Archive | March 2nd, 2018

CARICOM Maintains ‘Non-Intervention, Non-Interference’ Policy on Venezuela

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  • Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Trinidad and Tobago
    Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley, Haiti’s President and Current Chair of the Caribbean Community, Jovenel Moise, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson-Smith (L to R), during a news conference at the 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM heads of Government in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 28, 2018. | Photo: Reuters.
The Caribbean Community must remain a space for the Caribbean countries’ interests to be advanced, its chairman says.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has firmly rejected international intervention in Venezuela and said the 15 nations, which form the organization, would maintain its current relations with the South American country. The statements come following the end of CARICOM’s  29th Inter-sessional meeting in Haiti, which ended on Wednesday.

RELATED: Venezuela: CNE Invites Caricom to Elections in April

Speaking at the closing press conference for the heads of government on Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, reiterated the community’s non-intervention position on the Bolivarian country’s internal affairs.

Gonsalves said: “Caricom’s position on Venezuela… is well established at several (past) meetings of Caricom, and the principles have been enunciated in relation to non-intervention and non-interference,” he added that it was in the Caribbean’s interest to work toward “strengthening and supporting” the principles of representative democracy and freedom in Venezuela.

Gonsalves’ statements were supported by Dr. Keith Rowley, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, who said that his country had responded well to the increased of Venezuelans to its shores. He added that many of the persons, who have arrived were looking for job and trade opportunities due to the impact of United States-led sanctions and Trinidad and Tobago would do what it could to improve trade relations with its South American neighbor.

Venezuela’s Vice Minister for the Caribbean in the Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs, Raul Licausi, thanked the grouping for their support.

In a press statement issued on Wednesday, he said the Caribbean countries: “have stood firmly on their stance despite constant pressures from international factors, showing that dignity in the Caribbean is exemplary.”

In relation to the invitation the National Electoral Council (CNE) made for Caricom to send an accompanying electoral mission for April 22 presidential elections, Licausi said they have “full confidence” in their electoral system and hope the Caricom can be present in the “pre and post-electoral phases, in both the technical and political levels.”

He added: “One of the most important messages we received for the people and the revolutionary government is that of solidarity and respect towards the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s internal affairs.”

RELATED: Climate Change Top on Caricom Agenda

The Caribbean Peace Movement (CPM), which including several individuals and organizations from the Caribbean, applauded Caricom’s non-interference stance on Venezuela and their self-determination and development rights, especially the actions of the leaders of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Suriname for their votes supporting Venezuela at the OAS.

In a letter directed to Caricom’s head of states, the CPM regretted that some Caribbean countries didn’t agree on this.

“Unfortunately, at the recently held Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Washington DC, some of our CARICOM member states –specifically Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, the Bahamas and Guyana — chose to abandon the principles of collective leadership enshrined in the foundational document of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which have historically guided CARICOM’s foreign policy positions in relation to other countries,” the letter reads.

Haitian President and Caricom’s Chairman Jovenel Moise declared that the organization should remain a shared space where the Caribbean nations can defend their interests.

Policy on Venezuela

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Venezuela: President Maduro ‘Happy’ as Elections Move to May 20

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  • "I want to go to a process of reconciliation with all Venezuelans... I feel very happy and satisfied with the agreement signed today with the opposition," President Maduro wrote on Facebook.
    “I want to go to a process of reconciliation with all Venezuelans… I feel very happy and satisfied with the agreement signed today with the opposition,” President Maduro wrote on Facebook. | Photo: Reuters.
“I want to go to a process of reconciliation with all Venezuelans… I feel very happy and satisfied with the agreement signed today with the opposition,” Nicolas Maduro said.

Venezuela‘s presidential candidates have agreed to delay the slated April 22 elections until May 20, it has been announced, a move welcomed by President Nicolas Maduro.

Campaign chiefs Luis Romero for Henri Falcon, and Jorge Rodriguez for President Maduro, signed the agreement guaranteeing that all parties would also respect the results of the rescheduled elections.

RELATED: CARICOM Maintains ‘Non-Intervention’ Policy on Venezuela

Maduro posted his support for the new agreement on social media, saying through his Facebook page on Thursday that democracy and the political rights of voters could only be guaranteed by way of the ballot box.

