Archive | October 30th, 2018

Collapse of Democracy in Brazil?

NOVANEWS

Jair Bolsonaro

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Far-right Jair Bolsonaro Wins Brazil’s Presidential Elections

By Telesur

Far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro has won the Brazilian presidential elections with over 55 percent of the vote beating leftist Fernando Haddad who scored 44.3 percent in the country’s most polarized elections in decades.

Democracy in Brazil Is Not Just About Voting. Bolsonaro, “The Tropical Trump”

By Nino Pagliccia

Bolsonaro has made statements that qualify him as “racist”, “fascist”, “misogynist”, “xenophobic”, “white supremacist”, and “military puppet”. A single one of these labels should be enough to disqualify him as an honest politician, much less as a president.

Bolsonaro Is a Pivotal Part of Trump’s Plans to Build “Fortress America”

By Andrew Korybko

The election of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s next president is a major step in the direction of Trump’s plans to build a “Fortress America” that he intends will cement the US’ hegemonic influence in the Western Hemisphere by systematically squeezing China out of Latin America.

Brazil: The Collapse of Democracy? Rise of the Far Right

By Alfredo Saad-Filho

The world is going through a mounting tide of authoritarian neoliberalism, as the outcome of three converging processes: the crisis of economies, political systems and institutions of representation after the global financial crisis that started in 2007; the decomposition of neoliberal democracies, and the kidnapping of mass discontent by the far right.

Fascism Triumphs in Brazilian Presidential Election

By Stephen Lendman

His economic agenda is likely to be “aggressiv(ely)” neoliberal without neoliberal ethics…an absolutely repressive state to benefit the most powerful layers” at the expense of ordinary Brazilians.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s Political Nightmare: a Neo-Nazi ‘Phenomenon’ Made in the USA

By Edu Montesanti

A former lawmaker that delivered just two bills across almost three decades, as a presidential candidate now Bolsonaro promises, among many other fascist “policies” layered in a total lack of project to the country as he refuses to debate, to make the “police free to kill” without any investigation. 

Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil – Bolsonaro Towards a Military Dictatorship – Worse Than 80 Years Ago

By Peter Koenig

The usual propaganda of deceit from the right has infiltrated every election in the last 5-10 years, starting with the sophisticated internet and propaganda fraud invented by Oxford Analytica (OA), which is largely believed having brought Trump to the White House, Macri to the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Macron to the Elysée in Paris and Mme. Merkel for the fourth time to the German Federal Chanceller’s office in Berlin – among others.

Posted in BrazilComments Off on Collapse of Democracy in Brazil?

Haddad: PT Will Fight for Social Unification of Brazil

NOVANEWS

The former candidate of the PT said that Brazilians must aspire for a great social movement to defend the freedoms and rights of Brazilians.

Speaking after the results of the Brazilian elections were announced and the victory of far-right Jair Bolsonaro, the former candidate for the Presidency of Brazil for the Workers’ Party (PT), Fernando Haddad, indicated that he will use his political gains to work for the social unification of the Brazilian people.

“We, who helped build one of the largest democracies in the world, are committed to maintaining it, and not accepting provocations, not accepting threats,” Haddad told his supporters Sunday night.

The former candidate of the PT said that Brazilians must aspire for a great social movement to defend the freedoms and rights of Brazilians.

The leader of the Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST), Joao Pedro Stedile, argues that the PT and the other leftist organizations must build up strength and organize the people to face the future government of Jair Bolsonaro.

According to Stedile, if the neoliberal agenda of the new government is materialized, it will generate a social chaos that will allow the popular movements to resume the offensive and mass mobilizations.

The social leader warned that the political left and social organizations have the challenge of organizing popular committees throughout Brazil in order to move towards a new debate in the country, on a new sovereign project for an egalitarian and just society.

Both Haddad and Stedile acknowledge that after losing the second round of elections, the social movements should be reunited in order to create a great national movement that will allow them to face Bolsonaro’s policies and return to power in Brazil.

After the results of the first electoral round on Oct. 7, Haddad maintained a sustained growth that led him to receive around 45 million votes in the ballot on Sunday.

In the first round, the then PT candidate won 28 percent of the vote compared to the 46 percent scored by far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

 

 

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UK Was Aware of Saudi Plot Against Khashoggi Weeks in Advance: Report

NOVANEWS

Saudi Arabia told the U.K. about their plan of abducting Khashoggi three weeks before the incident took place. The MI6 warned them against carrying out the said operation.

The murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen when he was killed, as reported by the Sunday Express, a source close to him told the media outlet Friday.

This revelation was made as different intelligence sources disclosed that the U.K. was made aware of the entire plot by Saudi Arabia three weeks before the incident took place on Oct. 2.

Intercepts by GCHQ of internal communications by the kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate revealed orders by a “member of the royal circle” to abduct the troublesome journalist and take him back to Saudi Arabia. The report does not confirm or deny whether the order came from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They were supposed to abduct Khashoggi and take him back to Riyadh but could take other actions, if the journalist created problems.

“We were initially made aware that something was going in the first week of September, around three weeks before Mr. Khashoggi walked into the consulate on October 2, though it took more time for other details to emerge,” the intelligence source told the Sunday Express Friday.

“These details included primary orders to capture Mr. Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for questioning. However, the door seemed to be left open for alternative remedies to what was seen as a big problem. We know the orders came from a member of the royal circle but have no direct information to link them to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Whether this meant he was not the original issuer we cannot say.”

The MI6 had warned their Saudi counterparts to cancel the mission.

“On October 1 we became aware of the movement of a group, which included members of Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-‘Āmah (GID) to Istanbul, and it was pretty clear what their aim was.

“Through channels, we warned that this was not a good idea. Subsequent events show that our warning was ignored.”

Sunday Express also obtained an anonymous interview from a close friend of Khashoggi’s who revealed that the journalist was about to obtain “documentary evidence” of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapon in its proxy war in Yemen.

