Archive | August 21st, 2018

Trump Says: ”Israel’s Prime Minister ‘Will Soon Be Called Mohammed’’

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Trump allegedly made the comments to Jordan’s King Abdullah while the latter visited the White House in late June though the comments have only emerged this weekend.

Netanyahu

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, GazaComments Off on Trump Says: ”Israel’s Prime Minister ‘Will Soon Be Called Mohammed’’

Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro And The People

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  • A toilet roll next to 2,600,000 bolivars, its price and the equivalent of US$0.40 at a mini-market in Caracas.
    A toilet roll next to 2,600,000 bolivars, its price and the equivalent of US$0.40 at a mini-market in Caracas. | Photo: Reuters.
For the empowered Venezuelans, their socialist ideology is part of their identity. It is what and who they are, writes Les Blough.

In his article, ‘Venezuela’s Monetary Revolution Vis-a-Vis Economic Sanctions,’ Nino Pagliccia reports on the new economic model based upon the petroleum-backed cryptocurrency, the Petro, introduced in March of this year. The new initiative brings a series of economic measures to begin on August 20 with the circulation of a new currency, the Sovereign Bolivar (Bolivar Soberano, BsS). It should be understood that the BsS is not simply a matter of printing new bills, dropping zeros from the old currency as it’s been presented in the western corporate media. Rather, the value of the Sovereign Bolivar will be linked to the petro whose value is fixed at the price of one barrel of petroleum. Giving substance to that value, PDVSA, the national oil company, is transferring a huge oil field in the Orinoco Belt with about 30,000 million barrels of oil to the Venezuelan Central Bank, not unlike gold-based currencies planned by other countries.

RELATED: Venezuela: ‘Currency Conversion Will Eliminate Money Mafias’

Pagliccia describes the model as the Maduro Administration’s response to “foreign-induced hyperinflation, crippling sanctions and [the] financial U.S. blockade.” He adds: “Undoubtedly, this sent shockwaves to the world monetary and financial system in what may be dubbed a ‘monetary revolution’ that signals the beginning of a possible trend to drop the U.S. dollar as a reference and the expansion of the use of crypto currencies.” In that context, he refers to Iran’s consideration of a similar path and reminds us that Russia and China have been building their gold reserves as a foundation for their respective national currencies and also mentions their economic interests in Venezuelan petroleum.

The author is also careful to note that “It is still too soon to understand the full implications of this monetary revolution, also considering that we do not know the details of the monetary conversion. We do know its stated intentions, which are to stabilize the currency, stop capital flight, increase production and encourage international investment all leading to economic recovery… But the difficulty of predicting any real impact on the Venezuelan economy is also due to a great extent to the level of trust from Venezuelans.”

Pagliccia cites President Maduro’s address to Venezuelans this week: “I ask for your confidence, I ask for your support, beyond ideologies and political positions, because Venezuela needs this change.”

It is this last comment regarding the level of trust Venezuelans have in the government that I would like to address in this report “from the ground.” The causes of Venezuela’s economic problems are not the main focus of this article but will be addressed in part in concluding paragraphs. First, let’s take a look at these concerns about confidence in the government and President Maduro’s request for the support of all Venezuelans, a key to success or failure of this new initiative.

How does one measure a people’s confidence in their government? Traditionally, polls are used to make such judgements but pollsters use statistical analysis and, depending on their own values (they all have them), can skew numbers by clever means including the ways in which questions are asked, the size and selection of the sample, and the lack of replication, questions of validity and reliability. Our challenge has been to observe and describe what we think we see in our interactions with Venezuelans, to use Maduro’s words, “beyond ideologies and political positions.”

In order to understand the level of confidence Venezuelans have in their current government, we have talked with individuals and probed their experience, thoughts, and emotional reaction to government over time. This method in behavioral science, known as ‘single subject design,’ is nothing new; it was first introduced by Jean Piaget (1896-1980), a Swiss psychologist, who used it to study cognitive development in children, following changes in individual children over time.

To say more about that now would be a digression, so in order to get a sense of how Venezuelans of both pro- and anti-government tendencies perceive the Maduro government, we look at their history over the last 28 years and the impact that massive changes have brought about in their daily lives. Admittedly, this endeavor is ambitious but hopefully will help the reader better understand the Venezuelan people and their relationship to the current government.

RELATED: Venezuelan President Announces New System of Wages and Prices

Caracazo: All Venezuelans have experienced tremendous changes in their lives and country from the time of the Caracazo which began on February 27, 1989. Then President Carlos Andrés Pérez reversed his campaign promises, adopting U.S.-backed neoliberal policies recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Soon after his election he began privatizing public services, imposing new taxes, suspending a number of articles of the Constitution, including Article 60 (right to individual liberty and security), Article 62 (inviolability of the home), Article 66 (freedom of expression), Article 71 (right to gather publicly and privately) and Article 115 (right to peaceful protest), virtually eliminating the people’s role in government. The people had elected him as the candidate who would protect them from these ‘reforms,’ based on his campaign statements in which he had described the IMF as “a neutron bomb that killed people, but left buildings standing.”

The people were furious but their protests were put down by a police state that beat and shot them down in the streets, killing up to 3,000. There are photos today on the internet showing state dump trucks hauling away bodies for burial in mass graves. Ask any Venezuelan, even those who were adolescents at the time, and they will remember where they were and the horrors of the Caracazo. This had a profound impact on the ways that Venezuelans think about government then and now. We might call it an awakening, one that reminded the people of their 200-year history, the independence wars and Bolivar, The Great Liberator who led them to freedom from the Spanish yoke.

