Archive | October 28th, 2019

Lebanon: Covenant reveals sources of funding and management of the ‘revolution’

Covenant reveals sources of funding and management of the ‘revolution’: funding for the embassies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the field command of the forces… $ 100 for those who attend daily and $ 150 for those who sleep in tents

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

More than a week after the movement began on the Lebanese street, angry at the rampant corruption, the facts are beginning to reveal suspicious sources of funding that have entered the line to benefit from what is happening in the street and correct it in a political direction that serves its projects and objectives.

“Volunteering” in support of the fatwa “coup” led by the “Lebanese Forces” under the cover of the so-called “revolution” against the Covenant and the government in Lebanon, is not out of the blue. The sources of funding are numerous, revealed by the website “Al-Ahd” news, the most important of which are the embassies of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in Lebanon.

In this context, information on Al-Ahd news site confirms that “the UAE Embassy is not far from running the scene before us on the screens. A special representative from the UAE Embassy in Beirut is present in the Lebanese Forces’ Hirak coup d’état on the ground of the Lebanese Forces.

As for logistical and media costs, Al Ahd sources confirmed that the UAE Embassy has paid for all logistical costs such as transport, audio, sun umbrellas, Lebanese flags, tents, toilets, ready meals and water. Cash payment is also operational: $ 100 for everyone who comes daily on the streets to cut off the roads, and $ 150 for every young man or girl who overnight on the roads in tents or outside.

Here, witnesses brought to us by demonstrators raised their suspicion and contributed to their withdrawal from the movement, most notably: the arrival of hot food in an orderly and steady time to a number of demonstrators with “boxs” imprinted and arranged certain slogans, that is, the roads that cut on Lebanese citizens around the The country prevents them from obtaining their basic needs of medicine, medicine, fuel, etc., which are opened and legislated for specific trucks with logistical support and reaching the demonstrators exclusively.

Demonstrators withdrawing from the squares speak of their concern after the “wave” of the coup movement by well-known venture capitalists and turning it a ride in support of specific politicians from Samir Geagea to Sami Gemayel and others. According to the retreating protesters, a lot of money is paid in the streets and streets of the demonstration poses many questions, for example about the cost of portable toilets in some places and huge monuments that have been erected and bands that take over hours to motivate people to stay in the street.

The UAE is not alone in the field of suspicious incitement. While the UAE spends the costs of direct broadcasting and the salaries of employees and media for stations covering what is being promoted as a “revolution”, the MTV channel through its Chairman Michel Murr requested an increase in these payments, and was promised by the UAE Embassy to pay additional funds, and by the Embassy Saudi Arabia is working to clean up the judicial file of the bitter regarding the file of illegal communication and help him in the judicial dispute and lawsuits filed by his father and brothers.

For its part, LBC was subjected to pressure from the Saudi embassy and the same financial temptations by the UAE embassy. Pierre Daher informed the two embassies that LBC had joined the revolution and its coverage and full support, but with a slight margin is to show some “professional differentiation” from MTV and “ The new “because he wants to keep some lines open even a small with the Covenant and some” March 8 forces. ” But this will not prevent him from promoting and fanning the coup moves led by the embassies, but “in his own way.”

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Lebanon: Zionist Yediot Aharonot correspondent from the heart of the riot Riad ..

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

The journalist Hussein Murtada published on his official account on the social networking site Twitter a picture of the cover of a Zionist newspaper showing the Hebrew correspondent in the heart of the demonstration in Riad Solh.

How did you enter Lebanon?

Yediot Aharonot Bertsaska Buri, from the heart of the Riad Solh demonstration.

Source: South Pulse Monitoring

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Eighteen Years of US Occupation Has Not Improved Life for Afghan Women

BY: Janine Jackson


Afghan women wearing burqas sell bread on a street in Mazar-i-Sharif, on January 31, 2019.

Janine Jackson: Some jokes write themselves. When we learned negotiations on Afghanistan suggested the possibility of an end to the grueling 17-year war, the longest in US history, the New York Times ran a piece headlined, “Fearing What Could Follow a Quick Exit.”

The US invasion and occupation have devastated the country and killed more than 100,000 people. But consider, cautions the Washington Post: “An end to the Afghan war is desirable, but not at the expense of everything the United States has helped to build there since 2001.”

What and who is missing from such conversations around the current talks about Afghanistan, and from the talks themselves? Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies, and is author of numerous books, including Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer, co-authored with David Wildman. She joins us now in studio. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Phyllis Bennis.

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Phyllis Bennis: Great to be with you, Janine.

Things are in flux; things are changing, absolutely. We’re recording on February 13. What do we know about the nature of these ongoing negotiations?

I would say, first of all, it’s always important for there to be negotiations. Wars end with negotiated settlements, before, during or after massive killing. So having those talks after such a long time is a good thing.

It’s a good thing that the US has finally acknowledged that the Taliban exist. They in fact control, depending on who you believe, somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of the country’s territory. So they’re obviously a force that has to be reckoned with, and has to be part of the negotiations. That’s all good.

If we look at who’s not at the table, then it’s a little more problematic. The Afghan government is not at the table. That’s not the worst thing in the world. The Afghan government is as corrupt as governments come.

The Taliban has refused to talk to the Afghan government on the theory that they are nothing but puppets of the United States, which is mostly true, probably not entirely true. But they certainly are not an independent actor.

More importantly, however, who’s not at the table includes women, crucially, particularly because the US claim is that the war in Afghanistan is grounded in the need to “protect women.” We hear this in the mainstream press all the time.

We also are not hearing from Afghan trade unions, Afghan farmers, Afghan tribal or religious leaders; we’re not hearing from youth leaders. We’re basically not hearing from any of the Afghan people. So that’s a serious problem.

In some ways, a greater problem is who is at the table. So talks between the US and the Taliban — not a bad thing. But on the US side, who’s leading those talks? Well, it’s a guy named Zalmay Khalilzad, who’s a longtime cohort of the Bush family, a longtime oil guy. He worked for Unocal in the 1970s and ‘80s. He was one of these analysts assessing the “threats” they would face in different parts of the world.

And one of the things that he’s most known for — it was written up in the Washington Post, back in the mid-’90s — about an incident that had happened in 1995, I think it was, when Zalmay Khalilzad went to Afghanistan and brought back with him — this is during the Afghan civil war, when the Taliban was fighting against a coalition of warlords known as the Northern Alliance; the Northern Alliance, of course, backed by India at the time against the Taliban, which was backed by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US. In that period, he came back to the US, back to Houston, with a delegation of the Taliban to negotiate pipeline deals.

And it was one of those things where it was described with a certain tongue-in-cheek approach in the Post. They described this lavish dinner at some fancy hotel in Houston, and nobody mentioned anything about how the Taliban, even then, was known for its most extreme forms of repression against women; these really medieval kinds of punishments in their courts, that involved amputation for theft, things like that; the destruction of parts of Afghan cultural heritage. None of that was mentioned.

It was all just sort of, “We think these guys are going to win the war, so we should be dealing with them now.” That was under George Bush I. Under George Bush II, Khalilzad became the ambassador, first to Afghanistan and then to Iraq. He was later the ambassador to the United Nations.

So he’s been around. He’s a neocon, an oil guy, a Bush guy. And now, all of a sudden, he’s Trump’s guy. So Trump has now appointed him as the special envoy to Afghanistan.

Now, in some ways, that’s kind of great. He speaks several of the local languages. He is a brilliant, urbane and charming diplomat. I remember when he came to the United Nations. Nobody in the mainstream press talked about this, but one of the things that happened was that he was replacing John Bolton, who Bush II had tried and failed to get approved by the Senate as the US ambassador to the UN. Everybody hated Bolton. Nobody wanted to help the US, because Bolton was such a bully.

When he was finally replaced with this charming guy who everybody adored — he was an Afghan, a person of color at the UN representing the US. Wow! It was a whole different story. People could not wait to get him on their side, to have tea with him. He would look into your eyes when he spoke, such a good diplomat, right, representing these terrible positions.

So I remember that very well, and now he’s the one representing the US in talks with his former clients, the Taliban. So what are we supposed to make of that?

And who’s going to help us make sense of that? Well, it’s going to be, for example, the New York Times, who are saying the primary concern is if the United States troops leave Afghanistan, we’d be “handing over the country to the same ruthless militants that the United States went to war to dislodge.” And they’re talking about the Taliban, and that’s their explanation for the purpose of the war, and it’s in that context that they’re going to talk about the agreement.

