been found near the Bangladeshi border. They are believed to have been murdered in August 2016 terrorist insurgency.

Hundreds of Hindu villagers remain missing. Some Hindu’s, captured by the terrorists, have been found in Bangladeshi refugee camps.

None of this evidence has been mentioned in the mainstream media reports. The horrific suffering of thousands of people has been deliberately and callously ignored. Instead, we are fed a constant, lachrymose refrain about ‘the world’s most persecuted minority’ and ‘genocide against the Rohingya’. The soundbites mask what may be a far more disturbing reality, namely that those screaming genocide are the very people behind the mass killing! The modus operandi is familiar to followers of the Syrian and Libyan wars where false-false terrorist atrocities, designed to gain maximum media attention in order to blame the targeted government, have been the norm.

The discovery of the massacre in the Mayu Mountain comes after the Asian Human Rights Centre (ACHR) recently called on the UN to dismiss its current Special Rapporteur for Human RightsProfessor Yanghee Lee, due to serious violations of the UN Human Rights Council’s Resolution 5/2 ‘Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council- article 3 General Principles of conduct.’

Professor Lee is accused of omitting to mention the terrorist groups who are responsible for atrocities. Lee has also been accused of grossly inflating the figures of Bengali (Rohingya) deaths.

The ACHR accuses the UN Special Rapporteur of failing to name the Takfiri groups for the killing of 3 Mro villagers on the third of August, 2017, 5 ethnic Daingnets in Kyandoe village on the 26th of August and 7 Mro people in Kan-Taing village, Maungdaw on the 28th of August.

The anti-terrorist operation in Myanmar is far from over with reports of thousands of terrorists still hiding in the jungle of the Mayu Mountains.

The whereabouts of thousands of victims remain unknown. Some Buddhist and Hindu refugees who fled to Rakhine State capital Sittway after the violence, have been transported by the military back to their villages. Many Buddhist refugees, who are a minority in Maungdaw township in north Rakhine State, have said they will never return to the area due to fear of more attacks.

Thousands of Muslim refugees remain in Bangladesh. Many of the community leaders are refusing to cooperate with Myanmar’s identity verification process, making repatriation impossible. Many Muslims in the refugee camps are also coming under pressure from terrorist groups such as ARSA. Half of North Rakhine’s Muslim community have remained in Rakhine State. But ARSA terrorists have also been murdering Muslim’s accused of collaborating with the Burmese military (Tatmadaw). All Myanmar Islamic Religious Organisation has condemned the terrorists and urged all Muslims to collaborate with the government.

The Burmese military has been accused of torturing and decapitating children. The claims are highly unlikely. In fact, it is far more likely that such atrocities are being committed by the Takfiri terrorists themselves. The Tatdadaw are highly trained soldiers who are armed mostly with Browning Hi-powder, Heckler & Koch G 3s and MP5 submachine guns. The photos of thousands of slaughtered victims have been released by the Burmese government. The bodies are badly mutilated with deep gashes from machetes, swords and knives – the main weapons of the Takfiri terrorists. The Western press is trying to play down the savagery of the ARSA terrorists, claiming that they are ‘lightly armed’. There is nothing ‘light’ about a machete or a sword in the hands of a lunatic Takfiri terrorist!

Since communal violence in 2012 where Mosques and Buddhist temples were attacked leading to the murder of Buddhists and Muslims, Myanmar has been targeted with a growing foreign-backed Islamist insurgency in north Rakhine State, where Bengali Muslims are the ethno-religious majority.

The Buddhist majority in Myanmar fear that if illegal Bengali immigration is not curbed, they may one day face the same persecution as their co-religionists in Bangladesh. Murders and rapes of Buddhists by Takfiri terrorists are regularly documented in Bangladesh, where the growing Wahhabi death cult is receiving copious funding from Saudi Arabia.

Since the destruction of the ancient statues of Buddha in Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2001, there have been growing religious tensions in South East Asia. The strategic objective of Western imperialism in Asia is to exploit those tensions by stoking sectarian hatred – a Huntingtonian ‘clash of civilisations’ which provides the pretext for ‘humanitarian’ intervention’ or ‘anti-terrorist’ counter-insurgency operations by the United States and its allies. The growing Buddhist/Muslim tensions provide Uncle Sam with the pretext he needs to counter the rise of China. Only in that context can one begin to understand imperialism’s new humanitarian cause- the Rohingya.

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The making of a monster – torture, trauma and mind control in Iraq


The with-holding of 2000 images from the prisons of Iraq seeks to hide a very dark secret.

After a FOIA request by the ACLU and a subsequent long legal battle, a US District Court judge ordered the Dept of Defense to release 2000 photos taken in Iraqi prisons between 2003 and 2006 during internal investigations into mistreatment of prisoners. However, only 198 photos of those 2000 have been released in a move that is basically Ash Carter sticking two fingers up to the judicial system.

The 198 released photos contain little of note, they are mostly close ups of bodies showing injuries, all faces have been redacted with black bars. Clearly, they have picked out the most innocuous images.