“I want to go to a process of reconciliation with all Venezuelans… I feel very happy and satisfied with the agreement signed today with the opposition,” Maduro wrote.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez told Reuters that Thursday’s agreement with Falcon’s Progressive Advance party, and some other movements, was evidence of a reconciliatory spirit that undercut foreign criticism of autocratic rule in Venezuela.

“Venezuela is a model democracy for the whole world,” Rodriguez told reporters at the election board headquarters.

Meanwhile Romero, who leads Falcon’s party, said the only way to bring about change was via the polls, and not through protests similar to those that killed nearly 130 people last year.

“Venezuelans want to get rid of Maduro, but not by killing each other in the streets,” he said, also speaking at the election board in downtown Caracas.

Romero and Rodriguez attended a press conference Thursday at the National Election Council, or CNE, where its chief Tibisay Lucena announced the agreement and said a date would be set as part of upcoming discussions between the government and opposition parties.

“We invite all organizations with political ends to participate in a dialogue of electoral guarantees,” Lucena told reporters at her council’s headquarters as the two representatives signed the agreement.

The agreement also establishes that the elections of the members of state legislative councils and of the municipal councils will also take place at the same time as the presidential election, on May 20.

After the agreement was signed, Lucena said the parties “celebrate the signing of an electoral guarantee agreement with the participation of the political parties, who commit themselves before the country to carry out the electoral process with greater tranquility and transparency.”

The president said that “this agreement ratifies the dialogue in the Dominican Republic and gives way to choosing our leaders and representatives with the broadest electoral guarantees because the CNE is committed and has complied with these agreements.”

Six people have registered as candidates for the presidential elections: current President Nicolas Maduro, Falcon, Reinaldo Quijada, Francisco Visconti, Luis Alejandro Ratti, and the evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela: President Maduro ‘Happy’ as Elections Move to May 20

China Contributed 30% to Global Economic Growth in 2017

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  • Xi Jinping speaks as China
    Xi Jinping speaks as China’s new Politburo Standing Committee members meet with the press at the Great Hall of the People. | Photo: Reuters.
The Asian country saw economic growth of 6.9 percent last year.

China contributed 30 percent to global economic growth in 2017, well above the United States, the European Union and Japan, said a report from the National Bureau of Statistics Wednesday.

RELATED: China Leading Research in Immune Cell Therapy Against Cancer

The Asian country saw economic growth of 6.9 percent last year.

China was also commended for its efforts to protect the environment through energy-saving and use of renewable energy sources. In addition, its One Belt, One Road initiative is increasingly being seen as a positive force, when compared to the interventionist policies of the West. Finally, Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s cornerstone policy of eradicating poverty in China by 2020 was also highlighted.

The data of the Bureau was revalidated by the World Bank, which showed that between 2012 and 2016, China’s economic growth far surpassed that of the United States, the European Union and Japan, indeed.

In addition, last year China saw an increase in sales of consumer products of 10.2 percent and an increase of 6.6 percent in industrial production.

Its foreign trade closed with an upsurge in exports and imports of 7.9 and 15.9 percent, respectively, while direct foreign investment was 7.9 percent higher.

Posted in ChinaComments Off on China Contributed 30% to Global Economic Growth in 2017

UN Calls for Release of ‘Tortured’ Pakistani From Guantanamo

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  • Guantanamo Bay prisoner sin 2007.
    Guantanamo Bay prisoner sin 2007. | Photo: Reuters.
The CIA has long been accused of using torture tactics against prisoners.

UN working group has called for the release of a Pakistani man imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay since 2006, saying his detention violates international human rights.

RELATED: ‘Guantanamo Bay Braced For New Prisoners’: US Admiral

Ammar Al-Baluchi, a Kuwaiti-born Pakistani citizen also known as Abdul Aziz Ali, was accused of paying money to the 9/11 hijackers, conspiring alongside his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentionsaid Wednesday that holding Al-Baluchi in the detention camp is “arbitrary, breaches international human rights law and has no legal basis.”

The group, a part of the UN Human Rights Council, are calling for Al-Baluchi to be compensated, adding that “Mr. al Baluchi has been subject to prolonged detention on discriminatory grounds” and that once released, he should be offered “physical and psychological rehabilitation for the torture he had previously suffered.”

In December 2017, UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer had condemned Al-Baluchi’s detention as well, having said, “Mr. al-Baluchi has been held in isolation at a severely restricted-access facility at Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade … noise and vibrations are reportedly still being used against him, resulting in constant sleep deprivation and related physical and mental disorders, for which he allegedly does not receive adequate medical attention.”