It is sort of extraordinary. There’s a sense in the mainstream press — you see it in the Times, you see it in the Post, you hear it on NPR, you see it on all the network news, you hear it on CNN, you hear it pretty much everywhere — that we maybe should get out relatively soon, but not too fast.

And I’m thinking, “Okay, almost 18 years. How long do we have to occupy the country before we can say it’s not too fast?” I mean, what makes it fast, when we’ve been there for 18 years?

And we should note: You remember, Janine, how much of the press back in 2001, when the US first invaded Afghanistan, and right up until today: A huge amount of the press coverage has focused on the question of women. Now, with some legitimacy; there is no question that the Taliban is one of the most ruthless, misogynistic political forces out there. And the prospect of them holding 50 percent, let alone even more, is a terrible one for the women of Afghanistan.

But what we never hear is, “Well, how different is it?” How much better is it for women under areas not controlled by the Taliban, controlled by what I believe to be an incredibly misogynistic gang of ruthless warlords that’s called the Afghan government, backed by the United States?

It is true that in Kabul, there have been some significant gains for urban women. Schools have been built. There are women in the parliament. There are women in some of the professions. But overwhelmingly, 80 percent of Afghans do not live in the city. They live in tiny rural villages, very far removed from anything that happens in Kabul. And we don’t hear about that in the Times or the Post or NPR or anywhere else.

What we hear about is what’s going to happen to women in Kabul. And that could be bad. It could get worse when the US pulls out.

But I would just note two things about that. No. 1, a statistic: When the US invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban had been in control for about five years. The conditions for women were horrifying. According to the UN, to all the various figures from UNICEF and others, Afghanistan was either the first or second worst place in the world for children to be born and survive.

Today, after 18 years of US occupation supposedly aimed at improving the lives of women, where is Afghanistan on the ratings? Number one in infant mortality, the same place, it has not improved. So that’s No. 1.

No. 2: There was an extraordinary young woman who was the youngest person elected to the Afghan Parliament back in 2004, I guess it was, or ’05, a woman named Malalai Joya. And she said something very interesting about this — again, something you never heard about. She said, when I was having a conversation with her — she was in the US for a while — and I asked her about this question of, “Would it be worse for women, and for civil society in Afghanistan, if and when the US pulls out?”

And she said, “You know, we in civil society, and we women in Afghanistan, we have three big problems, three enemies of our rights. One is the Taliban; they are certainly an enemy of our rights. Two is the Afghan government, certainly an enemy of our rights. And third is the US occupying forces, who are continuing the war, and are certainly responsible for the denial of rights of all of us.” So, she said, “If you in the US can arrange the withdrawal of one of those, get the US troops out, we’ll only have two.” I thought that was a very prescient understanding of the situation.

Eighteen years doesn’t even really contain the whole breadth of it, because before that, of course, there were years and years of US-backed anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan.


Some of us remember Dan Rather in a cave, you know, reporting…. And so I was struck by theNew York Times’ analysis that US withdrawal “could consign Afghanistan to a protracted, bloody civil war.”

What have we been waging for the last 17 and a half years, if not the second or third iteration of a protracted, bloody civil war?

Let me ask you, on Afghanistan, if we think, not in an isolationist way, but if we center the priorities of the Afghan people, what criteria would we be using to judge any agreement?

I think, first, the question of who’s at the table, which goes to whose interests are being at least acknowledged, if not recognized. Two, is there any discussion anywhere — there has not been yet — of the need for reparations, compensation for the extraordinary devastation that our years of war have brought to the people of Afghanistan.

Certainly plenty of damage has been done by the Taliban. Plenty has been done by other warlords. Plenty has been done by the Afghan government.

But what the US is directly responsible for, because of the continuing drone war, airstrikes, so much death and destruction…. The notion that we could be convening peace talks and not even acknowledge that, not even begin the conversation about, “How do we begin to help rebuild?”

That’s, to me, one of the indicators that I don’t think we’re going to be hearing too much about in the mainstream press.

And that, given that our US mainstream press are writing largely for Americans, ought to really be leading the conversation.

Well, while we have you here, Phyllis Bennis, you wrote the book, Understanding the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, now in its seventh updated edition, and helped found the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. I have to ask you what you are making of the reaction to the comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar about the influence of AIPAC on US policy.

This was an extraordinary moment. What Ilhan said was that money is the basis for the power of pro-Israel sentiment and pro-Israel resolutions and decisions in the Congress. That’s hardly news. That’s not something that’s so surprising to anybody.

When she was asked, derisively, she took it as a serious question, on the question, “Who do you think is responsible?” Her answer was “AIPAC!” Not exactly news, again, if we’re talking about “breaking news.”

AIPAC takes money to influence Congress. Really? Why is this surprising?

First of all, this is what lobbies do. AIPAC is hardly the only lobby that does it. The NRA does it, very powerfully. The arms manufacturers, they pour billions of dollars over the years into campaigns of various sorts.

AIPAC does it very, very well. They’re very skilled. AIPAC, of course, is not a political action committee. They don’t make donations. What they do is act as bundlers of other small foundations and other agencies that do directly aid Congress and Senate campaigns.


Amplifiers — that’s a good word for it. That’s what the press likes to use. That’s true. They are definitely amplifiers.

They also have been known to use money to threaten members of Congress. Not to say, “If you toe the line on Israel, if you vote for all of our agenda items” — which means uncritical support in the United Nations for any Israeli violations of international law; continuing or escalating US military aid to Israel, to the point that it’s now $38 billion that has been pledged over a 10-year period, $3.8 billion a year, direct of our tax money right to the Israeli military — “if you toe the line on all of that, we will give you money.”

That’s not exactly how it works. More often, it’s, “If you don’t toe the line, we will find and we will fund an opponent you may have never even heard of yet, and they will beat you in the next primary.” That’s how they operate. So the notion that AIPAC uses money is hardly news.

Now, the claim is made that, “Oh my God, she said it in a way that is these antisemitic tropes.” Well, I’ve got to say, growing up Jewish, and hearing a lot about antisemitism, I never heard that particulartrope, that had anything to do with Puff Daddy’s rap song about —

The Benjamins.

The Benjamins. You know, when I first saw it, I was thinking, “Benjamin,” because that’s a kind of common Jewish name, “Is that what it’s about?” And then I realized, “Oh my God, no, this is referencing that.”

So this was not actually about the word she used. Somebody said to me on a debate yesterday, or a discussion yesterday, a good discussion, somebody said, “Well, but wouldn’t it have been better if we could go back in time and just ask Congresswoman Omar to just say it a different way, and we wouldn’t all have to be dealing with this?”

And my answer was, “It doesn’t matter.” This was not a response to those particular words. This was a response to two things. No. 1, it was somebody calling out AIPAC, in the context of calling out US congressional refusal to recognize Palestinian rights. That was No. 1.

No. 2, even more importantly, was that the person calling out AIPAC is a young, black African Muslim refugee. And in the eyes of people like Kevin McCarthy, people like that are just not supposed to be in Congress. That’s what this was about. So you have somebody like McCarthy, who was himself known for these really antisemitic tweets that identified individual Jews, wealthy billionaire Jews, as trying to buy elections.

Really? That’s your claim here? You know, he could say that and not be held accountable at all.

But it does have to do, just finally, with who media decide is legitimately in the conversation, whose words need sifting, who we can look to as sources of presumed bias, and who, on the other hand, gets to be presented just as a legitimate source.

And so it does connect us to the conversation about Afghanistan, and it does connect us to the conversation about Venezuela and Syria. It has a lot to do with who media think are legitimate participants in the conversation.

I think that’s absolutely right. But the good news is that the discourse, particularly on the question of Palestine, is changing massively. So the fact is that when Ilhan Omar said AIPAC is responsible, it wasn’t really news. If she hadn’t gotten the pushback and the attacks that she did, it would have passed right by. Because this is now understood.

The discourse in the Jewish community is different. The discourse in the media is different. The media have not yet caught up with the public discourse. And the policy, of course, is not close to catching up to the media. But all of them are in flux, all of them are changing, and it’s because of our movements.

It’s because of the news outlets of our movements, and it’s because of our movements overall. Organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, that I’m very honored to be on the steering committee of, it’s like the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, it’s like Palestine Legal, it’s like Black for Palestine. All of these organizations that have been working for years to change the discourse, we’re now seeing that work bearing fruit. And that’s hugely important.

I’m going to end on that note. We’ve been speaking with Phyllis Bennis. She directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies; they’re online at And you can find her recent article, “Is the Longest US War Finally Ending?,” on Phyllis Bennis, thank you so much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

Great to be with you here in your office.