Iran has previously claimed that the kingdom had been supplying ingredients that can be used to make the nerve agent Sarin in Yemen but Khashoggi was possibly referring to phosphorus which can be used to burn bones. Last month it was claimed that Saudi Arabia had been using U.S.-supplied white phosphorus munitions against troops and even civilians in Yemen.

Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist who left Saudi Arabia a year ago due to the widespread crackdown on dissent by the crown prince which sawimprisoning of a large number of dissenters and activists in Saudi Arabia.

The journalist went to Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 .to get papers for his marriage and never seen after that. Turkey maintained that he was killed inside the consulate by Saudi authorities but the latter denied any allegations against them for almost three weeks before finally accepting that he indeed was murdered but alleged it to be a rogue operation about which the crown prince had no knowledge.

The case of Khashoggi created an international uproar and diplomatic scandals where many countries are deciding to impose sanctions on the country and many companies severed their ties with Saudi Arabia.

According to the latest updates, the European Union is considering a ban on arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other sanctions. The EU will make a joint decision on how to punish the kingdom, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday in Istanbul after Russia-Turkey-France-Germany summit on Syria. A similar sentiment was expressed by France’s Emmanuel Macron.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, UKComments Off on UK Was Aware of Saudi Plot Against Khashoggi Weeks in Advance: Report

Two Stories From the Propaganda War

Two recent stories about Russians have demonstrated how the news is selected and manipulated in the United States. The first is about Maria Butina, who apparently sought to overthrow American democracy, such as it is, by obtaining a life membership in the National Rifle Association. Maria, a graduate student at American University, is now in detention in a federal prison, having been charged with collusion and failure to register as an agent of the Russian Federation. She has been in prison since July, for most of the time in solitary confinement, and has not been granted bail because, as a Russian citizen, she is considered to be a “flight risk.”

Maria, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, is now seeking donations to help pay for her legal defense as the Russian government renews demands that she be released from jail or be tried on whatever charges the Justice Department can come up with, but her release is unlikely as she is really a political prisoner.

The media has been silent about Maria Butina because the case against her is falling apart. In early September prosecutors admitted that they had misunderstood text messages used to support claims that she had offered to trade sex for access to information. Demands that she consequently be released from prison were, however, rejected. Her lawyer observed that

“The impact of this inflammatory allegation, which painted Ms. Butina as some type of Kremlin-trained seductress, or spy-novel honeypot character, trading sex for access and power, cannot be overstated.”

In an attempt to make the Butina embarrassment disappear from the news, the Justice Department has proposed an unprecedented gag order to prevent her attorney from appearing in the media in a way that could prejudice a jury should her case eventually come to trial. Currently there is no court date and Maria remains in jail indefinitely, but the press could care less – she is just one more Russiagate casualty in an ongoing saga that has long since passed her by.

Given the Maria Butina story and the hysteria over all things Russian it was perhaps inevitable that the tale of Kremlin interference in American elections would be resurrected and repeated. Federal prosecutors are now reporting that another Russian woman has illegally conspired with others to “defraud the United States” and interfere with the U.S. political system, to include plans for conducting “information warfare” to subvert the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

The complaint was filed on October 19th at a federal court in Virginia which handles most national security cases. According to the court documentsElena Alekseevna Khusyainova, a 44-year-old resident of St. Petersburg in Russia, has worked as the head accountant for “Project Lakhta,” a Russian influence operation backed by an oligarch close to President Vladi­mir Putin. According to the Justice Department, the operation “spread misinformation about US political issues including immigration, gun control, the Confederate flag, and protests by NFL players. It also used events including the Las Vegas mass shooting, and the far-Right rally in Charlottesville, to spread discord.”

Khusyainova, who is not likely to be extradited to the United States for trial, allegedly purchased advertising in social networks and also supported dissident groups. The accusation of the American authorities emphasizes the connection between Khusyainova and St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was previously identified by the media as the owner of a ‘Troll Factory’ in St. Petersburg. In the U.S., several charges have already been brought against him and his staff, including interfering in the presidential elections in 2016.

The Maria Butina story reveals how there is a fundamental flaw in the justice system in the United States. When someone is found guilty by the media there is no way to right the wrong when the story shifts and starts to break down. The New York Times or Washington Post is unlikely to leap to the defense of the accused. Maria Butina has been raked over the coals in stories that were partly true but mostly false in terms of any criminal intent. She is still waiting for justice and will likely be doing so for some time.

The case of Elena Khusyainova is Maria Butina redux, only even more idiotic. No actual evidence is presented in the indictment and since Elena is in Russia and not likely to visit the United States, the entire affair is a bit of theater intended to heighten hysteria about the U.S. midterm elections. Is the U.S. electoral system really so fragile and what did Elena actually seek to do? The Justice Department is silent on the issue beyond vague accusations about trolling on the internet by Russians. One wonders who in the federal government ordered the investigation and signed off on the indictment.

Both Maria and Elena are victims of a politicized miscarriage of justice. Maria Butina should be released from prison now and allowed to pay her fine for being an unregistered agent before leaving the country. There is no justification for holding her in prison. And the indictment of Elena Khusyainova is not worth the paper it is written on. It should be torn up and thrown away.

Posted in USA, MediaComments Off on Two Stories From the Propaganda War

Alleged “Sonic Attacks” Against US Diplomats in Havana: Rebuttal

NOVANEWS

New University of Edinburgh-Based Study Provides Another Significant Rebuttal

The explanatory Commentary and Editorial published in Cortex on October 9 and 13, 2018, is timely, given that the U.S. has, for quite some time, been ratcheting up its rhetoric against Cuba. The Commentary and Editorial in this new scientific publication appears as we approach the UN’s October 31 vote on the blockade, when Washington is increasing its hostility toward Cuba, perhaps to justify its vote at the UN against lifting the blockade. The U.S. has desperately attempted to find pretexts to provide a basis for the alleged sonic attacks, for which the U.S. State Department directly or indirectly blames Cuba.