Advent of Hugo Chavez: After Caracazo, the next big change commenced with the advent of Hugo Chavez, a young military officer who led the Bolivarian Movement-200 in a military coup in 1992, one that failed but lit a candle of hope in the darkness. This led to more changes for Venezuelans when they successfully elected him as their president in 1998 after his release from prison.

A new constitution was written in 1999 with protections for the people unheard of in Western Democracies. In 2002 Venezuelans saw their president kidnapped in a failed coup attempt, one that CIA records show was foreknown and supported by the U.S. government and media. Those who elected him demanded his return and with the support of the military, triumphantly restored him to his elected position within 48 hours. This was followed in 2002-2003 by a managers’ walkout and lockdown of PDVSA, the national oil company, meant to destroy the Venezuelan economy, but the workers successfully brought the company back online. As president, Chavez led the masses out of poverty and through education and a series of new institutions formed a ‘participative democracy,’ empowering the formerly disenfranchised. The majority chose him as their president repeatedly in multiple elections thereafter, investing their lives and futures in the Bolivarian Revolution.

Chavez’s death and a new president: None of this went down well to say the least with the former oligarchy and privileged class, creating a great divide in Venezuelan society. Chavez’s death in 2013 was a grueling psychological shock for the people who support the revolution and a period of great sorrow and disappointment followed. But it also shocked those who opposed Chavez because we must remember that any big change in our personal lives or our country, whether perceived as negative or positive, carries with it stress, and some adapt to change more easily than others who resist change and as a result experience distress.

When Nicolas Maduro was elected president in the same year, albeit by a small margin, the people experienced a change in leadership causing joy for the Bolivarians and dismay for the opposition. Since then, Venezuelans have experienced the election of an opposition-controlled National Assembly (Congress) on December 6, 2015, later deemed unconstitutional and dismissed by the Supreme Court, and the formation of the Constituent Assembly (the people’s congress) – both acts entirely constitutional, supported by the Chavistas and condemned by the opposition and foreign enemies. But all this amounted to more changes, both political and practical, for the Venezuelan people.

After Maduro’s first term as president, and even more after the people elected him the second time on May 20, 2017, Venezuelans have suffered great hardships. The opposition blames those hardships on corruption and mismanagement in the Maduro government, while the revolutionaries point the finger at foreign intervention by the United States and its Latin American vassal governments.

But based on my research it would be an error to view this as embodiments of individuals, loyal to their own groups regardless of what they may say in public, and that simple division certainly does not indicate how individuals will vote in an election. It’s against this 20-year backdrop that we consider President Maduro’s request for the people’s confidence and support.

Psychological effects of personal and societal changes: In my many conversations with fellow Venezuelans, both revolutionaries and members of the opposition, I observe the effects of all these changes in their daily lives, attitudes and perceptions of government. Most notably I have seen the stress caused by the economic crisis, rising prices, personal insecurity and crime and their conflicting ideological, economic and political views. Again, some adjust to these conditions more readily than others, but they have a psychological impact and the resulting stress lies just beneath the surface.

The Economic War: Government supporters and even some members of the opposition whom I know personally see their economic woes as induced by an economic war waged against their country by foreign powers. Others blame the Maduro administration and yet others place responsibility on both. In any case, the suffering is palpable, especially among the poor, visible in their body language and behaviors, audible in their words and emotive in their expressions of joy, fear, anger, sadness and resolve.

Until the economic war was launched with force 2-3 years ago, not all but many imported goods were generally available in the marketplace and many were affordable because of a steady increase in wages, salaries and pensions. Food and other essentials were also affordable to low-income people because they were protected under price controls. But leading up to and after the 20 May 2017 re-election of President Maduro, imports of essential products have been selectively and intermittently eliminated and prices for everything have made them unaffordable for many. Many Chavistas see it as the United States punishing them for their vote.

RELATED: Venezuela’s Monetary Revolution Vis-a-Vis Economic Sanctions

For me to discuss food and hunger these days carries the risk of both overstating and understating the reality. Most of the people in my constellation of friends, and those I observe, are poor by any standard and for the past year they struggle for food whereas items for personal hygiene, laundry detergent, house cleaning and such are prized and when they can be bought they are carefully conserved. When I visited the United States this year I was saddened to see an abundance of food in the markets and what people discarded after living with Venezuelans who so carefully preserve what little they have. On the one hand, people here have enough for a very simple but nutritious diet and nobody I know or have seen is starving, malnourished or ‘eating rats, cats and dogs and fighting over food,’ despite what the reader has probably read elsewhere, replete with photos and videos in the fiction of the United States and European corporate media.

I have no reason to believe that what I see in daily life here is any different in any other part of the country as my city of about 300,000 and the surrounding area are fairly representative of most urban, small town and rural communities. I have direct contact with poor people across the country due to my travels in each region, the northern coast, west to the Colombian frontier, throughout the Andean villages, to the Eastern shores and South to the Amazon and the Brazilian frontier.

However, are there people in Venezuela who suffer real hunger? Of course there are, and those are the people targeted for interviews by the domestic and foreign media, misrepresenting Venezuelans as a starving population.

I am also reminded of the hungry in London, ‘sleeping rough,’ and the poverty in U.S. cities and Appalachia and the 60,000 homeless within Los Angeles County alone. However, one must be careful when reporting on conditions here. Having enough for a family to eat today does not mitigate the stress and anxiety that comes with uncertainty about tomorrow as prices continue to soar and people struggle harder from week to week to find what they need.