The CIA has long been accused of using torture tactics against prisoners since the detention camp was first opened by U.S. President George W. Bush as part of the so-called ‘War on Terror.’ Almost 800 people have been brought to the camp since, the majority of them having been charged with no crime.

Despite reassurances to shut down Guantanamo Bay by former U.S. President Barack Obama, the camp remains open. Current U.S. President Donald Trumphas, in turn, confirmed he will continue running it, with new prisoners expected to fill the camps soon.

Posted in USA, Human Rights, Pakistan & Kashmir, UNComments Off on UN Calls for Release of ‘Tortured’ Pakistani From Guantanamo

Tamimi’s Father to Uruguayan Singer Oreiro: Cancel Show in the Nazi state

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 Oreiro is an outspoken children
The teen’s next court session is scheduled for March 11. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

As Ahed Tamimi‘s next court session approaches her father has called on Uruguayan Grammy winner Natalia Oreiro to cancel her concert  in Tel Aviv. Ahed, who was 16 years old when she was imprisoned for hitting two Israelisoldiers who attempted to enter her house, faces up to 10 years in prison.

RELATED: ‘Great Concern’: Chile Calls on Israel to Release Ahed Tamimi

“Your concert would undermine our efforts to free Ahed and the over 300 hundred girls and boy prisoners in Israeli jails”, Bassem Tamimi expressed in a letter to Oreiro who is expected to perform in Israel, where she is highly popular, on May 20.

If found guilty, Ahed could serve up to 10 year in prison for “assault” and “incitement” charges.

The video that shows Tamimi slapping and hitting the two armed occupation soldiers was filmed shortly after Ahed was informed that her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed had been shot by Israeli forces in the face.

Ahed is not the only one who has been detained from the Tamimi family.

On Feb. 26 Israel’s occupation forces conducted an overnight raid in the town of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank, abducted and arrested 10 members of Ahed’s family, including her cousin Mohammed who remains in a delicate condition after part of his skull was removed to dislodge the rubber-coated steel bullet from his head.

Tamimi’s request to Oreiro is framed within the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “inspired by the international boycotts that helped South Africans put an end to apartheid in the 1990s,” he explained.

In his letter Bassem Tamimi cites Oreiro’s involvement in a campaign against the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility in Uruguay, reminding her Ahed was only 16 when taken prisoner.

“Ms. Oreiro, my daughter was dragged from our home in the middle of the night, after her teenage cousin was shot in the head. She is facing a military trial with charges that can lead to years of unjust and inhumane incarceration,” he wrote.

Ahed’s case has been widely condemmened by international human rights organizations and Jewish groups in the United States.

The letter, which was published and circulated through social media since Feb. 26, has not yet been answered.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, CampaignsComments Off on Tamimi’s Father to Uruguayan Singer Oreiro: Cancel Show in the Nazi state

Lima Group: Where OAS ‘Non-Intervention’ Principle Breaks Down

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  • The Lima Group takes it upon itself to issue moral sanctions against Maduro
    The Lima Group takes it upon itself to issue moral sanctions against Maduro’s Venezuela, accusing it of “serious deterioration of democratic institutions.” | Photo: Reuters.
Making official misleading statements – and using false arguments to then justify economic sanctions against another country – must be openly criticized, argues Nino Pagliccia.

Criticism of another country is largely allowed. Criticism of the constitution of a country by any individual may also be acceptable, if constructive. Any government may also question the legislation of another country, so long as it’s done within diplomatic standards and protocols, but making official pretentious and misleading statements – and using false arguments to then justify economic sanctionsagainst another country – must be openly criticized. That behaviour becomes unethical when a group of a dozen countries in the Americas, known as the Lima Group, takes it upon itself to issue moral sanctions against Venezuela, accusing the nation of “serious deterioration of democratic institutions” and “violation of the constitutional order” without a shred of evidence.

RELATED:  How Voting Works in Venezuela

Those same countries – supposedly with intelligent heads of state, well-informed foreign ministers, experienced legislative institutions, supreme courts versed in legal matters, and the best legal brains at the United Nations and Organization of American States (OAS), among other organizations – have not singled out one article of the Venezuelan constitution or other legislation that has been violated. Their announcements are just unproven statements they use, investing themselves with a pompous air of authority as reflected in official photos for their infamous posterity.