My Article on this issue was published in Global Research on September 4, 2018, based on an exclusive interview with Robert D. McIntosh, one of the two scientists from the department of Human Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, U.K., whose joint study with Sergio Della Sala challenged the U.S. State Department-commissioned University of Pennsylvania report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The interview with McIntosh was based on the report that was published in the European Journal of Neurology and found echo at the time among some mainstream media, such as The Guardian (U.K.).

In the scientific report they notably demonstrate, as quoted in the article, that the University of Pennsylvania report was “lacking in scientific rigour,” “unreliable” and “unsound.” The acceptable professional approach for cognitive tests is to measure individual performance compared with others in the population. And what is the standard measure accepted by the profession? A person must score in the bottom five percent to be considered impaired. The threshold needs to be this low to take into account a variety of factors. One is that only a very small proportion of the population is deemed to be impaired according to professional standards.

Yet, the University of Pennsylvania report arbitrarily defined the threshold at forty percent to be considered impaired, meaning that ipso facto four in 10 who take the test will be “impaired.” Thus, the Edinburgh scientists concluded in an understatement that “the 40% threshold is hardly a detail.”

The article in Global Research wrapped up as follows:

“The University of Pennsylvania to date has never responded to the very specific issue of the 40% criterion, even though a very important portion of the U.S. State Department’s retaliatory measures against Cuba is based on the 40% baseline.”

Since its publication, the University of Pennsylvania JAMA authors have since been forced to deal with the challenge from Scotland by publishing another article in JAMA. However, in addition to the University of Edinburg professors’ response to the University of Pennsylvania rebuttal in JAMA, other scientists from Europe and the U.S. also published their respective views in that U.S.-based scholarly journal. The steam was building up.

Thus, the above-mentioned scientists joined together to publish, on October 9 and 13, an explanatory Commentary and Editorial in the prestigious European-based international scientific journal Cortex. Founded in 1964 by Ennio De Renzi, it is devoted to the study of cognition and of the relationship between the nervous system and mental processes, particularly as reflected in the behaviour of patients with acquired brain lesions, normal volunteers, children with typical and atypical development, and in the activation of brain regions and systems as recorded by functional neuroimaging techniques.

In the introductory Commentary, the two University of Edinburg original pioneers (Della Sala and McIntosh), in this quest for truth relating to the questionable methodology, are joined by the following:

  • Roberto Cubelli, Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy
  • Jason A. Kacmarskic, Health Psychology Section, Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System, Denver, Colorado, USA
  • Holly M. Miskeyd and Robert D. Shurad, Mental Health and Behavioral Science Service Line, Salisbury Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salisbury, North Carolina, USA

The title of the Commentary in Cortex says it all: “Cognitive Symptoms in U.S. Government Personnel in Cuba: The Mending Is Worse than the Hole.” The six scientists write that they have strongly criticized the University of Pennsylvania procedures as being inconsistent with any normal professional practice for evidence-based neuropsychology (Della Sala & Cubelli, 2018; Shura, Kacmarski & Miskey, 2018) and with statistical logic (Della Sala & McIntosh, 2018). They were therefore not shocked that the University of Pennsylvania study found all six patients to be “impaired.” They write that, when one employs the 40 percentile, 40% of people will fail each test and the chances of anyone passing all the tests without an impairment being diagnosed are negligible.

The stinging Commentary points out that the University of Pennsylvania authors did not defend their “idiosyncratic” choice of a 40th percentile threshold. Rather, they implied that they used some other standard. In the same tone, they write that they are unsure what this ambiguous and unclear response means.

With a literary twist, they make their point by stating, “An old Venetian saying seems very apt here: ‘Xe pèso el tacòn del buso’ – the mending is worse than the hole.” The University of Pennsylvania specialists have attempted to devise an indefensible threshold for impairment reported in the original paper with a less coherent argument of their criterion in the rebuttal. Thus, the Cortex authors conclude in a doubtful manner that only two things are clear: first, the universally accepted criterion for cognitive impairment was misrepresented in the original University of Pennsylvania paper; and second, the neuropsychological data put forward does not support the conclusion that whatever happened in Cuba resulted in persistent cognitive decline.

The actual Editorial published by the Cortex Editorial Board is titled “Responsibility of Neuropsychologists: The Case of the ‘Sonic Attack,’” Cortex Editorial Board.

In referring to the two contradictory statements, the original one and the rebuttal to the contending scientists from Europe and the U.S., both published by the University of Pennsylvania in JAMA, the Cortex Editorial Board takes up an important moral issue that affects the outside real world and the media: that the statements are not scientifically based.

The Cortex Editorial writes that several ensuing critical comments in JAMA, from the scientists referred to above, underscored important and obvious glitches in the technical approach and resulting analysis and interpretation of the cognitive deficits reported in their JAMA paper. Seemingly aghast at this approach, the Editorial goes on to show that the University of Pennsylvania-based response to these criticisms was not to defend or explain the original methods, but to claim that the methods used were in fact different from those stated in the original paper (Hampton, Swanson & Smith, 2018). “The two descriptions of the methods, which are both highly questionable, cannot both be true: either what was reported in the original paper is false, or what is stated in the rebuttal is false (or possibly both).”

This Editorial is concerned with the higher-level issue of how such self-contradictory statements could come to be published at all, let alone in an internationally recognized journal such as JAMA. One cannot allow, they write, such disoriented and incompatible explanations of process and scrutiny from being uncontested. Otherwise, it results in “a slippery path for science, and [is] dangerous for society at large.” Proving information about cognitive impairments, unsupported by science, “invites media coverage that may lead to widespread public misconception about the nature of this phenomenon.”

The Cortex Editorial Board appeals to neuropsychologists and all scientists to concern themselves with this case because of its wider implications. Cortex is straightforward: the University of Pennsylvania authors of the JAMA report “should now either publish an official Erratum, to explain their actual methods clearly and unambiguously, or they should retract the original paper.”