Black strips placed by censors mask the identity of detainees in an undated combination of photos from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, among 198 images released in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense in Washington, DC February 5, 2016. REUTERS/DoD/Handout via Reuters FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Black strips placed by censors mask the identity of detainees in an undated combination of photos from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, among 198 images released in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense in Washington, DC February 5, 2016.

Why are these images being withheld? It is simple – it is because they show US military personnel mistreating Iraqi prisoners, torturing, degrading and humiliating them in the most cruel and disgusting ways. As one commentator noted – US troops behaving like ISIS.

Why were these Iraqi prisoners treated in such horrible ways? This wasn’t a case of bored soldiers having some fun, it was far, far more sinister.

It is widely accepted now that ISIS was created by the US and it’s allies in the aftermath of the war in Iraq. We know that the USA, Britain, Israel and other nations provided training, that finance came from the Saudis and their brethren in Qatar and the UAE and the equipment came in through Turkey.

It is also widely accepted that the men who filled the ranks of ISIS were largely recruited in Iraq with contingents from other countries as diverse as Morocco and Chechnya joining them.

So we know that ISIS was created in Iraq in the aftermath of the US invasion, we also know that the Americans were busy torturing Iraqi prisoners a few years earlier. It doesn’t take a genius to put those two facts together and realise that it is no coincidence.

How does torture and mistreatment lead to the formation of a bunch of sadistic, merciless, ruthless and blood-thirsty killers who delight in finding all kinds of cruel and inhumane ways to torture and murder innocent people?

Welcome to the shady and disturbing world of trauma-based mind control. Those unreleased pictures document the creation of the ISIS terrorists through the use of torture and trauma.

They took normal Iraqi men and turned them into monsters – this is the secret that the with-holding of those 2000 pictures seeks to keep.

ISIS recruit Michael Dos Santos - mind control victim?

ISIS recruit Michael Dos Santos – mind control victim?

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Spain Heading Towards Civil War?


Tomorrow, Catalonia will attempt to hold an independence referendum; I say attempt because they will face extremely strong opposition from the Spanish federal authorities, not least in the form of the tens of thousands of paramilitary Guardia Civil that Madrid has sent into the region to prevent what Madrid insists is an illegal action.

Madrid has cited the Spanish constitution and its article 8 which declares Spain to be ‘indivisible’ as justification for declaring the Catalan referendum illegal and it’s efforts to prevent it going ahead.  Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has already reiterated many times that a referendum cannot be held as it would be contrary to the Spanish constitution, introduced in 1978 to underpin Spain’s transition to democracy after the death of the great dictator himself, Francisco Franco.

So far, we have seen the Guardia Civil and Spanish police seize ballot papers, arrest local Catalan mayors and officials and seize many polling stations, in short, they are using force rather than negotiation and appear to be determined to continue to use as much force as necessary to prevent the referendum vote going ahead.

The intimidation by Spanish forces has been steadily growing in recent weeks; last weekend, Spanish naval vessels prevented the fishing fleet from the Catalan port of Gerona from putting to sea because they were not flying the Spanish national flag; the fishing vessels had to return to port and were unable to fish.

Madrid’s heavy-handed crackdown has served to greatly strengthen the Catalan protest movement.

There appears to be a strong and widely held sentiment within the Spanish military and paramilitary forces that violent force should be applied to destroy the Catalan independence movement. The  president of the Spanish Military Association (AME), Colonel Leopoldo Muñoz Sánchez gave an interview regarding the current political issue in Catalonia to Dutch television channel Niewsur and stated:

“Spain is an indissoluble nation. In case of threat of fracture or separatism, according to article 8 of the Spanish Constitution, we have to guarantee the integrity of the territory. Therefore, it is our opinion that we have to declare a state of war or siege.”

This bellicose rhetoric sounds like a deeply unpleasant and disturbing echo of the old fascist regime of Franco and it should not be forgotten that Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, was the stronghold of the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War and fought to the last against Franco’s Nationalists and their German and Italian fascist allies.  In the Spanish Civil War the international community including the European democratic powers of Britain and France did nothing to help the democratically elected Spanish Republic and stood idly by while Franco, with much help from Hitler and Mussolini, brutally crushed Spanish democracy and freedom. The only help the Spanish Republic did receive was in the form of tens of thousands of foreign volunteers who came to fight fascism and the dubious assistance of Stalin who supplied weapons but also sent political commissars who attempted to foster a Communist takeover within Republican ranks.

Catalonia suffered greatly during the three years of the Spanish Civil War and was the site of much of the fiercest fighting. The Catalans were among the first people to experience the horrors of total war including the indiscriminate aerial bombing of civilian targets.