Case in point: on October 5, the group raised an unfounded alert to “consider that the regional elections to be held on October 15 in Venezuela to elect governors must be held in a manner fully respectful of the constitution and the organic law of electoral processes of that country.” There is no mention of which article of the law would not be respected. The elections were fully legitimate, uneventful and transparent. Four candidates of the opposition were elected to state governorships.

In the more recent statement of February 13, where the group says that Venezuela is not welcome at the 8th Summit of the Americas taking place in April in LimaPeru, it insists on the issue of elections and urges “the government of Venezuela to reconsider the call for presidential elections“: a matter that is usually considered an internal decision, and in this particular case the Venezuelan opposition had agreed before it refused to go along with it under international pressure.

Deterioration of Democracy?

In that same statement there seems to be an attempt to at least refer to an international legislation to justify its decision. Point 6 states: “Given the continued and serious deterioration of democratic institutions in Venezuela, and based on theQuebec Declaration adopted at the III Summit of the Americas in 2001, which states that ‘any unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state’s government in the Summit of the Americas process,’ the government of Peru has decided to reconsider the participation of the government of Venezuela in the VIII Summit of the Americas, in Lima.”

The quote of the Quebec Declaration refers to Chapter 4, Article 19, of the 2001Inter-American Democratic Charter, which begins with the following sentence conveniently omitted in the previous quote: “Based on the principles of the Charter of the OAS and subject to its norms…”

Consequently, the Quebec Declaration does not supersede the OAS Charter. Therefore, the coincidentally equally numbered Chapter 4, Article 19, of the OAS Charter stands fully. The article says: “No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the state or against its politicaleconomic and cultural elements.” This is the crucial article that the Lima Group chooses to break.

The Lima Group forgets that the OAS failed to apply the Democratic Charter for lack of the required votes to condemn Venezuela for “unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order.” It is important to highlight that the Lima Group is the minority group of countries that voted against Venezuela within the OAS and therefore decided to take their show on the road, contravening the basic OAS Charter statute of no intervention or “any other form of interference… for any reason whatever.”

Policy of Exclusion

The decision to reconsider Venezuela’s participation at the summit, therefore, collapses and becomes a contradiction precisely of the same democratic institutional principle the Lima Group tries to represent and enforce. Eventually, we have learned that the final decision was not based on any legal principle, but as surrender to the pressure of the minority Venezuelan opposition that admitted to have lobbied Peru to ban President Nicolas Maduro from the upcoming summit: a clear case of interference.

On the issue of deterioration of democratic institutions and violation of the constitutional order, it would be taking a cheap shot detailing the humiliating political recent histories of some of the countries in the Lima Group. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru come immediately to mind. Similar can be said on the issue of violations of human rights, of which Venezuela is also unfairly accused.

In contrast to the summit host country closing the door to prevent Venezuela from having the rightful opportunity to make its case with a group of peer countries in the region, Venezuela is opening the door to international acompañantes, “more than to inspect… (to) be able to learn from the flawless electoral system we’ve built,” tweeted Maduro.

RELATED:  Venezuela Criticizes Spain for ‘Fanning Flames’ of Conflict

For the sake of transparency, Venezuela has established two modalities to participate in the electoral process as a non-voter. One is acompañante (companion), which is reserved for international witnesses in order to get to know the specifics of the Venezuelan system, watch at polling stations, and even contribute to improvements, within the framework of respect and sovereignty of the country. Acompañante can be an electoral official of another country, a rep of an organization or an individual properly accredited by theNational Electoral Council. The second modality is national observer, which is only reserved for Venezuelan individuals or organizations. Venezuela has already received international acompañantes in previous elections.

Interestingly, countries in the Lima Group that do not allow international observers at polls are ArgentinaBrazilCanada and Chile.

Principle of Non-Intervention

In conclusion, the Lima Group is a self-appointed group with an unconvincing single-country focus: Venezuela. It was set up with a somewhat pretentious purpose of addressing “the critical situation in Venezuela and explore ways to contribute to the restoration of democracy in that country through a peaceful and negotiated solution… with full respect for the norms of international law and the principle of non-intervention.” The whole existence of such a group is problematic. It has the immediate appearance of 12 countries ganging up on another – and so it is in reality. If, for a moment, we accept the intention of the group as stated, we observe a major gap between the intention and the practice.