It is my sincere hope that the international scientific community will respond even further to take up this case to show the arbitrary nature of the U.S. government actions against its own Embassy in Havana, the Cuban Mission in Washington, D.C., and the American and Cuban peoples affected by this incident.

What will the reaction of the U.S. State Department be in light of this latest scientific challenge?

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Arnold August is Canadian author and journalist. His books include Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-1998 Elections (1999), Cuba and its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion (2013) and Cuba-U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond (2017). As a journalist his articles appear in many web sites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Web site: www.arnoldaugust.com. He is frequent contributor to Global Research.

References to the Cortex Editorial Board:

Della Sala, S., McIntosh, R.D., Cubelli, R., Kacmarskic, J.A., Miskey, H.M., and Shura, R.D. (2018). “Cognitive Symptoms in US Government Personnel in Cuba: The Mending Is Worse than the Hole.” Cortex, this volume.

Hampton, S., Swanson, R.L., and Smith, D.H. (2018). “In Reply: Neurological Symptoms in US

Government Personnel in Cuba.” JAMA, 320(6), 604–605.

Swanson, R.L., II, Hampton, S., Green-McKenzie, J., Diaz-Arrastia, R., Grady, M.S.,Verma, R., et al. (2018). “Neurological Manifestations Among U.S. Government Personnel Reporting Directional Audible and Sensory Phenomena in Havana, Cuba.” JAMA, 319(11), 1125–1133.

References quoted in the Cortex Commentary:

Della Sala, S., and Cubelli, R. (2018). “Alleged ‘Sonic Attack’ Supported by Poor Neuropsychology.” Cortex, 103, 387–388.

Della Sala, S., and McIntosh, R.D. (2018). “Cognitive Impairments That Everybody Has.” Journal of Neurology, 265(7), 1706–1707.

Posted in USA, CUBAComments Off on Alleged “Sonic Attacks” Against US Diplomats in Havana: Rebuttal

US Midterm Elections: Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) Will Not “Restore Democracy to America”

NOVANEWS

There’s a big push underway- it appears to be primarily a Democrat plan– for GOTV. GOTV is not a videogame; it’s the acronym of Get-Out-The-Vote. Behind this drive is the conviction: ‘If registered Democrats will simply get off their butts, drag themselves to the polls and check boxes for everyone running in their party’s column, this will restore democracy to America’; at the very least it may halt the Trump bulldozer from grinding it deeper into the dust.

Those embracing GOTV’s strategy and volunteering to work for a campaign are equipped with an array of 2018 genre phone apps. With these gripped firmly in our hands, we can identify, locate, and meet would-be voters, then with one click instantly convey results to a tally center. One of these apps allows phone canvassers to override unanswered calls and jump in when the algorithm stops at a real voice– someone has picked up! Seeing their name on our screen, we start our pitch.

Even with this discriminating process, before we’ve finished identifying ourselves, respondents often ring off. But look! My computer indicates one real person seems willing to speak to me! She’s Lorraine, age 55, registered ‘D’. She stays with me for seven whole minutes. This, even though she initially appears diffident, declaring “I don’t intend to vote. Have you seen what’s going on there?” she exclaims.

Is she speaking about the murdered Saudi journalist, the thousands of Honduran hopefuls trudging northwards through Mexico, or NBC network’s threat to dump host Megan Kelly? I’m unsure what to reply and, sensing my hesitation, Lorraine elaborates: “The bombs; explosives in the city! Evacuations of CNN! Are you not watching the news?”

Mention of these bomb threats seems to remind her that “there’s a Muslim terrorist camp only half an hour from here”. I ask for details and share my recall of a similar report in my district last year, rumors that proved unfounded. Then Lorraine admits she’s unsure about her claim. “It was a while ago; but some car full of ‘people’ was pulled over and there was a big drug bust”.

I steer the conversation back to GOTV, to the promising Democratic candidate for our district in the state senate race. Although the name is unfamiliar to Lorraine she finally appears interested: “What’s her position on abortion?” When I reply and elaborate on the candidate’s support for the New York Health Act and school finance reform, my potential voter turns less disputatious.

Has she met the candidate? Did she see last night’s debate? No reply. Now Lorraine moves the discussion to the governor’s debate, barking about De Blasio (mayor of New York City, not currently up for reelection), rather than incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo. Although she names his opponent (Molinaro). I can hardly keep up with her. This woman is not stupid, and, allowing for some factual confusion, Lorraine is better informed than many.

And she cares; I can tell.

Lorraine’s not alone in her confusion. Now she starts blaming Obama for the immigrant influx. The Obama administration raised her property taxes, she charges. “$5000 a year now.”

My I’m-not-voting respondent is angry at the Democratic Party. Even though, like many Americans who feel similarly, she’s a registered Democrat. “There’s no leadership.” By now Lorraine is subtly pleading with me. (Tell me something to believe in, I hear in her voice.)

She has run out of people to attack. At some point Lorraine actually praises the current White House occupant for what she sees as forthrightness. Although she doesn’t name any specific statement of his, she feels he’s clear-minded.

What can we learn from this?

For how long should I engage?

To end the conversation, I share with Lorraine my own apprehension about the Party; I cite reports of corruption and the irresoluteness I see at the local county level and with the National Democratic Committee. Then I rally; I tell her why I personally am making these calls to support this state senate candidate. I finish upbeat– “Well it seems you really care Lorraine; I do hope you’ll vote on November 6th. Will you?” Lorraine mutters “Yes, I‘ll vote.”

How should I register this on my app’s 1 to 5 scale?

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Fascism Triumphs in Brazilian Presidential Election

NOVANEWS

In Sunday’s runoff presidential election, hardline Social Liberal Party (PSL) candidate Jair Bolsonaro defeated Workers Party (PT) aspirant Fernando Haddad with 55% of the vote.