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As Doctors, It Is Our Responsibility to Stop Racism in Medicine

This February, as we mark contributions made by Black people to this country, health providers must also examine the medical community’s history of oppression, their individual biases and prejudices, and the structurally racist and sexist policies that exacerbate inequity in our society.
This February, as we mark contributions made by Black people to this country, health providers must also examine the medical community’s history of oppression, their individual biases and prejudices, and the structurally racist and sexist policies that exacerbate inequity in our society.

BYZia Okocha


“Why is she getting her IUD out so early? She’s just going to get pregnant,” an attending tells me, not bothering to hide his exasperation.

“It’s the decision she wants to make,” I respond.

“Do you know how expensive these devices are? What a waste.”

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It’s not an uncommon conversation I have had or overheard during medical school and residency — the barely concealed judgment of patients deciding how they wish to manage their health. These judgments, often of Black patients, were ensconced within conversations expressing disbelief at how these patients could wait so long to present for care, reject suggestions made by their doctor, or worry about being experimented on. Sometimes, this incredulity by my colleagues or superiors would turn into disdain and ridicule, questioning the patient’s intelligence or ability to make decisions for themselves.

My colleagues lacked the historical context of what centuries of structurally racist ideas and practices were present within the medical community, leading to such distrust of the system. As a Black female physician, I had difficulty articulating why such statements felt so wrong until I took it upon myself to learn about the many ways people of color, and specifically Black people, have been controlled, exploited, and legislated by our government and the medical community since the founding of this nation.

As it is Black History Month, I implore my colleagues to not only take time to recognize the contributions of Black people in the United States, but also to acknowledge the many ways Black bodies have involuntarily contributed to medical advances we take for granted. Only then can we begin to change the health-care system and our role in perpetuating biases within it.

Many people are familiar with the “Tuskegee Study,” in which hundreds of Black men from 1932 until 1972 were told they were receiving treatment for syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to devastating outcomes such as hearing loss, vision loss, and nerve damage if left untreated. These men received no treatment and were monitored because the government desired to know the natural progression of syphilis. Though this is an infamous example of both contributions made by and predation on Black people, it is by no means the only one.

Part way through my residency training, I came across Harriet A. Washington’s Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. This expansive but readable book provides an important overview interspersed with fascinating details about the many ways Black people were abused and exploited by the medical system. How many people know that Thomas Jefferson — the president famously rumored to have fathered several of his slave Sally Hemings’ children — injected his slaves with cowpox to see if this would create immunity to smallpox? He subsequently injected his white family members when his slaves did not fall ill, Washington noted.

James Marion Sims, a physician practicing in the mid-1800s, performed experimental vaginal surgeries on Black enslaved women without pain medication, while they were naked and on their hands and knees, Washington explained in Medical Apartheid. We have him and these unnamed slaves to thank for making numerous advances on vaginal surgeries, in particular, the repair of the obstetric fistula.

And even in death, Black bodies have been exploited. Whether it was digging up bodies of the newly laid-to-rest in the 18th and 19th centuries or the practice of shipping bodies left unclaimed in forensic examiner’s offices to waiting medical students — all for the purpose of allowing them to learn anatomy. This all happened without the consent of individuals or their families and without compensation.

More recently, to reduce public spending on poor, Black, and brown individuals, the government promoted long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) despite shoddy evidence regarding side effects or potential complications, as Andrea Tone detailed in Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America. The Dalkon Shield was an intrauterine device introduced in the early 1970s and originally tested on mostly Black and poor women. It was pulled from the market after it caused life-threatening infections in women and embedded in the uterus. Another LARC from the 1990s eventually pulled from the market was Norplant, a six-rod device implanted in the patient’s upper armto prevent pregnancy. Again, this was tested and heavily promoted in mostly Black, poor, and teenage populations, explained Washington in her book, despite knowledge of severe side effects such as heavy, irregular periods, headaches, and weight gain. As this December 2018 New York Times article shows, we continue to see state governments looking to LARCs as a cure-all for reducing poverty, without taking into account all the socioeconomic factors at play.

How much of this history informs medical professionals on why Black women are less likely to utilize certain forms of birth control, particularly LARCs, or why Black people may be less trusting of doctors given repeated evidence of experimentation and lack of informed consent for procedures? Moreover, medicine has yet to prove that much has changed. A study published recently showed that white medical trainees falsely believed that Black patients felt less pain and had thicker skin than white patients. Another showed that Black children received pain medication more slowly than white children for similar conditions in emergency care.

Providers also demonstrate bias in offering birth control options, as they are more likely to offer birth control in general to low-income Black and Hispanic women compared to low-income white women and also more likely to push LARCs on to Black women than white women. And most recently a series of articles highlighted at ProPublicaNPR, and other news outlets demonstrated that Black women, regardless of socioeconomic status or educational level, continue to fare worse compared to their white counterparts. Many of the conditions for which pregnant Black women have higher complications and death are preventable — doctors either are not listening to us or are disregarding objective evidence before them.

Easy solutions would be health-care providers and institutions developing checklists or standardized protocols to handle post-partum hemorrhage and make crash carts available when a patient demonstrates evidence of heavy bleeding after a delivery. Another solution would be developing a trigger in electronic medical records for blood pressures meeting criteria for pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening pregnancy condition, and requiring an override if expected labs or medications are not ordered for management.


“You know what Dr. O? I trust you.”

This is what my patient of several years recently told me, despite long gaps of time not seeing each other for various reasons. She had never taken the flu shot before but believed in me enough to try it for the first time this year.

I don’t take these words lightly because such trust is hard-earned in a system that has historically utilized Black lives and bodies to advance medical knowledge and consistently fails at improving health disparities for Black people.

This February, as we mark contributions made by Black people to this country, health providers must also examine the medical community’s history of oppression, their individual biases and prejudices, and the structurally racist and sexist policies that exacerbate inequity in our society. As they do that, they should incorporate practices that would improve and help end racial disparities in medical care. One first step, which is by no means easy, is taking note of their own implicit biases against people of color — numerous studies demonstrate presence of this bias. Advocacy for policy or market solutions that attack structural inequalities — such as environmental and reproductive injustice, housing insecurity and redlining, increasing income inequality, lack of paid family leave, and so on — will have a larger impact than any individual patient encounter will have. Many organizations already address some of these issues, and the addition of health-care provider voices will bolster their positions.

It is my hope that my colleagues join me in meeting the needs of our patients. As we broadly work to improve health outcomes for Black women, I will continue to celebrate that my patients increasingly have the ability to choose what type of care they wish to have — if any at all. They are exercising their right over their bodies, which is not a “waste,” but a long time coming.

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Trump Walks Away From North Korea Nuclear Talks

BY: Amy Goodman

Democracy Now!

Ahistoric summit to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula ended without an agreement Thursday, after talks between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fell apart. Their second summit meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, failed after Kim Jong Un demanded that the U.S. lift all sanctions on North Korea in exchange for dismantling the Yongbyon enrichment facility — an important North Korean nuclear site. We speak with Christine Ahn, founder and executive director of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War.

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AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Hanoi, Vietnam, where talks between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un came to an abrupt end Thursday, after the leaders failed to reach a denuclearization agreement. Their second summit meeting fell apart over Kim Jong-un’s demand the U.S. lift all sanctions on North Korea. This is President Trump speaking at a news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I could have done a deal today, but it would have been a deal that wouldn’t have been a deal that—it would have been something that I wouldn’t have been happy about, Mike would not have been happy about. We had some pretty big options, but we just felt it wasn’t appropriate. And we really want to do it right.

AMY GOODMAN: Trump said Kim had demanded sanctions be lifted in exchange for dismantling the Yongbyon enrichment facility, an important North Korean nuclear site. During the news press conference, Trump was questioned by David Sanger of The New York Times.

DAVID SANGER: So, can you just give us a little more detail? Did you get into the question of actually dismantling the Yongbyon complex?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I did. Yes, absolutely.

DAVID SANGER: And does he seem willing, ultimately—


DAVID SANGER: —to take all of that out?


DAVID SANGER: He does? He just wants all the sanctions off first, before—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He would do that, but he wants the sanctions for that. And as you know, there’s plenty left after that. And I just felt it wasn’t good. Mike and I spent a long time negotiating and talking about it to ourselves. And just I felt that that particular—as you know, that facility, while very big, it wasn’t enough to do what we were doing.