Its declaration does not give any analysis of the possible causes of the “critical situation,” except that there is a “breakdown of the democratic order.” That should be a conclusion following an investigation, but no legal or factual basis is provided to make that deduction. All the standard democratic processes are in place in Venezuela: free speechfreedom of the pressmulti-party systemfree and secret ballots.

The statements issued by the Lima Group reflect condemnation, rather than contributions to the “restoration” of democracy in Venezuela. All the actions are punitive, rather than negotiated solutions. Consider, for example, the series of accusatory declarations and votes called at the OAS to castigate Venezuela; or Canada’s vocal criticism of Venezuela on behalf of the Lima Group, or the more recent unsupported exclusion of Venezuela from the summit in Lima.

The Lima Group has never responded to repeated calls by the Maduro government to dialogue with the opposition in the Dominican Republic, nor has it offered negotiated solutions. On the contrary, the group has squarely sided with Venezuela’s often violent opposition. This is an aggressive attitude towards Venezuela, rather than a position conducive to the proclaimed peaceful solutions. It is meant to forcibly subject a sovereign country to the Lima Group’s will.

Finally, we have indicated that respect for the norms of international law is virtually non-existent, but a real breakdown is shown by the Lima Group: a breakdown of the principle of non-intervention, as established by the OAS Charter. This is indicative of a more hidden, serious and dangerous agenda against Venezuela.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Lima Group: Where OAS ‘Non-Intervention’ Principle Breaks Down

Mass Shootings and Profit: Chaos Ideology in the US

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  • "The NRA gives millions of dollars to politicians, including the president, and the military industrial complex, which Eisenhower warned about, has a fierce hold on government and industry."
    “The NRA gives millions of dollars to politicians, including the president, and the military industrial complex, which Eisenhower warned about, has a fierce hold on government and industry.” | Photo: Reuters.
“The NRA gives millions of dollars to politicians, including the president, and the military industrial complex, which Eisenhower warned about, has a fierce hold on government and industry.”

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in ParklandFlorida, returned to classes Wednesday for the first time since the February 14 mass shooting that claimed 17 lives. It was the eighth such shooting resulting in injury or death during the first seven weeks of the year. At the same time, President Donald Trump met with lawmakers at the White House to discuss gun legislation.

RELATED: Another Mass Shooting in the US – Is There an Epidemic?

On Tuesday, Republican leaders in Congressrejected calls for tighter gun restrictionsHouse Speaker Paul Ryan (Republican-Wisconsin) said Republicans would focus on law enforcement failures, not tighter gun control. Ryaan supports Trump’s call to arm teachers, but not at the federal level. Others have dismissed another Trump proposal: raising the legal age for purchasing semiautomatic guns from 18 to 21.

Shortly after the Parkland attack by Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student, Trump said he considered arming teachers a deterrent against school shootings. “It only works when you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many. It would be teachers and coaches,” the president said.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten blasted the idea: “Teachers don’t want to be armed, we want to teach,” she said. Half of U.S. citizens are opposed to arming teachers, while 44 percent are in favor of the plan, a new CBS News poll reveals.

Friends and relatives said Cruz had a long history of violent outbursts. The shooter had been diagnosed with depressionattention deficit hyperactivity disorderobsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism.

Trump suggests that at least 20 percent of teachers should get special weapons training, so they can include “shoots to kill” under the ‘special skills’ section of their resumes. Former CIA agent John Kiriakou, however, told teleSUR that the gun problem in the United States is not the result of unarmed teachers: “It is the result of freely available, military style weapons and an almost complete absence of mental healthcare,” Kiriakou said.

Meanwhile, Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are proposing drastic spending cuts to public education, including a US$7.1 billion – or 10.5 percent decrease – for 2019.

Emery Wright, co-director of Project South, told teleSUR: “This administration is no more interested in stopping gun violence in terms of school shootings than it is in intervening in the epidemic of gun violence that is playing out on the streets of our neighborhoods across the country.”

On February 22, Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest sporting goods retailer in the United States, announced in an open letter that it is banning sales of assault weapons across its stores. “As we looked at what happened down in Parkland, we were so disturbed and saddened by what happened, we felt we really needed to do something,” CEO Ed Stack told Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday.

Guns: God’s Gift to U.S. Citizens?

That same day, National Rifle Association (NRAExecutive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre said in a speech to Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC): “There is no greater personal individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms… It’s not bestowed by man, but granted by God.”