Security, crime and violence: The psychological effects of the violent opposition protests that began with force in the 2014 ‘guarimbas,’ continuing into 2017, have been dramatic. One can only imagine the experiences of the many who were injured and the families who mourn lost family members, friends and loved ones. In the lives of many others the increased violence achieved the objective of the perpetrators, foreign and domestic: social instability, anxiety, fear and sadness. Yet others find resolve in a deep desire for peace and a commitment to defend their lives, homes, communities, society and country against violence and enemies at home and abroad. In every country of the world correlations between poverty and crime are well documented. As people suffer any material loss from food to cars and cell phones, some become inventive to regain or at least maintain their standard of living while a minority turn to crime.

Crime and personal security are without a doubt serious and increasing problems in Venezuela. Last Friday night a close personal friend was robbed of his cell phone by a young man with a knife, a cell phone that he saved for and purchased only a week earlier. On Saturday, another close friend told me of a man whose car was stolen as he and his car were held hostage for ransom. Another friend of mine took great pride in painting the interior of her house. When I asked when she planned to paint the front porch she said that it would be too dangerous because “the malandros” (bad guys) would see it and think they have money. Robberies and some murders are reported in local papers every week for this city and the surrounding area. This breeds a great deal of fear and anxiety, another objective of the intellectual authors of the economic war and psyops. Some loyalists and opposition alike blame the government for a lack of security while others place responsibility beyond Caracas, in Colombia and the United States. Either way, instability, anxiety and fear lie just beneath the surface and come out in casual conversations.

Conflicting ideologies, economic and political views: During my first five years visiting Venezuela and the last 11 years living here I’ve seen gradual changes in the importance many people ascribe to their ideological and political views. Until the violence struck with force in 2014, it was common to see the Bolivarians and members of the opposition engage one another in robust verbal debates in restaurants, panaderias, bars, parks and other public places, mostly in good humor but never turning violent in my experience. Since the guarimbas, people have become more reserved, less argumentative, keeping their political opinions to themselves when socializing even with family, friends and acquaintances who might think differently.

When I went to the panaderia today for a coffee I saw a woman with ‘MADURO’ printed on the back of her shirt, not something I see often these days for reasons stated. Since Maduro’s second election the opposition protests have melted and almost completely disappeared. But when government supporters are awakened by a national incident they end their silence and come out in force. On the night of the assassination attempt on Maduro on August 4, the Chavistas held a large protest a few blocks from my home supporting their president and condemning the U.S. and Colombian governments for the attack. Likewise, Chavistas marched and protested in similar fashion in Caracas and across the country and into last weekend. The opposition has remained silent about the assassination attempt and it’s my impression that most were appalled because they do not want more violence and instability in the country, regardless of what they think of President Maduro.

Unfulfilled expectations: When President Maduro announced the new economic model, asking the people for their confidence and support “beyond ideologies and political positions, because Venezuela needs this change,” he was obviously aware of the patience and long suffering the people have endured, especially throughout the last year. The war is designed to gradually wear people down to the point of surrender. When I ask my Chavista friends about their confidence in the government’s ability to gain control of prices, to restore the economy of five years ago and to provide personal security, I see a mix of  doubt… and guarded, unspoken hope.

Often people respond to my questions with lamentations about the high prices; the scarcity of products; the lack of cash in the system which makes purchases much more difficult; the hours spent making simple online banking transactions; and general failures of the electronic grid, internet, telephone disruptions, banks and cable television. They acknowledge there is an economic war taking place, the capital flight, smuggling of food and cash out of the country, the U.S. sanctions, the cyber attacks. But that doesn’t answer the question: ‘Can the government gain control and win this war?’

This is not to say that the majority even think about the possibility of surrendering their sovereignty and independence. If anything, the targeted oppression of the poor has only galvanized them to defend what they’ve gained under Chavez and Maduro and to recover their losses since the revolution began 18 years ago. But some members of the opposition wish for a change in government that will give them the U.S. lifestyles they see paraded on cable television and social media, ‘the American Dream.’

How do average opposition members view Maduro’s announcement of dramatic changes about to unfold in the economy? Of course they, like everyone, hope for a better economy and if Maduro delivers they’ll enjoy and exploit it, but rather than crediting him most will continue calls to overthrow his government – but more softly. The main reason they have softened their voices is that their leadership has never offered a cogent national plan, even the candidates running for office. Each and every member of the opposition I know denounces their own opposition leaders and want little to do with them. So they secretly live with a ray of hope regardless of who brings it about.

Conclusion

Some enemy objectives partially achieved: As things stand now, some of the objectives of the CIA, U.S. State Department and Pentagon for Venezuela have achieved partial success in the following overlapping assaults: the sanctions; the war on the economy, including destruction of the bolivar (the national currency); foreign-induced hyperinflation rigged by the Dolar Today website in the United States; denial of credit by the international banking cartel for payment of external debt; rigging Venezuela’s credit standing by S&P, Fitch Group and Moody’s credit rating agencies (two based in the United States and the third in New York and London) which undermines confidence for foreign investors; denial of the country’s access to normal international banking transactions; infiltrating and corrupting some important government officials such as former Attorney General Luisa Ortega, who fled the country, and all the former heads of PDVSA who are now behind bars; the outright military threats by President Trump himself and others in his administration; manipulating the price of oil in league with Saudi Arabia; corralling the Lima Group and other Latin American countries against Venezuela; attempting this week to break up UNASUR and strengthen the U.S.-Canadian backed OAS.