He’ll succeed US-installed Michel Temer, serving as interim president after the Obama regime’s orchestrated coup d’etat, ousting democratically elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, replacing her with illegitimate fascist rule – continuing under Bolsonaro.

A previous article explained that his campaign openly featured fascist, sexist, racist, homophobic rhetoric.

His running mate retired general Hamilton Mourao suggested a military coup is possible, adding “very well elaborated plans” are in place for the military to intervene against what he called “illicit acts.”

He and Bolsonaro praised Brazil’s 1964 – 1985 military dictatorship, a dark period when countless numbers of regime critics were kidnapped and murdered.

According to Bolsonaro, former Brazilian military despots didn’t go “far enough” in eliminating regime critics.

He’s openly anti-indigenous Brazilians, anti-Black; anti-gay, urging parents to beat their gay children.

He’ll take office for a four-year term on January 1 as Brazil’s 38th president, a former military officer turned hardline politician, certain to be a US favorite.

He’s pro-hardline governance, pro-dictatorial rule, pro-free-market predation, pro-neoliberal harshness, pro-gun, pro-torture, anti-populist, anti-equity and justice for all Brazilians.

According to historian Pablo Meriguet, he represents the “extremely dangerous for democratic processes…extreme right,” adding:

His economic agenda is likely to be “aggressiv(ely)” neoliberal without neoliberal ethics…an absolutely repressive state to benefit the most powerful layers” at the expense of ordinary Brazilians.

His elevation to power “means the consolidation of a new political model in which the usage of hatred and fear are paramount in order to generate political support…”

Governing this way “could cause a very serious crisis in Brazil. (He’s) openly intolerant, and that can have very serious repercussions” in a nation already hugely unequal.

His extremist rule risks potentially serious consequences. “I mean real dangers of war,” said Meriguet.

Sunday turnout barely over 70%, almost 29% of eligible Brazilians not voting or their ballots were marked null.

Dubbed a “Brazilian Trump” or a “Tropical Trump” by some media sources, he called America’s president his inspiration.

He’s pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian, promising to move Brazil’s  embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, along with and shutting down the PLO office in Brazil.

Trump congratulated him on his triumph, promising to work closely with him, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

“We are going to change the destiny of Brazil,” he vowed – to the detriment of the vast majority of its people.

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Bolsonaro Is a Pivotal Part of Trump’s Plans to Build “Fortress America”

NOVANEWS
 

The election of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s next president is a major step in the direction of Trump’s plans to build a “Fortress America” that he intends will cement the US’ hegemonic influence in the Western Hemisphere by systematically squeezing China out of Latin America.

Jair Bolsonaro’s election as Brazil’s next president will go down in history as a pivotal moment in hemispheric affairs because it represents the greatest success so far of the US’ “Operation Condor 2.0” secret scheme of replacing the region’s socialist “Pink Tide” governments with right-wing neoliberal ones. The Hybrid War on Brazil deliberately shaped the socio-political environment in South America’s largest country in such a way that this “dark horse” candidate was able to come out of nowhere and capture control of this Great Power with the US’ tacit backing, which will expectedly have far-reaching geostrategic implications. The US is employing all means at its disposal to push back against China’s game-changing Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) in the nascent New Cold War, and there’s little doubt that Bolsonaro will do good on his campaign pledge to counter China’s growing influence in his country, which perfectly dovetails with what his role model Donald Trump is trying to do in the US.

White House Hints

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed that the two spoke with one another shortly after the news broke that Bolsonaro trounced his opponent, noting that “both expressed a strong commitment to work side-by-side to improve the lives of the people of the United States and Brazil, and as regional leaders, of the Americas”, which could hint at a few prominent possibilities of cooperation between the two that will be described shortly. Reuters also reported that Bolsonaro promised to “realign Brazil with more advanced economies rather than regional allies” in the first public comments that he made after his victory was announced, suggesting that he might neglect his country’s membership in BRICS in favor of prioritizing relations with the US and EU instead. Returning to Sanders’ statement, it’s important to point out that she characterized Brazil as a regional leader of the Americas, which correlates with Trump’s vision for hegemonically managing Western Hemispheric affairs through the continuation of the Obama-era policy of “Leading from Behind” through regional proxy partnerships.

Building “Fortress America”

To elaborate, Trump’s predecessor quietly carried out regime changes in several Latin American countries and planted the seeds for what would later occur in Brazil, which was always the US’ ultimate prize because of its sheer size and influence. The current American President envisions the US working together with several regional partners, including Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, to advance the goal of Washington-led hemispheric integration that would embed the US’ restored influence all throughout Latin America while squeezing out its prime Chinese competitor. To accomplish this, Bolsonaro-led Brazil will be encouraged to carry out the following geo-economic policies that will greatly enable the creation of a US-dominated “Fortress America” that Trump intends to build in response to China’s Eastern Hemispheric Silk Road connectivity gains of recent years:

  1. Merge Mercosur With The Neoliberal Pacific Alliance:

All of the countries in both trading blocs are now run by right-wing leaders so it’s “natural” for them to merge with one another in order to take regional integration to its next step, which is a trend that even Mexico’s leftist president-elect AMLO will more than likely continue in order to expand his country’s influence throughout Central and South America.

  1. Clinch Free Trade Deals With The EU And The USMC (NAFTA 2.0):

The next step is for a united Mercosur-Pacific Alliance to successfully conclude the first-mentioned group’s stalemated free trade talks with the EU and then do the same when it comes to prospective ones with the USMC, which will altogether lay the structural basis for further integrating the hemisphere and making Latin America part of the so-called “Trans-Atlantic Community”.

  1. Unfreeze The FTAA And Link It To TTIP:

The last phase of constructing “Fortress America” is for the US to take the lead in unfreezing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) proposal for a hemisphere-wide free trade zone following the success of South America’s Brazilian-led geo-economic pivot and then link this transcontinental trading structure to the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the EU.