In December 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members. Immediately after the attack, LaPierre said: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

The FBI was warned about a YouTube post last September, by a user named Nikolas Cruz, which said: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

As many as 27 of the 160 mass-shooting incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013 took place in schools, according to a report by the FBI and Texas State University. Broward County deputies received at least 18 calls warning them about Nikolas Cruz from 2008 to 2017, including concerns that he “planned to shoot up the school” and other threats and acts of violence before he was accused of killing 17 people at his former high school.

In 2017, there were 346 mass shootings in the United States and 15,594 people were killed by guns, according to GunViolenceArchive.org. In 2018, the number of gun-related deaths up to February 28 was 2,322, with 35 mass shootings. In 2015, The Washington Post concluded there are now more guns than people in the United States: the number of firearms nationwide was then estimated at 357 million, while the country’s population stood at 317 million.

RELATED: 10 Years After Massacre, Norway to Ban Semi-Automatic Weapons

A recent Pew Research study depicts the United States’ deep and enduring connection to guns: “44 percent of U.S. adults say they personally know someone who has been shot, either accidentally or intentionally, and about a quarter (23 percent) say they or someone in their family have been threatened or intimidated by someone using a gun.

“Men who grew up in a household with guns and who have ever shot a gun report that they first fired a gun when they were, on average, 12 years old. Among women who grew up in gun-owning households and who have ever shot a gun, the average age at which they first fired a gun is 17.”

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof wrote in August 2015: “More Americans have died from guns since 1968 than in all the wars in U.S. history. Since 1968, when these figures were first collected, there have been 1,516,863 gun-related deaths on U.S. territory. Since the founding of the United States, there have been 1,396,733 war deaths.”

Sixty-five percent of U.S. citizens say gun laws should be stricter. After the Parkland shooting, people have called for greater gun controls, but the offensive of the NRA has been calling those people “opportunists.”

Those opposing gun control in the United States base their ideas on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which states: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

U.S. historian and author Peter Kuznick told teleSUR: “That is absurd. The Founding Fathers didn’t have or conceive of assault rifles. They didn’t say that everyone has a right to own his or her own canon. These gun owners are not members of a ‘well-regulated militia.'”

Kuznick, who is also director of Nuclear Studies at the American University in Washington D.C., continues: “The overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens want much stronger gun laws, but the zealots and the gun manufacturers who finance and run the National Rifle Association have succeeded in using their money and influence to elect enough politicians to defy the will of the people.

“They have corrupted American politics, but I think that is coming to an end. The high-school students from Parkland, Florida, are leading a fascinating and inspiring movement that has galvanized Americans in a way I haven’t seen since the 1960s, when the youth were the moral force in American society.

“America’s obsession with guns is a deeply rooted psychosis. There are approximately 100 people killed every day by guns. Most of them, apparently, are suicides. Nothing like this occurs in other countries where guns aren’t so readily available.”

Guns: A U.S. Obsession

So why do so many U.S. citizens fall victim to guns and mass shootings? Venezuela-born sociologist Maria Paez Victor told teleSUR: “I link U.S. gun violence and Trump reaction to U.S. foreign policy. As they have treated other countries, now that poison is inside their own boundaries and people.”

Some facts reinforce Victor’s views about the Washington regime. The world’s most powerful president violates international laws and even the U.S. Constitution; engaged in a failed ‘War on Terror,’ and supports the Zionist massacre against Palestinians. From 1846, when the United States invaded Mexico, to the intervention in Colombia in 2000, there were 47 direct U.S. military interventions in Latin America.

The U.S. police state currently violates, as never before in history, civil liberties: the state reserves the right to invade homes, to control any citizen’s access to the Internet, to wiretap in addition to practicing espionage, torture and interrogating suspected terrorists, without giving them the right to a defense.

A truculent prison system houses the largest prison population on the planet, accounting for 25 percent of all the detainees in the world. Year after year, the U.S. police and justice system have been warned by human rights groups, not only for acts of torture and other inhumanities against prisoners, but also for discriminationagainst Black and Latin American communities.

Meanwhile, the United States remains the world’s largest consumer of drugs: the CIA long ago traced drug smuggling from Afghanistan to U.S. territory.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, in 2012 the profits for gunmakers and retailers hit US$31.8 billion. This year, gun and ammunition stores will reap revenues of US$85 billion and profits of $256 million, according to IbisWorld.com. In 2017, the NRA spent at least US$4.1 million on lobbying – more than the US$3.1 million it spent in 2016.