On the ground, they have also achieved some measure of success with the war on the economy, weaponizing food and hunger, cyber-attacks on the electronic infrastructure; organizing labor groups to strike against the government (e.g. bus drivers, Corpolec and CANT, the latter two state-run companies), the secondary effects of increased crime and psychological effects of psyops.

But returning to the original question, have all these actions resulted in their primary objective? Will the suffering and hardships endured by the people cause them to reject the new economic model for a lack of confidence in government? The answer is obviously no, for two reasons. The first is that the men and women in Congress, the Constituent Assembly, elected by the people, will wholeheartedly support this initiative. Second, why would a people who have so little cash, food and essential goods reject them and more when they are offered to them in a different form? People across the political spectrum often show me their new government-issued ‘Carnet de La Patria,’ a card that will be used for retail purchases and other business in the new economic model.

RELATED: Venezuela Changes Currency Exchange Law

What about ‘regime change?’ The United States has already gone on record stating their intention to remove President Maduro for ‘regime change.’ Will the hardships cause the people to rise up against the government if this new economic model fails? Anything is possible and who can make such a prediction with certainty when there are so many unknowns? But even then, I don’t see it happening.

The greatest weakness of the 20-year U.S. assault on Venezuela has always been the arrogance of the U.S. government and, more specifically, their inability to understand that the Bolivarian Revolution never belonged to Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro or any other leader. A favorite story I often tell is of an 80-year-old woman I interviewed in the barrios of Petare, overlooking Caracas in 2005. She was standing behind the counter of her tiny store where she sold cheap knock-off watches. Her store was directly facing the sidewalk with a pull-down steel door to protect it when unattended. Squaring her shoulders, with dignity, pride and a bit of suspicion evident in her eyes, she agreed to the interview.

Through my translator in those days, I asked her about her business and community and toward the end of the interview I said that there are rumors afoot that some people want to overthrow Chavez and possibly even assassinate him. I asked her what would happen to the revolution if that happened. She gave me a grand smile and then turned it to my translator and said: “Pobrecito! Este pobre señor no sabe nada, ¿verdad? Amamos a nuestro presidente como nos amamos a nosotros mismos y si él muere, ¡estaremos muy tristes! Pero el señor no entiende que esta revolución no es la revolución de Chávez. Es nuestra revolución!” (Poor thing! This poor man doesn’t know anything, does he? We love our president like we love ourselves and if he dies we will be very very sad. But this man doesn’t understand that this revolution is not Chavez’s revolution. It is our revolution.)

It was the first time in my life that I understood the meaning of ’empowerment.’ Like all authentic revolutions, this one is from below, from the people. Of course I could be wrong, maybe the enemy will eventually succeed in overthrowing our government with a parliamentary, judicial or military coup as they have done in Honduras, Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, Argentina and are now attempting in Nicaragua. And there are some Venezuelans from all political backgrounds who would yield under enough oppression, pain and suffering. A ‘successful coup’ is possible, but the only way I can see the United States and transnational corporations gaining control of Venezuela’s economy and resources is by destroying the very land and resources they so much covet, as they did in Iraq and Libya. Even then, for the empowered Venezuelans, their socialist ideology is part of their identity. It is what and who they are.

Many learned how to read and write using their new constitution as their only textbook. Even those with only a basic education are more geopolitically aware than any people I’ve ever met in the United States and in my travels abroad. They see this as a permanent revolution and if it were taken from them by force they would fight to defend it in the cities, towns, the countryside, mountains and jungles, bringing hell to any U.S.-installed puppet oligarchy, making it impossible for them to govern. A military invasion by the United States, Colombia or other country would be bloody and tragic, but then… the blood of the revolutionary is the seed of the revolution.

Les Blough, a U.S. citizen based in Venezuela, is the editor of Axis of Logic

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro And The People

Gaza Without Cancer Medicine as Haley Blames Arabs for US’ Sins

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  • Relatives of a Palestinian who was killed by Israeli troops at the Israel-Gaza border, react in Gaza August 17, 2018.
    Relatives of a Palestinian who was killed by Israeli troops at the Israel-Gaza border, react in Gaza August 17, 2018. | Photo: Reuters.
 backed Israel politically on every available platform to shield Tel Aviv from its war crimes in the Strip and throughout Occupied Palestinian Territories.  

For many years, the U.S. acted as if a peace broker. Although the American act failed to impress Palestinians, it perpetuated the illusion in the minds of U.S. allies that U.S. administrations are forces for good, standing at an equal distance between two parties in an even-handed ‘conflict’.

The advent of Donald Trump to the White House has ended the charade.

While the new administration brazenly defied international law by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it also took a series of measures to financially punish international bodies that extended recognition, political support or any sort of aid to Palestinians. In the course of a few months, the U.S. took on the United Nations culture agency, UNESCO, pulled out of the U.N. Human Rights Council and has cut aid to the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.

RELATED: UN Chief Proposes Armed Peacekeeping Force to Protect Palestinians

The attack on U.N. organizations was led by the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, who has played a central role in the new, anti-Palestinian discourse.

But she is not alone. In an article for CNN, Haley, along with U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President and Jason Greenblatt,  U.S. representative for international negotiations, articulated an American point of view that read like textbook Israeli Zionist narrative.

They placed all the blame on Palestinians and spared Israel from any wrong-doing.