The whole point of these aforementioned plans is for the US to lock Latin America into neoliberal trading structures that forever preclude its return to socialism, even though this could eventually backfire by inspiring another “Pink Tide” sometime in the future. While there’s an important trans-Atlantic component related to the EU, “Fortress America” could still be built without Europe if the latter remains embroiled in simmering trade disputes with the US. So long as Bolsonaro succeeds in getting the rest of South America to follow his Trumpist lead (possibly through the merging of Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance), then the diminishment of Chinese influence in the continent will be a fait accompli because the People’s Republic will see its many investments challenged by a combination of the host governments themselves and its newly invigorated US competitor.

Breaking BRICS

It’ll be extremely difficult for BRICS to continue to function in anything other than name only if Brazil breaks ranks with the organization’s de-facto Chinese leader and does everything in its power under Bolsonaro to push back against it, including either scrapping the Trans-Oceanic Railroad (which could colloquially be considered to be the “South American Silk Road”) or replacing most of its Chinese investments with Western ones and thereby neutralizing its intended multipolar strategic purpose. When paired with fellow BRICS member South Africa’s tilt towards neoliberalism after the country’s “deep state” coup brought President Ramaphosa to power possibly as a result of an American-backed regime change process just like with Bolsonaro, it’s plain to see that BRICS is for all intents and purposes regressing back to its original RIC framework, which is itself only kept alive in a truly multilateral format through Russia’s “balancing” role between its competing Asian Great Powers that has thus far saved it from just becoming a hodge-podge of overlapping bilateral partnerships.

Concluding Thoughts

Bolsonaro’s election, socio-politically engineered by Washington over the past few years, is a watershed event in Latin American history because of the very high likelihood that it’ll further the US’ plans for building “Fortress America”. Given the practically identical worldview that the Brazilian president-elect shares with Trump, especially regarding the need to “contain” China and suppress domestic socialist tendencies at home, it’s all but assured that the former military officer will march in lockstep with his idol in carrying out their joint will in the Western Hemisphere. This could predictably see Brazil taking the lead to advance regional integrational initiatives that would have otherwise been unthinkable under a leftist government such as merging Mercosur with the Pacific Alliance and probing the possibilities for a multilateral free trade deal between this resultant continental-wide structure and the USMC (NAFTA 2.0). None of this augurs well for China’s Silk Road interests, but that’s one of the main reasons why “Fortress America” is being built in the first place.

Posted in BrazilComments Off on Bolsonaro Is a Pivotal Part of Trump’s Plans to Build “Fortress America”

Fascism on the March in Latin America

NOVANEWS
 

In a few years Latin America, that struggled for 15 -20 years to become independent from the fascist masters of the north – has been reabsorbed into the northern elite’s, the empire’s backyard — yes, indeed, that’s what Latin America has become for the major part, a mere backyard of Washington.

And this despite the fact that 99.99% of the population want nothing to do with fascism – so where is the fraud? Why is nobody investigating the fraud – putting it up for everyone to see?

In the meantime we have learned about Cambridge / Oxford Analytica. How they operate and cheat the electorate. They themselves have finally admitted to the methods in which they influence voters with lies – and with buying from social media, mainly facebook, millions and millions of personal data to target electronically special groups of people – bombarding them with lies to promote or denigrate the one or the other candidate; they even admitted it…

And precisely this happened in Brazil. A week before the run-off election that took place yesterday, Fernando Haddad (PT), launched a criminal investigation precisely for that reason against Boslonaro’s campaign. Of course nothing happened. All the judges, courts are under control of the unelected corrupt right-wing Temer Government.

And now – there is nobody investigating what happened? The left is dead? Flabbergasted into oblivion — indeed?

How come? With all the lessons around the world, and not last in Argentina, the neighbor – why can the left be so blind, outright naive, as to not understand that following the criminally legalized system in their country is following the path to their own demise and eventually to shovel their own grave?
Wake up – LEFT!

Today, its the mainstream media which have learned the tricks and perfected the Cambridge and Oxford Analyticas; they are doing it non-stop. They have all the fake and fiat money in the world to pay for these false and deceit-campaigns – they are owned by the corporate military and financial elite, by the CIA, MI6, Mossad – they are owned and directed by the western all-overarching neoliberalism cum fascism – and the rich elite groups have free access to the fake money supply – its government supplied in the US as well as in Europe; debt is no problem for them, as long as they ‘behave’.

The first example for what was to happen throughout Latin America was the “fake election” of Macri, in 2015 in Argentina. A few of us saw it coming and wrote about it. We were ignored, even laughed at – we didn’t understand the democratic process….

There are only a few, very few exceptions left in Latin America.

And lets do whatever we can to safe them from fascism.

The solutions are not in weapons, but in the economy…

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Posted in Peru, Peru, VenezuelaComments Off on Fascism on the March in Latin America

“Class War Conservatism” and Resistance to the Doug Ford Tories in Ontario

NOVANEWS

The Fordist Conservative government in Ontario presents a pressing challenge to politics as usual and raises the stakes for working class resistance. Almost immediately upon taking office Doug Ford and his Tory regime have gone on an offensive targeting diverse segments of the working class. In their aggressive actions they have shown themselves to be unabashed proponents of a class war conservatism in the mold of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Mike Harris, if in a particularly crass version.

Well, sometimes you get the counsel you need, when you need it. So it is that I found myself reading Ralph Miliband’s old article “Class War Conservatism” right as Doug Ford was elected in Ontario. I lived for years in a Toronto riding bordering his brother Rob’s and have followed (and opposed) the Ford’s for awhile. Recognizing again the character of and threat posed by a boldfaced class war conservative regime makes us reconsider our whole approach to opposition, to the political conventions that while familiar will fail us against this enemy. (And make no mistake they view us as enemies and make no apologies for it.)