Every year, more than 50 pecent of the U.S. budget is spent on defense: the United States spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined (China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan). In the 2018 fiscal year, a total of US$700 billion will be spent on defense.

According to Wright, of Project South: “The Trump administration interest has been and continues to be in building a lawless, anti-democratic path of division and violence for the purpose of advancing Wall Street, at the expense of everyday people.”

As Victor says: “The NRA gives millions of dollars to politicians, including the president, and the military industrial complex, which Eisenhower warned about, has a fierce hold on government and industry.”

U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) warned in his farewell speech about “the immense military establishment” that had joined with “a large arms industry”: a threat to democracy and safety, he said.

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Naziyahu’s Corruption: How Zionist Journalists Project Nazi Crimes on to Palestinians

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Netanyahu’s Corruption: How Israeli Journalists Project Israel’s Crimes on to Palestinians
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem. | Photo: Reuters.
In the final analysis, somehow Israel maintains the upper hand and self-granted moral ascendancy.

In an article published in Al-Monitor without a single verifiable citation, Israeli journalist, Shlomi Eldar, went to unprecedented lengths to divert attention from the corruption in his country.

RELATED: How Netanyahu Made Israel an American Issue,and Lost

He spoke of Palestinian journalists – all speaking on condition of anonymity – who ‘applauded’ and ‘admired’ Israeli media coverage of corruption scandals surrounding the country’s rightwing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Eldar’s approach is underhanded and journalistically unsound.

The Israeli media, which has largely supported Netanyahu’s devastating wars on Gaza, continues to relentlessly defend the illegal occupation of Palestine and to serve as a shield for Israel’s stained reputation on the international stage. It is hardly praiseworthy, even if it arguably provides decent coverage for the Netanyahu investigations.

For an Israeli journalist to handpick a few Palestinians who, allegedly, praised the war crimes-apologist Israeli media is a remarkable event that surely cannot be satisfactorily addressed in anonymity.

But Eldar’s journalism aside, one would think that seeking Palestinian admiration for Israeli media should be the least urgent question to address at this time. Others are far more pressing. For example: Is corruption among Israel’s political elite symptomatic of greater moral and other forms of corruption that have afflicted the entire society?

And, why is it that, while Netanyahu is being indicted for bribery, no Israeli official is ever indicted for war crimes against Palestinians?

In fact, well before Netanyahu’s corruption scandals included more serious charges – for instance, quid pro quo deals in which his advisors tried to manipulate media coverage in his favor and offering high political positions in exchange for favors – it included bribes pertaining to fancy cigars and expensive drinks.

What Israelis are trying to tell us is that, despite all of its problems, Israel is a good, transparent, law-abiding and democratic society.

This is precisely why Eldar wrote his article. The outcome was a familiar act of intellectual hubris that we have grown familiar with.

Eldar even cites a supposedly former Palestinian prisoner who told Al-Monitor that, while in prison, “we learned how the democratic election process works in Israel. The prisoners adopted the system in order to elect their leadership in a totally democratic fashion, while ensuring freedom of choice.”

Others cited their favorite Israeli journalist, some of whom have served and continue to serve as mouthpieces for official Israeli hasbara (propaganda).

Many of Israel’s friends in western governments and corporate media have also contributed to this opportunistic style of journalism; they come to the rescue when times are hard, to find ways to praise Israel and to chastise Palestinians and Arabs, even if the latter are not relevant to the discussion, whatsoever.

RELATED: Israel Approves Law to Criminalize Criticisms of Israeli Military

Who could ever forget US Senator John McCain’s criticism of his country’s torture of prisoners at the height of the so-called ‘war on terror’? His rationalewas that such a war can be won without torture, because Israel ‘doesn’t torture’ and yet it is capable of combating ‘Palestinian terrorism’.

Thousands of Palestinians have been tortured, and hundreds were killed under duress in Israeli prisons, the last of whom was Yaseen Omar on the day when this article was written. Moreover, according to the Palestinians Prisoners’ Club, 60% of Palestinian children arrested by Israel are also tortured.

If Israeli media was truly honest in its depiction of Netanyahu’s corruption, it would have made a point of highlighting the extent to which corruption goes well beyond the prime minister, his wife, and a few close confidantes, but this would pierce through the entire legal, political and business establishment rendering the system itself as rotten and corrupt.