“Unfortunately,” they wrote, “Hamas’ malign activity is pushing Israel to engage in increasingly significant acts of self-defense. As in the case of past conflicts, Hamas starts a clash, loses the battle and its people suffer. That is the reality that needs to change.”

That was on July 23. A day later, Haley, using twisted language, chastised Arabs for failing Palestine and the Palestinians. In an 8-minute address to the U.N., Haley spoke as if a pro-Palestinian activist, agonizing over the losses and suffering of the Palestinian people.

“Country after country claims solidarity with the Palestinian people … Talk is cheap. No group of countries is more generous with their words than the Palestinians’ Arab neighbors,” she said.

She lamented: “But all of the words spoken here in New York do not feed, clothe or educate a single Palestinian child. All they do is get the international community riled up.”

Welcome to ‘post-truth’ America.

While the Arabs are expected – in fact, required – to stand in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren, the primary reason for the subjugation of the Palestinian people is the continued U.S. support for Israel.

Since 1999, the U.S. has supported Israel through 10-year long Memorandums of Understanding. According to these arrangements, support for Israel does not require Senate approval and, despite the massive aid, it still does not include missile defense funding.

The last U.S. president to sign a decade-long commitment of funding to Israel, which is set to last between 2019-2028, was President Barack Obama, who provided Israel with more money than any other president in U.S. history.

RELATED: Palestinian Teen Artist Denied Visas to France, UK to Attend Exhibits of Her Own Work

According to U.S. Congressional Research Service, as of April 2018, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II.” This means that, to date, “the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding.”

Most of that military assistance has been used to fight Palestinians and Arab neighbors, to support the Israeli military Occupation of Palestine and to reinforce the Israeli blockade of Gaza. For Haley to rebuke Arabs for not doing enough to help Palestinians is simply disingenuous.

As harmful as U.S. military support for Israel and the manipulation of the comparatively limited aid to Palestinians as it has been, U.S. interference in Palestinian political affairs has been equally destructive.

The blatant American interference in Palestinian politics is juxtaposed with complete insubordination to the Israeli government, regardless of the fact that Tel Aviv has moved sharply to the right, and is increasingly shedding any claims to true democracy.

Considering that the U.S. anti-Palestinian and pro-Israel stances have accentuated in recent months, one is hardly moved by Haley’s false sympathy with Gaza and the Palestinians.

Only weeks before she criticized the lack of Arab support, she lectured the international community on Israel’s benevolent approach to what she saw as Palestinian violence.

“No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has,” she saidon May 15, shortly after many U.N. ambassadors stood up for a minute’s silence to mourn 60 Palestinians who were killed while peacefully protesting the siege at the fence separating Gaza from Israel.

Haley’s peculiar attacks on unsupportive Arab governments is designed to distract from the U.S.’ own role that has emboldened Israel and held Palestinians prisoners to military Occupation and an inhumane siege for far too long.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). 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, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Gaza Without Cancer Medicine as Haley Blames Arabs for US’ Sins

Pope Condemns ‘Atrocities’ of US Clerical Child Abuse

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  • Boys carry tyres past a drive-thru confession box, set up beside Phoenix Park, ahead of the visit of Pope Francis to Dublin, Ireland, August 20, 2018.
    Boys carry tyres past a drive-thru confession box, set up beside Phoenix Park, ahead of the visit of Pope Francis to Dublin, Ireland, August 20, 2018. | Photo: Reuters
The report is thought to be the most comprehensive to date into abuse in the US church since The Boston Globe first exposed pedophile priests in Massachusetts in 2002.

Pope Francis condemned Monday the “atrocities” revealed by a far-reaching U.S. report into clerical child sex abuse in the state of Pennsylvania issued last week.

RELATED: Chile: Police Raid Catholic Church Headquarters Over Sex Abuse Cases

“In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors… the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests,” the pope said in a letter made public by the Vatican. “Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims.”

“We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death,” he added.

A devastating U.S. grand jury report published last week decried a systematic cover-up by the Catholic Church. The grand jury said that more than 1,000 child victims were identifiable, but that the actual number was “in the thousands.”

Calling for “solidarity” with the victims and a fight against “spiritual corruption”, Pope Francis said, “no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient.” “With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives,” he said.

The Vatican had already expressed its “shame and sorrow” after the publication of the US report, but Pope Francis’s letter on Monday went further.

“No effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated,” he said. Pope Francis ended the letter by exhorting Catholics to “fasting and prayer”, in order to “open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled.”

It’s not the first time that Francis, who became pope in 2013, has had to react to the scandal of child abuse within the Church.

At the end of July, he accepted the resignation of prominent U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who has been accused of sexually abusing a teenager nearly five decades ago.

Among senior church members in the U.S. forced to resign for protecting pedophile priests were the late cardinal Bernard Law in Boston and Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles. The case of Cardinal Law was the subject of a huge investigation by the Boston Globe, which won the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize and was subsequently turned into an Oscar-winning film, “Spotlight”.

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Putin-Merkel Summit: Ukraine, Nord Stream 2, Syria, Iran, Sanctions and More

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met for a summit outside Berlin last weekend. Here’s a recap of the event from Strategic Culture

Peter Korzun
Strategic Culture

Russian President Vladimir Putin has wound up his European trip to include the Austrian FM’s wedding ceremony and talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The drop-in visit to Austria showed that Putin enjoys good personal relations with the representatives of Europe’s political beau monde. They see nothing odd in inviting him to social events, such as the wedding of Austrian FM Karin Kneissl, especially if the organizers want to grab the media spotlight.