It is crucial to quickly get the full measure of the challenge the Doug Ford government presents, as Miliband said of Thatcher. And to meet that challenge with the fullness (of anger, boldness, creativity, militancy, and solidarity) it deserves.

Class War Offensives

Economic indices, the staple of the neoliberal reduction of politics to management, are not the ones by which Ford and his cronies will measure the progress they make. Rather, like Thatcher, Reagan, and Ontario’s Mike Harris before them, they are involved in a longer term project on whose success they see the conditions for greater economic gain and more. This project is, once again, the erosion of resistance of the working class in its multiplicity and its collective, organized strength.

This is, as was true of Harris and his heroes, a counter-revolution in the life and politics of the province. It is what Ford is engaged in. Nothing less than open class war. We can see it in targets of Ford’s early decisions.

Black Lives Matter. Ford announced his intention not to follow through on proposed police oversight measures. He has reinforced support for street checks or “carding.”

Indigenous communities. Ford cut truth and reconciliation materials from school curricula.

LGBTQ2S. Again targeting education and school curriculum Ford announces the return to an earlier sex education curriculum, one that ignores gender identity discussions and broad aspects of sexuality.

Unions. Back to work legislation against striking CUPE 3903 workers. The creation of a snitch line for people to turn in teachers who actually teach sex education. The omnibus “Open for Business” legislation repealing Bill 148 and its basic labour protections and planned minimum wage increase.

Racialized minorities. Students. The imposition of “free speech” legislation covering post-secondary education and designed to provide safe space on campus for white supremacists and circulation of racist, far Right propaganda.

Poor people. The abrupt ending of the basic income pilot project, leaving many poor people in immediate financial peril. Reductions in social assistance increases (already for too little).

And of course these all intersect in various ways.

The shrinking of Toronto City Hall is itself a strike for conservative centralization and control but also a symbolic (and material) strike against mythical “Downtown Progressives” – the perceived foil to the suburban, white conservative, ring. It will have as one effect a reduction in representation from minority and marginalized candidates. It is with cause that Miliband referred to Thatcherism (in its first year no less) as the wisdom of outer suburbia (281). And this is really another expression of the class war conservatives’ long held commitment to centralization and managerialism against even representative forms of democratic involvement.

Cuts to welfare and the end of the basic income experiment in Ontario are designed to harm the most marginalized sectors of the working class, but also split working class movements through familiar poor bashing and stigmatization, playing upon fear of more stable members of the working class that in the current context they might not be so stable after all (certainly not enough to work to provide income for their poorer neighbors).

The back to work legislation against my old local CUPE 3903 is a latter day echo of Reagan’s targeting of PATCO (the air traffic controllers union) and Thatcher’s attacks of the miners. That class war attack should have been met by broad resistance. It is clearly a signal of the assault on labour to come and a test of how much fightback might be expected.

Ford’s Making Ontario Open for Business Act omnibus bill of October 23 repeals changes to the Labour Relations Act that made it easier for workers in various sectors to join a union. It cancels the two paid sick days and 10 personal emergency leave days and replaces the latter with up to three days for personal illness, two for bereavement, and three for family responsibilities. These are all to be unpaid. The bill also eliminates pay-equity for part-time and casual workers.

The Ford government has already made clear it will not go ahead with the scheduled increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour on January 1, 2019. The wage will be frozen at $14. The omnibus bill announced that the government will freeze the minimum wage until October 2020. Future increases will be tied to inflation.

While Ford might cover his actions in a phony appeal to a good society “for the people,” Miliband concluded that the “good society” that the class war conservatives believe in is “a class society in which the subordination of the many to the few, on the basis of property and privilege, is the dominant principle” (285). The plan to cut the Toronto city council and invocation of the notwithstanding clause to override the Constitution can be understood in this light. In fact, all of Ford’s acts so far can be understood through this lens.

Conservative Social Strategy

While the focus has so often been on neoliberal economics, the economic policies have typically been more ideology or dogma than anything. “Trickle down,” “voodoo economics.” Even George Bush I could see through it.

As Miliband pointed out, and has been too often overlooked since, what the class war conservatives do have is a coherent social strategy. That is geared to produce and maintain a social environment most favorable to exploitation. The twin goals, both in the name of incentives, are that life should be made much better for people who already have and enjoy financial privilege. And, that it should be made tougher for those who do not. Incentives after all.

This is what handouts for the rich have been about, but also cuts to social resources needed by the working class. And we have long known that it is not about what we can afford. Doug Ford has already pledged massive increases (as all class war conservatives do) for the cops. Yet small amounts are cut from programs to help disadvantaged, and racialized, youth.

We know about cuts and the use of cuts to reduce social programs that make people less dependent on wage labour. We can understand too Ford’s early decision to end the basic income pilot project. Whatever concerns people might have about basic income in a neoliberal framework (and the organization I was active in for a decade, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty has offered an analytical critique) it is certain that Ford did not want any evidence to come out suggesting even the possibility that basic income could offer some autonomy for working class people.

Miliband reminds us that cuts are, right from the start, accompanied by an array of snoops and snitches. So, of course, Ford has implemented a snitch line targeting teachers (and their unions).

Thatcher and Reagan launched counter-revolutions to weaken union power and the strength of poor peoples movements – the organized working class more broadly. This provided an environment for retrenchment, social restraints, and cuts to social programs.

Neoliberalism innovated against the welfare state model of concessions. It withdrew or withheld them even as economic growth made them painless for governments. In fact event cuts became possible during growth for neoliberals, which would have been viewed as unacceptable under the welfare state.

Of course, Thatcher, Reagan, and Harris, and now Ford, approached this work, not reluctantly but with a relish and enthusiasm for confronting and breaking working class power and possibilities for militancy.

The goal of the Fordists remains, as it has always been for the class war conservatives, to shift the balance of force as far as possible to favor managerial power. This is crucial for contextualizing the cuts to Toronto City Hall, which might otherwise seem perplexing or a bit of an obscure obsession for Ford. It is not only about a petty get back at former council rivals as some would have it.