The Catalans clearly fear a repeat of the brutality and violence of the Franco era; in Brussels last week four Catalan MEP’s asked the European Commission to inform Spain that it could not use military force to stop Catalonia from breaking away from Madrid. The MEPs Maria Badia, Ana Miranda, Raul Romeva Rueda and Ramon Tremosa also wrote to the EU justice commissioner. However, it looks like the international community and the European nations will once again stand idly by and not involve themselves in Spain’s affairs. This is probably largely motivated by a desire to avoid giving a boost to other nascent independence movements across Europe, such as the Bavarians, Basque, Walloons and Scots.

The Catalans do not want violence, they are trying to do things in a calm and peaceful manner, but the heavy-handed reaction by Spanish authorities in Madrid smacks of the bad old days of Franco and fascism when Catalan identity was brutally suppressed to the point where the Catalan language could only be spoken in private or in the safety of numbers such as on the terraces of the famous Nou Camp football stadium in Barcelona.

FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium is an icon of the Catalan identity and host to many pro-independence rallies. During the cruel Franco years, it held a special place in Catalan hearts and minds as it’s terraces on match days were one of the few places where the people could express their Catalan identity and speak the Catalan language.

The Catalan police, controlled by the Catalan local government in Barcelona has so far done nothing to either hinder or assist Madrid’s use of force, however, this may change if the heavy-handed intimidation tactics continue – the Catalan police may be forced to act to protect their own people, should Madrid’s forces resort to violence, which is a very real possibility, given the notorious reputation of the Guardia Civil.

It is not hard to see how a flashpoint confrontation could easily occur tomorrow when the Catalan people attempt to vote; all it would take is some hot-headed Guardia Civil officers using excessive force to stop them and it could all ‘kick off’. How long would the local Catalan police be able to stand aside before feeling they must intervene in order to protect their own people from being beaten and injured? The first Catalan policeman shot and killed would become a martyr, a potent symbol of the brutality of Madrid’s attempted repression of the Catalan desire for independence and a multiplying factor that would greatly boost the calls for freedom from Madrid’s grip.

In Barcelona, even the womenfolk took up arms to defend their city against Franco’s fascist hordes. They suffered terribly for decades afterwards under a brutal regime that attempted to punish their bravery by destroying the Catalan national identity.

It is only 40 years since Franco, the fat little tyrant in Madrid died and the reign of cruel oppression that sought to crush the Catalan identity finally ended; still within living memory of many Catalans. It is not hard to see how we could easily see the eruption of a renewed spirit of open defiance and violent resistance to Madrid’s attempted repression among young Catalans, spurred on by cries of ‘never again’ and an outpouring of a fervent desire to not fall victims to the same fate as their parents and grandparents who suffered at the hands of Franco and his facists.

The people of Barcelona have not forgotten the cruel repression and murderous violence they suffered at the hands of Franco’s fascists, many places in the city have been preserved in their bullet-ridden state in order to keep those memories alive, including notorious places of execution where thousands were put against the wall and shot out of hand.

Catalan referendum: Police seal off polling stations

Spanish national police have sealed off 1,300 of 2,315 schools in Catalonia designated as polling stations for the banned independence referendum, the government in Madrid says.

The move came as the Spanish authorities stepped up their attempts to stop Sunday’s referendum.

Police have now occupied the regional government’s telecommunications centre.

Catalonia, a wealthy region of 7.5 million people in north-eastern Spain, has its own language and culture.

It has a high degree of autonomy, but is not recognised as a separate nation under the Spanish constitution.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to vote in Sunday’s ballot, which has been declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court.

The authorities in Madrid have sent thousands of police to the region to stop it taking place.

They have been ordered to clear schools occupied by activists – including parents and their children who remained in the buildings after the end of lessons on Friday – aiming to ensure the buildings can be used for voting.

Tractors have gathered in Barcelona to show support for the referendum

Officers from the Catalan regional police have been instructed to assist, but also told not to use force.

A government source quoted by Reuters news agency said 163 schools had been occupied by families.

Officers have have also been seizing items such as ballot papers, while prosecutors have ordered the closure of websites linked to the vote and the arrest of officials organising the referendum.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told Reuters news agency that the referendum would go ahead.

“Everything is prepared at the more than 2,000 voting points so they have ballot boxes and voting slips, and have everything people need to express their opinion,” he said.

Catalonia in numbers

  • 16% of Spain’s population live in Catalonia
  • 25.6% of Spain’s exports come from Catalonia
  • 19% of Spain’s GDP is produced in Catalonia
  • 20.7% of foreign investment in Spain goes to Catalonia
  • 35.3% of Catalonia’s GDP is debt

Friday saw thousands of Catalan separatists hold a final rally in the city of Barcelona.

But in the town of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, some 2,000 people opposed to independence attended a rally called by Ciudadanos, Catalonia’s main opposition party.

Friday also saw a judge order media giant Google to remove an application giving information about the outlawed referendum.

Pressure for a vote on self-determination has grown over the past five years but in the 2015 regional election, won by an alliance of pro-independence parties, about 40% of voters backed parties loyal to Spain.

Spanish unionists argue Catalonia already enjoys broad autonomy within Spain, along with other regions like the Basque Country and Galicia.

BBC map

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