This was followed by a summit with the German chancellor — the second time the two leaders have met in just over three months. The previous meeting took place in the Black Sea city of Sochi in May. The chancellor has visited Russia several times.

The “Meseberg Castle talks” in Germany were substantive and detailed, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has noted, but evidently important enough that few details were made public. For some time the leaders talked tête-à-tête without interpreters. They compared notes on Ukraine (including the prospects for a UN-sponsored peace mission and the EU’s new role of mediator), Syria (and the problems of its reconstruction), the US sanctions on Iran, and the future of the Nord Stream 2 undersea gas-pipeline project.

There were no agreements planned for the meeting, but the “America First” policy is pushing these two countries that are divided by their different views on international issues toward a closer cooperation. Russia can play a very important role in creating the right conditions under which the Syrian refugees could leave Germany and return home, thus mitigating that pressing problem. Syria’s reconstruction is opening up new opportunities for Russian-German cooperation.

President Putin and Chancellor Merkel discussed the idea of a meeting on Syria involving the leaders of France and Turkey as well as Russia and Germany. They agreed to launch new talks under this format. No date for that four-nation summit was set.

Some time ago, such a visit to Germany and Austria was hardly conceivable and any hope of reviving a dialog would have seemed far-fetched. The times are changing, reflecting the need to get that relationship back to normal. Conflicts and negative emotions are giving way to cool-headed, constructive approaches. Besides, Russia has demonstrated its ability to resist pressure.

Right on the eve of the Putin-Merkel summit, the Wall Street Journal published an article about the sanctions being prepared by the US to stop Nord Stream 2. It’s time for Germany to stand tall and continue to pursue that project. During the talks with President Putin, Chancellor Merkel said that’s exactly what she is going to do. A cursory look at history supports her position.

In the early 1980s the administration of US President Ronald Reagan was trying to prevent Western Europe and the Soviet Union from working together over energy. Sanctions were used as an instrument to force them into submission. Despite that, the “Brotherhood” pipeline (Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod), also dubbed the Siberian pipeline or the Yamal project, was born in the heat of the Cold War. The framework agreement between West Germany and the USSR was signed in July 1981. Chancellor Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik policy was continued, to everyone’s benefit. In November 1982, the sanctions were lifted, and on January 1, 1984, natural gas started to flow. The similarity between Yamal and Nord Stream 2 is obvious. Resisting pressure benefits the one who refuses to kneel.

Germany is not alone. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is a strong supporter of Nord Stream 2. The Republic of Austria became the first country in Western Europe to sign a gas contract with the Soviet Union in 1968. In 2017, a new record for Russian gas exports to Austria was set at 9.1 billion cubic meters, an increase of 50.3% (3 billion cubic meters) from 2016 (6.1 billion cubic meters) and 33.8% (2.3 billion cubic meters) from 2005, when the previous record had been reached (6.8 billion cubic meters).

Donald Trump is very critical of the German chancellor, whose government is not as strong as it used to be. The idea to withdraw American forces from Germany has recently been floated. The ongoing rift between the US and its European NATO allies opens up the question of the continent’s security.

Before the July NATO summit, the chancellor came out in support of President Macron’s initiative to create a European expeditionary force. It was Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current German president and then foreign minister, who launched a European armscontrol initiative in 2016. And it was West Germany who signed the Treaty of Moscow with the USSR in August, 1970 which contributed to détente. During the meeting with Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel emphasized that disagreements with Moscow must be resolved through dialog. She feels that there are many conflicts that can be settled if the two nations cooperate.

Indeed, Russia and Germany historically have had a special relationship. They began cooperating economically and working to ease political tensions against the backdrop of confrontation between the West and East. They can do so again. The Meseberg meeting showed that both sides realize the importance of dialog and the need to avoid at all costs any return to the Cold War.

***

READ MORE INTERNATIONAL NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire International Files

Posted in Germany, RussiaComments Off on Putin-Merkel Summit: Ukraine, Nord Stream 2, Syria, Iran, Sanctions and More

Iranian Foreign Minister Says US Attempting ‘Repeat’ Coup, Predicts Failure

NOVANEWS

21st Century Wire says…

Last week, we told you about a new ‘Iran Action Group’ the US established to coordinate all of its anti-Iran policies – a brainchild no doubt of fellow neocons Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

It’s still unclear on the specifics of what this group will actually be doing. The response from Iran’s Foreign Minister was direct, saying this latest action will fail. He also accused Washington of attempting a repeat of the past – the US-backed coup dubbed “Operation Ajax” in 1953 that overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

Watch this video compilation produced by PressTV, and read the report filed by Antiwar.com below…

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Antiwar.com reports…

Speaking on the 65th anniversary of the 1953 CIA coup against Iran, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the newly established Iran Action Group of being an attemptby the US to repeat the coup, but that it will fail.

The State Department announced the establishment of the Iran Action Group last week, with Brian Hook appointed to lead it as a “Special Representative for Iran.” Exactly what the group will be doing isn’t entirely clear.

The State Department did try to present Hook’s responsibility as coordinating all anti-Iran activities within the department, however, which suggests that it’s reasonable for Iran to conclude the goal is regime change, despite some Trump Administration officials denying that they are seeking regime change.

Zarif says the US attempts at regime change will come through “pressure, misinformation and demagoguery.” The US has been fairly open about spreading misinformation against Iran in trying to organize protests against the government, and in recent weeks has presented those protests as proof the Iranian government needs to make radical changes.