DAVID SANGER: So he was willing to do Yongbyon, but you wanted more than that, I assume, including—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We had a have more than that, yeah. We had to have more than that—

DAVID SANGER: And so, you needed both—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —because there are other things that you haven’t talked about, that you haven’t written about, that we found and we have to have, that was done a long time ago but the people didn’t know about.

DAVID SANGER: Including the uranium—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And we brought—yeah.

DAVID SANGER: Including the second uranium enrichment plant.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Exactly. And we brought many, many points up that I think they were surprised that we knew. But we had to do more than just the one level, because if we did the one level and we gave up all of that leverage, that’s been—taken a long time to build—

DAVID SANGER: So, he was—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And I want to take—by the way—

DAVID SANGER: He was not willing to take out that second—that second—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: David, I want to take off the sanctions so badly, because I want that country to grow. That country has got such potential. But they have to give up more. We could have done that deal.

AMY GOODMAN: The working lunch was canceled between the two leaders. The summit’s collapse comes just days after House Democrats introduced a resolution to end the Korean War, after nearly 70 years of conflict. Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna, who introduced the resolution, said in a statement, “Historic engagement between South and North Korea has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to formally end this war. … President Trump must not squander this rare chance for peace,” he said.

Well, for more, we turn to Christine Ahn, founder and executive director of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War. She’s in Hanoi, Vietnam, for the summit.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Christine. Can you respond to the collapse of the summit?

CHRISTINE AHN: Hi, Amy. Well, it’s obviously a very sad day for 80 million Korean people around the world, especially on the peninsula, as we’ve been long waiting—67 years—for the U.S. and North Korea to declare an end to the Korean War. And many people, many pundits, many—I think President Moon—were expecting a breakthrough today, you know, including things such as the establishment of opening liaison offices in Washington and in Pyongyang. So, the sudden decision to cut short the meeting, to basically shut down the talks, and—it came as a sudden surprise. And the mood, which started out celebratory, was soon overshadowed by the sudden decision and the announcement that Trump made, that North Korea was demanding the full lifting of sanctions.

And so, I mean, I want to first start by saying we don’t know what the full picture is. And, in fact, there have been now some reports coming out, especially from South Korea, the former minister of unification is suggesting that Bolton—of course—I mean, once we saw the picture of the table and we saw Pompeo and we saw Bolton, I mean, we had to—that was a red flag that something was going to be derailed. And so, what we understand from the South Korean side is that Bolton was insisting that biological and chemical weapons were to be part of the package. And so North Korea obviously shifted their position and called for full lifting of sanctions.

So, we don’t know what the full picture is. We obviously have to hear from the North Korean side. But I wouldn’t just quickly, you know, take Trump’s line that North Korea was asking for something that is—was unreasonable, because, clearly, a lot of work had been done. I think Stephen Biegun, who is the special representative and envoy, clearly spent a lot of time. He gave a speech at Stanford a few weeks ago. It was perhaps one of the most thoughtful, comprehensive understanding of the situation, and it seemed as if we were on the brink of a diplomatic breakthrough.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to President Trump speaking earlier today.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The inspections on North Korea will take place and will, if we do something with them—we have a schedule set up that is very good. We know things that—as David was asking about, certain places and certain sites. There are sites that people don’t know about, that we know about. We would be able to do inspections, we think, very, very successfully.

AMY GOODMAN: Interesting, Christine. President Trump was not extremely critical of the North Korean leader. He was not being defiant. He got some help from Sean Hannity, who was in the audience, almost reminding him, saying something along the lines of, “President Trump, you know, of course, President Reagan walked away at Reykjavík, and that was just a strategy,” he said. But your thoughts on where you think this will head, President Trump saying maybe they’ll meet again soon, or maybe it will be a very long time from now?

CHRISTINE AHN: Well, I mean, there are two things that give me hope in this current moment. One is, I mean, actually, the rapport, if you actually see the rapport that Trump and Kim have established. I mean, you need the leaders of the two countries to have good rapport. And clearly there is something there.

And, you know, the fact that Trump said two things in his press conference really surprised me. One was, he put a dollar bill, the amount, a price tag, on the U.S. war drills. He said they cost $100 million. It’s a huge waste of money. The other thing he said was that the sanctions harm the people of North Korea and that he wouldn’t be adding more new sanctions. I think that’s a great outcome. It’s a great foundation. But we need to continue to build on it. We need to push for it.

The other thing that obviously gives me hope is that the peace—the historic peace that’s taking place between North and South Korea. The Korean people want an end to this Korean War. Nine out of 10 South Koreans want a declaration to the end of the war. They have made tremendous progress.

So, one of the key outcomes that we were hoping for was the lifting of sanctions, that are definitely getting in the way of inter-Korean economic progress. And so, I think that we have to take it to the International Court. We have to take it to the world of public opinion. Sanctions is not some kind of sterile thing. This is something that is having a daily impact on the lives of North Korean people. Sixty thousand North Korean children can starve as a result of sanctions. We’ve heard the special rapporteur on human rights say that the sanctions are impacting the day-to-day life of North Korean people.

You know, this is not just a game of politics. This is a game of people’s lives. This is not a game. And I think that there’s an urgency, not just for the people that are living in North Korea, but think about the people of the Korean Peninsula, where they have lived for 70 years of a constant threat of war breaking out, intentionally or accidentally. This is not a game. And this is a moment where the international community must put pressure, whether at the U.N. level, and put pressure on the countries that have been siding with the United States, and say, “This is enough. This is enough.” Korea wants peace. And the international community has a responsibility to support it.

AMY GOODMAN: Christine Ahn, can you talk about the role of South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, in facilitating the North Korea-U.S. negotiations?

CHRISTINE AHN: I mean, he’s been absolutely essential. And the good news is that Trump asked his support after he left today, that he really wanted his support in, you know, continuing to play this facilitating role. But, you know, we would not be in this place were it not the incredibly effective diplomacy by President Moon.

And, you know, we have to take a hard look at what is a true alliance. And is it alliance of the military? Is it alliance of the corporations? Or is it alliance of the people? And if the people of South Korea are asking the American people to support this historic peace, that won’t happen for another lifetime—and the stars are aligned right now. And so, I speak with—you know, having worked on this issue for most of my adult life. We are not going to have this opportunity.

And so that’s why another thing that gives me hope is that Congressman Ro Khanna, Andy Kim, the first Korean-American Democrat, and several women congresswomen, including Barbara Lee, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jan Schakowsky—they have all stepped forward to introduce this congressional resolution calling for an end to the Korean War and urging the president to establish a process towards the signing of a peace agreement. We’re not going to get to denuclearization, we’re not going to get to the improvement of human rights, until we get to peace. And, you know, declaring an end to the Korean War was going to be a first step, but it’s not enough. It’s not a legally a binding agreement. And we need to push for this.

And as I wrote in an op-ed with Gloria Steinem in The Washington Post, the Korean War is America’s oldest war. It inaugurated the military-industrial complex. It set forth the U.S. foreign policy to be the world’s military police. I don’t think Americans want that anymore. And we have this historic opportunity to end America’s oldest war.

We have a U.S. Congress that is the most representative ever of the American population, and we have the greatest number of women in Congress right now. This is the moment now to push for this war. It’s not just a symbolic thing. But think about—I live in Hawaii, where there’s the U.S. Pacific Command. Think about how much is invested in preparation for war with North Korea. Clearly, there’s China behind that. But think about what we can do. We’ll never be able to achieve the bold vision for Medicare for all or free college tuition or New Green Deal, unless we tackle the $700 billion budget that is currently being invested. And North Korea is the greatest—allegedly the greatest U.S. foreign policy challenge.

We have a golden opportunity. The Korean people want peace. It’s time for the American people to stand up with them and urge the president. And if not, and if President Trump is not movable, then we have to try the U.S. government, and that’s where Congress has a role to play, not just to authorize war, but they have a role to declare peace.

AMY GOODMAN: Christine Ahn, you were among hundreds of women who wrote a letter jointly to Donald Trump and to Kim Jong-un, calling for peace and saying peace women should be at the table. Can you explain?

CHRISTINE AHN: Absolutely. I mean, I think right now the fragility of the talks shows that we have to democratize this process. We can’t leave it just in the hands of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. It needs to have—it’s not just a war, a 70-year war, between the leaders of the two countries. We have had generations of propaganda. We’ve always seen North Korea through a prism of war. And we need to have people-to-people engagement. That is what’s going to bring genuine peace.