Instead, the heart of the discussion is relocated somewhere else entirely. In Eldar’s article, for example, he quotes the anonymous Palestinian who speaks about how Palestinians prisoners “rejected the political systems of Arab states and opted for the one they had absorbed from the ‘Israeli enemy’.”

This Israeli obsession of diverting from the discussion is an old tactic. Whenever Israel is in the dock for whatever problem it has invited upon others or itself, it immediately fashions an Arab enemy to beat down, chastise and blame.

In the final analysis, somehow Israel maintains the upper hand and self-granted moral ascendancy.

This is also why Israelis refer to their country as “the only democracy in the Middle East.” It is a defense mechanism to divert from the fact that apartheid, racially-structured political systems are inherently undemocratic. So, Israel resorts to belittling its neighbors to confirm its own self-worth.

When Israel facilitated and helped carry out the Sabra and Shatila Massacre in Lebanon in September 1982, it used the same logic to defend itself against media outrage.

The then Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, was quoted as saying “the goyim kill goyim, and they blame the Jews.” By ‘they’ he meant the media.

The bottom line is always this: Israel is blameless no matter the hideousness of the act; it is superior and more civilized, and, according to Eldar’s selective reporting, even Palestinians know it.

But where is the outrage by Eldar and his Israeli media champions as thousands of black men and women are being caged in by Israeli police, ready for deportation, for committing the mortal sin of daring to escape war in their countries and seeking refuge in Israel?

How about the millions of besieged and subjugated Palestinians living a bitter existence under an inhumane military occupation?

Should not the Israeli media be targeting the very legal and political structures in their country that makes it okay to imprison a whole nation in defiance of international and human rights law?

RELATED: Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program

In some strange way, corruption is one of few things that is truly normal about Israel, for it is a shared quality with every single country in the world.

What is not normal, and should never be normalized, is that Israel is the only country in the world that continues to practice Apartheid, many years after it was disbanded in South Africa.

Israeli media would rather delay that discussion indefinitely, a cowardly act that is neither admirable nor praiseworthy.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author, and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London, 2018). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, MediaComments Off on Naziyahu’s Corruption: How Zionist Journalists Project Nazi Crimes on to Palestinians

Putin Says Russia’s Arms Development Is ‘Guarantee of Peace in the World’

NOVANEWS
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, Russia March 1, 2018.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, Russia March 1, 2018. | Photo: Reuters.
The Russian leader also pledged to address poverty and standards of living in the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted the ‘priority’ of national development as part of his annual address to the Federal Assembly Thursday, promising to halve the poverty rate within six years and provide jobs for people.

RELATED: Putin Orders Daily ‘Humanitarian Pause’ in Syria’s Ghouta

Addressing Russian lawmakers and other prominent figures in attendance, Putin said that as many as 20 million Russians were living in poverty and that the government had to ensure that real incomes grew.

“We have not reached the necessary level in terms of people’s well-being,” he said, calling the poverty rates “unacceptable” despite nearly halving the number from a decade ago.

The Russian leader, who is up for reelection later in March, also pledged to cut poverty by further half, boosting pensions and creating more daycare places. He also called for spending on urban infrastructure to be doubled over the next six years.

In a direct message to the United States and allies, Putin dedicated considerable time to showcasing the country’s latest defense technologies including new nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile that renders defense systems “useless.”

Despite the arms build up, Putin maintained that his nation had no desire to “take anything from anyone” and insisted that, on the contrary, it was a “guarantee for peace in the World.”

Among the other military technology highlighted during his two-hour speech, Putin said the country had developed a new supersonic weapon, as well as unmanned air and sea vehicles.

Putin said the development of these weapons was a consequences of the unilateral decision by the United States to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, as well as to the sanctions passed against the country and the increasing military build up of NATO troops on its borders.

The head of state insisted that the United States had dismissed efforts to restore the effects of the ABM Treaty, and that warnings by Russia that it would have to build its arms were ignored.

“Well, listen to us now,” he said.

RELATED: Iran, Russia Consider Developing Own Cryptocurrencies

Putin added that Moscow would regard a nuclear attack on its allies as a nuclear attack on Russia itself and would immediately respond.

“We would consider any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies to be a nuclear attack on our country. The response would be immediate,” Putin said.

Almost 70 percent of Russians are ready to support Putin in the March 18 election, according to a poll published Thursday by state news agency, TASS.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Putin Says Russia’s Arms Development Is ‘Guarantee of Peace in the World’


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