READ MORE IRAN NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Iran Files

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Iranian Foreign Minister Says US Attempting ‘Repeat’ Coup, Predicts Failure

Trend Storm: ‘Why Facebook Betrayed Its User Base and What’s Next’

NOVANEWS

Image result for facebook cartoon

Trend Storm host Andrew Korybko writes: “From being indirectly implicated in the Russiagate conspiracy for supposedly allowing fake news to be peddled on its platform to being exposed earlier this year for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest its users’ data for political purposes, it’s fair to say that Facebook has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons over the past couple of years. On top of that, some politically active users who defy Mainstream Media dogma have alleged that they’re being “shadow blocked”, meaning that the algorithm is suppressing their account’s so-called “organic reach”, or sometimes outright censored through frivolous blocking.”

For burgeoning technocrats, it seems that the Establishment’s contrived ‘fake news crisis‘ is the gift that just keeps on giving. As Facebook moves into its latest Orwellian phase of political censorship, critics are beginning to ask what will become of the Silicon Valley’s most famous digital monopoly. Has Facebook sold out its user base? Will intelligent and influential content producers and consumers now begin migrating in greater numbers to more Constitutional or free speech-friendly social media platforms? Sputnik Radio’s cutting edge program Trend Storm explores this question with special guests, 21WIRE’s Patrick Henningsen and Joaquin Flores, Editor-in-Chief of Fort Russ News.

Trend Storm host Andrew Korybko writes: “From being indirectly implicated in the Russiagate conspiracy for supposedly allowing fake news to be peddled on its platform to being exposed earlier this year for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest its users’ data for political purposes, it’s fair to say that Facebook has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons over the past couple of years. On top of that, some politically active users who defy Mainstream Media dogma have alleged that they’re being “shadow blocked”, meaning that the algorithm is suppressing their account’s so-called “organic reach”, or sometimes outright censored through frivolous blocking.”  All this and much more. Listen:

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READ MORE FACEBOOK NEWS AT21st Century Wire Facebook Files

Posted in MediaComments Off on Trend Storm: ‘Why Facebook Betrayed Its User Base and What’s Next’

Palestine: Free Mostapha Awad

NOVANEWS

Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Israel should charge or free Mostapha Awad

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph

When Mostapha Khaled Awad 36, a Belgian citizen took a summer vacation last July to Palestine- the home land of his ancestors- his trip ended in a nightmare. All that he wanted to do was to visit the village of Al-Sumariyya, 6 (km) north of the city of Akka – the birth of place of his parents, to see the village cemetery where his forefathers were buried and to pray in Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Mostapha was born and raised in the Ain El-Helwi refugee camp in southern Lebanon. He was arrested on July 19th at the Allenby border crossing with Jordan. Israeli security officers questioned him because he was a peace activist and the co-founder of the popular debkeh (Palestinian dance) troupe Raj’een, which performed at numerous events in Belgium and across Europe.

Mostapha was interrogated by Israeli police and Shin Bet security service for 20 days before he received a visit on August 8 from the Belgian consul. That was 20 days of interrogation without anybody knowing his whereabouts. On August 16, he appeared in court, but was again sent back to jail for more interrogation. His family in Lebanon was unable to establish a contact with him. His uncle Salah Awad told me that a few years ago Mostapha attempted to visit Palestine via Ben Gurion airport, but was denied entry and following a lengthy interrogation he was told that he was not welcome. So he was put on the next plane leaving for Europe.

There are thousands of Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel since 2000. They are tortured, imprisoned without access to an attorney and tried under military court.
Many are forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language that they cannot read or write, according to a report by Palestinian Prisoner Network, Al-Dameer.
Meanwhile, Israel claims Awad was a member of PFLP since 2010.“The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” is a Palestinian organization that advocates armed struggle against the State of Israel.” Israel further argued that Awad also helped transfer funds from the PFLP in Syria and Lebanon to European activists.

Let’s examine the Israeli claim closely! Since Awad arrived at Tel Aviv airport years after Israel claimed he joined the PFLP, why didn’t Israel arrest him then or tip Belgium officials about his alleged illegal activity? Reasons? i) Those are Mikey Mouse charges, ii) it is to intimidate and smear any activist who supports Palestine and criticizes Israel, and iii) he was the contact person for Liala Khaled, Sahar Francis and Ahed Tamimi when they attended a European Parliament conference on Palestinian women held in Brussels on September 2017. That was two month before the arrest of 17 years-old Ahed Tamimi by (IOF), which drew international attention and condemnation against Israel. By continuing to hold Awad, Israel has violated his human and civil rights by falsely imprisoning him rather than extraditing him to Belgium to stand trial.

Palestinians imprisoned in Israel are subjected to torture and all kinds of violence during interrogations. This violence includes: physical assault, severe psychological pressure, prolonged sleep deprivation, etc. This abuse is legal under Israeli law. In addition, Mustapha Awad has health problems and suffers from chronic, unbearable lower back pain.

According to Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Samidoun, there are currently approximately 6,500 Palestinian prisoners, among them 330 prisoners are from Gaza, 680 from Jerusalem and the occupied Palestine since 1948, 6,000 from the occupied West Bank, 63 women and girls, 350 youth and children,34 prisoners from various Arab countries. Among the prisoners, there are 600 Palestinian prisoners held under Administrative Detention Act, which means they are in prison without charge, trial or release date. In addition, Israel continues to hold the remains of 261 Palestinians killed in the line of duty and/or during midnight raids or at checkpoints for no reasons. Thus denying their families of providing proper burial and paying their respects. 