And we know that when women are included in the peace process, it leads to a peace agreement—and not just a peace agreement, but a really durable one. And when half the world’s population isn’t part of shaping a peace agreement that reflects the desire of half the world’s population, it’s not going to, obviously, be a just and sustainable one. So we’re demanding that there is a process that includes civil society and that includes women’s rights groups, because we have seen the record. In 40 conflicts around the world, in all but one case, when women’s groups were involved in the peace process, it led to a peace agreement. And we want to see denuclearization. We want to see peace. We want to see the improvement of human rights. We’ll never get there, until there is a true peace, until war is taken off the table.

AMY GOODMAN: Christine, finally, I want to ask about Otto Warmbier, the American student who was imprisoned for more than 17 months for trying to steal a propaganda sign in a North Korean hotel, died in June 2017, a week after he was released from a North Korean prison and returned to the U.S. in a coma. When Trump was asked if he discussed Warmbier with Kim Jong-un at the Hanoi news conference, Trump said, quote, “He tells me he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word. Those prisons are rough. They’re rough places, and bad things happen. But I don’t believe he knew about it,” he said. Your response?

CHRISTINE AHN: Well, I believe that it’s very possible that Kim Jong-un wouldn’t know and that perhaps those that were overseeing Otto Warmbier’s condition didn’t know what to do, when—you know, if—what they’re saying is that he fell into a coma and that they didn’t have the proper medical ability to treat him.

But what we do know is that when he returned, when his body was returned back to the United States, the doctor that received him conducted—like basically did a full examination. And she basically held a press conference, after the Warmbiers did, and said, “I examined his body, and this is not the sign of—there wasn’t torture. In fact, you know, for his condition, he was actually—he was very well taken care of.” And that, unfortunately—there was a really great piece—I think it was in GQ, because the author couldn’t find another publication, but people should read that. It’s an incredibly insightful view into the complexity of what took place. But I think that’s a really important point that is obscured in the media and definitely hidden, is that the doctor that received him said—had a completely different narrative about the condition when he returned to the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Although, of course, there was the question—

CHRISTINE AHN: I mean, it is a tragic situation. And—

AMY GOODMAN: There was the question of why he was held at all, for that length of time.

CHRISTINE AHN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, you know, it’s an absurd thing. North Korea should have released him. There was no reason to do that. But I think, you know, it’s back to the issue of North Korea, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula is one of a state of war. And North Korea is a garrison state. It is in a siege mentality. And if we want to see progress towards that, isolating them, doing aggressive military exercises, you know, conducting sanctions that prevent the development of the economy—I mean, we look at the U.N. Security Council sanctions, for example. You know, it bans exports of textiles. I mean, who do you think works of these textile factories, but women? And so, we know that when women have access to the resources, when they control the purse, that the conditions of their families and their communities improve. So, how are we not seeing this broader geopolitical context of the conditions in North Korea? We have to say we have some culpability in this.

AMY GOODMAN: Christine Ahn, I want to thank you very much for being with us, founder and executive director of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War, speaking to us from Hanoi, Vietnam, where the U.S.-North Korea summit has broken down. President Trump has left. But we will continue, of course, to cover this story. And we’ll link to the joint letter to both leaders from hundreds of women around the world calling for an end to the Korean War.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, highlights from the testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday of Michael Cohen. Stay with us.

Posted in USA, North KoreaComments Off on Trump Walks Away From North Korea Nuclear Talks

New Group Looks to Unite North America in a Cooperative Economy

The Symbiosis network is linking cooperative movements offering alternatives to hyper-capitalism.
The Symbiosis network is linking cooperative movements offering alternatives to hyper-capitalism.

BYValerie Vande Panne


Across North America, movements of people have come together to build economic, social and political systems that are oriented toward healthy communities. Often, that means systems that function outside of the parameters of capitalism.

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership is one such organization, inspiring thoughtful change and supporting cooperative businesses and education in Detroit, Michigan. Its mission is “to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities” and this mission manifests in the center’s workshops, events, classes and community network.

Another organization is the Jackson, Mississippi-based Cooperation Jackson, whose mission is “to build worker organized and owned cooperatives [that] will be a catalyst for the democratization of our economy and society overall.” The organization has been successful to the point of municipal-wide grassroots organizing that has given them political power in the form of the mayor’s office. Many consider the Jackson community’s nonviolent action and strategic organizing to be revolutionary.

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Naturally, groups and individuals involved in strategic organizing for economic and political change often reach out to one another for support and to learn from each other. As local movements grow and develop, that support becomes even more important.

In North America, the newly launched Symbiosis network includes 15 groups — including the Boggs Center and Cooperation Jackson — and 300 individuals from across the continent united as a confederation of concerned citizens and activists with goals rooted in solidarity, sharing and direct democracy. The work is culminating in a congress of municipal movements this September in Detroit.

The idea is to cultivate “long-term dual power,” according to Katie Horvath, a coordinator with Symbiosis. “We know we aren’t going to change systemic effects of capitalism … unless we go beyond municipal organizing. We wanted to lay the infrastructure for making decisions at a confederated level,” Horvath says.

She says the idea of building dual power is about “how to build a new society in the old without falling into the utopian trap of small isolated communities … to actually be able to create networks that start to challenge and replace existing political and economic institutions.”

What that actually looks like changes from place to place. Horvath points to Cooperation Jackson as a model where, through the work of building economic cooperatives that feed into one another, local organizing can capture political power, just as the movement that started Cooperation Jackson captured the mayoral position.

With September’s congress, Horvath hopes to “learn best practices from groups that are further along in this process” than she is in Detroit. She adds that in Detroit, the group is “trying to connect direct democratic institutions that already exist into a citywide network that is capable of taking on the current political and economic institutions that have a stranglehold on the city.”

The congress will be an opportunity for local organizations from across North America to share resources, strategies and solutions, and to determine future plans.

Mario Quintero, a part of the Symbiosis network in Mexico, is a coordinator with the group Asamblea de los Pueblos Indígenas del Istmo de Tehuantepec en Defensa de la Tierra y el Territorio (APIIDTT) (Assembly of the Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Defense of the Land and the Territory), doing organizing work in Southeast Mexico.

APIIDTT works in communities of Native peoples, such as Binniza, Ikoots, Zoques, Chontales and Mixes, especially in defending the land against what Quintero calls “megaprojects” — the expansion of extractive industries like mining that threaten the natural and cultural assets of the people. The organization also fights against high electric rates, and participates in multiple national alliances including in the Red Nacional de Resistencia Civil (National Network of Civil Resistance), and the Congreso Nacional Indígenas y el Concejo Indígena de Gobierno (National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Council of Government).

APIIDTT is joining the Symbiosis movement because the challenges presented by hyper-capitalism are shared across borders. “It is very necessary to create networks of collaboration, mutual support and rebellions,” says Quintero. “We also believe in the idea of ​​building federations and confederations, strengthening inter-continentalism and building autonomy.”

Dialogue across borders and with other groups, he says, is important. In this way, they are able to share methods across the Americas, promote a collaborative community, and share information in ways that transcend repression and media isolation.

That’s what Symbiosis seems to be about: sharing knowledge, experience and information on how direct democracy and cooperation is working locally, and spreading those lessons and experience to support one another on a much larger scale.

“We must open communication channels to facilitate the exchange of experiences,” says Quintero.

The goal, says Horvath, is to “crowd out institutions with a lot of power over our lives by meeting our needs and the needs of our neighbors.”

Collaborating with people already doing that, in the real world rather than the digital one, can reinforce the power of it.

Learn more at

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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UN Finds the Nazi regime Intentionally Shot Children, Journalists and Disabled People

UN Finds Israel Intentionally Shot Children, Journalists and Disabled People

BYAmy Goodman

Democracy Now!

AUnited Nations inquiry has found Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting unarmed children, journalists and the disabled in Gaza. The report, released by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday, looked at Israel’s bloody response to weekly Great March of Return demonstrations, launched by Palestinians in Gaza nearly a year ago, targeting Israel’s heavily militarized separation barrier. The report found Israeli forces have killed 183 Palestinians — almost all of them with live ammunition. The dead included 35 children. Twenty-three thousand people were injured, including over 6,000 shot by live ammunition. We speak with Sara Hossain, a member of the U.N. independent commission that led the Gaza investigation.

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AMY GOODMAN: A United Nations inquiry has found Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting unarmed children, journalists and the disabled in Gaza. The report, released by the U.N. Human Rights Council Thursday, looked at Israel’s bloody response to weekly Great March of Return demonstrations, launched by Palestinians in Gaza nearly a year ago, targeting Israel’s heavily militarized separation barrier. The report found Israeli forces have killed 183 Palestinians, almost all of them with live ammunition. The dead included 35 children. Twenty-three thousand people were injured, including over 6,000 shot by live ammunition. Santiago Canton chaired the U.N. commission.