And to be clear, there is no real distinction between the Fordists and other conservatives in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. They are together in desiring a social order in which there are great distinctions between classes in all aspects of social life (and egregious differences between the poles). Thus there should be no surprise, or reason for disappointment, at Attorney General Caroline Mulroney’s defense of using the notwithstanding clause against the Charter of Human Rights. The only real distinction remains on how class conflict is best to be managed – a ruthless, open, mocking class war (à la Ford) or a respectable, even, “compassionate” class war. But do not forget that Ford’s main opponents in the leadership race were Christine Elliot, a partner to Harris’s hatchet man Jim Flaherty, and the aforementioned Mulroney (daughter of first wave Thatcherite, Brian Mulroney).

The Fordists have no interest in compromise, concession, or decorum – let alone compassion (of which they know nothing). And absent a proper resistance that recognizes the class war stakes, they have no reason for any of these.

They seek to maintain a system of privilege and inequality through open class war offensives. No hesitation, no shame, no regrets.

Angry Resistance

The lessons from earlier class war conservatives are clear. It is necessary to fight back hard, aggressively, and to fight back now. It is necessary to move to an offensive, to take the fight to the class war conservatives and their corporate backers. Resistance, including labour, must develop “the capacity to project a radically different view” (285). Until it does, it will be fighting on Ford’s ground, not its own. And we should not shy away from our anger, tone it down, or apologize for it.

Opposition must quickly grasp that the Ford government does not seek or want cooperation with them. It wants and seeks submission. Resistance has too long been conditioned to play by the rules (symbolic actions, protests, legal challenges, public shaming, etc.) in hopes that better judgement will prevail.

The class war conservatives know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. They cannot be shamed because they have no shame (insulting Ford only charges him up). They do not like us and do not care how much they hurt us or how much pain we feel. Might we return the favor?

We have seen glimpses of resistance that could challenge the class war conservatives. In the last year of the Mike Harris Conservative Party premiership a Common Front formed in Ontario to carry out acts of economic disruption to impose a real cost on the government and its policies. In cities, towns, and reserves across the province Ontario Common Front groups organized and developed tactics that made sense in their specific location. These included railway blockades, business shutdowns, business disrupting snake marches, etc.

During the Ontario Common Front, rank and file workers in my home town Windsor (and my family’s historic local UAW/CAW/Unifor 444) were actively planning a shut down of the NAFTA Superhighway over the Ambassador Bridge with Detroit, before union officials got anxious and shut them down. But that is the sort of bold tactic that will be necessary to stop today’s class war conservatives.

We must make no mistake in being tempted to believe for a second that the class war conservatives feel anything but contempt and disdain for us – for any of the exploited and oppressed, the poor, the dispossessed. Theirs is a hatred born of class privilege and a pinched resentment of anything we might enjoy – a sense that it is rightfully theirs. But deep down too they fear that we might one day come for it all – take it back from them. They hate too in sensing, if imperfectly, that their having rests on our not having.

The Fordist class war conservatives must be confronted openly on the same hostile and aggressive terms. Resistance must occupy the ground of class war. That is the terrain on which the Fordists are fighting. There is no hope for concessions, conciliation, compassion. There will be no reward in waiting it out, in pursuing a cautious, deliberative, approach. We know this enemy – we have seen it before. We must meet its aggression in kind.

Where Opposition is Weak, The Class War Conservatives Press On

The first generation Thatcherites worried the unions might fight back if things were made too difficult for organized labour. Their test cases gave them confidence. Almost four decades of neoliberal offensive and the example of Ontario itself under Mike Harris (where resistance boasted but fizzled in the spectacles of Days of Action) have shown the Fordists that they might have little to fear and in this regard can act with impunity.

Thatcher expected more of a fight from the unions and was emboldened by their confused response. In a span of two short months she went from saying it would not be possible to legislate a reduction in the benefits paid to strikers families to actually introducing the legislation at a higher cut than initially hinted at. As Miliband said at the time:

“It is a small point but a significant one: where the opposition is weak, the government is encouraged to press on. The unions are still very reluctant to accept the idea – and to base their response on the idea – that Mrs Thatcher does not actually want cooperation with them but submission.” (284)

There can be no underestimating the challenge the Ford government is posing. There is no good in waiting around for the inevitable coercive assaults on the right to organize and strike. Restraints on “industrial action” are no doubt on the way (even as back to work legislation has already been imposed). And the Fordist nod to the cops will also be a nod to stricter (and arbitrary) enforcement of law against striking workers, protesters, etc. The Making Ontario Open for Business Act is only a glimpse of a start for the Fordists.

They will roll out state shrinking libertarian rhetoric while building up state power and the containment state against the exploited and oppressed. Resources will always be made available for more and tougher policing.

Conclusion: Class War Needs Two Sides

During the Ontario Common Front Mohawks at Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory blockaded the rail line across the territory. In Toronto a snake march shut down Bay Street and made sure it was not business as usual – on the day Mike Harris stepped down. These and other actions could be done, on various scales – targeting businesses that support the Tories and their agenda. We can think about the effective targeting of Tim Hortons following their obnoxious attacks on low wage workers.

In 2001 I was arrested in an action that literally evicted Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s constituency office in Whitby. Any and all Tories should face literal evictions.

These are not times of, or for, politics as usual. And there needs to be a reforming of political action itself. The message must be sent that class war has two sides.

Already we can see some promising examples of a rising on a different level against Ford’s class war conservatism. The mass walkout of students from schools across Ontario, thousands of students and some schools largely shut down, on September 21 are inspirational (and aspirational). We might well imagine what such mass walkouts in other contexts might look like. These are suggestive of a general strike in motion.

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Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on “Class War Conservatism” and Resistance to the Doug Ford Tories in Ontario

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