I personally know the pain, the agony and the fear of unknown the prisoners families and loved ones are going through. In the past Israel held my father for 18 months in 1948 after he crossed the border from Lebanon to look after his mother and his older brother. During the 1982 Israeli invasion into Lebanon, Israel did the same thing to my younger brother who was visiting our mother and our older brother from Germany with his German wife and their 5 year old daughter. My brother was also held for 18 months.

Since Mostapha is a Belgian citizen, It is critical that Belgian officials demand his immediate release to hold Israel accountable. President Trump last week imposed a sanction on Turkey for refusing to release an American priest accused of spying inside Turkey. The International community always acts as deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to the issue of Palestinian prisoners, whereas it would  go to the end of the world to help free an Israeli prisoner. Take for example the case of the Israeli soldier who was captured in 2006 by Hamas while in uniform inside his tank near Gaza, whose name became a household name over night. Why? Every western leader who visited the Middle East during his captivity has called for his immediate and unconditional release.

Israel’s claim against Mostapha Awad is poppycock. The basic element of democracy requires Israel- who claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East- to either charge or free Mostapha Awad.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Palestine: Free Mostapha Awad

More Fallout from Trump’s Economic War as Turkey Joins Russia In Liquidating US Treasuries

NOVANEWS

The Turkish selloff certainly continued into July and August as U.S. relations with Turkey deteriorated this week after President Trump doubled steel and aluminum tariffs to pressure the nation to release a jailed American pastor.

Posted in USA, TurkeyComments Off on More Fallout from Trump’s Economic War as Turkey Joins Russia In Liquidating US Treasuries

Yemen: Zio-Wahhabi Holocaust should never be forgotten

NOVANEWS

5 reasons the nightmarish war in Yemen should never be forgotten

5 reasons the nightmarish war in Yemen should never be forgotten (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
With the death toll in the tens of thousands, millions displaced and on the brink of famine, one would think the war in Yemen should be on every front page. It’s not, and here are just some of the reasons why that’s wrong.

The ongoing conflict, nominally a civil war started by Houthi rebels who ousted the government, saw the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi led, Western-backed coalition of Arab nations intervene in the very first days. With massive civilian casualties and a humanitarian blockade, the war has now become a catastrophe with millions of victims.

Still, the day-by-day nightmare of Yemen often goes overlooked in Western media in favor of stories about the supposed ‘war crimes’ of the Syrian government or Russia’s alleged ‘Novichok attack’ in Salisbury. Here are five reasons why the Yemen war really matters.

Enormous death toll

Between the dangers of the conflict and the poor accessibility, it’s impossible to get an exact tally of fatalities in Yemen. The official count has been frozen at 10,000 for two years, but cautious estimates by independent groups put the number at up to 50,000 – and that’s counting only those killed in the fighting.

Out of those, more than 6,500 are civilians, according to the UN human rights office, and more than 1,000 are children. In excess of 10,000 have been injured. The vast majority of these victims are a result of the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes.

Horrific suffering

But that’s not just the direct casualties of the fighting. Yemen, already the poorest country in the Arab world, was plunged into a horrendous humanitarian catastrophe by the war, as well the Zio-Wahhabi land, sea and air blockade of the country.

Hunger and cholera has been ravaging the population, with the number of victims even harder to estimate than those killed in the fighting. A staggering 8 million people, or a third of the population, are on the brink of famine. That’s equivalent to nearly the entire population of London.

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi impunity

Despite all this, the coalition refuses to admit responsibility. Time and again, after a fresh report comes in about a wedding, funeral or school bus getting torn to pieces by a Saudi Zio-Wahhabi bomb, Riyadh says it has conducted an internal investigation – and found nothing wrong.

Among the latest cases, are the deaths of at least 40 children, killed by an airstrike on a bus in a Yemeni market. The coalition said the bombing was “legitimate,” because Houthis use children as human shields.

Western complicity

The US has lent its full support to the actions of its ally Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family, backing the naval blockade of Yemen with its own warships and excusing, or staying mum, about the attacks on civilians.

Pressed on the recent bus bombing, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert dodged the question by saying the US “can’t confirm all the details because we are not there on the ground” –  then immediately sprung on to her usual high horse: blaming Iran for supplying weapons for the Houthis’ attacks on Saudi civilian infrastructure. Those attacks have so far amounted to a handful missile launches that have mostly missed or been intercepted, and caused three civilian deaths. While obviously illegal, it’s unclear how those strikes justify the indiscriminate slaughter of thousands of civilians in Yemen.

Western weapons

Throughout it all, Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family remains the West’s top client for weapons sales. The Pentagon has been awarding Lockheed Martin billions worth of weapons contracts to supply Riyadh with guided bombs among other things. Pieces of those same bombs were found among the wreckage of the recent bus attack. Photos of the fragments were used to counter Lockheed Martin’s recent attempt at social media PR.

View image on Twitter

tøggers ????@t0ggers

Here is one of your products.

It’s part of an MK 82 missile that was used to kill a bus load of children on their way to school in Yemen.

Is this the kind of thing you were after? @LockheedMartin

The UK has also been selling more weapons to the Saudis Zio-Wahhabi regime than ever before, and German arms manufacturers and Italian officials are being sued over European weapons used to kill civilians in Yemen.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Yemen: Zio-Wahhabi Holocaust should never be forgotten

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