SANTIAGO CANTON: The commission has found reasonable grounds to believe that the Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. These violations clearly warrant criminal investigation and prosecution, and we call on Israel to conduct meaningful investigations into these serious violations and to provide timely justice and reparations for those killed and injured.

AMY GOODMAN: Another member of the U.N. independent commission, Sara Hossain, described how Israeli forces targeted civilians and journalists in Gaza.

SARA HOSSAIN: We are saying that they have intentionally shot children, they have intentionally shot people with disabilities, they have intentionally shot journalists, knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists. And some of the children — not all of the children are visibly children perhaps, but many of them are. As Commissioner Murungi just said, the journalists were all marked with press vests, that we investigated. And the people with disabilities, as I said, a double amputee in a wheelchair, a person using crutches, they were visibly that. And they’ve been shot at by snipers, who also have spotters available with them, who have very high-level technology available to see who is out there in the field.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. report called on nations to arrest, quote, “persons alleged to have committed, or ordered to have committed, the international crimes,” unquote, or to seek their extradition. The U.N. also demanded Israel immediately lift the blockade on Gaza. Israel’s acting foreign minister dismissed the report as “theater of the absurd.” However, grieving Palestinians welcomed the report, including Raeda Ayoub, whose teenage son Mohammad was killed during the Gaza protests.

RAEDA AYOUB: [translated] We are happy that someone is supporting Gaza’s children, and we are happy that they are supporting us to defend Gaza’s children and youth in Gaza against the crimes committed by the occupation.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. report was issued Thursday, the same day Israel’s attorney general announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing an indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

For more, we’re joined by two guests. Sara Hossain is a member of the U.N. independent commission that led the Gaza investigation. She’s also a barrister practicing in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. She joins us from Dhaka, Bangladesh. And here in New York, scholar Norman Finkelstein, author of many books, including Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Sara Hossain, let’s begin with you. Tell us about the most significant findings of your report and how this report came into being.

SARA HOSSAIN: I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear that.

AMY GOODMAN: Please explain the findings of the report.

SARA HOSSAIN: Sure. I mean, this report was commissioned as basis of a resolution by the Human Rights Council. And accordingly, we’ve conducted investigations for about six months now with trained investigators and a team of experts. I should mention, we haven’t been given access to Gaza or to Israel, which obviously has hampered us quite considerably. But nevertheless, we have been able to interview witnesses, and we have been able to interview many victims, as well, some in person and some remotely. We’ve also been able to gather an extraordinary amount of documentary material, including video and drone footage, social media content, as well as all of the affidavits and other testimonies. So, based on that, we’ve come to our assessment.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the most significant findings.

SARA HOSSAIN: The most significant, I think, is just the number of killings and the numbers of injuries. There are 183 Palestinians who have been killed in the course of the period that we have investigated, which is from the 30th of March to the 31st of December. As you know, the demonstrations are continuing, and killings and injuries have continued to be reported, but we’ve just covered this particular period. We also found, as you said, over 6,000 injuries to Palestinians caused by live fire. We found that four Israeli soldiers had been injured during this time, and two Israeli soldiers had also been killed, but both of those were outside the particular parameters of the investigation. They weren’t in the context of — they weren’t at the protest sites, although one of them was within the protest times. And I think, amongst the numbers of killings, what we also found, which was of great concern, was the fact that protected — groups who are protected categories in international law, protected persons, such as children, people with disabilities, and also health workers and journalists, were amongst those who were both killed and injured in large numbers.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.N. report calls on states to arrest “persons alleged to have committed, or ordered to have committed, the international crimes.” What exactly does that mean?

SARA HOSSAIN: Well, our investigation is done according to the standard of reasonable grounds to believe. It’s not a criminal investigation. We have made some preliminary findings based on the facts as we found them, and applying international human rights law and international humanitarian law where that was relevant, given that we’re speaking about the context of an occupation and the context — in certain contexts, the conduct of hostilities. So we’ve made these findings, but we believe that these need to be taken further. We’ve called on Israel itself to conduct investigations, and we understand that Israel has opened at least five investigations into the incidents that we’ve found. But we are not clear why it has not opened a larger number of investigations. We think that’s the first thing that should happen. We’ve also asked for the international community to look into this. We are going to present our findings, hand them over to the high commissioner for human rights of the United Nations. And I think then it’s for other bodies to take this further. As —

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to acting Israeli foreign minister —

SARA HOSSAIN: — you know, there’s a process at the International Criminal Court.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, UNComments Off on UN Finds the Nazi regime Intentionally Shot Children, Journalists and Disabled People

The “Humboldt Three” Take the Nazi regime to Court

The “Humboldt Three” Take Israel to Court

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists Ronnie Barkan, Majed Abusalama and Stavit Sinai speak with international law professor Richard Falk.
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists Ronnie Barkan, Majed Abusalama and Stavit Sinai speak with international law professor Richard Falk.

BY: Yoav Litvin


In June 2017, three active members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement disrupted a talk titled “Life in Israel — Terror, Bias and the Chances for Peace,” by an Israeli official who was hosted by the Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft (German-Israeli Society) at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. Aliza Lavie, a member of Knesset for the centrist Yesh Atid party and chairwoman of the Knesset Caucus for the Struggle Against the Delegitimization of the State of Israel was an Israeli government coalition member during the 2014 attack on the besieged Gaza Strip, “Operation Protective Edge,” in which 2,220 Palestinians were killed. Accompanying Lavie was Dvora Weinstein, a Holocaust survivor.

As a result of their protest disrupting a representative of the Israeli state and challenging her responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, “the Humboldt Three” — Ronnie Barkan, Stavit Sinai and Majed Abusalama, two Israelis and a Palestinian from Gaza — were charged with trespassing and assault in response to accusations from the organizers of the event. Further, Israeli and German media labeled their protest an anti-Semitic attack against a Holocaust survivor.

Israeli governments throughout history have exploited a dynamic of violence and inequality reinforced by propaganda to promote a Zionist ruling class at the expense of the Indigenous Palestinian people.

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Israel has persecuted Jewish and non-Jewish anti-Zionists since its inception, and even before the foundation of the state. Nowadays, Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of the BDS movement are routinely villainized, accused of anti-Semitism and even deported.

The legal proceedings against the Humboldt Three are set to begin today — March 4, 2019. Truthout spoke with the activists via video chat and email about their activism and the BDS movement, the plans for the trial, and the importance of the trial in both the German and global contexts.

Yoav Litvin: Are you guilty of the crimes you have been charged with?

The Humboldt Three: Rather than concerning ourselves with defense against the bogus charges lobbed against us, we are focusing on our legal and moral obligation to oppose Israeli crimes against humanity. As for the actual charges, we could not have committed the crime of “trespassing” as this was a public event, and we certainly did not assault anybody. Stavit was the only one assaulted during the event [she got punched by someone in the audience]. However, her complaint was never taken seriously by the organizers.

Our freedom of speech is protected by Article 5 (freedom of expression, arts and sciences) of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany and Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This trial is solely an attempt to intimidate us and fellow activists from carrying out this sort of protest in the future, and is part of a concerning pattern here in Germany.A German-Jew in Berlin who has never visited Israel has more rights there, by law, than an Israeli citizen in Haifa whose Palestinian family has been living there for generations.

Is this sort of trial common in Germany? What do you hope to achieve?

Activists are routinely charged with petty crimes in Germany, though they are often dropped later on. This fosters fear to engage in political activism and is more pronounced for people of color and refugees who suffer from systemic oppression and live in precarious situations.

In our case, we plan to leverage our relative privilege and take Zionist Israel and its German ally and collaborator to court on behalf of those who cannot. We intend to argue that our protest is not only legal, but a moral obligation against Israel’s ongoing criminality.

Is Israel a criminal state? If so, outline your reasoning.

The Zionist project in Palestine is a white supremacistsettler colonialist project, which uses and abuses Judaism to justify its sinister and deeply racist agenda of supremacy and ethnic exclusivity via continuous expansion and apartheid.

The crime of apartheid, defined as a crime against humanity, is entirely a legal matter with strict definitions. Leading scholars have determined Israel maintains an apartheid system throughout the territory under its control and beyond — relating to every single Palestinian refugee who lives in forced exile. In 2017, Virginia Tilley and Richard Falk co-authored a UN report on the matter.

Ronnie Barkan, Stavit Sinai and Majed Abusalama — members of the BDS movement — are going on trial following their June 2017 protest at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.

There are roughly 14 million people under Israeli rule, and 6 million Palestinian refugees living in forced exile. Only one-third of these stakeholders (approximately 7 million people) — those who have the privileged ethnicity — are entitled to rights under the Israeli regime in Palestine (also known as Israel) while two-thirds who possess the “other” ethnicity are either stateless or lack their most basic rights. Among the roughly 12 million Palestinians worldwide, all of whom suffer from Israeli apartheid policies, 6 million are stateless and status-less refugees; 4 million live under a brutal military regime in Gaza and the West Bank; and 2 million live as subjugated second-class citizens.Germany must acknowledge its crimes of genocide and apply the same standards to its present-day complicity in Israeli crimes against humanity.

While Israel purports to be a democracy, it has in fact established a sophisticated two-tier system, which differentiates between “citizenship” and “nationality” (Jewish, Arabic, Druze, Circassian and several others) of its own subjects. Israel allows all of its citizens to participate in its pseudo-democratic electoral game while legally denying a long list of rights to those of the “other” nationality. As such, a German-Jew in Berlin who has never visited Israel has more rights there, by law, than an Israeli citizen in Haifa whose Palestinian family has been living there for generations.

Outline the discourse in Germany surrounding Israel and the importance of your trial within the German political context.

Germany is a crucial arena in the struggle for equality in Palestine-Israel. Any change in awareness through discourse which we manage to bring about in the German context will have repercussions throughout the world. Israeli officials know this, which is why German authorities are increasing their fight against BDS activists under immense pressure by the Israeli government to criminalize such activity.

Germany also constitutes the heart of Europe’s economic and military power and is a leading actor within EU institutions. In challenging its unconditional support of the Zionist colonial project, we expose Germany’s humanitarian/liberal façade, while also addressing its sordid past of colonialism, fascism and genocide. Germany must acknowledge its crimes of genocide during the Nazi era and in Namibia, among its other colonial projects, and apply the same standards to its present-day complicity in Israeli crimes against humanity.

We claim Israel is a supremacist, unjust and discriminatory state which should be denounced as such. Yet all German politicians from left to right justify and support Israeli practices. Germany adopted this approach following the second World War as a means of moving past its Nazi and anti-Semitic history, though it has avoided dealing with the societal foundations which gave birth and promoted its devolution into fascism. The results are clear today with the rise of right-wing fascistic parties, such as Alternative for Deutschland (AfD).

The “Humboldt Three” with supporters outside the courtroom in Berlin, Germany.

In Germany, just as in apartheid Israel, the very organizations which claim to promote peace and justice are ironically those leading the assault on human rights whenever it relates to Israel. At the forefront of the campaign to criminalize BDS activists and those who oppose Zionist crimes is the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung — the PR wing of Die Linke party — which, under the guise of peace and justice, targets human rights defenders as well as abuses the memory of Luxemburg herself.In Germany, just as in apartheid Israel, the very organizations which claim to promote peace and justice are ironically those leading the assault on human rights whenever it relates to Israel.

In a statement from June 2011, Die Linke refers to BDS as well as to proponents of full equality under a single state as anti-Semites. This laid the groundwork for the criminalization attempt of BDS we are experiencing today, to the dismay of a group of dissident Israelis. Die Linke also escalated its assault on Palestinian rights when it issued a joint statement with several other parties in May 2018, again equating BDS with anti-Semitism.

The claim by Die Linke, as if our demand for equal rights between the current state of ubermenschen and untermenschen under Zionist rule is somehow “anti-Semitic,” can be understood in one way alone: It would be equivalent to deeming the demand for equality between Jews and Aryan people under the Nazi regime as somehow “anti-German.” This is the level of racism and protectionism of deep-rooted racism and supremacy being offered by the so-called German left.

As Richard Falk eloquently stated in a recent event we held together:

It seems to me important to present yourselves as actually engaged in German patriotism in a way. That you are liberating Germany from its own dark past, because that’s what it really is. It really comes down to the understanding that if you want to get rid of anti-Semitism, you’ve got to begin to take criminality seriously wherever it occurs. And you can’t choose your criminals because of your history.

Some media have attempted to discredit you by accusing you of anti-Semitism. What is the purpose of such an accusation and how do you intend to cope with it?

Nowadays, the accusation of anti-Semitism is used as a political weapon to silence anyone who criticizes Israel’s criminal policy, and even more so against dissidents who oppose the Zionist regime as a whole. This tendency is led by the Israeli propaganda apparatus Hasbara, which insists on falsely conflating Judaism and Zionism — a fallacy that is in itself anti-Semitic. This conflation — between a religion and a racist ideology inspired by 19th century European nationalism — is carried out in order to shield Israel from justifiable critique and to fragment its opposition.

The character assassination we have experienced by Israeli and German media, as well as by member of Knesset Lavie herself, is a result of our daring to oppose institutional racism and apartheid. Our case exposes Germany’s complicity with Israeli criminality. Notably, both Knesset members Yair Lapid and Lavie have tried to influence German politics with regard to banning Hezbollah and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) activities while attempting to associate such activity with BDS activism in the country. Further, a report by the Berlin intelligence agency deemed the BDS movement “anti-Semitic” and provided our protest as an example. BDS activists were recently labeled “terrorists in suits” in a recent report by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs. These are extremely dangerous, anti-democratic and inherently racist developments aimed at shielding and promoting continued oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

Unlike the apartheid representative against whom we protested at Humboldt University, we take an uncompromising position against all types of supremacy and racism — including both the Nazi idea of “Herrenvolk” and Zionism.

It is outrageous to label us “anti-Semitic,” as two of us are descendants of Jews who survived the Nazi Holocaust. We intend to continue speaking our truth and exercise our rights under German and international law.

Outline some successes of the BDS movement in Germany. How do you see its future?

The consumer boycott of Israel has significantly impacted the ongoing complicity of major multinational companies, such as Veolia, G4S and Airbnb. Yet, it is the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel (PACBI) that has scored major victories on the world stage.

The Meteor Music Festival in apartheid Israel had its main event with Lana Del Rey along with over 15 other acts canceled due to pressure from PACBI activists. Nine artists cancelled their participation in the Pop-Kultur Festival 2017 in Berlin, solely due to sponsorship by the Israeli embassy. These public relations victories, along with our successful Humboldt University action, angered Israeli/Zionist authorities to the point of bullying several leading German politicians. In an outrageous step, the Simon Wiesenthal Center threatened to include the mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, on their list of top-10 worst cases of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity in 2017 for not doing enough against BDS. This intervention led the mayor to “pledge to halt municipal financial and logistical support for the BDS movement,” along with possibly supporting the case against us.

These baseless accusations are positive signs that BDS is working and a real threat to the unjust Israeli establishment.

Note: Members of the Humboldt Three can be contacted via Twitter: Ronnie Barkan: @ronnie_barkanStavit Sinai: @Stav_Si; Majed Abusalama: @MajedAbusalama.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, GermanyComments Off on The “Humboldt Three” Take the Nazi regime to Court

Lobbyists Behind Trump-Saudi Arabia Nuclear Deal Under House Investigation

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

BY: Raymond Arke

Center for Responsive Politics

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The House Committee on Oversight and Reform announced last week it would be probing Trump administration allies and their push to have the U.S. government share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia. The committee’s report explained how an organization called IP3 International developed a plan for U.S. companies to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia dubbed the “Middle East Marshall Plan.”

The report alleges Michael Flynn, while he was national security advisor to Trump’s presidential campaign and transition, and Thomas Barrack, chairman of the Trump Inaugural Committee and friend to the president, were proponents of the IP3 plan since at least the summer of 2015 and into the time Flynn was a White House advisor. Whistleblowers to the House committee were concerned that the plans, and administration officials’ links to them, would violate U.S. law.

Since early 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy, Industry and Natural Resources has employed two U.S. firms to “provide advice and assistance concerning a potential bilateral agreement with the U.S. concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” according to FARA filings and initially reported by Bloomberg.

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One firm was the law office of David B. Kultgen, who has a long employment history regarding energy and Saudi Arabia. Kultgen worked for the Arabian American Oil Company and its successor Saudi Arabian Oil Company from 1973 to 2016, retiring as the company’s general counsel and corporate secretary. He registered as a foreign agent for the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Feb. 20, 2018 for the “provision of legal and consulting services.”

Kultgen reported his role as to “advise the Ministry with respect to the Saudi Government’s negotiation of the Agreement with the U.S. Government” in his FARA registration documents as well as “related agreements in connection with the Kingdom’s development of a commercial, peaceful nuclear energy program.” The filing also noted he would be responsible to “coordinate the work of U.S. law firms providing specialist advice and assistance to the Ministry.”

Kultgen received a healthy salary for his work. The Saudis paid him $349,171.17 through the end of May 2018, according to his latest filing.

Also registering to assist with the Saudi’s nuclear lobbying on the same day as Kultgen, was Jeffrey Merrifield from the Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman firm. Merrifield is a member of the “revolving door,” formerly serving as majority counsel and staff director for the Senate Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Control, & Risk Assessment from 1995 to 1998 and served as a commissioner on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission where he served from 1998 to 2007.

Merrifield also represented Brookfield Assets Management in 2018, which is named in the House Committee on Oversight’s report. The report said a subsidiary of Brookfield, Brookfield Business Partners, planned in January 2018 to purchase one of the companies IP3 planned to include in their “Middle East Marshall Plan.” Additionally, the report notes Brookfield Assets Management purchased a partnership stake in the 666 Fifth Avenue building owned by Jared Kushner’s family.

Merrifield’s role was similar to Kultgen’s, which was to “provide advice and assistance concerning potential bilateral agreement with US concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy
under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and related legal matters concerning the development of a commercial nuclear program by the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE),” according to FARA filings.

Kultgen was notified of the addition of lobbyists from the Pillsbury firm and confirmed the firm’s contract with the Saudis as “acceptable.”

On Jan. 30, 2019, the Pillsbury firm submitted an amendment which noted that they would be representing the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Natural Resources, as well as KACARE. Merrifield and Fork now represent both Saudi government-linked organizations.

That same day, William Fork, also from Pillsbury, registered as a foreign agent working on the same subjects as Merrifield and Kultgen. Fork’s registration came even after a growing backlash in the U.S. over the murder of Washington Post columnist and Saudi royal family critic Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Kultgen and the Pillsbury firm did not respond to requests for comment.

Posted in USA, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Lobbyists Behind Trump-Saudi Arabia Nuclear Deal Under House Investigation

Brazil Dam Collapse Is a Human Rights Disaster and Crime

Protesters rally in solidarity with the victims of the Brumadinho dam collapse in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, February 1, 2019. Such disasters symbolize capitalism's failure to secure basic human rights and environmental protections in Brazil.
Protesters rally in solidarity with the victims of the Brumadinho dam collapse in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, February 1, 2019. Such disasters symbolize capitalism’s failure to secure basic human rights and environmental protections in Brazil.

BYCaitlin Schroering



On January 25, a dam at Córrego do Feijão in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil, collapsed. At least 300 people have been killed, buried alive in mud. To date, 179 bodies have been identified. It is expected that this number will continue to grow, representing a horrific human rights and environmental catastrophe. The collapse is, according to many, no accident. The owner of the dam is the Brazil-based transnational corporation Vale, which holds the status of being the globe’s largest producer of iron ore. On February 21, Vale announced that it would pay each adult resident in Brumadinho 3,227.02 U.S. dollars (this is a year’s worth of minimum wages in Brazil).

The mining industry in Brazil has been pivotal in “post-colonial” capitalist development, with catastrophic human rights and environmental abuses. Vale has been in operation since 1942. It was privatized in 1997 during a wave of neoliberal economic reforms that swept across the world, seeking to privatize resources previously managed by the state or communally. With this move, the only incentive for Vale was profit-making, with little of that wealth remaining in the country to benefit the common good.

This is not the first time that a dam has collapsed in Brazil — and Vale has a track record of being implicated in human rights abuses. In fact, in 2015, a similar event occurred when two dams ruptured at an open-pit mine, also located in the state of Minas Gerais. That mine is operated by Samarco, a project between Vale and the Australian company PHP Billiton.

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While this current story has gained international attention, it is important that the world pay heed to the fact that this incident was not just an accident; with another 130 dams in Brazil constructed just like the one that collapsed, the likelihood of this happening again is high. In the shorter term, families are displaced and in need of immediate housing and assistance. Organizations and movements in Brazil, as well as international partners in the U.S., are working to support in this effort.

This catastrophe is unfolding and ongoing, and the effects from January 25 will be felt for a long time. This is why the payout offered to Brumadinho residents is limited. It might aid in short-term assistance (while it is still arguably insufficient to account for the fact that people’s lives have been lost and homes destroyed, for which a monetary amount cannot be assessed), but it does nothing to address the long-term effects for Brumadinho residents, nor the larger structural problem of prioritizing corporate profit above all else. Toxic sludge from the collapse has polluted the water and caused fish kills; the impacts will spread far away, potentially affecting 521 citieswith devastating consequences for rural and Indigenous communities. Vale’s payout does not address the reality that the company failed to listen to concerns voiced by the community surrounding the dam complex expansion in December 2018. The payout also does not account for the fact that no justice has been served for the Samarco dam catastrophe that occurred in 2015.

Campaign postcards marking the one-month anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster.
Campaign postcards marking the one-month anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster.

Brazil has announced that it will ban the specific type of dam structure that collapsed in the Brumadinho incident by 2021. This is an important announcement. Yet, this move takes place within a political context in which Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is also advocating to eliminate environmental and human rights protections and increase extractive mining, including in Indigenous people’s reserves.

The story that also needs to be told — and that social movements are pushing to be heard — is that Vale needs to be held accountable. The use of words like “accident” removes responsibility and culpability for the event; it works to create the illusion that catastrophes like Brumadinho could not be prevented. On February 15, Brazilian police arrested eight employees of the transnational corporation Vale, charging them with first-degree murder. This is an important step in holding Vale accountable, but it cannot end here. What happened at Brumadinho is not simply the fault of eight individuals.

Brazil is a resource-rich nation: it holds the world’s largest reserve of fresh water, and it is rich in iron and other minerals. The resources being extracted — and the actions of Vale — are part of a global economic system in which we all participate, and the resources of which those of us in the Global North utilize at the expense of communities like Brumadinho. It is a part of global finance capital; Vale has international shareholders and is on the Wall Street stock exchange.

This point speaks to the heart of an article published in the Brazilian news source Brasil de Fato that called out the dam collapse as a crime and not an accident, asserting: “The process of privatization and the denationalization of Vale is emblematic of the neoliberal project in Brazil. There was no record of tragedies such as Brumadinho while the company was state-owned.” In other words, Vale is the symbol of what privatization means in Brazil.

Campaign postcards marking the one-month anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster.
Campaign postcards marking the one-month anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster.

The Brumadinho catastrophe is not just a tragedy for Brazil, or just about Vale. Colonialism’s legacy remains through corporate control and global economic structures. Social movements are resisting, fighting for human rights — and for Vale specifically to be held accountable. Their actions represent a radical position in the face of right-leaning governments that run on rhetoric of “law and order” and seek to further shrink the public safety net and impose harsh penalties on social movements fighting for basic human rights.

The Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB, or Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens in Portuguese) is a Brazilian social movement comprised of communities directly affected by dam projects. MAB fights against the removal of families from their homes and opposes the privatization of water, rivers and natural resources on which the communities depend for their livelihoods.

Campaign postcards marking the one-month anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster.

Rob Robinson, member of the US Solidarity Committee with MAB, told Truthout his organization pledges to do everything in its power to continue to raise awareness and keep the issue on the world stage. “When as many lives are lost as there were in the dam collapse … it is time for the Brazilian government to stand up and hold Vale accountable,” Robinson said. “When the human rights of our brothers and sisters in Brazil are violated, we are all affected.”

As MAB and others fight for justice in the face of this tragedy, activists are calling for:

1) Vale to be held responsible for their actions and to pay reparations.

2) The inclusion and participation of the affected communities in any decision or reparation agreement.

3) A guarantee of the inclusion of civil society in all follow-up and monitoring of decisions.

February 25 marked one month of resistance to the Brumadinho crime. MAB declared that, “Vale’s crime in Brumadinho will not go unpunished;” and demanded “life before profit.”

To date, no sanctions have been leveled against Vale. Brazil, under the administration of Bolsonaro, is facing a constant barrage of rollbacks on existing social and environmental protections. This makes the importance of international solidarity even more imperative at this moment.

Posted in BrazilComments Off on Brazil Dam Collapse Is a Human Rights Disaster and Crime

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